Page June 2010
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This morning I drove to Calgary to see my eye doctor, stopping to see Mike at Global on the way through. I needed more patties. Before I went away a few weeks back, I had put in a few patties on, but decided to reduce the amount so they would not be in the way of splitting, and the dandelion flow was starting. As it turned out, the dandelion flow was a bust for the smaller colonies although the larger ones seemed to get something out of it, and when I checked, all, with few exceptions had eaten their patties completely and nothing was left. Maybe fruit bloom an other blossoms will provide adequate feed now, but I don't want to take a chance.
Meijers came for supper and brought some cells for my splits and some syrup for the light colonies, and picked up their share of the thymol. I'm still figuring out the thymol, but it seems it cost $100 for delivery and $80 for brokerage. Not only that, but the weight seems a bit short from what I ordered. I don't have an invoice, so when I get one, I'll see.
The weather warmed up today and the hives look better than they did yesterday. I also looked more closely for mites and conclude that only a few of the hives are badly afflicted. I have yet to decide about treating for varroa using Apivar. I have been treating for AFB already and the treatments are working well. I am concerned about the collateral effects of varroa, especially when I see some cells with multiple mites.
I have found that not treating for AFB still results in breakdowns and am seeing that splitting and oxalic drizzle may not be enough to manage varroa. As for monitoring, alcohol washes are too destructive to do all the time, and mite drops are the best IMO. Unfortunately, my floors provide too little clearance for easy use of drop boards.
Now that the thymol and the syrup are here, I'm going to mix some up. My previous calculations gave 0.25g / US gallon from the numbers given in the Turkish study, and beekeepers tell me a half to 3/4 g per gallon is good. All the hives have frame feeders, so the job of feeding should be fairly easy.
* * * * *
I dissolved 45g of thymol in a cup or so of isopropyl alcohol and added it to the 60 gallons that Meijers brought yesterday. It seemed to mix in, but I am thinking that some form of mechanical agitation would have been better than the stick I used. Some recommend using lecithin as an emulsifier. I see a slight slick on the surface, and am careful to pour the top bit off each bucket I dip out and stir again often.
I fed most of the hives a (US) gallon and checked again for queens, adding cells where needed. It is amazing how hives can go from looking crappy to filling two boxes in a few days. I had to split another of the expanded polystyrene hives (BeeMax) again. I added pollen patties (Global) and noted how quickly the bees have started on the ones I gave yesterday.
I looked more closely at the varroa situation and am less concerned. It seems that one hive has quite a few mites in drone brood and I did see one on an adult bee (maybe one I liberated), but I am not seeing many in the others. My main concern now is that the hives may get away from me and produce honey, limiting my treatment options if the levels get up. I am going to have to return home several times to continue splitting, it seems.
My method of looking for varroa right now has been opening drone brood. I am starting to understand that in most hives varroa reproduction is quite limited until drones are produced, but then the mites can be found in concentrations in some of the drone brood. (See Kim's comments on BEE-L below).
* * * * *
If I were a commercial operator, I would do what all the smart larger operators have done, drop in some Apivar and be done with worrying for another six months. I'd also do an alcohol wash, but I have to admit that looking at the splits the other day, I felt that taking 300 bees from some would be too big a sacrifice. Today, most hives looked good enough to spare some.
* * * * *
Having the golden Italian packages in a yard of mostly black bees has been interesting. I am finding some young blonde bees in hives quite a ways down the line from the packages and facing different directions.
* * * * *
I learned today that my BeeMax boxes will not be here for another two weeks. Apparently, they are just leaving Quebec about now. I'm already having to split into wood boxes. I suppose that is OK, since I have so many, but this spring the bees look twice as good in the BeeMax hives.
On right are the twenty boxes I received in September of 2002. That year I transferred the bees over to the BeeMax in October. The resulting wintering was poor. I later learned that the bees do best if they have been in the BeeMax boxes for several months before winter and that transferring after July gets increasingly riskier.
Today is cooler and overcast, with periods of rain. I have the books to finish and deliver to the accountant and several hives to finish feeding and checking. Tomorrow, I need to scrape and check enough brood chambers to add another to each of the forty ort so hives before I go. Hopefully, that will be enough space to prevent swarming until I get back. At that time, I'll split again.
I finished the hive checks and feeding and used the last of the cells. They had been lying on an excluder on top of a strong hive and under a pillow. I noticed one had emerged, but the rest were still fine. I could see the queens wiggling through the JayZee BeeZee cups.
The day dawned bright and clear. Finally, some nice weather again. We need it for the virgin queens being mated these days.
I have a list of odds and ends to deal with before I fly out tomorrow at 6AM. I took care of the bees yesterday, but should have some more boxes ready to go on for when I return.
I had planned to add thirds to most of the hives since when I got home last year there were swarms, but in the end I just used the dead-outs to put thirds on several hives with the most activity at the bottom drill hole and altered my plan to return earlier than I had originally thought. I have the BeeMax boxes to assemble and paint if they ever come, and the timing should be good for another split. I was a little late last year.
Last winter we had ordered more coal than would fit into the bin and the trucker dumped it on the ground. he did a horrible job, spreading it over some distance. We covered it, but at some point, it had to be shoveled up and wheel-barrowed to the bin. I managed to get that done.
Then, since our neighbour sold his place and we had some wraps and pillows stored in an old granary on his place, I pulled them out, since we have not met the new owner and I'm guessing one day soon that they will burn it down since the roof leaks and it is full of pigeons. By the time I had done all the odds and ends, I was too tired to pack and suffering allergies from the dust.
I got up at 2:45 and was packed and out the door by 4:01. When I arrived in Airdrie at 4:42, my cab was waiting and I made the airport exactly an hour before liftoff. I hate to cut things that close, but I also need my sleep.
Three hours, half a bad movie and a good sleep later, later, I am sitting in the Exchange Cafe at Pearson writing this.
By 3, I expect to be on the tarmac in Sudbury, greeted by my friend from high school years and cousin by marriage., Bill.
I must confess that I did not raise any cells myself this spring, but depended on my good friends to supply some they raised from selected stock, including Saskatraz. I found that I had an AFB problem last year, so think that my genetics need bolstering from outside.
I arrived on schedule in Sudbury and was met by Bill. We went looking for an antenna for the Rocket Hub and learned that Rogers will soon serve the camp mat Whitefish Falls. That has been a long-time dream.
I got to Mom's and checked out my van. It started just fine.
I visited Linda in the morning, then had lunch with Mom at Guylaine's. From there, I went to Bill's and we took a good hike up the hill for some exercise. I have been somewhat inactive lately and need to get moving more. I was stiff, but the hike loosened me up a bit. After that, we drove out to see Steve, a ham friend of Bill's. They are getting ready for Field Day.
I had supper at Mom's and we watched "The Family Man" on TV. I generally enjoy Nicholas Cage and this movie was no exception. I generally avoid TV, since the adds are annoying. We mute them and chat. I don't se ads often, so glanced to see what they ran, and noted that the set of ads run at each break seemed exactly the same. Hmmm. I suspect that TV and TV ads are at a crossroads.
One of the tricks used by used-car dealers and used-parts dealers is to clear-coat lenses to make them brighter. Over time, the clear coat can darken and become opaque. The headlight lens shown to the left was quite fogged and took a lot of wet sanding with 600 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper. The sanding leaves it a bit scuffed, so another thin coat of clear coat restores the lens to like-new. Using 1200 grit and buffing compound after coarse sanding can polish the plastic, but most just spray on some clear-coat to add shine and fill in the tiny scuffs from sanding. It works like magic.
This was the first time I have ever done this job and it just happened that the first lens I tied had to be one that was very heavily layered with varnish. You can see the gobs of build-up in the first photo. This one took an hour or more and is still very slightly milky, but the other had not been as heavily coated and came out like-new with only a half-hour of work. After doing the second, I realize that the first one was more built-up than I thought and that I could have sanded more, but at the time, I did not know. Maybe another time. For now, this is a 1000% improvement.
I also found the air conditioning had
lost charge and got some supplies. When I went to
charge the system, I discovered that the gauges I bought at
Canadian Tire had another damaged O-ring and lost a can of
gas. Cheap junk.
I see Alberta is not getting ideal queen mating weather. Temps over 20 degrees and clear skies are best, but I assume the job will get done regardless. Hopefully the queens will be fully mated and we won't have duds or early supersedure. We see what we are up against when we raise our own queens or use cells. We don't get to see how good or bad the mating conditions were when we buy queens in a box.
Linda comes over this morning, so I have some time at the keyboard.
The Rocket Hub is working well. I have gone through my aps and find I can live with under 50 MB a day if there are no major updates and I don't play with my Linux installs. Yesterday, I used a little over 25 MB and I used Skype a bit.
Rogers claims to provide usage info on the custom web page, but plain and simple, it misreports usage and is utterly useless. I use Networx to keep track of my own usage. I have no idea how Rogers can bill by usage when they cannot even report it accurately and in anything like real time. I recommend Networx, which is a free ap. Networx tells me that I have used 5MB so far this morning, and I did to M$ updates. This is Tuesday, so I imagine more are coming...
Another useful utility where bandwidth costs money is Netlimiter. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like a dream come true. I always worry about what might be using my bandwidth. This ap seems to give the user tight control over aps like Skype and can lock it down tight.
The morning dawned rainy. Bill and I planned to go cycling. I think that is off and that this will be a good day to do some catching up.
Back at home (see the weather report above courtesy Environment Canada), I see that the cool, wet weather continues. There is some good hot bee weather in sight, though. When the temps get up to 20°C and above, the bees start to really pull ahead.
In the afternoon, Bill and I drove out to Saint Charles to visit a ham friend of Bill's. We reprogrammed his VHF/UHF rig and tinkered with his computer, then returned to the city. John has quite an antenna farm, with wires strung everywhere. We are admiring his crank-up tower at right.
Mom and I went out to Mr. Prime Rib for supper, then I went to bed early, around eight. I've been feeling under the weather for a few weeks and figured I need to get more sleep.
Larry is one of my favourite speakers. Too bad I won't be around to attend. It seems I am also going to miss EAS this year, too, due to time conflicts.
I've been moaning about bandwidth, and today
OpenOffice.org and a few other
updates ran me over 1/3 GB. I really should not obsess so much
about the cost, since an extra GB is only $5, and I can't even get a
beer for that most places. A GB usually lasts much longer
(unless I start downloading operating systems or movies) and is not
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