February 20th to 28th, 2003
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Geoff replaced Sue Cobey
Mike is a Peace River
The day started off with Dr. Jeff Harris on Implementation of Mite Resistant Stocks in Bee Operations, followed by a Swiss video of varroa moving, mating and growing on larvae and pupae in transparent artificial cells. Dr. Jeff Harris then spoke about Slow Mite Reproduction for Varroa Control. Geoff Wilson then covered Bees, Queen Rearing and Production of Quality Queens.
Today we had a hot lunch (Lunches and coffee were included in the registration fee). After lunch, Medhat spoke on Step by Step of a Practical Honey Bee Breeding Program for Beekeepers.
After coffee, we had a Northern Queen Breeders Profiles and Panel Discussion with John Pedersen, Liz Huxter, Gilbert Wolfe, Denis McKenna, and Elmer Zumwalt. Medhat finished up with Emerging IPM Strategy in Bee World.
All in all, it was a well-organized and most informative event. I personally think that Western Canadian beekeepers are as progressive as any. Many present already are following the principles behind IPM, but we are all looking for ideas and better ways.
In recent meetings Medhat has indicated that he feels Alberta beekeepers should be rotating Checkmite+™ with Apistan™ to extend the useful life of fluvalinate, even if they are not experiencing noticeable Apistan resistance. His reasoning is that we may not have coumaphos available for long, since organophosphates are being phased out, and if we use Checkmite+ now, we will relieve the selection pressure towards fluvalinate-tolerant mites for a while and be able to use Apistan longer into the future.
While I agree that rotating treatments is a wise practice, and central to IPM thinking, all the information I have heard lately -- including reports from Medhat, himself -- cause me to believe that coumaphos is a sufficiently noxious substance -- and one which readily contaminates honey and wax -- that we should only use it in a dire emergency.
In his talks, Medhat indicated we need use management techniques, monitoring and softer chemicals as the first line of defense and consider calling in chemicals like coumaphos (in his words) "Like dialing 9-1-1".
I personally believe that there are other promising treatments -- oxalic acid is one -- that do not contaminate hives and the environment with chemicals that are potentially damaging to humans. I realize that oxalic acid (OA) is not approved for use in Canada at present, but I think we need to get going on obtaining approval. There are very few good reasons to think OA might be dangerous to humans or bees when used correctly, or leave detectable residues.
Interestingly enough, I learned at the meetings that Medhat has actually done some work on using oxalic (trickling method), and that he ascribes very high mite kill rates to OA. IMO, OA, not coumaphos should be our next/alternate varroa treatment. Maybe I am not following his logic, but for me, monitoring comes first, then Apistan, and only if Apistan fails, and we have no alternative, a dangerous, contaminating substance like Checkmite+.
As always, opposing views are welcomed.
Then it was all over. I think everyone found the meeting worthwhile, and hopefully, we'll make a late winter meeting like this into an annual event.
Every time I meet with beekeepers, I am struck by what a unique bunch we are, how much we have in common, and, frankly, what a strange life we lead.
One of the best features of a meeting like this is the chance to gather in the restaurant and bar to talk with beekeepers from all over. With beekeepers from all over Western Canada, in a non-political atmosphere, we have a chance to exchange views and gain understanding of one another's' perspectives. We we get to talk one-on-one and get the group politics out of the way, we make strong friendships and find win/win solutions. I find that these meetings are like family gatherings -- in the best sense. Let's face it: if you are fascinated by bugs, don't mind them, and even like them a lot, you are part of a tiny, tiny minority. Anyone who shares that fascination just has to be a friend.
|At this meeting, I learned that the
Beekeepers Association 2003 convention will be held at the
Hotel in the West Edmonton Mall on
November 3, 4, & 5, 2003.
This upcoming convention is an excellent opportunity for a family vacation combined with some business. Anyone and everyone is welcome. I recommend arriving Friday night and spending the weekend at the Mall. Beekeepers typically arrive at least a day early, and I expect there will be a reception on the Sunday before the meeting.
Edmonton is a city of about 1,000,000 people and easily accessible from Canadian and US cities via Edmonton International Airport.
I stuck my nose outside the hotel and found that it was minus twenty, with a cool breeze. A skiff of snow covered everything and the roads looked to be a bit slippery. I had checked out at noon, but spent a few last minutes visiting with the guys at the bar while the car warmed up. When it was ready, I headed towards home and, a little over an hour later, I dropped in at at Jean and Chris' in Ponoka. I stopped just to visit, but found I was tired. They were happy to have company, so I stayed the night.
Today .. Cloudy with occasional snow. Total accumulation 1 to 2 cm. Wind light. High minus 19.Tonight .. Occasional snow. Wind light. Low minus 21. Normals for the period .. Low minus 11. High plus 1.
After breakfast (cold pizza and coffee) I drove home, and arrived around noon. Although I did not shop in Edmonton -- I drove right past the world-famous West Edmonton Mall -- and I had no inclination to stop in Red Deer, I had a hankering to do some shopping in Three Hills along the way. It's something special about a small town, I guess. At anyhow, I rented some videos, got some groceries, and test drove a 1994 Lumina van. I hated the van.
I spent the afternoon playing at this site. I installed another 256 megs of RAM that I had picked up Wednesday on the way north. That boosted the system to 50 points to 875 on www.PCpitstop.com . Previously a new video card had added 100 points. With these mods, the machine is faster, and I'm finding XP acceptable. I'd say XP is definitely more stable than previous Windows versions, but still is not 100% stable. I've managed to get the notebook to talk to it and now most of the annoyances are solved. Thank goodness.
It's minus twenty-four outside tonight. That's almost as cold as it has been all winter. We have more snow now than any previous time this winter.
Today .. Occasional snow. Total accumulation near 2 cm. Wind north 20 km/h. High minus 20. Cold wind chill minus 33. Risk of frostbite. Tonight .. Mainly clear. Wind light. Low minus 30. Normals for the period .. Low minus 11. High plus 1.
I played with my computer all morning. I worked on various projects and looked at investments. A friend recommended this site. Very impressive! I also looked at the new Big Rock income trust units. Almost looks too good to be true: 72c return on a $6.60 investment? I don't know. Years ago, I traded stocks, options, and commodities. I made some money, alright, but lost interest. A former partner of mine talked about high risk investing as "double or nothing until you lose". Think about it. Anyhow, I guess I'll have to get back up to speed and make sure not to put all my eggs in one basket.
In the afternoon, Ellen and I went to Drum and visited the Royal Tyrrell Museum and had supper at Fred and Barney's.
I learned something interesting at the IPM Workshop. If I got it right, apparently all the Russian stock in Saskatchewan was raised from only a few frames of eggs. (from about 5 queens?). If true, that certainly would not provide nearly enough genetic diversity for any kind of serious long term breeding.
Is this true? How many different individuals formed the basis for the Ontario Russian programme? How much more must be imported in order to have a sufficient number of lines to meet the minimum requirements if the Russian stock is to be bred properly in Canada in a pure form for any period of time?
Today : 30 percent chance of early morning flurries then mainly sunny. Wind northwest 15 km/h. High minus 16. Cold wind chill minus 34 this morning. Risk of frostbite. Tonight : Clear. Wind light. Low minus 24. Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.
In one week, I will have written this diary daily, with very few lapses, for three years. When I started, I had no idea whether I would keep it up for long, or lose interest. I had never kept a diary before, let alone a public one. My idea was to keep a personal record of what I did so I'd know, myself, from year to year and maybe avoid some of the stupid things we all do over and over in a business that has a an annual cycle and also be able to look back and remember events better. It seems one year is sufficient time to forget exactly how we do things. Many of us repeat the same mistakes and miss the same opportunities over and over.
Why I decided to make the diary public is not entirely clear to me. I think there were a number of motives. The first and most obvious was that, by announcing my intent, and being under some scrutiny, I would have some incentive to keep going. Another was that it would seem a waste to me, to just write for hours without sharing the output.
Nonetheless, being under constant scrutiny is a strange and double-edged thing. While sharing experience has the advantage of bringing in new ideas and information -- and compliments -- from readers and of making new friends, the notoriety and transparency can be a burden. I also get complaints, including some questioning my wisdom -- or even my right -- in saying what I think. I can relate to that. I often question my wisdom too, and sometimes remember that "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". Nonetheless, I firmly believe that "Facts are Friendly". We are better to speak out, express our differences, listen to one another, and suffer the short pain of disillusionment now, than to allow the costs of those illusions to mount to where they are unbearable.
Although this diary contains my personal thoughts and I am just as subject to bad reasoning, shortage of information, selectivity, incomplete understanding, and emotion as anyone else, some people take my musings for much more than what they are. After all, they are simply the observations and comments of just this one person.
I've also found that this whole diary thing can take on a resemblance to reality TV in that -- knowing I am being watched -- my behaviour is changed. Knowing I am under constant scrutiny makes me very careful what I say, and I censor myself constantly. Frankly, when I am writing in this diary, I pull my punches; I try very hard to be objective, and to be easy on people. I don't shoot from the hip or "give it both barrels". My policy is to make friends of my enemies as best I can, and I work as hard at it as I can, without being stifled or capitulating.
So, if you think I have been hard on you or something you love, please realize that you have likely gotten off very lightly.
In the afternoon, temperatures rose to minus three C., so I went for a snowmobile ride. The snow is light and fluffy and knee-deep in spots. Days are longer now; we have sunlight until after 6 PM.
Today : Sunny. Wind west 15 km/h. High minus 7. Cold wind chill minus 30 this morning. Risk of frostbite. Tonight : Mainly clear. Wind light. Low minus 14. Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.
I worked at my desk today, then went for a snowmobile ride down to the dam in the afternoon. Meijers had been down at Global picking up patties, so they came by for a visit in late afternoon. About then, Paulo, who was out checking hives, called to say he was stuck. He had been told to take chains and a scoop shovel and was driving a 4X4, so we figured he should be able to get out. Kids around here go out and get stuck just for the fun of it.
Two hours later, he was still stuck, so I finally drove up to get him out, with Meijers following in their 4X4 for reinforcements. Just as I got there, Ellen phoned to say Paulo had called to say he was out. I drove the last mile to take a look anyhow, and found that he had not been in at all badly and that there were few signs of digging. Like most beekeepers, over the years, I've been stuck lots of times, so I know a little about it. It looked to me as if he should have been able to get out fairly easily using the shovel and/or chains. Anyhow, we decided to take a look at the hives and, with Paulo, Joe and Oene in the back, I drove into the yard, right through the very spot where Paulo had spent several hours.
We checked four of the hives and they were all excellent. We then drove back out. Seeing as I had Meijers' big 4X4 as backup, I fooled around a bit and tried to punch though a drift thrown up by the plow. I got through all right, but turned too soon and slid sideways off the road enough to be stuck against the snow bank. After a few tries, I decided to put on the chains. The balloon tires on this machine are pretty slick and chains make a huge difference in traction. Chaining up is a simple job on a 4X4 with a 4" lift kit, and if the chains are put on the front, they aid in steering, making it a simple matter to climb out.
About then, I figured out why he had not put the chains on. One chain was broken. He had not checked out the chains, as instructed, in the morning and, once firmly stuck miles from home, had discovered that he had a mismatched and broken set. I don't know if they would have both fit the jumbo tires on that machine or not -- he was supposed to have tried them on the truck before leaving the yard -- but it turned out that one had a broken hook. One chain on one wheel won't do much. I guess he hadn't realized that he could have wired them on or jury-rigged them somehow. We've wired chains and we've roped chains in the past when we weren't able to get them to meet due to snow or mud. I also discovered that he had long handled garden shovel, not the scoop shovel he was expected to take, and that explained why I saw few signs of digging. He did have the recovery strap, though, and Meijers gave us a gentle tug -- and we were out.
We had a lot of fun, but, just the same, I was not favourably impressed to find that, although I had previously trained my crew and provide the proper tools -- plus Ellen had given him specific instructions to check his chains and shovel in the morning -- he was unprepared for getting stuck. Getting stuck is routine on this job.
I think that, when I expressing disappointment in the SBA after the Saskatchewan meeting, some interpreted my comments as being critical of Heather Clay, the National Co-ordinator of the CHC.
Perhaps this is because I mentioned in these pages that she had brought up Medhat's suggestions at a very bad time, but I hadn't intended to suggest that anyone blame the outcome on her. The responsibility for that lies solely -- IMO -- on the shoulders of the chair, and those at the meeting. She simply did her best in an awkward situation. She just 'happened' to step into a hornet's nest.
Unfortunately emotions run high on the topic in question and people -- on both sides of the issue -- managed to read things I never said into my comments.
One writer pointed out that a lot of the good work the CHC does is not seen by the public, sometimes due to the sensitivity of the subjects under consideration, such as work in establishing residue levels and in ensuring imported honey is examined with the same rigour as Canadian honey is.
I'd like to make it clear that I have a lot of respect for the anyone who works for the beekeepers, especially considering that many work for free. Having said that, though, I am not entirely convinced that everyone is entirely altruistic, generous and open-minded. I like to think that everyone is striving for objectivity and the good of all; nonetheless, I do have some reservations about he motives of a few.
|Here's an interesting comment that showed up in my
|And another comment...
In case anyone thinks correcting me will hurt my feelings, frankly, there is nothing I appreciate more than being proven wrong. The sooner I know the truth, the sooner, I can get pointed the right way. Some think that my writing this diary is somehow unfair because I say here what others only think. Well, it IS a diary and that is what diaries are for. If you don't like what I think, don't read it.
But, if you insist on reading my personal diary -- even if I annoy you -- and you really have to say something back (or just say how much you agree with me), I've opened a new HoneyBeeWorld Forum for reader feedback. The link will be in the left frame of this page from now on so it is easy to find. Register or not, I think it will be fun. I tried this once before with a third party, advertising driven bulletin board, but did not like it. maybe it is still working and is full of messages. I haven't been back. This time, things will be different. It's right here on the honeybeeworld server. Have at it.
I think we can have some fun there.
Of course, you can still just Write me directly.
Today .. A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High plus 2. Tonight .. Partly cloudy. Wind light. Low minus 9. Normals for the period .. Low minus 11. High plus 1.
Well, I see that I got a bit of interest in the HoneyBeeWorld Forum. I haven't decided how to proceed, but I may cut and paste some of the most cogent material here, or I may assume that people will go there for the other side of the story.
I got a call this morning from Indiana. Seems that bees are short in that area, and losses are already higher than expected. The caller was checking out to see where there are bees for sale. We still have 1,000+ that we can let go. Did I mention that one of the fellows that was gung-ho backed out and another hasn't called back. Oh, well. Who knows. I suspect that the hives will all go one day soon. It only takes one customer with some money. Maybe I'll still have a bee outfit this year. Worse things could happen.
I notice that Environment Canada no longer shows the phases of the moon. Considering that Canada was once an agricultural nation, that change seems very significant to me. Moon phases are of import to those of us who don't live in cities, and need to know whether we can expect to be able to see when we go out at night. The end of an era? Wondering when the next new moon is coming? Check here and here and here
|Here's a note on Brazilian honey. According
to my reckoning, the $2450/MT below translates into $US 1.10 / lb.
Makes a person wonder what is wrong with it... Why sell at $1.10 when the
market is more like $1.50 for good product?
|I think if I were a honey packer, right about now, I'd be pretty worried about where I bought honey. After recent seizures, and reports of adulteration and contamination, and considering the new and cheaper methods of detection, I'd be very careful where I bought. There's no reason -- AFAIK -- why Brazilian honey should not be as good as any, so... Why so cheap?|
|Haven't heard anything else new. The Mid-US Hotline hasn't been updated since February 17th.|
I was looking through the server logs and it looks as if the site has been getting about 4,000 visits this month so far or 151 visits per day. There were 2,300 unique visitors. Each visitor reads about 5 pages on average. Visitors were referred here by 648 different sources. Countries visiting recently include Greece, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, US Military, Turkey, Macedonia, Croatia (Hrvatska), Italy, Czech Republic, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand (Aotearoa), US Educational, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Greece, and yes, even Canada! If I've missed your country, then let me know.
Of course, that's about all the detail I get, and no, I can't see you <G> or know what you personally request. The above figures should be considered as conservative numbers, too, since a lot of traffic went to my I n t e r n o d e site earlier in the month, until I made the changeover and -- AFAIK -- a lot of traffic could still be going there, since the search engines and many web links still point to I n t e r n o d e and I have left it running. I'll phase it out over time.
I got another call, this time from the west coast. It looks as if interest in bees is heating up. I'd been thinking that Leroy would be picking his up 200+ about now, but we are snowed in. We usually have run-off around the middle of March, so maybe we'll have to wait until then.
I went to Three Hills for the blood donor clinic. The roads were slick, and I saw one large truck in the ditch on the way up. I saw two more on the way back. The trip is about 14 miles.
Today : Becoming cloudy with snow developing later this morning. Wind light. High minus 3. Tonight : Snow. Total accumulation 5 to 10 cm. Wind light. Low minus 12. Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.
|From: "allen dick"
Subject: Tracheal Mite Heads Up -- Again Date:
Thu, 27 Feb 2003 10:40:34 -0700
It's that time of year again.
As you may recall from previous discussions here, we do mite tests for other beekeepers on a small scale, here in Alberta.
We get 300 a 300 bee sample in alcohol and do a varroa wash, check 20 for tracheal, and do a nosema test, all for $10+tax. Of course, it is a quick and dirty test and we don't guarantee its accuracy, but it is an easy and affordable 'litmus test'. It won't give you exact numbers, but it will spot an obvious wreck about to happen. We'll do larger and more thorough samples, too, but this one is popular and, as you can see here, it can show when something needs doing, and soon. Combined with natural mite drops (another simple, easy test), it is a good start on IPM.
I recently received the first batch of samples from an Alberta beekeeper who winters in British Columbia and was surprised to find that he had higher tracheal mite loads than I would have expected. He also had one varroa show up in the wash although he treated with blue shop towels last spring and fall, and with Checkmite+ in the fall.
He consented to my mentioning this so that others will be sure to be aware that just treating and trusting no longer works. Monitoring is the cornerstone of IPM and although I am sure he is not happy to have mites, he is very happy to know in time to do something about them.
One thing I should also point out is that the bulk of his queens come annually from a producer who told me in the past (and I passed it on) that he was selecting his queens towards tracheal resistance. I don't know what happened here, but to me the message is very clear.
Test your bees no matter what you used for treatment, or where you bought your queens.
More info. and these lab results will be posted on my website, as time permits.
As promised, here's one page of the report. Click to enlarge. The beekeeper in question here will be contacting Bill at Mitegone™ to look into using the pads ASAP, since Bill is right nearby, and has experience in that district. Mitegone has activity against both mites, and we can see that at least one varroa managed to escape the Checkmite+™ last fall.
Something to consider here is that tracheal mites die in the tracheal tubes of the bees when treated with formic or menthol, and that a subsequent examination will continue to show scarring and mites until the bees die of old age, even if the mites are long dead. It is possible to distinguish between live and dead mites, but after bees have been in alcohol, the task is not easy, since the mites are all now, obviously, dead. Therefore, usually it is wise to wait a whole bee generation before testing again to avoid confusion. In the case shown here, the bees were treated spring and fall. The spring bees would be dead, but depending on when in the fall the bees were treated, winter bees would have been present. We're told that winter bees are developed as early as mid-August and live 6 months or more, so maybe some of the mites we see were already dead since fall. We do not know, and the results say "Treat", at any rate.
One lesson that is really obvious here is that a beekeeper can follow all the best advice, and use the proper treatments, and still not get -- for whatever reason -- good control. At such times, it is always wise to get a local expert to take a look, up close and personal.
People often write me asking to diagnose their problems. My answer is always the same. Find a local beekeeper who knows the area and get him or her to look at the hives in person. It is impossible to guess, from a distance, what unique factors may be in play. It could be the design of the hive, the fit of the equipment, the weather at time of treatment, something that the beekeeper is doing that is never mentioned, etc. etc. etc....
Also check out the selected topics in the left panel of this page. There are several tracheal mite (TM) topics there, including a graph of variations in susceptibility to TM in the stock from a number of US queen producers.
I worked at T4s all afternoon. I used to do this with Quickbooks and it took a few minutes. Now I use a spreadsheet and it is going to take at least 8 hours. I objected to spending the extra money QB charges for payroll features this year, and took the advice of a friend. I think that maybe I took bad advice. It's hard to tell. Last year I overpaid the government about $300, suing the QB numbers. The gov't wrote to ask why and I had no way of knowing -- QB's figuring is impossible to fathom -- so they got to keep it.
Today : Snow ending this morning then becoming sunny. Wind light. High minus 2. Tonight : Mainly clear. Wind light. Low minus 10 Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.
This is it: the last day of the winter's hardest month. It's minus 13C this morning and we have enough snow that moving sold bees, which we planned to start early in March, is pretty much impossible. We're glad for the moisture, though. after the drought last year, any water is welcome.
Adony sent me the results of some experiments to determine the effects of starting hives with wax strips, foundation, and with drawn comb. Using the graphs, I've made up a graphical page examining the high cost of starting on new equipment and foundation, compared to using established brood chambers with drawn comb.
I did the T4s, and everything worked out to the penny! We then went to Three Hills, meeting Walt at the Coffee Break, for their Friday night turkey buffet.
Today : Becoming cloudy this morning. 30 percent chance of flurries this afternoon. Wind westerly 20 km/h. High plus 1. Tonight : Cloudy with flurries. Wind light. Low minus 12. Normals for the period : Low minus 10. High plus 1.
"If I make a
living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
|Please report any problems or errors to Allen Dick
© allen dick 1999-2012. Permission granted to copy in context for non-commercial purposes, and with full attribution.