Hives stripped of supers and ready for feed.
There was no extracting today since the inside crew is caught up and no honey came in yesterday. Ellen went to Calgary for the day. I did some business, and went to work outside.
Paulo and Dave went north and pulled down Collins West and Woods. They used butyric and both blowers and got 193 heavy boxes plus 25 empties. With boxes weighing around eighty pounds, the load was too much for one truck, so I went up in mid-afternoon and picked up four of the skids with D4. The clutch is still not right on that truck; the pedal must be pushed to the very limit to get it to disengage.
Paulo is hauling a Swinger with him every day and that makes the pulling much easier. He can set a skid right where he is working and move it often enough that lost bees are not a problem. This also eliminates carrying the boxes onto the truck, a job which is hard on men. Some smaller men who can lift boxes down onto a skid all day have problems when they have to put them onto a truck. We have stairs that clip onto the truck sides, but, even with stairs, loading a truck by hand is still hard work compared to loading a skid on the ground. Parking close to the work also results in lost bees getting onto the load.
I was in Three Hills dropping off some high moisture honey along the way north and noticed that the ride seemed rough, so I went to the tire shop and had another tire changed. We have had nothing but trouble with one style of tire we bought several years ago. It seems that they always experience ply separation before they wear out, resulting in a rough ride and ultimately a blowout.
We were moving drums around today and the inevitable happened. Generally it is a little risky to transport drums of liquid honey, but sometimes we have a good reason. In the fullness of time, one is bound to drop, and when that happens, the drum is sure to burst open. Today was our day. I put some drums onto a truck and left Dennis to strap them down. When I came out, I gave the load a cursory glance -- it looked well strapped -- and drove off. When I arrived at my destination, one drum was missing. I went back and found it on the pavement at the end of my driveway, empty.
Today..Morning fog patches then becoming sunny. Wind becoming
west 20 km/h. High 8.
Paulo and Klarence went north to take off boxes. The got about 171 full boxes and 81 empties and were unloaded and gone shortly after 6. Dennis had taken his boy to Calgary for an operation, so Dave stayed here and did odd jobs with me. He washed out one of the feed tanks and shoveled wax out of the sump, emptied off a truck, etc.
We looked at D4 together and discovered that the clutch pedal uses a bellcrank system, and that the pedal had rotated on the shaft a bit. The pedal is held in place by large nut on each end of the shaft, so we tightened them up, but reckon that the problem will come back, since we suspect that there must be a flat spot or two -- intended to maintain alignment -- that has worn.
The syrup tank that Dave washed, turned out to be one that had suddenly started to leak last spring at the outlet. I examined the bulkhead fitting and found it had pulled apart a bit and was near failure. I had a new one and installed it, but must have torqued it too tight. It pulled apart at the same place. These fittings are a cheap version, compared to the original ones, and are perhaps designed to fail before the tank is damaged if someone pulls away in a truck without unhooking, but I am having too many failures. I hate to trust $2,500 worth of syrup to a cheap fitting like these.
I went to the KWAC meeting at seven. The group has shifted focus away from watersheds to drought and farm water supplies. I'm losing interest.
Today..Mainly sunny. Wind increasing to west 40 gusting 60
km/h in the morning. High 13.
This was a cool day, but by late morning, butyric was working a bit. Mostly, however, Paulo and Dave blew bees. They did Brian's and DR, got 154 boxes by 3 PM, and I went down to get some of the honey from them, but by the time I got there, the bees were starting to chill a bit and I thought it best to call it a day. I rearranged the yard -- the hives were facing north and south and I prefer east and west for wintering. We then headed back, and the guys got back early enough to get ready for tomorrow.
I ordered syrup for tomorrow at 1 PM and will have to buy another tank, since we have some HFCS and I am afraid to feed it for winter. another tank is half full of syrup that is too fermented to feed this late also. We mixed it from some dry sugar that we bought cheap. When we were mixing it Dennis had the brainwave to use extra water because the sugar dissolved faster. Of course it fermented, and I haven't figured out what to do with it. It may be okay to feed in late spring, but I won't use it now.
We'll get only about 3600 gallons this load -- three tanks -- since the highway dept. has put a 75% road ban on our access road; that is reducing the amount of syrup we can get on a triaxle truck. I have no idea how much sugar we'll eventually need, since most hives seem quite heavy. We'll put a drum or two out in each yard depending on how the hives feel as we go around. There are some lighter hives, though, from the singles that were made into doubles, but none are even close to starving. We like to feed late in drums. Only the hives that need it really load up.
We're also planning the water main installation and looking into selling some honey for the current price which seems to be pretty firm at $2.50, (that's $1.58 for you US guys) although BillyBee phoned today offering only $2.10. He was doing a lot of phoning and I think he is bottom fishing -- looking for suckers who don't keep up with the market.
We met Meijers in Drum for supper. Dennis phoned to say his boy is fine and that he (Dennis) will be at work tomorrow at 7:30)
Today..Cloudy this morning. A mix of sun and cloud in the
afternoon. Wind north 20 km/h. High 8.
We got a load of syrup this morning. I ran to Trochu and got extra tanks in the morning and picked up a Honda engine for one of the Dadant blowers. Apparently all the small engines bolt onto the same base and have the same shaft size and style. This is a 4HP engine. the original was a 3.5 B&S. I'll have to make several slight alterations in the carry handle.
Klarence called me this morning to report a family emergency and had to head home for the weekend. Hopefully he will be back next week. Paulo and Dave did just one yard and it was heavy, yielding 134 very full boxes and 9 empties. It's a yard we hadn't been to in quite a while. They came back and quit a bit early. There are 1391 boxes in the field yet and 974 of them are thirds, so they should be mostly heavy. 57 Hives are still singles with supers on. Our projections have dropped to 93 pounds per hive, partially due to finding quite a few empties last week. It goes to show our projections are just that, projections.
Dennis is coming in to feed tomorrow and the weather looks lousy. It's my birthday, so I plan to take the day off. Sunday looks much better for bees taking feed, so we want to get it out there for them. The days for feeding are growing short.
Today..Mainly cloudy with showers or wet flurries this
morning. Wind light. High 5.
Looking out my south door at 8:15 AM today, this is what I saw. Dennis is going feeding today and tomorrow we expect warm weather. We aim to have all our hives weigh a minimum of 100 pounds (including floor and lid) with a target of 110 pounds average.
Ellen and I left for Edmonton around ten-thirty and had lunch with Jean and Chris at Ponoka, then all of us continued north to Edmonton. We went straight to the Mall and spent the day there. Jean and Chris bough me a birthday supper. Immediately after supper, Jean and I rode the Mindbender. We sat in the last car, facing backwards, so we didn't see much and mostly I recall being shaken around a lot, then getting out. I don't recommend riding backwards on a rollercoaster. seeing where you are going is half the fun. Next time I'll be in the front seat in the front car.
Dennis phoned midday to say that he had broken a U-joint and was stuck down at Entice Bridge South. He'd walked to the nearest farm since the cell phone did not work at that location. He said he'd get Matt to help him get it repaired.
J&C went home to Ponoka, but El and I stayed in the Super 8 on the south side. We had a nice suite -- with two TVs -- and I got to watch TV. I haven't gotten around to hooking up to satellite again at home and we've been without for six months. Nothing has changed. Even with all those channels, it is still a wasteland.
Today..Mainly cloudy. Occasional showers or wet flurries this
morning. Wind increasing to north 30 km/h gusting to 50 km/h. High 5.
The breakfast that was included at the Super 8 was all carbs, so we went out to eat, then headed to Red Deer. We stopped in Ponoka on the way and admired the car that J&C recently bought, then we all went shopping in Red Deer. I actually buy things in RD, but at the West Edmonton Mall, I just go to sightsee. WEM prices are often expensive and I hate lugging things around the place. Something I noticed this trip that I can't recall from previous trips is that the place is very noisy. Of course it was Saturday, but it seemed worse than usual. Other malls are quiet in comparison.
Chris and in each bought CDRW decks and some CDs. I've been running too long without a good backup and also want to archive some items to get more disk space.
Dennis and Matt got the U-joint repaired and Dennis went on to feed bees. He fed the rest of the truckload, reloaded and quit for the day at 3:48.
Sunday..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to west 30
km/h. High 18.
It rained on and off all day, with hail for a while in the afternoon. Paulo and Dave worked around the yard: Paulo on brood chambers, Dave taking out boxes, until about one. They then pulled the thirds off EE.
Dennis was out feeding and managed to distribute about ten drums. We're about 26% done the first feeding round now. There is about 16 lbs per hive distributed, but I think we'll need to get one more load and go around again. I hope we will speed up a bit; at this rate, we'll not finish this round for a week -- or more.
Today..A mix of sun and cloud with 60 percent chance of showers. Wind
northwest 20 km/h. High 14.
Today was a much nicer day and by afternoon, it was quite warm. I went out to check the mite drop boards and see how the feed is being taken in by the bees.
The bees have emptied some drums almost completely, but Dennis used too much straw in some drums and that has slowed things down there, since the bees have to burrow down through the straw to find the syrup. The drums with lids which we use in locations where there are cattle also restrict the bees a bit.
We put in 3 or 4 sticky boards (shown at right) per yard for natural drops when we were filling the feed drums. We leave the boards in for about three days, then pick them up and count the mites. The boards are Coroplast and we spray them with Pam cooking spray to drown and hold any mites that fall onto them. A convex piece of 6 mesh hardware cloth sitting on top keeps the bees from cleaning them off before we get there to count. We found very few mites. Of the seventeen boards today, there was one board with nine mites, but all the rest had zero, except for four that had one each. That seems to me to be few enough that I will not worry.
I aerated the tank of syrup that seemed a bit fermented by circulating with the transfer pump and got rid of all the alcohol, but can still detect a tiny hint of vinegar. As I recall, acids added to syrup to invert them can lead to dysentery in wintering bees. I'm trusting that the acid level in this syrup is so low that it will not matter.
At the end of the day, I returned a Honda engine and a 1,250 gallon tank to the places where they were purchased, since they were not needed. Apparently all small engines share a common shaft height and base bolt pattern, so I figured that a Honda would be ideal for the Dadant blowers, since the Tecumseh and B&S engines don't last long, but I discovered that the Honda 4.0 engine -- unlike the B&S 3.5 -- has a muffler that protrudes on the shaft side, and that the muffler would interfere with the blower housing on a Dadant blower. The cheaper Honda does not have a protruding muffler, so I may wind up using one of them instead. I'd rather use the better Honda, though, since I'm told that the cheaper ($289 CAD) model is only a 300 hour engine and that the better one ($429 CAD) is a 2,000 hour engine.
I'm also idly thinking of using a 1HP 120V 3450 RPM electric motor with a
3/4" shaft, supplied by a power plant that can be on the truck or placed
anywhere in the yard. I already have a 4KVA Kohler plant sitting around.
An electric switch located on the hose near where the operator grips the tube
would allow for instant on/off control of the blower. One of the worst
nuisances when blowing is trying to hold or park a nozzle while moving boxes
around. As soon as it is released, the hose takes off like a snake in a
hurry. A spring loaded dead-man switch would be very handy.
Paulo and Dave did three yards today, pulling off the thirds. The yards had been done August 26th and the boxes pulled this time were full, so there was a flow after the 26th or the bees brought this up from below.
Dennis went north and fed 11 drums in 10 yards. I think we need to get around faster and maybe do less. He has been hefting hives and tidying up, but the imperative now is to get the feed where the bees can get to it. I think we'll need a second truckload of syrup.
Klarence phoned to say he has more personal problems and won't be in tomorrow either.
Today..Mainly sunny. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h. High
Paulo and Dave got 153 full plus 25 empties. I had to run out to take them another truck. The Stihl quit -- the impeller came loose and I need an easy-out to pull a broken screw. The Honda conversion is not done yet, so we are down to one blower.
Dennis slept in and got going around ten. He fed another round of hives and was back by six. We've fed 45 drums to 1,291 hives so far. That's about 17 pounds per hive. We are now waiting on getting the thirds off most of the balance. There are 1,095 supers still out there.
No one extracted today, and only two yesterday. Tomorrow, we'll expect three operators. Moisture is around 18% and the last few drums are near the upper limit for white honey.
I went to Three Hills in the evening for the blood donor clinic.
Today..Sunny. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h. High 15.