Friday May 1st 2015
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future.
Months slip past quickly. It's May already!
From here on out, the beekeeping season in South Central Alberta accelerates from fiddling around waiting for build-up into rushing around trying to keep ahead of developments.
Today looks perfect for opening colonies and starting on splitting. Acquiring queens has changed my plans 180 degrees.
I'm feeling much better, so much better that I was up until after midnight last night instead of being in bed early as I was all this past week.
It's 0811 right now. The temperature is already up to plus 8.4į C, but the wind is building already.
It is time to get suited up and get a plan of action.
My plan is to get out my excluders and the plastic sheets I use to isolate splits from the colony below (right), then make up splits by gently shaking most of the bees off two or three frames with brood and two feed frames, (to make sure the queen stays below) and placing them in a standard EPS box. Then I'll place the split above an excluder on top of the parent hive to allow the nurse bees to come back up.
The next day, I'll remove the excluder, insert the plastic, and introduce a queen.
Since I use auger holes in all brood boxes, I don't need special divider boards or any other entrance.
I can also divert flying bees between the parent colony and the divides by opening and closing auger holes.
I went out and got to work. As always, the first hour was devoted to sorting items on the truck and getting things ready.
Once organized, I worked through two hives. The first made two splits, with two frames with brood each. The second made three, with three frames each. I found the queen right off in the first hive, but not the second.
The temperature dropped a bit and the wind picked up so I came in for lunch. Once I was inside, wind gusted and rain pelted the windows for a few moments. Then the sun returned. minute to minute, the weather is very changeable at this time of year.
While inside and resting, I booked new flights to Sidney for next week. I decided on five days instead of seven as originally planned. That should be plenty of time. Afterwards I was too sleepy to do much, so I had a nap.
Elijah is coming to work after school and Maddy may come to help with bees, so I should make sure I save some energy for then.
I went out again and my bee truck ran out of gas. It is a longstanding problem. One tank is full, but the other ran dry and the valve to switch tanks gets stuck.
I had queens to put in, so I walked over and put in three queens. Then the wind got so bad it blew my smoker off a hive. I quit and went in for supper.
Again, I found I was tired and had another nap, then got up and watched Safety Not Guaranteed, a charming movie, and LOL hilarious.
What can be asserted without
evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
Saturday May 2nd 2015
I decided to meet Fen, Maddy, Betty, and Max at Rick's at 0830 for breakfast and drove over. Breakfast lasted until 1000, then I dropped in on Mike and Liz who now live one mile from Rick and about three miles from The Mill and had coffee.
I returned home just before noon, had lunch, and am about to see what I can do with the bees today. It is 10 degrees now, with a chilly thirteen MPH wind from the WNW.
I tried to get the bee truck running and failed. I need better gas line fittings and was unable to find any in Three Hills or Linden this morning.
While working outside, I discovered , though, that it is far too cold to be bothering the bees today. I was chilled in jumpsuit with a shirt under it.
Today (left) looks to be a wasted day. Tomorrow (right) looks better.
Well, I believed the forecast and quit for the day. Around 1730, the wind died unexpectedly about the time I expected the worst gusts, and the remainder of the day was okay for bee work. By then, however, I had decided the day was over. I suppose I could have gone out, but I do need to relax now and then.
Home is where you are loved the most
and act the worst.
Sunday May 3rd 2015
The wind predicted today looks tolerable, so I'll be outdoors. I have lots to do. Maddy is coming over to help and Elijah will be here, too. Job One is to get the bee truck running again before they arrive.
That said, at 0800, I see that we still are right at freezing and that the wind is picking up already from the SSW, not NE, and above predicted speed (above).
I fixed the truck. It was challenging. I had to drive to town and get some gas. Apparently all this time, it was out of fuel and the gauge said almost full! I did clean the fuel filter, though, in the process of troubleshooting and that makes a difference.
Maddy came over after lunch and we worked a steady four hours and now have homes for all the queens. Maddy is a great help and catches on fast. In fact she caught a few of my oversights.
We finished at 1630 and I was tired. I made stew and relaxed a bit. The weather is perfect and I may go back out. Some of the splits were made by shaking the bees out and placing the splits above excluders when the queens did not show up on the first pass through. I need to pull the excluders and put in plastic dividers.
I also have grass to cut.
The trouble is that once I sit down, I am not too inclined to get back up.
Coffee, that is the answer.
I had a cup of coffee and went back out, pulled the excluders we had put in a few hours earlier in the Quonset yard, and put in plastic sheets and queens.
Then I went to the South of the Hedge yard and pulled apart the strongest hive there, one I had marked. It turned out to have bees wall to wall on the top bars of all four boxes, so I looked for a queen. I would have loved to show that hive here, but I had left my phone inside.
I glanced at the sun, now sinking in the sky, and wondered if I had time to finish.
I decided to take a chance and made two splits on top of the mother. For the number of bees, there was not as much brood as I would have liked, but there was enough.
I finished up and went in. It was 2020.
I watched some video and then went to bed.
Even if you do learn to speak
Monday May 4th 2015
The splits are done for now, at least as far as finding homes for the queens is concerned, so I don't care much about the weather today for my own comfort, but the warm day and night predicted will assist with build-up.
I am realizing that I have been stressing about the bees and need to relax a bit. My main concern is to have enough bees for the sales I have made, so that means getting good splits made early. That is why I decided to take some mated queens when the opportunity came up. That decision was reinforced by the fact that these are Saskatraz queens.
The outside is showing some rust, but the interior is like-new, and it has the overhead console and an eight-way power driver's seat. Nice ride.
I drove to Three Hills and registered the 2009 van and bought a few groceries. Zippy seems very happy today and I think she likes the new van. I doubt the leather seats impress her, but I think she likes the magic key fob controlled electric sliding doors. Hard to tell exactly what has her smiling, but she definitely is.
I have been feeling stressed lately and I tried to relax today. I think that I am putting myself under pressure to go places and do things, which is silly because I don't have much to do that really matters. Does anyone, really, though?
I mostly succeeded at doing nothing. My main accomplishments were doing the breakfast dishes, registering the van, getting an appointment to have a trailer hitch installed, writing an article promoting the three summer Bluewater Cruising Association (BCA) rendezvous (the plural of 'rendezvous' is 'rendezvous') for the Currents magazine, organizing the to-do list for Cassiopeia, and communicating with the dock staff so the boat will be ready to go Friday.
Where will I go when I leave the dock in Sidney? Any way the wind blows, in theory at least. I have four days. The outer edge of the circle on the map at left represents the direct distance covered in a six-hour straight-line cruise. Days are now fourteen hours long, but six hours is a long day for casual sailing.
I see that I will have a very low tide on Friday just about exactly when I get to the boat. Getting out of the marina might have to wait an hour or two. That's okay. I have to do a little grocery shopping before I leave anyhow. I'll have low tides with ranges up to ten feet for my entire cruise.
Ride the horse in the direction it's
Tuesday May 5th 2015
This evening, I have to be deep inside Calgary for a supper meeting at 1700, so will leave mid-afternoon to avoid the rush hour, and do a little shopping when I get there.
The weather predicted for the next several days looks ideal for yard and bee work. I have grass to cut and should check more hives.
I have not looked at the North Yard for about two weeks, and a lot can happen in two weeks at this time of year. Colonies can double and triple in size in two weeks, and at least one swarm is certain when there are seventy hives in a yard.
These hives have plenty of space, though, and that tends to delay swarming. Some have as many as five standard boxes and the smallest hives have two.
I also noticed red ants in this yard and they were running around on two hives (right). I routinely move the hive bases over a bit when working through hives to place them on fresh ground to reduce rot and to reduce ant problems, but I see the ants are doing just fine here. Red ants are pretty nasty and can weaken a colony. Ant invasion can also make the bees in a disturbed colony very defensive. My only solution is to put ant poison under the hives.
I did see a magpie in the yard today.
At 1530, Zippy and I drove to Calgary where I had supper with twelve other Bluewater Cruising Association organizers at the Himalaya Restaurant and then attended the monthly meeting featuring an excellent presentation by a member who had participated in the Clipper Round The World Race.
The meeting and presentation was over at 2100 and I was home in bed by 2245. Driving the new van makes the trip much more pleasant than it is in the old red van. The seventy-five miles is still a grind, regardless. I had intended to shop in Airdrie on the way back, but when I was passing through, I encountered a thunderstorm and downpour and thought better of the idea.
Besides, I think the Wal-Mart there closes at 2200, and I would have had to rush.
Today was the Alberta Provincial election. The Conservatives were our government for forty-four years, always with a comfortable majority, but today they were swept from power by a New Democrat majority. The Conservative leader promptly resigned. Tomorrow will be a new day.
Don't let life discourage you;
Wednesday May 6th 2015
Can't trust those weather-guessers. I unplugged some auger hole plugs yesterday and increased the space for some splits, only to come home last night to howling north winds and find today to be cold and windy. I'm glad I put on entrance reducers.
I was up in the middle of the night for a while I was up I smelled a skunk. That will be a problem eventually, unless the coyotes get her, and I have not heard them around for a long time.
At right are two examples of skunk damage to EPS boxes. These are the only two examples of any serious damage that have occurred over the past ten+ years and what amounts to hundreds of hive-years. Such damage seldom occurs, and it is my fault for letting the skunks go on scratching at hives far too long.
I'll know if this skunk becomes a problem if I find reducers pulled off. Until then, a skunk can be useful keeping mice down and cleaning up scraps.
In the afternoon I drove to Calgary again to meet with fellow Calgary BCA organizers to discuss the BCA website. I stopped along the way to buy some slacks at Marks Work Warehouse.
I was home again by midnight.
The great courageous act that we
must all do, is to have the courage
to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.
Thursday May 7th 2015
Today is sunny and calm -- so far.
I have decided to stop worrying about my bees, relax, and get ready to go west.
I'll have the Usual Suspects over for supper tonight and probably make a run to Three Hills for groceries. I'd just make spaghetti, but some of the group are avoiding starches.
* * * * *
Cancel that. Fen called. Maddy is in Victoria, and Fen has a salmon to eat, so I am going there. I have things to do here, and am not in the mood for cooking tonight anyhow.
I have a sore rib today for no apparent reason and have been feeling 'off' for the past two weeks so I went to see the doctor today.
She has not been able to reach Dave on the phone, and was worried as he is diabetic, so I drove over and checked. He was not there, but everything looks fine. The animals have water and the house was open. A dog was lying on the bed. Dave was gone, but apparently everything is OK.
I drove on down to Drum, figuring he would be in his usual haunts, but did not see him and drove home. I used to love to drive around the country looking at things and hiking the badlands. I must get back in the habit.
I had one queen left and needed a home for her, so went out and made up a split. I picked the hive at the west end of the North Yard and found all four boxes right full of bees. I split it in half and was lucky enough to find the queen right off, so was able to install the new queen right away. The first split was so strong that I added a third box.
I then did a walk-away split on the next hive east which was similarly strong and went on east, adding patties, but finding the hives were progressively weaker as I went up the line. I did not do more splitting, choosing instead to wait a week. I was running out of time, had no queens and figure the hives will be stronger then. I don't like to make weak splits.
I trimmed some of the tarp and drove the bee truck onto the loose end to hold it down while I am gone, and then we drove to The Mill for supper. I'll have to do a fair bit of work on the quonset and have not had the ambition yet.
Fen offered to keep Zippy for me and that seemed like the best plan, so Zip will stay at The Mill until I get back.
Elijah and I drove back to Swalwell around 2030 and I plan to go to bed early. I have a big day tomorrow and need some rest. I am still feeling a bit odd.
Donít look back.
Friday May 8th 2015
My alarm woke me from a deep sleep at 0400. I contemplated sleeping another hour, but moments later, I found myself on my feet.
I had decided last night to rise at 0400, and set an alarm. In fact, I set two separate devices with a series of alarms beginning at 0400 when I went to bed at 2215 last night. I was on autopilot this morning.
I knew last night that I have been tired lately and that my wake up time -- 0400 was under the six-hour minimum for a good night's sleep. I also know that I am conditioned to wake up at 0300 on travel days and if I am at all worried about an early departure, I may wake up a few times previous just to be sure.
I wanted to be sure of a restful sleep and absolute certainty of waking in time to have four and a half hours before I lock the door and drive away. I also know that sometimes devices unexpectedly lose battery and shut down, so I used a belt-and-suspenders -- two devices and multiple alarms, then slept soundly.
Today, I drive to Calgary to have a trailer hitch installed on the Chrysler van, and then catch my flight to YYJ, leaving at 1300. I should be on Cassiopeia by 1400 hours, and expect to sleep at anchor tonight somewhere on the Salish Sea. My destination this weekend is Friday Harbour, WA, USA. The weather predictions there look ideal, mostly sun, warm days and warm nights.
It is now 0500. I just killed an hour with breakfast and writing. I now have three and a half to water plants, pack, and tidy up before leaving.
I left on time, but got lost on the way and arrived twenty minutes late for my hitch installation appointment. That did not seem to matter. They were not sitting around waiting and had to hunt around to figure out who I am and if they actually had the hitch. It is after eleven now and I am waiting. I have to be at the airport in fifty minutes.
As it happened, once the job began, we found that there was fuel line in the way, plus bolts were seized and the mechanic sheared one off. We could see I would not make my flight if we kept going, so I said I'd come back and left for the airport. That trip was easy and I arrived fifteen minutes early.
My flight was only slightly delayed and at the moment, I am at 38,900 feet over the Rockies, going west at 512 MPH. With any luck, I'll be aboard Cassiopeia in an hour.
I walked out of YYJ into bright sun, caught a cab and a short while later was at the boat. I went to the market and got groceries, then cast off for Roche Harbor at 1630.
There was almost no wind and I did not bother to raise sail. At first, I motored north, thinking of overnighting at Portland Island or even going up to Long Harbour to visit Bruce, then decided to head for the San Juans. The most direct course to Friday Harbor, my ultimate destination, is in magenta and my actual path taken from my GPS is in green at right.
Once I approached the border, I called the US customs office, was redirected to the Nexus number, obtained a clearance number by phone and am now anchored in Reid Harbor on Stuart Island, as the sun goes down.
What we anticipate seldom occurs;
what we least expected generally happens.
Saturday May 9th 2015
I slept well at anchor here in Reid Harbor. The night was still and warm, and the day is dawning clear and bright. At home the forecast is for mild sunny weather. I hope they have it right this time.
I have no plans today, except to head for Friday Harbor. I'm not expecting much wind during the day, though (below) and may be motoring again. At night, I'll want to be sheltered from the southwest.
There was no wind all, so it was a good chance to repair the main. I went to drop it and realised I'd have to pull all the battens, so I just pulled out enough to try the new batten and see if the top of the pocket was okay, hoping that the previous, broken batten had just poked out a few inches down from the top. If the top was intact, the hole below would not matter if I could push the new batten past it. I lucked out and it was okay, so I trimmed the batten to length and tucked it in place.
I then decided to motor towards Friday Harbor. I don't need to be there until Monday, but I figure I might as well head that way. I motored up Limestone Channel and was surprised at the current there, even though, by the clock, it should have been near slack. I had up to three knots against me. Once clear of Speiden Island, the current slackened, then turned and carried me down San Juan Channel towards my destination.
I arrived inside Brown Island just after noon and anchored in fifteen metres of water. I let out all the chain and some rope, then discovered the holding could be better. Backing off to set the anchor, I dragged closer to the ferry terminal than I like, so I retrieved the anchor for another try.
That is when I discovered 1.) this bottom is weedy, and 2.) my gypsy does not grip the rope and also may be worn. I also discovered that I need a swivel on the rode since the three strand rope spins on its axis when stretched, twisting the chain and causing the chain to jump on the gypsy.
That is why I am out for a cruise. Unless I actually take the boat out and test all the systems, I'll never know what the clients experience.
I wasted a lot of time while underway and after anchoring trying to get my phone to work with my Roam Mobility SIM. I can get signal and make calls, but the Internet data does not work reliably. It works as long as I am on the phone to the help line, but quits shortly after I hang up. No kidding.
I had a nap, made some bean stew and did various jobs on the boat, removing some varnish drips from when I varnished the dinghy oars last trip, and tightening the life lines. The dock staff had quit in the middle of the job over a month ago, it seems, and left the task unfinished.
Lacking Internet, I continued to read one of my daughter's books, downloaded on Kindle that I had started on the plane trip to Sidney, then went to bed at 2200.
Every sunrise is an invitation for
us to arise and brighten someone's day.
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