Sunday September 30th, 2001, Last year on this date
Saturday September 29th, 2001, Last year on this date
I'm in Toronto this morning, sitting at my aunt's kitchen counter writing this.
Friday September 28th, 2001, Last year on this date
It rained overnight. That is good since we are very very dry here, but it also puts a thin layer of water on top of open drums of syrup that are waiting for the bees. That can discourage some hives from finding the syrup until the water intermingles or evaporates.
Thursday September 27th, 2001, Last year on this date
Nate was back at work today, but not feeling 100% so we kept him home to do miscellaneous tasks with Dennis. We have lots of supers to put away and some granulation to be distributed into empty supers. We also have oil changes to do and tidying. The false wall comes down now too, since Dave installed the new windows this morning.
Dennis' hand is swelling quite a bit and bothering him. It seems that this happens to most people who have worked here a while. At first they do not swell much, but once they get confident, they notice that they begin to react more. Dennis had several stings yesterday when he was inside the 1250 gallon tanks to pressure wash them. The tanks get mildew lines if syrup is kept long, and we like to get the tanks clean from time to time. I have heard that potassium sorbate will prevent fermentation and mold, but have been reluctant to try that since I have not been able to get any scientist to assure me that potassium sorbate is entirely harmless to bees.
The weather was nice all day and the bees were flying well. Paulo and Matt went out to local yards and took off thirds. We figured we should get as many hives ready to feed as possible. They began installing Apistan today. We are using one strip in the centre of each top box. We treated for tracheal mites in the spring, and thus think we can skip treatment this fall, but also think we should test a bit to make sure.
It was hard for me to get out of here to feed, since I had some training to do and the windows to install, and trucks to unload, then prepare, but I was able to leave around noon. I stopped to see how the bees are taking the syrup in Elliotts' Home and they are getting nicely started. I delivered about 12 drums by four PM and during that time, as well as filling drums, I moved some of the hives around in the yards to fill empty spaces on pallets.
Lifting with the hive cart gives me a chance to appraise the weights of the hives. Most are pretty good, and we do not need to feed as heavily as we did last year. Some yards are lighter and some are heavier. The number of hives meeting our 50kg minimum varies from 50% to 90%. We give each 20 hives a drum of feed in an average yard and in lighter yards increase the amount. So far we have distributed about 2,000 gallons of the 6,800 we expect to feed.
Our extracting is progressing well and seems to keep up nicely with the field crew's ability to bring in honey. Our extracting crew varies from 1 to 4 people at a time. The 6 we have signed up come and go at various times of day and work odd days. Sam and Judy never did show up again after we paid them advances, but a number of neigbours are extracting -- mostly for the fun of it, apparently.
This way of operating is much more relaxed than trying to run an assembly line, since each operator is independent. This system allows us much more control of what goes into the supers and the poor or problem frames get special attention. I suppose I will never get used to the number of frames we cull each year, but I think that we will lose less in future since the manual system is much easier on them than the Cowan line was.
Ellen tells me we did not have a killer frost the other day, and we are now getting some ripe tomatoes from the garden.
I was looking at the notes from last year and it seems that we visited this same yard (left) on this same day last year. We seem to be a bit ahead of last year, but the weather will determine whether this will hold. We had snow last year at about this time This year there is some talk of El Nino. (another ref.) We'll see.
We have about 1,000 supers left out on hives and a few hundred in the shop. Pickings are getting lean: we go through as many as 25 supers to get a 72 frame load and will have to compensate our help for the extra work on each load by adjusting the piecework rate a bit. It is always unprofitable to get the last little bits of honey, but the job must be done. We are now at drum 300.
Our tanks are working very well this year, and there is much less problem with cappings. We simply skim the tank periodically and shovel the cappings into drums for processing later. This year we are finding that the last few drums are running into higher moister than we like. They are coming in at 18%. This means that the honey needs to be pasteurized and or sold for immediate processing. Simply running our tank up to 110 degrees and holding for 10 hours or more should do the trick.
Wednesday September 26th, 2001, Last year on this date
Nate phoned at 7 to say he has stomach problems. It's probably the flu that has hit several people here lately. The main feature of this particular bug is a day of throwing up.
The truck arrived with the syrup and Dennis came in early to help unload. It is not quite daylight at seven these days.
Paulo and Matt continued to pull boxes and did almost as well without Nate as they had with his help, but I doubt that this reflects poorly on his work It merely shows how results can vary from day to day.
In the afternoon, I distributed syrup in some of the local yards and appraised hives.
Tuesday September 25th, 2001, Last year on this date
Three more months until Christmas
We are down to 1,550 supers in the field. Extracting is only getting us a few drums a day, but we are working through the supers arranging the combs and dealing with the granulation, much of which is from the previous year.
I went out and distributed syrup in local yards and managed to deliver 600 gallons in a bout two hours. Some yards need only one drum, others need two. The yards with splits tend to have some lighter hives.
Dennis washed out tanks in preparation for receiving syrup tomorrow. We have a tri-axle with 4,900 gallons arriving at 7 AM.
Low 1. High 15.
Monday September 24th, 2001, Last year on this date
I delivered some honey to a cash buyer today. With the current political and economic situation, I am thinking that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and cash is better than waiting. I should really have been out feeding bees since the weather is perfect for that task and good flying days will be getting fewer fast now. Nonetheless, I figured I should get the sale completed. I did order a truckload of syrup, though, and now I must distribute the 1800 gallons I have on hand to make room in the tanks before tomorrow afternoon.
At 6:30, Meijers and Purves-smiths came for a barbeque. There were few flies outside, and the weather was balmy, so we sat comfortably outside in shirtsleeves until well after dark.
Sunday September 23rd, 2001, Last year on this date
I decided to get a second satellite receiver and spend about three hours deciding on what to get and ordering. StarChoice's web site is definitely not user friendly and their phone maze is cumbersome and the staff slow.
I headed off to Calgary to get some construction supplies in the afternoon. The alterations are getting costly. I've spent over $700 on the material for this segment alone -- not to mention the windows -- and the labour will be $2000. I always get firm bids on the labour, since I have hired tradesmen in the past and found that, once begun, the cost of a job can double or triple in no time.
Saturday September 22nd, 2001, Last year on this date
Ellen & I decided to go north to see Bill, and to stay over with Jean & Chris, but Ellen came down with some stomach virus and we cancelled our plans. I did some work on one of the trucks and cleaned up a bit. I pumped some syrup to have it ready for delivery to the yards.
Low 2. High 16.
Friday September 21st, 2001, Last year on this date
The weather is good. Paulo, Matt, and Nate headed north and came back with 310 boxes. The yards they visited were not as heavy as some.
Thursday September 20th, 2001, Last year on this date
We sent Nate along with Matt and Paulo today and they went north with one truck and a trailer. By four Paulo called to say they had 325 boxes and were headed home. We've set a quota of 100 boxes a man a day averaged over each week. I think we are running close to that in spite of a slow day yesterday. We're not getting much honey out now. Today we got about three drums.
I decided to add a window to the workshop and spent several hours installing one in later afternoon. It was just storm window liberated by the alterations screwed crudely onto the wall, but it sure makes the place much brighter. I started organizing the tools and supplies a bit.
Wednesday September 19th, 2001, Last year at this date
It was rainy in the morning, but Paulo and Matt managed to finish two yards and bring home a truckload of boxes. We are using the blower on days like this. We remove the lid and blow the bees down into the hive, since they would perish if blown out of the hive.
Tuesday September 18th, 2001, Last year at this date
The normals are stepping relentlessly down towards winter temperatures.
Monday September 17th, 2001, Last year at this date
I went to Calgary in the afternoon to get supplies for some construction we are doing on the east wall of the north end.
Paulo and a new fellow, Matt went out and pulled boxes, bringing in about 220