I could not reach this page to update it after the initial entry this morning. Moreover, when accessing the site by browser to look it over, the server tried to place a cookie onto my computer. I refused to grant permission, phoned my WPP, and told them what was happening. They were noncommittal, but a quick web search quickly pointed me to the culprit and I told them what had I found. When confronted with this evidence, they came clean. They had installed some web logging software this morning. They removed it from my sites and things are back to normal.
Cookies and web bugs are getting pretty widespread on the web. I don't know if they are a threat to privacy or not, but the worst case scenario would have web servers identifying machines used by individuals and linking them to a 'wallet' or 'passport' or 'profile' which could contain a lot of sensitive personal info, such as credit cards and addresses, income, etc. resulting in increased harassment by telemarketers etc. -- or even fraud against a person's accounts. I don't like this trend to invasive monitoring and think this is going to soon cause quite a furor -- once people figure out what is going on. I have no concerns in this regard, since questionable web sites don't interest me, but those who frequent web sites that could get them into trouble with their spouse or employer may conceivably have cause to be worried as well.
Today I discovered that the Paulo and Dennis had trouble with the feeder yesterday. The message somehow did not get relayed to me even though I was nearby and could have met up with them and likely have fixed the problem if aware of it. Basically, the syrup was quite thick, due to being pumped from the bottom of the tank. We are using syrup that has been kept over winter, and there is always some precipitation of sugar over a period of time, especially if the weather is cold. I had mentioned pumping from the top of the storage tank, and avoiding chunks of granulated sugar from the bottom but that had been overlooked, and the sugar gets into the pressure pump and also clogs the nozzle used to fill feeders. Often the problem is not obvious, and the pump cycles on and off as a result of back pressure, or gums up and stalls, resulting in overheating. Fortunately they recognized the problem and quit using the pump. We'll see if there was permanent damage when we next use it.
They fed with buckets, and only managed half of what they normally do, even though they worked extra long and hard. They returned quite late, having worked very hard and long for less than great results. Of course, I had no idea what was happening. I would have had them return and get the thing repaired, rather than do things the hard way -- had I only known.
Today we straightened out the problem and got tanks ready for the HFCS that is coming on Tuesday. For HFCS, I always put at least 10% of the expected volume of sterile water into the tanks in advance. The syrup arrives hot and mixes with the water very nicely when filling the tank. HFCS 55 comes at 77% solids and we ideally need something between 50% and 65% for feeding. Unless diluted, the syrup granulates within days to a soft creamy consistency and is hard, if not impossible to pump or mix. Our main concern is fermentation getting underway if we thin it too much. The other problem with thinning too much is that thin syrup can drown bees in open feeders. Bees float right up in thick syrup and hardly get wet, but when thinned, the syrup has less surface tension and the bees have less buoyancy.
I got water from Three Hills -- our local Swalwell water has too much fluoride (2) for bees -- and Ellen worked with the guys to check the packages. The clusters needed to be moved closer to the frame feeders in some cases and generally adjusted for proper placement in the brood chambers.
The guys left at noon -- they had earned the early off by working last weekend and had their hours in. I finished working with the tanks and then headed to the Mill for supper.
Today..Sunny. Wind light. High plus 9.
I got up and headed to Viking, arriving around ten. It only took a few minutes to see that the tanks I had driven up to look at were steel and useless for me, so I left and went home via Bashaw, where I heard the cheese plant had closed. There were vehicles outside and the door to the cheese plant was open when I got there, so I wandered through the abandoned plant looking for anyone. There was no one to be found and there was no equipment left, so I went on my way.
Ellen had mentioned by phone that the guys could not get into Hustons' due to several feet of snow. I was driving by in a a car and decided to see just how bad the snow was. There was some snow at the gate, but I was able to drive in there without too much difficulty. The guys aren't very confident in snow. They had a loaded truck and should have been able to get in and out without much difficulty.
I stopped in Three Hills, picked up a few things, and got home in time for supper. After supper, I watched a movie I had rented in town. This is a return to something I used to do years ago. I discovered a week or so ago that I had not gotten around to paying the StarChoice satellite TV bill due to some billing errors. Confusing errors in bills sometimes cause me to set such bills aside pending reconciliation. I'm not good at digging though and recalculating things. The StarChoice bills got buried under some papers and they cut me off! Their loss. It took me a week or so to notice that I had vastly reduced service, and this made me wonder about the value of using StarChoice at all, so I rented seven movies for seven days for $7.95 and decided to see if I miss satellite TV. so far, I think they will miss me more than I will miss them. Maybe I'll get Bell ExpressVu in the fall, or maybe I'll hook up to StarChoice again, but share with four friends, effectively reducing cost to under $20 each.
I have been becoming increasingly annoyed with the StarChoice channel selection each time it has been rearranged since I first signed on several years ago. Each time there was a change, it seems that I was paying more for less. At the end, I was paying $55 a month and even then I found almost everything I actually wanted to watch gave me a 'subscription required' message. I found the 'choices' confusing and found that they have arranged the 'selection' deliberately in a way that, for each channel I might want to watch occasionally, I was forced to pay for a bundle of channels I would never want to look at. When I complained, they assured me that for $75, I could have everything (almost), but that is too much money and, besides, summer is coming. Who needs TV in the summer?
Tonight..Partly cloudy. 30 percent chance of evening flurries.
Wind light. Low minus 6.
It's minus 1.2 C and overcast with no wind. We have bees to check and feed and it's getting time to look in on the packages to see how they are doing. I glanced in and find that they are a bit short of feed. The weather is cool and they are having a problem getting to their feeders. Nonetheless, I think they are okay for now and we will adjust them in a day or two.
Daytime temperatures for the next two days are quite cool, with better weather expected on the weekend. We're still quite a bit below the normals and it would be nice to get a hot week to get the bees brooded up. We still have no pollen coming into the hives, but we should see some very soon now.
Mike came to work with us today. He is very interested in bees, and so I said come and work with us some day to see what we are doing. He went around with the guys and they did 361 hives in total.
I left for Ponoka around five and checked to see if the guys can get into the yards yet along the way. I think they can get into all the yards I visited.
I stayed with Jean and Chris for the night.
Today..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind
Light increasing to north 30 km/h this afternoon. High plus 4.
We awoke to find an inch of snow. The temperature is around zero and there is no wind, but the guys have some frames to work on and then we have to repair the Quonset. The high winds exacerbated a problem that has been developing. Apparently, over time, flexing has broken several welds and the arches have jumped off their plates, reducing the tension on the skin. This allows the tarp to flap in the wind and will result in early and sudden destruction if the wind comes up and catches an edge. I tied the loose edge down with the aid of the Meijer bros last night after Ellen noticed the problem, but we have to get the welds repaired ASAP, before we get a high wind again.
First thing this morning, El & I drove the Buick over to the detailer north of Linden to get it cleaned inside. $100 is a good deal, I figure, for a thorough cleaning. We'll now tackle the Quonset problem.
(Later) It took pretty well all day to repair the damage and that's about all we got done, but the building should be OK for a while now.. In the afternoon, the sun came out and the snow disappeared.
Today..Mainly cloudy. Wind becoming west 20 km/h. High
We started at ten this morning, since everyone was up late last night.
First thing this morning, we checked the weights of the empty packages and found that they had been right up to weight in spite of looking a bit small. We had weighed them when they arrived (right) and generally weigh them again empty to see what value we received.
When weighing these air-freighted packages, it is always hard to be precise, since there are always bees swimming in the syrup in the open feeders that are used and so we always dip them out and add them to the bees we shake out. They usually get cleaned off by their sisters, and many are saved. In the process, we not only remove the bees from each feeder, but also remove a few ounces of the syrup in which they are swimming as we install each package. When we are done shaking the bees out, we gather all the empties up along with all the bits and pieces and weigh them.
We're back to feeding and checking again. We're on our second round, although we have 280 hives we have not been able to get to yet on our first round. Now, on the second, we are adding syrup to the division board feeders and replenishing the protein patties. We're also putting on the menthol shop towels left over from last year just to use them up. I'm not sure how much of their punch is left, since menthol is so volatile, but it can't hurt. Besides we haven't found any tracheal mites yet.
The guys got two yards done before the day ended.
Meijers came for supper.
Don't forget to update your anti-virus. There is another new something nasty out there today.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to west 30
gusting 50 km/h. High 8.
I woke up at 5 and called Morley. He was at Golden and driving in fog and rain. I asked him to call 1-1/2 hours before his ETA at our appointed spot 30 miles north of Calgary at an overpass, and went back to sleep. At nine his helper called and reported they would be at the rendezvous in a half hour. Seeing as the spot is a half hour drive from here, I had to rush, but we met up and I got the bees okay. The packages looked a bit smaller than I expected, but were mostly OK. I've seen much worse. I loaded them and headed home.
The last time I got bees from Morley, on April 4th, two years back, it was an extremely windy day, and today turned out to be a similar day. When I met him this morning it was sunny and warm, but the wind was steady and building. On the way home it was not too bad, but an hour or two after I arrived home, it really picked up. By mid-afternoon, the wind was gusting to 60 MPH according to reports, and I believe them.
I stopped at Hopes' East on the way home from the Carstairs overpass, and looked into a few hives. They looked very good. One had eaten its entire protein patty plus the paper. Time for another. That hive also stung me in the corner of the eye. It swelled only very slightly, so my immunity is still pretty good. even in the sheltered yard, it was windy and it occurred to me that we could have run some four-packs into the bush with a Swinger in the fall when we put the bees into winter, even if we could not get right into some of the best spots by truck. That way we could have gotten the hives entirely out of the wind.
When I got home, we put the bees out of the wind in the shade, but as it got worse and spat rain, we put them inside he North End shop until our planned installation time at dusk and hoped the wind would die down. The only thing a wind like that is good for is windsurfing. If the lakes were free of ice, which they are not, then it would have been a stellar sailing day. FWIW, we still have a little chunk of ice on our pond, but it will be gone tomorrow, I suspect.
At seven, Paulo and Dennis arrived and Ellen & I joined them installing the packages. It's eleven twenty-five now and we are done. I did most of the shaking with Dennis helping. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed with the packages. They seemed uneven in size and perhaps a bit small. Maybe not. We'll know tomorrow when we weigh all the packages and feeders. We usually do that and it is interesting to find out what the actual weight of bees was. In the past, the New Zealand supplier we used several times came up 10% light both times, while the Australian supplier came up almost that much heavier than the minimum (advertised) weight. We'll see this time what we have. I also noticed three dead queens during installation. We received NO percentage queens, so we have several queenless hives now. We'll see if they drift out or if we can use them in equalizing somehow.
Today..Sunny. Increasing cloudiness later this afternoon. Wind
increasing to west 50 km/h with gusts to 70. High 16.
Dennis and Paulo came in at the regular time and by eleven, they had the brood chambers laid out and feeders filled. They then headed home. They are both eagerly looking forward to installing the bees tomorrow evening.
I wasn't sure whether to keep the packages or not. I had considered offering them to friends, since package bees are in short supply, but decided to keep this 100 to take pressure off us later. We decided that if we had to split to make up losses, we might split too much and lose crop. We figure each split costs us as much $30, even before we consider lost crop, so packages make sense. We'll just split enough to manage the hives for swarming, etc.. This way, the increase is done early, and hopefully the packages will work out well and pay for themselves, plus give us 85 extra hives to go into winter.
I hate to bring in new stock, but so far, we are still dependant on purchased stock, whether queens or packages, and have to reconcile ourselves to the dilution with less than ideal stock. After all the noise I made about buyers insisting that breeders use the HYG test on breeders, I have to confess that I have no idea whether Gus has incorporated that test into his program this year or not. I'm pretty well dependant on his Hawaiian stock in spring. I have 500 on order for May. Mostly the Kona carniolan stock has been good producing and good wintering, and from what I saw of Adony's tests, it was in the upper range of the stock in hygienic characteristics, but still not HYG.
We must get back to raising our own queens. I know we will have better crops and better wintering. We never had better success than when we selected from our own best hives, but stopped raising queens when we expanded to accommodate the needs of pollination.
The weather is very nice now. The snow here at home is gone and mostly soaked in with less than anticipated runoff. The pond is still covered with ice, though. I spent the afternoon leveling the gravel and visiting with a beekeeper from Manitoba who drove here to pick up packages and stopped by to look at some equipment.
We went to Elliott's' for supper and Bert came along. We watched the curling semi-finals and called went home. Bert had a bottle of honey liqueur and brought it in for a nightcap. Bert left at around 12:30. I had to get up a 5 to meet Morley to get the packages.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of morning
showers. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h with gusts to 50 this afternoon. High
There are about 280 hives left to visit, but they are so far from the road, and still so well snowed in, that we are waiting for next week to make the next trip out to visit them. Even with the snowmobile and toboggan, the guys were getting stuck going into some places. As for being in any rush, well, we are never sure if all the help we give makes much difference; the hives are well fed. Making these visits allows us to feel as if we are doing something, and gives us a chance to count our losses and thus predict the season, but we really don't know how much it helps the bees.
Of course the sooner we get Apistan® into each hive, the better, since it works best when there is no brood, or very little, and the strips can get in the way at splitting time if they are still in the hives. As for the patties, it is good to get the medicated patties on early to forestall AFB before it gets a chance to get going. I guess these visits pay, but in years where we have had yards snowed in until May, we have noticed little difference between them and the ones we worked on.
We got word today that we will be getting 100 packages -- 50-4lb packages with two queens each from Australia, so we started setting up the brood chambers for them and getting the feeder ready. They arrive Sunday. We didn't get everything completely ready, so we will be working Saturday morning getting ready and we will also work Sunday night -- installing them.
Fen, Maddie, Maurice and Dave came over for burgers and we all had a good visit.
Today..Mainly sunny. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h. High
We are now anticipating a decent run of weather, exceeding the norms for the first time in a month or more. Monday looks a bit cool, but today, tomorrow, and the next day should give the bees a chance to get out and allow the rest of the snow to melt, setting the stage for tree bloom.
This morning the guys decided to take the snowmobile and make another try at some of our north yards. Although the snow may go in a week, the mud it will leave could keep us out of the yards for a fortnight. The bees up there are looking much better than down here and we are seeing our average loss drop back. Sometimes one area is good; sometimes another is better. That is one reason we are spread over a range of districts.
I noticed some water on top of the ice in the pond last night, so we are getting some runoff. Not much though.
In the afternoon, I walked down to the hives by the scale and looked to see if they were needing more patties yet. It looks as if the patties will last until next week, although the warm weather will be getting brood rearing underway and the protein may disappear fast. Bees were flying from both the top and bottom on many hives and they look good. I notice a skunk has been visiting to eat the dead bees on the ground in front. No problem now, but later, that may become a concern if it is a mother skunk. They get very hungry when nursing and start to bother the hives instead of just scavenging, especially if the bees hang on the doorstep and teach them what a feast is possible.
These hives were made up last spring as splits, using Kona carniolan queens. After a few initial losses last summer, they all survived and wintered, too. I notice that they are all getting quite yellow, so I don't really know how carniolan they actually are.
I went to a Calgary Ultralight Flying Club meeting in the evening. I started flying a few years back because I figured it would be a good way to see things from the viewpoint of a bee and to spot flowering crops, etc.
I had put high grade gas into the Buick at Cochrane to see if it made any mileage improvement. I got a 1.5 MPG decrease in performance -- for a 15% increase in cost! Maybe that was partially due to the problems with the fuel pump, cranking the engine a lot, etc. It turned out to be a bad time for such a test. I'll have to try again some time.
Today..Mainly sunny. Wind increasing to west 20 km/h. High
It is plus one and overcast at 7 AM. The forecast is for plus twelve, so It will be muddy. I doubt we'll get runoff today, but if it turns sunny, that could happen. With the warm night promised tonight, tomorrow is more likely. We don't have enough snow to promise much, but we could see the pond fill up a bit.
The guys finished another 352 yesterday and now all the local yards are done. We're about two thirds done putting on patties. That means going north where the snow is deeper -- and the mud is deeper -- today.
We put started putting in Apistan®, too. I realize that the test show zero levels, but we know the mites are there and this is the best and cheapest time of year to hit them by a factor of three and out best chance of not missing any hives. Once the honey season starts things get hectic, and any mite bloom could be untreatable due to having supers on -- they are often on until late September.
I went out early this morning to deliver some hone to landowners and look around for places to put down bees. The geese are back, and spring is coming -- finally. I found and confirmed three sites.
Paulo phoned in and they walked into two yards with patties. They found only one dead in each and report that there is four feet of snow in places, but it is melting fast. They were unable to get into most of the yards, even driving the 4X4 and walked into two yards, carrying patties. All said and done, they accomplished about half the normal day's work.
In the evening, I drove over to Drumheller to poke around. The Buick is running excellently now. When it got dark, around nine, I set up the headlights on both cars, since they were aimed a off, some bit high, some low.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southwest 20
km/h. High 12.