The image heading this page came attached to the following message from Silvio in Brazil.  I like it.

Dear Allen
I am beekeeper and designer.  It follows my homage to your professionalism and the great enthusiast of the beekeeping you are.  Put it in your next issue, if you like to.
Silvio -- Jaraguá do Sul - Brazil

Wednesday 1 September 2004
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Art is making something out of nothing and selling it. -- Frank Zappa

Joe, Medhat, and Oene chatting.  Power Trak in forground.Medhat called around noon and said he was in the area, so I invited him over.  We had coffee, then decided to visit Meijers.  We wandered through their honey house, discussing various matters, then decided to go for supper in Drum.  We went to Fred and Barney's.

See the Power Trac go. (video)

Calgary Weather: Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. 60 percent chance of showers late this afternoon with the risk of a thunderstorm. Fog patches early this morning. Wind becoming east 20 km/h near noon. High 19. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this evening with the risk of a thunderstorm. Clearing near midnight. Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming northwest 20 this evening. Low 5. / / Normals for the period : Low 6. High 19.

Thursday 2 September 2004
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If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. -- Carl Sagan


Fall is coming, and the ideal time to treat with oxalic is October/November, when the brood area is minimum and the temperatures outside are around zero Celsius.  You all know how I feel about coumaphos (Checkmite+).  I would not put it into a hive except in the direst emergency.  Even though it is approved, it is being widely abused (used for routine, rather than emergency situations) , and with the recommendation of provincial apiarists.  Unfortunately, oxalic, which is benign and effective is still not officially sanctioned.

I recently talked to Cor and he says he is having good success with two evaporations a year and nothing else in the way of treatment.  See Cor Dewit's Oxalic method

I asked CHC how the official approval process for oxalic is coming along and whether approval will be for both evaporation and drizzling.

> I hope that the pending registration for oxalic will include both
> evaporation and drenching techniques, not just one or the other.
> Any luck getting the US guys interested in sharing the effort?

The application request includes both end uses.

We did not try to get the US interested. It is hard enough getting Canadians interested in the idea and did not go the extra step to involve others. Once we register the product we can make arrangements with them later.

Robin Owen is supervising the project but everything has been unbelievably slow. Gathering all the reference documents is tedious and has taken more time than we thought. However it is well underway and we hope to submit very soon.

The project is still short of funding.  CHC depends on beekeeper donations for financing this effort.  Since approval will save Canadian beekeepers about $4 per hive per year, how about coughing up some of the dough you will save to support the project.   Visit the CHC site for contact info or call 403-208-7141. 

Do it today.


Allen's Link of the Day:

Six degrees of separation and super nodes

Calgary Weather: Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. 60 percent chance of showers. Risk of thunderstorms this afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h this afternoon. High 12. UV index 3 or moderate. / Tonight : Rain. Risk of thunderstorms this evening. Amount 5 mm. Wind northwest 30 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 6. / Normals for the period : Low 6. High 19.


Friday 3 September 2004
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We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. -- Aesop


A message in my inbox:

Did I have a bad dream? ...about a conference call between the major US honey packers and they decided the price this fall would be $1.10 per lb. -- down 30 cents from JUNE'S MARKET?

There is however a short crop everywhere, and foreign honey cannot supply all the white honey in the US.  Maybe that is why that big packer in eastern Pennsylvania came up to $1.15,  Another generous millionaire.

Hope everyone hangs on to their honey for awhile.

Short of cash?  Don't let that pressure you into selling too cheap.  Use the Advance Payment for Crops program available through the Alberta Beekeepers Association in Alberta, and provincial organizations elsewhere in Canada.  It guarantees loans against the crop in storage for up to one year.

I called the Mid-US Honey Price Hotline (763-658-4193) and here is what I heard. 

  • Updated September 1

  • Cdn crop is down -- Crop looks like average to 20% down

  • $1.35 Cdn offered from Grossman

  • $US1.15 paid for amber recently

  • Barkman was offering $US1.20 now $US1.10

  • Some came in at $US1.09 -- west coast from Canada

  • Mid west US production spotty.  Big mite problems.  Concern about bees for the almonds?

  • Thinks the price may go to $1.30-  $1.40 for white after the final numbers are known.

Seems the Canucks are getting with the program.  I see that some are now calling the line, which formerly had mostly US reports, AND leaving info to share with others. 

IMO, this is service very important, and it is very important we all contribute to the common good.

Knowledge is power.  Honey packers constantly share price and volume info, and that works very much to their advantage, but many beekeepers think they are being smart by keeping their cards close to their chest. They are wrong.  By doing so, we all lose.

Some think that if everyone has the same good information, that the competition will increase, and they will lose an advantage, but, in my experience, different people will use the same shared information in different ways.  Each has different beliefs and priorities and reaches different conclusions.

Calgary Weather: Friday : Showers. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h late in the morning. High 11.

Saturday 4 September 2004
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Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.
-- Margaret Millar

El & I drove to Carbon in the afternoon.  Ellen went to a local art gallery, and I drove down to look at a coal stoker system.

Coal is much cheaper than gas, and our place is big.  We use coal as our fuel and our furnace is a fully automatic stoker, but we are looking at improving it.

Calgary Weather: Today : A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming west 20 km/h this afternoon. High 20. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : Cloudy. Clearing near midnight. Wind northwest 20 km/h. Low 5. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 19.

Sunday 5 September 2004
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Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. -- Emile Coue

We spent the day at home.  Ellen is still recovering from the intestinal upset she experienced immediately after returning from China. 

Ruth came for supper and stayed until 9.

Hi Allen,

I understand that many beekeepers in Alberta feed in the fall using open drums filled with straw to prevent drowning. I'd like to try this method this year since I have one large wintering yard that is relatively isolated from other yards (3 miles minimum distance). This would eliminate the cost of buying an extra 100 feeder pails plus the time to fill and place on the hives. What I need to know is how much straw to use and if oat straw is OK.

BTW, thanks for posting honey price trends. The short honey crop certainly does apply around here. I have about 1/3 less total crop than last season with 25% more colonies. The good thing is that colour is very white. Any offer less than $1.50 C /lb is opportunity buying on behalf of the packers. Beekeepers must hold on. With several years of good prices, there shouldn't be a huge need for cash, plus like you stated, beekeepers can take advantage of the cash advance program through the provincial associations.


Bees gathering syrup from feeder drumsI checked my selected topics and see that drum feeding is not on the list.  Spring feeding is and I'll do a site search and add drum feeding now. Here are some links: (1), (2), (3)

I should also describe the straw and the arrangement here, since I could not find a good description in the diary:

The straw we use is whole straw, not crushed.  The stems should be round and not flattened, and the straw should not be rotten or water-soaked.  We use wheat straw where we can find it. Grass can work well, too.

feeding_014.jpg (36168 bytes)We take the straw from the bale and sprinkle it into the drum -- either full of syrup or not -- in a circular motion, so that it does not all line up one way.  We want a criss-cross, porous mat about four inches thick.  The idea is that the bees can crawl up and down through it easily, and that it will cover the surface entirely, but not make finding and reaching the syrup surface difficult.  We sometimes throw some old comb scrapings or a broken frame onto the to of the straw to act as a notice to the bees that syrup is there, since otherwise they may not recognize it, especially if they have never had syrup before.

Experimentation is the key.  Too much straw, or too dense a mat, and the bees will not be able to feed.  Too little straw or too loose, and they will drown.  In Fall, if it rains a lot, water may sit on the surface of open drums and prevent the bees from recognizing the syrup.  Water may need to be removed.  Moreover, open drums may attract livestock or wildlife, and syrup will kill them if they drink much, so many of us use some sort of lid arrangement to protect the syrup and the animals.  See the links.

The syrup we feed is 67% sugar/water, as it comes, delivered from the sugar factory.  At this thickness, any bees that fall into the syrup tend to float to the edge and emerge dry, if there is a good spot to climb out.

A good yard of hungry bees will empty a drum or more in a day. 

If there is a limited surface area for feeding, such as where only one drum is open, and many bees competing for syrup, there can be a tendency for bees to fight, and a lot of bees can be killed in the drum.  For that reason, we often use several drums in a yard, and partially fill them.  Done right, we often see less than a handful of bees left behind when a drum is empty.

We often see that the closer to the hives, the faster the drums empty.  Any hives that we see robbed out are ones that are too weak to winter and usually drone layers or otherwise impaired.

We seldom see any robbing of hives as a result of open feeding, and I really do not know how much of a beekeeper's syrup would be taken by a neighbour's yard a mile distant, if the home bees are strong and they are aware.  I doubt it would be much.

If bees are not familiar with syrup in drums and are reasonably well fed in Fall, when the weather gets cooler, they may ignore syrup brought to them for days, even if there is good flying weather.  The bees can be alerted to the feed by either pouring a little on each cluster or by squirting some into all entrances in a yard.

We feed in relays.  We start with a drum or two as soon as we pull honey to prevent any starvation, and to give the bees a start.  Then we wait a week or two and feed again.  This time, the bees that are well fed will show less interest, and the lighter colonies will fill.  We do this again later, after the bees have settled down, and often feed into late October

We feed pretty much all the bees will take, but staging the feedings reduces the risk that some hives will pig out and cram their hives to the point where they are forced down too far and cannot consume enough of the feed to get back to the top during winter in time for brood rearing.

Calgary Weather: Today : A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 20 km/h becoming north 30 near noon. High 14. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low 2 with risk of frost. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 19.

Monday 6 September 2004
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It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact.
-- Edmund Burke

We drove over to look at the furnace again, then rested for the afternoon, and went to Purves-Smiths' for supper.

Calgary Weather: Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High 17. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : Cloudy. Wind east 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 6. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 18.

Tuesday 7 September 2004
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I know nothing about sex because I was always married. -- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Ellen returned from China last week, and brought home a jar of Chinese honey as a treat.

We took it out at supper with beekeeper friends, Meijers, visiting to try it, and were amazed.  If it is honey, it is not like any we have ever tasted.  It felt strange on the tongue, and the flavour was like an added perfume.

Honey?  HFCS?  Ultra-filtered honey?  Dunno.  None of us wanted more.  Yuck.

Moisture?  24.6%!

Calgary Weather: Today : A few showers ending this morning then cloudy with sunny periods. High 17. UV index 4 or moderate.  / onight : Cloudy periods. Low 4. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 18.

Wednesday 8 September 2004
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Pay no attention to what the critics say... Remember, a statue has never been set up in honor of a critic!  -- Jean Sibelius

Book work.

Calgary Weather: Wednesday : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming southeast 30 km/h in the afternoon. High 19.

Thursday 9 September 2004
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The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague. -- Bill Cosby

I drove with Joe, Oene and Jake up to see Cor Dewit to discuss oxalic treatment for varroa.  he has been doing some research and we wanted to see his system in operation. 

After visiting Cor, we stopped in New Sarepta to see the Mini Flame coal stoker/boiler unit.  The Mini Flame is a 150,000 coal fired boiler system that sits outside and provided both heat and hot water. 

I heat with coal presently, but need to either rebuild my current forced air system or replace it one of these days.  This unit looks very worthwhile and is very much cheaper to run than natural gas (NG).  I'm considering having both, a coal boiler, and a NG boiler, feeding a hot water system, with NG picking up if the coal unit cannot keep up or fails for some reason.  The downside with coal, even automatic systems, is that they need to be checked regularly, and ashes need to be removed periodically.

The ABA convention is coming up again, and it is again at the West Edmonton Mall (WEM). 

I notice that the ABA have mention of the convention on their site, but again, this year, there is no no registration form or agenda.  I hope they get that on the site soon, for those who are out-of-province.  Time is running out.

Thinking of attending?  Here is some general Edmonton information, and WEM info, too.

Calgary Weather: Thursday : Cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers. Low 7. High 15.