Sunday November 19th, 2000
Today: Sunny. High plus 2.
I managed to straighten out my FrontPage set-up today and access the site again.
Our daughter, Jean stayed until mid-afternoon and we bottled some mead.
Tonight: Clear. Low minus 7.
Monday November 20th, 2000
Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h this afternoon. High plus 7.
Sunrise: 8:02 am Sunset: 4:41 pm
8 AM: Being a Monday, today is a day off . Nonetheless, Matt and I have to work this morning seeing as a truck is scheduled to pick up our wax. We have 28 drums and three pallets of old frames to go. He was supposed to be here at 8AM sharp, but so far no word.
8:45 AM: I called Jean-Luc and it turns out that the driver we were expecting was taken to the hospital unexpectedly last night, so they are rescheduling the load.
Wrapping: At this point, we are about half finished wrapping the bees for winter. We've done 1713 and expect to wrap 3500. We have 3591 hives right now, but will eliminate a few more obvious losers as we go.
New wraps: Since we are wrapping about a thousand more hives than last year, we have had to make new wraps. We decided on a new, single hive style of wrap to try out this winter, and anticipate that it will be very successful.
They are designed to pull down over a double hive. The wraps are made from 6 mil UV protected black poly tubing 21" wide. The insulation is one thickness of Kodel® , an industrial grade quilt batting with an R factor of around 5 We found a 2" black UV resistant poly tape rated for outdoor use and use it for the seams. A thin spot in the wrap is made where the auger hole in the upper body is by cutting a circle in the Kodel® , then pressing the plastic with an iron (using wax paper to protect it). Later we melt a 3/4" hole for flight.
We have used single hive wraps before -- many years ago when we had fewer hives -- and this one is not much different. The design is cheaper than the Inland four packs, uses poly tube and Kodel® , and allows wrapping hives that are three per pallet -- or even on alone on floors on the ground, thus eliminating the need to move hives around when wrapping. Each fall, we get all the pallets nicely adjusted to four hives each, then in spring have to do it again due to dead outs. This wrap eliminates one pass through the outfit arranging hives.
The truck arrived and we loaded the wax drums. I guess I should say that Matt loaded them. I was feeling a bit poorly and left the job to him. There is a virus going a round and it starts with a slight nauseous feeling, followed by vague disorientation, a 'tight' head and general numbness.
Recently, I noticed another beekeeper is keeping a log about his top bar hive at http://beetalk.tripod.com/log.htm. Not a bad job!
Tuesday November 21st, 2000
It's turning out to be one of those days. We are doing all the little odd jobs that we haven't had time for. Two guys did not show up. Mike and Dave each have their reasons, but it means we are very short staffed until tomorrow. I'm running a "Help wanted" ad again. we need help for the next two weeks, then hopefully we can shut down for a while. Gene has made 120 of the new wraps so far, so we will be trying them out soon and will find out if the guys like them as well as we do.
Here's Matt baling the new wraps after melting top entrance holes to match the auger holes in our boxes. We stack them on the pallet and place plywood every foot or so to make layers, which we tie with baler twine. A pallet of heavy stuff lowered on top helps drive the air out while we are tying them. The propane tank is for the torch used to heat a piece of iron to melt a 3/4 inch hole in a thin spot in the wrap. The hole is a flight hole to match the auger holes we use in every brood box.
These two trucks are loaded with our old-style wraps and ready to go to the field. The steel sides save us the effort of constant tying. we aren't wrapping today, but Steve is out moving a few of our poorer wintering yards to better locations for winter.
Here are some links I recently came across and like:
Wednesday November 22nd, 2000
Sunny. High 10.
Well, we're back wrapping again. Yesterday we took care of the odds and ends so things should be quicker today. Matt is not feeling his best -- the virus has hit him now -- but I said to take a separate truck and rest or come back if he doesn't feel 100% later. I dropped out to see them and he is okay. He an Brett had wrapped about 44 hives when I got there and report that the new wraps seem faster and better. They are still learning how best to use them, but think they will be the best solution. By lunch they had done 120. Steve is moving out some of our more exposed yards into better wintering sites again today.
I took a new hire along to help the wrapping crew. We've started advertising again in the paper and with posters. Mike stepped on a light bulb (at home), has a swollen foot and so is done for the year. (He was only temporary until a Glenbow job came up). Dave has not shown up or phoned this week, so I think he is going to be history. The buddy (Garry) who he rode with was unable to continue working due to bursitis, and Dave was without wheels last week. We lent him a truck for a few days to get his act together, but he didn't. It is impossible to plan a day when we don't know who will be at work.
I'm starting to think of the weekend and find that Northern Ontario is promised snow, so the driving could be poor; the west coast looks like solid rain and as such doesn't seem to be much fun. As for the mountains, the weather looks fine but there is not much snow yet -- and none promised.
The guys got 300 wraps on today and moved three yards into better locations.
Thursday November 23rd, 2000
It's another beautiful day, and the forecast is for more of the same. The guys are off to wrap another 400 hives.
By the end of today, we should be 2/3rds done wrapping with about a week more of wrapping to go. We'll have wrapped 2,300 by tonight. Last year we would be done in just one more day, but we have 1,000 more hives this year.
Our biggest problem may be the number of wraps that Gene, our neighbour, can make per day. He took on a new job just about the time we started the wrap making and he is burning the candle at both ends.
In checking around the yards, I discovered that, in one yard, 6 of the 48 hives had lost their lids in the last big wind on the weekend. This was in spite of having an eight-pound brick squarely on each lid. The bees are fine, but I wonder how much they have been stressed. We found years ago, before we began using bricks, that hives that sat for periods without lids invariably did not do as well as the ones property covered.
Around noon today I noticed that some of the hives that we wrapped yesterday were flying quite freely when l was checking the counts in one of the larger yards. Szabo had mentioned in one study that any significant relative rise in ambient temperature -- even in sub-zero temperatures -- would cause wintering bees to generate heat and expand their cluster, and often to fly. I guess the wrapping, accompanied by some disturbance and the warm, windy (+12.4 degrees C) today triggered that response.
We are trying to be fairly random in how many hives and which locations we use with each type of wrap. The hope is that we will collect the data in the spring and have Adony run it through a statistical analysis to see if any of the wraps are more successful than others.
When the dust settled at the end of the day, the guys had wrapped 480 hives. Not bad. We are now 73% done.
Gene phoned tonight to say he got only 10 wraps done, but we did get a new person lined up to help.
Normals for the period: Low minus 11. High zero.
Friday November 24th, 2000
Steve and Keith, the new guy, wrapped 268 hives today. They were all in twenties. Steve found 16 lids off at Elliotts' Ranch. we had some little twisters pass through, I guess.
Matt stayed here for most of the day and took care of little things that needed doing. At the end of the day, he went to Loosemores' and wrapped the hives from Adony's experiment, which is still in progress.
We were concerned that Gene would not be able to finish the wraps quickly enough, since he has a day job a the Trochu meat plant, so we hired back Sharon and a new person, Rita. Of course as soon as that was accomplished, Gene told me that he had left the meat plant job, so I guess I have to find some work for everyone. We'll be shutting down for the season son. I hope, so I am hoping I can get those who want to work onto some kind of project I don't need to be managing constantly. I need a good rest.
Normals for the period: Low minus 11. High zero.