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  A load of bees almost ready to go.
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Wednesday July 1st 2015

   Canada Day, eh? 

Today A few showers ending this morning then mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm early this morning. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h this afternoon. High 27. UV index 6 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Becoming clear this evening. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 14.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Canada Day is starting off cool and breezy, so I had breakfast, read the news and went back to bed.

I had thought to go kitesurfing today, but since I don't have a wetsuit, that is probably not a great idea.

My alternate plan was to work through beehives, but that is on hold as it is pouring rain.  We have had a half-inch since midnight.

The Cardinal Sins of Commercial Beekeeping

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that I committed the cardinal sins of commercial beekeeping this year and have been spending time in purgatory as a result. 

  • I failed to standardize everything, and

  • I failed to keep detailed records in a way that they were accessible when I needed them.

That latter item may seem odd, given the time I spend writing here, but the simple fact is that what I record here is not what I need to manage.  I need to know what I did to each hive and when and what I saw.

As a result, I am working the same hives over and over, and waiting impatiently when I could be doing something else if I knew when things are due, like when specific queens should be beginning laying.

The way I am doing things is great.  I'm just not doing it well.

*    *    *    *    *

Secondarily, I did not have all the supplies and equipment I needed at hand well in advance. I've made that mistake before, but one simply cannot count on others to be on one's schedule or remember what was discussed at some previous point in time. 

For example, one cannot count on Beaver Plastics to have boxes on hand, the number they say they have when they do have some -- or to to make more when they say they will.

It is essential in a business where important things happen once a year on specific dates to have all the ducks lined up well before that time comes -- and keep them lined up.

First, after the rain quit, in my continuing effort to eliminate exceptions I screwed a few more slats on the remaining floors that are still lacking runners.  There will be a few more slat-less floors showing up as I work through the last of the hives, but once the hives are all on identical floors, life will be much easier.

I'll be able to move hives around to mow and to padgen* them as needed and loading will be simpler.  One thing that made me decide to go to this expense and bother was the thought of loading 40 hives onto a  trailer by hand, and not being able to use a dolly.  The other incentive was the out of control grass and weeds among the hives.  I find working in a neat environment much easier and being able to move the hives periodically makes mowing easier.

* Padgen means to interchange a strong and a weak hive on a flying day to equalize their field forces, drastically boosting the weaker hive.

After lunch, I went out and worked bees for an hour, going through a dozen hives in the North Yard and marking them.  I combined several and straightened the row a bit.

The day has turned warm and breezy and it would be a perfect day to be windsurfing or kiting, but I want to get this bee work done, plus, I have to get a wetsuit or lose twenty pounds first so I can wear my old one.

Actually, I think I'll lose twenty pounds.  It shouldn't be that hard.  I was down to 208 a few years back, but let my weight creep back up.  All I have to do is pay attention to what I eat and stop drinking.  The odd thing about physical size is that I get used to thinking of myself as being a certain size -- being a big guy has some perks --and begin worrying if I shrink.  As I heard same wag say, "Inside every thin person, there is a fat person struggling to get out".

I went out again before supper and worked through more hives. 

While I was doing that, I shot pictures of two comparable brood frames.

The one at left is a Pierco one-piece and the one at right is  is a wood frame with plastic insert.   The two shots are cropped so that the outer edges of the frames occupy the same area in the image.

To me the difference is obvious.  The wood frame wastes a lot of space on useless support material that interferes with the brood rearing.  The plastic frame provides far more comb area.

I think people who continue to buy wood frames are out of touch, have an outdated uncapping and extracting system that cannot handle the plastic, or are simply nuts.  Besides wasting space and breaking the continuity of combs unnecessarily, wood does not last as long, gets dirty, and warps or breaks -- and is clumsier to handle.

Moreover, with wood, one has to handle more frames to see the same amount of brood, and for these who run singles, the extra cells are important since they allow room the queen to lay flat-out and still have room for feed so the hives don't starve the moment supers are pulled off.

The biggest drawback to one-piece plastic has been the bowed surface typical of Pierco frames for many years now, but after examining more and more Acorn frames, I am fairly well convinced that Nick has conquered the warping problem.  I now recommend Acorn and do not any longer recommend Pierco, although I would choose Pierco above wood frames. 

With Pierco, however, one must make sure all brood frames are all placed facing the same way if ten-frame spacing is used or there will be bald spots on some frames due top lack of proper spacing at the bulges.

I don't much like the Mann Lake one-piece frames I have either, but they are years old and may not represent the current production.  I don't know.  I do know, though that PF100s have 5.0 mm cells (they claim 4.9) that are a bit too small for EHB and tend to be poorly drawn by my bees. 

'Small Cell' has been a hoax all along, dreamed up to cover up the invasion of  Arizona by AHB and to obfuscate in order to circumvent the restrictions on transporting bees out of state, but the story suckered a lot of ignorant people, and some smart ones, too -- and still does.  We still hear believers going on about it.

If you have AHB, though, then small cell is for you. Small cells are signature of AHB and, in fact, cell measurements were used by Bill Wilson and other researchers as a progress indicator when examining combs in swarm traps along the migration route as these bees moved north from Brazil.

So far, I have only worked 15 hives today.  At this rate, I'll never be done, so I am headed back out.  I'd like to finish the North Yard -- approximately thirty hives.

So far, I have shipped 33 hives and have another ten ready to go out of sixty-nine promised.

Here is why one should never assume a smoker has gone out and dump it on the dry grass or drive down the road with a smoker that is not in an airtight metal box.

I went into the house for a while and when I came back out, the smoker was barely going.  Puffing hard would not get it going, so I took some fuel out to allow the air to flow through better and set the burlap on a plywood hive lid.

I had to do a quick repair to a floor and turned my back for a minute. When I turned around, the burlap was smoking heavily, and as I waited and watched, it burst into flame.

What you see flaming here is a piece of unburned fuel from the top of the smoker that did not seem to have any embers in it when I removed it from the smoker. 

I watched as the wind fanned the ember into a flame and photographed it as it became more and more involved.  The entire process took much less than five minutes. 

If I had let it go on a dry, windy day like this, the entire hivetop, then the hive would have burned, followed by nearby dry grass, then possibly the neighbourhood.

If a smoldering smoker full of dry fuel is left in the back of a truck or in dry grass, a serious fire can easily result.  In strong winds, flames will come out of the smoker, either from the top, or from the bottom air hole, depending on wind direction and smoker position.

                

After supper - bean stew - 250 calories -- I went out and finished the North Yard.  There are 30 stands there now, two of which are queenless -- so far.

I finished around 2030, tidied up, and had a swim, then came in for the day.  At 2100, it is still bright and sunny out.

I keep my hives in rows.  I realise there is some drifting as a result, but I use drifting to my advantage to equalize and boost colonies as needed.  As for worries about mating queens getting lost, that seldom seems to be a problem.  Seems that virgin queens are smarter than people think.

People worry when they are working on a hive and the queen flies, which happens occasionally, or when installing a queen and she lifts off.  In my experience, she usually returns at some point and, on a subsequent visit, is found laying in her hive.

The best way out is always through
Robert Frost

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Thursday July 2nd 2015

Today Mainly sunny. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High 29. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight A few clouds. Low 15.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Hives are leaving the yard daily now.  The flow is beginning and it is time for people to pick up their hives before they need more boxes and before they get to heavy to handle..

A customer is sending a friend to pick up a hive.

Me: >> He knows how to handle bees and has a suit and veil?

Customer: > He has a suit/veil, I will make sure he brings it, as well as a roll of duct tape to seal the hive for travel…

Sealing a strong hive in hot weather can result in suffocation.

I supply a good hive ready to go, but it is the buyer's responsibility to be sure that it is loaded, secured, and transported safely.

Carrying bees inside the passenger compartment of a vehicle with people is not advisable for obvious reasons, but some people screen the hives and do it.

Even with screening, there can be risk of suffocation and it is advisable to make sure the populations are smaller than for hives which are transported wide open.

Most people carry strong hives under a tarp in the back of a truck or trailer with entrances open for air.

After one day of watching what I eat and, of course working in the yards for five hours in the heat, I appear to be five pounds lighter and my blood sugar, normally OK, is lower. 

It is not unusual to drop that much due mainly to water loss after changing diet, cutting fast carbs and exercising.  What will be interesting is if I continue to lose weight at a noticeable rate.

The first issue is how disciplined I will be and the second is just a question of metabolism. I seem to recall that in the past I lost a pound a week (or was it two?) with no effort, but I looked around online and the consensus seems to be that for a guy my size, losing as much as three pounds a week is not extreme.  For an active person, it is just a matter of calorie consumption.  We'll see.

All this, just to get into my wetsuit?

In the past several days I am finding that I have to close or screen my doors and windows.  Otherwise, flies are a problem.  Up until now, I could leave them open without issues.

Generally, flies in the house are a sign that the honeyflow is on.  I also see yellow starting in the nearby fields and the bees are beginning to beard a bit again.  It is time for the main flow, which generally starts now and gets going in earnest in a week or so.

I should really have gone out and started on the bees, but I first worked on the pool.  I had found out by searching that the only way to get rid of the wispy debris in the pool bottom is to vacuum it out and discard it, so I rigged a siphon, vacuumed the bottom and it worked!  I also lost very little water.

I then made a bean stew.  When I say bean stew, the recipe calls for whatever is in the fridge, with three cans of beans, a can of corn, and a can of diced tomatoes as base.  Added to that are diced carrots, beets, celery, onions, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cauliflower, red cargo rice, turnip...

Bean stews are the staple of my diet.  I make a big pot and keep it in the fridge.  It lasts well over a week and makes a quick snack, or even a meal. 

If I am serious about losing weight -- which I am if I am so bold as to mention it here -- a perfect choice for meals.  A cup only has about 250 calories.  If I want to lose weight reasonably quickly, I need to cut down to 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day and that, if I ate nothing else, is 10 cups of stew -- which seems like a lot, so this should be do-able. 

I called friends and invited them for burgers tonight.  I have a customer coming, but that should not take long.

Now, at 1110, time for the bees.

I visited the South of the Hedge Yard and checked the hives.  There are 13 hives there now, including two that are raising queens.  

The new queens are coming on well.  I find my queens from walk-away splits to be the most reliable.  Oftentimes purchased queens are not accepted or disappear after a while. 

I do regret not having raised queen cells, though, as ripe cells are the ideal and inexpensive way to speed things up. 

Queen cells are also a good way to improve stock by selecting for characteristics like HYG and temper in the mother colony. 

Walk-away splits don't select colonies for anything except ability to get populous enough to split, and intelligence enough to raise emergency cells.

That effort was followed by a swim and lunch -- a cup of the new bean stew.

Now for the Quonset Yard.  It's now 1312 -- almost solar noon -- so we will see how long I last.

I invited the Usual Suspects for burgers tonight and figure on making a run to town before suppertime.

I went back out until, just before around 1500, I was feeling hot and faint so I quit and went for a dip.  The pool is staying clean.  Vacuuming worked.

I then came in and checked my blood sugar.  It measured 4.5 (US 82), which is about as low as it goes for me.  I had a snack of stew and some nuts and have to get back out.  I still don't have the hive for tonight.  I am finding everything except a strong single with enough brood in all stages. The singles I have left -- that are not made into doubles -- have new queens and too .little brood or are plugged out.  I may have to break down a double.

I have to go to town soon, too, so this is it.  If I can't find one in the next  ten minutes, I'll make one.

*    *    *    *

It will be a small group tonight, so I skipped the ride to town and worked more hives.  I found what I needed  for tonight's pickup.  I am also finding that the queenless colonies have almost all made queens or queens have drifted in.

Fen, Betty, and Elijah came and Barb tagged along with Elijah to tell me about an anniversary celebration Saturday at the Hall.

We ate outside and after Elijah and Barb left, a customer came for a hive.  That took only a few moments.  Fen, Betty and I chatted a while, then Fen and I had a swim.  The water was 24 degrees, but when the sun is not overhead anymore, 24 degrees is not all that warm and we only stayed in for a few minutes.  There is not that much for adults to do in a 9' x 18' pool although kids can be entertained for hours.

Love is a better teacher than duty.
Albert Einstein

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Friday July 3rd 2015

Today Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon. High 32. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers this evening with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 then light near midnight. Low 14.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Garry and I are going Bobcat shopping today.  Fen has decided the Mill's tractor is not up to the various jobs they have for it and that they need something that can lift bales and also clear snow, so the millwright and I are off to see what we can find.  I'm to be at The Mill at 1030.

I have 10 strong singles to prepare for tomorrow, plus another ten or so doubles.  It is 0620 and I intend to get out and see what I can do.

My habit has been to work the bees later in the day since, in my experience, the bees are sluggish before 9 AM and can be cross as well.  After 1000, they get more active and mellow.

Our habit when we ran thousands of hives was to load trucks and prepare first thing in the morning, then go out mid-morning and work in the yards mid-day and later.

I'll see how things go.  I suspect I'll need my full bee suit and veil and smoke.

The PondI went looking for the diary entry from 2000 about the time that I walked through a pollination yard before 0900 and found the bees nasty, but found them tame an hour later, but did not find it. 

What I did find was a picture of what the pond looked like fifteen years ago (above right). In that time, the trees and bushes have grown, the shed as disappeared, and the west end of the quonset has collapsed.  Duckweed has taken over the pond as well (a current picture is at lower right).

Photography and web technology have changed a lot as well.

People refer to this dairy as a blog, but a blog it is not. I have never cared for that term.  This is a diary, and was started years before the term 'blog' was coined.

As I write this, I hear the sounds of crop dusters spraying crops nearby.  For what, I don't know, but I never like to hear that sound.  Nonetheless, in recent years, I have not noticed any damage to the bees from spraying.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.

I went out around 0830 and the bees were not too bad at all.  I worked through four hives before I had to quit at 1000 to go to The Mill.  By then, it was getting pretty hot, so I had a swim and a rest. 

I think I should be getting out to work the bees much earlier than I have been, especially when the days are expected to reach into the thirties.  Aided by a bit of smoke and wearing a veil, working in the coolness  of early morning went well and I accomplished jobs that would have been uncomfortable at mid-day.

I got to The Mill a bit late, but Garry was ready and we drove to Innisfail to look at skid steers.

The first one we looked at appeared a bit small and used up, but the second one was pretty good.  It has 8200 hours, but sounded fine, had no obvious leaks and obviously had been well-maintained and kept indoors.  Garry bought it and we returned to The Mill where I dropped him off, picked up Zippy who had stayed there while we went shopping, and drove home.

Now, at 1530, I am thinking of going back out.  I have six more hives to prepare for tomorrow night and it is time to super everything as well.   The flow is on.

I decided instead to have a nap and wait for the sun to get lower in the sky.  I can work until 2100, and there is no sense wearing myself out in the heat.

I went back out and worked a bit at 1830, then had a swim and went back again and worked until 2115, at which time the sun got close to the horizon and prudence suggested closing the hives. 

There is always a layer of cloud just above the horizon in the evening here, and about a half-hour before sunset, the sun goes behind this cloud, changing the light and ending the day's beekeeping.

I managed to finish the Quonset West yard and have seven of the ten hives I need for tomorrow night ready.   Working the hives is getting harder because the populations are mushrooming and because the flow has started again, making everything gooey.

I need to get supers onto all the hives, even the little ones.  Have I mentioned that I hate honey?

I have forty hives left to work over in the Quonset yard.

I should just stay off the Calgary Beekeepers List.  These guys are having fun tinkering with their bees and the tinkering is mostly harmless, but I rose to the bait... 

> Just because a commercial bee keepers do not provide a venting it doesn't make it right.

Or wrong. Since commercial beekeepers all started somewhere, and many were hobbyists, you can be sure most have tried every imaginable dumb idea. I know I did -- including all sorts of ventilation schemes.

> The nectar is 80% of water, the nectar has to have 18% moister to become honey. If the nectar flows, you have to provide the adequate venting to evaporate the moister from the hives.

Bees are amazing at ventilation. They are very efficient and a few bees can control airflow instantly. In fact, a few bees can regulate brood temperatures and humidity better than most commercial single stage incubators.

> As well helping the bees to evaporate the moister is good.

It can be, in theory anyhow, but the amount of nectar, concentration, and the ambient conditions vary constantly, making any fixed system like a broken clock -- correct twice a day and wrong the rest of the time. That 'help' can just as easily be a hindrance.

> The science of understanding the honey bee is moving forward, and you guys are stalling.

Who, exactly is "you guys"? If you mean commercial beekeepers, the ones I know, both here, in the USA and in other countries read voraciously, network constantly, travel the world and visit operations everywhere, plus experiment with new ideas routinely.

> You have a thousand of bee fanning on the entrance and inside of the hive to cool off the hive (not forging) thousand of bees collecting the water to cool off the hive (not forging)

That is a false alternative. A study of division of labour and daily cycles in a beehive might be helpful in avoiding false conclusions here.

> More venting = More honey.

Not true. Not false. No direct relationship exists.

> Over supering is good. The believe is that the super have to be 80% full before you install second it's non sense.

This is true under certain conditions and false under other conditions. Comb production is an exception as is end of the season management.

> As I said , the nectar is 80% water and needs 3 times more space to occupy, to evaporate and need a storage place,

That figure varies, but us close enough for illustration purposes.

> needs more venting as well.

More venting than what? Bees can do a lot of ventilating through very small holes.

> Too hot inside of the hive can deform the honey comb (melt it). Deform brood comb is a bigger problem.

I have never seen this in a hive occupied by a free-flying colony of bees in Canada.

Is this a problem?

If you wish to be out front, then act as if you were behind.
Lao Tzu

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Saturday July 4th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of showers early this morning with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 27. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness before morning. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I slept well and weighed myself on waking.  232. 

That is down at least ten pounds from the highest recent reading and maybe more if I go back a few months.  It is down four pounds from yesterday, but the numbers are not exact.  Rocking around on the scale affects the reading and I can't see the fine gradations on the dial either.

I checked my blood sugar: 5.8.

That is unusually low for me, and approaching ideal.  Wow.

I had breakfast and cut back from three eggs to two.  It's  time to get used to eating less.  If I am going to lose 10% of my weight or more, I'll have to get used to eating less. 

Smaller people need less food.  For example, very roughly, if I need 2,400 calories a day just  to stay at 240, then I'll need  only 2,100 to stay at 210 -- assuming I get there.  And to get there, I'll need to eat less than 2,400, obviously.  Simple, really.

I just have to convince myself.  Being this size is a comfortable habit and I'll have to change my self-image.

It seems I am really going to do this.  I changed my diet and set up a spreadsheet.  The changes are not huge.  I know what to do.  Don't drink wine or other alcohol, reduce meat consumption, avoid foods made with flour and sugar and eat sensibly. 

This the time of year to lose weight.  I am physically very active right now and the hot weather suppresses appetite.

Avoiding salt is not in this plan.  Working outdoors, I lose a lot of salt and actually stir a spoonful into a glass of water if I am really thirsty.  If that salt quenches my thirst, I needed it.  If it does not taste good, I did not.

From what I read, my ideal weight is somewhere between 133 and 180. 

Ideal Weight Calculator

Result

Based on the Robinson formula (1983), your ideal weight is 160.7 lbs
Based on the Miller formula (1983), your ideal weight is 158.1 lbs
Based on the Devine formula (1974), your ideal weight is 166.0 lbs
Based on the Hamwi formula (1964), your ideal weight is 171.3 lbs
Based on the healthy BMI recommendation, your recommended weight is 132.6 lbs - 179.2 lbs

For me, that is unimaginably thin.   I have not been down to 185 since the 1970s.  This is going to be a psychological challenge.  I know I'm not going to like shrinking, and my subconscious autopilot will resist strongly as my weight approaches 200.  I'll have an identity crisis if I go under 200. 

I'm even going to have trouble believing myself if I get to 210, which seems to me to be a reasonable intermediate goal.

*    *    *     *     *

Enough about me. Lets get back to the bees...

Today, I have to get at least another three strong singles ready and this afternoon, I am invited to go to the community hall for an event celebrating the sixtieth? anniversary of the local ladies club. 

Obviously, I am not a member, but Ellen worked with the community to design and paint the local mural, and her art hangs in the hall.  Plus, after forty-seven years living here, I have been a town resident longer than anyone, so maybe I should show.  I have been here for almost half the history of the town since it was founded.

Tonight several customers come for bees.  It should be interesting since bees are now starting to hang out in the evenings and may not stay in too well when travelling.

It is now 0750 and I am going out to work on the bees before the day heats up.

After writing about excessive ventilation yesterday, I confess I left lids of  some hives overnight to get the bees to go up and occupy newly-added top boxes.  We'll see how that worked.

Leaving off the lids did get the bees up.  I don't know what other effects it might have had, but the bees that were bearding were inside and several frames were covered with bees.  This is a trick I used when making splits and wanting bees to come up through an excluder into the split.

These are supers supplied by a customer.  At this point, I have become so accustomed to plastic boxes and frames that wood looks crude and dirty to me.  That is unfortunate because I have lots of wooden equipment that I should use and sell.  It is hard to use or sell anything I don't believe in.

By noon, I've worked through about ten of the remaining forty hives and had three swims.  I'm still not quite ready for tonight, however. 

At one point, I managed to rile a hive enough that I beat a retreat.  They were fine when I returned fifteen minutes later. 

I had a nap after lunch and went back out long enough to do another hive or two, then dressed to go to the Hall.

I arrived and looked around, said hello to a few people, then  slipped away.  There is a program planned, but it is hot in there and I doubt I'd enjoy it, and I am obsessed with getting the bees done so I can go east.

This town has a lot of really nice people -- I cannot think of one exception -- and at one time, I was more involved in curling, and other events, but in  recent years, I have not attended much. 

The community ladies did the lunch for Ellen's funeral and Jean's wedding years back and Ellen worked with the ladies to do the mural, but I have drifted away from the community and my close associates are distant from here.

I suppose I have some small regrets that I was not more sociable, but I in spite of this public diary might seem to suggest, I am a private person and a bit of a loner.

So, I am home again, with time to get back to the bees.  The day is overcast and 'only' twenty-five degrees at 1439, so with any luck, I'll get a fair but accomplished.  I doubt I'll finish this round today, but if I do, I have only a few more deliveries and supering and I'm done for a while.

I'm hungry.  And I'm resisting snacking.  My spreadsheet is a very rough approximation, but it tells me how long it will take to get to 210 snack by snack, meal by meal on the assumption that I continue to eat the same as I have from the start of each day.  A few bites can move the end date from August to October.  I know it is a joke, but playing games with myself keeps me motivated.

It is that time of year and we're discussing frames and foundation and waxing again, so a trip to this page is in order to look at this image (right).

Does waxing make a difference?  You betcha!

My customers came just before dark.  The first was took eight singles, the second, two singles.

No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.
Madonna

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Sunday July 5th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers this morning and early this afternoon. Wind becoming north 20 km/h gusting to 40 this morning. High 20. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 7.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Good day.  We have a cool day promised, with rain likely.  This is a welcome change after the heat of the past week.

My weight is unchanged today but my blood sugar is still lower than usual.  Portion control is the secret, it seems.

Weighing daily can be disappointing as daily changes are bound to be slight and weights fluctuate considerable due to retained water and food eaten. 

What really matters is the trend, and the trend will only show up clearly with weekly or monthly weighings.

I dug through my archives and found the records from the last time I decided to lose weight.  I was heavier in  those days but more of the weight was muscle.   The sampling points are rather randomly spaced, but the trend is obvious.

I suspended the diary for a year or so about that time, so this seems to be the only record.

The initial 151 days were just normal seasonal weight loss due to the more active season, then things leveled out from October through May, and dropped fast again into September.  The average weekly loss over the entire period is a half a pound a week.  My maximum loss was about four pounds a month.

Looking at this, I am seeing my goals this time are somewhat ambitious.

While checking calories in foods, I came across a website that looks promising, so I signed up.  We'll see how it works out.  It looks good.

I had figured my daily calorie budget at my current activity level to be 2943.  They figure my base at 2,000, but with three hours of 'gardening', my budget is 3,569. 

When add in housework and shopping, the gross rises to 4,044!  That's a lot of food.  I am beginning to doubt this calculator.  It's fun anyhow.

This gives new meaning to "shop until you drop" (weight, that is).  When will shopping become an Olympic sport?

I downloaded the Fatsecret phone app and without the extra allowance added by the exercise which I have yet to do today it agrees with the desktop website base calorie budget, but shows the extra allowance separately from the base budget.   I think this is going to work.

If I don't get off my butt, I have only 1290 calories left today.  If I do the work I promised myself today, I have another 2,000.  I wonder about this.  It sounds like a lot compared to other calculations I've done.  In time, it will all come clear, I am sure.

I'm getting communications for my customers looking for advice.  Of course, they are exposed to all sorts of ideas from the world of bee 'experts' -- bottom screens, medium frames, white for honey, black for brood...

I tell them, "Hey, these are bugs in a box.  Do you know how hard it is to get rid of bugs?  Odds are better than five to one that your bees are going to do just fine if you make sure they don 't succumb to disease or mites, you provide enough room, leave them enough honey to survive the winter and don't bother them too much. 

Bees don't care about box depth, frame and foundation colour, etc.  Standardize, follow the KISS formula, make things simple for yourself, and don't tinker too much.  If you need more to keep you busy, get more bees. (hehehe).."

I went out when the sun came out and mowed around the hives in the Quonset area and counted hives in all the yards.  I am realizing that I have finished the sales for now.  There are 24 hives yet to go, but they are ready.

Now I have to decide if I want to sell more and how many.

I have been playing with Fatsecret off and on as I come and go, and my first impressions are that it is the Swiss Army Knife of dieting.  It has everything from recipes, nutrient breakdowns to community. 

I have no idea how accurate the information is, but it looks close enough to what I would expect that it appears credible so far.  I was wary of the social aspect, which is entirely optional and for which I opted out, but may decide to participate.  We'll see.  If nothing else, this is a way to keep my interest up.

Now back to the salt mine.

The Quonset Yard has 36 hives and I've done about twelve.  I'm finding very few queenless hives. It seems that at this time of year queens show up.  I am sure most are raised in the hives where I find them, but I also suspect that queens drift in.  Could be that they can detect queenless hives. 

There is so much we don't know about bees and much of what is taught merely gives us the illusion of understanding. Teachers, writers and extension people (I have been all of the above at some point in time) are expected to have content for their articles , courses and field demonstrations, and an answer for every question.  If they don't have direct experience, many just parrot what they have heard or read.

So, a body of semi-true and sometimes-true 'knowledge' grows and newcomers naively assume that what is read and taught is true and repeat it.  If they see things that do not agree with these teachings, they assume the fault is with themselves, not the teachings, and pretend they see what they expect to see.  After a while, they do. And so it goes...

 Much of the parts that are are only true in some specific circumstances and some of what is taught is merely conjecture or conclusions reached by applying good logic to limited observations or bad assumptions.

Any statement about bees that includes the words 'never' or 'always' should be doubted and the source of that pronouncement regarded with suspicion.

At 1800, I got tired and came in.  I had been working through hives, making the occasional split, and shuffling  hives around to neaten the yard and to equalize populations. 

Queenless splits can afford to lose some bees since they won't need them while the new queen is being raised and mated, so sometimes I shift them to share their flying bees and reduce the chance of plugging.

All that activity had stirred things up and I figured I should stop confusing things to give them a chance to calm down.

I saw one immature varroa on a drone pupa when separating boxes.  That is the first since spring.

I finished the first two rows and there are two left now.  All the sold hives are ready to go.

I finished the day on Fatsecret and according to them, I am 2062 calories short of the daily calorie budget (4044) that would reduce me to 210 pounds (It does not say when).   Seems squirrelly to me.

Entering everything I eat in to a web page is work, at least at first while I am finding out the calorie load on various foods.  The work involved in recording is an actual deterrent to eating. 

"If I eat that, I'm going to have to go look it up and enter it.  Maybe I'll skip it.  I guess I'm not that hungry after all."

If this calculator is correct and if I am measuring and finding the right numbers, the prediction is to lose four pounds in a week! That seems extreme, but who knows.  I'm not starving and I notice my bee suit fits better today. 

That looseness might have to do with the stitching, though.  I notice one of my new "Quality Bee Suits" from Beemaid (left)  -- worn twelve times and washed as many -- has a hole in the bottom of one pocket already and the zipper has become unstitched for two inches near the top.  What can one expect for $44.95? 

A Sherriff suit (right) is $210.   Aaron lends me one when I visit him and although these cheap suits are really, really, nice, the Sherriff full suit is far better, with more and better pockets with flaps, thinner, cooler, better material and two-way zippers, etc... 

These cheap suits also are a small fit and at 5' 11", I am finding even the XXL a bit short in the body.

I used to know how to run the sewing machine and I guess I'll have to pull it out.  My mother taught me to sew, knit, and clean house.  I was a good student.

Does waxing foundation make a difference? 

Here is the proof.  Once again, here, is an Acorn double-waxed standard frame (the only frames I recommend at present). 

The bees you see on the frame are all the bees it took to draw it out this far using only the wax that came on on the foundation.

A similar small number of bees are doing the same on all the frames in this box, which was only put on yesterday or the day before. 

That is a bait comb of brood in the middle, brought up from below when adding the super.  It was replaced below with a frame of the same foundation and I imagine the queen is laying in it now.

Without wax, the frame we see would probably not have been started until far more bees came up and clustered to produce wax.

Moreover, these bees necessarily followed the pattern since they are not producing wax themselves and are merely working what is there into cells. 

If the bees had to produce wax to start drawing comb, it would take far more bees and they might draw burr comb or go out at right angles.  It is hard to predict. 

Once foundation is begun properly, though, odds are high that the rest of the comb drawn when other bees join in will be perfect.  I have entire boxes drawn quickly and perfectly time and time again.

You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.
Saul Bellow

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Monday July 6th 2015

Today Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. Wind becoming south 20 km/h this morning. High 25. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Clearing near midnight. Low 12.

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I feel great.  I went to bed early last night, slept well, and woke up at 0455 this morning, feeling energetic.  I've now fulfilled all my commitments for hives although there are a few stragglers and hives left to pick up.

The Calgary Stampede, Calgary's is on until the 12th and I'm wondering if I'll go.  The Stampede is Calgary's original claim to fame back when Calgary was a small city and known mainly as "Cow Town" (Toronto was "Hog Town") rather than for being the economic powerhouse of Western Canada,

I haven't been to the Stampede for years now.  At one time, when the kids were growing up, we sometimes went several times: for the exhibits, the barns, the chuckwagon races, the midway, and the grandstand show.

Last night was the coolest in recent weeks and yesterday there was feeling of fall in the air, even though summer has just begun. Predictions are for a resumption of the heat wave, however.

*   *   *   *   *

Nighttime temperatures are a big consideration at this time of year when the bees are up to strength, and beginning to draw foundation readily. 

Temperature is a big steering factor, and hive interior temperatures have a strong influence on where the bees will draw foundation and where they will not, as well as how good a job they will do. 

Looking at yesterday's picture again (left), we can see how few bees it can take to work on foundation -- if conditions are right. 

You will note that the top of the foundation is drawn best and that is where the heat accumulates above the front and back auger holes in this new box.  I had unthinkingly left them open. When there is a breeze, wind can blow right through the box, dissipating the necessary heat. I should plug them.

Yes, I am using EPS boxes for supers.  Insulation is beneficial, both summer and winter.

When the hive interior approaches the 95 degree F brood temperature, wax becomes soft and pliable and bees do not have to expend energy staying warm, or for cooling .  They can accomplish far more and much more quickly than when temperatures are cooler.

In our climate, cooling is seldom a challenge, and when it is, a good hive can manage it easily with normal bottom entrances and maybe a few auger holes.

If a region of the hive interior cools, however, the bees drawing  foundation will retreat to the brood nest and may not return for a while. This is one major reason that ventilation schemes dreamed up in the south that draw air through the hives in ways the bees cannot control easily are not a great idea up here in the north.  In some years these schemes  may not do damage, but in other years, they can be costly.

Stampede week weather can range widely.  I recall years when we wore ski clothes to the Stampede and others when we were baking in shorts and tees.

*   *   *   *   *

I plan to finish working through the Quonset yard today and then figure out how many more hives to sell, and begin supering.

By noon, I had only five hives left to look into and took a break and went in for lunch.  Just after noon, my phone rang and was my last remaining customer queued for hive pickup.  He had three hives on deposit and as hoping he could cancel two because he had reserved them for a friend who had backed out on  him.

Okay.  The reason I take deposits is so know who is serious and who is not and so I can predict my sales, but I can understand that this sort of situation is not unusual.  Someone tries to help a friend and the friend turns flakey and leaves him hanging, or there are changes in life circumstances.  With any more than a few deals, one is bound to go this way, so I keep a waiting list for just such an eventuality.

I told him I'd see if I could find a buyer for him, made a call, and sold them right away, so he is off the hook.  I'd have probably let him off anyhow, but don't get any ideas.

I had been dog-tired since I came in at noon, so I lay down for a nap and fell into deep, deep slumber for an hour and a half, finally awakening at 1500. 

I suppose I am relived that I finally am finished (almost) the worst of the bee work.  I sat down and counted up the hives from my notes and see that I now have 31 hives with no queen, 23 that I rate weak, and 7 that I rate as strong.  The total is 61.  The queenless hives are raising queens -- I hope.  I have a few swarms, too.

This is a rough count and subject to recounting after I finish, but I am guessing that if I don't sell more, I'll have about fifty after the dust settles.  Is that too many?  Probably.

What can I sell at this point?  Maybe the seven strong hives, and perhaps a few of the weaker ones.  Most of the weak ones have new queens and only four or five frames with brood.  They will all need supers and most will produce honey and winter well.

Tomorrow night two people are coming to pick up hives and Friday the new buyer is coming by.

I went out and finished this round just before a storm moved in.  Next, I have to super everything and head east.

I looked under lids of  some of the hives I sold that are still here, with the customer's supers on.  The supers he supplied are half partly-drawn comb and half foundation.  The best one I saw is shown here.  Others are just getting going in the supers.  As you can see that super is almost full. He is coming for his last twenty hives tomorrow night.

I saw two hives with bad chalkbrood today, sitting side by side, obviously splits from the same hive.  That is the one problem with walk-away splits -- no selection .  I'll have to requeen these two.  I don't want those genes in my population.

When I meet successful people I ask 100 questions as to what they attribute their success to.
It is usually the same: persistence, hard work and hiring good people.
Kiana Tom

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Tuesday July 7th 2015

Today Mainly sunny. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 25. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Clear. Low 9.

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Ten day forecast

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

It is 0605.  Again, I slept well, and the scale says 230 this morning. I was at 236 just four days ago and I saw 240 and even 245 in preceding weeks. My clothes are falling off me.  Hmmm.  So far, so good, and I'm not really trying that hard.

I bought an old 4-frame extractor sight unseen from the Calgary Beekeepers list and am off to pick it up this morning.  I hope not to use it myself, but figure I can lend it to some of the people who buy bees from me and other newbees.

I left here at 0635 and was in Edgewood to pick up the machine before eight.  I'm glad I got there before the garbage man

I had bought and paid $100 for this device sight unseen the instant I saw the ad, and with no more description than "old four-frame extractor".  I figured for $100, what have I got to lose?  The gas and time to pick it up was worth $100.

When I pulled up, I knew I'd hit the jackpot.   I could have purchased anything that met the description, in  any condition, but this machine is just as I hoped and just as cherry as the one I used forty years ago to extract my first one hundred hives in an old school bus.  I had hung a two-speed furnace fan motor on that one, a simple mod, and run a gas generator outside the bus to power it.  These old machines are built to last and one of these things beats the $1,000 Dadant  4 Frame Little Wonder Extractor hands-down. 

The Little Wonder requires the operator to lift out each frames to reverse and this has to be done two or three times per four-frame load to prevent breakage  if the frames are heavy or granulated.

It can also give the $2,700 Dadant 20 Frame Radial Extractor a run for its money. 

This old machine is accessible from the top and is easier to load than the radial, and does does sixteen frames in twenty minutes running while the radial does twenty -- if you can manipulate the frames into that tight little radial -- and balance the thing. Those newer radials are cheaply built, too.  They shake and deform, and the bearings get rough. They also stand on flimsy legs which makes them awkward to load and unload and unstable.  This one stands on the floor.

I see that there are no lids and people often ran without one.  I think I did, actually.   I doubt it had lids originally, because the tub is deep enough that spray coming over the top is not an issue, but honey mist can get all over after a while if the machine is run fast, so I may rig lids if I put on a motor.  It is just a matter of making two Plexiglas flaps on hinges.

Some people, including the Canadian Food Infection Agency (CFIA) frown on galvanized extractors with lead solder, but the first honey that hits the sides sticks there until the extractor is washed and put away, and the rest of the honey runs down over that honey coating.  Even after sitting for weeks, that coating never runs down. It makes and ideal varnish.

Even if it did, I doubt that zinc and lead from the machine would be detectible.  Environmental zinc and lead in the nectar would mask that infinitesimal amount, and when we consider how little honey most people eat, any concerns seem to me to be rather hysterical. 

There was an issue with lead in honey some time back that CFIA wanted to blame on the extractors, but it was learned that the lead came in with the nectar.  They just like to see shiny machines. In my experience, their fascination with appearances is a ruse to mask their incompetence in dealing with any real issues.

I also see that the baskets are slightly bent and there is some rust, but these are minor issues that are easily fixed.

My plan is to lend it to people, and in the back of my mind is to have a "Honey Day' here with honey extracting taking place on the lawn on a day when robbing is not at all likely.  We'll see.  I am not very happy to have a lot of strangers wandering my place, but I think I could confine things to my North Yard if I built an outhouse.  I could also just rent a porta-potty as I did for the memorial last summer. 

Was it only last summer? I guess it was.

I had forgotten how much I like driving around in the morning.  The new van certainly makes the ride more comfortable. 

The extractor pickup was in one of those new residential areas that was bare fields not too long ago, but which is now fully developed, with mature trees and parks.  People say nasty things about these new homes and neighbourhoods, but they sure look like a nice place to live and I am sure the houses are very comfortable.

From Edgewood, I drove to Airdrie and dropped into Lowes and the Dollarama, then Wal-Mart. 

Shopping was easy because the stores were almost empty and I did not worry about Zippy in the van because the day was still cool. My habit is to go to town at the end of the day, after the day's work, but I can see this works better and I'm going to go to town earlier in future.

At Wal-Mart, I loaded up on groceries and some other necessities.   They had some really nice beets, so I bought some. $235 sure does not go far these days.

I arrived home at noon and had done all this by the time of day when I am often just pushing away from this desk and thinking of going outside.

*   *   *   *   *

I took it easy in the afternoon because I am expecting two customers tonight and Maddy is coming to help with the bees after supper.

Last time we flew the AR Drone, we had a crash from high up in a tree and when I took it out to fly it again the other day, it reported "Motor Error".  Google explained that they had become unplugged internally, so I disassembled the thing and put it back together.

The thought of dissecting a high tech toy like this rather daunting, but I figured if kids on the Internet can do it, so can I.   After all, I used to repair TVs for a living.  Once it was apart, I wondered if I'd ever be able to put all those tiny pieces back where they belong. 

My eyes are not as sharp as they once were, and my fingers are big and clumsy, but with reading glasses and a magnifier light, I was successful and the self-test completed with an OK signal.

I took it out to test it and the drone lifted off six inches and flipped.  A close examination found that one propeller shaft is bent.  I've seen that before and may have the part on hand, but that is for another time.

*   *   *   *   *

Maddy came and we shook out the chalkbrood hives and found some honey frames, then washed and ran the extractor.

The frames were last year's honey and partly granulated, but a tangential reversible.  can get honey from granulated combs without blowing them up, so we got a half- pail of so-so honey which I gave to Maddy to take home to The Mill and give away.   We figured it was  $30 worth at bulk price and a lot more at retail, from just six frames and it was easy.  What a great machine! 

Then the first customer showed up.  His veil, smoker and supplies were all unused and in packages, so I lit his smoker, showed him some things and found some frames and boxes for a second.

Then the second customer came for his last twenty hives and loaded up.  There is one more coming for one hive tomorrow (I think) and one on Friday, but that is pretty well it.  What a relief!

*   *   *   *   *

I am now relying exclusively on the Fatsecret website to calculate and record calories.

There are options for sharing one's experience and I may just turn them on, now that I am gaining respect for the site.  There is a definite learning curve, and at first I was put of by the fact that so many commercial brand meals and processed products cam up in the searches, but I realise now that most people probably do eat that junk and are also the prime prospects for this website.

As much as calorie counting has been denigrated in recent years by the proponents of various fad diets, calorie budgeting, like money budgeting just works.  Moreover, calorie budgeting  is the actual underlying explanation for any success that the fad diets achieve.  What more is there to say?

Calorie budgeting is like money budgeting.  What comes in and what is consumed or goes out must balance to stay constant.  Otherwise there is an expansion of reserves -- or shrinkage.

Calories are measures of energy.  Eating adds energy to the body. Exercise and basic metabolism deplete energy stores.  In simple terms, any excess energy on a given day is stored as fat. Any deficit burns that fat from that storage.

Regardless of what a person eats, adding calories will increase weight and decreasing calories will reduce weight.  This basic principle seems to be far too simple for most people and therefore there is an endless market for 'systems' that dwell on slight variations and small exceptions and which promise to suspend the laws of nature, but mostly serve to enrich the promoters and confuse the devotees.

I suppose we could say that selecting foods that achieve nutritional balance, satisfy hunger and are pleasant to eat are also important, but that is another topic.   You can gain or lose weight on almost any diet if the [portions are controlled.  Some food choices result in less hunger than others, though, and some foods create cravings for more and more food.

After all the dust cleared and everyone left, I sat down to watch Netflix.  I've been watching Scrubs, lately.  I tired of Grey's Anatomy and other series I watched in recent months.  Scrubs is stupid, but funny -- and gentle.

There was a little wine, maybe four ounces, in the bottom of a bottle of merlot and I decided, in spite of my resolution to avoid alcohol while reducing, to finish it off.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.
 We are the ones we've been waiting for.
We are the change that we seek.
Barack Obama

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Wednesday July 8th 2015

Today Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 30. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Clear. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 14.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

At 0405, I woke up and decided I'm not going to sleep, at least for a while and got up, did dishes and had breakfast and coffee.  I tidy the kitchen daily but it is amazing how quickly it gets to be a mess, even living alone.

I noticed a little congestion and disturbed sleep overnight and wonder if that small amount of red wine was responsible.  Maybe it is just as well to avoid it completely.

Elijah is coming to work today at 0800 and it will be a full day.  The forecast is for thirty degrees and windy, so we'll see how things go. I am sure he can stand it.  I may not, though.  One thing is for sure, keeping him occupied will keep me occupied.

I weighed in at 230 again today.  I'm faithfully recording everything I eat at Fatsecret, but I find their website a bit confusing and difficult to master.  The phone app is handy when away, but not exactly similar, so both are a challenge at first. The daily results, however, do seem right on and once I have recorded something, recording it again is fairly simple..

I manage, but features and pages don't seem to be where I expect them or do what I expect either, but that is so true of a lot of software these days.  I'm supposing that this is just one of those things that seems impenetrable at first, but obvious after a while.  The site does work, and work well, but I have no real way of knowing if its assumptions about energy used in activities is accurate.   The numbers seem generous.  Time will tell.

Elijah came at 0800 and we hauled out the winter's ashes. He left at 1100 to return books to his school library and will be back mid-afternoon.

Having a helper makes work a lot more fun and keeps me at it.  Things progress much more quickly, reducing the boredom and distractions that interrupt my work when alone.

At noon, I made a stew.  Actually I don't know if it is a stew or what you call it if it is not, and neither does Fatsecret.

Here is today's recipe:

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 8 cloves garlic crushed (+/-)

  • Crushed chilies to taste (2 tbsp?)

  • Black pepper (1 tbsp?)

  • 1 tsp salt, (plus more to taste)

  • Cumin (1 tbsp?)

  • 1 large can diced tomatoes

  • Handful of red cargo rice

  • Handful of pot barley

  • 1-1/2 cups diced turnip

  • 1-1/2 cup diced beets

  • 1 cup chopped carrots

  • 1/2 cup chopped celery

  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms

  • 1 cup diced cauliflower1 cup diced red, yellow and red peppers

  • 4 cans mixed beans, drained and rinsed (to eliminate digestive gas)

  • 1 can kernel corn

  • Anything else interesting in the fridge that needs to be eaten

  • Water as needed to maintain easy stirring and prevent burning

Start with a large pot and add tomatoes and spices and three cups water.  Bring to boil and add carrots, beets turnip, rice, barley. 

Add more water as needed and cook until carrots, beets and turnip are 'al dente', then add the other ingredients. 

Taste and adjust spices to taste as you go, remembering that the spices will be less pronounced after sitting.

Simmer and stir a while to soften the cauliflower and peppers a bit, and then turn off the heat and let it all sit a while to combine favours.

This stew is best when not cooked to a mush and while each ingredient retains its distinct shape and  texture.  Everything can go mushy quickly if not watched.

Chill and refrigerate.  Heat in microwave as needed or serve cold.

I have no accurate idea what the calorie content is, but one cup of this dish is probably under 150 calories when we average the ingredients and consider the amount of water. 

The beans are the highest at 250 calories per cup, but the other ingredients are far lower, with some as low as 50/cup and the final volume is about 1/3 water as I make it, so if it were nothing but beans, it would be 167/cup.  A comparable recipe on Fatsecret comes out at 134 calories per cup and I think that is close.

With moderate activity, I could eat over twenty cups of this and still lose weight if the calculations are correct. 

Twenty cups is over a gallon -- US or Imperial -- per day. Can you imagine eating a gallon of stew?   I can't.  One cup is quite filling and more than I eat at a sitting.  Of course, I eat other things, but this is a great fallback and snack, hot or cold.

I keep this stew in storage containers in the fridge and find it delicious for meals and snacks, and very filling, hot or cold.  It freezes fairly well, too.

I've spent a lot of time puzzling this out, but if the initial results are an indication, I have more energy, and I might get to see my knees more often.

Elijah came back at 1600.  We finished the ashes and washed the truck and extractor, then called it a day.  I'm working on the books to get them to the accountant before I go away.

I am finding I have more energy lately and think cutting back on the grub and the sauce could well be the reason.

I spent the evening doing bookkeeping entries and reconciliations.  At one point, I found my accounts seemed to have gone off balance and spent an hour or two trying to put my finger on the problem. 

The Quickbooks file verification function indicated that the file was not corrupted, but month end balances in several registers going back a year or more were  incorrect.  Sometimes that is due to one accidental entry under an incorrect date, often due to a conflict between paid and received dates reported by two accounts moving an entry over the statement date in one or the other account, but that did not seem to be the case.

Finally, I restored a recent backup and found it was okay, so I have more detective work to do on the intervening entries.

I don't much care for Quickbooks, but it seems to dominate the accounting market. The software is buggy, does not follow standard Windows conventions, and wastes a lot of screen real estate.  Over the years, I have spent days, if not weeks wrestling with data corruption.

At that point, I quit and went for a walk to look for skunks.   Zippy and I walked through all the yards and saw no sign of any.  I have not even seen skunk scat lately.   A few weeks ago I could see several skunks any evening, and the solid evidence of their presence on the ground here and there in the yards. 

I see we have a flow,  These three hives are hanging out a bit, and they are marked as weaker hives.

Where they have gone is a mystery and although I miss watching them, I am glad they are gone.

 Then I skipped watching Netflix and went to bed.  It seems lately that the secret to getting more sleep has been going to bed earlier.  I always wake up at about the same time.

I've learned through the years that it's not where you live,
it's the people who surround you that make you feel at home.
J.B. McGee

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Thursday July 9th 2015

Today Sunny. High 34. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight A few clouds. Low 15.

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 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I woke up feeling energetic and weighed in at 230 pounds again -- no change from yesterday as far as I can see from the fine gradations on the scale -- but I note that my girth is two inches less than  the largest number I recall in recent months.  If getting into my old wetsuit is my goal, girth, not weight is the real issue an d two inches is a lot.

My blood pressure (BP) has been amazingly low lately. I don't know if my cuff is acting up, but I am getting typical readings of 115/73 and pulse at 58, with occasional readings as high as 134/80 and 62.

I don't know what has changed except that I have cut back on meat consumption somewhat and am getting exercise working outside.

The image at left I lifted from somewhere on the 'net some time back.  I'd give attribution, but I have forgotten the source.

At any rate, it shows how BP and heart rate can naturally vary over a day and how any one reading may be an aberration.

Today I plan to water plants, work on the books, move swarms out of the equipment stacks, super some hives, and have the gang over for burgers.  It is going to be a hot day, so I should get out early to do the bee work and save the indoor jobs for later.

My left arm is warm and a little itchy today.  When we were moving ashes out yesterday, I felt a sting and was surrounded by small wasps.  Seems I had brushed a nest hidden in the bush close to my basement ramp door. I'm always surprised by how restrained they are and that I only got one sting.  Of course, I'll let them be, but warn the kids when they come to visit.

I don't react at all to bee stings, but wasp venom is different and I do react with slight swelling and heat.

It's 0830 and I've been up for over two hours.  At this point, I have eaten and done dishes and am just procrastinating.  Time to get out there and do some work before the day gets hot.  It is twenty degrees already.

As is so often the case, I went out and did something that was not on my list.  As I went out the door, I saw the truck which had just been washed last evening sitting right there, and the trailer I have been intending to hook up nearby, so I backed up the truck and got out to see how close I was since there is no way to see with the truck tailgate in the way. The hitch was right exactly over the ball and all I had to do was lower the trailer onto the ball.  How often does that happen?

My intent was to just hook it up and leave it, but I could see that the tarp was dirty, so I washed it.  There went the better part of an hour.

I am visually cued and, although, for some people a list is like the Ten Commandments once written out, for me a list is just a suggestion and reminder of interesting things I might do -- or not -- if I run out of ideas.

What I come across and see around me reminds me of things I intend to do and also gives me new ideas.

That is one reason I leave things out in plain view, where they will remind me.  "Out of sight, out of mind" is more than an expression.  Of course, being a creative person, I have many ideas and many projects underway and clutter can become an issue, so I make a point of tidying regularly.

If I have left a 'reminder' somewhere like on the counter or the steps for longer than a week or so, I figure that I just don't plan to follow through and put it away -- if I can figure out where it goes.

After that, I went to the Quonset and put frames into EPS supers.  Even with these one-piece frames and boxes already set up, it takes a while to ready twenty boxes.  I'll never go back to assembly equipment, though.  Life is too short.

My wash water was dirty, so that gave me an excuse to come in and have lunch.  It is hot out there now, and I think these new suits are much hotter than my old thin bee suits or the Sherriff suits.  They are also tighter and that makes them hotter.  Bee suits should be loose all over for coolness and to reduce stings.

In hot weather, I wear little or nothing under the bee suit, but I had employees who wore a full set of street clothes under the suit, even on hot, hot days.  I could never figure that out.  I guess some people would rather roast than risk an occasional sting through the suit.

In the interests of further avoiding hot outdoor work, I next checked the suspected bent shaft on the drone.

One of the reasons I have company weekly is an incentive to clean and tidy and I came across my drone, still sitting on the dining table where I left it -- the same table I need to clear for company tonight -- and decided that either I had to examine the shaft I suspect to be bent or put it away -- or both.

I took it apart and the job was simpler than I expected.  The shaft is bent alright (right), so I looked at another motor.  Its shaft is bent, too.  That explains some erratic flying recently.

Now, I really must get out there. I have an hour's work, then cleaning and preparation, and trip to Three Hills for buns and tomatoes.  People come at 1830, but sometimes some come earlier, which disrupts the preparations a bit, so I have to be ready.  I expect M,J,F,M,B,E,A,R,D,C, & maybe J,O,&F. That is ten for sure, and possibly thirteen of us.

J&O did not come, but M&S came with F, so it was a big party.  We sat outside and I barbecued. 

I had finished my bee work and ran to town for last-minute supplies, arriving home at 1800, just a half-hour before guests were to arrive.  R&D arrived early, but I went about preparations and recruited Ruth to shuck the corn.

I should have started earlier, as it worked out, I was running all through supper and hardly had time to visit while cooking and serving because I was not quite prepared.  It did not matter, though.  Everyone was having a  good time.  I did get as much help as I needed from several of the ladies, but being disorganized, I was not ready to use much help..

The food was good and there was enough.  Just as we were finishing, the first customer showed up and he knew Maddie and Elijah, having been in the same bee class.  Maddie and I helped him load his hive and went back to supper. A picture is at right.  I had removed some of the beard so as not to crowd the hive too much.

I note that this hive has mostly wooden frames.  In recent years, I have been switching to all plastic, but hives continue on and on year after year in whatever combs they had in the past.  Some hives have all plastic.  What people get is the luck of the draw. 

I keep bees in whatever they want to be in and don't have much regard for the current practice of changing combs .  Regardless of what they say about buildup of disease and chemicals, I don't see it.  As often as not, the best hives are in the oldest frames and the queens are laying by preference in  the older frames.

By then the ladies had finished supper and were in the pool, and I was told to stay away as they were in their underwear.  They were in there a long time.

Then Maddie spotted a swarm up in a tree, so we set up to catch it.  We considered a ladder, but decided that was risky.

So, we tied a wrench to a rope and threw it over the branch.  It took a few tries, but soon we had the rope over the branch and a few sharp tugs brought most of the bees dropping onto the tarp we spread out on the ground.

Is this the same tree as back in 2001?  Could be.

I prepared a brood box and placed it over the bees on the tarp and they soon went in.  All this took place just as dusk came and it grew too dark for the bees to fly back up.  Will they stay in the morning?  Hard to say.  The outer layer had been pretty active, so they may have had their mind set on another location, in which case they will move on.

Supper was hamburgers and smokies.  I had decided that I would relax my diet a bit and eat what I liked, so I had two smokies on buns with onions and relish and mustard. I skipped the wine and the ice cream and was quite pleased to see that in spite of having pigged out and eaten almost 900 calories at supper, I am 2446 calories below break-even for the day. 

In theory, I should be losing 2446/3500 of a pound today. That is roughly 7/10 of a pound. That loss is almost undetectable in the normal; weight fluctuations due to water and food retained in the body, but over a week it would will add up to almost a five-pound loss.  In a month, that adds up to twenty pounds.  Seems unbelievable, but I'd love to see that.  Who'da thought I would be at 230 so soon?

Time will tell.

I went out after midnight (yes, I was still up) to check and the bees had not all gone into the box.  There were several little clusters on the tarp and a small cluster up on the tree.  I gave the rope a few more tugs and that cleared them off the branch pretty well and they cannot return until dawn. 

I knew I should have given them a frame of open brood to start, but didn't.  Will they stay?  Doubtful, unless I get out early tomorrow and use some tricks.

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So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.
Peter Drucker

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