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Taking off the supers.

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Monday 1 September 2003
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Jean & Chris spent the day and left in the late afternoon.

We saw this swarm of some type of insect in Ellen's garden.  They appeared to be ants and they came in a range of sizes, all with wings.

Today : Sunny. Wind north 20 km/h. High 20. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight : Clear. Low 4. /  Normals for the period : Low 6. High 19.
 

Tuesday 2 September 2003
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I drove to Airdrie in the early morning to visit with Frank and Mike at Global Patties.   I've promised to help them out with technical advice on ingredients and possible improvements, and to help with advertising, etc., since they have decided to expand production to meet the demand.  Because Global does a great job, and makes patties more cheaply than any beekeeper can make them (especially if we consider the time and mess, and the mistakes we all make when we set up to make them in the honey house) word has gotten around.  They have received orders from all over.   Beekeeper hate making their own patties and often don't get around to doing it.  Global makes Spring protein supplementation easy and cheap.

Frank and Mike have now spent the spring and summer building a new machine to automate the patty making, and it is now ready to go.  They've leased extra space, and hope to have everything set up and tested soon.  They'd hoped to get the new system running in time to make patties in time for Fall feeding, but time is running out for that, besides many beekeepers doubt the value of feeding protein patties in the Fall.   It is a fairly new idea.  We'll have to do some tests to see if there is any value in Fall protein feeding  in terms of wintering success or identifying queenless colonies in Fall, etc..

It stands to reason that bees need protein in the Fall, too, since they are ripening sugar syrup feed, and flowers may be scarce, but some beekeepers are concerned that Fall patties might stimulate brood rearing.  I seem to recall that when I tried Fall patties a few years back, I saw more brood in those hives later than in the others which did not get patties.  Survival was not appreciably better, or worse, that I can recall.  As for more robust bees in spring, I did not make notes.  I do recall that any patty that was uneaten when the bees went down to winter stayed fresh on the hives, and was eaten in late winter and early spring when the bees again came up to the top bars.

Today : Sunny. High 23. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 10.  / Normals for the period : Low 6. High 19.

Wednesday 3 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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Gertie, at the Alberta Beekeepers Association, sent me a copy of "Half a Century of Sweet Success", so I'm now reading it with an intention of getting a better understanding of the history of wintering in Alberta, and the extent of package beekeeping in the West.  So far, I am up to the 1930s and see references to both wintering and package bees.  In the very early days, obviously there was little choice but winter, and some references mention total wintering losses, but others seem to imply good wintering success by others.  At that time, however, there were few hives north of Edmonton, and most beekeeping took place in the South.  In fact, the Alberta Beekeepers Association was formed in Lethbridge and met alternately in Calgary and Lethbridge, then, later, Edmonton was included.  In those days, farming was much different in the South.  Small holdings were more common, there was more wasteland, less monoculture, and fewer pesticides.

Apparently the railways in the those days carried package bees (and apparently delivered them in good shape!)  So far, there is no clear indication of numbers imported and numbers wintered.  Our provincial Apiarist should have records from those days, and I have written him, asking for more information.

Beef finally came down in price and I bought a huge roast.  We had Meijers, Purves-Smiths and Bert over for supper.

 I've been going over the pictures I took on my trip.  Here are some from our stop at Aaron's.


Aaron collects pollen with traps under some of his hives


Aaron's styrofoam hives are doing well, but this floor was bent up enough by the support under the middle that the bees had trouble coming and going at the entrance

Today : Sunny. High 30. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 14. / Normals for the period : Low 6. High 19.

Thursday 4 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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Dennis came to work again, today.  he has been working for a neighbour while we were away and is now available again.  We have the remaining 70 hives of bees to work, and lots of cleanup to do.

Several beekeepers called me, during the past week, to enquire about buying one of our trucks.   Looking out, I saw only two, but was sure that there should be three left.   I got to wondering where the missing unit went.  I had remembered that Meijers had used one to pull the forklift over to their place; we had lent them our remaining Swinger for the summer, while we were away, and, since the hitch and wiring was ready to go, and their truck was not a perfect match for the trailer, they took the truck too, but I had thought they brought it back.

I had asked Oene earlier if one was still at his place, and I had understood him to have said, "No".  At one point during the morning, I started wondering if I had sold a truck and forgotten.  Fortunately we have good records, and a check showed that it had to be around here somewhere.  I got to thinking again, and called Joe.  Sure enough there is one sitting at their shop.  It has been sitting there since June.   At any rate, that just goes to show that we've sold so much that we have to think where everything has gone.


I spent the day working at my desk, doing paperwork and comparing two browsers.  We all know that, although it was the best in its time, Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) is a lame browser by today's standards.  Unfortunately, most sites are designed to work with MSIE and more than a few -- especially those with advanced security features -- may not work properly, or at all, with other browsers.  MSIE has lots of bad habits and deficiencies, however there are a number of wrappers available that add features to it transform it into a much better browser.  Some even make it look much like my favourite browser, Opera.  As mentioned here before, I am a registered Opera user and have followed it through many upgrades.  Now there is a new beta out and I decided to download it and try it, and compare it to a wrapper I have been using more and more, MYIE2

Until this beta, I have had problems with Opera, in that it would not work with some sites, including my bank and Panda online scan.  As a result, I have need to use an alternate browser for some jobs.  I also do web development and, for proofing purposes, I also have Mozilla, Netscape, and also Phoenix on my computer.  At any rate, this new beta version seems to have cleaned up all the problems and I decided to have a showdown between MYIE2 and Opera 7.2beta.

I spent a few hours and still can't decide.  For those who have not bought Opera, and don't want the advanced mail and newsgroups features in Opera, MYIE2 is a logical choice -- it's free --but Opera, the way I have set it up (each can be customized to suit your tastes) still has some very nice advantages, but, MYIE2 has some features that Opera lacks, so I guess I'll be using both for a while. The drawback of using these two browsers is that the history and bookmarks can't be easily shared between the two, so It is awkward to find things from previous sessions, if they session was on the other browser.

I also spent time on computer security questions.  Several people I know have fallen to the DCOM exploit, so I was doing some research. 

Allen's
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Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. High 29. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : Clear. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 8. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 19.

Friday 5 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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A month ago today, this is what I was doing

This morning, Dennis is going out to take off the empty supers, pick up deadouts and take inventory on how much honey there is to pull.

He'll take off any top supers that have no honey and, if they are free of bees -- as they often are in early morning -- bring them home.  Supers with no honey, but with bees in them, he will stack in a criss-cross fashion away from the hives until we go back to get the honey in a day or two.  The bees will have left them by then, and we will pick them up at that time.  From any supers that have bees and only a frame or two of honey, but are otherwise empty, he will pull the full frames and use them to replace any empty outer frames in the full supers that remain on the hive until we return with a blower.  We're not expecting much honey.  I split heavily specifically to avoid producing honey.

In a day or two the bees will be settled into the hives and the only remaining supers will be full of honey, so we will not be wasting time blowing bees out of empty supers.

I wrote looking for stats on bee imports into Alberta in the years leading up to border closure...

> Sorry, it took sometime to answer your e-mail. We are busy looking at Varroa resistant to Apistan dispersal in the province.

Too bad we don't have open access to package bees next spring. The resistant varroa problem would be much less of a problem if replacement bees were accessible.

I've been researching a bit, and am starting to realize that the *only* thing that has made and still makes beekeeping possible in Alberta is massive annual importations of bees. When bees were freely available, the industry flourished. Of course there were problems, but they did not begin in the Fall.

Of course there (reportedly) are some exceptional people who are able to winter year after year without problems, but I was amazed not too long ago to talk to one well-known proponent of wintering, self-sufficiency, etc. and learn that one year, recently, he had not been able to rear the queens he needed. He bought Hawaiian queens that year. What people say is often not exactly what they actually do. I wonder how many of the 'self-sufficient' beekeepers are really self-sufficient?

No matter.  Those few are the cream of the cream.  The average beekeeper has enough trouble managing bees for honey production without having to handle the added burden and risks of managing for wintering.

> In any case to answer your question, I don't have statistics here to get these numbers.

I wonder where they went. These things were gathered over the years, albeit somewhat sporadically. I'm reading up on Alberta history, but it is amazingly sparse.

> You may search Canada Statistics or contact CFIA for information.

I doubt they have much, especially CFIA, but I will look, thanks.

> WE have statistics for number of hives in Alberta. This information is in Alberta agriculture web site under statistics, livestock, beekeeping.

I hunted around and found the numbers for the past few years, but I know this info has been gathered as long as I have been beekeeping here in Alberta (30+ years). If you can dig up anything more, please let me know.

> Hope that you are enjoying your retirement, eh

Yup. So far, so good...

Thanks

allen

Today : Sunny. Wind becoming west 20 km/h near noon. High 28. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 11. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 19.

Saturday 6 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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I woke up this morning and sold two trucks -- the last two diesels -- and a trailer.  we are now down to the last one ton truck, a gas unit.

I notice that the toolbox hive has died over summer.  No sign of disease.  I'll have to do a post-mortem sometime.

Sunday 7 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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I spent the day on the computer learning a few tricks.  I'd thought of going sailing, but the day was overcast and cool.  It turned hot and windy, but, by then it was too later to head out.

I got a call tonight and it got me thinking.  Could this be the year that Alberta finally quits the Canadian Honey Council (CHC)?  I think it could very well be.  In recent years, Honey Council, due to its political structure, which I have always considered to be toxic, has been obstinately opposing efforts by Alberta beekeepers to obtain more reliable and better quality replacement stock from the continental USA.  The opposition has gone beyond reason, and become a nasty, grudging, partisan effort by some who are so far removed from the issue by distance that if they had a scrap of integrity, they should abstain and mind their own business.

In recent years, we have had motions on the floor of the Alberta Beekeepers Association annual meeting to withdraw, but, because CHC does a lot of good work, and because Alberta beekeepers have contributed a lot to the CHC, the support has been half-hearted and the motions have failed.  This year could be very different.  After the disastrous bee shortage this spring that left many beekeepers short of bees or working on replacement stock, when they could have been producing honey, the atmosphere will be very different.  Not only will Alberta beekeepers be pressing for the ABA to withdraw CHC support, but individual beekeepers will be encouraged not to renew their CHC memberships.

Well, knock me over with a feather!  While writing this, I visited the ABA site to check some references, and was astounded to read the Risk Assessment Summary by Eric C. Mussen - Extension Apiculturist, cooperative extension, University of California, dated April 2003.  I had not seen this letter, and not heard reference to it.  After reading it, I don't know how any honest person could deny Alberta access to California bees.  Musssen -- a very well respected and careful thinker totally debunks the bogus bee health (and human health risk) claims in the risk assessment.  I especially love the part about AHB.  I've been saying this for years.  Taber brought African stock into Baton Rouge a half-century ago, and distributed the offspring crosses to beekeepers across the USA.  Who knows where it went?  US stock routinely came to Canada in those days, so I imagine some could well be still here.  Dewey Caron pointed out in his book that AHB is not always vicious and swarmy.  In temperate regions, such as the mountain slopes in Bolivia, it can be indistinguishable from EHB.

Then I read "Review of Risk Assessment, an Edited transcript of interview with Bill Wilson".  Wow!  I really respect Bill for his frankness and long history of serving the North American bee industry.  If anyone can read these two reviews and still think that keeping the Alberta/USA border closed is justifiable on the basis of bee health issues, I just feel sorry for them.

Of course, I expected that the ABA Import Committee (See Risk Assessment Response by Importation Committee of ABA) would take issue with the risk assessment, but I am very impressed by the comments of these two top scientists, both of whom I have always respected for integrity and outspokenness.  I haven't seen Bill much since his retirement.  I understand he is living along I15 in Utah, not far from Dave Cowan.  Maybe I'll look him up on the way south this winter.

At any rate, it won't be enough to simply pull the ABA out of the CHC -- assuming CHC doesn't come to their senses before the November ABA Convention at Fantasyland Hotel -- which we all hope they do.  I think that ordinary Alberta beekeepers, and hopefully other prairie beekeepers, will have to withhold their membership dues from CHC until CHC stops working against their Alberta membership.  I never thought it would come to this, where CHC would be brought down over refusal to help its members on a crucial issue, but it's going to happen.

It is interesting to note that with Alberta (1/3 of Canada's bee industry) pulling out of CHC, that CHC will then only be twice as big as the current ABA.  If Alberta, or a new organization, pulls in some members from the rest of the western provinces, and we know there are many disaffected and disenfranchised prairie members, CHC may actually come down to the same size as the ABA -- assuming CHC does not fold as a result of the budget shrinkage.

"What of all the good work CHC does for the industry?" one asks.  That has been the concern that has kept people from kicking the legs from under CHC thus far, but think about it -- if CHC folds, the same people will still be around and have the same concerns, the same money, and the same talents.  Something will rise from the ashes.  (Did I actually say that?)  Maybe the Canadian Commercial Honey Producers Association?   Maybe the ABA will become a Western Canadian Association?  If the new Alberta Bee Commission (See Process for Establishing a New Agricultural Commission in Alberta) comes into being, there will be changes, anyhow.  Time for a shake-up?

I hope, too, that CHC thinks now that simply accepting queens under protocol will save them.  They had that chance an blew it.  Things have moved on far past that.  It's time for a wide open border, so that the industry can grow and become more profitable.

At least one person likes me these days.  Here's an interesting note:

Hello allen:

Good to see you home, I remember my Dad getting package bee's delivered to Souris, Manitoba by train, in 1951.They arrived in good shape after 6 or 7 days journey, from the deep south.

Keep up the good work.

That reminds me:  I got a call yesterday from a southern beekeeper and he mentioned several old timers.  I'm noticing a real lack of good western Canadian beekeeping history books.  I hope I don't have to write one...

 

Here's another note -- not the first -- asking me to respond to the questions in a letter I posted here.  I'll try, but there are many matters tugging at my sleeve and I write first about what grabs me most.  Right now the injustice being done to Alberta beekeepers by their own national organization is most interesting.

Allen You posted a letter from a reader on Sunday 27th July. The letter was about the viability of beekeeping as a business. So far, I have not seen a reply, and I am interested in your response to the questions. If I have missed your answer, could you point me in the right direction.

I live in Brisbane Australia and find reading about your beekeeping very interesting. It could not be more different than here. It's a cold day when our minimum temperature drops below 10 deg C, and the bees are bringing in honey through winter.

Okay, okay, I'll try to get around to it.  I'm a very slow writer and it takes me ages to get something written.  Today, I have to work on export papers so that Global Patties can send patties into the US.   I also have been spending a lot of time making sure what little money I have for retirement does not all disappear in the first few years, but that we will have an income in the future.  That is not a small task.

Today : Sunny. High 30. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light overnight. Low 12. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 18.

Monday 8 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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I was home all weekend, at my desk, except for a few forays to town for supplies, and today I have more desk work.

It has been very hot for the past week, and today is cool and overcast.  we got a little rain, but could use an inch or two more.

There is discussion on BEE-L about API LIFE VAR, seeing as it is now getting temporary approval for use in many US states.  I remembered an article Adony presented at the Beaverlodge Field Day, and wrote hi,  He sent me a copy and I am setting it up for reference on the web.  Click the thumbnail to see the poster.

Here's a report from my Mid-west correspondent:

Allen

It looks as we may have an "ok " crop at best. I think we figured we are running a 1/3 more hives this year than we did last year & hope we will end up with half the total pounds we did last year. I guess this is the way the game is played & I should know this after 25 years. But how one forgets with age.

Seems the crop is quite a bit off in the major honey producing states by all the reports I have heard. None of this word of mouth stuff, this is all from the beekeeper. I will say this, Allen, it seems the small packers see the writing on the wall as far as white honey supplies are concerned. I have had some calls looking for us to " reserve " them honey. It's not rocket science to pick up the phone & make a few calls to check with darn near any one in the Midwest & see what they have on for a crop. We have heard of no one a bragging.

I can remember 72, 73, & 1974 being damn dry. And I can remember a lot more wind in those years, but this is almost as bad at this point. I am sure there will be a lot of water pipes freezing this winter if we don't get a couple inches of rain to seal the ground & am not so sure this will help a whole lot.

Any word from any of the people who bought hives from you this spring as to how they fared?????

Nope.  I know one of the guys who bought from me previously did okay.  He is wanting to buy some of the items I have left. 

A lady who bought hives last year has phoned and said she did about 120 lbs, averaged over all hives.  She had problems getting queens this spring and some of her slits lost time raising their own queens, but she is happy.

 As for the others, I guess I'll hear in good time.  I'm assuming they are busy extracting, still.  They should do well, the hives were strong, and this was the kind of year that rewarded early strength, not like last year where anyone who split heavily got good results because the crop came in August and September.  I do know that one of my buyers did not feed early and also split too heavily, so I wonder...  Another, last I heard had 300 hives on one location -- against my specific warnings. 

We'll see.  All  will come out in the end.

Don't forget to call the Mid-US Honey Hotline at 1-763-658-4193 for latest prices.  There is a recorder at the end.  Please be sure to leave a message telling what you know, if you know anything.  These guys are putting it on the line and sharing, Let's all do likewise.  We all benefit by knowing what the market price is.

If you enjoy these pages and want to contribute your comments, write me.  Say if you don't want to be quoted, though.  I am usually discreet, but be sure to say.

Today : Cloudy. Periods of rain developing this morning. Risk of a thunderstorm. Amount 10 to 15 mm. Wind north 20 km/h. Morning temperature 13 falling to 9 this afternoon. UV index 1 or low. / Tonight : Periods of rain. Amount 20 mm. Wind northwest 30 km/h. Low 8./ Normals for the period : Low 5. High 18.

Tuesday 9 September 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
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More desk work.

Tuesday : A mix of sun and cloud. Low 6. High 22. / Tonight : 30 percent chance of showers this evening then clearing overnight. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light early this evening. Low 6. / Wednesday : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming west 20 km/h near noon. High 19. UV index 4 or moderate. / Normals for the period : Low 4. High 18.

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