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Swarm cells!

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Sunday June 20th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I have an idea.  I am trying out highlighting the bee-related parts in brown so that readers who don't care about my personal stories can skim through more easily.

This a perfect Muskoka morning -- calm, sunny, misty, with crows calling, but we are on the road to Sudbury.

Right about now, Southern Alberta is being hit with heavy rain and flooding and the Trans-Canada is closed.  The railway is apparently washed out as well near Seven Persons.  I wonder how many hives are floating around.  I inspected hives in that area last fall.

I suppose I'll be inspecting again this fall.  I didn't get much done this spring.  I made myself available for almost three weeks, but the weather was just too unsuited to inspection.  I ran out of time, but did get some done and I think, maybe helped several people avoid potential disaster.   Last fall, I had to cut my summer short and head back to Alberta to get to work right after Labour Day.  I loved the opportunity and had a great time visiting beekeepers and looking at bees.  From wintering results I've heard from across Alberta, I know that we did a lot of good.  I suspect  our findings may have saved several beekeepers I visited tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mom and I drove up to Sudbury this morning, visited Linda and had lunch.  After lunch I had a rest, and slept three hours.  I think the Amoxil is really working since my ears have cleared, but penicillin drugs can make one tired.   Also, I had a headache yesterday, which continued into today and may have been an influence. 

I realize, too that I have lost the cap on a molar which had a root canal a few years back, but which has bothered me very slightly since on occasion.  I need to get it done, along with some other dental work, so need to take a trip to San Diego soon.  I wonder if the tooth is slightly infected.  It is on that side that I have the slight headaches, and perhaps the ear infection is related.

Headaches are unusual for me, but I have had several slight headaches in the past several months.  I mentioned this to the doctor and she offered to send me for a cat scan.  That was a surprise.  Wow!  I said I'd wait, since I have thought they may have to do with the ear infection.  I'm hoping they will pass when that clears up.  Who knows?  A business partner of mine recently had a brain tumor which required extensive surgery in two passes.  Last I heard, he is fine, but these things can happen.

After I woke up, and that took a while, too, I retuned a few items to stores, had supper and visited Harri, to drop off the cottage outboard, which is in sad shape and needs some TLC.

I'm planning to head south again tomorrow.

Monday June 21st 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Summer Solstice - First Day of Summer

It took me until noon to get my boat hooked up and on the road behind the van.  Six hours later, it was tied up at Pine Hill and I was back at the cottage, alone this time.  The day was hot and sunny, but the van pulled the load without a problem.

I confirmed that the van's fuel consumption doubles with the boat behind, rising to around 20 liters per 100 km.  That figures out to about $20 per 60 miles or 30 cents a mile.  At 90 km, the economy is better than at higher speeds.  I've contemplated pulling the boat to Florida in winter and wonder about the 75 MPH speeds on some of the Interstates.  I don't suppose that would be a problem if the weather is cool and there are no long hills.  The previous owner pulled this boat and family and gear down there and back with a small pickup truck, I understand.  From Sudbury, the trip would be 1,800 miles one way. Hmmm.  That is a lot of gas and a lot of driving.  I drove 120 miles today and I was tired.  Of course, the driving was the easy part.  Preparing and launching was the big job

Tonight is warm and silent here up here in the trees on the hill over the River.  In the distance voices can be heard occasionally and the lights on the buoys marking the channel flash red and green.  A few cottage and boathouse lights can be seen through the trees.  I look for fireflies and don't see any.

In fact, there are few bugs this year.  There were almost no blackflies earlier and I don't see many mosquitoes now.  Usually they are thick at dusk, but no9t this year.   The birds are strangely silent, too, except for crows.  We have not seen any deer in the woods either. 

Blackflies are widely thought to be the principal pollinators of wild blueberries hereabouts, but there are reports of bumper crops of wild blueberries on Tobin Island in spite of the lack of flies.

This was a time of year I enjoyed most when we were keeping bees on a large scale.  Often I was out on these warm June nights with the wild skies lit from the north by a sun which set only for a few hours.  Often we were moving bees and up at 2 Am to get the load delivered before sunrise and the heat of the day  If we could get there by 8 or so, we lost very few bees from the open hives.  We seldom netted the loads.  Entrances were open.

That is all a decade in the past, now.   You can read about it all here.  It makes me weary just to think about it now, but, man was it fun at the time!  What a life!

Tuesday June 22nd 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Today was a largely wasted day.  For some reason, I did not feel like doing much.  The fact that it was pouring rain outside may have been a factor.  I did get some research done on various topics, including maintenance of our boat.

I also received a reply from Swienty and it seems they can ship a container-load to Calgary for a reasonable rate - € 3,52 each.  In small numbers, the boxes are € 12.32, so we'll if they can offer a low enough price in  a large volume to be competitive.  With the Euro dropping against the C$, and currently around $1.28, this might just be practical, if there is no duty.  I have some enquiries in about that.  The BeeMax are now quoted at $17.65 + GST FOB Edmonton.

I prefer the Swienty because they are pre-assembled and have a better finish.  My friends also tell me that if a stack of BeeMax are set up for painting and fall over, boxes sometimes break!  They also say that in Europe, with the Swienty boxes, that never happened.

A 40-foot container holds 1,540 boxes.  I don't need quite that many, but my friends may well want at least that many.  I am still waiting on the total price, but it is looking comparable to BeeMax boxes delivered here, and the Swienty boxes come set-up and are of higher quality. 

Anyone interested in sharing a load?  Write me.

Wednesday June 23rd 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

It looks like great weather for bees in Alberta today according to the forecast.  Hot muggy weather suits honey bees just fine; they are tropical insects.  Here in Muskoka, it is cool and overcast.  Hardly inspiring.

I hear my BeeMax boxes have been picked up by Hi-Way 9 and are on their way.  They should be there when I get home.  How long will it take me to assemble the 100?  I suppose it depends on how fancy I get.  Last time, eight years back, I just slapped them together without glue or paint and it took almost no time. 

I've decided glue is a good idea and, having read the recommendations, I see that a clamp of some sort is advised and should stay on for an hour or two until the glue dries.  For 100 boxes, that would be problematic unless they can be stacked under a weight or something of the sort.

 Here is what Betterbee says in their online catalog:

Rounded corners and a special finish make these hive bodies the newest and finest manufactured anywhere in the world. It accepts all wooden frames and plastic frames designed for deep hive bodies. These Hive Bodies are shipped knocked down. The four pieces are easily assembled by hand with no tools.

We suggest gluing with ProMax polystyrene glue for increased strength and longevity. Make sure the special frame rests are put in the slots correctly (like an L with the frame resting on top of the L) so that your bee space is correct. Paint sides and top edge with two coats of high quality exterior latex paint and get ready for a big increase in honey production.

The ultimate, contractor's grade adhesive from Elmer's. Waterproof, super strong, bonds virtually everything! This is the only adhesive we recommend for assembling our new BeeMax hives. Also a superior choice for making your wooden frames and hives super tight and long-lasting. 8 oz. squeeze container. (Ship Wt.: 1 lb.)

Hint: We have found the dovetails on the BeeMax® hives so tight that it was not mandatory to glue them. However, we do have some customers who have done so to increase the strength of the locked corner and gain some more peace of mind. If you do, only a very small amount is needed at each joint as the glue expands as it dries. One bottle will glue about 75 hive bodies. Surround the glued hive bodies or supers with large rubber bands to tighten the joints while the glue dries.

Plastic Frame Rest - Ship Weight: 1 lb. Price : $0.45

Uh-oh!  I see that they list the frame rest separately at 45 cents each.  I sure hope they are included when a box is ordered.  Who would think they need to be ordered separately?  The boxes are useless without them!

*    *    *    *    *    *

The weather turned nice and I raised the mast on my boat.  Then job takes about an hour with all the preparation involved after winter storage.  It got so hot out that I had to change and go for a swim.  The water is still cool, and it did the trick.  I de-carboned the engine and went for a spin in the rain.

Thursday June 24th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Clouds and rain here today.  Sun, cloud and warm weather at home.

I spent the day working on Cloud 9.  I set up the chain hoists and slings and lowered the boat, then filled the cooling system.  Once everything was ready, I cranked the engine and found that it barely turned over.  The battery is old, the starter has been showing signs of weakness in recent years, and perhaps the cylinders have oil in them from the winterizing process, raising compression.  Between these things, the starter finally gave up, so I began removing it.  The bolts are, of course in an impossible location, but I have two out so far.

Microsoft improves its panorama-stitching app: Image size is limited only by the memory in your PC, and the software comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions on the Image Composite Editor info page.  Here is my casual experiment.  It is a composite made from some casual  shots taken at various angles on the veranda of Pine Hill Cottage (see left).  I am sure it could be improved with only a little care and fiddling with the controls and choosing the shots better.  The original is over 6000 pix wide.  I've reduced the versions shown here in size and quality.

Friday June 25th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Six months until Christmas!

Tomorrow, I return home, just in time for some really hot weather.  This great for bees, but hard on people without air-conditioning.

After a half-hour upside down with my head in the bilge, my hands in water and breathing gas fumes, I managed to get the starter motor off Cloud 9.  Maybe it was only ten or fifteen minutes, but it seemed like an hour.

I tidied up the boathouse and adjusted the slings so the boat will be fine for two weeks and closed up the boathouse.  That left me a few hours to organize my stuff and go for a sail. 

I sailed out past the shoal on the main and raised the jib.  After an hour, I was back at the dock and tied up.  I drove to Sudbury, dropped off the battery and starter at Harri's and went home to 1207. 

Saturday June 26th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I fly out of Sudbury at 3:30 this afternoon and should be in Calgary by 10 tonight.  With luck, I'll be home around 11.

Mom drove me to the airport and I boarded the Dash 8 for the 48-minute flight to Toronto.  In Toronto I had two and a half hours to kill.  Time flies, and soon I was airborne again for Calgary.  En Route, I watched "Edge of Darkness", and part of "Wall Street".  Both are worth watching.

While waiting at the airport, I looked out on the tarmac and noticed a lineup of planes waiting while foreign dignitaries attended the G8 and the G20.  The G8 met in Huntsville, a few miles from our cottage, and the G20 was meeting in Toronto as I sat in the airport.  That is Air Force One at left, I believe.

I arrived in Calgary a bit late, but rested, had a visit with Mike, and was home at two minutes after midnight.

Sunday June 27th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I'm home and have ten days to get my bees worked and the various tasks around home discharged.  The coming days are expected to be hot and sunny.

Some time back, I sent some samples of a tank of HFCS I bought in 2002 to a noted researcher who has researched HFCS and its suitability for bees over the past decade.

This syrup was diluted with ~10% sterile (municipal) water at the time of delivery and has been sitting in the sun, the heat and the winter cold since then.  At one time, the syrup was in a 1000 gallon poly tank and a few years back, I stirred the syrup up and pumped it into the current 600-gallon poly tank.

Here is the report:

I had a look at your syrup samples and their did appear to be a stratification through the tank. Interesting because in another sample I just did ... no such stratification was found. It smelled and looked like there was some fermentation at the top. I did not measure alcohol but the sugar content was 51% at the top, 61% in the middle ... and 64% at the bottom.

In terms of "other parameters", the top was probably equivalent to the worst samples of off-spec syrup I have ever tested, the middle was also in what I would call the off-spec range and the bottom was not bad -- the bottom (which had a lot of granulation in the sample you provided) would probably be ok as a spring feed but I would not use it in winter.

Building comb in the feeder

Lots of Bees
but no queen cells

Lots of bees.  The entrance is plugged with them

Brick signals

The BeeMax boxes are here.  The 100 BeeMax Boxes are one pallet. The weight is 350 pounds and the approx dimensions are 42" x 48" x 72".  It seems that the frame rests are included. I see the box.

Our new mower broke a belt tension spring last week.  Ellen phoned around and it seems the dealers don't have one in stock.  I found one today which seems to work, so the mower is back in business.

I mowed the beeyard in preparation for my next task which is to reverse all hives and combine any which are queenless or have poor queens in preparation for splitting before I leave again in ten days.  This hot weather is perfect for reversing, and there is a light flow on, too, so the bees should respond well to the manipulation.  Bees expand best vertically, and placing empty comb above will result in additional brood.  Since the weather is predicted to be hot for five days, there is little risk of chilling in those critical early days from egg to larva to pupa.

I cracked the first hive.  It was marked "Apparently queenless on last inspection.  I gave this hive a cell on June 3rd", or actually in beekeeper shorthand "NQ CJ3", written in marker.  As expected. it had three nice frames 50% or more covered with sealed brood and some open brood around the edge.  The oldest pupae I saw -- I uncapped a few in the centre of the centre frame -- were at the white-eye stage, as expected.  June 27 -June 3 = 24 days.  24 days - ~7 days for hatching and mating = ~18 days. ("~" means approximately)

Worker development is ~21 days, so these pupae are about right on schedule.  In five days or so, the hive should begin to quickly double in population.  I reversed the hive and checked the feed.  They had some pollen patty left, since they had few young bees to consume it.  Old bees generally do not eat pollen, so the hive is packed with pollen, too, ready to explode when the bees start hatching.

As I worked along the row, I looked for queen cells on the bottom bars of the top boxes and saw none.  there were cups, but no active cells.

I continued through half the hives and encountered some strong colonies.  Some needed four boxes to contain the bees.  Oddly, one of the biggest is queenless.

Meijers came for supper. Ruth showed up, too and Shirley came over for a while.

Monday June 28th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I mowed lawn in the morning, catching up from when the mower was not working due to the broken spring.  There is a lot of grass to cut.  With the mower, I have a lot more flexibility than when we hired out the job.  With our own mower, I can cut, then move things onto the cut area and then cut areas which have not been cut for years.

Before lunch, Ellen and I drove to Three Hills to see the accountant and then on up to Heavy Metal Auto Wreckers where I returned some items for credit.  After some grocery shopping, we retuned home and I split the remaining colonies.

Tuesday June 29th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

The forecast has changed now to include chance of rain and thunderstorms as well as cooler weather in the 20s.  This hot spell has been fantastic, though.  When the ambient temperatures approach brood nest temperature, even the weaker colonies can catch up.

I went out early this morning to verify my estimates of colony strength.  I opened all the hives which I have reversed in the past two days and looked at the number of frames covered with bees in the top box.  I deliberately chose an early hour, 9 AM, because the bees are all home and the cluster has not spread out yet after the cooler night temperatures and reduced activity.  Here is what I found:

  • 5 hives with a few bees up top, rated as weak (W).

  • 8 hives with bees on the middle three frames, rated as OK

  • 20 hives with bees on all except the outside frames, rated as strong (S).

  • 10 hives with bees covering the outside combs and/or with more than two brood boxes,
    rated as extra strong (XS).

Interestingly, my estimates made last night when the bees were flying were quite different.

A reader was asking about brick signals.  They vary from beekeeper to beekeeper and over the season as different things gain and lose importance.  Here are my current ones. 

The meaning of these signals at this point in time as I prepare to split hives is fairly obvious: Bricks lengthwise on the lid indicate clusters in the middle frames only.  Bricks crosswise indicate a cluster spread across the hive. Bricks on edge indicate extreme conditions -- extra weak or extra strong.  Right now, I am trying to get an estimate of how many splits I can get.

I also gave all the colonies a dusting with antibiotic while they were open since I had some problems last year and want to make sure AFB is eliminated.  I saw several suspicious cells in one hive the other day.  After years of managing box by box and avoiding examining frames of brood, I am back to looking carefully at the brood for varroa and AFB.

All the colonies now have several Global pollen patties, too, since I can't count on the local flowers providing a balanced diet.  Patties can be a bit of a bother when splitting, but these ones are quite easy to move around.

The neighbour cut his hay next to the hives, several days ago, making the bees a bit crabby, but look across the road!  The canola is starting to bloom. (right)

Last year at this time, I was still in Ontario.  I returned home on July 2nd, 2009, so I am almost a week ahead of schedule this year.  Last year, there were swarm cells in the hives and scouts in the equipment stacks, but this year I am not seeing any swarm cells yet!  Of course, a few days can make a big difference at this time of year; a large hatch can make a small colony into a large, crowded colony suddenly.

I'm assembling the BeeMax boxes today and found, to my surprise that the plastic frame rests which tap in and fit well are replaced by sheet metal rests which fall out.  Hmmm.  My friends say  they have several hundred of the good ones, so I may go and get them.

They also started 50 to 60 Saskatraz cells for me on Friday and I could pick them up, too.  They should be capped pretty soon and it is either move them now or wait until they are ripe, eleven or twelve days after the graft.  The twelfth day would be the day I am scheduled to fly east again, so that won't work too well.

I called Derrick and he checked into the problem right away.  Apparently the suppliers of the plastic frame rest material to the BeeMax manufacturers had discontinued it and they had made up some steel ones and shipped without testing them.  New ones are being made up now and will be coming.

A box made from broken pieces before I glued on the missing tabs.

A broken-off tab.  Note the small area that has to hold the box together

Tapping the box together.  clamping is not necessary

Two hours' work: 20 boxes, including the repair job

Right now, I am assembling boxes and it is a slow job.  Of course, I make it slower by drilling 1" holes front and back before gluing.  The gluing takes time, too.

I'll plug one of the holes with a caplug when it is at back, but I like two holes so I can rotate the boxes and sometimes, I happen to put the hole to the back if there is only one.

I've had a chance to compare the BeeMax and the Swienty boxes and the more I think about it, the more I prefer the Swienty version. 

The BeeMax arrive knocked down and all that holds them together when assembled is two 1-1/2 x 1-1/2" expanded styrene interlocking tabs on each corner.   The Swienty boxes have four solid 1-1/2" x 9-1/2" corners.  BeeMax also have ugly recycle and mold marks embossed into the exterior.

On arrival, several tabs had already broken off the BeeMax box pieces -- in transit .    My friends say that if the boxes are stacked up for spray-painting and the wind blows them down, some break!

Here (at right) are the results of two hours of work assembling: 20 boxes, one of which is made of broken pieces.  When I finished that batch, I see they may have shipped an extra side in anticipation of such breakage, but there are no instructions.  If my time is worth $20/hr, then they cost me two dollars each to assemble them.  Labour typically is worth quite a bit more, even if the pay rate is less because management time is required and other overhead should be calculated.  This is a waste of a beekeeper's time.  Maybe I'll get faster.

I think I have a plan now: I think I'll split everything into a five-frame nuc in a single BeeMax box with a solid floor (no bottom entrance or just enough  for the bees to clean out debris) and a pillow plus a lid.

I have 40 queens already at work and 50 to 60 cells coming.  I'll make the splits without looking for queens.  If I find one, good, I'll mark the hive.  If not, then I will check in two days and see which hives have started cells and which have eggs.  I'll install cells at that point or later.

How many will I get? Good question.  When I inspected the past few days, the average hive had somewhere between 3 and 8 frames with brood.  If the average by the time I split is five, over 40 hives, then that will give 60 hives with three such frames.  If the average is six, then I'll get 80. The longer I wait, the more brood there will be since the weather continues hot, the forage is good, and I reversed.  Reversing ensures that the queens move onto the second boxes and fill in gaps in the pattern.

My big constraint is time.  I have one week until I have to go, and at this rate it will take a day to assemble the rest of the boxes.  Then I have to paint them -- or not.  Splitting can take several days, and I have to move some of the splits out to new yards, also taking time.

Will one box give the hives enough space until I return in early August? For the splits with new queens emerging and mating, I think so.  For the original queens, possibly not.  I can either make sure I identify the original queens and give those hives and extra box or leave some made-up brood chambers ready to add as needed.  I can also super the hives, but prefer not to do so.

The next 20 boxes took me 45 minutes, working flat-out, so 20 an hour sounds like a real-world speed.  That includes drilling the holes.

Did I say I have not seen any signs of swarming?  I did, but today when I was moving some things around, I see bees coming and going from an equipment stack.  Did a hive swarm, or are these scouts?  I'll have to take a look.  The only swarm signs I saw were back when I first split in May.

Well, I did get a lot faster.  I now have 56 boxes put together as of 7:30 PM.

...Yes, it is a swarm, and it has taken up residence in a stack of old equipment.  I went over an took a look.  I'll take a better look in the daytime when I am working the hives.

Wednesday June 30th 2010
Junes past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I have a week left to get the bees done and everything else under control.  I bit off a fair bit by expanding this year and buying new boxes.  Just assembling and painting them will use up two days or so.  Fortunately my friends took care of making me some cells. so that is one less worry.  I ordered queens from Kettle Valley, and it looks as if thy will be coming late, so we'll see.  I may give them to my friends.

Metamorphosis of the queen bee
Egg hatches on Day 3
Larva (several moltings) Day 3 to Day 8˝
Queen cell capped ~ Day 7˝
Pupa ~ Day 8 until emergence
Emergence ~Day 15˝ - Day 17
Nuptial Flight(s) ~Day 20 - 24
Egg Laying ~Day 23 and up

Our hot spell ends today.  Tomorrow, the temperatures drop to the low 20s.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, since I need to do some splitting and that is more easily done when the bees are not too spread out in the hives.  Working outside is more pleasant, too.  Hopefully by now the hives will have taken advantage of the heat and expanded their brood area to the max.

The details of queen development are of interest when handling cells since rough handling can result in the larva or pupae dropping down in the cell or the pupa being damaged at a critical stage, for example, during wing development.  Not only does this apply to queens, but we should think when we are handling frames of worker brood, too!

The screenshot at right is from a PDF at this website.  Here's another Reference

When ripe, though, the cells are pretty tough.  Here s a video of Martin handling queen cells.

Our cells are currently at day 9, so the larvae should be spinning cocoons.  I'm thinking that they should not be too vulnerable, but that careful handling is still in order.

 Day 4
 Friday 25
  Graft date 
 Day 5 
Saturday 26
     Day 6
Sunday 27
       Day 7
 Monday 28
Day  8 
Tuesday 29
   queen cells 
  Day 9
Wednesday 30
 Day 10
Thursday 1

Canada Day
Day 11
Friday 2
  Make up nucs
Day 12
Saturday 3
  Make up nucs
Day 13
 Sunday 4
  Make up nucs
Day 14
Monday 5
  Install queen cells
Day 15
Tuesday 6
queens emerge
Day 16
Wednesday 7

  I leave for 
Day 17
Thursday 8
Day 18
Friday 9
Day 19
Saturday 10
Day 20
Sunday 11
 Mating Flights
Day 21
Monday 12
 Mating Flights
Day 22
Tuesday 13
 Mating Flights
Day 23
 Mating Flights
Day 24
Thursday 15
 Laying begins
How many bees cover a standard frame?  The answer depends on the temperature, for one thing.  The comb on one side of a frame is about 136 in2.  One bee and some surrounding space measures about 1/2" x 1/4" or 1/8  in2.   That implies roughly 1,100 bees per side or 2,200 per frame.  How does that compare to experience?  Well, a 2 lb package of bees contains roughly 7,000 bees and covers most of three frames on a nice day.  3 x 2,200 = 6,600, so there you go!

Using the rough number, 2,200 bees per frame, we start with 4 x 2,200 (=8,800) bees and 3 frames of original brood with 4,000 cells each (=12,000) emerging at an average rate of 1/21 (575) per day for the first 21 days, plus 80% of 1,500 eggs a day beginning 21 days after the 23rd (assuming 80% viability).

Looking at the above chart, and assuming 1.) that the queens lay 1,500 eggs a day, which is a very good output according to Larry Connor, and 2.) egg laying begins on the 15th of July, and 3.) we assume a bee life to be six weeks, then here (left) is the theoretical curve of population. (click to enlarge).

The projection shows a pop of 20,000 bees on August 10th, which is he next day I plan to work them.  If a frame holds 2,200 bees, then 10 frames would barely hold the expected population, and, after all, this is merely a projection and could be out by quite a bit in individual cases.


I'm about finished assembling the BeeMax boxes and I now see that at least four of them got broken in transit.  That is counting as if two broken pieces are used in making one defective box.  I can glue them back on, but in that case, what is the point of the tabs?  The boxes would be stronger with just a butt joint or rabbetted joint  glued full-length.

The tabs get broken off if the stack gets nudged in transit since they are just 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" at the base and stick out 1-1/2".  The more I work with the BeeMax boxes, the better I like the Swienty ones.  I'll be pulling the two Swienty boxes I have in use out of service for a more careful side-by-side comparison. 

Assembling 100 BeeMax boxes seems to take about one long 8-hour man day once things are set up.  At $20/hr, that is $160 in labour or $1.60 per box.  Of course we can find cheaper labour, but cheaper workers accomplish half as much.  Considering the Swienty boxes are tougher and come set up, they are worth at least $1.60 more, each!

  • The volume of the finished stack is 153 ft3

  • The volume of the pallet that arrived, knocked down was 84 ft3

Thus, it seems that shipping knocked down results in a shipment with 54% of the volume of the same boxes set-up.  That gives an advantage in cost of shipping, however also results in a much weaker box and considerable labour to assemble.  Now, if the Swienty boxes were ordered with frames inside, there would be no advantage to the knocked-down boxes.

Before...                               and after

I went to town this afternoon, bought some paint and began painting.  In a half-hour, I got the base coat on eight boxes, painting one at a time.  I can see that I won't have time for this.  I think I'll fill them with frames, stack them up and them roll them if I have time.

This is now the third day we have waited for UPS to pick up a parcel.  We are returning a Rocket Hub.  The power cord is badly designed and the wire started poking out, so I called Rogers.  They rushed us a new one, saying they replace the whole thing, even if the cord, a $5 item is the only problem.

We phoned Monday and were assured of pickup by 7 that day.  We waited around. The next day, I phoned several times and was assured that they would give me a call-back and a pickup time.  That never happened.  Today, we are having to stick close in case of a pickup.  I am now on hold, waiting again.  What a terrible way to run a business.  If we had not received the parcel with a prepaid return voucher, I would have chosen any carrier but UPS.  If being on hold is not bad enough, why do they have play that bad music?

We were invited over to Meijers for supper and had the privilege of eating in their new house.  It is coming along, and looking good.

We came home to find baby skunks foraging near the beehives.  The neighbours' boys shot the mother, we think, and now the babies are somewhat desperate.  Unforeseen consequences.

The guys had some cells made for me on Friday, so we drove out to get them and placed them into a 5-frame styro nuc for transit and storage.  They also, fortunately had some extra frame rests for the BeeMax boxes I am assembling, so I borrowed them, too, to replace the inadequate ones supplied.

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