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Checking and feeding hives.  Sugar syrup is being squirted into a frame feeder.  Protein patties are placed over the brood area.

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Tuesday April 30th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It's damp and cool and a little breezy, but everyone is primed and ready to go today.  Two trucks are headed north to feed and check.  They were gone by nine, with all in great spirits in spite of the rain.

My original results chart

Corrected results

Hopefully we can get into the yards we have so far been unable to reach, and we can finish the first round before we nearly complete the second.  We actually began a third yesterday in a nearby yard. 

Syrup on the truck is the limiting factor, so we are reducing the amount we put into the drums in each yard.  We had been putting several inches into each in addition to filling the top frame feeder in each hive.


The guys got back and we have one more day's work left for one crew in the north.  They did 308 for one crew and 148 for the other.  That's a bit less than our best, but as in all things, the pace ebbs and flows.  Besides, one crew is still getting used to the job.


On the right is a perfect illustration of why it pays to be constantly vigilant when believing the results of computer calculations.  We use an MS Excel spreadsheet to tabulate our results and observations.  We are forever tinkering with our tables, and it is easy to overwrite or miss a formula, or to miss including the bottom number in a column of sums. 

In this case, a reader pointed out a fairly obvious error, which I corrected (Thanks).  Something else that I had not mentioned -- since I never figured anyone would be reading this very closely -- is that several yards were not yet on the sheet.  I have now added them.  Our packages are not on this sheet either.

Speaking of package bees, I went to look at them and lifted a few lids.  It was cold and they looked miserable compared to the overwintered hives -- they always do at this stage, so I closed them up and we'll look at them more closely when we have a warm day.

Here's the email:

Just looking at your latest chart on losses, strong, weak,, etc. Notice it adds up to 2270, not 2374 you have posted...

Thanks.  I fixed that and several other things.

Further to our management of singles, a clarification perhaps. The "singles" we put made-up brood chambers under in late August/early September were made in May as standard 4 frame splits with a new Hawaiian queen. They are not made by splitting summer hives late in the season as has been tried by some.

We tried late season (end of July) splits and unfortunately it worked almost 100% and they wintered as well as the other colonies.  I say unfortunately, since we did only a hundred or so that year.  We did it again the next with 400 or 500 and had 50% winter loss among them and the parent colonies.  Live and learn.

We're almost finished unwrapping now, as well as setting weak hives down to singles, cleaned up and ready to be boosted later in May after we see how the queen continues to perform. Three yards to go that had excessive snow that will need a few more days of melting and drying before we can go in with our trucks and not make a mess. All hives have been visited the hard way back in late March/early April, most with toboggan.

I imagine that you must have had to dig down to them, too, on that early trip -- judging by what we saw out in our northern yards.

I'm sure kicking myself that we did not get the Apistan in earlier.  Nonetheless, I am thinking that we would do just as well if we left the hives entirely alone until May 1st before going out-- if we could somehow deal with the varroa.  I guess we need to evaluate and somehow prove the value --if any -- of these early visits. 

I remember a few years when we left them alone until May and as I recall, we had hives swarming out of the wraps by the second week of May.  We didn't have varroa to deal with in those days.  Maybe we should put Apistan in when wrapping in the fall.  Medhat, or Rob? had good results with that in some pilot studies, I recall. 

We put the strips in during the spring to save on the Apistan as much as anything, since we don't need to treat the dead ones and can use just one strip.  Maybe that is false economy?  We're spending big money and spinning our wheels all April the way we are doing this currently.

Various reports on packages this season. Some not doing well, dwindling as unable to feed well or brood up with continued bad weather. Even heavy winds in southern Alberta have done quite a bit of damage. How are yours?

Not sure.  At least the ones I have looked into are alive.  We did move them closer to feeders, but have found it too cold to disturb them with brood inspections.

Today..Showers mixed with flurries ending this morning then mainly cloudy. Wind increasing to north 30 km/h. High plus 5.
Tonight..Partly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers this evening. Wind north 30 diminishing to light. Low minus 1.
Normals for the period..Low 1. High 14

Monday April 29th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

7:30 AM We had some rain overnight and that is most welcome.  The overnight temperatures were slightly above freezing and are not forecasted to change much until Friday when the predict a cool night at minus five.  Every day without a cold snap allows the bees to get some brood underway. 

Once sealed, brood actually gives off some heat and help warm the cluster, so if we can get brood to that stage, the bees get a boost. Daytime temperatures are still slightly below normal.  We'll continue with feeding today, hopefully with two crews on the road.


1 PM: I got the feeder fixed.  It was simple once I figured out what was happening. 

I spent eight hours on the thing by the time I finished, including my time yesterday.  What happened was this: one end plate on the motor has a slight cutout to clear two field power posts inside the motor.  The end plate can go on in either of  two positions, 180 degrees apart, (but there is only one relief, and it is not all that noticeable).  At either of these two positions, the thru bolts line up and the dowel finds a matching hole. 

Because of an oil port hitting a mount, I chose one of the two positions-- but the other was the one with the desired clearance to the posts.  The motor ran fine each time until I tightened up the thru bolts, and I tried a number of things before finally tracking down the problem.  Once I rotated the plate 180 degrees, everything was AOK.

Then there were a few leaks to fix and odds and ends to finish.  Finally Dennis and Kenton are getting out of here.  They will go east five miles to do a nearby yard on their shake-out run, then do a few more before we call it a day.  First we get good, then we get fast.

Looking at the notes, I see it is now almost two weeks since we started the last round and we had been hoping to get around in a week.  I hope the bees are not too short on pollen. Some of the yards have not seen us for over three weeks because we could not get in and they had to be skipped, and some because of the breakdown.  A few have not been visited at all yet.

Evening: Everyone got back in good time.  I had gone to town to do a little business and was glad to see all is well.  we now have two crews on the road and should be able top get around pretty quickly.  I'm a bit concerned that some of the yards are getting the Apistan so late since we will miss the broodless period completely and also have to wait to take it out later.  Making splits could require more Apistan and the associated expense.

 Allen's

Links of 

the Day

Heroic Stories

Traumatic Incident Reduction Association

 

Today..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers. Wind becoming north 20 km/h. High 10.
Tonight..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of evening showers. Wind north 20 km/h diminishing to light this evening. Low plus 1.
Normals for the period..Low 1. High 14.

Sunday April 28th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It's sunny today. I decided to check out the feeding systems in the afternoon.  I got one 100% ready to go, but the other spun a motor bearing and I had quite a time getting it to work.  Even with the new breakers in the circuit, the motor seemed to have some serious problems arising from being stalled.  I couldn't determine if it was the motor or the solenoid and gave up around eight at night and decided to leave the problem for the morning.

From an Alberta beekeeper:

Opened your diary tonight and now it is smaller, everything is fitting in fine. Did you change anything?

Yup, I made some changes.  I didn't realize that anyone is still using 640X480 resolution, so I have now made certain that at least the current page works in this mode.  I trust everyone is using more than 16 colours.  Otherwise pictures look terrible. 

To change these setting in Windows, simply minimize all windows and right click on the desktop.  Select 'Properties', then the 'Settings' tab.  Assuming your computer is less than 6 years old, select 800X600 or 1024X768 (my favourite) by using the slider and then pick a deeper colour depth.  I use 32 bit depth, myself.  You'll likely have to restart the computer.

Regarding queens in Aussie packages, Walter mentioned a load that (an Alberta beekeeper) got that had to be requeened in haste with Hawaiians. Not sure if the queens were dead in the package or died shortly thereafter.

We also deferred Hawaiian queen shipments a bit. Usually start to reverse first of May, this year looking to start May 6, on a Monday. Our program is to reverse, mark the hive strengths as weak, medium and strong. Then we start splitting or shaking brood off the strong ones, the next round off the mediums, boosting the weak where necessary, although many weak are fine just the way they are.

We have not reversed for a few years now, but notice our broods are getting heavier all the time since we quit.

We used to just split the strong ones (bees on the floor and six bottom bars) in half anytime before May 21st, giving each half a second box underneath at the same time, and that worked very well. We'd consider leaving them in singles and adding a super for room, except that we still have patties on and an excluder would not fit properly.  Moreover, we will still have Apistan in some at that time.  (That will also be a nuisance and problem for the early part of our splitting, since we are still (now) putting Apistan into the yards that were badly snowed under).

We've been thinking of going without excluders on our doubles to maximize the honey in the supers, rather than having the broods packed, but are concerned that if we have a weak flow, that we will be sorting brood out of supers all season.  We'd also have to use BeeGo -- we've used abandonment for the past few years.  Maybe we'll just reverse.  Dunno.  Maybe the bees will tell me what to do when I get out there.

I gather you reverse in a separate round before you split, or do you split strong ones on the reversing round?

BTW, when exactly do you think the honey flow is in your area?  What would be the range of dates and the most normal time?  We're wondering how much we lose some years by splitting in the spring.

Last year started leaving the weak as singles, adding the brood chamber in late August, those just put on top, wintered OK - broods come from drone layers we are shutting down during blower round , mostly the 2nd chamber which has good honey and pollen.

That is a good idea.  We have experimented with singles -- we used to run all our comb colonies in singles--  the timing is a bit trickier than when running doubles, but more honey can be had.  We find we cannot winter singles, but when made into doubles, they winter just fine.  Don't know why.  One problem with singles is that they can easily get plugged -- or starve -- in late summer and this can result in poor wintering.

Did you requeen those weak singles in spring, or just assume that they would straighten out?

We also put made up broods under 100 singles ( made the same year) in late August, early Sept. I think, and then fed pretty heavy. They came out really good, better overall than the singles that went into the building, even with a cold spring.

We've done that and it works well for us a long as we make those splits early enough -- in mid-July, or preferably earlier.

It does me good to discuss this.  Makes me think...

allen

 

 Allen's

Links of 

the Day

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h. High plus 12.
Tonight..Partly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Wind northwest 30 km/h. Low plus 1.
Normals for the period..Low zero. High 14.

Saturday April 27th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

We awoke, had breakfast at the hotel, and met up with Jean and Chris at Ponoka on the way to Edmonton and a day at The Mall.  We thought we might stay the night at the Fantasyland Hotel at the mall and enjoy the huge wave pool in the World  Waterpark, but the mall was very crowded and by five-thirty we decided that we had had enough and headed south.  We thought of staying in Red Deer again, but elected to go home to our cats.

While at the Mall, I had a chance to watch the Fabulous Mindbender, the World's Largest indoor triple loop rollercoaster.  Galaxyland's Mindbender rollercoaster is 14 stories tall and rated #1 in the world for G-Force.  I was planning to ride it, but there was quite a lineup and I had to meet Ellen soon enough that I wasn't sure of getting on.  They stop every two hours for a fifteen minute safety check, and that cut into my time available.  I have to admit I was feeling a little bit of fear too, which is uncharacteristic of me.  After reading the specs and the fact that it pulls 5.2 Gs, I remembered the strain on my back when riding the Big Dipper in San Diego.  Of course the Mindbender's ride is silky smooth on a continuous pipe rail, unlike the Big Dipper, which is an old wooden device with uneven track and lurches around the circuit.

From an Ontario beekeeper

Did anyone confirm the shortage of queens? I have 150 Aus coming in on Sunday night, and I do not really need them. I would not mind letting them go to someone who really needs them?

I think they were short in Australia. Sometime they send packages without queens or with just one queen in a 4lb pkg. The buyer then has to get and use Hawaiian queens.

Thanks for the offer, but there is no shortage of queens here. I just postponed my 250 Hawaiians that were to come next Friday -- it's too cold and too early.

I hope your weather improves for you real soon.

Me too!

By the way do you have any of the extra rolls of the black winter wrap left over? I know you kind of guessed when we ordered together on the last batch.

No, I think we could have used a few more feet ourselves. We ran short at the end.

Are you going to take the wraps off? Or leave them on for the summer. I don't plan to take mine off until I have to. If I have to.

allen

Saturday..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind north 20. High 7. 
Tonight..Clear. Wind south 30 km/h diminishing. Low minus 1.
Normals for the period..Low zero. High 14.

Friday April 26th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It is snowing outside and we're expecting several inches of it.  Everyone has the day off and I'm thinking of going somewhere.  Anywhere.

We got some calls and faxes that kept us busy until mid-afternoon and then wound up going to Red Deer for the night just to get away from work.  We did a little shopping, then stayed at the Travelodge there.

To: emaillist-managers@yahoogroups.com from me:

> Actually, I started using MailWasher back in January...

Have you noticed that MailWasher has resource and stability problems? I find that after MailWasher has been running a while, that I seem to be losing resources (Windows ME), and OE crashes occasionally when I hit 'reply'.

Otherwise, I very much like MailWasher, but think it needs a bit more development, unless I haven't got it entirely figured out. For one thing, it would be nice to be able to bounce, delete and blacklist with one right click or some such thing and maybe colour code the lines that are done.

Having said this, MailWasher makes sorting my mail much easier and I don't wind up downloading all those wormy emails that are coming in at a rate of twenty or so a day. The MailWasher preview feature allows looking at HTML email without -- I assume -- triggering web bugs or leaving image download trails on the culprits' servers to show I even ever got the email.

I don't know if a plain text (source) view of such an email calls on the SPAMmer's server at all. I presume it does not, since I assume that no embedded applets, images or cookies are called up, and all I am viewing is the cold hard plain text source code.

Although the garbage detail still wastes my time, since I have to sort and delete, it gives me some compensating satisfaction to blow away all the garbage without leaving a trace. <Hehehe> <evil grin>.

Here's the URL again http://www.mailwasher.net/  I give it five stars out of five, but would give it six if it had a bit more improvement.

What I hate most about SPAM is that it is causing us to hate and blow away ALL email that reminds us of it -- and some of what we blow away may be stuff we actually asked for!

Are you folks reading this guy's stuff? http://www.talkbiz.com/spamwars.html I think he is right on the money.

 allen

Got an email this morning.  I appreciate the info.  Thought I'd reproduce it -- and my reply -- here.

From an Alberta beekeeper:

Just thought I would mention that when I open up your diary, the picture of you with the veil on and the list of subsites is only partially covered by the diary entry. The diary is not able to fit in the space so I have to move the cursor arrow back and forth to read it. I tried maximizing the diary page, but no change. The leftovers of your face and list do not have a border on the right side that could be moved to make room for the diary entry. Maybe it's just my computer?

Could be. I'd like to see what it looks like.  I wonder if you can send me a screen shot? Just press the PrtSc/SysRq button and then open you picture editor. Go to the edit menu and select 'Paste' You should see the entire previous screen in a picture form you can save and send me.  (FWIW, Alt+PrtSc/SysRq will just copy the active window if you have several open)

... but now not getting any packages as our shipment was cancelled (Aussis) after the one before us got cooked on the plane. Co-op also had their shipment cancelled. No bees left in Aust. at least from that supplier. No queens either. Heard some problems again with queens in packages failing, but not widespread I don't think. Don't imagine you have had an opportunity to check yours yet?

This bit about Aus packages is news to me. No, we have fed our packages, but otherwise let them bee.  There were three or four dead queens when we installed, but we threw them in and just kept going.

We have more help here now (four guys) so we will get caught up soon. I notice from the note that we had some unexpected recent loss in one yard that was great two weeks ago.  I wasn't there, but wonder if it was starvation (We are feeding in frame feeders). The other yards are looking good and getting better -- in spite of the weather.

allen

I played around and played around and think I fixed the problem mentioned above.  I seldom test the page at 640 x 480, since that is an old resolution, not much used anymore, but now think the page is fully scalable again.  Nonetheless, I think it should look best at 800 x 600 fully maximized.  Anything smaller is going to be a bit of work to read.

 Allen's

Links of 

the Day

Today..Occasional snow. Further accumulation near 2 cm. Wind southeast 20 km/h shifting to north 30 this morning. High plus 1. 
Tonight..Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 30 diminishing. Low minus 6. 
Normals for the period..Low zero. High 14. 

Thursday April 25th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

The pond has finally thawed, but we're expecting snow tomorrow, so the weather still isn't improving.  Nonetheless the bees seem to be coming along well enough.

Kenton  started today and he and Tim and Paulo went feeding. Around three they had problems with the feeder and came back.  I worked pretty well all day on the main feeder and it is repaired, loaded, filled, and ready to go -- but we are all taking the day off tomorrow, since the weather looks bad.

Today..Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness in the afternoon with a 30 percent chance of showers or flurries. Wind southeast 20 km/h. High plus 7. 
Tonight..Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind southeast 20. Low minus 3. 
Normals for the period..Low zero. High 13. 

Wednesday April 24th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It's minus 6.5 and sunny with no wind.  Although the forecast is for below normal weather for the foreseeable future, at least the extreme cold seems to be over.  Today we'll get out and get more patties on.  I was talking to Paul H and he said the other day that some pussywillows are now in bloom.  We don't have willow at every location, but that means at least some sites will be getting pollen.

After being outside for a while, I take back what I said about 'no wind'.  There is a steady, nasty NW wind that makes working outside bitterly cold.  We spent about an hour practicing putting on tire chains and found out that of the eight sets we have, none fit the trucks properly.  Seems to me we have been using chains over the past few years, so I'm not sure what has happened.  Maybe the properly-fitting chains are still hidden somewhere.  We'll get the chains adjusted today so we have several good sets.  

Some beekeepers use 4x4s for everything, but we run 2 wheel drive, except for one unit.  2WD has fewer routine problems, and lower initial cost.  Once in a while we have traction problems, but a good set of chains can make a 2-wheel drive equal to a  4-wheel unit.  Besides, 4X4s can create false confidence and get stuck too. When they do, it is not a pretty sight.

We deliberately thinned the syrup when we received it, but it was so cold this morning that the Briggs & Stratton engine on one syrup pump would not start.  The syrup -- even thinned out -- was too thick.  When this happens, we just release one of the cam-locs and shut off the infeed hose valve to allow the pump to draw a little air.  The pump then cavitates until the engine starts and warms up under less load.  When the engine is running well, we close off the air leak and open the valve wide and it pumps okay.  

We have the electric pump with a Jabsco that we can use if the gas pump is balky, but the electric moves syrup at half the speed.  We try to have a backup system for every essential process.  That is why we are able to go feeding today.  The original feeder system is still under repair.  I'd better quit typing and get to work on it.

We still have not pulled any frames to look at brood and bees.  It is too cold, and we know what we would see anyhow.  Soon, though we will be receiving our queens for splits and will have to start the real beekeeping.  Then we will be pulling lots of frames.

Paulo and Tim continued feeding bees and did about three hundred hives today in sheltered yards.  Winter loss is around 14% now.  The ones rated 'weak' now should survive, since they are about the same strength as packages.  Dennis moved things around the yard and did tidy-up jobs.  They needed doing badly.  I should have completed working on the second feeder so that we can field two crews this week, but I was kept busy with other jobs.  Ellen went to the city for the day.

We still have not visited all the hives, so the total count is not correct and we could have some surprises out there.  We have started putting more than one patty on each hive since the patties are being eaten faster than we can get around to the hives.

 Allen's

Links of 

the Day

Today..Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness in the afternoon with a 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind becoming north 20 km/h. High plus 3. 
Tonight..Clearing this evening. Wind light. Low minus 6. 
Normals for the period..Low zero. High 13. 

Tuesday April 23rd, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

The weather outlook is simply awful.  There is a heavy snowfall warning in parts of Alberta and several days around freezing with cold nights are predicted.  The tanker arrived at eight, and the weather was bitterly cold, overcast and breezy.  Nonetheless, Dennis is a cheerful guy and enjoyed the job of pumping out the tanker in spite of the biting wind.  He and the driver kept one another entertained the whole time.

We had about 9" of water in each tank for several days, waiting for the truck to arrive. Fortunately it was not frozen.  The syrup mixed well with the water and I estimate the final concentration to be somewhere around 58%, which should be good for spring feeding.  The load amounted to 20,200 kg wet weight and filled three 1250 gallon tanks with the diluted 55 HFCS.    A few inches had to go into the tank that already held 2/3rds of a tank of slightly diluted sucrose syrup left from last fall.

Tim started work today.  What a day to start!  He and Paulo worked on frames all morning to stay out of the weather.  During that time, Dennis and I got the standby feeder system working and Paulo and Tim were able to test it out feeding the package bees in the home yard around noon.  We gave the packages Fumigillan B in their syrup, because of the bad weather, and because we had some on hand.  Paulo and Tim then loaded up with more syrup and went to Frere's where there is shelter from the north wind, and fed patties and syrup all afternoon.  Apparently many of the hives had eaten all traces of the patties, including the paper, so we will now start putting at least two protein patties (one pound each) on such hives.  

All told, they fed about 300 hives.  We have put the extender patties on most hives now and also put in Apistan.   That is the entire medication for the year if all goes well, except for the menthol which we will add shortly, as soon as the weather gets nicer.

I get email.  Here's one from a regular correspondent that sums up what I think things could be like here when the bloom starts:

In 24 years I have never had so much bloom all at once in the spring.   #2 son & I dumped some 3# packages last Friday in 40 degree weather.  I was afraid they may starve due to the cold as they would not got to the feeder, all they would do is just cluster up. Yesterday I had to move frames so the queen could lay.  Seems every body had 2-3 frames of slop layed in from just a few hours flight. 

I still have a real bad feeling about this season. Don't know why, but I just do.

Pray for warm weather.

We have been worried about our packages, too.  Only one has died so far, and that is likely due to queenlessness, combined with being too cool to get to the feed.  I actually have a good feeling, though.


A 1/3 roll of towels soaked in 50/50 Crisco and menthol being placed in a bag.

I got a call this morning from a beekeeper in Saskatchewan who applied Blue Shop Towel Tracheal Control (1) (2) to his hives yesterday and noticed that the bees were being driven down from the brood by the fumes.  His hives are still wrapped and the temperatures were about 12 degrees outdoors, if I recall what he said.  He told me that he placed the towels in the centre of the hive and also used a half towel.  Menthol can drive bees out, so it is good that he checked to see how things were going.

When we did our applications last year, we placed the towels at the back of the hive and also cut the rolls in thirds, not halves, since we had heard of some brood kill when researching the method.  We did not notice any ill effects when we did it, but be aware: too much menthol on a hot day (or tightly closed hive) can drive bees right out of the hive and/or kill brood.

By the way, we did find a few tracheal mites in our samples when we did additional bees from the original samples.  There were five mites in two bees out of the twenty, which is not good, but also not too bad.


Kenton called today and he is starting Thursday.  That should complete our field crew for the time being.  Dustin says he can come for a week each month and that will be a big help.

Dennis worked around the place today tidying up and doing chores.  I pulled the pump apart, then went to town for parts.  

I had a strange and annoying experience there.  At the parts counter in Linden Agri-centre, I was buying about ten dollars worth of parts for the 1" gear pump and had the end casting there for reference.  There was a bushing in a blind hole and I asked the partsman how to take it out.  I had a good idea how I'd do it, but thought I'd ask.  He showed it to a worker passing by, who took it into the back and returned seconds later with a bolt that was about the same size as the inner hole in the bushing.  

"Oh", I said, "That's how you get it out?"  

"We use a tap and then pull it with a bolt", he answered.

"Oh, okay", I said, "Are you going to take it out?"

"Unless you want to..."

"No, that's okay, I don't have a tap that size".  

Seeing as he already had everything on hand and there was nothing to it, I figured he wouldn't charge, or just charge a nominal amount.  After all, this is the country and people are usually neighbourly and helpful.

He left and returned in a minute or so with the bearing out of the casting and the partsman said to him, "How much".

"Ten dollars", was the reply.

Today..Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50 km/h. High zero. 
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind north 30 km/h diminishing. Low minus 10. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 1. High 13. 

Monday April 22nd, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

We've now had a month of spring and the summer solstice is only two months away.  In the next month we will be doing the bulk of our spring beekeeping. So far there is no sign of pollen coming in, but that will change any day, and since all the spring pollen sources have been held back, they could come on hard and fast.  We need rain to trigger everything and get the crocuses and other early pollen sources blooming.  So far we have been going around checking and medicating and feeding.  These activities are important, but not as essential as the work that is beginning now.  Once the pollen starts, we are working against time to get the hives built up and ready for the flow, which could be as little as eight weeks away.

From the Lethbridge weather reports, it sounds as if today will be a classic windsurfing day at Kehokipa.  The guys have been forecasting it for the last five days or so.  Highs of seventeen and steady winds over 60 km/hour (~35 MPH).  I have work to do and a meeting with Crop Insurance this morning.  I'm going to miss this chance to sail in fantastic conditions, but I guess there will be more opportunities.  I must keep my eye on the ball.  It's coming at me fast.

At this time of year, things begin to accelerate and time compresses.  Those who are not ready will miss beekeeping opportunities and never know why.  When the weather turns and spring starts, we start getting calls from beekeepers or wannabe beekeepers who would like to buy hives or get started in the business.  This year, the trend is even stronger, since the price of honey is high.  Many don't have their financing in place or any clear idea of what they are going to do.  In my opinion, anyone who has not got his financing in place and things organized and planned by now, and is not working in the yards or shop daily does not understand beekeeping in Alberta, and is doomed to fail -- barring fantastic luck.  There is a time for everything, and now is not the time to be distracted by what should have been done months ago.  Nonetheless, things do come up, and we make a point of managing in a way that leaves us some slack to deal with such things and even to help others if the need arises.  We try to have a bit of surplus time and staff available for contingencies.  Even at that sometimes we have to run flat out.

That is not to say that small scale start-ups or small adjustments to an existing operation aren't reasonable and practical, but any sizeable beekeeping business should be concentrating on the day-to-day details by now.  To be a successful beekeeper, it is necessary to prepare well before the game, and not once it has begun.  It's the difference between showing up consistently five minutes late for work and being consistently five minutes early.  It's the difference between always having money in the bank and being always in debt.  Everything comes down to attitude and preparedness, and these two factors make the difference between success most of the time and failure most of the time.

Unless there is an unusually long season with a major flow in late August (one year in ten for us), success means hitting a small window of opportunity -- usually several weeks at most -- which can appear anytime in late June and/or July.  By then hive populations must be at max, all honey supers on, road and field equipment sitting ready,  and the facilities and personnel to extract must be fine-tuned and ready to run flat out for a few weeks.  It is all over in a flash and many miss the target year after year.  Most don't know what they missed because they are still busy getting ready.

As I said above, our meeting to set our selections for Crop Insurance coverage is today.  An Alberta beekeeper must decide within a few days what level of coverage to purchase, or to opt out.  The crop insurance people know that the season is already well underway.  Some beekeepers don't.

After the meeting, I went to three towns looking for parts for the pump.  Pedestal gear pumps seem to no longer be a standard hardware store item.  I also looked around for a 12 volt motor since the winch motor in the unit may be fried.  I couldn't find anything.  I did get some circuit breakers (which I should have used in the first place).  I got home around 5 and Meijers came for supper.

Today..Mainly sunny. Wind increasing to west 30 gusting to 50 km/h. High 15. 
Tonight..Partly cloudy. 30 percent chance of evening showers or overnight flurries. Wind becoming northwest 30 gusting to 50 km/h. Low minus 5. 
Tuesday..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High plus 3. 
Wednesday..Mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. Low minus 3. High 8. 
Thursday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries or showers. Low minus 4. High 9. 
Friday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries or showers. Windy. Low minus 3. High 6. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 1. High 13. 

Sunday April 21st, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

There is still ice on our pond, but we can see four of the expensive carp have died and are now floating.  There was little runoff, the pond is low, and the water is getting pretty alkali.  This might be a good year to pump it out and let it fill with fresh water.

I spent the morning getting the camper ready to go windsurfing, since the forecast is for 17 degrees and 40 to 70 kilometer winds over the next few days.  It was one PM before I was ready and since it is a 2-1/2 hour drive each way -- and I must be here tomorrow -- I decided to put the trip off.  At least I am ready to go now.  The camper is all set up and the gear is somewhat sorted out -- for high winds, anyhow.  Light winds will require a change of equipment.  I've acquired so much windsurfing gear now that it is a huge undertaking to go anywhere since I gave away my motorhome some time back, and the camper has much less storage.  Of course, I don't need to take all seven boards wherever I go, but I have to make decisions and sort out gear for the conditions.  if I make a mistake, I may not have what I need to sail, since every board has different rigging.

The afternoon was spent tidying in the gym while watching a movie. 

 Allen's

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Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High 15. 
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h. Low minus 1. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 1. High 12. 

Saturday April 20th, 2002

Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

Bees attacking a box with BeePro placed out for them a half hour previously.

Bees entering a barrel on its side with BeePro within two minutes.  Note the bee entirely coated with dust.

Not much happened today.  I slept in.  Matt came over to fix things.  I answered some email, and El & I did some planning.

On the right are pictures of a box with BeePro put out only a few hours before the picture was taken.  In the second picture, BeePro was poured into a drum on its side (for shelter from wind and rain).  Within two minutes bees were in the dust.  Note the third bee which is totally covered with flour.

In the morning Ellen put out some BeePro for the bees to keep them from bothering people downtown in their quest for pollen and in the afternoon Shirley came by to visit.  There was a breeze, but generally this was one of the nicer days we've had.

In the afternoon, a neighbour called about bees in the chop bin and I dropped over to commiserate a bit.  People are pretty tolerant and just want to understand what is going on.  Some are concerned that the bees are lost or planning to move in.  A kilo of honey taken along as a gift is a good idea at a time like this.  Matt finished wiring up the camper and a few other tasks and called it a day.

I'm starting to think about fly control.  We're in an agricultural area, and I don't know if it is the feedlots and horses in the vicinity or just the nature of the locality, but we have hoards of stable flies by August and they make sitting outside miserable.  Picnics can be awful with flies crawling on everything and everyone.  I generally like insects and used to enjoy seeing the first fly of the season, but I no longer enjoy them at all.

As I understand it, flies usually stay within a fairly short distance of where they are hatched, so controlling them should be a simple matter of trapping out all the flies in the area around my house -- I think.  A few years back, I bought some fly traps of the bottle variety, "The Fly Terminator", and they worked well, but they were expensive and needed frequent tending.  They also did did not achieve as good a control as I would like.  After a year, the plastic bottles were brittle and it looked as if another several hundred dollars would have to be spent.  They also broke when winds blew them around the yard.  I resisted the expense last year and flies were simply awful.  Muscovy ducks are out of the question, since I don't want them all around the yard.  

Write me.

 Allen's

Links of 

the Day

Today..Sunny. Wind light. High 15. 
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h. Low plus 1. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 1. High 12. 

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