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Beekeepers discussing the stock developed from  Primorsky Russian bees
 A panel of beekeepers who work with the Baton Rouge lab on the Russian bee project

On the left is Bob Bob Brockman from New York, Hubert Tubbs (Mississippi) is at the mic.  Steve Bernard (stock distributor) Charlie Harper (Louisiana), Manley Bigalk (Iowa) and Richard McCoy are on the right.

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Monday 20 January 2003
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We awoke to 2 inches of new snow and temperatures around minus 15C.  There's enough for snowmobiling now, but it is cold out.  I think I'll wait until it warms up a bit.

I went to Three Hills in the afternoon to do some banking and the rest of the day was spent at my desk.

I installed the new card and now am running at 1152 x 864 and 32 bit colour.  This eMachine 1800+ now rates an 860 at PC Pitstop.  Before it was running at 730 to 760 at a lower resolution and bit depth, and with less detailed rendering.  Now all I need (need?) is another 256 or 512 megs of DDR.

 of the Day

Today..Periods of snow. Wind northeast 20 km/h. Temperature falling to minus 17. Cold wind chill minus 27 this afternoon. Risk of frostbite. Tonight..Snow. Wind light. Low minus 18. Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Tuesday 21 January 2003
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I worked at the desk all day.  This computer is finally working the way I expected it would.

I checked a few things on the site and updated a few link problems, so if anybody clicked something and it did not work, maybe it will now.  Let me know if anything important is broken, or jumbles in your browser.

Hi Allen,

I am a 400 colony beekeeper in central Iowa. I have been working my way through your diary for the last month or so. It is a gold mine of information. My brain feels like it is too full. The pictures are great, too.

I was at the ABF meeting in Kansas City last week. On Thursday Bill Ruzicka gave some detailed instructions on how to use formic acid against both mites. The main drawbacks seemed to be the testing needed to get the evaporation rate correct and the fact that the hive needed to be sealed up pretty good so the bees couldn't exhaust the fumes easily. A spring treatment before the wraps are off might work for me. Are you acquainted with the man or his methods? Is anybody in your neighborhood using formic for varroa? I know you have used it on towels for tracheal mites.

I've rubbed shoulders with Bill and his daughter at quite a few meetings. He is an inquisitive and inventive person.  I think that his method probably works well in some circumstances.  I realize this sounds dismissive, but it is not meant that way.   The thing about formic is that it is not as straightforward or reliable as strips for varroa used to be, but it can work.  Monitoring, and correct interpretation of results of the treatments, is the key.  I also understand that formic does not work as well on high infestations as it does on lower levels, for some reason.

We've used (30 ml) formic (pads), against tracheal mites, but not directly against varroa.  I'm sure, though, that we did some 'collateral damage' to any varroa in the neighbourhood.  The 30 ml formic pads, used five or six times at six to ten day intervals, is reported to work for varroa, and is simple to do, but -- as with anything that evaporates -- temperature and breezes can have an effect.

I have some more material here , but it is getting old.  Things change.

If you are in Iowa, you might want to get some cells from Manley Bigalk at Cresco.  He has the Russian stock and expects to be able to almost eliminate mite treatments.  I can give you his email address.


 of the Day

See varroa and tracheal mites in streaming web video

Today..Snow. Total accumulation up to 2 cm. Clearing late in the afternoon. Wind northeast 15 km/h. Temperature steady near minus 18. Cold wind chill minus 27. Risk of frostbite. Tonight..Increasing cloud overnight. Wind light. Low minus 27. Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Wednesday 22 January 2003
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I spent some time updating my Formic page.  Still lots of work to do there.

Here's a note I wrote to a California broker:


I phoned you today to mention we have bees available, and thought I'd follow up with a bit more info.

We have up to 1800 hives for sale for $130 US each, as-is where-is, firm price. We're looking for a cash deal and are not really interested in financing anyone, but I'll listen to ideas. We can arrange loading and references, but would advise a buyer to come and look, since we cannot guarantee anything at that distance. The bees are easy to look at, since the wraps we use permit opening any lid at any time with no hassles.

We recently sold 500 unselected hives, on their locations, to a neighbouring beekeeper and told him to bring back any that are dead or almost dead. He only brought back five, and he is fairly fussy, so I think they must be pretty good.

From what I have seen in my travels through the southern US, our winter clusters up here in Western Canada generally look much larger -- about twice the volume -- at this time of year, compared to southern and California bees. Our hives are also fairly heavy, since brood rearing has not really gotten going yet. Of our hives, 85% were over 110 lbs, when last checked in November. The equipment is average, I'd say -- some brand new, and some pretty old. You can see pictures at www.honeybeeworld.com . The hives are on strong pallets with telescoping lids.

Someone suggested to me that if there is a bee shortage, given the cost of going without bees, some grower may want to buy them and then sell them to a beekeeper for whatever he can get after the bloom, just to ensure a crop. I think that our bees are quite ready to pollinate right now -- just as they are -- without any work. In my opinion, they could just be trucked in and set down. Of course, a beekeeper would get a bit more out of them by going through them and possibly splitting and equalizing some before the set, and by pushing them a bit, but they are pretty even now.

We check regularly to monitor varroa, TM, and nosema. We have no know resistant varroa mites (Apistan is all we've ever used) , and low or non-existent tracheal mite levels. Varroa mite levels were less than 2% in the worst yards and undetectable in most last fall. Several yards show some tracheal mites, but no tracheal mites were detected in most. We have seen no AFB for several years now, and are checked annually for resistant AFB as part of a research project. No resistant spores have been found in our samples. Of course, we have no fire ants.

Why am I selling? I'm 57 and a retiring, or at least cutting back to a few hundred. I want to do more writing and maybe some research. My wife and partner also says, 'Enough!".

At any rate, if there is any interest, I think that a 10 days lead time is required to be sure the necessary paperwork is done and to allow for loading and possible delays. More time is better, since it is not unknown to have minus forty weather here February first with drifts of snow blocking access to some yards.. Of course, it could just as easily be above freezing, with no snow, but why take a chance by delaying unnecessarily?

By the west coast via the Trans-Canada highway, then I5, the trip from our yards to Sacramento is 1550 miles.

I might be in LA this coming week and could come by to say 'hello' if that would be of any value.

Allen Dick


Wondering about west coast US pollination requirements?  Here's a good article.  And here's another: The Value of Honey Bees As Pollinators of U.S. Crops in 2000

To pollinate California's approximately 420,000 bearing acres of almonds, it is estimated that it takes between 900,000 and 1,000,000 colonies of honey bees.1  It appears that the market value of the California almond crop pollinated by bees is about $1,000/colony  The indication is that almonds are 100% dependant on honey bee pollination, thus a grower paying $50 per hive ensures $1,000 worth of crop.  That is of course neglecting the fact that neighbouring hives will visit, so that, in most cases, a grower not purchasing bee pollination will not get a zero crop.  Nonetheless, the practice is to place hives so that they are near all trees, so that maximum pollination will occur.

I spent the day at the desk learning about California pollination and doing other deskwork.  Ellen and I were thinking seriously about going to the Central valley to see what is up, but we finally decided that there is just too much happening here to leave right now.  Maybe next week...

Meijers came for supper.

Today..Sunny this morning. Increasing cloud in the afternoon with snow developing late in the day. Wind southeast 20 km/h. High minus 21. Cold wind chill near minus 30. Risk of frostbite. Tonight..Snow. Total accumulation near 5 cm. Wind southeast 20 km/h. Low minus 22 this evening then temperature rising. Wind chill minus 34. Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Thursday 23 January 2003
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We decided last night to postpone our trip to California.  There are too many things coming up in the next week for us to get away comfortably.  We have a meeting in Southern Alberta next Tuesday and a chance to see my friend Kirk along the way.  Wednesday, we have a beekeeper coming about one of our trucks and a trailer.  The next day, the Saskatoon meeting begins.  I had thought to skip Saskatoon, but the SBA meeting has become a habit and, due to its timing, the meeting can be very important in finding out what to watch out for in the coming year.

On the 31st, our fiscal year ends and we have a payment to receive and bank by then.  Several days later there is some more banking to do.  Meantime, there is lots of fresh snow in the Rockies and I need to get out and do some snowboarding.

I spent the day cleaning up this website.  It may get worse before it gets better, since there are thousands of files to coordinate.  I updated the formic page somewhat and there are lot of good links there now.

Today..Mainly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of early morning flurries. Wind southeast 20 km/h shifting to west 30 gusting 50 km/h near noon. High plus 2. Tonight..Mainly cloudy. Wind west 30. Low minus 20.  Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Friday 24 January 2003
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 of the Day

Today..Becoming mainly cloudy this morning. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h. High minus 17. Cold wind chill minus 27. Risk of frostbite. Tonight..Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. Low minus 23.  Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Saturday 25 January 2003
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Today was cold, dull and windy.  I got two loads of water and otherwise worked at my desk.  I'm still having some trouble with honeybeeworld.com, but there is a lot of cleanup to do on the sites, since they have been up since 1998 or earlier and a lot of junk has accumulated. 

We went to The Coffee Break buffet restaurant in Three Hills for supper.  That turned out to be mistake.  There was a limited choice and the food offered was spicy (maybe with MSG, too) and I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep.  The meal hadn't been good enough to justify the inconvenience, either.

The spices that seem to keep me awake are pepper-related.  Not all peppers do it.  The effect is unpredictable.  Some tomato sauces have that effect too.

Saturday..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High minus 18.

Sunday 26 January 2003
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I spent the day at home, working on the website and other deskwork.  We had visitors in the afternoon, a couple interested in getting into bees.  We had a pleasant visit and went to look at a few hives.

Purves-Smiths came for supper.

Today..Becoming sunny this afternoon. Wind increasing to west 40 gusting 70 km/h. High plus 8. Cold wind chill minus 25 early this morning. Risk of frostbite. Tonight..Clear. Wind west 20. Low minus 2. Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Monday 27 January 2003
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Hey!  I got a call, looking for bees for the almonds.  Maybe this will come to pass.

I mention the Panda virus sweep below.  Try it.  You'll be amazed.  Write me and let me know if it does you some good.

 of the Day

Some Optional MS Computer Features

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9

Today..Mainly sunny. Wind becoming west 30 gusting 50 km/h. High 6.  Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind west 20. Low minus 8.  Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Tuesday 28 January 2003
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Today is Medhat's meeting at Granum, near Lethbridge.  I was thinking of heading south last might, but there was some fog, so I put it off.  I see the conditions are predicted to be foggy this morning with 60% chance of flurries.  Not great driving weather, but I'll give it a shot.

I got to the meeting on time.  In fact, I had an extra hour, so I dropped in on Kirk and Barb Hofman at Nobleford.  I'd been meaning to get down to se them for some time and for that reason, I drove my own vehicle, rather than riding with Joe and Oene.

It was a good meeting with a large turnout, and lasted until 5PM.  Medhat made a presentation and then the beekeepers discussed a few matters of concern, mainly pollination price and terms.  The seed growing firms that use pollinating beehives recently amended the long term contract they have with each beekeeper -- to the disadvantage of the beekeepers.  Moreover, the contract price has not changed for five years.  This year, the demand for beehives is up, but several of the larger beekeepers are reluctant to negotiate for higher prices.

Medhat's talk concerned coumaphos and other mite-related matters.  I had hoped he get further into biological solutions to our current mite situation, but I understand that this will be the topic of the upcoming meeting in Edmonton (Poster image, Word doc) in February where he will have Jeff Harris and Sue Cobey as speakers.  More info on the meeting -- everyone is welcome -- can be obtained from the ABA office by calling 780-489-6949.

 of the Day


About Oxalic Acid and Vegetables

Today..Mainly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of flurries. Morning fog. Wind light. Temperature steady near minus 10.  Tonight..Mainly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. Temperature steady near minus 11. Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Wednesday 29 January 2003
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I should really write more but today I have a meeting and then must head to Saskatoon for the SBA meeting.  I can't find any info about it on the internet and there is no agenda in the winter SBA newsletter.  I got Heather to send me what she has.  Here is an HTML version.

Today..Sunny. Wind light. High plus 1. Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 2. Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

Thursday 30 January 2003
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I drove to Kindersley last night and on to Saskatoon this morning and decided to check into the Bessborough.   The meetings got underway first thing and it turns out that Dewey Caron is the keynote speaker.  I'd never heard or met him before, but was very impressed by the depth and scope of his knowledge and experience.  His talks were very dynamic and insightful.  I bought two of his books.  I've recently been to the MAAREC site before.  I'd been impressed, but not found the site easy to navigate.  I'm planning to spend a bit more time there now that I have a better idea what must be there.

 I got to see many old friends and catch up on Canadian problems.  I'm getting a bit partied out, though.  I've been to BC, Alberta, Baton Rouge, Kansas City, Granum, and now Saskatoon.  On the twentieth, I have the Edmonton IPM meeting, and I should be done.

Today..Clearing. Wind increasing to west 30 km/h. High plus 6. Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low minus 4. Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

Friday 31 January 2003
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The meeting continued today.  I was considering heading home, but I looked out and saw snow flurries.   I decided to stay the night and go to the banquet.

Tomorrow, there is a panel discussion about the Russian stock.  Saskatchewan beekeepers have several of the lines and have been evaluating them, so that should be interesting.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 50 gusting 70 km/h diminishing to 30 late this afternoon. High 10. Tonight..Clear. Wind west 20. Low minus 2.  Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

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