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Thursday 20 March 2003
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First Day of Spring in the Western Hemisphere

We put 2,350 hives into winter last year, and it looks as if we are down to about 400 hives, as of this morning, and the phone keeps ringing. We sold another 40 hives into B.C. last night and 600 into Alberta this morning.  Of course, we don't know exactly what we have.  I'm using rough figuring, based on a winter loss of 15%, and all the buyers who have committed being able to complete their purchases. 

Now we have to decide whether to keep the rest of the hives and split them up to fill up the dead outs, or sell the brood chambers as they are.  I guess it depends how many more buyers call us.  We've sold some empty brood chambers, but we'll have about 500 more, I'm guessing, and we will have some supers for sale, too.  I don't want to wind up with a pile of empty equipment.  I also want to keep some hives, and wouldn't mind making some money, either.  With current honey prices, 400 hives could easily return $100,000 before expenses.  We'll also have a lot of small stuff and junk to go when the hives are gone.

I went for a bike ride in the afternoon, and looked at some of the nearby yards.  It looks right now as if we are not going to be able get into some of them for about another week, unless we get some hot weather.  I'm bad at guessing, though.  I've seen the snow all go in one warm day when a Chinook came in.  I see the pond is filling up and there is runoff under the snow, so I guess we'll see how things look next Tuesday when we are scheduled to load the truck for B.C.  That load might have to wait a couple of days longer than we thought, but let's hope.  After that, we'll be loading bees every day for a while and putting in patties and Apistan.

I see the number of visits to this site are are tapering off to more normal numbers.  I suspect that this is due to the weather and time of year.  Beekeepers would rather be outside or in the shop... unless I'm getting boring... 

Then again, there is a war on.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

Today :   Sunny. Wind becoming southerly 20 km/h. High 13. Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind southwest 20. Low minus 3. Normals for the period :   Low minus 7. High plus 5.

Friday 21 March 2003
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Hi Allen

Looking at the picture of your present diary, I am amazed how dry the protective pillow looks like. I searched the archives and found your report of Dec 7th, 2000; it is made of plastic and Kodel (polyester fibers, I guessed).

That's correct.  We use 6 mil black plastic and Kodel that is about an inch thick.

Are you still satisfied with those pillows?

Yes, we think it is one of the best management changes we have ever made. 

Any other reasons than room for patties to have them? 

Pillows seal the top of the hive, allow bees to cross over the top bars, and have a very low heat mass or conductivity.  That means they hold very little cold and the bees do not get chilly when in contact with the pillows.  We see the bees are in intimate contact with the pillow when we peel them back in a way we never see with plywood.  The pillows provide insulation that feels more like a jacket or hat, when the bees are in contact, than like a wall of a building .  The pillows also limit wax building under the lids, and eliminate the need for scraping top bars.

Is there improvement you would do if starting all over again?

I think I would make them about 6 inches bigger in both directions and double the thickness (We use two under the lid when wintering).  A larger pillow would permit us to simply press down the telescoping lid.  We'd make the lids with at least a three inch drop side, and a good friction fit could eliminate the need for bricks -- I think.  I have not tested the idea.

Inside the telescoping lids, we have nailed 1x1" strips around the inside edge so that the lids sit straight and press down all around the edge of the hive, but allow the centre region to be pushed up by patties.  You can see the strips in the picture on the right (click to enlarge) and also the impression of the strips on the edges of the pillow.  The pillow shown is a second pillow, added for winter only, sitting loose on top of the normal pillow.

I would have thought that they would collect humidity and be uncomfortable for the bees.

Lots of people think that, but we have very little problem.  We sometimes see a few drops of water around the edge of the cluster, but bees do need some water to liquefy honey in winter, and the bees seem dry enough.  The area directly above the bees is always dry. 

Actually, before we went back to telescoping lids -- we used migratory lids for a while --we had serious problems with water wicking into the hives at the cracks under lids and between boxes, and running down inside. 

We are also in a windy region, and the pillows give a good seal under the lid in spring when the bees need to conserve heat.  We notice the difference when anyone leaves a pillow on crooked and there is a poor seal. 

Consider this: a crack under the lid the thickness of a matchstick (1/16") gives a cumulative area of 4-1/2 square inches!

Do you mind making comments again about their use?

Thank you

You're welcome.

See also 'Our Winter Wraps'  (1)  (2)  (3) (4)

     

I think everyone knows what that is on the left?  It's the DJIA -- a greater inflictor of pain on the masses in the recent past, than OBL.  See that little jump up at the end?  That's today's rally. 

Any bets?  Anyone?
 

Today :   Sunny. Wind southwest 30 km/h. High 10. Tonight :   Mainly clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 2. Normals for the period :   Low minus 7. High plus 5.

Saturday, Sunday & Monday 22, 23, 24 March 2003
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Saturday, we drove to Fairmont Hot Springs.  We arrived around five and spent Saturday and Sunday there.  We had been given promotional tickets for the weekend, and so had Jean and Chris.  We had two suites, free of charge.  All we had to do was take a 'tour' Saturday morning.  We settled in , then went for supper at TJ's Pizza.

I had forwarded my home phone to the cell, and therefore, in the evening, I got a call from Bill P-S.

He had driven by one of our yards and seen hives sitting in water and called my home number. Apparently one or two hives had toppled and, according to his report, the rest were in pretty deep -- he said up to the top box -- and he figured the water would rise higher the next day. 

From what he said, chances for bee survival did not sound good, and I was not in a position to do much, so I asked him to see if he could recruit a tractor with pallet forks to move them to a high spot.  Bill called back to say he had a tractor and they would be at the bee yard to move the hives at nine Sunday morning. I then called Paulo, and left a message to cal me when he got in.

 I was concerned the pallets might be frozen down and figured we needed some beekeepers there with veils, etc. in case things went awry. There were as many as 40 hives in that yard, and the bees would be an expensive loss (if they were not already dead) and non-beekeepers would have a problem if hives were dumped or mishandled. Paulo called back and said he and Dennis would be there in the morning.  I called and told Bill, then went back to bed.

This was a yard which had been on a bit of a hill, then was moved by Paulo down into a lower spot, for some reason that I can't recall. We had suggested they should be moved back up, but it was never done.  I am always careful not to put hives in to low spots or depressions, but it seems that they wind up there anyhow. Even if they do not get flooded, lower spots accumulate damp air and raising hives up, even a foot or so makes them do much better.

In the morning, I called Bill at a little after eight, and he said he could see people at the site already. A while later he called to report that all was well, and that most hives were saved. When Paulo called an hour later, he reported that we had a loss of only five (they might have died over winter) and the others look very good. They had loaded them onto the truck and taken them home. That made sense, and all's well that ends well.

Sunday morning at nine, we went to the promotional 'tour'.  It turned out to be a short video and a high pressure sales pitch in an office, not a tour at all.  The offer they were promoting -- 'ownership' -- may have been a reasonable one, but the high pressure sales tactics were very insulting and we were not given any material to look over, although we were expected to sign a contract for $16,500.  We left the sales office without buying and with a bad taste in our mouths.

We had some lunch, then went for a hike in the hoodoos.  We then returned home to our flats, had supper and watched a movie.

Monday, we got up and checked out, then drove to Calgary.  El & I had an appointment with the estate planner, then we went home.

We got home to find the pond is full and most of the snow is gone.  There is still runoff to come, though.

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind increasing to southwest 30 gusting 50 km/h. High 13.  Tonight :   Clear. Wind southwest 30 occasionally gusting 50. Low minus 2.  Sunday :   Sunny at first. Becoming cloudy in the afternoon with 60 percent chance of showers in the evening. Wind west 30. High plus 8. Monday :   60 percent chance of snow. Low minus 1. High plus 2. Normals for the period :   Low minus 7. High plus 5.

Tuesday 25 March 2003
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Only 9 more months until Christmas, 3 more months until the flow starts.

We got a first hand report from Dennis and Paulo, and it sounds as if the hives they rescued may not be in great shape.  Some were in pretty deep.  We'll get out in a while to look at them.

We've seen a few samples of bees overwintering in central B.C. and the tracheal mite levels so far vary from moderate to high, and none have been zero.  We haven't seen any serious nosema in the samples.  What we've seen so far indicates that that everyone should test and be ready to treat or, unless they know they have resistant stock, treat fairly early on general principal.

Paulo and Dennis are out checking to see if we can get into the yards.  We have a thousand or so hives to load as soon as we can get to them and as soon as the pallets are not frozen down.  The problem is that early in the day, we can get in because the ground is frozen, but the pallets are frozen down.  Later in the day, the pallets are free, but the access is muddy.

In the afternoon, Dennis and Paulo went out and brought in three truckloads of bees to get ready to send hives west.  We had visitors all afternoon.  A couple came down to buy some bees and purchased 600.  We assigned them some local yards and will help them care for them -- at their expense -- until they are able to take them out.  We'll have to get some Apistan and patties on them in the next week or two.

Meijers came for supper and we had a good visit.

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 20 km/h. High 7.  Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low minus 5. Normals for the period :   Low minus 6. High plus 6.

Wednesday 26 March 2003
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The water has come up in the pond and there is still snow in the fields above the pond.  We may see it run over this year.


Our yard is full of hives, ready to send to buyers who have requested the hives be shipped.  Most buyers bought the hives on location, but several smaller buyers need to have us load for them, since they are at a great distance, in British Columbia.

Paulo and Dennis went out to pick up some hives.  It was cool early on, but by one, they were finding the bees are flying a lot and left a catch hive in one yard.  I think they are probably erring on the side of safety, since we should be able to move yards without loss today, but they care about the bees and hate to see any at all left behind. 

I went out to look over the hives that had been flooded.  Most of them looked as good or better than the ones in the yard, but there was some loss.  Out of thirty, five I count as dead, and three are weak -- about like a package hive -- in strength.  The rest are booming, like the one on the right.

We were about to ship the hives to B.C., since they are yarded up and ready to go, when it occurred to me that I should get an okay from Paul van Westendorp, the B.C. Apiarist.  I called him and called Medhat, but could not reach them.  Medhat, then Paul finally called back and we got the show on the road.  I know Bruce and Ron have been waiting for several days now and I'd like to see them get their bees onto some bloom.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

An email from a friend in the East...

"I purchased a pallet of patties from Global, just the plain-Jane ones, no pollen. They were put on the hives over two weeks ago. I have been watching the bees but they are hardly eating them. The last three years I have made my own and the bees inhaled them. I figured the absence of pollen would not make a huge difference, but alas it has I believe.

"I also have noticed that the patties are not absorbing moisture from the hive and are getting very dry. I guess this must be from the low level of sugar? We use the same wraps as you. In the past my home made patties always seem to stay moist, in fact last year I changed the recipe too much and the sugar absorbed moisture from the hive and they started dripping down after 1 week.

This is of some concern to me personally, since we helped Global get set up, and they originally used our formulas. I also just wrote an article for Hive Lights about patties. As I recall, last year we had no problems and heard of none. This year, several people have now mentioned the drying problem.

As far as I know, the only difference has been that, last year, Global used all dry sugar and this year they used sucrose syrup (and should have been adding granulated sugar too -- we discussed that, but I don't know if they did) The effect should be exactly the same, since we have done it every which way in the past, and even used HFCS, but Frank speculates that when they used dry sugar, it did not all dissolve, giving a different texture. We have patties left from last year and they are still just fine, so I wonder.  In my opinion, HFCS, if available. can be superior to sucrose, since HFCS mimics honey better, and draws moisture.

The only thing I can think might have happened is that, in converting the formula from sugar to syrup this year, the amount of sugar in the recipe changed, and that all patties now contain less sugar and more yeast and soy.  I don't know if Global augmented the syrup with dry sugar the way we always did when we used syrup. If syrup was used alone -- without added dry sugar in each batch -- it would result in a low sugar content, drying and slow consumption in non-pollen patties. I know when we made patties using sugar syrup, that we always had to add a bucket or more of dry sugar to each mixer load to get a high enough sugar content.

We know that bees will eat patties with lots of sugar, even without pollen, and that patties with lots of sugar stay moist, so my best guess is that, if the consumption is slow, the sugar content this year must be lower than we used in the past. That is the only answer that makes sense to me.

I'm CCing this to Frank so we can figure out what is happening. I know he is very interested in making sure all customers are happy. Sugar is also cheaper than soy or yeast, so that is also something to consider.

"So what kind of patties are you using. With or without pollen. Do you know anyone else who has had this problem other years? I am also feeding a light syrup by barrel, in the past years that has really excited the bees and they really consume the patties even faster.

I am feeding patties left over from last year, (and also decreasing my number of hives drastically).

"Thanks for your website, I enjoy it like a good magazine. I hope that you do not sell all your bees and lose touch with reality.

I hope so, too.

"I finally was able to source Crisco in 20kg boxes in Ontario, so tomorrow the extender patty business starts. Next year that will be some thing else to order from Global.

Hope this helps figure out the problem. Something else to consider is that we have a sheet of plastic immediately above the patties -- our pillows -- and that may keep things moist. You may wish to wrap the patties partially in plastic to preserve moisture. If they are lower than 50% sugar, though the consumption will be slow.

I realize that I am speculating here -- and that maybe this is an isolated problem -- but if there is a problem, we had better get it solved and not just ignore it.  I know everyone appreciates the hard work that Global does for a very low price, and that we all want to make sure they succeed and improve for the future.  I'd appreciate hearing from others who have used the patties and how they are accepted.  (Mention the formula that you are using, please)


I called Frank and he says they are using 12% dry sugar, so I don't know what is going on.  Maybe the soy flour or the yeast has changed? 

Discussion?

Although we now have several hundred hives brought in to load, we still had not managed to bring in the exact same hives Ron looked at with me, and, naturally, I prefer to send the same ones a customer has seen, if possible.  We figured they are close by and that we could just run out to get them at the last minute.  It is now 'the last minute', so I sent the guys out to get them.  They had brought back two truckloads from other yards this morning with no problems.  Hives to the east of us have been easy to get and not frozen down, but I had a hunch that, with the amount of snow in those two yards west, hives might still be stuck down, so I went out with the crew.  If anyone was going to break pallets or come back empty, I prefer it to be me, so the guys don't have to try to explain.

We managed to get three pallets from the west yard and gave up.  I doubt our customers want broken pallets, and I'm not sure we could have gotten the hives out even if we accepted breakage.  In the east yard, we got another 5, and we gave up.  Patience, patience...

So, I guess we will have to substitute hives, but it should not matter.  All the yards are about the same and, judging by what Meijers said last night -- I gather they lifted a few lids on their way into supper -- the hives we have assembled for loading, here in the home yard, are prime.  I already knew that, but it is nice to hear that from others.

When I look at these hives, I can't help feeling that I am nuts to sell them.  Here we are with $2.50/lb CAD honey, moisture overflowing our pond, three months until honey flow, and I'm selling hives that will make an easy $400 -- or more -- for some people, for a measly $220 each!  I feel differently when I think about the arthritis in my fingers and my shoulder and back aches, but, just the same...

Today :   Increasing cloudiness with a 30 percent chance of late afternoon showers or flurries. Wind light. High 6. Tonight :   Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of evening showers or flurries. Wind light. Low minus 8. Normals for the period :   Low minus 6. High plus 6.

Thursday 27 March 2003
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Our 'toolbox hive' has made it through another winter without wrapping, treatments of any sort (or giving us any honey). The bees seem free of signs of obvious varroa, but I cannot open it without damaging their comb.  I pried it open a bit (see right) to peek.  There are more bees than at this time last year.

The HoneyBeeWorld Forum has fallen silent lately, so I thought I'd reactivate the 'border' question there.  Drop by.

Well, we loaded bees for Leroy today.  He was supposed to go to the yards and load there, but we have been going out early and bringing them back here before the ground thaws each day. 

For one thing, we are not sure in advance where the access is good; some yards are still drifted in and in some yards, the pallets are still frozen down.  Sending a big truck would be awkward.   We're set up for guerrilla beekeeping, with light trucks and 4WD forklifts.  We can get in and out without making a mess, where a big truck might not make it, and we can pick up a few hives here and there.  We also get the yards cleaned out and have a chance to pick up dead-outs and weak hives.  We are pleased to see very few dead and amazingly few weak ones.

Leroy left just after noon -- about eight hours earlier than if he had to go to yards.  I'm not promising we'll do that for everyone, but with the slow melt, we are finding this necessary for the early buyers.  Our B.C. load will not go until Saturday morning early, so that took some pressure off.

We added up our orders and it looks as if, assuming everyone is serious, that we can sell 600 hives more than we own.  Very soon I'll have to make up my mind whether to keep some, or let them all go.  Maybe if I raise the price enough I can keep some?

Although we normally are selling a minimum of 40 hives, we did make an exception for a young fellow and his dad.  They came down previously to take a look and the dad came by this evening and we loaded 20 into his trailer.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

Today :   Becoming mainly sunny this morning. Wind becoming north 20 km/h. High 5. Tonight :   Mainly clear. Wind north 20. Low minus 11. Normals for the period :   Low minus 6. High plus 6.

Friday 28 March 2003
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Bees are flying today and looking good. 


The wraps we use allow us to keep the hives wrapped for warmth at night, but to work on them easily at any time.

Nothing is planned for today except bringing in more hives and cleaning up.  There are still snow drifts in places and some yards are still frozen down.  The guys are heading out to see what they can bring in.  Hopefully the rest of the snow and ice will go in the next few days and we will be able to get into all yards.


Well, the day warmed right up and the guys brought in three loads and tidied up the yard.  We have been pulling out the dead and weak ones, and are finding fewer of them than expected.  Leroy was delighted with what he got yesterday and the hives looked beautiful on the trucks as they left.  The bees are flying today and Paulo was amazed to find that some hives he thought were weak when he looked into the top, are actually down into the bottom box.  I haven't tallied the losses, but losses appear to be around 10%, (counting weak hives -- less than 2-3 good frames -- as dead).  That is very acceptable considering that we try to winter any hive that looks at all promising.  We have had very good wintering lately.  I think the new wraps we designed a few years back, and our pillow system, can take a lot of the credit.

Snow is melting quickly and we'll be able to get into the yards soon to work any remaining hives.  I'd look forward to a weekend off, but we have two buyers coming tomorrow, and we'll have to stick around.  We were to load the truck for BC tomorrow at 5AM, but the trucker phoned and says that the trailer is in the shop, waiting for brake parts, so we will load Sunday instead.

I made a recent post to the HoneyBeeWorld Forum that has brought no response.  Does that mean that I did such a good job of summing up that no one has anything to say?  If, so I'd be surprised.  I think that the weather is so nice that everyone is outdoors and forgetting about computers and the internet.  I notice that traffic has dropped on BEE-L, too.

On the third load in mid-afternoon, Dennis called in to report he was stuck.  I guess the ground melted while he was in the yard.  Anyhow, Paulo went and rescued him.  The guys are in a great mood and doing good work.

Ellen & I drove to Drum for supper, just to get out and away for a few hours.  Tomorrow will be another busy day.

I indicated, recently, that we sold out all the hives we want to sell.   We had to tell some serious, definite buyers -- with ready money -- that they had to wait to give those ahead of them a chance.  The problem is that we never know for sure until all the cheques clear the bank.  As it stands, right now, we still have roughly 1,000 hives that are promised, but not all are paid in full.  I'm a bit worried about one buyer in particular, so I called some of the waiting list today to see if they are still interested.  As it turns out we may be able to give some of them a chance.   If you are reading this and have given up hope, drop me a line.  No promises, but we may have a few hundred to spare.

I also have not decided how many to keep.  I planned to keep at least enough to be able to split them up to fill the equipment that is empty from winter losses, but have not decided whether to keep 200 or 500 -- or none.   That will be decided when we have moved out most of the sold hives and take inventory of what is left.  I guess I'll have to count my supers, too.  At any rate, we may have some hives or supers extra at the end, so if you are interested at all, we are keeping a waiting list. 

Today :   Sunny. Wind light. High 8. Tonight :   Clear. Wind light. Low minus 3. Normals for the period :   Low minus 6. High plus 6.

Saturday 29 March 2003
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The bees awaiting shipment in the home yard are flying today. We are expecting to load a truck for BC at 5 AM tomorrow.

The morning started off with a young fellow, his dad and his girlfriend coming by to finalize a deal for a yard of bees.  They arranged to hire  us to deliver the bees to their location, paid the bill and departed.

A while later, Colin came by.  He had been wanting to get here to buy some bees and some supers, but is very busy with his job and his other bees and farming.  He looked at a few hives in the yard, went through some equipment to take a look, went out to some yards, came back, bought some hives, wrote a check, loaded about 300 supers and drove home.  That about cleaned us out of bees, if everyone takes the number they have contracted.

Fen and Lorelee came for hamburgers as did Joe and Oene.  I had run to town for supplies in the afternoon, and we had an impromptu retirement party.  It looks as if we are retired!

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light becoming west 30 km/h in the afternoon. High 11. Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low 5. Normals for the period :   Low minus 5. High plus 7.

Sunday 30 March 2003
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I awoke at five and looked out: no truck.  Then the phone rang.  The truck is still in the shop and the trucker did not call.  Paulo and Dennis showed up around 5:15 and had to go back home.

I got an email first thing this morning, looking for brood chambers.  Apparently there are none to be had anywhere.  We have a few hundred, so we can supply.  I hope we are not selling everything too cheaply.  Seems prices supplies are short. and are escalating.  No matter, I like to set prices that are reasonable and not try to squeeze out every last penny.  I put some pictures of our brood chambers and supers onto the site on this page.

I got a call from the trucker.  His trailer is now repaired and tomorrow, we load at 5:30 for sure.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

Russian bees - the real lowdown

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 40 gusting 60 km/h. High 15. Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 30 diminishing. Low plus 1.  Normals for the period :   Low minus 5. High plus 7.

Monday 31 March 2003
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The truck arrived here in the middle of the night and the driver slept until we were ready to load.  The guys arrived at 5:15 and we started loading at  at 5:30.  By 8, the load was on the way.  I sent along the papers from BC ag, the bills of sale, and a driver's instruction sheet.  I am not completely comfortable with hauling bees in the daytime, especially with a driver who does not know bees, so I made it clear not to stop unnecessarily.  I have checked the weather and the forecast is for cool weather and showers along the way -- perfect.

Instructions to Driver

This load is valuable and perishable. The bees are netted, and should not be able to get out, but it is very important that they stay in their hives. If you stop along the way, for more than a few moments, and if it is warm and sunny, the bees will tend to come out and die on the screening, and the load will be ruined. You must drive non-stop to your destination (with the exceptions noted below). Therefore do not stop for more than absolutely necessary.

Stops of more than five minutes: If it is raining steadily, or around freezing temperatures, or dark outside (night), the bees will not come out and you can stop for a short break. You can also stop where the hives are to be unloaded or where Ron says you can.

You must also stop at the scales and tollbooth, and to fuel, but try to fuel up where it is raining or cold outside, if possible.

The bees are confined, but if the net rips and when it is taken off to unload, bees will fly and you should either be dressed in a bee suit, or stay in the truck.

You are to deliver the bees to

Ron ****
Phone: ***-***-****
Cell: ***-***-****
Fax: ***-***-****
 

Ron will instruct you about the actual destination, so phone him as soon as it is 8 AM in BC. Also phone him for instructions, if you have any questions, and to keep him informed immediately about any problems. Keep in touch with him as you travel.

 

From a regular contributor in the Mid-West USA...

Hope you can find some thing fun to do with your time now that you are retired.

#1 son went thru probably better than 3/4's of the operation this weekend. He was very pleased with what he found. Less than 10% winter loss & seems for every 1 or 2 slow ones he found there seemed to be 2 or 3 lid to bottom board " busters ". And as he said it's only the 1st of April one has to remember that.

We also have tried to buy some used equipment with no luck. It wouldn't be so bad to pay the asking price, but by the time we see the ad & call every thing has been sold by word of mouth. Started to nail a few deep supers together last week & it then struck me that it has been probably 10 to 12 years since I nailed any boxes. Almost every year we will do a 100 plus boxes for replacement as such & my dad always took charge of this for a winter project. No doubt he would be less than impressed with the quality of the wood & the cuts. Not to mention the hand holds. We made a hand hole cutter from scrap metal & then hardened the teeth. For just a throw together deal it seems to do a hell of a lot better job on hand holds then this bunch of supers we just bought.

We did try the ole Tom Sawyer fence painting trick. In this case we gave #2 son & his friends each a hammer & a can of nails. They all did a good job but the problem was the fun was short lived. Did learn one very important thing on that deal & this is to never put a lefty with a hammer next to a righty with the same tools in hand. Good way to get someone hurt.

Every one of our queen breeders seem to be sold out for this year. Many tell us of raising more queens this year & still the demand is up. Glad I always pay ahead or have credit from the previous year. We are being told of the many horror stories from back east with dead outs due to the long cold winter. Some talk of 80% loss in some yards and no package bees or nucs for sale as they are all sold out.

How long before the retirement blues set in??? Any guesses????

They already hit me yesterday.  It was a wasted day, with lots of sack time and no energy.

Nonetheless, I do have lots to do before the bees are all gone, and I am sure that, after that, I can go work on my friends' bees all I like.

I have also had offers to manage, and it has occurred to me that, here in Alberta, when former government ag guys were laid off, that they then set up in private consulting.  They charge $5 an acre to local farmers and then go out, walk the field, do tests, and recommend crops, treatments, etc.  They are generally in the loop with suppliers, buyers and other farmers and can give candid, unbiased, confidential advice.  They are turning people away, because they are overbooked, so I can't see why that would  not work for me.  

Alberta also currently is short of bee inspectors, so I might be asked to do that again, assuming I haven't pissed too many people off by being too outspoken.

I called Herb Isaac to see how bee sales are going.  He said hives were going for $300 plus in doubles, in May.  Then I got a call from a fellow I turned down, since I am sold out, and he said he had just bought 50 hives for $350 each, 5 high.  I sold for $310 and $320.  I'm happy with that, since I sold early, and with no selection permitted.  Nonetheless, if any sales fall through, I guess I'll have to raise the price.  As the season progresses, the prospect of a crop at high prices increases, and there are costs to keeping the hives.  Starting now, we have to feed and medicate and, possibly, requeen a few.  There are always a few that dwindle, too, and that raises the value of the rest.

 I have a load and a half of honey on hand and would like to move it soon.  I called the Mid-US hotline and it has not been updated since February 17th.  I guess there is not a lot to report?  I hear that the prices are holding, but...

Bill came by and bought D1 and 80 hives, then headed home with 40 on his new truck.

The guys finished up their jobs by about three and went home.  I went to Calgary to do a little shopping.  For one thing, I had run out of black printer ink, and with the number of invoices we are printing these days, that is something we definitely need.

I also got two new batteries for D3 and dropped them off at Matt's place.  D3 has been sitting at Matt's since he borrowed it last fall, and now that we've sold D1, we'll need it.  The truck is one of our best, but had a minor electrical leak, which ran the battery down if we left it sitting for a few days.  Matt traced the problem to the daytime running light relay, but the batteries were marginal from being run down so many times, so we didn't get around to doing anything about it.   We don't use the trucks much in Winter.   Although the leak is now fixed, a diesel engine needs top notch cranking batteries and we don't fool around with weak batteries.  If a diesel does not crank up to spec, it can be hard to start, so new batteries are a good investment.

Today :   Early morning showers otherwise a mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming west 30 gusting 50 km/h this morning. High 13.  Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low minus 3.  Normals for the period :   Low minus 5. High plus 8.

Thursday 27 March 2003
Last year on this date     Year 2001 on this date  Year 2000 on this date  HoneyBeeWorld Forum Write me

Our 'toolbox hive' has made it through another winter without wrapping, treatments of any sort (or giving us any honey). The bees seem free of signs of obvious varroa, but I cannot open it without damaging their comb.  I pried it open a bit (see right) to peek.  There are more bees than at this time last year.

The HoneyBeeWorld Forum has fallen silent lately, so I thought I'd reactivate the 'border' question there.  Drop by.

Well, we loaded bees for Leroy today.  He was supposed to go to the yards and load there, but we have been going out early and bringing them back here before the ground thaws each day. 

For one thing, we are not sure in advance where the access is good; some yards are still drifted in and in some yards, the pallets are still frozen down.  Sending a big truck would be awkward.   We're set up for guerrilla beekeeping, with light trucks and 4WD forklifts.  We can get in and out without making a mess, where a big truck might not make it, and we can pick up a few hives here and there.  We also get the yards cleaned out and have a chance to pick up dead-outs and weak hives.  We are pleased to see very few dead and amazingly few weak ones.

Leroy left just after noon -- about eight hours earlier than if he had to go to yards.  I'm not promising we'll do that for everyone, but with the slow melt, we are finding this necessary for the early buyers.  Our B.C. load will not go until Saturday morning early, so that took some pressure off.

We added up our orders and it looks as if, assuming everyone is serious, that we can sell 600 hives more than we own.  Very soon I'll have to make up my mind whether to keep some, or let them all go.  Maybe if I raise the price enough I can keep some?

Although we normally are selling a minimum of 40 hives, we did make an exception for a young fellow and his dad.  They came down previously to take a look and the dad came by this evening and we loaded 20 into his trailer.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

Today :   Becoming mainly sunny this morning. Wind becoming north 20 km/h. High 5. Tonight :   Mainly clear. Wind north 20. Low minus 11. Normals for the period :   Low minus 6. High plus 6.

Friday 28 March 2003
Last year on this date     Year 2001 on this date  Year 2000 on this date  HoneyBeeWorld Forum Write me


Bees are flying today and looking good. 


The wraps we use allow us to keep the hives wrapped for warmth at night, but to work on them easily at any time.

Nothing is planned for today except bringing in more hives and cleaning up.  There are still snow drifts in places and some yards are still frozen down.  The guys are heading out to see what they can bring in.  Hopefully the rest of the snow and ice will go in the next few days and we will be able to get into all yards.


Well, the day warmed right up and the guys brought in three loads and tidied up the yard.  We have been pulling out the dead and weak ones, and are finding fewer of them than expected.  Leroy was delighted with what he got yesterday and the hives looked beautiful on the trucks as they left.  The bees are flying today and Paulo was amazed to find that some hives he thought were weak when he looked into the top, are actually down into the bottom box.  I haven't tallied the losses, but losses appear to be around 10%, (counting weak hives -- less than 2-3 good frames -- as dead).  That is very acceptable considering that we try to winter any hive that looks at all promising.  We have had very good wintering lately.  I think the new wraps we designed a few years back, and our pillow system, can take a lot of the credit.

Snow is melting quickly and we'll be able to get into the yards soon to work any remaining hives.  I'd look forward to a weekend off, but we have two buyers coming tomorrow, and we'll have to stick around.  We were to load the truck for BC tomorrow at 5AM, but the trucker phoned and says that the trailer is in the shop, waiting for brake parts, so we will load Sunday instead.

I made a recent post to the HoneyBeeWorld Forum that has brought no response.  Does that mean that I did such a good job of summing up that no one has anything to say?  If, so I'd be surprised.  I think that the weather is so nice that everyone is outdoors and forgetting about computers and the internet.  I notice that traffic has dropped on BEE-L, too.

On the third load in mid-afternoon, Dennis called in to report he was stuck.  I guess the ground melted while he was in the yard.  Anyhow, Paulo went and rescued him.  The guys are in a great mood and doing good work.

Ellen & I drove to Drum for supper, just to get out and away for a few hours.  Tomorrow will be another busy day.

I indicated, recently, that we sold out all the hives we want to sell.   We had to tell some serious, definite buyers -- with ready money -- that they had to wait to give those ahead of them a chance.  The problem is that we never know for sure until all the cheques clear the bank.  As it stands, right now, we still have roughly 1,000 hives that are promised, but not all are paid in full.  I'm a bit worried about one buyer in particular, so I called some of the waiting list today to see if they are still interested.  As it turns out we may be able to give some of them a chance.   If you are reading this and have given up hope, drop me a line.  No promises, but we may have a few hundred to spare.

I also have not decided how many to keep.  I planned to keep at least enough to be able to split them up to fill the equipment that is empty from winter losses, but have not decided whether to keep 200 or 500 -- or none.   That will be decided when we have moved out most of the sold hives and take inventory of what is left.  I guess I'll have to count my supers, too.  At any rate, we may have some hives or supers extra at the end, so if you are interested at all, we are keeping a waiting list. 

Today :   Sunny. Wind light. High 8. Tonight :   Clear. Wind light. Low minus 3. Normals for the period :   Low minus 6. High plus 6.

Saturday 29 March 2003
Last year on this date     Year 2001 on this date  Year 2000 on this date  HoneyBeeWorld Forum Write me


The bees awaiting shipment in the home yard are flying today. We are expecting to load a truck for BC at 5 AM tomorrow.

The morning started off with a young fellow, his dad and his girlfriend coming by to finalize a deal for a yard of bees.  They arranged to hire  us to deliver the bees to their location, paid the bill and departed.

A while later, Colin came by.  He had been wanting to get here to buy some bees and some supers, but is very busy with his job and his other bees and farming.  He looked at a few hives in the yard, went through some equipment to take a look, went out to some yards, came back, bought some hives, wrote a check, loaded about 300 supers and drove home.  That about cleaned us out of bees, if everyone takes the number they have contracted.

Fen and Lorelee came for hamburgers as did Joe and Oene.  I had run to town for supplies in the afternoon, and we had an impromptu retirement party.  It looks as if we are retired!

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light becoming west 30 km/h in the afternoon. High 11. Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low 5. Normals for the period :   Low minus 5. High plus 7.

Sunday 30 March 2003
Last year on this date     Year 2001 on this date  Year 2000 on this date  HoneyBeeWorld Forum Write me

I awoke at five and looked out: no truck.  Then the phone rang.  The truck is still in the shop and the trucker did not call.  Paulo and Dennis showed up around 5:15 and had to go back home.

I got an email first thing this morning, looking for brood chambers.  Apparently there are none to be had anywhere.  We have a few hundred, so we can supply.  I hope we are not selling everything too cheaply.  Seems prices supplies are short. and are escalating.  No matter, I like to set prices that are reasonable and not try to squeeze out every last penny.  I put some pictures of our brood chambers and supers onto the site on this page.

I got a call from the trucker.  His trailer is now repaired and tomorrow, we load at 5:30 for sure.

Allen's
Links
 of the Day

Russian bees - the real lowdown

Today :   A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 40 gusting 60 km/h. High 15. Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 30 diminishing. Low plus 1.  Normals for the period :   Low minus 5. High plus 7.

Monday 31 March 2003
Last year on this date     Year 2001 on this date  Year 2000 on this date  HoneyBeeWorld Forum Write me

The truck arrived here in the middle of the night and the driver slept until we were ready to load.  The guys arrived at 5:15 and we started loading at  at 5:30.  By 8, the load was on the way.  I sent along the papers from BC ag, the bills of sale, and a driver's instruction sheet.  I am not completely comfortable with hauling bees in the daytime, especially with a driver who does not know bees, so I made it clear not to stop unnecessarily.  I have checked the weather and the forecast is for cool weather and showers along the way -- perfect.

Instructions to Driver

This load is valuable and perishable. The bees are netted, and should not be able to get out, but it is very important that they stay in their hives. If you stop along the way, for more than a few moments, and if it is warm and sunny, the bees will tend to come out and die on the screening, and the load will be ruined. You must drive non-stop to your destination (with the exceptions noted below). Therefore do not stop for more than absolutely necessary.

Stops of more than five minutes: If it is raining steadily, or around freezing temperatures, or dark outside (night), the bees will not come out and you can stop for a short break. You can also stop where the hives are to be unloaded or where Ron says you can.

You must also stop at the scales and tollbooth, and to fuel, but try to fuel up where it is raining or cold outside, if possible.

The bees are confined, but if the net rips and when it is taken off to unload, bees will fly and you should either be dressed in a bee suit, or stay in the truck.

You are to deliver the bees to

Ron ****
Phone: ***-***-****
Cell: ***-***-****
Fax: ***-***-****
 

Ron will instruct you about the actual destination, so phone him as soon as it is 8 AM in BC. Also phone him for instructions, if you have any questions, and to keep him informed immediately about any problems. Keep in touch with him as you travel.

 

From a regular contributor in the Mid-West USA...

Hope you can find some thing fun to do with your time now that you are retired.

#1 son went thru probably better than 3/4's of the operation this weekend. He was very pleased with what he found. Less than 10% winter loss & seems for every 1 or 2 slow ones he found there seemed to be 2 or 3 lid to bottom board " busters ". And as he said it's only the 1st of April one has to remember that.

We also have tried to buy some used equipment with no luck. It wouldn't be so bad to pay the asking price, but by the time we see the ad & call every thing has been sold by word of mouth. Started to nail a few deep supers together last week & it then struck me that it has been probably 10 to 12 years since I nailed any boxes. Almost every year we will do a 100 plus boxes for replacement as such & my dad always took charge of this for a winter project. No doubt he would be less than impressed with the quality of the wood & the cuts. Not to mention the hand holds. We made a hand hole cutter from scrap metal & then hardened the teeth. For just a throw together deal it seems to do a hell of a lot better job on hand holds then this bunch of supers we just bought.

We did try the ole Tom Sawyer fence painting trick. In this case we gave #2 son & his friends each a hammer & a can of nails. They all did a good job but the problem was the fun was short lived. Did learn one very important thing on that deal & this is to never put a lefty with a hammer next to a righty with the same tools in hand. Good way to get someone hurt.

Every one of our queen breeders seem to be sold out for this year. Many tell us of raising more queens this year & still the demand is up. Glad I always pay ahead or have credit from the previous year. We are being told of the many horror stories from back east with dead outs due to the long cold winter. Some talk of 80% loss in some yards and no package bees or nucs for sale as they are all sold out.

How long before the retirement blues set in??? Any guesses????

They already hit me yesterday.  It was a wasted day, with lots of sack time and no energy.

Nonetheless, I do have lots to do before the bees are all gone, and I am sure that, after that, I can go work on my friends' bees all I like.

I have also had offers to manage, and it has occurred to me that, here in Alberta, when former government ag guys were laid off, that they then set up in private consulting.  They charge $5 an acre to local farmers and then go out, walk the field, do tests, and recommend crops, treatments, etc.  They are generally in the loop with suppliers, buyers and other farmers and can give candid, unbiased, confidential advice.  They are turning people away, because they are overbooked, so I can't see why that would  not work for me.  

Alberta also currently is short of bee inspectors, so I might be asked to do that again, assuming I haven't pissed too many people off by being too outspoken.

 

I called Herb Isaac to see how bee sales are going.  He said hives were going for $300 plus in doubles, in May.  Then I got a call from a fellow I turned down, since I am sold out, and he said he had just bought 50 hives for $350 each, 5 high.  I sold for $310 and $320.  I'm happy with that, since I sold early, and with no selection permitted.  Nonetheless, if any sales fall through, I guess I'll have to raise the price.  As the season progresses, the prospect of a crop at high prices increases, and there are costs to keeping the hives.  Starting now, we have to feed and medicate and, possibly, requeen a few.  There are always a few that dwindle, too, and that raises the value of the rest.

 I have a load and a half of honey on hand and would like to move it soon.  I called the Mid-US hotline and it has not been updated since February 17th.  I guess there is not a lot to report?  I hear that the prices are holding, but...

Bill came by and bought D1 and 80 hives, then headed home with 40 on his new truck.

The guys finished up their jobs by about three and went home.  I went to Calgary to do a little shopping.  For one thing, I had run out of black printer ink, and with the number of invoices we are printing these days, that is something we definitely need.

I also got two new batteries for D3 and dropped them off at Matt's place.  D3 has been sitting at Matt's since he borrowed it last fall, and now that we've sold D1, we'll need it.  The truck is one of our best, but had a minor electrical leak, which ran the battery down if we left it sitting for a few days.  Matt traced the problem to the daytime running light relay, but the batteries were marginal from being run down so many times, so we didn't get around to doing anything about it.   We don't use the trucks much in Winter.   Although the leak is now fixed, a diesel engine needs top notch cranking batteries and we don't fool around with weak batteries.  If a diesel does not crank up to spec, it can be hard to start, so new batteries are a good investment.

Today :   Early morning showers otherwise a mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming west 30 gusting 50 km/h this morning. High 13.  Tonight :   Partly cloudy. Wind west 20. Low minus 3.  Normals for the period :   Low minus 5. High plus 8.

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