Today..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries late this
afternoon. Wind becoming west 40 gusting to 60 km/h. High plus 9.
Tonight..Snow this evening then clearing. Snowfall amounts near 5 cm. Wind north
40 with gusts to 60 this evening diminishing to north 30 overnight. Low minus
Monday..A mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries late in the
afternoon. Wind north 30. High minus 9.
Tuesday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 18. High minus
Wednesday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 19. High
Thursday..Mainly cloudy. Low minus 11. High 8.
Normals for the period..Low minus 6. High 7.
The temperatures continue well below normal, with only one warm day predicted
in the forecast.
El & I drove to Red Deer to meet Jean and Chris and to do some shopping,
then returned home for supper. Along the way, we stopped at Vanovers yard
and looked into 17 hives.
We found two dead and the rest thriving with bees clustered quietly on as
many as eight frames. They all seemed okay for feed and most were up to
the top bars. We noticed that there was some condensation on the pillow
above the bees in one hive where they had not quite gotten all the way up, but
the bees looked just fine, and we know the bees need some humidity to raise
What we checked is a small sample, but comes out to be an 11% loss.
Usually by the time we have opened 100 hives, we have a good idea what the total
loss will be, barring unusual losses in one particular region.
I am thinking that this cold weather is doing us some good by holding the
bees back and discouraging futile foraging before the flowers are ready.
So far there has been no pollen, and hopefully when the trees do bloom, the
weather will allow the bees to get to the pollen. Some years the trees
have bloomed early while the days are still short and cool resulting in short,
weak bursts of brood rearing and bee attrition due to the stress of trying to
raise brood in marginal conditions.
From what I saw today, many of our hives are strong enough right now to take
to pollination. Of course, there will be a period where the old bees die
off and the new ones are not yet hatched and there will still be colony losses
yet due to queeenlessness and other factors. Usually we expect to see the
losses measured at April 1st double by May 10th -- especially if we count the
hives that dwindle below economic size by then.
Link of the Day:
is a full-featured, file compatible, free alternative to MicroSoft Office
and StarOffice (review),
and it runs on M$ and *nix O/Ss. I've read good reviews, but am just
downloading it now -- 45 MB in the Wintel version. The only thing it is
missing, apparently is a database, and many (most?) people don't need a DB.
Today..Mainly cloudy. Flurries ending this morning. Wind
becoming northeast 20 km/h. High minus 3.
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind south 20. Low
Normals for the period..Low minus 7. High 7.
We had a visit this morning from some people who run river
tours and who want Ellen to teach some art workshops.
We spent a quiet day, then went to Robinsons' for supper.
Links of the Day:
Yahoo is now charging for its webmail and there are bugs and
ads in the Yahoo system, so here are some alternatives: Runbox
"offers a clean, intuitive, and fast webmail". FastMail.FM
"provides powerful, reliable email, with both free and paid options". Fastmail.ca
offers "Canada's Web Email System".
Today..Mainly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of flurries.
Wind northwest 20 km/ h. High plus 2.
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind northwest 20
diminishing in the evening. Low minus 7.
Normals for the period..Low minus 7. High 6.
I'm back. I apologize for not having announced this in advance,
but my wife and I flew to Los Angeles on Friday last week, on the spur of the
moment. I didn't realize I would generate concern in the form of email and
phone calls (my home phone was forwarded to my cell) by suddenly falling silent,
but I also did not want to announce to the world that we would be away since I
have no idea who reads this. Writing a public diary is an interesting idea and I
have no idea who reads it and to what purpose. (I'll write more about this some
I have a full schedule to catch up today and hope to go out and lift some
lids in the afternoon, so I'll try to catch the diary up over the next few
days. In the meantime, for those suffering diary withdrawal, I should
perhaps mention again that I often go back and patch up and add to previous days
activities, so for anyone wanting to read something new, I recommend checking
back over the past month's pages.
In addition to that, there are now entries from two previous spring seasons
to read along with my spring management pages
(which I recently fixed up a bit). . Together with the links, it amounts
to a lot of reading.
Who thought I would ever stick to this diary? I sure wondered when I
started out, since I had never kept a diary before -- even for a few days -- in
all my 56 years.
I'm sitting at my desk and I can see that I really needed that
vacation. I can't read my notes from before I left. They are
incomplete and I can't figure out why I wrote down some of the phone numbers and
names. I can't even remember who these people are! Normally, I do
good notes and can see what happened when and why.
The weather got nicer while we were away. I gather that we got up to
freezing starting about Monday and there is frozen slush in the yard.
Nonetheless, we are two weeks late for run-off, and the season is running
late. We would normally be putting on patties and starting to feed, but we
want to ensure that the weather has turned before stimulating the bees.
Most Alberta beekeepers seem to be resisting the temptation to disturb their
bees. Although we have several requests to test samples, most have not
opened many hives yet.
The afternoon turned cold and we decided not to bother the bees by opening
hives. By suppertime, it was overcast, snowing and windy. Meijers
came for supper and dropped off several bee samples for testing.
They had checked a few hives this afternoon to gather the samples and say that
their inside wintered bees look good, as well as the 12 outdoor colonies which
they opened that had not been on pollination.
In contrast, some outdoor hives that were on pollination last summer showed
50% loss for the small number that they checked. As we learned when we
were pollinating, Southern Alberta canola pollination is very hard on bees,
since they miss the main honey flow most years. Pollination is looking
much less attractive these days with improved honey prices, renegotiated
pollination contracts and unpredictable requirements that are not confirmed
until very late in the spring. Meijers also reported honey prices offered
at $CAD 1.20 for next crop and spot prices up to $1.35 CAD
currently. $1.00 CAD = about $0.63 USD.
Adventurer 'All Suite' Hotel. ...and International Youth
Hostel... and cheap car rental.
Go figure. The name says it all. It's a funky place to stay
near LAX -- and cheap too if you don't mind an airport shuttle driven like a
video game with loud rock music blasting, and surfboards hung for decoration in
a hotel that appears to have been built in the 1950s. The suites are
well-maintained, large, quiet and quite nice --for $55/night! (Less if you
get one of the green discount
books available at gas stations on the Interstates and car rental
places. Click here
to find where these coupons are available across the USA).
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 30 gusting 50 km/h.
High plus 5.
Tonight..30 percent chance of showers this evening. Clearing overnight. Wind
northwest 40 gusting 60 diminishing to 20. Low minus 7.
Monday..Mainly cloudy. 70 percent chance of flurries. Windy. Low minus 16. High
Normals for the period..Low minus 7. High 6.
For six days I turned off
all my computers except my Palm m105 and took a vacation.
El & I caught a jet to LA Friday and I deliberately left
my notebook computer at home. Frankly, I did not miss these toys at all,
but I did forward all my calls to my cell phone and was able to deal with some
incoming business calls while in San Diego, just as if I were at home and I also
made a few notes on my PDA in spare moments. Since then, I have also since
written a bit from my recollections of the trip. Here are the PDA notes --
plus some recollections:
Friday: We were up at 3 and out the door at 4. We arrived at the
airport 2 hrs before scheduled departure time. After waiting an hour, we learned
our flight would be 2 hrs late. We arrived without incident around 11 and by
12:20 we had our car, a green Kia Rio. The Rio proved to be a nice unit. It only
did a bit over 35 MPG. That's imperial gallons (4.55 litres). That
is also only slightly better than my 1986 Olds a bigger and much nicer
car. Compared to an Echo which I recently rented and which got 50 MPG,
that is miserable, but, considering the purchase price difference, it is
tolerable. Even though gas had jumped to $1.65 from $1.20 or so in
January, the Rio only used about $US 15 or so in the 500+ miles we
We decided to head for San Diego and headed down the old Pacific Coast
Highway as far as Laguna Beach, then hit the #5, since it was getting late, and
drove to the Mission Bay Motel.
Saturday: In the morning, we reserved a room at the Motel 6 in San
Ysidro by phone then drove down and parked there while we walked over to Tijuana
for the day. Ellen enjoyed the stained glass at the booths on the way to
Revolucion, then we caught a public taxi to Las Playas de Rosarito. We visited
the Rosarito Beach Hotel,
then ate most excellent fish tacos at the fish shop and wandered the back
streets. It's amazing: the main street was full of (obnoxious?) youngsters on
spring break, but even 1/2 block off the strip none were to be seen. We watched
some local kids skateboarding in a skateboard park, then hailed a cab back to
It was about 4 when we got back to Tijuana and we decided to go back to the
USA. We had walked across the international border and intended to walk
back. When we arrived at the border, there was already a line-up extending
from the border almost to the bridge. We decided to wait and see if it got
shorter. Bad move. It only got longer. We had been watching the
vehicle traffic and noticed Tijuana to San Ysidro shuttle buses in the line-up,
and we also noticed that they were not completely full, so we decided to walk
through traffic and get on one near the border. We paid our $1 each and at
least had a seat while we waited. I think the foot traffic moved faster
than the busses. All in all we were over 2 hours crossing, and it was
raining when we exited the customs building. We walked the mile or so back
to our motel in the rain.
Sunday: We awoke and decided that we had had enough of the border
crossing and would head north to San Diego, perhaps to visit the zoo. We
drove around a bit and wound up at the zoo, but by then it was after noon and we
felt that it would be a waste to go in that late, so we went for a drive and had
coffee in Little Italy, visited Belmont Park again, then went out to Coronado
and had a beer at the Hotel del Coronado.
After visiting Coronado, we decided to get a hotel in Hotel Circle, but,
after chasing supper away east on I8, we decided to try one of the motels in El
Cajon that looked cheaper in the discount
book. We hadn't been to El Cajon much since 1990, when we had a
breakdown there. At that time, Ellen, Jean and I spent over a week in a
motorhome park there while I rebuilt the engine in our Winnebago. As it turned
out, the motel there refused to honor our coupons and we returned to Hotel
Circle where we had no problem checking into a Motel 8 using a coupon.
Monday: We awoke and headed up to the San
Diego Zoo for the day. Late in the afternoon, after the zoo, we headed
north to LA, stopping at the Flower Fields a little too late to go in. We
headed north again and, when we pulled off to look at our maps, we got
side-tracked on the toll highway 241 to Riverside. We spent four dollars
for nothing, and drove a few extra miles since there was no easy way back, but
eventually found our way to Anaheim where we found a very nice motel for $39.00
off 91 at Euclid.
Tuesday: With two more days until our return home, Ellen wanted
to go to the Getty Museum. I wanted a
day to myself, and didn't feel like spending a day in a museum, so I spent about
three hours in freeway traffic delivering her there and back. I
underestimated the traffic. It seems to me that the freeway
congestion is much worse than I remember. Maybe it's because of
I was impressed to notice that, where there are carpool lanes, how few
vehicles are able to use them. By a vast percentage, most of the cars,
trucks, and SUVs had only one occupant. When I was going to pick El up, I
had to drive in the congested lanes. After picking her up, we qualified to
breeze by the other traffic in the special lanes.
the morning before we drove to the Getty, we located a hotel for the night near
the airport and car drop-off to make things simple for the next day. After
I dropped Ellen off at the Getty, I drove up Mulholland, then Encino to the old
Nike missile lookout site. As I wandered up the trail, a ranger stopped to
warn me that the rattlesnakes are out on the roads sunning themselves. I
was wearing sandals. As I walked, I looked around to see if I could spot
any bees and I observed some honey bees working in the various flowering bushes
at the site. These bees seemed to be the 'normal' size that I am
accustomed to seeing. After an hour or so up at the site, I drove down
steep back streets into Sherman Oaks and then, after a quick lunch, proceeded
down to Santa Monica and Venice via the 405 and 10 to kill a few hours.
At four, I picked El up and we returned to our hotel for free champagne and
snacks at six. The Los
Angeles Adventurer turned out to be an interesting place.
I can see now that my laptop computer would have been extremely handy for
gathering info on the Getty and the MTA if I had taken it along.
Nonetheless, it would have been just one more thing to worry about -- and we did
Wednesday: We awoke and went for a drive down to Venice
Beach. Our rental car was due back at 12:20, and our hotel had a shuttle
to Venice leaving at noon, so we took the car back a bit early, caught a ride to
the hotel and returned to Venice for the afternoon.
Our shuttle picked us up at four and, after we retrieved our bags from a
locker at the hotel, a hotel shuttle dropped us at LAX. We went through
security, which seemed horribly disorganized and makeshift and then had two
hours to wait for our flight.
Our flight left only about a half hour late -- not bad for Alaska Airlines --
and we got into Calgary a little after midnight.
Thursday: We retrieved our car and arrived home at 2 AM to be greeted
by our three cats. They had taken care of things nicely for the six
days. Everything seemed in good order and we settled in. Before I
went to bed, I downloaded all my email -- 500+ messages (mostly SPAM) -- since I
was concerned that my mailboxes might be full. Spam is getting
awful. I predict something is going to have to happen soon to eliminate
It's Minus 27.0 at 5:30 AM. This cold spell is getting very
tedious -- and costly, I imagine, for the bees in the hives sitting outside, and
for their owners. We'll see when we get out to look at the bees and put on
patties -- next week, if we can believe the weather guessers. They have
been annoyingly accurate lately and I hope they are right about a break coming
next Monday to plus four. That is at least warm enough for the bees to move
around in their hives, but not warm enough for much in the way of cleansing
flights, and definitely not warm enough for foraging..
We have some snow on the ground -- about six inches -- and I imagine that
when the temperatures get up, if they ever do, that they could go suddenly to
plus 15 or twenty. With these longer days we could see significant run-off
and possible flooding.
I went to town and got an alignment and four new tires. Now the
car handles much better. I stopped to see Les and got air tickets to fly
to LA tomorrow.
Towel Method an effective, inexpensive treatment for tracheal mites. I had
heard nothing but good things about it before we tried it, and now we have used
just one application we can find no tracheal mites almost a year later.
Coincidence? I think not.
Today..Sunny. Wind light. High minus 9.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind light. Low minus 15.
Friday..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h. High minus 2.
Saturday..Periods of snow. Low minus 20. High minus 7.
Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 17. High minus
Monday..Mainly cloudy. Low minus 14. High 3.
Normals for the period..Low minus 8. High 4.
This is -- believe it or not
-- the first day of spring 2002.
It's minus twenty-four this morning. This has got to be hard on the
bees. At least it is sunny for a change. They are predicting minus30
for tonight again and nothing warmer than minus 8 until after Sunday.
recent years, questions about the proper size
of worker cells for North American and European honey bees has become a hot
topic. Most current foundation in these regions is made in the 5.25 to 5.4 mm
range (Average cell width when measured the shortest way across 10 cells).
While cutting out old combs for melting we found a midrib from one that was made
of embossed aluminum foil. I examined it and found that the sheet
measured 42 centimeters across, and in that span I counted 84 complete
cells. That means the overall average cell width is 5.0 mm. Although
the piece was distorted a bit, the width was consistent, so I don't think it was
deformed in that dimension by much. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.
I went to the Kneehill Watershed Advisory Council (KWAC) annual meeting and
was away most of the day. While I was gone, Matt finished the Olds and it
is back on the road, running well. I cannot believe how different it is
from the Buick. Once I got used to the Buick and fixed all its little
problems, it grew on me. In comparison, the Olds is big and soft. I
like it too, but it wanders; I think it needs an alignment.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of flurries.
Wind light. High minus 17.
Tonight..Clear. Wind light. Low minus 27.
Thursday..Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h. High minus 9.
Friday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 21. High minus
Saturday..Mainly cloudy. 70 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 17. High minus
Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 18. High minus
Normals for the period..Low minus 8. High 4.