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Wintering hives waiting for spring,  Snow is melting as the days get longer.

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Thursday February 28th, 2002
Last year on this date
       March 2000

We had an inch or so of snow overnight.  This morning Paulo reported that he only found 6 dead hives out of 177 he checked yesterday.

Stan came by around noon to drop off some supers and visit. 

Today..Flurries. Wind northeast 20 km/h. High minus 12.
Tonight..Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. Low minus 17.
Friday..Mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High minus 3.
Saturday..Mainly cloudy. Low minus 14. High minus 2.
Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries or showers. Windy. Low minus 5. High 4.
Monday..Periods of snow. Windy. Low minus 10. High minus 6. Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High zero.

Wednesday February 27th, 2002
Last year on this date
       March 2000

The supplies - Yeast, pollen, and soy flour
The dough in the mixer
Dough being extruded from the mixer
Top view.  Extruded dough ready to cut.  Paper is under the dough already
Cutting the patties to 1 lb size.  Soy flour is used to reduce sticking together.
Finished patties in a box.

Paulo is checking some of our northern yards today and won't be in.  Dennis was bitten by a dog a few days ago and has been off work all week.

Looking back a year, I can see how busy I was getting ready to sell everything.  Well, things didn't quite work out the way we planned.  We did sell some of the hives and machinery, but we are still running a pretty large operation -- that is assuming that our bees pull through the winter. 

10% losses at this early date are sobering, but when I checked to see how we were doing in previous years, I see that this is not unusual.  The ones that are gone by now are the ones that were simply too light or had poor queens last fall.  We don't spend a lot of time in the fall trying to figure out which ones won't make it.  We just wrap everything and pick up the losers in the spring.

I went to Global around noon, picked up Grant's patties and looked at the patty making  process. Then I bought a few groceries and went home.  Mike and his family came by in late afternoon and the kids rode the snowmobile around the neighbourhood for an hour or two.

I spoke to Adony and he will be coming to Calgary next weekend.  I called a few beekeepers in south and Central Alberta and am setting up a meeting with Adony for Friday afternoon March 8th in Calgary.  The meeting is to discuss the research that Beaverlodge is doing, what they wan to do, what we want done, and all the various permutations and combinations of those topics.  Basically it is an information and brainstorming session.  Everyone is welcome and I am asking people to send me email so I can notify them of exact time and place.

 Allen's Link of the Day: 3D word relationship map

Today..Mainly sunny. Becoming cloudy this afternoon. Wind light. High minus 1.
Tonight..Flurries developing this evening. Wind increasing to north 30 km/h. Low minus 13.
Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High minus 1.

Tuesday February 26th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

239 this morning.  A little exercise makes a big difference.  

Paulo took some samples yesterday again (from the very hives shown at the top of this page), and we are gearing up to check a sufficient number of our yards to determine how much sampling and treatment will be necessary.  We have about 66 active yards, so I think we will start with ten to see if we spot anything at all.  The first sample from the home yard yielded

  • Zero varroa
  • Zero Tracheal
  • Zero Nosema

Results like that are always suspicious.  Until we hit some positives, we have no way of knowing how well our sampling is working.  I recall when Eric and I did nosema tests a few years back, I could not find anything and started to doubt my technique.  It was only after I had a positive to compare that I was assured that I had been doing things correctly.  We just had zero nosema.

Rich has been reading this diary and offered me some good advice regarding the engine work by email. I always appreciate notes from people reading who have suggestions and ideas that can help.

We had visitors this afternoon, a couple from the Wainright area interested in getting started in bees.

Paulo got back from 5 yards and reports 17 dead from 176.  Al those were light and I assume that this was due to bad queens last fall.  He will be sampling another 5 yards tomorrow and after the bees have soaked twenty-four hours, and been dissected, we will see where we are likely to wind up in terms of mites.

Today..Increasing cloud this morning. Wind becoming west 30 km/h. High minus 1.
Tonight..30 percent chance of flurries. Clearing overnight. Wind northwest 20 km/h. Low minus 9.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 1.

Allen's Link of the Day: How to make a straw skep
Bonus Link: Yahoo's Fitness Tip of the Day
Double Bonus:

Secrets of Successful Losers

  Monday February 25th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

One more cold day and then back to more normal temperatures.

I went out early to start the forklift early, since we are expecting a truck.  It's minus twenty, and wouldn't you know: the guys park the FLs near a plug-in in warm weather -- and away across the yard when it is going to be cold.  Anyhow, I got it started, then went in to exercise.  

I've been skipping the exercise since I attended the conventions two weeks ago, and have been starting to notice a lack of energy, motivation and mental crispness, so I've made a point of getting back to it the last several days.  I can tell the difference right away.

The truck came for our cappings around ten and Paulo loaded it, with the driver helping. Matt is taking the engine out of the car.

Today..Clearing this morning. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High minus 10. Cold wind chill minus 25 this morning. Risk of frostbite.
Tonight..Clear. Wind west 20. Low minus 14.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 1.

Ten more months until Christmas.

 Allen's Link of the Day: Salon.com is a thought-provoking online magazine.

Sunday February 24th, 2002
Last year on this date

I've been busy.  Here are my posts to BEE-L since Jan 2002

Item # Date Time Recs   Subject
038088 02/01/03 06:24 81 BEE-L FAQ and Guidelines (Revised DEC 8, 2001)
038100 02/01/03 18:39 20 Northern Bees in Winter/Northern Beekeepers in Winter
038112 02/01/06 09:07 20 Re: Do bee disease evolve to be more benign?
038217 02/01/21 18:46 78 AHPA Meeting Notes and Southern Arizona
038257 02/01/23 20:27 34 Re: 'genome project' ?
038274 02/01/25 07:41 79 Re: Disease Resistance
038281 02/01/25 12:24 26 Re: Disease Resistance
038284 02/01/25 12:39 44 Re: Fwd: Re: resistance to AFB
038297 02/01/26 10:59 68 Re: ABF convention 2002
038300 02/01/26 15:35 62 Re: ABF convention 2002
038303 02/01/27 07:29 81 BEE-L FAQ and Guidelines
038307 02/01/27 14:19 62 The Truth is Out There
038316 02/01/27 20:08 24 Re: Aggressive bees
038321 02/01/28 06:09 61 Re: The Truth is Out There
038326 02/01/28 08:48 58 Re: The Truth is Out There
038330 02/01/28 09:50 42 Re: Brewers Yeast and Soy Flour
038335 02/01/28 09:24 47 Re: Pre-Columbian Bees in the Americas
038336 02/01/28 10:22 67 Re: The Truth is Out There
038343 02/01/28 13:53 20 Re: Brewers Yeast and Soy Flour
038348 02/01/28 14:28 44 Re: The Truth is Out There
038356 02/01/29 09:14 36 Re: NaOH dipping
038542 02/02/10 09:56 67 Heads-Up! Tracheal Mites are Back
038554 02/02/10 17:38 24 Re: Trachael mites
038555 02/02/10 17:59 29 Re: Trachael mites
038561 02/02/10 22:41 23 Re: California winter
038578 02/02/12 02:42 27 African Bees in Spain
038579 02/02/12 04:44 123 FGMO Fog Study
038583 02/02/12 08:30 32 Re: FGMO Fog Study
038598 02/02/13 08:03 54 African Bees in Spain / Spanish bees in the USA
038603 02/02/13 10:03 28 Re: African Bees in Spain
038650 02/02/16 11:48 138 Re: Natural comb cell size
038658 02/02/16 22:25 39 Re: Natural comb cell size
038662 02/02/17 08:30 81 BEE-L FAQ and Guidelines
038663 02/02/17 08:34 56 Fw: Creamed Honey
038705 02/02/20 12:10 19 Re: Natural comb cell size
038711 02/02/20 17:56 54 Thelytoky in Honey Bees, How Universal is it?
038715 02/02/21 04:08 135 Thelytoky in Honey Bees, Important in Up-sizing?
038723 02/02/21 04:27 56 Re: Natural comb cell size
038727 02/02/21 09:26 25 Genetic Diversity in a Varroa Population
038732 02/02/21 09:55 109 Re: Up-sizing?
038756 02/02/22 06:58 23 Re: R: Genetic Diversity in a Varroa Population dall'italia
038758 02/02/22 06:38 99 Re: Up-sizing?
038759 02/02/22 09:12 19 Mailing Package Bees
038761 02/02/22 09:36 25 Glue for Hive Construction
038790 02/02/23 02:44 45 Trouble Receiving BEE-L?
038801 02/02/23 08:08 25 Fw: Chinese honey alert
038802 02/02/23 09:15 85 Re: Up-sizing?
038827 02/02/23 17:28 31 Re: Natural Comb Cell size
038837 02/02/23 23:48 46 Re: Kreg Tools and Boxes

We watched the Olympic hockey gold medal game in the afternoon, then Meijers came by for supper.

 Allen's Link of the Day:  Convert measurements

Today..Flurries. Wind increasing to north 30 km/h. High minus 15. Cold wind chill minus 25. Risk of frostbite.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. 30 percent chance of evening flurries. Wind north 30 diminishing overnight. Low minus 20.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 1

Saturday February 23rd, 2002
Last year on this date

I got the furnace and the fridge and the stove in the camper working.  I also spent away too much time at the keyboard.

 Allen's Link of the Day:  The Google search toolbar installs quickly and allows you to search any site any time, whether the site has a local search engine or not.

Today..Mainly cloudy. Flurries this morning. Wind north 20 km/h. High minus 13.
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 20 km/h. Low minus 19. Wind chill minus 28.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 1.

Friday February 22nd, 2002
Last year on this date

We are expecting a weather change, and not for better.  Minus twenty and 30 km winds are not good news this late in February, but are not unusual.

 Allen's Link of the Day: Burn down the shopping malls!

Today..Occasional snow developing this afternoon. Wind increasing to north 30 gusting 50 km/h this afternoon giving local reduced visibility in blowing snow. High plus 2 this morning then temperature falling this afternoon.
Tonight..Periods of snow. Wind north 30 km/h with gusts to 50 diminishing. Occasional blowing snow this evening. Low minus 17. Wind chill minus 25.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 1.

Thursday February 21st, 2002
Last year on this date

Bee Samples to be used for Varroa, Tracheal and Nosema tests.
Here are homemade sheet metal tweezers and two samples made up of five bees each from every colony in a yard.  The samples are in 70% isopropyl alcohol (USP) and will (1) be shaken to dislodge any varroa which will be counted and (2) then at least ten bees will be examined for tracheal mites.  More will be done if the first are inconclusive up to a possible 100.  (3) The guts of the dissected bees will then be crushed and checked for nosema under a microscope.

I built some tweezers, following Arlene's instructions and Paulo went out to take samples from the two groups of bees in the home yard. He says he saw three dead hives, but that they were on one pallet and he is pretty sure they were some duds he brought in from an outyard.  I hope he is right.  Seeing as he only looked at about 32 hives, that is 10%.  Losses this early in the year -- other than from hives known to be very poor going into winter --  are worrisome, since losses usually are expected to come later.

Arlene had mentioned that the vacuum idea shown previously did not work for them.  They had blown up the unit when alcohol got sucked into the electric motor that powers it, and she says that tweezers made from sheet metal pick up five or six bees very nicely.  The tweezers worked well for Paulo and he went home with some real samples.  I'm waiting to see what they find.

Ellen went to her art club meeting and I watched the Canadian women's hockey team play the US women's team for the gold.

 Allen's Link of the Day: Nick Wallingford's thesis about BEE-L usage patterns over the years.

Today..Increasing cloud. Wind increasing to south 20 km/h. High plus 6.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind west 30 km/h with gusts to 50 diminishing. Low minus 2.
Friday..Increasing cloud then snow developing. Accumulation 5 cm. Wind increasing to north 40 gusting 60 km/h giving occasional reduced visibility in blowing snow. High zero.
Saturday..Periods of snow. Windy. Low minus 17. High minus 7.
Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 22. High minus 8.
Monday..Mainly sunny. Low minus 21. High minus 7. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 1.

Wednesday February 20th, 2002
Last year on this date

It's been balmy, but we are apparently now in for some cooler weather again.  

The pup load of materials for protein patties arrived and the guys re-loaded most of them onto a truck and trailer in preparation for my trip to Airdrie. Dennis was not feeling well and it took forever, but the job got done.  I drove the materials to Global and had a good visit with Mike and Frank, then returned home.

In the evening, Ellen & I watched the Canada/finland hockey game on TV.  I quit watching hockey over twenty years ago when it got to be more about fighting than hockey, but thought I would watch this match.  It was a good clean game, with a very satisfactory outcome.

 Allen's Link of the Day: Thelytoky in a strain of U.S. honey bees

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind westerly 20 km/h. High 8.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind diminishing to light. Low minus 9.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 2.

Tuesday February 19th, 2002
Last year on this date

Today was definitely one of those days...

I woke up and noticed a blue glow around my computer.  It was the BSOD1.  I rebooted.  During the night, defrag and AVG anti-virus2 (free version) had decided to run at the same time and that often results in a lock-up.  I looked outside as soon  as daylight showed itself, and it was foggy, windy and chill.  I ordered the supplies for the protein patties -- Hi-way 9 is sending a pup to AHPC to get them today --  then went out to fuel the truck.  While fuelling and looking over the truck, I noticed that the muffler had come off and so we had to wire it up so I could do what I needed to do during the day.  After all, my car is still laid up with a bad timing chain, and besides, I was off to pick up the camper.

I got down the road a way and realized that Paulo and his wife were on the way to Medivet for training, and that I might not have mentioned that they needed to take bees with them.  I called and, sure enough, they had not, but we managed to get Terry Greidanus to help out and he supplied some bees.  By then I had decided I'd better drop in there, since I had to go to Dewinton and High River is only a little extra distance.  I got there around 11 and by then they were settled in and pulling bees apart with Arlene.  One thing she pointed out tis that they built a vacuum such as shown here a few days back and that they blew up the vacuum by getting alcohol into the motor.  I had wondered about that.  Arlene says that they only need a few bees from each hive, and that simply folding a 2" x 10" strip of galvanized furnace duct material over makes forceps that will grab about five bees at a time- perfect!   The bees can be dunked into the alcohol if the forceps are designed to fit the sample bottle and vice-versa.  I visited a bit, then left around 1:30 to go get the camper.

It turned out that I had no tools and the electrical hook-ups did not match, so I drove the 90 miles home with no lights.  I discovered that the camper was pretty long and heavy -- 2150 lbs when I weighed it later and it handled a bit oddly, even on the 3/4 ton Camper Special truck.  I had checked the tires and they were at 40 lbs in the morning.  They should really be at 65 for a load like that, but at 65 the truck rides very hard running empty and I had not put them up.  Anyhow, the tires did not overheat.  

I came the back way, but that did involve a few miles on the Trans-Canada.  Not only that I went through a police checkpoint -- with no muffler and no tail or signal lights!  And no comment by the cop.  I made it home okay.  Ellen loves the camper.

 Allen's Link of the Day:  AVG anti-virus

Today..Morning fog patches otherwise cloudy. Clearing this afternoon. Wind south 20 km/h. High plus 5.
Tonight..Clear. Wind southwest 20. Low minus 2.
Normals for the period..Low minus 13. High minus 2.

1. Blue Screen of Death
2. Important to update Anti-Virus today.  Yarner worm is out -- and it's a bad one.

Monday February 18th, 2002
Last year on this date

I rested and tidied today.  Purves-Smiths and Robinsons came over for a Family day supper.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming northwesterly 20 km/h this afternoon. High plus 5.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 9.
Friday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries or showers. Low minus 12. High 5. 

Sunday February 17th, 2002
Last year on this date

I left around 10 AM with the intention of going to Calgary to ride the C Train (another link) (another link) all day.  It seemed like an interesting idea -- to be a tourist in Calgary.  I never got around to doing that, though.  I dropped by Indus Airport to see what was up at my old flying school, then called a number I had been trying for a while, and, finding the people home, went to Dewinton and bought a camper. After that, I went to Shawnessy, did a little shopping, and went home.

Today..Mainly sunny. Wind west 20 km/h. High 8.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind light. Low minus 4.
Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

day February 16th, 2002
Last year on this date

It's a gorgeous warm sunny day (8:25 AM), with the temperature predicted to be a balmy 14 degrees (Celsius, of course).  The bees will sure have a chance to shift around on their stores and to liquefy some of the granulated honey. They will be sitting on brood now, but only a patch on a frame or two.  We won't bother trying to look, since unnecessary examinations are disruptive, possibly leading to losses later, and we can see that most hives have ample food.

Today is Saturday and the first day of a long weekend.  I can't decide what to do.  El is still not feeling great, but I'm itchy to go somewhere today.  We've been discussing going somewhere for a week or so, like Mexico, but maybe the time for that has passed.  The winter is almost gone now, though and a little over one month from now we will be getting seriously to work, putting on patties, applying Apistan, feeding where necessary, etc.  Spring skiing is coming up. The days are getting long and the weather warm.

We are getting ahead on the summer work already, though.  Last week, we spent time washing out the extractors so that we will not have that job in July.  I'm hoping that we can run with lower pressure this year, since we are again set up for honey production and should be able to take more time off during the season than some previous years.

I read on BEE-L that some beekeepers are extracting today.  Hard to imagine.

I went to Purves-Smiths for supper.  El stayed home.


Today..Mainly sunny. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h with gusts to 40. High 14.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 3.
Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

Friday February 15th, 2002
Last year on this date

Today is going to be busy.  I sold the old Badger forklift (at a loss) to a beekeeper friend and will have to load it this afternoon.  I have an ad and an article to write today as well and a zillion other small jobs.  The guys are off, since it is Friday, but Dennis is on call to load the FL and also to unload some boxes that are coming.  Matt says here will be here.  Monday is a holiday.  Ellen woke up with laryngitis and is still under the weather. 

The badgerI bought the Badger about eight years back and it it was one of those purchases we all make that we realize -- even as we are in the process of completing the deal -- will not be a good decision.  It was back before we were palletized and before we expanded and went pollinating, and my wife was against getting a forklift.  We did everything by hand or with the boom-type hive loader.   A friend told me that the wreckers in Consort were selling out and that I could get a forklift for $1000.  I hooked up a trailer and drove all the way out there.  I knew when I saw it that it was a good machine, but more work than I would want to do.  I bought it anyhow, since I had driven all that way, and brought it home.  I drove it around the yard a time or two, parked it and then took the engine out, removed the mast, and generally disassembled it in preparation for rebuilding.  We then got busy and parked it outside, and there it has sat since then.  We since bought another homemade machine and four Swingers, but never got back to fixing the Badger.  I'm glad to see it go to a new home, since the buyer is a patient fixer-upper type of guy.

I received this note today and realized that I have not revised the Sale part of my site lately.  I must get to it.  Our plans have changed a bit since we put everything up for sale.  'Most everything is still for sale, but we are not in a hurry.

Here's the note and my response:

> I cannot believe you are giving up!?  I found your website a while back and 
> am very impressed with what you describe and say. Can your business not be 
> sold as a going concern?

We don't want to sell our buildings and land quite yet.

> I must admit that (I have a day job) I keep one of your pictures as a 
> wallpaper on the PC to provide a bit of 'therapy' when the day gets bad.

Glad to hear that. I was hoping people would have fun with the pictures.

> I wish you all the best in your retirement - your pictures have been an 
> inspiration to me (with only 7 hives). Friends of mine recently emigrated 
> from the UK to Vancouver and they sing the praises endlessly. Enjoy your 
> retirement - and I'll bet you will keep at least a couple of hives.

Well, I really must update the Sale part of the website (and quite a bit more too, I know). 

Time is short and I work on the parts that enthuse me the most.  

Selling everything does not enthuse me.

What it seems we are now planning is to keep cutting back and to spend more time writing and doing some bee research -- if I can raise the funds. We have two good men who want to stay with us, so if we can get ourselves out of the worst of it and keep going, that is what we will do.


Stan showed up after lunch and we unloaded his truck, then loaded the Badger.  It took four men, two hours, and three forklifts (not including the Badger) to get the heavy machine onto his truck.  The guys have Fridays off, but Matt was here doing some mechanical work, and Dennis came in to unload and reload the truck.  It was warm in the afternoon, and bees were flying as we loaded, looking for anything interesting to take home.

Somewhere among the other tasks, I did an article for the Alberta BeeNews and an ad for the mite and nosema sampling service we are offering. Allen's Link of the Day: Optimum Timing of Miticide Applications for Control of Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) in Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Washington State, USA.  James P. Strange and Walter S. Sheppard.  (Thanks to Adony for the link)

Today..Sunny. Wind west 30 km/h. High 12.
Tonight..Clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low zero.
Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

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