Eastern Apicultural Society's Annual Conference Update
Dr. Mark Winston, Simon Fraser U. & Mr. Brian Snyder, PA Association of Sustainable Agriculture
The keynotes will be delivered on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 . . . but wait, let me take a step back for those of you who haven't been to an EAS Conference week before.
The format of this annual event follows:
The "Short Course" normally spans Monday and Tuesday. In 2013, two tracks will be offered and there is an extra day for some of the course topics to overflow into Wednesday.
On Wednesday, though, the Conference and Worshop Series begins with the keynote addresses and ends with a social gathering at a near-by picnic ground.
If you're not too tired by quittin' time on Thursday, you should attend the annual Auction Dinner, which is a fundraiser for the research grants that EAS awards each year.
Throughout most of the week, your favorite vendors of beekeeping supplies, books and gadgets will be on hand with their wares. In the same vendor area will be bee fabric for the quilters, bee art & jewelry and much, much more!
And, oh yeah - there's a HONEY SHOW with prestige and prizes to be won. Admit it, you're proud of your bees' work! So bring it, enter it and show it off!
By Friday, you will have met so many new and interesting people, you will want one last chance to get together with them before it's over - the Annual Banquet!
Pennsylvania's own Maryann Frazier is ably organizing the program for Wed. through Fri. Invited speakers are confirming their intention to be with us and pinning down the titles of their talks and workshops. Check the EAS website often for confirmed speakers, lodging information and other updates.
There's so much to see and do in and around West Chester, PA that you may want to make it your family vacation! Spend a day or two touring together in Philadelphia, Valley Forge or Dutch Country. By Wednesday, they'll know their way around on their own and you can get back to the conference! Or stick around an extra day at the end and enjoy the PA State Beekeepers Association Picnic, complete with a "hive crawl" and mead tasting, in a nearby urban area on Saturday August 10.
Pennsylvania beekeepers will welcome you warmly! See you in August!
Mead Madness Presentation Available
FROM THE EDITORS DESK: December 2012
We are looking forward to our Holiday Party. Please remember that we usually have a grab bag of bee related gifts valued up to $20. There will also be a raffle for a gift basket and some great door prizes. This is a wonderful time for meeting and talking and having fun with fellow beekeepers in a relaxed setting with lots of good food. Please let me know as soon as possible if you plan to attend.
We are sorry to tell you that Moira Alexander has suffered another loss. Her brother died suddenly so please keep Moira in your thoughts and prayers as she and her family go through another difficult time.
Another member of our club that needs our good wishes is Pete Bizzoso as he prepares for knee surgery. We hope to see you jumping around in good shape soon Pete!
I don’t have the full schedule for the club for 2013 but our January meeting should be exceptional. We will have a panel discussion with four Master Beekeepers presenting and then a question and answer period. It should be a lively and interesting program so mark you calendars.
Don’t forget that January 2013 your dues will be due. Please try to mail them early so we can avoid the long line we had last year.
President’s Message: Reaching Out, Part 2
In Part 1 of this column, I wrote about some of the ways and means our outreach program helps to educate the general public about the benefits of bees and beekeeping.
Here in Part 2, I will be writing about how important the Club’s outreach program is in combating one of the chief threats to beekeeping: ignorance.
It’s human nature to perceive animals that can cause personal injury and gather in large numbers as a threat. Honey bees fit the bill for most people, but as beekeepers we know that honey bees are rarely aggressive and that swarms are harmless. Beekeepers don’t perceive honey bees as a threat because we have more knowledge than the average person about honey bee behavior.
Now let’s look at the typical situation for a suburban hobby beekeeper from the neighbor’s perspective: the prospect of living near boxes filled with thousands of potentially stinging insects is probably ignored by many, worrying to some, and seen as a serious threat by a few. So let’s say that 1 out of 10 people perceive the bee hives in their neighbor’s yard as a serious threat. What do most people do when their neighbors do something (or possibly not do something, like cut the lawn) that they perceive as a threat to themselves or the community at large?
At first they might complain to the local municipality or law enforcement, but they could also speak to an elected official. And given the current desire of most elected officials to solve their constituents’ problems, an emotionally-charged objection to a neighbor’s honey bees could easily lead to that dreaded “r” word, regulation. Since it’s highly unlikely that an elected official will know any more about honey bees than the uninformed neighbor, its not difficult to foresee the attempt to create a local law or a zoning code modification that’s intended to “protect” the community from “scourge” of beekeeping.
Now, we have a community that unnecessarily regulates (or possibly bans) a hobby that provides local honey and free pollination services essentially because of ignorance; ignorance of the benefits of beekeeping and the true behavior of honey bees.
Let’s now imagine the same scenario but with one chief difference: you. If that one neighbor or that one elected official had an opportunity to visit our educational display and talk to a beekeeper like you, you could be the agent of change. Even if that visit or conversation were a brief one, you would still have an opportunity to raise their awareness about beekeeping and let them know that the club exists as a resource for information. With a little more time you could probably describe the basics of beekeeping and the agricultural advantages of pollination by local honey bees. Could you remove all fear of honey bees and convince them to become a beekeeper? Probably not, but by seeing your positive attitude about honey bees as you describe their essential role in our ecosystem, in the future they will less likely to perceive a box of bees as a threat. And that could mean the difference between being able to keep bees in your backyard, or not.
But that one neighbor or that one elected official won’t have an opportunity to talk to you if you’re not there. A public educated about the benefits of bees is our best advocate for beekeeping, and only a beekeeper like you can help us achieve that goal. We need you to be a Bee Club Ambassador; we need you to share your passion; we need you to talk to the neighbor and the elected official; we need you to participate in our outreach program.
Don’t wait for someone else to do it and don’t wait until it’s too late. If keeping bees is what you want to do, then help the Club make sure that someone who knows nothing about honey bees doesn’t take that away from you.
The Garden Column: November
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)
There isn't much left for you to do in your garden, but rake leaves and water.
Make sure your evergreens get plenty of water. The more water the better they will overwinter.
Your mums need deadheading and water.
You can rake your leaves and put them in bags or you can do as I do and dig a big hole and rake them all in the hole and mix with your fertilizer next year or as mulch and spread over your vegetable beds.
Keep things clean! Rake out under the bushes and beds. The cleaner your garden, the better your start in the spring.
So what do you do with your "green thumb" in the winter? How about some houseplants?
Plants inside the home have the same needs as plants outside: sunlight, air, water and nutrients. For houseplants, the most restrictive of these is sunlight. The sunniest position inside a house sill provides less light to plants than the shadiest position outside. Even in the smallest of homes, there is a wide variety of light. So when placing your houseplants, use the best available light condition.
Many plants are well adopted to growing in supplemental light, but plants chosen for growth in artificial light should be small in stature so the light source will not have to be moved too often.
Some plants that do well in artificial light are listed below:
Boston Fern, Rabbits Foot Fern
Lipstick vine, Flame Violet
Variegated Chinese Evergreen
Creeping Rubber Plant
Dwarf Silvernerve Fittonia
Compact Variegated Snake Plant
Marble Queen Pothos
Oakleaf Grape Ivy
Zebra Vine, African Violet
Silver Queen Chinese Evergreen
Pothos, Venezuela Treebine
Prayer Plant, English Ivy
Polka Dot Plant, Earthstar
Peperomia, Begonia and Columnea
You can really let your green thumb loose here and populate your house with all sorts of leafy greens, reds, yellows and all the colors in between. Watering is essential and a good houseplant fertilizer will help.
Have Fun, Hope to see you at the Christmas party.
FROM THE EDITORS DESK: November 2012
Here is the birthday cake my niece Mandy made for me for my birthday this month. The queen bee on top is wearing a crown! My kids surprised me with a lovely party and it was wonderful to have my whole family together for this milestone celebration.
Our honey judging contest last month was a great success. We had many good entries. Eleanor Bizzoso won Best in Show with an excellent frame of capped honey.
We welcome new members to the club: Deborah Klughers and Joseph Cass.
I received several phone calls, one from Pat Bono of Empire State Beekeepers Association regarding a call she received from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and another from Mary Weaver of the American Bee Journal. Both of these calls were to inquire about the condition of the bees on Long Island after Hurricane Sandy. I received back about a dozen replies. Most of the replies were from Suffolk beekeepers who did not suffer much damage to their hives. I heard from Wally Blohm about a beekeeper on the East End, not a member of the club, who had some hives “float away”.
I haven’t heard from many people in Nassau, but some of the people I called still had no electricity or inter-net service. I did receive a copy of the Ulster County Beekeepers newsletter and they listed a great deal of damage to the NYC bee hives. I also learned that the Pennsylvania Beekeepers have volunteered to assist those beekeepers in New Jersey who have suffered major losses. If you know anyone in the club who has had significant damage please let me know so we can inform the Senator and also Mary Weaver for her article. Also if there is a need hopefully someone will be able to assist in whatever way possible.
Did any of you have trouble with the gas shortage? I was almost out of gas and the lines were miles long so I just went out to my hives and whispered to my girls about my problem. The next thing you knew there was a swarm of bees around the gas tank of my car and it was being filled with ………………..BP! (Ha Ha)
Don’t forget to bring samples of your Mead to this month’s meeting. We can have a Mead tasting. Also if you have a copy of Beekeeping for Dummies, Howland will be happy to autograph them for you.
Moira is working diligently on the Holiday Party. Please send your checks to her as listed below.
Don’t forget the grab bag gift, bee related theme, limit $20. Also if you have any bee items that you would like to donate to a gift basket raffle that Moira is putting together please bring it to this months meeting.
Here is the recipe for my Blue Ribbon Honey Truffles.
1 pkg Honey Maid Grahams crushed in food processor
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoonfuls honey
1 pkg Candy Melts, White Chocolate
Mix crushed honey grahams with softened cream cheese and 2 tsp honey. Form into small balls using small meatball scoop. Place on wax paper lined cookie sheet and freeze for about 1 hour.
Melt white chocolate or candy melts. Dip cookie-cream cheese balls into chocolate until covered and place on wax paper lined cookie sheet.
Drizzle with honey.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Judge Ray Lackey hard at work with his assistant Ginny.
Honey Judging Entries with their Ribbons
The Garden Column: October
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)
This just in: Impatiens are suffering from a "blight", that makes them lose their leaves and kills them. To prevent spread of this disease, rip out the whole plant with roots and earth and dispose of. Also it has been reported that some Basil plants are infected with some fungus, keep your eyes open . Other than that, clean up! The cleaner your garden the less work you have in the spring!
I did not wrap my Fig Tree last winter and it survived just fine! I will leave it alone this year too.
We do dig out our daffodils after they have bloomed. The green leftover growths look just too ugly and the replanted bulbs will be much stronger. We will pick a sunny day sometime this week, after we figure out where to put them.
That's another problem, where to plant things. We love to go to plant sales and often get carried away buying new stuff. Then when we get home, we have to figure out where to plant it!
Sometimes we get too ambitious.
This month is our garden clubs' fall plant sale and I am leaving my wallet at home.
A word of caution: If you are my age, don't overdo things! My head is usually ahead of my body and somehow I can't do as much as I used to. So I do it in stages. a little at a time. I carry a light chair with me and sit on it while weeding. I am also having my lawn mowed and let them do the cleanups. I also try to do things early in the morning while I still have some energy. In the afternoon I am already tired and just walk thru my garden. I can’t help myself though and still find myself picking weeds and tying down plants. But the whole thing is pleasurable and lifts my spirits.
Know when to stop!
I promised you some apple picking sites:
(These are mostly upstate and ideal for going with the grandchildren on a day trip)
These are all about 1 to 1 1/2 hours drive from NYC.
Apple Ridge Orchards 101 Jessup Rd Warwick, NY, 845-987-7717
(Breathtaking scenery, hay wagon rides, farm animals
Minard Farms 59 Hurds Rd (PO Box 317) Clintondale, NY
NYS Thruway (I87) exit 18 (New Palz) open weekends and holidays.
No phone Nr. avail.
Lawrence Farm Orchards 39 Colandrea Rd., Newburgh, NY
(They have everything)
These three are all beautiful drives and getting there is wonderful too!
PS. If you want o stay on Long Island you probably knew where to go.
FROM THE EDITORS DESK: October 2012
This has been a busy month for the club for our education and outreach and lots of fun. We sponsored booths at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration and spoke to many school groups and families. There was also a honey judging contest and ribbons and dollar prizes were awarded. We were also represented at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum the Columbus Day weekend and also at the fair at Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center Fall Wildlife Festival at Jones Beach . We handed out the LIBC leaflet and lots of literature from the National Honey Board, answered many questions and of course the observation hive is always a huge success. Maybe we will find some new beekeepers at our next meetings.
Moira, Andrew, Conni, Grace at Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum
I Love NY Honey
President’s Message: Reaching Out, Part 1
Autumn is a busy season for the Club and its volunteers. Within the past few weeks our Outreach Director, Marianne Sangesland, has been coordinating the Club’s educational displays at the Second Annual NYC Honey Festival in Rockaway, the Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage, the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center Fall Wildlife Festival at Jones Beach, and the Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park Fall Garden and Harvest Festival in Oakdale. At each of these events our Bee Club Ambassadors participate by setting up a table with information about the Club, honeybees and beekeeping, samples of our tools and equipment, and an observation hive in order to promote the benefits of bees and beekeeping. Since one of the goals of the Club is to educate not just beekeepers, but also the general public, these events present a great opportunity to fulfill that mission.
I try to participate in as many of these events as possible, and inevitably the most frequent question I get asked by non-beekeepers who stop to see our display is, “why do you keep honeybees?” (Actually, it’s usually phrased more like, “why in the world would you want to keep bees?!”) I’m sure it’s a question we all get asked now and then, but as longtime craftspeople already involved in the craft of beekeeping we’ve already thought about and incorporated into our passion the reasons for doing what we do, and unless someone asks us why, we probably don’t articulate our motivation that frequently. So, why do we keep honeybees?
The answer lays with the bees themselves and their amazing ability to provide irreplaceable products and services.
Chief among those services would be pollination. The honeybee accounts for 80 percent of all pollination done by insects and without the honeybee's pollination services more than a third of the fruits and vegetables that humans consume would not exist in sufficient quantities. Pollination by honeybees is not just important to commercial plantings, like apples and almonds, but it is also essential for fruits and vegetables found in backyard gardens, like cucumbers, squash, melons, and strawberries. A hive in the garden can be the difference between success and disappointment for a local gardener.
The two noteworthy products that wouldn’t exist without the honeybee would be honey and beeswax. The ability to harvest and share honey is probably the most influential aspect in the decision to become a beekeeper. Local honey is an unbeatable and delicious natural sweeter that has subtle, and occasionally not so subtle, variances of flavor that are dependent on the floral sources available to the bees; there is nothing more accurate to express the “local flavor” of the indigenous environment than the local honey.
Fortunately, evolution has not only produced an insect that can convert nectar into honey, but has also created a harvestable method by which honeybees can store that honey. Honeybees have wax-producing glands on the underside of their abdomens and they can manipulate this wax to create combs of hexagonal cells that can be used to store nectar, pollen, and to raise new bees. Because beeswax has a high melting point (144 to 147 degrees F), it makes for excellent candles that have a "warmer" colored flame and very little visible smoke. Beeswax can also be used in natural soaps, lotions, and cosmetics such as lip balm, and as a superior wood polish.
Of course the list of beneficial services and products provided by honeybees can be expanded even further, but if this brief description was enough to get you excited about sharing your passion for bees and beekeeping then we need you as a Bee Club Ambassador. At the events the Club attends you get to share those amazing stories about your life among the bees with the public, and in the process help promote our organization. There is nothing like the look on the face of a non-beekeeper as you thrillingly describe how you boldly thrust your bare hands into a box filled with thousands of stinging insects to wrestle away their highly coveted liquid gold (or words to that effect).
Next month, in Part 2 of this article, I will be writing about how important the Club’s outreach program is in combating one of the chief threats to beekeeping: ignorance.
The Garden Column: Things to do in September
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)
I just walked thru my garden, a walk I take every morning and picked up three more tomatoes. (Everything seems to be too early or too late this year.) I make sure, that I always carry my clippers with me on my walk. There is always something that needs cutting.
I already cleaned up those snaky cucumber vines, ditto the squashes. The roses were cut and I divided my daylilis and hostas.
My garden is almost bare but my wifes' herbs are still going strong and whenever she needs some herbs for cooking she sends me out with a knife to cut some for her. This is such a pleasure! Imagine having your own kitchen garden!
• Plant or transplant evergreens (narrow & broadleaved) this month. Soak immediately after planting. Mulch newly planted evergreens.
• Divide daylilies and hostas after flowering.
• Prevent serious winter injury to semi-hardy shrubs by pulling away the mulch to harden them off. Replace mulch in early November.
• Early leaf drop may be due to dry summer, if so, water trees thoroughly before they go into a dormant condition later on.
• Now is a good time to fertilize your lawn. Use a slow release fertilizer.
• Sow grass seeds on well prepared soil beds, that should have been prepared in August.
• Continue watering established lawns once a week thoroughly. To help the new seeds to germinate, frequent light watering is necessary.
• Prevent some of next years’ fruit diseases by gathering up fallen leaves, twigs and infected fruit.
• Dig gladiolus corms when they have sufficiently matured. Allow to dry, then remove foliage. Store over the winter in bags with free air circulation.
• Divide and plant many spring-blooming perennials this month, especially if you haven’t done this in three to five years.
Coming next month: Where to pick apples
President’s Message: So Long, and Thanks for All the Honey
It lasted for seven years. I guess I shouldn't complain, since I never had to pay for it. But still...
Sure, we only went around together once a year, so you would think it would have lasted longer. Most times it was a sweet experience, even when it was a lot of work. And despite the occasional problems, everything still came out in the bottom.
But when the difficulties are too great to overcome, sometimes you just have to say, "So long, and thanks for all the honey."
I'm going to miss that honey extractor.
During my first year with the club, a member approached me to say that he was giving up beekeeping. Not that he wanted to, but he and his wife decided to give it all up, the bees, the equipment, the house, the job, and buy a mobile home to travel around the country. (I'm guessing that the whole venture probably cost him less per year than beekeeping.) He had a hand-crank, nine-frame, stainless steel extractor with a dent in the bottom so it didn't quite work right, and he didn't feel it was worth much, but since I was the newest member and just starting beekeeping, maybe I could get it to work. Since extractors are expensive, I was planning to do without and super the hives with Ross Rounds every year. He didn't have to ask me twice.
I managed to jury-rig a fix and get it to operate, but it was always finicky. This year I couldn't keep the gears properly aligned consistently, so hand-cranking all of those frames became a bigger chore than usual. In the end, with a tear in my eye (from fighting off the feelings of penuriousness) I decided it was time for a new extractor. (My wife says it needs to be motorized because her arms get tired, but I think she's exaggerating.)
But which one to buy? With that kind of an investment you want to get something reliable. I needed to do research, and price comparisons, and budgeting, and more research, and get confused, and then give up. It was during one of those times of quiet indecision with my head in my hands and the catalogs spread before me on the floor that I heard them. Far off in the distance, struggling to make themselves known, it was the advice of my fellow beekeepers: "No, don't buy that one, you idiot." "This one is great." "I'll never buy that model again."
It became quite obvious that I needed the one thing that every beekeeper has at least two of and will give away for free: an opinion.
So here's your chance to contribute to: "Help George Choose an Extractor" or "Whatever You Do, Don't Buy This One" or "This is the Extractor For You."
Just go to this form and fill it out with your opinion: http://www.longislandbeekeepers.org/extractor/extractor.php
You will have a choice of keeping your opinion private (just between you, me, and the bee on the wall), or sharing your advice with the group. I'll post the advice you want to share here on the website so others can benefit. In either case, everything will be anonymous, so feel free to express it all: what you like, what you hate, what you really think of your mother-in-law, etc.
Until next month: "So long, and thanks for all the advice."
A Sculptor Creates a Stop on the Bee Train
Beautifying the D Line
Christopher Russell, 52, a Manhattan sculptor, is one of 10 artists commissioned by the M.T.A. Arts for Transit and Urban Design program in its latest project to enhance New York subway stations.
Mr. Russell was entrusted with designing bronze gates, 7 feet high and 6 feet wide, at the Ninth Avenue Station in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The gates depict honeybees crawling on hives, and the posts of adjacent fences will have honeybees resting on 17 finials shaped like flower heads.
The gates are expected to be presented in the fall after the station, an Arts and Crafts-style copper-roofed structure built in 1916, has been fully renovated. Although the gates are operable, riders will not pass through them, but will simply admire them (or tremble in their presence).
Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/garden/a-sculptor-creates-a-stop-on-the-bee-train-qa.html?_r=1
The Garden Column: Things to do in Early August
2. Iron deficiency may be a problem on azaleas and other Ericaceous plants. This shows up as yellowish leaves with green veins. Apply iron chelates to fight this problem.
3. Continue watering lawns thoroughly once a week during dry periods.
4. Remember not to spray herbicides on the lawn during the present hot temperatures (over 75 degrees) This will keep ornamentals from being damaged.
5. Constantly be alert for chinch bugs. Sod webworms are also continuing to damage your lawn.
6. Fusarium and verticillium wilt may be present on tomato plants. Use a resistant variety next year.
7. Continue to apply an all-purpose fruit spray to peaches every two weeks, until three weeks before harvest. If brown rot is a problem, continue spraying until two or three days before harvesting them. Use a fungicide such as captan or copper.
8. Spray grapes for black rot with captan, copper or mancozeb.
9. Cut out raspberry and blackberry canes that have already fruited.
10. Lacebug can still be a problem through September on Andromeda and azaleas. For effective control; spray the leaf undersides with carbaryl, malethion or insecticidal soap.
11. Aphids that are sucking juices from maple and weeping willow leaves are dropping honeydew. The leaves will have a mottled appearance. Spray when you see it. (Malathion, acephate, insecticidal soap or oil). Do not apply insecticidal soap to Japanese maples. Do not apply acephate to sugar or red maples. Bagworm larvae are actively feeding now, but spraying to control them is only effective in June .. On small plants, hand pick them, put into a bag and destroy them.
If vegetables wouldn’t be so expensive, I wouldn’t be doing much gardening.
Spray the Peaches, spray the tomatoes, apply this, apply that…….
Fight the lace bugs, watch the aphids, collect the bagworms, etc, etc.
Give me a break! Where is the nearest farmers market?
And yet, when I pick that first tomato and slice it, make myself a sandwich with mayo and onions, salt and pepper, I’m in heaven!
The Garden Column: Garden Chores for July
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)
Every spring I watch people buy all kinds of annuals. They lug home flats of impatiens, marigolds, zinnias, etc. Annuals are, in the strictest sense, plants that complete their life cycle in one season. These plants can germinate, grow, flower, and set in one year or less. Which means, they have to be replaced every year.
Biennials and "tender" bulbs (not all are true bulbs) would also be included in this definition, since plants of both would have to be replaced every year.
Some "annuals" such as impatiens and geraniums are actually perennials but are treated as annuals in our climate.
I have been successful in saving geraniums over the winter, but have never tried it with impatiens. (Maybe with "Global Warming" this can change.)
I prefer a perennial garden. I don't have to replace all those dead annuals (saving money and labor), plus I am looking forward already to see my plantings from previous years came back to life, strong and beautiful as ever.
Here are a few tips for your perennial garden:
- Most perennials do well in full sun, or at least 5 hours of sunlight a day.
- Many perennials follow the sun and will lean if not planted were they get sufficient light.
- Good drainage and protection from drying winds are essential for growing.
It is generally accepted that the position of the garden is best where it can be viewed from the house, patio or sidewalk. The exact position is influenced by the type of garden you choose, such as a border or an island bed.
President’s Message: Life Unfolds
Life unfolds. Like undoing an origami crane or trying to flatten a crumpled ball of paper. Sometimes it opens along sharply folded lines; other times it only comes undone with torn creases and frayed edges. But each act of unfolding reveals something new inside. At times something pleasant, occasionally unexpected, now and then sad. Nevertheless, undoing the fold forever leaves an enduring wrinkled crease in the paper.
As beekeepers we witness life unfolding within the comb in a very distinct and predictable pattern, thousands of times over. But with human lives, not so much.
Dave Alexander always struck me as a man who was pleased with the way his life unfolded, which is uncommon. On Sunday afternoons before a Club meeting, I would often find Dave quietly working on the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. Knowing that I was also a devotee of the Sunday puzzle, when I walked by he would look up and ask me if I thought the puzzle was difficult that week. But before I could begin to answer, he would shake his head saying, “No, no, don’t’ tell me.” Dave really didn’t want to know how the puzzle would unfold, because being difficult or easy was inconsequential; he had every intention of completing it, regardless. He was going to open that small crinkled corner of his ball of paper to reveal the experience hidden inside.
For Dave, life certainly presented many more tribulations that were far more challenging then a crossword puzzle, but he faced them all with the same unpretentious audacity.
I couldn’t tell you how much of his paper Dave got to unfold, but I think he was pleased with what the visible surfaces revealed. However, I can tell you that on the ball of paper in front of me there’s a damp crease from being a witness to his courage.
The Garden Column: Herb Container Gardening
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)
Not everyone has the space or the strength to dig an herb garden. That’s where container gardening comes in.
Herbs give so much pleasure for so little work. They look good, often smell good and usually taste good. Best of all, they thrive with little fuss.
Herbs are ideal for growing in pots. Many thrive in hot, dry conditions with excellent drainage--the kind that can be found in a clay pot. Also many herbs tend to vigorous to the point of being invasive, so it's good, to have them contained, Herbs that do best in pots in hot, dry conditions include thyme, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and lavender. Herbs that do well in pots but prefer cooler, moister conditions include parsley, cilantro and mint.
The first step in planning and planting an herb garden is to select which herbs are best for you.
Annuals vs. Perennials
You will notice that many herbs are listed as annuals or perennials. If you are confused about the difference, remember that annuals seed and die in only one year or less. Perennials come back year after year.
Practical Uses For Your Herb Garden
Some herbs, such as catmint and thyme, are worth planting just for show. Others, such as lemon balm and lavender, provide a fragrant appeal that many enjoy. For the chefs among you, herbs such as basil and cilantro, makes your cuisine a gourmands dream.
Choosing a Container
There are nearly as many types of containers as there are plants to put them in. The bottom line: If the container can hold soil and has drainage, it can grow plants.
Container Size and Shape
The size of the container also plays a role. Large containers can be heavy and expensive but retain moisture well and make a strong impact. Small containers are less expensive but dry out quickly.
Where to Put a Container
You'll need to be sure that the container is placed so the herbs get the amount of sun they need. If you place a container on a porch or under an eave or other shelter, you have to water more often than if they are in the open.
Maintaining Healthy Soil
For the lazy gardener like me, use a ready potting mix. Miracle-Gro and other premium mixes work just fine.
Plant your herbs (I don't bother with seeds but buy baby plants from a reliable nursey.
Water frequently, fertilize (see the growers suggestion), hope for sunshine and watch your herbs grow
President’s Message: The Honey Bee’s Accelerometer
If you own one of the new ‘smart phones’, like the iPhone, or had a chance to play with someone else’s, you have probably noticed that the phone responds to gravity. For example, the image on the screen will orient itself automatically in response to the position in which you hold the phone; hold it horizontally and the image will display horizontally; rotate the phone vertically and the image responds appropriately. This occurs because inside the phone there is a microelectromechanical device called an accelerometer. At the heart of the accelerometer is a tiny, flat, square-shaped weight with rods projecting out from the edges in each of the four directions. The weight is held in place by small springs at the end of each rod and each spring provides just enough resistance to gravity so that if you lay the phone flat the weight will be centered, but when you tip the phone the springs will allow the weight to move in the direction of gravity. Also projecting from each edge of the weight are tiny rod-shaped capacitors that move with the weight. Parallel to these are another set of rod-shaped capacitors but these are fixed to the phone. So as the weight moves the pairs of capacitors are moving past each other. The paired capacitors respond to the change in voltage that occurs depending on how much the capacitors overlap. If you stand the phone on end, the weight moves downward, making the weight-mounted capacitor at the bottom of the weight completely overlap the fixed capacitor. The tiny computer inside the phone senses the voltage change and tells the display to respond appropriately.
Honey bees use a similar type of mechanical device to sense gravity. Unlike humans and other mammals, honey bees do not have a vestibular apparatus (the arrangement of tiny fluid-filled semicircular tubes in the inner ear). The bee uses the position of its head to determine which way is down.
The outside surface of a honey bee is an articulated exoskeleton and at the joints between the body parts are hair plates. These plates have evolved in such a way that when one part, let’s say a leg, moves, it stimulates the hairs that are located around the joint where the leg is attached to the thorax. The movement of these hairs sends a signal to the bee’s central nervous system (similar to the signal your brain receives when the hairs on your arm move), and in this way the bee can perceive the position of it’s leg. These hair plates that signal the position of body parts are called proprioceptors (a fancy way of saying self-perception receptors).
At the joint where the bee’s head is attached to the thorax there are hair plates that have the specific function of determining the position of the head in response to gravity. The bee’s head is similar to the weight inside an accelerometer; gravity forces the head into a slightly different position when the bee is standing on a vertical surface, like hive comb, facing down than it does when facing up. And the hair plates on the bee’s neck are similar to the rod-shaped capacitors in that they sense the position of the head [weight] and relay that information back to the central nervous system [tiny computer]. This arrangement that allows the bee to sense gravity is called the proprioceptor gravity receptor system (or PGR system).
But the similarity doesn’t end there. A smart phone uses its accelerometer to control its fancy display and a honey bee uses its PGR system to put on a rather fancy display of its own. The waggle dance is the method by which a single honey bee can convey to other honey bees in the hive the distance and direction of a food source. During the dance the performing bee walks at a certain angle in relationship to gravity and waggles its abdomen (remember, all the bees are standing on the vertical surface of the comb). It is thought that the other bees that are witnessing the dance are able to transpose that angle of orientation with respect to gravity to an angle of orientation with respect to the sun. After witnessing the dance additional foraging bees can now find the new food source by flying in a direction that has that same angle of orientation to the sun. Performing the waggle dance to communicate with other bees is only possible because of the bee’s ability to sense gravity with its PGR system.
As I mentioned above, humans have a vestibular apparatus in the inner ear to detect the direction of gravity, but our brains also use two other methods: visual evidence perceived through the eyes and proprioception. The proprioceptors in humans produce results similar to the ones in honey bees, in that they convey the position of our body parts, but they operate differently. Humans have sensory neurons, like stretch receptors, in our muscles and joints that, almost imperceptibly, convey to our brains how are arms and legs are positioned in relationship to gravity. You can easily test your proprioceptors by closing your eyes, raising your left hand over your head, and trying to picture in your mind where your left hand is positioned. If, when you open your eyes, your left hand is where you thought it would be then your proprioceptors are working just fine.
For more information on the honey bee’s response to gravity, see “Form and Function in the Honey Bee” by Lesley Goodman (ISBN 978-0860982432), and for a compelling story on the consequences of losing the use of your proprioceptor system, see “A Leg to Stand On” by Dr. Oliver Sacks (ISBN 978-0684853956).
You Can Do it Too! Improve your Marketing Skills; Enter a Show
How good are your honey, candles, mead, photos and baked goodies? Bring your efforts with you to EAS in Burlington and show them off! Have you ever had a customer tell you your honey was the best she had ever tasted? Are you proud of your candles? Join in with others this summer and strut a little. The EAS Short Course and Conference will be held August 13-17, and the Honey Show is Thursday the 16th.
Not only will you learn an incredible amount at EAS and meet people from all over, you'll have fun between presentations roaming the vendor area, chatting with speakers and friends in the dining hall, and at the great activities. But don't forget the Honey Show! We have 6 months to go before EAS, but it's a good time to begin thinking about the Show.
Don't worry if you're unsure of how to get ready to enter a Honey Show. The Honey Show Committee now has a new Honey Show page on the EAS website. It includes everything from why not to use smoke when harvesting comb honey (tiny bits of soot end up on the comb surface) to how to transport your jars of liquid honey (not in a carry-on bag on a plane). The education gathered together on the EAS Honey Show Resources page has many uses. Learning to get hive products ready for a show is the same as learning how to prepare them for market. By investigating and using the material collected for you on the site, you'll develop skills that improve all your hive products. Just how are great candles made, including finishing the bottoms? How long should a bottling tank or bucket of honey be allowed to settle before you bottle? Check out the EAS website for this new addition and get answers to these and many other questions. Not only will you learn to improve your products for market and for the EAS Honey Show, but it's also fun exhibiting at County Fairs, or State beekeeping meetings. Remember, all the details judges check at a show relate to things the beekeeper needs to consider when getting a product ready for market, from exactness of fill, to absence of floating particles in honey and taste and clarity of mead.
The site has contributions from former judges, as well as webinars from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, links to high quality websites, a list of the best books and more. The website could be used as part of a meeting, if you connect a laptop to the projector. If your club has someone who has judged shows, or enjoys entering shows, perhaps those people could give a presentation at a spring or summer meeting.
In honey shows, presentation is the key thing to remember. It is kind of ironic that the taste of the honey itself is not judged except in one class. The reason taste isn't judged in most classes is that the judges are grading you, not the bees. You waited until it was completely capped before taking it, so it had low moisture as honey should. You were the one who harvested and bottled the honey, or cut the comb. You were careful not to overheat it and damage the flavor. You took care to protect it during the drive.
The class in which taste is judged is called the Black Jar because the jars are opaque. It is quite a charge to win the Black Jar Class – best tasting honey! Close an empty jar and spray paint it black, fill and then replace the lid with a new one for this class.
For the dark honey class, set aside about 5 lbs. of 2011's darker honey before you run out! Harvests made before EAS probably won't be dark honey, so save some aside now. When you buy a case of jars, check them all and set aside the ones that have the fewest bubbles or imperfections in the glass and save these for show entries.
If you plan to enter the Frame of Honey class, you can use this winter to build a carrying case for your frame. These cases are sometimes fancy, sometimes plain, but the important thing is that the case protect your frame while allowing it to be seen. Only the frame of comb is judged, not the case. If you want to enter the wax or candle classes, winter is a good time to render, pour, mold and dip. Make all the examples of blocks and candles you can, so you become proficient and also have lots to choose from later. Some people make thin petals of wax and combine them to make wax flowers.
Gadgets that you may have built or imagined can be fine-tuned, tested and shown to beekeeper friends for comments. Look over your photos from the past and think about pictures you can take this season for the photo classes. Enter some bottles of mead you already created in years past. The art and craft category is very open-ended. Do you have something you made already, or can you sew, build or create something unusual and beautiful by August? Then there's that all-encompassing Miscellaneous class, open to your imagination. Practice on your family with your baked goods recipes. Practice makes perfect, and they'll thank you. 25% of the sweetener must be honey, but more is better.
Be sure to read the rules carefully. I didn't before my first EAS show, and only brought one jar of honey for each class (three are needed). At a local County Fair, a new exhibitor was saddened to find she couldn't enter her honey because it had her own label on it. Later, I was so proud to see my entries among the others at another EAS show, and that teenage beekeeper won first place the next year at the county fair.
Learn more, have fun and let's bring our entries to EAS and show everyone what we've got!
Remember, the EAS Short Course and Conference will be held August 13-17 in Burlington, VT.
President's Message: “This hitteth the nail on the head.”
2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the Club. We’re going to start things off in February with taking the first couple of steps in our reorganization of the Club, kick off our Local Nuc and Queen Rearing Program, and we’ll have our first guest speaker of the year.
Our first order of business at this month’s meeting will a vote on the approval of the new Bylaws. I hope that by now you’ve taken some time to read the new Bylaws (if you haven’t, you can find them on the Club’s web site). Since the current bylaws do not contain a provision for amending the Bylaws, we’ll be using the procedure established in the new Bylaws; therefore the new Bylaws will be ratified upon “two-thirds affirmative vote of the members present” at the February meeting; assuming we have a quorum (i.e. ten voting members excluding officers).
Next we’ll be placing nominees on the ballot for the nine Executive Board positions: President, Vice-president, Treasurer, Secretary, Membership Secretary, Education Director, Outreach Director, Programs Director, and Immediate Past President (or a Director appointed by the Board). Voting takes place at the Annual Meeting in March; and the new officers will take their positions at the start of the fiscal year in April.
As I mentioned in my last column, under the new Bylaws the Club has three elemental goals: Successful and Responsible Beekeeping, Public Outreach, and Fellowship. So we’ll be asking for volunteers to sign up and participate on the Club’s new committees: Finance, Membership, Education, Outreach, Program, and Awards and Contests.
It’s at this point in my missive that I planned to insert some rousing and inspiring words to convince you that your involvement in these committees is what will make them, and the Club, a success. But with much aforethought I’ve decided that some simple epigrams penned by a far more creative writer than me, specifically the 16th-century English playwright, John Heywood, would be more effective:
Two heads are better than one.
Many hands make light work.
The more the merrier.
Next on the program, will be a discussion of the Club’s new Local Nuc and Queen Rearing Program. But if I told you all the details here it would spoil the surprise. So, you’ll just have to make it to the meeting to find out how you can help create “Long Island” honey bees and maybe make a little extra money on the side.
And finally, this month’s speaker will be Mary Woltz. Ms. Woltz is a beekeeper living on the east end of Long Island, where she manages approximately 100 colonies and her company, Bees’ Needs, focuses on direct sales through farmers’ markets and her Community Supported Apiculture program. You are not going to want to miss this.
Now at this point you’re probably asking yourself how are we going to fit all that into a Sunday afternoon? Well, starting this year all of our meetings will be starting promptly at 1:00. The room will open at 12:30, so you will have some time to grab a snack and do a little networking with your fellow apiarists before things get rolling. So, join us at 12:30 on Sunday, February 19, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 31 Rider Avenue, Patchogue, and get ready for a year of beekeeping. Or as John Heywood would say: “When the sun shineth, make hay.” (He probably meant “honey.”)