Saturday September 8th, 2001, 2000
Friday September 7th, 2001, 2000
It's cooler and breezy this morning, so I lit the furnace. Paulo had taken a day off and gone to Calgary yesterday to a government office, only to find them on strike. There are only 50 boxes in the honey house this morning, so we hope to get them all processed. The last few are always odds and ends that accumulate and the only way to get people to deal with them is to get to the point where there is nothing else to do.
Normals for the period Low 4. High 18.
Thursday September 6th, 2001, 2000
We had a fairly heavy frost last night. I could see frost on the vehicles and the neighbour's roof when we got up, but don't know when it hit. At 3AM, the temp was still around plus three degrees and when we got up around seven, it was plus four.
Paulo and Dennis are away today. We have a full extracting crew and it looks as if we may be able to empty the honey house of supers today.
I installed MSIE 6.0 last night and it was a mistake. My desktop computer has not run since, and I even re-installed Windows ME. I keep getting the message "Explorer has caused an error in shlwapi.dll. Explorer will now close". I tried changing the file, but no luck. So far I've wasted most of a day trying to get that system going again.
The last part of my day was spent washing and filling drums. We're at around 250 now.
Normals for the period: Low 4. High 18.
Wednesday September 5th, 2001, 2000
The semi came around ten and we had it loaded and on the way to the co-op in a little over an hour.
Normals for the period: Low 5. High 18.
Tuesday September 4th, 2001, 2000
We have about 375 boxes awaiting extracting today. A crew of four showed up and we cancelled two also. Jody called in the afternoon and wanted to come in after the others finished. She was still here working at 7:30, make that 9PM. She has school in the morning.
I overhauled the Dadant blower this morning I got the thing working properly and now it moves enough air that I think I will give another try. One of the problems it had was that it made a horrible noise when revved up. I pulled the blower apart and found that the vane was hitting in one spot on the housing when the speed caused it to flex a bit. A few judicious blows on the housing with my trusty hammer and that problem went away. Frankly I was amazed at how crude and effective the vane inside the blower is. It is a simple weldment and something anyone could build. I assume that it must be balanced, but probably just by mounting it on a low friction spindle and seeing where it rotates, and then adding weight on the opposite side until it no longer wants to turn on its own. Years back, I used to balance my own tires that way. That was before dynamic balancing came in.
I also set up the the new Weedeater blower and discovered that it quits after a while too, like the last one. I pulled off the adjustment limiter and tuned it for the airflow we use and it seemed okay. We'll have to see when It gets into the field for the acid test.
(Later): Well, how do you like that! Paulo says he likes the Dadant better than the Stihl now -- more air volume and speed. Hmmmm. I wonder if the Stihl needs some tuning up now... I must mention that I did hp up the Dadant a bit. I tuned the carb and I also moved the springs on the air vane governor linkage to make the thing rev up to at least what a lawn mower does. I have no idea how they are set up from factory.
I broke down today and used some Honey Robber today. Paulo and I only used it on two hives and blew the rest, but I can smell it in the honey house. Uggggh!
Adony dropped by for a few moments this afternoon on his way back to Beaverlodge.
Normals for the period: Low 5. High 19.
Monday September 4th, 2001, 2000
Today is officially a holiday -- Labour Day -- but our extracting crew is on the job. They wanted to work and we need to get the honey extracted, so we are working. We have about seven people trained now and it is not too hard to get four to show up on any given day. I'm planning to take next weekend off, and Dennis has to go to Vancouver on an extended weekend, so I suspect we will take our Labour Day next week.
The field crew has the day off.I finally managed to build some uncapping bars with tacks into each of the Kelleys. It took quite a while to get it all just right, but it is well worth the trouble. Once people have used them, they cannot see how they ever got along without them. The operator stands the comb on the pointed end and scrapes the surface, then can spin the comb around to scratch the other side in one simple motion. The position is perfect in terms of height and distance from the body and ,since it is in the extractor, the bar ensures there is no dripping on the floor and no wasted motion inserting the comb into the machine.
Sunday September 2nd, 2001, 2000
El and I went to Calgary to return a blower that had proven inadequate and to get some groceries. I have had good luck with leaf blowers in the past, and had bought a 22cc Poulin Weedeater unit, assuming from the blarney on the box that it would be as good as the 30cc unit that I had before, and which quit a few years back due to a bad magneto or some such thing. The new unit ran okay, but would just die out after a while. Moreover, it has a grate on the bottom surface which picks up junk if placed on the ground.
I bought instead, a 30cc unit like the old one. They look more or less identical. Actually the lighter duty one is advertised as being more powerful and has a nicer design in some ways, but they are very close in appearance.
I always like to have several blowers working in case one acts up. Actually, we like to carry a spare, since when we need one, we really need one. The cheap ones are fine for that, but we do use a $600 Stihl Unit for the main blower. The Dadant machine I got from Don just does not push enough air, but it is in sad shape and maybe it just needs some TLC. Maybe I'll do a little R&R on it.
Here's a tip: Sewer drain hose made for RVs is much cheaper than bee blower hose and works just fine. It is a little large in diameter, but with duct tape, things can be made to fit. Don't buy the cheapest, though. It won't hold up.
Saturday September 1st, 2001, 2000
Today there are 675 boxes awaiting extraction. We're filling Drum 225 this morning. We are now 23% done the second pull and 21% of our supers are now home.
We have both men and women extracting at present now that the students have returned to school. On the left is a shot of a poster that worked really well in attracting ladies with kids in school to help extract. We are flexible in our hours, since, once trained, people work independently on piecework, so part-time workers are fine for the job. We also find that many people get sore hands if they work too many hours in a week. It seems women respond better when they see a woman's name on the ad, and Ellen now has quite a few wanting to try out for the job.
Something we are now realising -- after losing a few good people suddenly -- is that people are concerned about the progression of reactions to the bee stings which are inevitable when extracting. I'm working on a page to hand all new employees so that they are not taken by surprise when they start to swell. I hope readers of this page will take a look and Write me.
At first, we see that in some people there is very little or no reaction to the first few stings, but after a number of stings over several days most people start to swell at the site of the sting and some get stiff fingers. This tends to concern them, and if they consult a doctor, which many do if not forewarned, they are sometimes told that they are becoming allergic. That is far from the truth though, since after that, immunity develops and then there is no reaction at all to stings. We are now ensuring that we inform people up front that they will swell after the first few, but that it is part of developing immunity. We have to try to ensure though that the stings do not affect their hands so much that they cannot work. That has happened on occasion. people get overconfident and get their hands stung just because they did not have a problem previously. As we all know, just because one sting did not cause swelling does not mean another might not be more potent or delivered to a more sensitive spot. We have gloves, but prefer that people do not use them unless they have sensitive hands or are starting to have problems.
Below is a list of links to my BEE-L posts since the last time I linked to them on this page.
Normals for the period: Low 5. High 19.