The chief product of an automated
a widespread and deepening sense of boredom.
C. Northcote Parkinson
Friday May 2nd 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
The weather made a drastic change overnight and we are looking
forward to a cool, week of rain and sub-normal temperatures.
I'll have to check the feed drums for water. I should have
covered or sheltered them yesterday but did not. There was
rain last night and rainwater will be floating on the syrup.
If I leave it, the water will dilute the syrup, and the syrup will
ferment. Additionally, the water will wet the straw or grass
and make it useless as a platform for feeding bees. Syrup does
not wet the straw in the same way as water does.
Today was one of those days when nothing seems to get done.
I spent much of it reading up on sleep and CPAP.
read various discussion boards and downloaded
software to read the data card for the machine I have on loan.
The data collected by the device is fascinating.
I'm learning, but I don't know much yet. It seems that my
"mild" apnea means lots of sleep disruption. I wonder what
serious apnea is like. (I don't really want to know.
This is bad enough).
I am finding I sleep better with the machine although I still
Sex and religion are closer to
each other than either might prefer.
Saint Thomas More
Saturday May 3rd 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
Wow! Today is cooler than yesterday and snow is predicted.
At least we had a few days of warm weather to allow the colonies
to expand. Once brood is established and growing, it adds
metabolic heat to the hive -- not as much as adult bees AFAIK, or
enough to withstand cold without the assistance of adult bees to
cover it -- but some.
I used the CPAP machine last night, but awoke sometime around
0450, realizing it had quit. The machine does make a
Breakfast is at The Mill at 0830 today. At 0511, I am still
up, but thinking I'll go back to bed and see if I wake up again in
* * * *
That is what I did. I went back to sleep at 0620, slept
another hour and awoke refreshed, then dressed and headed for The
What I find most interesting is that the congestion that has been
plaguing my sleep has not been a problem for the past few nights,
since I began using this machine.
I had suspected that my sinus congestion might be related to
shallow breathing and resulting accumulation of normal mucous in my
lungs and sinuses due to too little little lung expansion and too
little air movement. and maybe that is the case.
one airway concept suggests that problems in any part of the
lung/sinus airway system manifest elsewhere as well. I was
noticing congestion in my sinuses, but I also knew that my
breathing was shallow and that I accumulated mucous in my chest
after a few hours of sleep as well. I often take a deep
breath and hold it for a moment if I cannot sleep to stretch my
lungs and fill them completely with air. It seems that in
natural sleep I tend to shallow breathing.
Interestingly, using a CPAP machine reminds me of SCUBA,
which also involves breathing with positive pressure.
Unlike snorkeling, which requires inhaling with only
atmospheric pressure pushing the air into the lungs, SCUBA
apparatus forces air into the lungs under slight pressure.
I find that pleasant.
When snorkeling, I worry about breathing out too much and
finding I have no air left to blow out water if and when some
comes down the tube, which it often does When using SCUBA,
I don't worry since more air is always freely available and a
mouthful of water is never an issue as I always have enough air
to blow it out.
I like SCUBA and so far, I like CPAP, although, other than
the device itself, the equipment is a bit primitive.
Although this mask works, finding a better mask is high on my
At any rate, I sleep much better with this device, inexperience,
air leaks and all. Moreover, with CPAP, I find I can sleep on
my back and that is good for my shoulders. Shoulder pain was
the other issue affecting my sleep and which sometimes limited my
comfortable sleeping positions.
(at right) is the machine I have -- as far as I can tell -- but the
whole CPAP business is shrouded in mystery. Manufacturers
deliberately name the various models with similar and confusing
names, the software to read the data generated by the advances
machines is expensive and restricted, and the people who train users
only provide basic information. Moreover, a prescription is
required to buy a CPAP machine, although I can't imagine how a
person is likely to harm himself with one.
Fortunately the web is populated by groups of helpful people who
are willing to share experience and expertise, including the fellow
Sleepyhead, a free program that does a beautiful job of
revealing what the machine learns every night.
I am still early in the treatment experience, but I am amazed at
what I am learning. Since my diagnosis was mild and
borderline, I did not rush to get involved with what seems like an
expensive, cumbersome system, but I am thinking now that my sleep
problems are worse and more dangerous than suspected by me, or by
In fact, I am surprised that doctors did not spot this problem
sooner. I was the one who suggested the sleep test and the
follow-up. I am learning quickly that most people, including
doctors and even some sleep technicians are quite ignorant about
anything more than the most superficial aspects of sleep issues.
I recommend a sleep test to anyone who has reason to
suspect that sleep might be the underlying issue behind a wide
range of problems, from obesity to fatigue and joint pain to
moodiness and forgetfulness. This a partial list.
One writer shows anecdotal evidence that bad sleep can cause
elevated fasting blood sugar. (That is interesting to me since I
saw a drop in my morning readings when I first used the
machine. I have not taken follow-up readings).
I may and probably will write much more on this topic
later, but am just learning and, besides, have other things to
|From the NE USA:
> The patty consumption is amazing and it is hard to
> which hives will vacuum up the most.
When I see a hive is not eating their patties I look
further to see why. The last hive that had not touched them
has a drone laying queen. I saw the queen and two frames of
drone brood. It is not the queen they started into the
winter with because she was marked and I doubt they plucked
her paint off. I may get back to combine, the weather has
been wet and cold and it is so few bees it is not much of a
loss if I don't get back.
I do have a nuc that is ignoring their patties, they have
two frames of brood and a 2 year old queen who seems to be
doing as well as the nucs with young queen.
I have a nuc where I found the queen dead in front of the
hive and they had 1 emergency queen cell that has emerged
but I can't imagine there are to many drones around but I am
letting it go since I don't have any options on queens right
now. I have some coming from the south the middle of May, if
it ever stops raining down there.
There is fresh pollen coming in when the bees can fly but
that has been may be 3 days out of 7 days.
> nobody seems to care about price lately.
I had a guy call me yesterday and offer me $200 if I
would take a package away from someone who has already
ordered and paid and sell it to him. I said no, jeez what a
briber. Not the kind of person I want to do business with.
> I've been on this bus before and in my experience, this
> state of the public mind comes just before a fad ends
> and demand crashes, followed by price, but we will
To tell you the truth I hope the fad ends soon. It is
getting very crowded around here. I can't set bees any where
now without other hives in their flight range. I bet there
are 25 hives within two miles of my home yard. Plus the
package bee industry can not sustain this craziness. I had
to stop taking names on the waiting list for nucs, to many
> The BS about bees disappearing does not seem to be
wearing out and > everyone is out to 'save the bees' by
having a hive.
Yes and they don't know what the heck they are doing.
They find it is not easy, they think the problem is the
commercial guys treating the bees like livestock instead of
like pets. Then they find they are having a hard time
keeping their hive healthy and alive and stop bad mouthing
all the other beekeepers.
Or they go treatment free and the hive is still alive
after 1 year so they know it all.
These gloomy, rainy, chilly days are getting to me.
It was breezy with light snow falling when I pulled out of the
drive on my way to breakfast. Zip and I arrived at The Mill on time.
Breakfast was over at about 1130.
I returned home and did the dishes, then went outside even though
the temperature is right at freezing.
I went to check the feed drums, but decided to fill the
feeders nearby. The drums were empty and I should fill them
again. At right, all that can be seen in the bottom with the
drum tipped over a bit is a little rainwater. Notice how clean
the straw is and how few dead bees there are, even after the bees
removed 1/3 drum of feed.
into the hives, most frame feeders were empty so I filled them and
and also added thirds to four doubles hives that were hanging out
the bottom entrance (left).
hive was building comb in the feeder and that was my cue to add more
space. I would rather they draw combs than build in feeders.
I could have reversed the hives, but since they were crowded
enough to hang out, I figure they need the space. If they
don't have enough, they just build burr comb and fill the feeders
with comb. Besides, I want to get my empty brood boxes
occupied and conditioned by the bees and when the bees are confined,
they have the time to do so.
think 2014 will be an excellent honey year here. I have
houseflies already and the red ants are already showing up under
hive lids. The hives are exploding and need splitting any time
I have to decide if and how to raise queens. My immediate
thought is to use the queenless half of a good split for the cell
builder, rather than making one specially. If I pick the right
weather and the right hives, they will make me ten good cells, and
the only extra effort on my part is to graft the cells and place
them into the hive.
I'll have to shake some bees into the mating nucs, though.
That is simple. I used to run over a hundred such nucs.
have the five nucs, but could use some additional cells, come to
think of it. They are ideal to place into newly made splits.
Adding a ripe cell can speed up the appearance of a mated queen in a
split by twelve days or so compared to allowing them to raise their
I'll have to decide. I'll also have to find the
cell cups and cell protectors.
A confession, though. I have never grafted even one larva!
I always had others do that job. Ellen was a fantastic queen
I came back in about five as it was beginning to snow too hard to
work on the bees any longer. By 2100, the ground was covered
with 2" of fresh, fluffy snow.
We must not say every mistake is
a foolish one.
Sunday May 4th 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
The temperature is at the freezing point and the sky is overcast.
Snow continues to fall. This looks like a good day to work
This is the kind of day that makes me ask those who only
feed one patty or saw a little pollen coming in and quit
feeding patties, "What were you thinking?"
We are expecting more of this weather, and any pollen the
bees may have found in the past few days is already gone.
What are they supposed to eat during these cool, rainy,
windy spells? Sure they'll survive, but will they
achieve their potential??
|> > I have been thinking of pricing brood on the basis
of the number of bees contained in the capped brood
> Too much math for me. Will you have to measure the frames
for the amount of brood or just eyeball it?
I wrote it up in
my diary the other day., but this bears further
The first and most important consideration not covered so
far is that the price of anything depends on supply
and demand, the number of buyers and sellers (size),
distances, confidence in quality (standards), and the
timeliness of the transaction.
Although the utility to the buyer and pricing and
convenience compared to substitutes are the underlying
considerations in whether to buy or not, the following will
affect the price.
- If there is a lot of something and few people want
it, the price will be low, if a buyer can even be found.
If there are few selling and many seeking, the prices
will be higher.
- If there are only a few buyers, they are harder to
find and prices will be lower.
- If distances are great, examination and delivery can
be difficult, reducing interest. Location matters.
- If buyers cannot be confident in the quality and
reliability of the supply, interest and prices will be
- If timing of delivery is uncertain or distant,
prices tend to be lower.
- For fashion and fad items, the decision is emotional
and logical analysis is less applicable.
That said, in a healthy market like the current nuc and
package market in many areas, the main factors are
- utility to the buyer and
- comparison to potential substitutes
- irrational demand
Let's examine those aspects.
Obviously, for those buying to produce honey at a profit,
the cost of bees is important. To hobbyists and
idealists, price is much less of a factor. Bees are a
"gotta have" fad right now, so there is an irrational
component to demand.
Looking at the rational aspect to set a base value, and
assuming that package bees are the main market substitute --
and that package pricing is rational due to the larger and
more national market, let's price nucs against packages.
Packages contain two, three or four pounds of bees plus
zero, one or two queens.
We'll use a Canadian 2-lb or 1-kg package with one queen
To price the bees, remove the price of the queen, using
the local delivered price.
Queens here cost about $25 each.
Therefore in this case, the bees in the package are
worth $(170 - $25)/2lbs = $72.50/lb
These bees may be young if the source hive is
queenright, shaken weekly and during a flight day, but
we have to assume that a percentage are part-way through
their expected 6-week life. Depending on unknown
factors, package bees may be anywhere from 90% young
bees to 90% old bees on arrival.
An estimate is difficult, and you can assume the
average package bee has lived 1/2 her life, but I have
seen packages where all the bees are already old since
they came from a "first shake" or the source hive was
In such cases, the buyer is lucky if the bees that
start the brood live long enough to see it emerge, and I
have seen instances where the adults died off, leaving
the brood without supporting bees, resulting in colony
When selling nucs and singles during the build-up season,
the adult bees will range in age from newly emerged to worn
out and about to die. During build-up, the average
adult bee in a nuc can be estimated to have already lived
about 1/3 of her life.
So, how do we estimate the value of a nuc?
For simplicity, we can just value the bees at $72.50/lb,
but how many bees are in the nuc? Estimating the
number of bees on a frame is difficult as it depends on the
frame, the temperature, the flow conditions and the time of
Just making a quick estimate, and knowing that one side
of Permadent has about 3,500 cells, and can readily observe
that a bee standing on comb covers about three cells, then
we can estimate that a comb evenly covered on both sides by
a single layer of adult bees standing shoulder to shoulder
would have 2 X 3,500 / 3 = 2,300 bees.
Figuring roughly 4,500 bees per pound, we can see two
such frames would carry a pound of bees and that a nuc with
four such frames would have roughly two pounds of adult
So, the described nuc has the same two pounds of
adults plus emerging brood but the ages of the adult bees
may or may not be comparable, depending on the package
Now for the brood in the nuc: The brood is the most
obvious difference between packages and nucs, if we neglect
the value of the frames and feed.
A typical nuc with three Permadent frames, each 50%
covered with brood has 2 X 3,500 X 50% X 3 frames = 10,500
developing bees. Assuming brood in all stages and even
development, they will be evenly distributed from eggs to
What is a future bee worth?
- A package will not have replacement bees emerging
for at least three weeks. In the meantime over
half the original bees will die.
- The nuc will have bees emerging daily from today
forward, replacing and augmenting the dying adults and
will be stronger than the package three weeks hence.
So, the difference in value comes down to what the brood
is worth. Can we value them the same as adults?
Or should we reduce their value since they will not be
working for a few weeks and the open brood requires feeding
Let's mark down the brood price to 50% compared to
adults. That gives us a value of 10,500 cells/4,500
bees/lb X $72.50/lb X 50% = $84.58 for the brood.
That comes to very
roughly $30/frame 50% covered with brood in all stages.
All sealed brood is worth more and all open brood is worth
So, by these numbers, a nuc with a laying queen,
two pounds of bees and three frames 50% covered with
brood should sell for $25 + 2 X $72.50 + $84.58 =
$254.50 if 2-lb packages go for $170.
That is neglecting the value of the frames
and feed included in a nuc. A drawn frame
is worth up to $5 and a pound of honey is worth
$2.50 these days.
If a nuc has five frames and five pounds
of honey, add up to $32.50 to the above value,
giving $287 as the value of a nuc.
From the above, it is obvious that anyone who
can buy a nuc for less than $287 in Alberta in April
or early May in 2014 is getting a bargain!
I should reduce this to a formula, plugging in local
package bee and queen prices, but that is for later.
I'll also look at the value of singles and doubles and
consider the effect of later delivery.
I am doing housework and deskwork today.
I slept less well last night and woke up a number of times, but I
see the CPAP has had a beneficial effect on my benchmark numbers.
I just do not feel it today. I continue to study up on apnea
and had no idea how complex the matter is and how widespread the
Estimated numbers of sufferers run up to 25% of the population.
That means one in four of my readers may benefit from a sleep study!
The other shocking thing is that apparently treatment can prevent
many of the modern illnesses like heart issues.
I changed this page somewhat and added a huge background image.
Is anyone finding the page too slow? I imagine some cell
phones might find it a bit heavy. Let me know.
The power of accurate
observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have
George Bernard Shaw
Monday May 5th 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
Today is looking like another dull day, starting right at the
freezing point and warming only to ten degrees. Tomorrow is
predicted to be cooler, but with some sun. Sun makes a big
difference to small bodies flying around the neighbourhood and warms
them as they fly.
Although this weather does not seem great for bees,
colonies will be building up just the same, and not affected
much by weather if they are healthy, have sufficient
populations, a warm hive and sufficient honey or syrup and
pollen or patties near the brood.
Cool, wet weather is actually beneficial in that it
encourages plants to grow and discourages the bees from using
themselves up foraging before there is much to gather.
The environment outside the hive is dangerous for honey
bees and the work of foraging causes physical wear and tear on
each forager. Accidents and predation by birds and other
hunters threaten foragers as they go about their business
outside the hive and result in daily attrition to the field
force when they are out and about.
From what I can see, this year's splitting, swarming and supering
dates will be right on schedule.
|From a discussion with a correspondent in the
> I am charging $110 for 3 LB packages
and this year.
> (Cost is) $25 for the southern queens.
So three pounds of bees at retail in your part of the NE
are worth $110-25=$85 or $85/3=$28.33/lb, and that is after
the price is marked up for retail!
That is a huge difference compared to what we pay here.
($72.50/lb as calculated above, and that is the bulk price,
not the retail small-order price used for the US price).
Our government is 'protecting' us from low-cost
replacement bees and justifying it with scare tactics...
Disease, SHB, AHB, chemical resistance... None of these
seem to be hindering the US beekeepers much if they can
produce and sell bees so cheaply.
In spite of programs and subsidies and years of
attempting to produce sufficient bees in Canada to supply
the industry without requiring imports, we still rely
largely on imported replacement bees to keep up our colony
counts, and always have.
Sure, some Western Canadian beekeepers can overwinter
sufficient colonies, and even surplus colonies some of the
time, but all of the beekeepers can't keep up their numbers
all of the time. Most of the beekeepers cannot even
keep their numbers up most of the time without sacrificing
production, increased cash expenses, and without increasing
their risks, labour issues, and management complexity.
Compare the package sales to total Alberta hive
numbers and it is clear there are no surplus bees here.
Available packages are sold out every year, and more
would be sold if available, especially if they could be
had at reasonable prices. Imagine if the bees were
available here for under $30 a pound as they are in the
USA. $30 is less than half the $70 price we pay.
CAPA on the other hand seems to go by the credo that you
can fool most of the beekeepers most of the time, and CFIA
all of the time, and that is good enough -- even if you
can't fool all the beekeepers all the time.
I wonder: is there some way we can get CAPA and CFIA to
burden of the needless extra costs and shortages they
place on our industry by the flawed hypothetical and
disingenuous arguments they dream up to justify prohibiting
packages from our traditional and founding bee source, the
Alberta beekeeping was founded on California package
bees. The honey bee is not native here and only
survives because beekeepers work hard to keep them alive and
keep bringing in new stock to make up losses.
Additionally, the pests that are used as an excuse for
the embargo cannot thrive and survive
here more than temporarily either.
How hard is that to understand? The evidence is all
Years back, I wrote a series of articles demonstrating how the
prohibition against US package imports has damaged our industry.
That was in 2003, I believe, and a full decade later little has
changed except that the monetary costs to beekeepers are much
in Alberta Since Border Closure
lunch, the weather seemed mild enough to work on bees, so I went out
to the rail shed and loaded up the gas powered syrup pump and the
transmission for the forklift.
I still can't bring myself to crawl under the forklift and
commit to that job, although I did size up the task.
I hope the tranny is good. I bought it at the
wreckers a few years ago now. As I recall, I'll have to
jury-rig a new transmission mount and maybe alter the drive
shaft and that is a reason I have not changed it before now.
From there, I went over and half-filled two syrup drums for open
feeding and then reversed the eight hives in the Quonset West yard.
Some have fully developed drone brood ready to emerge in the next
day or two (right).
Below are shots of the three boxes of one three-storey hive I
- At left is the top box, shown after I smoked the bees down
and took off the patties so I could scrape the wax chunks off
the top bars in preparation for reversing.
- At centre is the middle box of the three without much
- At right is the bottom box, which is now the top box.
Note that there is one Apivar strip. That means that six
weeks ago this hive had only five frames of bees. I am removing
Apivar now when I come across it and it all comes out in the next
I should do some varroa assays soon. Although I did
treat, I need to verify that the treatment worked. At some
point, all treatments fail. I have been watching for
varroa in brood, like the drone brood shown above, and not
seeing any mites at all, but by the time we see varroa in casual
inspections like this, we are already deep in trouble.
Of the eight hives, I reduced two hives to two boxes each, as
they did not need three. The rest I reversed. Most were
ready for reversing with brood in two and three boxes and one of
them I could have split into three today if I wished.
Ten years from now, make sure
you can say that
you CHOSE your life, you didnít SETTLE for it.
Tuesday May 6th 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
Today: Snow ending late this morning then cloudy with
30 percent chance of flurries or rain showers. Wind north 30
km/h gusting to 50. High plus 5. UV index 3 or moderate.
Tonight: Clearing this evening. Wind north 20 km/h
gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low minus 6.
Wednesday: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud
near noon. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h near noon. High
There is as much or as little bee work out there as I want to do.
I could spend days and weeks, months, or years -- sorting and repairing equipment, or let
I could just sell off all my hives or go back down to two
or three hives, or plan on keeping fifty or so as I did last
year. If I sold off all the hives, I'd be free at this
time of year and not have to worry about anything bee-related
other than cleaning up the accumulated mess from decades of
operations. I imagine I'll keep on the way I have been for
The bees, on the other hand, do need some work, regardless of
what I decide. I have to do the basics regardless of what my
intentions may be, however if I plan to sell bees this spring, and I
must, or produce honey, which I really don't want to do, I need to
prepare brood chambers and manage the hives to ensure they expand in
a way that makes splitting easy. Floors and lids are also a
hassle. I have lots of junk floors and lids, but limited numbers of
* * *
I slept strangely last night. This CPAP machine keeps
records and I notice that I slept well the first four hours, but the
second four were disturbed. I woke up, finding I was breathing out
of sync with the machine which is odd because it is supposed to be
following my cues -- or so I thought.
That aspect of my sleep pattern -- the first four hours of sleep
are good, then quality of sleep deteriorates -- is something I
already knew, and my habit has been at time to sleep four hours,
then get up for one or two, then go back to bed for another four
hours or so of sleep.
Last night, though, I figure that the reason for poor sleep,
other than deciding to try to sleep straight through for eight
hours, had to do with my choice of supper.
I chose to eat some salt and pepper wings. This is not my
normal diet, which has tended more to rice and beans and vegetables
than meats and fat. I knew better. All that fat is bad
enough, but if I go to bed after eating any great amount of black
pepper, I find my breathing tends to be shallow and disturbed.
After writing that, I was tired and went back to bed for an hour
and awoke much refreshed.
I've promised to tell al the people interested in bees this
spring how many I will have and what I will charge. It still
looks a bit early to tell, but I'll make a start here:
My plan is to sell single story hives in EPS boxes.
The hives should have on average
- Four frames with at least 50% brood in all stages.
- A laying queen raised either this year or mid-summer
- Ten drawn frames in varying condition.
- Two or three frames of feed.
- Eight or more frames with bees on them from top to
bottom when viewed at noon on an average day.
- The boxes and frames vary in condition. These
are the frames and boxes I use myself and I am not to
fussy. It seems that neither are my bees.
Given a choice, the queen often picks the oldest frames
in a box.
- The feed is mostly honey, but may be partly sugar
syrup the bees have stored.
- The bees have all been treated with Apivar this
What is of value and what I am principally selling are
the bees, the brood and the feed and the fact that they are
established and thriving. The equipment is just the
container and of less concern.
Some or all of the equipment in any specific hive I sell
may be almost new or quite old. I use wooden frames
and plastic frames and cell sizes from 5.0 to 5.4 mm and the
bees don't seem to care.
Much has been made of cell size, wood versus
plastic and other details, but in my experience, the
biggest factors in having good colonies are good bees,
good feed and good beekeeping. Bees are very
adaptable and the equipment does not matter much.
I do not supply floors and lids, but can come up with
something if the buyer does not have anything. The
lids and floors I give away will be good enough to get the
bees home and work for a year or so for a beekeeper who is
I may consider having buyers move
the frames to their own boxes and exchanging equipment, but
my preference is to sell the bees as they are is after the
As for the value, let's price it all out compared to a
package of bees bought at Calgary in April/May 2014 for
Hmmm. I doubt anyone will pay $520, but I also see why
nobody complained about the hives I sold last year for $250 to $300.
I am thinking I should charge $350 this year. That seems
like a lot to pay for a for a single, but I'll have to raise the
I've been putting off pricing the hives, partly because I
find it hard to believe the price of bees and honey these days.
I suppose that I am in the same position as the long-time
beekeepers in the 1970s who saw honey go from $0.12/lb to
$0.55/lb in a matter of months.
Looking at the utility value of these single-storey hives,
though, each should produce 150 to 200 lbs of honey in a good
location in a good year and the barrel (bulk, unpackaged) price
of honey is $2.40/lb last I heard.
That means a return of $360 to $480 at wholesale for
several hundred dollars invested, figuring on wholesale bulk
Direct-to-consumer sales get $5 to $10/lb, not $2.40/lb,
and the beekeeper still has the bees!
Where else can a person find such a good investment?
It will be interesting to see what hives go for at the sale
Scandia Honey is having on May
8th 7th. Last year some fairly weak
doubles went for $540 in auction in Saskatchewan from what I heard.
If you have a chance, attend the auctions. They are always
entertaining. More info
Maybe I should hold an auction?
You can only find truth with
logic if you have already found truth without it.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Wednesday May 7th 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
I have an eye appointment at 1030 in Calgary.
At 0345, the temperature has dropped to minus 7.5 C. I'm
glad there is no wind.
I stayed up an hour or two and went back to bed until 0645.
I'm quite used to the CPAP machine now, but from the data the
machine generates, I probably don't need it. For some reason,
my data over the last week looks far less worrisome than the
one-night test using the Stardust unit that was the reason for
obtaining the device on trial.
I hope you keep me in mind for a hive when you're ready
to part ways with them. $350-$375 is fine with me. Quite
frankly I think you're missing the mark on the value that
you're actually bringing to the table. You can calculate the
price a honey and how many bees are in a pound etc. but at
the end of the day the reason I want your bees is really
quite simple. They are purebred mutts that winter well, fly
when nothing else seems to be flying.
All of the things like the price of honey, what a package
is going for, and all the other things along this line are a
short term view. Whereas I believe if you look at good
genetics regardless of the pedigree as a long-term view then
one can only see the value in quality bees.
The hive that I got from you last year came through the
winter quite well I believe. Although it certainly wouldn't
hold a candle to some of the pictures that you've posted but
still I'm happy.
The bees that I got from Scandia Honey also survived the
winter not as strong as yours but they should make it. The
hives were placed side-by-side were treated identically and
suffered from the same conditions, treatments and mistakes.
As a geek I have learned never argue with success whether
you understand it or not just go with it. Your bees are
successful, and nothing else needs to be said on that point.
I'm hoping that you keep doing beekeeping on a small
scale for many years to come. It is selfish I know but I
can't help but wonder how many beekeepers you've helped
directly or indirectly with your blog over the years.
Today's auction should give us some idea of the market price of
hives. 1,500 is a decent size offering and should give a
good idea of what willing buyers and a willing seller settle on for
price. The sale has been well advertised and everyone will
have had a chance to examine and rate the hives on offer.
The hives on offer are doubles, but they will likely set a
benchmark that can be extrapolated to singles and nucs in a similar
way, the price of packages can be used for comparison.
* * * *
I went to Calgary for my eye appointment, did some shopping on
the way home, and picked up five more boxes of Global Patties.
I arrived home at 1800 and am waiting to hear the prices in
In the meantime, I have discovered that the US price of packages
and queens is even lower than I had assumed when comparing Canadian
to US prices the other day.
B-Z Bee is
offering 2-lb packages for $35, and 3-lb for $45 in over 50
quantities, picked up in Esparto. Queens are $14 in hundred lots.
Canadians are paying almost five times as much as that for
For those who don't know the history of Alberta beekeeping: Until
the mid-1980s, each spring, Albertans would drive truckloads of
honey down to pay for package bees, load bees and drive day and
night, bringing them back.
Some went down early and worked with the package producers,
raising their own queens and shaking their own bees.
Californians owned operations here in the north and trained many
youngsters who later became respected commercial beekeepers. More in
Eastern Protectionism Costs Alberta Economy $25
Managers are people who do
and leaders are people who do the right thing.
Warren G. Bennis
Thursday May 8th 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
My plan for today: Go to Three hills to meet with the sleep study
people and prepare supper for the usual suspects.
Today looks like a good day for the bees to get out and about.
I received some comments in the forum. Apparently, not
everyone in the US is buying packages for $35. Location and
transportation costs are a factor.
Also, I have sketchy reports from the auction yesterday.
Apparently the hives went for around $250. They were doubles
in good condition according to what I heard.
If true, that seems like a steal. By just moving them,
piling on supers and extracting, each should produce $360 before
Why the low price? Auctions are unpredictable. I
think everyone, including me thought that the hives would go for too
high a price and did not bother going.
Scandia is quite remote and too far into the south for many of
the northern beekeepers who would need the bees. Mid-week is a
bad time for hobbyists to get away. For anyone considering
going, attending is a big investment of time and travel cost,
requiring at least one day for those nearby and longer for those
more distant. All that on the chance that the hives
could be affordable.
With an auction like this, if driving in from three or five
hundred miles, the prospective buyer has to decide whether to travel
light and buy the bees, then bring or hire trucks or drive heavy
Also, it is now the busy season and all commercial beekeepers are
too occupied to go. Besides, most have the bees they need or
have adjusted their plans for the number they have.
The problem for the seller is that if the auction is held
early in the year, before beekeepers get busy, make their plans
and spend all their cash, he will have good attendance, but the
bees will not show as well since that would be before spring
If he waits this late, the bees look great, but people are
fully committed and too busy to come from any distance on the
remote chance they will be able to buy.
Earlier in the spring, lots of idle beekeepers would come
from far and wide to see what is happening, see their friends,
and to learn the gossip.
IMO, He would have been better to have shown them and sold
them in March, while they still looked good before the
inevitable temporary spring dwindling, and when beekeepers had
not spent all their cash.
Beekeepers run on hope, and if they see bees that have
survived well until March they do not expect big populations,
but see promise and will pay top dollar for promising hives.
At least that was the case last year when doubles went for
over $500 at auction.
I also suspect the high prices last year may have scared
off buyers this year. There are
bee auctions coming up. After this auction, with
prices so low, I imagine people will go see their bankers and
find an excuse to attend.
All in all, it seems most decided to skip it and someone made a
I went to town and saw the sleep guy. My index was 10.8
before the machine and 1.8 now after a week. 10.8 is
borderline. 1.8 is normal or better. I have the machine
for another week to get more data.
I pretty well wasted the beautiful bee day doing odd jobs in the
house and getting ready for supper. These Thursday parties are
fun, but they do eat up the time.
I'm doing a seven-pound prime rib roast for nine people. I
decided to use the electric oven I bought some time back. We
never did use it much, but it works well. I just have to
remember that it is a lot slower than the gas oven. The roast
is only half-done in the picture.
I was speculating about the auction's low prices. The
answer came down thru the grapevine. I quote:
|Heard thru the grapevine
I heard around the $230 Ė 250.
The frames were off sizes/homemade, same as boxes.
Not many commercial beekeepers interested in that kind
of stuff., still would be cheap but require replacing to
Happiness is a direction, not a
Sydney J. Harris
Friday May 9th 2014
Click to visit May pages from previous
I slept until 0800. First job is tidying. I did the
dishes last night, but still have work in the kitchen.
The forecast has improved from the predictions of several days
ago. Today, I really should start on the forklift.
As for the auction, apparently the reason for the low prices was
largely that the equipment was off-standard. That was the
reason it was being sold, rather than incorporated into the Scandia
outfit after Scandia purchased another bee operation. The fact
was well advertised and as a result the commercial beekeepers did
One has to wonder, though, since a beekeeper could have bought
them, stacked on his/her own equipment and/or foundation, extracted
$360 worth of honey and melted the original equipment after the bees
went up. Too much trouble, I guess, and there are better
Savvy operators keep their eye on the ball and try not to
be distracted by second-rate opportunities when they have better
options and limited resources.
Commercial beekeepers need to standardize their frames and
boxes so that they stack properly, can be trucked without
jiggling, and so the extracting machinery will not balk or break
The secret to successful commercial operation is efficient
and rapid removal of honey and extraction. The bulk of
year's crop has to be removed over a few weeks and any
bottlenecks or breakdowns can cost a lot of money, especially if
the honey accumulates on the hives or granulates in the combs
due to slow extraction.
I seem to be writing a lot in the forum today. There is
active discussion on several points.
Check it out!
Would you say there is a night time temperature that
should be consistent before splitting hives? This year we
can't go by what's blooming, every one says at peak
dandelion bloom but every thing is totally screwed up as far
as the bloom goes this year.
My educated guess would be night time temps of 50 F. But
I am not as educated as you when it comes to bees. I did
read this page
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/spring/splits.htm and you
had 80 F days and 40 F nights but when we get 80 F days we
have 60 or better nights. You also said when apples bloom,
this year that may be late. It is 5/9 and the buds are not
I got all the Apivar out but did not get all the bottom
boards clean. It was taking to long and the weather was
going to get bad for a few days so I decide to just go
through the yards pulling the Apivar so it wasn't delayed by
the added time of clean up. Delaying taking it out would
delay the timing of getting supers on.
I don't bother cleaning bottom boards unless I am moving
the bottom box for some reason, and then I switch the floor
for a clean one, scrape it and move on.
Cleaning floors is the bee's job IMO and a good
indicator of colony condition. I do try to slope
floors forward, though, to make their work easier and to
As for splitting, there is no hard and fast rule except
that the splits should be big enough for whatever the
expected temperatures will be with a safety factor for the
times the weather-guessers screw up.
We are having freezing nights, but I would still split a
strong double in half without moving any frames around.
I'd either reduce the entrances, if leaving the splits as
singles, or place each half on another brood box to raise
them away from the floor and provide future room. I
usually do the latter as I am lazy and may not get back in
time to add space otherwise and I never seem to have
reducers when I need them.
As for making frame by frame splits, that is trickier
since the brood frames have to be arranged so as to form a
ball shape and sufficient bees need to be in each split --
and remain in each split, not drift out -- to protect the
I can't give rules for this, but this much is true: You
can always split again or remove brood and bees later from a
split made too large, but undersize splits will not develop,
may die, and are prone to disease.
Thanks, I am doing frame by frame splits and want to do
single nuc boxes since I am selling five frames with a
Package bees can be used as an indicator of what is
viable under your conditions. Whatever brood package
bee colonies are able to raise and their current populations
at any date in your area is a fairly safe size of split to
make at that time.
at the calendar, if I wanted to graft queens to have them ready just
after I return on the 20th, now would be the time. Queens take
roughly twelve days to emerge after grafting, so if I grafted today,
they would be ready about the 21st and laying by month end.
I don't much feel like it today, though, and I'd have to prepare
a cell builder. I'm trying to get work done on the forklift,
but got distracted sorting tools and getting ready.
Advice is what we ask for when
we already know the answer but wish we didn't