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Friday April 10th 2015

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I'm still here on Cassiopeia, tied up at the Port Sidney Marina. I have things to finish today and am scheduled to fly out at 2105 tonight. Will I go? I'll see how the day goes and I'll also check the forecast. Today is cloudy, with rain predicted.  So far, it is quite nice and I am actually too warm when working below.

I worked all day at various things.  At 1300, I ran uptown and got a new batten, checked on the bathroom mirror, which was not ready, went to West Marine, and returned to the marina.

We got a little sprinkling of rain, but no deluge, so far, at least.

My new phone has arrived and by now I am really, really good at setting up a Nexus 5, so I was up and running in a bit over an hour, with all my apps installed from backup.

AI learned a powerful trick by accident while trying to figure out why the first replacement phone did not work.  After the second phone had failed to work right, I had done a factory reset and discovered that after all upgrades are run a factory reset brings up an option to restore all the installed states from a selection of previous Android phone backups. 

Apparently this is a new Lollipop feature that I had missed since the phones came with 4.1.2 and this option was not offered when the phone was first turned on.  I had not discovered this feature the first two times I set up a Nexus 5 time and had to manually restore the phone apps and settings, but this was simple.

This phone works!  The first one they sent was a dud.  What a waste of time and worry that was!  But I learned something.  I can factory reset my phone anytime and it will restore all the apps afterwards automatically.

These past few days, I have come to realise how much I have come to depend on the smartphone, especially when had to hunt for wi-fi and when I had to go back to the laptop and Skype for phone calls.

Although I have had cell phones since they were a novelty the size of a lady's handbag, smartphones are not just phones anymore.

Smartphones are also a notebook, a pocket encyclopedia of real-time and archived information, a phone book, a driving map, and even provide Nautical charts, tide tables and AIS.  I also use it to monitor my home surveillance systems.

The most essential and most-missed feature  after texts and phone calls was the ability to use it as a high-speed, powerful wi-fi hotspot almost anywhere, almost anytime.

While my phone was out of commission, I was quite out of touch.

I trimmed a piece of plastic off the dinghy, repaired an oar, lifted the outboard off the dinghy and put the dinghy on deck, installed a fuse on the bilge pump circuit and sorted items in preparation for packing.

By 1600, I was getting frazzled.  I had a sense I was running out of time.  My phone was working by then, so I called Westjet and again delayed my flight, this time to tomorrow afternoon.  I'm glad I had bought the slightly more expensive ticket this trip.  Both itinerary changes were free.

That gives me time to organize and clean a bit more and I'll also drive home from YYC in daylight.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

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Saturday April 11th 2015

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I was awake at 0415 and got up.  It is a travel day and I like an early start.

For one thing, it takes me a while to wake up.  Today it took me five minutes to find my phone.  It was in my pocket and not on the table or nav station. Coffee helps.

I have to get organized and I have been feeling somewhat scattered the past few days, and I have to be in a cab on the way to YYJ by noon.

I misjudged Mike and Liz's housewarming party beginning time and will be late or miss it.

At home, the weather appears ideal for bees and I'm guessing this will be a good spring.  I have bee work to do and the temperatures look ideal: not too hot and not too cool.  It has, however, been windy at times, and that can be stressful for the bees as the wind takes away precious heat and also inhibits flight for water and food.

Cambridge Brain Sciences.  Test your brain!

I spent the morning organizing and packing.  It seemed to take forever and I was finished barely in time to catch a cab to YYJ.

While cleaning and packing, I took the time to sand and varnish the oars for the dinghy with two coats of spar varnish.  The wooden oars had been getting pretty ugly and I figured they would not last long if they were not given some care.  They are hard to replace.  Yesterday, I glued and clamped a crack that threatened to allow a sizeable chunk to fall off and varnish was all they needed.  I did not do a beautiful job, but they will last a while longer now.

The cab was waiting when I walked up the ramp with my heavy load of bags and minutes later, I was at YYJ.  Security was a hassle, but I made my flight and pre-boarded.  A little over an hour later, I was on the ground at YYC.

It is 1,000 feet to the office from my boat, 1,150 to the cab, cab and 1,250 to the truck (right).  When at the dock, I find myself walking that distance both ways up to ten times a day.

On the flight, I discovered that I had run off with the Cooper Boating truck keys, so had to wander YYC looking for the post office.  That accomplished, I caught the shuttle and drove by Mike and Liz's place on the chance that the party was still on.  Nobody was answering phones.  Their new place is in the country near The Mill, and only a few miles off my route home.

I found out why phones were unanswered when I got there.  The place was ringed by cars and trucks and inside there were so many people making so much noise that a ringing phone could easily go unheard.

I stayed an hour or two, then drove the the remaining 25 miles home to The Old Schoolhouse.

The house was warm and sunny.  The plants look good. 

I sat down and watched video, then went to bed early.  I was very tired.

If you want to test your memory,
try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.
E. Joseph Coffman

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Sunday April 12th 2015

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I am home, and it feels good to be here.  Although I did enjoy the trip, I found it very harrowing at times. Being sent a bad smartphone threw me for a loop and wasted a lot of time.

What will I do today?  For one thing, I'll get outside and look around.  The Quonset suffered more wind damage and I have to deal with that soon, and I have two days of bee work to do.

I spent the morning doing nothing.  I did, however review the time away and re-wrote, clarified, augmented and corrected some entries.  I also wrote in the forum. Capped Drones and Raising Queens and What to do with Frames of Dead Brood?

The wind is up to 20 MPH, so I am staying inside until it goes down.

I did almost nothing today for the record except catch up the diary and make a bean salad.

In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Johann von Neumann

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Monday April 13th 2015

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Today, I meet Ruth in Drum to get Zip.  Zip has a problem with a paw again and has to go to the vet, so we will meet there.

I woke up around 0400 and decided to sit up a while and do a little writing. At 0430,  while I was writing a reply on the forum, two of my four screens suddenly went black and, for the first time in a year or more, I saw the dreaded BSOD -- Microsoft's famous Blue Screen of Death.  My Lenovo had faulted. 

I rebooted and so far all is well.

I had almost forgotten the days when losing an hour or day's work was routine due to  operating system or software failure, but still remember to back up my work regularly if the software does not do so automatically in the background.

After being up about an hour, I went back to bed and slept until my phone rang at 0830.

Mainly sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h this afternoon. High 14. UV index 4 or moderate.

This looking like a good day for bee work. I'd better get out there before I grow roots and the morning evaporates.  I have to go to Drum around 1400, so maybe I can get something done before that.

I had some business left over from my time on Cassiopeia and had to work on the list of jobs but got out of the house just before noon.  I found the weather cool and breezy with 8.5 degrees and 15 MPH winds.

I checked my pool and found some damage I did not anticipate, but which should be easy to repair.   The bottom is covered with green slime.

I also lifted a few lids and the bees look really happy.

At 1300, I drove to Drum to get Zippy and bought groceries while I was there.  It turned out that is was Dave's foot hat needed care at the hospital, not Zippy's foot at the vet.  That is a relief.

I returned home just as Elijah was texting me to say he had arrived for work. We went over and looked at the Quonset.  It had been damaged by wind while I was gone and we  decided to deal with it tomorrow.  Instead, we went and did the North Yard. (left)

All hives are alive and queenright, but it is hard to tell how strong they are. All have brood, but some have brood in a frame or two in several boxes, down a box from the top, and others are up top.

We managed to put Apivar and patties on all seventeen in the row.

This gives a total of 57 good hives worked over so far. 

The previous bunch were done around March 31, so they are due to have the Apivar removed May 12. These come out on May 25

May 25 is getting late and is why I like to get the Apivar on earlier. I like to split mid-May and if the Apivar is still in, what do I do?  Add new strips? Cut strips in half?  The people who make these arbitrary rules, or maybe more accurately, those who enforce them don't consider the realities of beekeeping. 

Amitraz, the active ingredient in Apivar has been used for decades in the US and some tolerance has shown up in mites, but apparently fades quickly, so his is not a huge issue.  Nonetheless, this false specter and a FUD campaign built around it keeps busybodies on ever-increasing government payrolls.

I used one strip for most hives as I could not judge the populations.  The bees were throughout the hives, so I went by the brood cluster size, which in most cases was about five frames of brood bees.

The hives have plenty of feed, but much of it is granulated and some hives are having a bit of trouble liquefying it.  As a result, I don't see as much liquid feed near the brood as I would like and the brood is still a bit spotty, but that should change soon.

It was almost 1900 when I came in and had supper.

I had roasted turkey thighs in foil in the toaster oven while I was out.  Excellent!

I find television very educating.
Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Groucho Marx

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Tuesday April 14th 2015

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I was up before 0500, had breakfast, and wrote an article in the forum.

Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 40 km/h gusting to 60 late this morning. High 11 with temperature falling to plus 4 this afternoon.

Today looks to be windy and rainy, with the afternoon becoming quite cool.

I'm impressed with how much I accomplished yesterday and had hoped to do even more today, but maybe that won't happen.  We'll see.

While I was on the coast last week, a windstorm blew the west end of the Quonset apart and falling pieces knocked over a hive.  At the same time, several hive lids blew off, the first time this has happened with the new lids.  I had put bricks at the front edges as markers and that might have allowed the back edge to lift.

I went out to the Quonset Yard and picked up the hive that had fallen, replaced three missing lids, and put on a few more patties. I noted that a bird had been pecking at the exposed patty on top of one hive with a missing lids.

At this point, the hives are at their smallest, waiting for a round of brood to hatch and some look the size of packages.

I picked up there, then went to the South of the Hedge Yard and worked through five hives before I hit one that made me wish I had done up my veil and I decided to go in for lunch.

The total now is 67 live decent hives with patties and Apivar.

I called Mike and ordered four more boxes of patties. 

I'll need another ten after that.  Seventy hives using ten patties each by summer means 700 patties or 17.5 boxes.  I have used four boxes (I think) when these are gone.

I went in, made a bean stew and had a nap.

After that, conditions outside were deteriorating, so I cancelled Elijah and decided to figure out why my laptops are slowing down.  I figured it might be recent updates or simply an old installation of the operating system, but decided to check the most obvious things first-- fragmented or full hard disks. 

The Lenovo has a small -- 120 GB -- SSD and I have to clean it up often, but today I found I was down to about 6 GB free and that is bound to be slowing things, so I decided to compress the drive and did so.   That gave me another 12 GB and seemed to speed things up.  I realise that compression adds processor load, but this machine has a fast quad processor and lots of RAM.

The Samsung has a large partitioned conventional drive and although Windows Defrag is supposed to be running on schedule, any time I run it manually, even when it reports less than 1% fragmentation the computer is noticeably faster after, so I  decided to download and run JKDefrag, now called MyDefrag.  I used this free utility years ago, but quit because word was that Win 7 does not need it. 

I ran it on C:\ and now the lags and slowness seem to have gone away.  Maybe Win 7 does need it.  I'm running it on D:\ now.  The SSD in the Lenovo cannot be defraged.  Solid state drives don't need it and are faster than the fastest conventional drive, regardless.

In real life, however, you don't react to what someone did;
you react only to what you think she did..
Jonathan Haidt

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Wednesday April 15th 2015

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Good day.

Clearing this morning. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light near noon. High 12. UV index 4 or moderate.

This looks like a perfect day to finish the Apivar job to do some cleanup.

The initial defragging and optimizing task with MyDefrag finished and this computer does seem much more responsive.

I see that a daily routine is running automatically this morning, cleaning up the daily clutter. Excess defragging can wear out a hard drive, so I'll watch to make sure that this does not happen.  I trust MyDefrag, though, since the writer has been working on this a long time and because a head-to-head test of a selection of such software showed it to be among the best in a close race with several others, and far ahead of the pack.

Although it is still -2.6 C outside, there is no wind and I think I'll get a jump on the day by pushing back from this keyboard, escape this virtual world, and get back into the real world for a while. I have lots to do and that is one reason I am here, not in Ontario, on my boat or skiing in the mountains.

Come to think of it, and mentioning mountains, there was supposed to be a big dump last night...  Let me look...

Nakiska reports 7cm new and spring conditions.  I have a seasons pass and have only been once. 

I checked online and the report says 14 cm in the last 24 hours.

Change of plan!  I have to go.

I left around 1000 and dropped off the defunct cell phone at the post office in Acme along the way.  I got to Beiseker before I realised that I had forgotten my wallet and ski pass at home, twenty plus minutes behind me, and turned around.

I had to go back. No pass, no money and no lunch made the trip impractical. I was undecided whether I would still want to go after driving back and losing the better part of an hour doing so, but back I went.

While there, I found the other defunct phone, packed it up and took it along.  I was stopping at Global Patties along the way to get four more boxes of patties, so figured I'd put it in with their mail.

I had lunch at Humpty's on the #1 highway south of Cochrane and arrived at the mountain at about 1400.  The hill closes at 1600, and that did not allow much time for skiing, so up the lift I went.

The snow was excellent, with fresh powder in places, spring skiing in others and winter conditions at the top.  The day reached plus ten Celsius and the sun was brilliant on the snow.

I made my first run on an expert slope and a quarter of the way down, I wondered if I would be able to make it to the bottom, let alone make any more runs.  I felt faint and my legs would not obey me, they hurt -- and I fell once.  I never fall.  I was too hot, too.  Am I 'over the hill'?

I made it to the bottom and had a beer, stripped off some clothes, then walked to the van to check on Zip.  I had forgotten to leave a window open.  She was fine, but I opened the usual windows and vents and went back to the hill.

Next trip up the Silver Chair, I took our usual easy warm-up run and everything fell into place. 

I was fine and went up the Gold Chair ("No Easy Way Down", says the sign, and they mean it) to the summit and made three, or maybe four, runs up in the heights.

In all, in an hour and a half, I skied over 18,000 vertical feet.  I can recall when 50,000 in a day got me a coveted gold pin. (But of course that 50,000 was all on steep terrain and today only 10% was really steep.  The rest of today was cruising.) 

I quit a half-hour before closing, though, figuring there is no sense pushing my luck.  I could feel that my legs were getting tired, and precise control is essential when descending slopes on which one can hardly stand without sharp skis.  Falling is usually harmless, but at speed on slopes with woods off to the sides, there is always risk of injury.

So, my misgivings about driving four hours to ski two were exaggerated.  Time is subjective, and a memorable trip like this can take place in the same time it takes to watch a few movies, clean the house, or do the month's books. I had a great time.  If every day were like this, I'd ski a lot more.

Zippy and I stopped at the Stoney Nakoda Resort to look around along the way, and then The SuperStore for some supplies for supper tomorrow, then drove home.

The casino was built at the junction of highways 1 and 40 over a decade ago, at the entry to Kananaskis Country, and although I have driven by many times, I have never gone in.  Today, I was thinking that it has a pretty nice hotel not far from Nakiska, so I checked it out.

After my first amazement on discovering the glitz and immensity of Las Vegas casinos, I have come to find casinos a depressing place.  I look at the people sitting there and wonder what is wrong with them.

I spent almost a week in casino in Reno at an ABF meeting and never once did more than walk through the actual casino.

I don't gamble beyond putting a few dollars in the slots, assuming we are not talking about stock markets or farming.  I don't buy lottery tickets either. Never did see the attraction of any game that is stacked against me. 

When I say a few dollars, I mean a few.  Maybe twenty at most and usually much less.  Nickel slots were mildly entertaining and using up two dollars in Reno or Vegas can take hours.  (in Winnemucca, only five minutes, I discovered). 

That was when slots were mechanical.  These electronic gadgets repel me.

At any rate, it turns out the Nakoda Casino Hotel rates are not too terrible and the restaurant looks good -- and affordable.  There weren't many people there at 4 PM on a Wednesday.  This is a small casino. Security visibly looked me up and down on entering.

Who knows, maybe they do this in Reno and Vegas now.  It's a whole new world and everyone is a suspect.

If I had come straight home, I'd have been here by 1800 and would have had time to do a few hives, but I arrived at 1900 and figured it is too close to sunset.

Bees were working on the poplar buds in the yard when I got home.

If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic,
we should not get very far in our understanding of the physical world.
One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability.
Vannevar Bush

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Thursday April 16th 2015

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I'm home and have my day cut out for me. 

  • The bees await -- only about ten hives left to do, (plus days and weeks of bee equipment cleanup if I choose to do it.)
  • I have to deal with the Quonset at some point soon before we have another wind storm.  I have to decide how exactly to proceed. Much of the work is high up off the ground and the forklift is still not fixed. (Gotta do that)...
  • Housecleaning
  • Water houseplants
  • Patch pool
  • Supper preparation.  The usual suspects are coming tonight.

Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 21. UV index 5 or moderate.

Where was the wind when I wanted wind? At this point, calm days would be nice for working outdoors and for my bees to be able to fly.

I was up at 0530 and had breakfast, then found I was sleepy and went back to bed for an hour.  Following that, I set up the crock pot with a warehouse pack of pork steak in marinade.

The marinade is one that Jean used with ribs and which was sufficiently excellent that I asked for the recipe.  It turns out to be mostly ketchup.  We'll see how it works out with pork steak.  Pork steak hardly needs marinating, but, come to think of it, ribs don't need marinating either.

At 0849, it is plus 7.1 C outside with zero wind, so I had better get outside while it is nice and do the indoor stuff after the wind picks up.

Early in the day, clusters are better defined, too, making locating the centre of the brood and insertion of Apivar easier.  Apivar must be inserted in the brood area or it is much less effective.

I'm going out now...

Well, not quite yet.  The ABJ on the desk caught my eye and an article by Randy stood out.  I have not read it, but I know without reading it that Randy will hit the nail on the head and probably say much the same as I would say. 

Randy is a scientist who is also a commercial beekeeper and one of my heroes.  He is a straight shooter and unencumbered by the need to toe a party line for his paycheck.  If you have not been to www.scientificbeekeeping.com, you must get right over there and read his articles.  Make a donation, too if you think the info is worth it.

By the time I got out, at 0940, the temperature was up to plus eleven, but I found it cool enough to want a sweater under the bee suit.  The bees were already working loudly in the poplars.  I wonder how they do it?

I finished the last eleven hives, and for the first time saw a varroa in worker brood in burr comb between the boxes.

I also see lots of pollen coming in today and pollen in the brood combs.

My confirmed hive count as of today, after the first round of Apivar and patties, is 73 hives .

I found no more deadouts today. What were my final  losses?  Who knows? Probably 10% or less real winter loss, but around 15% including late summer and fall losses.  This seems to me to be an endorsement of my enlightened neglect method.

Now I have to go around again and tidy, remove unneeded boxes and make sure hives have good combs and feed near the brood.

I could just leave the hives alone for a few weeks.  We'll see. 

They are building up well, and a few look as if they could swarm in a few weeks if not split or padgened. My main concern right now is varroa.  I saw no signs of other disease in the cursory initial inspection.

Another concern is the amount of equipment on the hives.  Some have five boxes and the ideal at this time of year is one, two, or three, depending on the colony.

These hives are all headed by home-raised queens and I see that I had very few failures. There were a few in the Quonset Yard, but they were in late splits that never did come along well.

If I am going to raise queens, I need to begin making plans now.  Raising queens most likely means staying home to manage them and I don't know if I want to do that. 

Raising cells is easier and less constrictive in terms of timing, but does involve critical timing when emergence is expected.  Splits must be prepared at that time.

Of course, dealing with home-raised cells that we cut off one frame and immediately fix onto another right at hand, we have more latitude in timing since with careful handling, we don't have to be a fussy as if we were cutting the cells and carrying them around in a carrier.

When raising cells, one must...
  • Plan out and read up on methods and details
  •  Choose a future starting date when
    • sufficient mature drones will be available, judging by the number capped at present.
    • hives will have enough young bees to raise good cells .
    • a spring pollen and honey flow can be expected.
    • you will be available and ready to handle the expected queen cells.
  • Draw up a calendar.
  • Get equipment ready.
  • Select the mother queens.
  • Work through and inspect the hives.
  • Pray for good weather on the working and mating dates.
  • Graft and set up the cell building hives or set up the Case/Hopkins hive with extra young bees shaken in and lots of emerging brood and ample pollen and honey.
  • Check the developing cells for acceptance and quality.
  • Shake in more young bees if necessary.

When the cells are ripe or when cell transfers are to be done...

  • Have queenless hives, splits, or nucs ready with adequate populations to withstand expected cold snaps.
  • Have cell protectors at hand if they are to be used and have not already been put on the developing cells to protect against stray queens.
  • Cut cells off the comb or remove bars from the cell builder/finisher.
  • Place them carefully into the nucs in a position where the bees are sure to cluster and keep them warm on cold nights.

The above carefully avoids committing me to any specific path or dates, but I have to decide. 

Looking back at last year and previous years will help.  The job should be planned to forestall swarming, and swarming can be expected starting in early May and peaking around the end of May, so I usually use May 10th as my target start date. Up until then I am simply making sure that colonies are developing -- and treating varroa.

So, if the cells take twelve days to mature, and should be transferred before any emerge and emergence can vary between cells and colonies,  I should start cells on the 28th of this month.  Hmmm.  Will I be here?  Good question.

I may just fall back on the tried and true walk-away split.  No muss, no fuss, no schedule, no nuc-making and no self-discipline required.  The ultimate lazy man's solution.

The results are good, but with less effort, fewer splits result from a given  number of hives, so what is the scarce resource?  My time, or bees. Right now, I have far too many bees, and too little time or energy for this, so maybe my decision as been made. 

Of course, if I have lots of cells on hand when I do walk-away splits, I can plop a cell in each half and be assured of having the colonies become queenright sooner. -- about two weeks sooner and two weeks makes a huge difference at that time of year.

Beebase - Beekeeping information resource for Beekeepers

Queen bee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
Paul Gauguin

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Friday April 17th 2015

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There were eleven of us at dinner here last night and at 1130, I am still cleaning up.

Today: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. Wind south 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 20. UV index 5 or moderate. 
: Partly cloudy. Becoming cloudy near midnight with 30 percent chance of showers overnight. Wind west 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming north 30 gusting to 50 overnight. Low plus 1.

I had plans to work outside today, but the wind is gusting from the south and working out there could be unpleasant.  The forecast does not suggest that the winds will drop, either.  The quonset is lofting in the breeze and I hope it holds together until I get around to working on it.  Right now, even approaching it could be dangerous.

By mid-afternoon, winds reached 30 MPH.

I'm relaxing today.  In the forum one writer rightly questioned my queen rearing timing in yesterday's diary.  My musings were not intended as instructions, but just a personal rough estimate of dates, based on memory.  I don't always explain my thinking and I was actually bracketing the timeframe.

At any rate, I went back to school and took a good look at the literature.  Online searches did not turn up exactly what I was looking for, the timing of wing development in queen pupae.

IMO, handling cells carelessly on the last days before emergence is a major cause of failure in queen rearing.  Note the wings develop last.

None of my many books detailed that exact timing. In my reading, though, I did come across the statement that vulnerability to damage was greatest in the pupal stage -- seven to ten days from grafting. 

Additionally, another book stated that pupae in queen cells laid on their sides during development would die.  I wonder how quickly and if that applies to frames removed and stood on end while inspecting?

Click on these images to go to the source pages.

Regardless, I am just as likely to make splits and put in the cells any day after they are sealed as wait until the last possible moment.  That gives me a whole week to play with.  My estimate was just to see when that works out to be so I can decide if I want to be home.

Regardless, I will have to do something to prevent swarming and be here to do that.  Walk-away splitting is one of the easiest ways to do that, queen cells ready or not, and that can be done on the spot any time I see a colony getting too strong.  All I need is a floor and lid and a place to put the split.

As for the place to put the split, on top of a parent colony works fine and then all I need is a sheet of plastic to divide the colony and the split.  No lid or floor are required until I decide to move them.  Since the bees are already flying from auger holes, the disruption is minimal.

I see my plan shaping up.  Only question is, if I have 73 hives now and split 75% of them, what will I do with 125 hives when 73 are already too many???

I have orders for about ten hives so far, and maybe more.  I have to add them up.  I should advertise, I suppose and I should really sell about a hundred to get down to fewer hives. 

Oddly, people seem to want to buy packages and hive parts and struggle rather than just buying functioning, established hives.  I assume that is due to the bad advice given in bee courses.  People don't buy cars in pieces and assemble them, so why do instructors tell people to buy beehives in pieces?  I assume that it is due to influence from hive manufacturers.

I am leaning towards raising some cells using the Case/Hopkins method, but have mostly combs with plastic foundation.  I could, of course, use it, but when removing the cells, the top will be open since there is no wax at the bottom of the cells.  That should not be a huge concern, though, since I can plug that hole with wax -- I think.

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.
Woodrow Wilson

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Saturday April 18th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today: Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this morning. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming northwest 40 gusting to 60 near noon. High 12. UV index 4 or moderate.
Tonight: Clear. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light this evening. Low minus 4.

The winds continue and working outdoors does not look pleasant, but I intend to get out for at least a little while.

I noticed this morning that the honeybeeworld forum software was out of date, so I spent a bit of time downloading and applying patches to bring it up to date.  Fortunately, the job went off well and the forum only experienced a very brief shutdown and I did not have to use backups or spend time puzzling over fixes.

It occurs to me that tax time is approaching quickly and I had better get my papers in order.

I started on the books, but by 1300 was ready for a stroll, so I walked out to the nearest hives.  The wind is gusty from the northwest and even at 11 degrees C, there is almost no bee flight.   When raising brood, nurse bees need water constantly to dilute honey. I worry that the bees cannot fetch water and they do not store any.

I walked over to the pool, thinking I'd do some patching where the ice pushed up a fixture, causing a small rip, and refill it enough to filter out the algae and treat the water, but even with a sweater, I found the wind too chilly and went back inside to resume the book work.

I spent the afternoon at my desk working on getting my accounts up to dat.  I have been travelling a lot and some things slipped through the cracks, it seems.  I still have more to do...

If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes.
But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person.
It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.
The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.
William J. Clinton

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Sunday April 19th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I had breakfast and went back to bed for an hour or two.  For some reason, I sleep well after breakfast and a cup of coffee.

No wind is predicted for today, but tomorrow promises more wind again at the end of the day.  This looks like a good bee day and I am still chained to this desk until I get the books done, but I simply must get outdoors for at least a while today. There is a lot to do outside.  Do I really want to do it all?  I think I need a helper.  I do enjoy the actual bee work though.  It is th3e cleanup I hate.

Just before noon, Mike came by to pick up a tank that I have had sitting around for years. 

I went out again around 1330 and worked through 29 hives.  I mostly checked the Apivar position and replenished the patties.  In some hives even the paper was gone and in others, very little evidence was left of patties ever being there, except lots of brood and young bees.

I did what I tell everyone not to do.  I let the patties run out.

Maintaining patties on the hives at all times in spring is important, and my only excuse for failing that is that 1.) I was away, and 2.) there is natural pollen coming in.  In fact, some frames are filling up with pollen.

Nonetheless, all that pollen disappears in a jiffy when the bees are confined for a day or two.  A really good hive needs a pound of pollen a day. (Where did I see that?  Randy's pages?)

Nonetheless, the hives all, with the exception of three or so, have five, six or more frames with decent patches of fairly solid brood on average and I can see that they will be overflowing with bees soon.  Some already are.

You can deduce by the shape of the brood area in the frame at right (picked at random as I worked the hives) that there is a similar frame in the box right below forming the other half of the oval, and deduce that there must be similar frames to either side as well. 

That brood slab shows the size of the brood ball. The brood ball is usually roughly spherical although it may be elongated in the vertical direction and more ovoid in shape. 

I estimate there to be about 900 capped cells in the picture.  On the back side are another 900, and in the frame below are another 1,800 more, completing the circle, for a total of 3,600 in this plane.  There is probably twice as much in adjoining frames for an estimated 10,800 bees coming out in the next twelve days.

When all that brood hatches, the hive population will explode!  These hives are mostly housed in three boxes, with the clusters in either the top box, or more often the second box down with a frame or two of brood starting in the top.

They have a third and sometimes fourth box below to absorb the sudden population increase, and when that happens I will either reverse the whole hive and wait a week to split or just split into two or three.  That depends on the hive and how the brood is spread out.

When doing walk-away splits, it is important to have eggs and young brood in each split, and similar populations of young bees, so ideally the sealed brood and open brood should be distributed evenly throughout the hive before splitting.  Reversing assist in this, especially in honeybound hives.

I can reverse without worry becausee these EPS hives are warm and the populations are large.  I would be more careful doing that with wooden boxes.

I am still pulling out undrawn foundation from top boxes on the hives and replacing it with good brown brood comb since last August I just threw boxes of foundation -- or whatever -- on the hives after pulling honey.  Then I went away and never worked the hives again until this spring.

I am seeing varroa in the drone cells between the storeys in some hives, but not others and that concerns me.  I put one strip of Apivar into the hives when there were about five frames of bees, but now there are five frames with brood and ten frames of bees.  What should I do?

The Apivar has been on these only hives since March 30th and this is the 19th of April, so the 42-day treatment is less than half over.  Apivar is known to be slow in killing mites, so I will have to watch.  I have to remember that the varroa I see in the drone pupae have been in there for a week, judging by the stage of drone development and therefore were barely exposed to the Apivar.

Moreover, I did not see running varroa when I broke open the drone brood as I lifted the box.  Maybe I wasn't looking and missed it, but when a cell is broken open, varroa run and are obvious on the white drone pupae, but all I saw was a few stationary immature-looking varroa.  Were they alive?  Were there others there that split the scene before I glanced there?  I'll have to pay better attention in future.

Quite a few mature drones can be seen in the hives and more are near emergence.  I could walk-away split the strongest hives anytime now, but it is very early. 

Records show minus twenty Celsius is possible at this date and we have to wait until mid-May to be sure of warmer conditions -- unless we want to gamble. If I gamble, I sure won't gamble with more than a few of the best.

I tend to wait and let hives build up until the egg laying rate of the queen is the limiting factor, not number of nurse bees, the cluster heat or food available as is the case now. We can still have very cold weather and one of the reasons my bees are so healthy is that I don't stress them by over-splitting.

I just killed my first mosquito.  Spring is here.

This turned out to be an interesting day.  After working on the bees, I came in for a while and had a long chat with a friend on the phone.  That call was interrupted by my doorbell and the visitor turned out to be a fellow I knew from my art school days.

He was driving home from Youngstown, a hundred miles east of here where a meditation group he is involved with bought a building to use for teaching mediation. 

We had quite a chat and I wonder where this might lead.  I've been considering meditation training, but am as doubtful about many practices as I am about most religion.  I have brushed up against various popular forms of meditation over the years, but have not been particularly impressed thus far.

Writing this diary is my daily meditation.

Sailing and beekeeping are my meditation. 

In fact, my life is my meditation.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear

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