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Friday August 25th, 2000
I haven't been East to visit friends and family for months now. Summer is a busy time and we decided to split hives to avoid doing the same in the spring. That kept us even busier than we would have been. Moreover, I have not seen any good specials on airfare until now.
I'm not very superstitious, but I also have an irrational fear that if I leave in August that the weather will turn foul and we will get frost or snow. It has happened two years in a row when I went to Ontario on the August 20th weekend. Both times I left to a forecast of sunny warm weather, only to find when I phoned home that there had been frost, and snow. Each time I returned to see wilted clover in the ditches on the way home from the airport.
I caught my plane at three PM and was in Toronto by about nine. Don was having supper near the airport, so I met him and Marilyn at The Keg. I stayed at his place for the night.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low 12.
In the morning we visited for a while and then don took Aunt Ev and myself to brunch at the Granite Club. I was glad to see she is better after her stroke earlier in the year. She is 86 now.
I had promised John H. that I would be up at his place for the night, and would be leaving TO around 2, so I headed north up the 400 to Port Severn. He has a place on an island in Glouster Pool and must meet visitors at the wharf to take them across to the island.
I arrived and He and A.J. met me. We crossed in a light rain and arrived at his dock in about 10 minutes. I spent a pleasant night visiting John, Jill, A.J., and Joan.
I headed up to Port Carling and found Mom already there. Lindsay had finished her summer working at the hardware store and was packed to go home. I stayed the day and the night.
Around noon, I drove to Sudbury to visit Linda and Sid & family. I arrived in time for supper and we had a good visit. I have never been a golf fan, but Sid is an avid golfer, so we watched the whole Woods/Garcia match. I had never thought I would find it interesting, but I quite enjoyed it. Maybe I'll take out the clubs and do some golfing.
I stayed at Mom's empty house for the night.
Today the crew returns to work for the week. We took a long weekend because I thought everyone needed it. We are still on double pay for overtime, since there is some urgency to getting things finished up, but people need a rest now and then.
I'm still in Ontario. If I travel this far, I can't see rushing back. Ellen and the staff are capable and can manage on their own.
In spite of the forecast shown above (from last week), apparently the weather in Alberta has turned cool and rainy. Ellen has cancelled field work and the staff are concentrating on extracting and preparation for field work later. There is a lot of organizing to do, and trucks can be loaded.
We don't like to go out unnecessarily on muddy days because we chew up the access roads, get everything dirty, and risk getting stuck. If the fall continues wet, as it may well do, then we will bite the bullet and get out there regardless of weather. For now, though we have lots of essential things to do at home that will expedite the field work when we get out there.
I visited Linda again in the morning and then drove to Pearson. I was scheduled to fly at 9:30 PM, but had checked and found room on earlier flights. I reserve a late flight in case I am held up or wish to stay, but then often stand by for an earlier flight if the odds of getting on are good. I got onto a 6 PM flight and was home by 10.Tonight: Periods of rain. Low 3.
Low 7. High 21.
Sunrise: 6:48 AM Sunset: 8:23 PM
The days are definitely getting shorter. The rate of change accelerates as every day passes. It's all over now.
There is a slight chance of a flow yet, but the odds are against us. The time now has come to get all the hives down to two storeys and to feed them ASAP. This is particularly true for the singles, some of which could starve if this cool, wet weather continues long.
The guys got a lot of extracting done yesterday. We have about 60 drums full and more coming fast now. as usual, when I come back there are some problems. A lot of what we do is pretty subtle, and most helpers don't get the details. Things are all sticky with honey, and processes that were running smoothly have backed up.
Our settling system depends on sufficient heat in the sump for the wax to rise, and is dependant on the tank being skimmed a certain way. During my absence, the tank had lost some heat due to another tank being added to the circuit without compensating adjustments being made to ensure adequate flow through the main tank where the honey is heated and settles. Also a poor job of skimming had been done, and there was a backlog of wax due to people not understanding the tricks to running the whirl dry.
The uncapper seemed to be destroying more frames than usual. There are only three reasons that frames should be damaged:
It should be pretty obvious that if the operator is not making errors and brand new frames are being destroyed, that maybe the machine is out of whack. I stopped the operation and had the covers removed. The problem was obvious immediately. One of the guides was bent. We straightened it and then there was no more problem.
Many of our combs are old and we have a variety of types of frames. The automatic equipment does not like that and as a result, we have a pile equivalent to a pallet stacked eight feet high of broken and discarded frames. I am thinking that maybe this system needs to work for someone who has all nice new frames that are all of the same design and maybe we should go back to hand scratching.
The job does get done in my absence, but instead of improving, the systems slowly disintegrate and procedures are forgotten. Perhaps this would correct itself over time, but as it stands, I am much more essential to the functioning of this operation than I care to be.
Profit margins are slim and errors or oversights are costly. I doubt we could make money without my constant management. As in most businesses, the money is not made or lost by the production processes -- essential as they may be -- but rather by the management decisions -- or lack of them.
Low 6. High 20.
We're extracting again. Everything is on track and we have a tank by noon. We are still breaking and culling some combs, but the attrition is not nearly what it was.
Since I've returned, I've gotten involved again in the bee cell size debate on BEE-L. What a waste of time, I think Nonetheless, it is interesting and there is always the possibility I am wrong and missed something.
Here is a list of posts I've made to BEE-L in the last two months.