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Monday February 1st, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Tomorrow, I fly home. 

Today, Linda came over in the morning and Bill and I went to the Shopping centre in the afternoon to look into Internet and cell phone plans.  I have discovered that Bell dropped my promotions, including my long distance plan and are charging me a high rate.  IMO, they are simply crooks.  They are very difficult to reach, and everyone tells me something different.  I had personally gone into the Bell store before going to the US to get assurances that my plan and charges would not change when my contract expired.  I was assured by the staff at the Bell corporate store that they would not, but found out differently when I phoned to drop the US plan I added before going to Florida.  More to follow...

Tuesday February 2nd, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Bill drove me to the airport and I had an uneventful flight home.  Mike picked me up and we had a good visit.  I then attended the Calgary Bluewater meeting and was home by ten.

Wednesday February 3rd, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Thursday February 4th, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Friday February 5th, 2010
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2009 Beekeeping StatisticsAlberta has about 40% of the hives in Canada.  It also produces 42% of the honey and what percentage of the pollination?

I've spent two days cleaning up the earlier diary pages, since I am hearing that many read them and find them useful.  There is lots to do, and I have paying web work to do, but, this is more fun.

The IPM Workshop is coming up next week and I am looking forward to going and seeing all my friends.

Saturday February 6th, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I broke my own rule and posted to BeeSource again today.

Default Re: New Research on the Bee Loss Front

> A post from BeeSource goes: Allen Dick is a retired commercial beekeeper who used to run 4000+ colonies. He has INTENTIONALLY put AFB infected combs into healthy hives. www.honeybeeworld.com . Can you tell me where you write about this? I can't find it.

Pete dropped me a line, so I thought I'd come by and comment. I don't often post here since I do not like to have my comments edited afterwards to say what others would say, or find acceptable, but I will give it a shot.

My diary goes back a decade, and things have changed a lot over that time. So have we all. What was once accepted is now looked at in a different way. PPM were measurable and 1 PPM was considered vanishingly small, and now we look a 1/2 PPB and wonder if it might have effects.

Routine prophylactic medication and chemical treatment was the accepted way to deal with problems like AFB and mites, particularly in commercial outfits such as I was running at the time. Now, we are into IPM and improvements in genetics are providing protection as well.

What is appropriate in a migratory commercial operation is not necessarily applicable or appropriate for a small, stationary operation.

So, I guess my answer to many of these questions is "It depends".

I don't think I actually wrote what was in the the above quote in so many words, but to give the idea context, I will point out that I often say that I did not worry about the odd cell of AFB back when I was commercial or worry about mixing in the frames from hives which were in hives that had shown breakdown. I never scorched or disinfected boxes or floors and lids.

At the time I was using oxytet (OTC), and before that, sulfa as a prophylactic treatment in spring and fall.

At one time I even intentionally purchased infected equipment and cleared it up with OTC. During and after that time, I saw, maybe 3 to 4% AFB, tapering down to effectively zero over time.

After I retired, I quit medicating proactively and saw a few cells occasionally. In the Kona Carniolan descended stock, they did not spread and always cleared up, but in descendants of some Australian Italian packages I had, the AFB became a problem.

Note: Please do not take this as an indictment of *all* Australian packages, since that was a decade or so ago, and much has changed since. I can't even recall the actual source of the stock. Italians, generally, were noted for being more AFB susceptible, possibly due to larger brood areas.

I was down to three hives a few years back, and split back up to 9 last year, then 35 this year. I was given 3 queens last year by friends who are pretty careful to obtain hygienic and quality stock, but otherwise my stock is descended from whatever I had. Maybe some of that susceptible stock was in there.

This year, for the first time in years, I had three breakdowns. I was away in the spring, and had my wife and daughter do some walk-away splits. I gather we split a hive which proved to have susceptible (degenerate) stock and I later split the stronger half of it using the same technique again.

Thus, I am assuming that the three hives were actually one problem hive, split in three.

For the coming year, I am planning to be more careful in my splitting in order to increase numbers. In recent years, I was just splitting to avoid making honey.

I also plan to inject better stock, however, I have no intention to cull equipment beyond removing any obvious scale, although I understand some stock can thrive in the presence of scale and clean it out without medication.

The main issue is that there is a cost for the bees to do so, since the scale is hard for bees to remove, and a major contamination source, leading to a waste of bee time and energy at a time of year when all effort should go into building up. It is much easier for me to remove the scale for them.

I am assured by some who know these things that some, like the Primorsky (AKA "Russian") can manage quite well without meds, and I intend to be sure to obtain some queens or cells of a stock with superior resistance to brood disease. I have not decided which stock yet, and my decision will partially depend on what friends decide due to the convenience factor. Recommendations are welcome.

Although walk-away splits are great for a quick split in the short run, over time, if it is the sole method used, the stock is likely to lose resistance degenerate) unless inspected and selected. This is not a problem where prophylactic treatments are routine, but is a problem in a chemical-free regime.

The walk-away method, while quick for the beekeeper, is also a slower way to build up than methods using mated queens or quality cells.

The number of successive splits possible is much higher using more intensive management.

While walk-away splits do not require beekeeping skills or examination of frames, the other methods do, and at this point, I plan to do at least one frame by frame inspection to ensure that the AFB is not re-emerging and the stock is able to handle it.

So, there you have it. A true story you likely won't hear elsewhere, and which causes apoplexy in some doctrinaire bee inspectors. (Worked for me unexpectedly one night at EAS when I innocently related my tale in a meeting).

I have been pushing for more and better access in Canada to some of the hygienic and disease/mite resistant stock and it is surprising how a small, steady pressure can result in huge changes over time. More and more people are picking up the refrain and more and more people are realizing that there are bees out there that can resist the scourges and produce well.

Net of costs and effort, these stocks can provide superior returns to the beekeeper and less worry. Of course, the price of security is eternal vigilance and monitoring is important. Some interventions may still be required, but occasionally and topically, rather that generally and routinely.

The one problem with using genetics instead of drugs, barring cloning, is that there is always variability and some individuals as a percentage will prove susceptible, scaring the beekeeper and maintaining a reservoir of the disease or pest.

A different mindset and set of tolerances is required. With chemicals applied properly, 100 out of 100 results will be roughly identical. With genetics, at this point, some number less than 100 will always be observed over time.

Would I deliberately insert scale into my hives now? No.

Would I go ahead and use the equipment and brood frames of feed from an infected hive? Yes, but I would not advise it for those with limited experience or bees which are not known to be resistant.

Don't try this at home, kids.
Default Re: Meeting Bee Nutritional Requirements

I have been glancing over this thread and have a few comments:

* The Diamond V yeast motioned will IMO not be a good yeast for bees no matter what you do. It has a very low protein level and consequently can be assumed to have -- in all likelihood -- a high level of non-nutrients or anti-nutrients. Best to buy the yeast from a beekeeper or bee supply, not an animal feed store. Farm animals and chickens have entirely different needs from insects.

* Suitable yeasts have typical protein levels well over 40%. Make sure the supplies are fresh. Do not use flours more than a few months old.

* The reason for seeking high protein levels in yeasts and flours is that protein is the major ingredient required and a high protein level means less of all the other things we do not need, and which can depending on amount, be harmful or just useless filer like fibre, ash, esters, non-digestible sugars, starches, etc.

* Protein level in the finished product is not as meaningful if we use high protein ingredients, since the dilutants are ones we add and know to bee nutrients like sucrose or glucose/fructose and water.

* Oils, including essential ones can be toxic when fed in more than low amounts. One important oil popularly used has been shown to be toxic when present in amounts over over 2%. Oils also become rancid quickly and become toxic if the supplement is not used immediately.

* The idea that 20% protein levels in supplements are better than lower levels comes from pollen studies where lower protein pollens were found to be much less effective bee food than higher protein pollens. This stands to reason in pollens, since the lower the protein percentage, the more non-protein (and probably non-nutrient or anti-nutrient) components need be consumed to get the required absolute amount of protein. These non-protein components may, worst case, be toxic and best case, a filler.

* In supplements, the non-protein ingredients (beyond whatever rides along in the yeasts or flours) is sugar or water and we know these are nutrients which bees will be consuming anyhow, not junk in the diet.

* Therefore, in supplements, the percentage of protein in the final mix is more an indication of value for money than anything else. Example: A 20% mix at $ 2.00 per pound should compare to a 15% mix at $1.50 per pound in efficacy, assuming that each has the same profile of non-protein ingredients and the water and sugar levels account for the difference. Keep in mind though that sugar is not free, so maybe the 15% mix should be valued up at $1.75, say.

* In Florida, I spent time recently with several beekeepers and a bee nutrition expert of note. Interestingly, they are using a high sugar patty to encourage fast consumption due to hive beetle. The mix is 80% sugar and 20% yeast, plus whatever water is needed. They are quite happy with this.

* I also spoke to Hack last summer at EAS and he sent me his formula with permission to post it. For those not on BEE-L, here it is. This is not a recommendation.

Hack's Protein Patty Recipe

1. 125 lbs. Sugar (Add water and keep wet.
Should be a little thicker than pancake batter.)
2. Add either 3 cups citric acid or 4 quarts of lemon
juice, (this is to put the ph at 4 ½ to 5)
3. Add 1 cup Honey Bee Healthy (optional , but we prefer)
4. Add ½ bag Vitamins & Electrolytes (we use Russell’s)
(2 oz. worth)
5. Add 10 lbs. pollen (optional)
(keep the mix wet)
6. Mix in 25 lbs. of Inedible Dries eggs
7. Add 3 ½ cups Canola Oil
8. Mix in 24 lbs. (2 gallons) Honey
9. Finish by adding 50 lbs. Brewtech Brewers Yeast and water until it has the consistency you desire.

Sunday February 7th, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I spent the day catching up on the books and reading.  It was windy and cold out, with hoar frost loading the trees.

Monday February 8th, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I'm off to Edmonton today for the 2010 Integrated Pest Management Workshop.  Many of us go the day before to be there in the morning, rather than finding ourselves driving in a blizzard or fog in a dark early morning and arriving at the last minute.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

The drive was uneventful.  I stopped along the way to visit Jean and McKenzie, then arrived in Edmonton around 7:30.  There were few in sight when I arrived, but pretty soon, there was a crowd of beekeepers in the bar and we were all having great time.

Tuesday February 9th, 2010
February past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Figure 3. Pie charts showing the proportional distribution of adult female mites in Primorsky (P) and domestic (D) colonies through time. Black: phoretic mites on adult bees/total mites, White: mites infesting worker brood/total mites, Gray: mites infesting drone brood/total mites. Colony numbers are shown for each period and stock.

I'm listening to Jamie Ellis talking about IPM.

While I listen, I am looking up references.  Here is one of interest:Resistance to the Parasitic Mite Varroa destructor in Honey Bees from Far-Eastern Russia

I am reproducing several excerpts her because they are so very interesting.

Note the differences in phoretic mite levels and total mite counts.

Dr. Ellis is a dynamic and very informative speaker.

He commented on the continuing decline in beehive numbers in the USA. (Chart left).

It seems he is doing some very important work into the sub-lethal effects of some common pesticides.  The slide at right shows the effects on adult emergence when Imidacloprid in minute amounts is included in the larval food.  Previous work, apparently, has not followed the larvae through to emergence.

The charts at left show LD-50 curves for various chemicals.  They are in PPM, while the other work is in PPB.

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