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Monday 10 March 2003
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Minus 19.8C again today with high winds predicted.  A Chinook is coming through, then we're back to cold weather until Thursday -- they say.

We're on a new page.  The previous page was getting huge.  Among the topics there,

  • Patty feeding
  • AFB detection by honey sampling
  • OTC residue concerns in the EU
  • Canada bee importations
  • Tracheal detection
  • The positive side of the bioterrorism scare
  • Apache2 and Perl
  • Selling bees and hives
  • Server logs

Maybe I should consider cutting the diary into smaller pages or use another format.  Comments?

 of the Day

Financial Sense Online Storm Watch

Canadian Honey Council - Conseil Canadien du Miel

Bee news from Saskatchewan

"Hi allen

Just thought you would like to know that Homer Park has passed away; sounds like on Friday of last week.

...weather has been very cold here like -40 at night and 30 in daytime. glad bees are inside, was in the buildings today and they sure do look good, but we are starting to see some dysentery on the entrances -- not too bad but some.  Popped a few lids and bees look wall to wall.  Tthere will be some junk, also, you know, but for the most part looks good.  Hoping we get an early spring so could get them out by mar 25-30 would nice

.. all the best...

The day was bitterly cold.  I did deskwork. Paulo and I went out to fill propane tanks -- we have our own bulk tank -- and found the wind was simply too frigid.  We left the job for later.  In late afternoon, I went to Calgary, just to wander around.  I bought some groceries, then visited Mike and Frank on the way home.  They report that Pollen patty orders are still coming in.

Mike complained his home computer was running slow, so we downloaded the Ad-aware free version and ran it.  There were 90 bugs on his system, including two hijackers!  That's actually not at all unusual.  After several reboots, the machine was clean.  We tried to run Panda, but his Norton kept it from running.  I hope that the machine is running better today.

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of afternoon flurries. Wind becoming west 30 gusting 60 km/h shifting to north this afternoon. High zero near midday then temperature falling. Tonight :   Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind northeast 20. Low minus 19. Wind chill near minus 30. Normals for the period :   Low minus 9. High plus 3.

Tuesday 11 March 2003
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People are having some problems migrating bookmarks for internode to honeybeeworld.com.  Here's some detailed advice.

I went to Three Hills this morning and had a spot removed from my temple area.  I've mentioned before the fact that Sherriff veils and their imitators do not provide sun protection like other veils and that they put beekeepers at risk of skin cancer.  Well here's your proof!

Years ago, I came to the realization that these veils are dangerous and had the late Mrs. S. make me veils with cloth above the forehead.  That kept the sun off my face, and did not in the least affect my vision, even when looking up.   Somehow, that safety feature got lost and never caught on, and although I've mentioned the idea to other suppliers, they too, have ignored the advice. 

Time for a class action lawsuit against the makers of these defective veils?  Maybe my estate will sue.  We'll see.  The Dr. says the cancer is of a benign sort and local only, but she did a biopsy...

Another country heard from...

Hello...here is Silvio from Brazil.

I visited your site and I think that I've been learned a lot of beekeeping with all of you.   I love bees and I keep some hives here in my country.  The things are very different here because we work with africanized bees and they are very angry and unpredictable.  But I will trying to improve my method and techniques.  Your home page (diary) have helped me a lot.  I visit it every day.  I wish success for you and all your family.  And put so many pictures as you can on the pages... I love see them.

Best regards


That's what everyone says -- use lots of pictures.  The size of this website used to be a concern, but I have a web server now that can carry the traffic, and so size is not a problem, but I always worry about slowing down the loading  my pages because pictures take time to load and some readers, like me, are on a phone line.  What do readers think?  I noticed that Tim figured out how to put pictures on the HoneyBeeWorld Forum

Looking south towards our house.  It's bitterly cold out, and the hives are surrounded by hard, knee-deep drifts

Actually, I'm going to suggest that readers (that's you) send me pictures of themselves and their hives or bees or honey houses and if I think I can use them, I'll put some of them on this page.  Actually, if people write and send me a bit of info about themselves along with the pictures, I might be able to do some nice little profiles.

BTW, if anyone reading this is wanting to get a website on the Internet, I do set up sites, or provide space for web sites, at dirt cheap prices.  I just set one up for a friend yesterday, and have several others in process. 

Cost? $10 CAD -- $6.80 US -- a month for a few pages, if there is little work on my part. Usually the owner (you) can take over adding and maintaining the site after a bit of playing around, and I provide support.  My server has all kinds of fancy features most people would never use and they are included at no extra cost.  Registering a domain name (like www.honeybeeworld.com)  costs about $10 to $20 a year, depending on a number of factors.  If the site grows more complex, then the price goes up. 

Write and ask if you are curious.

> Is it too soon to put Apistan in the hive about now -- next warm day?

It's a little early, I'd say. I figure in about another week or two, depending on weather.

> I beekeep here in Manitoba.  Is the chemical as effective when the bees are clustered?

I think so, as long as they move around in the cluster or the cluster breaks from time-to-time.  I doubt it would be good for some bees to be in constant contact and others not receiving any at all.

Think of each strip as cattle oiler. When bees contact the strip (or a bee that has had recent contact), they get a small amount on them. Then they spread it onto other bees they contact.

I've also heard that the ill effects (and there are some) of fluvalinate on the bees themselves are worse as the temperature drops.  Don't know how true this is...


From Kununurra, a town of 6,000 people in the far North-West of Western Australia.

I noticed a comment in your diary re hive beetle and there being no restrictions on movement in Australia. There are in fact quite strict quarantine regulations re the movement of bees, honey and used equipment in Australia. You can not move anything into Western Australia from the rest of Australia as we do not have EFB or Hive Beetle or Mite and you can not move anything into the Northern Territory as they do not have AFB, EFB, Hive Beetle or Mite and very very little Chalk Brood. There was movement allowed between the remaining states as they all had AFB and EFB and Chalk Brood, but since the Hive Beetle was found in Queensland there are very strict quarantine restrictions on any movement anywhere.

Good point.  My apologies, I guess I should have been more specific.  I was actually referring to within the the area from which I understand the package bees mostly originate. Was I wrong about that?


Today :   Occasional snow tapering off towards midday. Total accumulation 2 to 4 cm. Wind light. High minus 16. Tonight :   Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind southeast 20 km/h. Low minus 18. Wind chill minus 27. Normals for the period :   Low minus 9. High plus 3.

Wednesday 12 March 2003
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No weather report yet.  It's three AM. 

And another country heard from...  Sweden...

You asked for feedback on your diary page, Allen. I like the big page (one per month) unless it gets huge. But I'm fortunate enough to be running on mega-bandwidth, so size doesn't bother me. Maybe others get problems when it's one big chunk. I like the latest entry to always be on top. I believe you did that earlier.

Yeah, I guess that is good for readers, but it is harder for me, and if I ever try to make a book out of this, it will be a huge job to turn it right side up again -- or else no one will read it,  except those accustomed to reading Chinese.

I just wish you'd take you face off the page, so I could read you diary at work without worrying about my colleagues sneaking up behind me asking "Who the hell is that guy and what on earth is he wearing?" ;-)

Hey, that is the veil that might kill me.  Anyhow I have you covered.  There is a little option at the top of the page to turn off the left panel,  I designed it for those with low resolutions like 640x480 and 800x600 -- it's amazing how many are still using low res screen settings.  (How can they see anything?) 

What you see at 640x480

What you see at 800x600

What you see at 1152x864

Hey folks!  If you have a reasonably new machine and a 17" monitor (or even a 15" monitor), right click on your desktop (an empty screen with no programs showing) and choose "Properties", then the "Settings" tab.  Move the "Screen Resolution" slider to the right one notch and press the 'OK" button.  While you are at it, check the "Color Quality" dropdown list beside the slider and make sure you have at least "16 bit" selected.   In the third picture (above), most users would likely increase the active window size, but I've shown it small so you can see how much more you can get on the screen, just by increasing resolution.

After the change in resolution, don't panic or rush to judge, unless it is really awful.  Any change will look small at first, but try it for a while before giving up.  You'll get to like it, and -- trust me -- your eyes do adjust.

FWIW,  I'm running 1152 x 864, at 32 bit depth. You'll notice I use the Opera browser for most of my web work.  I do have Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE), though and also Phoenix

(Added Nov 2003) My favourite browser is now MYIE2.  It's free and installs over Microsoft Internet Explorer, giving MSIE a much nicer user interface.  Opera is still very good, though, and fast.

Hey, keep your bees and keep writing the diary. I learned lots and lots about beekeeping here.

Thanks.  I'll likely keep it up, but I think it is turning into an addiction.  Oh, well, life is addictive.  It's hard to give up.

PS. Snow disappeared in a hurry a few days ago over here and we're now in the plus degrees (Celsius, that is). In about a month, the circus starts again.

Yeah, hard to believe, but we usually have run-off and mud within a week from now.  Presently, we're sitting at minus twenty and the best we can hope for is weather around the freezing mark.  Usually, by now, we have had at least several days around 10 to 20 on the plus side.  The days are noticeably longer though.  we eat supper at six and no longer need the lights on.   I hear that the Great Lakes are frozen over and that is an unusual, once a decade, occurrence.  The St. Lawrence seaway will be late opening this year.  So will we.

Another PS: how do you like the styro hives so far? I finally converted all my colonies to styro last fall, and I'm really looking forward to working with it this year. The only problem I've had is a woodpecker (or styrofoam pecker I guess) that messed up a few of my boxes this winter.

That would be a problem, but they'll do the same to wood.  Did you read the answers to that problem on BEE-L?  If not go there and search for "woodpecker" and/or "wood pecker".  I don't recall any posts (yet) about styropeckers.

How do I like the hives?  Don't know.  We put the bees in and went away.  I hope they are alive.

We went to Calgary for the day, as we had a seminar at MacMillan Estate Planning  and also wanted to do some shopping while in the city.  We spent the morning at Chinook, then went to the meeting.  After that, we went to Marlborough, shoped a while, then arrived home around 7:30.

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind south 20 km/h. High minus 10.  Tonight :   Clearing this evening. Wind increasing to southwest 30. Low minus 12 early this evening then temperature rising.  Normals for the period :   Low minus 9. High plus 3.

Thursday 13 March 2003
Last year on this date     Year 2001 on this date  Year 2000 on this date  HoneyBeeWorld Forum Write me

First thing this morning I looked at the error log and  fixed a few links in the site.  Now that I'm on the new server, I can see what is not working, so every day I do a bit of patching.  On Internode. I had no idea what was not working.

I also downloaded Mozilla today.  When developing websites, it's always a good idea to try a variety of browsers and see if the site looks good on them all.  To date, my favourite browser -- I'm a power surfer on a slow connection -- is still Opera.  I like the tabbed interface and the way it is easy to load pages in the background.  Mozilla is fine, and I might get to like it, but Phoenix is simpler.  MSIE is okay, and it's the one browser that works on all sites -- usually -- so I use it for some things.

I also downloaded Mailwasher Pro today.  It claims improvements over the last beta, but I can't see them.  Nick is going to start charging for Mailwasher now, and pro versions will be trial copies that expire after a month.  Since I voluntarily paid a donation for the previous version, I got the pro version registered for free.  Anyhow I do highly recommend Mailwasher (link to old site and free version) and suggest that anyone with SPAM problems get a copy.

I spoke to Heather yesterday and she says that, barring any major snafus, that Alberta will be able to import US mainland queens this spring, under a strict protocol designed and overseen by Medhat.  Last I heard there will be 10 US suppliers approved. 

This  will be a real benefit if an intelligent choice is made about choosing suppliers that offer tracheal resistance and AFB resistance and/or the new Russian stock that offers all that -- and varroa tolerance to boot.  If we just import the same stock that is causing problems and complaints throughout the US, we won't be helping ourselves at all, and possibly even damaging our neighbouring beekeepers by letting inferior drones loose.  If you did not look at the tracheal susceptibility chart, showing the range in US stock, published here recently, I suggest you do so now. 

My understanding is that the negotiations have gone quite smoothly, after the concerns of the provinces were dealt with, that the major disruptions to the process lately have come from a few individuals in Alberta.

Comment from a knowledgeable US beekeeper who has evaluated many different mainland US stocks.

I would be interested to see the list of approved queen suppliers for Canada in the up coming season.  I did a bunch of research 3 years ago when I had some problems overwintering.  Then it was hard to find anyone that had queens that would over winter real well.  I still contend that the little guy's that over winter probably have a better handle on good queens more so than many of the breeders do.

This will be one problem that I can see coming from imports. 

I suspect that some of our Northern beekeepers who are having wintering problems are using smuggled US queens currently, and that is why they have their sights on package bees. 

Some who are raising their own and don't have close neighbours with US stock seem to be doing okay. 

I really don't know a lot about this, though, so I hope that anyone in the know will straighten me out -- if I am wrong here...

The HoneyBeeWorld Forum is quiet again.  For a while, thought it would take right off.

Heather writes:

There seems to be a misunderstanding about the BeeMaid decision on package bees from Australia.

A number of people have interpreted the statement on your website as meaning that BeeMaid is not ordering any packages or queens. In fact BeeMaid is taking orders for packages and queens from Australia but they will be handling them off site, away from their honey packing plant. This decision was reached by the honey co-op directors because of the potential risk of importing small hive beetle to the HACCP certified facility.

Hope this clarifies things.

I hope so.  It was clear enough to me, although I guess there was room for misunderstanding what was meant by 'facilities'.  I think that this illustrates the type of misunderstandings that seem to crop up quite often in our industry, unless people take the time to ask for clarification.

Meijers came for supper.

 of the Day


Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to southwest 40 gusting 60 km/h. High 10. Tonight :   Clear. Wind southwest 20. Low plus 2. Normals for the period :   Low minus 9. High plus 3.

Friday 15 March 2003
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It's warmer today and the snow is reduced to half what we had yesterday. Bare spots are poking though, and the remaining snow is wet and dense.  A few more days like this and we'll be able to start loading bees for buyers.   After that, things may get muddy.

I worked outside a bit, filling propane bottles and starting a truck.  Paulo is getting the 4x4 ready to go check, medicate and feed the bees.  We have lots of patties left and we'll put them on.  I'd like to get the Apistan in early, so as soon as the bees are in a loose cluster and breaking cluster occasionally, we'll stick it in.  Apistan is like a cattle oiler; the bees rub on it and transfer a bit of the oily material to themselves, then rub on  other bees.  I doubt it is good to have it in when the cluster is tight and the bees are not moving.

I heard the other day that the amount of flax grown will be increasing quite a bit due to the popularity of Omega 3 eggs.  apparently these eggs are produced by feeding diets high in flax to hens, which then lay eggs high in these important fatty acids.  What this means to beekeepers, I am not sure.  I have never been able to say for certain that my bees have been working flax, but some beekeepers report that flax honey is dark and awful.  If there is going to be lots of flax around, we'll find out soon enough.

Here's a reply:

I was told, by an old experienced (beekeeper), that flax gives off very little nectar, only enough to service flies, mosquitoes, and small wasps. There generally is not enough nectar secreted to attract honeybees.

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind southwest 20 km/h. High 13. Tonight :   Clear. Wind southwest 20. Low minus 6. Normals for the period :   Low minus 8. High plus 3.

Saturday 15 March 2003
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Bigfoot all chained up

Hives after weighing.  Deep forklift ruts in the snow

Bees are flying and looking good

Healthy spots.  Click to enlarge

There is quite a bit of activity in HoneyBeeWorld Forum today and I've been writing there.  I may cut and paste some of the better stuff from the forum here, but, for now, I recommend dropping over there.  If you do, please take the time to register and even upload an 'avatar' if you like.  That's the little picture of yourself (or your dog) that appears beside your post.  Sock puppets are even welcome as long as they are civil.

After you register and read or post, be sure to click 'watch this topic' below any topics you like, and you will receive a direct link back to the discussion by email whenever anyone posts a reply.

A young fellow and his dad came by today to buy some hives.  We usually don't sell less than a full yard, but I'm always happy to help out a young beekeeper.  We opened a few hives and all looked good.  Most were covering all the top bars in the top box,.  There was one that appeared to have only three full frames, but we noticed that the other frames were plugged with honey, so assumed that most of the bees are still down below.  The visitors made a deposit and will be back next week to pick up the hives.  I'm expecting that we will have at least three different parties picking up bees this coming week.

After they left, I weighed some pallets in the yard to get an idea of the weight for a buyer who is coming from B.C. and is concerned about weight limits.  The three I weighed were an average of 560 pounds (520, 550 and 610 pounds for four hives and pallet).  With no bees and no honey, a pallet should weigh 304 pounds approximately (4x (2 boxes at 20 lbs each = 40 lbs + 1/4 pallet at 60/4 = 15 lbs + lid at 5 lbs + 2 bricks at 8 x 2 = 16 lbs)) = 304, so the average weight of bees and feed per hive is (560-304 = 256 lbs) /4 = 64 lbs.  Not a bad deal at all!

On the right is a picture of Bigfoot all chained up on all four wheels.  I got him stuck playing around.  I took a run at a hard drift and had to pull him out. Just playing.   Most of the snow is soft, though and you can see where I drove with the forklift when weighing pallets. 

The bees on the front of the hive shown were flying before I got there.  The lids are all dotted with brown spots, showing good cleansing flights.  The bees are organizing for spring and it is truly a grand sight.

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 12:53:09 -0700
From: allen dick
Subject: Re: [BEE-L] Tetracycline product question

> "We have come... to where...we have seen NO AFB."

> Am I correct in concluding that you attribute this success to the extender > patties?

Yes. There is no doubt in my mind. We used dust and syrup for years and *always* had some breakdown. When we switched to extender patties, we noticed a decrease immediately, then a complete disappearance of AFB.

I have always believed that if AFB spores are unable to grow and multiply, that natural activity in the hive and the extraction of honey will, over time, reduce the number of spores in the hive. Moreover, although spores are tough, they are not immortal. There is natural attrition in anything. Maybe spores germinate, but are inhibited from multiplying and sporulating by the drug. That too reduces the numbers in the hive over time.

Also, there has been speculation that as spores age and are kicked around the hive, they lose potency. Spores that can grow in a medium (giving a positive AFB spore test result and thus seeming viable) may not be vigorous enough to infect larvae in a real-life situation.

Add to that the speculation that being coated with wax and/or propolis may reduce spores' activity and germination rate, and we can see that anything that prevents AFB from getting to the spore-forming stage for long enough, will have very beneficial effects and reduce the potential infection drastically.

That's why hygienic bees are so successful in dealing with minor outbreaks. They get the contamination out of the hive pronto.


A private response...

> > > Perhaps I am missing something, but is there not a concern with the possibility of reduced efficacy of the antibiotic over time... Thus leading to more severe outbreaks of AFB down the road, as a result of  AFB having built a resistance in the colony to tetracycline? < < <

Not if we are able to stop using OTC, due to no background level of spores and hygienic queens. Beside, how is AFB going to build resistance if it never gets to the reproduction stage?

My guess is that the resistant AFB out there came from AFB picking up genes from being in contact with other common bacteria that have resistance.

If you are a registered user of the forum, here is a link to check for new posts since your last visit.

Jean and Chris came in the evening to stay over.

Today :   Increasing cloud this morning. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h. High 10. Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind light. Low zero. Normals for the period :   Low minus 8. High plus 4.

Sunday 16 March 2003
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The day started sunny, but turned rainy, then snow began.  We got about an inch by the end of the day.

Jean and Chris were here for the day, and Johnny and Julie came for lunch, then stayed the afternoon.  J & C left around three to be sure to make it home before the end of the day, since the roads had the potential to be icy by evening.  They made it home okay, but passed cars in the ditches.

I updated my security advice page.  I recommend readers check it out.  There are some good, free tools there.  No guarantees from me, though.  It works for me, but -- as always -- YMMV.

Today : Becoming cloudy with showers developing this morning. Wind light. High plus 4. Tonight : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this evening. Clearing overnight. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 3. Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 4.

Monday 17 March 2003
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There is some good discussion about bees and the US/Canada border at this location on the HoneyBeeWorld Forum.

 From sci.agriculture.beekeeping.   Re: Oxalic acid vaporization for varroa...

>> > I treated my home apiary of 30 hives with only oxalic acid vaporized in the hive. I have two left alive. I have lots of heavy hives full of honey with no bees.  My outyards were treated with checkmite and they faired much better.  Losses there were from starvation not varroa.

beekeep <<  <

> I inspected the sticky paper after 4 days and counted the mites. I began treating my hives with oxalic acid vapour early last Fall (end of Sept) as I was worried about the high infection rate. The treatments were given 7 days apart over a 6 week period and I was encouraged when fewer and fewer mites appeared on the paper. It's not possible to reach the mites in closed cells during the breeding season , that's why I vaporized so often .  Otherwise I'm sure I would have lost them all. <

> It's extremely important to monitor the sticky paper and do your best to control the mites during the year. During the brood-free time I believe 2 treatments should be enough to get them under control. Success of course, depends on knowing when this will be. In some areas , the bees breed throughout the year and you have to treat for at least one or better, 2 brood cycles. <

> Oxalic acid treatment does not hard the bees or queen, therefore you can treat as often as necessary. <

> beekeeper <

Hives are still drifted in

Bees from wall to wall.
This hive was also cleaning the floor board.

Well, today was a busy day.  The day dawned bright and sunny.  The sun is up at 6:44 AM , these days, and sets in the evening after supper, at 6:44. We are once again into warm weather.  Although there was an inch of snow in the morning, by noon, it was gone and by late afternoon we saw signs of runoff beginning.

We started off the morning wondering if we would have to hire help to run 1,000 hives or so.  Calls had dried up over the recent cold spell, so we were wondering if people were changing their minds.  

Then we got a call from a buyer who is planning on 500, and right after that I got another call, and it was a buyer calling to tell me that he was flying in from Vancouver after lunch.  I arranged to pick him up at YYC at 2 PM, and from there we went to Global so he could place his order for patties.

Mike and Atty joined us for the trip out to Swalwell, since Mike needed our truck and trailer to return our forklift which was on loan. We arrived and Mike, Ron and I went looking at bees.  Atty went riding on the snowmobile.

After Mike and Atty left, Ron and I went out and checked a couple of yards he is buying.  The first had two dead in forty, and the rest ranged from okay to fantastic.  Some were covering all top bars and cleaning out on the floor entrance too.  Others were not as large, but still covered most of the top bars.  All seemed to have lots of feed.

The second yard had four dead in thirty-six. The survivors were mostly strong.  We decided that we had seen enough.  We could see that they were just fine, and went home for supper.

At supper, the phone rang a few times as people called to see if we still have bees for them and when we can load them.  So far, we do have quite a few left, but they are going fast.

What a difference a day makes.

Today :   Mainly sunny. Wind west 20 km/h. High 7. Tonight :   Clear. Wind light. Low minus 6. Normals for the period :   Low minus 8. High plus 4.

Tuesday 18 March 2003
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The daylight hours now exceed the hours of dark, and from now on, the days will lengthen rapidly.  Temperatures will rise, and the willows will be yielding pollen any time now.  Within a month we will have crocuses in bloom.   In less than 4 months, Alberta beekeepers will be extracting.  Looking back, we have had heavy flows even earlier -- some years, supers have been filled and capped during late May and early June, and that is only 2-1/2 months away.  Time to hustle!  We're calling in Dennis to help get things ready and load hives.  We sold another truck and I'm putting on some new tires.  We need to change oil on our many units, too.

As I look at the hives, I realize that, unless we sell them all, and unless we split hives and manage them intensively, we will  be supering them two months from today.  Honey prices are holding up in the $2.50 CAD area, and the idea of keeping some back is very attractive.  Nonetheless, we are committed to selling most, if not all of them.

It's not that we have to manage any remaining hives intensively.  There is always a choice when it comes to management.   A beekeeper can work through every hive and scrape floors, split, requeen, feed heavily and put a lot of effort into production or simply let the hives manage themselves.  In the latter case, it is still necessary to check for bad queens, diseases, mites and to remedy any problems that are found, but, other than that, it is simply a matter of supering and extracting.  There will be a difference in yield and a beekeeper must decide if the extra labour is worth it or not, but with current honey prices, either method will make money.  If I have hives left, I'll probably just super and extract.  I'm ready, after 31 years, for a summer off.

The amazing thing about beekeeping is that, with luck and good management, a good wintered beehive can pay for itself the first year.  It almost feels that I'm giving them away, when I realize that each hive should return -- in my area, in an average year -- 120 lbs x $2.50 = $300 CAD.  Most people, in most areas in Alberta, expect 180 lbs, and that is $450!  How many businesses pay a profit the first year?

What also amazes me is how many people, given a choice and knowing that package bees can fail to arrive, have bad queens, need a lot of work, fail to build up in time for the crop, and will give less honey in almost every situation, still buy package bees.  Go figure.

From a US contributor:

5th day of fresh pollen. Late yesterday the bees were so over loaded with fresh wet pollen they all look like a bunch of St Patty's Day drunks all a falling over one another to get into the same auger hole at hole at once. The neighbor lady cut us some fresh pussy willows as they are also in full bloom also. Spring may be here but I know better. The rest of the week is forecast for rain. I think most of the frost is out of the ground so it should be welcome moisture. I just shiver when I see your pictures of all the snow you have left on the ground. We need to order syrup but I hate to this early in the season. My luck would be that it will get down to zero & then what to do with a load of sugared corn syrup in plastic tanks?

Actually, we add about 10% clean (city) water to our tanks before the hot HFCS is pumped in from the tanker.  It mixes perfectly and then the syrup is around 67% -- perfect for feeding -- and does not sugar, even over winter.  Check my 'Feeding Bees' page

 of the Day


The job for the day was to load 80 hives in the yards Ron and I had visited yesterday, bring them back here by mid-afternoon and load them onto a semi for the lower mainland in B.C.  Ron was to ride with them.   By eleven, we were ready, and headed west in two trucks: the 4x4 and D5, which was pulling the Green Swinger.  We arrived at Boese West and drove the Swinger into the yard without too much trouble -- we did have to shovel a bit where the grader had left a swath -- but when we tried to lift the pallets of bees, we found that they were firmly frozen down and we could not break them loose.  After damaging two pallets trying, and getting no results, we gave up, returned to Swalwell and cancelled the truck.  It looks as if we will not be able to move them for at least a week. 

Mike, Attie, and Frank arrived around two with our Yellow Swinger, a tank, and some patties for Ron.  After a short visit, they all left to drive Ron to the airport. We'll load the hives for him early next week.  He will be waiting to unload them when they get there.  Flowers are already in bloom down there.

For those wondering what the hives we sell are like, most have enough bees that they cover the top bars in the top box.  We are reluctant to pull frames this early, so we don't know for sure how far down they go, but some are down to the floor and cleaning out the bottom entrance right now.  Since there is a mix of types, the carniolans clusters are always smaller and the italian types tend to winter bigger.  In a month or two, they'll all be the same size.  The hives I weighed the other day average about 50lbs of bees and feed.

For those who are buying now, the price is a bit higher than in the fall, but when people buy now, we keep any dead outs and any that are not at least as big as a package.  Of course a wintered cluster always does much better than a package the same size, since the wintered hive has brood and young bees.   The bees are looking good.  Ron was planning on 64 hives initially, then decided on 80 after he saw them, and, by the time he left, had decided on 96.

Allen, Professor Gong,
Don Turner & Ellen

It turns out that Ron knows Professor Gong from China who visited us back in the 1980s.  It's a small world.

Today :   Mainly sunny. Wind light. High 9. Tonight :   Clear. Wind light. Low minus 4. Normals for the period :   Low minus 8. High plus 4.

Wednesday 19 March 2003
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Today :   Sunny. Wind light. High 10.
Tonight :   Clear. Wind light. Low minus 4.
Thursday :   Sunny. Wind south 20 km/h. High 14.
Friday :   A mix of sun and cloud. Low zero. High 6.
Saturday :   A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 1. High 6.
Sunday :   A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 4. High plus 2.
Normals for the period :   Low minus 7. High plus 4.

Dennis is back today and we are servicing vehicles, changing tires and generally getting ready for moving bees and putting in patties.  We should be putting in Apistan soon, too, since it is now about 42 days to the first of May, and it is always nice to be taking out the strips when splitting, rather than having to work around them.  Splitting is usually around the tenth of May.

It occurs to me that some readers may be on servers that cache pages, like AOL, or not have their 'options' set to check for page updates automatically.  If you are reading this on a cached service or have your options set wrong, you may visit this page and not see updates.  You can try 'refresh' on your browser, or, if you use AOL, consider finding a service that does not cache.  I tried AOL a while back and uninstalled it a half hour later.  The ads, the forced updates, and lack of flexibility drove me nuts in a few minutes.

I got a call this morning wondering if we could add some more hives to the load to B.C.  I said, "Sure". 

The trucking deal we set up was really good, and amounts to only about $7.50 a hive.  We've had other BC buyers in the past, but many were intimidated by the long drive through the mountains, the truck scales and other factors.  The way we have it set up, we load the bees here, and they arrive twelve or fifteen hours later.  No muss, no fuss.    We called a local trucker who uses the internet sites like load-link, truckstop.com or other services listed here, and found several interested truckers within an hour or so.

The caller also said that -- if I heard right -- that Argentines are now asking $US 2.00  for honey coming into Canada.  Maybe they've smartened up and realize the difference between a pound and a kilo.  I think in  the past that when they heard $US 1.50 per lb, that some thought that was $1.50 a kilo.  At least, looking at their previous prices, I've wondered.

So I called the Mid US Honey Price Line at 763-658-4193.  It was busy when I first called, then turned out that it has not been updated since Feb 17th.  I'm expecting a call today about the load and a half we are still holding.


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