A yard ready to Pull. The alfalfa has been cut.
I was looking back at last year and notice that we pulled Freres N on almost the same day, and got just over 2 supers per hive. This year we got 1.3 per hive, so it doesn't look as good so far and the prospects are that it won't be getting better due to lack of moisture.
Today..Sunny. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h.
Jean and Chris and I planned to go windsurfing today, but Ellen went to a horticulture day at Olds College and left early driving the Olds. As it happened, it had the roof racks I was planning to use to go windsurfing, so instead, I cancelled and took D4 headed up to Termeers' and Hoves' to pick up some items I had bought and hadn't picked up.
I had some bee blowers sitting at Barrie's, and since Paulo had blower problems Friday, I decided to get them. I had an order of lids at Alvin's and needed them too -- we have honey house pallets on some of our hives -- so I made the trip. As it turned out, D4 had a separated tire and the drive was a bit rough, but I made it by avoiding the 110 kph roads and taking the scenic routes.
On the way back, I was getting tired by the time I got to Jean's so I stayed over with the Orams, and drove home in the morning.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent
chance of afternoon showers. Wind increasing to north 30 km/h. High 21.
I got home a bit after 8. Mark was still off, sick. Paulo was getting ready to go pulling honey. We're finding more than we expected and have to get down to the job in earnest.
We plan to start extracting Wednesday, so Dennis and I are getting things ready. Paulo and Tim went north and this was Tim's first time pulling honey. They pulled several hundred boxes and Tim reported that the work was much hotter and heavier than he had imagined. They brought back what the truck would carry and left 167 on the ground overnight.
We pull using the abandonment method which necessitates two visits. Usually a few hours is sufficient for the bees to leave but there are always a few boxes that need blowing. I think these are from hives that plugged and stopped flying or which are planning to swarm.
Sometimes, if the trucks are full and there are still more boxes on the ground to pick up, we leave them out overnight and send a truck for them in the morning. (That only works before robbing season. After that, they must be picked up promptly). Sometimes, when pulling, we find more honey than expected and run out of empties, leaving the hives with less supers than they need. In that case, the pick up crew also adds supers where needed.
When we go pulling, we are careful not to take along too many empties, since if we do, we won't have room for full supers on the truck. At this time of year, we are still replacing every super we pull. Our trucks carry 150 full standard supers, so that is the ideal number of empties to take along at this time of year. Later, as the season tapers off, we will reduce the hives to four boxes, then three, then two, and the empties go into storage.
Today..Sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h.
Morning: 249 Boxes in Honey House, 167 on ground awaiting pickup.
Mark was better today -- he was sick yesterday and went home, but is back today and scraping the wax off the lids I brought home. He said he still is not 100%, and his work was a bit slow, but he has been given the whole 700 lids to scrape and is game to finish.
Tim was given his own truck -- the White Gas -- and went out supering the hives that we had only partly supered when pulling yesterday and picked up the honey that had been left out. He had a great day and came home elated. After he unloaded his truck, he helped Paulo unload, and they didn't leave until about 8.
We had a new guy, Drew, start work today; he went with Paulo to pull honey. They pulled 205 boxes in three yards and when they returned I asked how it was and he said, 'Hot", but he seemed happy.
I went to town around four and had the tire replaced. I also had the exhaust system checked, seeing as I was at the tire and exhaust shop. With the rough use the trucks get, I find it pays to anticipate problems. A $3 hanger replaced now can save a $300 exhaust system from falling down and being destroyed at some inconvenient time. I got groceries and water and stopped at Longs' on the way home to check out the swimming pool problem. Their daughter had bought an kids' wading pool. For some reason -- even though there is a creek nearby -- the bees were fascinated by it from the moment they started to fill the pool with water. It was empty when I got there, but still surrounded by a cloud of bees.
Evening: 555 boxes in NE and ~60 on the ground. That translates into 6.7 lbs per hive estimated on the whole outfit if we figure on 30 lbs per box. If all hives were the same -- and of course, they are not, since we picked the best areas to pull first -- that would project out to a 42 lb crop in the hives so far.
I've seen much worse. One year we extracted everything in the hives as it came in, and we had 30 lbs per hive on August first. However August was better and we ended up at 130 lbs per hive that year.
Another year, back when we were making Ross Rounds comb honey sections, we didn't start RR production until after the canola finished blooming in the last week of July. At that point, we pulled off the standard supers and the excluders, reduced the hives to singles and added RR supers. We made 30,000 sections that year on 300 hives, as I recall.
Today..Sunny. Wind increasing to southeast 30
km/h. High 29.
We plan to start extracting this afternoon. Everything is set up, although there are always some last-minute things to do. We ran our first load at 9:55 this morning and all went well. This was the shakedown day and we had various people working at the four extractors. Dennis and I were working to get the last of the electrical connections made and repairing the two super elevators. They had minor problems with the switches and I went to Calgary in the evening to get replacements and to do a few other errands.
By five, we had eight loads run and there was honey in the bottom of the tank. We're 18% done the first round and the projection is for 43 lbs per hive. The honey house is full of supers awaiting extracting.
Today..30 percent chance of an early morning
shower or thunderstorm then mainly sunny. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h. High
Today we are extracting in earnest. We have people assigned to all four stations and Jodi is coming in to supervise. We hired her as lead hand; Dennis and I will back her up with repairs and by skimming, pumping, etc. Ellen has retired from full-time in the honey house and provides guidance and back-up. I'm moving back a bit from the front line and my job is planning and fighting fires (in the figurative sense).
By noon, one extractor operator had quit. He was a bull rider and I had doubts from the start, but he seemed happy. Whenever I passed by and asked, he said he was. But then he left, without speaking to me and telling Jodi that he is the outdoor type. Ellen thinks he was afraid of the bees. The others carried on and we got 20 loads done. The 650 gallon sump is full to the top and we will be pumping drums tomorrow at 7:30. Dennis and I got the rest of the equipment running and the heat on the sump working. I had to go to town twice, once for water -- the local supply is short -- and once to deliver papers to the accountant.
We got smart this year and tell everyone that the first two days are training. We don't pay them for that time unless they stay two weeks, in which case, they get paid for those days too. That saves us from spending precious time training, and then having to pay the person for wasting our time to boot.
Today..Sunny. Wind light. High 29.
I got up at 5:30 and did odds and ends at my desk, then I checked and counted about 180 empty supers in the shop.
After that, I went for a bike ride to get myself geared up for the day. I find that exercise in the morning improves my mood and concentration. My weight for the past week or so has been down at 227.
Dennis came in early and we pumped 10-1/2 Drums. We are still getting the shop into shape. Paulo headed out by himself to pick up and pull some more honey. Drew did two loads and had to go to get his girlfriend at the airport. Mark is off for the day.
One of the elevators broke a cable, so I had to repair that. The accountant needed more information. Instruction sheets and Extractor record sheets needed printing. It was a busy day. When I looked at the end of the day, I concluded that we put less honey into the tank than yesterday. We only ran 12 loads and got about 5 drums. It was just one of those days. By the end I was bagged.
The last thing I felt like doing was attend a town meeting, but there was one scheduled for 8 and I went. Mostly I went to make sure that I wouldn't be talked about since I was afraid it would be a general gripe session. As it turned out, however, the meeting was well run and constructive. I even volunteered to write a letter to the county about the water supply.
How about that?
Today..Increasing cloudiness this morning. 60
percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms with risk of a severe
thunderstorm. Wind becoming north 30 km/h. High 25.
We tinkered around the house in the morning and went to Calgary in the afternoon. Ellen went to Value Village and I went to Home Depot to get some screen doors. We shopped for groceries on the way home.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance
of afternoon showers or thunderstorms. Wind light. High 22.
I decided to install screen doors on the honey house. I thought it would take an hour. By the time I changed the doors from swinging out to swinging in and mounted the screen doors, it was five in the afternoon. Meijers and Purves-Smiths came for supper, and that was my weekend.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind northwest 30. Low
I awoke to find the sky overcast, and a light rain falling. I can see clear spots at the horizon and the forecast is for clear weather today. We have a large crew coming in today, and unless the weather changes, we'll have to plan alternate activities for the field crew.
Paulo started by going through some brood chambers we had bought. When the weather turned decent, he had 12 Brood chambers and 7 supers from what he went through, so the comb was not all brood comb by any means. The combs he culled were mostly sagged, but otherwise fine, and good enough for honey supers. He and Kenton then left and went out locally to pull honey. Dennis had injured his back on the weekend, but worked anyhow on light duty. The chiropractor is not available on Mondays.
We continued to extract and did about twenty loads -- less than the previous day and only got about seven drums. We're still working the bugs out. I went to town around noon and did some errands and got water. I signed up for a bulk water account. I took the blue gas for an exhaust check and I wound up cooling my heels for an hour while they welded and replaced hangers. I got a call that two of the super elevators were broken down and so I ran to Trochu to get cable fro them. While on the way, I got a call from CBC radio about the drought and its effect on Alberta beekeepers. I agreed to show one of their staff around, and a bit over an hour later David and I were walking through dry alfalfa near discussing the impact on myself and my neighbours.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance
of morning showers. Wind increasing to west 40 km/h with gusts to 60. High 25.
Today was a nice day right off, and Paulo and Kenton went north to pull honey. They were gone until 8:30 and brought back over 230 full boxes. They were so late that I let them park the truck and trailer (they had the FL trailer along) in the quonset overnight rather than unload, since that would take almost an hour. I don't like to establish a precedent, but I also don't want to overwork my men.
Meantime, the crew inside did 31 loads and emptied about 300 supers, producing about twelve drums. I had to pump a half drum to make room in the tank at the end of the day.
Dennis went to the chiropractor at eleven and came back to putter in the afternoon. Tim washed drums and they continued to tidy the packing room.
We're expecting a big change in the weather. Apparently The forecast for Red Deer is as low as 3 degrees C tonight and Whitecourt may get some snow.
We're now 30% finished the first round with 15 lbs per hive in the honey house, 23 drums filled and 12 in the tank Projections are now up to 48lbs.
We got a nice sprinkle of rain around nine. The CBC from Edmonton called several times arranging an interview tomorrow morning. I tried to pass it off on several friends, but as it stands, they may call me, since I promised I'd act as a backup if they cannot get the others.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance
of a shower. Wind shifting to northwest 20 km/h. High 20.
Today..Showers. Risk of a thunderstorm. Wind
increasing to north 30 km/h. High 12.