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Tuesday October 10th, 2000

Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers. Low minus 1. High 8.

We drove my niece, Sarah to Guelph and then caught our flight to Calgary, returning home by ten PM.

Tonight: Increasing cloud. Wind north 30 km/h. Low plus 3.

Normals for the period: Low 0. High 14.

Wednesday October 11th, 2000

A mix of sun and cloud. Wind diminishing to northwest 20 km/h. High 11.

Our crews continued to finish off the few remaining yards and had a long day in the Delburne region.  We are now very nearly out of time to feed and treat the remaining hives for mites.  I expect we should be done by the end of this week.

I examined our notes from last year and note that were are about two weeks behind where we were then.  We had good results in 1999/2000 winter, so hope we will this year too.  This is cutting it too close though, for comfort.

Our problem has been the same as always, but exacerbated by the increased hive numbers.  At the end of August, we lose our summer staff and have problems finding replacements.  Our permanent staff also tends to slack off a bit, and to put in fewer hours with less focused effort.  We are competing with harvest for new employees and it is mid-September before we have any selection.  we need to pay higher wages to get help then, but then are stuck with overpaying later.

Our extracting system also causes us grief in that it requires specially trained and competent staff compared to manual methods.  We are thus slow getting going in summer -- I think we started later than ever this year -- and have problems whenever it breaks down.  When we did the job by hand, we still had problems keeping staff at the end of the summer, but moving new people into the job was simpler and could take place in the background.  This year, our field staff has been pressed into extracting.  Not good IMO.

Tonight: Mainly clear. Low zero.

Normals for the period: Low 0. High 14.

Thursday October 12th, 2000

Mainly sunny. Wind increasing to north 20 km/h this afternoon. High 14.

Our lowest and highest temperatures since the cold spell a week ago have been minus 10.3 C and plus 26 C.  This includes the cold snap.  I like the plus 26 better.  Weather like that allows the bees to feed fro the drums.  I hope we have at least a few days above twenty before the end of the month.

As promised, here are some pictures of preparing pads for formic acid mite treatments.  I suggest examining each picture in detail by clicking on the thumbnails you see here.  You can learn a lot by careful observation.

Disclaimer: Like all the information on this site, the following is a description of what we do or have done.  It is not intended as detailed instruction, nor is it advice to proceed with any activity.  Readers are cautioned to do their own due diligence in regard to local laws and other factors which might apply, and also consider their own abilities to understand and apply the materials and techniques described.

FormicDrum.jpg (56031 bytes)

In the first picture, Garry is placing blocks under the forklift pallet to ensure stability.  We have a plastic spigot installed in one of the bungs to allow drawing acid out.

Note the blocks on either side of the drum to prevent rolling and also note the full eye protection he wears.  These drums are tough and can easily withstand a 3 or 4 foot drop, but we do not want to have any accidents.

The acid comes at 85% and must be diluted to 65% to prevent queen loss.

PourAcid.jpg (57673 bytes)

We first add two litres (US quarts) of water to a 5 gallon (22 litre) pail, then add 6 litres of the concentrated (85%) acid. Felt-tip markers are used to draw fill levels on the side for convenience and are visible in the picture.

The resulting dilute acid is then carefully poured onto the pail with 250 pads (next picture) already in place, and then lidded and left overnight to soak.

 

We do not wear gloves, since gloves can collect acid if they leak and do skin damage without being detected. We watch carefully for any contact with flesh and wash our hands often.  Any acid contacting the hands is harmless if washed off promptly with plain clear water.

Adding some colouring to the wash water pail is a wise precaution, since formic looks just like water.  People have been known to accidentally wash their hands in formic by mistake in a panic.  We keep pails of water handy at all times, and the men work in pairs outside so that help is close at hand if the unthinkable happens.

Working outdoors in cool weather and a slight breeze minimizes fumes which are hazardous if concentrated.  In small amounts the fumes are reminiscent of vinegar.

250Pads.jpg (41195 bytes)

BoxOfPads.jpg (47598 bytes)

The pads we use are Dri-Loc 50 meat, fish and poultry pads available at any paper supply warehouse and maybe local meat markets.  They are used in retail tray packs of meat to absorb juices and prevent mess. They come 2,000 per box, cost a little over a penny each, and measure about 4-1/2" by 7". 

Each stack in the box is 250 pads. One stack of 250 is used in each pail of pads.  We use a 2-1/2 gallon pail and they fit in one layer standing on end as shown (above).  Two stacks have already been used from this box.

Applying Formic Pads

We then apply the pads to the hives as shown.  One side has tiny perforations, and the other does not.  The perforated side goes down, toward the bees.

If the pail of pads is placed in a fridge or freezer overnight before using, then the amount of fumes released when applying the pads can be reduced considerably.

We don't use any particular breathing precautions in the field, other than avoiding the fumes, however we always carry a full bucket of tinted clean water to use to flush any skin exposed to acid.

Eye protection should be used.  Although the acid is contained in the pads and they may seem dry to the touch, if a brick is dropped into a pail, there is a considerable splash of acid that can threaten the eyes.

Treatments:   For varroa, a minimum of 5 treatments at 5 to 10 day intervals is the minimum.  For tracheal, 3 are usually sufficient.
Monitoring: For varroa control, knowing how many mites are present before and after is essential.  See here and here for monitoring ideas.  Formic is less effective for initial infestations over 6%.

Safety:  Formic acid and its fumes are hazardous.  Do not use formic unless you have read the MSDS and understand the risks and safety procedures necessary for safe use.

We finished removing all honey today and are now ready to apply pads -- and Apistan if indicated by the sticky boards which are currently being gathered and assessed.  There is a little feeding left to do and the wrapping can begin.

We were alerted that a movie, The Summer of June, (about honey bees) was to be shown on Access tonight and watched it.  It was filmed at a number of locations, including our farm.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Wind diminishing this evening. Low zero.

Friday: A mix of sun and cloud. High 13.

Saturday: Mainly sunny. Low minus 2. High 13.

Sunday: Mainly sunny. Low minus 1. High 13.

Monday: Mainly sunny. Low minus 1. High 13.

Normals for the period: Low minus 1. High 13.
Sunrise: 7:55 AM  Sunset: 6:49 PM
The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (100% of Full)

Friday October 13th, 2000

Becoming mainly sunny this morning. High 13.

We finished the distribution of feed to yards and picked up the sticky boards.  We also began the administration of formic.  We're a bit late for both these tasks, but better late than never and the if we get a few warm days -- as have been predicted -- things should work out fine.

Next week, we will start preparing to wrap the hives and to finish the extracting.  The outfeed drive motor shaft snapped again and we had to take it for repairs -- again.  This time, Matt disassembled the chain and sprockets to get to the bottom of the matter.

I loaded the truck to go to Blue Sky to take supplies over for making protein patties, but ran out of time to go over.

Tonight: Mainly clear with increasing cloud overnight. Low near zero

Saturday October 14th, 2000

Mainly cloudy. High 11.

Ellen counted mites on sticky boards and we tabulated the results against our sugar shake results.

I spent the day at my desk, and wrote a few things for BEE-L and sci.agriculture.beekeeping.  Here is a directory of the articles I have posted to BEE-L since August:

032858

00/09/03

22:38

21

 

Free Bee Classifieds

032864

00/09/05

13:20

45

 

Re: cell size debate

032877

00/09/06

13:46

33

 

Re: worker bee & sizecell size

032888

00/09/06

14:06

35

 

FW: No of varroa mites in hive

032899

00/09/07

11:26

29

 

Re: Set-down method

032909

00/09/08

07:31

62

 

Re: American Bee Journal collector help

032916

00/09/08

10:43

47

 

Re: Fume pads

032949

00/09/10

03:46

151

 

Re: Bees Regression, was(Re: American Bee Journal collector help)

032971

00/09/11

10:38

318

 

Angels on the Head of a Pin

033032

00/09/20

05:56

34

 

Re: Italian bees and tracheal mites

033033

00/09/20

06:00

26

 

Re: snotty &robbers

033097

00/09/30

06:50

58

 

Re: Help needed

033114

00/10/01

12:49

46

 

Re: ragging on martha

033125

00/10/03

07:52

46

 

Re: Attack of the Killer Bees!

033145

00/10/04

13:04

76

 

Re: Eating comb honey

033154

00/10/05

08:27

102

 

Re: life or death decisions for light colonies

033155

00/10/05

08:38

35

 

sci.agriculture.beekeeping, Misdirected Posts, etc.

033157

00/10/05

09:49

44

 

Re: life or death decisions for light colonies

033158

00/10/05

09:50

43

 

FW: Black October 4; Jack Smith and Don Peer

033161

00/10/05

11:44

48

 

Re: life or death decisions for light colonies

033166

00/10/05

17:01

74

 

Re: comb honey question

033168

00/10/06

06:13

38

 

Re: Freezing syrup in winter?

033173

00/10/06

16:38

75

 

Re: Section Comb Honey Production

033196

00/10/13

14:17

22

 

Dry Weight Basis?

033198

00/10/14

05:35

57

 

Re: sampling honey for AFB

033201

00/10/14

13:26

68

 

How Good is the Sugar Shake?

033205

00/10/14

08:41

92

 

Re: sampling honey for AFB

033216

00/10/14

22:54

60

 

Re: How Good is the Sugar Shake?

Tonight: Mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of evening showers. Clearing overnight. Low near zero.

Normals for the period: Low minus 1. High 13.

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