Monday May 1st, 2000
This a day off for our crew, since they are now on 10 hour days four days a week. For me, though, the weekend has not been all leisure. I worked on analysing the notes, an asset list, and a few other things.
This morning I decided I really wanted to get out of the house. We have been a bit concerned because we have a situation where some city dude moved across from a bee yard location of some 25 years standing and decided that the bees had to go -- claims his daughter is allergic.
It seems these days that everyone is allergic to bees. I don't think so. I no longer give any credence to claims of allergy unless I get a doctor's note saying that there is a life-threatening condition. We did not in this case, but I guess he got on the farmer's back and we were asked to leave, so I thought we should.
We haven't had time to get to it, but it seemed to me that today might be the day. It was 9.6 degrees C when I got up, and that is a bit warm, but the packages were not flying at home when I left, so I thought it might be okay.
When I got there a half hour later, the bees were flying and bringing in yellow pollen. Regardless, I decided this was the time, and smoked them all, then cleaned around in the yard and then repeated the process. In about fifteen minutes the directed flying had ceased although there were still some bees flying about.
I loaded the truck with about half of the hives -- there was more than one load -- then smoked the load and delivered it about ten miles away with very little loss of bees. I watched as I drove and saw only the occasional bee fly off. When I unloaded, there was a bit of activity, but they were quite calm.
I then returned for the rest and loaded after smoking once more. Although most of the bees were in the hives, I left a four pack to catch any that were left. If there were many -- which did not seem to be the case -- I'll have strong hives to split.
By the time I unloaded again, it was 11:30. I headed up to Springvale Colony to see Joe the beekeeper and arrived just in time for lunch. We had a good meal in the common dining room, then went to see his bees. It was windy so we did not open them, but judging from the flight, I'd say they are just fine.
I arrived home to find Fred and Fred sitting at the kitchen table. They had returned the borrowed forklift and were visiting...
Joe phoned this afternoon and said they had made splits and used all their queens up, so I guess I can start splitting now. I had thought we might wait a bit longer, but there are reports of some strong hives in some yards and although I have not gone right through any hives in the last few days, I did see bees flying from both auger holes on 20% of the hives in the yards I've visited. I would like to get the queens into homes, and we have 250 coming at the end of this week. It's lousy timing, since they arrive on the weekend, but that is when Gus ships them each week...
Tuesday May 2nd, 2000
Ellen saw the first dandelion today. It is pretty stunted, but it is blooming. The trees have been giving pollen for some time now, but I haven't seen any crocus blossom. I assume they came out at the usual time, because I saw some small loads of tan coloured pollen a week back, but they have not been obvious.
It was drizzling rain this morning, so it was a perfect day to move some hives. Steve and Ryan each took a truck and forklift and went moving hives out of winter yards. It seems silly to move them to spring yards, then move them again to pollination in 7 weeks, but that's the job. 200 hives in any one place is away too much.
Did I mention that we had AFB samples sent away for OTC resistance testing? We had found a few frames from last year. They came back normal, not resistant, at 50 mm.
About 3:30 it warmed to 15 degrees C and felt warm enough to do queen checks on the packages. We have some queens on hand and would like to use them up if possible. I checked about 24 with Gareth's help and all seemed fine, so maybe it is a waste of time. The ones we checked had not gotten a second protein patty when checked on Friday a week ago, so they needed a visit anyhow.
It's really obvious on which frames the brood is to found when a pollen patty is on the hive. You can see the two sides of the patty still in place, with the middle eaten out. Bees will not consume patty that is more than about two inches from the brood area. You'll also notice that we leave a frame out of package hives until we have done the second queen check
Since these packages were installed April 4th -- four weeks ago today, the original little patch of brood has now hatched. You can see the empty area in the centre where the first brood was raised. The queen has now filled the cells with eggs again. It's my opinion that the brood we see here is a bit spotty, but we see that in all hives until there is a good source of pollen outdoors. Once the flowers and trees give pollen, we see much more solid areas.
We are seeing a fair bit of chalkbrood, both in the frames and on the doorsteps. As always, clicking the images will give a close-up view. we don't like to see chalkbrood, but we do like the bees from this supplier, and he has not yet managed to breed out the disease. We irradiated the pollen in the protein patties, so expect that that cannot be the source of CB.
I guess Jody worked out okay. Steve and he managed to feed 5 yards between 2:30 and 7PM when they quit for the day. He got stung five times on the ankles and did not seem to mind. That's promising.
Wednesday May 3, 2000
This morning it was foggy when we got up Steve and Ryan moved bees from winter yards to spring yards. They were able to work until after lunch since it stayed overcast and got most of the job done. We still have a few hundred to move plus the 300 package hives in the home yard.
Gareth, Steve, and Jody did second queen checks on the hives in the yard and fed syrup and protein. They also put in the missing frames to get the hives ready to move out to spring locations.
Adony arrived and checked some of the packages to get an estimate of brood area at the one month mark and to estimate the chalkbrood seriousness. He checked random hives out of the whole yard. The method he used was to imagine 32 squares on each surface of the comb and decide how many squares of brood there are on each face. The results are in the table below:
Assuming 136 square inches per comb face (~ 8" x 17"), then each square is 4.25 square inches and depending on the cell size, about 25 cells / sq. in. x 4.25 sq. in. ~ = 106 cells per 'square'.
This means that anywhere between 95/100 x 1590 = 1510 and 90/100 x 3180 = 2862 additional bees will emerge in each hive the next three weeks. That certainly does not seem like very many.
From a previous discussion here, worker bees range from 81 to 140 mg in weight and thus there are anywhere from 3250 to 5600 per pound of bees. (454g / 0.08g/bee or 454 / 0.140g/bee).
We are finding no dead queens in the packages the second time through, so we add any frames necessary, fill the feeders, and add protein patties. They will need another box before too long.
Meijers came over for supper and we all decided that we will support Adony's research over the next year. Several other beekeepers in Southern Alberta have decided to do so too.
Thursday May 4, 2000
Allan Graham called last night to say he would be by this morning at 9. Around nine, he showed up and we looked at some hives together.
Allan works for Aventis, the company we pollinate for and he comes by in the spring to ensure that we will have sufficient strong hives for the pollination and that everything looks promising. The growers depend on good pollination hives delivered on time to ensure they get a crop, so they are wise to make sure in advance that they will. Allan also looks at the hives when they are on the crops top make sure they are still adequate.
It was windy and cold when we went out and we lifted lids in six yards. Five looked good, but one was poor. All the packages are looking excellent. Other than the few losses we experienced right after installation, they are good. Chalkbrood levels are amazing though -- up to 20% of the brood area -- in spite of our irradiating the pollen used in the supplement.
Matt got some a tiny speck of rust under his upper eyelid while working on installing the new engine into one of the trucks, so I took him to a doctor. I could see the rust on his upper eyelid, but it was far enough in that I thought I'd better leave it to a professional. It came out without any problem. On the way back, we saw Steve and Ryan at Adony's yard and stopped.
Just as well we did, because the power feeder was not working. We fixed it, but then realised that we are not supposed to feed the yard anyhow, because Adony is monitoring the syrup consumption. Consumption seems pretty even between all the hives -- both on foundation and on combs -- and the bees are drawing foundation very nicely. They are pretty much ignoring the fondant, however.
Matt and Garth were still here around eight, working on the various projects. Steve and Ryan are coming in at 6AM to go moving out more bees. Ryan L is coming in too -- he has a day off school. Jody is working out well. I think he likes the job. Every time I see him he has a big grin on his face.
Ryan the second came in today. Jody had to leave around noon due to an allergic reaction: not to bees, but to grass and molds. The crews moved bees out to spring yards and did more feeding.
Jonathan got married today in Rhode Island.
Like his mom & dad, he and Sarah had a quiet small ceremony without hoopla. Jean flew in for the occasion.
Around five, I went out with Ryan II and we split a five hives in one of the yards. Then we called it a day. For anyone who thinks Pierco frames can't be beautiful, here is a perfect brood comb
When splitting, we look for hives that have bees on the bottom of 5 or more frames in the bottom box and some brood in the bottom box as well. When smoked down a bit here is what we like to see: a bit of drone comb. That means they are prosperous and the queen is working well down below.
I got to bed early because I had a 7AM flight to catch.
Saturday May 6, 2000
I awoke at 4:58 and shut off the alarm. It was set for five. After a quick breakfast and a little last minute packing, I was off to YYC. By 7, I was comfortably sitting in an Airbus 320 and headed to Pearson.
At Malton, I got my Toyota from National and pointed it north towards Lake Simcoe. John H. had told me he would be at his boat at Kon Tiki getting it ready for the season. I passed the Mac Michael Exhibit sign and decided to drop in to see what was showing. It's been 15 years since I visited this gallery. A new exhibit: Ding Ho and the Group of Seven was opening and I wandered through. Apparently The Group of Seven was the only foreign art that Chairman Mao allowed in China in honour, I understand, of the martyr Norman Bethune.
Lawren Harris was still the most striking of the bunch, but the work of the main exhibitor was pretty striking too. Darned if I can remember his name. His clouds were pretty amazing. So was the rest of the work.
Got to Kon Tiki by about three and found John without too much trouble. He has a nice 27 foot boat made in 1985 or so with a 327 Chev engine and a Volvo stern drive. It was an unseasonably warm afternoon, reaching 27 degrees. I couldn't help but think how we'd like to have this weather in Alberta to help the bees build up.
I guess I'm a Rip Van Winkle when it comes to boats. I've seen boats like this go by, but never realized how many features are packed into such a craft. It is as comfortable and sleeps as many as my 26 foot motorhome and will go places that the Winnebago will not. We clocked it at 27+ MPH using my GPS. Not a shabby ski boat IMO, but the fuel bill might be a bit stiff. Apparently it needs $400 or more Canadian to fill it up.
I had a pleasant supper with John and his friends on one of their boats and then headed up to Port Carling. I arrived at Pine Hill at about midnight and slept well in spite of a drunken party down the river.
Sunday May 7, 2000
Mom had promised to be there around 8:30. By 8:45 I was hungry and went searching for some breakfast, since I had not brought food and the fridge was empty. I passed her on the way out.
After breakfast, the weather turned rainy, and we read and napped most of the day. The boat was not in the water yet, so we didn't get out onto the Lake. We had supper near Bala at the Cranberry bog. The prime rib was pricey, but tough.
Monday May 8, 2000
Monday was changeable and we sat around and read. After lunch I hiked out to Moody's lookout. I've been going there for 50+ years and nothing much has changed, except that the hills seem steeper.
The trilliums in Muskoka are amazing: I saw both painted and red ones as well as the normal white ones. Mom saw a yellow one for the first time ever. I took pictures, but they don't do them justice. We swept the parking lot and lower drive with the leaf blower and discovered there were some black flies after all. we were pleasantly surprised at how few bugs we saw, but the tent caterpillars are showing signs of having a big year.
At 4:30, I headed for Pearson and was over an hour early for my 9:30 flight. By 12:30 I was home.
© Allen Dick 2000. Permission granted to copy with attribution and in context .
"If I make a living off it, that's great--but I come from a culture where you're valued not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away," -- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)