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To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it;
for when we fail our pride supports us; when we succeed, it betrays us.
Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832)

My current Apiary

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Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
 Clearing  High 7C  Low -6C
Normals: Max: 3C Min: -8C

Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum

Well, I've done a lot of writing lately.  (See Previous Page)  Have I have run out of material?  We'll see.

I have some beekeeping to do if the weather is decent today.  I should check the hives, sample mites and maybe treat with oxalic acid drip, then wrap the hives.  It's around zero and foggy at 9:30, but the sun came out for a few minutes and I think it will warm up.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I worked a bit more on the Honey Bee World Forum today, and unlocked some topics which had somehow become locked in the upgrade, so the board should be accessible for signing up and posting.  Let me know if there are any problems.  I also  fixed a lot of links on this site, but there are more to go.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I see now that we have some action in the forum.

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S Truman (1884 - 1972)

As for the outside work, we stayed in.  The fog did not lift, so we worked on El's website and some mugs for promotion and for Christmas instead

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, and we take some time to think about war.  Especially we are reminded to think about the "brave men who fought for our freedom", and we do, and we appreciate very much that we are free, and can only begin to imagine what they went through, what they had to do and what they had to suffer.

While the day was originally set aside in Canada and the Empire of the time in remembrance of the First World War, over the years other wars have been added to the list, and, when we stop to think, we realise that there are wars raging in numerous places around the world at this moment.

While we are officially urged to remember the soldiers, and their sacrifices, I cannot help but also think of the other victims of war: the babies and children, the women and the old people.  War seems so brutal, destructive and senseless, and yet humankind has seldom been at peace for long, and we have recently seen wars that involve 'advanced', 'civilized' nations that -- one would think -- should be able to find a better way.

On the anniversary of that armistice, let us all pray that, "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more".

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
A mix of sun and cloud   High 12C  Low -3C
Normals: Max: 3C Min: -8C

Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Honey Bee World Forum

"Good Morning, I live in the State of Michigan near the Canadian Border, I saw your picture of the handle cutter for boxes, is this something that you made, and if so how does it work?"

Yes we built it and it works well. This machine has been the subject of quite a lot of interest, so I'll try to take more pictures and discuss this more here as I find time.

I'm now working on a page describing the building of the hand hole cutter.  See here

I'm off to work outside, but I just got a note from Jose with a PDF copy of Changes in Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Colony and Survival Pre- and Postarrival of Varroa destructor (Mesostigmata: Varroidae) in Louisiana.  Very interesting.  Download it here.  Apparently he and his friends have documented increasing tolerance to varroa in feral bees in Louisiana over the past two decades.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

We worked on the quonset and did not get around to the bees.  Here is a shot of the patch job.  The job is incomplete, as we still have to stretch the skin out over the end, and we still have some welding to do.

Inland's tarp tape is magic, but it is hard to find.  I know Inland's owner and gave him a call, then picked some up at the factory.  We know John from the early years of Inland's bee wrap manufacturing.  In fact, come to think of it, maybe the bee wraps were our idea.  I've had a few good ideas over the years.

Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults. Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973) "Emotions"

The tape is 12" wide and of a 'peel & stick' design.  50' cost $109 retail.  Unfortunately, the tarp material is lighter weight compared to good tarps, but it should serve well, seeing as it sticks even in 10 degree C weather.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I spent some time this evening repairing the links and pages from the year 2005, the last year I maintained the diary until now.  The pages were quite a mess.  It was fun to look back into the past.  How time flies!

I've been playing with various browsers to view these pages.  Although it works in all, it seems that Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) has a bug that make the window wide, with scroll bars when a small window is used, instead of scaling the image at the top of the page.  Firefox, on the other hand scales the picture nicely.  I rally have little preference between the two, but usually find myself employing Maxthon2 for my daily browsing, since it is a very high-powered browser.  It is built on MSIE.  There is an add-on for MSIE that gives it some of the Maxthon features, including ad blocking: IE7Pro.  Try it. You'll like it.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Speaking of ads, you'll notice that I have added Google Ads to my pages.  I resisted such crass commercialism in the past, but figure most of these ads are actually useful -- they are served according to page content and thus actually offer relevant offers -- and not too annoying, I hope.  I've already made $34.02!  Big deal, but a buck is a buck and we'll see what happens.  Interestingly, if you install IE7Pro (above) and have the default ad blocker on, you won't see them.

Thursday, November 13th, 2008
Chance of flurries or rain showers   High 3C  Low -5C
Normals: Max: 3C Min: -8C

Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Honey Bee World Forum

Forecast Issued: 5.00 AM MST Thursday 13 Nov 2008

: Becoming cloudy this morning with 30 percent chance of flurries or rain showers. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h near noon except 60 gusting to 80 over eastern sections this afternoon. High plus 4.
Wind warning in effect. In the wake of a cold front moving southward through Alberta today strong northwest winds will develop over central and eastern portions of Alberta. Northwest winds 60 km/hour gusting to 80 are expected to develop this morning. Winds are forecast to begin diminishing this evening.

: Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries early this evening. Clearing overnight. Wind northwest 30 km/h except 60 gusting to 80 over eastern sections this evening. Wind becoming light overnight. Low minus 5.

: Sunny. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light in the afternoon. High plus 4.

: Sunny. Low minus 5. High 16.

Wind Warning!  Good thing I got most of the quonset work done yesterday.  Hopefully the wind will actually help tighten up the skin by flexing the building so that the lines we installed and the rubber straps -- I have yet to put them on -- can pull it into place better.  It needs to be stretched out over the end of the frame, as can be seen in yesterday's picture.

A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience. -
Doug Larson

It is amazing to see the quonset walls flex in strong winds.  They can flex almost a foot, so one thing we leaned early on was not to stack right to the walls.  The building has held up for ten years or so now, so we worry less than when we first saw that happening.  I used to worry that the tarp would lift off, but one of the clever things about the design is that, in addition to the anchors screwed into the ground, there are 3-foot flaps at the bottom of the sides that are buried with several inches of dirt.  Pulling those up would take a tremendous force.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

The forecast looks good for getting my bee work done in the next couple of days.  Saturday looks good.  We're having friends over for Sunday lunch, though, so I should try to be done by then.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Here are my most recent BEE-L posts.



Re: healthier colonies



Re: healthier colonies



Re: Genetic compatibility effects on caste determination



Re: Beekeepers protest outside Downing Street



Re: Genetic compatibility effects on caste determination



Re: Caucasian bees.

067220 08/11/12 Re: Genetic compatibility effects on caste determination
067222 08/11/12 Re: healthier colonies
067224 08/11/12 PDF Problem Fixed
067240 08/11/13 Re: Penn State Backgrounder on CCD

(Later) We put on the rubber straps before the wind picked up and loosened the cover a bit so the material could move endwise.  Everything seems to be working well.  The tape is holding, although it was cold and some spots needed pressing down again.  The tarp is moving and I should be able to fasten it more permanently tomorrow.  The wind got nasty and cold, so we went in. 

I found that I had misplaced my camera and went back out.  I was glad I did because the wind had been strong enough to budge a pallet of bricks to which I was tying down the frame.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I've finished (for now) pages describing the building and use of the hand hole cutter.  See here.

Questions and comments can be directed to the Honey Bee World Forum

Friday, November 14th, 2008
Chance of flurries   High 4C  Low -5C
Normals: Max: 2C Min: -9C
Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum

067266 Re: The USA is in bad need of new genetics from abroad
067255 Re: Penn State Backgrounder on CCD
067254 Re: Parasitism in the honey bee colony
067253 Re: The USA is in bad need of new genetics from abroad
067247 The USA is in bad need of new genetics from abroad

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
William G. McAdoo (1863 - 1941)

We worked on the quonset some more, tightening the skin.  The wind yesterday helped tighten the frame, and we also moved the ends back into position, since they had spread out a bit over the years. 

Late in the afternoon, I went to town and stocked up on groceries just before supper.  I notice prices have moved up a bit.


Saturday, November 15th, 2008
Chance of showers   High 8C  Low -5C
Normals: Max: 2C Min: -9C
Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum

This was the day I was planning to work on my bees because the weather was to warm and sunny.  Now I see the forecast has changed.  Hmmm.  I guess I'll have to do it anyhow, since I am running out of time.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong.-- Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

I have been vaguely aware of the upcoming 2009 Annual Canadian Beekeepers Convention, but Malcolm's letter reminded me again.  Wonder if I should go?  It looks promising.  Here is the agenda. The last time I attended a meeting in Niagara Falls was 2002.  I'm off to Laguna Beach for Thanksgiving, but could either go directly to Niagara Falls or come home, then go there.

Participating are: The Canadian Honey Council, the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists and the The Ontario Beekeepers' Association.  The meeting is to be held at the Hilton Hotel in Niagara Falls, on December 10-13, 2008,  Rooms are $89.  That is Canadian $, and the Canadian dollar is at a 20% discount!

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Guess what.  It was warm and sunny after all.  I went to sample the bees for varroa and found that gathering a sample from tightly clustered bees is not that simple.  I went for my Dust Buster and found that the battery is very flat. Snookered, for now.  Anyone have good ideas on gathering 1/4 cup of bees from the brood chamber without causing mayhem?

At any rate we finished straightening up the quonset, and it looks like new.

067284 08/11/15 Wholebee Concept
067289 08/11/15 Re: The USA is in bad need of new genetics from abroad
067290 08/11/15 Re: Wholebee Concept
067291 08/11/15 Niagara Falls
067296 08/11/15 A method of converting the crystallised honey in frames
067295 08/11/15 Plugging with Excess Pollen

   *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Sunday, November 16th, 2008
Periods of snow   High 3C  Low -2C
Normals: Max: 1C Min: -9C
Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum


  • Brown two pie shells in the oven at around 350

  • precook broccoli and cauliflower al dente

  • thaw and husk large shrimp

  • place shredded or sheet cheese into the bottom of the crust

  • place broccoli and cauliflower and shrimp into crust and arrange them fairly densely level with crust edges

  • break about 6 eggs for each crust into a bowl, add a bit  of water, cream or milk and salt and pepper to taste

  • beat well for a minute or two.

  • Pour immediately over the vegetables in the crust, filling the crust almost brim full

  • Sprinkle or place cheese over the surface

  • bake in oven for about 40 minutes or until the eggs are set well and the surface becomes dry and slightly brown

Leave the cheese out if anyone does not like cheese.  Also, ham can be substituted for the shrimp.

We have snow.  Looks like about an inch.  Tomorrow is predicted to be 14c, so I don't expect it will last.

Company is expected at noon.  I'm making quiche, as I learned to do while visiting Aaron this summer.

067304 Re: Plugging with Excess Pollen
067305 Re: A method of converting the crystallised honey in frames
067314 Re: Why The Wiki Page on CCD is So Lame
067315 Re: FW: The USA is in bad need of new genetics from abroad
067317 Re: A method of converting the crystallised honey in frames
067321 Re: FW: The USA is in bad need of new genetics from abroad
067334 Beebread
067335 Re: A method of converting the crystallised honey in frames
067336 Re: Why The Wiki Page on CCD is So Lame
067342 Re: Why The Wiki Page on CCD is So Lame

   *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Dear Allen

I read your page on 'Should We Really Be Using Foundation in Beehives' quite some time ago and put it on my to read and digest fully list, which I did this evening.
I understand that the issue of small cell foundation is very controversial but have wavered on my journey from commercial foundation to natural cell to check out the work of Dee Lusby which deserves careful consideration.

Last season I set up two colonies in natural cell Kenyan Top Bar hives and have decided that I shall continue on the path that I was taking to dispense with foundation in all my hives. Dee herself lists many of the reasons why this is a good strategy (foundation is a reservoir for foul brood disease, is expensive and harbours residues of agri biz chemicals and miticides) but for some reason Dee seems to think that foundation is still necessary.

Discussion of small cell foundation is not quite such a live issue in the UK as it is in America and I have been thinking of setting up some small experiments to measure some of the facts as they apply to the current situation of my bees and challenging my beekeeping colleagues with the results when I have some, (hopefully this time next year) and urging them to have a look themselves and stop complaining that the establishment is not doing any research for them.

1) Next year I hope to move the top bar colonies on to empty bars, as part of anti-swarming management, and when the bees have removed all the remaining honey from these older combs it will be interesting to measure the cells to see what variety of sizes the bees have built and where, (local foundation is 5.4mm). Natural cell comb is not uniform and it is not straight - two very important facts.

2) My other stratagem is to build artificial honeycomb of 4.9, 5.4 and 5.7 mm in decimetre sections (square not rhomboid) and populate these with brood and queen cells before planting them out in ghetto mini-nuc apiaries (each apiary all one cell size) to see whether small bees are produced in small cell sizes and larger bees in larger cell sizes - (I think this is probably a 'No Shit Sherlock' sort of experiment but never mind)

Would small bees then build larger cells and increase to their previous size or do the bigger bees build smaller cells and regress towards a smaller size if left to their own devices on natural cell systems? This might piss manufacturers of plastic honeycomb off but I shall be no threat to their industry as it takes me about 10 hours of spare time to build half a decimetre of artificial comb - but that's another story. It would make a nice study to be able to look at results from 4.9, 5.4 and 5.7 mm cell size and see if there are any statistically significant differences (surely there would be); Currently I am building the cells to a depth of about 1.2 cm and hope the bees will extend this out further if they require a deeper cell.

What do you think should be best? Finally, I have had a look at Grout's 1931 study and wonder what you thing would be the best anatomical features to measure when assessing whether they were smaller or larger than bees on other treatments. Thank you for you patience in reading this.

A London Hobby Beekeeper

My reply:

Interesting questions.  I do approve of top bar hives for hobby use and someday will have some myself.

As for Dee's ideas, although I count her as a friend, and am thinking to drop by and visit again one of these days soon, I have to say I disagree with her assertions about bee size, etc.,  I think they are just very convincing fantasy.  This thing about upsizing and downsizing is just what happens if you constrict bees or vary their feed as larvae.  There is no lasting effect. That is not to say that Dee does not have a lot of very important ideas, just that she is wrong about that one thing.  She knows I disagree.

For an alternate view, see Dennis Murrell's pages where he describes his experiences.  Having followed Dennis through the whole thing, I have to say that he has left out some details and revised the story a few times along the way, adopting, then discarding ideas, but has wound up somewhere near where I am.

Personally, I am not in favour of forcing bees to do things they would not do themselves, other than making some extra honey for me.  I don't see the point.  My success as a beekeeper has been from assisting them in doing things the way they are wont to do them, with a little nudge in the direction that benefits me.

Hope that helps.

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he's supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

Our friends came for lunch and we had a good visit.  The quiche turned out fine, but the crust needs work.  I had been buying frozen crusts, but El thought she would make some for me, since the store crusts are surprisingly expensive for what is in them.  Normally she does not pre-bake crusts, but I do for quiche, and the homemade crusts did not pre-bake too well for some reason.

   *    *    *    *    *    *    *   


Monday, November 17th, 2008
Periods of snow   High 4C  Low 1C
Normals: Max: 1C Min: -9C
Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum

I've been thinking about my bees and the idea that I should check them further for varroa before wrapping.  My attempt to gather a sample was disappointing, since the bees were slow and tightly clustered.  My Dust Buster only gives a short growl after several hours of charging, so I doubt it will do the job.  I'd have to pull a frame to get many, and the damage I would do in those well-glued hives is probably just as bad as the damage, if any, that drizzling oxalic would do. 

I think I will just drizzle and be done with it.  Now I have to look up the mixture and find the oxalic gun I bought from Medivet a year or two ago.  I have the acid handy.

Honey Prices

Allen said buyers have been offering to buy at CAN$1.50. Question, what grade honey? Around here (upstate NY) barrel sales of white honey (Alfalfa and Sweet Clover) have been going for $US 1.50, FOB seller. Some sellers are trying to get that (or $1.45) for ELA, or 'Fall Honey', but I am not aware of sales at that price. Six weeks ago there was a ready supply of ELA, which I have reason to think was blueberry, for $1.30. I assume prices for buckets are higher, but have no personal knowledge. Dutch Gold is buying large quantities (I know of over 100 barrels) excellent quality buckwheat for $1.50, but has been reported as 'not buying' ELA or Sweet Clover.
Interesting, word is that buyers are offering to buy Canadian white honey at $US 1.23, FOB West Coast of Canada. Sellers in this neighborhood (East Coast) are offering at $US 1.50, but the large buyers are responding 'at this time, we are not buying'. Now, we have very little white honey
available as most is Extra Light Amber (ELA).
One large seller of ELA is offering at $1.30, the others, AFAIK, are holding out for $1.45-$1.50. My guess is that they are not going to get it. But,
hey, I wish them luck.
A real problem is that because of Homeland Security regulations it is about impossible to get a 'one time' shipment of Canadian honey into the US. That will stop many potential East Coast buyers from going to Quebec or Ontario to get honey.

OK.  I found this at The CHC site:


Oxalic acid is for the control of Varroa mites in honey bee colonies. Apply in late fall to early spring when monitoring indicates treatment is necessary.

CAUTION: Oxalic Acid may damage bee brood. Oxalic Acid will not control Varroa mites in capped brood. Use only in late fall to early spring when little or no brood is present. Do not use when honey supers are in place to prevent contamination of marketable honey.

NOTE: To completely dissolve oxalic acid dihydrate, use warm syrup.

Dissolve 35 g of oxalic acid dihydrate in 1 litre of syrup made from a 1:1 sugar : water (weight:volume) mixture of sugar and water.

Smoke bees down from the top bars. With a syringe or an applicator, trickle 5 mL of this solution directly onto the bees in each occupied bee space in each brood box.

The maximum dose is 50 mL per colony whether bees are in nucs, single, or multiple brood chambers.

Under certain unfavourable conditions, e.g., weak colonies, unfavourable overwintering conditions, this application method may cause some bee mortality or overwintering bee loss.

Medhat has sent out literature, too. I'm assuming that they recommendations are consistent.  You never know.  I think I'll double check.  Things change and these treatments can be damaging if not done just right.

BEE-L references: 1  2  3  4  5

Looks as if the weather guessers are wrong again.  They have been having a bad run lately.  Almost worse than no forecast at all.  At least, without a forecast, there are no expectations.

Today's BEE-L Posts:
067375 Re: Honey Prices
067372 Who Said What?
067367 Re: Beebread: bee pathogen reservoir
067366 Re: A method of converting the crystallised honey in frames
067361 Feeding Sucrose in Winter

So far, at eleven AM, the weather looks to poor for applying oxalic.  It is overcast, breezy, cold, and foggy.

I dug around and found the applicator I bought from Willy a year or two ago and found it has complete instructions.


   *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

> I have approx 60 single colonies that were made up mid August and are now 8-9 frames of Bees with 6-8 frames of honey. I have to add a second super to each one so they fit winter wraps. Bees normally move up over winter so should I under super?

I would. I try not to disturb the brood nest late in the season.

> I also plan on adding additional frames of honey so each colony has a minimum of 10 plus frames, I saved additional frames as I didn't think these colonies would build up the way they did.

If you can add them on the outsides without disturbance. Otherwise, they are better in the bottom box, centre.

> I was also surprised that most of these colonies still have 1/2 a frame to one full side of brood. This should help colony have lots of young Bees going into winter.

Yes, but check the varroa from the extra brood cycles.


Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
A mix of sun and cloud   High 9C  Low 1C

Normals: Max: 1C Min: -9C
Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum

It looks as if I may be able to get out today and finish with the bees. I hope so, because tomorrow, I will be in Laguna Beach.

Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 07:35:36 +0200
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology
From: Ari Seppl <komppa-seppala@CO.INET.FI>
Subject: Re: Oxalic

>I am thinking: in the cold
> temps the cold solution may kill some outer-layer
> bees although this kill may be insignificant.

Waldemar and others !
The weather here usually gets cold before I get a chance to use oxalic.
Like I wrote before temperatures below 0 C are almost a norm for me and no problems .
But I do use warm oxalic liquid. + 20 - + 30 C. I have the jar in a cooler box with a canister
of warm water and only take out the amount needed for one yard at a time. Sugar syrup with
 oxalic runs through a syringe much easier when warm and also makes smaller drops.
I think that I can hit the bees better with smaller drops and maybe get a better result.
The oxalic solution should not be kept this warm as acidity breaks the sugar for HMF which
is harmful for bees. I keep mine cold, and take it in to the house previous day to warm up.
Normally I only make what I need in the next 2- 3 days. I am using 75 g / 1 litre of
water / 1 kg sugar I know smaller amounts around 60 g do also still work quite well,
but 75 is no a problem for bees so I use it.
Ari Seppl

I have the oxalic ready and the sun is shining.  There is still snow on the ground, but I should be able to treat just fine.  I had intended to roll the hives upside down to treat the bottom super, but we will see if that is practical or not due to the snow.

Guess not.  I may have to throw out the mixture.  I'm gone for a while starting tomorrow, and at 5 degrees C, I'm not going to risk treating.

(Later).  Well, I did it.  I read this from Ari and the sun came out a bit, so out I went.

Frankly, like many bee operations things did not go quite a neatly as the literature might suggest.

First, the bees were clustered down in the lower boxes and the hives were mostly three high, so I had to crack the top box.  Doing so without a major disturbance is not as easy as it might sound.  Also bees get crushed when the box is replaced.  Not a good idea at this time of year when the bees don't get out much.

Everything felt wrong and I hope I did more good than damage.  I usually avoid disturbance this late.

Also, I decided that cracking lids and boxes was wrong, so for the last several, I just rolled them upside-down and treated them from the bottom, just as I had planned, but not done since everyone had told me (politely) that was nuts .  Much easier.  No disturbance (but the bees are more feisty down there).

Nonetheless, I did not get to treat two boxes in most cases, and what should have been a precision operation by all accounts was pretty Mickey Mouse.

The gun is calibrated in half mLs.  Who is anybody I kidding?  Application was about as precision as a water fight between five-year olds.  The literature says 5 mL per slot.  Well some slots are filled with bees for 12 inches and some for 5 inches.  Both get 5mL?  Whatever. Anyways, I got it done.

I hope I had enough mites to justify the treatment. 

Did I just say that?

Treating Honey BeeColonies for Varroa
with Oxalic Acid Drip
(Drizzle Method)

Note: This page is inserted automatically several places on the site and as a stand-alone page
which I update from time to time.  That will explain future events appearing in the past record
Click on pictures to enlarge

The 'Optimiser"from Medivet

The Gun

Gun Setting Indicator
(mL per stroke)


Drip Method

In 2008, to treat 10 colonies, I measured 250mL of sugar and 250mL of water.  They weigh about the same.  When I mixed them, I got a little over 400 mL of syrup. That was the most uncertain part of the task. 

I then calculated the correct amount of dihydrate for 400 mL of syrup, mixed it up, and applied it in fall.  It did not seem to harm the bees and they did well in 2009.

From that mixing experience, I conclude that to get around a litre of syrup, 20% more, or 600mL of each sugar and water must be used.

To the resulting one litre of 50/50 syrup, add 35 grams of  oxalic acid dihydrate.  Measuring carefully is important and the acid should be weighed, since volume measurement is inaccurate and depends on how packed the powder is.

Pre-dissolving the acid crystals in a small amount of warm water after weighing and before mixing into syrup is recommended as it does not dissolve easily.

Here is the complete Canadian oxalic label.  (relevant excerpt below).


NOTE: To completely dissolve oxalic acid dihydrate, use warm syrup. Dissolve 35 g of oxalic acid dihydrate in 1 litre of syrup made from a 1:1 sugar : water (weight:volume) mixture of sugar and water. Smoke bees down from the top bars. With a syringe or an applicator, trickle 5 mL of this solution directly onto the bees in each occupied bee space in each brood box. The maximum dose is 50 mL per colony whether bees are in nucs, single, or multiple brood chambers. Under certain unfavourable conditions, e.g., weak colonies, unfavourable overwintering conditions, this application method may cause some bee mortality or overwintering bee loss.

Other resources:

An email rec'd Nov 29...

> I've been working on reconciling various OA formulas and was using your site (Nov 18-19 2009 diary) to figure the weight of 1:1 syrup. So I had to figure out the cause behind your statement: "Well the best-laid plans... I mixed as above and came up with 1,600 mL, not the expected amount,..." on Nov 19. The cause was your calculation 4x400=1800 behind your statements in the previous paragraph.

Thanks. You are right. That explains it.

> I had been concerned that you were not getting consistent syrup weights from mixing weighed ingredients. The underlying physics appears consistent, so I am comfortable now.

> Another surprise is that the Canadian label produces a much weaker solution than what Randy Oliver is recommending on his web site. Randy's 1:10:10 by weight looks to me to be nearly twice the strength you used.

There tends to be confusion between the acid concentration in water and the amount of dihydrate required to achieve it. The dihydrate already has two water molecules attached, so a considerably greater weight of dihydrate is required than would be the case if pure acid were used. I am not aware of sources of the pure acid, and there is no need to use pure acid if the fact that the dihydrate contains water is taken into consideration in the mixing.

Follow the label and all should go well.


A Persistent Confusion
(note: The info below was corrected Dec 1/09)

There tends to be a persistent confusion confusion between the actual resulting acid concentration in water and the amount of the dihydrate required to achieve it.  This confusion is likely due to the fact that the process has been developed by people with some chemical training and is practiced by people who may be less conversant with chemical matters, or who have been out of school a long time.

From Wikipedia

Oxalic acid is the chemical compound with the formula C2O2(OH)2 or HOOCCOOH. This colourless solid is a relatively strong carboxylic acid, being about 3,000 times stronger than acetic acid... Typically oxalic acid is obtained as the dihydrate. (emphasis added)

As can be seen in the figure below, the dihydrate contains two molecules of water and weighs much more than the actual oxalic acid it contains.  The calculations below simply add up the weights of the atoms in each and show how much of the weight in each 126 grams of the dihydrate crystals we buy is actually acid (90 g) and how much is water (36g).

Molecular formula C2H2O4 (anhydrous)
Molar mass 90.03 g/mol (anhydrous)

Molecular formula C2H2O42H2O (dihydrate)
Molar mass  126.07 g/mol (dihydrate)

From the above, we can see that to get the same 90 grams of oxalic acid, 126 grams of the dihydrate crystals must be used, compared to 90 g of the pure stuff -- thus the confusion.

Since water is almost half the weight of the crystals, it must be considered if we are trying to figure the actual amount of acid in a given sample of powder.  However, the amount of acid used is very small compared to the water in the syrup, so the 'water of hydration' may be ignored when calculating the water in the total solution and the water in the crystals is insignificant compared to the total water in the syrup.

Still confused?  Some very intelligent people get mixed up by this problem. It is a good thing that there is a label that spells it out in simple terms. 

Follow the label and all should go well.


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From a BEE-L post

Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 12:05:59 -0500
From: Lloyd Spear
Subject: Honey Prices

Irwin asked me to elaborate on how Homeland Security practices are effectively prohibiting one-time imports of honey from Canada. I'll be glad to, especially in the hope that someone out there knows a way to make such an import.

As background, for more than 20 years we have been able to drive to Canada, load up or truck, trailer, or car with food and import it into the US *providing that the purchase price is less than $2,000.* That $2,000 limit has not changed, but at today's general price levels it does not provide for the importation of very much honey.

If the value is over $2,000, customs/import regulations come into effect and following 9/11 they hae become very stringent. For many years, I drove my truck to Canada and picked up products with a total value of close to $2,000. So many, that Customs officials reconized me, which was a great help. About three years ago, there was a time when I wished to import product with a value of approximately $5,000. I knew about the $2,000 restriction so set out to do whatever was necessary to make my import.

I started with a local customs broker who I use to import non-food products from Europe. Sure, they said, we will handle it just let us know when you are ready. So, about a month prior to my desired date I let them know, they arranged a trucker pickup and referred everything to their normal border agent, Federal Express, in northern New York. Then came the dreaded phone call from my broker..."the border agent says they can't handle it, and we have not been able to find anyone who will". (My broker doesn't normally deal with food products.)

So, I got involved. I called Customs. They said approximately "You should not have any problem. However, before we can process the paperwork you need to register with the Food and Drig Administration. Ok, I imagined a really big deal but found that registration was easy provided that my NHB assessments were fully paid. They were, and I was granted an FDA registration number in about a week. I called Customs back. By the way, I was working with a senior person at the Canadian border crossing at the Thousands Islands. When I called back and told him I had my number, he said approximately "just be sure your number is on all the paperwork, and tell them if they have any questions they should call me". So, I went back to my broker, who went back to the border agent... Now, for the benefit of those who do not bring in commercial goods from Canada, at each crossing there are border agents who handle the paperwork to get the goods into the US. The Thousands Island crossing is a large busy

place handling a lot of material from Ontario and Quebec. There are at least 50 border agents there, each in their own set of trailers, and employing what must be several hundred people. Regulations issued after 9/11 provide that the paperwork for each import must be at the crossing a set number of days before the actual import and must conform to regulations that include provisions that the border agents 'know' the importer as well as the exporter. So, when a tractor trailer carrying material from 15 different exporters and designated to 10 importers (pick your own numbers) arrives at the border, Customs knows exactly what is on board and can choose to inspect all, any portion, or just wave through. Mostly, the trailers are waved through.

The 'rub' comes from the requirements that the border agents 'know' the exporter and importer. While they do not have to actually meet you, shake your hand and look you in the eye, they do have to do more than talk to you on the phone or process your paperwork. In effect, they have to do enough work to have some certainty that neither the exporter or importer is a terroist. Presumably this involves checking at least some references, listings in trade directories, etc. It takes time.

Now, the border agents are in business to make money. With large importers/exporters they charge fixed, negotiated fees. With smaller importers/exporters they charge based on the value of the goods. The difficulty with someone "unknown" trying to make a single (or two or three) imports a year from exporters who are not 'known', is that the border agents are of the view that they cannot possibly charge enough to recover their costs and make a profit. I went so far as to tell more than one agent "give me a number on what you'd have to charge to make the import; maybe I'd agree to pay it". None would even do that.

So, back I went to the senior Customs agent. "Any way I can import without using a border agent, perhaps by renting a truck so I would not have to get combined with others?" Answer*: No, we require that an approved Agent get the material pre-cleared before importation*. Question "Do you know that none of the Agents at the crossing will take on an unknown importer trying to bring in material from an unknown exporter unless they agree to make mutiple imports during the year?" Answer*: "No, I didn't know that and I'm reasonably sure this has not been brought to our attention. But I do know that there is extensive work involved so I can understand that Agents might decline one-time imports from unknown parties." * ** So, there it stands. I know of one comb honey producer in SAS that has looked into exporting to the US and has essentially 'given up' for the same reason. Thankfully, up until now he has been able to sell everything produced to customers in Canada. Long term he hopes to make arrangements with just one US importer who will redistribute to others, but that will raise the cost and may limit the market.

If anyone out there has been able to make one-time imports of honey worth a value of over $2,000, I'd like to know about it so I might be able to emulate the procedures followed.


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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
Sunny   High -2C  Low -15C

Normals: Max: 1C Min: -10C
Novembers past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum

There won't be much to read here today, because I will be travelling, but there is lots to read in the articles posted here over the past few weeks since I began writing again.  Note that I have rewritten some of the topics since the original posting.

Here are my BEE-L posts from yesterday:

067361 Feeding Sucrose in Winter
067366 Re: A method of converting the crystallised honey in frames
067367 Re: Beebread: bee pathogen reservoir
067372 Who Said What?
067375 Re: Honey Prices
067388 Re: Honey Prices
067389 Re: Beebread
067392 Re: Chalkbrood vs Terramycin
067394 Re: Chalkbrood vs Terramycin
067397 Re: Chalkbrood vs Terramycin
067398 A Sustainable Commercial Model?
067413 Re: Chalkbrood vs Terramycin
067414 Re: A Sustainable Commercial Model?
067415 Re: Varroa in ferals in Hawaii

Well, here I am in Laguna Beach again.  I was up early, scraped the ice off the windshield, and drove to Airdrie.  Attie drove me to the airport, and a few hours later, Jon and Kalle picked me up at LAX. 

We went shopping for groceries, had bite, and here I am.


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