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Sunday August 10th 2014

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The memorial is now just a memory and the Easterners leave today. 

In the morning, Bill, Jon and I went up onto the roof to try to locate the leak.  Matt and I had looked before but found nothing obvious.  This time, we decided it had to be at a vent and Jon went back up and re-sealed around it.

We cleaned up, had lunch, then the Easterners departed.  The motorhome headed straight to Medicine Hat.  The van is headed there for the night as well, but they are going via YYC, as they have to drop Sue there for an afternoon flight home to work Monday.

Now there are just the six of us left. Jon and Jean and kids are here until Wednesday.  Chris left yesterday with Sophie.

I continued to skim the pond.  I can't believe how much duckweed we are removing, and there is more,  I'm thinking it must be growing as fast as I can skim it off.  

I suppose (hope) that at some point I will have removed enough of the duckweed to deplete the  nutrients in the pond that the growth will slow.  A that point, maybe I can raise fish again, but at that point, weed growth from the bottom will resume.  The duckweed effectively shaded the pond so well that aquatic bottom plants have been unable to thrive.

As I was working on the pump around 1300, Matt came by.  He had marked down the wrong date and thought that the memorial was today, but came here when he found no one at the cemetery. Matt was my long-time beekeeping assistant/mechanic and is seen in some early diary pictures.

Matt was the guy who re-roofed the south end back in 2005, so the timing was eerie, seeing as we had just worked on the roof earlier and I haven't seen Matt for months.  Anyhow, Matt went up to look and agreed as to the source of the leak, then stayed the afternoon.  Sean came up from downtown and Jon visited with his pals from yesteryear until suppertime.

I have only one superstition. I touch all the bases when I hit a home run.
Babe Ruth

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Monday August 11th 2014

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Everyone is gone, now except Jon and Jean and their kids.  Most of the cleanup is done and it is time to get back to "normal".

Elijah came over after lunch and started loading up the duckweed from the piles on the grass. 

After trying various things, I finally discovered that just laying the sump pump on its side in the mud at the edge of the water and letting the outflow run down the lawn worked as well as anything for capturing and draining the duckweed. 

I place several bricks just under the water surface in front of the pump so that water there is shallow and the pump draws mostly surface water. 

Duckweed floats on the water surface and is carried into the pump by the current, then up the tube to the lawn where the duckweed is caught by the grass and the pile of duckweed, and drains nicely..

We have hauled six seven eight nine ten eleven such loads to the compost so far and the pond is still covered with green.

You know I really doubt the IPCC reports.  I have no doubt that we are affecting the climate in some ways, but not nearly the way they say.  I think the bigger issues are pollution and overexploitation of land and sea.
Temperature analysis shows the ‘Great Pause’ has endured for 13 years, 4 months


If your pond does not freeze to the bottom you could try introducing crayfish. I have had success introducing crays to a large pond here on the island. It was used by a nursery as an irrigation source. The spent water had fertilizer in it and surplus water drained back into the pond. This caused serious weed problems, both duckweed and green algae. The owner had installed an expensive aerating system but it was overwhelmed by the bio demand caused by rotting vegetation.

Crays eat a lot of vegetation and if overcrowded will happily eat each other. We dumped three buckets of crays over the first summer. There was little change that could be seen until the following spring when at that time the critters were able to stay ahead do the emerging vegetation. The owner now tests for bio-available oxygen and only uses the aerator for an hour a day rather than the 24 hour operation previously.

Crays are easily caught in most BC lakes. Eat the large ones and keep the smaller ones for transplanting.


That sounds like a good idea. I don't know much about crayfish, but had wondered what kind of aquatic life might work. I actually thought I might have seen a dead crayfish the other day through the duckweed, but have not seen it since and I don't see any live ones around.

After hauling eleven 1/3 cubic metre loads of duckweed away, I have to wonder how many crayfish it would take to eat all that material and if they could survive, since my fish and grass carp did not. I suppose if they began on spring they would have less volume to control. The pond only freezes down a few feet, but there is winterkill each winter from lack of oxygen. Can crayfish survive that?

I'll have to try it. My daughter is going camping this week, so maybe she can catch me some. How long can they live in a pail, and what do they need for food and air in transit?

Crays do need oxygen over the winter. The nursery I spoke of did have grass carp but they were not effective. Transport crays in a cooler with ice if you can. Keep them damp and cool and they will last for days. Do not transport imersed in water as they will quickly exhaust the oxygen in the water and smother. If kept moist they can get oxygen from the air. If kept cool they need less oxygen.

Again, thanks!

In the afternoon, I lifted some lids to see if the hives need more room.  Most are okay, but a few could use some boxes.

Later, the kids and I went out and got a frame of honey out of one of the hives and they took it into the kitchen and flattened the cells with a spoon to get honey, then we took the frame back to see if it gets refilled.  We did not wear veils or suits and nobody was stung.

Jean came out with Nathan and showed him the bees, too.  These bees are the same parentage as the so-called "grumpy" hive, (which I checked earlier in the day, stripped to the waist, wearing shorts and sandals, and with only a puff of smoke).

We also put up a tire swing in the back yard and had another bonfire.

Like its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves.
J. B. Priestley

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Tuesday August 12th 2014

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I'm weary, but happy.  Everything went well and now it is time to focus on the coming months.  My biggest and only issue, really, at this point is my home.  I don't think I am ready to give it up, but it is a burden. 

As I often say, "Anything you own owns you".

I like to travel and as things are I cannot just mothball the place and leave.  I have the plants and animals to care for and ensuring reliable heating in winter is a problem.

Then, there is a matter of the bees.   The bees take care of themselves over winter, but need to be managed in the next three months.

The Fall and Rise of the Honey Bee

I heartily endorse this excellent and well-written article by my friend, Pete.

Not only does he state the bald truths that are so often conveniently forgotten, but he also hints at the solution to deal with inevitable annual attrition -- proactive splitting. In Alberta, however splitting is often not enough to maintain numbers while keeping colonies strong enough to make a crop and package bees must often be sought.

30% annual shrinkage is the number I have long used as a benchmark. What small operators must realise is that this is the average over a large number of colonies and a number of years, and includes summer and winter loss. 35% may be more accurate.

In smaller samples -- outfits with only a few hives -- the normal statistical variation may result in larger or smaller losses, but over time that average will be approached.

What must be remembered is that a 10% loss only requires splitting 11% of the colonies to replace, but a 50% loss means that 100% of the survivors must be split!

I actually did nothing much of consequence today, except did more duckweed.  Jon and I also flashed and set up a WRT54G v.3 and a v.8 router with dd-wrt.com firmware.  The existing firmware worked, but the new firmware has more features and perhaps more security.

The kids continued to enjoy the tire swing and modified it into a rope swing with bungees and then a trapeze swing using Jon's old windsurfing seat harness.

I cooked a chicken from frozen for super.  I buy a frozen utility chicken, cut off the wrap and wash it, place it in the crock-pot around noon and nuke it for ten to twenty minutes, then leave it in the crock-pot on high.  A half-hour before supper, I add enough rice to soak up the juice, and often add broth.  The chicken falls apart and is half-soup, half stew.

    Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.
Laurens Van der Post

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Wednesday August 13th 2014

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Today, Jean and the kids return home, and Jon and Kalle will go with them, since they have not been to Jean's new home.  I have to drive to Calgary for an eye check-up at 1500 and will then drive up there as well.

I arrived at the appointment on time and the eye check showed the IOPs to both be down to 13, which is ideal.  I had my third SLT this summer and this was my one-month check-up.  The doctor says he has seldom done three on one patient since the procedure is fairly new.  I gather he has not always has such good results, so I am fortunate.

Having regular eye exams and understanding the results are vital to preserving sight.

In 2006, I had a routine exam in Three Hills and queried the eye doctor about the results.  She said the pressures were getting a bit high, but there was no damage so she was unconcerned. 

I said I did not want to wait for damage and felt it prudent to be proactive and forestall any harm -- and asked for referral to a specialist.  The rest is history.  I had extensive tests, see the specialist twice a year and have had three SLTs. 

I am very glad I acted, and paid for tests beyond what insurance covers, rather than  waiting for vision loss to trigger treatment. Everything I do and my very independence depends on good vision.

We are fortunate that medical science has solutions for common problems and is progressing rapidly.  By seeking help early, I now have created a recorded history that can be useful for deciding on future actions.

I left his office and drove to Gull Lake, making the trip in two hours, including a stop at Wal-Mart in Sylvan to get a car charger for my phone which was running out of battery.  I already have several, but unless I keep one in every vehicle, I find I have none with me when needed.

I arrived in time for supper.  After, Jean, Mckenzie, Kalle and I went swimming at the nearby beach.

If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that,
in the long run - and often in the short one - the
most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.
Arthur C. Clarke

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Thursday August 14th 2014

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We're at Gull Lake this morning.  Orams are going camping and my plan is to drive Jon and Kalle to YYC via Sylvan Lake, where Kalle can spend  some time at Wild Rapids.

Orams left at 1045 and we left an hour later, stopping at the beach and then again at Sylvan Lake.  Jon and Kalle spent less than an hour at the slide and had enough.  From there, I drove Jon and Kalle to YYC and drove home, stopping in Airdrie for groceries and The Mill for supper.

It was hot and stuffy in the Mill kitchen, so we went out on the porch to enjoy the thunderstorm that was passing over.  I was tired and I left earlier than usual and returned home, arriving just before the storm got to Swalwell.

I see the duckweed re-grew in the day I was away and almost covers the entire pond again.

Now it is just me, my animals, and the plants, here in The Old Schoolhouse. 

Education... has produced a vast population able to read
 but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
G. M. Trevelyan

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Friday August 15th 2014

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Ellen died one year ago today.  A lot has happened in that year.

At the time, I said I would not make any decisions for one year. Time's up and I am not feeling any more inclined to make big changes. 

All in all, it has been a good year.

Referring to the excellent article I mentioned here recently, here is a note from Peter Borst. 

Hi Allen

It appears that some of the BeeInformed people did not approve of my message. The post has been taken down.

Here is the article in its current form. I may be expanding it and submitting it to the ABJ. -- The Fall and Rise of The Honey Bee

Pete is a very experienced beekeeper, inspector, bee technician and serious and outspoken student of bee history.  We don't agree on everything, but we always have a good discussion when we meet.  I have great respect for his personal integrity.

CCD and the huge flap over bee losses has been hugely profitable for researchers, beekeepers and the press, and very little effort has been made to share what is an open secret in bee circles with the public, and that is that the whole 'unprecedented losses story' borders on a hoax

The losses are real, but hardly unprecedented.

Bee research funding was being cut and bee labs were being closed down the year Dave Hackenburg raised an alarm about his losses in Florida.

Dave had losses alright, but he downplayed the fact that his varroa levels were high enough leaving Maine that the collapse had been predicted by the Maine state apiarist who inspected them. (source: personal communication)

Dave had been a recent president of the American Bee Federation and his story immediately was caught up by beekeepers and researchers alike.  Beekeepers always need a good story to explain losses to friends and to the bank, and researchers needed an emergency to shock life and funding back into bee research funding.  The almond growers were concerned about bee availability and escalating pollination costs (caused mainly by almond acreage expansion) so they added their muscle in lobbying and publicity -- and the tale took on a life of its own.

The fact that the phenomenon reported -- CCD --was difficult to describe or observe made it an ideal focus and vehicle for moving many agendas forward.

The full set of conditions for a CCD diagnosis are seldom if ever seen, but  'CCD' was used loosely as an explanation for a wide range of losses from losses due to sheer neglect to obvious losses from pesticide misapplication.

The press had fallen on hard times about then.  Budget cuts and consolidation had laid off expensive investigative reporters and the remaining staff reprinted press releases or paraphrased them uncritically. It seemed that every rag had to have an article more alarmist than the previous one, and challenging the uniqueness of this 'bee disaster' was dangerous heresy.

Politicians are always looking for a way to look good and chose to ride the wave, throwing money at the bee labs and various projects including loss compensation in some situations.

The more people believed this scare story, the more other people felt safe to uncritically accept it as truth.

The story is not true.  Yes there are losses, but no, they are not unprecedented and no, they are not terminal.

Pete has no dog in the fight and his observations are as clear as those of the little boy watching the emperor passing by in "The Emperor's New Clothes".

The consequences of Pete's essay, if it is circulated widely may be about the same.  Most will ignore his insights as people find themselves in roles that depend on believing or paying lip service to the myth for cash flow and continue with the lie.

We can see that Pete's insights are threatening the bee research community to the core by the fact that his article is being suppressed by the site that initially published it online.  We'll see if a major publication like ABJ has the balls to print it.

Similar losses have occurred repeatedly and often in beekeeping history and will occur in future.  That is obvious to any who care to know.

However, it has not profited anyone to question the claims that recent losses are unprecedented and threaten the food supply or humanity.  On the contrary, this myth is crucial to furthering influential interests, and they and their minions defend it assiduously. 

As so often happens, those who could and should speak the truth are co-opted by the money that flows from the falsehood and dare not rock the boat for fear of retribution by shunning, dismissal, career problems, or a transfer to "Siberia".

Without honey bees, we would have fewer almonds and less and less perfect fruit, but the majority of our calories and nutrition is produced from plants that do not need pollination or can be pollinated by other insects or methods such as wind.

As always, follow the money.

I really should be working on my bees today, but I have a few deadlines to meet.  One is for an ad in Currents, the Bluewater Cruising Association's magazine promoting the Thanksgiving Rendezvous.

I spent most of the day working on the Thanksgiving Rendezvous.  It seemed like a small job, but maybe I am slower than I thought. 

I was finished in mid-afternoon and drove to Three Hills to deposit a cheque and mail a package.  Emma had bought some art supplies and left them in the red van, then written to ask me to send them to her in Nova Scotia.  There were only a few items and I hope they were worth the $18 I spent mailing them.

I returned home, baked a salmon for super and had a nap right after.  I'm beat.

None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free
J. W. Von Goethe

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Saturday August 16th 2014

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I awoke around 0745.  Rain was pounding on the roof and skylights and the dog was beside the bed, worried about rolling thunder overhead.  We were experiencing a downpour.  Not a great start for a day of bee work.

I have a few things I must do before I go east.  Judging by what I saw when I drove my some hives last night, one of them is to add boxes to some hives.

It is obvious that some hives are doing better than others.  That is to be expected since all are splits and some requeened sooner than others.  In a few weeks I'll be combining down the poorer ones to get ready for winter.

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I'm frightened of the old ones.
-- John Cage

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Sunday August 17th 2014

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I awoke today realizing that when I wrote the Green Certificate Beekeeping program a decade ago, I wrote the full course, including management, simply because it is easier to write the whole story rather than try to decide what goes in and what stays out.  To my knowledge, only the first section, about one third of the material, was published.  That section covers for the 'production technician' only.  (That's officialspeak for what most if us call bee labourer). 

There are two more levels, for management and ownership as I recall.  I still have the manuscript on hand and decided to mention the fact to the appropriate person.  I wonder if anything will come of it.

It occurs to me to publish a book from that framework, but  there are  already too many bee books, and many are excellent.  I'm not sure how many books deal with commercial beekeeping step by step, however.  I'd have to get permission, I suppose, as I wrote it under contract for Lakeland College and Alberta Agriculture.

Today is a big day getting ready to go east and I am sure I cannot possibly do everything I tell myself I have to do. 

My first job is to screw a ceiling tile back up in the kitchen.  We had a leak there for a while and the tile dropped a bit.  Now that the leak is fixed, I have to re-attach the tile. 

Next, I must unplug the kitchen drain.  It is totally blocked, but the job should be simple.  The choke point is known (I think) to be at a joint downstairs and is accessible.  That joint is easy to disassemble and clean.  First, though, I have to get the water out of the line.  It seeps down slowly, and I have not run water for eight hours or more, so the pipe should be dry by now.

*   *   *   *   *

The tile is done and now the pipe.

I've decided to cancel my upcoming trip and rebook for early September, so I'm working on a new plan.

I had intended to  fly out tomorrow to go to see Mom and spend ten days in the Sudbury area.  I reserved flights a few weeks ago because I had assumed I'd be ready to go about now, but I have had a houseful of people and neglected my bees and worn myself out.

I need time to recuperate and catch up, so I'm thinking I'll fly east in early Sept, stay longer, and do the loop -- Sudbury, Gananoque, Round Lake, Port Severn, Sudbury.

If I stay here until the September long weekend, I'll be able to get things done and be here when Jon comes to hang the show in Drumheller.  Also, there is a family reunion scheduled in Gananoque on September  6th.  I had assumed I'd miss it, but I'll attend if I fly east around then. I see there are lots of empty seats on Air Canada on the long weekend Saturday and Sunday of the long weekend. 

There are always good deals if one is willing to fly in the middle of a holiday weekend since everyone wants to fly the day before and the day after or on the nearby days.  The middle day or days are not heavily booked, but schedules must be kept. 

From Gananoque, I'd drive down to Round Lake and then back to Sudbury.

In correspondence, Aaron pointed out a picture in the fall 2009 EAS journal (left).  I recall that EAS very well.  It was a high point.

I've been planning to go to WAS conference from September 17th through 20th this fall as it is nearby (if you call 684 km [425 miles] 'nearby') in Montana, but it may not fit into my new plans.

I will be attending the BCHPA conference from September 25th through 27th, though, since I am a scheduled speaker.

*   *   *   *   *

I called Mom and told her I am putting off the visit and got to work.  The drain is not the slam-dunk I expected.  It seems the clog is a long way along the usual pipe and my snake just reaches it.  I managed to punch out the worst of it and get some flow restored, but need to do further reaming to ensure that debris do not hang up in the restricted area.  I'm guessing it is a grease build-up. 

I'll also have to re-seal the sink drains.  I had used the plunger to try to dislodge the jam and these are from ~$100 Wal-Mart double sink/faucet kits.  They look and work okay, but the steel is thin enough that plunging seems to have flexed them enough to loosen the seals.

I had to go to get the long step ladder from the quonset and notice that bees are robbing in the yard, but the robbing is not too bad -- yet. 

I have eighteen boxes of honey sitting covered, but not completely sealed.  I'll have to get it under cover I suppose, but the sun is coming out and maybe the flow will resume.

I also see that bees are hanging out and I really need to give them more space. 

There is no way I could have done all I have on my plate by tonight, so I am feeling relieved that I have decided not to go, but a bit chagrined to let Mom down.  She said the change is okay, but I know she was looking forward to seeing me and may be a bit worried about me.

I'm worried about me.  This past year, I have deteriorated more than any year since I the year I turned fifty.  That year, I got influenza and a touch of pneumonia.  That set me back a long way and it took me years to fully recover.  This last year, I have been stressed and at present, feel less fit.  I decided recently to get more exercise, drink less, and that I'm going to continue to lose weight.

I'm now finished an informal year of mourning and need to get on with things.

Seeing as I will be home, I made a bean stew and then, mid-afternoon, the weather cleared and I went out to work on the bees. 

I had some honey I pulled previously sitting on the truck deck.  I need boxes to put on the hives and I checked these boxes to see if they had any empty comb.

Guess what? The bees had taken the honey back while I was working on other things and visiting the past week or so.

Looking into the hives, I see that they have drawn all their foundation, except the PF-100s, and they are working on them.

At left is a super of undrawn Pierco, with two PF-100s given to the hive a few days ago. 

Note the Pierco are perfectly drawn and the PF-100s are just starting to be drawn out and have drone sections.

The robbing is no problem.  I'm trying to draw foundation and raise bees and one of the best ways to draw foundation is to feed bees.  If there is fear of sugar contamination from feeding, the best feed is honey in supers.

Honey in the comb is worth less than honey in the drum since extracting is a part of the cost of honey in the drum. Honey costs more than sugar, for sure, but it is handy, and its pure.

 When finishing comb honey sections, sometimes we cross-stacked full extracting supers in the comb yard to feed the comb hives so we would not have a pile of half-finished sections.  I have no idea what the efficiency is, but finished combs are worth big money and half-finished combs are worthless, so even if the efficiency was as low as 50%, the feeding was worthwhile.

Shown here are two outside frames from the test hive with alternating Pierco and Acorn frames.

On the left is Pierco, the outside frame  On the right is Acorn, the second from outside.

 There is no difference that I can see.

After working on four hives in the North Yard, I heard the dog barking and came in.  She was barking at nothing as usual.  Ever since Sophie was here, she has decided that barking is fun and is becoming a nuisance.

I had a snack and a swim and went back out to the Quonset, seeing as I needed more boxes, and worked on nine hives there, pulling four boxes of honey that were in the way.

I went through my honey boxes and a few frames had been robbed, but I still had twelve full boxes.   I closed up the stacks and the robbers went wild at the cracks.  Regardless, I worked all day without a veil, with a little smoke, and did not get stung, except for a few accidental nicks.

Hello Allen

I installed 10,000 sheets of Acorn foundation this year, 3 frames per honey box, some was not fully drawn out, I think maybe it was the honey flow, and or the amount of young bees , and just the way things go. It certainly is as good as or better than Pierco. 

I will be 68 years old in October and just wondering, pondering if its time to get out of this business, the prices are high for honey and equipment and the job is becoming a very big chore for me

Read you daily, always interesting

In one of the boxes I tipped, after smoking to be sure the queen was down, there is a line of drone cells and some occupied queen cells. 

Such cells would drive some beekeepers crazy, but to me they are no worry.  There is a chance the hive was considering swarming, but cooler weather is coming and it is getting late, so I doubt they would go.  It is not impossible as I have seen more than a few August swarms before, but I doubt it. 

I removed honey and spread brood.  We'll see.

I came in at 1900 and called it a day.  I washed dishes and see the drain is still very slow.  I intended to ream it this afternoon, but was distracted by the bees. 

I then cancelled my itinerary, with some regret, but it had to be done.

Now I am free for the next two weeks, to rest up and deal with the hives and several other odd jobs.  I might even calm down enough get around to the forklift.  I know it is going to be a frustrating job.

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.
Edgar Bergen

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Monday August 18th 2014

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I slept well.  The cooler and longer nights in mid-August encourage more time in bed and better rest.

Right about now I should be boarding my flight to Ontario, but I cancelled the trip.  I have mixed feelings about that, but mostly feel relief that the memorial is over and that I have some time to be alone with nothing scheduled time and get things done.

As much as I love having company and seek out occasions to socialize, I do enjoy being alone once in a while, at home, at the cottage, and on my boats.

The weather does not look too great for the bees in the coming week.   It is not bad, but the trend down to seven degrees at night and thirteen during the day will limit bee activity, but we have to remember that this is just a forecast. 

More than once I have been in Ontario on  August 20 and phoned home to hear of a surprise frost.  A heavy frost stops the flows for at least a while and sometimes there is no significant flow after the frost. 

These days there is bloom all along the roadsides, but I can recall flying east for a weekend about this time of year and returning home to see the roadside flowers wilted and dead.

We are now on borrowed time.  The flow could run into October or it could cut off tomorrow.  How do you plan for that? 

This is one of the reasons I stayed home.  I have to start preparing for winter.  Fall is only a month away.

Hi Allen,

We took off 13 frames of honey from the hive we got from you. We used a little smoke and no one got stung. Two of us didn't wear any protection and the bees were just fine. We also took off 10 frames from our own hive.
We just wanted to let you know that we are very happy with our bees and to thank you again for trusting us enough to buy your bees.

I still wonder about the 'grumpy hive' story from a month back.  No one else reports anything like what that customer did.  There must have been something going on there that had nothing to do with the bees. 

I took the hive back after charging a restocking fee, but still wonder what in the world really happened.  I doubt I charged enough for restocking, given that the hive was rearranged and was reportedly queenless, but I had to pick a number.  I'll go an look through that hive today. 

I left it alone after it came back because I figured it had been molested enough by the initial preparation for the sale, the two moves, and having been rearranged by the buyer.  I noted a lot of squished bees between the boxes, so I gather it was handled roughly and without adequate use of smoke by the customer, and probably three times: unloading, inspection, and reloading.

I left some boxes tipped last night since the bees abandon best right about dusk and sometimes the stragglers wander down the hives and into auger holes during the night.  The boxes are usually free of bees by morning.

An overnight rain will not have much effect on the honey in the combs as they are sheltered by the box.  Open cells, however, could pick up a little extra moisture, but that should not matter unless the honey is already close to the borderline for ripeness.

Given the light robbing in the yard, though, I should get out there before it warms up too much to claim the honey before the bees do.

Abandonment: This technique can work, even when light robbing is going on, as long as the weather is good and the hives have been on a recent flow and flying freely.  This method depends on the bees in the supers knowing where their home is.  This memory fades after three days of poor flight opportunities and the bees won't abandon if they do not know where to go.

If the honey is tipped an hour or so before the end of a flying day, light robbing will clean up the burr comb and the activity will encourage the remaining bees to fly home. 

No robbing happens at night, and as long as the beekeeper returns before much flight gets going in the morning, the boxes can be taken away with few if any bees.  If clumps of bees remain, that is usually due to open brood or a queen in the box.

Robbing: I don't look on robbing as necessarily being a bad thing.  Light robbing will identify and eliminate sub-par colonies and save a beekeeper quite a bit of work.  Spring robbing of dead colonies can save strong overwintered colonies from starvation.

Disease is always a concern, but in an area where the bees are healthy and the bee stock has some AFB resistance, limited robbing may offer more benefits than challenges. 

The vicious sort of robbing that can happen in fall when a beekeeper is drum feeding is not something to be sought. Crazy and widespread fighting can be avoided when feeding syrup in the open by supplying sufficient surface area in the feeders and open access so that the bees do not get excessively defensive.  The bees will be calm as long as there is plenty for all.  The problems arise when supplies run out and bees begin fighting over what is left.

Open feeding is not advisable in areas where people and animals may pass nearby as bee behaviour may be unpredictable.

In feeding stations with restricted access and a small area in relation to the number of bees arriving, some bees will try to defend the syrup and initiate fighting.

Robbing bees are not necessarily aggressive.  Aggressive behavior is the result of bees defending their hive, or bees defending a robbing source from other bees. 

Most robbing takes place quite peacefully, but robbing can precipitate defensive behaviour on the part of the robbing bees or hives being robbed.  When resources get scarce open warfare can result, even from normally gentle bees.

A real uproar can result from running out of feed in drums in the middle of a hot day while the hives nearby are still light.  On the other hand, if the drums are kept well supplied until the robbing hives are full, syrup will attract less and less interest.  Plugged hives do not rob.

A caveat: Robbing is not something for a beginner or urban beekeeper to encourage.  It can create situations dangerous to people and animals nearby.

How to stop robbing in a yard: In a yard where the hives begin to rob one another, such as when the beekeeper has worked half the hives and the others begin to rob, the robbing can be stopped immediately by simply removing all the lids in the yard.  This may not work where the robbing bees are coming from another nearby yard.

Disclaimer: These comments are based on my experience in my yards in my region.  YMMV.  Although experienced beekeepers can manage robbing without panic, robbing behaviour can be very unpredictable, scary, and dangerous situations can arise rapidly.  Do not encourage or tolerate robbing.

I went out and worked through the 'grumpy hive'. 

Before and after shots are to left and right.

Sure enough, it was hopelessly queenless.  I had been told it had queen cells and I advised leaving them alone, but who knows what happened? 

In going through the hive, I found what had been the top super near the bottom of the stack, and I saw something I've never seen before: plastic foundation in a new wired frame and with the wire embedded. 

The populations are still good, so  I took off two boxes of honey and combined it with a small hive that has a viable queen. 

I worked bare-handed without a veil and with only a little smoke.  They did not sting.

I got to the Quonset Yard around 1100 and by then the robbers had cleared up the drips and I lifted the boxes down and sealed them up.  I worked through some more hives and at noon went for a swim and a snack. 

Having this small (9' x 18') pool is a lifesaver and makes the hot summer weather bearable.  I come from the bees overheated and within a minute, I am cooled down to where I actually feel cold for the next while.  The effect can last up to an hour.

If i did not have all these bees, what would I be doing?  Good question.  They are taking up weeks of spring, summer and fall time when i could be dong other things: camping, travelling, sailing...  Why am I doing this?  For one thing I enjoy it, to a point.  For another, I got started and don't know how to quit.  I have to get this habit under control.

The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

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Tuesday August 19th 2014

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Wow! that is the best night's sleep in a while, and I did not use the CPAP machine.

We are now into a cooling trend.  Friday night could bring frost.  We'll see.

I began my day by sizing up my drain problem.  I have to run to town for flexible couplers.  I could do the job with glued or threaded fittings fittings.  I have a drawer full of every imaginable fitting, but flexible couplers are the best way to go as they make taking things apart later much easier. I have to plan carefully since the trip to town and back takes an hour and a gallon of gas.  I'd like to get the right things the first time.

It seems that the problem is really a lack of slope on a ten-foot run of 1-1/2" pipe running from the sinks.  It should drop a minimum of 2.5 inches but is essentially horizontal at present.  It's been that way for 50 years and has clogged a few times in that time.  I'll change that, but there goes my morning.

Here's another time-waster: I cracked the back glass on my Nexus 4 phone a year ago, and I put up with that minor flaw for all this time.  When Jon was here he reminded me that parts are available, so I spent a lot of time online deciding whether to replace the whole back or just the glass.  Either way, it seemed that I need tools.  the sellers who sell the parts for reasonable prices don't have the tools.  The ones who do have are too expensive and the shipping almost doubles the cost if I buy from two sellers.  Decisions, decisions.  I finally just ordered the cheapest part and I'll see how things go.

It's 1606 and I still have blocked kitchen sinks.  I had assumed the blockage was in the horizontal run, and maybe it was, but it is now located further down.

I was surprised to discover a major restriction near the sink and cleared that, but on testing, I find the water gets down the entire length I had under suspicion.  I checked the joiner section  and it was clear.  That only left the main four-inch drain. 

I pulled the inspection cover and poked it and found the main seemed blocked.  I poked the obstruction, closed the port and put 25 gallons of water down the toilet at the end of the line and listened further down.  It's clear.

Now I have to wait for the sink water to go down enough that I can start over at the top.  The drain down through the floor is a new section, and I cleaned the sink drains.  The horizontal part let the snake though, so where is the block? I checked the end of that whole run again and clan, hot water gushed out. 

That left the joiner section which had proven clear a while before.  I drained the rest of the hot water I had standing in the sinks and then probed the joiner section. 

It had plugged, and on inspection, I discovered what looked like fine beeswax flakes congealed into a solid plug.  I cleared the blockage, hooked up the pipes again and its all good!.

Tomorrow, I'll cut out and bypass the joiner section, but I've had enough for today.

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully
as when they do it from religious conviction.
Blaise Pasca

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