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Wrapping the last hives

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Saturday 1 November 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 awoke early and was in the mood to drive, so, after a quick breakfast, I hit the road.  A little less than 12 hours later, I drove into my own driveway.   The trip was uneventful; as far as the Rogers Pass, where the roads were wet and there was occasional snow.  From there things were dry until I got closer to Cochrane.  After that the roads were bad and many drivers were just crawling along.

Sunday 2 November 2003
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Time to get ready for the ABA convention.  I spent the day catching up on bills, etc.

of the Day

Today : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. High minus 6. / Tonight : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 15.
Normals for the period : Low minus 6. High 6.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday  2, 3 &4 November 2003
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Ellen & I drove to Edmonton early Monday and spent the three days at the ABA convention at the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall.  There were many topics discussed, and i hope to get to some of them over the next while.

  • CHC Report: COFFS: Tim Townsend

  • CFIA: Don Wismer CFIA

  • Commission

  • Betty Vladicka, AAFRD, Food Safety Specialist. Alberta On-Farm Food Safety program to horticulture producers, farmers markets and organic producers.

  • Darryl Armstrong, Pioneer Hi-Bred Production Ltd., Canola Commercial Seed Manager: ‘New Opportunities for Canola Pollination.’

  • Dr. Medhat Nasr, Alberta Provincial Apiculturist: Alberta Beekeeping: State of the State.

  • Bayer Corporation: Richard Hack, M.Ag. Medical/Veterinary Entomology: 'Proper Use of CheckMite: Resistance Management Learning from the Past.’

  • Keynote Speaker: Pat Heitkam. Package and queen producer. Has been keeping bees since 1975 operating approximately 4000 hives in Orland, California for queen package production and honey. Heitkam Honey Bees places about 9,000 colonies in almonds, 5,000 of these are handled for other beekeepers from Minnesota, Washington and Oregon. Other crops pollinated include sunflowers, vine feeds, kiwi and clover

  • Beaverlodge Research Station: Dr. Don Nelson: "Progress on breeding for hygienic behaviour with Alberta producers"

  • 7:30 p.m. to closing. Hospitality Night in the Exhibits Hall. Entertainment, Ladies Auxiliary, Silent Auction, Toonie Bar.

  • Tuesday, November 4, 2003

  • Beaverlodge Research Station: : Tom Thompson and Gary Gensler, AAFRD. "Laboratory methods for the detection of antibiotic residues in honey."

  • Dr. Steve Pernal: "Residues associated with experimental applications of tylosin and lincomycin in honey bee colonies"

  • Exchange Beekeeper Profile from Saskatchewan. Tim Wendell, Roblin, Manitoba. Tim is a commercial honey producer and raises his replacement bees.

  • Discussions led by Len Fullen, AAFRD Manager, Projects and Policy Agricultural Products Marketing Council, "Update on Development of Commission Status".
    Marlene Abrams, Organization Development Specialist, Network Development Team

  • Wesley Johnson, AAFRD. Agri-preneur Action Unit - Added Value Products. "The Development of Alberta Regional Cuisine" - How honey can fit in the product mix.

  • Dr. Medhat Nasr, Provincial Apiculturist.Current and future management practices for Alberta Beekeeping.

  • Keynote Speaker: Pat Heitkam. President of the American Beekeeping Federation and has held the position of President of the California Queen Breeders and the California State Beekeepers. ‘Politics and Beekeeping.’

  • Beekeeper Profile: Bastura Apiaries, Stan and Judy operate 4500 colonies in the Taber area for pollination services and honey production.

  • 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. Hockey Scrimmage Game at the Ice Palace with the ABA Drones.

  • Tim Ball. Special Guest Speaker. Title of presentation will be "Wither the Weather and Water-The Resource of the 21st Century"

  • Beekeeper Profile. Peter Jessing and Robert Dickson, Mighty Peace Honey, run 2500 colonies and raise their own queens in the Peace River area.

Monday : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. High minus 12.
Tuesday : A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 15. High minus 8.
Wednesday : Sunny. Low minus 14. High minus 4.

of the Day

Thursday 6 November 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'm back from the convention and catching up on things.  It may be a day or so before I update this page.  I'll be going back over a few things and filling in details.

Thursday : Sunny. Low minus 7. High plus 1.

of the Day

Friday 7 November 2003
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After lunch, Ellen & I drove down to local feedlot to look into buying some cattle.  It was quite an interesting experience, and we learned quite a bit.  Although there is considerable optimism about opening the US border to Canadian cattle, that even seems to be a while in the offing.  In the meantime, some players in the industry -- the packers -- are making huge money, and some producers -- farmers, ranchers, and feedlots -- are nearly broke.  The government is pouring in huge sums of money to help the players adjust and keep the businesses alive.  How does this seem familiar?  How well founded is the hope that the US border will open soon?  They say that the US needs our beef, and I said, "We agreed to close the border to an essential input -- bees -- temporarily 17 years ago, and it is still closed.  It's far easier to close the border than to open it.  I also learned this: We claim that we do not feed cattle to cattle in Canada anymore.  Apparently feeding tallow, a product of rendering cattle, to cattle in order to augment weight gain.  This product is pure grease, and apparently contains no protein, I am told, but, just the same, it renders the claims (of not feeding cattle to cattle) false.

Here's an email I sent to BEE-L this morning...

I heard the other day from a US queen breeder that Bernard Apiaries is no longer distributing the USDA Russian breeder stock, and then I noticed, in his BEE-L post, that Charlie's sig line now contains the URL 'russianbreeder.com'. So, I visited  www.russianbreeder.com  and, according to the counter I was visitor number 10. (Going back just now, I was number 38).

Curious, I wrote the lab http://msa.ars.usda.gov/la/btn/hbb/projects.htm -- actually I could have written Charlie -- and asked what's up.

Tom replied and indicated that raising breeders is difficult, time consuming, and not particularly profitable, and that Bernard Apiaries has decided to focus on honey production and sales, and that, yes, Charlie has taken over the job.

To quote Tom's email:

This last spring Charlie became the CRADA holder for the production of breeder queens. This year for the first time, breeder queens for next spring have already been produced and are being overwintered in colonies they themselves have produced.

Charlie has been one of the three key beekeeper co-operators in the Russian project since inception, and since he has exclusively Russian test stock in his outfit and knows it well, he seems to me to be a very logical choice to raise, select and distribute queens.

Let's hope we can get buy them freely up here in Canada next spring. Last I heard, everything is lined up to once again allow large scale queen imports from the mainland USA to Canada next spring, under permit.



of the Day

Varroa Calculator

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Today : Sunny. High minus 1. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 12. / Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 4.

Saturday 8 November 2003
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Here's an email I sent to BEE-L yesterday morning...

> While this list is tolerant of FGMO discussions they are not
> necessarily in favor of this type of treatment.

FWIW, this list does not have one opinion about any topic. BEE-L has a wide range of participants, ranging from wannabee and new beekeepers to respected editors, authors, research scientists, commercial beekeepers, retired beekeepers, and others interested in bees, including, in fact, Dr. Rodriguez himself. The fogging method of application was first pioneered in California two decades ago and apparently abandoned, but then later proposed on this list when attempts to use wax paper strips with FGMO failed to work as hoped. A number of list members practice FGMO fogging, and report here from time to time.

As with any topic, there are some members who feel compelled to challenge the efficacy of FGMO and rigour of FGMO tests. Some are more diplomatic than others, but BEE-L tends to show some skepticism on any claims. IMO, coumaphos use has gotten just as hard a ride (harder!) here as FGMO.

> Please check out the following link as all of your questions will be readily answered.
> http://www.beesource.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/forumdisplay.cgi?
> action=topics&forum=FGMO&number=11&DaysPrune=30&LastLogin=

The URL given previously was broken in the wrap, so, here is a shorter one that will take you into the heart of that forum: http://www.beesource.com/ubb/Forum11/HTML/000181.html 

I'm not sure they will answer all questions, but there is active discussion on the topic there. Just as here, there seem to be many opinions on that bulletin board (See below). The thing that strikes me, though, is that almost everyone in that discussion seems to be actually measuring -- and actually knows -- their own daily mite fall, on a regular basis. To me that is the very first thing that every beekeeper must do to speak intelligently on the topic -- or to treat his/her bees effectively -- no matter what control method is favoured. I gather Dr. Rodriguez is away in Spain right now, but he is active on that board, and also here on BEE-L when he is around.

Since the forum does not seem to contain an FAQ, I looked around for an FGMO FAQ and found these articles that may be helpful.


While at the forum, on the thread http://www.beesource.com/ubb/Forum11/HTML/000181.html, you will see the following message from Axtmann posted October 23, 2003 11:32 AM From: Germany. he is an active participant of that forum with 133 previous posts, so I assume he has been watching closely...

--- begin quote from the forum --

Go to the following site! http://listserv.albany.edu:8080/archives/bee-l.html  I don't trust FGMO!!! If you're using the fogging treatment with oil it's your business but I wouldn't stay on "one leg". There many negative articles about FGMO, in the beginning it might work but after two or tree years the "time of true" will come. Too many beekeepers lost their colonies. The argument this beekeeper didn't follow 100% the instructions is not fair. A good working treatment begins with the method of easy using. Who wants to play with a fogger every 7 days, some beekeeper twice the week, for the whole live??? And if this failed you must have don a mistake with your cord .. It's your fault not the instructor. http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/FGMOBeekeeping/ 

In 2002 lots of "positive articles" but this year. ..Quiet!! I wonder why??

It's crazy to treat colonies one the week during the whole year and at the end of the year MITES STILL FALLING. There shouldn't be any mite left after 50 treatments! The brood cycle from the honeybee is 21 days, if the treatment would work with a very low result (60%) you can figure out by your self how long it would take to get rid of ALL mites. The reification is not an excuse, this will be possible maybe on one or two hives but not on the whole bee yard.

And now they find out there other ingredients necessary in the cord to be MORE successful! Some companies have Thymol in there products. this must be a good stuff, ok lets putt some of that GOOD STUFF in the cord and we might have success too! CRAZY!

Instead saying this treatment is not that what beekeepers help, they playing with different methods and using hundreds of beekeepers as test objects. If the tests failed who cares, all testers worked for free and on there one risk. Nobody has the right to complain or will get a refund.

--- end quote ---

I might also add that at the recent BCHPA meeting in Kelowna B.C., a Provincial Apiarist (and very well-known researcher) stood up to warn the assembly that a small commercial beekeeper had placed faith in FGMO fogging without monitoring the results and had lost almost all hives as a direct result. Another Apiarist from another province also stood up to relate a similar experience. I stood up and pointed out that it might have some usefulness in an IPM scenario, BUT, I also warned that monitoring the before and after is the key. Many reports have shown that FGMO fog alone will not provide adequate control in many cases. That fact can be confirmed by the assertion by Dr, Rodriguez, himself, in that same forum, that he is now investigating use of thymol in the fog.

I personally believe that FGMO can have an application, but just be careful that it is working in YOUR situation. No method is foolproof, and this one is more operator dependant than many.



Here's an email I sent to BEE-L today...

Anne Sayers wrote:

> I am using FGMO as a control for mites in my hives...
> Our question is " should we suspend
> the fogger treatment of FGMO after the first frost and not resume
> treatment until we begin the spring population build up for the honey
> flow?'

Sorry. We got off on discussing everything except the question asked. I'll try to address it.

The answer is that you can fog at any time the bees are not clustered, and I gather many practice fogging weekly whenever the bees are active, regardless of season. Repeated fogging apparently does not harm the bees in any noticeable way. (Clustering is generally considered to take begin when the bees are in an ambient temperature of 55 degrees F or lower, but an good indicator of activity is seeing bees coming and going at the entrance).

Since, as we have so strongly pointed out again recently, fogging is not an entirely reliable method of control. Regular and careful monitoring of mite loads, and correct interpretation of results is absolutely essential to prevent loss.

Whether sugar shake, ether roll, natural mite drop, alcohol wash, or a 24 hour Apistan or coumaphos drop is used for this purpose, interpretation of the results of the test is a bit of an art. Moreover, how many mites your hive can tolerate is dependant on many factors, including weather, climate, location, breed of bees, nutrition, time of year, etc. etc. Most of us tend to try to err on the side of safety, and although the forum discussed previously mentions 20-40 mites a day in natural drops, most of us would decide to use a more powerful, emergency method to knock the mites back before we got nearly that high. My 'get serious' threshold is more like 3 mites a day in summer and fall (natural drop test), or anything more than an occasional mite in the spring.

The Central Science laboratory -- http://www.csl.gov.uk/science/organ/environ/bee/varroamodel/  -- offers an analyzer at http://www.csl.gov.uk/science/organ/environ/bee/varroamodel/app.cfm  that can be instructive, but assumes some drone brood at all times, which is not what we observe here. I discuss my own experience at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/drops.htm 

The main thing is monitor and give yourself -- and your bees -- a wide margin of safety if you see the varroa levels climbing, not falling.


Today : Sunny. High zero. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 13. / Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 4.

Sunday 9 November 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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of the Day

U. S. National Debt Clock

Going back to the convention, and topics discussed, there is far too much to cover here without spending all my time writing, but I'll try to cover some of the topics over time.

Honey Council is working on a new food safety program based on HACCP.  The concept is that to be able to ensure a good food product, that potential

Today : Sunny. High plus 4. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light overnight. Low minus 3. / Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 4.

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