December 2014 Meeting Announcement


The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, December 10 in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by a public presentation by Rick Cooper titled “Mites, Germs, and Other Critters: Keeping the Bad Guys Out of Our Hives” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Rick Cooper has been teaching people about bees since the 1980’s.
He became Maine’s first EAS certified Master Beekeeper in the summer of 1994. Since 1980, Rick has grown his one hive of bees into almost 100 and has educated more than 500 potential beekeepers. He has also talked to many groups about bees and their value to agriculture. He retired from the sale of beekeeping supplies in 2012, but continues to speak to beekeepers and the general public about bees when the opportunity arises. In his 18 years of selling honey and talking bees at Fryeburg Fair, Rick figures he has talked to over 500,000 people.

Rick’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.

Pollinator Health and Safety Conference


If you missed this year’s MSBA meeting and are still looking to attend a good meeting about honey bees, you might consider the Pollinator Health and Safety Conference (PHSC) being held on Thursday November 20, 2014 at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks (200 Sable Oaks Drive, South Portland, ME 04106).

Presentation topics include:

  • Factors Affecting Bee Mortality In the US (John Skinner)
  • Factors Affecting Bee Mortality In Maine Agriculture (Tony Jadczak)
  • Status of Native ME Pollinators (Frank Drummond*)
  • Pesticide Risks (Nancy Ostiguy)
  • Use Patterns for Neonicotinoids and Other Pesticides in Maine (Henry Jennings)
  • Best Management Practices For Pollinator Safety (David Epstein)


Note that Frank Drummond will also be the guest speaker at the February 11, 2015 meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club.  Dr. Drummond will describe a four year study he conducted on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Conference registration cost is $50/person on or before October 31 and $75/person after October 31.

For a listing of the tentative schedule and presenter biographies, you can visit the official PHSC webpage here.

November 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement

Karen Thurlow-Kimball

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, November 12 in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the public presentation “Re-queening a Honey Bee Colony” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Karen Thurlow-Kimball started beekeeping on her farm in the 70’s. She is the owner of New Moon Apiary and manages 60 hives of her own in Cumberland County, Maine, along with helping/teaching other beekeepers. She sells package bees, nucleus hives, and queen bees during the beekeeping season. She also sells raw honey and products she makes from her hives such as lotions, salves and lip balms. Karen has worked with “Increase Essentials” author DR Larry Connor learning and assisting queen grafting. She also has been a student of University of Montana professor DR Jerry Bromenshank with whom she studied honey bee anatomy and the effects of pesticides on pollinators.

Karen will speak about re-queening a honey bee colony. Re-queening is an important part of maintaining a colony of bees. A good quality queen means a strong and productive hive. Without a queen a colony cannot survive. You may want to replace a failing queen, calm down a defensive hive, or change the strain of your bees. Karen will cover techniques used to find and replace the queen within the hive as well as methods of queen introduction that result in the greatest acceptance. Her talk will also cover topics such as: When should you let the bees re-queen themselves, use a queen cell or a bred queen? When is the ideal time to re-queen? How do you know you need a new queen?

Karen’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.

October 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement

The first 2014 Fall regular meeting of the Androscoggin Bee Club we be held on Wednesday, October 8th at 7:00 PM in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. This year’s first get together will be an open discussion meeting with a honey tasting to follow. Because this is an open meeting, we WILL NOT HAVE our usual meeting for club business from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM.

Last year we noticed that at the end of our meetings members frequently wanted to talk about their own experiences and their own hives, but because of the late hour didn’t have a lot of time to do it. Our hope for this first meeting is that we could provide an opportunity for everyone to talk and to get to know each other a little better by sharing stories about our experiences from the past summer.

One of President Bill's girls watches the ABC members open his hives.

One of President Bill’s girls watches the ABC members open his hives.

ABC Members looking at Bill's hives.

ABC Members looking at Bill’s hives.

Members can come with any topic or situation from the last year that they would like to bring up to share or ask for comments from the members. If a prop from the bee yard would be helpful in telling your tale of victory or woe, please bring it along. Bill, Charlie and Pete will start off with an account of a temporary hive relocation project they directed this summer.

If you are new to beekeeping and want to come to ask questions or listen to others stories, that’s great too!
If you are an active beekeeper and were fortunate enough to harvest some honey this year, please bring a little to share with everyone and we can compare and contrast with other local honey. One idea here is that it might be fun to trade a pint or so with someone else from the club. Club officers will bring spoons, crackers and breads.

We hope to see everyone this Wednesday. As we move forward with the meeting season, you can expect to see announcements about 2 weeks before each meeting. I’ll also start updating the website again with meeting announcements and meeting summaries.

May 2012 ABC Meeting Recap

We were privileged to have Carol Cottrill give a presentation on Spring management and swarm prevention. Carol introduced basic biological reasons that bees swarm and described several of the steps that can be used to reduce the probability of swarming, and general good practices. The talk was organized, and Carol’s enthusiasm was infectious.


Carol spent considerable time describing methods to maximize honey production. An idea that was new to many members of the club was taht of placing an additional entrance between the brood boxes and the supers to reduce congestion in the hive and make it easier for field bees to fill the supers.

Carol also described methods for adding supers. When adding additional supers to the top of the hive during a nectar flow, it is important to put at least one frame with some honey in the new super (position 3 or 8) to “bait” the bees to start working it. This approach has the advantage that the queen is unlikely to move up into the supers (past the honey barrier) and enter the supers. After the bees start filling the first super, an alternative approach is to place a new super in between the brood box and the partially filled super. No honey needs to be added to this super because the top super will draw the bees up. Carol mentioned that as the season goes on and the bees start capping the honey, that the capped honey should be moved to the outside frame positions of the box and unfilled or partially filled frames should be placed in the center.

Another great tip for increasing honey production was the idea that placing 2-3 supers on at the start of a good honey flow can increase honey production. According to Carol, the increased internal hive volume makes evaporation of excess water from the ripening nectar/honey more efficient. Also, during a good flow, those supers can fill up pretty fast. So having enough space for the bee to put all of that nectar is always a plus!

Carol graciously shared her expertise and answered MANY audience questions. It was a very lively and engaging presentation. We hope that she will return!

May 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement


Carol Cottrill, Secretary of the Western Maine Beekeepers Association, President of the Maine State Beekeepers Association and Board Member of the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS), will be the speaker for the Androscoggin Bee Club in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn on Wednesday, May 14th 2014 at 7:00 PM.  Her talk “Swarm Management” will be presented following a short club business meeting at 6:30 PM.

Carol has attended many beekeeping seminars to learn more about the art and science of keeping bees. In 2005 she took the EAS examination to become a Master Beekeeper and became the first female Master Beekeeper in Maine.

Each spring she coordinates and helps teach the Bee School offered by the Western Maine Beekeepers Association. She has given presentations to gardening groups, social organizations and children’s groups. Each fall she can be found at the Farmington and Fryeburg Fairs with other WMBA members promoting beekeeping and offering honey samples.

Carol is now “the Queen Bee” of the family’s Fox Run Farm and thoroughly enjoys sharing her knowledge of bees, bee products and honey with anyone who will listen.


April Meeting with Kenny Record

April 2014 Club Meeting:

As is usually the case, the club meeting was proceeded with informal discussion about the state of our bees and what we should/could expect in the near future.  Club President Bill Hiss prompted brief introductions from attendees.  He asked everyone who was interested to leave us with their names, email addresses and whether or not they wanted to be or needed a mentor for the upcoming bee keeping season.

It was great to see so many members of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club in attendance.  There was the typical sense of good will between bee keepers which led to a discussion of future combined events for the two clubs.  The OHHB club has a nice web site with some great information and a listing of upcoming events.

For those who missed Kenny Record speak at the ABC (or to see him speak again), you have another chance on May 11at the University of Maine Cooperative, 9 Olson Road in South Paris.  Here’s the description from the OHHB club site:

Kenny Record generously shares his unequaled knowledge on bee – havior when it comes to splitting hives. Making your own nucs will also be discussed. Plan on an afternoon of learning, humor and a whole lot of good old common sense delivered in an
uncommon way.

Vice President Pete Schlax noted that the Androscoggin beekeepers club website has a functional calendar indicating dates for club events, flower blooms and bee keeping activities.  He asked members with suggestions for additional calendar items to pass them along (

Club treasurer Charlie Armstrong provided the Treasure’s report, indicating that our modest balance is sufficient to provide our speakers with a modest honorarium and to maintain our club website.  Thanks to all our dues paying members!

Attendance for April 2014:

Attendance was 28 people including our speaker.  Although this increase was definitely helped with the turnout from members of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club, our “spring increase” continues.  As we move into open hive season, it would be great to stabilize at 30-40.  That seems like a healthy and sustainable number for Androscoggin County.  Tell your friends!

March 2014 Speaker Presentation:

The March 2014 ABC meeting presentation was given by Kenny Record. Interesting, informative and entertaining, Kenny began his talk with the story of how he started beekeeping.


Kenny Record describes his early experiences in bee keeping at the April 2014 ABC meeting.

Five year old Kenny had been bee-lining with his father. One day, while his father was at work, Kenny used a glass jar to trap a bee on a flower.  He watched the bee sip nectar from the flower and, after a while, he released it and watched it fly up a bit and straight away.  A few minutes later, the bee returned, took up nectar, and flew away again.  The bee returned a third time, bringing a friend.  Kenny told us he watched the bees coming and going from the flower for hours.

When his Dad came home from work, he asked Kenny whether he’d timed the bees. He hadn’t.  So Kenny and his Dad used a small stick to dab a little bit of chalk, mixed with water, on the back of one of the bees for identification. They timed the bee’s round trip from the flower, away and back. Three and a half minutes. Kenny told us that it normally takes a bee about a minute and a half to unload at the hive, so it was about a minute flight each way to and from the “swarm” (as colonies were called at the time). The next day, his father took him to the swarm, and Kenny became a beekeeper. Continue reading

April 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement

Ken Record 2

Ken Record, vice-president of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club, will be the speaker for the Androscoggin Bee Club in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn on Wednesday, April 9th 2014 at 7:00 PM.  His talk “Hive Division and Re-queening” will be presented following a short club business meeting at 6:30 PM.

Ken Record is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced bee-keepers in Maine.  He started helping his father at age 5, and has kept bees for over 70 years.  In his first year, he split 10 hives to create 97 nucleus hives, and lost half of them to wax moths, in the years well before mites were a bee-keeping problem.   Ken is an expert at the delicate craft of “grafting” queens, but is an expert in all forms of splitting hives and re-queening them, as a way to forestall bee swarms.  He has seen every facet of bee-keeping, from taking hives to far northern Maine for commercial pollination, to taking 400 hives to be wintered in Florida, to selling hundreds of pounds of honey and bee candy each year at the Fryeburg Fair.

The public is invited to hear a very entertaining speaker whose personal experience includes most of modern bee-keeping. In what turned out to be excellent preparation for handling hundreds of heavy hives each year, Ken as a young man was a 3-time bantamweight weightlifting champion in Maine, and has dealt with bears with literally hundreds of his hives over the decades.

March 2014 Meeting Summary

March 2014 Club Meeting:

After several useful moments of informal discussion among attendees, club President Bill Hiss prompted members to introduce themselves to provide everyone an opportunity to get to know each other.  During the introductions, club member Dan Carrey shared an excellent treat of two year old cut comb honey.  Dan even provided spoons!  Thanks Dan!

Vice President Pete Schlax briefly described the changes made to the Androscoggin beekeepers club website as follow up to the agreed upon proposal to make these changes at the February 2014 meeting.  The site is now running as a WordPress site.

Pete noted that the website now contains a calendar that indicates days for club meetings, open hive meetings (not scheduled yet) and recommended hive management activities.  If you have things you’d like to see added to the calendar, please contact the website manager at:

Club treasurer Charlie Armstrong was unable to attend for professional reasons.  In Charlie’s stead, Club President Bill Hiss noted that club dues have been priced to allow us to provide our speakers with a small honorarium for presenting  along with a modest contribution to travel expenses.  [I’d also like to add that dues pay for domain registration and web hosting for the club site.  — Pete].

Attendance for March 2014:

Attendance was 12 people including our speaker.  Not bad for a meeting rescheduled on such short notice.  We’ve been slowly trending upwards and, given then new faces in attendance at this meeting and the fact that other members were not able to attend, are looking to enter the 15-20 range.  That would be terrific and would move us into a range with sufficient critical mass to sustain the club.

March 2014 Speaker Presentation:

The March 2014 ABC meeting presentation was given by EAS master beekeeper Chris Rogers of Backwoods Bee Farm in Windham, Maine.  Brian confidently provided an excellent and practical talk on what club members should be thinking about in terms of spring hive management in southern Maine.

For those unable to attend, here are some great tips Chris gave us.  Where appropriate, I’ve added some estimated dates [Brackets]:

Continue reading