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October 2016

 

 

 

 

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Background Image: Foggy October Mornings in Swalwell

 

Thursday October 20th 2016

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 13.
Tonight Clearing this evening. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low zero.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I slept until 0715 -- ten hours -- when the smell of coffee roused me. My automatic machine had my morning coffee ready.  I was groggy, but wandered over to my scale and found I weigh 219.4 today.

*    *     *     *     *

The day is sunny and promises to be warmer.  Maybe I'll work outside today.

A reader sent me a copy of the US Apivar label (Left) and it differs from the Canadian label, reinforcing my belief that these are political documents every bit as much as they are scientifically based instructions.

These disparities bring into question the justification for draconian policing of conformance where no risk to neighbours or the public exists.  Just politics.  Just sayin'.

There are a lot of people ion this world who believe they should force others to follow rules they make up and many more who are happy to be paid to enforce them. All the above mindlessly  justification their actions and the pay they award themselves with elaborate arguments and logic based on assumptions that are questionable if examined impartially or compared to alternatives.

BTW, here are the Canadian oxalic user guidelines. (Upper right) (more). Note that they are guidelines.

*    *     *     *     *

I use The Optimiser to apply OA drizzle (trickle, dribble...).  It makes the job simple. 

For dosing doubles with syrup, rather than splitting boxes and squashing bees, I simply roll the entire hive upside down and treat the bottom box from the bottom, then roll the hive back to its proper position and treat the top. I've written about this before.

Although the OA recommended for beehive use is apparently technical grade, which should be higher purity than industrial OA, everyone I know uses oxalic acid of the same specs as oxalic acid sold as wood bleach and available at Ace Hardware, Sherwin-Williams and other paint/hardware stores.  Apparently the difference and nature of impurities is slight.

 Web searches suggest 99.6% purity is standard for industrial grade OA and happens to be the same purity that Medivet offers.

Personally, I use the Medivet product because the product is labeled for bees, for sake of convenience, and because the owner is a friend, but US users are directed to Brushy Mountain for the official, US labeled product.

What are the possible impurities? I am told heavy metals, etc.  Will that matter? For each two grams vapourized, possibly 0.4% or 2g x 0.0004 = .00008g may be impurities. YMMV. Is that anything to worry about in a hive weighing 50,000g?  Not in my mind, but do your own diligence and make up your own mind. The usual disclaimers apply.

Regarding safety, Wikipedia says, "Excessive ingestion of oxalic acid or prolonged skin contact can be dangerous." (emphasis mine)

What is excessive or prolonged? You decide, but we handle crystals with bare hands and don't eat it. There is little risk of getting crystals in the eyes, but many wear goggles, especially when handling syrup. Syrup can splash.  Wise beekeepers keep clean water at hand and even baking soda and wash hands after contact.  Care must be taken though not to let the crystals and moisture contact skin. Although the dry crystals seem harmless in momentary contact with dry hands, the liquid acid formed when in contact with moisture is very caustic.

As always YMMV and the usual disclaimers apply. Do your own due diligence.

After lunch, I got outside to do some work that has been waiting while I was unwell. The day is cool and breezy so I wore my snowmobile suit and a toque. That proved to be a bit too warm, but I did not want to get chilled.

I took out two drums of ashes and firmed up the tires on the trucks, then put trickle chargers on the trucks to top up the batteries.  It felt good to get outside.

Even good tires lose air over time.  Air molecules diffuse through the rubber, and cold weather also causes a decrease in air pressure.

As mentioned often here, vehicles that sit unused for more than a week or two should have their batteries trickle-charged periodically, disconnected, or even removed to safe storage to prevent battery damage due to losing charge.  Accessories in modern vehicles draw tiny currents all the time and if the battery runs down too far, the battery may sulfate or freeze and be ruined.

Joe phoned at around four.  He and Oene were in Three Hills and want to come by to borrow my evaporators, described here back on November 26 2011. (I notice I was into this subject deeply back then.  I'd forgotten

Since then, the high efficacy and apparent simplicity of Apivar distracted us from OA for a while, but now Apivar is letting us down. Controlling varroa with Apivar now requires more strips and two treatments a year.  At this point, it is providing no better control than OA provides, but at much higher cost and with similar effort and uncertainty.

They came by and we had a supper and a good visit. Supper was steak, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, with strawberries, grapes and a small cream pie for dessert.

I cleaned up, then sat down and watched The Good Wife. Before I knew it, the time was 2330.

Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.
Ogden Nash

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Friday October 21st 2016

Today Mainly sunny. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming light early this morning. High 12.
Tonight A few clouds. Low minus 2.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I slept until 0715 again and awoke to the smell of coffee. I weigh 221.4 today, up several pounds. I attribute that to the two or three glasses of white wine I enjoyed at supper.

I'm reviewing some work I did back in 2011 with OA.  Check it out. There are lots of good thoughts and resources in the pages running through that fall. There are lots of charts and tables there, but I lifted this one from Heilyser Technology's page.

Heilyser is is the maker of the OA evaporators I lent Meijers last night.  The one shown on the web now seems different from the ones I have so maybe there are improvements since 2010.

 Efficiency from the Oxalic Acid Evaporation in a Different Dosage 

Test Results Without Treatment Water
Oxalic  Acid  Evaporation  in  Grams  per  Beehive
0,5g 1,0g 2,0g 3,0g 5,0g
Lowest Effect 0,0% 1,3% 51,7% 93,2% 91,7% 98,1% 99,0%
Average Effect 1,2% 4,8% 82,8% 96,0% 97,2% 99,0% 99,2%
Highest Effect 2,7% 11,5% 96,0% 99,2% 99,6% 99,7% 98,8%
Beehives per Test 6 8 12 10 13 11 5
Andermatt BIOCONTROL AG, Stahlermatten 6, CH-6146 Grossdietwil, Switzerland

Graphic borrowed from Heilyser Technologies

Given a choice and if money is no object, IMO, the Varrox unit (left) (Video) is a more robust and better all-round choice, but either works well.  Brushy Mountain also offers a unit. (Right)

After checking Heilyser's site again, I see that the evaporator is indeed improved and should be worth a try.  The price is better than Varrox, too, at $105.  I assume that price is in CAD since the site is in Canada.  The Varrox is $165US and Brushy wants $125US.

Heilyser is now offering a blower model, too, at $365, in a design I looked at some time back and thought promising.  The operating details are not shown, so if running it means loading each charge and a lot of leaning over, I won't like it. I wrote for more info.

I went out after lunch and began yard cleanup.  I started the mower and did a little cleanup, then came in to check the time of tonight's FACS meeting.

The meeting is at seven and I see that there is a photo contest. had no intention of contributing, but what the heck?

I have one photo from May's Spring Thaw that might rate, so here it is. That's my Spring Thaw crew on Just Do It! taking a picture of me taking a picture. Typical.

They were great guys and a lot of fun.

I went back out and moved the old forklift closer to where the shop. I had given up on it, but think I will just rebuild the transmission.  I then mowed the tall grass where it was and then filled the van tires again.  It seems I have a slow leak in one tire that needs air every few weeks.  The fancy rims on these machines tend to get rim leaks and I assume that is the issue here.

I started up the 4X4 for towing the ashes yesterday and for towing the forklift today. It quit a few times and gave me a chance to verify that a bad connection on the PCM, located behind the kick panel near the emergency brake is definitely what causes the truck to stall suddenly and sometimes not start.  This the hardest type of issue to track down, so I am lucky to have found the culprit.  Each time the truck won't run, I bang the unit around and the truck works for a while.

Access to the connector is from under the hood or behind a fender skirt and not a comfortable reach.  I have to get in there to tighten it up to get a permanent fix, but working on it requires personal contortion to reach it, and I have been putting the job off.  This truck has a series of connection issues, including wipers that work sometimes and sometimes not. I suspect it was submerged at some time in the past.

At five-thirty, I drove to Calgary to attend the meeting and returned by ten-thirty.  I went straight to bed.

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.
Sir Barnett Cocks

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Saturday October 22nd 2016

Today Mainly sunny. High 11.
Tonight Clear. Low minus 4.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I slept until 0655. I'm looking forward to an active day.

From the forum today:

> Allen, I noticed in your diary post the dosages you showed of OA were per beehive?
Is that per beehive as in single deep, double deep or per hive body.
Thanks

*   *   *   *   *

I don't know. The data is European and the company in the credit at the bottom of the table has nothing on its website. I 'borrowed' the table from Heilyser's site.

No matter, though, really. While in drizzling, limiting the dose is important to avoid harm to the bees, in evaporation, the dose does not seem at all critical.

As we learn to live with varroa rather than seek to utterly wipe out every last mite -- we have learned it is not possible -- we now work to keep the mites below an economic threshold. Consequently, achieving an extra percent kill in any one treatment becomes less critical for methods that can be repeated easily and often, like OA evaporation.

On the other hand, high efficacy is very important for treatments like Apivar or Apistan that are expensive, take six weeks, and which are difficult to fit into the annual routine since, unlike OA evaporation, they can only be done infrequently.

Choosing the OA dose is a trade-off. From the table, we see that higher doses will come closer to a total kill, but we have to remember that higher doses begin to kill more than a few bees and could be harmful, although I have no data beyond the study posted here recently which offers this slide.  See also my October 2nd post

It is not unusual for any one treatment across a yard or on one hive to achieve much lower efficacy that the average or the expected result.  That is because any one application to any one specific hive may have application errors or failures for various unpredictable reasons including operator error, equipment malfunction, weather, bad positioning, colony dynamics at that moment, etc.  Those failures are less likely to occur on the next pass, and the next.

Multiple treatments at a lower dose are likely to be more successful and also achieve more uniform results across a number of hives, or on any one hive, than one high dose blast. 

Repeating any treatment is likely to be much more successful applying only one treatment because treatments add up and average out any 'misses'. In Russian Roulette, a player (or varroa) has good odds of surviving one round, but the odds diminish rapidly towards zero with each round. (Explanation)

Example:  Compare three OA treatments of 50%, 95%, and 25% efficacy (without opening the hive) to one treatment with 60% efficacy that requires opening the hive and sometimes scraping burr comb.  I know that I'm looking at a number -- 60% -- in Medhat's data and misapplying it, but this example is just hypothetical.

The results are ((1-.50) x (1-.95) x (1-.25)) = 98% kill vs. 60% kill.  Cost? Less than $1 vs. $10. Effort? Three trips vs. two, and working outside the hive three times vs. opening it twice.

Consider one treatment at 90% efficacy. If that treatment is Apivar, the process takes six weeks, requires two visits, and can cost $10+/-. The same treatment with OA takes one visit, ten minutes, and costs ten cents.

The Apivar cannot likely be repeated again until the next season. The OA can be done again in a week or two -- and again a week later...

90% varroa kill once a year is insufficient to control varroa, however 90%, then 90% of the survivors, then 90% of those survivors within a month or so achieves a theoretical 99.9% control!

Of course, in real life, brood in the hive can lower efficacy for OA (and Apivar to a lesser extent, too) but OA can be applied any day the temperature is above 5 degrees C, and in Alberta, that opportunity comes every month of the year.

When people express concern about brood in the hive reducing OA efficacy, we must remember there is an huge difference between drone brood and worker brood.

Drone brood can harbour up to four developing female mites per cell, but worker brood typically only harbors one or two (and seldom three) daughter mites per cell -- plus the mother, of course.

Thus, fall brood is less of a worry than summer brood since drones are normally only reared in spring and summer.  (Image courtesy Marion Ellis.  See clarification here at six minutes in).

A corollary: if summer treatment is contemplated, simultaneous drone brood removal could increase impact of OA treatments greatly.

Even if each treatment efficacy drops to 70%, the result of three treatments comes to a theoretical 97.3% control.

I'm obviously using simple math and simple assumptions, but the conclusions are in the ballpark +/- 100% nineteen times out of twenty. <laugh here>

I wrote Heilyser yesterday and he seems to have the best deal on evaporators. I was considering whether I should replace my units. Also, this information should be very helpful to readers in deciding what to buy.

He replied:

Hello Allen
We use a different aluminium alloy for the tray and a glow plug from another manufacturer. The new vaporizer heats up in approx 15 seconds. If you have a heating problem with the older models, you might remove the glow plug and clean the part who sit in the aluminum holder with sandpaper. The acid fumes create a crust around the plug and this works like a resistance. Check the attached pictures.

The price for 4 JB200 would be: $360.00 + GST $18.00 + s/h $15.00 = total $393.00
The price for 8 JB200 would be: $640.00 + GST $32.00 + s/h $18.00 = total $690.00

For the JB700, I add you some question and answer I received from the manufacturer. If you have more questions, please let me know. http://youtu.be/iFnYcPNA9Rw

Best regards
Heinz Kaemmerer
 

  

There have been some technical questions asked that I believe I can help with.


Q: How long will my battery last?
A: I have tested two series of batteries, neither of them new batteries. A fully charged deep cycle car battery runs the JB700 continuously for 4 hours before any degradation of performance. A motorcycle battery (much smaller and lighter) runs the unit for 45 minutes without performance degradation.

Q: How much oxalic acid do I need?
A: The maximum capacity of the tray is 5 grams. This will treat up to 10 hives. However, impurities in the acid (mostly H2O) will cause bubbles that hold the acid away from tray reducing efficiency. These bubbles need to broken up to vaporize the remaining acid. We recommend experimenting with the amount of acid to best fit your acid quality and situation.

Q: Do I need to allow the unit to cool before adding more acid?
A: Both yes and no. Adding acid while the tray is at operating temperature will create a cloud of vapor that should be avoided. However, if you turn off the heater immediately after the RED LED turns off, the tray will be at its minimum cycling temperature and will not vaporize acid as soon as it is added. It is then safe to add acid utilizing proper protective gear.

Q: Are there options for different nozzles?
A: Currently, no. However, we are open to feedback on what works best in your situation. In addition, the nozzle is 2 PVC vacuum tubing, which shapes very well by heating it in boiling water if you wish to customize something for your unique situation.

Q: Can I use a generator to run my unit?
A: This depends on the generator. The JB700 is a 150W draw. At 12 volts this equates to 12.5 amps. Many generators have an 8.3 amp 12 volt output. These generators will not power the JB700.

Q: How long of a cable can I use for the JB700?
A: We do not recommend using a much longer cord for the unit. The reason for this is line loss. All cables will have a small amount of inherent resistance that is inversely proportional to the size/length of the cable. Therefore, using a significantly longer or smaller cable will cause the unit to run as if your battery is dead or close to dying. There was a post about using a 250 of 16 gauge cable to run the unit. This will not work as almost all power from the battery would be used up by the line loss of the cable. I will run some tests on maximum lengths for 14 gauge and 12 gauge cable and post the results.

Q: Does the acid harm the wires in back of the unit?
A: The wires in the back of the unit are all heat shrunk to reduce any exposure to acid vapor. However, we have made an engineering change to the air deflector to reduce acid vapor circulating in the wiring portion of the unit.

Please feel free to contact me with any technical questions that you may have. If I dont know the answer, Ill figure out how to get it.
 

I doubt I will buy more at present, but may clean the units I have.  Meijers have them right now, though.

BTW, I recommend Randy's site for anyone who is not overloaded with varroa and OA info.  This landing page is just one of many worth reading,

I spent the whole morning on  this stuff and am itching to get outside.  I also changed my Gmail password and that is no small task, considering the many devices I have.

*   *   *   *   *

I finally got out around two and decided to solve the truck issue.  With no forklift and only the old yard truck, I am very limited.  I need a highway truck to haul trash away and do other tasks, including take the trailer to the dump with the trash that has been on it since summer so that was today's job one.

Although the actual PCM module with a bad connection is on the kick panel driver's side (left), the connector and screw to disengage it is in the engine compartment.  

The suspect connector is visible and barely accessible under the hood at the back on the firewall, and is hard to reach.  Easiest and recommended access is through the fender well (right), but I could see that the screws were rusty and if I attempted removing them,. I'd be opening a can of worms, so I went in from the top.

I took out the module, examined it and reinstalled it.  The truck ran, but was again unreliable. Every so often a connection somewhere in the harness, the connector, or even in the unit itself would lose contact and the engine would stall.   I had to tap and shake the module to get it going again, confirming my diagnosis, but it was clear that  after playing around for several hours I still did not have it fixed permanently.

I decided to pull the thing out and disassemble it to see where the problem is. Once out, I took a good look at the connectors (below) and although some contact holes look a little dark, I could see no signs of burning or cause for issues. 

I was not going to go through all the gymnastics of taking it out again if I could help it, so I disassembled the unit, cleaned all contacts and touched the pins with emery board -- a non-standard but guaranteed way to expose clean fresh metal -- and ensure contact if anything would. 

I also looked for bad solder joints or cracks, but the board looks like new.  I put everything back together, sprayed the connector with WD-40, and tightened the screws.

The truck runs now, but have I fixed it?  That I will not know until I have driven a while since this sort of issue can be tricky.  I'll start by using the truck around the yard.

         
Connectors and circuit board -- the prime suspects.  If not them, then it's the harness.

 It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.
Mark Twain

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Sunday October 23rd 2016

Today Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this morning. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h early this afternoon. High 12.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 1.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I woke up at 0430 and got up for the day.  Now, at 0745, the dawn is just breaking.  Temperature is minus five.  This has been a cold fall here in Alberta, and on the coast, winter storms came early.

Today promises to be warm and I plan to use the truck around the yard, so I'll see if it works reliably.  I don't want to drive to town or the dump and find I am stranded halfway, so testing around home is prudent before making any trips.

I did not find any obvious reason for the intermittent problem, so I am not as convinced that I have fixed it as I would be if I had found something obviously broken or burnt.

I also need to get some cleanup done in the north end and basement seeing as I still intend to get the gas hooked up and need clear access to the areas in question.

My heating research is now outdated, so I have to go over it again before committing. The project is not something I look forward to.  Adding gas to this building in a manner that does not limit future additions is not a simple problem, not if I want to do the job right and not waste money ending up with an imperfect solution.

I've developed an aversion to the job, having begun the process and done the research a number of times, then been stopped by something or another . My enthusiasm is completely extinguished. The only thing that keeps me motivated is knowing that I am relying on an old coal furnace to prevent the place from freezing up in winter and that if it fails few people can fix it. Not only that, I am getting older and someday I may not be able to shovel ashes.

I was reading John Mauldin's newsletter and he mentioned This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets for Losing Weight, Living Longer, Keeping Your Brain Functioning, Having Great Sex, and Finding Total-Body Wellness by Michael F. Roizen.  Sounds like baloney, but what the heck.  I like John's ideas, so I downloaded the book on Audible and began listening as I worked in the shop downstairs. I'm adjusting the bin auger design.  It's a hobby.

The book has some interesting ideas and a whole lot of blah, blah, blah. Writers of self-help books usually have a few ideas that would make a slim chapter, but need to pad them out to make it look worth more than 50c. So far his first idea is to walk 10,000 steps a day and that works out to about five miles.  I wondered why my cousin walks five miles a day, so there you go. I don't ask questions about such things.  I just wait for the answers to come along.

The second idea is to work with a buddy to keep on track and he blathered on for quite a while about who makes a good buddy.

I got tired of that and went outside.  I listened to Cross Canada Checkup on CBC for a while as I loaded the trailer, moved some brush and generally worked in the yard.  The show was all about truth and reconciliation and how art figures into it -- I think. 

One caller, a teacher said how she was teaching the kids to feel sorry/guilty for what happened decades ago.  How is that?  These kids never did anything. Go figure. This just promotes racism IMO, albeit a different flavour.  It's time to get over it.  If there are ways to make up for the past, maybe some should be tried, but right now, we need to deal with the current problems and there are many.

Most of us have never spoken badly of any aboriginal nor abused anyone  knowingly or been aware what was happening.  Sure, treachery happened in the past, but that was then and this is now.

And, mentioning treachery and abuse, aboriginals were not the only group badly abused by the British although they are probably an extreme case, at least of the surviving groups the Brits suppressed. The British treated every non-Brit badly at that time, and deceived the 'white' settlers sent west just as much as the aboriginals living there.

I'll write more on the topic of crazy ideas that catch fire and become 'truth' sometime, but not now.  Anyhow, I am glad to hear intelligent aboriginal voices in discussions these days and the wise ones seem to understand that there is a time to look back and a time to move on.

I got a lot done but decided not to overdo things seeing as I felt really lousy last week.

When 1730 rolled around I backed the truck up to attach the trailer.  I was expecting the usual connection problems with the lights, but they worked right off the bat, but only if I clamped a booster cable onto the truck bumper and the trailer frame.  I see I have to troubleshoot he trailer grounding wire.

Once that is done, I have to test the brakes and do a few little things before I haul a load to the transfer station, but with luck that job should be simple.  Tuesday is the earliest the dump is open.

This load has been on the trailer since summer and now that the truck seems to be okay, I can haul a load. Once I have hauled one load, I'll be on track to haul some more, assuming my ambition holds up.

Google Fit says I walked 6,033 steps today just around the house and yard. Hmmm.  I'm short 3,967 steps for the day, but it is not over.  Also does not know about the steps I made when the phone was not in my pocket -- I think.  Does it?  Will I ever walk five miles a day?  I really cannot see it happening, but who knows?

Ahhh. A man with a sharp wit.
 Someone ought to take it away from him before he cuts himself.
Peter da Silva

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Monday October 24th 2016

Today Increasing cloudiness early this morning. Fog patches dissipating near noon. High 10.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Low zero.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I woke up early again, at 0545 and weighed in at 218.4. 

I got a lot done yesterday and hope to continue that trend today. I have the usual desk nonsense to discharge first, however. Accounting, discussion about my charter boats, tidying, and correspondence... I hope to get out of this chair by ten, and get outdoors but see that we are shrouded in fog and the forecast is for a cloudy day.  Working outdoors may not be as pleasant as it was yesterday.

I find i prefer temperatures below twenty degrees Celsius for outdoor work and find warmer conditions too hot unless there is a breeze.  Below plus five or so is okay as long as there is no wind.

I wrote to Calgary Beekeepers today.

I have been recommending that beekeepers take another look at oxalic acid, bite the bullet, and learn how to use this method of varroa control.

We have found that the expensive proprietary chemical strips that have provided almost total control lose their punch after a few years, and when they begin to fade a lot of colonies die before beekeepers wise up to the fact that the the treatment they trusted failed them and their bees.

We are going through this phase again, this time with Apivar losing its punch.

Even if Apivar, Apistan and Checkmite+ are now proving to be unreliable, IMO, oxalic will not.fail the way the strips have due to its more fundamental and less subtle mode of action.

Moreover, OA does not leave unnatural residues.

Although the learning curve for is a bit steeper than for strips, once learned, OA application is simple, safe, inexpensive and, when combined with monitoring by shakes or drops, can provide excellent and affordable control of varroa.

While there are three OA application methods, and each has its place, only two are practical for me and only one does not require opening the hive, and that is evaporation AKA sublimation, fogging,etc.

This method requires an applicator and these vary in cost from around $100 to $10,000. The cheapest version works for for the hobbyist and sideliner, and even large commercial beekeepers are known to use the most basic units..

I have been examining oxalic applications over the past few years, and played around with sublimation extensively in 2011. I recorded the observations and methods in my diary at the time.

At one point, years ago, I was doing quite nicely with one fall drizzle application a year. To be clear, however, I think that in my isolated apiary I either had varroa tolerant bees or wimpy mites and do not think one treatment would work for others reliably. I then started using strips and my luck changed for the worse.

This is an ideal time of year to use either sublimation or drizzle and in either case, acid crystals and applicators are required.

For drizzle, what you need can be obtained from Medivet or the honey co-op.

For sublimation, the acid (same product) can be obtained from either source and the sublimation applicators are available from the honey co-op ($190 for Varrox) or from Heilyser Technologies for a less expensive unit (the ones I use). The price for one Heilyser is $105 + tax, with free shipping in North America.. The price for four is $393 including tax and shipping, so I recommend getting several beekeepers together to buy.

For those with 100 hives or so, using four at one time makes the job go quickly.

These units need 12 volts to work and for power, I just open the hood of my truck clip on jumper cables and connect to them. There is no fear of running the battery down in an small outfit.

Now is the best time to treat with OA.

A word to the wise...

Looking back to my oxalic experiments and diary entries starting in October 2011 and running through the fall and into winter.  These graphics are from December, I see some graphics worth sharing.  To understand the process and results, I am afraid one has to read all the way through to spring. One thing to note is that these hives were three stories high and the dose used was perhaps a bit lower than optimal.  Also it is clear that each fumigation killed a lot of mites. The hives survived and prospered, but the varroa levels were never reduced to near zero so some refinements in the method are indicated.  Treating singles or doubles is bound to be more successful..

 

Here are graphics from March:

 

Later, I wrote: "I pulled the boards this evening and tried counting. I get 2, 18, 13, 69, 21, 1. That is over a 28 day period and I think some of the mites were from a previous period and had been dislodged by the bee activity lately".

A recount later under bright sunlight resulted in the chart below. I had questioned my ability to count these boards due the amount of litter accumulated over a month. Bright sunlight makes a difference.

28-Day Varroa Drops

Hive
Number
In Bright Sun
with magnifier
(most accurate)
In Lamplight
with magnifier
(less accurate)
Difference
Count Percent
1 0 2 +2 Huge
2 13 18 +5 +39%
3 8 13 +5 +63
4 82 69 -13 -15%
5 18 21 +3 +17%
6 2 1 -1 -50%

Remember these counts are over 28 days, so dividing by 28, we get a daily drop of 0,1,0,2,1,and 0 (rounding fractions to the nearest integer).

I managed to get downstairs around noon and worked until 1430. On a break, I found I was tired and lay down for a nap. The nap lasted until 1545.

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.
 Herbert Stein
 

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Tuesday October 25th 2016

Today Cloudy. 40 percent chance of drizzle this morning. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. Fog dissipating near noon. High 10.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 then light near midnight. Low minus 2.
Wed, 26 Oct Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness late in the afternoon. High 11.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I woke up at 0625. Looking out, I see fog again. Drizzle is predicted with a more pleasant afternoon. 

Today I want to take a load of junk and trash to the transfer station. That should be interesting.   I have to install the battery and test the trailer brakes before I go.  The job should be simple, but we'll see.

I weigh in first thing, before coffee and breakfast.  My weights are most consistent first thing in the morning before I eat and drink.

At 217.8 today, I see I am losing weight again. Before breakfast, my fasting blood sugar reads 5.6 and blood pressure is 122/74. Good to see.

I have not been counting calories for the past while, but have been eating whole grain, slow-cooking cereal for breakfast and avoiding alcohol. All told, I am down over thirteen pounds from last year at this time.

     

I have been reading about eating beans and whole grains for years and how reducing meat and increasing whole grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables can improve heart health indicators like BP, lipids, and blood sugar.  I could not see how it could, or how to actually make practical meals or find anything to eat when away from home. As recorded here, though, I have been making vegetable stews and cutting out red meat, then a few days ago I decided to cut down on eggs and try steel-cut cereals again.

The slower-cooking products have a lower glycemic load than the quick-cooking versions. manufacturers sell us convenience and taste, but in the process of 'improving' preparation and taste, they destroy the basic virtues of many foods.

The glycemic index, a measurement of the rise in blood sugar, is only 42 for steel-cut oats compared with 66 for instant oatmeal.- Livestrong

Comparing groats, steel cut, Scottish, old fashioned, quick, & instant oats; plus oat flour and bran -The Ultimate Guide to Oats             

Since consumption of whole grain products and dietary fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, Harvard researchers decided to look at the effects of cereal consumption on heart failure risk and followed 21,376 participants in the Physicians Health Study over a period of 19.6 years. After adjusting for confounding factors (age, smoking, alcohol consumption, vegetable consumption, use of vitamins, exercise, and history of heart disease), they found that men who simply enjoyed a daily morning bowl of whole grain (but not refined) cereal had a 29% lower risk of heart failure. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Oct 22;167(19):2080-5. The World's Healthiest Foods

My major objection to eating cereals for breakfast rather than eggs is that I found that last time I ate steel-cut oats and checked my blood sugar I found that the cereal raised my blood sugar considerably whereas eggs, my normal breakfast did not. I also get hungry again sooner when eating cereal.

I spent the first few hours this morning answering email and reconciling credit cards. In the process, I discovered a charge for Amazon Prime and began to write a complaint, then remembered I had subscribed when ordering wet suits a year ago to save on shipping. I thought I had cancelled automatic renew they sneak into the sign-up. In fact, I am sure I did. 

Anyhow, I found the cancellation page and apparently will get a full refund. We'll see.

I am not a big fan of Canadian Amazon.  US yes, Canada, no.  The Canadian version is restricted and expensive, and Prime does not include streaming.  The only advantage is cheaper shipping for someone who orders enough to make it worthwhile.  I use eBay a lot, but not Amazon.

This just in via email:

"Your Amazon Prime membership has been canceled, per your request. Since you have not used your Amazon Prime benefits, you'll get a full refund of CDN$ 82.95, which should be processed within the next 3 to 5 business days and will appear as a credit on your card's next billing statement. If your latest membership charge is still processing, we'll issue the refund as soon as the charge is completed.

How about that?  It pays to read the credit card statements monthly.  Oh, yes.  That was quite a diversion.  That find took me off-task for almost an hour, what with the other distractions it stirred up.  Now, I'm back to finishing the reconciliation, then off to install the battery and test the trailer brakes.

I installed the battery and tested the system.  The only issue remaining was the trailer ground. Nothing worked if I disconnected the booster cable I had connected from the truck to the trailer frame. 

Trailer grounds are a common issue and I solved it easily, so now the lights and brakes work.  At least I think the brakes work. The electrical circuit tests good, but I have not road tested them yet to make sure they actually apply.  It's been a while since the brakes have been used, so they may be rusty.

The fog lifted around noon, and by mid-afternoon the day had turned sunny. Indoor tasks conspired to keep me from getting the trailer work done until three and the dump closes at four, leaving an hour at most to make the run. 

I was about to do the road test when I realised that the Calgary Sail and Power Squadron meeting is tonight at seven.  I have to leave by five to do a few things along the way and arrive on time. Flu shots are now on offer and that is on my list.

I am not a Power Squadron member, but have meant to join this fairly elite organisation.  Their membership criteria were quite exclusive last time I looked, requiring completed Power Squadron courses (my credentials are CYA, now SC) but now they acknowledge my existing boating credentials. 

I signed up online and got ready for the trip into the bowels of Calgary, leaving the road test for tomorrow and the dump run until Thursday, the next day they are open.

I stopped in Calgary, bought groceries and discovered a lineup for flu shots, so continued to the meeting.

I arrived a little late, but did not miss anything. The presentation was quite informal and the topic was clod water boating and demonstrated how quickly people become hypothermic in ten degree Celsius water.  ten degrees is typical year-round on the Canadian west coast, although there are pockets of warmer water as I discovered last summer. Although, it is true that people become hypothermic and unable to do much after ten minutes in cold water, the story I heard on VHF on July 11th is an anomaly.  The whole story is here.  Did he luck out and land in the drink on a day when there was a warm current?  Hard to say, but it seems likely.

After the meeting, I drove home and went to bed.

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.
Joseph Baretti

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Wednesday October 26th 2016

Today Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. Fog patches dissipating late this morning. High 8.
Tonight Cloudy. Becoming partly cloudy near midnight. Low plus 4.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I weigh 220.0 today. Why, I wonder. I ate a small burger and a few nachos last night and did not drink any wine. Go figure.

Today I have a doctor's appointment at 1345.  This morning, I'll test out the trailer brakes and tie down the load.

For breakfast today, I ate steel-cut oats cooked with a few dried cranberries and a little cream on top.  On waking up, my blood sugar was 5.6 but now an hour after eating it's 9.1 . 

9 is about as high as a person's sugar can go without doing harm to the body. This why for years I ate eggs for breakfast.   An hour after eating three eggs, my blood sugar was always 5.6 or so, and after an omelet, maybe 6.

What is healthier?  A meal with zero carbs, some fat and some cholesterol or a meal with carbs and fibre that raises blood sugar to the safe limit?  I really don't know, and I really do not trust the 'experts'.

That said, many people are walking around with 9 as a fasting sugar and may people see numbers like 20 -- or more -- after meals.  That is definitely unhealthy, but most don't know that they have a problem.

Here is a chart I picked up somewhere on the 'net a while back.

 Blood Glucose Reading

mmol/L

mg/dL

 

2-4

36-72

Extremely low to low blood sugar

5.5

99-100

Perfect!

5-6

90-108

Normal range for non-diabetics (pre-prandial)

7 8

126 - 144

Normal post-prandial in non-diabetics

9 - 10

162 - 180

Maximum post-prandial in non-diabetics

10 11

162 - 198

High, even for diabetics

11 15

198 - 270

Indicates to poorly controlled bG

20 - 25

360 - 450

Extremely high

33 or > 33

> 594

High possibility of serious electrolyte imbalance!!

mmol/L is what we use in Canada. mg/dL is used in the USA.

"Post-prandial" means "after eating".  Of course, any person's post-prandial blood sugar reading will depend on what was has eaten and the quantity, as well as the person's constitution.

Now, another hour 2 hours) after eating, my blood sugar is down to 6.5, which is not too bad. If I had exercised instead of sitting here, it would be lower.

Three hours after eating, my reading is 5.7.

After lunch, I drove to Three Hills to see the doctor. He is a new doctor I met when I went to the hospital last week. 

Apparently I need a family doctor, so called, since this is how the system works and I have not been happy with the last several doctors I have seen.  This one seems smart and alert.  We'll see.  I return tomorrow at 1215 to have a spot burnt off my forehead with liquid nitrogen.

I've been waiting six months to get this done. The last doctor, in Airdrie, lined me up with a specialist in Calgary, but when told who he had chosen I asked to be referred to a better specialist, having wasted time seeing this guy previously.

I had driven three hours, just to spend literally seconds with the specialist, and he did not even ask me my complaints before performing a quick nitrogen treatment any doctor can do in the office -- the one that this doctor will do tomorrow in Three Hills.

My previous doctor's office had promised me twice to get another appointment closer to Airdrie, but never called me back.

From the medical centre, I drove downtown and stopped at Peter's Drug store. Peter gave me a flu shot while we discussed skiing and retirement. He hasn't been skiing much in the past few years and I could use a ski buddy to drive to the mountains and back with.

I drove home and had supper, then felt tired enough that I went to bed for an hour.  That seemed strange until I realised later that it must be the flu vaccine working.

I got up and watched the last episode of season one of "Line of Duty", a British series. 

I then checked the Calgary Beekeepers list and saw this:

From Daniel:

I've received a small update, which I'll pass on:

- The providing of insurance coverage to keepers under 100 hives was an oversight that got carried forward when they evolved from the ABA to the ABC.

- There was never any intent to exclude hobbyists from joining the ABC. Keepers under 100 hives continue to be welcome to purchase non-voting memberships, as they always have been.

ABC will be soon be disseminating a written clarification, but it shouldn't be expected until after the AGM, which is keeping them a little busy. It's expected that the matter will be discussed at the AGM, and a verbal clarification will be made there.

I wasn't born yesterday, so I replied.

I would be interested as to the source of this 'small update' that has not been circulated to the injured parties AFAIK. I did not receive any such message, possibly because I would recognize it for what it appears to be -- a smoke screen.

And, as for "after the AGM", that is a stall. In the meantime, the status of all those who were members and received the excommunication letter is in question and are not represented at the AGM, not having been solicited for fees.

Moreover, until this year, anyone could pay the 100 hive fee and achieve voting membership. Apparently this is no longer the case and beekeepers with equipment for 200 hives or even 1,000, but fewer than 100 live hives cannot, even if they ran over 100 in previous years and intend to in future. Alberta Ag asks how many hives you can run if you filled your equipment, so that info is available to the Commission in the same way as live hive numbers.

Additionally, it is quite possible to be a commercial beekeeper with fewer than 100 hives if raising queens, not that many do.

In short, this sounds like a hasty attempt for cover for a big goof and breach of faith with the smaller beekeepers and deflect objections until such time as this apparent treachery can be finalized legally with a motion at the AGM.

Is it time to kick out this Commission, too?

We kicked out the last one when they were too high-handed and turned their backs on the small beekeepers.

Then the following.  With bees being a such a topic of concern to the public, I am sure a press release would go viral.  So far the small beekeepers have been polite, and that by itself shows how silly the commercial beekeepers' fears that the small beekeepers would act against their interests.

I have always lobbied to include all Alberta beekeepers in the provincial organisation and there have always been a few paranoid commercial beekeepers who fear that the small beekeepers outnumber them and would for some reason overwhelm them by outvoting them.  In what circumstances, I cannot imagine.  This fear is entirely hypothetical -- unless a commercial block minority decide, as they have now, to oppress the small beekeepers and disenfranchise them.

The only case I can recall is where the small beekeepers' interests were sufficiently at odds with a commercial faction to incite the small beekeepers to oppose them was a situation very much like the present where a small number of commercial beekeepers sought to disenfranchise small beekeepers in the formation of the previous Commission.  At that point, small beekeepers rebelled and threw out that Commission.  After that, peace prevailed although commercial beekeepers who had previously been regarded with favour there were unwelcome in the government offices for a long time after.

It was along time before the idea of a commission was again raised and when it was, a great deal of effort was made to include everyone and that is how the Alberta Beekeepers Association was morphed into the Alberta Beekeepers Commission without any opposition -- until this breach of good faith and clumsy exclusion of the small beekeepers.

Fact is -- and this has been proven over and over -- with very few exceptions, small beekeepers respect commercial beekeepers and consider them to be examples and opinion leaders. Small operators and urban beekeepers also respect the fact that commercial beekeepers have a much greater investment of money and time in bees and consequently defer to them on issues that are important to commercial operators out of common decency. A few commercial beekeepers are jerks, but most are very generous to small beekeepers and share supplies and information, and that is how it should be, and as a result they garner respect and support for the entire commercial group.  That is how to ensure support, not by attempting to exclude them and divide the industry.

Potential Public Relations Nightmare for Alberta Bee Commission?

I can see the headlines now once this gets rolling.

Alberta Beekeeping Commission Stings Beekeepers

Alberta Beekeeper Commission Refuses Small Operators

Beekeepers Revolt...
-------------

Punsters and headline writers, please keep the headlines coming...

A cynical and rhetorical attack on the Commission? Perhaps, but no more cynical than the Commission's ill-considered and inflammatory action that ignited this crisis.

example model

What's the difference between a boyfriend and a husband? About 30 pounds.
Cindy Gardner

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Thursday October 27th 2016

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy this afternoon. High 13.
Tonight Cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low plus 1.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

I see my blood sugar is higher this morning at 6.5. Some mornings my fingers are stiff. Some not. I can't make rhyme or reason of this.

Today, I plan to make that dump run.

I got to thinking last night that I have a slow leak in one trailer tire and need to address it before the trip.  The trip is only ten miles each way, but a flat along the way would be a problem.  The leak seems to be a slow one and I have assumed that I can get there and back without worry, but I realise now that I need to time the leak-down and perhaps change the tire before I go. I should also spray the wheel nuts with penetrating oil since the wheels have not been off the trailer for fifteen years.

I can't help myself.  I wasted the morning writing this.

I suppose that many do not know the history of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission since much time has passed. I do. I was there and involved. I remember all the promises made and implied and -- as the expression goes -- where the bodies are buried.

I am not much involved in the industry anymore, but at one time ran up to 4,500 colonies, producing honey and pollinating seed canola. I was an ABA director on and off, an inspector, beekeeping teacher, and wrote the Green Certificate, as well as being a small beekeeper for many years while building up and after retiring, so I know the story from all sides and this current situation looks to me to be either a spectacular fumble or a deliberate travesty promoted by a few without due process.

Since this is no longer my fight, I have stayed back to see what leadership emerged to stand up for the rights of small beekeepers and am not seeing the outrage I would have expected. This is now time for proactive action to head off ratification of this action which I am fairly sure is illegal under the ABC constitution, and time is running out.

I have always lobbied to include all Alberta beekeepers in the provincial organisation and there have always been a few paranoid commercial beekeepers who fear that the small beekeepers outnumber them and would for some reason overwhelm them by outvoting them. This faction has always tried to exclude the people who are not close to them and thankfully, here in Alberta, we have overcome that and had a policy of inclusiveness -- until now.

That is clearly the secret IMO of Alberta's beekeeping success. Inclusiveness, equality, and co-operation and why Alberta has thus far had such an open and friendly industry, without the fetters that restrict beekeepers elsewhere.

I cannot imagine under what circumstances small beekeepers would oppose and threaten the commercial operators. The interests of small and large beekeepers are well aligned almost without exception. These fears are entirely hypothetical -- unless a commercial minority block decide, as they have now, to oppress the small beekeepers by disenfranchising them in their provincial organisation. Then we should expect outrage.

So far the small beekeepers have been polite and docile in the face of this affront, and that by itself shows how silly the commercial beekeepers' fears that the small beekeepers would militate against them really are.

The only case in the last fifty years I can recall where the small beekeepers' interests were sufficiently at odds with a commercial faction to incite the small beekeepers to oppose them was a situation very much like the present where a small number of commercial beekeepers sought to disenfranchise small beekeepers in the formation of the previous Commission.

Since the Commission board was needlessly intransigent, at that point, small beekeepers, , organised, demanded a vote, and had that Commission dissolved.  That would not have happened if the small beekeepers had been shown respect in the first place.

After that, peace prevailed although the commercial beekeeper lobbyists who had previously been regarded with favour by government became unwelcome in the government offices for a long time after.

Decades passed before the idea of a commission was again raised and when it was, a great deal of effort was made to include everyone and that is how the Alberta Beekeepers Association was morphed into the Alberta Beekeepers Commission and took over its assets without any opposition -- until this breach of good faith and clumsy exclusion of the small beekeepers.

One of the conditions for the easy transition was the assurance that small beekeepers would always be fully included and have access to the organisation.

Fact is -- and this has been proven over and over -- with very few exceptions, small beekeepers respect commercial beekeepers and consider them to be examples and opinion leaders. Small operators and urban beekeepers also respect the fact that commercial beekeepers have a much greater investment of money and time in bees and consequently defer to them on issues that are important to commercial operators out of common decency. Many small beekeepers dream of emulating their commercial neighbours.

A few commercial beekeepers may appear to be jerks, but most are very generous to small beekeepers and share supplies and information, and that is how it should be. That is how to ensure support, not by attempting to exclude the small people, but winning their support honestly.

There has been some hint of correcting the situation and a some on the Commission might honestly think that things will be made right at the AGM and lead others to think it possible, but don't let that fake you out -- if you care. Hope is not a strategy.

IMO, these suggestions that things will be corrected could very possibly be a ploy to keep the noise down until those who made this move -- apparently without appropriate notice and support of the assembly -- have their actions ratified. Odds are things could just get worse after the AGM and be harder to reverse.

Let's be clear. This is the time to raise a stink, not after this seemingly illegitimate action is ratified --unless you trust the very people who just dropped this bomb on us without due process or proper warning.

Right now is the time to act. Lobby the people who can affect the outcome and make it known that this will not be taken lying down.

It's your turn. I've done my share.

If you care, write the following to state your case. Be short, respectful, and to the point.

A short note is all it takes. Do it now.

Carlier, Oneil, Honourable
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Deputy Government House Leader
Members of Executive Council
Executive Council
229 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6
Phone: 780 427-2137
Fax: 780 422-6035
af.minister.m@gov.ab.ca

Freda Molenkamp-Oudman
General Manager / Executive Director
Industry Governance and Legislative Services Branch
3rd fl JG O'Donoghue Building
7000 - 113 Street, Edmonton Alberta, T6H 5T6
freda.molenkamp-oudman@gov.ab.ca

Dr. Medhat Nasr
Provincial Apiculturist
Crop Research and Extension Branch
17507 Fort Road
Edmonton, AB, Canada T5Y 6H3
Tel: (780) 415-2314 Fax: (780) 422-6096
medhat.nasr@gov.ab.ca

Just after noon, I was working outside, getting ready to go to the dump when I I suddenly realised I was supposed to be at the doctor's office having a spot burned off my forehead at that very moment. I looked at my phone and it was rebooting. Why I don't know.   When it came back to life, I quickly phoned to see if I had missed the chance and they said if I got there soon, it would be fine.

I quickly changed and drove up to Three Hills. After a short wait, I saw the doctor and he worked on the spot with liquid nitrogen while we discussed Picato and Aldera, two ointments that can be used to clear up actinic keratosis on sun damaged skin.  While liquid nitrogen will remove the worst of it quickly, the lesions tend to return unless the skin is completely repaired and these ointments are used on a two-inch square patch of skin at a time to repair the skin.

I returned home and prepared to leave for the dump. The bad tire turns out to be porous and also have a leak at the stem.  I blew it up to 70 pounds and timed how long the pressure stayed up.  I figured I could make it to the dump and back.

By the time I was ready, it was three and my understanding was that the dump closes at four. I decided to go anyhow, but at that moment, I saw a huge truck pull up across the road on my property near the tracks.  As I watched, the driver dumped a huge pile of riprap ballast.  I walked out and asked the driver what he was doing.  He said that this was a delivery for the railroad and that was the exact GPS location he was given by the railway.  That spot was at least twenty feet from their property line.

I saw no so sense ragging on him, so I smiled, bid him a good day, and said I'll catch the foreman sometime.  I've had to call the cops on them before for messing up my land without permission.  The railway should know it is not theirs.  They sold it to me.

I figured I still had time to get to the dump and I have had this load, or most of it, on the trailer for 15 months now, so away I went.

The truck, newly fixed, ran nicely for the first three miles, then quit abruptly.  Same problem.  I looked and saw I had left the tools I used to fix it at home, so confident had I become after experiencing no problems around the yard.  What to do?

I could wait for someone to come down this lonely country road and beg a ride home, but what then?  I could walk.  Same problem.  Or I could try to fix it again and then decide whether to go home or carry on.  Time was growing short to get to the transfer station before closing.

After several tries, the truck started, then quit.  This repeated several times, then the truck ran fine. I closed the hood and figured I might as well take a chance on carrying on.  I might still make it by closing and if I broke down again a few more miles would not make much difference.

The problem would be how to get the truck and trailer home. I have AMA RV towing insurance that will tow my vehicle and trailer up to 100 miles at no charge so I suppose I could call them to tow me home.

How AMA would feel about hauling a truck and trailer loaded with trash, I am not sure -- its not exactly an RV -- but I am quite sure I am covered regardless, and also that the independent tow truck driver would not feel compelled to describe the vehicles involved.

On I went, and I arrived at the dump five minutes before four.  On arrival noticed the sign said open until six.

Good. I wonder why I thought four. It's just as well, though because if I had thought six, I would very likely have procrastinated and arrived at five to six.

I was greeted by a serious fellow who examined my load and explained that they could not accept some of it and that stuff has to go to another site another twenty miles away, and, of course that site is not open today.  Oh, joy!  At least most of the load could be left here now.

Unloading was a big job that took the better part of an hour and several moves around the lot. I noticed my tire lost air, but kept its shape. I had not figured on taking an hour to unload.  Somehow I had thought unloading would take a few minutes.

Finally, I was done and drove home, arriving just after five. I was beat.  I had a shower and sat down.  I doubt I'll do much tonight.  I wonder if the flu vaccine is still affecting me. I think I'll have a sauna tonight. 

That reminds me. I lend my downstairs TV to Carolyn for a few days a year or two ago and have never seen it since. at times like this I miss it.

Saturday, I guess I'll take a run to the distant pit with the balance of the load.

Tomorrow, my friends come for supper and Meijers and I will demonstrate oxalic evaporation and drizzling to Maddy and Bert. Fen is back from Nova Scotia, so she will have some stories, I am sure.

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Friday October 28th 2016

Today A few showers ending late this morning then cloudy with 40 percent chance of drizzle. Fog patches dissipating late this morning. High 6.
Tonight Cloudy. 40 percent chance of drizzle this evening. Low zero.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

First thing this morning, I weigh 218.4 again and fasting blood sugar is back to 5.7.  Go figure.

Forecast is for rain and maybe snow today.  We are scheduled to demonstrate oxalic evaporation tonight before supper.  I'm expecting the usual suspects and Bert and Maddy want to see how this is done.  I have concerns since if it is raining, handling oxalic acid crystals becomes more hazardous than on drier days.

Whereas dry oxalic acid dihydrate crystals are harmless in momentary contact with fingers, when water becomes involved, liquid acid results and the liquid acid is very corrosive. When treating with an evaporator, it is hard to avoid exposing the crystals to the falling drops, and hands tend to get wet or damp.  Gloves of the appropriate sort may help, but also provide an opportunity for acid to get trapped next to the skin if they puncture.  When handling acids, I prefer bare hands and keep fresh water and baking soda at hand.

Lately, I smell wood smoke at odd times day and night and when I do, by reflex, I worry. I've checked around the house a few times just to be sure that something is not smoldering or catching fire.  Some of my neighbours burn wood and sometimes the wind carries it this direction. When I poke my nose out the door, I can often smell smoke and stop worrying.

I worry because I have a coal furnace; I weld and cut in the shop downstairs; I have extension cords running around some remote areas of this huge building; and many electronic devices are plugged in everywhere, silently drawing parasitic current. Although these electrical devices are rated as safe, anything can fail.  A friend of mine had a garage wall catch fire from some unknown irregularity in a fairly new (inspected) electrical receptacle in a newly built house.

I spent the morning in the kitchen preparing for tonight.

I made spaghetti with chicken, rice, squash, and broccoli as well as a salad. Maddy brought a pie for dessert.

Before supper some of us went outside and Joe demonstrated his oxalic blower.  Then we boiled off a sample of OA with the Heilyser evaporator. I'd forgotten how long it takes to get up to temperature -- a minute or more (but the job is done soon after).

The Varrox Aaron used is faster and also looks more rugged, but these units I have are the old Heilyser design and Heilyser says their new unit now gets up to temp in fifteen seconds -- and they cost a little over half what the Varrox costs. 

Supper went well. My spaghetti sauce, made from odds and ends and without a recipe worked out.

I almost always cook without a recipe, but sometimes look online if I am looking for inspiration about what spice to use with what. I suppose it is risky, but I have about 95% success and I doubt most people beat that average. Of the 95%, about 20% are less than great, but okay and of the 5% failures, there is seldom a dish so bad that i throw it out or so bad that the dog won't eat it.

Everyone left around 2030 and an hour later the dishes are washed and the counter wiped. The dishwasher is running. Maddy and Bert took an evaporator home to treat their bees.

Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone.
Gertrude Stein

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Saturday October 29th 2016

Today Cloudy. Fog patches dissipating near noon. High 8.
Tonight Cloudy. Low plus 1.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

It's foggy again this morning, and so am I.  I forget sometimes that I have a sensitivity to some tomato sauces, and it turned out that sauce I used in the spaghetti last night was one of them. I had to take two Benadryl to get to sleep. When I do that, I sleep soundly, but sometimes awake groggy. This morning, I am groggy.

I went about my morning routine, then a little after ten felt tired, so lay down and slept for two hours. I have no ambition  today an d that is a good thing, probably. I see the wind has come up, so although it is cool out, maybe I'll go out and fly a kite.

I mentioned having sun spots burned off the other day. Here are before and after pictures.  Only two days have passed, so the healing is still underway.

Although actinic keratosis is mostly just a nuisance and unsightly, these spots can on occasion become cancerous, so dealing them is a good idea.

Although I had the doctor spray them with liquid nitrogen, anyone with access to liquid nitrogen and Q-Tips can do the job at home, preferably with some assistance since seeing he top of your own head and working with a mirror can be tricky.

I accomplished virtually nothing today. I read, researched, and had a long nap. I wonder if the flu shot made me tired or it is just the change of season. 

Whatever the cause, and whether the flu shot made me sleepy or not, I would not skip having the shot. I've had the flu twenty years ago and would not want to ever have it again. It's awful and ended in pneumonia.  At the time, I did not realise I had pneumonia -- it was a mild case -- and it cleared up by itself.

I am watching Line of Duty, having finished off The Good Wife last week.

When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds
or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.
Albert Einstein

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Sunday October 30th 2016

Today Clearing. High 12.
Tonight A few clouds. Low minus 1.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

This is another foggy, soggy day. 219.0 and 6.5.

I am doing desk work this morning and planning on going top Carstairs to listen to music at the museum this afternoon.

The big project I have to deal with soon and can't put off if I want to be able to travel in cold weather without constantly worrying about my home is the heating system, and I think I have a plan.

I have, perhaps, been imagining the job to be harder than it needs to be by wanting to maintain room temperature throughout the building and that would require at least 200 BTU capacity and probably, ideally, 300. That gets pricy and complex

As a minimum, I need to hold the critical parts of the building above freezing and that means ten degrees Celsius in the core to ensure the pipes in the periphery are not frozen.  A freeze-up could be expensive, even if it did not flood the house and just went down the sewer as I have designed the drains to do. If not discovered promptly, the water bill could be astronomical.

Then, there are the plants to consider. I suppose life would be simpler without them since I have pay someone to water them when I am away.

Joe suggested getting a high efficiency water heater or two and run fan coils in my existing ducts, and that makes sense.  I had planned to get an ultra-high efficiency boiler, but perhaps it is best I put it off since it seems that some are proving troublesome.

At noon, I drove to Carstairs to be early for a 1:30 concert at The Carstairs Museum.

The museum is a former church and made an ideal venue for the small group in attendance.  I'd heard Allan and Arnell previously at Custom Woolen Mills a few weeks ago when they joined Ruth and her group for a set.

By noon, the gloomy day had turned sunny and the drive over and back made a pleasant Sunday outing.  The group put on a very professional show of Bluegrass and Old-time country music.

Driving home, I was feeling ambitious and thinking of working outside, but I had bought groceries while in Carstairs and after putting them away, the day was fading and I sat down to watch video and relax.  Later, I got to work cleaning up my Evernote notes.  Over time, a lot of clutter and uncategorized material accumulates. Cleanup takes a few hours, but seeing as Evernote is a catchall for my research, organizing pays off later.

A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Monday October 31st 2016
     Halloween   

Today Mainly cloudy. High 8.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Low minus 1.

Environment Canada
Ten day forecast

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

Predictions today are for a mainly cloudy day, but there is no fog this morning.  I may get outside, but will begin by finishing my cleanup of Evernote and beginning my heating project research.

Today's Historical Data for Three Hills (10 miles N of here)

Normals Max 5C. Min -6C. Sunrise 8:26 MDT Sunset 18:07 MDT
Highest temperature (1993-2015):  16.6C 2009
Lowest temperature (1993-2015):   -20.4C 2003

I really don't have time to read all Randy's articles, there are so many, but for those looking for more on varroa and varroa control, start here.

Randy is one of my favourite researchers.  He spends a great deal of time talking to beekeepers and exchanging ideas, and as an independent, he is not constrained by politics the way that that many who are employed by government and industry find themselves.

Working for government or industry and working on teams means being careful to stay on side, and to only state the consensus or position of the employer and/or group in public. I've found that all the researchers I know are very candid in private but necessarily very careful what they say in public for fear of being misquoted or misconstrued. Some are outspoken publicly, but risk demotion or banishment.

I think the article I mentioned above may have come about as a result of a debate Randy and I had on BEE-L about the merits of drop boards as a monitoring method. I and others contend that the information gleaned from drop boards is accurate enough for practical purposes, especially when deciding whether to treat an entire apiary or not. Researchers tend to favour alcohol washes.

Although drop boards are not as accurate in estimating phoretic mite loads, the fact that drop boards are non-invasive and non-destructive means they are much more likely actually to be used regularly by the average beekeeper than alcohol washes, ether rolls (a method now deprecated) or even sugar shakes (a less accurate, but non-destructive version of the alcohol wash).

Moreover, alcohol washes only measure the phoretic mites, and the actual total mite population, including the mites in brood is inferred, not measured from a small sample. Differences in the sampling technique can affect wash results by as much as a factor of ten, and variations in amounts of brood change the relationship of the wash count to total varroa population.

Drop boards measure all or virtually all (some mites may get hung up on top bars or removed by housekeeping bees and not hit the sticky board) the mites dying for whatever reason. 

The two methods do not measure the same thing, and both are surrogate measures for estimating the total mite load.

Alcohol wash is the gold standard for researchers. 
Drop boards work well enough IMO for beekeepers.

The fact that there is a general correlation, but no direct agreement between the results of drops and washes, and the results of both to total varroa populations does not mean that both are not equally useful.  This assumes the user considers what is actually being measured and also a.) that drops are measured over a sufficient period of time, then averaged, and that b.) alcohol washes use nurse bees from the brood area. Drops can vary considerably from day to day due to weather and other factors, and therefore should counted and averaged over a week or so.  The interpretation of both methods is affected by the season and the amount of brood in a hive.

*   *   *   *   *

Cleaning up the old notes in Evernote was a bigger job than expected and I am almost done now, at 1330. Nonetheless, the job has to be done periodically or the notes become unusable.

The day is still dull.  I'd like to do some mechanical work, but I have a small sore on the end of my thumb from previous work that does not want to heal quickly, mostly because I re-injure it doing things. Maybe gloves will help. Failing that, maybe I can wrap it with electrical tape while working. Band-Aids don't stay on and, besides, they don't protect the wound.

*   *   *   *   *

I got to work in the North End, tidying the studio and clearing space to work on installing gas.  It's a slow job since I don't just move everything out of the way, but want to actually deal with things as I come across them.  Otherwise, I just make a mess somewhere else.

Ellen died over three years ago now and the studio is still basically untouched. I have no need of the space and no clear idea what to do with the glass working tools and supplies. I've just figured that something will come along.  Maybe.

So far, nothing has.

*   *   *   *   *

Around four, I felt tired and lay down, went right to sleep, and woke up thirty minutes later, having had a much shorter nap than other recent days.

After that, I did more tidying, a few chores outside, had supper, then got back to tidying up my electronic notes.  After Evernote, I worked on my browser bookmarks.

I had purchased new spark plugs for the Merc a few weeks ago, after I noticed a miss after it sat a while, but when I pulled a plug to see how the existing plugs are this afternoon, it was like-new, so that's a job I don't have to do. Now I have to return the new plugs before the store refuses to take them back.

The miss was a transient thing and went away after a few runs and an oil change. It could have been a sticky valve. The oil was very black when I changed it, so I wonder if I ever did change the oil in the 14 months and 2,800 miles since I bought it.  If so, I did not record the fact. I recall that the oil was below the dipstick and black when I received it!

Speaking of oil changes, now my van wants one.  It says so on the dash. The thing is that I only have 2,500 miles and five months on the last one. Word is: "6,000 Miles (10,000 km) or 6 Months Maintenance Service. Change the engine oil and engine oil filter".  Frankly, I doubt the six months rule applies to a van that is driven mostly on the highway since the main reason for a six-month change is the build-up of moisture, etc. from city driving.

Nonetheless, I may change it just to get it done during warm weather. I do it myself. It takes me ten minutes and costs under $25.  Shops now are charging more like $60 around here.

Some stores like Princess Auto place no time limit on returns, as long as they sell that item. Wal-Mart is great for returns, too, but Canadian Tire allows a relatively short time window for returns, and that is a nuisance for those of us who live a long ways from a store. That policy works against them, too, since I am reluctant to buy there as a result.

*   *   *   *   *

Some time back, I switched from my longtime browser, Maxthon, to Chrome.  Maxthon seemed slow and was always updating and Chrome seemed faster, even if less full-featured.  Chrome was better for a while, but now I really don't know.

In changing over, I left behind my bookmarks. Granted I had far too many and many were obsolete, but they serve to assist in web searches since the browser consults favourites when searching. I opened Maxthon for the first time in a while and decided to try Maxthon 5.  It looks pretty good, but that is a distraction.  Bookmarks is the job at hand, so I exported them into Chrome and got to work.

*   *   *   *   *

Now that I am researching furnaces again, some of those old bookmarks may come in handy, so I spent a few hours organizing and weeding.  The process was surprisingly refreshing as it took me back over my searches in the past several years and reminded me of things I had forgotten.  I confirmed, in examining the locus of my thought over recent years, that I find myself in an emotional desert lately, when compared to my former gestalt.

I was vaguely aware that things that used to interest me don't, and wondered idly why.  Whereas I never watched video in the past, in the past years my video time has increased.  I have wondered if I am depressed, or maybe had a stroke, or perhaps I am getting Oldtimers... or maybe all three. 

Or maybe the heart attack last year affected me somehow more than I thought.   I wonder if it is the heart drugs. Could it be that my change of diet, reducing meat consumption, has had an effect.  At any rate, looking back today was invigorating and maybe the dull spell is over.

As I recall, though, I had a pretty active year, kite skiing in the Rockies and at Namaka, Skiing Nakiska, then traveling to Sidney to take Cassiopeia to Vancouver for the boat show, living on board at Granville Island and in False Creek, then a flying to Sudbury and driving to New York, Annapolis, back to New York, and Sudbury, flying again to Vancouver and then home to Swalwell. 

From Swalwell, I drove to Mammoth for a week, then Laguna Beach in California, stayed a few days and drove to Vancouver again, non-stop in 20 hours.  Finished there, I drove home to Swalwell and returned to Vancouver in March for the Easter Flotilla, dropping the boat in Sidney.

Then home to Swalwell again before returning to Vancouver again for the the Spring Thaw 10-day voyage to Powell River, Comox and Desolation Sound on Just Do It!.

I was home again a while, then off to Sidney to sail with John and Doug. We visited Victoria by boat and anchored out, then I returned home.

At the end of June, I returned to Sidney again to start my four-week solo sailing trip around Vancouver Island.

Home again for a while, then off to Sudbury and home again for a visit from Jon and Steph, then back to Sudbury again to see Mom and drive to New York again, this time to go tubing on the Sacandaga, then back.

Returning home, I organized, then attended the Thanksgiving Rendezvous at Thetis island, and now I am home again and feeling a bit tired.

Hmmm.  No wonder.  I get tired just remembering it all.

I noticed that finishing my trip around Vancouver Island was actually an emotional inflection point. Things seemed flat after that.  I don't know why.  I supposed it might be because that trip was a serious sailing accomplishment, single-handed, and perhaps because it was a bit of an ordeal. It did not seem that way at the time, but maybe I am still digesting it.

One thing becomes obvious from all this, and that is I may be moving too fast. Maybe I need to slow down.

Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.
Carlos A. Urbizo

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