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Wednesday June 10th 2015

Today A few showers ending early this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers late this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h this afternoon. High 27. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers this evening and after midnight and risk of a thunderstorm. Clearing before morning. Fog patches developing after midnight. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 12.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

We had rain overnight, but that passed and today looks like another sunny day.

I slept well, but still have some indigestion this morning, and some concern about yesterday's chest pains and indigestion.  I've concluded that it was just strain from lifting heavy boxes and something I ate, but it really had me wondering and I'm still not entirely comfortable.

I am trying to get the last residual debris out of the pool, with limited success. The water has warmed to plus twenty-two and is quite clear, but still a bit foggy.  There are also wispy clumps of something on the pool bottom that is easily stirred up and seems to be hard to filter out, at least with the paper filters that come with these pools.  The clarifier I added may have settled it to the bottom.

As I walked around the yard this morning, I looked for signs that the Roundup I sprayed yesterday had killed weeds, but if it had any effect, so far I cannot see it.  I wonder if I did not use enough.  I did mix it properly, but maybe the mist was too fine or maybe I moved too quickly.

Ellen used to apply the Roundup around the yard. I never have attempted to use Roundup for weed control in gardens and around trees before this week.  I may have used Roundup around beehives many, many years ago -- can't recall -- but here, in the yard, I am very concerned about killing non-target plants so maybe I did not apply enough.  It takes years to grow trees and bushes, but only a few moments to kill them.

At this point, it seems that I did not even kill the targets.

I wrote this to the Calgary Beekeepers this morning:

I notice a lot of people looking for queens after discovering that their hive is queenless, has only sealed brood, and has sealed queen cells.  Sealed queen cells mean they are already well on the way to solving their own problem in the way that bees have since time immemorial.

In this situation, buying a queen and attempting to introduce her may not be the best approach, and may result in disappointment while watching the natural miracle unfold can save money and provide a more certain resolution.

Metamorphosis of the queen bee
Egg hatches on Day 3
Larva (several moltings) Day 3 to Day 8
Queen cell capped ~ Day 7
Pupa ~ Day 8 until emergence
Emergence ~Day 15 - Day 17
Nuptial Flight(s) ~Day 20 - 24
Egg Laying ~Day 23 and up

This table is excerpted from a Wikipedia article

Purchased queens cost money and are not always accepted by hives that have progressed to this stage.  In fact, the success rate is probably around 50%. -- or less.  If that attempt fails, then the odds get worse on subsequent tries. 

If there are already sealed queen cells, and if the cells are well-made and the hive has not dwindled or been starving, a new queen will emerge very soon, be mated, and begin laying within a week or so after emergence.  Be patient.

If the queen cell (or cells) you find, has a clean round hole in the tip, the virgin(s) has already emerged and should be laying in a week or so.  Don't bother looking for her.  She is likely there.

If there is a dark, nibbled ring around the bottom tip of the cell(s), the bees are expecting a virgin to come out shortly.

At any rate, by the time that a good queen cell is sealed, the problem is already being addressed and the situation will probably resolve itself within a few weeks at most.

Breaking down cells and trying to introduce a purchased queen may actually delay resolution since getting a queen takes days and introduction should take at least four days and maybe a week, whereas the sealed queen cell that the bees make for free and no effort on your part will provide a good queen that should be laying in two weeks with an 80% probability.

YMMV.

I did not open any hives today.  I'd forgotten how much work it is to get boxes ready.  It took me two hours to drill and round corners on the forty-one.  At one point, I ran down to Ray's to pick up the twelve new lids he has ready. I cut some more grass and the day went by. 

The picture at right shows the drill I use for drilling a hole front and back in each EPS box and the socket extension I use for rounding the boxes' sharp corners. I simply run the round chromed steel  piece around the sharp outer edges to press the plastic enough to dull the corners to make handling more pleasant and to make inserting hive tools easier.

Elijah has been busy with a drama project at his school and not had time to work on the garden much in the past month. Nonetheless, he did get the most important work done and the gardens look good.

Tonight was show time and I joined Fen, Maddy and Lorelee at the school auditorium at 1900 for the big event.  I didn't know what to expect but the performance was amazing.  Although I dozed a bit at first -- the first fifteen minutes were slow -- I was wide awake and well entertained for the rest.

I have been to quite a few plays and performances, and I found it hard to believe that these kids were amateurs.  I've seen professional performances that were not as well executed.  Frankly, I enjoyed this five-dollar local amateur production far more than the highly-rated and expensive stage production of The Lion King, that I saw in an ornate theater in upstate New York.

I retuned home and watched video until bedtime.  As darkness fell, a thunderstorm passed though, blinking the lights and shaking the house.  At one time, Zippy used to panic anytime she heard thunder, but tonight, she just came and looked at me a few times before returning to her mat and going back to sleep.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.
 Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

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Thursday June 11th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers early this morning. 40 percent chance of showers late this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm. Wind south 20 km/h. High 27. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Cloudy. 40 percent chance of showers early this evening. Becoming partly cloudy near midnight. Risk of a thunderstorm early this evening. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming north 20 gusting to 40 near midnight then light overnight. Low 12.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

We had more rain overnight and today will be another hot one. I was up at five, had breakfast and went back to bed and slept until nine. It was rainy at 0500, but sunny and bright at 0900.

Today, I plan to have friends here for my weekly supper.

I have a lot to do in the next two weeks and am beginning to question my own sanity. Here is is mid-June and I am trapped by the promises I made to sell bees and my ambition in splitting.  I could be out sailing somewhere, visiting in Ontario, or travelling.  I could be gardening, or even mowing the rest of the lawn.

I also have not been windsurfing for years although that used to be a passion.  At one time, I drove to lakes every weekend, and to the Baja and the Columbia River Gorge chasing wind and waves.  I have a kitesurfing kite, but have never taken it to the water.  Rather, I am here stressing about bees and I have more and more hives.  I'm nuts!

At one time, beekeeping was a passion, too, but these days I've turned it into a burden and a chore.

> Allen, I use it (Roundup) along the bottom strand of my electric fence. Wait a couple of days and check again. I do not see any difference after 24 hours.

Thanks.  I couldn't recall.  Info I read says that results can be seen in as little as three hours and should be visible in twenty-four.

> BTW, I know for a commercial keeper the number of hives you currently have is not very many, but now you are retired I conclude it is.

Agreed.

> You clearly cannot give up bees, and I learn lots from your diary and don't want you to stop beekeeping. However, could you just scale back to no more than 30 maximum? I don't mean before splitting - I mean 30 after splitting. That way you could still get your bee fix, but worry less.

That is harder to do than it might seem.  I actually ignored my hives at one point and got down to three hives.  The remnant built up to larger numbers when I got interested again.

That is a story I have to tell sometime, but I have been putting it off because it is not a simple tale.

At any rate, when trying to avoid making honey, splitting is the obvious solution, but that leads to other problems.

Actually, my main problem right now is that I am too concerned about making sure my buyers are happy. 

I could just call them up and say come and get them, but most are inexperienced and will need hand-holding.

I am really no good at all at doing anything I do not want to do.  Never was, and never will be.  If I don't like something, I just flat-out cannot do it, and I am finding increasing reluctance to get out and work the bees. 

I enjoy the work when I get out there and open hives, but the setup and all the various background tasks, like making brood chambers, drilling boxes and such do not appeal at all.  When we were in the business and when Ellen was alive and I had to be here, and these tasks filled the time, but right about now, they seem pointless.

Wow!  Yesterday the lawn was brown, and today, after last night's rain, it is green already.  I don't know how much rain we got because my weather station was unplugged and offline.

I'm procrastinating and will be out in the heat of the day now.  Having the pool makes working in the heat tolerable.

As I was finishing up my procrastination in preparation for starting work -- making a stew, filling the mower with gas, vacuuming the pool, etc. -- I heard a humming and thought I should investigate.  Sure enough I found a swarm alighting near the house, high in a poplar. 

As it formed, I could see it is a pup -- just a small one -- and given the location high in a tree, I am not going after it.  Chances are, with all the queenless hives nearby and empty equipment around, they will find a home.

The time was 1300, approximately solar noon here.  That is the most likely time of day for swarms.

I am glad I did not go looking for a ladder.  Five minutes later it was gone.  Did it abort, or did it find a home?  I don't know. (And don't care).

My friends came for supper at 1800.  We had wings and burgers, plus lamb sausage that Fen brought. Elijah left at around 2100 to do his homework.  The rest stayed stayed until 2200.

True forgiveness is when you can say, "Thank you for that experience".
Oprah Winfrey

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Friday June 12th 2015

Today Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers early this morning and late this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 19. UV index 4 or moderate.
Tonight Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers early this evening and risk of a thunderstorm. Clearing this evening. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light near midnight. Low 8.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

It appears we did not have much if any rain last night, if the dry deck is any indication. I fasted after supper last night with the intent of going to the lab to have some blood tests done.  I got the requisition a month ago, but then went east.  After I got back, I just never was in the mood to skip my bedtime snack or my breakfast, and a twelve-hour fast is demanded for accuracy.

I was having some odd visual symptoms and other little things and saw the locum.  She gave me the requisition, but had left one test off, so I had to see my physician and that was another excuse. I arrived there at around eleven-thirty figuring the line-ups would have abated by then, and it seemed that others had the same idea.  There were five ahead of me, so I settled in for the wait.

I don't mind waiting and can entertain myself, but cannot understand why in every waiting room, there is a TV blaring nonsense indiscriminately towards the waiting victims, and there is always some idiot that is watching so nobody can turn it off down, or even to another channel.

Frankly I would find it less offensive to have people smoking than inflicting that noise on me.  I cannot stand TV.

Since I was already on the road, I decided to run out to Meijers.  I had picked up some boxes, but am short of frames.  I also owed them a visit. 

I arrived in a light drizzle and we looked at the new EPS six-frame nucs they purchased from Finland.

The same nucs are available in the US, but at three times the price from what I have been able to figure out.  Of course, the US supplier might be cheaper in container loads. 

The Finn company was difficult to deal with, changing the prices several times and ultimately shipping a half-full container in spite of promising to fill it, resulting in wasted freight costs. Additionally the frame rests were not grooved to allow the insertion of the divider (shown above, right) to make two three-frame nucs of each, meaning a lot of extra work for the buyers.

Then Joe showed me some wood frames with foundation purchased from a Saskatchewan supplier.  The waxed plastic foundation is paper-like.  Joe poked his finger through, then showed how the foundation cracks when bent slightly and then shredded a sheet with his bare hands and hardly any effort.

(Note: The following discussion of frame waxing was resolved here and the conclusion was that the frames were indeed double-waxed.  At no point did we think that we were cheated, but we did think there might have been errors.).

The new Acorn frames had arrived and we pulled out a few to look over.  Oene commented that although these frames were ordered and marked as double-waxed, they did not appear to have more wax than a previous order of single-waxed frames.  Double-waxing adds twenty cents to the cost and that amounts to more than a 10% up-charge.

We scratched the surface and concluded that the new frame and an older frames seemed to have a similar coating.  I loaded my boxes and drove home.

When I arrived home, I took a sample frame Joe had handed me at their shop and weighed it on a postal scale.

I'm one of those guys.  Most people just trust their suppliers to give fair measure.  I trust them to be human, with all the frailties that implies.

Years back, when I got a pallet of package bees, I weighed it before installing the bees, then gathered up all, the pieces and weighed again.

I learned interesting things. The Australians always gave a slight bonus weight.  One New Zealand supplier was always 10% light.  When I mentioned it to him, he just did not care.  His bees were also the nastiest bees I ever had and did not winter. He cheated me, knew, it and did not even pretend to care.

I also made myself hugely unpopular with fellow pollinators years back when I demanded standards for pollinating hives.  I was going into pollination for the first time, and another pollinator had committed suicide after delivering hives and being denied payment due to disagreements over colony strength.  At the time there were no standards.  There are now.

I then washed the frame with gasoline several times, pressure washed it and blew it dry twice with compressed air. Then I sprayed it with Fantastik (a strong household degreaser) and pressure washed it again -- twice. By then it was quite free of wax.

Here are the before and after weights (again not zeroed).

 

342g - 326g = 16g.

I was told that a waxed frame should have 16 grams of wax applied and that a double-waxed frame should have 32 grams. My conclusion? This appears to be a single-waxed frame.

As so often happens with my little 'experiments', I started without a clear plan, then discovered I was onto something and should probably have been more careful from the start).

I had not exactly zeroed my postal scale, or verified its accuracy initially since I was only only casually interested in the difference in weight between un-waxed and these waxed frames.  I was not really expecting to see anything interesting, but I did -- I think.

Having reached this point, I got to wondering how accurate my scale is, so I weighed a pound of butter, then another, and then a pound of bacon, all supposed to be 454 grams. They all weighed exactly the same. (The weight of these products included the wrapper, which in the case of the bacon would seem to me to be considerable).  I ran calculations and concluded that my scale reads about 8% light and adjusted my numbers.

Adjusted, my 342g reading for the waxed frame is actually 369g and the 326g reading for the wax-free frame is adjusted to 352g, giving ~17g of wax removed by my cleaning.  That un-waxed weight of 352 corresponds closely to what Nick reports an un-waxed frame fresh off the line weighs.  My waxed weight does not, however correspond to what a double-waxed frame should weigh.

I opened a fresh box marked W2 (double-waxed) and weighed three frames.

337, 345, 345
Adjusted for the 8% error, these three frames average ~370g.

370g - 350g = 20g, so these frames also seem to be closer to the expected weight for single-waxed frames than double-waxed, assuming the weight of un-waxed frames is consistent.

I've worked this over several times and found mistakes.  I think they are all corrected, but don't just assume I am right. My methods are quite approximate and include unproven assumptions. 

Better accuracy and larger samples are required to reach any definite conclusions.  Maybe un-waxed frames are typically lighter than the samples I used for my calculations.  Nick has furnished records proving that the products were double-waxed and we are investigating further.

Ray has finished my lids and floors, and I was going to pick them up today, but this project took up the rest of my day.

Nick is looking into this.  He keeps detailed records and sent me a shot of current sheet and will be digging through his records back to the production date.  Note that there is some variability in the weight of un-waxed frames and my calculations assumed a constant 352g, which is on the high side since some frames, judging by the sheet he sent weigh only 344.5g, a 7.5g difference.

(Continued tomorrow...)

I recently totally emptied my email inbox, but by the end of my day, it has forty emails and I had to deal with them  I'm back down to five.

If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.
Martin Luther

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Saturday June 13th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy this afternoon with 60 percent chance of showers late this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 17. UV index 6 or high.
Tonight Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm early this evening. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 8.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I have lots to do today.

A comment about this diary quote from the other day...

AD: > "Actually, my main problem right now is that I am too concerned about making sure my buyers are happy.  I could just call them up and say come and get them, but most are inexperienced and will need hand-holding.​"​

​---

No matter what you do there is going to be unhappy people so don't make yourself unhappy trying to please people.​

​In my experience beginners with strong hives do not do well. They are afraid/intimidated by them. Remember the lady last year that returned the bees you sold her? Your idea of a strong hive and a beginner's idea of a strong hive could be two different things. So don't squash your enthusiasm of getting rid of some of your bees by making these splits too much work.

To get yourself out there and get it done and remember in the end you will have less bees. That is the goal, less bees. So just get it done and get those bees out of there. They can be what you consider moderately strong. This way they will not end up back in your yard and the inexperienced and will need ​less ​hand-holding if the hives are not jam packed with bees.​ They will dare to open the boxes and tend the bees if they are not bubbling out when the lid is lifted. Something you and I like to see but that makes a inexperienced
​ person take a few steps back.​

You can sort the hives by the persons experience and get them out of there. If you feel you have to adjust the price then do it. It is easy than having 150 hives you don't want.

There's your pep talk, go get um.

---

Thanks!

On my visit to Meijers yesterday, the topic of record keeping came up.  How best to keep accurate written yard notes when anything that goes into a bee yard gets sticky or wet or lost and there are multiple crews spread out over the country? 

Disposable day sheets and a master data spreadsheet were the solution Ellen and I found and used very successfully for years.

Yard sheets were turned in daily and replaced with new sheets for the next day. That way I could examine them daily for completeness and accuracy. In one day, they did not get too sticky and if one got lost, it was not catastrophic.

I entered the data into the main spreadsheet daily and periodically printed  copies for the crews to carry along so they could see our progress on each round and what remained to do.

Excel has the ability to hide columns, so I hid any unneeded historical columns before printing the crew copies, but the data remained available on the sheet for my own use and the hidden data was used in calculations using formulae.

As the season progressed, and when each round was finished, new tasks and data replaced the tasks, checkboxes and blanks of previous days on the daily yard sheets. I made up new assignment/record yard sheets for each round.

An example of a sheet we used for the first round is shown below, along with the master data sheet that resulted from these and previous sheets for previous operations and in some cases the previous year.

There is plenty of room on the field copy for multiple yards, but usually only a few yards were filled in by a crew before the sheets were collected and fresh sheets were issued.

Below is an excerpt from a diary entry from Sunday 20 February 2005.

I have cut back now, and am not keeping much in the way of records these days, but when I did, in a big way, I used paper sheets in the yards, and Excel at home.

The reason was that we had a number of crews out at once, and keeping the notes up to date was something I liked to do manually, rather than trying to get databases to synchronize themselves.  When transcribing, at my desk, I got to analyze the activities and make corrections. 

Also, this way, delicate equipment, like PDAs and computers, was not placed into the sticky, clumsy hands of casual or even trained help, some of whom had limited literacy in English, but could fill in blanks in forms passably well.

Our system consisted of plain black and white entry sheets, carrying the assignment for the day, and a summary sheet, carrying all the data for the whole operation. 

I lit the furnace this morning for the first time in weeks.

I also worked over yesterday's post (above). I'm still not completely satisfied with it.

I then drove down to Ray's and picked up the floors and lids he has finished so far, then returned home.

These are expensive lids and floors, but worth the money.  Having good equipment makes beekeeping a pleasure.

I have completely adapted to EPS boxes and black one-piece plastic frames.  Anything else seems crude to me.

*   *   *   *   *

At eleven, I got a call from a fellow advertising an ultralight plane for sale in Manitoba.  I'm considering buying it.  I haven't flown for years, but maybe I should start again.

*   *   *   *   *

(Note: The following discussion of frame waxing was resolved here and the conclusion was that the frames were indeed double-waxed.  At no point did we think that we were cheated, but we did think there might have been errors.).

Then Joe called.  He had opened boxes from four pallets and three seemed to have around 30 grams of wax per frame, but one pallet had  box of frames with no wax, but was marked 2W.  He is going to open boxes on more pallets.  It's a big job.  They bought 31,000 frames and that means there are 596 boxes to check!

Joe then called back to say that only two boxes on that pallet were without wax.  He is not too worried now.

*   *   *   *   *

Then a hobby beekeeper called.  He and his wife bought hives from us few years back and now report their hives are dead.  I asked for a picture of comb.  He texted me one (right) and, sure enough, they died of terminal AFB. 

I said to sort all their combs into feed combs with honey, infected combs and combs with no sign of AFB, count them, then call again for advice.  That advice will depend on how much scaled up comb they have and how much clean comb.

I'm seeing a lot of this lately: beginners with hives dead of in-your-face, stinking AFB who wonder why their hive dwindled away.  That makes two today.

*   *   *   *   *

I'm not getting much outdoor work done.  It is now 1232, 13.5 degrees, and overcast with a 10 MPH wind.

*   *   *   *   *

My dishwasher left some debris on plates the other night, so I had pulled it apart last night to check the grinder and I decided to finish the job now and not leave it half-done.

I notice my house has gotten quite untidy and un-swept by my normal standards and am wondering about my state of mind.  It seems I vacuumed and wiped just a few days ago, but maybe not...

The grinder (left) was clean, but there was debris on the pump intake screen, but nothing like on past occasions.  They were big chunks, however and must have restricted the flow.  The piece of glass alone covered over half the intake.

I'm getting good at disassembling and reassembling the machine.  This was the fourth time in the ten or fifteen years we have owned it.

*   *   *   *   *

Mid-afternoon I went out to work on the bees.  Thank goodness the flow has ended for now and there is some light robbing.  I was concerned that the hives would plug to the point where it stopped the build-up.

My first stop was the hive that showed two cells of AFB several days ago.  I carefully examined every frame and there is no sign of AFB. These are good bees. I am looking even more carefully as I go now, though. 

Some hives now are readying to swarm, thank goodness.  It's about time.  The best time to split hives is when they want to split. One hive had nice cells, so I shared them around. I see one virgin had emerged and others were coming out soon, but the hive had not swarmed - yet.

Goes to show that all the simplistic crap that we are taught about honey bees does not impress or influence the bees much.  When you have had bees as long as I have, you can believe just about any story about bees that does not include the words, "always" or "never".

I felt a bit odd using the cells since the hive that had them was the one hive in many years that had shown two AFB cells, but I pardoned myself by rationalizing that they must have good genetics because they cleaned it right up.  Of course I also ask myself if they are that good howcum I saw two AFB cells in the first place?

A beekeeper has to examine the frames periodically to ensure that a disease has not started to get out of control.

Caught in time, AFB is manageable, but once it gets to be more than an occasional cell, the situation can avalanche. I am encountering beginners with massive breakdowns that never suspected a problem, but must have had it staring them in the face for months.

It is possible that some of the queens they are buying are not from resistant stock, too.  Resistant stock can keep AFB under control, but replacement queens, either naturally raised or purchased can turn a hive from a resistant hive to a susceptible hive in a few weeks.

I have to run down to Ray's again to get the rest of the equipment.

I feel as if I have accomplished nothing today, but, of course, I have done a lot.

I picked up the rst of the equipment and rove home.  By then we were having a shower, so I had supper: a cob of corn, some kale salad, and a strip steak that had been in the fridge since the last time I had steak.

It's only 1930 and I feel as if this day has gone on for a week. Of course, I was up at 0400 today, so maybe I should be tired by now, but I am going out.  I am, I tell myself..

Speaking of tired, my dog is suddenly getting old fast.  She seems deaf and often does not run to the door when I go out, asking me to take her for a drive.

Okay.  I'm going out.  I may be tired sitting here, but once I open a hive, I am wide awake.

I went out but it was too cool and too late in the day.  I could work the bees, but they would not settle in time for the night, so went inside and began tidying.  After an hour, I had made a small dent.  Most of the place is pretty presentable and most people would not notice, but there are corners where things accumulate, and I also need to do a really good vacuuming.  Lately I have just been doing the areas where it shows.

I'm going to bed early tonight: 2218.

Good night, world.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Cicero

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Sunday June 14th 2015

Today Cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 16. UV index 6 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Clearing near midnight. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low plus 4 with risk of frost.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I woke up at five, rolled over and slept until six.  Maybe going to bed was a good idea.  I'm inspired today.

I started the day with an omelet. I haven't made one for a while.  I used to make one every day. 

Although I have made hundreds of omelets and eaten many more, I still do not know how to make the perfect omelet, or what one would look like.  I often order omelets in restaurants and every one is different.  Most are good, but there have been notable exceptions.

Decades ago, Ellen amazed the Computer Shop crew on an excursion to Robin's Mountain when she made an excellent omelet in a black cast iron frying pan over a campfire.

Today promises to be cooler, and that, for me, is a good thing.  I may get more done.  We'll see.  Although I love hot weather, I find the heat saps my energy and makes mid-day work uncomfortable at times.

*   *   *   *   *

Now that I have plenty of matching floors and lids, working the hives will be much easier. Also, I have now begun to put slats on the the floors for feet to make lifting easier and make moving the hives with a hand truck more practical. 

Without slats, picking up and depositing hives with fingers or a hand truck without being pinched underneath is difficult or impossible.  Slats provide a space for easy access and also lift the hive off the ground or pallet.  If the hives sit on the damp earth, they also function as a 'rot strip' that can be replaced when required.

I decided to put the slats crosswise for side entry. That results in a more stable load on a hand truck than rear entry. 

I use Hoffman frames with ten-frame spacing.  The frames form a solid block and tilting the hives on their sides will not cause frames to shift sideways or swing and crush bees.  If I used straight end bars and/or nine-frame spacing, the frames would hang loose I would have to tilt the hives forward or back.  Side tilt would make the frames shift or swing and bang together, crushing bees.

I felt so ambitious today that I went back to bed and slept another two hours. First things first, I always say.

I went out and cut the grass around the hives South of the Hedge.  The day is cool and breezy.  I plan to work on hives, but also don't want to overdo it, so am doing some puttering first.  I unloaded the boxes of Acorn frames from the van and washed it off. 

Meijers live up a dusty road and on dry days, my vehicle gets dusty and if it is rainy, the vehicle gets covered with a fine layer of clay.  I went there this last time on a rainy day and the van was coated with brown mud when I got home. 

I began washing it the other day with my little portable pressure washer, which is good for light work, but soon decided this was a job for a serious washer and today got out the Honda-powered high pressure/high volume machine.

It took a while to get the engine running as I have not run this washer  for at least three and maybe five or six years, and I had to dump out the old gas before I could get it to keep running.

I washed the van and the walk while I was at it. 

While washing the van, I noticed a slight -- almost imperceptible -- dent in the tailgate, and a crack in the bumper I had seen before, but somehow was more obvious now.

When removing the boxes, I also came to the realization that a white interior is probably not the best choice for a farmer's main vehicle.

It is interesting that when I buy something, I don't see the imperfections, but after I while I notice little things.

It was always thus.  When I was four or so, I would want a new toy and when I got it, it was perfect.  However, after a few days, I would notice the mold marks, and other blemishes.  I was aware of that then and am aware of that now.  I always wondered if it was really perfect when I got it and had somehow morphed since.

I am also aware that sometimes I really really want something, research it, then buy it, but shortly after completely lose interest in it.  The Spot GEN3 is an example, as are the ham radios I bought but seldom use.

I went out to the bees around 1400 and worked until 1900. with a short break in late afternoon for a snack and a rest. 

I moved the hives I worked on onto the new floors, checked for queens and added boxes or pulled honey as required.  I'm finding that the mated queens we got were not as well accepted as I originally thought. I'm thinking g now that I had maybe 50+% success, but it may have been 75%. I tend to notice the duds.

At any rate I did a lot of work, but was mostly just re-working hives that were done recently, so am not further through the round, even if I did make a few additional splits.

I took all the hives off the pallets, though, and placed them on new floors with runners so they can be moved easily allowing me to padgen them with a hand truck or load them onto a trailer.  I have a lot of hives ready to go, but the buyers don't seem to have what they need.  One guy called today and he did not have boxes, a smoker, a beesuit, a veil, a hive tool...

At any rate, I am pleased with myself and feel I accomplished a lot today.

Beekeepers tend to have favourite yards they go to more than others unless they make a list and force themselves to finish each round before going back to a yard.

One beekeeper, who shall remain nameless, always headed out to work and was always distracted by the first yard he came to to the extent that he neglected the farthest yards.

Another drove by a yard all year and noticed that the hives were neglected and he though to himself that a terrible beekeeper must own that yard. All season, nothing happened in that yard and finally he commented to one of his staff, who looked on their yard map and said, "Oh, I guess that is one of ours."

It's 2151 and I'm going to go to bed early again tonight.  Maybe I am still running on Ontario (Eastern) time and that is two hours earlier than local time.

Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence.
The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.
Denis Waitley

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Monday June 15th 2015

Today Mainly sunny. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High 20. UV index 6 or high.
Tonight Clear. Low 8.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Going to bed earlier seems to work.  I slept well and clocked a little over six hours.  More would be better, but when I awoke at 0430, my mind was active, so I dozed a bit until I was sure that I would not sleep, then got up.

I enjoy sleep.  My mind ranges over a universe of ideas and I always wake up a few diverse and often unrelated  insights.  Many explain things that have been puzzling me somewhere in the back of my mind, and some are actionable.

I woke up today thinking a.) I should be less focused on myself, more grateful, and more positive; and also b.) that the women in TV and movies do not seem to have menstrual cycles. (I've been watching Grey's Anatomy in the evening).

There is no accounting for where the sleeping mind wanders although the previous day's experiences and longstanding issues seem to be central.

There were more flashes, but these waking glimpses fade as I regain full consciousness.  That seems to be a shame but I assure myself that these revelations are integrated into my thinking going forward and I don't need to be consciously aware of everything that is going on in my mind.  In fact that would be most distracting and impractical to be so totally aware all the time.

It is reassuring, though, to know that my mind is mulling things over, and to see that what comes to surface is interesting, in character as I imagine myself, and not alarmingly anti-social.

We got down to plus one point four degrees overnight with the lowest point being right about now, at 0638.  It is minus two at Three Hills.

The weather today looks ideal for my planned bee work and I am feeling like doing it.  Some days, I discover that I am -- physically or mentally -- just not up to doing much, if any, bee work.

I am discovering, too, that getting the new floors and being able to get off pallets or rows sets me free to work the hives with fewer constraints. 

This little change is actually far more exciting and empowering than one might expect.  I was getting boxed in by the way I have been doing things and space constraints were making me feel helpless and unmotivated since I could not see a solution.

Now I have lots of hives of varying states of queenrightness, weights, numbers of boxes and amounts of brood all set around  the yards.  That random layout and easy access to every hive is empowering. 

 If one hive is too strong and another too weak, I can easily interchange them.  I can also move the hives to mow grass and avoid having dead spots in the grass or rotted wood where the pallets or floors sit on the ground, plus this leaves fewer hiding places for mice and ants. When  I need to deliver a hive, I can just pick it out and wheel it away or go through it and adjust it to specs.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin on Health, Fitness and Nutrition.

This is a warning to check your hives carefully for AFB at least a few times a year, and especially in spring and fall.

AFB is around everywhere that there are bees, and bees get around.

Bees will go into other hives to rob and will also pick up honey from trash cans. A little of anything that is in your neighbourhood can and will wind up in your hives.

Make sure you know what AFB looks like in early stages and how to do a brood examination or get help from someone who does.

AFB always starts with a few isolated cells and can be easily managed at that point, but not once it gets out of control.

The pictures and samples you are shown in classes are extreme examples of an infection that has been allowed to progress to the point of being a certain death.

Starting with one or two cells, after a few brood cycles the bees will either have cleaned up that cell or two with no further signs of trouble or entire frames will be infected. It all depends on whether the bees are AFB resistant or not and environmental factors -- and how the beekeeper responds.

There is no way to know if your bees are AFB resistant or not until you see AFB. At that point, a response is indicated and that is another topic for another article. The point here is to recognize AFB in early stages.

I am writing because I am talking to beekeepers who have lost colonies over winter and in spring and want to replace them. They often tell me that they have hives and equipment they plan to use. I ask them to send me pictures of the brood frames they plan to use and in several cases, have seen instantly that their hives were killed by AFB and that using that equipment without irradiation or careful culling and careful management will result in another dead hive in short order.

Obviously, they did not spot it in the early stages when it could be controlled and do not even recognize AFB when it covers whole frames and has killed the colony.

It seems that many people cannot recognize even an advanced, terminal case of AFB.

Recognized early, while there are only a few cells, AFB can be managed, but if it is allowed to advance over a few brood cycles, it can avalanche into a total and fatal breakdown.

AFB is not difficult to spot in early stages. Hopefully, every beekeeper goes through the brood chambers wall-to-wall several times a year and looks at each brood frame in good light, and any AFB that is progressing is easily spotted.

A bright sunny day is best. Otherwise a bright artificial light is required. (Don't leave brood frames in direct sun outside the hive for longer than a few minutes or brood will die).

Some people have good enough eyes to see AFB on a dull day, but most of us need full sun over our shoulder. Quite a few of us need strong reading glasses.

An initial glance will show any imperfections in the sealed brood. Empty cells and cells with broken cappings are of special interest. Any areas that are black with broken cappings require closer examination.

If you see what looks like chocolate milk lying on the lower side surface of a cell, touch it with a toothpick or straw. If it sticks to the toothpick and stretches out like gum (ropes), it is quite certainly AFB.

That 'chocolate milk' is a pupa that has decomposed without the bees removing it. Either the bees are not AFB resistant or the disease has gotten ahead of them. After a while, that scum will dry down into a hard scale that looks like black paint with a bump where the bee's head would be.

In any case, after a few brood cycles the bees will either have cleaned up that diseased cell or two with no further signs of trouble, or entire frames will be infected and the hive will be well on its way to an eventual and certain death. It all depends on whether the bees are AFB resistant or not and environmental factors -- and how the beekeeper responds.

For a closer inspection, in good light, hold the frame upside down with full sun shining directly in, right to the bottom of the cells you are inspecting and look for black scale on the upper side of the cell. (which would normally be down when the frame is in the hive).

In spite of what some may say, there is nothing wrong with re-using equipment. Starting with brand new equipment -- no matter what 'experts' may tell you -- is no guarantee that you will not find AFB in your hive at some point. In fact, starting with all new equipment may well create a false sense of security.

Nonetheless, in spite of the advantages of using drawn comb, used equipment must be carefully examined for signs of AFB and AFB scale. 

That includes the frames that are in use in your hives at this moment.

I got out early and did the rest of the Quonset West Yard.  Basically, I just yard-trashed them over the past month, splitting anything that had enough bees.  Many plugged up just the same.  I'm finding now that I do have some empty brood frames and am using them up.

Fortunately the flow has tapered off and the bees are now consuming honey and making room for the queens.

How many hives do I have now?  I don't know.  I hope that all my buyers come through or I'll be well over one hundred.  Regardless, I have now figured out the management and it is just a matter of doing the work.

I count 45 hives of various configurations from singles to triples in the Quonset West Yard. Some have queens, some are making queens.

I spent the heat of the day cutting grass in the south yards.  Although I can work in trampled grass, it is much more pleasant to have a mowed area to work in.

I really should get a shade on the mower, but the bee suit and hat provide reasonable protection and there is little exertion to overheat me.  I have not been tempted to swim today -- yet.  It is only seventeen degrees out and there is enough of a breeze to keep me cool.

I'm expecting Maddy to come over to help in a while.

A tiny change today brings a dramatically different tomorrow.
Richard Bach

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Tuesday June 16th 2015

Today Sunny this morning and early this afternoon then a mix of sun and cloud with 60 percent chance of showers this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm this afternoon. High 24. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers early this evening with risk of a thunderstorm. Clearing overnight. Low 10.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today, I have twenty hives to prepare for pickup.  My plan is to find twenty suitable queenright doubles, inspect them, transfer them to floors with runners, remove excess honey and be ready to weigh and load them.

*   *   *    *    *

This is a summary of what we learned in our investigation.  At no point did we think that we were deliberately cheated, but we did think there might have been errors.  Our conclusion was that the frames were indeed double-waxed and that any errors are minor.

I received an email last night from Nick at Acorn.  He had finally located the quality control records for the lots shipped to Meijers.  The records  confirm that the frames shipped to Meijers had indeed received the specified 32 grams of wax.

What had confused the issue initially was that Nick sent me a record sheet from his production on the line on the day I wrote him, not the dates that Meijers' frames were made -- and it later turned out that there was a thirteen gram difference in naked frame weights between the lots.

Apparently, my efforts to remove the wax had not reduced the frame to the original un-waxed weight and the weight of the frame I found after removing the wax as best I could was almost identical to the naked frame weights on the first slip Nick sent me, seeming to confirm my measurement. 

I was unaware at the time that the naked frame weights vary considerably between lots and that did not become apparent until today.

Note for further research and possible development.

If, after removing all the wax I could from the exterior surfaces, the frame was still thirteen grams heavier than when molded, one has to wonder how much wax goes into the crevices in the end, top and bottom bars.  That wax cost money, but provides no benefit.

When Nick finally sent me the records from the day that Meijers' product was made the mystery cleared up.

It is now apparent that the naked (un-waxed) frames were as much as 13 grams lighter when Meijers frames were made than on the day that Nick and I first corresponded and that explains why they seemed lighter by almost the amount of a single waxing.

Here is a clip from the original slip Nick sent

Here is a clip from the actual slip from the day that our frames were made.
Note the difference in naked frame weights.

The upshot is that apparently the frames that Meijers received were indeed double waxed and they are very happy with Acorn.  So am I.

So, when ordering frames, I recommend that people order at least double waxed and preferably more.  I understand that Nick does quadruple waxing and I think it would pay to order as much wax as possible.  After all, when the frames are scrapped or the comb scraped off, all that wax is recovered, so it is an investment, not an expense.

As for whether to buy plastic or wood frames, I think the plastic one-piece frames are much longer lasting.  Whenever the comb gets too old or distorted, the comb can be scraped off.  When the frames are put back into hives, they will be drawn out again like new.

All in all, the conclusion drawn here is that Nick has pretty good production controls and records and produces a good product, one that I recommend over alternatives.

Pierco and Acorn both continue to have some bowing on the foundation area.  Nick has worked hard to eliminate it, but the samples I examined are still slightly bowed and I find it pays to orient all the frames the same way, using the brand on one end as a guide. (See below.  Later examination showed no bowing on these latest Acorn frames.  Does the bowing come and go?)

Meijers opinion is that the Acorn frames are superior to the Pierco frames at present.  I agree, but I think both could be improved.

*   *   *    *    *

This morning, I went out and screwed runners onto a pile of floors.  That took and hour or two and when I was done, I was hot. 

I then went out to tag hives. The first twenty go tonight or whenever I have them ready.  I have to inspect them, remove some honey, and check for queens, disease, and mites.

I found enough hives, but I was too hot by then and it was noon, so I went in for a while, then went out to have a dip in the pool.

I had to change the pool filter again.  There is a wispy material in the bottom.  Don't know what it is, but the filter only partly removes it and the filters need frequent changing.  There is a green film on the element, so maybe it is algae.  I'll add more algaecide and see.

I went in for a dip, but the water is sixteen degrees today, so I was not tempted to stay long.

*   *   *   *   *

It's 1430 now and past the hottest part of the day, but still very hot.  We have very little breeze.  I'm still cool from my dip. We'll see if I can stand the heat.

I went out and did two hives.  When I went out it was windy and overcast and comfortable to work.  By the time I was done, the sun had come out and I got hot. 

I decided to go in and check to see what I had promised buyers and make sure that I am in the ballpark.  Here it is:

For a single ready for another box, with seven frames of bees and four or five frames with brood, 20 lbs of stores, in EPS (Styrofoam) boxes with a new lid (under a year old) and floor and pillow, this comes to:

Floor and lid: $30
Box with frames: $40
Bees: $175
20 lbs honey: $40
Total: $285 + $3.50 GST = 288.50

Each hive will vary a bit due to weight and the exact price will vary according to
weight.

I will sell doubles, too and they will have double the bees and
brood and more honey, so I am estimating the price at

Single at $285
Additional box at $40
Additional 20lbs honey at $40
Additional bees and brood at $100
Total: $465 + $5.50 GST.

Seems I am close.  A frame of honey weighs about six pounds, so I am promising 3-1/3 full frames per box.  I am a bit over that.

I am promising four or five frames with brood and I found seven in the first and 12 in the second, so I am in the ballpark.  It is still earlier in the season than I was promising, and the brood will continue to expand, so I am over in that regard, too.

I stated elsewhere, "The equipment varies from new to older", but I see an ambiguity here: "EPS (Styrofoam) boxes with a new lid (under a year old) and floor and pillow".  The lid is under a year old, not the rest of the kit.  This modifier could be misread and I hope that was not confusing.  The boxes and frames are of varying ages from new to quite old and from perfect to just about ready to melt.

*   *   *    *    *

In the second hive I saw something that really bothers me about plastic one-piece frames, something that no one else except Murray McGregor and I ever made much of a deal about. 

The example below is from a Mann Lake PF-100 that was next to another PF-100, but the problem is present in all one-piece frames I have seen.

Frame bowing is hard to illustrate, but the two narrow images are shot looking down from the top to show how the same brood frame is bowed out on one side and in on the other. 

Placing two frames of brood that are slightly  cupped rather than flat so that the bulges are towards one another kills the brood in both frames, as shown below.  If the frames all bow in the same direction, no problem.

Two PF-100s with sealed brood were placed side by side when I worked the hive yesterday and since there is no mark on the end of the frame top bar like Acorn or Pierco, I accidentally put the two convex sides toward one another.

Looking at the brood at left, on the convex side of one PF-100, we can see serious damage.  There is similar damage on its mate. 

Normally, I am very careful to place all Pierco and all Acorns with the top bar brand at the same end of the box so they all bow the same direction in order that the bee space between is maintained.  Without bee space between frames, the brood cannot be fed and cannot emerge when the time comes.

I really do not know how some beekeepers can shave frames to put eleven in a ten-frame box.

> Hi Allen, actually there is an identifier you can use on PF frames. On the top about 2 or 3 inches from the end in the center 1/3 of the frame there is a little block about 2 inches long that is meant for stamping or marking. You have to look for it, as it is only outlined by a mark in the mold.

> I use a Metallic Silver "Sharpie" pen and mark what year the frame is added to the apiary in the event that I decide to rotate out frames. This plate can be used as a reference as to which way the frame came out of the mold.

> It is annoying when I find frames that are bowed as they don't get drawn out all the way, although I have never noticed the dead brood issue. However, these frames are so competitively priced and convenient that I have no interest in ever going to wooden frames. I do add wax, which I am told increased acceptance, and as I scrape a lot of the tops and bottoms of frames there is never a shortage!

I only have a few hundred PF-100s scattered through the operation.  I don't much like them compared to the Acorn and Pierco due to small cells and poorer plastic. 

This is the first time I really noticed the bowing being this bad, but as I say, I don't have many.  With the Pierco, the biggest issue is the bald sides mentioned, and I guess I seldom work the same hive two days in a row, so the bees may clean up the sort of mess I saw now without my noticing when I slip up like this.  I doubt it happens often since i am usually careful to not have combs touching.

Nick has said he eliminated the bowing, but I saw a 1/16th or so when we checked at Meijers'.  The frames had just come out of the box on a cool day.

Looking at three Acorn frames I have had sitting here in my living room at 24 degrees C., it appears these Acorn standards are now perfectly flat.  That surprised me.  I wonder what affects the material.  Does the shape vary with temperature?  Anyhow, if Nick has got them to be flat and stay flat, that is a major plus for Acorn.

 > Trimming the frames to 1 1/4"so eleven fits gets me better drawn combs with less bridge comb. It does cause some bald sides when the bowing is too pronounced. After the frames are drawn I usually go to ten to make pulling the first frame easier.

I seldom have trouble getting a whole box of perfect frames just by plunking on a whole box of waxed Pierco or Acorn right out of the carton during a good flow.  Of course, I am not using PF-100s.  I did find PF-100s hard to draw reliably. 

PF-100s are okay once drawn and seem the same as any others, except the plastic is thinner and more brittle.

This was sort of a crappy day.  I did not get much done at all.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Wednesday June 17th 2015

Today Cloudy. A few showers beginning early this morning. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 16. UV index 3 or moderate.
Tonight Cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers early this evening. Becoming partly cloudy near midnight. Low 10.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I did not get much done yesterday.  I felt tired all day, and this morning  I woke up groggy.

I went to bed early last night and slept well for over eight hours, but only after I took antihistamines.  I had thought that the heat was tiring me, but now I suspect that I am affected by subtle allergies from lawn mowing.

We are having a dry year, and two days ago I decided that I should mow more lawn than last year to provide a better fire guard.  Therefore I began mowing several areas that were not mowed last year.  Each had dry, dead grass standing with the current growth.  Mowing raised quite a bit of dust, and I have to assume that I took in something that affects me.

I could mow when it is wet, but then everything clumps, plugs the mower, and leaves lumps of grass that kills future growth.  If I want to continue to mow, I have to find a dust mask that filters out whatever bothers me.

Today is cool and overcast, so I may get some bee work done, but for now I am weary and will stick to desk work.  I have some bills to pay and accounts to reconcile.

I have one customer coming tonight for a hive of bees.

Note: For those who have been following my examination of the latest shipment of Acorn frames, I have concluded that Acorn has very tight control over manufacturing and the wax coating is accurate.  I also find the foundation is as flat as any one-piece frame I have seen thus far and that any warping we saw initially was possibly due to the fact that the frames had been in a box and possibly twisted and the coolness of the day.

I shall continue to investigate exactly when and why one-piece frames tend to bow.  I suspect that leaving them in the sun, changes in temperature and other factors may cause differences in how they appear at any given moment.

Additionally, the frames seemed to have less wax when we inspected them in a cool shop and outdoors than they do when warmed up a bit.

I continue to wonder how much of the applied wax is trapped in the crevices and applied to the end and bottom bars.  Acorn seems to have less wax on the top bar than competitors, and that is a good thing.  Ideally, the applied wax would only be on the foundation surface, but I suspect the application method is dipping and that unavoidably puts wax into areas where it is wasted.

I took a Benadryl, but continue to be tired.

At my desk, I got around to opening the registration package from Alberta Agriculture.  The package is reasonably concise, well written and direct.  It includes a very nice note from the Commission as well.  There is no stamp or indicia on the reply envelope, though, so many of us may not get around mailing it. 

In today's digital world, how many people know where to find a stamp to mail something?  Fewer and fewer, I'd say.  I seem to recall that there was postage on the envelope last year.  Maybe not.  I think I emailed it.

I won't even try to fill in the survey since the questions do not fit my operation and I don't have the numbers they want anyhow.  In the past, like many, I just made something up, but I don't see the point of guessing.  I'll have enough trouble making up numbers for the registration form itself.

An enclosed info sheet states that Tylosin is now approved and not just for resistant ABF, but only for hives showing active AFB.  IMO that is a good thing, and how it should be. 

What exactly constitutes "Active AFB", however, is a subtle question. 

Here is another case of CIPU - Clear If Previously Understood, an all-time favourite with bad writers, but the bane of copy editors

Obviously, it is assumed here that everyone knows what "Active AFB" means, but as with many such expectations, that presumption is wrong.  Maybe everyone else knows -- or thinks they do -- but I don't.  For me, as always, the devil is in the details.

What is "Active AFB"?  I'm guessing that what is meant is "Where decomposing pupae or scale are found", BUT, AFB can be active, and invisible in hives where pupae are dying, but being removed as quickly as they die.  This may be more frequent than many assume.

Is "Active AFB" meant to mean only visible AFB"?  If not, then can we assume that all hives may have active AFB?

The enclosure goes on, however, to include a lot of mumbo-jumbo about washing and disinfecting equipment.  Recommendations to wash or scorch equipment IMO, simply confuse most people. 

In many or most cases such efforts serve no useful purpose.  Even suggesting such time-wasters encourages those who believe that such rituals can somehow banish all AFB and encourages the belief that AFB is  some sort of insidious demon, rather than the commonplace and easily manageable disease it is.

Don't get me wrong though, I am a strong advocate of electron bean radiation (EBR) for empty combs.  This is the major control method used by commercial beekeepers and they send semi-trailer loads of deadouts each year.  This disinfects the actual combs of many potential pathogens and results in visible benefits..

As I recall, I was the first in this province to advocate, research, and promote EBR although I have never, in fact, personally made use of EBR. 

Previous to EBR, ETO fumigation was 'the answer' and I drove to Manitoba to fumigate a load, back in the days before Alberta built a fumigation chamber of its own.

There was also a pamphlet about premises identification included.  This is a new initiative to tie all livestock to a location.  Like all government initiatives, it has obvious benefits, but also less obvious implications and is just another part of the noose slowly tightening around all our necks.  Of course I'll register a location, but wonder where this will eventually lead. The road to hell is paved with good intentions (and travelled by people with smiling faces talking happy talk).

I just spent over an hour trying to make the website stop placing my address three miles from home, then dealing with javascript errors, but got it done.  As usual the forms were brain-dead, insisting on a phone number.  Some people -- believe it or not -- do not have phones.

Anyways, less is more, and I give this mailing a 9 out of 10 vs. the 5 out of 10 for previous annual mailings.  There were still too many words, and the superfluous mention of disinfection rituals, but it is on the mark IMO.

Granted, disinfection may have some usefulness if we ever lose Tylosin  and if AFB resistant bees somehow die out, but in today's world, box washing or scorching and are pretty much just a placebo and talisman that occupies the beekeepers' minds and convinces them they are doing something.

Although washing and scorching boxes and floors is not likely helpful because of the low risk of disease from them, removing obvious scale and sterilizing brood comb with EBR do make sense.

Reasonable disinfection and removal of serious contamination can reduce the challenge even for AFB resistant bees, as will an occasional prophylactic antibiotic treatment.

There may be downsides to prophylactic use of antibiotics, however, as they can disrupt the microbial balance in hives, killing beneficial as well as harmful organisms.  Regular global OTC applications were at one time a recommended practice, but are no longer advocated.

One aspect of AFB resistance is the ability of bees to identify and remove dead brood before it decomposes and before the multiplying bacteria and resulting spores create and vastly increased contamination problem for the hive.

In a contaminated hive, even if there is no obvious, clinical breakdown with decomposing pupae, there will be more pupae dying than in a non-contaminated hive and that will affect the population build-up, and also increases the likelihood that the challenge could exceed the bees abilities to cope, resulting in visible breakdown.

I was not accomplishing much and craving fruit, so I drove to Three Hills for groceries. On the way, I talked to Bert about an airplane I am considering buying, On the way home, I stopped at the airport to look into hanger space, but I found no one there.

I think I'll take the rest of the day off.

Another possible source of guidance for teenagers is television, but television's message has always been that the need for truth, wisdom and world peace pales by comparison with the need for a toothpaste that offers whiter teeth and fresher breath.
Dave Barry

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Thursday June 18th 2015

Today Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers and risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 early this afternoon. High 22. UV index 5 or moderate.
Tonight Partly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers early this evening with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 12.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm not doing much today.  It is overcast, rainy and windy outside.

The day continued overcast until late afternoon, and then it turned bright and warm.  Today is my dinner night and I had planned a barbeque, but given the weather, I decided to cook a sit-down meal.  By the time the weather changed, I had already thawed the meat so we ate inside.

We had 2/3" of rain today if my weather station can be believed.

Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead,
now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults.
Thomas Szasz

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Friday June 19th 2015

Today Increasing cloudiness. 30 percent chance of showers this morning. Showers or thunderstorms beginning this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating early this morning. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 23. UV index 6 or high.
Tonight Showers or thunderstorms ending this evening then partly cloudy. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 8.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

The day is starting  off bright and sunny, with little hint that we can expect cloud and rain later.

I spent all morning cleaning out my inbox and doing household chores.  The place needs a good cleaning again.  How does it get that way?  Must be the dog.

The dog is responsible for the hair and tracks on the floor and dog food near the dish and some bone fragments, but she can't take all the blame. I live here, too.

It's noon now, and still nice out. I have five hives to get ready for small orders and twenty doubles for a larger purchase, so I guess I'd better get out there.

I went out and got started, but a thunderstorm came along.  I got inside just before it hit. We received 0.510 inches of rain over the next half-hour or so and I stayed in waiting for it to clear.

I have been thinking of doing some kitesurfing, so I tried on my wetsuit and my dry suit.  The dry suit might fit, but if I ever got the wetsuit on, I might never get it off again.  I think I'm a little bigger around the middle than I was ten or fifteen years ago.

By 1630, the day had warmed again and I am expecting a customer tonight, so went back out to get to work on the bees. I tried the lawn mower to see if it would start since I ride it to the bees and back.  It often will not start after a rain, but it did, so I cut a round just to warm it up.  After a rain, there is no dust from cutting.

As I came back to the house I saw a little black and white something out of the corner of my eye and glanced just in time to see the back end of a little skunk dart under my step .  Meijers said they saw several small skunks last night.  I guess I am surrounded.

I went back out, worked a few hives and made up a hive for the customer.  I notice that my emergency queens are now coming online and laying well, but it will be a few more days until the first bunch are all at work. 

For tonight's order, I found a good single hive and transferred the frames to a wooden box as per the customer's request, removing some honey and adding extra brood and bees.

While I was working in the Quonset yard, I spotted two nice swarms on the honeysuckle, right at eye level, and as soon as I was done I went to the house to get cardboard boxes. 

Cardboard boxes are the ideal tool for swarm catching.  They are cheap, lightweight and available everywhere, plus they can be closed up to travel if necessary.

I'm always happy to catch a swarm and don't regard them as a bad thing as long as they stay around.  These were perfect.

I caught both swarms and then returned to the house for a supper of steak, baked potato and carrots.

Swarm Catching

Two nice three-pound swarms landed within inches of one another, but are completely separate and on different branches.

I trimmed the branches so I could get a cardboard box directly under the first swarm and gave the branch a sharp tug.

Almost all the bees dropped instantly in to the box. I shook the branch several more times, then I closed the box and walked over to an empty hive with ten brood frames and feed I had prepared and inverted the box over it. 

A few sharp, light taps on the box dislodged most of the bees into the hive and they ran down between the frames. Some bees fell beside the hive, too, and began running in the entrance.

I then went back to the swarm location and trimmed off the twigs where some bees had returned and were forming a small ball, attracted by queen scent remaining on the twigs, and dropped the twigs and bees in front of the hive.

The other swarm was completely unaffected by my actions thus far.

Once I was finished with the first swarm, I returned for the other swarm and repeated the process.

Any bees that fell outside the hives recognized the hive and marched in quickly.  Before long bees were fanning and cleaning out the entrances.

That accomplished, I brushed the  stragglers off the tops of the frames and box edges and put a pillow, a lid, and a brick on each hive.

With any luck, both swarms will still be there in the morning and the queens should begin laying soon.  Chances are one or both of the swarms may have been led by virgins in which case it may be a few days until they have brood, but I will leave them undisturbed. in the meantime, although this is an ideal time to treat for varroa, when there is no brood.

After supper, I drove over to the Quonset to bring back the customer's hive.  The hive is a single and I figured I could carry it to my tailgate, but found that with the brick on top and the heavy floor, plus all the honey, I was not going to make the fifty feet to the truck and had to back up closer.  These singles are heavy. All my hives are heavy, too heavy.

My customer arrived, with his family and we visited a while.  The kids were fascinated by the bees.  I remembered the skunks, so we went looking and found a little one working in front of a hive.  These skunks are pretty tame.

I went in and the thunder, lightening and rain began again.  By bedtime, we had accumulated an inch since midnight last.  That amounts to more than three inches in the past few days.

Cooper boating staff report that Cassiopeia is back from a one-month trip around Vancouver Island and the the clients had a wonderful time, and no problems.

Before bed, I watched Suits on Netflix.  I thought I had used up the series, but there are new episodes. After that, I came across Grace and Frankie, a Netflix production with Jane Fonda and Lili Tomlin.  The series has mixed reviews, but I found the pilot hilarious.  I hope it turns out to be good for a while.  For me, Grey's Anatomy was good for a while but is now growing old fast.

Why I sit and watch for an hour and half a day is a mystery to me.  I could be down in the shop or out doing something, but it seems I do watch an hour daily and sometimes more.  My main excuse is that by that time at night, I am too weary to do anything else.

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof,
 a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths,
and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.
Paul Valery

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