Saturday July 22nd, 2000
Today we had to get going early, since the cells were scheduled to hatch starting at noon, and we were assured that the larvae used this time were a bit older, the previous ones having been very tiny. We set out and installed cells without protectors, since were were confident in the cells. We opened several and found they were near emergence, although there were as yet no wings.
Cell insertion went quickly, since I decided to stop using cell protectors -- the hives had been queenless for a while. The three of us installed 400 cells in 2-1/2 hours.
By late morning we discovered several queens that were hatched and decided that the universe was indeed unfolding as it should. About then, the motorhome accelerator became stuck and we could hardly move. I sent Matt and Gareth ahead in the truck to put in cells and set out to fix it. I had rebuilt this motorhome after a fire destroyed the engine area and it is my baby. I tinkered for a hour or more in the hot sun, then finally decided to squirt the cable with WD40. That did the trick and away I went.
I had intended to save a bit of the work for the next day, and had Matt come down especially to do so, since Gareth had to be home Sunday. However it turned out that Matt really wanted to rush home, so I let them finish the job and took a bit of a rest.
Jean and Chris came for the afternoon. Chris has been wanting to learn windsurfing and took the opportunity presented by the gentle breeze, a full kit of windsurfers, and a wife who is an expert ski instructor with windsurfing and boarding experience.
The outboard was invaluable to tow him clear of shore and to chase him around the Lake. Within a short while, he had mastered the sport enough to get around and they had a great time out there.
After Jean and Chris left, I prepared the truck for the homeward trip. Matt and Gareth finished putting in the cells, by about eight-thirty and we headed out to load two trucks with bees to go home around . We Started at Frank's NE at 9:42 and finished the truck at 9:54. The trailer took a bit longer, since it was getting dark, and I blundered the routine a bit. Nonetheless, Gareth and I were off by 10:21, leaving Matt to load the other truck at Mark's and follow.
We dropped the trailer at Merash's yard and arrived home at 1 AM. Gareth headed for his home, and, by 1:20, I had a forklift trailer attached, loaded and was headed to the Carraganas. I unloaded in good time and Matt phoned as I was finishing. He was not far away and would meet me at the Graveyard.
He was in the yard and rolling up the tarps by the time I got there and we unloaded and headed to Merash's where we emptied the trailer and then went to Deer Run and finished unloading Matt's truck.
We finished at 3:20.
I slept in a bit, played with the computer a bit and generally rested up.
I took it a bit easy today and caught up on some deskwork.
Gareth, Matt, and Steve took the day off. Ryan R. is still recuperating from surgery.
The students came in today and did off jobs from cleaning the trucks and fuelling them to tidying and mulching the trees with wood chips. We hired a new lad last week and this was his first day. He was assigned the truck cleaning and it looks as if he won't measure up. We'll give him one more day.
At 5:30, Steve and I went south for a load of bees. We arrived at about 7:30 and by the time we got the forklift and were ready to load it was close to eight. The day was hot and sunny and there was a bit of bloom left, so the bees were still flying strongly.
Steve was put in charge of smoking the hives. We discovered we had only one smoker between us. We normally have four. Moreover, it turned out that the one we had was falling apart. The Dadant smokers are not well made these days and the nuts that hold the bellows on are always falling off and getting lost and the bellows are cheaply made. Of four nuts on this one, only one was left. Anyhow, he got the job done.
Since there were eighty hives at the location (McCallums' SE), we took 24 from one group and 16 from the adjacent one to leave catch hives. It hardly seemed necessary, but we do not want to abandon any bees unnecessarily. We then loaded the NE yard, again onto D4, and again picking from two adjacent groups. We then proceeded to Frank's.
It was about nine by then and I got too bold: we skipped smoking the first forty at Frank's. That was not a good idea. Confused bees were flying all over and we had to bring a pallet of catch hives over from the adjacent group so we could move the truck to load the next group.
Since we were loading the second forty from the same site, we smoked them and loaded. Smoking made the difference and very few (a hundred?) bees were left at most. We retrieved the catch pallet -- which had caught virtually all the bees -- and were out of there by 9:50.
We had intended to stay over in the motorhome, but it was early and neither of us was tired, so we went home. We pulled into the home yard at 12:50 and left the trucks sitting loaded overnight.
Sunrise: 5:52 am Sunset 9:32 pm
I was up at 7 and the guys arrived at 8. Apparently, Ryan D turned his ankle (on his own time) and looks to be gone for the week. Matt, Dustin & I pulled out with the two loaded trucks & trailers and a third truck to pull the forklift. We set the hives from McCallums down at Jahns and Witstocks and the ones from Franks at the Boese yards.
The bloom around here looks pretty good. Most of the canola is finishing, but some fields are still in full flower. the alfalfa has been cut in stages and some is about to bloom again, while some is still stubble.
Gareth and Justin went north in search of honey and to make some more splits. Dusting got ill and went home. The new guy looks better today. We'll see if he lasts.
Steve and Ken go south again tonight and pick up the last load at Frank's and then continue with McCallums'. Franks is 100% doe and Ian's is pretty well done too. The males will be mowed soon. Then on to Lindstedts' and the Colony: we can haul 160 every night for the next week. we have capacity for twice that if the hives are released from pollination.
Every day earlier that the hives come home means money. In Alberta a hive in a good location can put on 30 pounds on a good day. There are only a few days like that and they usually occur around the end of July and the first week of August in our area. On the pollination, with a bee almost every square foot, the opportunities are limited so we want to get them out of there ASAP.
As for me, I'm taking a bit of time to catch up at my desk and to catch up on sleep (hopefully) tonight. About ten PM we had a dandy thunderstorm that knocked out the power. I finished quickly at the computer while the UPS beeped, then turned in for the night.
Matt, Dustin & I unloaded the two trucks from the night before, starting at 8 AM and finishing about 10:30. The hives came from McCallums' and Mark's and went to Three Billy's Coulee locations and Willows. We checked the hives that had stayed there all along and found no honey.
I arrived home to find company. We had a visitor from Quebec who is planning a movie and wants to do some shooting in Alberta. We had a nice visit and look forward to seeing him and the crew next year.
I worked on desk jobs and El & I watched a movie in the evening. Gareth and Justin went to the Delburne yards and pulled honey and made splits. They got about 60 boxes and returned at 11:30 PM
Steve and Ken brought back the last of the hives from McCallums' last night and more from Mark's. Matt, Dustin & I dropped them out at Maruz's Creek, Maruz's Well Site Metzgers's, and Gordon's by 10 AM.
Tonight is the last load until Monday night since we all want some time off. The alfalfa near the Lomond yards is starting to bloom, and the fact that it is currently being irrigated would indicate that it may stand another week or so. If this is the case, there is no huge rush to get those bees home. Nonetheless, we need to finish going through the hives on the first pull. So far we have a few hundred boxes waiting to extract, but we have yet to get set up. I imagine there are another 1,000 or so boxes out there and we need to get going soon.
Gareth and Justin were a bit tired today after their epic trip yesterday, but managed to work through some of the remaining hives around home.
Two loads of bees awaited at dawn. Matt and Dustin started at 7:30. They unloaded at Brian's and Elliott's' Ranch, then Sommervilles' and Evans. All bees came from Mel's SW quarter. For some reason they took until 10:30 to finish.
Matt repaired a seal on D3 and did other mechanical tasks. The rebuilt transmission had developed a leak and thrown out all except 3-1/2 litres of its oil on a trip to Edmonton to pick up our cappings spinner and de-boxer. Fortunately, no damage seems to have occurred.
Gareth and Justin pulled honey and made some splits. Dustin followed around and picked up the honey.
Ellen & I had agreed to get away for the weekend by 6 PM. We left at 6:30 and headed south in the White Gas. Jean was moving and needed a truck, so we drove to Badger Lake and met them at the motorhome, had a glass of wine, read a bit after they left, and went to sleep.
We slept in and stayed the whole day, doing nothing except reading, swimming, a bit of boating, bird watching, and some windsurfing. The winds were light, but I had fun jibing and putting around the Lake with an 8.4 metre sail on a twelve-foot board.
It was most pleasant to just be together with absolutely nothing to do of any importance. Few people visit the lake, and those that do mind their own business. Access is free and easy around much of the lake and most people spread out, leaving hundreds of yards between the closest campers.
We again stayed the night.
We had agreed to go home Sunday, since Ellen still had work to do on the mural. We had declared Monday a day off, even though there is more than enough pressing work to do. People work hard and long hours on a bee farm, and I would rather not drive them past their limits.
We lounged and read in the morning, then went boating. Ellen had not run an outboard since childhood and spent some time running around the lake relearning the skills while I sailed. The wind did pick up for a while and at some points I was almost able to plane. For some reason most of the winds were easterlies during the weeks I was down there although everyone says the winds are westerly almost all the time.
When the wind went down, I quit and we packed up. We then made the rounds of our sites to see if the canola had finished and if there were any alternate flowers to justify leaving them there for a while longer. We found some alfalfa in a few places and it appeared that it would not be cut for a while, but hundreds of hives were without much forage within sight.
The weather was oppressively hot when we got away from the lake and we swam in the canals a few times to cool down.
I received a phone call mid-afternoon from a new employee (calls are forwarded to my cell) we had tried out on Friday. Seems he decided that he had underestimated his commitments for the month and would be busier than he thought. He also said he thought he was too old for the work, having done a few hours with one of our young lads picking up honey. We had taken it really easy on him, since it was his first day.
He was born in 1953, I was born in 1945. Does that mean I'm too old too?
"If I make a living off it, that's great--but I come from a culture where you're valued not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away," -- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
© allen dick 2000. Permission granted to copy with attribution and in context .