July 1st 2014
I slept in until 0855 today. When I looked, the temperature was already 23 degrees.
My ankles are still sore, but not too bad. I have a big day ahead. Shopping, bees, lawn mowing, BBQ...
Zip and I drove to Three Hills. I was surprised to see there were only a few cars at the store, today being a holiday and also 10% Tuesday.
I filled my cart and went to the till, where the cashier said, "You know that 10% Tuesday is next week, not today?
"No", I said, "I called yesterday to make sure you were open and that 10% Tuesday is today."
The manager was nearby and overheard, and said that the chain had decided to put it off until next week due to the holiday. They had advertised the fact in the flyer, etc.
Nonetheless, the 10% Tuesday signs were everywhere in the store and in the window. He smiled and said to give me the discount regardless, but added, "Don't come back next week and expect to get the discount twice." He obviously did not mind and appreciates the business.
The store is small, but has a complete selection and carries all the specials. The only rub is that their prices tend to be a bit high. A 10% discount brings their costs in line with about what I pay in the big stores.
When the total rang up, it was $152.78 and that put me over $150, the line for a 15% discount. I paid $130.38. Bonus!
As I drove up my driveway I realised that I am very happy to be home. The Broughtons trip was very memorable and I'll probably do it again, but in some ways it was an ordeal and I need to charge my batteries.
In late May, June, July, August, September and into October, The Old Schoolhouse is paradise. Coming up the drive, I see my domain is looking overgrown, lush and fabulous.
Some years, we manicured the place and others, just let it go wild. This may be one of the wild years. I consider selling, but don't need to, yet, at least, if I can solve the winter upkeep problems...
After lunch, I drove down to see Ray about having more floors and lids made. He made forty sets for me previously, but was holding out for a higher price. I gave him time to think about it and he decided he would make more for the same cost. I have several other prospects, but he does a beautiful job and I figure "better the devil you know..."
My friends came for supper and we barbequed in the back yard.
Sitting here at 2200h, I smell a skunk. Not good. Skunks bother bees and my dog tends to follow her nose and not see where the trail ends until too late.
Businesses planned for service
are apt to succeed;
Wednesday July 2nd 2014
This morning, I have to be in Three Hills for my annual physical and I am fasting for a routine blood test I'll get done on the same trip.
These items will take up most of the morning. Then I have to get working on the bees. The day promises to be a hot one, but we'll see what I can get done.
This effect always takes beekeepers by surprise every year and many neglect to add extra space beyond a minimum, or too late. They come back to find the lids glued down, the bees swarmed or plugged or both, and a lot less honey than they might have had if they had added more space. A good indicator of failure to super adequately is fat outside combs in the brood boxes.
Once the weather is settled and nights are warm, smart beekeepers always add one more box than the bees need to require at the moment. Sometimes they are disappointed, but sometimes rewarded.
Later, in mid-August in my part of the country, we start cutting back on space, but never to the point they do not have an empty super of comb until mid-September. At that time, we can reduce them to doubles for winter.
* * * * * *
After lunch, I went out and started going through brood chambers and checked two more hives. What do I see? So far, only new queens, some with sealed brood and all hives have more honey than I like to see. I am short of empty combs to slip in, and inserting more than a few sheets of foundation does not provide immediate room to lay, which is what some hives really need.
I'll work through more hives shortly, but came inside due to the heat of midday and to get water and sunglasses. Right now, I miss my pool and will have to set it up soon. That job is on my list of backlogged jobs to do.
I'm looking for hives ready to sell. The flow is coming up soon and people will want them in time to super them up.
* * * * * *
I went back out and did a few more hives before the heat got to me. I'm not finding a lot of hives ready for sale, but, then, I am looking in the worst group. So far, I found three, and two queenless, plus the balance coming along nicely, but with new queens and less brood than I had hoped. The two weeks of being sick delayed my splitting and that slow start delayed the build-up.
Oddly, though, many of the hives with original queens are not seeming as large as expected. Maybe that will change with the ongoing hatch of brood. Also, today was a flow day and half the bees were out foraging, and perhaps that affected my perceptions.
I am still suffering the after-effects of the winter I lost all the hives early in winter, when they were still full of feed. My hives simply have far too much honey in them and it is affecting brood rearing. I can add foundation, but it is not the same as empty drawn brood comb.
This day was less productive than I had hoped. I did work through some boxes and I did work through some hives, but I have a lot left to do and am not seeing what I had hoped to see.
At this point, I simply have far too much honey in the hives and I'll need to extract if this keeps up. I'm going to need to add foundation to these hives, too.
I tired out early and wound up mowing grass. That is a mindless job that I can do when I run out of energy and ambition.
Logic is in the eye of the
Thursday July 3rd 2014
I have more bee work today, and I plan to begin earlier to beat the heat. Predictions are for thirty-one degrees (88° F) today.
Thirty-one degrees C (88° F) is also getting very close to my body temperature, and requires my body's cooling system to work hard. If I generate heat by working, and also absorb heat from the sun, I have to get rid of a lot of heat by sweating.
I am not used to the heat, after coming from the Coast, where temperatures were cool for the past two weeks. I find I am limited in how much I can do in the heat.
I went out around 0930 and by 1100, I quit and came in. finding the sun too hot for me.
I'm finding my hives are plugged or plugging and will be adding foundation. After working through about 30 hives, I have identified eight for sale now and found two queenless hives that were too small to save.
This year, for some reason, I am getting stung around the eyes far more often than usual It does not swell much, but does distort my vision an bit which is a nuisance.
* * * * * *
At 1400, I am in the house, running the fans to circulate the cold air up from the basement. That also serves to dry out the basement which gets damp in summer. The wind is picking up and that makes being outdoors more tolerable. Elijah showed up to do garden work in the heat of the day. He had slept in.
I was outside for a little while, putting foundation into boxes. I'll have to put a box on every hive.
Then I came back in, and immediately received a call from the Drumheller Library wanting a 20-piece show of Ellen's art for September in their new Civic Building. Earlier on, they were booked for a year or more ahead, but I'd said I could come up with something if someone cancelled. I guess someone did. I agreed to September, subject to confirmation.
I am finding that my carpenter glued everything well except the one spot that really matters and some warping is happening on a few lids. I also need to explain to him that the better side of the plywood goes on the top of the lids and the top of the floors.
* * * * * *
Around 1600, Nick Lissaman called. That is interesting as I had written him three weeks ago about his new enterprise and he had not replied. This afternoon, I remembered and called the number on the website. Nick called me back and we had a long chat. He'll be sending me samples of his new frames and I'll be reviewing them here.
Readers will know that I love Pierco black one-piece frames and use nothing else in spite of a slight warping in the comb surface. I have other combs, of course, but when I buy new, I buy, I buy Pierco black one piece frames.
Nick has been the face of Pierco for several decades, but he and the owner of the company have parted ways. Nick tells me that he has started a new company and made new molds with improvements and I am looking forward to trying out his products. If they are as good as Pierco but stay flat and don't warp, I'll be delighted. If competition drives prices down, that will just be gravy.
* * * * * *
I went back out and worked another hour or two. The flow is definitely starting and I am putting on foundation and supers as fast as I can. I finished the South of the Hedge Yard and almost all of the North Yard. I'm finding lots of good colonies.
I don't seem to be tired today. I've adjusted to the heat, I guess, but I am quitting at 1730 for a while at least. Looking in the mirror, I see my face is red. I'd love to have my pool set up and ready to go, but setting it up means a few hours of work and I am behind with the bees.
* * * * * *
I have been wanting to buy a CPAP machine and looking online. I know the model I want and was about to buy from a discount store in the US this morning, when at the last moment before ordering I remembered Kijiji.
I searched and found several on offer within driving distance, so I answered several ads. Just now, at 1758, the phone rang and I am off to Airdrie to make a purchase. The seller grew up in Three Hills, as it turns out.
* * * * * *
I drove the truck, planning to also pick up some 2X4s for hive stands. By the time I met with the CPAP seller and a beekeeper at the A&W, Home Depot was closed. Home Depot in Airdrie now closes at 8PM and that really makes me wonder how well they are doing. It seems to me that homeowners shop in the evenings. Is that business declining? There is Rona nearby, but I do not like their setup, so I skipped the lumber purchase.
I drove home, figured out how to set the CPAP machine and went to bed.
This machine is a premium model and like-new. I saved quite a bit over buying online, and paid less than 1/3 of what Funcktional Sleep Solutions was talking about. Of course, there is always risk in buying second-hand, but hopefully it is minimal in this case. I figure it either works or it doesn't, and it does.
Talent does what it can; genius
does what it must.
Friday July 4th 2014
The machine worked well, and I slept better than previous nights, but my mouth was dry. I still have a few settings on the machine to figure out it seems. I suspect the heated tube. One of the things I liked about CPAP from the first was the cool air under pressure. I did turn on all the features last night, so maybe this one can be turned off.
Today is Stampede Parade Day in Calgary.
I'll be making up hives for buyers today.
My pallets have drain grooves running fore and aft and the EPS boxes sit high enough over the pallets (since they are larger outside than the wooden boxes for which the pallets were designed) that the drains provide bee spaces that bees can travel between hives on the same pallet. See pictures. I wonder if this affects queen replacement and acceptance.
I dropped two EPS boxes full of frames yesterday and they split open. Today I repaired them. The job is simple: brush Weldbond onto the broken surfaces, align the pieces, slap the box together, and drive in several 3-1/2" drywall screws to clamp the joint. The box can return to service immediately.
I accomplished quite a bit of outside work today, transferring singles to wood boxes for a customer who needs eight singles, but in wood boxes, and checking for queens in other hives.
I'm discovering that I am arriving about a week early to assess the new queens as some have not yet begun to lay.
These spits were done on June 13th. That is barely twenty-one days ago and today is the very earliest that I should expect to see laying queens from emergency queens.
I dropped cells into about 2/3rds of the hives when I split them, and if the cells hatched, those queens should have been laying for about week by now, but if the cells were not successful and the bees built backups, queens from those backup cells will require a few more days to develop. I'm seeing some queens that have been in business for about a week, judging by the brood, but almost none newer. If I wait a few more days, I should see more queens laying and more brood.
Being ill in early June set my beekeeping back a long way. Splitting has to be done at the right time and delays result in problems that carry on down the line for the rest of the season, into winter and the following spring. Beekeeping is an art that involves careful timing and expert manipulation of space.
At twenty-five degrees, today was not as unbearably hot as yesterday, but it was hot enough that I came in at midday, made a bean and rice stew, and had a good nap during the heat of the day. This CPAP machine seems to work well.
I went back out and worked until 1815 and came in. I'm taking the night off.
Tomorrow, I have two buyers coming. One in the morning, one at night. I'm not ready for either. The first will take ten minutes or so; the second will take me a few hours.
Twenty years from now you will
be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the
ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe
harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
Saturday July 5th 2014
The new CPAP machine, a ResMed S9 AutoSet, works well, but I find wake up periodically with a dry mouth and AFAIK it is not from mouth breathing.
I did not have this issue with the Philips Respironics System One RemStar Auto with A-Flex (551P) I had on loan previously, so will have to research the problem. Turning off the climate control seems to have been beneficial, but I still need to make some more adjustments. One thing is notable: I have not had sinus congestion since using this machine.
I just don't seem to have enough time or energy to do everything I have planned. I need to catch up my books and to write everyone on my Memorial list at least one month in advance, That gives me another three days. And I need to set up the pool.
I have a customer coming for a hive at 0930 and one at 8PM, so that defines my day. The morning is starting cool and overcast, but the day is predicted to reach twenty-six degrees.
My 0900 buyer came and went. He took one single and I went through it to make sure I saw a queen.
I always worry when I sell hives. I want the buyer to get a good deal, but also want to make sure I don't give away the farm. It is always a judgment call. Hives that look large and crowded in the evening of a hot day always look small in the cool morning the next day.
I quit work at suppertime, tidied around the house in the evening, and went to bed early, at 2200 to try to maximize sleep time. I find that the sun wakes me early in the morning. If the sun does not wake me, sometimes a fly finds me and tickles me until I get up.
Yesterday, I discovered a wasp nest in a super of partially drawn foundation. The wasps were quite gentle and did not sting me, even as I manhandled their nest. The nest is quite fascinating. The larvae wiggle and appear to beg for food like baby birds. I placed the frame with the nest into an empty box and we'll see if they are able to survive.
Nearby, I found bumblebees in a mouse nest under an inverted drum, and in some stacks, I have been finding mice.
In fact, I feel as if I am running a mouse farm. I am seeing them everywhere this year and most are deer mice. That is the kind that can carry hantavirus, so I take care when I come across their nests.
As I was working the bees at around 1900, I saw a large sprayer go by a quarter mile away. It was spraying around the outside edge of the a canola crop in full bloom south of me. It made just the one outside round and then appeared again on the other side of the tracks. I cannot imagine what chemical they are spraying or what the target pest is, but think that whatever they are spraying, it cannot be good for bees.
You can do anything, but not
Sunday July 6th 2014
I slept over nine hours in the last twenty-four. I'm trying to catch up on sleep and get back to feeling 'normal'. I've been home almost a week now.
My new (used) ResMed S9 AutoSet machine seems to help me sleep better. If nothing else, it is a new tech toy and I love tech toys. I take the card out every day and read the data with Sleepyhead software. I downloaded the Respironics software, but it does not seem to run right, even after reinstallation. Action buttons are missing on various pages.
This machine does not provide the same data as the ResMed unit I had on trial and I miss some of the output. I can infer some of it, and need to study the subject more. I am beginning to see that this whole question of sleep and what may underlie sleep problems is more complex than it seems on the surface.
Mornings these days start off cool and overcast, then the days clear off and heat up. I have work to do outdoors and plan to get at it early today. The day should not be uncomfortably hot, but the best times to work outdoors are early and late in the day.
I should get out and get going. I have been finding that even if I am feeling tired and unambitious and I get up, go outside and begin working, my energy returns. My right ankle still gives me a bit of pain but is getting better. The other one is fine now. I have no idea what causes this. I had the same problem a year ago. The right ankle stiffness may be exacerbated by holding the accelerator on the lawn mower for hours at a time I think the problem was originally triggered by repeatedly stepping down off the forklift.
I have to have eight singles ready by 1930 tonight. Three are already done and I need to find and work through the rest.
The customer wants these in wood boxes, so:
Before the customer arrives this evening, I'll smoke additional bees up into the split, remove it, and place it on a floor and add a lid.
I'll then keep the bees smoked in until they are loaded. If a few fly back to the original hive, no problem.
* * * * *
I went out a little after 1000 and by 1115 had made up three more, plus accomplished a few small tasks. As I go, I make sure the untouched hives have enough space for the next week or so..
I am using up the rest of my Global Patties. Patties should not be kept long after they are purchased. Their nutritive value diminishes with time and old patties have even been shown to be harmful. As you can see, the bees are eating them. bee need a lot of protein to raise brood. Even if there is pollen in the hive, it will not last long if there is a rainy spell or the flowers stop yielding.
I have mentioned placing supers on hives before the bees get crowded so they will know the space is there and use it when it is needed. I have also extolled the virtues of waxed black Pierco one-piece frames.
Looking to the top, only a few bees can be seen, and the ones on it in the picture are the ones that were there when I lifted the box (no smoke) but from the evidence of their work, one can deduce that bees have been up there at some point since the box of new foundation frames was placed there several days ago..
I was finished the singles by 1500 and decided to mow the lawn. It is really long. Mowing in the middle of the day is said to be hard on the lawn, but my goal is not to have a perfect lawn. but to get the grass down to where it is not a fire hazard and will be neat enough for the memorial. We used to mow regularly, but I decided to spend the money on the gardener this year and let the lawn go wild.
1700h: Elijah has been here working on the garden this afternoon. His Mom came along to help and they bought some annuals with them that they found at a close-out of the local greenhouse. The gardens are looking pretty good.
My customer is coming at 1930 to pick up 8 hives. I'll have to put them on floors and lids before he comes, but for now, I'll take it easy. I have a turkey leg in the oven.
He arrived at 1930 as planned and we had him loaded in short order. After he left, rain began and continued into the night.
Monday July 7th 2014
Weather this past week has been ideal for bees. Days have been hot, but not too hot, and nights have only dipped briefly to eight degrees. The coming weeks promises to be as good or better.
I have nothing pressing today., but should get out and work on the bees. Some need boxes and I want to identify and prepare hives for sale.
I realise that I have not yet contacted people who want bees. I also have not updated the Nucs and Hives for Sale - Spring 2014 page for a week now, so did so just now.
I also thought that picture was outstanding. I shot it rather casually with my phone while holding the frame with one hand. It seems if a person shoots enough pictures, one is bound to be exceptional.
I almost sent it to Kim Flottum at Bee Culture. He would appreciate it. I sent him a picture once and it became the cover of an issue of Bee Culture. This one would not, though, even with the honeycomb in the background -- or would it?
I also found the wasps quite appealing. They were obviously observing me, as I was observing them, but they were holding back on the nuclear option which they had at the ready, so how could I not spare them? The larvae were also quite charming, although I might not have thought so if they were wax moth larvae.
I confess to killing a wasp nest inside the wall above my deck door last year as they were stinging people, but I generally leave wasps and hornets alone and enjoy their presence.
Years ago, wasps built a large nest in an upper corner of a basement door jamb. They used the door as one side of the nest such that the brood was exposed every time we opened the door. We found it amusing and no one was ever stung. They stayed there all season.
I seem to lack the killer instinct, although I squash bees that harass and sting me while I work without any qualms and with some satisfaction.
I also know for a fact that I kill bees each time I work through hives. At this time of year, with bees spilling over the boxes and floors, killing some is unavoidable. I justify this with the belief, firmly held, that I am doing more good than harm.
* * * * *
This morning, I worked on a few hives, then came in for lunch and had a nap.
After that, I went out and looked around, then decided to mow grass. Mowing with this 52" tractor is effortless and mindless work and it restores an appearance of normalcy to the place.
I have been letting the lawns go wild, but decided that I like it mowed and that I need the grass and weeds cut to be able to do various jobs around the place properly. Besides, I need to mow the spot where Orams put their tent trailer. The yellow clover was getting as tall as I am.
What we think, or what we know,
or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence.
Tuesday July 8th 2014
When I awoke, I noticed I am swelling slightly around the eyes. The bees have been targeting my eyes lately and a few get me. I guess my immunity to stings is wearing off, but even when immune, slight swelling at the sting site is not unusual. I prefer not to wear a veil and have been a bit negligent about smoking the hives.
Most places on the body, that small amount of swelling does not show, but any distortion near the eyes is obvious, both to the person with the swelling, and to people he meets.
I'll have to be careful about getting stung in the face for the next few days. I have a laser eye operation on Thursday and probably should not show up with a distorted face.
* * * * *
Proper smoking of hives saves the bees and saves the beekeeper. Smoking bees properly is not as simple as it looks. Most people do not know how to light a smoker or how to apply smoke properly.
A propane torch will light a smoker, but I just use a six or eight inch square of crumpled newspaper and a barbeque lighter. I light the paper, drop it into the empty smoker and watch it burn. When the paper is in full flame and no un-charred paper remains, I dangle a small piece of burlap over the flame and puff lightly, then drop it and leave the smoker sitting like that. It smolders, then smokes liberally. Ellen won more than a few smoker lighting contests with that technique.
After the smoker has been going a while, pack in more burlap to reduce the airflow and slow the burn rate. If the smoker is burning too hot and fast, pack it down and if that does not slow it enough, dampen a bit of burlap and pack it on top of the burning fuel.
Usually, sending a few puffs across the entrance and any other openings is sufficient. It is important to smoke across the entire entrance as one side will be the cooling air intake and the other will be the exhaust. Blowing smoke across the exhaust side will achieve nothing.
Which is the intake and which is the exhaust will be obvious by the way the smoke is carried by the air currents. Smoking at the intake guarantees some smoke will go inside.
Each time a lid or box is lifted, blow a puff of smoke into the crack before lifting to prevent an alarm, and to reduce the likelihood of having a squadron of defenders attack from the new opening.
If a hive or group of hives gets hard to handle, stand upwind and create a large cloud of smoke that drifts down and blankets the offending hives.
I had a cell amplifier device to return to The Source within the thirty-day return period and time is running out. I bought it to use on the flotilla, but did not need it. The boat already has one, although I am not sure it worked. I also have to confirm that I will be putting up a show of Ellen's work in Drumheller and wanted to see the gallery before committing, so I drove to Drum around noon.
The gallery turns out to be around fifty feet by thirty feet with all four walls available for paintings. That is huge, so I'll have to check the inventory in the studio. I have done nothing with the artwork since she died last August 15th.
I had other things to do in Drum, but had brought Zippy along and could not find any shaded parking, so I returned home. Once home, I had a nap.
Once the day cooled down, I went out and worked on some more hives. I see a few are thinking of swarming. It's about time. The hives have been slow developing this year and I am not the only person to notice this.
I got a bit done, then came in and watched an episode of The Good Wife on Netflix. This seems to be a pleasant series. I was watching The Guardian for a while, but have been finding it less appealing lately. I seem to be on a lawyer kick. I watched several episodes of House recently as well, though, but I am not sure what I think it it yet.
When hungry, eat your rice; when
tired, close your eyes.
Wednesday July 9th 2014
I'm tired again today and did some deskwork and basement work down where it is cool. Outside it is 31.2° C or 88° F. My plan is to go outside at 1600, once the sun is lower and do some more bee work.
It is 1644 and the temperature is not dropping. On the radio, I hear that this is officially the hottest day of the year. so far.
I did go out and worked trough ten hives or so, then cam back in.
I'm seeing hives plugged with honey. If only I would follow my own advice and super them up. If only I had enough supers.
When you go into court you are
putting your fate into the hands of