Wednesday October 31st, 2001
Paulo returned, reloaded and headed back north to finish the yards up there. It will take two days. Nate went out locally. Both are making really good progress and I estimate that we are 90% done the wrapping part. Matt has finished the wraps and is making more pillows, using up the balance of the material on hand.
Dennis worked on tidying and various other small jobs, including getting ready for Halloween. This is mostly a matter of making sure there are no obviously tempting things in case any tricksters are around. Trick activity seems to have dwindled to nothing in recent years, but it never hurts to remove temptation. I recall thirty-five years ago driving into Rockyford in the early evening and seeing farm machinery already pulled out into the street. Windows were inevitably soaped everywhere.
As evening fell this year, it started to get windy and rain began. We had only two groups of small kids come by for candy, accompanied by their mothers. Ellen entertained them by having Andy, my cat, do his tricks. The show features Andy rolling over, shaking hands, jumping from chair to chair, and through a hoop. Kids always love the show. This is the first Halloween in 46 years to have a full moon, if we can believe the radio.
Matt K came by and changed the brake lines on the car. One blew the other day. We knew they were frayed, since they caused the car to flunk its safety the other day, but I have never had one blow in all my years of driving and servicing cars and figured that they would last until we got around to replacing them. I must confess though that I was pressing the pedal very hard at the time, precisely to see if the system would hold.
Low minus 7. High 6.
Tuesday October 30th, 2001
We're now 75% wrapped and all the wraps are now made. Matt is starting on pillows to use up the last of the material. We use two pillows on hives in winter for greater top insulation.
Paulo had the truck home overnight and went straight to work up north in the morning. Nate worked locally. Paulo will take the truck home at the end of the day and come here again to reload tomorrow.
Matt K came by in the evening to look at the yellow diesel Swinger that just returned from loan. The user had discovered a small problem with the fuel shutoff and taken it to a mechanic so it would be ship-shape when returned to us. The machine was running well when he took it in, but would not shut off. Weeks later, he got the machine back, barely running and with a bill for $1,500. He stopped payment on the cheque, brought the Swinger here and we are applying our local expertise to find out what is wrong before deciding how much of that to pay.
Wendy and Ken came by in the evening.
Monday October 29th, 2001
We're now 70% done wrapping. Weather is getting cooler.
We're nearly done making the wraps and starting to lay off help. The remaining crew are wrapping, making wraps and cleaning up. Cleanup is hard on us because El & I are constantly called upon to make decisions and correct errors.
Meijers came for supper.
Low minus 6. High 8.
Sunday October 28th, 2001
We spent the day at Marlborough Mall, and I also dropped by Future Shop. They were offering Windows XP for $139 including an 128 meg memory strip, so I bought it. I haven't decided what to do, but I figured that I can always return it if I don't install it.
The mall was full of people and the parking lot at Future Shop was full. If thus is a recession, then I hate to imagine how it will be when things pick up.
Saturday October 27th, 2001
I recovered the lost work for Wednesday's entry, thanks to the tech calling me back and getting me access to backups of the lost files.
I drove to Calgary and spent a few hours at the zoo.
Friday October 26th, 2001
Well, yesterday was just one of those days.
This site was down for the entire day. I updated it at 4 AM and by 7 it was not reachable, except directly. I guessed what had happened. I called the tech and he said he had just finished an update and moved the site to a new server. In the process, he had deleted the alias that points from the public URL, http://www.honeybeeworld.com//, since he did not know its purpose. He said he would restore it, but was dead tired from working all night on the migration. I guess he fell asleep and I did not have the heart to bother him. I can see too that all my work at 4 AM was lost, since he moved the site while I was working.
We are 54% done wrapping now. Paulo went out alone, since Dennis did not look too good. He has had big problems with an abscessed tooth and is on antibiotics until the infection clears enough to permit work to be done on it. In the meantime he is on painkillers and losing sleep. My intuition proved correct, he worked the morning, but decided to go home after lunch and I was glad he was not out in the field somewhere trying to work. Nate continues to wrap alone. He only got 69 hives done today, and did 55 yesterday.
Paulo wrapped 142 by himself and came back just after seven PM. That is pretty good work! Nonetheless, he went home without reporting in. When we first noticed him missing, we started trying to raise him on the truck cell phone. Finally, we prepared to go looking for him before we discovered he had returned about the very time we began calling and had gone home without informing us he was back. We are always concerned when one of our guys is out alone and they are instructed to keep us informed where they are and when they return.
During the day, we discovered that the wrap crew had been making wraps too loose. Apparently they had been talking with the field crew. Naturally, the field crew like wraps that are looser, since they are easy to pull down over the hive. The problem is that such wraps do not maintain good contact with the hive and are like a loose jacket. They had to re-weld quite a few to tighten them up.
Bill called to say that our second Swinger is still not running right. He had taken it to a repair shop because the fuel shutoff was not working. After several weeks waiting and a bill for $1500, the machine would barely climb onto the trailer. Apparently the mechanic had set up the pump with the drive gear off by one tooth. I think we'll get that fixed locally, and see what else is wrong.
Just one of those days.
Dennis called in this morning to say he is going to get to a dentist today and see if he can have the tooth fixed.
Nate wrapped 72 hives by 2 PM when he logged off to go to job interview. Paulo wrapped 111 and made it back around 5. Seems our 100 hive quota is not unreasonable. Nonetheless, any time we tell people that they should be able to accomplish a certain benchmark, we are met with doubt until someone breaks thru the barrier. Then it is accepted as easy. We've been thru this every year for 30 years now.
Purves-Smiths came for supper.
Wednesday October 24th, 2001
Jonathan phoned last night to report that Sarah and he are now parents. Katrina was born just before midnight eastern. That makes us grandparents.
There is no sign of snow. Apparently the forecast is only for Calgary, 45 miles SW of here.
Nate did 101 hives yesterday; Paulo and Dennis only did 185 between them. Today I decided they need some time to recover and to re-organize their trucks and the yard, so kept them here. It turned out to be a wise decision, since Paulo seems to have the flu and will be going home early.
Nate got away around noon to go wrapping, and Dennis got to do chores around home.
I have a watershed meeting at one, and am loading some honey to deliver to Three Hills on the trip.
* * * * * *
The meeting lasted all afternoon and was about setting the plans for the next year and applying for funding. The Alberta government sees such volunteer environmental work as important and finances part of the cost of projects to to assess ways of reducing the pollution from agriculture and for public education on such matters.
I delivered the honey, bought some groceries and returned home. The afternoon was sunny, but cool.
Tuesday October 23rd, 2001
We have a little snow again overnight. Yesterday the snow was gone by noon, and I expect that the snow will not last today. The weather is cool and running below normals now. Nate found working outside yesterday quite enjoyable, but the other two said they found it cool. Nate has good outdoor clothing and is ready for the weather. The others are not as warmly dressed. I always find this weather ideal for wrapping and quite comfortable, so I hope that everyone dresses better today.
Ruth and Dale came in today and that released Matt R to go to Drum to get 8 more rolls of Kodel. We got 17 last time. After calculating the wrap count (675 from last year and 1,300 new ones this year in progress) and the number of hives to winter (2,300), we had decided we need more wraps than we had planned on, since we have fewer deadouts than expected. Happily an Ontario beekeeper had read about our wraps and decide to order some poly. We combined orders and thus made up an order size large enough to get a good price. I went to Calgary in the afternoon and picked up another 300 pounds. I also got two more lifts of 400 bricks for the lids of the hives. In winter we put two bricks on each. Even that does not guarantee no lids will be blown off.
Monday October 22nd, 2001
There is a bit of snow on the ground, this morning. I doubt it will stay the day.
We sent the crew out to wrap again and this time split the three guys into two since they seemed to be interfering with one another when working together and the three were only accomplishing the work of two. Nate is out by himself and on straight piecework. He is using his own pickup, since he was going to work close to his home 20 miles west of here and can go straight home when done for the day. He gets $1 per hive wrapped minus $5 for each hive that turns out to be badly done when we do spot checks. The other two are on their normal pay and working together.
I expect them to average 100 hives per man per day over a week. That does not seem unreasonable to me. They have to move a few hives around and check for any of the single hives we converted to doubles for winter that did not move up into the second and fill it with syrup. This happens if seconds are put on too late and we have to reverse them to get the bees and feed up top where they will winter well. Other than having to do that job on an occasional hive, they simply have to pull a sleeve down over each hive, put on an extra pillow, add an entrance reducer, put down mouse poison, and that is pretty well it -- unless they have to add some syrup to the drum.
We are continuing to make wraps and now have four people working at the job. Hopefully they can keep up with the field crew.
I took the car for a safety and the shop found about $1,000 worth of work they think needs doing. I knew I need a windshield, but they found the rear brakes need cylinders and shoes. The struts are leaking and a CV boot has a little hole. The shop would like to do all this work, but I think I may just do it myself for about $200 -- including parts.
Nate phoned in at 5 to report he had done 85 hives and was headed home. That's not bad considering he was here until 10 or so this morning.
Meijers came for supper.
Low minus 4. High 10.
Sunday October 21st, 2001
At 8:15, we got a phone call responding to a phone message we had left last night enquiring about an Olds we noticed on the way to Rosebud, and, seeing as the car was nearby, we decided to take a look. We drove over, took a spin, and bought it. After we got home, I decided to take a run into Calgary to check it out before the cheque clears. It was just fine. I bought some wax paper for the wraps at Costco, and some clothes at Zellers, then had supper with Austin.
Saturday October 20th, 2001
It's a nice, bright morning. We are scheduled to go to Rosebud to the dinner theatre with Purves-Smiths tonight, so I think I'll stay home and poke around the yard. There are at least 10,000 things that I could do, from building a closet, to installing lights in our gym. The list is so daunting, I doubt that I'll even start. I'll likely just tidy the yard a bit in advance of the snow we hope for soon. Last year we had so little snow that I could not even get out of the yard on the snowmobile, and our pond is currently very low as a result of having not received any runoff water this spring.
I downloaded StarOffice 6 Beta yesterday and installed it last night. It took all day at 28.8. Before I downloaded the 100 megs or so of StarOffice (in 10 segments), I got Download Mage and installed it onto the laptop, since the connection on this laptop is not reliable and I get hangups periodically. With the mage, downloads are resumable and numerous connections possible simultaneously.
Why am I using the laptop? Well, I had huge problems with Windows ME on the desktop machine and I am able to use the desktop for some things, but I need to reinstall pretty well all my software before it works right. Why am I so determined to escape Micro$oft's gravity well? M$'s new registration system for XP is the final straw when added to all the problems I've had with their O/Ss crashing, losing work, not installing properly, personal settings getting lost, endless patches that need to be installed, and then re-installed, the re-registered etc. etc....
Before I commit to Linux, I need a good office suite. StarOffice is a free office suite (including database) from Sun Microsystems and runs on Windoze and Linux as well as other O/Ss, so files are portable between O/Ss. I must say that at first glance, SO6 is a knockout. I had the 5.2 version, but deleted it since I hated the desktop and the way StarOffice took over my computer upon installation. This version (SO6.0) is very different from SO5.2 and the components seem very, very nice. They have some unique and advanced features I've not seen elsewhere, but the StarOffice components are not quite like MS Office in many ways, so it will be a while before I know for sure whether they will fill the bill or not. So far the suite seems to load and run my MSOffice 2000 Word and Excel files beautifully.
Friday October 19th, 2001
The field crew continue to wrap bees and we are making steady progress -- we're 20% done, with 482 hives now wrapped -- but the three of them only managed to get 160 done today. There are several reasons. One is that they they did not leave the yard here until eleven. For some reason, they always take a long time unloading and reloading the truck in the morning. It does not seem to matter whether there is one man or three doing the job. For another, they are shifting hives off grocery pallets onto our good pallets wherever they encounter the temporary pallets, and they went to yards with lots of hives needing moving. Moreover they had no syrup with them yesterday and therefore Nate had to backtrack to top up drums in yards that seemed light and they thus lost some time there before rejoining the others.
We have a meeting each morning at 8, and today I spent quite a bit of time explaining how each man should work independently as possible with some forethought so as not to have one waiting on another. I also discussed being sure to park the trucks where they do not block other trucks and forklifts going by and where they are close to the job being done. A while later, after all that explicit instruction, that I looked out he window and watched Dennis stand for 5 full minutes on a truck parked six feet from the loading dock -- waiting while Nate carried the occasional box of pillows out of the shed to hand to him. Needless to say, I had a few words with them.
Wrap-making continues steadily. I now have two complete workstations set up. Matt and Ruth manage to weld as much as twenty wraps an hour each when things are going well. (That is after Gene has cut and stuffed them previously). We tie the finished wraps into bundles of fifteen for handling. It's easy to do and in bales like this, they can be loaded quickly and also will not as easily blow away in the trucks or when dropped in the yards awaiting use. We use twine sold for baling hay and straw. It is cheap and can be thrown away or re-used as convenient.
The bees are still taking syrup in the yards, but they have slowed down a lot. Only the hungry hives are foraging in the drums now. The rest are pretty much settled for winter. We have fed a bit less this year, since we have overfed the last few years and the excess feed can slow hive development in the spring. Moreover simulative spring feeding is impossible if the hives are already stuffed with feed. This means, of course that we will have to get out a bit earlier next spring than this, but with the new wraps and feeders in all brood chambers, checking the hives and feeding any light ones should be very easy.
Thursday October 18th, 2001
This week has gone quickly. I can see we are into a spell of below average temperatures after months of being slightly above average most of the time. Although we had a little snow the night before last, there is no snow on the ground and the weather is ideal for wrapping, since the bees will be settled and not harassing the crew while they work.
We had a chance to look at the drop boards from one of our yards that Paulo wrapped yesterday. They showed unusually high levels: 591, 55, 720, and 25 mites per hive. We test three or four hives in each yard when adding the strips to all hives in the yard. These boards have been in the hives for the two weeks since we installed the Apistan on October 5th.
On checking our records, we found that the yard had been missed when putting in Apistan® this spring, thus it seems it has not been treated since Fall 1999. Seeing as there is likely no brood in these hives this late in the year, this is likely the entire mite load. It is not as heavy as one would expect and we have seen no unusual mortality in that yard.
Wednesday October 17th, 2001
Matt is continuing to assemble the wraps and we will set up a second workstation so we can get 200 per day made and we are assuming that the field crew can install an average of 100 per day per man without any strain.
Dennis broke a tooth eating a snack and went home for the day.
We have used many different wraps over the years and there is a good description of them all in my diary last year. Thanks to JF for reminding me. Also here are more pictures showing wrap making last year
Paulo and Nate returned having wrapped 122 hives. They are cleaning up the yards 100% and moving hives into gaps on the pallets to make complete 4-packs as well as wrapping.bb
Tuesday October 16th, 2001
Paulo moved bees from all the Elliotts' local yards to Freres' South for wintering. In all, he moved about 111 double-high colonies about fifteen miles in about 6 hours. That's about three loads.
Matt got going in earnest on the wraps and welded about 55 in the afternoon. He figures he can do the welding on somewhere between 12 and 15 per hour. Gene cuts the pieces out at his place and inserts the insulation into the sleeve. We just have to pick them up and iron them.
Dennis finished stowing the supers in the Quonset I worked on jigs for making and installing the wraps.
Monday October 15th, 2001
Paulo moved bees from two locations to a winter yard. The bees were flying a bit, but the drums were empty and a bit of smoke settled them enough that they could be moved with minimal loss of bees.
The rest of us moved the extractors to free up floor space in the North End shop, got set up to iron the seams on the new wraps and did a few other tidying tasks.
I got lucky and sold a truck that I had been showing beside the highway for about six months -- for my asking price!