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Tuesday March 20th, 2001, 2000
The first day of spring

...and the weather is cooler, if anything.

I spent the day on accounting again and hope to get a handle on it really soon.  I am getting very tired of the set-up involved in getting the new company going.

Requests for information have tapered off a bit lately.  They seem to be related to the weather and I have been warned to expect a deluge when the weather warms and people get out to look at their bees.  We got the Arataki advertising letter today and it is amazing how much they are charging for their package bees.  It makes our prices for overwintered hives look cheap.

Matt went to Three Hills and got the blue cab and chassis ready for sale -- it was at the painter's.  We drove it out to the highway and put a sign on it.  We'll see if we get some response.  It's a bargain.  I'm selling it for what I paid for it, even though put a new windshield and new paint on it and we never drove it.  Nonetheless, vehicles depreciate whether they are driven or not.  At ten years old, though, depreciation stops and the condition dictates the selling price.

Joe met Matt in Three Hills.  He needed the scale paper.  Apparently Blue Sky had already finished the soy burgers and was half way through the pink patties.

Still no pin striper. 

Today: Increasing cloudiness. High plus 4.
Tonight: Mainly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of evening showers or flurries. Clearing overnight. Low minus 7.

Normals for the period: Low minus 7. High 4.

Wednesday March 21st, 2001, 2000

The days are getting quite long -- over twelve hours and the normals are getting higher almost daily.  Nonetheless we are again in a cool period and will be for the rest of the week.

I am now looking forward to going out to look at the bees and to put on patties.  We had hoped to have them all sold by now, but realise that May is the time they really sell fast, not March.  At any rate they must be cared for and we will medicate, feed, adjust and generally care for them until they find a new home.  We have several buyers coming this weekend and hope to get some commitments.

Today I must prepare for my trip to Edmonton tomorrow.  I address the Edmonton and District Association Thursday night and will give a PowerPoint presentation about how we operate.  I plan to go up early (it is  a three hour trip) and perhaps stay overnight.

Today: Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. High zero.
Tonight: Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 10.

Normals for the period: Low minus 7. High 5.


Sunrise: 6:35 am: Sunset: 6:51 pm
The Moon is Waning Crescent (19% of Full)

Thursday March 22nd, 2001, 2000

Looking out my window this morning.We have fresh, fluffy snow, six inches of it.  I have to drive to Edmonton today to be at the Edmonton Beekeepers meeting tonight.  I've been asked to speak.  I made a  presentation (using PowerPoint) at the ABA convention last November showing how we do things in our outfit.   Several EBA members who saw it want to see it again and share it with members of the group who have not seen it.  This is also a chance to offer our bees and equipment for sale, so we are getting a few disks and flyers prepared.

I left for Edmonton around 1PM and was there in time for supper with Tom Hegan at 5.  The meeting started at 7:30 with about 30 people in attendance. 

One of the first items on the agenda was the matter of future package bee importation into the Peace river area of Alberta.  The Peace River beekeepers have long held the position that the closing of the US/Canada border to importation of packages has destroyed their profitability.  They feel that they did much better buying package bees each spring and gassing hem in the fall. Recent finds of varroa in New Zealand and subsequent relaxation of the rules against importation from that varroa positive country has renewed the hope that the Peace could get access again to California bees.  The Peace beekeepers have always held that the California bees were much better and also cheaper.  Apparently they had to get the backing of the ABA to proceed with their efforts with the provincial and federal governments.  We were told that the ABA executive had taken it upon themselves to endorse the efforts of the Peace group, at least until the next AGM.

My presentation, with its 45 slides, took about an hour and a half and went well.  Quite a few of those present sought me out during coffee to thank me and say how much they enjoyed the presentation.  That was a relief, since if the talk had been dull, no one would have said much.  I really like this kind of project and would not mind at all being invited to meetings anywhere to give talks.  I realise that actually this diary would make a good basis and with just the diary and a projector for my laptop I could talk for a long time...

This diary is now a bit over a year old.  One of my main purposes in writing a diary was to be able in future years to look back and see how I was thinking when I made decisions and to spot errors before I made them again (and again).   I recently went back a year and started reading.  I' m finding it interesting, but am also realising how much material is in it.

Today: Periods of snow. Wind northeast 20 km/h. High minus 9. High windchill 1700 diminishing. Risk of frostbite.
Tonight: Occasional snow. Wind diminishing to light southeast. Low minus 14.

Normals for the period: Low minus 7. High 5.

Friday March 23rd, 2001, 2000

After staying the night at a motel in South Edmonton, I hit the road for Road for Red Deer in the morning.  I then  spent the day shopping for odds and ends for various projects we are working on, and then had supper with Jean and Chris at their place.  Jean made taco salads and I learned how simple they are to make and was reminded what good meal they make.

I did some more shopping at Costco and then headed home.  In particular I was looking for a good deal on blue shop towels and was not disappointed.  They were 1/3 cheaper than Canadian tire, and 1/4 cheaper than Wal-Mart.  

When they turned me out -- they close at 8:30 -- it was dark and cold with a stiff breeze from the north.  I recalled that the predictions were for minus 17 C.  I proceeded south on #2, then turned east onto #42.  After about ten miles, I noticed sparks in the rear view mirror and remembered that once or twice while still in in Red Deer, I had heard what sounded like alternator belt slipping, but had not seen anything definite when I looked under the hood.  Now I realised that the alternator bearings had failed seriously and the armature was dragging on the fields.  I pulled over to verify what was happening, and when I pulled over the engine stalled, then refused to crank. The alternator bearings was now seized.  

That was my guess anyhow, and the proof would have to wait for more favourable working conditions. Fortunately I had purchased AMA full coverage (the plus) for the BC trip and it was still in effect, so I called their 800 number.  In no time a truck appeared, hooked the car up, and hauled it the fifty miles home to Swalwell.  I rode with the driver and was in an unusually talkative mood.  He was an excellent audience and, if he was not entertained by my tales, he did not let on.

Today: Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. High minus 7.
Tonight: Partly cloudy. Low minus 15.

Normals for the period: Low minus 7. High 5.

Saturday March 24th, 2001, 2000

In the morning, I confirmed that the problem was indeed the alternator and phoned around, but could not find a replacement locally. 

Joe and Oene came by to drop off some grease patties, since they were going to Acme to get some supplies and after they left for town, I realised that I had not tried the NAPA in Acme.  I found an alternator there and caught the Meijers in time to have them pick it up.

By the time they got here again, it was lunch time and we had a good visit.  After lunch, we did a small scale trial run preparing the blue shop towel treatment. It  seems pretty straightforward.  I'm told not to do this in the kitchen and the instructions say to use eye protection, etc., but we found it was pretty simple and not too odorous until the bagging part, at which point we decided to open a window for a few moments.

 

The Blue Shop Towel Method
for Tracheal Mite Control in Honey Bees

 
  Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge 1/3 towel placed at back of hive to avoid driving bees off brood.  The pink item is an extender patty.  
  Dipping 1/3 roll of towel (core removed) into a 50/50 mix of Crisco and menthol.  Keep the mixture just above the melting point. Removing the saturated roll of towel.  The roll is hot and it drips.  There are strong fumes.  Be careful.  Work outdoors if possible. Bagging a finished roll of towels. Menthol evaporates if not enclosed.  Use ASAP, and store towels in a cool place until needed 1/3 towel placed at back of hive to avoid driving bees away from the brood. The pink is an extender patty. Feeder in foreground  

Makes 60 rolls of 55 sheets each. 
Treats 3,300 hives once or 1,650 hives twice

  1. Melt roughly equal amounts (by weight) of Crisco vegetable shortening and menthol crystals in a pot.  Do it outside or under a fume hood.  Be aware: the mixture is very flammable.  Avoid excess heat, since menthol is very volatile -- and too expensive to boil off for no good reason.
               *  1 box Crisco is 20 kg.  That is 20,000 g (or 44 lbs)
               *  1 drum of menthol is 25 kg.  That is 25,000 g (or 55 lbs)
               *  1 ice cream pail of menthol is about 4 lbs.
               *  Melt 1/2 box of Crisco and 5-1/2 pails menthol at a time, using a washtub and torch or burner.

  1. Cut 20 rolls of blue shop towels into thirds to make 60 rolls about the size of toilet paper rolls .

  2. Remove the cardboard inner core.  Soak the rolls of  towel in the menthol/oil mixture until fully saturated.

  3. Drain a bit and place the rolls into ZipLoc bags.  Store them in a cool place until needed.
                *   Result: 60 (1/3 size) rolls x 2 batches
                *   60 x 55 sheets per roll = 3,300 sheets each with 6g menthol and 6g Crisco           

  4. Take them to the field and place one of the 1/3 sheets on the top bars of each hive at the front or back, not right over the cluster.  Daytime temperatures should not exceed 70 degrees F or be much under 50.  Results will vary with the hive and entrance design, location and whether the bees are still wrapped or not.  Menthol will evaporate if left in the sun or a hot place.  Keep unused rolls sealed and in a cool place.  Warning: Too much menthol will drive bees off the brood or kill brood.

  5. Repeat in ten days or two weeks

  6. That's it.  Forget about tracheal mites for a year or more. (Do check a bit in the fall, though)

We only got around to one treatment and found a year later that we did not find tracheal mites
 in a cursory exam that should have turned up any serious problems.

We treat in spring before the weather gets too hot.

It's best to check your bees twice a year, though -- spring and fall.
Don't just assume you have control. Be sure.

Note: Samples taken after treatment will test positive, since dead mites remain inside
 the adult bees until the bees die of old age.  Therefore subsequent testing to prove 
efficacy must wait at least six weeks after the treatment.

Here are four good articles from BEE-L with more details about the Blue Shop Towel Method  

When Meijers left, I installed the new alternator and the car runs just like new again.

For supper, we went to the annual wild game supper at the Three Hills Rural School with Bert, Zeke, and Fen.  The meal is buffet style and features a wide variety of game cooked in creative fashion.  An evening of cards follows. 

Today: Mainly cloudy with occasional snow. Wind southeast 20 km/h. High minus 8.
Tonight: Mainly cloudy with occasional snow. Wind southeast 20. Low minus 14.

Normals for the period: Low minus 7. High 5.

Sunday March 25th, 2001, 2000

It is cool and windy this morning.  This is exactly the kind of weather I was hoping we would not get.  Cold is one thing, but wind like this drives cold air into hives and chills clusters that are already weakened by the long winter, and just beginning brood rearing.  They are most vulnerable at this time of year.  Our neighbour reports losing ten calves to the cold wind, and I am sure it cost us too.

Today: Periods of snow developing. Wind southerly 30 km/h. High minus 2.
Tonight: Occasional snow tapering off. Total accumulation up to 3 cm. Wind southeast 20 km/h shifting to west overnight. Low minus 5.

Normals for the period: Low minus 6. High 6.

Monday March 26th, 2001, 2000

Two IbexesThe morning I spent at my desk, then after lunch, El, Jean, Chris and I went to Calgary. We passed a few hours at the zoo, then went to the Stromboli Inn for supper. As always, the pizza was excellent -- perhaps the best on this planet.

Our intention had been to go to Ikea, then pick up Orams' car at Bernies, just northeast of Calgary, where it had received a new clutch, but on leaving the restaurant, we found that heavy wet snow was falling.  Traffic in the city was awful due to the slippery conditions and we took the first chance to get onto a highway out of town. 

Once on the highway, we discovered that storm conditions were more widespread than we expected from the report Chris had received when he called Bernie, so we realised that the weather was moving in fast. Six inches of heavy wet slush were already making progress difficult on the Trans-Canada and the falling snow was blinding and confusing in the headlights. It caked our windshield and the headlights; we had to stop several times to remove packed snow by hand so that the wipers could function. Driving was an act of faith. Visibility approached nil at times due to streaking and oncoming flakes blurring hypnotically in the headlights. Once on the highway out of town, though, we were committed since traffic continued, and to try to stop to wait it out was to risk causing a pile-up. We decided to postpone getting Chris and Jean's car and to try to make it home -- or somewhere safe -- by getting ahead of the eastbound storm.

We continued cautiously east at speeds as low as 60 KPH and finally got ahead of the storm around the junction of Highway Nine.  We then headed north and, by the time we were home a half hour later, we no longer saw signs of any storm. 

Below are links to my BEE-L posts since the 15th of this month.

034803 01/03/15 06:40 149 Fw: Quality of Honey
034804 01/03/15 06:59 21 Re: varroa resistant bees
034814 01/03/15 13:46 33 Re: Imidacloprid in France and Holland
034824 01/03/16 22:06 95 Re: varroa resistant bees
034834 01/03/18 10:20 83 Re: The dynamics of haoneybee and varroa populations (was Thai Bees)
034850 01/03/19 08:26 67 Re: The dynamics of honeybee and varroa populations
034857 01/03/19 09:46 29 Bees in Cyberspace
034905 01/03/23 23:20 59 Re: irradiating honey
034918 01/03/25 08:17 31 BEE-L FAQ and Guidelines for Posting to BEE-L
034919 01/03/25 08:48 43 Re: Queen stopped laying
034920 01/03/25 08:50 32 Re: Formic Pads
034922 01/03/26 04:36 28 Re: Russian Queens
Today: Mainly cloudy. Rain at times mixed with snow developing. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming northwest. High plus 8.
Tonight: Rain at times mixed with snow this evening then partly cloudy. Wind northwest 20. Low minus 5.

Tuesday March 27th, 2001, 2000

This was another day of desk work and little else.

Today: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to southwest 20 km/h. High plus 8.
Tonight: Partly cloudy. 40 percent chance of snow overnight. Wind west 20. Low minus 3.

Normals for the period: Low minus 6. High 6.

Wednesday March 28th, 2001, 2000

It's a sunny morning, but we're expecting a wind later today.  Some years can be calm, and some years are windy.  This looks like another of the latter.  I guess I should be thinking of doing some windsurfing.

The stock market has been quite turbulent recently after a long period of little change in the Dow accompanied by declines in the NASDAQ and the TSE.  I have very little to do with the markets these days, but I do keep an eye on it. So far the long term trend is not definitely broken, but the next little while could be very interesting.

The Europeans are currently suffering under the Foot and Mouth outbreak.  A recent post to BEE-L makes it clear what a serious problem this could be to beekeepers.

Stan Sandler, the fellow who first alerted me the to potential problem with imidacloprid several years back, has been following up and I will be updating the imidacloprid site with new data.

This afternoon I had reason to go to Linden and swung by the Willows yard to see how things are going.  I expected the worst, since these are the bees that were twice trashed by cows last winter and then moved and re-wrapped.  I was delighted to see they were ALL alive and looking good, although several are light.

Today: Wind northwest 30 gusting to 50 km/h. Mainly sunny with increasing cloud this afternoon. High plus 7.
Tonight: Partly cloudy. Wind northwest 20. Low minus 4.

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