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A close-up of golden propolis-tinted cells filled with pollen,
eggs, and developing worker brood. Click to view.

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Friday July 10th 2015

Today Mainly sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 35. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Clearing before morning. Wind southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 16.

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

It is seventy-six degrees F in the house this morning and it was eighty-six last evening.  I'm amazed at how these temperatures get to feel normal after a few days.  I recall last winter in  the Caribbean, being amused that if the mercury dropped to 25 or so (77° F), we felt chilled.

I woke up at 0610 and wandered right out to look at the swarm and I don't like the look of things.  Most of the bees are in the box, but there are clumps outside.  A few bees are left on the branch but so far only a few flying.  They are beginning to stir and I should know soon what they intend.

My bathroom scale still reads 230 this morning, as nearly as I can see, but I definitely feel lighter.  At 0630, my blood sugar is 5.6 and blood pressure is 111/68 with a pulse at 61.  I really don't know what to think of those numbers. They are too good to believe.

My plan for the day is to super the hives so they all have enough room for the next two weeks and see if I can solve the Quickbooks issue.

I am really feeling like going to the Calgary Stampede, but the time of day to get there is early morning and to plan on leaving by the hottest part of the day.  I see, though, that the park opens at 11 most days, including today and the weekend.

I also don't feel like going alone.  I got some interest from the Mill people last night, but nothing was decided.  Maybe I can get a group together for tomorrow morning.

At 0709, it looks as if  I may win.  Last night's swarm bees are almost all in the box and fanning the others in.  There are almost none in the tree.

Right now, they are not yet flying, so I can move the swarm where I want it.  I'd better get with it before they get active for the day.

The box has foundation as well as drawn comb.  Swarms draw foundation well, and foundation frames provide room to cluster until I decide how many boxes will be required. 

One box of foundation can house as many bees as three boxes of drawn comb due to the empty spaces.  Once it is drawn, though, the bees can quickly become crowded.

It is beautiful out there.  The sun is up, but not scorching hot overhead, and it is still cool.  This is the time  of day to get things done outdoors.

Now, out I go to move the swarm.

That went easily and now it is just another hive in the lineup in the South of the hedge Yard.  I supered several other hives while I was there.

How many supers to put on is always a guess since my hives vary so much, ranging from a few frames of bees raising a new queen to two boxes full of brood and bees with laying queens.

Fortunately, I don't have many of the latter, and I am tempted to break them in half to get additional colonies and reduce honey production, but it is getting late for walk-away splits.  New queens would not be laying until after the end of the month.  If I came across swarm cells, I could use them to speed the process, but swarms have been few and far between this year.

I can also sell a few more hives.  I have a customer coming this evening for two.

I went out and cleaned up the North yard and put on a few boxes.  I'm not too inspired, though.  By 1030, the day heated up and I came in for a break.  Next, I have to make up supers from what is in the stacks.  Ugghhh!

I much prefer putting on new supers of Acorn frames.  The bees seem to love them and draw whole boxes flawlessly.  I guess I should use up my other equipment, too, though.

Some time back, I had observed that two swarms took up residence in an equipment stack and have intended to transfer them to a floor and inspect them.  Yesterday, I transferred one to new boxes and a floor, and today, I finally got around to the second.


The frames occupied by the first swarm fit nicely into two boxes (above left), but the second proved to be a huge colony, occupying four boxes.  Their chosen home was a stack of of brood chambers, complete with frame feeders. 

You may note that the box in the middle picture above is missing two frames and plugged up.  That is a sheet of wax across the top.  This was the top box in that stack, and I suppose I had scavenged two frames from it at some point previous to their claiming it as a home.  The bees have replaced the missing frames with what I assume is perfect comb.  I did not disturb their work. Too messy, and I see no need to meddle with what works for them.

Good beekeeping consists of understanding and co-operating with the bees and steering them along in directions they would naturally go as much as in interrupting or stymieing their activities.  He who manages best manages least, but achieves his goals or comes close.

I simply lifted the boxes down onto a floor, stacking them in reverse order -- top on bottom -- scraping burr comb and removing feeders as I went, then added a box of foundation as a fifth to give them a little more room. 

This loosens them up a bit and overcomes the crowded condition in which I found them, evidenced by the wax sheet under the plastic pillow allowing them to continue to develop.

I will, however, have to split them into two once they settle down or they will make another several hundred pounds of honey and plug up again.

For those not familiar with commercial beekeeping, that hive, shown below is what all commercial hives should look like on this date -- five standards high  or higher.

I came in for a swim and a break and noticed that last night's swarm is hanging out, so I lifted the lid.  They have yet to occupy much of the empty space inside, but they seem settled otherwise.

There is always the chance, though, that they could decide to leave.  I really should give them a frame of eggs and larvae to hold them.

I had a one-hour siesta and, now, at 1600, am contemplating my next moves.   It is 35 degrees out, but the day is cooling a bit and the sun is not as high and hot. 

I should get back to the bees and get that work out of my hair, but right now would be a good time to head for the Stampede.

Rapids aheadI have a customer coming by tonight, however, so I have to stick around.  Drat!  I hate tying myself down like this, but I did. 

I hate appointments and fixed dates.  Appointments and fixed date events are like rocks in my ride through the rapids of life.

OK. U-Turn.

I re-scheduled that appointment and am off to Gull Lake to pick up Kenzie. We're going Stampeding tomorrow! 

As it happened, I was about to wait for someone who had not yet gotten around to cancelling.  He had things come up, so it was a good thing I called him.

On my drive, I saw that the canola is coming into full bloom, so the main flow is starting.

When I arrived, Jean and family were about to walk down to the beach.  I drove there, though, since I wanted to have my bathing suit and kite, handy -- and flexibility.  Nathan rode with me.

There was a bit of a breeze, so I got out my five point five metre kite and managed to get it up and flying for a while.  flying a kite is a good workout.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
Will Rogers

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Saturday July 11th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers late this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Hazy. High 34. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this evening with risk of a thunderstorm. Low 17.

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'm at Gull Lake this morning and getting ready to drive to Calgary.  It's a two-hour trip each way and it will be a hot day in Calgary.

Kenzie and I left around 0815 and were in Calgary by 1010, too early for the Stampede, so we went to the Zoo.  I renewed my membership and we then had free parking, so we had a snack in the Zoo cafeteria and caught the C-Train to the  Victoria Park Station where we joined a long lineup to enter the grounds.

It was a hot day, but pleasant enough with a breeze.  We wandered around for several hours, visited the Indian Village twice, walked through the barns, watched the Superdogs and caught the train back from Earlton Station to the Zoo and our van.

By then it was 1615 and we made it back to Gull Lake in time for supper at 1900.  After supper the rest of the family walked down to the Lake, but I lay down and had a nap.

When I was away, Jean texted me that Zippy was barking and would not stop.  Apparently she panicked, too, and behaved oddly, messing upstairs at one point.  She has started barking lately at home, too, and I don't know what to make of it.

Here's an interesting email.  Years back, I built and sold a few extractors, and re-powered a few.  In fact, I think I may have some parts -- tanks and reels -- out in my scrap pile that could be made into 48-frame radial extractors.

>Hi Allen,

> I saw in your diary that you got the 4 frame extractor from the Calgary Bee Club member. I recently built my own 10 frame radial extractor (hasn't been used yet so I don't know how it is going to perform).

> I powered it with a 1/2hp DC motor that I got from (here)
for $100 plus ~$35 shipping. And I got the power supply and controller from (here) for ~$20 and free shipping.

I made a YouTube video of it on a dry run.

I think I may direct mount the motor at some point rather than using pulleys and a belt.

Here is my initial reply:

Thanks.  Very interesting.  Mind if I publish this?

Then, after glancing briefly* through the video and remembering back, way back....


I looked at the picture of the extractor and can see that it will work for shallow and medium frames, but not the deeps shown in the video.

The reason? The centripetal force (to be really technical, I actually meant centrifugal, but the forces are equal and opposite) on the honey increases as you go out from the axis. Near the axis, there is almost no force.

Due to that fact, radials are normally designed so that the bottom of the frame is at least half the distance from the centre that the top bars are. Closer distances to centre are possible, but the difference in force between the bottom bar and top bar can result in comb damage and/or much longer running times.

The larger the extractor, and thus the radius, the better since, as the diameter increases, the difference in force on the bottom bar and top bar is less and less.

That is why tangential reversible designs were traditionally used for small extractors However, seeing that the pros used radials and since radials do not require reversing, radials were demanded by the hobby market and became popular.

Small radials do work, but require longer running than commercial units to empty the bottom cells if the honey is at all thick or there is any granulation and getting frames in and out is awkward.

His response:

> You are welcome to publish this.

> Thanks for the critique on the centripetal forces. It makes perfect sense and I wish I would have seen it earlier. It also makes sense as the design was labeled as a 20 frame radial extractor but when I tried to put 20 deep frames in they wouldn't fit; they interfered with each other. It's too bad the publisher of the design didn't make it clear that it was for medium and shallow.

> I think I may experiment a little and see if the design will accommodate a 4 frame tangential drum. That part of the build actually wasn't that hard and I can probably come up with swinging tangential cages. The nice thing about the DC motor is that it is easily reversible so I could wire in a selector switch that would switch the polarity and spin in the opposite direction.

A few notes (from me):

  • It does not matter which way either extractor type rotates.
  • Swinging cages are a nice touch, but many such machines just have a screened outer reel and a platform on which the bottom end of the frame sits -- and no cages.  The operator merely reaches in and turns the frames around and re-starts the machine.

* With all due respect to those who make YouTube videos for the public to enjoy, I actually don't watch videos unless I absolutely have to.  I have little patience --- and a very short attention span.  I like to think that I can grasp the essentials of most topics without having to get out a bowl of popcorn.   Anything with an intro and a lot of blah, blah and screw turning (most YouTube how-tos, it seems), gets glanced through quickly, and anything with an ad up front gets rejected instantly. Fortunately, my ad blocker usually screens out ads and I did not realise they are common.  If I ever make a YouTube video, you'll get whiplash watching it, it will be so brutally short, action-packed, and quick moving, and I'll introduce myself at the end in case someone is still watching -- and cares.

So, one might ask, why did I buy that old extractor?  Because it is simple and it works and we can extract a frame or two for entertainment at a party, and I can also loan it out. It is also identical to the first machine I used forty-five years ago. In fact, it could be the same machine.

The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.
Charles Caleb Colton

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Sunday July 12th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers late this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Local smoke. High 29. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight Showers with risk of a thunderstorm. Hazy. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 16.

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'm at Gull Lake again this morning and getting ready to drive home.

I've set myself a schedule and have work to do -- supering and bookwork, then a trip east before I have to return for August.

I received a personal note from Jose Villa the other day and have not had the time to reply yet.  (Apologies, Jose).  He has retired from the ARS.

Anyhow, as you may know, I don't read BEE-L anymore, but I do visit and talk with Aaron, the BEE-L owner fairly often. 

(FWIW, Aaron says he does not read BEE-L either beyond scanning incoming messages for egregious violations of the rules.)

I had mentioned to Aaron that I had heard from Jose, and the next day Aaron forwarded this post from BEE-L and I am sharing it here because it sums up beautifully the problems with biological solutions to bee diseases and pests and why beekeepers go to chemicals, even when, in the labs at least, and for academic purposes, there are biological solutions.

> From: Jose Villa
> Date: Sat, Jul 11, 2015 at 10:12 AM
> Subject: [BEE-L] Slow adoption of new (mite resistant) genetic material
> To: BEE-L@community.lsoft.com

> If you sit beekeepers, from large commercial operators to many of the current hobbyists, together with researchers, policy makers, funders, etc. in a comfy air conditioned conference room (or somewhere during the winter break in beekeeping tasks) and ask all to visualize the future, it is common to have conversations drift into the scenario that all would use resistant stocks and no chemicals. Yet adoption and use of these stocks in the hot and stingy fields does not match the words in the comfy rooms. Many of us involved in efforts to explore, develop, maintain and make available these materials ponder the troubling discrepancy and its causes. Below is a potential list. Obviously in the patchwork of beekeeping modalities in different places and through time, different factors play varying roles. But here it is, and if anyone thinks other factors should be added, or looked at differently, or finds a factor that is the main vector, it would be interesting to hear.

> Intense loyalty to known stocks- Many beekeepers like the traits of bees they have maintained for many years (family generations?) whether their own or coming from known suppliers, or “pulled” as breeders from their production colonies every year using their selection criteria. Change to unknown material is obviously troubling or risky.

> Partial resistance of even the purest available material - Most genetic material, even in research experiments, on average only slows the growth of varroa mites. So some sort of additional monitoring or light treatment or delayed treatment is ultimately required. Some of us have seen good numbers of colonies in controlled settings where the mite numbers (total, relative, drops, etc.) actually decrease in colonies, sometimes to the point where mites are hard to find. If this were the average it would be equivalent to the best chemical treatment, but these colonies are not the most common in most "resistant" stocks.

> Variable resistance between colonies - Even if the average response to mites in a group of colonies is good, there is a lot of variability between colonies in responses. If this variability is genetic, then this is a problem. However, the known or perceived variability may be a consequence of more measurements in experiments with genetic stocks, whereas a lot of people making treatments simply rely on early results showing that treatments work well and uniformly. And if a new treatment is applied soon after, that possible variability is not even detectable.

> Complicated introduction and maintenance of traits - The breeding system of honey bees (multiple mating, outcrossing, rapid turnover of reproductives), no reliable way of storing material, and the small size of the industry and market make the rapid incorporation to a useful level in any group of apiaries very difficult. One cannot do the equivalent of a farmer going to the seed store and getting all of the material needed to plant the whole farm at one time. The same for maintenance- true isolation is rare, and II is extremely laborious. AND those doing these things are not duly compensated for their efforts when one can go to “another seed store” and purchase queens for rock bottom prices.

> Poor standards for stocks - Anyone can put a name on anything and sell it with no problem. A small set of breeder queens can be purchased, daughters reared from them in any environment and a label be put on the mated queens. Even worse if the graft is made from a colony into which at one point a breeder queen was introduced.

> Bad image of improved stocks - Certainly many have judged the merits of stocks based on the expression of a number of commercially important traits in either breeder queens intended to be used as parents for outcrosses, or in material reared with some of the problems outlined in (e). There are true problems in some material made available perhaps too early in a breeding program, but judging the breeding value of a colony or a stock from one experience or from word of mouth given all of the above issues is a bit unfair.

> The alternative, consistent, reliable, uniform control by using products off the shelf is still the very attractive and risk-free.


Jose is saying here what I have been saying for a long time.  Genetic mite resistance exists and it works, but does not give us the same blanket reassurance that chemical controls do.  Users perceive genetic protection (resistant stock)  as an invisible picket fence that will probably (due to propagation errors or supercedure)  have a few boards rotted or missing.

Added to the problem is that confirming the continued presence of this resistance is laborious and requires measuring mite numbers and HYG in each hive periodically.  People have done that, and do it, but the process is costly and appeals to researchers, not production beekeepers.

Perhaps some day when we can buy (are compelled to buy?) genetically modified bees with absolute resistance to viruses and foulbroods, sac, chalk, plus, of course, all three problematic mites-- varroa, acarine, and Tropilaelaps (Tropilaelaps will be here by then) -- a dayglow trademark brand will be genetically programmed onto the thorax of bees carrying the Bayer/Monsanto patented Bhelthi® traits so we know we are protected.

At present, we don't know what our level of protection is until we see a breakdown, and therefore periodic blanket chemical treatments are the cheapest and most certain way to make sure no rabbits have gotten through our fence and into the garden.

I arrived home around 1000 and found the lawns looking brown and unloved.  A haze from fires north, east, and west makes everything look depressing, dull and uninspiring. 

The contrast with the bight sun yesterday is stark and makes me think ahead to the dark days of winter.  Today, there are only 165 days until Christmas.

I rushed home to get some work done, but all I've done for the past hour is play.  Now, at 1100, I hear the rumble of thunder, so I am guessing indoor work comes next.

*    *   *   *   *   *

I was sitting here, getting around to that and my phone rang.  It is a customer I promised to deliver bees to locally after lunch.  I had forgotten.  I knew there was a reason my autopilot rushed me home.  I guess that is it.

I still hear thunder rumbling outside and see a serious storm warning, but I guess I am going out.  My truck is hooked the trailer, too, so I'll have to drop it before I go anywhere.  Then I have to find two singles.

Inertia is a powerful force and I feel it.

*    *   *   *   *   *

I went out and found two appropriate hives in the North Yard, shook the bees from the seconds into the bottom box in the rain, smoked the stragglers in, and took the singles over to Carbon where I transferred the frames to the customer's boxes and then returned home.  By then, the storm had passed and the air had cleared somewhat.

*    *   *   *   *   *

I had seen a skidsteer on Kijiji and responded earlier today.  The seller called me and I considered a drive to look at it, but on consulting friends discovered it is much too small.  Any machine I buy needs to lift at least 2,000 pounds and preferably 3,000.  This one was able to lift under 1,000.

Also, the price was $8,500 -- near the very top of my price range -- and although a machine to move dirt and snow would be handy, all I really need is a forklift.  If I spent even a quarter or a tenth that much money on the forklift I have, it would be running just fine.

I hate to spend money.  I can either have it or spend it, but not both, and it feels better to have some. There is a happy medium, and I always wonder where, exactly, it is.  I spent more money than I like to spend on that van and it definitely makes my life more pleasant on trips like those of the past several days.

I took the Toyota to town the other day, though, and I have to say, even 11.09 years and 99,411 Km after buying it, it is still a nice ride.  Did I really need another van?  No.

*    *   *   *   *   *

Speaking of the Toyota, here's what can happen if you don't drive your van often enough.  By the time I noticed the nest, I had been to town and back and nobody was home.  Did they get scattered down the road as I drove, or did the good folks in town outside the grocery store get to enjoy their presence while I shopped?  Dunno.

Also, I had a mouse in my truck a while ago and it chewed my headliner a little before it decided to leave.  For some reason, it chose a spot above the drivers sun visor and how it got up and down I have no clue.  Maybe the pillar?  I keep mouse poison in my vehicles, though, to limit such damage and I think it worked, but not quickly enough.

Speaking of animal pests, my skunks have totally disappeared, like magic, and I did nothing to make them go.  I'm not sorry to be spared, but do miss seeing them around.

*    *   *   *   *   *

At 1430, I'm here, drinking coffee and trying to generate enough ambition to go and find and/or make up some supers and put them on all the hives. 

When I went out too find two singles for my delivery, I noticed that the hives are coming on fast now and need more boxes.  No wonder, the whole country is yellow with canola.

Ambition escaped me and I was feeling a bit sleepy, so I had a nap. Now, at 1600, the rain has gone and the breeze picked up and conditions look ideal for outdoor work.

*    *   *   *   *   *

In the forum, I am exhorted to make some bee videos.  Will I?  The answer is here.  Probably not.  We'll see.  I'm charging my GoPro, however.

*    *   *   *   *   *

I got out and went through some supers, then supered the South of the Hedge Yard.  Eight hives are now good for three weeks.

I have to judge each hive for population, queen state, sealed brood area, weight already in combs, amount of empty space, and probability they will draw foundation well, or need drawn comb. 

At this time of year, if I had enough supers I'd just stack all five-high and be done with it, but I can't, so I have to assess each hive as I go.

I'm also plugging the top auger holes front and back to encourage flight from the bottom and to encourage comb building above.

I did not pull honey last fall, so I have more granulated combs than I find convenient to handle. I have enough supers, though, I think.  With the new boxes and foundation I got from my friends this spring, I should be okay, at least until the end of July.  It is now just a matter of sorting out the combs and boxes that have granulated honey and setting them aside until fall.

I have been low on energy off and on over the past few years, but am finding now that I have cut back on food and eliminated strong drink that I am more energetic, less foggy and more motivated.  I hope it lasts.  Staying on course is not that difficult when I am  eating by myself, but more difficult when with others.

People delight in getting others to eat what they eat and eat what they cook, and that is not nearly always healthful.  In fact, what most consider treats is actually harmful to grown adults.  Kids on the other hand can eat almost anything and benefit it seems, although I see more and more obvious exceptions in my travels.  There is a limit to everything.

I am thinking that at the rate I am going, I should be able to head east in a few days is I am willing to leave the lawns shaggy.

After supper, I checked and supered another thirteen hives, for a total of 21 today without any pressure and they are good to the end of the month.  At that time, I'll have to check, pull honey, and redistribute the empties, if any.

I have about 60 hives, so I should easily finish supering in a day or two  -- as long as I don't run out of boxes.

I've become spoiled by these plastic frames and EPS boxes.  They look so good and work so well with no construction required that I hate to use wood anymore.  Even weathered, old EPS boxes look great compared to wood.

I have some wood equipment and wooden frames in the stacks and am putting them to use, but wood looks so dirty and clunky compared to these elegant hive components that I find it hard to bring myself to use them. 

These double-waxed Acorn standard frames are drawn out so readily and perfectly that even drawn comb has less advantage than in the past.

I'm glad, too, that I designed and built plenty of these lids and floors to fit.  They make everything easy and work with both EPS and wood boxes.

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever.
Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again.
Then hit it a third time a tremendous whack.
Winston Churchill

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Monday July 13th 2015

Today A few showers with thunderstorms ending this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Amount 5 to 10 mm except 40 mm in a few localities. Hazy. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this morning. Wind becoming northwest 20 gusting to 40 near noon. High 25. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness overnight. Hazy. 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

I'm at home and hoping to get lots done.  That means less time spent writing here.

While waiting for the day to brighten up though, I spent some time answering a question in the forum.

At 0832, we are up to seventeen degrees and, looking at my  weather station live readout (screenshot at right), I see we had an inch of rain last night.

I'm still seeing 230 pounds on my scale today, but saw 235 yesterday, so my weight does yo-yo around.  What will matter is the trend over weeks, and so far it is down. 

I am sticking to my plan to eat carefully and avoid strong drink and I am finding the Fatsecret website helpful and motivating.  The GUI does have its quirks, and I wonder about some of its calculations, but as I use it more, I am finding how best to make use of its features. 

According to Fatsecret, I have managed to achieve, by diet and exercise, a deficit of 17,318 calories since I began recording back on July 5.  That implies that I should see a weight loss of five pounds by now, if the calculations are correct. 

Seeing the signal in the noise is difficult.  I have yet to see any weight loss during this week, although I did see a big drop on the first day.  With the exception of yesterday's mid-day reading, my weight has stayed steady at 230.

Even if I am not seeing stunning weight loss, I am seeing other benefits from exercising discipline in my food choices.  My blood sugar read 4.8 this morning, which is in the ideal range and my blood pressure is also right at an ideal 123/79 with a pulse of 56.  My mind is clear.

So, at 0850, out I go to take on the day. My goal first thing: to super a dozen hives.

Of course, I got distracted and took some pictures.  Descriptions to follow.


Above is a small queenright hive that has had this box of foundation for days now and still is not moving up.  There is a bait frame with brood in the middle that I placed there to encourage them to occupy the box, but it isn't working.   I'm leaving the lid off for the day to see if that gets them in and up.


At left is a shot of an EPS box that was broken by dropping.  I simply brushed on WeldBond glue (the only glue I have found that works), ran in several long drywall screws to clamp it together, put the frames back into the box, and put the box back on the hive.  It is that simple.

A battery-operated drill like the one at above right is an essential tool for a beekeeper.  Not only can it drill  the auger holes in brood boxes, but it is useful for screwing boxes back together, and when moving hives, pieces of lath (thin wood strips) can be screwed onto the box and floor sides vertically to hold everything firmly together during the move, then easily removed on arrival.


Shown above are two sizes of caplugs, essential for plugging auger holes that are not needed at the moment.  I get them at the Beemaid Bee Store.  They have more sizes than shown in the catalogue.

The middle image is a brick about to pound down on a caplug that is too loose in the auger hole.  One good whack, and the middle of the plug mushrooms to a larger size (right).

I finished the Quonset West Yard, then mowed some tall grass.  I had been worried I would run out of boxes, but discovered that I have a stack at the back of the shed. I just have to get to it.  I have some foundation stacked in wood boxes, so I put a few on.  It seems weird to use wood, but it works well with my new lids that are designed to fit either EPS or wood.

There are 26 hives in that yard, including the swarms.

I had left a lid off to see if the bees go up.  They did not at first, but by 1400, they seemed to be going in. 

I had a swim, went over to the Quonset to mow tall grass in order to gain better access to the storage.  After a while, I was getting low on gas and went back to the house to refuel.


About then, storm clouds appeared to the south and west, so I went in. Minutes later, a storm dropped almost two inches of rain in a matter of ten or fifteen minutes.

I wonder if I should have put the lid on that hive?

The rain continues and at 1620, we have had 3.125 inches since midnight. 

Around 1355, I was dog-tired -- too tired to do anything -- so I decided to have a nap.  I slept a few minutes and woke up and could not sleep, so I got up.

I was still dead-tired and could not bring myself to do anything, so watched an episode of Scrubs.   It is a mindless, goofy sort of show and mostly harmless.  It is also short -- only twenty minutes or so.

After a while I realised that my strange tiredness must be allergies from mowing. Allergies take strange forms.

The rain is over now, it seems, and we totaled 3.46 inches by my gauge since midnight.

I was still too tired to do anything, so I cut more grass.  After the rain, there was no dust.

*   *   *   *   *

I am glad I have enough supers.  If the heat continues and we don't get an early August frost or a wet August -- both are possible -- this water guarantees an August flow.

*   *   *   *   *

A customer called and wants a hive, so I have to find and ready another double tomorrow.

*   *   *   *   *

I realised that allergy is the problem and popped a generic Benadryl (Diphenhydramine), and after supper I went out and organized and washed the truck deck.  That kept me busy until 2100.

From the water in the open plug container left on the deck, this last rainfall looks more like one inch than two, but with the plugs in the tub, the measure is hardly scientific.  Whatever the exact amount, the grass is already greening again.

So, I did twenty-six hives today and began preparing for tomorrow. There should be about twenty-eight left to do. (62-34 = 28).

I also wrote more here than promised.

Ruth and Dave came by after 2100 to pick up Zippy.  Now I am alone here.

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The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.
Kahlil Gibran

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Tuesday July 14th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of showers this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High 26. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Partly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers and risk of a thunderstorm. Low 14.

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I think the bathroom scale says 229 this morning.  The dial is so fine and far away, though, I can 't be sure.  Blood sugar is 5.2.  It is simply amazing what a small change in diet can do.

> I was looking for more information on your truck mounted hive loader. I saw your drawings and plans and was wondering if you ever completed your build. If there was any modifications. I am going to build something very similar. Thanks in advance.> I was looking for more information on your truck mounted hive loader. I saw your drawings and plans and was wondering if you ever completed your build. If there was any modifications. I am going to build something very similar.

I never did follow up, but now that I am back on individual floors again, and seem to have more energy and ambition, I am again thinking about it.

Keep me posted on your progress.


Here are some links related to lifting and moving hives around:


The day is dawning partly overcast, and I think sun rise is getting later already. It is.  Sunrise is at 0532 today vs. 0514 on midsummer's day.

I'm a bit groggy and sore today.  I suspect allergies from mowing dry grass yesterday are the cause.  I took two Benadryl to be sure to sleep last night and that could factor in, too.

Karen ( http://newmoonapiary.com/ ) sends this ( I edited a bit -- with permission -- to combine several emails).

I have started just rubbing a small block of cold wax over the plastic foundation instead of melting the wax and rolling it on like I used to. I just rub cold wax over them.

I fill TP rolls with wax and rub it on until it looks good -- just like using big crayons and coloring.  It is petty quick.

I guess I could weigh my wax stick before and after (to see how much I put on each frame).

This spring, sometimes I waxed and sometimes didn't and I do not think it made much difference.   It was the hive they were on, they either drew them correctly of they drew them all screwed up but they did draw them.

Last year I had a hive the drew 4 or 5 boxes for me perfectly and was doing a box in days. This year same hive, same queen and they are not drawing a thing. Different year different nectar flow.

My yards further west are having the best nectar flow this year. I guess that makes life interesting, nothing is predictable.

I melted some old frames and put the wax on some Pierco and Acorn frames. I will see what I think of rubbing wax on instead of rolling. I will still roll when I want to do a lot of frames but when I just need a few I tend to skip adding the extra wax that is way I am trying rubbing it on. It goes on easy and is quick, I did about 30 frames with one tube of wax yesterday, I should have counted but I was working at it on and off while doing other things.

I rubbed the center (right) to show how much goes on with very little effort. The time-consuming part was melting old frames and straining out the slumgum, I wasn't anal about straining though -- a screen and then some coarse cloth.  There was some debris but that is probably not going to be a problem. It rubs on the Pierco easier because the cells have a sharper edge. This is an Acorn at right.  Click to enlarge.

One thing I discovered is the Pierco has a very defined seam in the middle, it really shows up when you're rubbing on wax, compared to the Acorn.  You can see the seam here. (At left. Click to enlarge.)  Detail at right.  Click to enlarge.

I went out and discovered more supers, so I am fine.  I just have to sort and put them on.  In the lot are more boxes of undrawn PF100 frames.  Maybe that was why I was ignoring those stacks.  I am not impressed with them.  When I come across drawn frames of PF100s, sometimes they are perfect, but often one side is bizarre shaped cells or drone comb.    They are not as badly warped as the Pierco tend to be.

I am finding that the Pierco I come across in brood chambers and suppers are hit and miss for warpage.  Some are flat and some are bowed.  I have yet to figure out if there is rhyme or reason to it.  I am not finding any warped Acorns yet, though and I have quite a few now. Way to go, Nick!

Regardless of all the above, I still prefer any one-piece frame to wood, but in the case of PF100s, I am less pleased.

I am realizing more and more that I have not been firing on all three cylinders for the past year or two and maybe longer. I have not had the energy or inspiration  to do things that seem quite obvious like fix the forklift, repair the sheds, etc...  Maybe it is old age, maybe it is depression.  And maybe I am breaking out of whatever it was.  I'm finding I have more energy -- and more inspiration lately.

1329: I came in for lunch and have been in here for over an hour.  It's time to get back at it.  I reserved my flight out Thursday and have work to do before I go.

I worked through a stack of supers, getting them  ready to go onto hives when I came across a hornet's nest (right).  I moved them to one side while they watched me without any sign of aggression.  I'll leave them be.

Beekeepers like to blame stings on wasps and hornets, but in my experience, they are quite calm and mild unless their nest is actually disturbed.

While the hornets settled in their new location, I went away and started on the North Yard. All the hives got a box and some got two.  Most of my hives are splits with new queens just getting going, so they won't need too much room, but at this time of year it is better to give too much than too little.

At this time of year I like to put on all my supers, then redistribute them later as I can see which hives are using them and which can spare a box.

I'll be away ten days and may not give the hives much attention when I return, so more is better.

With bees one never knows when a heavy flow will happen and if there are not enough boxes on a hive, one will never know how  much honey has been missed.  The lids will be glued down and frames will be fat and that is the only hint.  I've seen thirty pounds come in in one day. Most people would hate to miss that.  Bees cannot fill supers that are stacked in the shop.

I had to take accounting records to town before month end, so did that and got gas for the lawn mower and weed whack, plus some fruit.  I have not had a visual disturbance for a while, but had one while there.  It was not serious enough to affect my getting around, but I have wonder what brings these on.  Mowing? Benadryl? I did not eat anything unusual, and of that I am sure because I record everything on Fatsecret

When I got home, I wanted steak, so I had steak, potatoes and corn for supper.  I only ate half the steak, though.  Somehow it was not as good on the fork as it had been in my imagination.

That meal is the biggest in a while and still did not put me over my basic calorie budget for the day. I am still at 83%.  This makes me realise how much I must have been eating to have gained weight to where I am.  Recording everything certainly raises my consciousness on the topic.

If anyone wants to see my data on Fatsecret, I am thinking of sharing.  PM me from the forum or write me.

What I am seeing so far is that most of the people on that site are struggling and almost desperate to lose weight.  All I want to do is save $300 by being able to get into my wetsuit.

Actually, it goes beyond that now that I have seen how much better I feel as soon as I started eating less and more carefully.  I'm going to see Mom, however, and that will test of my resolve.

I've done it before and I'll do it again.  I got to 208 in a relatively short time without much effort back in 2006.  210 is my goal this time and if I get there, maybe I'll keep on going...

My bee work was cut short by weather and the need to go to town.  Now, at 1831, I have at least two good hours of daylight left and the temperature has dropped to twenty-four. 

Here I go...

I went out again, fueled the truck and weed whacker, found more supers and whacked a few weeds, but the visual disturbance returned, so I finished up, had a dip and came in  to do less strenuous things.  I think I'll turn in early.  I need to finish tomorrow.

In town, I bought some fruit  It was fairly ripe, so I ate a mango and a nectarine.  That puts me at 93% of my base RDI (recommended dietary Intake) without consideration for the energy used in working and shopping. That is as close to the RDI as I have come in a week.

If their estimates are correct, then I have a calorie deficit of 1679 calories today, equal to losing a half-pound of fat.  So far, I can nether confirm nor challenge the accuracy of their estimates.  According to their calculations, I should have lost five pounds this last week.  Have I?  Maybe.  Hard to tell.  My weight fluctuates that much.

I went looking for the image (right) that I posted yesterday to illustrate a point and discovered that almost my entire post from yesterday had been accidentally wiped out.  Fortunately my webhost makes daily backups and I was able to recover 100%.  It had me scratching my head for a while, though. Whew!

While exciting, challenges like that can be invigorating and self-affirming experiences -- if a solution is found.  Frustrating otherwise.

The point I was intending to illustrate?  I thought that I ate more today than other days.  Apparently not.  I ate more of my calorie budget on two previous days last week.  Eating less gets to be a habit and appetite shrinks.

Am I in danger of becoming anorexic?

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia,[1] is an eating disorder characterized by a low weight, fear of gaining weight, a strong desire to be thin, and food restriction. Anorexia nervosa  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anorexia_nervosa

Just kidding -- Only three out of four so far.

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The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.
Kahlil Gibran

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Wednesday July 15th 2015

Today Sunny this morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 60 percent chance of showers this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm this afternoon. High 27. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this evening and after midnight with risk of a thunderstorm. Low 13

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Ten day forecast

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

The bathroom scale says 229 again this morning. I have my work cut out for me.  Thirty hives +/- to check and super.

I am seeing the last batch of new walk-away queens coming online now.

I got out around 0800 and by 1000 when the day began to warm and it was time to remove my tee shirt from under my bees suit, I had done fourteen colonies.

I came in for a break and, now, at 1050 am going back out to see if I can finish the Quonset yard by lunch.

I was getting hot, so I had a swim and came in for a sit-down just before 1300.  I checked my blood sugar and blood pressure out of curiosity. BS was 4.9 and BP 107/67 and pulse 62.  I really can't figure this out.  Are my BP cuff and BS tester out of whack, or is something going on with my body?

I have read about Dr. Gabe Mirkin's DASH (High-Plant) Diet for Heart Health, Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention/Control and my current regime resembles it to some extent.  Maybe there is something to this?

Here is more from Dr, Mirkin:

I'm not quite finished with the bees.  I have about ten more hives to do and a strong double to make up for a customer coming tonight.  I also have some leveling to do.

Beekeepers who complain that bees draw comb at right angles to the foundation may not have leveled their hives. 

Bees want comb midribs to be pretty close to exactly vertical for fairly obvious reasons and if the plane of the foundation is not vertical they will build comb with a midrib that is.

Front-to-back slope does not matter at all, but anything more than a slight side-to-side lean will probably result in combs built off the foundation, not on it.

That seems quite obvious when we think of it, right?

Although foundation in frames spaced nine to a standard box may be drawn as hoped, anything wider ten-frame (1-3/8" OC) natural spacing provides an opportunity for the bees to build between the foundation sheets, rather than on them. 

Even with ten-frame spacing, sometimes comb is built between, especially if the foundation is old, un-waxed, or otherwise unattractive.

I had said that I seldom see laying workers, but I think I am seeing some now, or else drone layers.  Hard to tell really, without some examination and, frankly, it does not matter and is not worth the time to decide.  In either case I shake the hive out or stack it up with other losers and maybe one weak hive with a good queen.  I'll come back in a few weeks and see what I have.

At 1410, I've now had an hour break, a snack, and lots of strong coffee.  Out I go again.

At 1610, I have finished the North Yard and count 19 hives there after I sell the double tonight. There are 8 South of the Hedge.

I was worried I might not find an good double as I have been splitting anything of any size until recently, but did find one hive with brood on fourteen frames and bees well into the super.  I broke it down into two boxes and it sits ready to go.

Now I just need to finish the south yards and clean up.

I have been foggy-minded all this spring and forgot I had twenty or so extracted supers stacked up on a trailer.  I found them this afternoon, of course, after I scrounged through a lot of other stuff. All that needed doing, but maybe not right now when I am under time pressure.

I had forgotten what a good job my friends did of the extraction this past season, remembering instead the ripped combs of the previous year.  This time, the combs came back looking great.  I think they did the job themselves, rather than trusting it to the hired help.  I am very fortunate to have such good friends.

Everything is pretty well supered for the next two weeks now, and we'll see what things look like when I get back.  Some of these new queens will have filled the hives with bees and honey.  Others will have faded away.  If we have a good August and September, these hive should do well.

All things considered, I made things much harder for myself that I had to, but at least now I am organised -- after the hard work is done.  At present it is looking as if I'll have fifty hives going into winter and that is much more manageable than the 70+ that I had last year.  I also plan to make sure I take the honey off so everything is not plugged.

Last year I was home all summer, due to the memorial for Ellen and finally got away in early September when I should have pulled the honey and reduced the colonies to two or three boxes.  I travelled to Ontario, New York, and to the Caribbean and back.   When I got back, I neglected the bees.  As I say, I have been in a bit of a fog and did not realise it.

It's almost 1700, and suppertime approaches. So far,  I have only consumed 1100 calories of the 2400 calorie RDI based on my base metabolism.  Adding the allowance for five hours of beekeeping, and the budget rises to 4657 calories.  So I am 3557 calories short of target today.

Dieting -- if you can call this game I am playing with myself dieting -- is not proving to be difficult. I am seldom hungry and when I am, I eat.  Part of the secret is the bean stew.  It is low glycemic and filling, but is also very low calorie.  A cup of the stew -- a big serving -- yields only 134 calories.

The main trick seems to be to avoid calorie dense foods like cheese, ice cream, bread, meat...  Some of these items also make me hungry.  The stew does not, and a little lasts hours.

Judging by the ingredients, the stew should also be very nutritious.

I went out one last time to level hives and block upper vents.  A few hives may merit one more box in  the morning.  We'll see.  Quonset West had 28 hives and Quonset has 26. for a total now of 81 hives standing. 

Somehow, I thought here were fewer than that.  At any rate, I'll lose at least 10% by fall, but that just puts me back where I started.  Maybe I'll be lucky and lose more.

See what I mean?  I've been blundering around and don't even know what I have.

Anyhow, this was a good day and I am getting back in shape. With any luck, I'll be able to get in to that wetsuit in a few weeks.

Now, I just have to resist my mothers snacks.

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Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn't stop for anybody.
Stephen Chbosky

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Thursday July 16th 2015

Today Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this morning. High 21. UV index 4 or moderate.
Tonight Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers this evening and after midnight. Rain beginning overnight. Risk of a thunderstorm early this evening. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low 11.

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

This morning at 0400, my bathroom scale says 228 -- as nearly as I can tell from the fine gradations. 

Fatsecret predicted a five-pound weight loss since I began on the 5th, I have a calculated deficiency of 21,461 calories.

At 3,500 calories per pound of weight loss, that should translate into a six-pound weight loss, and I suppose if we use a 235 start weight rather than the 232 I used, that well may be the case. 

The 232 was a bit of a guess and may have been a bit off.  I find I can hardly distinguish a pound or two on that fine dial without great effort. 

I sometimes wonder about my other observations as well.  We humans are not very good observers when it comes right down to it.  When we take a critical look at what we think we saw and compare to accurate independent recordings of what we actually saw, the discrepancies at typically huge.

Fatsecret predicts that, at the present rate of progress, it will take two months to get to 210.  However, going forward, without the strenuous bee work, I imagine my progress will be slower, and considering I see a four-pound loss when they predicted six, I have to expect some difference between prediction and reality.

Today I fly at noon, so I have to leave here at 0930.  

I don 't much feel like going -- things are so nice here right now and there is so much to do -- but I know I'll be happy to get there.

I drove to Airdrie, parked and Mike drove me to YYC.  The flights went as always and I arrived at YSB at 2005 local, caught the shuttle and was at 1207 shortly after.

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The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
Henry David Thoreau

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Friday July 17th 2015

Today Rain. Amount 10 to 20 mm. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming northwest 50 gusting to 80 early this afternoon. High 19.
Tonight Partly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers early this evening. Clearing overnight. Wind northwest 50 km/h gusting to 80 becoming north 30 gusting to 50 early this evening. Low 8.

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Ten day forecast

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Here at 1207, the day is overcast, but warm.  I see that at home in Swalwell, viewed through my many surveillance cameras and sensors, the weather has turned cool and very breezy.  We've had 40mm (1.6 inches) of rain so far today if we can believe my electronic gauge, which I suspect to be inaccurate and quite generous by double.

I'm glad I closed up the upper auger holes before I left.  We'll have some hot days yet, but they will be fewer and the colonies need to conserve heat on days like this, and cool days will become more and more frequent now.

We are about one month past the summer solstice now.  Almost imperceptibly, but more rapidly each day that passes the daylight hours are getting shorter as we are moving towards fall. 

Two months from now in Central Alberta we may have already had a killer frost; most, if not all our supers should be off; extracting should be about finished; and we should be checking hive weights and thinking of feeding.

By then, we should have been sampling for varroa mites, using mite drops or by alcohol or sugar shakes, and maybe have done an emergency fall treatment -- or have decided to wait for spring.   No sense checking queens at the end of September in Alberta because some queens will already have shut down.

On the hot days still ahead, the bees are perfectly capable of venting through a conventional bottom entrance, and I did leave auger holes open in the bottom boxes. (see recent pictures).

On the Calgary list, some are bragging about innovative ventilation schemes for their hives because the bees hang out now and then.   They forget days like this when the bees in draughty hives will be retreating to the brood nest and abandoning work in their supers.

Ten degrees C is clustering temperature.  In a hive with a conventional lower entrance and no air leakage up top, heat rises and the metabolic heat is conserved in the closed upper regions.  As a result, the entire hive interior remains above cluster temperature, and life goes on uninterrupted.  However, in many ventilated hives, the heat is lost, bees retreat to the brood chambers in cool weather and as temperatures continue to drop, a cluster begins to form around the brood.

Many of these folks are drawing foundation since they destroy drawn comb on the advice of other 'experts' for fear of disease, and comb building requires heat, so that process slows or stops.  Honey is taken down as well.

Folly, if you ask me.  I know because I have made that mistake.

Here in Sudbury, I am shifting gears.  At home, I had become accustomed to daily action and daily work pressure, so this is a big change.  Moreover, the combination of exercise and restricted food intake has made me more energetic and I am not eager to spend the day here typing, although I have the bookkeeping to finish and email to write.

I notice my clothes are getting loose.  My pants almost fell down when I took off my belt at airport security yesterday.

I want to make the best of my ten days here, and I want to keep my activity level up.  I also want to spend time with Mom, so we'll see how things go.

Mom and I went to Wal-Mart in the afternoon and stocked up on fruits and other items, including a new belt for me.  I was at the last notch on my previous belt.

We came back to 1207 and cooked a pork roast and cobs of corn. 

At 2116 EDST, my weather station reports 241mm of rain.  That is 9.5 inches.  I sure hope that is at least three times the truth. I called Carolyn and she says that it rained a lot, but nothing of flood proportions.-- no pooling.

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"It all comes," said Rabbit sternly, "of eating too much".

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Saturday July 18th 2015

Today Mainly sunny. High 28. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight A few clouds. Low 14.

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Environment Canada says that Three Hills got 25mm of rain yesterday, so unless Swalwell had a cloudburst, my weather station lies about precipitation by a lot -- 1X.

From the forum:

> Which is best ventilation from the top or bottom?

I don't think it matters.

What matters is whether a colony can control the airflow or not, especially when the ambient is dropping to clustering temperature.

Beekeeping is a compromise. At some times the hive has to dump heat and at other times conserve it.

With a single entrance at the bottom, warm, moist air naturally rises and is trapped in the upper boxes. That is a good thing until either the temperature reaches 95 F (brood temperature) or humidity exceeds approximately 75% (ideal humidity), at which point ventilation is required. In temperate regions, most of the time (95% of the year?), little or no ventilation is required.

With a single top entrance, there is little natural air circulation and the cavity is a dead air space -- natural insulation -- and the cluster heat is conserved in the cavity also.

With top and bottom entrances, especially on opposite sides of the cavity there is a natural convection air current which can be greatly increased by wind outside blowing through and heat and humidity is lost constantly. Sometimes such venting may be desirable, but at many times of year, especially springtime, it is harmful.

Bees are very good at directing air through the hive and detecting if the temperature and moisture in specific critical brood areas are acceptable or not. It only take a few bees to move a lot of air and they do so as long as the temperature is sufficient for them to function without retreating to the cluster.

Honey bees naturally choose cavities with little natural draft and fairly small entrances for good reason.

When ventilation is required, they are able to move air quite well.
They can block airflow, too, except when the temperature drops well below cluster temperature at which point, they tend to retreat to a cluster and no longer control the cavity temperature to the same extent.  

Even then, though we often see bees outside the cluster.  Individual bees can generate body heat, as long as they have fuel and we often see bees out and about well below clustering temperature.

So, bees naturally choose cavities with limited natural airflow and limited openings, and I think we can all see why, and the problems that excess and especially forced ventilation can cause and how disruptive it can be to colony functioning and probably, at times, to bee health.

In Alberta, we humans would not choose a house with big openings wide open all the time, top and bottom, and if we really had to have an always-open entrance, I think we would choose a basement entrance, since heat rises and keeping warm in the living quarters above is more of a problem than staying cool, most of the time. 

We might want to open windows up top for a few days of the year, but during that time, we would often close them at night and cold days.  We would not want them open all spring and summer.

When the day was hot, we would turn on the fans and exhaust the hot air and draw in fresh air.  Where on our domicile the opening was located where we did the air exchange would not matter much.

This analogy is far from perfect, but does offer some insights.

At noon, I drove out to the North Channel Yacht Club, looked a few boats, and visited with the folks a while, then headed back to Sudbury.  I had not been out to the NCYC for four years, and little has changed.   It is an hour and forty minute drive each way.

On the way back, I checked in on the VE3RMI VHF amateur repeater to see if anyone on Manitoulin Island or the North Shore was around to chat and Faye identified.  She suggested I drop out to Pig Island for supper and stay over.  Bill and Kenny picked me up at the dock in Whitefish Falls and we crossed the Bay to the camp.

Supper was spaghetti and salad. We had wine with supper and drank a fair bit afterwards.  I have not had wine for a while and don't intend to again for a while, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

I figured that the meal and the wine would break my calorie budget, but when I entered my meal and drinks, amazingly, they did not.  Apparently, I am still on track.  If I need any proof, my clothes are falling off me.

The secret to weight loss, it seems, is portion control.

...and avoiding calorie-dense foods. I could hardly believe that the date square I ate the other night added more calories than  the entire rest of my supper.

It's the second plate of spaghetti that goes to fat, I guess, and I did not have seconds. Even all that dry red wine at almost 1,000 total calories did not seem to add up to enough to put me over budget since I had not eaten much all day. 

An interesting and counter-intuitive fact: Eating too much makes one hungry sooner than eating sparingly.

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Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.
John Maeda,

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Sunday July 19th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers this morning. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this morning. High 25. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight Partly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers late this evening and overnight. Low 12.

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

I'm at Rock Island Lodge on Pig Island (Teepee 2300) today.

The day was cool with a strong breeze and partial overcast and I spent it visiting.  At one point, Bill and I ran into Whitefish Falls to pick up Vic, and later Bill ran Ken and Adam across.

At the end of the day, Bill, Vic and I had a sauna and swim, we all ate supper, then Bill ran Vic and me over to the docks at about 2030.  From Whitefish Falls, I drove back to 1207, arriving at 2220.

Updating my food diary at the end of the day, I see I barely stayed within my calorie budget today due to lack of exercise, calorie rich meals, and two glasses of wine consumed during the day.

Nonetheless, looking back, I see this was not my biggest day for calorie consumption and that several others came close.  The big difference is the lack of energy consumption from exercise.

My conclusion?  My appetite stays fairly constant, so if I want to eat what I need to in order to keep from being hungry and still lose weight, exercise holds the key. 

When metabolism and exercise energy expenditure can be tallied in calories burned and weighed against calories consumed by eating and drinking, weight loss by calorie counting is no longer a vague, fuzzy notion, but rather a process that can be measured and predicted.

The good slacks I bought not too long ago are now too big by at least three inches, and it shows by bunching at the waist.  Too bad; they are almost new and now they look odd.

Around noon, I received a call from Wayne, my Blue Yonder flight instructor at Indus airport.  He had a swarm of bees on a tree and wondered how to handle the problem.  He had a shotgun in mind.  I said I did not think that would work out too well.

Left there, however, I could visualize the swarm moving into a hanger, an airplane cowling or fuselage, and the resulting problems, so I posted the info on the Calgary Beekeepers list right away. 

Wayne called me from Blue Yonder airport out at Indus (just south of Calgary). He has a nice swarm of bees in a tree.

Anyone want this?  If so, you need to get out there now, while they are still easy to get.

Call Wayne at xxx xxx xxxx for details. And post here if you are claiming this swarm.

Ask him about ultralight flying while you are there.  It's a gas.

With a swarm in a tree, there is not a lot of time to act.  Often as not, they move on by dusk and are well inside a wall or some other cavity within hours.  At that point they become very difficult to extract.

Hanging on a branch, they are dead simple to catch.  All it takes is a cardboard box with folding flaps.  A good shake or two of the branch over the box, a quick closing of the flaps, and the job is done.  The best way to make sure the swarm does not just move on is to take it ten miles or so away to hive it.  A few miles works well, but bees scout territory as far as eight miles away.

That said, we often skip the cardboard box and just place a hive under the branch and shake.  Often, doing it this way, the shaking process has to be repeated a few times until all the bees stop returning to the branch.  (With a cardboard box, done right, they have no opportunity to fly back up).

In the latter case, the new hive either stays there under the tree indefinitely or can be moved that night to its permanent location nearby or farther away.  If done right away, the swarm bees will not return to the location.

If a swarm is not moved some miles away, the odds are about nine in ten they will stay in the new hive, and better still if a frame of young brood is handy to put in their new hive to hold them.

Within an hour, Bruce had claimed the swarm and later I received this report:

Thanks for the lead.

Hived it about 4 this afternoon.  Went back at 8:30 to retrieve and move to Priddis.  They are on the same property as Nick's 2 hives he bought from you a few weeks back.  IPM program starts on them immediately.

Wayne was agreeable to having us put a few hives on that property at the airport. If we get any honey will label the honey “Indus YYBee” 
(Calgary airport is YYC - ed)

They are across the road from an ocean of Canola.

Thanks again for the swarm alert.

Several people alerted me to this report on 2045 Winter losses in Canada.  (Thanks!).

I'm not a huge fan of CAPA and my impression is that CAPA -- as often as not -- works against the Canadian commercial beekeeping industry, and has cost Canadian beekeepers millions upon millions of dollars unnecessarily, but this is one thing they do right. 

As with all surveys, the accuracy of details is questionable, but the big picture is quite clear, and if the methodology and regulatory and economic environment is reasonably consistent, the year upon year changes tell a story.

To me it seems clear that varroa control is a big factor and I personally think that any effort put into nosema  treatments is a waste of time and money.  However, nosema treatment seems to work for some, if only to lower the owner's blood pressure.

For some reason, I don't seem to have much problem with nosema, and maybe this is because I don't mash a lot of bees when handling hives or split too drastically -- or too early.

CAPA members have interests that do not always often completely align with the industry they supposedly represent to legislators, and are often in direct opposition. 

There is a huge and obvious moral hazard in having CAPA speak for beekeeping to government.  CAPA members are paid by the public purse and the worse that commercial beekeepers are doing, the more importance is placed on extension and research and the more money that is directed that way.  The better beekeepers are doing, the less we need extension and research.  There is a huge incentive to keep beekeepers suffering by restricting access to cheap bees and any excuse, no matter how feeble, is used to shackle the industry with unnecessary restrictions.

We saw how industry problems boost agency funding clearly illustrated in the US some time back.  The US bee labs were being closed and budgets were being slashed when, miraculously, CCD was discovered and funding poured in again.

Although the cause of most of bee death episodes that were claimed to be CCD, including the initial reported case, was primarily simply poor varroa control due in part at least to lack of lawful solutions.  The situation was exacerbated by government restrictions on proven varroa treatments -- and fear caused by government prosecutions for off-label use. 

The CCD story caught fire and created a huge windfall for the entire bee research community with trickle down funds for beekeepers.  It was in no one's best interest to expose the semi-hoax for what it was.  Everyone was making money.

Obviously, some government regulation and co-ordination is necessary because real issues do emerge from time to time and some border control is in everyone's best interests.

The problem is that when we do establish and support such services, mission creep sets in.  Empire building and career insurance become the greater issues in the minds of the employees.  When there are no real issues, issues are created or minor matters are amplified into crises.

The genuine interests of the industry become secondary to the needs of the employees for security and prestige and are used as excuses to bolster arguments for more money, more regulation, more research, and more staff. At the same time, existing resources are diverted into convincing gullible members of the industry into supporting even more invasive and unproductive regulation and research that no one would support if asked for a contribution out of pocket.

That said, these abuses aside, CAPA does do a lot of good work every day and there are some issues where CAPA's interests do align with the industry and winter loss reporting is one.

I'm sure some will use the lower wintering losses in Canada compared to the US as justification for our continued and Quixotic embargo on the very US package bees that originally built and sustained our Western Canadian bee industry, but I think that would be disingenuous.

Wintering success in Western Canada fluctuates widely from year to year and, barring pest and disease problems, our climate is the major factor.  The quality of the preceding summer season has a huge influence as does spring weather on whether the previous fall's colonies are still in productive condition come May.

Wintering success would not be nearly as critical an issue, either, if affordable package replacements could be had, and it is in CAPA's interest, not ours to keep a focus on wintering success, rather than the true cost of a hive of bees in spring.

The main reason that wintering success is such a concern is that we are unable to buy cheap US packages.  With cheap US packages, treatments would be less of a concern. 

Packages are broodless at time of installation and that provides a perfect window for very effective and inexpensive varroa treatments if required.

The fox is in charge of the henhouse and somehow the hens allow this to continue.  Bizarre, if you ask me.

People say the US could not supply, but in my experience, where there is a demand, US producers can always step up.  At the prices we currently pay for packages in Canada, I can imagine even honey producers in the US would be shaking packages for export.  The prices might stay high the first year, but the price of a package would soon fall to half what we pay now.

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People will try to tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up. In reality, the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours.
Ken Hakuta

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