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Monday 10 February 2003
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I had been thinking of Meeting my friends, the Jewetts, at Sunshine for a day of boarding, but the early morning road reports made the trip sound dangerous. One caller on the CBC -- talking on his cell phone from the #2 highway near Airdrie -- was counting the cars hitting the ditch around him. In the minute or so he was on the air, he saw six go off the road. I worked at my desk until mid-afternoon, packed quickly and then left for B.C. By the then the roads were okay, but not great. Once I was past Cochrane, the roads became dry, and I began to enjoy the drive. There is nothing quite like having a good car, a credit card, and no definite schedule.

I got to Revelstoke around mid-evening and found a motel thinking I'd get onto the 'net and get caught up. That's when I discovered I'd left my laptop power supply at home. I could not even work on an article. I watched a movie and went to sleep.

Today..Snow ending early this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High plus 2. Tonight..Becoming mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind northwest 20. Low minus 4. Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High minus 1.

Tuesday 11 February 2003
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I slept well, and was up at 6.  I checked out, drove to Sicamous, and turned south. At Vernon, I passed up gas at 73c and kept going to Kelowna.  Suddenly, just as my tank was getting empty, the prices at stations I passed jumped to 83.9. I found one at 77.9 and filled up. That was the last cheap gas. Prices of crude had jumped and gas prices had gone up 10c overnight.

I got to the Westridge Motel at Osoyoos around ten and called Grant on his cell. He finally answered, and he had just gotten out to his bee yard near Keremeos. I drove over, stopping to take some pictures a yard I saw long the way. The hives were wrapped with tarpaper and the were hundreds on the site, some in singles and some in doubles.

I found Grant and we had a good chat, then we went to town to have some lunch and see Jim H, who has a place down in this area and brings his hives down to this areas as well. Then we went back to Grant's yard.

I put on my suit and veil, and we put patties on a few hundred hives. Grant had picked up his patties at Global on the way down and was working out of the back of his pickup. The patties were perfect and the job went quickly. Grant's hives are not wrapped, except for a few on which he was trying the black plastic bags that are favoured by some northern beekeepers for spring protection. Those hives were very damp and we left the bags off, except for some hives where he made upper entrance holes in the bags to see if that would solve the problem.

Grant runs mostly single brood chambers and dark, conservative bees. Most hives were in singles and had plenty of feed. Clusters were moderate in size, and the bees looked good.  We found most in good shape and figured that losses might be amount to 5-10% all told.  By afternoon, the bees were flying quite freely.

Around four, we quit for the day and drove down to Nighthawk crossing where Mike W. has his hives. He had already finished for the day and was gone, so we drove back to the Westridge and went to the bar to get a room. The Westridge has a brew pub attached and makes a varity of beer. We sampled a few and then Terry N. and Mike came in. We all spent the evening engaged in bee talk and testing beers. We had supper there too, and the ribs a were about as good as I call recall eating anywhere. We soaked in the hot tub for a while, then called it a day.   When we got to our room, we found we had a two-room suite with queen beds.  The rooms are like-new -- very good for the winter price of $45.

Tuesday..Mainly cloudy. Wind light. High plus 2.

Wednesday 12 February 2003
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I awoke at six.  Grant was awake and said he was going out for breakfast at seven.  I said I'd sleep a bit longer.  After seven some time, I awoke again and when I looked into his room, I found he was already gone.  I wandered over the Husky and had breakfast.  There was still no sign of him or of the others, so I called him on the cell.  He and Terry and Mike had gone over to Keremeos, looking for syrup tanks.  They came back after a while, and all looked a little under the weather.  No wonder.  I was feeling a bit vague myself.  The bar bill had come to $135 the night before.  (I remember that part clearly, since I had paid it).

I said my farewells and went looking for a power supply.  No luck.  Then I pointed the Olds west and drove to Vancouver.  Along the way, I found a supply at Chilliwack.  I got to the ferries around six and caught the seven o'clock for Victoria.  I called all my contacts, but missed them all.  Everyone was out. 

I got to  Victoria and found a cheap motel -- $30 and retrieved my email.  Mostly junk.  Motels are cheap in the off-season in Victoria.  I might have overdone the 'cheap' side of my nature, though.  The motel was decent and clean, but pretty basic.

Wednesday..Sunny. Low minus 2. High 7.

Thursday 13 February 2003
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I awoke, caught up on my email, and made a few calls.  I missed everyone again and caught the 1 PM ferry to Salt Spring.  I arrived at Bruce's around 2:30 and we went to town for coffee.  Later we had supper at Moby's and that was it.

Thursday..A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 4. High zero.

Friday 14 February 2003
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I watched the UN Security Council discussion on Iraq, and then Bruce and I went to see Jane's lettuce greenhouse.  After that, I headed for Fulford Harbour to catch the ferry.  Along the way, I'd driven by -- many times in the past --  a beekeeper's home and honeyhouse.  I'd never caught him in, but this time he was in the yard.  I stopped to chat and had a great, albeit short, visit. 

I caught the ferry to Schwartz Bay and then on to Vancouver.  I got to Vancouver around 3:30.  I drove to Ron's and waited.  Graham appeared home within minutes.

We met Ron and Joan for supper at the Arbutus Club, then Graham and I returned home to watch "Traffic".  R&J had a party, and returned late.

Friday..A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 13. High minus 3.

Saturday 15 February 2003
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I slept well, got up, had breakfast and spent the morning reading the papers. 

My brother and his wife are avid newspaper readers.  I suppose it runs in my family.  My father also loved walking and as it happened, he died by the side of a country road, walking home with his favourite newspaper: The Globe & Mail.  He'd had a massive heart attack and sat down by a tree.  I can think of worse ways to go.

Today..A few flurries this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High minus 1. Tonight..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. Low minus 8.

Sunday 16 February 2003
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I left Vancouver around eleven and drove east, into the mountains.  I arrived at Golden around nine PM and got a motel.  Along the way, I chatted with Grant on the cell phone.  He said he just gotten the bees all fed, and figures about 8% loss.  That's what we guessed from the first hundred or so, and is very consistent with the normal rates of queen failure over a year. 

I always figure that about 30% of all queens fail and are not replaced over a year in a normal bee operation.  That implies that many more fail, but are successfully replaced by the bees.  Of course queen failures in fall and winter result in colony death, since the bees cannot raise a replacement.  The implications of this estimate are fascinating.

Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. High minus 4. Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High zero.

Monday 16 February 2003
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On my way home, I had not decided whether to go up to the Kicking Horse Ski Hill or not.  I'd had left my options open by staying at Golden.  In the morning, I decided to drive up for a look, and wound up buying a day pass.

The gondola was lined up, so I decided to warm up on the lower runs.  My first rides off the bottom chair were less than inspiring -- there was not a lot of fresh snow -- but I finally decided to line up for the gondola.  The line was not getting any shorter, but I figured I owed it to the mountain to go to the top before going home and complaining about it.

The view from the top was stunning.  The peaks are very tall and jagged.  The rim reminds me of Alta in Utah, or pictures I've seen of Jackson Hole.  I took a few runs, on the 'Stairway to Heaven' chair, but my legs were getting weak and I also wanted to get home in good time.  Around one PM, I sold my ticket in the parking lot and drove the rest of the way home.  I got home at six fifteen, after stopping to shop for groceries along the way.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

These sites are from Glenn Apiaries.  I looked them up on the map and was surprised to see they are located south of Los Angeles.

Monday..A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 13. High minus 2. Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind becoming west 20 km/h this evening. Low minus 9. Normals for the period..Low minus 12. High zero.

Tuesday 17 February 2003
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I spent the day at my desk and had a meeting this afternoon with a prospective buyer.

Meijers came over for supper.

Today.. A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 20 km/h. High plus 3. Tonight.. Clear. Wind west 20. Low minus 7. Normals for the period.. Low minus 11. High zero.

Wednesday 18 February 2003
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Today, I'm off to Edmonton for Medhat's IPM meeting.  It is bound to be a great chance to see everyone and catch up on the latest news.  Here's the flier:

BEEKEEPING FOR THE FUTURE:

IPM WITH EMPHASIS ON BEE GENETICS

February 20-21, 2003
Organized by: Alberta Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development and Alberta Beekeepers Association.

Thursday February 20, 2003:

8:00-8:45 Registration and coffee.

9:00- 9:15 Introduction and Welcome from ABA and AAFRD.

9:15- 10:00 Dr. Lloyd Dosdall: IPM Concept, Economics and Use in Agriculture:

10:00-11:00 Dr. Steve Pernal: Pesticides and Antibiotics Use in Bee Colonies: Efficacy, Safety and Development of Resistance.

11:00-12:00 Dr. Jeff Harris. Pirmorsky Russian Bees and Control of Varroa.

12:00-1:15 Lunch.

1:15-3:15 Adony Melathopoulos, Dr. Steve Pernal and Dr. Medhat Nasr.

Hands on Diagnoses of Diseases, Monitoring Mite Population, Use of Formic Pads, Safety of Handling Pesticides, and Testing for Apistan Resistance.

3:15-3:30 Coffee.

3:30-4:30 Dr. Medhat Nasr: Basics of Honey Bee Genetics and Breeding:

4:30-5:30 Sue Cobey: Colony Evaluation and Selection for Use in Breeding Programs.

Evening:

7:30-9:00 Sue Cobey: Video on Instrumental Insemination of Queens.

Update of US National Meetings and Open Discussion: Walter Dahmer and Allen Dick. (Joint meeting with Edmonton and District Beekeepers Association).

Friday February 21, 2003

8:30- 9:30 Dr. Jeff Harris: Implementation of Mite Resistant Stocks in Bee Operations:

9:30-10:15 Dr. Medhat Nasr: Step by Step of a Practical Honey Bee Breeding Program for Beekeepers.

10:15 10:30 Coffee.

10:30- 11:15 Dr. Jeff Harris: Slow Mite Reproduction for Varroa Control.

11:15- 12:15 Sue Cobey: Bees, Queen Rearing and Production of Quality Queens.

12:15-1:30 Lunch.

1:30-2:15 Sue Cobey: New World Carniolans.

2:15-3:45 Northern Queen Breeders Profiles and Panel Discussion: John Pedersen, Liz Huxter, Gilbert Wolfe, Denis McKenna, Elmer Zumwalt and others.

3:45- 4:30 Dr. Medhat Nasr: Emerging IPM Strategy in Bee World.

I got a call from a honey buyer today and he says that Argentine crop will be about 40% of normal, at about 80 million MT.  He reports US prices for quality product are again climbing and should get to $2.00 US, he thinks, quite soon. 

I called the Mid US hotline and the news there is similar

  • $1.42 US for extra light amber. 
  • Some Canadian honey sold recently at $US1.00 (Maybe dark, melter honey?  or, what are they thinking?). 
  • Brazil sellers not honoring contracts and demanding more. 

Call 763-658-4193 for full details.

I hear  Canadian packers met recently and are wishing the price would go back to $1.00 CAD (65cUS).  Apparently our co-op was there too, wishing the price would go back down.   I used to think that they were working for the beekeeper -- after all, beekeepers own the co-op and set it up to get a good return for beekeepers.  Unfortunately, like all co-ops, it is now run for the benefit of the employees, and the owners/shareholders interests have become secondary. 

The Canadian co-ops are now falling well behind in total Canadian market share and are being out-competed by much smaller buyers.  The co-ops have been concentrating on fighting over the Canadian packed honey market and lost sight of the fact of globalization.  They have been giving away Western Canadian beekeeper's premium honey at low prices to gain Canadian packed market share and fighting over this small market with several other Canadian packers.  While they have been thus distracted, others more nimble have stolen a march on them.


I left home, stopped to shop in Red Deer, then headed for the airport.  I was to meet Jeff Harris, our speaker at the Edmonton International Airport.   I had been told that he was to come in at 5:30 on Northwest Airlines, but I had been unable to find a flight at that hour on the listings, so I was bit worried.  I had also overstayed in Red Deer a bit, and had to make good time getting there.  I got there at 5:30 sharp, but, there was no 5:30 NW flight listing on the monitors.  I walked around, looking and I did see some Manitoba beekeepers coming in, but no Jeff.  I took a chance and waited since there was an Horizon flight, from Seattle at 5:30, and it was a bit late.  I really thought that Seattle was not a reasonable hub for a flight from Baton rouge, but people were sitting by that gate looking expectantly in the direction of customs and occasionally someone would come thru the doors, so I waited.  Sure enough, about six, Jeff appeared and we drove to the hotel.  The weather had turned cold on the way up and by the time we were on our way, the mercury was down to minus twenty or so. 

This is the kind of late winter weather I hate.  It never fails, either.  It seems that after a fairly decent winter, we often get a cold spell just when the bees are starting to brood up and when the bees are older and down in numbers a bit.  Our bees always seem to come through okay, but it seems to me that this is the final test; if they are not top notch losses can occur.  I can remember this happening in earlier years when our wintering techniques and our stock were not as good.

We arrived at the hotel, and the bar was already full of happy beekeepers.  There was a large contingent from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, considering the time of year, the weather and the distance (900 miles for some), and a good group from British Columbia as well.  That's a 800 mile haul for some of them.  That is impressive, considering that this is not even a major meeting.  It seems to me that the attendance rivaled attendance at the AHPA meeting and also the SBA attendance.  (Perhaps someone has the numbers from those meetings and can confirm or correct my impressions).  I think the large attendance is a testimonial to Medhat Nasr's reputation, and the interest in IPM.  Having Jeff Harris and Sue Cobey on the menu didn't hurt the appeal either. 

We were all disappointed to hear that Sue's father had died and that she had found it necessary to cancel, but she did send a movie and we were well entertained, even in her absence.  Jeff Harris a is a dynamic, well organized and fascinating speaker.  He is on top of a lot of breaking news and emerging ideas.  He is works right in the thick of the action at Baton Rouge, the source of the SMR bees, and he manages the imported Russian stock on the barrier island.  He also has been to the Primorsky area to bring back bees for the project.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 20 km/h. High plus 4. Tonight..Mainly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low minus 15. Normals for the period..Low minus 11. High zero.

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