Monday, December 16, 2013


Club member Matt Slowik and his fiancee Kelly
Matt and Kelly were recently engaged so I'd like to take this opportunity to say CONGRATULATIONS to them both from all of us at the HCBA!!!  I think marriage is awesome and I wish you two the best of luck!

Matt and Kelly were also the proud winners of the Duck Dynasty board game in the Yankee Swap.  So, congratulations on that too... I guess.

A Very HCBA Christmas...

Our annual Christmas party was last Friday (the 13th) and it was a fun one!  The band was good, the food was good, the staff at the Villa Rose are great to us.  We had an amazing turn out this year, and I had a blast! I even remembered to take some pictures this year!

Here are some of the highlights...
Deb D'Amico Band
 President Jeff Rys presents former President Jim Stefanik, with an award for appreciation and the honor of life time membership in the club.
Thanks for 13 years of service, Jim! 
I'll trade you this beautiful blanket for that tasty bottle.  
What did you guys get?   Booze?
And you?  Booze?
That doesn't look like booze, Cheryl! 
What is it, Tom?  Booze?  YES!
Let me see, Joyce... I think it's BOOZE!
I did not get booze.
Lucky for me, there was plenty to go around! 
 Like I said before, I had a great time at the party, and if you weren't able to make it this year, we hope to see you next year!  Don't worry, I'll send a save the date!  LOL.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every member of the HCBA.  I hope your holiday season is everything you hope it could be!  Stay warm and safe!  See you soon at bee school!
Moe and Mike Shea
 Joyce Munson & Andy Preissner

Friday, December 13, 2013

Trendy Hotels Add Beehives and Chicken Coops...

Beehives on the roof, chicken coops out back. Nope, you’re not on a farm — you’re at one of the growing number of trendy hotels adding to their roster of hipster-friendly amenities.
“Green” hotels have served produce from their own gardens for years, but some are taking it a step further. Across the nation, hotels are cultivating beehives and chicken coops to offer guests fresh — and (hipsters rejoice!) locally sourced — honey and eggs, as well as opportunities to interact with the wildlife (yes, even the bees). Fairmont hotels now have beehives installed on 21 of their rooftops, including those in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Vancouver, Dallas and San Jose, housing more than 2 million bees and producing roughly 5,000 pounds of honey each year. The Waldorf Astoria in New York has six hives abuzz with roughly 300,000 bees, and The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa near Denver has five hives and 150,000 bees.
Recently, chickens have joined in the trendy hotel offerings, as two California-based resorts installed coops on their grounds this year. Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley now has 12 chickens living in its reclaimed-wood coop (which also has chandeliers and framed artwork). Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel Valley installed a chicken coop on its land last month “as a natural evolution of its growing farmstead experience that already includes Italian honeybees.” They also plan to compost the chicken manure.
While such offerings may cater to the foodie obsession with provenance that the IFC comedy series “Portlandia” pokes fun at, hotels say they’re offering these perks to help the environment. Fairmont says it “has been committed to protecting the environment for over 20 years” and that its hives were installed to help with dwindling bee populations. Carmel Valley Ranch says the chicken coop “contributes to the resort’s philosophy of honoring and being of the land.”
But, of course, pleasing locavores can also be a money-making proposition. “The hotel market is increasingly competitive, especially with the competition from Airbnb and non-hotels,” says Andy Brennan, an industry analyst with IbisWorld. In turn, hotels are looking to differentiate themselves from one another, and one way they’re doing this, he says, is with local, organic offerings. “Providing more gourmet, high-end products will impact the bottom line,” he says.
Enter the bees and chickens, which, relatively speaking, tend to be fairly inexpensive to board, as the hotels already have the real estate (lawn or the rooftop) and can train existing staff to care for them. Setting up and maintaining a colony of bees can sometimes cost under $600 the first year, including clothing and equipment for the beekeeper, hives and the bees themselves, says Rick Reault, founder of New England Beekeeping Supplies. After that, it’s even cheaper: Ian Bens, the executive sous chef at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., who also cares for the bees, says that it costs “way less” than $1,000 a year to maintain the hives.
What’s more, the buzz won’t go unnoticed by guests — and many will pay for the bee products featured on hotel menus. At the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, you’ll find Caneles on the menu, which the hotel describes as a “custardy treat baked in a traditional fluted mold coated with beeswax.” At the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, there are honey truffles (a.k.a. “Bee’s Knees”) and a Honey Lager; at the Fairmont in Dallas, you’ll find honey incorporated into such dishes as the cheese plate, Greek yogurt parfait and the crème brûlée; and the Fairmont in D.C. has a bee-tini (a martini-like drink made with honey), as well as honey butter and seasonal honey desserts. The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa offers a special afternoon tea featuring its honey. The chicken’s eggs will pop up on the resorts’ menus as well: The chef at Carmel Valley Ranch plans to use the fresh eggs in his dishes once the chickens are full grown, and the chef at Calistoga Ranch plans to set up a special omelet station.
Furthermore, the hotels market their coops and beehives in ways that aren’t food-related. For example, the Waldorf Astoria offers a tour of its beehive-filled rooftop. And Carmel Valley Ranch plans to launch educational programs around its chickens, such as how to start and maintain your own backyard chicken coop and how to handle fresh eggs safely. 


Monday, November 25, 2013

Buzz off, Monsanto!

Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.
This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.
Monsanto hosted their first so-called Honey Bee Health Summit last week, a gathering at the company’s headquarters in Missouri. Without question, some truly smart, dedicated scientists attended Monsanto's bee summit and are participating in these efforts.
And a similarly committed group of beekeepers who care about bees, beekeeping and our food system have also participated. What’s increasingly clear, though, is that the credibility of these individuals is being used to shield the agenda of a handful of pesticide corporations and their bee-harming insecticide products. The corporate PR gymnastics on display are truly impressive.
Unfortunately, Monsanto is not alone in its efforts.  Just this spring, Bayer sponsored a tour of its “specially-wrapped beehicle” and hosted a talk at Ohio State University in March, over loud objections from local beekeepers. 

Not here. Look over there!

Industry has largely set its sights on one issue to blame for bee declines. While lack of sufficient forage and diseases are a challenge to bee health and beekeeping, challenges exacerbated by the weakening effect of pesticides on bees, the pesticide industry has focused a large proportion of its attention on the varroa mite. And it’s an easy distraction that places the burden of unprecedented bee losses on beekeepers — while subverting any blame for the widespread pesticide products.
Unfortunately for Monsanto & Co, and as most beekeepers and academics will say, the varroa mite has been around a long time, predating dramatic bee declines in U.S. that started in 2006. While mites no doubt affect bee colonies, they are unlikely the primary driver of population declines.
There is a correlation, however, between the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) on the market and bee die-offs. Independent studies show — and beekeepers corroborate from hands-on experience — that these pesticides weaken bees' immune systems, likely damaging their resistance to common challenges like the varroa mite.
Neonics are one of the largest growth sectors for the pesticide industry. And industry has a vested interest in keeping the neonic market growing. But we know that spin efforts to refocus attention on varroa mites were already attempted in Europe, and the approach has been largely unsuccessful. The EU just put continent-wide restrictions on the use of neonics in place.

Bees are still dying

Pesticide corporations don’t show any sign of letting up. If this spring and summer are any indication, then the “bee-washing” campaign will continue. Beekeepers will remain the victims of this targeted PR campaign.
And the costs of are very real. Earlier this month, Jim Doan — a third generation commercial beekeeper from upstate New York — literally sold his farm due to bee losses. For years, he produced over half a million pounds of honey annually and eventually grew his business to 5,300 hives. But when neonicotinoid pesticides started being commonly used in the U.S., around 2006, Jim's bees started dying.
He’s experienced serious losses to bees he brought to citrus groves in Florida and the cornfields of New York. And now, he only has 300 hives left. In an email he circulated last week, he wrote:
“I am done. I cannot continue. Sold my farm 2 weeks ago, I am giving up, there is no hope here."
Bees are continuing to die off at unprecedented rates and beekeepers are going out of business. There is clearly something amiss — and the pesticide industry would have us believe that their products play no part in this alarming trend. PAN, beekeepers and our partners will continue to shine a light on corporate "bee-washing" and spin efforts to subdue or obfuscate the growing body of science pointing to this clear message: pesticides are playing a key role in bee deaths.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pam's Pie...

For those who were unable to attend the November meeting and honey recipe contest, here's a peek at a bit of what you missed.  This gorgeous pie was baked by our own first lady, Pam Rys!  This is Pam's ginger, honey and pumpkin pie and it took second place in our honey recipe contest.   
The first place winner was our treasurer, Cheryl Robare who made her Nutella and honey baklava.  Needless to say, it did not last long enough to snap a photo.  Third place was taken by club member Lora Sandhusen who made a honey spice cake.  All three ladies were awarded nice cash prizes and everyone who attended was able to sample these fine desserts as well as a few others.

Bee well!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Millions of Bees Swarm Georgia Interstate After Truck Overturns...

ATLANTA (Reuters) - An overturned tractor-trailer let loose millions of honeybees on Sunday and left a sticky mess on a major highway south of Atlanta, after hitting a guardrail and spilling its cargo of hives and honey.
"It looked like there was a rain cloud around everybody," Monroe County Emergency Management Agency director Matthew Perry said on Monday. "There was a giant mound of honeycomb and bees."
A portion of Interstate 75 was closed briefly, and clean-up of the honey and swarming bees took 15 hours, Perry said.
Authorities sought help from beekeepers, who arrived with protective gear to assist with the potentially dangerous swarm.
The debris was pushed to the median with a small bulldozer and then beekeepers began piecing the broken hives back together so the bees would return, Perry said. The hives were loaded back into bee boxes and hauled away.
No one was stung or injured, in part because the weather was cool and the bees docile, Perry said.
"When you have an interstate like I-75, you never know what's going to come passing through," he said.
(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Alden Bentley)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Party!

Don't forget to sign up for this year's Christmas party!  It's always a good time and you can't beat the price! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stung to Death?

A Polish beekeeper passed out after being stung and woke up inside a coffin.

Jozef Guzy had been pronounced dead after suffering a suspected heart attack and was about to be sealed up in a coffin when the undertaker discovered a faint pulse.

An ambulance was called and a doctor declared that the 76-year-old had died.

“There were no signs of life when his wife called the ambulance," according to Jerzy Wisniewski , of the Katowice Regional Ambulance Service.

'The patient was not breathing, there was no heart beat, the body had cooled - all are the characteristics of death.

Three hours later, an undertaker arrived to take the body away.

He was placed in a coffin by undertaker Darius Wysluchato until Mr Guzy's wife, Ludmilla, asked him to retrieve her late husband's necklace before closing the lid.

As Mr Wysluchato fiddled with the watch chain he happened to touch Mr Guzy's neck and detected a pulse.

He said: 'I touched around the neck artery and suddenly realised he asn't dead after all. I checked again and shouted, "It's a pulse!"

'I had a friend check and he noticed the man was breathing. God, it was a miracle!"

The same ambulance that had earlier called Mr Guzy's death rushed back to the scene before admitting the pensioner to intensive care.

After several weeks he made a full recovery.

Doctors have concluded that it was a case of suspended animation.

The doctor who falsely diagnosed him as dead has apologised.

Mr Guzy added, “The undertaker saved my life. The first thing I did when I got out of hospital was take him a pot of honey.”

* Source: The Belfast Telegraph

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sharing Our Love for Bees...

One of my favorite things about bee-ing a beekeeper is the moment that someone first finds out that I'm a beekeeper.  For the most part, people seem to think it's pretty cool and say things like "Wow!" and "That's pretty cool!"  Some folks go the opposite route and say things like "Gross!" or "Weird!".  Either way, it's a great start up for conversation.  Some of my favorite people to talk to about bees with are the littlest ones.  Kids have a way with words and questions that lacks the inhibition and restraint we adults practice.  For me it's ALMOST always fun talking to kids about bees.

I was very happy to be asked to speak to a local Brownie Troop about bees and bee-ing a backyard beekeeper to help them earn an insect badge.  We talked bee basics, I showed them all of my equipment, we tried some of my honey and I even brought an observation hive so they could find the queen.  It was very fun!

Here we are...

I know I'm not the only who has volunteered to share my love of honeybees with the kids... Club member Annette Isner shared her love of bees with a group of pre-schoolers from Westfield and was thanked for her time with this amazing beehive...
Has anyone else had a volunteer experience they would like to share?  Please let me know, I'd love to add it to our blog.  If anyone has plans to do anything like this in the future, plan to take pictures and share your experience!  Keep spreading that honeybee love! 

Bee well! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all you beekeepers out there!  I don't think anyone is scared of Boo-Bees!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nature's 3D Printers...

Nature's 3D Printers, Using Honeybees to Create Art...

We think of 3D printing as a recent development, but for nature it has been part of history for millenniums. Simple honeybees have been using 3D printing for as long as man can remember, but no one seems to take notice, except Dewar’s. The Dewar’s 3-B Printing Project was done in collaboration with Sid Lee Agency and Robin Theron, a master beekeeper. The concept was to have the bees create objects using their honeycomb building process. The team created inverted shapes that the bees used as the outer shell for creating their hives. When the process of building the entire honeycomb hive was complete, Robin Theron carefully calmed the bees with smoke and removed the outer shell exposing the 3-B printed sculpture. This series of sculptures is being kept on display for the Dewar’s company.
Just remember, the next time someone says 3D printing is futuristic, remind them it is also as old as honeybees. Check out the cool videos showing the 3-B printing process.
- See more HERE 

This blog content comes to us from INDULGD

Friday, October 25, 2013

November Meeting & Recipe Contest...

        HCBA November Meeting

When: Thursday November 14th
Starting at 7:00pm

Where:  Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Chicopee, MA 01013

It’s time for our November meeting.  This time of year the activity in your hives is winding down.  The colder weather will start the bees to cluster.  It’s time for us to put entrance reducers on the hives and make sure our equipment is properly stored for winter.  And since the bees need less management now, we should all have some free time on our hands (right? or yeah, right!).

Our November meeting theme is going to be our HONEY RECIPE CONTEST!  The rules are simple…  Bring a dish of your choice, and the recipe MUST include honey.  There will be three categories: Appetizer, Entrée, and Dessert.  Each member can enter as many dishes as they wish.  Everyone who attends the meeting will have the opportunity to try all the made with honey goodies, and then we’ll vote for our favorites.  There will be a first place winner in EACH category and the winners will receive….
$50 CASH!!!

Please bring a label for your dish so we can see the name of your recipe and make voting easier.  Please consider making “sample” size servings of your recipe so everyone can get a taste.  If you’d like to share your recipe with the club, please bring copies.  Winning recipes will be posted on the blog. 
Bee well!
Jessica Martin
HCBA Secretary
(860) 978-5388

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Final (I hope) Sting of This Season...

I'm a cautious beekeeper, and I almost always wear all of my protective clothing when working with my bees, so I rarely get stung.  My sting of the season was a good one though!  I had closed up my hives and was putting my equipment away in the garage.  All was well until I was getting out of my suit on our back deck before heading back into the house.  One of my girls went rogue, and dive bombed my forehead as soon as I removed my veil.  Didn't see it coming and she got me good.  Just above my left eyebrow.  Day two swelling pictured below...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Extracting with the Gleasons...

Club member Dan Gleason was nice enough to share this video of his family's recent honey extraction.  They got 40lbs this year!  Nice work Gleasons!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Meeting...

  Hampden County Beekeepers’ October Meeting

When: Thursday October 10th
Starting at 7:00pm

Where:  Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Chicopee, MA 01013

 It’s October and it’s time to meet again!  This will be our Big E follow up meeting.  For members who sold honey and beeswax products at the Big E, checks will be available for pick up at the meeting.  Treasurer Cheryl Robare will be ready to give us all the full financial report on the fair, so we can see how we did.  Did you work the Big E?  It’s time to go over the pros and cons.  How did we do, what can we do better, and what’s really working great?  We will also have our annual post Big E auction.  Left over honey sips and candy will be available for purchase to the highest bidders.  There is usually something for everyone, so bring your wallets!  If you have anything bee related you’d like to get rid of, feel free to bring that too.  We’ll auction anything!  President Jeff Rys will be our auctioneer for the evening. 

Next, let’s talk about getting our hives ready for winter!  If you have questions or suggestions concerning fall and winter management, please join us at the October meeting for this discussion topic.    

Bee well!
Jessica Martin
HCBA Secretary
(860) 978-5388

Thursday, September 12, 2013

iPhone Cameras are Great!

I snapped this photo with my iPhone while shopping for plants at a local nursery.  Not bad for an amateur with a cell phone camera!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Swarm Cells...

Club members Andy & Joyce are enjoying all the challenges of beekeeping in their first year.  Wanting to experience all the things a new hive has to offer, they started two hives, one from a package and one from a nuc.  Turns out the nuc has been non-stop excitement.  I believe they're up to 3 swarms now.  Andy was kind enough to send these awesome photos of their overzealous hive.  Look at all those capped swarm cells! Luckily, these photos aren't too recent, and Andy & Joyce and one of those new queens seem to have everything under control for now!

Thanks to Andy & Joyce for sharing these photos and thanks to senior club member Eric Nitsch for taking a look at their hives and offering a helping hand.