Saturday June 16th, 2001, 2000
We are working Saturday again this week. Since Steve got sick with mono, we've been running shorthanded. The flu and Jeff's ear problems got us a bit behind and now we are trying to catch up. Although many of the jobs do not require a great deal of experience, it is necessary to get to know new people and to train them a bit before we trust them with a truck, and before they can be counted on to find the bee yards and to do the necessary work reliably. Both Jeff and Paulo are shaping up well, but we need another good man. I'm finding it necessary, due to the shortage and work backlog, to do some of the work I should be delegating . We are are a bit reluctant to hire too many people, since once we catch up, we could have too many when the students we have hired come to work after school. Perhaps I am a bit too eager to get the supers on, too. I doubt it though. Once the weather warms up in June, the best plan is to super up the hives as quickly as possible.
Paulo put on thirds in two yards, but I was held up repairing the dipstick tube on one truck which had been pulled out when a new hire broke a dipstick. Then I spent two hours setting up a neighbour to paint the new boxes, and with the remaining chores, the morning was gone. The fellows left at noon and I decided to see how well they had been performing the job of going through supers to insert foundation, to pull out bad frames, and to uncap and distribute the granulation. I found that my expectations had been unreasonable and that Paulo had been doing quite well on Friday. I was able to do only 3-1/3 pallets of 36 in a bit over two hours. That is 120 supers -- or about a super a minute.
I was discussing diet some time back and people may be wondering how it is going. Well, I don't really stick to a diet, but I have cut away down on starches and I never did eat many sweets. I am consistently about 12 pounds below where I was last winter and notice a slight decrease in weight over time. Once in a while, I even see '241' on the digital scale. I feel much better as well and my digestion is much improved. I think if I did not drink too much wine every week or two I would be much better off, and have lost more weight.
People assume I am retired because I said I was going to retire. I suppose that I could have had an auction and taken a chance or sold cheap, but we are selling out in an orderly fashion over time. Our timetable was to be three years and we are 1/3 sold, so I guess we are on track. Nonetheless, we had hoped that everything would sell immediately. It has not. I don't really mind, since this is what I enjoy, but my wife had her heart set on a life of leisure.
Sunday June 17th, 2001, 2000
In 1998, by this date, I had already delivered a load of bees to Lomond on a test run. Last year, we would be gearing up for the Big Delivery starting on the 20th or so. This year, we are only concerned about getting our supers on and thinking about setting up the extracting. Pollination was profitable, and a steady source of income, but hard on bees and hard on people.
Monday June 18th, 2001, 2000
The new supers we bought last week are now being assembled and painted. Jeff is headed north and Paulo is supering local yards.
Last year I showed a shot of Jon's house. We never did get around to seeding the lawn after levelling, but it has taken care of itself.
Tuesday June 19th, 2001, 2000
Lilac and silver willow are still blooming. This is as late as I can remember for them. I see some carrragana still in bloom. Alfalfa is starting to bloom some places.
Jeff and Karl made up supers, combining light comb, foundation and some granulation to make consistent supers for thirds and fourths. They are still pretty slow, but speeding up. The trick is to minimize the motions in the job, since it is repetitive. A good operator should be able to average around a box a minute over a day, figuring six hours of the eight being productive, since there is no scraping and the job is mostly just exchanging combs. Occasionally granulation needs to have the cappings scratched and foundation needs straightening, but mostly the job is a test of IQ, organisational ability, and tenacity. These are all characteristics we seek and reward, so this job tells us quite a bit about a person's potential.
Now that I look more carefully over the boxes I recently picked up, I think that the auction valued them fairly. The combs are mostly good, but there is a frame or two of foundation per box and quite a few of the boxes themselves are in poor shape, although some are quite new. Add to that the fact that they are a variety of colours, and that knocks the value down.
Some beekeepers think that using a variety of colours helps the bees to orient, but I have always believed that it confuses them, since reversing the broods results in a yard that looks totally different and adding and removing supers changes things drastically as well. This can result in bees piling up in one hive and not seeing another. One colour is best. Which one, I do not know. I use white, since it is traditional, but that maybe comes from the south where heat is a problem. Up here, grey or black might be better, since they draw heat and we usually are too cool, not too hot.
I went out tonight to put queens into splits and got home about nine. The splits look better than I expected and I should have taken some boxes with me. I enjoy seeing a good yard and working good bees, then get depressed when I come across a few poor ones. I noticed that a queen I had put in a few days back does not seem to be laying. I find using mated queens to be unpredictable, and often wonder if they are working at all. At other times, they seem to be 100%. I guess that is true of anything to do with bees.
Looking at the counter on this page, which due to some ISP problem got set back a long way from where it was a few months ago, I see quite a few hits a day now. I get occasional notes from readers, but it is interesting to try to imagine the range of people who are dropping by.
Wednesday June 20th, 2001, 2000
Bill came down this morning to get his truck -- he bought the hive loader truck so time back, but it has been here and he has been using one of of our other trucks. He took a load of supers along, seeing as he is running some of our hives. The guys are still working on the supers. We're hoping to have everything four high by July 1st so we can all take a four day weekend.
I had to declare our hives for crop insurance by today, so we figured it out and came up with 2087 and got that over with. I had an appointment with an allergist in Calgary at 2PM and made it just in time. The trip turned out to be a total waste of time. His tests only found 2 of the 4 obvious environmental allergens the last doctor found 12 years ago. After the visit, I went to the zoo for an hour. That's where I am now, writing this on my Palm.
Thursday June 21st, 2001, 2000
Friday June 22nd, 2001, 2000
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