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Aaron and Ellen emptying pollen traps in one of
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Sunday 20 July 2003
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I awoke at six, and am mostly OK.  I have a cold, but the worst has passed, and I am off to Sudbury this morning.  I arrived after lunch and went to Mom's. 

Today .. Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h this morning. High 30. UV index 7 or high. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 12./ Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

Monday 21 thru Saturday 26 July 2003
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

Monday .. Sunny. High 26. / Tuesday... Sunny. High 33.  Low 14.  UV index 8 or high. / Wednesday .. Sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 29. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

From Pine Hill Cottage, Port Carling, ON: 

I've been pretty busy the last few days and I've been on the road, running back and forth, from here to Sudbury and back, and recovering from this cold.  I'm almost 100% now. 

After a few days in Sudbury early in the week, I returned to Port Carling Wednesday, but Lindsay had Friday off and suggested we go north for the day, so we drove up Friday morning. 

I'm driving a Kia Rio I rented and am quite impressed.  It has everything (good stereo, peppy performance, adjustable seat) except cruise and power seats.  It's small outside, huge inside and gets 40MPG.  I checked them out in the paper and a new one is only $12,350 (in Canadian minibucks).  That includes a 5-year, 100,000 km warranty with roadside assistance!  I love this little car.  It's no Buick, but I'd buy one anytime as a runabout.

Lindsay stayed over and drove the Olds (that Mom sold me) down Saturday, I returned Friday  evening and dropped in at Ron's to see Graham who had just returned from Ahmek.  Ron and family head back to Vancouver again Saturday.

On my first trip to Sudbury, my plan was to visit my sister and family.  We'll see them again later at Pine Hill, but I wanted to get up to Sudbury anyhow.

Although I did intend to go home to Alberta before returning East to drive down through New York to Rhode Island and on to Eastern Canada.  As our plan changed, it started to make more sense to cancel my trip home, and arrange for Ellen to meet me here. So, that's what we'll do.  I had some jobs to do at home, but Ellen can take care of what needs doing, and Dennis will be around to take care of things.


Although we have not been promoting sales, we sold another 500 supers Friday. That leaves only a few thousand to go, and there is no rush to sell them.  Although the first flow is over, the main flow should be cutting in about now.  In the next few weeks, if we have a long season, some beekeepers will be discovering they are very short of supers, so I imagine we'll be getting a few more calls.  That's okay.  We have people on the ground there who can handle any last-minute purchases.  Our daughter and son-in-law will be around as long as people phone ahead.

There could be a lot of honey out there still.  I recall one year when we pulled all our supers off 300 hives on July 25th and put on supers of Ross Rounds.  These hives went on to produce 30,000 sections, in addition to the extracted crop they had already made.


Mom has been talking about buying a new car for some time now, and she has been talking about buying a Saturn.  A friend has one, and Mom has driven it, and liked it.  She also likes the idea of firm prices (no-haggling) that Saturn promotes.

Every time she brought up the subject of buying a car, everyone said, "Sure Mom, go buy one".  I think she was looking for some resistance, but everyone just agreed and she would bring it up again later, so I decided to accompany her on the quest. (Not that she needs help or can be influenced.  I went to keep her company and to have an excuse to test drive some new cars).

We went directly to the Saturn dealership and looked at Saturns, then, just for balance, we went down the street and test drove a Buick (my current favourite).   On Wednesday, we went back to the Saturn dealership and she made a deposit on a car.  She was promised delivery on Friday.  They did not offer much for her trade, so I decided to buy it. Ellen & I are planning a trip east, and the cheapest car rental looks like about $1,200, and a rental would limit our options a bit, so I figured that I might as well put that rental  money into buying a car.  I need a car in Ontario anyhow, since I plan to spend more time here.

Since Lindsay and I were back in Sudbury on Friday, I was there when the dealer came to get Mom for her orientation session and when she drove her new car home.  She said that when she arrived at the dealership her car was in the showroom with balloons attached, and a sign saying, "Congratulations, Jean".  They really did things up big, and gave here a complete tutorial on the car and introduced her personally to the service people.  Apparently this is something that Saturn does routinely for all customers, but maybe they went even a bit further than usual.  I don't know how often they sell an sporty bright blue Ion3 to an enthusiastic and capable 85-year old woman.


Here in Muskoka, I have a good phone line, but at Mom's, in Sudbury, I had a terrible time staying connected, so we called the phone company. The phone guys came out, climbed a pole (and set off the burglar alarm) and reported that they found a squirrel's nest in a junction box and had fixed the problem. That may have eliminated the static and cross-talk, but I still have internet problems when I'm there.  Seems to me that I made the same complaint last year and they found a squirrel in a box at that time too. Hmmm.  You'd think they'd either come up with a squirrel-proof junction box, or a new excuse.

Anyhow, add to that the fact that this computer, a three-year-old Toshiba notebook, tends to crash if left unattended -- don't know why -- and, although I made several starts on these pages, and I lost my work a few times. I'm starting over now, writing this in plain text then pasting onto the web when able.


Some time back, I wrote an article exploring a different perspective on the US/Canada border closure to the import of bees. Usually the question is considered from a rather myopic viewpoint -- that of beekeepers alone, and not that of society as a whole. Since I'm no longer a commercial beekeeper, I find that, as I step back from the industry, it becomes more apparent how self-centred the debate -- if you can call it that -- has become. Beekeeper vs. beekeeper. What about everyone else?

I wrote the article as an exercise, and thought I'd run it past the CHC to see how they would respond to an analysis that was more based on the industry as it could be, than on the industry as it is. The response has been disappointing to say the least. Only one person has addressed replies to me personally, but I did receive copies of another email by several roundabout routes, so today, I phoned Heather to see if she is ignoring me, or simply on holidays -- like me. Seems she is in the Maritimes, attending meetings until the 31st, so I'll assume that no slight is intended.

Anyhow, I have been wondering how to handle the email I've gotten. I have posted one reply previously, and, although the writers did not send me the material below directly, it was circulated on the 'net, and I think I'll submit it here with my own comments interspersed; the original material will remain anonymous unless one of the writers is sufficiently proud to request attribution.

From a occasional contributor...

(My comments will be in blue italics from here on down)

Hi Allen,

Don't you just love those summer, holiday colds. I hope you keep that honey and toast thing going till you beat this thing!. I'm sure you have received this by now. This is so embarrassingly weak, I don't know why someone would spread this all over the industry.

This (comments identifying the writers omitted here) will surely precipitate rolling of eyes and gnashing of teeth across the industry. This may be as strong a response as is possible, given the untenable status of the import prohibition. The sad part of this whole scenario is that there is an important role for CHC to play, positions like this seriously undermine its credibility.

Be gentle Allen, be very gentle.

Don't worry, I'll be gentle.  Now, just bite down on this bullet...

This email was attached.  I've interspaced my comments (in blue)...

---- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2003 8:11 AM
Subject: Fwd: RE: Rebuttal?

> Allen Dick has made comments on his website honeybeeworld.com, concerning CHC and CAPA. (We) don't want to get into an endless argument with him but (name withheld) has written a very good reply below. Thought you might be interested in seeing his response.

Hmmm.  Why 'argue'?  What ever happened to 'discuss' and 'consider'? 

> >Subject: RE: Rebuttal?
> >Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 00:02:52 -0500
> >Importance: Normal
> >
> >The argument below is insult wrapped in economics.

in•sult —n. in'sult),
1. an insolent or contemptuously rude action or remark; affront.
2. something having the effect of an affront: That book is an insult to one's intelligence.
3. Med.
     a. an injury or trauma.
     b. an agent that inflicts this.
4. Archaic.an attack or assault.

ec•o•nom•ics  (ek"u-nom'iks, E"ku-) —n.
1. (used with a sing. v.) the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, or the material welfare of humankind.
2. (used with a pl. v.) financial considerations; economically significant aspects: What are the economics of such a project?

Hmmm.  This is interesting.  Apparently there was nothing in the 2,932 words I wrote that was positive, or thought-provoking and the writer has decided to be insulted.  Not a very promising start for dialogue.  Actually, I though the topic had more to do with equity than insults and economics.

eq•ui•ty (ek'wi-tE), —n., —pl. -ties.
1. the quality of being fair or impartial; fairness; impartiality: the equity of Solomon.
2. something that is fair and just.
3. Law.
    a. the application of the dictates of conscience or the principles of natural justice to the settlement of controversies.
    b. a system of jurisprudence or a body of doctrines and rules developed in England and followed in the U.S., serving to supplement and remedy the limitations and the inflexibility of the common law.
etc...

> >The economic wrapping is paper thin. To be a protectionist one must
> >advocate trade restrictions that result in reduced supply of a commodity you
> >are selling.

Okay, I see where we are going.  We'll narrowly define 'protectionist', erect a straw man, beat it up, and that should do the trick.  We can now forget about any good points raised, and the rights and aspirations of minorities.  Diversionary tactics have always worked for the CHC when  faced with legitimate dissent in the past, and are being called on to hold the fort a while longer.

> >Beekeepers sell primarily honey, beeswax and pollination
> >services. There is no restriction on the movement of honey and beeswax
> >within Canada, so it is impossible to protect those markets.

pro•tec•tion•ism Pronunciation: (pru-tek'shu-niz"um), —n.

1 Econ. the theory, practice, or system of fostering or developing domestic industries by protecting them from foreign competition through duties or quotas imposed on importations.

2. any program, policy, or system of laws that seeks to provide protection for property owners, wildlife, the environment, etc.

What can I say? If you are getting confused and think he is addressing something I said, here is what I actually did say.

> >Since Alberta
> >is the single biggest market for pollination services, I doubt that
> >pollination is the commodity in question.

The assumption here is that it is a commodity or commodities that are being protected.  There is some of that, alright, but the protectionism here is more insidious; it has more to do with defense against competition, new entries into the business, and more the efficient larger operations that would be possible if an unlimited supply of  package bees came onto the market.

Although the article fingers protectionism, there is a much more sinister factor at play and that is the simple disregard -- even distain -- by those in positions of power in our industry for the rights, interests, and aspirations of those less powerful.  Maybe we should be focusing on that?

> >Further, the value of live hives
> >has probably increased since border closure, but varies more with the price
> >of honey then either the availability of bees of  local or imported stock.

That is a really interesting sentence structure, but, regardless of what he is attempting to say, my experience surrounding this very question that made the penny drop in my mind.  As readers will realize, I am in the process of selling our bees and equipment and have my finger on the pulse of the market.  We are, today, experiencing  the highest market prices for honey in a generation and yet I have 3,000 unsold drawn supers sitting, unsold, and this is the middle of a honey flow.  We are experiencing the highest prices ever for honey and equipment sits empty.  That says something to me.

I remember the 1970s, the last time that honey trebled in price.  Package bees were available without any limit at the time, and anything that remotely resembled a beehive sold instantly for amazing prices -- more than new equipment.  We're now selling supers below new cost and still there are some left.  We sold our bees without difficulty. 

Interestingly, people would have preferred to buy just bees -- many had empty boxes at home -- but were so desperate they they bought complete hives.  That's thanks to the CHC and CAPA, folks.

> >Hence I conclude that the word "protectionist" is being used in a
> >perjorative, not a economic sense.

Actually, the word is 'pejorative'. 

pe•jo•ra•tive (pi-jôr'u-tiv, -jor'-, pej'u-rA"-, pE'ju-),—adj.
having a disparaging, derogatory, or belittling effect or force: the pejorative affix -ling in princeling.

No matter.  That was not the intent, and, who said it was intended in some narrow economic sense, anyhow?  Not me.  I have a lot of respect for protectionist sentiments.  I have a few myself.  The question is whether this protectionism is justified, equitable -- and legal.   (Readers: If you are getting confused by the straw man argument , here is what I did say).

> >There are a number of sub -arguments; I will take each in tern:
> >
> >1. The only thing restricting growth in beekeeping is the border
> >regulations.

Yup, I did say that, and I'll concede that this is a slight oversimplification.  Obviously, at some point, Other factors -- like lack of drawn comb --  would restrict growth.  We're a long way from that point.

> >This argument ignores the very economic factors the rest of the article
> >pretends to rely on.

Okay.  I appreciate rhetoric as much as the next guy, but it does not move me at all.  Please explain how I ignore the economic factors, and which ones.

Where I live, it is very clear.  Allow people in Alberta to purchase package bees from their traditional, proven suppliers and the industry will grow to whatever size the supplies of pasture, labour and other supplies will permit.  These other factors are not a constraint at present. Moreover this action would take some of the the pressure off BC wintering spots and allow BC beekeepers to work under less competitive pressure.

> >2. The decline in the number of beekeepers is significant and reveals
> >something important about the industry.
> >
> >I agree with the anecdotal observation that our industry is shrinking and
> >graying. However, I expect other agricultural industries and workforces are
> >experiencing similar demographic shifts. Economic thinkers call fewer
> >people managing more production 'efficiency'. I refuse to accept
> >culpability for something that is endemic and probably positive.

Talk about ignoring things; the point was that many, if not essentially all of these other agricultural industries have been able to increase their output and viability significantly.  Ours is throttled by lack of reliable and reasonably-priced supply of an essential input.  Everything else is in place.  I know that; I have been talking to frustrated would-be beekeepers a lot lately.

Further,
> >as a 35 year old new beekeeper, I can report that the border restrictions
> >have not inhibited my entry to the industry.

Okay.  That's a typical CHC response.  It goes something like this.  "I'm okay, so, everybody, be like me and you'll be fine".  People who make this kind of argument tend to be rather insensitive to the fact that people are very different in their situations, needs, and aspirations.

Let's take a good look.  Could everyone be just like you?  How much new capacity are you adding to our industry?  How many new jobs and buildings are you adding to our industry, and how much of the unused pasture I mentioned are you bringing into use? I bet you got a bargain because beekeepers are short of bees and outfits go cheap.  I know you think that the price is fair, but wait until you are about to retire and we'll see what you say.

> >3. Capa and CHC are 'special interest' groups.
> >
> >Unless you define beekeeping as a whole as a 'special interest'

What would you call it?  What would the man on the street call it?

> >then this is simply false.

Well, it isn't.  They are obviously special interest groups in every sense of the word.  Moreover, they sometimes -- like the case in point -- do not even represent all their members, or their entire industry!

spe'cial in'terest
a body of persons, corporation, or industry that seeks or receives benefits or privileged treatment, esp. through legislation.

> >CHC works on behalf of the entire industry on many fronts
> >including honey labeling and packing issues, which are beyond the scope of
> >the border issue.

QED, but I'm glad we agree on something, and obviously CHC can do some things right.  Maybe we can get CHC working for the whole industry on the border issue.

> > Similarly, I have found CAPA highly diverse in interests
> >and enterprises, after all, it is capa members doing rAFB research in
> >ALberta right now. What does that have to do with the special interest of
> >'protectionism'?

Again, I don't have a clue how that has anything to do with the discussion.  I did not ever say CHC or CAPA were incapable of doing anything right.  CAPA does lots of good work, and many CAPA and CHC members are my friends.  Heck, I'm a CHC member.  (Readers: If you are getting confused, here is what I actually did say).

All I am saying is that CAPA and CHC's board and staff have a perspective that

  1. fails to consider and address adequately the interests of all beekeeping parties and
  2. fails to consider the interests of communities that could benefit from new beekeeping businesses.

> >4. Eastern Beekeepers have 'vested' interests in keeping the border closed.
> >
> >To have a (in)vested interest is merely to expect a return from a particular
> >economic position.

Let's see what a dictionary says...

vest'ed in'terest
1. a special interest in an existing system, arrangement, or institution for particular personal reasons.
2. a permanent right given to an employee under a pension plan.
3. vested interests, the persons, groups, etc., who benefit the most from existing business or financial systems.

Hmmm.  I said exactly what I meant.  I did not say 'invested.   If you are getting confused, here is what I did say.

> > We all have 'vested' interests in beekeeping since we
> >all expect to get a return from doing so. However, the message below does
> >not describe in any detail how 'eastern protectionists' expect to get more
> >return from border closure, which is the accusation that is made.

Is it?  I don't think so.  I suggested that many think they are protecting their territory.  I did also say this:

"Unfortunately, bee industry organizations in Canada are largely dominated by small operators with a vested interest in preventing expansion of the industry and the competition that might ensue from that expansion, and by salaried civil servants who think in terms of risk, rather than in terms of opportunity".

> >The
> >writer puts himself in a classical dilemma: either eastern beekeepers will
> >get an increased return from border closure or they will not. If they do,
> >they would be fools to sacrifice their own interests, if they don't, then
> >the accusation is made falsely. Therefor either the eastern beekeepers are
> >not fools or they are accused falsely. I think the second option is more
> >likely.

If I had said these things I might, perhaps, be in a 'classical dilemma', (although I though the classical dilemma had more to do with a specific technical theological difficulty than with self-interest).  Seeing as I did not say these things -- he said them, then attacked them  -- I see no point in supporting them.  Here is what I did say.

Perhaps I should point many Eastern beekeepers -- and would-be beekeepers everywhere -- would also benefit from a more open border. Let's not lump all Easterners into one lot.  I realize that that could be inferred from the title of my piece, but that is not the intent, and is the least generous interpretation.

> >In conclusion, I offer the following challenge. I agree that we should
> >throw off the gloves, It is my observation that the insults like those
> >buried within the message below are not constructive.

Nobody is throwing mud, and there are no insults intended, although I must confess to having some fun with you, and your overly serious and defensive friends.  I cannot be held responsible for insult deliberately taken.  Reading insults into a debate is counterproductive, unless the goal is to divert attention from the genuine issues at hand, and, if that is what is happening, it's an old and transparent trick that has lost its efficacy.

Accusations are not insults; they are accusations, and CHC stands justly accused of ignoring, and even opposing, the best interests of a large segment of its constituency and possibly the public good, to boot.

> >It would be more
> >useful to make specific accusations then to throw mud. Further, i think the
> >mud throwing is one sided, and it is the basic politeness of the border
> >closure advocates which allows those with a contrary view the false
> >impression that no one disagrees with them, and that the momentum is all
> >theirs.

Interesting.  Everyone west of the Saskatchewan border -- and more than a few east of there -- can see how unsupportable the current position is an how oppressive it is to many beekeepers and would-be beekeepers.  We are just pointing it out so clearly that nobody can fail to see.  As for momentum, the momentum is obviously all with the CHC, but, that momentum can be more accurately described as inertia.  It is time to change that.

> > I will have no more of that myself.

Fine.  I don't think you addressed even one of my points anyhow.

Is there ANYONE supporting the embargo against US bees who can address the issues, and who will address what I did say, and not some misrepresentation of my article.   If so, bring 'em on.

We're working the bugs out of this position, but, so far, it looks like a winner! 

It rained pretty well all day today and, as you can see, I finally got down to doing some writing.

Today .. Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h. High 26. UV index 6 or moderate. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

Sunday 27 July 2003
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

Today, in Muskoka, the forecast is for "Cloudy with a few showers ending this morning then clearing. High 24".  That's good.  Things are getting damp and I'm ready to spend more time outside.  Mom is coming this morning and, tomorrow, we pick up Ellen at Pearson and return the Kia.

 Here's an interesting letter...

I hope to get around to it today.

> Thanks for your ramblings and documenting your last few years of beekeeping. I enjoyed the progress on losing weight (boy do we have a few things in common), the frustration of employees (when I was young I owned a janitorial company - talk about hard to find help!). I've made it through about 1/2 of the entries and some personal questions come up. Forgive me for asking them, if they are out of line just say so.

> First to introduce myself. I am a management consultant with a large consulting global consulting firm. I have spent the last 10 years living on airplanes, advising CEO's, COOs, CFOs and CIOs on matters that seemed of great importance at the time. I worked on the merger of several global leaders in their industries. At the peak of the great internet bubble my company billed me out at rates higher than investment bankers and senior NY Law partners. I can't complain on the compensation I received although I can tell you other people took 75% of what I billed and the government took 40% of what I ended up with. I'm still hanging on, rates have dropped but I'm still shagging around on airplanes and living Frank Zappas' 2000 motels, only over and over again. If you catch my tone this isn't exactly how I want to live the rest of my life. I'm not too impressed either - it's kinda empty if you know what I mean.

> Last year my wife and I bought a small acreage. She came from a rural area, I was raised in the city. After a first year of massive allergies, things have calmed down. I started a soil improvement program, acquired 3 Llamas (soon to be 4) because they were fun to look at and easy to take care of. Dug a pond (my wife calls it 'brent's folly') and started more projects than I could ever hope to finish. One of the projects was adding a beehive to draw local honey in hopes of clearing up the allergies.

> Pretty much been downhill ever since then. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with them and the hive has been very successful. Supering, splitting, trying a hand at raising queens. The honey flow has been decent in spite of a shortage of rain. I've become very sensitive to what is happening in the woods and what's blooming along the road, out in the fields, what weeds are popping up.

> I'm sure about 3/4 of beginners enjoy what they are doing and dream of turning it into a business. In spite of being a consultant (those who know do, those who don't know teach, those with no clue consult- that's the joke I tell my clients) I am not deluded about the hard work necessary to manage a small business. I owned two of them in the 70's between college and career and should have stayed with them. I was as capital constrained back then as the girls jeans were tight back then. Thought I could never expand but now see I really missed it. Anyway one of them was a janitorial company that really taught me lessons on managing people. Hard to get people to do low status jobs. I cleaned many an office building by myself when the crew didn't show up.

> Anyway, back to the reason for writing. You scaled way up on your beekeeping. I wasn't really clear when you did this - I missed where you got into the beekeeping as a business. Then you scaled down, if you can call it that, to 2000 hives, and I guess then way down. What were some of your reasons behind your decisions. I know from your journal that managing employees was a real headache. Have to believe when the price of honey was $1 Canadian that the rewards weren't all that good.

> Was it just time or did you have another direction? Is large scale beekeeping even a viable business? They say half the beekeepers have exited? your thoughts?

> Are the small operators (< 300-500 hives) just as profitable as someone with 3000 hives and ton's more capital and risk. Sure would appreciate your thoughts or if it's in the journal just tell me to keep on reading.

> I guess I am looking on whether I should invest much beyond the 20 or so hives I can put on my homestead or if this is something that could be a nice post consulting life business. While there may be no assurances raising bees and honey, you wouldn't believe how unsure the corporate world has become.

Today .. Sunny. High 30. UV index 7 or high. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 14. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

Monday 28 July 2003
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

I drove to Toronto to return the car and pick up Ellen.  Mom came along in her car to drive us back to Pine Hill.

Today .. Sunny. Wind north 20 km/h. High 27. UV index 7 or high. / Tonight .. Clear. Low 10. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

Tuesday 29 July 2003
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

Linda and Sid arrived around noon.  We visited a bit and then Ellen and I headed for the Eastern seaboard.  We drove the backroads across Ontario through Haliburton and on down to Belleville, where we spent the night.

Tuesday .. Sunny. High 29.
Wednesday 30 July 2003
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

We're off to Round Lake, NY, today. 

Along the way, we stopped in Kingston to check out cell phone deals.  I'd intended to switch my bag phone for a pocket phone and add a US plan, but by the time we figured out the cost and complications, we decided to do without.  We wound up unplugging our phone when we crossed the border.

As before, the trip took longer than expected, but we wound up at Aaron's around eight.  Betsy had bought ribs at a local barbeque and we had a feast.

Thursday 31 July 2003
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

Aaron and I decided to go tubing on the Sacandaga River, and drove up into the Adirondacks. Ellen went exploring in Round Lake.  Round Lake is an old resort town near Saratoga.  The houses were mainly built around the turn of the last century and are not altered much from their original design.  El loves such things and had a great time.

We returned in late afternoon and went out to look at Aaron's hives.  He's headed to EAS and was wondering if they needed work before going.  They were mostly okay for space.

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