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because they can't give the best service."

--- Richard Bach ---

Wintering hives on the cold, dark, windswept prairie

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Thursday 20 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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Today was cold and breezy.  I worked inside all day, but went for a snowmobile ride in late afternoon to get a picture for this page.  The new snow has drifted and I managed to get the machine stuck, but finally got my picture.  Not much of a picture, but it does convey the feeling of a dull late November day in Swalwell.  I'd love to be somewhere warm these days, but seem to have a lot of small jobs holding me back.

I noticed recently that the forum was acting up.  Actually some readers were kind enough to let me know.  I kept hoping it would fix itself, but it did not.  I got to thinking, and realized that I probably jiggered it up when I was including it in a diary page recently.  My cursor accidentally landed on some of the script several times, and I must have accidentally saved the screw-up.   I really do not have a clue about how the thing works, but I grabbed the title page and did a web search.  Luckily, I found a page with the identical code and replaced the damaged file.  It works! Hurrah!

Allen's
Links
of the Day

OpenOffice.org  Can't afford Microsoft Office?  This free open source software works just as well and has most of the features of MSOffice.  It also can export of written documents as PDFs!  Very handy!  As you might expect of a full featured office suite, it's a big download': 64 megs.

Langa Letter: Solving Automatic Maintenance Problems

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. 60 percent chance of flurries. High minus 11. / Tonight : Cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 20.  / Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.

Friday 21 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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Today the Ontario meeting gets underway.  I'd be there, except, being retired, I have other things to do, and I do get tired of these events after a while. 

The agenda includes several items that could be worthwhile.  Eric Mussen is up from California, and will talk about Queen & Colony Health in U.S. Beekeeping Operations and Living with Africanized Bees (AHB) in the Neighbourhood.  The former is of interest, since bee health has been a major excuse for justifying border closure to US imports, but the second topic is curious, since the likelihood of AHB getting established this far north or acting like "killer bees" if they did is a bit tenuous.  See Dewey Caron's book on African Bees in the Americas for more info on how AHB acts very much like (almost indistinguishable from)  European Honey Bees (EHB) in temperate regions. (Who did I lend that book to?  Please bring it back)

Heather Mattila, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, will present on the topic: The Effect of Spring Feeding on Worker Quality and Colony Productive.  I believe she had been scheduled to speak at Kelowna, but been unable to make it.  Of course this topic is of great interest to me, and I am sorry to miss it.  I hope that the material will be in one of the publications soon, and that I will come across it.

Jean Pierre Chapleau, a Quebec Bee Breeder will reveal The IPM Strategy for Controlling Varroa Mites that Kept our 2003 Winter Loss to 4% in Quebec.  That should be interesting.  Jean Pierre is a very careful worker, and I'm not surprised that he has had success while other Quebec beekeepers took very heavy losses last winter.

Mentioning Quebec brings to mind a sig line I saw on BEE-L the other day : "Alma, Québec (above 48th parallel north !!)". 

Canadians -- even southern Canadians -- think of themselves as northerners.  Seems that, perhaps, I have challenged the easterners to notice exactly how far north (south?) they really are?  Nice try.  This guy is close to making it up into the real Canada (north of 49), and even close to being considered a prairie southerner by Canadian prairie standards, but he falls one degree short.  I'm in southern Alberta and I am about 200 miles north of him.

That reminds me that, I wrote to Gard Otis November 9th, offering to finance some research into feeding in spring and fall, but have had no reply.  I mentioned that there is little problem raising funds for research that is of actual interest to beekeepers and/or bee suppliers.  Here is an example.

Hi Gard,

I noticed recently that you received a grant to do some work on Spring and Fall feeding of supplements to honey bee colonies. I'm not sure when you plan to do the study, or if it is underway, but $4,000 doesn't look like a big budget.

I am, personally, very interested in this topic, since I have been using, and promoting use of, supplements for several years now, and friends of mine have set up a facility to manufacture patties for the industry. We had been considering doing -- or financing -- some such studies ourselves, both to determine

1.) the wisdom of fall patty feeding (Does it prolong brood rearing, and is this a good or bad thing, and does it build up the fat bodies in the bees?) and

2.) to compare various formulae (soy + yeast + sugar, vs. yeast + sugar, vs. BeePro + sugar, etc.).

3.) the importance of freshness in ingredients and shelf life of protein components before and after mixing.

Since we see you are already headed down this path, maybe we can join forces. I suspect my friends would be glad to help finance the project, assuming that our projects are headed in the same direction. Although they would likely want some input into the purposes and design of any study they funded in part or whole, they would be happy to sit back and let the chips fall where they may after that point.

allen dick

I don't know if he is away, or not getting his email, or what is going on.  I suppose I'm going to have to figure out how to phone him?


Heather Clay called shortly after I published this, and told me that someone had already read it, and that Gard has been having email trouble at that address. 

Aren't we all!  With all the SPAM, it is easy to have a mailbox overflow, or to accidentally delete a worthwhile message.  Email is now unreliable, and if someone does not reply, the logical assumption these days is that the message did not get through.  At any rate, I guess we'll get together on this project soon.

Heather also said that Heather Mattila, will be at the CHC meeting in Winnipeg, in late January to present her results.  Darn!  I hope to be in Mexico by then, but at the rate I'm going, I may very well show up in Winnipeg.  Brrrr.

Heather also wanted to reach the Southern Alberta Beekeepers to let them know about an upcoming seminar in Medicine Hat.  The seminar covers how we can recover a good percentage of any money we spend on research.  I'm also needing up to date emails for all the Southern Alberta guys.  Please send me your current addresses, folks.

Innovators Network Breakfast Seminar

Date: Wednesday November 26, 2003
Time: 7:30 9:00 AM
Place: Java Bytes Internet Café - Winner of the 2003 New Business of the Year Award 541A 3rd Street SE, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Cost: $10 (includes breakfast)
Topic: The Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit Program (SR&ED)
Speakers: Dr. Douglas Clay, SR&ED Program, Calgary, CCRA Mr. Cal Koskowich, Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), Lethbridge, NRC Mr. Larry Johnson, Meyers Norris Penny Medicine Hat

If your business is planning to develop new products or services you should be aware of the substantial tax credit entitlement under the Government of Canada’s SRED program. Expenses incurred in qualifying research and development may earn up to a 35 percent tax credit provided the investigative work meets CCRA’s definition of science research and experimental development. You might be surprised at how broadly these definitions are applied but you must obtain prior approval for any such expenses and structure your project’s accounts accordingly.

Our speakers are experts in interpreting and applying the SRED program. Please come to this breakfast seminar to learn more about the SRED program and the service offered by CCRA and local accounting firms. Come also to meet and network with fellow entrepreneurs, investors and business service providers and to discover the friendly ambience of Java Bytes Internet Café.

Please RSVP by Monday November 24 to
Maira Devin at Medicine Hat College
Phone 529 3874 Fax 504 3512 E-Mail

Heather Clay National Coordinator Canadian Honey Council
Suite 236, 234-5149 Country Hills Blvd Calgary AB T3A 5K8
Tel 403-208-7141 Fax 403-547-4317
www.honeycouncil.ca 

Note:  The above email address is actually the output of a script, to foil SPAMbots.  Although this, and other emails on this site are human-readable, they appear as a jumble of symbols to a SPAMbot.  Please do not put email addresses on websites un-munged, since SPAMbots cruise the web, reading every page, looking for email address,  They then SPAM us all.  Visit Obfuscate to use the script, if you need to publish emails on a website.

Well, Gard phoned me a few moments ago, and we had a good chat.  Hopefully we can all get together (maybe at Winnipeg?) and discuss how we can get a supplemental feeding evaluation project underway.  Seems Heather M. is doing lots of advanced work already.

All we need now is about five beekeepers to kick in $5,000 each and volunteer a few yards to study.  That shouldn't be too hard.  I can think of at least ten of my buddies who wouldn't blink at that commitment.  After all, they'll make or save 100 times that amount over the next decade, if the work pans out and proves what we should be doing, and what is a waste of time and money.  It shouldn't be too hard to prove that, given some time, money and trained talent, some feeds to evaluate, and real commercial situations to test them in.

Think of all the time and money we waste trying to keep our bees strong enough to pollinate or make honey and all the money spent on replacement bees every year.  And, besides, we should be able to get some of that back from the government.

My phone should start ringing any minute now...  Call

.

I drove to Calgary to do a little looking around.  I want to put in some gas heating fireplaces and stoves, so I went looking.  I visited Diamond Fireplaces, picked up a copy of FrontPage 2003 at Future Shop, and drove home.

The temperatures were down around minus 25, and I noticed some vibration when I applied power at 110 KPH or so, so I drove the car into the basement to thaw overnight.  I'm hoping it is snow in the rims, or something like that, but I suspect a CV joint.

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. High minus 17. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. 30 percent chance of flurries overnight. Low minus 26. / Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.

Saturday 22 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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Well, no phone calls, yet.  ... and I now remember how I heard previously of heather M's work.  Doug McRory had sent it to me. and I even published it here.

We stayed home today.  With the temperature at minus 26 and a light breeze, and with Ellen heating the studio to 20 degrees F -- she has houseplants in there -- we noticed that the furnace was not making as much heat as expected.   That area, an older part of our building, was a relatively unheated area of our old schoolhouse in past years, and increases the load on our 1/4 million BTU Kirks Coal stoker.  Nonetheless, the furnace is very capable of doing the job, and I checked things out.  As suspected, I discovered that the fan belt has become dry and glazed.  It was slipping, and the fan was running slow.  The belt is long enough that it does not overheat, and can run like that for years. 


Click on picture to enlarge

Kelley with original drive.
(Super elevator shown to left)

These crude platter type friction drives are dangerous, hard to set correctly, subject to running too slow, (and thus not removing the honey completely) or too fast (resulting in broken frames). 

These drives appear to have been designed for the common driveshaft system which was  developed early in the industrial age and used in industrial shops well into the 20th century.

Before the cheap distribution of electricity became widespread in the early to mid-20th century - and for some time after - there was usually just one waterwheel, horse driven wheel, steam engine, or electric motor providing the power for all the machines in an entire shop.  This power was distributed through the shop by a single overhead constant speed shaft.

Individual machines in the shop were driven from the shaft by flat belts dropping down from the shaft to each machine.

This concept became obsolete as small electric motors became cheaply available, starting early in the last century, but Kelley just added V pulleys and a small motor, and kept the same old clunky drive mechanism.


Click on picture to enlarge

Here is the inexpensive, simple clutch drive we have built and used to re-power Kelley 72s.

I've built a seven of these clutch drives over the years, for less than CAD $200 ($150 US) each, and all worked flawlessly from the beginning, and continue to do so today.

(See also Sunday July 22nd, 2001).

Friction Drives for Extractors

In fact the JayZee BeeZee guy told us, when we had him up to speak at our ABA convention one year, that he used that principle to friction-drive extractors, and the belts lasted for years.   I tried it, and, sure enough, it worked well enough that I drove my Cowan 120 frame extractor that way for several years, with no detectable belt deterioration, and a nice acceleration curve to boot! 

In the days before variable DC drives came onto the market, beekeepers devised many ingenious friction drives, including the JayZee BeeZee belt trick, to get the same effect that is now obtained using variable speed DC motors -- a few minutes of slowly speeding up to throw out most of the honey, then, once the weight is off the combs, a few minutes of running at top speed to finish drying out the combs.   In some ways, these slipping clutches or belts are superior, in that they sense the amount of honey in the reel; light loads speed up more quickly than heavy loads, and acceleration is slower when thick honey is slow leaving the combs than if all the honey flies out immediately.

Setting up a friction drive is not difficult or expensive.  The trick is to have the belt or clutch just loose enough that it slips for a few minutes, until the load lightens and the mass of the reel gets up to speed.  When the reel catches up to the proper speed, usually 1/3 to 1/2 way through  the time allotted for a load, the reel should reach design speed, and slip should become minimal.

The reason slippage is necessary when using induction motors -- we use the common 1725 RPM 1/3, 1/2, or 3/4 HP capacitor-start variety -- is that, unlike DC motors, these AC motors are single-speed and cannot run much less than their rated speed for long without damage.  When such motors  are loaded so that they fall much below the rated speed -- 1725 RPM -- they start to draw excessive amperage, and either overheat, or stall.  Thus, with these common, inexpensive, rugged single-speed motors, some sort of slippage or other variable ratio transmission system is necessary, so that the motor can run at the rated, efficient speed, while the load comes up to speed smoothly, over time. 

Note: The rated (design) operating speed of 1725 RPM for the most common motors is actually a little less than the 'ideal', theoretical synchronized speed of 1800 RPM that is theoretically the no-load RPM for such single-speed motors. 

Switchable two-speed models such as 1140/1800 RPM motors are also available for furnace fan use, and can be adapted for some jobs that do not require high starting torque.  3450 RPM motors are available, too, but require additional gearing down to be useful for our purposes. 

1/2 to 3/4 HP is very adequate for vertical shaft extracting, 3/4 to 1 HP is necessary for the horizontal shaft units to overcome the inherent imbalance.  Capacitor start motors are preferred because they start faster and with more torque.

Most new extractor systems now use DC direct coupled drives these days, since DC drives are compact and quiet, and can operate comfortably over the entire 0 to 250 RPM range that is required for radial extractors in the 60" size range (72 to 100 frame, depending on spacing).  The downside of DC is that DC drives are expensive, and require a sophisticated, expensive control to provide an appropriate acceleration curve.  They are also subject to operator tinkering and maladjustment.

If these fancy DC systems fail, the special replacement parts are expensive, and can shut down extracting for days waiting for parts, while ordinary farm duty cap-start motors and the other parts for friction drives are available everywhere.  Most farms have a few spare motors lying around, or one can be temporarily 'borrowed' from some non-essential equipment.  At first I used expensive industrial clutch material, but in my last four conversion, I used Masonite.  It's dirt cheap and available everywhere, and works just fine.

Friction drives are usually of the 'set and forget' variety. 

1.) Set the top speed (That's the speed the load will run after the slipping phase is over, and the load comes up to full speed),

and

2.) Set the amount of slippage (to set how long the acceleration phase will be in each cycle), and you are good for the season, or forever.

I had some drawings of how we built our friction drives for a few bucks, but they were in Corel Draw and I don't have Corel on this machine.  If you care, and really want to se them, nag me a bit, and I may get around to posting them for you.  Otherwise check out the pictures on the right.

Belt dressing fixed the furnace fan problem for now, but it is time for a new one.

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. High minus 17. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. 30 percent chance of flurries overnight. Low minus 26.  / ormals for the period : Low minus 11. High plus 1.

Sunday 23 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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We're back up to normal weather again.  I notice that the weather guessers changed their forecast for today by 9 degrees.  Forecasting just isn't what it used to be around here.  The feds moved most of the weather people out of here and automated things.  The quality is not the same.  I wonder if I need to start watching the aviation weather?  Surely they cannot be this far off on their predictions?

From a discussion on BEE-L.  The previous poster has a long history of shooting from the hip.  Sometimes he is brilliant, and sometimes he is right out to lunch.

From: "allen dick"
To: <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Subject: Re: [BEE-L] Hive robbing
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003

> 2) Mass-production approaches as used by larger beekeepers are simply
> NOT APPROPRIATE for a small, or even mid-sized beekeepers.
> Mass-production approaches, where hives are standardized merely
> for handling, movement, and the convenience of preventing hired
> hands from making mistakes, are clearly not intended to maximize
> colony strength or honey production

I hope that no one believes that. Good beekeeping is good beekeeping, and lots of guys I know who do what Bob and I described get upwards of 300 pound crops, averaged over hundreds or thousands of hives. Not every year, granted, but I know quite a few who have long-term averages well over 200 pounds, doing things that way.

As for maximizing colony strength and/or honey production for their own sake, that is an idealistic, rather than practical, goal.

Most beekeepers -- hobbyist, sideline and commercial -- understand that the most prudent plan to follow is one that aims for maximum profit, accompanied by minimum risk, rather than a simpleminded pursuit of maximum colony strength and/or maximum honey crop.

Additionally, a frugal beekeeper realizes that encouraging huge populations at the wrong time of year can eat him out of house and home, and also cause a neighbourhood nuisance.

As always, the locality and it's seasonal flora must be considered, and bee populations managed to fit in with the local bloom. Many smart beekeepers choose strains of bees that adjust their populations to the time of year, reducing populations in fall, and building quickly in spring. Others use excluders or plug the broods with feed after the crop comes off, to restrict brood rearing, and reduce potential fall populations when no flow is expected.

Managing colonies, as described previously by Bob and myself, to avoid robbing, preserves valuable colonies that might otherwise be overcome by robbing, and prevents robbing incidents with the accompanying risk of stinging incidents that can panic or harm nearby humans and livestock.

Granted, a sideliner can often improve a bit on what the commercial operator does, by being more on time, and spending a bit more time with each hive, and but the principles of good beekeeping are the same for 5 hives or 50,000.

Bob was not silly to state his opinion on how a prudent commercial beekeeper would manage, and he was not wrong in his facts. Whether his observations were appropriate for the situation that inspired the comments, no one knows. His comments seemed to be right on the money, to me.

I know that Bob, in all his years, has seen lots of outfits that were not properly cared for in the fall, and knows the inevitable consequences. I know I sure have, and this case sure looked like one of those wrecks, to both of us.

> b) Consistency has nothing to do with excellence.

Now, this statement is false, and, actually, silly. Consistency is an integral part of excellence. Without consistency there cannot be excellence.

> c) Bee colonies vary in strength.

This statement is true, but consistency should not to be confused with sameness or mediocrity. Of course, there will always be some variation among living things.

One of the signs of an excellent beekeeper is the consistent suitability of his or her colonies and equipment to the purpose at hand, and consistent management.

Commercial or hobbyist, consistent, knowledgeable and purposeful management is the mark of excellence in beekeeping.

allen
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/

 

Hi Allen.

My name is Daniel, reading your diary here in Switzerland.

Great reading, saw your promotion for OpenOffice.org.

Congratulations! spreading the word about it.

pdf creation is so easy and word documents with fotos and all the stuff that are a 10mb .doc become a 200 or 300 kByte OpenOfffice Document. that's cool...

btw, there seems to be an frontpage error in the web form feedback.

(Yup.  I spent some time on that, and I think it is now fixed).

have a nice day.

greetings.

Daniel.

Ellen and I went to Red Deer for the afternoon and got a fan belt, then drove to Ponoka to have supper with Jean, Chris, and Mckenzie.

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming west 20 km/h late this morning. High zero. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. 40 percent chance of flurries overnight. Wind southwest 20 km/h. Low minus 6. / Normals for the period : Low minus 11. High zero.

Monday 24 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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The Forum is working again.  Let's get some discussion going.  Gard Otis has written me several times now about the idea of doing some serious nutrition studies using commercial beekeepers hives.  I'll be covering that more soon.  I didn't hear back from him today. 

I spent a lot of the day downstairs, cleaning up the shop.  Years ago, I spent a lot of time in my shop, but over the years, as I hired more people, I lost interest in the shop, partly because I could never find anything there.  I'd start a project, then get called away.  When I returned, things would be moved and I'd spend the free time I had for the job looking for parts or supplies or small tools. Now that I have no staff -- Dennis is still sick and it looks as if he will be for a while -- I'm encouraged to get back to some of my projects.

I also improved the info on friction drives written on Saturday the 22nd.

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming west 20 km/h late this morning. High zero. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. 40 percent chance of flurries overnight. Wind southwest 20 km/h. Low minus 6. / ormals for the period : Low minus 11. High zero.

Tuesday 25 November 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

One month until Christmas

Frank called this morning, and said that the Homeland security guys gave him a number, so now, it's just the FDA.  If they agree, he can ship patties to  the USA.

In the afternoon, Ellen & I went to town in the one remaining one-ton to pick up some styrofoam for packing paintings to send to the Assinaboia Galley in Regina.  When we got home, there was some snow in the North drive, and I had to run back and forth a bit to get through.  In the process, there appeared a huge cloud of steam.  I gather a heater hose blew out.  I'll have to check it tomorrow.


I have a lot of incoming material today (more tomorrow).  This just came in from a man I respect, and who has served Canadian beekeepers well.  This message is long, and detailed, but is worth your time.  In the past, lots of things got swept under the rug (dirty deeds, done dirt cheap?).  Today such things still go on, but under the watchful eye of the whole world, thanks to the Internet.  Nobody wants a confrontation.   Everyone wants to get along.  In the interest of mutual understanding, sometimes we have to air dirty laundry.  Fresh air has a purifying effect.  The object is not to embarrass anyone.  The object is to get past our little cliques, and our self interest, and to get to being honest, so we can do the Right Thing.   I hope you turn off your affinities and tune into your own feelings...

I hope you can tough through all this, if not, just scroll down.  We'll get to other matters.  Watch the colours change.

Editor's note -- in the interests of full disclosure,-- I grew up in Ontario, and my father was the president of the Sudbury (Ont.) Beekeepers Ass'n some many years ago.  I still may keep bees there on our family land, some day.

This just in, after I accidentally published my working copy of this page.

I enjoy reading your site, especially lately since you have plenty of border issues raised.  

I just have a small beef, trying to read Rob Termeer's letter (below) which has a wide margin and requires me to scroll back and forth is extremely annoying and hard on the eyes.  Is there something I can do to make it all fit on the screen or is that strictly from your end.  

Sorry about that.  I don't know what browser or screen resolution you use.  If you use 800x600 or 480x640, you'll need to use the  Left panel on? Yes | No   link at the top of each diary page, to turn off the left panel to get more useful material on your screen.  You might also want to set your computer to a higher screen resolution.

To change these settings in Windows, simply minimize all windows and right click on the desktop.  Select 'Properties', then the 'Settings' tab.  Assuming your computer is less than 6 years old, select 800X600 or 1024X768 (my favourite) by using the slider and then pick a deeper colour depth.  I use 32 bit depth, myself.  You'll likely have to restart the computer. 

See this page for a comparison of resolutions and more details

By the way, I certainly have to agree with his comments.  I'm amazed to see so many self righteous beekeepers who support non progressive, protectionist approach to the current and future supply and management of honeybees.  They don't want to give newcomers a chance to get a foothold in this business.

I published this info before I finished editing it.  I got called away in the middle of the job.  Sorry for the mess.  I'm in the process of cleaning it up. (later... It is now whipped into better shape).

 

Hi Allen:

Thought you might be interested in the attached correspondence summary between Termeers' Apiaries Ltd. (Rob Termeer) near Ottawa and the OBA regarding border closure and 2003 hive losses, etc.

Rob attended the OBA convention to further his cause, and while a number found his points interesting, only a few supported him so far. The OBA defeated his resolution which essentially supported the Kelowna protocol and efforts to open the border to queens by a count of 24 to 3. The underlying reasoning was the threat of diseases (protocol notwithstanding) and dilution of their breeding programs (again, protocol and current imports from NZ, Australia. and Hawaii notwithstanding).

On the plus side, there was support for imported queens going to Alberta, just so long as Ontario had "veto right" by requirement for provincial import permit superseding federal permit.

The OBA also passed a resolution that prevents Ontario beekeepers from moving to New Brunswick to pollinate blueberries, a big blow financially for at least one beekeeper I was told. Maybe more details will come from Rob on exact wording, etc. or some of your other sources.

Barrie.

From: Rob Termeer
To: Barrie en Julie Termeer
Cc: Bill Termeer
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:03 PM
Subject: Pre convention letter

Hi guys:

I talked to you Barrie, but Bill, this is what I sent out last Saturday to OBA members. The secretary sent out a notice to members with all these email addresses so I decided to let them all see my article which the STING wouldn't publish. Update you next week when I get back from the convention.

Dear Ontario Beekeepers:
November 15/03

I am writing this to inform you all of some of my recent and past experiences with my beekeeping business. I have written the OBA numerous times this past year and have been given the run around to no end. I tried to have my views published in the STING last June but Henry Hiemstra edited half of it out and told me to accept his cut version or forget it. He said they will not consider any further submissions from me.

Without free speech there is no democracy. I will paste my article in further down so you all can decide for yourselves as to the validity of my views.

Our association has initiated many good programs over the years but on the US border issue they have been anything but fair in their perspective.

The OBA has made special effort to reinforce potential negative impacts from US imports. Information from the OBA on this subject has been continually biased. Henry Hiemstra has provided a perfect example in the October STING. Just read what started out as the CHC REPORT but after the first paragraph it became Henry's Propaganda Push!

Quebec losses were a result of widespread Varroa resistance to Apistan and unfortunately they did not have access to Coumaphos last year. Ontario is simply lucky that rVarroa occurred mainly in border areas and a few isolated pockets because most of you could not get coumaphos yet either. Quite a few large Ontario beekeepers did lose 25 to 75% of their colonies.

Essentially, the OBA has been using exaggerated scare tactics to manipulate the membership into supporting the anti-import policy of this province. They imply that imports would somehow compromise the stock selection/breeding programs being done here. It would simply allow us as individuals to make our own choice on bee supply and greatly increase the security of our livelihoods.

On the other hand they have ignored the value of US stocks where breeding and selection of stock is perhaps even more advanced than our own. After all, Russian stock in Ontario came from the US. Also, US queen breeders have generations of experience which cannot be matched by the newly formed group of breeders we have here.

Producing and maintaining quality lines of breeder queens is no simple task; what happens if the funding runs out?  The other big factor is climate. Raising quality queens by May 1st to 15th is impossible in Ontario, yet necessary if one is to have productive splits. Self sufficiency works to a degree, but at a significant cost to production -- especially when high losses occur. Nucs fill part of the supply, but are limited in numbers and expensive, and also can carry disease with the movement of equipment.

OMAF resources are stretched to the limit with so much time applied to stock selection and various programs while Apistan® resistance was spreading, as we knew it would, at great cost to those who could not get coumaphos in time (good old 'due process' I'm told).

Until someone actually proves their stock can live without treatment, then our priority must be to develop a backup alternative treatment which must be available before beekeepers lose colonies again.

Formic acid has shown some promise against Varroa over the years, but, as we found out last spring at the OBA commercial meeting, Miteaway (original) did not work as well as we were led to believe.  I have heard varying reports on the new MITE-AWAY-II.   Haven't tried it myself. There are a number of other potential methods: oxalic acid, sugar octanoate esters; this type of research needs priority attention.

Over the years beekeepers in certain areas have repeatedly suffered, while providing information for the protection of others.  As Henry also mentioned, for commercial beekeepers, getting early imported queens is a smart way to make money; yet he suggests this somehow jeopardizes our future.  The hives/production/money I and others have lost, these last few years in particular, is what is jeopardizing our future -- and the fact that available bee supply sources are limited in quantity and/or quality.

To get the full benefit of imports this year I would have required packages also, and that needs to be considered as well.

Just (being able to get) queens won't do it, when 325 (of our hives) survive but 700 are dead.


I suspect Henry is thinking of things such as small hive beetle-SHB, rAFB, etc in regards to the future.

Lets quickly touch on these so-called risks:

Africanized Honey Bee (AHB).   In my view this has been greatly overblown, but it is the one item for which the general public could be put at risks.  That said, it is probably the simplest of all risks to control.  Any beekeeper can identify if a new split (queen) is aggressive and then requeen or kill the hive.  You can bet US breeders are doing everything possible to keep AHB out of their outfits so the overall risk is negligible.  Our climate provides some added security against AHB, and as far as I know, the climate pretty much eliminates any threat from the Small Hive Beetle.

Small Hive Beetle. A migratory US beekeeper moves hives across the St. Lawrence River from me carrying SHB for years yet I have never seen one.

Resistant AFB. This has been talked about since before border closure and I believe Tylosin® will control it. I don't know why the OBA has been unable to get this approved, assuming they are still trying. The transmission of FB through live bees is also quite low. Not nearly as likely to spread FB as the nucs with combs we are currently spreading around the province.  What's left?  Varroa resistance to coumaphos.

Varroa resistance to coumaphos.  This to me is our only serious concern with imports.  It is also an immediate concern to every Ontario beekeeper near the US border, since they are already at risk to exposure through natural migration, just as we were to Apistan resistance before. This is why further controls for Varroa must be the priority of our province. However, surely our public servants (OMAF/CFIA) can establish protocols and gather information to map out which treatments are being used in any particular region of the US.  Perhaps individual US bee suppliers could provide a 5 year history of their treatment methods as a requirement to export.

The point being, that the risks are manageable, and we have been denied the benefits for far to long already.  Any stock that shows value can be much more widely accessed through the hands of US breeders.  They can provide the queens by the 1,000's and early, so that we can both improve our stock and maximize our honey production at the same time.

The CFIA and CHC and provincial associations met in October and have developed, and agreed in principle, to a protocol under which US queen imports could happen this spring.  Many of you may not realize the costs that the import ban has had in Ontario, and to a greater degree in other regions of Canada.  The OBA has conveniently left out that side of the story.  There must be some potential politicians sitting on the board, to have so expertly manipulated the information on this issue for so many years.  Most of us are just beekeepers, but it's time we speak up for fairness and objectivity.  Please come to the convention and support those who need imports.

I have been out of the loop for some years, and perhaps there are groups of you out there working on this issue also.  The convention is coming quickly, and we only have a few days left.  I would welcome any feedback and I'm wondering if anyone has put together a resolution on this issue yet.  I expect the board has one, but I hate to imagine how they have worded it.

For the rest, I will add my article and some correspondence I had with the OBA (Henry Hiemstra).

I hope you find it interesting.

Rob Termeer
RR#1 Finch, Ontario K0C 1K0

(From Henry, in blue)

Dear Rob, April 16/03

Thank you for your swarm of emails.  It's also nice to know that someone reads my ramblings in The Sting.  Although I cannot bring your bees back I can give you some opinions and have some question with regard to your comments.  The OBA is a democratic organization.  How come you were not at the joint Canada/America Convention in Niagara Falls to present your complaints?  I didn't read your views on the border issue in The Sting either.  Has the OBA suppressed your freedom of speech?

(April 18/03...Rob's answer in black)

Yes the OBA is democratic; as we know all members have an equal vote whether they have 2 hives or 2,000 hives.  Does that make sense?  That may explain why the OBA board has no restrictions for obtaining a voting membership.  The less informed members can then be bombarded with information supporting border closure with a definite and calculated absence of pro-import information.

That vote then goes to CHC where our 75,000 hives gets an equal vote to Alberta's 220,000 hives.  I suppose you consider that to be fair also?

As for the joint meeting,  I was out of the province at the time to attend a family member's wedding.  I would have liked to have seen some speakers on the Agenda such as David Hackenburg (Florida migratory), or Danny Weaver (Texas), or Jean Paradis (Alberta). It would be nice to see some balance.

Freedom of speech is great but are you willing to listen?  Thanks for pointing out to me the option of expressing myself through THE STING.  I will plan on doing this, if my letter will be unedited.

How can you claim the OBA is forcing you to smuggle bees and break the law?  You cannot blame the OBA if YOU choose to break the law. That's your decision.

If the OBA would have had some timely policy to protect the frontline beekeepers by requesting and pushing for McRory's department to implement a monitoring policy for Apistan resistance prior to losses in suspect high risk areas during summer of 2000, we would have known it was there prior to me reporting it in spring 2001-- with 500 of my 1200 hives dead.

Even then people tried to say it was tracheal mite at first -- like I didn't know what I was talking about.

You knew resistant Varroa was inevitably going to show up but where was your game plan? You are monitoring, now, since I told you resistance is here.  You're welcome!  There would have been lots of mites for your resistance test prior to the big losses that fall/winter.  So Doug McRory assured me that coumaphos was ready to go and I would have it for Spring 2002.  Being good at managing my bees I planned to treat by April 1/02 .

Where's the coumaphos?  Should I have smuggled in coumaphos for the recommended treatment on time?  As for bee imports, smuggling has occurred on a large scale since 1987, because there has been an insufficient bee supply within Canada, a clear weakness in our provincial and national policies -- which the OBA continues to support.

How come you are the only one in Ontario pushing to have the border reopened?  We're not hearing from others voicing that desire.  In spite of his heavy losses, Paul Montoux still does not want the border open.

It takes guts to say anything about opening the border in this province, with the deluge of anti-import propaganda.

As has been the case since 1987, my operation is on the border and is exposed to mites, etc. before most others so naturally you will hear from me first.  Parts of southern Ontario are in a similar situation.  As you have seen, what happens here at Termeers Apiaries Ltd will surely occur in a year or 2 or 3 in other areas. This has been the history with first the Tracheal mite, then Varroa, and now resistant Varroa.  I have no doubt that other commercial beekeepers will experience bee shortages as well.  You are all surely aware that Doug McRory has issued a strong recommendation for everyone to switch to coumaphos immediately.  Better a year late than never!

rVarroa is spreading rapidly, and any remaining problems in the US will be here very soon. The value of border closure has substantially declined while the negative impact of a short bee supply for Canadians has grown significantly. I haven't spoken to Paul and he, like most others, has not voiced any opinion in response to my 'swarm of emails' either.

How come, if northern Alberta has a choice between importing packages or wintering in southern BC, they choose for wintering in southern BC?

Northern Alberta has wanted packages since 1987!!!   They took their request to their democratic commercial organization known as the ABA. The membership there showed a strong majority in support of packages for the entire province several years ago.  The entire province has supported queen imports for at least 5 years now.  Note that Manitoba and BC also have voted to support importing mainland queens.

Currently, 35,000 colonies move to BC for wintering. This is expected to rise to 50,000 in 2003, as it provides for easier wintering conditions especially for those from the colder Peace River regions. (perhaps I should take my bees to southern Ont. for the winter this fall.)

 Alberta beekeepers favour management options, they do not dictate one over another. So currently, some choose to import Australian packages (available in limited supply with poor queens at high prices) while others move their hives or whatever other option they might choose.   Alberta beekeepers are progressive and prefer to let the individual determine which management options suit their needs under available markets conditions.  Sounds like some parts of Canada still value the freedom of choice this country was built on.  (You said it! - ed)

How come others in your area did winter bees? Was that management?

Yes, my management failed to put in CheckMite+ when needed April 1, 2002, because I chose not to smuggle it in (to have it) in time, but instead put my faith in the OBA and Doug McRory -- who had assured me 12 months earlier that I would have it.

Was it bad management to not put the Coumaphos in my hives during a honey flow in late May/02, when they finally did become available? 

Was it bad management to follow the label that says remove strips 2 weeks before honey flow when it was suggested I put them in during our early dandelion/raspberry flow with supers going on and hives booming?

I was concerned for residues in honey from a serious chemical which should not be used at that time.  I did use a recommended formic treatment which proved itself to be unreliable.

Was it my management that failed, or the management of the OBA and Doug McRory's office that caused delays in accessing coumaphos for a known and expected emergency?

Whose management concluded that tests for resistance in this area conducted in 2001 were inconclusive in spite of my 40% loss and a clear and dangerous trend supporting the existence of rVarroa?

How come others in other areas lost bees too, due to management?

You'll have to ask Paul, and the others about their management or lack thereof!

Are you saying that none of these others were following any OBA programs?

The point is that in this age of mites and resistance, we are all vulnerable to dramatic losses.  A self sufficiency based IPM program is very weak if it does not include adequate sources of replacement bees to meet increasing demand.  It is foolish to move forward without addressing this important option.

How come even the US is declining in colony numbers?

Yes, there has been a decline in US numbers, especially in the smaller and hobby sector. The level of management and skills required has excluded many beekeepers just as has happened in Canada in spite of our border closure, or perhaps because of it.

There are fewer beekeepers, but they now run more hives per outfit.  Alberta is dramatic in that way with many operations slowly rebuilding or expanding to fill the gaps left by those that did not have the time to adjust and simply went out of business because their source of packages was cut off by border closure.  That was a huge blow to the western beekeeping industry with colony numbers dropping from about 200,000 to 130,000 but apparently of no concern to the OBA at the time, or even now.

The restrictive border policy was, and is, a difficult barrier but that province did everything possible under federal restrictions to help beekeepers survive. As a result they now exceed pre-closure colony numbers --somewhat successful but roughly half the beekeepers lost their livelihood.  I was an OBA director back then, and was disgusted at the narrow-minded, selfish view prevalent at the time in the OBA. 

Back in the US, California's pollination industry is meeting demand, queen and package production there is strong and the colonies are full of bees. I suggest the OBA should buy a few tickets and send some delegates to California to see for yourselves.

How come you don't mention the big losses in Florida this winter blamed on chemical (Coumaphos - ed) resistance?  Do you really want those mites?  Remember if you live on the frontier you will face the first bullets.

Florida is experiencing problems.  They have an almost continuous brood cycle resulting in quicker development of resistance.  Florida hives move to Maine and New York every year to pollinate blueberries etc., so they are our neighbours.  We will get those mites whether we like it or not and so will Quebec and the Maritimes.  That is why we are very vulnerable and need to have accessible replacement bee supplies.

If package operators (package suppliers - ed) have good bees, which proves good management, then the bees they have for us will be healthy.  If management is poor then they won't have bees to sell.  Pretty simple logic that even you Ontario guys should understand.

As for me being on the frontier, that word probably describes your locale better than mine, which is a benefit for you.  However, I am on the frontline and, if anything, the OBA should make extra effort to consider the needs of those bearing the brunt, and (who are) providing knowledge and a buffer for the rest of you.

Rob you were frank in your comments, and I hope you don't mind that I was too. I hope to see you at the convention in London.

I wish you weren't so frank, because I had a hard time finding your comments amongst all the questions.  In spite of my effort to address what I consider to be a very serious issue, I have been largely ignored with no significant feedback.  AS for the convention, I will have to see if the agenda has a fair balance of speakers with both sides of this issue presented.  If you like, I will line up a couple for you.  I can write but unfortunately I am not so skilled at public speaking.

Regards,
Henry

Take care,
Rob Termeer,
RR#1 Finch, Ontario K0C 1K0

 

Dear Rob: June 23/03

As you know, we edit all letters as to length, accuracy and good taste.

We have left in your problem and your so called solution. Your choice is to accept it as is or not. We will not consider another version of yours at a later date. If we do not hear from you by Tuesday, June 24, then it will go in as edited.

Thank you.

Henry

 (We -- as you know -- here at HoneyBeeWorld, however, have lots of space -- and a verrryy tolerant editorial policy - ed)

US Border Issue

Greetings Fellow Beekeepers

(The blue part is what was left.)

(I'm not sure whether the blue part was omitted, or the only part printed.  No matter.  Here, on this fearless site, you can see it all.  If you want to comment, feel free to Write me or   - ed. )

My name is Rob Termeer and I run Termeers Apiaries Ltd, traditionally running 1200 hives. I am a second generation beekeeper as are my 2 brothers who each operate hives in Alberta. Together we run about 6,000 colonies so we have faced a variety of beekeeping issues. I am located in the Cornwall area of eastern Ontario and my outfit borders the state of New York.

There is a great deal of concern in the industry regarding the continuation of our regulation banning US mainland imports of queens and packages. I would like to inform the industry of my experiences in Ontario since US border closure in 1987 and my views on the overall effect this has had on Canadian beekeeping.

The importing of US bees was first affected by the discovery of the Honeybee Tracheal Mite-HTM in the US in 1984, and Varroa a couple of years later. The first reaction was the development of an import protocol based on sampling for HTM and then "border closure" in 1987 once Varroa appeared.

The bees/mites and other pests don't obey border regulations and as such we soon found HTM in the Cornwall, Ontario area and other border areas and provinces. At the same time 1,000's of western hives were left empty with Alberta down from 200,000 hives to just 130,000, due to the US package supply cut off. This was the single most major and costly blow to hit the industry/individuals that never received its due recognition.

Then depopulation of HTM infested hives was carried out based on positive test results which was worse than the mite itself, and did not stop the spread.  Further to this, quarantine zones were established, restricting the movement of bees from these HTM positive areas.  These zones did make sense and offered a flexibility that could be workable to the benefit of most beekeepers' needs. This could have provided a fair balance for all and perhaps still can.

If infested areas had been allowed to continue importing, plus other zones where bee supply was deemed economically crucial to maintaining hive numbers (package bee operations), then areas without the mites could have been protected while those who were infested would still have had an economical and good quality supply of bees available.

Lets not forget that many US breeders are big business and they have tremendous resources geared towards research, breeding and maintaining healthy bee stocks. They want to stay in business as well. I'm sure a fair set of protocols and zones for importing could be established if we all really tried to be reasonable.  I had been buying US California queens of Carniolan stock, for the last 6 years before border closure, which appear from my experience to be HTM resistant. I had no significant increase in annual losses from this mite, (except the ones that were depopulated) and I used only grease patties for control for 12 years until I had to use Formic Acid in an attempt to control rVarroa in 2001/02 but I am getting ahead of myself. However, those beekeepers with HTM-susceptible stock, and losses, could no longer access the valuable resources of US Queen and package producers.

Varroa from New York showed up in my bees in 1992.  As we proceed to the year 2000, the inevitable Apistan Resistant Varroa has entered Canada.

We knew rVarroa was expected, but no one was monitoring for the resistance even though it is stated to be the number one risk in the CFIA Risk Assessment Report.  So in spring 2001, I lost 500 of 1200 colonies with a wave of rVarroa almost totally wiping out 8 or 9 yards in my southern border area. Everything was being treated with Apistan.

The north yards were fine, with a bit of a mix in the middle area. I reported my losses from rVarroa to the Ontario Provincial Apiary Specialist. I was given assurance that Coumaphos was ready to go once rVarroa showed up. So, my huge bee losses, and some others in this area were the first indication of Ontario rVarroa.

All of a sudden the Inspection Department had to learn how to do resistance testing to provide the CFIA (PMRA actually) with supporting data. This led to a set of delays with further sampling required in spring 2002.  rVarroa was confirmed but further bureaucratic delays pushed the availability of Coumaphos to May 17/02.

With supers going on to prevent swarms going out, and my good hives usually producing 30 to 40 lbs of dandelion and raspberry honey at this time, I could not risk contaminating my honey with residues -- although the Ontario Bee Inspection Department proceeded to treat other hives in the area with coumaphos at this time.

I used multiple formic acid treatments, (a recommended control), both spring 2001 and 2002 as well as Apistan both falls since once again coumaphos was delayed and came to late in September of 2002.  For me, my bees were so badly infested with rVarroa it no longer mattered. The controls I used were inadequate. The resulting devastation left me with 760 dead out of 1100 this spring.  The means to maintain my resistant colonies existed, but bureaucratic delays -- and apparently no understanding of the wording "EMERGENCY PERMIT" -- kept it out of my hands at the required time.

I would suggest that everyone use Coumaphos/Checkmite once this year, and again next year while it is available. Last I heard the permit is only renewable 1 more year unless a full registration proceeds.  Another priority! 

Bee breeding programs and IPM methods for mite control are being pursued, which are positive goals for the long run.  Presently the bottom line is that we require chemical mite controls for commercial beekeepers to survive, and an adequate/cost effective bee supply when losses do occur. Today we are facing a crisis of economical consequences similar to that of the initial impact border closure had on the industry.

There are many cases of extremely high losses all across Canada this spring, and many will suffer from the lack of bee supply sources, and the resulting lost production at a time of peaking wholesale prices.  Why has this cost never been considered in any reports?

CAPA papers, in the past, supporting border closure, refer only to the few extra dollars in cost per hive for beekeepers to apply treatments, with no reference to the 100's of dollars per hive of lost production income where losses have occurred. 

We must recognize the impact of our policies and strive to correct our mistakes. Nobody has mentioned anything about compensation for those on the frontlines so give us the options needed to get back into production. I urge all beekeepers to contact one of their Provincial Directors or their Prov. and Fed. Ag Ministers or the CHC or all of the above. We must insists that they be fair to all by getting a workable framework developed to provide access to mainland US queens and bees to meet the needs of the whole industry and quickly.

Another avenue would be to support the new Canadian Commercial Honey Producers Association. Many feel the present organizations have failed to deal with this situation objectively or with fair representation. I was an OBA director at the time of border closure, and was the only one to vote against it. 

My Dad (Evert Termeer) and I, as well as other beekeepers across Canada went to great effort to present the negative consequences of closure. The majority voted for the prohibition of bee imports however, and this was largely to buy time while the industry learned more about the mites and control methods and selective breeding programs.

Why are we still buying time sixteen years later? We have a mature experienced industry with good management programs and continuous adaptations being developed here and in the US.  Frontline beekeepers and others who are unfortunate or learning provide new data through the losses of their hives and are acting as a buffer and indicator for the rest.  They are having their businesses jeopardized by being denied the ability to restock hives quickly and economically.

The directors of the Provincial Associations and the CHC have a responsibility to present all the information as objectively as possible to their members. Those of us who have been directors know that we are privy to information that never reaches the membership, but we are expected to pass on a fair balance of relevant information.

Another point that needs to be addressed is this CFIA Risk Assessment on US mainland imports. Considering the importance of the issue it seems a lot of us expect to see a little more substance to justify the conclusions reached by that committee. There must also be some balance in this assessment with consideration given to the impact of empty hives in Canada. CAPA's present suggested set of protocols for imports given to the CFIA are not practical and would essentially block imports. This document can be found through links at the CHC website.

We need something workable!  In conclusion, we cannot fairly assess the negative risks and associated costs of allowing mainland imports if we do not objectively assess the lost production income of empty hives and the lag time and costs incurred to restock under current conditions. Also, we are being denied valuable US bee stocks which can be made available early, and in huge numbers compared to the resources within Canada.

I could continue, but I hope this has broadened the perspective of all, and especially those of you who did not realize how our policies are jeopardizing the ability of myself and many others to stay in business, as well as acknowledge all those who have all ready gone out of business.

I would be glad to receive comments and would like to build a list of import supporters, and those who are neutral, if you care to submit your name and province to (see note). Some of our organizations claim they are not hearing support for this viewpoint so lets force them to be responsible for their decisions and to acknowledge the crisis they have created in a portion of the industry.

Sincerely,

Rob Termeer,
RR#1 Finch, Ontario K0C 1K0

I thank all of you who took the time to read this far. With decisions about to be made, it would still be a good time to express your support or objection as suggested above and of course at the convention.

Trying to keep the border closed prevents those who want bees from getting them, creates friction in the industry, and satisfies only some beekeepers. Opening the border allows all beekeepers to make their own choices in management techniques, and decide themselves what is best for their particular needs.

Take care,
Rob T.

Note: the Honeybeeworld forum is a good place to talk back on these matters.  Feel free to express your views! - ed.

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Wednesday 26 November 2003
I'm retired now, and days or weeks may pass between beekeeping articles  I recommend visiting pages from previous years.
One Year ago | Two years ago | Three Years ago | Forum | Sale | Write me

I got caught up with this site, then went to Calgary to look at gas heating appliances.  Some of the material farther up this page has been improved.

I have your copy of Dewey's book and I'll send it back to you next week (I'm in the middle of a move).

As for the SRED credits that Doug will be talking about in Medicine Hat, here is a good layman's rundown on the workings of this program (from a site for Engineers wanting to start up a high-tech business):  http://www.sfu.ca/~mvolker/biz/sred.htm

When I was in London recently I had a wonderful meeting with Max Watkins of Vita.  Attached are some pictures of the AFB/EFB test kits he gave me to try.  It is a very simple test and I was able to get the correct result of two stripes on the display window after dropping a suspension of scale.  I am interested in seeing if the kit is sensitive enough to detect 'worrisome' levels of spores on a sample of adult bees, which is currently unknown since the kits were designed to provide diagnostics on a diseased larvae (which has far more spores than an adult bee sample from an infect colony would)  As I understand, these kits will be available in the US next season.

On another front, we are pretty sure that there are no loss in P. l.larvae spore viability after bees have been preserved in 70% ethanol.  I know you were wondering about this, as have some of the provincial apiarists, because it opens up the possibility of yielding information on nosema, tracheal mites, varroa AND AFB from the same sample.  By the time Winnipeg rolls around we should have plenty of new adult bee sampling data.  Are you going to drag your ol' bones to the icy city this year?

When I was in Greece I visited a big packing plant and noticed a line which packed into a tetra-pack-type container.  The manufacturer of the line is: http://www.gualapack.com/


borage


phacelia

Also attached are some pictures of some borage and phacelia fields we planted this last year.  The borage was generously donated by the van den Berg's in Silver Valley.  We tried some different seeding rates and some plots with under-seeded sweet clover.  The phacelia plots 'hummed' with bees and we trapped plenty of purple pollen in our pollen traps.  On some of the hotter days in September we had quite a bit of nectar being brought in.  We harvested the plots and are hoping to clean it when things get slow... which they are not now and my late lunch break is over.

Send my greetings to Ellen,

Adony

Adony Melathopoulos, M.P.M.
Apiculture Biotechnician / Biotechnicien en Apiculture
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada / Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada
Telephone / Téléphone: 780-354-5130
Facsimile / Télécopieur:  780-354-8171
P.O. Box 29 / C.P. 29
Beaverlodge,  Alberta / Beaverlodge (Alberta)
T0H 0C0   Canada

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Allen's
Links
of the Day

Answerbus.com

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Today : A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 20 km/h. High zero. / Tonight : Clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 6. / Normals for the period : Low minus 12. High zero.

Thursday 27 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 still looking for guest articles and pictures.

There's a meeting coming up Monday in Edmonton.   I should have published the announcement here, but assumed the ABA would have it on their site.  They did not!  They are still featuring the (now long-past) upcoming convention.  I did not have a copy of the info for this meeting until Medhat sent me one just now.

I must confess that I knew about this meeting, but had planned to let it slide.  It's about the future, and I'm retired,; I figure the future belongs to others.  Anyhow, Medhat called, and talked me into going, so I'll be there.  Apparently he has 20 Alberta government people coming to learn more about beekeepers and beekeeping, so we had better not let him down.  The more of us there, and the more ideas we can offer, the better.

I'll go the night before and stay over, to be there on time for the meeting.  At this time of year we never know if the roads will be blocked or slippery early in the morning, or if there will be fog.  It's always worth going early, anyhow, since there are always beekeepers around the day before and lots of chatter in the bar in the evening.  That's half the fun, and often where we learn more than in the meetings.  Phone: (780) 484-6000, 1-800-661-4879 or fax to (780) 489-2800 to reserve.  I'll see you there!

I hear that the Canadian Commercial Honey Producers Association is meeting the next day at the same hotel, the Executive Royal Inn 10010 – 178 Street Edmonton.  Frankly, I'd given the CCHPA up for dead, since their web site at http://www.cchpa.ca/ doesn't seem to respond, but I guess we'll find out Tuesday.  I hope they are alive and kicking.  We sure need an organization to represent the serious present and future commercial beekeepers in Canada, both in Ottawa, and at the CHC.  The current arrangement is still not working, and probably never will.  Small thinkers, fear mongers, zealots and their blind followers will always dominate, the way CHC is currently structured.   Maybe things will change with restructuring -- if it happens, but I don't think that we can count on it.  An association that is devoted to serving the commercial aspects of beekeeping -- as opposed to theoretical and hypothetical issues --  is very much needed.

I cleaned up the shop in the afternoon, and Meijers came for supper and the CCHPA came up in conversation, and we discussed its chances of becoming a force in  the industry since any new organization has the very real problem of gaining

  1. Sufficient membership for credibility with government and industry
  2. Sufficient financing to operate.
  3. The experienced staff and/or volunteers to carry on business

There's the catch-22. Without enlisting a large enough membership to represent a large majority of Canadian commercial beekeepers, the new group cannot be effective, or gain recognition by the government bodies.  Without being able to engage government in dialogue, and without being able to achieve influence, it faces an uphill battle to add new members -- or even retain the current ones. With a small membership to share costs, the membership fee must be high compared to the service rendered.  With a high membership fee, recruitment is difficult.  With a small budget, little can be accomplished and no staff can be retained.

We faced this problem in Alberta years ago.  We were a small organization, with limited membership, and volunteer staff.  We were faced with what looked like a chasm between where we were and where we wanted to be.  We decided to jump.  First, rather than raise fees, we dropped the membership price to a point where no one could use cost as an excuse not to join, and at the same time initiated a regular  newsletter that was an incentive to belong and gave tangible  membership value, even to the most casual beekeepers.

The price of basic membership barely covered the cost of the newsletter, but, because everyone subscribed, we could claim to represent virtually everyone.  At the time, I suggested we give away memberships if necessary, to be sure to be all-inclusive, and as it worked out, the newsletter is a profit centre on its own. 

(If BeeNews were better managed, it would actually make a fair bit of money, but it has always been a private fiefdom of the ABA staff, and fiercely defended from improvement). 

CHC has taken a page out of Alberta's book and produced a world class magazine (and website) that makes even CHC's detractors begrudgingly pay the price of membership.  Clever.

This action helped solve the money problem.  Although in the past, the association had detractors, under the new inclusive policy, the detractors became part of the organization.  Because the ABA represented virtually all Alberta beekeepers, the provincial government helped with funding when asked, and we were able to hire a full time staff member.

Part of the new policy was to listen patiently -- sometimes the meetings were rather long and loud -- to those who differed with association policy, and to try to work out win-win solutions.  To our credit, I think we did, and the proof is that there is nobody -- that I know of -- who goes around saying that the ABA does not try to help them achieve their goals.  (If there is anyone like that, the ABA needs and welcomes their input, member or not, and will stretch to accommodate their perspective).

 As part of the new strategy, the association also set up a two-tier membership: 1.) the basic one for those who had no strong interest in politics and who were happy to follow, and 2.) the voting membership, for those who wanted to drive the ABA agenda.  While the basic fee was very low, the fee for the voting membership was set at several hundred dollars, and helped finance the activities that interested the voting membership -- the office, the lobbying, and such.  For those who wanted to have an even higher fee, the hundred dollar club was set up, and some members compete to see if they can give more than their buddies.  Some also donate additional money for special projects, like the  CAP program (now part of the regular budget).

At any rate this is an example of how an organization can gain strong industry support.  Here are some of the ideas that have made the ABA a strong and well-respected organization in recent years.  Maybe they can work elsewhere.

  1. Encourage membership by all interested industry participants by
    1. Keeping cost down, or even providing free membership
    2. Providing indisputable and irresistible value
    3. Being inclusive and avoiding cliques.
  2. Provide a forum for discussing conflicts. Demonstrate respect, patience, tolerance, and co-operation
  3. Make sure that meetings are well and patiently chaired, and that discussion is not rushed.  Let everyone speak, and sometime relax the rules to make sure that the matter is fully talked out before calling for a vote.
  4. Make sure votes are properly conducted, that only those qualified vote.
  5. Let anyone speak, but be certain that secret ballot (with scrutineers) is used for highly political votes, particularly where some members may fear retaliation from others based on their vote. 

Nothing wrecks an organization like badly chaired meetings and informal votes on contentious matters.  I've seen lots of disastrously questionable counts where 'show of hands' is used.  Never refuse a request for secret ballot.  It is far better to find out what the members really think at the meeting than afterwards.

  1. Don't assume support for board projects.  Take direction from the membership rather than attempting manipulation.
  2. Respect the needs of minorities and place them on a par with the needs of the majority.
  3. Avoid actions or policies that are repressive to some members, if at all possible.  Try to spread costs and mitigate effects of policies.
  4. Find commonalities and use these as focal points for deciding on action
  5. Bring in as much outside expertise as possible and examine 'off the wall' proposals for clues.
  6. Stick to hard fact and avoid hypothetical arguments.
  7. Avoid ad hominum arguments, strawman tactics, and personality cults.
  8. Work hard to understand all points of view and to accommodate as wide a range of needs as possible by negotiating compromises and looking hard for win-win situations.

What I am saying is that I suspect that CCHPA has a membership problem -- a problem in achieving critical mass -- and I suggest that the solution is to have a two-level structure.  Maybe the CCHPA should offer:

  1. A free or $20 membership to anyone who declares ownership of more than, say 600 hives, or can declare that substantially all his/her income comes from beekeeping, and
  2. A voting membership, costing the present $300 for those who wish to support the organization financially and to determine its agenda.

That way the association could gain a large membership, and the associated credibility. 

Additionally, the organization needs to get its website running and current.  Whether the CCHPA should join honey council, or go it on its own, I really do not know, but if it can achieve 80% or more participation by commercial beekeepers in Canada, it will become a force to be reckoned with. Of course, to achieve that size, CCHPA must be inclusive.  To be more than a splinter group, or industry faction, CCHPA will have to encompass and deal with  the full spectrum of views that are held by Canadian commercial beekeepers.

Will CCHPA then be nothing more than another version of the current CHC?   I doubt it.  By virtue of the fact that CCHPA will have an entry threshold, CCHPA will far more truly represent the actual bee industry in Canada, and supplant the conglomeration of idealistic hobbyists, sideliners and advisors that CHC seems to be at present.

As an exclusively professional organization, CCHPA could then gain credibility as the voice of the industry and give the real commercial beekeepers in Canada a voice for a change.   But CCHPA has to do more than meet occasionally; it is time for CCHPA to do, or die.

Looking to the Future

A Visioning Session for the Beekeeping Industry of Alberta

December 1, 2003: Starting 8:30 AM
Registration fees: $40, Lunch included.

At the Executive Royal Inn 10010 – 178 Street Edmonton
Phone: (780) 484-6000    1-800-661-4879     Fax: (780) 489-2800
http://www.mallnetglobal.com/royalinn/edmonton/
 

Presented by: Marlene Abrams and Medhat Nasr
Ag-Entrepreneur Division and Crop Diversification Division, AAFRD, Edmonton

 

Development of strategic plan will allow the association to determine where it wants to be in the future (the purpose, goals, mission), World Renowned Speakers will give talks about the global status of the beekeeping industry and the future. Discussion session will follow to discuss perspectives and opportunities of Alberta beekeeping in the future. The generated ideas will help the ABA executive to develop their strategic plan.  Please attend this session.  Your thoughts, ideas, experiences and contributions will be gratefully appreciated.

 


“The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.
The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination”
--- John Schnarr ---

To assist the Alberta Beekeepers Association to deal with the future, the issues and uncertainties of the beekeeping industry, the executive will embark on developing a strategic plan in January of 2004. The plan will allow the association to determine where it wants to be in the future (the purpose, goals, mission), how they will know when they get there, and how they will get there. The plan will guide operations/actions and critical decisions making as the association progress to where it wants to be. This plan will address building infrastructure, business framework and foundation to strengthen the industry in terms of training, succession, and management for bright future for the beekeeping industry.

In setting the stage for the development of the strategic plan, ABA has organized a session on December 1, 2003 at the Executive Royal Inn 10010 – 178 Street Edmonton, to bring together Association members and industry stakeholders to look at the future of the beekeeping industry. The morning will be spent listening to some thought provoking speakers share their vision of the future of the beekeeping industry for the next five years and beyond. Bruce Boynton CEO of the American National Honey Board, will focus on “The World Market: Perspectives and Potentials”, Dr. Tom Sanford from the University of Florida, will focus on “Beekeeping in the Future: Challenges and Economics” and Dr. Ron Clarke and Don Root (Alberta Agriculture) will speak on “The Role of Food Safety in the Future and Lessons Learned from the BSE (Mad Cow Disease)”.

The afternoon will be an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss their perspectives of what the beekeeping industry might look in the future, opportunities that the industry needs to take advantage of to achieve success and what are the issues standing in the way of success. The ideas generated from this meeting will help the ABA executive develop their strategic plan.

Please attend this session. Your thoughts, ideas, experiences and contributions would be gratefully appreciated.

 

Biography of the speakers:

Mr. Bruce Boynton:  Mr. Boynton is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the American National Honey Board. He earned the Certified Association Executive designation in 2002 from the American Society of Executives, and he serves on the board of directors of the Colorado Society of Association Executives.

He has 15 years experience with the National Honey Board. His background is primarily in finance and administration, but he has also been a teacher and has taught business and accounting classes at the local community college. Under his directions, the National Honey Board conducts research, advertising and promotions to help maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets for honey. The Board’s work also is designed to lift the awareness and use of honey by consumers, the foodservice industry and food manufacturers. When not working for the National Honey Board, Bruce enjoys biking, photography, and landscaping

Dr. Malcolm (Tom) Sanford: Dr. Sanford is a Retired Extension Entomologist and Professor Emeritus, Department of Entomology & Nematology, University of Florida. Dr. Sanford is world renowned apiculturist who is bringing the beekeeping to the digital age. He is the recipient of Florida Entomological Society Extension Award in 1990, the Apiary Inspectors Service Award in 1997, and the American Association of Professional Apiculturists Award for Excellence in Extension in 1998. He is the publisher of the APIS Newsletter for eighteen years, the longest running newsletter of its kind in the U.S.A. and recognized worldwide as a leader in its field.  He authored a variety of papers and fact sheets on different issues related to honey bee management and profitability. Frequently invited to international conferences and as a beekeeping consultant to the Caribbean, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Spain, Ecuador, Canada, Antigua, Egypt, Chile, and France. 

Dr. Ron Clarke: Dr. Clarke is Section Head at Agr-Food Systems Branch, Food Safety, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. He has expertise in beef, horse, swine, and food epidemiology, and surveillance. Ron's work includes design and implementation of disease surveillance projects. Ron also assists with communication efforts directed toward veterinarians and the livestock industry. Ron has been very involved with the food animal industry through his entire professional life, both as a veterinarian and one who offers support through writing and an ongoing exchange of ideas

Mr. Don Noot: Mr. Noot is Head of Chemistry Section, Agri-Food Laboratories Branch, Food Safety Division, AAFRD. He has a Bachelor's degree in Analytical Chemistry and a Master's degree in Environmental Science. Don has extensive experience with analysis for trace organic compounds, particularly using mass spectrometry as an analytical tool. The primary focus of the Chemistry Section, Agri-Food Labs Branch is the determination of veterinary drug residues in various agriculture and food products to promote safe food and market access.

 

 Agenda

 

8:30        Welcome and Opening Remarks Bob Ballard

8:50        Alberta Agriculture and the Beekeeping Industry Stan Blade

9:00         Mr. Bruce Boynton – CEO of the American National Honey Board – Honey World Market Perspectives and Potentials

9:40         Dr. Malcolm Sanford – University of Florida – Beekeeping in the Future: Challenges and Economics

10:20       Break

10:35       Dr. Ron Clarke & Mr. Don Noot – AAFRD- Food Safety in the Future and lessons learned from BSC

11:05       Questions for the Panel Bob Ballard

11:30       Preparing for the Rest of the Day Marlene Abrams

12:00       Lunch

1:00         Developing a Vision - Small group discussions

  • Barriers

  • Challenges

  • Opportunities

3:15      Discussion Highlights Marlene Abrams

3:45      Closing Remarks Bob Ballard

Today : Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light this afternoon. High plus 1. / Tonight : Cloudy. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h overnight. Low minus 4 with temperature rising overnight. / Normals for the period : Low minus 12. High minus 1.

Friday 28 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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Hi Allen:

Here is an update on the exact wording of OBA defeated resolution. Makes you wonder why they bothered coming to Kelowna if the work there carries no weight in their province.

Barrie.

----- Original Message -----

From: Rob Termeer To: Barrie en Julie Termeer
Cc: Bill Termeer
Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2003 7:45 AM
Subject: Resolution

Hi Guys:

"Whereas the CFIA, CHC and all provinces have established a federal set of scientific based import protocols for US queens agreed to in principle by all above parties which minimizes the risks of transferring disease or pests or Africanized Honeybee genetics, and whereas US researchers and queen producers have also been selecting and developing mite resistant stock, and whereas Ontario beekeepers could benefit by having early spring access to queens from US suppliers,

"Therefore be it resolved that the OBA work with the CFIA and other involved parties and pursue the steps necessary to provide Ontario beekeepers the option of importing mainland US queens as soon as possible under the above national protocols.

Submitted by Rob Termeer Seconded by Charlie Parker

I think the vote was 24 against, and 3 in favour. I  really can't recall any good arguments against this resolution.  Just the same old rhetoric that we don't want to import US problems.

One new angle that has come to mind has to do with whether or not the concept of a quorum would apply to the OBA convention.  Would a minimum (half plus 1) number of voting members need to be present to validate the voting on resolutions?  I will have to inquire if this is relevant.  I searched through the Canada Gazette site and could not find anything new on queen imports.  I guess the CFIA is still working on a final version.

Good luck to us all,
Rob T.

As I drive through Ontario, I see large tracts of land that appear to me to be prime bee pasture, yet I see nary a hive, and I wonder if the difference between the two regions is a difference in imagination, example, history, and confidence.

Half a century ago, increasingly intensive farming in Ontario reduced the value of much of the best bee pasture, and many of the best young beekeepers from Ontario traveled to the West, in search of the huge crops that could be made on the frontier.  Many ended up in the Northern prairies, where new land was being broken, and fireweed and clover bloomed profusely in the slash, and where summer days were long and sunny.

In the unregulated frontier climate of early Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, these adventurous young beekeepers flourished and built an industry based on taking chances and thinking big.  Compared to Eastern Canada, farms were huge -- quarter sections vs. small parcels.  Western farms produced crops for export to distant markets, rather than local consumption, and beekeepers learned to work on a large scale and produce for export as well.  There was no large nearby population to tempt them with retail sales, and they concentrated on running lots of hives and producing bulk honey for export.  They learned from the Americans who came up to exploit the vast expanses of clover and built big outfits, trained one another's kids, and shared their techniques.  Gerry Paradis was the first to hit 1,000,000 pounds, at his Falher, Alberta location in the early seventies.  Although the Westerners did compete for bee locations, they did not compete much for retail markets.  There were none nearby.  That fact probably led to closer collaboration and greater industry solidarity.

Meantime, back in Ontario, things did not change much.  The old ways continued, with small operations, antiquated buildings and equipment and traditional thinking.  The beekeeping advances that swept the west and made beekeeping an important industry there did not, for some reason, catch on in Ontario.  In spite of ample opportunity, the old ways seemed adequate.

The Alberta countryside is no longer wild, and the days of huge Alberta crops are now gone.  Intensive agriculture and monoculture are everywhere.  Even ditches are sprayed for weeds.  Nonetheless,  although many regions of Alberta now yield similar or smaller crops compared to some Ontario regions, a tradition and example of big beekeeping continues in the West, but is largely absent -- AFAIK -- in Ontario.

Ontario is a huge province, with ample moisture and a lot of potential pasture, a long history of beekeeping, yet only one third the hives of Alberta. 

Strange.  Should Ontario's thinking control Canadian beekeeping policy?

Rob's email makes me wonder about the voting structure of the Ontario association.  Is the OBA basically a hobbyist/sideliner group?  Or does it represent the commercial beekeeping interests of the province?  What percentage of the members voting are actually making a good, full-time living by their beekeeping?   Why are there so few large commercial participants?

I'm betting most are sideliners, or have other pursuits to provide income.  I am guessing that because I have observed, over the years, that successful commercial beekeepers don't get successful by operating out of fear, nor do they vote to limit their options, or vote to limit their own growth and the growth of their industry.  Successful commercial beekeepers don't make decisions based on sentiment or romantic ideas of self-sufficiency.  That's what small operators do, and that, more than anything, keeps them small.

Assuming I am correct, then, if the OBA does not represent the commercial beekeeping industry of that province, and yet has full representation at CHC, does that make CHC less credible?  Should sideliners and hobbyists make or participate in making policy for the commercial beekeeping industry Canada-wide?   What does that say of CHC.  Is CHC then a sideliner/hobby organization?

This is just musing.  Maybe someone will fill me in.

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. Wind southwest 20 km/h increasing to 40 gusting to 60 late this morning. High plus 4. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Clearing near midnight. Wind southwest 40 km/h gusting to 60 becoming northwest 30 this evening. Low minus 7. / Normals for the period : Low minus 12. High zero.

Saturday 29 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 spent the morning studying various options for upgrading our heating system, (see also here) and made up the following chart, using OpenOffice.org.  I reproduce it here in case others are interested...  Click on the thumbnail to compare fuels (Alberta prices).  I suppose I could have shown a propane at higher efficiencies, since it can get as clean and efficient as natural gas, and I show wood at 45%, when some of the new wood stoves get up to about 75%.

The  December  BeeNews arrived, and I sat down to see what's up.  The ink is green this issue. I suppose that the idea is to make it look Christmasy, but it just makes it hard to read,  and probably hard to photocopy.  At one time Alberta had the best newsletter in Canada, but pretty well, everyone else has caught up and passed us. The only thing that we have going for us is the monthly schedule, but I'm wondering if there is any justification for that, seeing as many issues lack worthwhile content.  The main thing of interest in each issue is the ads, which we all read faithfully, every issue.  I suppose the rag is worth getting, just for the ads, but I think it is time to get a committee working on jazzing it up, or cut it back to 6 issues a year, use better material, and make those 6 issues worth reading.

In the BeeNews (once I put on my glasses so I could read the green ink) I noticed that CCHPA is, indeed, meeting on the 2nd at the Royal Executive Hotel, right after the Looking to the Future session Medhat is putting on Monday in Edmonton (details above).   And I see that they do have a non-voting membership for $125.  I was reluctant to shell out $300, seeing as I'm retired, but I think I can afford the $125.  Now, I just hope I get something for that $125: a newsletter? a website, U.S. package bees pretty soon???

I put off renewing some of the sites I host until late in  the day.  I wanted to get it done this weekend, since there is a discount being offered.  Wouldn't you know it?  My phones went dead around 4PM and I was unable to do the job.  I plan to leave early tomorrow and do the job from my daughter's, if they are not working by mid-morning.

I started exercising again.  My weight crept up to 244, and stayed there, but is not receding again, and I also feel the need to move.  I went downstairs to the gym and did about a half mile on the treadmill while watching "The Jackal".  That was about all I felt like, and plane to do more tomorrow, but I will have to clean up.  When we put in the water, The guys made a dusty mess, and I have been avoiding the place.  No more.

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Today : Cloudy becoming sunny this morning. Fog dissipating this morning. Wind becoming west 30 km/h gusting to 50 this afternoon. High 4. / Tonight : Clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 7. / Normals for the period : Low minus 12. High minus 1.

Sunday 30 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 mopped up in the gym and did a half mile, then got back to my desk.  The phone was still dead.

Last night, I had called Jean on the cell and asked her to report our problem, since the only way to report service problems easily is to call 611. There is no other number listed by Telus.  Duh?!  That's hard to do when your phone is dead.  If you call 611 from a  cellphone, you don't get Telus service, you get the cellphone company.  She is on Telus landline service and so if she calls 611, she gets through to the right people immediately, and I guess she did. 

Before noon, the phones started working again, so I can catch up on a few things before I head north.

Today : Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h. High minus 1. / Tonight : Clear. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 8.

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