Sunday November 18th, 2001
Ellen woke up early and saw a meteor or two. I didn't bother.
We worked around the house and got ready for an upcoming trip.
Saturday November 17th, 2001
I caught up on paperwork (almost done) and rebuilt the coal furnace stoker today. We have heated with coal for the last 30+ years. Our Kirk's stoker is mostly trouble-free and puts out 250,000 BTU, enough to heat this big old school. Nonetheless, it does need some work several times a year.
It was another beautiful warm day until suppertime when the wind picked up and I saw a few flakes.
Friday November 16th, 2001
I got a lot of paperwork caught up. Paulo continued to move bees. Dennis did cleanup until noon, then quit early.
The leonid meteor shower (another link) is scheduled for this weekend, but the skies were overcast tonight and not a star could be seen. The show should have been excellent. Unfortunately, lately we have had cloud cover during recent eclipses and other such events.
Sunrise: 7:56 am / Sunset: 4:45 pm
The days are getting very short, but the weather has been very mild. Bees were flying most days this past week. The pond froze a while back, but is now thawed again. Although the normals are dropping to below freezing, our current weather is far above them.
Thursday November 15th, 2001
I went to visit Meijers and arrived in time for breakfast. We drove around the neighbourhood, looked at their styrofoam hive (which seemed to be doing quite nicely) and went to their new building. I was interested in how they are melting their wax and deciding how to handle our own old frames and cappings. While we were chatting, I made a few calls to check prices, since that will affect our decision. Apparently the wax price is quite low these days: $1.60 CAD, but honey prices are up to $1.10 to $1.12 CAD
Dennis continued to clean up around the yard and Paulo moved a bees from exposed yards into wintering locations.
Wednesday November 14th, 2001
Paulo put up some fence at some of our more windswept yards. Most years there is no need, but in a windy spring like last year, the fence can make quite a difference. We worry mostly about NW and SE winds here. They are the destructive ones. Although the winds are supposedly predominantly westerly, the strong and cold ones come from the NW and SE. The SE wind is particularly bad in spring and sometimes blows for days on end.
I see that a successful oil well has been drilled near our Halstead's yard.
Tuesday November 13th, 2001
We're back at work today. It's another warm, sunny day. Paulo went out to straighten up Brians and Halsteads. He put up fence at Brians to cut the wind. Dennis is working around the yard cleaning up and washing the trucks.
I'm feeling pressure to get the books done and to the accountant. The year is nearly over and decisions must be made.
I got a fair bit accomplished, but there is still quite a bit to do.
I was given the chest at right this spring because it was full of bees and getting to be a nuisance. Over the summer it swarmed once and filled the box with comb so I cannot open it. In spring, I saw a varroa on a bee at the entrance, but never got around to giving it any Apistan. When I watch the bees at the entrance, however, I never see any varroa.
Monday November 12th, 2001
We decided to observe the Remembrance Day holiday. Paulo and Dennis had a long weekend. I took the opportunity to work on the books and spent the morning watching the AA crash on BBC while I worked at the accounting.
I enjoyed the chance to be free of supervisory duties. It is SO nice not to have anyone calling us for advice and needing instructions... I am really looking forward to a winter free of constant pressure.
The bees are flying freely -- again. This weather is amazing!
Meijers came for supper.
Sunday November 11th, 2001
It was another warm day, and so we went to the zoo and did a little shopping. Then we went to Purves-Smiths for supper.
Bees flew all day.
Saturday November 10th, 2001
It hit 16 degrees C today and the bees were out flying freely and visiting syrup drums.
We stayed home and did some odd jobs. I set up the new satellite dish this afternoon. I'm feeling better. My virus/flu thing was just a 24 hour thing.
Friday November 9th, 2001
Well, I'm not feeling well today. I'm experiencing fever, vague nausea, disorientation, and am very tired. I guess I have a touch of flu. I was already feeling a bit ill yesterday at the meeting, but attributed it to too much thin-tasting high caffeine coffee, served in tiny styro cups and accompanied by glazed donuts -- a toxic mix, if ever there was one.
Ellen has her art group over and I'm hiding out downstairs, recovering, napping doing wash and tidying up the place. Paulo went north to move hives and will wrap the one last yard we had not gotten around to. Dennis is cleaning out the shed.
* * * * * *
In the evening, I was feeling better, and we went to The Coffee Break to had a buffet supper with Walt.
Lately my weight has been around 233 pounds. I seem to have plateaued here, down about 25 from my all-time high. I'm pleased that my trip to Edmonton did not change my weight at all, in spite of the drinking and eating that took place. For one thing, though, I took some hard boiled eggs and had them for breakfast instead of the hotel's expensive buffet and also took some skim cottage cheese for snacks.
The lowest scale reading I have seen in the past month is 225, but that was only for one day and must have been some kind of fluke. Nonetheless, my weight has diminished and my energy is up. I'm hoping that the weight loss will resume and continue sometime soon, but am not planning any drastic measures. Frankly, I'll be content if I don't gain, since I usually put on ten pounds at the end of the active season. Que sera sera.
Besides... I just bought some clothes and if I shrink too much that will be a waste...
Mom called tonight to say she got home okay from Florida. She had been booked on Canada 3000 airline and they went into protection yesterday. Today they had to cease flying since no one would sell them fuel except for cash. She got a ticket on Air Canada and got to Toronto as planned. Sarah S. picked her up and they were all at Aunt Ev's.
Thursday November 8th, 2001
Today was the Co-op meeting. I can't say I enjoyed it much. The day started off with giving up my nice cozy suite at the Ramada and making an early morning drive in a cold truck to Spruce Grove, grabbing breakfast on the way to a cold meeting hall. The meeting itself was not particularly useful, I was not at my best, and the day ended with my driving home, feeling ill.
When I think about it, I can't say I've enjoyed many co-op meetings lately. Years ago, the meeting was held in Edmonton at the same hotel as the ABA convention. and on the following day. That was very convenient and comfortable. In recent years, however, the meeting has been in the Elk's Hall in Spruce Grove. That venue is quite a change from the upholstered chairs, linen table cloths, warm halls, and more refined atmosphere of the Ramada where we spent the last few days.
The Spruce Grove Elk's Hall is a large, hard cold space with chairs that are only marginally comfortable and bare plywood tables. Unlike a convention hotel, the hall is really not well designed or well located for business meetings. The feeling of the place is wrong. In the building the there is just one large main room, a kitchen/serving area, a cold entry hall without seating, and washrooms. The meeting room is twice too big for the attendees and people spread out at tables throughout the room, making it necessary to shout or to make an arduous walk to a microphone that suffers from feedback. The meeting could be much more intimate if it were in a more appropriate venue.
Moreover, at the meeting, the only available refreshments within a mile are thin tasting (but potent) coffee in tiny styro cups, sweet drinks and glazed donuts -- or water. Some people can exist on this, but many people are affected adversely by such fare. Some get drowsy and others get hyper. Lunch is cold cuts, a bun and salad. The hall is nowhere near any place where members can escape for a break or decent food alternatives. Members are trapped for an entire day unless they risk leaving at lunch and then rushing back for a meeting which may resume at an unpredictable time.
In my opinion, at a long meeting or convention, provision for periodic escape is a necessity. At a hotel, if things get hot or boring, participants go outside to a hallway or lounge to cool down or discuss things with allies or opponents or go to a restaurant or bar -- or their rooms. I am beginning to realize that many, perhaps most members don't attend the AGM. There is certainly nothing to attract members to attend, and much to discourage attendance.
As it happened, I had a near brush with being elected to the board of directors. I take considerable interest in the management and business of the organization, and I let my name stand, thinking I could run without a chance of election just to provide some completion for the post. There appeared to be unbeatable opposition and I figured my prospects to be nil, but as the time of the vote approached and several names were struck from the list, including one of the incumbents, I became increasingly aware that I really, really did not want the job. For one thing, as the day progressed, the conduct of the meeting made me realize that I could not work with the current chairman of the board. Moreover, I have been striving to reduce my task list and to take time off this winter. I do not need more responsibilities to fill my winter schedule, especially acting for no compensation and limited expenses as director for a multi-million dollar business that is losing money.
So much for editorializing. When it became apparent that I might actually get elected, I made a deliberately lame speech and then voted against myself. My two choices were successfully elected, and after picking up 150 supers at the co-op bee supply outlet (I had driven a truck to Edmonton with the intention of bringing back lumber, but the deal had not been set up and I was left with an empty truck), I headed home a free man. By this time I was feeling quite ill, and glad I did not have to stay on for a directors meeting.
I stopped at Jean's for a few minutes along the way and we called Sarah to wish her happy birthday.
I arrived home at nine.
Wednesday November 7th, 2001
Alan Philpott gave a presentation about ythe past and present in their family business.
Doug McRory spoke on Breeding for Mite Resistance in Ontario, and David Hackenburg gave another talk about his operation in the US.
The business meeting was held in the afternoon, and the meeting was over.
Tuesday November 6th, 2001
Don Nelson and Adony Melathopoulos were on the podium this morning. They presented the preliminary results of the work on evaluating hygienic behaviour in Northern Alberta bees and on his survey of spore levels in honey samples supplied by producers. He also had some results from some honey bought in Europe.
Hygienic levels seemed higher than one would have expected and the Hawaiian bees from Kona we all buy rated fairly well. Nonetheless, this is all preliminary and no one knows what these mean. Obviously there is a ways to go, but it looks as if reducing susceptibility is within reach, although serious resistance is a long way off.
Chris Alen gave a presentation on formic acid application methods.
Steve Pernel spoke on semiochemicals and varroa, and was followed by Barry Davies from Ontario who gave a talk and about his operation at Sealy's Bay.
Monday November 5th, 2001
The convention began with the usual business and then an address by David Hackenberg, a talk by Kenn Tuckey and a local beekeeper profile by Paul Lizee. A discussion of the possibility and rationale for opening the border to US package bees followed.
After supper, there was a hospitality night in the display area.
Low minus 8. High 4.
Sunday November 4th, 2001
We saw David Wilcox last night at Red's. The place is dump and they treated us like cattle, but Wilcox show was great and the warm-up band, the New Meanies, was excellent. It seems everyone in a place like Red's smokes, and not just tobacco, the sound volume was above permissible industrial levels, but the the show was worth the drive, the wait, etc.
One tip: Do not buy tickets through Ticketmaster if there is competition for seating. Ticketmaster, it seems holds their list until the last minute. Although we were early and waited a half hour for the doors to open, those who bought last minute tickets were let in before us and when we finally got in, there were no more decent seats, and we stood all night.
Correction: Jean complained to Red's and maybe Ticketmaster and here is what she received in return:
I'm feeling a bit better about Red's now.
Ellen goes back home today, but I'm in Edmonton for the week.
Low minus 8. High 5.
Saturday November 3rd, 2001
I'm off to Edmonton today to deliver some wraps and take in a David Wilcox concert at Red's. I'll be staying in Edmonton for the conventions.
Friday November 2nd, 2001
Paulo had a flat coming home last night and and since he had not taken a spare, he had to remove one wheel from one set of duals and drive home that way. He took the truck to the tire shop this morning to get two new tires. We'll have to remember to carry spares.
Nate was not visible at 8 and I phoned to see what was up. Since he is on piecework and sometimes working from home, we are more flexible than when we are working in teams. He was still asleep and not feeling well. We had agreed that he was about finished for the year, so I told him not to worry and that he could come by and get his cheque when it is ready. He was very happy with that. I invited him to come back in the spring and he said he might. There are only 185 hives left to wrap and Paulo can do them in the next while.
I went to the dentist this morning at ten for cleaning and a check-up. Dennis finished pressure washing a few things that he missed yesterday and Paulo cleaned up his truck and put things away. Everyone left early.
We're getting near the end and will have to get out the square wraps and remember how to install them. I think that we may not go to the field today, but rather tidy up a bit and save the last little bit for next week.
We have been very happy with sending each person out alone to wrap. We started doing this when we got concerned that there was getting to be more driving, riding and talk than work going on when they worked in pairs or threes. We seem to get much more work done now with less fuss and error, and everyone seems happier. Piecework at $1 per hive wrapped seems to work well for Nate since he could work at his own pace and he need not feel guilty if he was slow or distracted, and we did not need to get upset about paying for work not done. However, we did leave Paulo on his regular wage -- and it worked out about the same as piecework.
The brakes are now done and with its new windshield, the Olds is a pretty nice machine. Frankly, I can't see how any of the nice new cars I've rented over the years are much better than this 16 year old $ 2,600 (CAD) fully paid for luxury car with power everything and a great stereo.
Of course new cars will usually last longer, since they are new, after all, but the way I use cars, after a few years they get pretty tired-looking from carrying all kinds of stuff, spilled coffee, propolis and wax, salt on the way to ski hills, etc. -- no matter what the mileage. A new economy car offers fuel economy that is better by half -- around 45 instead of the 30 MPG this unit has averaged for me so far -- but since my gasoline bill is seldom over $100/month, that advantage would not save nearly enough to cover the extra capital and insurance costs of a newer set of wheels. I might save $33 a month, but that wouldn't make payments on a new garden tractor. I suppose the struts will need doing sometime since they show some leakage, but the ride is still just fine and the body and interior are very nice.
We're now 92.3% done wrapping. We yet have to move some yards to better winter locations and away from cattle and horses, and to put up some wind fence. Some of the hives will need a bit more top insulation, too when the pillows are done.
Thursday November 1st, 2001
The morning is sunny and frosty. Nate is going to be a bit late -- guess he was out last night. Halloween is a big night for the local bars. Paulo called at seven-thirty to report that he is on his way north to finish up there.
The days haven't gotten into the teens Celcius for a while now. Bees are still visiting the drums, although activity has diminished greatly. The weather is pleasant for wrapping and the bees are not as easily provoked by the activity of wrapping them. There is a little snow on the ground in our northern area but not here at home. The season is nearly over and this is the earliest we have finished in years.
We have wrapped 2047 of an estimated 2407 (there will be a few more deadouts and weaklings) hives now (86%) and have only 170 of the new wraps left. That means we are short 190 or so. We tried to match things up when estimating how many to make, but fewer hives died than expected, so we will be using some of the old wraps too.
I'm thinking now of the coming week, with the Alberta Beekeepers Association convention in Edmonton, followed by the Alberta Honey Producers Co-op annual meeting in Spruce Grove. These events are always intense. I no longer serve on the board of the ABA, but I still get very involved in the business of the group. It is always fun to meet all the beekeepers every year and to swap stories. I have never attended a convention that did not pay for itself several times over in tips and deals made, and that is not taking into consideration the fun factor.
I spent an hour or two trying to get info on the ailing Swinger and am now told that the engine is not a ThermoKing, but rather an Isuzu. We need a manual. Seems the injector pump is likely set too retarded, but we need to know exactly how it should be set up. Dennis pressure washed the forklift, D5, some mattresses and the honey tank this afternoon. The weather was nice.
Matt continued to make pillows.
As it turned out, Paulo wrapped 155 today (a 10 hour day) and Nate did 20. Nate was having one of those days and quit a bit early. Apparently he was not out trick and treating for Halloween, but feeling ill for some other reason. At any rate, he got some other things done, such as putting mouse poison in a few yards that were missed and adding some feed to others. We are putting feed in drums in yards that have a few light hives. I wonder about this, but we do have syrup on hand and the bees do go out for it. The drums with lids will protect it until spring and I have seen yards take a drum of syrup in March some years, so if it is not taken this fall, it will be there when they are ready for it.