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Sunday May 10th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept well again.  I generally do when on the boat.  I was very confident in this sheltered anchorage in spite of only fair holding in weeds and mud.  I set the anchor alarm, just the same, and see from the GPS that I swung, but did not move much.  Most of the movement shown at right was from moving from my initial position and dragging while setting the anchor.

I had breakfast at 0445, then went back to bed and slept about two more hours. I have no plans for the day except to read, putter, and sleep.

I'll also take the dinghy ashore for a while and prowl around town.  Friday Harbor is an interesting place. 

I have to go to town tomorrow as well.  My excuse for coming here is to pick up a $20 package at Post San Juan and with any luck a second package as well.  A cushion repair kit and dinghy cleaner and protector should have arrived for pickup here by now.  I could have had them sent to Canada, but UPS delivery costs are unpredictable.  Random and arbitrary UPS border charges could be more than the cost of the items themselves. 

Besides, I needed an excuse to come down this way.  The San Juan Islands are every bit as enchanting as the Gulf Islands.

A 180 degree panorama view of my anchorage. Cassiopeia's stern at left, bow at right, Brown Island in the centre.  San Juan Island shore and the town are behind me.

I finished Jean's book, washed the seat cushions, put the outboard on the dinghy, and motored to the dinghy dock the back way, under the pilings.

I walked uptown to look around and buy a few small items.  It is five years since I was here, but my memories of the town seem to have blurred and the place is not as I remember it.

I had a headache all afternoon, with visual disturbances, so rather than going exploring, I returned to the boat and rested.

My Internet is quite limited and expensive, so I watched a video I happened to have on disk: Born Yesterday.  It's an oldie, but a goodie.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
Lao Tzu

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Monday May 11th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

My anchor alarm woke me for the first time last night.  That is not surprising since I had it set for a 150 feet radius and had put out 200 feet of rode in about fifty feet of water.  Reversing current could move me as much as 300 feet or more, but usually there is no strain on the anchor and the chain on the sea floor restrains movement to much less.  I set the alarm conservatively to tip me if conditions got rough and I might need to let out more rode.  It was calm, but maybe the current was stronger than usual.

Today, I plan to pick up my packages at Post San Juan and perhaps head back to Canada. 

I arrived at Stuart Island Friday night, so have been in the US now for more than 48 hours, so am eligible to take back up to $800 in goods.  When I was in West Marine yesterday, I saw some items that I can use for an outboard lift I have been designing.  Maybe I should purchase them right now when they are at hand.  The store back home might not have the same supplies.

AT 0900, the day is dull and cool

I don't see any wind predicted so far.

I walked uptown, got the supplies and returned to the boat.  I had decided against the tubing and settled for just the packages I had ordered and a few small items form the hardware store and West Marine.

I hoisted anchor at 1500 and motored out of the harbor.  There wasn't much wind at all, but once I got out in to  the channel, I was able to run downwind at four knots or so. 

I had no definite plan and found myself anchored again in Reid Harbor for the night.  I like to set anchor at least an hour before sundown and this was the only good anchorage nearby other than Roche Harbor and I did not feel like being in a high traffic location.

Also, a headache and visual disturbances showed up again shortly after leaving port and that also influenced me to anchor early.  I have experienced this increasingly over the past few weeks but almost never previously, so wonder what is triggering it.  Diet?  Tension?  Bright sunlight? Allergies?

I consulted several sources about wind and they do not agree. Currently, the wind is swinging me around the anchor.  Predictions are for moderate winds backing from SW to N overnight.  There is little wave action here in the bay, so the motion is gentle.  At any rate, the anchor held well when I backed off and I have set the GPS alarm.

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

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Tuesday May 12th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

The night was calm and I slept well.  Today, I'll motor back to Canada.  Not much hope of wind.

I left the anchorage at around 0900 and motored across Boundary Passage. When I hit the border, I dropped The Stars and Stripes from the starboard spreader and replaced it with the solid yellow quarantine flag and phoned the Canadian border authorities.  They gave me a clearance number and a time to be at Van Isle Marina.  I reached the marina at the appointed time, fuelled up and returned to Port Sidney Marina where I tied up at 1100, had lunch, and met with Callum.

I had a slight headache this morning and had a visual disturbance around noon.  The visual effects cleared up fairly quickly and when they ended, so did the headache.  I think it may be tension.

I've been tense lately, rushing from place to place.  Today I tie up loose ends before the charter season and tomorrow I have to be in Calgary for an eye appointment by this time of day.  After that, I'll buy groceries and drive home.  There will probably be time to check bees before dark if the weather is right.  Thursday, I'll host a dinner again.  Then the bees need me, and I have promised Mom a visit soon.   I haven't been to California since Thanksgiving, and the kids are growing...  Rush, rush, rush.

I had thought to go skiing at Sunshine Thursday/Friday and take advantage of the end of season specials, but decided that would be just a little too much.

Sunshine was at one time a favourite ski resort and our family spent many many days there.  Sometimes, I used to winter camp there in the parking lot in my motorhome.  Jean was a level II instructor at Sunshine one year before university.  I encouraged my kids to spend a year out, working, before going on the university and they did.  I qualified as an instructor also, but mostly just to get the card.  I did a few lessons for family and friends and that was about it.

This afternoon, Cassiopeia is tied up at Port Sidney Marina and I find myself with little to do.  I'll have a nap enjoy the sun, wander around, shower ...and pack.  I'm hoping I can pack in less than three hours this time.

I strolled up town to get a few small items and came back, had supper, filled the water tank, cleaned the toilets and began sorting.  The job does not seem as bad this time for some reason.  Other times, it has been a  race against time.

I started also began patching the cockpit cushions with the kit I picked up in Friday Harbor and found the job is not as simple as the instructions suggest.  I managed anyhow and am about ready to put on the colour coat.  I hope the finished job looks better than it did with the slight punctures I am fixing.  I hope this is not one of those things where the idea is better than the reality.

I have to catch a cab at 0800 tomorrow and will do the last little bit of tidying and packing in the two hours after I get up tomorrow. 

I've been feeling quite crappy for a month now -- since Easter, in fact -- but, other than the headache, light-headedness, slight nausea and visual upset that passed around noon, I have had a good day.  It is 1009 now and everything is laid out.  I'm sleepy, so I'll hit the hay.  If I don't sleep, I'll get up and finish.

There went Tuesday.

There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of wit.
Alexander Pope

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Wednesday May 13th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

In spite of the fact that I had set the alarms for 0600 and planned to sleep until then, I woke up, got up, checked the time, and discovered that it was 0259.  My autopilot had taken over again.

I got up, showered on board and had breakfast.  Then I finished the cushion repairs.  I hope they look better after this treatment than before, not worse.  They looked fine before and just had a few little punctures. This paint, so far, looks glossy.

At 0440, I have only to pack and wipe down the boat boat now, then leave.  I have a little over three hours to do it in.

At 0800, I catch a cab.  At 0920, we lift off and at 1315, I have a field of vision test and a dilated eye exam.

After I can see to drive, I'll drive to Airdrie, trying to miss the rush hour if possible, buy groceries, then drive on to The Mill to pick up Zippy.  From there, I go home.

Everything went according to plan and I passed my field of vision test with a 98 and a 97, which is about as good as it gets.

The field of vision test is not an indication of visual acuity, but rather is a test to detect damage from glaucoma or any other cause for that matter. The eye exam did not turn up anything worthy of comment either.

I had a routine eye exam locally more than a decade back.  I was given a prescription and no further comment.  Being curious by nature, I asked if everything was normal and I was told that my Intra Ocular Pressure (IOP) was 'a bit high'.

What did that mean? I was told that glaucoma was probable eventually but there was 'no sign of damage -- "yet"'.  The eye doctor seemed unconcerned and saw no need to mention it until asked.

Glaucoma is a common cause of blindness in older adults. If pressures rise above 20, the risk of nerve damage increases over time and my pressures were over 20.

"For the majority of glaucoma cases, including the most common form, open-angle, there are no discernible symptoms until the optic nerve is damaged and side (peripheral) vision is lost. For this reason, regular eye exams are critical to detection and treatment of the disease."

I said that I did not want to wait for someone to notice damage before being referred to a specialist, got a referral, and went to see a specialist located at the farthest corner of Calgary from where I live.  Apparently he is the one to see in my part of the world.

In Canada, we are very, very privileged. We can access quality health care for minimal or zero cost. There are delays and inconveniences, but compared to what people elsewhere experience, we have nothing to complain about, That does not stop us, though.

He suggested some tests, including a new and optional one which cost $75, and I said, sure, I'd rather ensure good vision than save $75. 

The results were that no detectable damage was visible at the time, but that I was/am high risk and the pressures must be brought down.  There are two ways: eye drops several times a day, and surgery.  First, we tried eye drops.

You can probably guess how I got along with eye drops.  Not only were drops a huge nuisance, but they  did nothing, and are known for mild side-effects.  The alternative, offered at the follow-up appointment was SLT, a quick, low-risk outpatient laser procedure that takes a few minutes and has a one-hour recovery time. The hitch was that SLT does not work on everyone and they do one eye at a time. The hospital is an hour and a half from home.

I asked if he could do both eyes at one visit and he was agreeable, so I went to the Rockyview and a few hours later had driven home and only experienced some slight pricks to the eyes from the laser and with only a slight feeling of sandy eyes for a day or so after.

At the follow-up appointment two weeks later, my pressures were entirely normal.  SLT worked!

I started seeing the specialist twice a year and have had the procedure twice since as the effects taper off and the pressure would start back up after a few years.

Apparently, the procedure only works once on some and not always as well when repeated, but it has been similarly efficacious each time for me and for that I am very grateful.

I have had vision disturbances lately, and am finding my near vision is poor, but whatever the reason, glaucoma is not the issue.

I drove to Bass Pro to replace a handy little marine VHF I must have left on the Sceptre last June, and then to Costco to buy food for supper tomorrow.  I was looking at tablets when Joe Meijer walked up behind me.  This is the second or maybe third time -- almost in a row --that I have bumped into him there lately, and I go there seldom.

I bought the tablet to try.  I have my reservations about them.  I don't want Apple and I am suspicious of branded Android products after experiencing pure Google Android on my Nexus 5, the best phone I have ever owned.

From there, I drove to The Mill to get Zippy and stayed for supper. Zippy had had a good time there while I was gone, with all the people coming and going and other dogs, but was overjoyed to see me and happy to come home.

When I drove up, a neighbour was at the door, having come for a visit.  We visited about two hours.  He carried on a fairly good conversation, but turned out to be too drunk to drive home.  He could barely walk to the door.  I drove him home.  In the morning, he will be wondering where his truck is, I imagine.

While he was there, I also looked at some lids and floors a local fellow had made on spec.  He did a good job, but he had not really figured his costs and price.  The rough numbers he recalled put him 25% above my last year's cost, so I asked him to sharpen his pencil and check his layout and final price.

Last years contractor said he might make some this year, but he is a bit balky and was wanting to raise his price.  I sell the set at my cost and figure the buyers are price-sensitive, so am looking for a less cantankerous supplier and competitive cost.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you'll be a success.
Albert Schweitzer

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Thursday May 14th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I woke up groggy this morning. 

I intended to get out to the bees, but the day dawned dull and cool.  I had a few things to do and set about doing them.  As I did them, I also set up the new Galaxy Tab. 

Having learned from my phone experience last month, first thing yesterday, I had upgraded the O/S without doing a full setup.

Once Lollipop 5.02 was installed over the native Android 4.4.1. I reset the Tab to factory and was presented with an option to install from previous Android device online backups.  For some reason my most recent Nexus 5 backups were not available -- possibly since the Nexus 5 is upgraded to 5.1 -- but the nexus 4 backup was offered and it was even more complete complete, so I used it and saved myself installing my 116 apps manually!

Sometime during the morning, I wrote the morning diary post, but then the computer froze and would not do anything at all.  I had neglected to save often, so lost the work.

I have grown overly confident in Windows lately.  At one time Windows used to crash daily.  It was expected.  In recent years Windows has become very stable, but lately Windows 7 is acting up on both my machines.

Around noon, I the wife of my visitor last evening showed up to retrieve his truck, so we had coffee and caught up on news.  Then she drove home. 

I have been busy all day, but have not accomplished much.  A new device is a great distraction.

I was going to go out to the bees, but it has continued windy and dull all day, so I am doing in door jobs.  I have company coming at six and a roast to do, so that will keep me busy in late afternoon and evening...

Supper went off well.  There were only seven of us this time.  My friends brought me more queens so i can do more queenright splits.  I've sold enough hives that I am reluctant to wait for queens to be raised and mated.  I'll do some walk-away splits, but for now, I need a head start.

After supper, we got into a discussion about the Omar Khadr case and how our government has wasted millions of dollars persecuting him and fighting the highest courts in Canada.  Our courts granted Kahdr bail while he contests his convictions in the USA. 

These convictions and plea bargains were obtained after torture, confinement without charge, limited access to counsel, and by a court which had no legitimate authority.  In short, he was denied basic human rights, rights any Canadian citizen expects and has been imprisoned now since he was fifteen.

Some of us, especially parents, who know first-hand how immature and malleable a fifteen year-old can be argued that Omar was a child soldier recruited to a cause by fanatic parents, and should be treated as such.  Forgive and forget. 

My family's tradition and that of the Purves-Smith clan has been to have very lively debates on any topic at our meals, often dragging out dictionaries and supporting documentation, and generally having a lot of fun debating. Everyone learns something, and nobody takes anything seriously.

Others argued that Islamist soldiers cannot be redeemed, that Omar will always be a threat, no matter what he says and does to prove otherwise and that the only solution, apparently, for Islamist fighters and Islamists generally, is to destroy them utterly and imprison any left alive indefinitely -- unless, possibly if they renounce their former beliefs, but if they did could we trust them?

Religious people have a great deal of trouble changing their beliefs and we have no evidence that Omar has rejected the religious beliefs that landed him in the battle. 

Religious people do not own their own minds. To adhere to a religion, one must to judge everything by interpretations of what is written in old books, by what authorities teach, and reject even the most compelling evidence that contradicts those templates or suggests that the prescriptions are not relevant or constructive in a present situation.

Good point.  It is a point that is easy for the non-religious person to miss.  It takes a religious person to realise how another religious person -- of any religion - may be motivated, and unable to change.

Nonetheless, we are surrounded by people of various religions and even the extremists are usually fairly harmless if we discount the harm that their ideas do to themselves and their families.  It is only when placed in situations where their religion demands irrational behaviour that these people become dangerous to society. 

Obviously Omar is an interesting example.  Is he likely to find himself or place himself in a position to be a danger or an antisocial influence again?  Our courts don't think so, but have placed limits on his freedom while on bail just to be certain.

Some lingered and after everyone left, I cleaned up , then watched an episode of White Collar on the new tablet.

I find myself reflecting on my five recent days on the boat and am glad I went out.  They were good days and I found them relaxing.  I have to remember to relax.

If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
Moshe Dayan

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Friday May 15th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today is rainy and cool.  We need the rain, but I have ten queens on the counter and should get out to do some splits.  That probably won't happen today.

I have some bookwork to do and this is a long weekend, so I may see what Orams are up to.

I did some bookwork and laundry and played with the new tablet.  It is a lot of work to set these things up, even when the software is installed from backup.  After that, passwords need to be entered, and then there are software updates happening in the background, replacing the original versions installed from backup, possibly because those versions came from a phone backup and they may need changing to tablet versions.  All in all, I used about 10 GB over the past two days, including the video last night and the movie tonight.

Tonight, I watched the 2012 remake of Total Recall, a movie based on "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", a short story by Philip K. Dick.  The original, starring  the Governator has been a favourite of mine for years. 

The remake was okay, but made to the darker, less loving tastes of today.  Which version is better?  Hard to say, but the original was funnier and less dark.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.
George Moore

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Saturday May 16th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

It is raining again this morning.  We are having a much needed soaker.  My weather station reports 0.88 inches of rain today. 

Our historical average annual precipitation here is 350-400 mm (14-18"), so this current rainfall is significant.  I notice that the fairly up-to-date map indicates higher rainfall than the historical twelve annual inches on record forty-eight years ago when I moved here.  At that time, the area was very dry.  We have been having wetter years lately.

Google web searches are getting less and less useful as time goes on.  I spent almost an hour looking for the annual rainfall map.  Ten years ago, it would have come up on the first search.

This seems to be a wasted sort of day.  I am not going out since it is raining and windy as well.  I'm at my desk doing basically nothing, and doing a little tidying from time to time.

At 1610, the rainfall accumulation stands at 1.3 inches according to my weather station.

As of today, my boat is out on charter and won't be free until June 19th  That is good news.  Charter fees cover my expenses annually, and they do add up.  We'll see how the summer books up.  If there are gaps in the charters, I'll spend some time on the boat myself.

By late afternoon, we were approaching two inches of rain on my readout and then my weather station software froze.  When I rebooted, the rain measurement reset to zero, so I lost track.   Two inches is my best guess.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. 
Wayne W. Dyer

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Sunday May 17th 2015

Today Clearing this morning. Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming light this morning. High 12. UV index 6 or high. Tonight Clear. Low zero with patchy frost.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today is expected to be sunny and I'll have a chance to work outdoors.

I need to work on the bees, and with all the rain in the past two days, the grass has been growing quickly.

I think by now that everyone has seen this, but maybe not.
A thrilling look at the first 21 days of a bee’s life.

I slept until 0930 and when I got up, the world outside is sunny and bright again.  I'll get outdoors ASAP and see if I can find a home for these new queens.

I began by cleaning the pool filter and cleaning the pool a bit and soon the bees were active, so bee work is next.  So far the day looks perfect for this work.

I went out and worked an hour, going through eight hives, some with splits on top, so the count is more like sixteen.  So far the new mated queens i introduced are looking good, unlike previous batches in past years.

As I went, I made two more splits by shaking bees off brood combs and placing them in a box above an excluder on top of the parent hive.  I leave them sitting without a lid for a while and this really brings the bees up from below.  In an hour, I'll replace the excluder with plastic and intro a new queen into the split.

Leaving the splits on top of the parent (or any nearby colony) reduces the lifting, carrying and other work, and the need for more locations. Since I have auger holes in every box, entrances are not a problem.

My spitting consists of finding a hive with plenty of bees and brood in two or three boxes and picking one box to use for the split.  The other two stay on the stand and I then set the split aside on a stack of old boxes and transfer the frames one-by-one into another empty box, checking for brood and the queen as I go, then shaking the bees back into the parent hives until I find the queen.  If  I do, she goes into the bottom boxes and I put the rest of the frames across into the new box, bees and all.

When I am done, I have a box with brood and few bees and no queen.  I set it on an excluder back on the parent and leave it a while, until the nurse bees come back up into it, then remove the excluder and insert a sheet of plastic, add a queen, add patties top and bottom, then close it up.

I went out again and checked the rest of the introduced queens and found two hives with cells and no queen activity in the bunch.  Disappointing, but not untypical.  I think that I may have put too big a hole in the black tunnel thing they supplied, so I did not punch the candy at all in the cages I installed today.  One hive had advanced cells that i must have missed when checking for queens.

These queens seem pretty good, but I notice several are a bit spotty.  That can be the case at first, especially in rainy weather, so I will have to watch.

I noticed one have had bad chalkbrood (seen on the plastic divider at right).

I had planned on going up to Orams' for tomorrow, but they are at a barbeque in Lacombe and the hour is getting late, so I decided to skip it.

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.
Laurence J. Peter

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Monday May 18th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Last night, I had about the worst sleep I've had in a long time.  I went to bed before midnight and woke up at a little after three. I drowsed for a while, then got up for a while, then went back to bed.  At 0530, I got up, had coffee and had breakfast and went back to bed. That usually works and I sleep soundly for an hour or two, but not today. Could be allergies.  I should have taken Benadryl, I guess, but, as it happens when I am not sleeping well, I did not think of it.

I have to decide what to do today and what to do in the coming several months.  I have committed to some bee work and I have two buildings in need of maintenance, grass to cut... 

Added to this, I should visit family and then, yesterday, Dawn called hoping I would go on an Alaska boat trip.  They had not sold out the spaces and a 65-foot cruiser is going to Juneau with only the skipper.   They want someone in the Cooper "family" to go along from Prince Rupert to Juneau, and that could be me.

Everyone raves about the Alaska coast and Alaska cruises are popular, but that has never been on my list of places to go or things to do.  Moreover, the trip consists of three to ten hour days of motoring between anchorages and ports, albeit in a luxury yacht. 

I'm more of the sort to go somewhere and spend time there than hop from port to port.  I confirmed that to myself in the Caribbean this winter.  I went to so many islands and ports in two weeks that I can hardly remember them.

The cruise is from May 31 to June 15th and comes right when I don't need something else to do.  I'd like to oblige, and the trip could be fun, but I already said no once.  Added to that pressure, Bluewater wants to have a meeting on the 30th, and the last one was a waste of time. I am trying to withdraw from my commitments to BCA and I've said no, but they don't want to take no for an answer. 

And then there is the family cottage...

What should I do today?  Go to Gull lake and see the Orams and the kiteboarders or stay home and cut grass and molest my bees? 

Decisions, decisions.

That was easy.  It was still early and  went back to bed.  This time I managed to sleep almost until 1000.

After that, I did research and some writing and the day went by. 

Shortly after I got up, the wind picked up and has been blowing hard all day, taking away the moisture we just received.

Wind or no wind, I am going outside for while.

I went out around 1700 and came back in at 1900.  In the meantime, I checked splits and was relieved to find all the new queens at work this time.  The several misses at the Quonset seem like a fluke. I lifted them down and will see if they lose bees or not.

I also made several splits by shaking and left them above excluders.  I have no queens right now, but have decided that these queens are good, are being accepted well, and are my best hope of keeping my promises to customers, so hope to have more on Friday.

In my work, I came across one hive that had dwindled down from being in three boxes at the time I rearranged the yard a few weeks back and fairly strong on my last round, to less than one box (left). Although there were full frames of honey nearby, the brood combs were completely dry and the brood was shotgun (right).

Maybe drifting was part of the problem, but I saw red ants on the floor board and there have been ants here before.  I had put down poison, but then it rained heavily, and rain washes away the bait.

For now, I blame the ants and took remedial measures.  First, I placed the single box with bees and brood above an excluder on a strong hive to accumulate more bees from below and then put down some ant poison under the floor.

Looking closely at the floor (right) we can see some red ants, but even more interestingly, we see lots of varroa.  I assume the Apivar worked, but wonder how many mites survived.  I should do some shakes or washes.  Maybe I should put down some sticky boards.

I am pulling out Apivar as I come across it now.

After two hours, I quit part way through the yard and left everything where I can find it tomorrow (below).


At 2050, I went back out and put entrance reducers on the splits.  It was still light enough that I could have worked another two hours, until now -- 2100  --  had I wished to.

Tonight, I asked Medhat how much Amitraz is left in Apistan if it is properly installed where the bees contact it.

AD: > Hi Medhat,

AD: > Do you have any stats on how much of the original Amatraz remains in a typical strip  that was properly placed in a hive after the 42 days has passed?

MN:> Almost zero?

AD: >That's what I figured. The reason for leaving them longer if moved would be that they had not been in contact with bees the entire time. I assume that bees rubbing on them removes the active ingredient and after a while there is none left. Has this been confirmed in measurements? What is the variation?

MN:> This work was done early when we applied to get Apivar. The difference was almost 20-30 % depending on colony size and bee activity. This why we found spring treatment with pollen patties on top helps to increase by activities over the strips

AD: > Thanks. Can quote you?

MN:>  ...Whatever. You can quote me np

How many splits have I made now?  I'm not sure.  I used 18 queens in the first batch and 10 in this, plus made several walk-aways... so about 30, and I need another 30 or so.

I keep intending to read back to last spring and I begin, but get distracted.  Frankly I write this for myself and share it, but I can't manage read it all, who can?

I hope to sleep better tonight.  Thank heavens for the sack time I managed to put in after breakfast.  I'm glad I don't have a job.

A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name.
Evan Esar

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Tuesday May 19th 2015

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

That was a good night's sleep!  Seven and a half hours.

We got down to near freezing again last night, but we are moving towards warmer nights if we can believe the forecasts. 

Six weeks from today is June 30, my target delivery date for the colonies I am selling.  I always hope to have hives ready to go before that, but experience has shown that colonies need time to develop. People  can take them before that date, but have to understand they are not quite fully developed.

Six weeks -- forty-two days -- is two complete worker brood cycles (21 X 2 = 42) and the ideal build-up time before a flow. Although there are earlier, minor flows, the main flow begins around the second week of July, seven weeks hence and peaks over the following month, so the eggs laid in the next few weeks will be the foragers for the beginning of the flow.

Of the worker eggs laid today, given adequate nutrition and good colony health, 75-90% will hatch three weeks from today. Most of these bees will not forage for another two weeks after that.

Period Work activity
Days 1-3 Cleaning cells and incubation
Day 3-6 Feeding older larvae
Day 6-10 Feeding younger larvae
Day 8-16 Receiving nectar and pollen from field bees
Day 12-18 Beeswax making and cell building
Day 14 onwards

Entrance guards; nectar, pollen, water &

propolis foraging; robbing other hives

Table courtesy Wikipedia.

The flow continues into August and sometimes September, so timing the colony peak is a bit of a guessing game.  Peaking too early can result in swarms and/or lazy bees.  Ideally, the colony is just finishing build up as the main flow begins and continues at full strength until the flow tapers off.

*   *   *   *

With everything, there are limits and in spring beekeeping, day length, rain and snow, winds and low temperatures are constraining factors.

I am reading back to last spring's entries.  Looking back helps me see what my concerns were in previous years. There is lots to read and the new tablet allows me to sit back and read anywhere. 

It appears that, in spite of the winter being very cold last year, that the bees were ahead of this year. I also notice typos which I shall fix when I get around to it.  The page format was simpler then, with no background picture.  I like that and wonder if I have gotten too fancy.

It is now coming up on 0800.  The sun is shining and the temperature rising.  It is breezy, though, and we will have wind again today.

I tend to worry about wind too much.  Wind can stress and chill bees and brood on cool days, but on warm days, the main concern is that any brood left out of the hive does not dry out.  For personal comfort while working the bees, wind is not an issue unless it gets really gusty and over fifteen MPH.  A light breeze makes work more pleasant, in fact.

Open brood can be killed very quickly by drying, and wind can dry open brood quickly.  Sun can be a worry, too. I have mentioned before that direct sun kills brood quickly and that if frames are left facing the sun when leaned up against a hive, brood damage can occur.  Chilling is less of a problem than drying or overheating.

I am full of ambition this morning and it looks as if I may actually get outside by 0830!

I was out by 0900 and finished the South of the Hedge group. 

Working early has its advantages and problems.  For one, it is cooler and the bees are all home. Colonies are more clustered and judging colony strength requires balancing these two conflicting factors. The first makes the colony look larger and the second, smaller.

I encountered some starvation which might not have been as obvious later in the day after foragers return with nectar. In the pictures, we see a frame with granulated honey and new brood, but no nectar around the brood. Honey in the hive is not the same thing as honey in the bee.

Those who claim that beekeepers should never feed sugar and that honey is the best and only food miss the fact that many honeys granulate rock hard and that bees sometimes can starve in a hive with plenty of feed.

This colony is not dying, but it is starving in the midst of plenty, at least by morning when the previous day's nectar collection has been consumed.

*    *    *    *    *

At half-past noon, I went out and worked another hour and a half in the North Yard.  The result was four more splits and patties on six more hives.  why some hives have six boxes full of bees and some barely a half-box is a mystery.  The day is growing hot and the 15 MPH wind is welcome.  The wind is from the SSW today and only a little filters through the hedge: just enough for comfortable work.

Today, it suddenly it struck me that I don't know what I am doing.  As a result, I am stressing about the bees and unable to plan the rest of my life. 

Sideline and commercial beekeepers do things by 'rounds' and I have not scheduled my rounds so much as just felt I had to keep going and going.  As a result, I get back to some hives too soon, bothering them and wasting my time.

I need to finish this round and decide when to go around again.  I'm about two thirds done the round and realise that I don't know how long a round takes.  If I knew that, planning would be simpler.

I do about four hives an hour and have around seventy hives, so the round should take 70/4=17.5 hours.  Lately I have been working four hours a day, max, but not every day, so that means four and a half days if I don't get distracted. That seems about right.

So, I need to spend five days every ten days? That gives me only five days off.  I need to work on that.

Now that I have a lot of splits to think about, will that math hold?  I doubt it. Those calculations were just a SWAG to get me in the ballpark.

That seems high. I'll have to pay more attention to my time spent.  For one thing, I don't work on every hive every round.

There are logical reasons to visit at certain times and not at others.  Assuming adequate feed and health, it takes time for bees to reach certain milestones and leaving them alone for at least a week at a time is good for them, and also good for the beekeeper.

  • A visit in March is wise to check for feed, deal with dinks and drone layers by combining and to put on patties and Apivar.
  • In early April, a round to check colonies that have not consumed patties or are not centred on the Apivar is helpful and at that time, further minor adjustments may be indicated.
  • Later in April, another round or two to do the same thing is a good plan, and for those planning to reverse and split, preparations for that can begin.  Some reversing may be in order, and excess feed may have to be pulled out of some top boxes to allow room for brood rearing.
  • At the beginning of May, another round to prepare for splitting by moving hives, reversing and assessing hives is indicated.
  • Ten days later, splitting begins and the strongest hives can be split.
  • It will be a week or ten days before the slower colonies are ready and another round is required.
  • At that time, the existing splits are also checked and equalized or combined back with parent colonies if they are queenless and not raising queens.
  • Another week or ten days later, the final splitting can be done.
  • Again all splits are quickly checked and equalized.

These are the required rounds, but during the whole time, yard cleanup, box scraping and general background work continues. Walking through the yards will indicate the exceptional hives which show no activity or where bees are hanging out.  These special  cases are dealt with ad hoc as discovered and out of the scheduled rounds.

Occasional swarms are likely, too.

I went back out and finished the North yard and when I was done, I had 18 splits waiting above excluders for queens, including several from yesterday.  Some of the hives can be split again later, but I figured one good split per hive was a good start.

The apple trees are in full bloom now and the dandelions are out, but the bees were robbing quite vigorously as I worked.

*   *   *   *   *

At left, is the North yard, the way I left it at the end of the day.  The boxes on top are brood chambers that have more honey than I like or combs I want to take out of service. (Yes, I do cull combs occasionally if they are distorted or otherwise unserviceable, but never for age alone).

This is my way of getting the feed out of them and also of preventing the weaker hives from being robbed while I am working. When the flow begins again, the bees will forget about these boxes instantly, and as long as they have open honey to rob, they will ignore the occupied hives.

The lid blocking one hive is to divert bees away to neighbouring hives as it was overpopulated and likely to begin building cells.

Disease?  I never see any AFB, and as for other diseases, if the bees are susceptible to disease, I don't want them.   People worry far too much.  Bees, like children need to be exposed to the environment to adapt.  besides, we shuffle combs and bees around between hives all the time anyhow.

*   *   *   *   *

I came in at 1845, still feeling energetic, but needing to find some honey for Flo and not wanting to overdo the effort of the day. Flo had been wanting honey, so tonight was the night to find some for her. 

I found a few pails from 2008, or maybe1998.  The lot number was 8-8 so probably 1998.  I called her up and she came over to get it.  I gave her a good deal. She wanted it for canning, so honey is honey, and actually this honey was just fine. She stayed to visit a while and I took the opportunity to give away a few plants.  My house is a jungle.

I see my cactus is blooming.  It is as old as Jonathan.  I bought that cactus  back in 1970 when it was one inch high, before he was born.

I'm about out of patties again.  The ten boxes I got recently are gone.  I have decided I like the 25% patties best, but they have not proven as popular as the 15%, at least amongst the commercials beekeepers.

Getting Global Patties out of the box has been a hassle, especially if a box has been dropped or been sitting for a while.

The patties are softer than they were originally and I find that makes them easier to squish between boxes, but a it trickier to move when working on the brood frames under patties that have been on a while.  The softer patties are a bit more difficult to move.

I have tried various methods of de-boxing them, but finally settled on just cutting around the bottom of the box with a box knife, and lifting the top off, leaving the box bottom as a tray.

All in all today was a great day.  My flu bug, depression or whatever has been keeping me down this past month seems to have passed.  I had ambition and energy, but I did have one brief episode of a visual distortion that went away after I laid down for a fifteen-minute nap.  I am starting to think this could be a painless stress headache.

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The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on.
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