Friday July 10th 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you find yourself in a hole, the
first thing to do is stop diggin'.
Saturday July 11th 2015
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.
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
Sunday July 12th 2015
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.
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.
® 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.
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.
* * * * * *
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.
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 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 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.
If you have an important point to
make, don't try to be subtle or clever.
Monday July 13th 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
The smallest act of kindness is
worth more than the greatest intention.
Tuesday July 14th 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
Just kidding -- Only three out of four so far.
The smallest act of kindness is
worth more than the greatest intention.
Wednesday July 15th 2015
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Things change. And friends leave.
Life doesn't stop for anybody.
Thursday July 16th 2015
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.
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.
The price of anything is the amount
of life you exchange for it.
Friday July 17th 2015
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.
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 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.
"It all comes," said Rabbit sternly,
"of eating too much".
Saturday July 18th 2015
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.
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.
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.
Simplicity is about subtracting the
obvious and adding the meaningful.
Sunday July 19th 2015
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.
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.
Within an hour, Bruce had claimed the swarm and later I received this report:
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.
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.
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,
Note: if the results come out blank, turn
off your ad blocker temporarily