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Looking over the transom of Cloud Nine.  jean and a cousing are out for a day of tubing on Lake Rosseau

Tuesday August 7th, 2001, 2000

I returned from the East on the 3PM flight to be ready for the next day.  It was really hot in Toronto, but pleasant in Calgary area.

While I was away, Matt converted the last extractor drive from the old Kelley drive and that makes extracting much more trouble free.

Today: Mainly sunny. Wind light. High 30.
Tonight: Increasing cloud. Wind northeast 20 km/h. Low 11.

Monday August 6th, 2001, 2000

Apparently Jeff quit this morning after driving down to Swalwell and then making a fuss.  Just what Ellen did not need at a tough time.  Nonetheless, we had seen it coming and sat down and talked to him to make sure he had no complaints only a few days before.  At the time he had claimed to be just fine about everything, but this morning he seemed to be able to remember all kinds of grievances. 

Pressure brings out lots of surprising things in people.  The honey flow and beginning extracting is a stressful time, particularly if the boxes are heavy and the weather hot.  The flu certainly didn't help.  Often it makes otherwise satisfied people irrational and crabby.  Working on a long weekend -- even with double pay -- is a stress, too, for today's youth who lack agricultural roots and values.  Jeff  had insisted on getting the job with us as beekeeper trainee, which is a special position with special responsibilities, and special privileges.   When he applied in the spring, Ellen had told him several times that he didn't seem cut out for it, but we had relented under his insistence and took him on.  Our mistake.

I went tubing with the kids again in the afternoon and Ron suggested we go to the Monday night ski show at Lake Joseph in the evening.  Sid, Jean, Chris, Ron and the nieces and nephew all went. It was pretty good.  I was standing watching the show when a couple with a baby approached me and asked if I was me.  It turned out to be Lorraine who used to work at the Alberta Honey Co-op and her husband and new baby.  Small world.

We went back to Ron's and sat on his porch and chatted until late.

Today: Sunny. Wind becoming west 20 km/h. High 29.
Tonight: Clear. Wind light. Low 12.

Sunday August 5th, 2001, 2000

wpeD.jpg (32896 bytes) wpe10.jpg (43446 bytes)

I took the nieces and nephews out on the Lake for some tubing.  I tried the wakeboard, but the one they had was too small and I could not get on top of the water and gave up.  It was hot on the lake and I got a slight burn.  We had a lot of fun.

Today: Sunny. Wind light. High 25.
Tonight: Clear. Wind light. Low 12.

Saturday August 4th, 2001, 2000

Jean and Chris were already here and staying with Ron and his kids are at their place down the river a bit.  This is Linda and Sid's time here and so Mom and I get the upstairs. It is hot up there at night.

Today was the MLA regatta.  we did not go, but some of the kids did.  Lindsay got the best women's trophy last year, but did not compete as much this time.  mom had a party after for some of our friends.

Today: A mix of sun and cloud with 40 percent chance of afternoon showers. Wind northwest 30 km/h. High 22.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers in the evening. Clearing overnight. Wind west 30 km/h diminishing to light. Low 7.

Friday August 3rd, 2001, 2000

We have 265 boxes awaiting extracting and four people coming in.  We are filling drum 60 this morning, so we will be sending out a load next week.

So far we have only a few pounds of bees on the shop windows.  The bees are abandoning well in the yards. There are always a few boxes that have bees and the guys check for brood and blow them out if there is none,  If there is brood, they assume there is a queen set them on a floor to make a new hive.

I left for Ontario in mid-morning.  I hated to go right when things are at a peak, but feel I must for various reasons.  I've been working two weeks straight and need to get out of everyone's hair.  Everything is in place and working, so I am not needed, and I am getting a bit crabby and impatient from overwork.  Best let things run on their own.

I arrived at Pine Hill in the late evening.  The weather was hot - over 30 C.

Today: Sunny. Wind increasing to south 30 km/h. High 29.
Tonight: Clear. Wind south 30 km/h diminishing. Low 11.
Normals for the period: Low 9. High 24.

Thursday August 2nd, 2001, 2000

There are only 250 boxes sitting in the honey house this morning.  The ladies said it would be all extracted by 1 PM.  I believed them and had to go out to get more -- pronto.  The guys were out tipping more and would not return until around five. 

TSupers tipped for abandoning.  These ones have been here for three days.he trick to abandonment is to pull the boxes on a day with good flying weather so the bees are accustomed to flying.  After a rain this method does not work as well for a day or so even if the weather gets hot, since the bees have to get flying again before the abandon well.  Here is a shot of supers tipped for abandoning. These have been here for three days for various reasons.  Usually we pick them up the same day or the next morning.  If we know a rainy day is coming, we tip as many as we can in advance, since the bees abandon well in advance of rain and we can pick up in the rain, but cannot tip more until late in the first sunny day after the rainy period.  Robbing is not a problem at this time of year, but we will have to start being more careful soon.

Looking in my Swinger rear view mirrorI drove out to Elliotts East and picked up 44 boxes in about forty-five minutes.  After doing some odd jobs, I headed out to take supers to Dustin, since he had run out.  We are finding ourselves a little short of supers, since some hives have six boxes on. I traded trucks with him and went to Falks to pick up the 75 supers waiting there.

T130 full supers on the truckhe guys blew a tire again on the way home.  Fortunately they were near a tire shop and limped in right at closing time.  I weighed the truck when they got back to see if there is a problem with weight distribution and found we have 4,378 pounds on the front and 9,966 pounds on the rear.  Since the tires are rates at over 2,750 pounds each, I can't see what the problem is.  We check the pressures each morning before a highway trip.  We use a hammer most days and a gauge once a week.

My weight has dropped to 236 now and I eat as much as I like and have as much mead as I like too.  I suppose that the season has something to do with it.  In the summer, I get more active and usually lose as much as 10 pounds, but this year I have lost 20.  I think it has to do with cutting out sweet and starchy foods and boosting the protein content.  I eat a lot more eggs and meat and cottage cheese now and almost no potatoes, rice or bread.  I've quit worrying about fat, but do use the lower fat products where possible.

A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High 27.
Mainly clear. Light wind. Low 9.
Normals for the period: Low 9. High 24.

Wednesday August 1st, 2001, 2000

We are 39% finished our first pulling round and have 10 pounds per hive in barrels or awaiting extraction. 

I took out the first bunch of full drums to make room. this afternoon.

Today: Mainly sunny. Wind south 20 km/h this afternoon. High 25.
Tonight: 30 percent chance of an evening thunderstorm otherwise clear. Wind southwest 20. Low 10.

Tuesday July 31st, 2001, 2000

  • Performance reviews
  • Paycheques
  • 35 drums filled
  • Running out of honey to extract in the honey house.
  • The extracting crew will start at noon tomorrow and Dorothy will take a day off

Got this email today.  


Read with interest your comments about paying your extraction workers on a piecework basis. Would you share how your plan works ? Also how does your advertisement focus on attracting female workers. When I try to run this type of ad or place a job order at the manpower office, political correctness gets in the way.

I am having the same problems as you with students and young male staff.

Here is a sample of the text in the posters we put up in neighbouring towns.

 Help Wanted
 in Swalwell

Are you?...

Good with your hands?

A steady worker?

Able to work independently?


If so, then you can make up to $15 an hour -- and maybe more
extracting honey -- depending on your ability

No experience is necessary. We train you on the job.
Applicants must be able to do some lifting

Call today for more information and an interview

Call Allen or Ellen Dick at

This job continues into September and October for some
 workers, but students on summer holidays 
may apply for short-term work.

Men and women do equally well on this job

Notice Posted July 14th, 2001

Here's our newspaper classified ad.  Between the two, we have been deluged with interest.

Help Wanted: Men, women, or students. Three extractor operators required in Swalwell during August and September: No experience necessary. Good workers can make $15 an hour or more. Part-time or full-time. Work short-term or full season. Some lifting. Call 546-2588 for details.

Joel phoned in to say he will not be working here any more.  He had some back problems and is also quite young.  Nonetheless he did some good work.  He is only 16.  We periodically lost sight of that fact since he was quiet and seemed older than some of those several tears his senior and wound up with what should have been their jobs since they kept us guessing what they would do next.  He went pulling honey in the field for several days and found his back was acting up, so I had suggested he avoid lifting and consult a chiropractor.  Unfortunately the best local chiropractor was away on vacation for a few days.  

I am always concerned about boys under eighteen doing a lot of heavy work, and try to avoid having them lifting boxes all day, since sometimes they are still growing and I don't think it is good for them.  They often insist on hiring on, and, once part of the team, it is often hard to keep them from getting out and doing such jobs, since they are eager to show what they can do.  I know I was that way and when I was on camping trips at age 12, I often carried a canoe on long portages when that was the job of  a much older member of the group.  

It is really a mistake to hire kids, but they need a place to start.  Often we wind up babysitting and that is frustrating and distracting -- and expensive in terms of management time and productivity, but sometimes we get a really good student who stays with us for years.

A few showers this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Wind light. High 20.
40 percent chance of evening showers or thunderstorms then clearing. Wind light. Low 9.

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