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Jack Welch 

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Friday January 1st, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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We left Jean's around noon and did a quick grocery pickup in Red Deer, then returned home. 

My plan had been to finish wrapping the bees, since the weather is predicted to get colder, but the winds were strong and snow was drifting.  I decided a colder, but calmer and sunnier day would be better.

I watched old episodes of Peter Gunn in the evening.

Saturday January 2nd, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I got out and wrapped the rest of the hives today.  The one I expected to die has died. The rest look fine.  I did not bother with the ones that showed AFB (see note).  They won't survive and I'll deal with them later.  We have had exceptionally cold weather and drifting snow, though, this year and it has held me back.  We have been in the deep freeze since the beginning of December.

Some hives were drifted in by snow before I wrapped them.  Dead bees on the snow are not abnormal at this time of year, although this hive (right) has more than I like to see.

The temperature is as warm as we can expect for a while (if we can trust the weather guessers) -- minus fourteen Celsius (approx. 7 degrees F). 

Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit > Chart  Calculator

I like to finish wrapping by the beginning of winter, so I am a week or two late, but hive wraps do not make much difference until late winter and early spring when the bees are older and fewer and brood is expanding. Our climate chart is at left (click it to enlarge) and shows our normals and wide annual temperature ranges.

 The pictures below are thumbnails.  Click each for a larger view. 

An auger hole iced up by bee breath
(expanded polystyrene hive).
Unwrapped wooden triple-storey hives. Note auger holes for flight and ventilation Wrapped wooden double-storey hives.
Note openings for auger holes

Expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) hives: Above left is the only shot in this group other than the one on the left immediately below, showing an expanded polystyrene hive (made by Betterbee and by Swienty).  Expanded polystyrene hives are featured on all shots of the scale hives on diary pages, though, since I have four of them on the scale.  There are a few more scattered around my beeyard.  I don't wrap them, since they are well-insulated all year.

Wooden hives: It was the wooden hives which needed attention today.  All the rest of the shots are of my wooden hives, which were, at the end of the day, wrapped.  The wraps only cover the top two stories, no matter how tall the hive, and that seems to be sufficient.

More details on our wraps and wrapping from Selected Topics:

  1. Our Winter Wraps (1)(2)(3), (4)

  2. a Bee Culture magazine article I wrote in 2002 (PFD)

 The pictures below are thumbnails.  Click each for a larger view. 

Top bars in an expanded polystyrene hive with lid and pillow removed A little frost outside the cluster area.
(Unwrapped wooden hive)
A little frost outside the cluster area.
(Wrapped wooden hive)

Here (above) are some shots showing the frost around clusters of happy, healthy bees.  Since the bees are now up against an insulated pillow and the water is not above the cluster, but out to the sides, it is not a problem, and can be handy to help liquefy honey as it melts.

Above are two close-in shots taken moments apart of one of the same wintering clusters in an unwrapped hive just after the lid and pillow was lifted.  Outside temperature is minus 14 degrees Celsius.  (-14 Celsius degrees = 6.8 Fahrenheit ). Click pictures for a larger image.  Minutes later, after the pictures were taken, the cluster will have  expanded about 1/3 and the bees will get more active, then settle again if the disturbance does not continue.

Maybe I should explain that I use plastic pillows containing a 1" sheet of batting year-round under telescoping lids and do not use hard inner covers at all.

Picture #1 below, left is a shot of a pillow I removed for a moment from a hive I was wrapping that shows some frost.  Yes, that is ice, and there is more on the top bars shown above.  It amounts to only an ounce or two at most, though, and does not seem to bother the bees.

1. Ice outside cluster area.  on a pillow underside, (Cluster was/is located up against pillow) 2. Underside of telescoping outer lid with 1" rim nailed around the  inside edge. 3. Looking down - a pillow on a wrapped hive that has a rim  on the outer lid as shown. The pillow is not compressed in centre 4. A pillow on another hive.  This outer lid had no rim and the pillow is compressed, reducing insulation and space underneath

The two pictures at the right (#3 & #4) are hives with the wrap on, and a pillow tucked in over the top bars before several more pillows (optional) and the telescoping lid (#2) is placed on top and weighted with two four-pound bricks.

Shots #3 & #4 show the difference that having a 1" rim around the inside of a telescoping cover can make in the way the pillow is compressed.  The pillow at left had a lid with no rim.  The one at centre was under a lid with a rim.  The rim, nailed into a lid can be seen at  right).

The left scale on the above chart reads in pounds for weights, and in degrees Celsius for temperature plots.  The right scale reads in pounds.  See chart legend for more details.
Click on chart to enlarge

Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit

Without the rim, the pillow is pressed down in the centre as well as the edges and leaves no room for the insulation to fluff up, little room for patties, and makes it difficult for bees to cross the top bars under the pillow.  With the rim, the pillow is weighted only around the edge and can loft up to allow all these things -- plus there is a positive seal around the outer edge which can be very important in a windy, cold spring.

Perhaps I should mention here that many neighbouring commercial beekeepers use a sheet of canvas as an inner cover and others use a chunk of carpet.  Some are also now using pillows like me. 

I don't know many who use the wooden inner covers that are so often sold to hobbyists.  They are simply too much handling and make a poor seal to boot.

I also checked the scale weight and recorded the latest data on the chart (right).  Feed consumption is quite steady.  There is a little fluctuation.  Some of that fluctuation may be due to the bees raising and lowering their metabolism to shift or do other tasks, and some is definitely due to errors in reading the scale.  Wind, for example, presents a pressure on the scale which can move the reading a pound or so, and one pound is all that we see some days as the entire change from the previous day.  Of course we try to make sure the wind and other factors do not taint the data, but it is an old scale and a little sticky, too, so we have to fiddle.  I think it is accurate within a half-pound -- usually.

Randy has been interested in my results, and suggested I disturb the scale hives deliberately to see if we can observe a consumption spike, so I lifted all the lids of the four-pack, looked in for a few moments, put them on again, and then thumped each lid quite heavily twice with one of the 4-pound bricks I use to keep the lids down.  The bees did buzz very loudly and they loosened up the cluster quite noticeably, with a few bees coming out to investigate.

I checked the weights several hours after and saw no change.  When I pulled honey back on Halloween, I had noticed a very pronounced change even two hours after the disturbance. (see chart)

Note: The AFB hives all came from splitting one hive into three last spring and summer, as far as I can tell.

The splits raised their own queens and apparently the stock was poor in ability to handle AFB.  The splits were quick walk-away splits made without inspection, and I'm guessing there was sufficient scale in the frames to cause a breakdown in the splits as well as the parent hive.  I haven't used drugs for a few years.

Good stock should be able to clean up and prevent AFB.  These bees did not, so I need to take a look at my genetics this coming spring.

Sunday January 3rd, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I got out the snow blower again and cleaned up the yard after the drifting and light snow of the past several days.  I cleared the drive and also  a path for the coal truck, since I think we need a load soon and it's better to get it now while I'm around and the snow is under control than later when the place could be drifted in.

Part of the job was fixing the machine.  When our neighbour did some work in the yard, he left some small, fist-sized chunks of cement and rocks around.  They got lost in the grass and I found one today.  The machine made some unusual noises, so I took a good look.  Several augers segments were amazingly bent.  Did it all happen just now, or was some of it the result of that tangle with an electrical cord a while back?  Don't know, but it is fixed now.

Back in the 1950s, drifts got as high as the roofs of buildings and we had a big snow year in about 1974.  I think we could see that again this year, judging by the amount of snow so far and the number of times I have had to clear snow.  We had many winters in the last twenty years when we never had to shovel and the ground was brown most of the time.

In the afternoon, I went out to the scale hives, expecting full well that the weight change would be in the normal range.  In fact, I almost skipped going to check.  (Sometimes, for various reasons, I miss a few days and average the result.  This causes flat spots in the chart which may mask fluctuations a bit, but I am not sure some of the fluctuation is not scale or operator error).

When I slid the weights, I was surprised to see that the hives have dropped a full three pounds, or 3/4 lb per hive!  That is a big change and goes to show what a fairly minor disturbance does to the bees.  That would normally be enough feed for two or three days used up in 24 hours.

Monday January 4th, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Tomorrow I attend the Bluewater Cruising Association meeting in the evening, then catch the red-eye to Sudbury on my way to Orlando and the 2010 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow.

Today my big activity of the day is to walk over to the scale and see if the spike has ended.  (Maybe I should call it the "Hockey Stick"?)

Allen, Is that all frost in the center photo, or left over protein
patty? Did you add the pillow beforehand, or when you wrapped? Seems
like an awful lot of moisture. Can't say I've seen anything like
that. Maybe I'd better dig some out of the snow...Burlington got 33"
yesterday...and look. Not easily done, most have nuc boxes on top.

We're still in the deep-freeze here, but that should end later this week.  Unfortunately, I'll be gone when things melt, but maybe I can get Ellen to lift a lid and take a picture of what happens to the ice in the hive when it warms up.  I mention that in regards this BEE-L message.

Well, I walked over with Zippy and took a look.  Guess what?  The scale is only down a pound, and there was no wind, so I am sure that the readings are dead-on. 

The spike is over, and this reading actually takes us below trend again, and I have to suppose that the bees accomplished some tasks while revved up and were able to quiet down even more than before the disturbance.  Either that, or they just overshoot.  We'll see tomorrow.

This ongoing clip of several days out of my diary is available as a separate URL lifted out of the diary so people don't have to hunt around, but is also included in the continuing diary.  I'll continue this isolated clip as a separate article at this permanent URL only as long as the current disturbance experiment goes on, probably tomorrow, then continue in the regular pages.

*             *             *             *             *

I'm going to miss my comfortable seat here at Mission Control.  The tiny screen on the right is all I will have with me for the next month or so.

Tuesday January 5th, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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We had a few inches of snow, so before I left at six in the evening, I cleared the driveway again.  At seven-thirty, I was in Calgary at the Bluewater meeting listening to a talk by a gentleman who sailed single-handed from Mexico to the Marquesas in a C&C 30.  At nine-thirty, I was in Airdrie to leave my car and by ten I was at YYC, enjoying their free Internet.   I did not get the hives weighed today.

Wednesday January 6th, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Above is the weather at home.  Here in Sudbury, it is similar, except that home is going to plus ten in a few days,

I landed in Toronto at six-thirty and had breakfast, then caught the DH-3 to Sudbury and after a ride in the shuttle, I was at Mom's by ten-fifteen.  A week from today, I'll be in Orlando.

I went out to start my van, brushed and chiselled off all the snow, and found the battery frozen.  I took it out and put it a sink of hot water and put the charger on.  Soon it was taking 10 Amps from the charger.  I put it back in the van and the van started.  We'll see if the battery is ruined or if it will hold a charge.

Using Windows Vista or Windows 7?  Create a folder on your desktop and rename it to;
(Just cut and paste the above string)

Open the folder and...

Below is the latest scale hives reading (Today's)

Thursday January 7th, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I spent the day dealing with my Rogers Portable Internet and with getting my flight, parking and car for Florida set up.

As for the Portable Internet, I have had this system for about four years now.  I use it when away from home in Ontario or B.C.  It is basically a microwave transceiver and modem which plugs into 110 V and gets its connection Internet from Rogers towers via radio. 

It has worked well when it worked, but periodically been problematic and required calls to "tech support", who then, after a bunch of fooling around, told the tower it was OK to talk to my modem.  Some database problem, I guess. 

At any rate, last night I had to call in and they finally got me connected.  This morning, it was not working, so I called and after the techs could do nothing, I talked to "Customer Retention".  That was a joke.  She actually thought that the solution was for me to close my account.  I explained that I pay for the account for months when it is not in use just so I can have it at times like this and I don't need my account closed, I need someone to fix the problem.  After saying she could do nothing, then offering to pay half the cost of a new modem (the techs said it was now obsolete), she then offered to credit me the whole price.  I agreed and set out to the Rogers store to get one.

There are none to be found, and I discovered that we have turned a page.  It is time to rethink Everything. Why do I need a computer?  What sort of Internet should I get?  There are drastically new products out there.  This affects not only my personal hardware and subscription decisions, but also which direction I go with web maintenance, hosting and development.  After all, who is going to look at what using what format?

I was coming to the conclusion already that it is coming to the time for a quantum leap, having moved down to a netbook last summer and having found that my son, a software developer does  not have a computer at home, but used his iPhone for everything.  My three-year cell phone contract is also up about now, and although Ellen's is like-new, mine is getting shabby and the front screen  is snafu.

I returned home and whacked the modem around a bit and got it to work.  Maybe the problem is too many airport baggage handlers?

Anyone know why, with all the technology at our disposal, all airport carousels are designed so people have to stand and watch their baggage come out of a door, gently cross a conveyor, then speed down a ramp, smash into a rail, then be crushed by the monster heavy hard case bag right behind it?

Friday January 8th, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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After checking email, I dropped off my outboard at a local ham's for a tune-up, then joined Mom for lunch at Guylaine's.  After that, I continued my Internet/cellphone shopping.

Saturday January 9th, 2010
January past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Temperatures are rising in Alberta and will go above freezing for a sustained period for the first time in over a month.  We'll be watching to see what that does to feed consumption.  I'm assuming the hives will take advantage of the respite to get active and readjust.

I spent the afternoon with Bill visiting a ham friend of his and the evening updating and generally straightening out his computer.

I installed VirtualBox on this Acer A0751h netbook and installed Ubuntu's netbook version into it.  The install went well and the interface was interesting, but after I did an update, it failed to start and I blew it away.  I then installed the full version and did the same and found it stalled the same way.  Maybe I did not leave the first one long enough, because the full install eventually did start and runs fine

Ellen checked the scale hives and we see a huge jump in consumption with the warmer weather arriving.  This the first real day out of the month-long deepfreeze

Ellen Says: The weight was at 69 this afternoon, 3 P.M. The high today was +5. A few bees were out flying around. There was a quite a bit of dampness on the hives yesterday even tho' I had brushed them off. Some of the loss could be attributed to evaporation as they were looking drier today.

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