A Beekeeper's Diary

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Bee pictures from Daniel Adam in Switzerland: 
The fly front of the bee house.

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Thursday 1 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
Mark Twain

Bert and I decided to go skiing at Nakiska.  A quick look at the weather suggested that Nakiska might be expecting rain, so we left a bit early in case we had to go to Fortress or Sunshine.  I went out to start the car and found the red Olds- my first choice had a bad alternator.  I had noticed the light on previously, but hadn't gotten around to repairing it.  So, I decided to take the Achieva, but since it is April 1, the Ontario license plate was expired.  I had to put on the new Alberta plate.

No sooner had I done that and started the car, when I noticed a flat on the front.  I pulled it over to the air pump and found that the air hose was not working.  After some fiddling, and checking the pump, I found that some little bug or piece of dirt had plugged a passage in the filler fitting.  I finally filled the tire, but thought I'd best find the leak, so I sprayed the tire down with soapy water.  There was a slow leak on the running surface, and I wondered if it was a steel belt problem or just a puncture.  There was no sign of a nail.   The tires have 110,000 km on them, but are still looking very good.

I decided to see if it would seal itself or would need repair, and pulled out quite a bit later than I had planned, taking the spray bottle along.  I picked Bert up at his place and we drove to Nakiska.  Along the way, we sprayed down the tire and found the leak had sealed.

On arrival at Nakiska, the conditions looked good, so we bought tickets and hit the slopes.  This was my first day out this year.  I used to get out 100 days or so, but, somehow, this year I just did not get to the hills.

The conditions proved excellent, with lots of powder up at the Gold Chair, and we had a good afternoon, and I was home in time for supper.

When I dropped Bert off at his place, we decided to take a look at his bees.  He has two hives he bought from me last year to pollinate his saskatoon patch.  He did very well, and got quite a bit of honey as well as a good crop of berries.  I hefted them and decided they were a bit light.  He is going to put some syrup on them to make sure they don't starve.  I peeled back a pillow on each and took a look.  Both hives look excellent.  He put in Apistan earlier this week and added an extender patty as well.

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. 60 percent chance of flurries this morning. High 6. UV index 3 or moderate. / Tonight : Clearing this evening. Low minus 6. / Normals for the period : Low minus 5. High 8.

Friday 2 April 2004
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I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.
Bertrand Russell

I had a visit from a beekeeper today, and sold the second large Jabsco pump and some hose.  I was sorry to see it go.  We are getting to the point where essential items are disappearing, and even though I am getting fair prices for the goods, I can see that items I used every day are going.  Soon the Swinger will be gone, and my last truck.  Things that were easy to do  around the yard will become big jobs, calling for assistance from friends or requiring renting or borrowing machinery.

The cattle prices are trending down to the point where we are again looking at break-even or even a slight loss.  I can see that the cattle business is at least as risky as bees, if not more so.

Joe and Oene came for supper.

Today : Sunny. High 10. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 3. / Normals for the period : Low minus 4. High 8.

Saturday 3 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
Vernon Sanders Law

This morning, I called the Mid-US Honey line (763-658-4193). 

Last update was Mar 9 and reported few sales.  A North Dakota producer reported being offered $US1.35.  Otherwise, not much news.  UF honey is still a 'disaster'.  The report states that too many unscrupulous  importers and packers were using the material and getting away with it. 

Be sure to call and report any rumours and offers you hear about, as well as any sales.  This is an important service, and if no one gives information, no one will get any either.   Call today!

I'm expecting several buyers today, so I have to stay around the place.

Well, people came and people went, and with them went my last flat deck truck, the wax spinner and another super elevator, and more.

I was free by four and drove up to see Jean and Chris, and to spend the night.

of the Day

Today : Sunny. Wind becoming south 30 km/h this morning. High 16. UV index 4 or moderate.  / Tonight : Clear. Wind south 30 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 3. / Normals for the period : Low minus 4. High 8.

Sunday 4 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
Steven Wright

I spent the morning erasing my identity and removing unnecessary software and files from my laptop, since I have decided to leave it with Chris and Jean.

I'm done with it.  Although the Toshiba Satellite 2750 is still a good machine, I find it no longer serves my  needs.  It freezes often enough to drive me nuts, and the modem does not always hold a connection well. 

The modem is 'integrated' and thus depends on the processor enough that heavy program processor demand results in a hang-up when the modem is challenged at all, due to noise on the phone line or other line problems. 

Moreover, the battery has lost it's capacity and the machine dies without warning unless plugged in.  I could get a new battery and upgrade to Windows XP, but that would not solve the modem problem or bring it up to date, and the cost would be a significant percentage of the price I'd pay for a machine that is three times faster, with ten times the storage, and twice the RAM -- plus being in new condition and having a bigger display. 

I'm due for a new portable computer one of these days soon.  I keep shopping, but have not found the notebook of my dreams -- yet.

After lunch, I drove to Red Deer and picked up a few things, then returned home.

More products are on recall, including some from Billy Bee.  Buying Argentine honey may have seemed like a way to lower costs the last year or two, but now it is coming back to bite the packers who took advantage of the low cost.  The lesson here is that buying and packing honey is risky.  This added risk will result in higher margins for packers and lower prices for beekeepers, as well .


OTTAWA, April 3, 2004 - The public warning issued on March 23, 2004 is being updated to include additional lot codes, product details, new affected products, and distribution information.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume various brands of honey because these products may contain nitrofurans.

The following products are affected by this alert. See: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2004/20040402e.shtml 


From Iowa
A book of quotations . . . can never be complete.
Robert M. Hamilton

> I have never figured out how to leave information on the hotline (763-658-4193). When I try, it requests a mailbox number.

Just wait until all the chatter is over, and talk.  The report tends to be a bit slow and wandering, and the instructions on the end can be ignored, but the site does a valuable job -- if we provide info and support it. 

When you give your info, be sure you know what you have to say, because you get about one minute to say it -- after the beep -- and before the recorder hangs up.

> Honey prices here have been in the $US1.30 to $1.40 range for some time. I got lucky and got $1.50 out of a few barrels last week.

Yeah. Volume has been slow everywhere, and good info is scarce.  Residue worries are making the packers very careful, and I suspect that some are moving to ultrafiltered honey when they can get away with it, since they feel safer with this purified and tested product -- even if it is not legitimate -- than when buying untested honey from producers.

Packers never know where the next hit will come from.  Although there is -- AFAIK -- no health threat from anything that has been found thus far, I am sure that the potential economic fallout from having authorities -- or competitors -- find even <1ppb traces of anything keeps many of them awake at night.  I would not want to be a honey packer these days.

This increased risk in the market requires that brokers and packers make larger margins than they would if there were not price or contamination risk.  They need larger returns to tempt them to deal, and to compensate for the increased chance of loss.

One thing about the school of experience is that it will repeat the lesson if you flunk the first time.
Author Unknown

> The bees still look good. I've lost a few more but am still looking at a 8 to 9% death loss. This is the first time I have experienced too many bees. What a great problem to have!!!!!!  I think we are going to pull a nuc out of every colony and then super immediately for dandelions. the problem will be to keep them from swarming. It's pretty common to have a stretch of two or three weeks with no flow. Some years we get a steady flow but that is not the norm. Generally, we get one or more long stretch with nothing.

It's a good spring here, too. Hope mine are okay. The buyer is coming tomorrow and we'll look at them together.

of the Day

Sunday : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming west 30 km/h in the afternoon. High 18.

Monday 5 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
Poul Anderson

At 8 this morning, Leroy called to set up a time to come to get the hives.  The day looks to be too warm for moving, so we agreed he will call again at noon and come by later in the day to load when the bees are done flying for the day.

I now have a good number of pictures for this page and the next.  Thanks to those who sent them.  I'll post some soon.

Ellen & I drove down to Highway 21 feeders to see how things are going there.  The animals are looking good, and well over 1,000 pounds now.  Apparently there is a good chance that the Canada/US border will open by the time they are ready to ship.  Barley prices are are on the way up, so we hope the markets improve.

Leroy decided to hold off, since he needs to change a truck tire and the time was getting late.  We decided that the weather is a bit hot, anyhow, but the forecast for Thursday looks good.  I went out for a bike ride and went by the hives.  Looks like about six dead out of sixty.

Ellen took the Achieva to town for a wheel balance and an oil change.  Bert came by later for some syrup to feed his bees and stayed for supper.

When I ask for pictures, I either get none -- or lots.  Then I don't know what to do.  I'd like to use them all, but I worry about making the page too slow for those who are on dialup, so I use thumbnails.  As usual, click on the thumbnails to enlarge.  Here are some more, and a note...

Hi Allen

It's early Autumn here in New Zealand now and we are just pulling the last honey. I enjoy the contrast of our seasons when I look at the pictures from the Northern hemisphere so hopefully your readers from the North do too.

Kevin Gibbs

As usual, click on the thumbnails to enlarge

of the Day

A New Beekeeping Classifieds Site

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. High 14. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. 30 percent chance of showers this evening. Low minus 1. / Normals for the period : Low minus 4. High 9.

The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.
Frank Herbert

Tuesday 6 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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The picture at the top of the page is one of several sent to me by Daniel Adam in Switzerland.  Here are the rest...

Here are some bee pictures I made some days ago on the 26th of March.  Temperature was a sunny 15 degrees Celsius.in Switzerland.

A bee on a blade of grass in a creek, resting for some fresh water.

Bees taking a short break on a Boxwood (Buxus) during a Spring flight.

A small bee house for 12 hives, looking at the front.

You can see the boxwood from the first picture on the right side of the bee house.

Hive entrance, sunny weather, The wooden entrance with sliders to regulate the entrance size is part of the bee house.

Another entrance on the same bee house)

As usual, click on the thumbnails to enlarge

If you like Openoffice.org for your office, have a look at www.typo3.com for your webpage... It is an open source content management system, a bit complex, but very useful.


of the Day

Click to go to Photos     The Old Schoolhouse Virtual Art Gallery     Open Journal

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 14. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 4. / Normals for the period : Low minus 4. High 9.

Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.
Jules de Gaultier

Wednesday 7 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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of the Day

The Phillips' Beekeeping Collection at Cornell's Albert R. Mann Library is one of the world's largest and most complete apiculture libraries in the world.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming south 20 km/h near noon. High 16. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : Cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers overnight. Low 3. / Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 9.

We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.
John W. Gardner

Thursday 8 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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Leroy arrived around eleven, we had a good visit and went out to load hives.  It turned out that sixty are alive, although there are several weak ones.  He didn't care, so I decide to keep the Styrofoam hives and a few more of the strong ones, as well as the weak ones to give me something to play with.  We're planning to be home in August, so I will be here to take care of them, unlike last year.

He got forty and I got twenty, and he was on his way.  The day was warming -- the thermometer said 14C as he left -- so he had to go. 

I guess I'm still a beekeeper.  In fact, I'm thinking of getting some packages to fill some empty boxes, unless someone comes soon and buys the remaining 75 or so brood chambers I have here.

I waited around for another fellow who wanted a few small items, then, around 4, Ellen & I drove over the Meijers' shop to meet up with them and to see their new four-wheel, articulated machine that they are planning to equip with a mast.

It has a 28 HP air-cooled diesel and a hydraulic motor on each of its wheels.  Ellen & I got to drive it around and agreed that it is an promising unit, but we all agreed that it is no Swinger.  We'll reserve judgment until it has a mast and has run for a year. 

By then, I was feeling a bit weird, but we were off to Joe & Oene's place for supper and to celebrate Oene's 51st birthday.  We had a good meal and a nice visit, but I was getting very tired and we decided to leave a bit earlier than we would have liked.  Ellen drove and we got home a bit after nine.  I went straight to bed, but awoke and hour later with a rumbling in my stomach. I was in and out of bed all night, running to the bathroom and back, but by morning I was starting to feel a bit better.

of the Day

The Wayback Machine -- The Internet Archive

How it works

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near noon. High 13. UV index 3 or moderate.  / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low zero.  / Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 10

Friday 9 April 2004
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.

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Good Friday

I've had the flu all night, and am still not well, but I thought I'd get out of my deathbed to relay the great news Terry just told me. 

He says that the queen importation has finally been gazetted.  His comments, with the URL to the gazette is on the forum.   Check it out and add your own comments and insights.

This is certainly welcome news, although it is at least several months too late to be much help for this year.

I'm uncertain when the changes will come into effect. The document says, "These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.", but does not say when that day is. My understanding is that there is a 30 day comment period, so, assuming the earliest that the regulations can change is May 10th, CFIA has managed to effectively delay the implementation for one entire extra crop year.

Although queens could theoretically start coming on that hypothetical May 10th date, we all know that it takes a month or more to ramp up supply and get things rolling. It is not as if there are tens of thousands of queens sitting in the US, just waiting to be sent up, or will be until people are certain that they will not be double-crossed once again.

Certainly, some queens are booked for Canada and would have come in regardless of the state of the rules, but I am sure we'll be at least 40,000 short during the critical May 10th to May 31st period when local queens are difficult to raise, but when splits must be made if they are to be productive with certainty in the current year.  Splits made later can be useful for building up numbers for the next year, and -- if the flow is unusually late -- can make a crop the first year, but are are much riskier if a crop is needed in the current year.  Besides, by mid-June and afterwards there is usually a surplus of queens -- local and imported -- on the market.  In beekeeping, timing is everything, and our civil servants flubbed it.

This period was the critical target period, and the bureaucrats under pressure from some in CAPA, I assume, have again, cynically, managed to screw the industry for one more year, while pretending to serve it. As Peter Drucker said so eloquently, "Delay is the deadliest form of denial."  This delay will cost Canadian beekeepers about $8,000,000.  Thanks CAPA!  Thanks CFIA!  I'm for taking this out of their paycheques.

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.
Mel Brooks

I was also amused to note that the document repeats at length many of the same old barefaced lies that were used to maintain the embargo far longer than its original intent. These claims are repeated for purposes of face-saving, I suppose, but are just as unsupportable as they have always been. I doubt that any involved are old enough to actually remember the original reasons for closure and the original promises for a prompt reopening.  Nonetheless, there is a lot of good material there, especially near the end.

What is ignored is that the same economic arguments that now justify bringing queens apply doubly to package bees. When package bees come in at half the current price, then this industry will really take off, and with falling honey prices, we may need cheaper and more plentiful packages just to survive.

On a more cheerful note, I understand that 4,000 CFIA employees are talking about a strike.   After what they have done to our industry over the past decade, I hope that they are not counting on our sympathy.

From mycattle.com:

Canada's Food Inspection Workers Approve Strike Action

Winnipeg, April 8 (OsterDowJones) - An estimated 4,000 workers at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have voted in favor of strike action if current negotiations do not produce a settlement, according to a notice released by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. (20:21;story 33876)

That's about all we really need right now, in the midst of the current crises: Avian Flu, Mad Cow, and our own bee import problem.  If they strike, maybe PM, the PM will take a page out of Ronald Regan's book and fire the lot?  Although there are some on CFIA staff whom I admire very much and think are doing an honest, useful job, I can think of a number I've encountered who are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and need to be gone.  Soon.  More, in the forum.

If you haven't yet sent CHC some money for the oxalic acid registration project, please do so.   Much of the time, requests for money are for vague and general purposes, not something specific and obviously useful like this one.  Every dollar spent on this project will save us all ten or a hundred over the next few years, so let's show that we can contribute.

Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.
Iris Murdoch

That, incidentally, is my view on giving money for research generally.  If I am giving money, I want to see exactly where it is going, have a say in how it is spent, and see a return of at least 150%, in the case it is successful.  I don't care if others contribute equally or not.  If I have confidence that it will pay off for me, I don't mind paying -- up to the amount I expect to save -- and sharing the results. 

This project offers us all the best return of any I've seen lately.  Hopefully the cost will be shared by of us generous and forward-looking beekeepers, and will serve to show those who say beekeepers are stupid and stingy that we will pay for promising work.  The nutrition project is another example of a project that we expect will pay for itself promptly in terms of savings and better targeted feeding.

Next time you are writing out a $10,000 cheque for Apistan or Checkmite+, how about, at the same time, writing one to the CHC for $1,000 or so, so you won't have to write another big one next year and the year after?  Oxalic costs about 1% as much as those two nasty chemicals to do the same job.

If you use 5,000 strips at ~$2 each, that's $10,000 (+/-).  If you use oxalic evaporation, the cost for oxalic is $100.  There may be some differences in labour cost, depending on which oxalic method is chosen, however, oxalic can be applied without opening the hives, and no return trip is necessary to remove strips.  I figure the labour cost to be similar, with oxalic possibly being less labour for operators who get properly equipped and come up with a good system.

We don't have good data as to efficacy in Canadian conditions at this point, but some European studies seem to indicate results similar to Apistan and Checkmite+ can be expected in many circumstances.

If you don't feel up to contributing $1,000, then send what you can.  Even $10 from a small beekeeper is a big donation and shows your solidarity with your fellow beekeepers.

Send cheque or VISA details to
Canadian Honey Council
Suite 236, 234- 5149 Country Hills Blvd NW
Calgary AB T3A 5K8

Tel 403-208-7141
Fax 403-547-4317

of the Day

Oxalic Acid Registration

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind north 20 km/h. High 13. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 1. / Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 10.

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