Sunday June 1st 2014
The weather in the coming week looks good. No frost is expected.
Today we start a new month and beekeeping starts to heat up here in Alberta. The bees build fast, swarming gets going, queen rearing is easy and we have a few flows, then a dearth for a week or two. Next month the main flow starts.
I slept nine hours last night and think my throat is a bit better, but it is hard to tell. It is definitely better than it was at its worst, but is still a bit painful.
I still have a big mess where I am working on the south window plants and shades, but I think I will go outside for a while until the day heats up and do a little bee work. I also have the forklift job, but am reluctant to start again because I have a feeling that the job will be a real tarbaby.
I could go out an look at the bees, but even walking by strong hives before 0900 can result in getting stung. Of course, most of these are not all that strong, but yesterday, I was chased walking by the hives at the Quonset. That bears investigating. Maybe I have a cranky hive? Or, it could be a sign the red ants are bothering them.
It is time to go and do something.
* * * * * *
I went out and worked through my South of the Hedge yard. There really was no need. The job could have waited a week. The hives are just at the end of the changeover and have yet to balloon in populations. They are in three boxes, but not crowded yet.
I figure that the effort is worthwhile now because I need to check frames and remove any that are in need of work. When I make up singles, time will be short and I don't want to have to do this work then.
I just used any boxes handy earlier and there are some plastic frames that need drone comb or odd constructions scraped off and a few frames that need removing.
The day is not too hot, and I'm thinking I'll go out again. My phone is up to 29% charge after only a half-hour on the charger, not that I believe what I tells me about the battery state if it is anything short of full charge.
The penicillin is starting to work. My throat is noticeably better, but still a bit sore. I do have enough energy to work and that is good.
Whether the work I am doing is doing any good, I wonder. I'm spending 15 minutes per hive and I wonder if my time might be better spent while waiting for the hives to build up. I could, for example, be setting up and filling my swimming pool. It might do just as much good.
Nonetheless, I am getting the brood chamber frames in better order and will be thankful later.
One important thing I have learned over time, and am seeing today, is that all the Pierco frames I have seem to be slightly bowed out in the same direction and if I orient them so that the word, "Pierco" is on the same end all across a box, the spacing is perfect. If I reverse one of three or more Piercos, there will be insufficient space on one side of a pair of these frames, resulting in a bald spot.
There are two ways to do get even nine-frame spacing: frame spacers and manual spacing and I have used both. Spacers guarantee more uniform spacing, but if Hoffman frames are not crowded together each time they are worked, the shoulders build up with propolis and after a while they naturally space out a bit.
My throat is definitely getting less painful. Also, it is 1704 and I am not tired. Usually, I am tired by this time of day, and I am thinking of going back outside to do more.
I spoke with Joe and he has lots of queens, and that introduction loss on this bunch has been less than 5%, so I am thinking I may make some splits.
I'll just go through hives, take out some brood, shake off the bees, place it in brood boxes with pollen and honey and place it back on the hive above an excluder.
The nurse bees will come back up and the next day I'll replace the excluder with a sheet of plastic and plug the front flight hole, then open the back flight hole. With the top front hole closed, the older, flying bees will migrate down to the hole below, leaving only young bees up top. Then I'll add the new queen to the split. Young bees accept queens very well. In a week, she should have laid a fair amount of brood and some will be ready to cap a few days later
That's my plan.
I should be able to make one split every fifteen minutes on average, so to make twenty will take five hours. That will be a good start. Maybe I should make fifty.
I'm amazed at how my energy has returned today. At 1930 hours, I'm still working on the living room window!
It's always helpful to learn
from your mistakes
Monday June 2nd 2014
Three days from now I will have visitors. There is a lot to do in the meantime. Bees, cleanup, groceries, books...
A neighbour who does carpentry came by this morning and is going to make my floors and lids this week. See here for floor and lid pix.
That means that I will be able to sell EPS singles with lids and floors that fit and can also be used with wooden boxes. It also means that I can use fewer four-way pallets.
Some manipulations require open access to the back of hives, though, like the method of steering flying bees down by closing a front top hole and opening the one on the back.
I am now going out to look at the bees. I'm realizing that all I need to do is make two-frame splits above the excluder and can introduce queens to them in a day or two. Later, I can add brood and boost them up, but small splits are easy and fast to make and accept queens best.
Now I need to stop writing and get out there!
* * * * * *
I did just that and made five splits from two hives, then quit for lunch and a nap. I realize that I really don't know exactly what I am doing as the hives were stronger than I thought. I had only expected to get one split from each hive. I'm also having to scrape frames and that is a nuisance.
I'm confused as to how big to leave the mother hive. Splitting in two is easier since there is much less decision-making and frame handling involved.
* * * * * *
Back to the salt mine...
Nope. The day turned dull and breezy, so I decided to do the indoor jobs instead. I'm planning to complete the south window wall and have a lot of re-organizing to do first. A lot of it involves moving plants, and of course I cannot move them without trimming, repotting, cleaning...
While the carpenter was here, a fire engine went by. We followed it down three blocks and saw that Moore's trailer was on fire, with flames shooting out the roof, and there were quite a few fire vehicles and an ambulance on the scene. Ray remarked that he had heard that the woman had tried to commit suicide some time back. We didn't stay, but left to finish discussing the lids and floors. Later, on the news at five, there was mention of a police investigation regarding a body (or as they call it nowadays, "human remains") found at a house fire in the hamlet of Swalwell.
I found I 'ran out of gas' early today. I'm drained. I have a lot of expectations for myself and can't meet them all. That is the problem with this place. It owns me. There is simply too much to do, and having the bees does not make things simpler. The bees have their own timetable and I am trying to rush it. Reading back in the diary, I see that I was finding them a bit much other years, too.
I poked around cleaning up and throwing things out and watched some Netflix.
A witty saying proves nothing.
Tuesday June 3rd 2014
My throat is better than it was at its worst, but still sore. Out of curiosity, I checked my blood sugar and blood pressure immediately after getting up, and got 5.0 and 110/69.
I was not feeling inspired, so went back to bed and slept until 0801. At 0906 my BP is still 116/72 and pulse is 57. and blood sugar is 4.9. These are great numbers, but why?
Well, that is that. I have to get moving. Today, I need to run to town, and I think I'll get that out of the way.
Joe phoned and wondered if I will take the queens or not. He has had them about a week now and every day one or two in the boxes of one hundred are dead. It is time to get them into hives. Keeping queens in a bulk box for more than a few days is hard on them. I'm not up to using more than ten or so and it is not worth the drive to get them, especially with my current low energy level , so he will put the rest of them into hives today and I'll get some ripe cells from him in a few days.
* * * * * *
I went to town. While there, I got my new Spot GEN3 (left) at the post office, seeing as a signature was required. It was not available yet locally, so bought it on eBay. I plan to use it on the upcoming Broughton Archipelago sailing trip.
I'm also looking at cell coverage boosters and this one (right) looks to be the best I can get easily and have a 30-day easy return period.
It also has very few quite a few rave reviews and very few bad ones. I'm not sure how I would use it on a sailboat. Probably have to hoist the antenna on the spinnaker halyard when at dock or anchored for the trial period at least. We are going to be 'way out in the boonies.
Does anyone have experience with these things?
I'm taking it easy today. I figure my convalesence is not progressing as quickly as expected and maybe I should kick back and chill out. I've been driving too hard. I may go out and work on the bees later, though, after the heat of the day.
I see that last year I had not even made any splits by this date, yet somehow I thought that I would this year. I tend to be driven by other people's expectations and try too hard to please.
Here's what I wrote last year on
Will I ever learn? At the time, I was more interested in beans than bees.
Maybe I am doing some good sitting here writing. I tend to forget. Take a look at this cool loader a reader made and reported last year. I have yet to get to work on building one. I have too many ideas.
I have listened to CBC radio all my life and all day long in recent years, but lately, I am finding CBC a bit of a wasteland. Due to budget cuts, lately the same few programs are repeated over and over all day and night, including some I usually skip. This is a shame because the result will be the loss of the loyal listening audience that turned on the radio first thing in the morning and off at night.
I have been unable to find a worthwhile substitute. NPR can be good, but tends to be slanted to a US-centric point of view. CKUA has a lot of good music, and I am listening to it right now, but I tire of music, and would love to find good talk station. I have my gripes with CBC and its increasing focus on gritty subjects and overly long interviews, but it is probably one of the best English language radio networks in the world.
I suppose I could use podcasts, but that requires work finding and sorting. I've played with podcasts a time or two, but find the format bothersome.
* * * * * *
I drove down to Ray's and see he has made me 40 floors and is half-finished the lids. He's doing a great job. Why did I not advertise for help before this?
I checked my mailbox and my Nexus card is here. The whole process has been much quicker than the information circulated would suggest. No more long lineups at airport security for me.
Realizing that my return from The Broughton Archipelago on the 29th will be during the early summer holiday busy time, I booked flights to and from Comox on WestJet.
I'm still wasting time trying to figure out what GMRS radios would be best for our Broughtons trip, but did make some bookkeeping entries as well, watched some Netflix and went to bed at about 2300.
Everything is changing.
Wednesday June 4th 2014
I slept well and awoke after 0700. My throat improves daily.
Today will be busy. I pick up Jon and the kids at YYC this evening and in the meantime, I have some preparation to do.
I doubt I'll get any bee work done today.
People are still writing, looking for nucs. As previously explained, the purchase did not work out. Details at Bees & Hives for Sale page.
The morning passes quickly with housecleaning and organizing. I have to find sheets and pillowcases and make sure the guest space is ready.
This afternoon, I have to get Jean's tent trailer out of the shed, and I can see that I will be busy until it is time to leave for YYC.
I'm glad my energy is back.
The kids and I watched half of Back to the Future III and called it a day.
All are lunatics, but he who can
analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.
Thursday June 5th 2014
The weather trend today is cooler, but the nights are staying well above freezing and that is a good thing.
I have company today. We have no plans, other than that we are expecting Jean and the kids to arrive after lunch and the Usual Suspects will be coming for supper.
* * * * * *
I didn't do any outdoor work today, but stayed in and visited and worked on the website manual for my boat. Jean and the kids arrived after lunch.
At four, I began supper preparations. Even though supper was hamburgers and hot dogs, prep takes time. The Usual Suspects began arriving after six and the last left around 2130. Meijers did not come tonight. When I phoned around four, they were still out working on bees.
After supper, we chatted and watched the ducks and muskrats on the pond. There are now two muskrats on the pond and they are quite bold.
When I saw the first muskrat several weeks ago, I took a really good look. I wanted to be sure it was not a beaver. One beaver can take down a lot of trees in just one night and we have few to spare. Years ago, the County had trees growing nicely at the Swalwell Dam and along came a beaver...
There is no sincerer love than
the love of food.
Friday June 6th 2014
My throat is almost completely better. I have eight pills left, enough for today, tomorrow, and half of Sunday. I'm wondering if I should get a refill since the condition is not completely cleared up and doctors are always concerned if patients stop antibiotic treatment before the condition is completely cured.
My energy is back to normal, whatever that is, so I may get outside today. Fen remarked last night that my grass needs cutting and it does. I've resolved to let it get longer and to cut less acreage this year, but if it goes too long without cutting, cutting gets difficult.
He wanted a pretty decent hourly rate for a farm shop -- $40/hr including his shop costs -- and I paid him exactly what he billed, but now he thinks if I have more made he wants to charge more per hour.
As it worked out, the cost was 25% over what he estimated going in. I was considering having him do more work, but he has priced himself out of a job. People are funny.
I pressure-washed the mower this morning and was astounded how dirty it got last year. I should have washed it last fall. I left it outside under a tarp over winter and it seemed dry, but I see some paint peeling. I suppose that is to be expected, seeing as it is now five years old, but I should be taking better care of it. I should consider trading it in, I suppose, but I don't know at this point how long I will keep this place. It is a paradise at times, especially in spring and summer, but cold and bleak in winter and it keeps me tied down.
Just before noon, Jon and Jean and the kids went to town, but I stayed home. I have things to do.
I went out and put some of the new lids on hives and having lids that fit make a big difference. These ones cost me $27.85 a set, plus tax. That is higher than I planned, but I figure I should be able to get them made for $25/set easily. That is my price.
I came back in earlier than planned because I encountered a hot hive. I had noticed it earlier, but this time they chased me and I did not go with a veil or smoke because I was just changing lids.. I'll have to nuc it out and requeen it.
After a nap, I went back out again and tried to get enthused, but was too tired to do much except put more of the new lids on hives and look into a few to see how my splits look. They look small and would be fine if the weather was always nice, but I have experience with small nucs in June. One year we had a hard freeze and that didn't kill them, but they did not do much afterwards.
I quit at 1645 and went in to cook turkey thighs for supper. I'm done for the day.
The kids say they are bored.
Looking back, I see I sold lots of hives in early July. If I split hives in half right now and put in cells, the queens will be laying July 1st. That may be the easiest solution, given my energy level.
Tonight is the beginning of Cruise Weekend in Three Hills. Jon went up. The rest of us stayed here. The kids played cards. I watched Netflix. Jean and Nathan went to bed. I used to enjoy Cruise Night, but it has morphed into a monster event that is spread all over the place and takes all weekend.
In America, anybody can be
president. That's one of the risks you take.
Saturday June 7th 2014
The tomato plants were out all night, but they should be OK. I see we did not appear to have a frost here. My weather station record for the last week is at right.
As for the bees, since there was no wind, they should be entirely unaffected.
By the chart at right, it looks to me as if there is something affecting the wind meter. It does not seem to record light breezes and only spikes up occasionally.
The tomato plants did suffer some damage after I put them out, but probably from too much sun, not from frost. I thought they could stand the direct sun since they were previously on the inside of a nearby window, but the window must have weakened the sun's rays inside as the leaves are looking sunburned after a day outside.
I mowed grass today and did little else. I have little energy yet and am distracted by the visitors.
I examined the wind meter and concluded that it is now too sheltered by trees which have leafed out lately.
We have art to save ourselves
from the truth.
Sunday June 8th 2014
I took my last two apo-pen tablets this morning. My throat seems completely cured, but my energy is low. Penicillin can do that, but I suspect that allergies factor in as well. My eyes are red and itchy.
Looking at the weather forecast, I see that the predicted rain has been put off a while. The nights continue warm.
So far, we have been just visiting, but today Jon, Jean, and I need to organize the memorial we are planning for August.
I am seeing more ducks on the pond than usual and we have two muskrats that look as if they plan top stay, so maybe I will be seeing little muskrats soon. The usual redwing blackbirds are here as well as shore birds. The water looks quite clear this year. I'm sure it is too high in dissolved solids for fish, but it seems to be clearing up after several years of bubbling.
Jon and Kalle went to the drag races in Three Hills. Sean had called and was visiting, so he went along. They returned around 1500.
Jean started getting ready to leave for home at about 1430, but when she hooked up the tent trailer to take it home, all the lights worked except the right turn/brake light.
She cleaned the trailer wiring connector terminals, but with no luck, so I went out and checked everything over. Still no luck, but we managed to blow a fuse. She had been on the ground under the back to look at the wires there and I took her word for it that all was well. I didn't much want to lie on the dirt with my street clothes and figured she had it covered.
Finally we got a sheet of cardboard and I lay down and looked under. The problem was immediately obvious. The wiring that came out the back was an adaptor, but there were two more sets of plugs underneath to connect to the SUV wiring harness, and one plug was badly corroded.
We cleaned these connectors and all was well. I advised her to pack all the plugs with Vaseline to prevent future corrosion.
By then it was supper time, so Jean and the kids stayed to eat. I made macaroni and leftovers. Sean stayed for supper.
After supper, Jon's crew started packing.
Bodily exercise, when
compulsory, does no harm to the body;
Monday June 9th 2014
Looking out at 0505, the skies are grey and the trees are tossing about in the wind which registers at up to 15 MPH.
We have to leave by 0800 to drive to YYC. Jon and the kids fly home today.
* * * * *
I drove them to the airport and returned home via CrossIron Mills and the Airdrie Walmart. Along the way, I bought two GMRS radios and a marine VHF radio, plus a cell phone repeater unit -- and some groceries.
At home, it is cool and breezy, so I played with the radios for a while and started on some desk work. On considering my condition, I am thinking that I have fully recovered from the infection and I'm finding my energy is returning.
The day warmed by 1630, but the wind is strong enough to be unpleasant outdoors, so deskwork it is.
After supper, I watched some Netflix and then went back to work cleaning out my inbox. I see I have lots of unanswered email. Much of it is answered at my Bees & Hives for Sale page. I can't keep writing over and over to everyone who wants bees. I'm away behind after being sick for ten days and having visitors. That's why I post there.
Basically, the way it looks now, I should have bees ready at the end of the month. I suppose that is what I should have said in the first place, but things looked more promising -- and I was not sick earlier, either.
I find I can't work all the time and need to take time to relax or my mind freezes up. I've taken on a lot of projects and am feeling some pressure.
A soft answer turneth away