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Ellen with one of her paintings

Tuesday April 9th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

Paulo processed some samples we picked up from some of the poorer hives he and Dennis encountered in their rounds over the pat few days and reported back this morning.  He found zero tracheal, zero varroa, and zero nosema.

Samples we got from another beekeeper, however, showed the highest mite loads we've seen yet this spring.  There were seventeen varroa mites in one sample -- a dangerously high level at 5.35%.  In another sample, nine bees out of twenty had seventeen tracheal mites in total in them, but no nosema was seen in any of the samples.   We are recommending that he sample that yard again for varroa, add two strips of Apistan® and do an alcohol wash again in three days.  If Apistan is still working, then there should be few, if any phoretic mites after the first two days.

Paulo and Dennis are out putting on patties again.  It was mild overnight and nice, but overcast today.  We are expecting very warm temperatures at the end of the week, and since there is still snow out there, I expect to see massive runoff on one of those days -- over three weeks late!

I was getting a bit stir-crazy by the end of the day, and, since Matt had fixed the Buick, I took a run into Airdrie (78 km) for the evening.  The car ran flawlessly.  Apparently, the wire to the fuel pump runs from the back bumper to the tank and somehow it had corroded through.  It took Matt the better part of the day to repair it, dropping the (full) tank in the process.

Today..Mainly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind east 20 km/h. High minus 1. 
Tonight..Occasional snow. Wind southeast 20. Low minus 5 this evening then temperature steady. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 4. High 10. 

Monday April 8th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

Today was not as cold, but it was bitter, with a south wind, so the guys worked in the North End on frames and other tasks..  Matt came in and looked at the Buick etc.

We sold the cab and chassis this morning and the buyer came by to take it to town for a safety inspection and to get lights put on it so he can drive it to Saskatchewan for a deck installation.  Around noon, Bill and Janie and the kids dropped down to discuss some business.  Then El & I went to Meijers to have supper in their new home and to wish Oene a happy birthday.


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Today..Cloudy with flurries. Wind light. High zero. 
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries overnight. Wind becoming north 20 km/h. Low minus 7. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 4. High 9. 

Sunday April 7th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

The conditions looked good, so off I went to Nakiska for the afternoon.  I got there around noon and there was lots of powder and more coming down.  It was a great day and the sun came out at the end.  This was Nakiska's last day of the season.

I headed home and thought on the way I would make a few stops.  I figured that I'd need gas, and planned to stop at the Cochrane overpass, however as I passed the Jumping Pound overpass, the car suddenly quit dead and would not start. I guess I should have been suspicious, since a car usually sputters a time or two before quitting completely, but I was unfamiliar with this car and assumed it had run dry.  I had been watching the fuel level, and although the gauge showed 13/16 of a tank, I assumed it was empty, since it had been at 1//2 when I left home.  I could see the gas station 2 or so miles up the road, but called AMA and asked for fuel, since I was on a divided highway and this was the easy solution.  They sent a tow truck without any gas and he towed me to the gas station.  I was surprised when the car only took 55 litres -- I thought the tank held more, but the car started and ran just fine when filled with fuel and he let it down.  I changed my plans about diversions form a direct path home, and the tow truck followed me for 15 miles or so, since we were going the same direction, and all was well.

I continued to Carstairs and as I headed east towards home.  At Carstairs, the car had run perfectly for an hour, so I dismissed the incident and decided to run up to Glen's, a mile or two north off the highway,  to see if he was home. He wasn't, and on the way back to the pavement, the car stopped again.  This time it simply would not go and I knew it was not out of gas.  There seemed to be fuel pressure and it would occasionally start, but would not run.  I called AMA again, and they told me that it would be an hour or more until they could get me a tow.  Finally, two hours from the time I stalled, the truck came and towed me home.

Thus ended another day.

Today..Snow tapering off this morning. Further accumulations near 3 cm. Wind becoming north 30 gusting 50 km/h near midday then diminishing. High minus 2. 
Tonight..30 percent chance of evening flurries then clearing overnight. Wind becoming south 20 this evening. Low minus 7. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 4. High 9. 

Saturday April 6th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

El & I walked down and opened the first hives that got patties.  Some have eaten out the bottom of some patties fairly well, but they are just getting going.  They won't need another for a week or so, but by then some hives will really need more, I think.

Is set up a discussion forum. I wonder if it is a good idea?  It allows feedback, but it looks as if those who want to say something may have to register with ezBoard, so if it is a bother, let me know.  Click here to try it out.


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Today..Patchy fog this morning otherwise a mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of afternoon flurries. Wind northwest 20 km/h this morning shifting to northeast this afternoon. High plus 4. 
Tonight..60 percent chance of flurries this evening then mainly cloudy. Wind east 20 diminishing to light. Low minus 3. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 5. High 9. 

Friday April 5th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It's overcast and windy this morning.  The guys went out again putting on patties and we are now a little more than 1/2 done.  Losses are running at about the same levels.

Today..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind southeast 20 km/h. High plus 4. 
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of showers. Wind southeast 20. Low plus 2. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 5. High 9. 

Thursday April 4th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

entry.png (18745 bytes)

notes.png (10234 bytes)

8:40 AM:  It's minus eight and sunny.  The the guys are headed back out to put on more patties.

5:30 PM:  They are back and we are done 900 hives now -- better than 1/3 done.  The data is written onto a report sheet as the work is done, then summarized for analysis.  At right is a chunk of our data entry sheet and a small chunk of the summary sheet. As always, click the thumbnail to enlarge.

The price of honey is definitely at $1.35 CAD.  We're evaluating things and thinking that we may decide to buy package bees rather than splitting, due to the late spring and better honey price than usual.  We figure splits cost us $25 each cash money in queens and labour and overhead. Add to that the loss of crop if the splitting is too drastic.  Packages can be had for about $60 CAD each and the labour is about $2.50 each to get ready and install them, assuming the brood chambers are ready, and they have to be done anyhow, no matter what they are used for.  Packages are usually uniform and easy to manage --  if they are good.  Over the years, commercial beekeepers in our area typically purchase about 10% of their hive numbers in package bees to keep the numbers up without stressing the winter survivors too much.


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Today..Mainly cloudy. Wind increasing to northeast 20 km/h. High zero. 
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries this evening. Wind shifting to southeast 20. Low minus 7. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 5. High 8. 

Wednesday April 3rd, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

We are promised a warmer day today and plan to get out and going on putting in patties.  I wonder if it is really worth all the cost and effort.  I should do a trial to see.  I made some patties with:

  • BeePro and pollen, 
  • yeast and pollen, or
  • soy flour and pollen 

only -- in addition to our soy, yeast and pollen mixture patties for just this purpose.  Now we just have to do it and also we will have to follow up later.  To actually do a proper test, we would have to evaluate about 70 colonies, then assign similar hives randomly to each patty type and also maintain a control without patties.  We would then apply patties to each hive as planned, then follow the hives through the season and tabulate the results.  The we would have to analyze the data statistically and write it up.  The beekeeping is the easy part.

2:30 PM.  Paulo called and reports that he and Dennis have done 359 hives and that 53 are weak or dead.  That drops the average for today's hives to 15% loss.  I had told them they could call it a day after 300, and they want to do more, so I think they are having fun.  This kind of  beekeeping is just like opening Christmas presents all day long.  It is exciting to see what is there.


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Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind light becoming northeast 20 km/h this afternoon. High minus 6. 
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind northeast 20 diminishing. Low minus 14. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 5. High 8. 

Tuesday April 2nd 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

 It was minus sixteen again last night.  

At least it is sunny this morning.  We have yet to get out to put on patties and feed hives, but I guess we may do a few today, regardless of the weather.

Dennis, Paulo and I went to four local yards this afternoon, and the results are interesting.  Hives were generally either excellent or dead.  We had a great time.  It feels so good to get outside -- even if the warmest it got was minus 8 and there was a breeze in some yards.  With our pillow system, we are able to administer patties without exposing the bees to cold air for more than a moment.
H ere are our notes:
Home South: 22 hives. These were splits made last spring using Kona carniolan queens.  The 22 hives were all alive, but four were a bit weak -- two frames or so.  There was a drum of syrup still there.  We put on grease and protein patties.
Brian's: 34 hives.  These were production hives from last season.  No special management. 2 dead, 2 weak.  We did not otherwise rate the strength.  1/3 of a drum of syrup here.
Halsteads': 66 hives.  Some were splits with the same queens as above.  Can't remember the details.  Some were also moved in from what we consider to be bad wintering yards.  16 dead or weak.  Some are light. No syrup here.
Deer Run: 60 hives.  Some were also moved in from what we consider to be bad wintering yards.  14 dead or weak.  27 very strong, the balance are normal strength.
Total: 182 hives done in less than two hours by the three of us.  ie. about two man-minutes per hive including travel.  We have about 2,400 to do, so at this rate we will take 4,800 man-minutes or 4800 / 60 = 80 man hours to go around once if all goes this well.  Not likely.

34 of 182 dead or weak. That is 18.6% effectively dead, and although it is not great, it's within our normal expectations, especially for yards where we moved some doubtful hives.  

From what I have seen, our northern yards are looking better than this.  We will see over the next few days.  Paulo and Dennis are going to visit 300 or 400 a day for the next little while.  Then we will return with sugar syrup for those that need it. We also need to sample further for mites.



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Today..Mainly sunny. Wind light. High minus 9. 
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h. Low minus 13. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 6. High 8. 

Monday April 1st, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It blew cold all night and was minus eleven C  when I got up.  Matt phoned to say he is coming in to work on equipment.

I wonder.  How many people would like to receive these pages by email from time to time rather than having to browse to the site to see if there are any changes?  Write me .  I'll only do it if there is enough interest.  We could even have a little discussion list to talk about the diary topics.

Here's some response:

From The US:
Seems to be a very low winter loss here in the states also. My #1 son tells me that after looking at & feeding bees this weekend he was very impressed. We have had 3 good days or so of nice fresh pollen coming in. Our Texas bees seem not to be building up as the guys would like. Seems they are sucking on the feed barrel as nothing much is in bloom. Honey is over the 95 cent (US$) mark as I have found out last week. Reason for this is there is none to be purchased it seems.


From Manitoba:
I enjoy your diary and your site very much, almost visit you daily, keep up the supply of useful information. We've had some horrendous bee loses this winter.  Somewhere around 40%, can't put the blame on any particular problem., noticed lot's of dysentery, Fumidil maybe didn't work?  Colonies look like they started raising brood back in January & February, when it was very mild, turned cold in March -- they couldn't more over to feed and they starved out. It would seem we are in for one of those cool backward springs by the look of the long range weather forecast. Keep up the good work, I hear thru the news honey prices could go as high as 1.35, or 1.45 /lb -- Canadian $. !

We're thinking it is time to start preparing the Blue Shop Towels (2) again.  They seem to work.   Last year was the first time we tried the shop towel tracheal mite control method, and we have to agree with those who say that tracheal mites are hard to find after using the towels even once.  We always found lots of TM when we checked -- until this year. 

Last year we bought $1,900 CAD worth of menthol (2 x 25 kg drums) and we have 3/4 of a drum left.  I think we only applied the towels once on most of the hives, and we sold some and gave some away, so maybe we have enough on hand for this year.  We also have 2 cases of Crisco and 18 rolls of 55 sheets each, so I reckon we can get started without going shopping.

I was looking at last year's diary and see that I did not explain all the details when I showed our method, such as how I measured the Crisco and menthol, and how many treatments we made in total.  'Clear if previously understood' is how editors refer to this type of incomplete reporting.  I did look it up in the February 1997 American Bee Journal and that maybe is where some of the missing details are to be found.  As I recall, we made about 3,000 treatments and we used a menthol to Crisco ratio of 50/50.  We also cut the rolls of towels into three instead of two, since we had heard that the half towel was sometimes driving bees out of hives or killing brood.

(Later)...Actually, on closer examination, I see I did give all the necessary details, but did not mention that we only got around to using one treatment and that we cut the rolls into three instead of two.  I'll fix that right now.

That means we only used a little over 8 grams per hive and had success.  This is about half of what many consider the minimum.

Meijers came by at five and we all went to Custom Woolen Mills (Purves-Smiths') for supper.










  • Apparently a German Firm has an oxalic vaporiser on the market.  Here is  Google search on 'Varrox®', the name of the product.  Here is an interesting  Canadian page on the topic.
  • A good varroa page
  • Ever need to send a link and found that the URL was so long that it wrapped in the editor? Make A Shorter Link has a solution
  • Here are several links to hosting services for mailing lists : SmartGroups, Lyris, Yahoogroups, www.domeus.com, www.freelists.org , www.list.to , & Topica
  • I downloaded and used Mailwasher, a SPAM bouncer and deleter, some time back, but found it very slow and cumbersome.  I tried it again yesterday and it is very fast now.  It works well and allows examining headers so you can delete SPAM and junk on the mail server before downloading.  
    Junk can be bounced, hopefully resulting in my email address being removed from the junk lists.  I like it.  
    Mailwasher only works with POP, not HTML or IMAP servers.

Today..Cloudy with flurries. Wind north 40 km/h. High minus 9. 
Tonight..Partly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 30 km/h diminishing overnight. Low minus 17. Wind chill minus 26. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 6. High 8.

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