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Alfalfa is about to bloom again

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Brown text indicates personal ramblings that have little to do with bees and beekeeping.

Friday August 20th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

I'm home in Laguna Beach today, with the kids.  Jon has gone off to work.  The kids are sleeping in, and that is a good thing, I guess.  They were up late last night.

Summer is fading fast in the North, and here I am in SoCal where the weather does not change much.  I always planned to spend the summers in the north to take advantage of what summer there is and come south when the days get short and the weather unpleasant, but here I am, and the precious remaining days of summer are passing up north without me.  My bees sit unattended and the grass is growing.  A thousand small jobs sit waiting.  My boat bobs beside the dock at Pine Hill waiting for me.  The cottage will sit empty for weeks...

I find am losing interest in computers.  Since Ellen bought me a used Commode Pet for my birthday in 1978, I have never been without one -- or lacking interest in them, but now I find that they have just become another appliance. 

Interestingly, that computer came from a ham radio operator in San Diego, not far from where I am now.  At that time, I had never been down this way and San Diego seemed very distant.  Now it is a frequent destination for me and I often spent time there or nearby.

I spent a few years in the early eighties as a partner in a fledgling computer chain and handled the first Mac, the first Atari, TI's, and the first IBM PC either in our shop or at Comdex in Las Vegas.  We spent hours talking computers and code far into the night.  Getting home (a 65-mile drive) at 2 AM from a meeting was not unusual.  All that time, we also ran the commercial beekeeping business.  It was far smaller then, though.

At one time we had a computer club in Three Hills.  Who would be interested in such a thing now?  Of course, at that time, Internet connectivity was hard to come by and slow, and the resources thin.  I taught computer skills at night school locally and ran a kids computer camp for Olds College single-handed.

I recall using Lynx, the text web browser back before the web was graphical and when there were almost no websites.  I recall, also downloading Cello, one of the first graphical browsers on a 1200 baud modem over the phone line and calling Ellen over to look.  She was unimpressed and could not see any use for it.

Then came Mosaic, and Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer and Webcrawler, an early spider.  By then, I had a website and so did Ellen, but they were hosted as subdirectories on the CUUG server, then Internode.net.  Later I leased my own servers as I do now and I began designing and hosting sites.  Back then these things were novel, but today they are simple and trivial. 

What used to take technical skill now is a simple exercise and what was a rare commodity is everywhere. 

I don't have a cell phone anymore and am finding less use for the computer other than what I am doing now and as an

  • encyclopedia

  • directory

  • telephone

  • accounting

    • ledger

    • report generator

    • cheque book

    • bill payer

  • photo album

  • publishing tool 

I think I am getting another cell phone though.  People seem to think they want to reach me instantly, and I have to admit that trying to find Internet or a pay phone when I need to get a message out can be a hassle, especially (I am often reminded) in a foreign country.  It is a novel experience after a decade and a half of carrying a phone everywhere.  At one time, I used it a lot, but lately, I only use a phone very occasionally, but when I do, I use it often for a few days.  No so-called "plan" accommodates that sort of usage in anything like an economical fashion, especially when some of that usage is out of country.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

The kids and I went swimming in the upper pool in the morning and to Thalis Beach in the afternoon with some friends for two hours.  We watched the surfers and boogie boarders and enjoyed the brisk water and surf.  We returned and rinsed off in the pool again and then went home. Jon returned.  We had supper, watched Terminator, then went to bed.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

I have a phone, now.  Jon had a Blackberry Pearl lying around and an extra unused account.  The phone needed a battery and a card, so he picked them up at noon.  I've been playing with it and I really don't see what all the fuss was about when it was introduced.  It is just a phone IMO and has a steep learning curve compared to the iPhone.  My Samsung M500 was about as capable.  Maybe after a while, I will see what makes it a big deal, but with the iPhone it was obvious at first use how useful, flexible and intuitive it is.

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Saturday August 21st 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Smoke is limiting visibility in Swalwell. Ellen reported yesterday:

"The hive scale weight is exactly the same as it was yesterday. There was one young skunk there this evening when I walked over. She seems to be working one hive only.

"Lots of smoke here from the B.C. forest fires. I have been trying to stay indoors and I am keeping the windows closed.

That is worse than I have ever experienced in my 42 years in Swalwell.  I suppose the thousands upon thousands of square miles of dead pines, killed recently by the pine beetle, are a tinderbox.  We've had far more than normal rain this year in Alberta.  I wonder about B.C.

Weather here in Laguna Beach is the same as always: warm and sunny.  I exaggerate, of course.  It does rain and get cool sometimes, but the hot weather of the past few days is unusual.  Inland it varies much more.

We spent the afternoon at the upper pool, playing and sunning ourselves.  My camera takes good pictures underwater and still works well more than a year after I bought it.

The day ended with a party at a neighbours' place, or actually places.  Club Laguna is a community of apartments with some central facilities.  The closeness of the apartments and shared facilities makes it easy to make friends.

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Sunday August 22nd 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

> The hive weight yesterday had not changed but today it is at 51 1/2 at 4 PM. . I forgot the card for the camera in the computer and it started raining as I came back so I don't have a picture.

Glad to know there is a bit of a flow, but I guess the rain put an end to it for a while.

We had a rat here in the apartment in Laguna Beach. The door screen was broken, so when the patio door was left open in the evening for fresh air, a rat came in. Rats eat the dog's food outside, I guess, and one explored inside and got trapped when the door was closed.  Jon noticed his sandals were chewed and blamed the dog (9 months old) at first, but when he found chewing up on a table, he began to wonder.

Then the kids saw a tail. The next night the rat ran down my arm as I slept. I got up and told Jon. He said the rat had been sniffing his nose when he woke up a little earlier and he had followed it into the kitchen where it disappeared under the stove. I stayed up a while in the living room and watched as the rat come out and tried several times to get into the closed bedroom doors. I opened the patio door and it went out in fairly short order. Of course, I closed the door. There is a guy here fixing the door right now. 

I remember George Orwell's "1984" and Winston Smith's rat phobia.  Rats don't worry me much.  I had a friend who used to carry one to grade school in his pocket.  He also had a wild crow which used to ride on his shoulder.  All that notwithstanding, nobody wants a rat in the house.   They are destructive, but I think a squirrel can be worse if it gets in.  We've had them at Pine Hill on occasion and they really tear things up.

At 5 we went to Concert in the Park at Bluebird Canyon to hear an Eagles cover band.  It was an excellent free event right where I sometimes take the kids to play.  Everyone, young and old was there doing whatever they cared to do,  Some danced, some spread out fabulous picnics and the kids ran around and played on the swings and playground equipment.

It must be Rat Week.  I saw another rat there on arrival at Bluebird.  Some boys had found a rat and had hit it with a stone.  They were fascinated and frightened by the nearly dead and helpless animal, alternately running up to it and then away when it twitched.

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Monday August 23rd 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today was like the old days when I used to load the station wagon up the local kids and head for the lake.  I loaded up four blonde kids under ten and drove to the Chuck E Cheese's in Foothill Ranch.  The Moulton Parkway one had suffered a broken pipe and a flood last week and is still closed.  Then we came back to  swim at the pool and had a community supper again across the court.

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Tuesday August 24th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Jon took the dog to the vet today to be spayed and I picked her up at the end of the day.

He also lent me a Blackberry Pearl so we can stay in touch texting around the neighbourhood to keep tabs on the kids.  This POS is frustrating to use after using an iPhone.  Last night and this morning it was acting crazy -- it dialed a neighbour three times without my knowing, then refused to give me the SMS messages this morning  --so I pulled the battery and put it in again.  So far, so good, all is well it seems, but I wasted 3/4 of and hour tinkering.  It does not ring loudly and has trouble receiving in this apartment.

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Wednesday August 25th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Four more months until Christmas

This was a quiet day, spent at home with one trip to Wal-Mart to get  few things and to pick up some pictures I ordered.  In the afternoon, we went to the pool.  After supper, I had the kids, and Jon went to the pier at San Clemente with a friend.

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Thursday August 26th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today Sunny. Wind becoming south 30 km/h gusting to 60 this afternoon. High 33. UV index 6 or high.
Increasing cloudiness. 60 percent chance of showers late this evening and after midnight with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind south 30 km/h gusting to 60 becoming north 30 gusting to 60 this evening then light overnight. Low 9.

Finally a nice hot day, but the wind will keep the bees in.  Drat!

*     *     *     *     *     *    

I guess I was wrong.  Ellen writes: "It is very hot today, about 35 C at least. There is a flow on and the yard was a super highway of bee traffic. Some of the alfalfa is blooming again".

Date July 11 July 18 Aug 4  Aug 12 Aug 14 Aug 15 2:24
Aug 16
Aug 19
Aug 24
Aug 26
46.5 31.5 63.5 99 Before
35.5 After
20 27.5 33 48 51 64.5
(4 Hives)
0 -15 32 35.5 -15.5 7.5 5.5 15 3 13.5
Per Hive
  -4 8 9 -4 2 1.5 4 1 4.3
Days Since
Last Weight
  7 17 8 2 1 1 3 5 2
Daily Change
Per Hive
  -1/2 1/2 1 -2 2 1.5 1 0.2 1.7

The air conditioning is working well here in Laguna Beach, now that we complained.  I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse.  Air conditioning changes how people behave.  I recall back in the old days, when we arrived at a beach or cottage, we were glad to go swimming.  Now, we don't care so much.  Without air-conditioning, we all wanted a pool.  With air-conditioning, who cares?

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Friday August 27th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Here is a plot of what I see on the scale hive.  Nothing like last year, at least so far, but things are moving along.  (The plot is per hive, not total scale gain).

I realised I should feed and I asked Ellen to open the drums of feed we have on hand, but until there is a war4m day with nothing in the way of bloom, the bees will probably be uninterested.

(From last year's diary)

Reading is at 69 lbs today.
10 lb. gain since last night at about the same time -- 5:00 P.M.

That is another 10 lbs or 2-1/2 lbs/hive today
14+12+7+12+10=55 lbs
55/4 = 14 lb/hive in 5-1/2 days

The weather looks promising for a continued flow.

I thought about how best to feed.  I have frame feeders in every brood chamber and they are great for spring, but in summer the bees tend to fill them with comb.  Hive-top feeders or pails might be more suited to late summer and fall feeding, and many of the best commercial guys are now using a medium from Western Bee Supply converted to a feeder,  but I don't have any.

On the right is what I saw at this time last year. (I'm reproducing the table from last year). There does not seem to be much of a comparison. (The plot at right is the total for four hives on the scale).

I made a reservation for a flight to Albany Wednesday.  I used Priceline and found that I got the worst seat on both United flights.  Last row both times.  The seats do not recline and they are next to the washroom lineup.  I'm not impressed.  Maybe I can get them switched at the gate, but I'm not counting on it.  Up to now, Priceline has been good to me.  Now I wonder...

PC: > Here is one presentation on apimondia congress about benefical Lactic acid bacteria from the honey stomac. (Link)

They found that bacteria are a defence against American foul brood. Here is one article about that: Novel lactic acid bacteria inhibiting Paenibacillus larvae in honey bee larvae (Link)

So, I think together with the selection, we should pay attention that bees have enough of natural honey, containing that bacteria, and we should avoid treatments with chemicals, that kill beneficial bacteria.

AD: Interesting leap. Honey is anti-bacterial AFAIK, but carrying on to the second part... "chemicals, that kill beneficial bacteria"...

This work is quite interesting, but contains words like "should" and "probably" and presents only a plausible theory.

It seems we think some LAB and their products should/could suppress AFB, but apparently we do not know how to ensure that these LAB are applied reliably. Yet, anyhow. It seems that often they are not doing the job very reliably or we would not be discussing this here, now. And, is there an ideal level of LAB, or are there adverse effects if they get out of control?

At the same time, we know for sure that some "chemicals", like oxytetracycline (OTC) and Tylosin actually do prevent AFB development in larvae and we know how to apply them in appropriate doses. That is not saying that everyone does. We know that overdosing and under-dosing happens.

And I don't know, but I am sure someone reading knows: Are LAB affected much by OTC and Tylosin? It would be interesting if they are not.


RO: > ...yesterday I checked a deadout hive that one of my sons had put on the
> truck--had to have an impromptu AFB recognition session right there and
> then... I'm not saying that AFB has disappeared--I just don't see as much
> of it as I used to.

AD: This is the traditional AFB cycle which has been around as long as I have been in bees and involved with inspection: about 40 years.

1.) AFB becomes a problem. Beekeepers and inspection crack down on AFB and clean up. Everyone knows what it looks like.

2.) AFB becomes scarce and most new beekeepers have only seen pictures. Experienced beekeepers and inspection services relax their vigilance, partly due to the work involved in inspection and never finding any AFB.

3.) Back to 1.)

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Saturday August 28th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

My ear infection is back, so I found a clinic and was prescribed a stronger version of the antibiotic and for a longer duration as a month ago.  I recall at the time, I was surprised at how short a treatment was prescribed.  I also noticed that the effect wore off over time, so I suspect I was under-dosed and the infection did not completely clear at the time.  Interesting how this discussion  is back on BEE-L.  I wonder if I am playing too rough here.  I know that some frown on confrontation and push and shove, but I trust that Bill and Randy can take as good as they can give.

No change in the scale reading today.

>>We have heard a number of theories, including blaming extender patties, however I have never seen any proof.

> However, it appears likely that the constant application of extender patties strongly selected for resistant strains, no matter where they actually obtained the genetic material (by mutation, upregulation, or transferrence of plasmids). For more info google the title of a free download "Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria"

I still have not seen any proof that extender patties were a cause of the problem or even that they exacerbated the problem, and merely speculating and saying, "it appears likely" without supporting reasoning and observation is merely smoke. No matter how popular and oft-repeated that claim may be, IMO, it does not hold water.

The article provided referred to entirely different situations and does nothing to support the speculation.

Moreover, if the bacteria we are discussing were already resistant, and application of extender patties merely proved that OTC could not control the AFB in more constant dosing, then further selection for greater resistance seems to me to rather moot. Obviously any further use of the antibiotic in question by any delivery system would be of doubtful efficacy, especially if an ideal delivery method was failing.

How is AFB different from a hospital? In AFB, each larva is infected individually and there are specific hurdles which must be cleared individually for each and every larva to be lethally infected. For example, one hurdle is that, AFAIK, one spore cannot achieve a kill by itself and has a short window in which to accomplish the task or be extinguished. Is the vegetative stage transferrable in-hive and infective? I don't know, but I have never heard it to be.

Seeing as we are exchanging opinions here, I'll repeat mine: IMO, extender patties were part of the solution, not part of the cause. IMO, chronic under-dosing was the cause of most of the selection and concentration of resistant bacteria, partly due to the rapid fade characteristic of OTC. IMO, higher and more even doses, such as maintained by extender patties could well have delayed the emergence of resistant strains.

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> What substantiates your opinion that extender patties had increased doses of OTC?

I don't think I suggested that. I think I suggested that other delivery methods often had reduced doses and short active periods from what was intended.

> It would appear that the bees took them down much slower and sometimes barely at all, so the dose would be much less and would extend over a long period, classic methods to cause resistance.

Extender patties are widely misunderstood. Many people wanted to see them consumed and doctored the formula. We are not talking about those bastard offspring and of the original concept and the patty which was registered for use.

Extender patties are called extender patties for a reason: they extend the period of treatment. They are expected to be consumed slowly and the grease was included to slow consumption and to protect the unconsumed active ingredient (OTC) from moisture which begins the degradation of the antibiotic. The patties when properly used are more like a cattle oiler than a bolus. Therefore, placement in the hive is somewhat critical, as the nurse bees need to be rubbing and working on it.

I recall talking to Bill Wilson during the period when he was refining the product and he emphasized these points. Many beekeepers did not bother to listen, and many thought they were using extender patties when they were altering the formula and misapplying the patties.

> I see no way that extender patties could deliver the recommended label dose as bees do not follo directions well when it comes to consuming  pollen patties, grease patties and the like. Mostly too fast or too slow
> and seldom just right.

In nature, there is variation. No matter what application method is used, some degree of unevenness is likely. The question is whether the method hits the window between inefficacy and toxicity. In rapid dose application, the operator must make the judgment. We have many, many stories of hired help misunderstanding instructions and over applying, or simply not bothering to do the job properly. With many application methods, we cannot tell afterwards if the job was done right, or at all. With a method like extender patties, dosage and placement can be verified for some time after.

> I realize that there is no direct causal relationship, but it certainly is convincing, to me, since extender patties were followed by resistance.

We have a term for that popular logical vulnerability: Post hoc ergo propter hoc

> Also, the problem with extender patties is they were too easy to apply and became preventative rather than a treatment for AFB. We certainly know that antibiotic resistance occurs when they are used when they are not needed and used too often, which fits extender patties directly.

Well that is a wide, sweeping claim that I cannot tackle in a few paragraphs. Listing the exceptions, conditions and logical problems in it is beyond my current resource allocation to this recurring slander. Granted there is some truth in there, but I really do not know where to start to take it apart. It is a sort of "Have you quit beating your wife, yet" kind of gambit.

> Plus, I think it is impossible to prove just when any resistance happens since it occurs over time and you cannot point to a second in time and say Eureka! That's it!

I agree with that. I guess that weakens your argument, though.

> Extender patties sure fits the profile for how to develop resistance.

Therefore let's have a lynching!

Hey! Has anyone who believes this baloney ever actually worked with extender patties?

I doubt anyone who ever used them and used them properly would fall for such a line.

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Monday August 30th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

It is getting towards fall.  the forecast says,
Clearing late this evening. Low plus 2 with risk of frost". 

I missed writing yesterday.  Katrina and I went to Disneyland with some of her friends.  Our friend Savanna was there with the rest.  We had not seen her for a long while.

Today we hung around home, then I took Katrina, Kalle and Kaylee to Chuck-E Cheese and Eastwing Park. 

Although it is not too difficult to drop $100 on a single visit to C-E-C and I see people doing it all the time, I never have and usually I spend $10 or less and I am sure we do not have any less fun.  I am teaching the kids to be smart shoppers and to make their money last.  Most people do not know it, but it is possible to spend a very fun hour at C-E-C without spending one cent!

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Tuesday August 31st 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

It appears we escaped an overnight frost.  I'll know better later.

The kids and I are off to San Diego today for a second try at the Zoo.  This time we'll take their passes.

This is my last day in Laguna Beach.  Tomorrow morning, early, I fly from LAX to ALB to visit Aaron.  Then, on the fifth, I will be returning to Alberta to take care of my bees and to do some bee inspecting.

From the CHC Internet Newsletter:

. Formic acid has approval from PMRA for use until December 31, 2010. Because there are existing suppliers in the honey bee industry and a registered formic acid product on the market, the CHC directors consider that there is no role for CHC in engaging in the registration process, as it did with oxalic acid. Private enterprise is encouraged to move ahead and register formic acid before the deadline.

This is annoying.  CHC should be representing the beekeepers' interest in this.  In no way is it benefitting the beekeeper to have proprietary formulations displace the permission to tailor treatment to an individual beekeeper's needs and at low cost with generic supplies.

Once again the CHC has let the beekeepers down.  Beekeepers fund them, then they fail to stand up for us.

We spent the day at the Zoo and got back around 9 PM.  I dropped the kids in front of Sarah's and went to pack and say goodbye to my new friends, Sarah, Stu and Dan.  By the time that was all over, it was late.

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