Thursday March 1st, 2001
What will I do when I retire? It's not as if I am dying or any such thing -- I hope. I'm just selling off a large commercial business so I have less responsibility and can do more of the things I like -- and less of those I don't. I like the bees and the trucks and the work -- and the beekeepers. I don't like being responsible for 10 people all the time. I'm actually quite introverted and like to spend a great deal of time alone. Of course, it is obvious I do enjoy groups, but even then, I disappear for hours to be by myself. That is hard to do when people are constantly needing guidance, supplies, paycheques...
As I imagine it, I'll be free to go work with my friends when they need help, and to speak at meetings if asked, to travel to meetings and to help with research. I may keep a truck, trailer and forklift and be available for bee moving, queen rearing, and any other project that appeals.
Normals for the period: Low minus 10. High 1.
Friday March 2nd, 2001
We worked on mailing out letters today, and then went for turkey supper with Walt and Fen at The Coffee Break. We then went to the Swalwell Community Hall to attend Vi Fyten's 80th birthday party.
Saturday March 3rd, 2001
This is a red letter day. One year ago, I began this diary and wondered how long I would have the patience to continue.
Normals for the period: Low minus 10. High 1.
Sunday March 4th, 2001
We had several visitors today, including a couple who carted off some of our empty supers and another who spoke for tanks and took a good look at our Swingers. I heard very encouraging news about the price of honey going up as high as 65 cents in the States recently, and the prospect for strong demand for bees this spring.
Monday March 5th, 2001
Things are picking up as far as our sale is concerned. We had another buyer come by today and several phone calls. It seems I could have sold five times the tanks we have and also 5 wax spinners. Hives are moving a little more slowly, but it is early yet and every day I have fewer doubts that they will all go at our advertised price. Beekeepers have not had a chance to look at their losses yet or absorb the fact that honey prices are on their way up. Rumours have it that the price is approaching 65c US and that means a dollar in Canadian money. I'm hoping everyone who is interested contacts us soon and expresses that interest, even if the money has not been lined up yet, so we can figure out who gets what.
I'm a bit worried that some people won't speak up in time and be disappointed in the end. I'm also concerned that some of my neighbours who fail to act may find 1,000 or so hives right in their back yard or over the fence when a new buyer comes onto the scene. It's in their best interest to act now and buy those bees before someone else does, not drag their feet or buy packages.
We are painting the trucks and forklifts to get them ready for sale. For ourselves, appearance is not that important, as long as everything looks respectable. Mechanical condition is very important. However, when people are buying things, no matter how perfectly a machine runs, a coat of fresh paint instils confidence and adds value. We also got a pin striping kit. Pin striping really makes decks and trailers look sharp.
Matt decided today that he could use some help, so I phoned Gareth and Steve to see what they are up to. Gareth is busy, but Steve will be here tomorrow at 8:30 and will do the sandblasting while Matt paints.
I drove to Calgary this afternoon to get some industrial enamel and primer for the truck decks and trailers and to borrow a Lemmer airless sprayer. I had supper with my friend Pat (formerly AKA VE6CFP) who works at Lemmer and discussed the future. Seems he is at a point where he is thinking of changing direction too and of going back to university.
There are reports of storms in the Northeast USA, but no such thing is happening here. Jonathan phoned Sunday to say he was off to the Redmond campus to take a two day course Monday morning, so when we hear about the flight cancellations in the East, we wonder how things are in Rhode Island where he lives. I think he may have flown out just in advance of the storm and be returning after it is over, missing the worst of it.
Tuesday March 6th, 2001
We are off to see a business councillor this morning and our lawyer this afternoon. One thing about selling out is that it is necessary to get good counselling and to set things up properly with the accountants and lawyers before preceding. Once set in motion, the process goes on and on...
Sunrise: 7:08 am Sunset: 6:25 pm
The days are getting quite long now -- almost 12 hours -- and, after a colder than normal spell, we are into nicer than average weather. It's is only a week to ten days until runoff, but there is no snow to melt. My snowmobile sits forlorn in the yard. We have only had enough snow to run it a few times, and even then only on drifts around the yard. My ankle is almost 100% again so I guess I'll have to go to the mountains if i want to play in the snow.
Wednesday March 7th, 2001
Today I have a lot of bookwork to do and tonight I go to Calgary to the Calgary Beekeepers meeting at 7PM.
The weather forecast looks auspicious for spray painting today, so if we don't get any wind, I think we'll paint some of the equipment we have sandblasted.
Normals for the period: Low minus 10. High 2.
Thursday March 8th, 2001
In spite of the cold February, runoff came ten days early this year, indicating to me that this is going to be a good spring for bees, although the lack of snow leaves us short of moisture for now.
We are having great weather today and plan to paint several of the truck decks and trailers. Several are are all sandblasted and ready, and Matt is hard at work painting them. The truck in this picture has the (optional) sides on it for painting. they come off for normal bee work, but are handy for carrying wraps around, etc.
I attended the Calgary Beekeepers meeting last night and was surprised to see that they had 35 or more people in attendance. I had taken disks and hand-outs for twenty. I also learned that only two or perhaps three in the group have more than 50 hives. It was almost embarrassing to explain that we were running up to 4,500 and had 3,600 in winter. Ron Miksa has been a real sparkplug and got the group together about three years ago. Years back, he ran about 1,000 hives in Saskatchewan and Florida, but gave it up to go back to school and now works in Calgary's oil patch. He maintains one of the web's most impressive bee sites out of interest.
Heather Clay, National Co-ordinator for the Canadian Honey Council (CHC) also was in attendance and gave a presentation to the group, mentioning that the next CHC meeting will be in Banff on February 1 and 2, 2001, and that there is a joint meeting planned between the CHC, CAPA, and the US counterparts for Niagara falls in the first week of December 2002. It is hoped that both US organisations, ABF and AHPA will be in Niagara Falls as well as the US inspectors and scientists. If this works out, it will be as big as Apimondia was in Vancouver and hopefully just as good!
Robin Owen was the feature speaker and he gave a fascinating talk on bumble bees. He told us that there are about three hundred species of bumbles in the world and that our area of Alberta has about thirty. He showed how they can be raised in the lab and also discussed predation by flies.
Walter D. came by to look at some items and we went out to look at bees. We deliberately went to the yards I though would be the worst and saw 25% losses in the packs we opened. We opened the worst ones, though out of curiosity, so the count is skewed. The pack at right is a twenty pack and is not typical. Most of our hives are wrapped in four packs or individual wraps.
We did have one surprise. I was very concerned about one new yard that appears windswept and cold although it is on a south-facing slope. When we got there the bees were flying from every hive and working on the feed remaining in the feeder drums from last fall. Later we went to better yards and saw near 100% success and larger clusters. It is still a long time until May when we find out the final success rates.
As a note of interest, in conversation Walter volunteered that he always figures his attrition over an entire year to be about 30% of the hives -- and that just happens to the very figure I use.
Normals for the period: Low minus 9. High 2.