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Friday August 24th 2001, 2000
Paulo and Kenton pulled the honey from two more yards and things went well. We are still only getting 125 boxes in a day, but they are doing some other jobs too, such as taking out empties in the evening.
I'm seeing more honey in the empty supers than I would like. Some of it is residual granulation from the combs put back last year, but the honey is now down at 15.9% moisture and it is hard to get honey to run out of the combs the way it should, even with an extended extractor cycle. We're running 15 minutes now.
So far the nights are quite warm and we have been able to leave the windows open most nights.
There are about 600 supers in the HH tonight and we are filling drum #194.
Thursday August 23rd, 2001, 2000
Although Sherriff veils such as the one I wear in the photo (left) are very handy because they can be worn in a truck and don't take up space when not actually over the head, they are very inadequate in several important ways. They don't protect the chin from stings and don't provide sun protection. A bandana tied as a sweat band or over the head can provide some protection and keeps the sweat from running down the face. Some people wear ball caps, but for me they are hot and awkward.
Wednesday August 22nd, 2001, 2000
Tuesday August 21st, 2001, 2000
I stepped on the scale and saw '233' on the readout this morning. I haven't been starving myself, or even dieting for that matter, and I am now down 23 pounds from my peak at 256 pounds. (The peak weight may have been even higher, but I tended to ignore any higher readings). Some days, I do see the number go back up a pound or three, but it always seems to go lower a few days later. Mostly it goes up after I have enjoyed a bottle or more of wine or mead. A few glasses don't seem to have much effect. As for exercise, yes, I am getting a bit more than in the winter, but not a lot. It seems that just avoiding potatoes, bread, and other starchy foods as well as sweet things is doing the trick. Doing this is not at all as hard as some might imagine. Sweet and starchy things just do not appeal to me anymore. It is hard to believe that the answer could be that simple. I've heard how people who are suddenly and simply cured of a chronic disease find it hard to believe. I can understand that feeling.
It is cool again today and I thought we could pull off top supers without any problem if we get out early enough. I went out and checked the home yard and found that the bees aren't down much yet. We all then went out to Elliott's East where I had planned to pull the hives down to three high and demonstrate using a bee blower, since abandonment gets tricky for the inexperienced at this time of year. As it turned out, the alfalfa there is now well into bloom again, and Paulo convinced me to leave them at four high for a while longer. I remember back to past years, and once in a while we have had a great flow in late August, so I relented, even knowing we may bring many of those boxes back empty or -- worse -- with traces of honey.
We also went to Gordons and pulled honey there. We have some splits there and I checked the queens and added seconds while the guys did the honey work. I was disappointed by the size of the splits. Obviously there has not been much for them in the last 3 weeks, but there was lots of honey on the full-size hives.
Monday August 20th, 2001, 2000
It was cooler this morning -- about 8 degrees C -- and we spent the AM tidying up the Quonset to be ready to store supers for the winter. There seems to be a bit of honey left in some of the supers, so we are leaving them out to be robbed for a few days and hoping to recover the honey this season. We checked the home yard to see if their supers were full from robbing the supers, but found little weight gained. although there is lots of activity, maybe there is little to be gained.
I remember past years in the last decade or so when we had a killer frost on the 20th of August and also years when we had no serious frost until October. I wonder what kind of year this will be.
Sunday August 19th, 2001, 2000
There was a series of loud thunderstorms during the night that seemed general throughout the province. The moisture was quite welcome. Ellen had been watering the garden when we left Friday due to the dry, hot weather the past few weeks. These storms seemed to break the hot spell. Hot days and hot nights like we have experienced are hard on those of us who are unused to temperatures over 30 degrees C for extended periods. Working in the sun pulling honey and extracting in a hot honey house tires even the toughest of our staff and exhausts Ellen and me.
After breakfast, we went out to see Bill. He had a pretty bad crop failure, but is getting the bees ready for winter to ensure that they survive in good shape. Such years are part of beekeeping. His area is a good one, but all the beekeepers around there suffered small crops this year. The flow is very short in that region and a few weeks bad weather at the wrong time is all it takes. Our own area is not a productive, but the flows are longer. Nonetheless, we have had years with almost no honey produced.
We visited Tom and Suzanne and Bonnie and Chester as well while we were in that area. Experienced beekeepers in the region for many years, they had also been affected by the weather and found that their crops were much smaller than usual.
Saturday August 18th, 2001, 2000
I see about 700 boxes in the honey house awaiting extraction.
We headed up to Red Deer to do some shopping and to meet Jean and Chris. We drove to Panoka for supper, grilled up some huge steaks, then stayed the night.
When we decided we wanted to buy steaks, El & I dropped into a Real Canadian Superstore. We were somewhat surprised to be greeted by this sign displayed prominently on an easel at the entrance. It served to validate our recent realization that there aren't many good people who are not employed right now and that good people are hard to recruit. It also shows that it takes good incentives to keep any worthwhile staff that can be found.
The sign showed just how retail stores are having to fight to get and keep good people. Our people don't get to stand around in a n air conditioned store and chat with passers-by. They work in hot, challenging conditions, so we must either find people who like challenge or pay well enough to keep them interested -- or both. We're paying our best field and extracting staff about $15 now and providing bonuses as well in order to compete. We're also realizing once again that hiring good people in the first place and paying well is better than hiring lower quality people and trying to pay less. We had not intended to hire the wrong people, but tend to be overly optimistic and try to give people a chance. Being selective up front can save a lot of grief.