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Cutting Protein Patties to size

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Saturday March 9th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

It was minus 29.7 C when I got up at 6:30 this morning.  It's another cold one.  I looked over the weather probs for the mountains and Castle looks the best, for temperatures and snow, but it is a long drive from here -- about 240 miles.  I guess I could make it for afternoon skiing, but Nakiska is closer, and I can make it home for supper.  If I go to Pincher (Castle), I would want to stay over and stay another day.  I haven't organized anything, so will likely go to Nakiska, if anywhere.

Fortunately we have not had much wind during this cold spell, and although the wind chill got to minus forty last night, I am trusting that the bees will be okay.

I went out and tried starting the Buick.  It started -- at minus 30 without being plugged in!  I feel like going somewhere.  Nakiska, maybe, but we'll see what El thinks.  Maybe we'll go shopping, or visit Jean and Chris.


We wound up going to Calgary.  I looked at computers while Ellen shopped, then we met Purves-Smiths (their web site) for dim sum and went to see Beowulf at Theatre Calgary.

 Allen's Link of the Day: Varroa Treatment with Thymol and Oxalic Acid

Today..Sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h. High minus 14.
Tonight..Increasing cloud this evening then flurries overnight. Wind southeast 20. Low minus 17. Wind chill minus 25.
 Normals for the period..Low minus 11. High 1.

Friday March 8th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

It was minus thirty when I got up this morning at 3:46. That is cold.  

I have to go to Calgary today to a research meeting and also pick up more of the protein patties in Airdrie on the way by.  Since their forklift won't run through the snow, I have to take my own.  That means starting a diesel Swinger at minus twenty.  Good thing we have installed block heaters in them

Ellen has an Art Club meeting in Irricana, so, after staying mostly at home during the nice weather, we are each on the road on one of the coldest days of the year. Wind-chill tonight is going to approach minus forty.


The meeting in Calgary turned out even better than expected with an attendance of 12 which was the absolute maximum we could have accommodated in  the location we chose.  This was a new idea, and we thought we would give it a try without getting too elaborate the first time.

The whole thing came about, because in one of our phone conversations, Adony mentioned to me that he could spend a day working in Calgary area whenever he is in town if beekeepers request a meeting with him.  I thought that this was an opportunity, and called a few of the larger and forward-looking beekeepers I know and asked them what they thought, and told them to pass the word around.  The people we called were pretty much the same group who had planned to finance Adony's work after he graduated, and before he was offered the position at the Beaverlodge Research station.  I am sure we forgot somebody, if so, my apologies.  (Call or write me for the next meeting info).  

I also spoke to Heather Clay of the Canadian Honey Council, headquartered in Calgary.  She was enthusiastic and had some suggestions.  She attended and brought in her husband Doug, who was able to give us an outline of how research credits (cash money) can be claimed from the federal government for bona fide private research projects, such as some we have done in the past and are contemplating for the future.

The whole meeting idea was very casual and just off the top of my head, but actually, now that I think about it some, like Reese drove 200 km (120 miles).  Chris was planning to come 286 km (he didn't make it), so maybe I should have invited people from as far north as Edmonton.  Maybe next time, and maybe we can expand the idea to a hotel where we can have a whole day and an overnight.  I'll have to poll the group for ideas.

Adony took notes, and as soon as I have his okay, I'll email them to the group and also post them here.


A load of pattiesAfter the meeting, I went back to Airdrie.  I had dropped a Swinger there on the way into Calgary so I would not have to haul it around the city, and on the way home, I picked up about 4,500 patties since they Frank and Mike were running out of room to work.  In the picture (right), each pallet has 1,500 one pound patties on it and is wrapped in plastic.

I then continued to Robinson's for supper.  Ellen arrived there just before me and we had a pleasant evening with the Robinson family.  

We arrived home around nine and were greeted by three overjoyed cats.  They don't like it much when we both leave.

 Allen's Link of the Day: Infinity Publishing. Have your book published professionally, one book at a time, if you like. 

 I wonder, would anyone buy this diary in book form, if it were properly edited and laid out? Write me

Today..Sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h this afternoon. High minus 19. Cold wind chill minus 29. Risk of frostbite.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind southeast 20 diminishing. Low minus 30. Wind chill minus 38.
Normals for the period..Low minus 11. High 1.

Thursday March 7th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

Today it is minus twenty-three and there does not appear to be much hope of the temperature going up much for a few days yet.

We've been discussing tracheal testing on BEE-L.  Here is one of my posts today:

Further to all this, I came cross some old data to show why I am not as worried about tracheal or sampling more bees as some think I should be. Here are results from Fall 1997, a year in which I sampled but never treated:

Yard  Positive Negative Total     Infestation
                                                            Tested            Level

Railway   3       47      50      High
Jahns     2       48      50      Medium
Meglis    10      40      50      Medium & Low
Falks     6       44      50      Medium
Kievers   1       49      50      Low
Dixons    4       46      50      Low

There are 6 more yards, but the above are actually some of the worst, and 4 of the next 6 were zeros.  The other two were a ten and a one.  I'm too lazy to type them in.

The point is that I was unable to see any visible differences between yards, or losses that I could attribute to the higher tracheal levels in some yards.  We have varroa now, and did not then.  I understand the effects are somewhat additive, so am lowering my threshold of concern a bit.

Nonetheless, the current results are so much better than these that I am not too worried.

allen

 Allen's Link of the Day: An interesting site about AFB

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. High minus 21.
Tonight..Clearing this evening. Becoming cloudy overnight with 30 percent chance of flurries towards morning. Wind light. Low minus 30.
Monday..Mainly cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 19. High minus 4. Normals for the period..Low minus 11. High 1.

Wednesday March 6th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

It's minus 26C this morning.  There is over a foot of new powder at Nakiska, and more elsewhere, but the predicted high is minus 18, a little too cold.  Tomorrow looks better.

Here's Castle Mountain's report from yesterday, then today's (just in).

Skier in deep powderUpdated on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 at 2:06:10 PM 
Still totally puking.  The grader and plow truck finally showed up at 11:00 a.m. with about 50 cars in tow. Even though the cats were out all night you can't tell all we have is 60 cm of new since suppertime last night. I didn't bother to put in the amounts for the past week again because it doesn't really matter.  Only the Blue Chair and T Rex are open today because of the heavy snowfall and small crowds. Tomorrow will be epic.


Updated on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 at 5:36:47 AM
Another 10 cm to add to the 75 that fell up to 3 pm yesterday will just add a little icing to the cake. There was a ton of smiles here yesterday even though with the avalanche hazard we were unable to get the top half of the mountain open. That will make the sliding even better for you today with 85 cm up top since the last time anyone was skiing from the Red Chair.
The groomers spent all night plastering down this beautiful, dry, light powder for those of you who prefer corduroy to face shots. Today will be epic, especially in the trees.  Current temp is -22C (yikes) and a light wind. Number of runs open today will be affected by avalanche closures, most will be open by mid morning.

We have several inches here and snowmobiling is once again an option -- if it ever warms up.

I got to work today on some clean-up and set Paulo and Dennis to start cutting out old combs.  We have thousands to do and need to get the job done in the most profitable fashion.  Since there is honey in some of the combs and the renderers hate to do frames, we have decide to cut out any honey that there is and see if it is economical.

I also decided to look at getting a larger sump tank for extracting and made a few calls.

I went to donate blood again this evening in Three Hills. 

 Allen's Link of the Day: Old Woodworking Machines

Today..Mainly cloudy with a few flurries. Wind becoming north 20 km/h. High minus 19. Cold wind chill minus 29. Risk of frostbite.
Tonight..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind east 20. Low minus 25. Wind chill minus 35.
Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High 1.

Tuesday March 5th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

A dull, cold day with lots of new snow.  I worked at the desk and Paulo shoveled snow and worked on the extractors, scraping and painting.  Dennis broke out the rest of the concrete around the furnace in preparation for renewing a section of floor.  Matt was in for the morning and did some minor car repairs, along with repairing some electric motors that have accumulated around here and were in need of new bearings.

I received this email last night and thought it worth quoting, along with my comments.

> 20 bees for tracheal is not much, but if you don't find any, you might be  OK. I usually take at least 50. We have big differences between yards. But we have some yards that we never  move and other ones that we do. I hope your conclusion is not too optimistic.

Well, we found no mites or eggs in 200 bees. If we had, we would have considered going back and looking a bit more closely. Even two bees in the whole 200 would mean 1%.  I'm no statistician, but it seems to me that we should be safe.

> Do you have yards with a lot of Kona's? I would suggest to test them especially as I have the impression that our Kona's are more sensitive than our Huxters.

Yes, A neighbour claims to have lost 75% of his hives the other year to tracheal in winter and early spring untill he started using formic even while he was splitting the remainder. He used exclusively Kona carniolans.

> Another thing I did was changing to 50% alcohol as the bees sometimes were quite brittle in 70%.

Yes, we use 70% for storage, since we plan to keep the balance of the samples for several months, at least, in case they are needed further. We add a bit of water to each 20 to be tested 24 hours before the test to make them easier to work on.

Thanks for the comments.

allen

 Allen's Link of the Day: Custom Woolen Mills

Today..Snow. Additional accumulation near 5 cm. Wind north 20 km/h. Temperature falling to minus 20 this afternoon. Cold wind chill minus 30. Risk of frostbite.
Tonight..Period of snow. Wind north 20. Low minus 25. Wind chill minus 35.
  Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High 1.

Monday March 4th, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

Bee Samples to be used for Varroa, Tracheal and Nosema tests.
Here are homemade sheet metal tweezers and two samples made up of five bees each from every colony in a yard.  The samples are in 70% isopropyl alcohol (USP) and will (1) be shaken to dislodge any varroa which will be counted and (2) then at least ten bees will be examined for tracheal mites.  More will be done if the first are inconclusive up to a possible 100.  (3) The guts of the dissected bees will then be crushed and checked for nosema under a microscope.

We have a foggy morning today, with temps around zero C (freezing).

Paulo gave us the results of our mite and nosema tests.  Virginia found no varroa, no tracheal, and no nosema in the samples we took of our own bees, but found varroa and tracheal in the samples a friend gave us to test.

Last week we collected 5 bees per hive from 10 yards picked more or less at random into 70% isopropyl alcohol.  (The non-random element was that we skipped yards where we could not drive in with a van).  Then Virginia shook the samples and poured the alcohol through a screen to look for any varroa that might have been on the bees.  After that, she took twenty bees from each sample and pulled the trachea out under a dissecting microscope to examine them for acarapis woodi (2) or eggs, and, finally, she mashed the abdomens and examined the slurry under a compound microscope for nosema apis spores (2)

If we had found any tracheal mites, we would then have proceeded to examine more bees to get a better feel for the infestation levels, but we feel that this level of testing is adequate when we see that we have very low levels, and conclude that we need not look further.  Write me ?  We are now ready to do sample for other local beekeepers if they need the service.

A bad picture of the BuickI got a call last night about a parts car for sale.  I went up this morning to look.  It is snowing and raining today and the roads are pretty bad.  I drove all the way up to Three Hills with the truck engaged in 4WD and wound up buying the car for the engine and tranny.  Matt went with me and drove the car home.  He says that it is not all that bad and runs and handles well, even though it has 300,000 km on the clock  It has a good windshield and tires and the interior is pretty nice.  The exterior has some rust though and would be a bit of work to make it look AI.  I expect we will use it for parts.  I may drive it for a day or two to see what it is like. I remember my first parts car-- I bought a 1953 Merc to get an engine to put into my 1941 Ford.  The Merc was in running shape.  The Ford was a big project.  It soon became obvious that I should have kept the '53 and scrapped the '41.  Am I about to repeat that mistake?

A while back, I was bragging about my savings from driving older cars.  That was before the timing chain gave out, leaving me stranded in Banff.  I guess that even new cars can have some expense and downtime, but I'm not bragging so hard right now after being without the Olds for a few weeks and incurring this expense.  Being without a good car is keeping me from the mountains; I'm spoiled and don't enjoy driving an empty (rough riding) 3/4 ton truck 300 miles in a day anymore.

(Later)  I decided to see how good the Buick is and took it for a safety inspection.  As it turns out, the Buick only needs a few minor items like light bulbs and a couple of brake shoes, cylinders and hoses totalling $120 -- and two tires -- to pass.  It also drives better than the Olds.  I think I will keep them both!

 Allen's Links of the Day: AllAllergy.Net

Today..Fog dissipating this morning otherwise mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of snow developing this afternoon. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h this afternoon. High plus 2.
Tonight..Snow. Wind northeast 20 km/h. Low minus 16.
Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High zero.

Sunday March 3rd, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

This is the anniversary of the day I started this diary two years ago now.  Who'd have guessed what has transpired since -- and that  would keep it up.

I drove over to a neighbour's in the afternoon to look at a  forklift for sale.  It'll serve, but I can see why Swingers command a premium price from beekeepers.  Nothing comes close.

I drove the jacked up 4X4 and it sure was rough riding.  The roads are starting to heave.  I guess the frost has started coming out.  I see some road bans are in effects already.  Anyone wanting to order sugar for spring feeding needs to think bout that.

 Allen's Links of the Day: Dogs, bees in gene-mapping contest

Today..Mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of flurries this morning. Wind west 20 km/h. High minus 3.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h. High plus 6.
Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High zero.

Saturday March 2nd, 2002
Last year on this date       March 2000

I slept in this morning, and in the afternoon we all -- Jean, Chris, Ellen & I -- went for a walk down  the tracks to our further home yard.  We noticed cat tracks in the snow headed the same direction, and wondered why the cats would be wandering so far.  When we got there, we discovered that the tracks circled each four-pack of hives and realized that it was a skunk we had been following.  

Skunks catch mice around the beehives and also eat the dead bees in front of the hives.  Later a skunk may decide to scratch and do damage to the wraps and hives, but for now, we can get along together.  Live and let live.  

There are several factors that cause skunks to become a problem.  One is that the mother skunks get very hungry in spring and the other is that the bees get crowded and start hanging out.  That makes the clusters on doorsteps a large and tempting meal.   Having once experienced such a feast many skunks start to rely on bees, begin to scratch at entrances, and become a nuisance.  Another is that mice sometimes live in the wraps and the skunk tries to get to them.  The effort results in torn wraps -- and a huge misunderstanding between the beekeeper and the skunk which often culminates in the early demise of the skunk.

Meijers came over for supper.

Today..Mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of flurries this morning. Wind west 20 km/h. High minus 3.
Tonight..Clear. Wind west 20. Low minus 10 in the evening then temperature rising.
Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High minus 1.

Friday March 1st, 2002
Last year on this date
       March 2000

Matt priced car parts this morning and in the afternoon, I went to Calgary, just to get away, and to do some shopping.  I went to several computer stores to see what is available, and it seems the prices continue to plummet. I think that older systems are now competing with the new ones and people are waiting longer to upgrade.  I am quite happy with my existing 266 system, but would upgrade if I could see a significant difference for a small enough price.  We could use a better system for Ellen, though, for graphics -- if I could be sure she would use it enough to justify the cost.  Hard to tell; it is one of those catch 22s.  I went to a lot of trouble years ago, to get her set up for graphics work, but it turned out she was just not interested -- and merely played Mahjong on the expensive machine.  Maybe she would use a graphics machine now, but her machine is too slow, and sharing the machine I use for business is not an option.  We have the notebook, which is a 550, but I don't know how that would work, since I take it when traveling.  I'm thinking of a used 450 system with Linux and the Gimp as a compromise.

I also went to Costco, but bought very little.  It seems to me that their advantage over competition is waning.  Coupled with the lack of parking and long line-ups to get out, I seldom go there anymore.  I'm interested in an central vacuum system and so after checking at Costco, I went to Revy to look, then went to the Great Canadian Superstore.  I wanted to get back there soon, since I have decided not to build the vacuum bee catcher shown here several weeks ago, since the sheet metal forceps work so well and are trouble-free and thus had $100 worth of vacuums to return before the two weeks allowed for returns was over.  I also like to shop for fruits and vegetables and meat there.

I got home around eleven.  Jean and Chris had arrived, and were just off to bed when I came in.

 Allen's Link of the Day: The Great Northern Arts Festival is an annual celebration of Northern Canadian arts and culture

Today..Flurries early this morning otherwise a mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High minus 10.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind becoming west 20 km/h. Low minus 15.
Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High minus 1.

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