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Sunday September 17th, 2000

Mainly sunny. Low 7. High 23.

Fall FairThe arcadeSunday, I stopped by the Salt Spring Fall Fair on the way to the ferry.  The event was quite a bit larger than I expected, with a wide range of exhibits.  All in all it was the typical fall fair I remember from growing up and visiting friends and relatives in the country.
P9170156.jpg (202922 bytes)Valdy showed up to entertain, as did other local and national acts.  Salt Spring is well known internationally for its arts community and has no shortage of talent for community events.
Observation HiveOf particular interest to beekeepers was the beautiful  observation hive and bee display display put up by local enthusiasts.  The two pictured with the display were happy to pose, but I should have written down their names since I have now forgotten and am awaiting an email with details that they promised to send me so that I can caption this properly.

I should note that the design of this observation hive is very simple and clever. The unit shown here was made for use with standard-sized frames, but currently has medium frames in it, leaving gaps of about two inches between.  That is okay for a one-day fully enclosed use, but for longer use, new grooves for top bars could easily be added or standards frames are needed to avoid the building of wild comb.

I caught the ferry at Vesuvius and rode across to Crofton. I was the second last car allowed on, so I cut it close.  I then drove down to see my cousin Gillian and her husband in Victoria, then went on to visit Eric Abel, a former Alberta commercial beekeeper, and stay the night.

Monday September 18th, 2000

A mix of sun and cloud. Low 7. High 21.

In the morning, Eric and I visited with Ulf Soehngen, a retired bee scientist and former Alberta Chief Apiarist.  Ulf was my boss when I was a bee inspector many moons ago. 

At one, Eric and I went to see Charlie Warren and then I headed for the ferry again.  It was my plan to drive to Alberta in two stages.  I planned to see a beekeeper at Chilliwack along the way and drive as far as Salmon Arm before sleeping.

That was not to be.  As I left the ferry and was about to cross Highway 99 to head east, my sister-in-law called and suggested I come by for the night and work on several computers that were acting up. 

I altered course north towards Vancouver, and shortly after the car quit dead.  I pulled over to the shoulder and managed to start it again.  I proceeded about ten miles, including a trip though the long tunnel under the Fraser, then it quit again.  Once more it started without a problem.  I then got as far as SW Marine Drive and it quit once more, but would not start.  My brother came along and we pushed it around a corner and went home to his place for the night.

Tuesday September 19th

A mix of sun and cloud. Windy. Low 7. High 23.

In the morning, the auto club towed it to the repair shop that had previously changed 3 fuel pumps on the car and left it.  They had tried to start it, but no go. 

Windsure's Concession at Jericho beachMeantime I went down to Jericho beach and wandered around the windsurfing concession and hiked up to the Spanish Banks.  I took some pictures with the camera, but won't bother with most here.  I discovered that the batteries don't seem to last as well as with my previous camera., but then, I have to use the LCD display to set the various options on this one.
Looking out from Jericho beach.  Windsurfers are laid out for a school lesson.Around noon, I received word that the repair shop had gone out to look at the Olds and it had started -- first try.  I had some doubts about driving it back through the  mountains and still had a plane ticket for later that day.  So I decided to go windsurfing.

The shop here has a Starboard GO.  I had heard good things about it and was determined to give it a try.  I rented for two hours and sailed with a 7.5m Ezzy.  I sailed out to the ships, in the picture and back about ten times and enjoyed the sun and salt water.  Although I did have a good time, I decided the board is a real pig.  It was like riding a log.  I'm glad I tried it because I might have bought one just from its reputation.  Uggghhh!

Wednesday September 20th, 2000
The first day of Fall

Mainly cloudy. Showers developing this afternoon. High 12.

Normals for the period
Low 3. High 16
Sunrise: 7:20 AM   Sunset:7:38 PM
The Moon is Waning Gibbous (57% of Full)

This is the time of year that day length changes most quickly. Mornings have shortened by ten minutes and evenings by 14 minutes since Thursday. 

I'm home and catching up.  The weather has changed, and although I think we escaped the frost last night, Acme had frost on windshields. Tonight looks like a real frost though, and snow is predicted for tomorrow.

The crew extracted all day and we are getting through the pileup in the warehouse. We have about four pallets of granulation so far.  That's annoying, but not too bad.  We need heavy thirds for spring when we manage the singles.

We got word that the sugar will be here around noon tomorrow.  That is fine, since we are ready.

Tonight: Frost warning in effect 
Showers changing to wet snow overnight. Wind northerly 30 gusting to 50 km/h. Low minus 2 with frost.

Normals for the period: Low 3. High 16.

Thursday September 21st, 2000

Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of wet flurries. Wind north 40 km/h diminishing to 20 this afternoon. High plus 3.

It's 4 AM and minus 0.1 degrees Celcius outside.  That means frost. How bad it will be remains to be seen.  We have had a touch previously, but a killer frost will change things entirely.

We had rain last night, and there is a slight skiff of snow, so we checked to make sure the sugar tanker can get in.  I guess it is okay.  The mud is not too bad.  We had planned to move a yard of bees today since it will be cool all day, but mud may deter us.

Wax Spinner in actionThe heat in the tanks somehow got turned off.   We turn it down a bit for the weekend since there is no new honey entering the system and thus requiring heat.  Since I was away, this did not get noticed until I got back and found something wrong.  As a result, the wax has not spun out properly in the spinner, and the honey going into drums is a bit waxy. 

We normally run the thermostat on the water tank at 115 degrees F and that keeps the honey at about 100 degrees F by the following morning.  When the temperature drops to room temp, the wax in the honey does not rise properly in the tank and the honey does not drain from the cappings layer on top of the tank.

We're extracting again.  Yesterday we did 20 loads and got about 10 drums.  That's about 20 lbs per box, figuring 15 boxes to the load.  Moisture is averaging 15.1, which is very low.  We are having trouble getting all the honey out.  Moreover there is some granulation.

Formic acid in drums and and pads on truckI went to Calgary in the afternoon to pick up the formic and a few other items We have decided to use a two speed motor on the spinner, since it comes up to speed too quickly and is a problem first thing every morning.  Running a bit slower at the start and having a higher top speed would help.  I did work on the friction drive and that may help, but having two speeds is better yet.

Normals for the period
Low 3. High 16.

Friday September 22nd, 2000

A mix of sun and cloud with a 30 percent chance of morning flurries. High 4.

We awoke to minus 5.5 degrees Celcius.  That's a killer frost if anything is. It's amazing how fast the season changes.  One day it's summer, and the next, it's fall.  Since yesterday was the first official day of fall, I guess we shouldn't be surprised, but I always am.

'Sunrise: 7:23 AM Sunset: 7:33 PM'.   Today is eight minutes shorter than the day before yesterday.  The morning is three minutes shorter and the afternoon is five.  We are now at a tropical day length, without benefit of tropical temperatures.

The sugar arrived around five yesterday, and the guys finished up lidding the drums around eight.  Steve moved the bees from the yards in question.  I guess now that we have had a bad frost we can start moving the yards that need moving into their winter sites.

Today Ellen & I looked at motorhomes and I caught up on some paperwork.  The guys extracted a bit and tidied. Not much got done.  looks like about three drums of honey all day, and they were here until 5. 

Tonight: Mainly clear. Low minus 2.

Saturday September 23rd, 2000

Sunny. Wind becoming west 20 km/h. High 15.

Today I'm straightening out the mess in the sump from not having enough heat in the water system while I was away.  Pretty simple, really, but too subtle, it seems for everyone else. No one seems to be observant enough to read what is happening.  People concentrate on doing tasks without any attention to whether the work is achieving the desired results. This is a problem in beekeeping , a business where we do a wide variety of tasks that are constantly changing and giving different results.

At this time of year, there is some granulation in the cappings and the honey coming from the extractor.  Moreover the central heating dries the honey in the supers out previous to extracting if the room humidity falls too low.  It is absolutely essential to keep the humidity up in the room by spraying water around from time to time and to spray a little mist of water onto the spinning wax, and onto the wax cake on top of the sump so that the normal moisture levels are maintained.  Otherwise, the honey gets down to 15% or less and is so stiff it cannot run out of the wax.  The temperatures in the room have to stay above 70 degrees F and the tanks above 100 degrees F.

I filtered mead during the afternoon.  That is a job I Hate.  I bought a new pump and filter combination unit in Calgary, and it seems better than what I had, but it is still pretty Mickey Mouse IMO.  Last tie\me I made some mead using half the normal amount of honey and with everything else the same.  I was thinking that the regular mead I make is just too high in alcohol for casual drinking.  At 18% or so, inattention can result in giddiness.  This batch is pretty bland, but pleasant.  It finished quickly and is very dry.

Tonight: Clear. Low zero. Frost.

Normals for the period: Low 3. High 16.

Sunday September 24, 2000

Sunny. High 20.

I skimmed more wax on the sump and spun it, then El and I went to look at motorhomes. We spent the afternoon in Red Deer and had supper at Manzzini's with Jean and Chris.

Tonight: Clear. Low 3.

Normals for the period
Low 2. High 16.
Sunrise:7:26 AM Sunset:7:29 PM
The Moon is Waning Crescent (14% of Full)

Monday September 25th, 2000
Three more months until Christmas

Sunny. High 20.

Today I finished skimming the tank and spinning the wax. Then I fed the home yard bees and loaded 15 drums for nearby locations.  I got three yards done before it was time to quit for supper.  Bert came over for soup and a visit.

We feed open drums in the yards in the fall.  A good yard on a good day can empty drums down and put the syrup into stores.  All the yards I visited today had empty drums, except for the Elliotts' East highway location which had a bit left.

While I was out, Ralph's wife called to say that he took ill in Calgary and is in the hospital, likely for several days.

Tonight: Clear. Low 4.

Normals for the period: Low 2. High 16.

Tuesday September 26th, 2000

Sunny. High 22.

We're short handed, so I guess I'll have to drop my projects and concentrate on feeding while the others get the supers off and ready the singles for winter.  Somehow, I'll have to mange to get the pay cheques done and handle the other background stuff.

Matt went out by himself and did three yards, including several  small ones that had no singles.  Steve and Gareth did two larger yards.   I delivered 20 drums of syrup to various local yards and also managed to get the payroll done.

Drums protected against cattle and wildlife with a pallet The drums shown on the left have a pallet  roped on top  to protect against cattle and wildlife.  Some animals find sugar attractive, but would be killed by the large quantity available in a drum. We use straw as a float on the rums and that can be a problem. 
A feeder drum The single drum shown has louvers to allow bees in, but to exclude rain and cattle.  It works well in the spring, but is slower to use in the fall when five or more drums of syrup may be required per yard.

Good straw is essential to prevent excessive bee loss.  The best straw has solid long pieces and is not chopped or crushed.

 Ralph's wife phoned to say that he was released from the hospital, but might not be ready to work for a day or two.

We decided this morning that we had better get serious about hiring some more help.  Ellen went to Linden and put up posters and talked around a bit.  She managed to hire two new young fellows to start tomorrow.

Tonight: Clear. Low 3.

Normals for the period: Low 2. High 15.

Wednesday September 27th, 2000

Today: Sunny. High 23.

Going FeedingToday we continued to remove the last of the honey and to feed.

Feeding gives me a chance to visit all the yards and appraise the hives.  As always, some yards and hives look much better than others, but all in all, things look pretty good. 

In about six hours I can get only about 20 drums delivered.  This takes some of the pressure off the guys, but it is clear that the best plan is to have them take the correct number of full drums with them on pallets when they go to pull the hives down to doubles.  This takes full advantage of empty trucks going to the yards and the forklifts that accompany them, and adds very little work to the job they are doing.

Delivering at the time of pulling ensures that the syrup is there at the earliest possible moment, while the bees are already stimulated, as well as eliminating the extra driving time that is involved in a separate delivery. 

At the beginning of the fall rounds, however, it is hard to guess how much feed the hives will need, and we started with two drums per yard.  Now that we know what is required, I am having to make up the difference.  Another factor was that we also had trouble getting deliveries of syrup on time, since Rogers fell behind again this year.

Most of our hives are pretty light this year, and most yards are needing five drums.  This is largely due to the divides we made requiring a lower box, which is always empty to start with.

A crew atwork Everywhere I went today, I kept running into Steve and his crew.  The picture is of them working a big yard in a river valley.

The new guys worked out quite well.   The weather has been very good so far, but as we get into October, the conditions may change.  I see the grain farmers rushing to finish their combining and there are few fields left to go. 

Ellen hired two more guys today, so we will have our hands full keeping them busy tomorrow. 

Tomorrow, we have a tanker arriving at 8AM.  I went to Trochu and got an additional 575 gallon poly tank in preparation.

Tonight: Clear. Low 4.

Sunrise:7:31 AM   Sunset:7:22 PM
The Moon is New

Thursday September 28th, 2000

Mainly sunny. Wind west 20 km/h this afternoon. High 21.

The tanker arrived right on time and it took everyone the first two hours to get it unloaded into tanks and drums.  The second two new guys showed up and looked good.

Everyone except me headed for the field in three crews to finish up the yards.  I had enough tasks to keep me tied up for the day at home.  They were all very late returning and I saw the forklifts and trucks running until after 8 PM.  El & I had a supper party with Meijers, Stepaniuks, Elliotts, and Purves-Smiths attending.

Meijers came by a bit early in order to pick up some formic acid and pads.

Tonight: Mainly clear. Low 6

Normals for the period: Low 2. High 16.

Friday September 29th, 2000

A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to west 20 km/h gusting to 40 km/h. High 19.

The warehouse was chock full, so we had Steve and two of the new guys extract.  It is always slow training new people, but hopefully we can get some speed next week.  I think we got about three drums extracted today. 

Gareth and Matt continued to prepare hives for winter. We have 568 singles left and 2086 supers still on hives.  There are still 132 drums of syrup to feed. I expect that we will be done in about two more weeks, and that is about normal for us. Then we begin wrapping.

I had installed Windows ME several days back.  There was a bit of a problem with the install, and I found afterwards I was unable to respond to email.  Outlook and Outlook Express were both screwed up.   I had posted a message requesting help with my problem to microsoft.public.windowsme.setup on the free news.microsoft.com news server, before installing but was unable to get back to read the responses until I thought to use the Netscape newsreader I have installed but never use. I read the replies, applied the suggestions, and now everything is just fine.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low 9.

Normals for the period: Low 2. High 16.

Saturday September 30th, 2000

Wind increasing to west 40 gusting to 60 km/h this afternoon. A mix of sun and cloud. High 18

I spent the day trying to get the computer going and in the late afternoon, we test drove a motorhome.

We went for supper in Trochu, then called it a day

Tonight: Wind west 40 gusting to 60 diminishing to west 20 overnight. Mainly clear. Low

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