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Thursday July 10th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm off to Calgary today.  The weather promises to be cooler than yesterday, but still quite warm, at 25 C.  I have two appointments this morning and afternoon, and I wonder if I should take in the Stampede.  I'll be nearby.

I drove to Calgary and was at the Lung Diagnostic Centre at 1000 for my lung evaluation.  I had to draw in as much air as I could through a tube, then blow it out as hard as I could.  Then I inhaled a mist and repeated the process.  A computer monitored all the airflows and plotted charts which the operator examined in real time. I had to repeat the process several times before she was satisfied.  I'm told that I'll have the results by the time I see my GP next Monday.

An hour later my tests were finished and I started towards the Rockyview Hospital for my SLT.  Since I was early, I stopped at The Home Depot and wandered through their flower and garden plants section, then drove to the hospital.

I have had the SLT three times now over eight years.  The purpose is to lower the intraocular pressure to ward off glaucoma and the past two times it was very successful.  We'll know in a month how well this one worked.

I had to wait an hour before driving and decided to go home.  Although the operation is virtually painless, my eyes feel a bit sandy for a while after.

I stopped for gas along the way and arrived home around 1700.  The day is cooling, and I have bee work tp do, but I didn't feel like it, so had steak and a cob of corn, then slept an hour.


Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children;
now I have six children and no theories.
John Wilmot

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Friday July 11th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Good Morning!  More hot weather is coming.  I am going out early today to try to get caught up with the bees.  I may start pulling honey, just to make room.

Check out the forum today.  I see a few posts that I missed and have replied to them there.  Somehow the 'bot did not notify me of the new posts.   Be sure to read there regularly as I do not always cross-post content from the forum over here.  Please fell free to register and post questions and comments in the forum.

I finally got outside at 1100 and did some tidy-up around the doors.  My morale has suddenly picked up.  For one thing, I don't think I will have to sell many hives.  I sent out an email and got little response.  Maybe I sent it to the wrong list? I have so many names, I suppose I should check.

 I don't really care, though.  Truth be told, I am finding that I hate selling hives.  I especially hate selling them one by one.  There is always the problem of pricing them and the fear they may not do well.

At this point, it appears I am stuck with just about 100 hives that will produce honey.  In fact, they are already well on the way to a crop.

That's OK.  I can do that.  Honey production can be simple and time-insensitive -- no appointments, no negotiating, no emails and phone calls and no beginner questions -- just me and my bees and a lot of lifting and moving around.  I can give the bees room and go visit Mom for a week.

I'll probably produce about 10,000 pounds of honey and I need to decide how to get rid of it.  I can just haul supers to my friends and have the extraction done in a matter of minutes.  That is what we have been doing.  We work together anyhow and are set up to deal with this.

I could buy an extractor and fuss around, spending the equipment investment and the set-up time plus at least forty hours uncapping and extracting and fooling with drums.  Make that two weeks out of my life.  Been there, done that.

I figure (roughly) that there will be 2400 frames to extract in total. That could amount to as many as 300 supers.  With the empty super weight added, that means 18,000 pounds that has to be trucked to the plant.  That would be 9 trips with my truck, taking 27 hours or one trip for a larger truck.

At any rate, I am happy now that the way forward is clear.  I am working through the hives, spreading brood and adding foundation.

I do need to get my forklift going, though.  I'll need it soon.

The foundation is drawing beautifully so far. 

See how few bees are on the foundation?  I don't think that there have been more than that so far.  These few bees seem to have have done all that work, using just the wax on the foundation, plus what they pick up from burr comb and make themselves.  I don't see clusters hanging there, but foundation is getting drawn.

Have I ever mentioned how I love the black plastic one-piece frames?  Maybe not. 

Working with black plastic one-piece frames is just so pleasant compared to handling the big chunks of lumber  that make up wood frames.  Scraping burr comb on plastic does not raise slivers, the way it can on wood, and the bees just seem so much happier not to have all that wood in their nest. 

Plastic plastic feels much more natural than wood.  I like the softness and flexibility of the plastic it seems much more compatible with beeswax.  The rounded edges of the newer Pierco frames are easy on the hands and the black colour shows off the comb and eggs in the bottom of cells.

I've heard that bees make more burr comb on Pierco and similar frames than wood, but I don't really see that and I have all sorts of frames.  The picture at right is what happens if you wait too long to super, but scrapes off easily.  It will happen no matter what frames are used.  Note the beautiful combs in the frames.

Beekeeping is fun again.

Around 1700, while I was working the last hive in the second group from last, Ray called and said he has some lids ready, so I drove down and picked them up.  I now have enough of my new lids for all my hives, plus a few spares that I can sell.  He'll have the floors ready Monday.

Ray does a beautiful job and I know I will love having all matching equipment.  I'll be able to stop using four-way pallets, and space the hives out better.  I'll need to make some more hive stands, but that is fairly simple. 

I suppose I should paint these lids and floors, but I don't have the ambition to do so.  Maybe I could dip them, but jobs like that wind up taking days.  Besides, we do not normally paint the inside of bee equipment.  Paint is a chemical and also can repel the bees.  I expect that these new lids should last as long as I do.

It seems I keep spending money on my bees and am in the red for the past several years.  I really should try to get into the black.  There is no sense in losing money doing something that is keeping me from my sailing, visiting my family, and my cottage.

I built the bees back up when Ellen was ill and changed to EPS boxes.  This meant investing.  I have intended to sell bees, but sales have been limited due to the large loss several years ago and the slow springs the past two years.  I also think my splitting strategy needs reconsideration.

I've mentioned previously that I'm speaking about "The Financial Side of Beekeeping" at the BCHPA annual meeting in Richmond B.C. this September 25-27. 

How I Screwed Up and Why I'm Hoping You Won't
Why Money Matters, Even if Beekeeping is Your Hobby
Why are You Doing This, Anyhow?
What is Your Time Worth?
Pricing Your Products
Social Responsibility and Reputation
Turning Your Hobby into a Business - Is it a good Idea - For You?
Running a Beekeeping Business
Dealing with Competition - Making it Pay
Value for Money
The Law
The Taxman
The Bank
Happy Ending

Maybe I should practice what I preach?

After I returned from Ray's, I made some macaroni and went to The Mill for a potluck supper.  I stayed until the mosquitoes got bad, then went to Bert's for a visit, then drove home, arriving around 2200.

My pessimism extends to the point of even suspecting the sincerity of the pessimists.
Jean Rostand

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Saturday July 12th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

At 0730, I hear a spray plane.  The country around me is yellow with canola and the farmers are spraying for something.  I asked Joe and he said he heard there is a fungus attacking the crops and they are spraying fungicide.  I hope that is true, although some fungicides can be as bad as some insecticides. 

So far I am not seeing any damage to my bees, but who can see what is not there -- bees killed in the field --  or detect something that subtly reduces the viability of a hive over time?

Two people are coming for bees early this morning and both have texted that they are on the way, so I should drink my second cup of coffee and get outside.  As well, today promises to be hot and I want to finish this round today, and before the hot part  of the day.

*   *   *   *   *

I started the smoker, then cut grass until my visitors came.  I had been avoiding cutting around the beehives, but just can't stand the chaos any longer and decided to neaten things up.

Now, at 1008, we are up to twenty-five degrees Celsius on the way to thirty-one.  I'm going out to work on the hives and hopefully finish this round.

*   *   *   *   *

After a break, I went out and put on some of the new lids, just to get them off my truck.  They look great.  I just know that having everything the same and having the hives on single floors will work better than the way I have been getting by.  These new lids will seal the tops of the hives far better and be easier to put on. 

The main secrets to ruining running more than ten hives are

  • to standardize equipment

  • organize the yard layout for easy vehicle access

  • have a flat-deck truck or trailer or a forklift to move close to the working area to eliminate unnecessary steps and lifting

  • have a clear goal in mind each time the hives are worked

  • prepare the necessary supplies and place them conveniently

  • begin at one end and work through to the last hive before going back to start the next pass

  • eliminate any exceptions ruthlessly without being distracted from the main goals.

If you only have a pickup truck, build a crude deck of plywood and 2X4s to sit on top of the box -- or take the box off and put on a deck.  Working from a pickup box is a horrible and impractical way to accomplish anything.

Home Depot and Lowes sell inexpensive pull-behind trailers with a fairly high payload that are at a convenient height for doing bee work.  See also this forum post and this.

I think I will paint the lids -- sometime.  The job should be simple once the hives are on stands.  I can just take a roller and do a whole yard in jig time.

BTW, I have come to the conclusion that hive colour is not a huge issue and that mixing box colours does not matter as much as many think it does.  Bee recognize their hives by position and shape and smell, as well as colour.

I think I may have eaten something I should not have last night.  That is the trouble with potluck suppers.  People make salads or other dishes, then drive a distance in hot weather and then the food sits on a table at room temperature, or in this case, hotter for an hour or more.  I woke up a bit nauseous in the middle of the night and sat up two hours before I felt well enough to sleep.  Today my digestion is not quite right.

Although I have not quite finished this round, I distracted myself with lawn mowing.  The mess was getting to me and I decided I simply had to mow the bee yards, and did so.  I have more tidying to do, but this is a start.

*   *   *   *   *

At 1800, I went to The Mill for Noah and Annie's wedding.  The evening began with a supper under a large tent set up for the occasion.  I didn't count, but would guess maybe a hundred and twenty to a hundred and forty people were there.

During and after supper, we were treated to musical entertainment and the usual goings-on. 

It so happens that Annie's father is a beekeeper in Nova Scotia, and we had a few good chats.  He and his wife brought jars of honey for all the guests.  I took one home with me and have to say the honey is excellent.

Bert took Maddy up in his plane to photograph the wedding, but by the time there was a delay in the programme and we were able to get everyone outside, they had landed, but I heard they did get some good pictures.

The wedding ceremony was scheduled for 2100, the time when the sun set and the full moon rose, a so-called supermoon, as the moon is reportedly at its perigee at this particular date and time.

A moon theme sort of resonates with a tradition in the Dick and Purves-Smith families.  As I recall, Ellen and I started it by by throwing a Blue Moon lawn party one summer evening.  Back then, we used any good excuse to have a big barbeque and had quite a crowd.

The theme that night was "blue" and "moon".  People wore blue and painted themselves blue and brought blue food.   I especially recall the blue macaroni and the kids jumping on bee hives in the dusk.  I have pictures somewhere, but can't recall the year.  It was back before 2000.

We threw a few such parties with mostly our close friends at the time and later Bill later threw a bigger one at The Mill, bringing in a larger group of people, but then the tradition died, probably due to a shortage of suitable blue moon dates.  The last (small) party we had here was in 2005.

At nine, Zeke blew the starting horn sequence as if beginning a sailing race and everyone trekked out onto the prairie north of The Mill for the ceremony.

Sailing has been quite central to both he Dick and Purves-Smith families.  They were into sailboat racing, mostly lasers, and were very active at the Glenmore Yacht Club.  We were avid windsurfers.  Jon sailed with the P-Ss a bit over the years and later was Noah's partner in Tornado class sailing around the world, hoping to qualify for the Olympics. 

That effort ended with a capsize and dismasting in the mouth of Sidney (Australia) harbour and drifting around for eighteen hours in the Tasman Sea until they were rescued.  That was back in 2000 as I recall.

About that time, the day was cooling and the mosquitoes were coming out, so everyone was sprayed liberally with Deep Woods Off or similar DEET product.

The ceremony went on for quite a while, and from where I was sitting in the crowd I could not hear most of what was happening. The PA was muffled when some speakers were at the mic and at other times, the mic was ignored.

There was a long interlude while the rings were passed around and everyone was asked to hold them and make good wishes.  With that crowd, even a few seconds per person added up to long time standing there waiting and being eaten by mosquitoes.

Eventually they were married, apparently, and then the attendees were asked to form two rings for some variation of a receiving line, at which point some of us made a discreet retreat. By then, it was 2230 so I drove home.  I had had enough, was getting cold and mosquito-bitten, and was not in the mood to party.

Although I don't mind bees crawling on me, or even stinging me, I hate mosquitoes.  There is a lot of talk about West Nile virus, too.  I don't know what the risk really is. 

From what I have heard, at this point in time many people have been found to have antibodies indicating they have been exposed to WNV with no noticeable effect, and we are told that children seldom have bad reactions.

If you work or spend time outdoors, you have a greater chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.  Even if you're infected, your risk of developing a serious West Nile virus-related illness is extremely small less than 1 percent of people who are infected become severely ill. (from West Nile virus Risk factors )

If you have had WNV, are you immune to further infections? It is thought that once a person has recovered from WNV, they are immune for life to future infections with WNV. This immunity may decrease over time or with health conditions that compromise the immune system. (from CA West Nile Virus Website

I'm glad I went, and appreciate all the planning, travel and work that went into this event, but I'm happy to be home.

I'm not much a person for ceremonies.  Ellen and were wed in five minutes at City Hall in Calgary with two friends as witnesses.  Our marriage lasted 45 years.  'Nuff said.

Once home, I watched Netflix until quite late and went to bed.

 Id rather live with a good question than a bad answer.
Aryeh Frimer

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Sunday July 13th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Having gone to bed late, I slept in this morning and maybe I'll make sleep my project of the day.  At 0853, it is already twenty-eight degrees C.

Again I awoke to hear a spray plane diving for a pass over a field nearby. There must be a lot of chemical in the air around here.  Even if the spray does not drift, there is evaporation.

Allen, it was interesting to read your comparisons with plastic frames versus wooden ones. I have a couple as well.

I use Mann Lake plastic frames in the brood nest. I hear some beekeepers complain that they are not "natural" .."all that plastic"... and i respond that they are no less natural than wooden frames. Wooden frames offer a smaller area for comb building than plastic because of thicker top and bottom bars.

The introductory beekeepers course I took in the spring of 2009 emphasized that there needed to be a few open cells in the top box so that the bees would notice it in the winter and move up - otherwise on occasion they would not cross over the top bars of the box below. With plastic frames this is not an issue. They don't see the thin plastic top bar as a barrier, and the bridge offered by the burr comb also helps them flow up as they need to.

When they get to the top in winter I hypothesize that it also must be better for them with plastic frames because they do not have to span their cluster all around the thick wooden top bars. Those thick wooden top bars occupy an inert volume that must be 5 or 6 times greater than the volume occupied by wooden ones. The result of this is that the bees are in contact with more wax, honey, and sisters than those colonies in hives with wooden frames.

The only area that I have found plastic frames to be a pain is in the honey extractor. I find they tip over more easily than wooden ones. Also, with respect, I have a few thoughts on your honey plans.

It might be more fun and safer to take them to your friends and work on a team than try extracting on your own. If you buy an extractor and uncap by hand you will be committed to a process that may be harder on your wrists and shoulders than you remember. Also, do I remember you saying that uncapping canola honey was time sensitive due to its propensity to granulate? What if something comes up and you find you can't uncap at the rate you used to?

I am starting to think that beekeeping is a compulsion. Having some success presents better problems than having failures, but it still presents problems.

BTW there is a funny typo in yesterdays entry
"The main secrets to ruining more than ten hives are"

I wish I lived close enough to see your lecture. I appreciate the time you put into your diary. It helps me be a better beekeeper.

Adrian. (Hudson, WI)

I'll be making up PowerPoint slides for the talk and may post it here.  Who knows? Someone may video the talk and post it to YouTube.

As for extracting, you are quite right.  As it happens, my friends have two large commercial extracting lines and they can run through what would be a day's hard work for me, if all goes well, in less than an hour.  Their system also flattens the combs nicely.  One problem though, is that young, tender comb tends to rip off the foundation under some conditions. 

Although I consider extracting myself, it's just talk, I'll never get around to it. Life is too short, and I should stick to what I am good at.

BTW, my ankles are much better again.  Who knows what causes my shoulders to be sore at times, then my ankles at others?  My doctors says maybe it is osteoarthritis.  That is just his way of saying he doesn't know either.

It seems I will probably be selling a few more hives after all.  I'm getting a few responses to my last emails and this is the way I like to do things, with no time pressure.  Spring sales are time-sensitive, but summer sales are more laid-back.  One respondent likes the idea of buying a hive with honey already on it, ready to extract.  Others just want some bees and don't much care about the honey.

I spent the morning at my desk, updating yesterday's post and doing other tasks.  This afternoon, I am tidying and cleaning.  It's over thirty-one degrees outside.

I have been accumulating odds and ends in various places in the studio, especially on the north steps where I come and go when working outside.  Tools and supplies get left there, either to be handy next time or because I don't have a place for them. 

There was a bag of fish food that I bought last time I  tried to raise trout.  A mouse had chewed a hole and the pellets were spilling out a small hole.  A tote full of straps and misc supplies from when I picked up hives in  B.C. back in 2010 was still there.  I had cleared out a stack of discarded computers and electronics and there were some leftover items that might still have some value , including two desktop computers with hard drives I am, reluctant to just discard without knowing where they go (I know, the risk of any security risk through data recovery by bad guys is very low, but we hear scare stories...).  At any rate, I cleaned that area up and made a good start on the rest. 

*   *   *   *   *

Occasionally -- very occasionally -- a mouse gets into my EPS boxes and something like this happens.  Repair options are quite simple.  I can simply cut that entire side, or a portion of  that side, off with a saw and cut an identical piece from another wrecked box, then Weldbond it in place, clamped with three inch drywall screws that can be left in, or removed later.  You can't do these quick and easy repairs with wooden boxes.

I just received an email from a beekeeper who picked up a strong single-story hive here yesterday.  He chose an EPS box and also bought a set of the new floors and lids I have had made and a second box to put on when he arrived home.  Picture at right.


The bees obviously arrived intact although with all the bearding one could say they are a little on the warm side.

I did put a super on right after I took this picture and an hour later they were all in the hive. It seems like business as usual for them today.

Again thank you.

That's what I like to hear! 

These EPS boxes are made here in Alberta, require no assembly or painting (although they can be painted) and provide an insulated hive year-round.  Ordinary wood honey supers fit on top normally for the summer flows.

Come fall, the only preparation required for winter with these hives is

  • Remove any remaining supers so only two EPS boxes remain

  • Assure the hive has sufficient feed by weighing it.  Slip a bathroom scale under the back, then the front, and add up the two numbers. Should total over 65 kg including floor and lid.

  • Feed if necessary

  • Add a little more insulation in the space provided under or on top of the lid.

  • Add an entrance reducer and/or mouse guard if desired

  • Make sure the hive faces south and is tipped slightly forward for drainage. A half-inch or so of lift at the back is sufficient

  • Make sure the hive is located out of gusty winds and will receive the most possible direct sun during the winter days. (Remember that the sun gets very low in the southern sky around New Years)

See http://www.honeybeeworld.com/hives/ for more details.

A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
Baltasar Gracian

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Monday July 14th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Monday again.  The summer is flying by.

I have a doctor's appointment at 1100, so there goes the morning.  I'm pricing lumber that I need to see if it is worthwhile to pick some up on this trip or if I should run to the city later.

It seems that Acme has the best lumber deals -- as good as Airdrie Home Depot.  Three Hills is always the most expensive. 

I saw the doctor and all is well.  After getting a few groceries, I returned home and began work on the publicity for Ellen's memorial.  That comes up in a little over three weeks, so I have to get hopping. 

Subject to revision and tuning, I think I have the plan now:

I spent the evening and here is what I came up with:

Memorial for Ellen Dick - 1944-2013: http://www.ellendick.com/memorial/

The power of hiding ourselves from one another is mercifully given,
for men are wild beasts, and would devour one another but for this protection.
Henry Ward Beecher

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Tuesday July 15th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Here is an interesting question, and one we have all wondered about, I am sure:

HI Allen

Wanted to get your thoughts on storing extra Apivar after the packaging has been opened.

I'm concerned about the effectiveness after the vacuum seal has been broken.

What to do with extra strips?

Should they be thrown away?

It would be nice to keep them for next season.

I placed a call to Arysta Life Science posing this question.

A representative advised that placing them in a zip lock freezer bag and placing them in a freezer (not one that is used for human food storage) would maintain its quality.

I don't understand how the product degrades after opening.

Have you researched this issue?

Not really, but I have wondered, since everyone has a part package when finished inserting strips.  I'm checking it out.  It appears there are some answers out there.

I asked Medhat and he says:

All products must have before end date for use as a part of the requirements for registration. Apivar is good for 2 years. The leftover strips can be placed in a freezer zip lock bag. I always wrap them in aluminum foil. Then the bag can be stored in dark, dry at room temperature. I put them usually in the garage. This way I take advantage of cold winters to keep them from degradation. It does work for me.

> Could the strips be tested after this kind of storage to determine the amount of amitraz that is present?

It can, we also did (that)

My notes:


Amitraz (Pesticide residues in food: 1980 evaluations)

Amitraz MSDS

From the above information, Amitraz appears to be very stable when stored in a cool, dry place.  Air and light appear to have little effect from what I can tell from the above

However, Customer Support | Amitraz Strips, Varroa Mite | Apivar

"How long will Apivar strips remain effective after opening the package?
"Apivar strips are vacuum-packed to preserve their effectiveness. To guarantee a high concentration of active ingredient in the hive, Apivar strips should be used as soon as possible after opening the packaging. The effectiveness of Apivar strips could be reduced by prolonged exposure to light.

"We recommend you install Apivar strips in the hive immediately after opening the package. If a short period of storage is necessary, we suggest placing the strips in a sealed container that provides protection from light and humidity. Further, we recommend that opened Apivar packages not be stored for more than two weeks and that the strips be used as soon as possible."


"Storing strips outside the hive for a long period of time is not recommended as the active ingredient continues to be released, regardless of how or where it is stored. We cannot guarantee that stored strips will have sufficient quantities of active ingredient to be effective for later treatments."


"The active ingredient in Apivar strips is sensitive to moisture and is degraded more quickly in extremely humid conditions. These conditions can impair the strips long-term effectiveness, and may result in an inadvertent over-dosing.

In extremely humid conditions, we recommend that you read and follow all instructions, using two strips per brood chamber and positioning the strips to optimize distribution of the active ingredient during the treatment. The positions of the strips should be checked to be sure that they are still in the middle of the brood area."

How do we reconcile this?  The MSDS above says that Amitraz is a solid and not volatile.  Is the strip form unstable when stored outside a beehive in cool conditions for two weeks? 

If so, how can the treatment last six weeks in a moist hive at 95.5 degrees F?

The following is from Amitraz (Acaricide/Pesticide) (Chemical Page)

Appearance Straw coloured or pale yellow, odourless crystalline solid. (B263, W180.Sept04.w1)
Melting point 86-87C. (B263, W180.Sept04.w1, W324.Sept04.w1)
Boiling point --
Density --
Water solubility About 1 mg/L. (W180.Sept04.w1) Sparingly soluble. (B263)
Other solubility Soluble in common organic solvents such as acetone, toluene, and xylene. (B263, W180.Sept04.w1)
Storage / Stability
  • Non-corrosive. (W180.Sept04.w1)
  • Non-hygroscopic. (B263)
  • Relatively stable to heat. (B263, W180.Sept04.w1)
  • Stability apparently little affected by UV light. (W180.Sept04.w1)
  • Slow decomposition occurs when amitraz is stored for prolonged periods under moist conditions. (W180.Sept04.w1)

From that, I conclude that the strips are stable in storage and that the manufacturer is being over-cautious.

*    *    *    *    *

 I've been working for more than a day now on the memorial for Ellen and am trying to cobble together a mailing list.  The event is a bit over three weeks away now.  We're having another hot day and I have only been outside for the mail.

*    *    *    *    *

For years now, I have used Synergy to run several computers from one keyboard and one mouse. 

"Synergy is free open source software for sharing one mouse and keyboard between multiple Windows, Mac OS X and Linux computers on your desk. Seamlessly copy and paste between your computers. An open source community run project, in development since May 2001.

The program works reasonably well, but is hard to upgrade and configure and has a few bugs, It's main advantage over similar software is that it can link machines running Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.  The long promised drag and drop between computers never materialized and lately they have been begging for money.  I donated a few times, but figure I have paid my share.

Today I decided to try Mouse Without Borders, a similar free program, but one that only runs on Windows machines.

"Mouse without Borders is a product that makes you the captain of your computer fleet by allowing you to control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard. This means that with Mouse without Borders you can copy text or drag and drop files across computers."

I figure that I don't run Linux anymore, except on virtual machines on a Windows host, so that should work fine.  I ran Ubuntu full-screen and have full mouse and keyboard, so that question is answered.

I downloaded and installed it, removing Synergy first.  The installation was quick and the setup and config instantaneous.

So far it seems excellent, but immediately after installation, I did have a crash on a program I use all the time -- the one I use to write these pages --  so time will tell.

I rebooted both computers and had another crash that seems to be related to using the clipboard, so we will see. Crashes are very unusual these days, so I have to suspect the new software.

There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.
Cyril Connolly

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Wednesday July 16th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today promises to be the hottest of the year so far at a predicted thirty-four degrees Celsius.

My weather station seems to be online again.  I have had more problems with this software over the past few years than any other, except perhaps, Synergy. 

Mouse Without Borders seems to have decided to get along with my other software now.  I have not had a software crash for a few hours, other than a Sleepyhead beta which always crashes when loading data for the second time in the same session.

With Windows, I find that rebooting a few times seems to heal mysterious problems, often as not. In the worst cases, booting to safe mode and then back to normal boot seems to help.  I have no idea why.

Jon and Kalle are coming in two weeks  Faye, Bill, Myra and Ken a few days later, and the memorial is a bit bit over three weeks off. 

I also have to get the year-end to the accountant right away as this is holiday season and a return is due at the end of the month, and then there are the bees to worry about.

Time to get moving on things.

*   *   *   *   *

This was a long, hot, and wasted day.  I spent the entire day doing books and I don't know what is more a waste of time than that.  Anyhow, I have them all up to date for the first time in a while and ready for the accountant.

That is two dreaded tasks done in the past several days: the memorial announcement and the books.  I have a few items to do to get each on its way, but the gruntwork and hard thinking is finished.

Fortune does not change men, it unmasks them.
 Suzanne Necker

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Thursday July 17th 2014

Today, 17 July: A mix of sun and cloud. Showers or thunderstorms beginning near noon. Risk of a severe thunderstorm this afternoon. Local amount 20 to 30 mm. Hazy. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming southeast 20 gusting to 40 this morning then light this afternoon. High 26. UV index 7 or high.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

According to my weather station. we had 10 mm of rain last night.  That was enough to wet the deck and this morning, there is mist in the valleys.  Some of that may be smoke from the fires in the North West Territories and British Columbia.  I could smell the smoke yesterday afternoon.

I have lots to do today, and the weather looks to be cooler.

The hives have not had a visit for a while, so I went out and went down the line.  I did the North Yard and half of the Quonset West Yard.

I don't understand why people cannot get Pierco drawn out.  See the picture at right.  This a whole box of foundation I put on this hive recently.  I may have seeded it with one or two partially drawn centre combs.  Can't recall.

The trick with any foundation is not to put it on until the bees are whitening the combs in the top box.  Giving it too early results in odd constructions.

Some people worry about the bits of stray wax shown there, but they are just due the fact that the frames were dipped in hot wax, plus the fact that this cover pillow was lofted up a bit.  These bits scrape off easily, besides, I like a bit of wax like that; the bees use it for travel.

Something else people worry about is the quality of emergency cells.  I show two good examples here.  Both examples are far better than the cells many, if not most queen producers raise.  (I've seen what many consider to be good cells, and they are not).

Some claim that emergency cells produce inferior queens, but many experts disagree.  After all, the queens we buy are raised under the emergency impulse.  The determining factor in cell quality is the number of young bees making the cells and how well they are fed.

After I finished the row, I noticed this one hive (below) had more entrance bees than the others and looked to see why.  They were the source of the cells at the left above.


I'm loving the new floors and lids.  As with anything, good equipment makes for more enjoyable work and a better product.

Hi Allen,

I believe most cells raised by queen producers are raised under swarming conditions, that is, with queen pheromone present. The cells are started in a queen less starter, then moved to a queenright finisher. IMO better cells are raised in a queenright hive. I've seen 50+ BIG cells consistently put out by strong starter/finishers under the right conditions.

As far I can see, you are agreeing that the cells are started under the emergency impulse.  There are various ways to finish and hold large numbers of developing cells, and one might claim that this part of the raising (finishing) is done under swarm conditions, but that is splitting hairs IMO. 

The starting is almost invariably done in queenless conditions AFAIK.  Finishing can be done under various methods.

A colony such as those I illustrate here only has to finish and hold a few cells.  In commercial operations, maintaining queenless colonies is an unnecessary expense with no benefit.  When producing queens in quantity, we have used various methods of holding once cells are sealed, including incubators.

I am not disagreeing that large numbers of excellent cells can be pulled out of good finishers, but I am saying that this is probably more the exception than the rule since young bees are expensive and replenishing them properly and often takes time.

I can testify to what I have seen and I've seen some pretty runty cells from people who should know better.

Here is an article about raising cells in a queenright colony.  I find it interesting because in my experience, bees generally do not raise cells in brood raised up above an excluder and if they do, the queens do not mate and lay for whatever reason. 

I was observing something like that just today as I had put some splits above hives and in one the queen was left below: no cells.  In other where the queen was up, no cells below.

This is a good topic for the Honey Bee World Forum

Of course, we sometimes get runty emergency cells, too, about the size some queen producers consider OK.

Actually, IMO, the main advantage of large cells is the greater certainty that every one of the batch is well fed.  Small cells are an indicator that conditions were less than ideal.

On any bar, there are some cells and some locations that are better cared for than others; the cells at the ends of the bar are often less successful, especially if the weather cools and a cluster forms at any point during building, finishing or maturing.

Some beekeepers candle their cells and it pays off by identifying dead or small queens.

Here is a good article (PDF).

I got back out and worked through the South of the Hedge Yard.  I found some excellent hives, plus two drone layers.  I just stacked the DL boxes onto other hives and moved on.  I am running out of boxes to put on hives.

Mid-afternoon we had a sheet lightning storm.  Heavy rain lasting a few minutes followed, so I came inside.  The clouds were quite dense and I have to turn on lights, now at 1600.  Darkness in the middle of the day upsets my sense of time.

We are still on storm watch with a tornado warning over a wide area of Southern Alberta, but no tornado has yet been spotted.  A fair number go through this area, but because it is so sparsely populated no one notices.  That is until recent years when communication has improved and every little thing gets reported.

Forty years back, or so, when we were making furniture, we were asked to make a coffee table for a couple who had built a beautiful new house on their farm, only to have it burn down soon after.

They rebuilt the same house in the same spot.  We made the table, and a year after the fire, the new house was taken away by a tornado.  They gave up and moved to town.

You could not make up a story like that.

I've seen rows of bales missing in a field near our beehives.  The field was dotted with hundreds of small square bales in rows where the baler dropped them. After a storm, there was an empty swath about 100 feet wide across the entire field

When Jean was little, she heard us talking and became worried about tomatoes coming out of the sky and taking our house away.  It took a while to figure out what she was talking about.

*   *   *   *   *

After supper, I counted the hives and as of this afternoon, I've done 60.  35 or so left to go.

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life,
please press three.
 Alice Kahn

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Friday July 18th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Last night brought us the rain we have been needing to break this past dry spell.  Of course it comes as soon as the farmers cut the hay and it is lying on the ground.

My lawns were getting brown and I was becoming a bit concerned.  I had delayed cutting until the lawn was longer than usual, so cutting it had taken off more of the blade than regular cutting does and recovery was slow.  Doing what I did is very hard on the weeds and taller coarser grasses, but it is hard on everything.

Some people want a lawn that is perfect and lush.  I just want grass that looks OK and keeps the mud covered up.

In response to an enquiry about comb rotation and a mention of small cell.

It looks like a fine day for slaying dragons.

To: The Calgary Beekeepers List:

... Two interesting and important topics here, both associated with beekeeping fads, one based one based on a hoax and one on misapplication of data from another very different region and general oversimplification.

> SC-12 (Small cell 2012)

I think by now we all have figured out that small cell is an utter hoax. If not, see http://www.ibra.org.uk/articles/natural-cell-size-fatal-error 

This researcher did what few others have done: consulted the original historical documents and clearly revealed the underlying distortion of fact that was obvious to many of us from the start, but difficult to prove, lacking access to the original literature.

That is not to say that smaller cells do not work at all, but that the story behind the belief that they are better than more moderately sized cells is simply fiction and SC is a false religion.

Moreover, in spite of a number of attempts by respected bee researchers, no one has been able to demonstrate scientifically that small cells are effective against varroa.

There are good reasons that the people who developed foundation historically chose the standard sizes they did, and those reasons have not changed -- unless you have AHB.

The main and only reason small cells are associated with varroa control in Arizona is that Arizona is Africanized, and AHB naturally use cells in the 4.9 mm range and AHB are also varroa resistant.

In fact, the measured cell size of swarms was a method of choice for tracking the AHB migration up from South America into the USA and small cells in comb in swarm traps was the first indicator of AHB presence. Still is.

> Eventually found that ongoing expansion made (comb) rotation moot, so
> stopped marking.

Regardless of what the fad is right now, few commercial beekeepers in Canada discard combs simply for age. To do so is simply too costly as drawn comb is a beekeeper's most important asset, and normal wear and tear and introduction of new foundation naturally drives out the older combs when their time comes.

I think that unless you use a lot of toxic strips in your hives, that there is no reason to rotate out good combs. If you did use coumaphos, or a lot of strips, or unregistered treatments, then maybe it is justified.

We get a lot of our ideas from writers in warmer climes and what works for them often does not work well for us. In the south, several varroa treatments a year are required, and chemicals are the norm. New comb can be drawn there at times of year when we are shoveling snow. We only have a few months to draw new comb.

As for disease build-up, that fear is overstated in importance compared to the benefits of having dark comb for build-up and wintering. As well, from what I can see, the bees we have these days are quite disease resistant compared to the ones of decades ago.

Charlie pointed me to this some time back. http://beeinformed.org/results/national-management-survey-2010-2011-release-comb-management/ 

One must read it carefully and note this:

"There was some difference based on region. Beekeepers in northern states who replaced 50% or more of the comb in their colonies lost on average 17.2 more colonies per hundred than those who did not replace any of the combs in their brood chambers. The same comparison was not significant when only looking at southern states." (Emphasis added)

Unfortunately, the data behind this study is not very high quality, and details are not well defined, but it confirms what anyone who makes a living with bees knows. Drawn comb is very valuable and one does not discard it with impunity, especially in an expanding bee operation.

A lie can travel halfway around the world
while the truth is still putting on its shoes
Mark Twain

At 0825, it is up  to sixteen degrees.  I've been for a bike ride already and now am off to finish this round. 

At this time of year a weekly round is a good idea, especially if a great deal of foundation is being drawn.  When foundation is all that the bees have, the hives can get plugged.  Nectar is put in brood cells, cutting back the brood rearing. Reduced brood rearing results in less growth, smaller populations and can be the cause of small crops and poor wintering.

Plugged hives require loosening (spreading of brood) to provide room for the queen.

Any supers must be removed and the brood combs examined. 

A hive being given ten frames or more of foundation should only have one super of foundation on top of the one or two brood chambers. Adding more than a box at a time wastes heat and results in partially drawn combs. 

When that first box of foundation is almost finished and the outside frames are filling, another box of foundation can be added, preferably under the nearly finished box, assuming the first box is not removed for extraction..

If the brood chamber is plugged (brood cells full of nectar) at this time of the season--during a steady flow and when foundation is being drawn well in the supers -- a sheet or two of foundation from the supers (partially drawn is best) can be placed judiciously between frames of brood in the brood chambers.

The frames of young brood removed to make space for them can replace them in the middle of the super.  If the timing is right and the beekeeper's judgment is good, the foundation will be drawn overnight and filled with eggs.  The brood above will encourage the bees to work the foundation nearby.

All this assumes that there are sufficient bees to fill the hive.  Otherwise, as at any time of year, brood could be chilled if a cold night comes along before the bees expand more.  If in doubt, don't spread brood, or only spread a little.

Although hives with boxes of foundation require manipulation for best performance, hives with many boxes of empty drawn comb which have not been plugged at any point can be ignored much longer.  With drawn comb and lots of room -- six standards of drawn comb, a beekeeper can leave the hive in June and come back in early September to pull honey.

> Allen,
> I didnt hear from you, but now Im wondering if you meant for me to call you.
> Ill try to call you today, if thats okay.

Sorry about that. You have been on my mind, but I have been engrossed in organizing the memorial of Ellen's death that is coming up fast.

The bees are no problem, but figuring the money is always hard. (I hate that part).

Basically, assuming you want the EPS boxes I use and which do not need winter wrapping or unwrapping the prices work out thusly at my cost:

  • Floor and lid: $28

  • Each super or Brood chamber with drawn frames: $50

  • Super with foundation frames: $45

  • Honey by estimated weight: $2.00/lb

  • Colony of bees with queen: $200

So, a typical hive with four boxes and 75 lbs of honey would be

I have quite a few like that on hand.

If you would like a smaller hive, the only difference would be the weight of feed and number of boxes.

I can also supply in wood boxes with older wood floors and lids for a lesser cost, but do not recommend it.

My Acorn frames are at the Three Hills Post Office.  They arrived yesterday.  Should I drive up and get them? It would cost me an hour.

I decided to continue working with the hives.  Once I am done this round, I should be able to ignore the hives for a few weeks, although I will probably lift lids to check the strongest ones and maybe pull a little honey to make room.  I'm finding enough boxes and comb to get by.  I have about ten hives to go.

I have to remember to keep back an empty box, comb or foundation, for every box of honey I plan to remove to take the place of the honey while it is being extracted. 

That means I should have 50 boxes waiting.  Foundation is fine for that because once the bees have been up in a third or fourth box, they will rush back up into a replacement if the original third or fourth is removed and replaced with any box at all.

I'm enjoying the bees and life again.  I had a few rough days when I was beginning to think I was going crazy.  Working on the memorial has been hard on me.  At the time Ellen died last August, a memorial seemed like a good idea, but having one has put pressure on me, limited my summer options, and has brought all sorts of memories front and centre again. As I have said before, the secret of my happiness is my short memory.

I realise now that recently I automatically volunteered to hang a big art show for September when the opportunity popped up due to a cancellation. 

That means I have to be here around August 31st to hang it.  I don't even like art that much, although I have been involved with art and artists all my adult life. This show is something others think I should do and I am going along.

I have to learn to stop volunteering.   Oh!  But I just volunteered to run the Bluewater Cruising Association Thanksgiving Rendezvous.

That's different, though.  I forces me to be where I want to be on that date --at Thetis Island on Cassiopeia, spending time with other sailors.

I also found that lately I am doing better without CPAP.  At first it really helped, but now it does not

Go figure.  My AHI was 10.5 when they did the sleep study and it dropped to 5 with the first machine.  The current one was showing zeros some nights and < 0.5 other nights, and any apneas were centrals, not obstructive.  CPAP helps with obstructive apneas, but can actually cause or exacerbate centrals.

The night before last, I slept very poorly with the CPAP and awoke with sore and red eyes, I assume due to air leaks.  That worried me a lot considering my recent eye surgery. 

Also, Googling CPAP and glaucoma gave me pause.  CPAP is implicated circumstantially in glaucoma, in that CPAP apparently raise nighttime intraocular Pressures (IOP). 

Hmmmm.  My recent operation was to reduce IOP to forestall glaucoma.  My glaucoma specialist never asked me about CPAP.

Last night I went to bed early and slept without CPAP.  I awoke early and refreshed.  Now I don't know what to think. 

I have decided I need to do some aerobic exercise to build my lungs.  Hence the bike ride.  The seat was down when I got on this morning and I realise that I have not used the bike since Katrina was here in early June.

(I have dj vu when reading the above.  Did I make this resolution before?)

BTW, my recent lung test came back OK, but my capacity seems to be 75-95% of expected, and apparently I have a little asthma, but not enough to justify an inhaler unless I want one. 

I wonder if it would help me sleep?  Congestion is the problem, but as far as I can tell it is because my breathing slows at night and becomes shallower,  As soon as I get up and move around, it clears.

I'm thinking I just need to learn how to breathe properly and remember to do so.  I have been very tense lately and tenseness leads to shallow breathing and shallow breathing leads to tenseness.

"Take a deep breath"

*   *   *   *   *   *

Acorn/Pierco Smackdown

(Smackdown: NOUN: INFORMAL , chiefly US - bitter contest or confrontation)

I can't wait any longer.  I'm going to town to pick up the Acorn frames.

I picked them up in town, then came home and had supper. Nick wrote a minute ago to make sure I got them.

I've opened the box and looked them over.  Nick sent twenty black and five white  brood/honey frames plus one green drone frame.  These are all standard depth frames.

As far as I can see there is almost no difference between Acorn and Pierco,  They both have slight warping on the foundation surface.  I have a limited number of samples in front of me but have seen variation in the warping of Pierco and assume the same of Acorn.

The Acorn frames have a slightly heavier top bar, but one has to really look to notice it. 

The main difference I can see is that the Acorn frames have cell hexagonal bases with a thicker plastic sidewall stub than Pierco frames, so I will have to test to see if the bees care about that. 

In heavy wax foundation, thick base walls are made of wax and the bees use it to extend the walls on up, thinning the base of the walls as they use the material. 

In fact with some heavy wax brood foundation, they can draw the combs out 1/3 way without making any wax themselves. 

With plastic, they cannot so so.  They can use the wax on the surface, but not use the plastic in the cell bases. 

I'll just have to see what happens and if it matters.

These frames are well waxed as are the Piercos I have on hand.

Pierco                                           Acorn




There is a noticeable difference in how the wax is applied to the two products.  The Pierco wax seems to be applied at hotter temperatures and adheres like a coat of paint.  The Acorn wax appears to have been applied at a cooler temperature and seems to be clumped. 

I doubt that matters, but it will be interesting to examine the sheets a day or two after the bees begin to work on them.

I'm planning to put some into hives tonight, but I am hearing thunder at the moment.

*    *    *    *    *

(Later) I've changed my mind.  I'm done for the day.

I re-photographed he foundations again. (larger pictures above).  I also checked under the microscope and frankly, those two pictures shot with my phone are about as clear as looking down the scope. 

There is a big difference in the cell bases. The Pierco walls are very thin and taper up to a knife-edge.  The Acorn walls are at least three times as thick and maybe thicker, and appear to be rounded on top. 

Pierco                                         Acorn

I'd say the Pierco is more in line with the shape a cross section of the cell wall will be when the wax is pulled up.  The Acorn base looks like the fat base employed in wax heavy brood foundation, where extra wax in the wall bases is pulled (drawn) upwards by the bees reducing the wax in thickness on the foundation at the base, as they drew it up.  They cannot draw plastic bases up and and thin them like wax.

Will the base shape matter to the bees?  I doubt it. We should know soon.

(It turns out that it doesn't matter, and actually, it seems taht the Acorn shape is more "natural".  See later posts)

The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference
of bones from one graveyard to another.
 J. Frank Dobie

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Saturday July 19th 2014

Today, 19 July: Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon with risk of thunderstorms. Hazy. High 25. UV index 7 or high..

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

The next few days look like great honeyflow weather.  Although rain can wash the nectar from flowers, changes in barometric pressure and warm, humid conditions should stimulate flows.  As long as winds are light, bees should be bringing big loads. 

After the rains, though, I'm seeing some robbing off the truck...

I'm wondering how best to test the Acorn frames.

I'm thinking to shake a good hive down to one brood chamber and put a box of foundation on top. One half would be Pierco, the other half Acorn.

That should give me an answer within a week or two.

We are on the main flow now, so this test will only show what happens under optimal foundation drawing conditions. Another test may be required to determine what happens when conditions are more marginal.

I may do two hives and in one put the two brands in separate groups of five and do another with the two brands alternating across the box.

I should find some undrawn PF-100s to examine the cell bases.  I cannot use them in a horse race, though.  Any un-drawn PF-100s I have are years old and un-waxed. 

Even with new Pierco and new Acorn, there are slight differences in their history that could conceivably affect the results of a test.  The Piercos were manufactured and shipped some weeks or months ago, then placed into new EPS supers a week ago.  Since then they sat outdoors and have been rained on (note the water in the picture).  The Acorn frames were shipped direct and arrived yesterday.

I've been waiting for the dew to dissipate and the sun to come out.  If I am going to shake bees out, I like to make sure the ground will be warm and dry.  Maybe I should use a sheet.  That is the recommended method, but I have never done that.  A sheet is one more thing to haul around, but I can see how it would help marshal the bees into the hive much more quickly than when they must climb up the pallet or a ramp made of a cover or floor.

At 0930, the conditions are looking more suitable and I'm eager to get out there to start the test.

I took a closer look at the frames in daylight.  One thing that becomes apparent is that the edges of the Pierco frames are smoother and more rounded.  These Acorn frames have sharper edges, but not as sharp as the Mann Lake PF-100 frames and the old Pierco frames.  That is  something I very much appreciated in the recent improvements in Pierco frames.

People complain about the feel of plastic frames and IMO, much of that is due to the hard, sharp edges.  Rounded edges feel much more natural to me.  The other complaint is about flex, but I actually like a bit of flex as it feels natural to me.

Another obvious difference is that Acorn does not have the line down the middle of the foundation.  Additionally, there is no brand on one end of the top bar.  This may prove to be a problem for me since I have taken to turning all the Piercos the same way and I use that brand as a marker to tell me which way the frame faces.

I have not proven that all the Piercos are warped in the same direction, but that is my impression.  I need to verify this with more careful observation.

Since  the foundation bows out about a 3/16" in the middle of the surface, that means if two bowed surfaces face one another, the distance between midribs on those frames is less than 1-3/8" by 3/8", reducing the spacing  by 3/16+3/16" to 1" -- a much closer spacing than intended.  In the opposite case, the distance is increased by 3/16+3/16" to 1-3/4" -- wider than intended.

People who shave frame shoulders to fit eleven frames into a ten frame box only need to reduce the frame with by 1/8".  One standard Hoffman end bar frame is 1-3/8" wide.  1/10 of that is about 1/8".  These frames are bowed by about 3/16", an amount greater than 1/8.

Close spacing requires very flat combs or if combs are bowed,  there is not enough space for brood on both combs when the bowed sides face one another.

The result is bald spots on frames when 10-frame (or 1frame) spacing is used.  With 9-frame spacing, there is no issue, but the ideal is to use ten frames in a brood chamber..

When I went out, I found a Mann lake PF-100 that has not been drawn.  It has been kicking around for three years or more, but here is a shot of the cells.  Keep in mind that these cells are 5.0 mm compared to The others at 5.25 mm.

Mann Lake PF-100



PF-100s and Acorn both have fat cell bases.  Pierco has a sharp wall base.  Does this difference matter? 

I did get out finally at 1130 and spent two hours setting up the foundation trials. This slower than just doing the everyday bee work.

The first hive was a triple that was working well in the third.  That third contained all Pierco foundation, so this seems like a natural, although there is the possibility these bees may have developed a preference now and could discriminate against Acorn for being a bit different.  We'll see. I shook the hive down to a single and added a box with half Pierco and half Acorn.

At right are the combs from the box of foundation (third) I removed from that hive (along with a box full of brood honey combs) to be replaced with the box of test foundation.

These are not the test combs.

Frames are laid out so that the two middle frames are near us and the side combs are laid out progressively into the distance.

Note: the brown wax frame was a partially drawn seed frame I had placed in the middle of a box of foundation to bring bees up.  

Also note that the frames were not drawn equally on both sides of the hive, so our test cannot expect to prove anything decisive.  We will only see if both foundations are accepted.  Some difference is to be expected solely due to chance or position of the brood below.  Since the bees from three boxes are now in two, they should get to work quickly.

I have always listened to radio while working bees, but lately have not had a vehicle nearby with a good radio, so Finally smartened up and put six flashlight batteries into an old boombox that was in the studio and I am back in business.  I find listening to CBC talk shows keeps my mind occupied while doing instinctive work.

Unfortunately, CBC's budget is being cut and they are repeating many of their shows several times a day.  I could use the podcasts, but find them inconvenient and don't have the right devices to make it work better.

The other two tests were on hives like the one at left here: they were finishing a third and ready for a fourth. 

One got half Pierco/half Acorn.  The other got the rainbow mix shown below.

I'll be interested to see the results.  I'm assuming that there will not be a lot of difference.

When I laid out the partially drawn foundation, i answered a question people often ask.

"Does painting or dipping wax onto foundation make a difference in how the foundation is drawn and and how much wax should I use?"

From what I see, I conclude that wax makes a  definite difference, but that adding too much results in wax being left on the midrib. 

Having handled both Pierco and Acorn, I have to say they are hard to tell apart.  Some older Pierco had no stamp on the top bar, but the recent ones do.  I like that and do not know why Acorn left it off as it makes a convenient method of  knowing which way the frame is rotated.  In fact, the acorn has a depression where the stamp should go (left), but it is hard to see.

I went out mid-afternoon to work in the Quonset Yard. Somehow I thought I had another ten to do, but ss it turns out, I am caught up with the bees now.

Before I went there, though, curiosity got the best of me and although only two hours have passed, I checked the first hive I broke down to a single to add foundation.   Amazingly, there are already signs of work.  Not much yet, but something I can see.

Anyhow, being caught up gives me time to clean up and organize. I can see I have enough boxes to last a while, but could work through an pull honey any time I feel like it.  I think I'll wait a week and give the bees time to recover from my current molestations. Other than checking for the need for more boxes, there is little beekeeping to do.

I called Mom and said I would not be down until August, She understood, having seen he notice for the memorial, she realizes I'll be busy.

I tidied in the Quonset yard and cut some grass.  There is still lots left to do and I have yet to deal with the forklift, the tin that came off the shed and the tarp problems on the Quonset.

I got to wondering if cell bottom shape really matters, so I Googled honeycomb cross-section.  I'm surprised that only a few picture came up, so I sliced an old brood comb that has raised many generations of bees.  I used a hot box knife, but still did a messy job.  Nonetheless, the cell bases are distinct. 

My conclusion?  Bees don't care much about cell shape.  Here was the best online photo I found:

We had a tornado watch again tonight.  The wind picked up from the NNW and was followed by marble-sized hail.

I'm taking all my pictures with my Nexus 4 cell phone now.  It does a dandy job.  I have a camera with more features, but I'm finding the phone is good enough for my purposes. 

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.
Thomas Foxwell Buxton

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