Friday June 8th, 2001, 2000
In the afternoon, I worked through Kievers North and Kievers South. Matt and Paulo were up north and went through another ten yards supering and adjusting hives. I worked about four hours full-out and then hit the wall about six and returned home. I had run out of brood boxes and could not quite finished the second yard. nonetheless the two yards totalled about one hundred hives, so that is not too bad.
Saturday June 9th, 2001, 2000
We are working today. It turned out that Steven B. has mono, and although he really, really wants to work and loves the job, he just can't do much He was planning to come in today, but when the guys called to pick him up, he was still in bed. That's fine. It is a loss to us all, but his health is the most important thing, and rest is essential to recovering. I know what it is like. I had mono in university at exam time and and I went to the exam room and just sat there waiting for the clock to run out. I hardly wrote a thing.
Jeff and Joel came though. We are a bit behind and Jeff has missed a bit of work this week, so we thought it was a good idea to try to catch up a bit. Also we wanted to see his brother in action, since he is planning to work here this summer and this will be his try-out. He turned out to be a natural and I am sure he will fit in fine. They loaded two trucks for Monday and worked through several pallets of supers. Then we supered the home yard and did a bit of beekeeping. I kept the field work part down to three hours or so; it is not a good idea to take a new guy out for a full day the first time.
Sunday June 10th, 2001, 2000
When writing here, I am aware that there is much more that is not said than what is said. It is difficult to decide what to write about and what to leave out, and of course, there are things I take for granted and don't even think to mention.
People are assuming that we have sold out or are well on the way. Actually, it seems we are stuck for the present at 1/3 sold. That is not too bad, I guess, since it takes the pressure off, but we will be running a sizable operation this summer again.
Occasionally people ask what happened to the people who worked here last year and who appeared in this diary. Gareth left to work with his wife in a graphics business in Three Hills. They are doing well. Ryan went to school in Camrose. Matt has quit and is hoping to get work on the oil rigs, although he is still doing work for us occasionally. Steve P. took some courses and was planning to get on seismic work up north. None of them saw beekeeping as a potential career or took interest in the educational, management or ownership opportunities offered to them while working here and some actively discouraged others from moving up in this business.
Friday morning while I was on the phone, Doug Colter, Chief Alberta Apiary Inspector, phoned and I got his message on voice mail. Apparently he is in the area and wants to look at a number of our locations in their search for resistant foulbrood. He left no number and there is no way to get in touch with him. We left a note for him on the door and watched our messages, but we still did not hear back. Finally, yesterday, I called his home to see if he is still around. Apparently he is down in this south country for another 10 days. Later I heard he had been to Meijers and looked a quite a few yards. Frankly, I'm not too excited about having people ripping through our hives when we have a big stack of dead-outs from last winter they could inspect without disturbing any bees or driving all over the country, but do want to be sure to assist in the effort to control this threat.
It was all-in-all a quiet day with not much happening. In the evening we got rain showers again. The fears of drought have now receded, but we will be needing more moisture over the next few weeks if crops are to bloom and yield.
Monday June 11th, 2001, 2000
It's one of those days. This is the last sunny day predicted for this week. We have two trucks loaded to put on supers and the guys need instructions. Doug called and is coming over to inspect hives by noon. Herb called and is sending my extractors and some supers out and needs cash. The banker sent the money, but needs some papers signed. Today. A buyer phoned and needs one of my Swingers NOW and wants to send cash. Dave is here working on the windows in the shop and needs some of my time. One of our beehive buyers phoned to report that his financing fell through. That's not a huge surprise, but it means we have to structure things differently...
Doug and Tyson arrived and started going through the dead-outs.
Tuesday June 12th, 2001, 2000
We are getting lots of rainy weather now, but the actual accumulation has not been much over an inch since last fall. Nonetheless, things are getting green and the pastures are recovering. The winds have calmed down lately and we are finding working outside much more pleasant. Paulo and Jeff are each out putting on supers and I am seeing honey in a few here and there.
Doug and Tyson finished checking dead-outs, finding nothing. They then went to several yards and looked for disease, then left around six.
Wednesday June 13th, 2001, 2000This morning, the truck arrived with the extractors and the supers I bought in Saskatchewan. After seeing good supers going cheap, I had realised that we could always use a few more since when the flow hits, the bees need space. I also must admit that we have close to 1,000 supers with varying amounts of granulation in them and they cannot be put on as-is. We must interspace the granulation (which must be uncapped) with empty combs or with foundation. (This is an excellent position for drawing foundation). We must limit the amount of granulation to two combs maximum, and put them on early -- as thirds if possible. If this is done right, the granulation is always liquefied. At any rate, granulation takes space and we can't count supers with honey in them as empty.
In my experience, a minimum of five standard sized boxes, including broods, must be available for each hive, plus however many are in extracting and transit. Some people get by with less, but when we raised that number to six, we had a bigger crop. Co-incidence? I think not. We put all our supers on every year by July 1st if possible. There are always 1,000 supers or so in the honey house or on trucks, so that must be considered when figuring the ratio, since those supers are not actually on the hives.
Having extra supers and using them early in the season pays off. If we don't get out there and make lots of room, we lose more than the amount we might save by scrimping and not buying the necessary supers or paying the labour to put them on. Not only is the potential honey lost, but the hives get plugged and wintering suffers later.
Thursday June 14th, 2001, 2000
Office work is very time-consuming. I spent an hour or two arranging to send the Swinger and trailer to Quebec and various other chores.
After lunch I headed out to put in some queens and to add more supers. I added fourths to some hives that had been previously supered to three high since I was in the yard for the splits, even though some yards are still in two. Getting to the yard is half the work, and when I am there I try to make sure I won't have to return too soon. I got home around 9:30. I prefer to work alone so I can get into a groove, but often have a crew. Today I was by myself, since the other two crews were supering in the northern sector.
Now that we have passed the May long weekend, the days are very long, the weather is settled, seldom going near freezing, and the bees are strong, so I can add any number of supers that I think the hive may be able to fill. In fact this is the way to get a crop around here: put on all the supers as soon as the bees are starting to go up. Delaying can cause swarming or reluctance to go up. It seems there are certain days that they are ready to go, and if the space is there, they use it. If not, then they show less, if any, interest later. After or during the main flow, crowding the hives a bit to ensure full combs and drawn foundation can be beneficial, but at this point, it pays to be optimistic and provide ample room.
We are getting a bit of rain every day lately. This is good, since the bees get out for some pollen and nectar, then stay home and raise brood.
Friday June 15th, 2001, 2000