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Unloading supers of honey from a truck

Monday July 30th, 2001, 2000

  • Matt D was no-show - flu
  • Rained all morning.
  • The boys cleaned the Quonset and sorted all the remaining boxes.  
  • Paulo went out to introduce queens.  Dustin picked up the honey pulled Friday.  Saw a little robbing, he thought.
  • Jeff went to pick up the approximately 200 lids we bought.
  • 25 loads run today.  One op was sick at noon and went home.  Best result: 9 loads.  Average: 6
  • 15 full drums on hand plus sump (5)
  • Fen came for supper
  • Matt K came at 6 and converted the third Kelley.  The job took took 5 hours -- even with the brackets pre-built and an hour's help from me..
Today: Mainly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm this afternoon. Wind light. High 19.
Tonight: Mainly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm this evening. Wind light. Low 8.
Normals for the period: Low 10. High 24.

Sunday July 29th, 2001, 2000

I lit the furnace again this morning.  I've used it a few times during the past week to ensure the honey is not too cool and also to dry it a bit, since the moisture on our first few drums was just under 19%.  It is not particularly cold out, but it was windy this morning and at 12 degrees C, that feels cool.  After breakfast, a drizzling rain started up.

We counted full; supers in the honey house this morning and we have 560 awaiting extraction.  Some are pretty heavy. 

I worked all weekend and now (9:30 PM) have all four Kelleys ready to go and all four super elevators running

Today: A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms. Wind becoming west 40 km/h gusting to 60 km/h. High 21.
Tonight: Mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Wind west 20 diminishing. Low 8.

Saturday July 28th, 2001, 2000

I woke up at four feeling fine, and went back to sleep, but at six, I woke again and knew I have the flu.  After throwing up, and waiting a few hours to get my strength back, I felt better and got to work, instructing the staff and pumping drums.

Matt K arrived and made two more extractor drives.

Christina and Heather showed up and ran ten loads.  The tank is now just about full again and awaiting pumping.

Today: A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h. High 22.
Tonight: Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers in the evening. Clearing overnight. Wind southwest 30 diminishing. Low 10.

Friday July 27th, 2001, 2000

Cody missed again today, but Jeff was back.  We sent him to red Deer to get the queens waiting there and Paulo went out to get the splits ready for them.  Dustin and Joel went picking up honey and pulled a few yards too.  Brian's was excellent, Halsteads' Carraganas was not as good.

We had four women extracting today, and Matt D and me working to set up another extractor, pump drums, etc.  Ellen & I trained the new operators and Melissa was a real asset. She had just learned a few days ago and is now able to teach the new operators.  I got the idea of advertising for women not kids or men to do this job, since women are actually better at it than men, and we put an ad in the paper.  We have been overwhelmed with response and done innumerable interviews.  We had thought that there were hardly any people around without jobs, but found that there are many women who are stuck in low paying jobs and are delighted to be offered a decent wage.  The job is paid on a piecework basis and a smart operator can make $15 per hour.

We only ran 12 loads --one more than yesterday -- and got a bit more honey in the tank than yesterday -- about five drums, I think.  All in all, it was a decent day for one person, not four, but in the beginning it takes time for everyone to get co-ordinated and understand the job.  

Matt and I got another extractor running and now there are three working.  This is the Kelley with the new re-powered drive and it is much faster, simpler, and better than the traditional Kelley drive.

Today: Mainly sunny. Wind light. High 23.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms in the evening. Wind light. Low 10.

Thursday July 26th, 2001, 2000

It looks like a good day to pull honey again once the bees get flying.

Cody and Jeff did not show, since they are fighting the flu.  Matt D has had a sinus problem and stayed home to go to the doctor.  Paulo went out to install queens for the day and put in 32.  We have 150 more waiting at the Red Deer bus station for pickup tomorrow morning and another 50 splits or so waiting for them.

Since yesterday was cool and the bees did not fly much if at all, and this morning is still cool, we waited until 10 or so to send Dustin out to check the boxes we left on the ground at Metzgers.  He picked them up and pulled the rest of the yard.  With the help of the blower, he was able to bring the second batch back at the end of the day.  After Metzgers, he came back to get Joel and then went to Loosemores and pulled that yard too.  We're slowed down a bit in pulling due to weather, short staff, the need to introduce queens -- and the fact that the honey house is full of honey in supers awaiting extracting.  

The first load of honey in the extractor yesterdayMelissa and Dorothy came in to extract and Melissa got seven loads done,  Dorothy did two before she left at noon,  I did one and Joel did one for a total of eleven.  The tank is now full to within six inches of the top.  I still have to set up the pump by morning to empty the tank into drums and there are two more extractors to plumb and screw down before we hit full speed ahead.  

I could have been doing those two important jobs, but spent three hours installing GFCI outlets since we work on a cement floor that is often wet and I am concerned that there is considerable risk of serious electrical shock.


Today: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High 21.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers in the evening. Risk of a thunderstorm this evening. Wind light. Low 8.

Wednesday July 25th, 2001, 2000

The guys are taking a break in the honey house on a rainy day.W32.Sircam.Worm@mm continues to fill my email inbox with junk. It appears that many readers of these pages have the infection and the worm is sending me their private files because my email address is in their address books or web caches.  I never look at those files.  I simply delete all email with attachments that I have not requested, so if you email me and do not hear back, chances are I deleted your message.  Fortunately W32.Sircam.Worm@mm has a cure. And here is another.

660 boxes ready to extractToday was cool and windy with rain.  Jeff and Dustin went out and picked up honey.  

A repower kit installed on a Kelley 72Matt D and Joel and I worked on the extractor installation and washed the tank.  One extractor was ready to run and we had two ladies come in to learn the job.  Ellen has the flu, but managed to do the training with a little help from me.  We got a few loads run and a few inches in the tank.

Matt K came by in the evening and we got the conversion for one of the Kelleys completed.

Today: A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. Wind increasing to northwest 40 gusting 60 km/h this afternoon. High 19.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Wind diminishing to light this evening. Low 9.

Tuesday July 24th, 2001, 2000

There are now 490 boxes awaiting extracting in the honey house and another 175 outside tipped and awaiting pickup.  Jeff had a tough day of picking up honey; he still does not know which roads are gravel and which turn to mud when it rains the way it did today.  Anyhow we got some work done.

Today was wet and rainy, but we decided to go ahead and pull honey anyhow.  Dustin and Joel went pulling and Paulo went out to check queens and work on the splits.  Dustin managed to pull 110 boxes and Paulo only did about 30 hives, and both though they could have done better, but I was happy that they got anything done at all since it was quite rainy and windy at times.   I had told them I would understand if they came back early and worked around the place here -- or went home.  

I spent the day and the the evening working on the extracting facility.  Matt K came over to work on the drives after supper.  By bedtime, I had two extractors ready to go.  

Ellen has seven people breaking down the door wanting to extract.  Tomorrow two will get a chance to try out.  I hope that a month  from now that  they still have that enthusiasm.  Usually around the end of August we find ourselves high and dry when the students go back to school and the 'permanent' staff decide that labour day should extend for a week or more.

Today: Becoming mainly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of showers or afternoon thunderstorms. Wind increasing to northwest 40 gusting 60 km/h late this afternoon. High 21.
Tonight: Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers or evening thunderstorms. Clearing overnight. Wind diminishing to northwest 20 km/h this evening. Low 9.
Wednesday: Sunny. A mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon. Wind west 20. High 22.
Thursday: A mix of sun and cloud. Low 9. High 28.
Friday: A mix of sun and cloud. Low 8. High 27.
Saturday: Cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Low 8. High 24.
Normals for the period
Low 9. High 24.

Monday July 23rd, 2001, 2000

Honey waiting for extarctionHoney pulling continued today and now we have about 350 boxes waiting for extraction. That should be about 20 drums of honey.  We need a lot more before the first load of 75 drums goes out.  We also have about two hundred splits ready for queens.  Paulo will start putting queens in tomorrow.

We are using abandonment to remove the bees from the honey.  This method avoids the use of chemicals and is quick and easy.  The only hassle is returning for the boxes the next day.  We wait overnight right now, since there is little risk of robbing by the bees at this time of year.  Nonetheless, we are vigilant.  Bee-Go is faster, but we process our honey in the same building we live in and we just can't stand the smell.

Our crew befiore the morning meeting at 7:55 AMIt rained overnight and so we were careful where we sent the trucks this morning.  We sent one fellow -- who shall remain nameless here -- to get the honey from Saturday and he neglected to take the maps and although El and I each gave him careful instructions, her drove up a mud road and needed towing.  We let him arrange his own rescue and hope he learned.

I wired extractors and did various small jobs.  We are still not quite set up to go.  Tomorrow.

Today: Mainly sunny. Wind light. High 24.
Tonight: Mainly clear. Wind light. Low 10.
Normals for the period: Low 10. High 24.

Sunday July 22nd, 2001, 2000

It's a rainy dull day today. I'm off to Calgary to do a little shopping for parts for the extractors were are re-powering.  I bought four old Kelley 72's this spring, two at auction and two privately.  They are all in serviceable condition, but the original Kelley drive is clunky and subject to problems if not checked and cleaned daily.  

A Kelley 72 and a Kelley super elevator.  Click to enlarge.The Kelley drive design is actually a carryover from the days when shops were powered by a single overhead shaft driven by a waterwheel, wind power, horses, or a single gasoline or electric motor.  This can be deduced from considering the design: it is apparent that the large drive pulley was originally a flat pulley driven by a flat belt running constantly.  The auto advance and the speed control is very ingenious and fairly rugged, but it is subject to honey and wear and has a lot of adjustments that tempt the operators to fiddle or cheat.  They can be easily replaced by a simpler, more reliable mechanism.

We had three original Kelley 72s and used them successfully for years (before we got the bright idea of using the Cowan line and sold them).   They do require daily inspection and cleaning/oiling/adjusting.  It is necessary to check the drives daily to ensure that they are running up to speed and otherwise okay.   If that is neglected, then there is inevitable downtime or poor extraction due to reduced speed.  Although we ran the Kelleys for several years with the original drives intact, before I sold them I converted them to a Hodgson type automatic friction drive.  Now, two years later, I checked with the purchasers and they say the new drives work flawlessly, without any attention at all, so we are converting these units over.  

Two of the Kelleys I bought recently had drives in perfect condition, but the other two looked as if the drives were a bit beat up and possibly out of line.  We know that if they are not properly aligned, they will not work right, and I plan to convert them all anyhow, so Matt K cut the old system off the worst two and has been building the new drive mountings.  It is not a big job.  The main problem is finding all the right components.  That's my job today.   I'll run the original drive on two of them until we have time to change them too.

Today: Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm. Wind light. High 19.
Tonight: Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers this evening. Clearing overnight. Risk of a thunderstorm this evening. Wind light. Low 10.
Normals for the period: Low 10. High 24.

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