Keeping bees on Long Island since 1949.

Winning Recipe for Nut and Honey Apple Cake

Thanks to Charlotte DiStefano.

1 cup Honey
1 cup Butter
1/3 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Cooking Oil
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Walnuts
2 cups Apple (chopped)
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Allspice

Cream honey, sugar, softened butter, oil, vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg. Add dry ingredients. Add chopped nuts and fold in chopped apples. Bake in tube pan at 325 degree oven for 1 hour.

Gahan Wilson

President's Message: Come On Over To My Bee House

By George B. Schramm, LIBC President

The design and construction of the perfect bee house has always held a certain fascination for me. A small shed to store beekeeping equipment would certainly free up some room in the garage, and a place to secure the hives and provide some additional protection from the elements wouldn’t be bad. Also, having a single location to keep the bees and the equipment together would be convenient; no more schlepping everything out to the beeyard.
I’ve collected various books and plans over the years in an attempt to learn what has worked for beekeepers in the past, and to also understand the design elements to be considered when working with bees, essentially, inside a closed room.
Here are some of the design objectives I’ve tried to address, and some images of the plan I’ve been working on this summer in the hope of building a prototype next year.
• Adequate light: Unless you use electrical lighting, an abundance of sunlight is necessary to work with the bees inside. This is a challenge, especially while still trying to achieve the next two goals:
• Weather-tight: The enclosure needs to be at least as weather-tight as your average shed to keep out the rain, wind, and snow, otherwise it won’t be doing much to protect your equipment and bees. So, large empty openings for adequate light won’t work. Windows would seem to be the solution to adequate light and weather-tightness, but windows can be expensive and you don’t need the girls constantly beating their little blond heads against the glass as they attempt to escape. Window shades are a possibility, but unless you use Velcro, the bees will find a way to get trapped between the glass and the shade. Hence the next objective:
• Bee escape: Once you open a hive inside a room, you need to provide a pathway back to the exterior so the bees can re-enter the hive through the front entrance. Fortunately, the bees have a tendency to head for sunlight, so providing a bee escape at the same location as you’re letting in the sunlight would work well. In my current design I’ve used a translucent roofing material with a closeable bee escape vent facing south. I’m not entirely satisfied with the arrangement, so some field-testing may be in order.
• Use existing equipment: Many of the bee house designs I’ve come across use specialized or built-in hive bodies to hold frames, but after investing quite a bit in Langstroth equipment, and its various accessories, I’m reluctant (and too cheap) to give it all up. So the design needs to incorporate the ability to use existing equipment, which I’ve solved by placing the hives up against the outside wall on interior shelves and some strategically placed openings.
• Mobility: Being able to move the bee house as necessary is certainly a consideration. Placing the structure on wood skids is the easiest solution, but it also raises the floor off the ground.
• Ramp: Tripping out of your elevated bee house with an armful of honey-laden supers is ideal inspiration for inventing new and innovative invectives, but not so ideal for your blood pressure. A reinforced door hinged at the bottom solves the security problem and provides a ramp up to the elevated floor.
• Cheap and easy to build: Albeit these are relative terms, the goal is to use inexpensive material that’s easy to assemble. So, for the major components I’ve selected wood lumber in standard sizes that require the minimum amount of cutting (e.g. the floor is two uncut 4x8 sheets of plywood).
These are the major objectives I’ve tried to address with my current design. Suggestions are always welcome.




Some of the World’s Famous Beekeepers

Alexander the Great: Conquered the world, then died thousands of miles from home - his men carried his preserved body home for burial in a golden coffin filled with honey.
Aristotle: This Greek beekeeper and scientist used simple hives with wooden strip top-bars. Some of his observations about bees were pretty clever, others were dead wrong.
Ben Franklin: With everything from bi-focals, lightning, and the US Constitution in his realm of interests, it is not surprising he is mentioned by Thomas Wildman as a patron for Wildman's 1768 Treatise on the Management of Bees.
Brigham Young : A very famous American beekeeper... His interest in bees led to Utah being called the 'Beehive State' and having skep hives as emblems.
Charles Butler: This naturalist and beekeeper realized the "King Bee" is a "Queen Bee" - he wrote Feminine Monarchie. In 1609, he discovered that drone bees are male bees.

Beekeepers Lobby For Movement on Honey Bill

Local news item on the statewide effort to establish a standard definition of honey in New York:
http://rochester.ynn.com/content/politics/552910/beekeepers-lobby-for-movement-on-honey-bill/?ap=1&MP4

Empire State Beekeepers are also circulating an online petition:
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/support-pure-honey-in-new-york-state.html

President’s Message: Communicating Honey Bee Science

By George B. Schramm, LIBC President

As an architect, one of my primary responsibilities is to communicate. Typically, I have two audiences to communicate with: the client and the construction contractor. For the client, I would use renderings and models to communicate the intended appearance of the building. For the contractor, drawings and specifications communicate the knowledge necessary to construct the building appropriately. In both cases the instruments of communication need to be clear, concise, correct, and complete, and convey the intended work results, but the drawings and specifications are more technically oriented and require specialized knowledge, while the renderings and models are intended for a more general audience. But in both cases the goal is the same: to communicate the appropriate understanding of how the building will look when it is complete.

Science, specifically honey bee science, also has a goal: to communicate an understanding of how the honey bee functions. Honey bee scientists also have two audiences: scientists and everyone else interested in honey bees (non-scientists). As you would expect, communicating with other scientists is more technically oriented and requires specialized knowledge, while communicating with a more general audience needs “renderings and models,” i.e. comprehensible and appealing instruments of communication. But in both cases the information needs to be clear, concise, correct, and complete. Ay, there’s the rub.

While attending the EAS Conference in Rhode Island last month I had the opportunity to attend a variety of seminars, including many presented by scientists. The audience included both scientists and non-scientists, but the majority consisted of the latter, so it would be safe to assume that when choosing between the two forms of communication (e.g. technical or non-technical, drawings or renderings), the non-technical approach would be the appropriate one. And in most cases the non-technical, or at least the not-so-technical, method was how the information was conveyed, but with diverse variations of success. It wasn’t that a particular topic was uninteresting, on the contrary, the information was always fascinating and relevant, even for the hobby beekeeper, but the manner in which it was conveyed did, at times, require intense concentration and several strong cups of coffee.

The questions asked by the audience at the end of the presentation were the most telling determinant; if the questions invited the scientist to elaborate even further on the topic then that meant most people understood the content of the presentation and wanted to know more. However, if the questions just resulted in the scientist repeating portions of the presentation, then most of the audience didn’t get it the first time. To be clear, I’m not criticizing the personality of the scientist or the idiosyncrasies of their presentation style, an audience with the desire to learn about the topic at hand will easily forgive these foibles, I’m focusing on how well the scientist was able to convey the results of their research to a general audience in a comprehensible and appealing manner.

Alright, so some science presenters are less effective than others, why does this matter?

As humans, we use two fundamental tools to objectively understand and explore the world around us: math and science. Ironically, these are the same two subjects that most people report as being the most difficult to understand in high school and beyond. It would seem that although humans are naturally curious and have a predilection for solving math problems (see the study “Exact and Approximate Arithmetic in an Amazonian Indigene Group,” http://tinyurl.com/3zkyuwd), we still have a hard time using those skills in a formal process. But we don’t abandon math and science because they are difficult; to paraphrase President Kennedy, we do math and science because they are hard, because they will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, and because it is a challenge that we are willing to accept. We know what we know about honey bees and beekeeping through the employment of the disciplines math and science; it has improved our beekeeping skills and we can’t afford to abandon or ignore those disciplines because it may be difficult.

But we must also recognize that that difficulty is a barrier for most non-scientists. The discoveries made by scientists working in apiculture need to be presented at forums such as EAS, but those scientists also need to appreciate that the manner in which they communicate their research to a general audience is just as important as the research itself. Building a house will require drawings and specifications, but most of us want to see the renderings and the models; it’s same information just presented differently and the latter method substantially increases the size of the audience.

But it would be unfair to place the burden of communicating the advances in honey bee science solely with the scientific community. Effective communication requires both parties to be responsive and responsible. As the “users” of honey bee research, beekeepers should at least have a basic understanding of bee biology. One doesn’t have to be an expert in all things math and science, but we must make the effort to comprehend what we can. I have yet to hear someone state that understanding math and science, especially honey bee science, doesn’t make them a better beekeeper.

Top 13 Reasons You Know You're A Beekeeper

By Charlie Hall, Ocean State Follies, presented at EAS/RI July 27, 2011

13. The windshield of your vehicle has at least two yellow dots on it.

12. You pull over and check the bees on the wildflowers just to see if they are YOUR bees, and you can tell the difference.

11. The school principle calls to ask that you never again let your child take a drone tied with a thread to school for show and tell.

10. You check out all of the honey labels and prices at the supermarket.

9. You’re referred to by friends and neighbors as the BEE GUY or BEE LADY.

8. You know the bloom period of more local flowers than the state horticulturalist.

7. Your family and friends know exactly what they’re going to get for Christmas.

6. There is propolis on the steering wheel of your vehicle, the bottom of your boots and on your bed sheets.

5. You don’t mow the lawn because the bees are working the weeds.

4. You come home smelling like a camp fire, and you haven’t been camping.

3. You saw ‘Ulee’s Gold” and didn’t think there were enough shots of bees.

2. You’ve gone through the supermarket checkout lines buying nothing more than bags of sugar and Crisco.

1. You welcome a rainy weekend if it will stimulate nectar production.

Wax Moth Trap Recipe

Courtesy of Wayne Vitale, Spy Coast Bee Man

  • One cup of sugar syrup (50/50)
    • One cup of white vinegar
    • Brown banana peels

Pour mixture into a two liter plastic soda bottle with a one and half inch diameter hole cut out just below the neck of the bottle.
Let bottle with mixture ferment in cool dark place for twenty four hours.
Place bottle with rope for hanging. Replace every two weeks.
I have three bottles hanging in my Apiary and one in my honey barn.

President’s Message: The Lady in the Hive

By George B. Schramm, LIBC President

(With apologies to Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe.)

It looked like another dark and stormy night. So I took off my wet sunglasses and squinted at the bright sunshine of a cool spring day. The Kingsley Apiary was, and is, on Olive Street, near Sixth, on the west side. The garden in front of it had a fresh coating of immaculate green sod. A hatless pale man with a face like a halibut was planting dandelions into the sod and looking as if it was breaking his heart.

I went past him through an arcade of wisteria into a small field with short white columns scattered about. Tiny yellow and black dots moved about on the stages in front of each column like little girls at a dancing class. A neat little blonde sat off in a far corner on a small bench under the shade of maple and well out of harm's way.

She wore black slacks and under the unzipped white jacket a dark yellow shirt and a silk scarf of lighter shade around her neck. The edges of the hive tool in the breast pocket looked sharp enough to slice bread. She wore a linked bracelet and no other jewelry. In front of the pushed back white veil her gold hair was parted and fell in loose but not unstudied waves. She had a smooth ivory skin and rather severe eyebrows and large gray eyes that looked as if they might warm up at the right time and in the right place.

I held out my plain card, the one without the honeybee in the corner, and asked to see B. Kingsley. She looked down at the card and pretending to ignore it said: "Have you an appointment?"

"No appointment."

"It is very difficult to see Ms. Kingsley without an appointment." That wasn't anything I could argue about.

"What is the nature of your business, Mr….?"

"Personal."

"I see. Does Ms. Kingsley know you, Mr….?"

"I don't think so. She may have heard my name."

I grinned at her and said, "But maybe the best way to find out is to ask her."

"I don't like your manner," she said in a voice you could have cracked an acorn on. But there was a little sly laughter behind her eyes now.

"That's all right," I said. "I'm not selling it." She reared back as if I had hung a week-old mackerel under her nose. After a moment she stood up turned her back on me and said over her shoulder: "I’m Ms. Kingsley and I'll give you exactly three minutes. God knows why."

Beatrice Kingsley marched briskly behind one of the gleaming white hives and pulled a shiny smoker out of a copper and mahogany box, shoved in a handful of pine needles and lit it with a large butane lighter. She took her time about it. It didn't matter about my time. When she had finished this, she pumped a little smoke into the air and said: "I'm a busy woman. I don't fool around. I take great pride in my apiary and my expertise as a beekeeper. You're a licensed inspector your card says. Show me something to prove it." I got my wallet out and showed her things to prove it. She looked at them and slapped them away with the back of her hand. The celluloid holder with the license in it fell to the ground. She didn't bother to apologize.

"Everything is jake," I said. "You can check on it."

"Not necessary. I guess you might do, but don't get flip with me. And remember when I hire a man he's my man. He does exactly what I tell him and he keeps his mouth shut. Or he goes out fast. Is that clear? I hope I'm not too tough for you."

"Why not leave that an open question?" I said.

She frowned. She said sharply: "What do you charge?"

"Twenty-five a day and expenses."

"Absurd," she said. "Far too much. Fifteen a day flat. That's plenty." I said nothing. She seemed a little surprised that I said nothing.

She leaned over the hive and pointed with her smoker. "I haven't hired you yet," she said, "but if I do, the job is absolutely confidential. No talking it over with your inspector friends. Is that understood?"

"Just what do you want done, Ms. Kingsley?"

"What do you care? You do all kinds of inspection work, don't you?"

"Not all kinds. Only the fairly honest kinds." She stared at me level-eyed, her jaws tight. Her gray eyes had an opaque look.

"For one thing I don't count drones," I said. "And I get a hundred down as a retainer - from strangers."

"Well, well," she said, in a voice suddenly soft. "Well, well."

"And as for your being too tough for me," I said, "most girls start out either by crawling down my shirt or stinging me to show who's boss. But usually they end up very reasonable - if they're still alive."

"Well, well," she said again, in the same soft voice, and went on staring at me. "Do you lose very many of them?' she asked.

"Not if they treat me right," I said.

"Have a hive tool," she said.

I took a hive tool out of the copper and mahogany box and put it in my pocket.

"I want you to find my queen," she said. "She's been missing for a month."

"Okay," I said. "I'll find your queen." She patted her smoker with her left hand and quickly pulled it away while a hissing sound escaped from between her lips. She stared at me solidly. "I think you will at that," she said. Then she grinned. "I haven't been burned like that in four years."

I didn't say anything.

She ran a hand through her thick gold hair. "She's been gone a whole month," she said. "From that hive over there." She tilted her head and my gaze followed the direction she indicated. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the burnt fingers of her left hand go into her mouth.

"What have you done about it?" I asked.

“Nuffing. Nuf a fing...”

I reached over and gently pulled the fingers from her mouth. Her eyes apologized.

"Nothing. Not a thing. I haven't even been in there." She waited, wanting me to ask why.

I nodded, gathered my exhibits together from the grass and put them away in my pockets. "There are more angles to this than I can even see now," I said as I lifted the smoker from her grip. I walked over to the hive and started to do what she was paying for.

The sun wasn’t much higher in the sky when a small droplet of water fell from the tip of my nose and stained the hive cover as I adjusted it into place. From behind me a voice laughed “Given up already?” A sharp cold laugh. I turned slowly.

She still had the white jacket on. She stood with her back to the sun. Her gold hair had a faint halo. “No,” I said, “I found what I was looking for.”

"Your queen is dead" I said. "If it's any news to you." Ms. Kingsley stared at me and moistened her lips. I lifted my hand and between my thumb and finger was the elongated abdomen of a queen bee, but nothing more of it.

“How dare you” she hissed. “I didn’t pay you to kill her with your bumbling.” She started to advance towards me with anger in her hips.

Before she could take the second step I was at her side. My left arm wrapped around her waist pinning her right arm against my stomach. She let out a small choked sound and her left hand came up to claw at me. I caught her wrist and began to twist it behind her back. As I dropped my right hand I let go of her wrist and yanked the hive tool out of her breast pocket.

Her body went limp and her whole weight sagged against the arm that was around her waist. Her eyes were staring at the hive tool when her face writhed against my chest and I think she was trying to scream.

There on the gleaming edge of the tool was the head and crushed thorax of a queen bee. Her diaphanous wings twinkling slightly in the breeze.

Ms. Kingsley’s moist eyelids dropped closed as I undid the scarf around her ivory neck. The silk square fell out of my hand and fluttered down into the grass between two hives. I guided her sobbing frame gently onto the lawn crushing a dandelion beneath her. I laid the hive tool down beside her.

As I headed back toward the arcade of wisteria I glanced back at something. Something that had once been a queen.