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Left panel on?
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Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.
--- Josh Billings (1818 - 1885)---

We've successfully wintered singles indoors for 5 years,(800 in the building now) and are trying some outdoors this winter (80 colonies). Bill has had some success with this up in Sexsmith.

These colonies are 2003 splits run for honey in one brood chamber using excluders. The colonies are wrapped in standard four packs, with individual insulation pillows and a heavy lid for all 4 hives. The wrap only has a bottom entrance, but so far no sign of condensation or suffocation. They all look great so far.

They will be unwrapped early April and then managed similar to our indoor colonies. Pillows will be left on and chambers are painted dark green for heat absorption. Pollen paddies will go on when the wraps come off, perhaps bee pro will be fed buffet style in March/April as well.

Plan is to boost or split them to uniform size and run them again in 2004 for honey as singles.

Barrie Termeer, Honeybear.

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Saturday 20 December 2003
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It looks as if we are expecting a warm day: 12 degrees C.  That's warm for this time of year.  We'll lose a lot of our snow.

The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand.

Lewis Thomas

I was checking my web logs this morning and noticed that I had visitor referred from a link on a site with which I was unfamiliar.  I clicked on the link and was surprised to see an install message that appeared to be certified by a Chartered Accountant firm, accompanied by a message that I needed to install the add-in to view the next page. 

I wrote about such things just the other day in my security advice page, and, since I was not expecting a download, I said "no", and then got another series of messages with only an 'OK' button only.  I clicked the 'X' system button in the upper right corner to kill it. 

Then a download dialogue showed up again.  I clicked the 'cancel' button, and the thing went away, but not without opening several porn pages, which I killed. 

I think it is all gone now, and scans show no problems, but this is an example of how tricky these guys are, and how they try to install trojans, key loggers, hijackers, and more on your computer.  Unless you are persistent and smart, they will get you.  I think that, if I had clicked. "Yes", that PestPatrol, running in the background on my computer, would have warned me to stop the download -- if I had time to do so because  some such downloads only take a second, but, nonetheless, there was an attack on my computer that many people would have fallen for. 

Continued, with illustrations, on the security advice page.

By the way, for those who have been following my computer experiences, you may recall my anxiety about installing Windows XP.  I did on my old computer some time back and have been totally happy.  Since both my main computers have been on Win XP (Home), I have had no crashes and entirely satisfactory performance, and the old one is a PII-266!  For many jobs it seems as fast as this 1800+.

This morning, I drove out to a neighbour's and looked at a coal furnace he is developing, then down to another's to look at the stokers he builds.  The latter showed me a 1,200,000 BTU stoker he has for sale.  Our stoker is a 250,000 unit AFAIK and is big enough, so his is far too big.  I'm thinking that I'll just rebuild this one, but I would like to set it up outside to reduce the dust and make ash removal simpler, plus gain some efficiency by using a boiler rather than the forced air heat exchanger.  That way, I could use a gas boiler in tandem, and be able to turn off the coal when we are away, but maintain the price advantage of coal when home. (see also here).

In the evening, I sat down to try to watch TV, but gave up after about fifteen minutes; there was nothing worth watching.  Instead, I took a drive to Three Hills, had a beer (1) and dropped by the Arena.  There was a midget game on and I had a hot dog and watched the second and third periods.  It was a pretty good game, and it was free.

Whenever I try to watch professional hockey, I always wind up turning it off in disgust due to the fighting.  This kids game was clean, and although there were a few penalties, there wasn't the kind of stupidity that I see in the adult games.  Surprisingly, there were only about 30 people in the audience.   Come to think of it, I guess I had just turned off a pro game on TV at home and driven 15 miles to wind up watching the kids game, and enjoying it more.

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. Wind becoming west 20 km/h this morning. High 12. / Tonight : Clear. Wind west 20 km/h. Low minus 4. / Normals for the period : Low minus 15. High minus 3

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.


Sunday 21 December 2003
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Time for a new page and a new picture.  Any volunteers?

I went to Calgary for the day.  First, I spent a few hours at the zoo, then I caught the LRT, taking the south leg as far as Fish Creek.  I'd seen on TV news that the line is now open down to Dalhousie, but apparently that was just for the news camera.  The train stopped at Fish Creek.  I wasn't too disappointed, though.  The ride was long and boring and ran through industrial backyards.  People these days seem very unCalgarylike.  Calgary people, when I lived there 35 years ago, used to be friendly and outgoing, but the bunch living there now avoid eye contact and seldom smile.  It now seems like any other big city, only more so.  Too much US TV, fostering fear of others, I suspect.  Pity.

I was interested to see that Canyon Meadows has mature trees and is now an older neighbourhood, by Calgary standards.  I built houses there 35 years ago, when it was just open prairie.  The trip was not as exciting as I had expected, but maybe that was because I was just too tired to enjoy it.  When  I got home at 7:30 I lay down and had a nap.

Today : Sunny. High 7. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 5. / Normals for the period : Low minus 15. High minus 3

Monday 22 December 2003
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From: "allen dick"
To: "Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology"
Subject: Singles, Doubles, No excluder?
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003

> Managed a yard in singles this past year. Produced more than
> doubles, mostly because of the extra box of honey extracted rather
> than left for winter.

That is our experience, too. As long as sugar is far cheaper than honey, this practice makes sense.

> ...the brood present was the SAME between the doubles and the
> singles. The difference was that the doubles had its brood between
> both chambers with lots of pollen and honey available. The singles
> used most of the chamber for brood rearing, and the rest for pollen
> stores.

Do you realize if it weren't for Edison we'd be watching TV by candlelight?

Al Boliska

We found the brood area to be comparable, too. As you note, timing for singles is much more critical than when running doubles, and the sugar must be fed early enough to allow the bees to process and store it properly.

Single brood chambers have good points and bad points. For one thing, disease control is much easier, since 1.) there is only one box to inspect, 2.) the bees clean problem cells promptly and don't just move over a few frames, ignoring diseased cells as they often do in doubles, 3.) under many situations, you get more honey, and 4.) That honey is much easier to remove.

If you have good brood comb, properly spaced, most queens will have more than enough room in a single, but if you use very large cell foundation (5.7mm), have poor combs, and/or space wider than 1-3/8" and/or also have some bowed combs, singles may not work well. Moreover, using single brood chambers, supering techniques may be a bit more subtle than where double broods are used, or where unrestricted brood is permitted.

Bees store best within hive regions where the colony naturally maintains continuous warmth, and where individuals can thus comfortably maintain continuous presence during the flow. Continuous warmth is always maintained near where brood is being raised, and, in climactic regions where weather gets cool periodically during the flow season, the bees often retreat from at least some of the supers to the brood area, particularly if 1.) the weather cools 2.) the hive is too well ventilated, 3.) there is no flow activity to stimulate the bees to generate heat, and 4.) the hive is not at full strength. They can be slow to return to their former outposts in distant supers, and may stay closer to the brood area after a cold snap, unless stimulated by hot weather and a strong flow. People often comment that bees do not cap well early in the season. A few such retreats, or a hint from the weather that they may have to do so, and they are stimulated to cap.

Since, in singles, the brood is concentrated in the very bottom box, the bees may abandon the supers more often and for longer than in the case where double brood chambers are used, or where the queen is allowed the run of the whole hive. This may affect their storing in a season or region with intermittent flows, but will have little effect in a heavy flow condition. Adjusting ventilation and number of supers may also compensate for this factor. In comb honey production in the North, heat conservation is a key management trick, and we always ran single broods with as few supers as we could, and still contain all the bees.

(The above paragraphs explain about half the debate over whether queen excluders are honey excluders, and why it is never resolved. There are too many interacting factors, and people like to oversimplify.)

> I was very aware of colony food stores in my singles when I
> pulled off my last supers, made sure to have the feed there right away.

Very wise; that is where many of us fall down. When we remove the supers, we will also be removing most of the feed on the hive, and a full box of brood uses lots of feed. A day or two of poor flying weather and/or a dearth, arriving right after pulling the seconds, can kill or severely damage single hives unless a second with feed is placed on at the time of pulling, or unless a feeder is placed on the hive at that time -- or both.

> Besides the fact that I winter my doubles outside, I feel that managing
> my hives in doubles was easier and more forgiving that managing in
> singles.

That's what we concluded, but singles can return up to $50 more per hive, net profit, at current prices. That's worth a little extra work IMO. In cases where brood boxes are in short supply, this can mean being able to run more hives, too. With package bees the management is dead simple, too. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

We wintered our singles outside, and found the same success rate as doubles, but maybe that was because we converted the singles to doubles and fed in early September, as soon as the flows finished. Some in our Northern climate winter singles outside with good success, but we never had success
with them on the ground. When we raised the cluster up, by making the hives into doubles, we had no more problems. That also reduced our spring work and fears of spring starvation.


Why I Haven't Paid into the Anti-Dumping as I had Intended to do.

I've heard a lot about the anti-dumping.  Some Saskatchewan beekeepers kicked in several years ago, we had a speaker at the 2003 Alberta Convention, and, of course I heard the whole pitch I was at the AHPA meeting in the US last year.  I was impressed, and I pledged at the AHPA meeting.  However, when the forms arrived, some months ago, I hesitated and did not pay the amount I planned to.  Why not, you might ask? 

There are a number of reasons:

  • When I pledged, I understood that I would be donating money along with US beekeepers and co-ops, and that was all fine and good.  It seems only right we Canadians should involve ourselves.  Going in, it appeared that this was strictly an expense to protect against bona fide dumping, and that we should all kick in to share the costs.

  • When I received the forms and read them, however, I realized that, with the Byrd Amendment, the anti-dumping now appears, rather than being an expense, to actually be a profit centre for US beekeepers.  Presently, if I have the numbers right, the US contributors stand to recover about $5 for every $1 contributed.

  • Now that is not a sure thing, but it looks quite likely, and the thing is that, as a Canadian contributor, I would not recover a penny!

  • Moreover, the anti-dumping action is currently displacing Argentine honey into Canada at prices that amount to US prices minus the dumping levy, thus destroying the Canadian market for Canadian honey.  That leaves no choice for Canadian beekeepers, but to export to the US or accept very low world prices exacerbated by the anti-dumping.

  • So far US beekeepers have welcomed Canadian honey, sold into the US at high prices, but there is always the chance that, flush with Byrd money, the US industry could try to somehow bar Canadian honey.   They say absolutely that they will not, and I don't see how they could, seeing as they used our cost of production figures to sue Argentina, but given the US track record on beef, steel, softwood lumber and more, we can never be sure that the US will play fair.  In such an event, Canadian beekeepers would be totally screwed, with the Canadian market ruined, and the US market out of reach.1

  • I retired from beekeeping since last winter.  When I pledged, I had planned to scale down and continue beekeeping.  I am now right out of the business.  Does that get me off the hook?

Note 1.  With our borders closed to US queen and package imports, the US industry, 'owes us one'.  We can fix that by opening to reasonable imports ASAP.  While our prohibition was justifiable in many people's eyes on both sides of the border at the outset, years ago; there is little honest justification for the continuing enforcement of the ban today in the eyes of impartial observers.  'Tit for tat' is a game that the smaller player (Canada) is bound to lose.  Better to play fair in the first place.

I posted the above and went off to buy a Christmas tree.  When  I returned, I read this message in my email.  Now I don't know what to think!

Hi Allen

The Byrd Amendment money is total for all beekeepers about $40,000.  I received $21.23.  Cost me $22 to mail the paperwork to them, not including the time for filing out their paperwork.

Seems that the Commerce Department took bonds for payment, and now the bonding companies won't pay and will declare bankruptcy.

Sounds like hanky panky to me.

Sounds a little 'off' to me too.

Maybe it is time to sue the Commerce Department?  Seems to me the Commerce Department was responsible for taking the bonds instead of cash, and making sure they were good.  This clearly should be their loss, I should think, and they have deep pockets.

Here's another comment...

Hi allan,

I laughed when I read your take on the Byrd Amendment's spent hours filling out forms, spent 15 bucks or so on postage.  They sent me 5 bucks as my share.  Hardly covers the hundreds I gave to the anti-dumping!

I donated for one reason only:  The Chinese were killing us economically.  I was on the edge of bankruptcy, and decided if I was going out I would go out fighting.

Yeah, I can sure appreciate that.  The US beekeeper was really on the ropes, due to the strong US dollar, and even the current devaluation of the US dollar, which is salvation to many other US industries won't help.

Unlike other world currencies, such as the euro, the pound, the yen and the Canadian dollar,  both the remnimbi (Chinese yuan) and the Argentine peso are pegged tightly to the US currency.  Thus even a drastic devaluation of the US dollar like the one presently underway won't shake those guys off.  Their currency maintains the same value in respect to the US dollar, no matter how low it goes!

In Western Canada, we may have been badly hurt by the ban on imports of US bees, but somehow, miraculously, our dollar swooned during the worst of it, and got us decent returns compared to what our US friends had to put up with.  Our dollar is back up now, but it saved our bacon.  The US beekeepers' anti-dumping worked for us too, until the Argentines flooded our home market, so we lucked out for a while.

I started a study which I showed here earlier, and in it, we can see that both US and Canadian beekeepers have been suffering declining returns until anti-dumping -- AND catching the Chinese, then the Argentines with drugs in their honey -- saved the day.

My guess is that in the future, the only way that North American beekeeping can continue to get good returns is to set up high standards for honey production and close the markets to honey that cannot prove superior production practices.  That means we will have to pull up our socks and improve facilities, and methods, and do a lot more record-keeping, but it will be worth it.

The Sawgrass Marriott oceanside convention hotel

Today is the last day to register for the ABF convention.

I'd been holding off, waiting for the forms to show up on their website, but, of course they never did.  I finally phoned and they emailed them to me.  Apparently, the cut-off is not absolute and you can still register for things for a day or two, so if you have been holding off like me, here are the forms and schedule, if you need them.

These are both PDFs, so you may need .
I got the Honey Producer newsletter from the AHPA today as well, and I see that  the $99 registration for hotel rooms has been extended to December 31st .  Call 1-800-843-6664 or fax 210-691-1128.  The convention program is on their website.

Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003
From: Jerry Bromenshenk
Subject: [BEE-L] American Bee Research Papers - at Am. Honey Producers Meeting, S.A., TX

It isn't apparent to me that people know that the Bee Research meetings for 2004 will be held Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in conjunction with the American Honey Producers meeting in San Antonio, TX.   Last I heard, 20+ papers were scheduled to be presented.  See you in TX.

Best wishes for the holidays.


I guess, in fairness, I should also mention the CHC meeting coming up on the 26th of January in Winnipeg.  I hope not to go.  Winnipeg in January is not my first choice, and I am pretty tired of CHC (and they of me).  Nonetheless, the agenda looks pretty good, and who knows?... Maybe I'll wind up there.

I've been complaining about bee association websites, and how they are seldom up to date, but CHC is the exception.  The CHC site is one of the best, always up to date with the latest news, and worth a regular visit.   I give it my award of the day.

I suppose, though, I can't just leave it at that; I must complain about the absence of the long-promised COFFs material there.  COFFs is one CHC initiative that I applaud wholeheartedly, and I am always disappointed when I go there that there is nothing available there for us outsiders.

One other (programmer's) pet peeve about the new incarnation of the CHC site is the damn active server pages that make things hard to find and hard to bookmark, and the drop down menus that conceal items that are filed in ways that are -- to me -- counterintuitive.  Sometimes just plain old HTML is best.

If you have comments and want some discussion on any of the topics mentioned here, why not post your ideas to the Forum.  The forum got going for a while, but seems to have gone into decline.  Let's get it going again.  There were a few technical glitches a while back, but it should be working now.  I seems okay to me.  If you have problems and can't read or post, then please let me know.  Write me and let me know what you see.

Today : Sunny. High 6. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 2. / Normals for the period : Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Tuesday 23 December 2003
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I spent the day sorting papers and working on the computer.  Quickbooks has now handed me an error message, and I suspect my main

One thing you will probably remember well is any time you forgive and forget.
Franklin P. Jones

 data file is corrupted.  It continues to function, however, so I hope I can at least finish the fiscal year, if I cannot find the offending transaction and delete it.

Mad Cow has now been discovered in the USA, and we now wait to find out what that will do to Canadian exports and also US prices.  I still plan to buy some cattle, and had considered buying in the US, but the markets will be turbulent for a while now.  Who knows what will happen?  Beef consumption in Canada actually went up after the discovery here.

A friend brought over a computer that had been hijacked by a popup that looked like an innocent MSN message, but, when clicked, set his home page to a porn site and ran unstoppable picture shows.   I spent some time studying up on the problem before he came over, to be ready for the repair, but the the actual cleanup turned out to be easy, however -- other than that fact that the machine hardly ran at all, and I had long waits between clicks.  To fix it, before I even ran the browser, I simply opened the Internet options from the Control panel and changed the home page back to MSN, and deleted all the history and deleted the caches.  The cache was huge, and I cut it down to 80 megs to speed things up.  After that, I updated Ad-aware and ran it, finding 83 pests and an exploit, which Ad-Aware removed.  When I opened the browser, no bad stuff happened, so I guess this was not the really persistent type of hijack exploit that requires drastic measures to eliminate.

The system had not been defragged, updated, or checked for errors for 590 days, so I defragged several times and updated Windows.  There were about 20 updates backlogged, so that took about 10 hours and numerous reboots.  The machine, which ran slow and was totally unresponsive when it came in the door, now runs quite well, but when I turned of the swap file to defrag it, I learned that it lacked enough memory to run without swapping, even on boot up with nothing running!  A quick check revealed only 64 megs!  Time to get some memory.  I saw 512s at Costco the other day for about $100, if I remember correctly.  This machine needs older memory, though, and if I can find it, it should be dirt cheap.  64 megs would double what it has.

Oene and the Robinsons came for supper.

Today : Sunny. High 7. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 3. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 3.

Wednesday 24 December 2003
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From discussions on BEE-L...

This talk of three sucrose octanoate treatments with comb removal and such, made me think of oxalic drizzling and how much simpler and easier on all treatment can be if the frames need not be removed. Oxalic trickling has that advantage, since frames need not be removed. The syrup is merely trickled down between the frames without any other disturbance.

While oxalic trickling is easy on single brood chamber hives, a major obstacle to using oxalic drizzle on double brood chamber hives in fall after the season is over, is that each half must be treated.

That normally means separating (hopefully) heavy boxes, and if they are glued together, breaking the seal late in the season when it is not a good idea -- not to mention a lot of work and hassle for both bees and beekeeper. It's enough to discourage people from using this effective and inexpensive method.

On reflection, I realized that there is a simple solution:

It should be an easy matter to simply roll each hive forward until it is upside down, then drizzle the lower box from the bottom, wait a few moments, then roll the hive back onto its floor, then drizzle the top box from the top.

That way, the hive is only minimally disturbed, and the job involves very little lifting.


> I must say that is a very creative solution. I hope you didn't make a
> joke and i make a complete fool of myself now.

Nope, that's how we check populations: tip the hive forward and look under, and how we separate glued-up boxes: lay the hive on its front and then pry -- less lifting.

When we used to scrape top bars, we used to roll the hives onto their fronts, since the bees don't boil up unto the top bars when in that position. From there it is just another quick roll to invert the hive, especially if you have a pallet or some such platform to match the floor height.

> But wouldn't the bees go berserk (just like they do when I break the
> boxes apart)? I suspect my bees would anyway. Berserk bees in the
> late fall are no fun, because they rather walk than fly and they tend
> to walk as far inside your overall as possible and then get stuck and
> sting.

Not really, assuming you choose your time and conditions well. I would expect that, with a little smoke, used wisely, and preemptively, that very little activity would result.

> How would you ensure the boxes don't come apart when you turn the
> hive over? Do you think the propolis would be enough?

On my hives it almost always was, but lots of people scrape everything so that it looks new. I always figured the bees like it a bit gummed up and left it pretty much that way. If the equipment comes apart easily, why invert it? Just lift the second aside and treat from the top. I was assuming the case where separating the boxes could be difficult and disruptive.

> I have tried oxalic dripping two years in a row and apart from having
> to disturb the bees in the late fall, it's really simple. However,
> it's common knowledge that it's not enough to keep the mite levels
> down. It has to be combined with other methods (sorry if I'm stating
> a well known fact to you experts here). I have also been removing
> drone brood in the spring.

I think that this varies with a lot of factors and perhaps region. Some strains, like impure Russian or SMR crosses might be fine with one annual treatment, if indicated by monitoring. Each beekeeper needs to monitor mite levels. The problem with drizzling oxalic, is that I understand that it cannot be repeated several times in the fall without compromising wintering success.

For that reason, many are looking at oxalic evaporation, which has a lingering effect, and also can be repeated without apparent damage to the bees.


> I will also say from experience that a properly prepared single hive
> (8 frames brood & bees) will never produce the honey of a properly
> prepared double (16 frames of brood & bees).

I can't say that I have been able to prove that, and I've tried, so maybe it all depends on where you are, and other factors.

It also occurs to me that, perhaps, we are talking about different things: I'm assuming that using either 1.) a single or 2.) a double brood chamber, with an excluder on top, and that we are not pulling honey out of the brood chambers.

Moreover, beekeepers often talk about 'frames of brood', and then switch and immediately talk about 'frames with brood' interchangeably, and it gets very confusing. Sometimes, I wonder if it is done on purpose, but hopefully we can agree on terms here.

When measuring brood, I assume a frame of brood is about 90% brood, and contains (very roughly) 6,000 cells of brood. I also reckon an average frame with brood, often called ' a nice frame of brood', actually has about half that, if you actually measure and calculate the area. The problem is that a 1/2" strip with no brood around the edge doesn't look like much, but it reduces the amount of brood by 20%, and an inch of feed or empty cells around the perimeter reduces the actual brood by 35% -- from that 90%, and the brood is usually in an oval shape not square, further reducing our estimate. So, I'm wondering...

16 frames of brood, if that is what you really mean, and not 16 frames with some brood or 16 frames with bees and some brood, would be something like 96,000 cells of brood, and would seem to imply a queen laying 4,500 eggs a day non-stop, or two queens at 2,250 each. 16 average frames with brood would be the product of a pretty good queen, laying 2,250 eggs a day continuously over three weeks, and, according to a number of authors, that is a pretty good queen..

In my experience, about 9 to 12 frames fairly full of brood -- ranging from pretty full in the centre, to a decent patch on the outside frames, is normal at the peak of the season where I live. I seldom see 16, although I may see 16 with some brood on them.

In my experience, also, singles are able to get much bigger than 8 frames, if properly managed, so, again, maybe we don't mean the same thing. I'm talking about a single brood, but with an excluder and a second box or more added as needed, and 10 good frames in the bottom box. In a setup like that, the brood can easily be wall to wall, and the extra bees can fill the second, plus many supers. Some beekeepers do a little spreading of brood in singles, if required, but in my experience, if the queen needs the space, and there is adequate room for bees and feed in the seconds, the bees make room for her in the brood box. Sometimes there is not much except brood in the single bottom brood box. In my experience the frames of brood in a single also tend to be noticeably more completely covered with brood than those in doubles.

> And a properly prepared two queen ( 32 frames of brood & bees) will
> out produce the best double.

As for two queen hives, I just figure that they are really just two hives, stacked up, so of course they often make more honey than one hive, and they look impressive, to boot. However, in my experience, they seldom made twice what one did, and they sure could eat. Others report different results, but I calls 'em the way I sees 'em.

Keeping two hives, one on top of the other, was a lot of work, so I made some more floors, and went back to keeping each hive on one stand.


> Hi Allen
> Do you use anti virus software and what brand do you like I have
> Norton installed at the
> time but I find it too intrusive, the subscription runs out in Jan, it
> came with the machine.

I use the AVG free version listed on my security page http://www.honeybeeworld.com/misc/security.htm  and like it very much.  AVG never interferes and seems to catch all the bad stuff.  I use ZoneAlarm firewall free version, too, and have PestPatrol (evaluation) running in the background.  I also sweep regularly with Ad-aware (also free).

I don't care for Norton or McAfee and take them off any machine I find them on.



Heather asked me to pass the word along...

Queen Breeding Workshop
January 31, 2004 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

Guest Speaker: Sue Cobey,
Ohio State University, USA

Presentations and demonstrations on:

  • Breeding selection
  • Drone management & semen extraction
  • Queen management & insemination
  • Hygienic testing techniques
  • And much, much more...

Cost: $75 per person.  Limited space available (20 -30 people)

Contact: Rhéal Lafrenière (204) 945-4825

Location:  218 Animal Science/Entomology Bldg. University of Manitoba

Click to enlarge campus map

I heard today, from Heather, that CHC has decided to push for oxalic approval, covering both evaporation and drizzling treatments. 

When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
Norm Crosby

That is excellent news.  The only thing is that before they can go very far, they need money for the job, and are going to have to call on beekeepers for some help.  They need at least $30,000 to get the documentation from Europe, where it is already approved for use, and to get it through the regulatory hurdles in time for next year.

If they are successful, and they will be if everyone supports this effort, they will be saving everyone as much as $4 per hive next year.  If you have 1,000 hives, you stand to save $4,000 every year after the approval, assuming that oxalic works okay in your outfit.  You may have to invest a few hundred dollars for some evaporators, but after that you are looking at about $0.02 per hive per treatment!  Not only that, there is no residue problem with oxalic, and it is unlikely that the mites will become resistant to oxalic, so dig into your pockets and contribute.  I suggest a dollar for every hive you own.  It is a good investment.  Call Heather at (403) 208-7141 and be the first to step up to the plate and pledge money -- after me, (but I only have 50 hives).  Don't forget that this money is a business expense and if you don't use it for this you'll probably just wind up giving most of it to the tax man anyways.

Here is some oxalic supplier and cost info.  It is several years old, but should be close to actual:

  • Univar Calgary (403) 236-1713

    • Oxalic acid

    • 25kg 4.18/kg

  • Chemfax Calgary (403) 287-2055

    • 1kg, 5kg, 22.7 pails

    • $16.50, $62.10, $165.40

See also Oxalic Acid for Varroa and this search result.  Search the pages using Control+F, then type 'oxalic'

Speaking of the oxalic approval and need for money, I suppose I'm going to have to write about what I see as a very toxic aspect of beekeeping culture that I've been observing ever since I've first been involved in the is industry, and that is the almost total lack of leadership, coupled with a strong tendency on the part of beekeepers to try to run the other guy's business.

I'll elaborate soon, but right now, I'm going to lie down and have a nap.

From discussions on BEE-L...

> Allen posted in his Diary yesterday, December 24, 2003: I heard today,
> from Heather, that CHC has decided to push for oxalic approval,
> covering both evaporation and drizzling treatments."

Apparently, these treatments are approved in Europe and, so, much, if not all, of the work required to get them approved in North America has already been done. My understanding is that the Canadian Honey Council (CHC) figures they need about $30,000 CAD ($22,500 US) to get the approval done in Canada. The money is needed to get access to the European papers, consulting, translations, etc.

CHC is approaching beekeepers to raise the money, and although each beekeeper stands to save a minimum of $3 per hive per year -- oxalic costs 2c per hive per treatment compared to strips at anywhere from $3 to 5 per hive per year -- nobody seems to be rushing in to contribute, yet, anyhow.

There is one pharmaceutical company that is currently prepared to invest its own funds, but CHC feels the industry needs to take charge of the approvals. The reasons for this position are obvious: When corporate sponsors obtain approvals, the approval is specifically for their proprietary method of application or formulation, rather than for generic formulations or application methods. Although people have been getting away with using using generic versions of formic treatment, for example, with the new procedure accounting procedures that are coming in, using such cost saving tricks will require committing actual fraud in record keeping, and no longer be simply something that is not mentioned, ignored or overlooked.

Proprietary formulations or applicators are usually marked up very considerably over the cost of the active ingredient. Consider Apistan and Checkmite+: Each of these products contains only pennies worth of the active ingredient, but sell for dollars. We'd hate to see that happen with oxalic, especially since the work has been done and there is no need for proprietary formulations or applicators.

Although CHC is approaching beekeepers, it will be interesting to see what happens. Canadian beekeepers amaze me; even if they themselves will each save $5,000 every year -- starting as soon a s approval is arranged -- some I've talked to (many) won't kick in $1,000 (tax deductible) or two to make it happen, UNLESS the all the other beekeepers agree to pay first, and they are sure that everyone pays, since others stand to benefit from the results. Everyone waits to see if someone else will step forward first. Duh!.

The example of the US beekeepers in contributing faithfully to the anti-dumping on the hope of a future result, and other similar projects, should serve as an inspiration, I hope. Progress in the world has always depended on a few with vision making an investment to benefit the many. Nothing is ever accomplished by waiting for the other guy to do it.

Anyhow, I am sure the money will be raised -- somehow. Maybe US and Canadian beekeepers and organizations can work together to develop a case to present to all the various governments, and share the cost. The project is now underway and just needs a little money. I'm sure Heather would be happy to share and/or coordinate things.

Oxalic is a cheap and safe treatment, with little risk of product contamination or harm to the operator. It is about as effective as any of the non-Apistan and non-Checkmite+ methods have been found to be. Used with the new strains of mite-tolerant bees, oxalic may be all that is required for most of the time in the near future. Moreover, we can be fairly certain that the mites won't become resistant to oxalic soon.

We need some forward-looking beekeepers to step up and pledge money (how about $2.50 a hive?) to get the thing rolling. My $2.50 for my 50 hives isn't going to be enough. If you are a mover and shaker, and not one of those who waits for someone else to do the job for you, visit http://www.honeycouncil.ca  and drop Heather a line, or phone 403-208-7141.

Let's get the show on the road!


PS Be sure to add http://www.honeycouncil.ca  to your bookmarks. It is a good source of news and other information regarding beekeeping topics. The site is on a new format, and you have to hunt a bit, but there is a lot there, including information of the new HACCP-based procedures for honey house operation in Canada.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High 6. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 6. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 3.

Thursday 25 December 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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Chris and Jean and Mckenzie stayed the day and the night again.  We drove over to Landymores' for a visit and came back in early afternoon.  The turkey was ready by six and we sat down to the traditional supper.  Ruth came over and we had a good visit.

Given a choice between two theories, take the one which is funnier.
Blore's Razor

In the afternoon the others went for a stroll, but I went with my bike out to Elliotts and checked to make sure the hives were OK.  All seemed okay, but I saw some partial bees out front of one and suspect a shrew.  I looked inside and the bees seemed okay, so I don't know.

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. High plus 5. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 8. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 3.

Friday 26 December 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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Jean and Chris left about one, for his sister's in Calgary.  I spent the afternoon replacing a speaker and crossover in a baffle I built in 1979.  The 12" woofer had blown out, and I had a 15" unit on hand for some time, and had been intending to change it, but my hand was  forced by the loss of the speaker.  When I was done, I was glad I did the job.  The sound is much improved and now, I'll have to do the other one.  I suspect I'll have to tune the baffles a bit, but the bass sounds pretty smooth -- not like the subwoofer systems they sell the kids that play just one bass note, like a bass drum. 

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.
Jon Lithgow

Weather continues a bit above normal.  After the cooler than normal November and December, this moderation is welcome.

BEE-L is down for maintenance today and will be until, perhaps, Monday.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High zero. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 13. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4.

Saturday 27 December 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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BEE-L was up and running again by mid-day.  Is it my imagination, or is it running faster than before?  there was getting to be quite a time lag.

The first time I see a jogger smiling, I'll consider it.
Joan Rivers

Today I read a bit, and worked on an old 486 with windows 95 that has been kicking around here.  It still works fine, although Win 95 was hardly stable, and in the process of cleaning it up, the machine managed to crash several times.  That is something I do not miss now that I use XP.  That feature of older Windoze versions was a real test of a person's patience and character.  

In the afternoon, I upgraded the second speaker to match the first.  The sound is pretty good, now.

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. High minus 2. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 13. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4

Sunday 28 December 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've been using MYIE2 for my browser for quite a while now and find it is indispensable.  With its tabbed interface and choice of browsing modes, popup and ad killers, and complete compatibility with MSIE, I can power browse, multi-tasking, even over this 28.8 rural phone connection, and seldom have to wait around.  I hardly ever use Netscape or Opera or Mozilla anymore.  However recently I've had a problem: occasionally, when I switch for a moment to another program and try to come back, I have found that the entire MYIE2 program has disappeared and -- although I can see it running if I call up the task manager -- MYIE2 is completely hidden.  I cannot start another copy or get it to show up again until I reboot. 

When everyone is against you, it means that you are absolutely wrong-- or absolutely right.
Albert Guinon

This was getting annoying, so last night I wrote to MYIE2 support, thinking I had discovered a bug.  Amazingly (for a free program) I got a support reply back within an hour. The message said, somewhat cryptically to me, that I must have hit the 'Boss' key. 

I searched MYIE2 'help' and could not find any documentation for 'Boss' key.  'Boss key' did, however show up under 'options', so I examined it there.   By default, Alt+~ (or a sequence of your choice) activates the feature if a box is checked.  That sequence is right next to Alt+Tab, which I use all the time to switch windows, and I must have hit Alt+~ by mistake a few times.  I tried it out, and sure enough, the program completely disappears -- with not even a tray icon -- and then reappears when the same keys are pressed a second time.  What can it's purpose possibly be?   Why the strange name?   Mysterious! 

This morning the penny dropped.  I check my logs daily for problems with the site and notice that there is much more traffic on weekdays when people are at work.  Aha!  At work, people have a boss, and if they happen to be browsing when they should be working, Alt+~ might just come in handy

Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2003
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology
From: allen dick
Subject: [BEE-L] The 'M' in 'IPM' stands for 'Management'

>>> The whole point is that oxalic treatment is not very effective until there is little or no brood and, by delaying treatment until then, the young bees that we need to overwinter will have been infested with varroa. <<<

> I agree,. I 'm told that it is most effective with little or no
> brood present, meaning late fall treatments. In my mind late fall
> treatment of severe infected colonies are a complete waste of time,
> money and effort.

While these opinions may accurately reflect some situations, is it possible that everyone is missing the point?  Even after sitting through so many 'IPM' talks that I could spit, we are still thinking and talking in absolutes and speculating and acting on theory or speculation, not observation.

There are some key assumptions in the above dialogue that may or may not apply in all cases. Apparently these assumptions do not apply in large parts of Europe from what I hear. In my case, I never had enough varroa in the fall to do serious damage.

Others may be overrun. I don't know. I've practised IPM since before there was IPM, and have never seen high varroa levels, no matter how carefully I looked, even with minimal treatment. Why, I don't know, but I know.

The 'M' in 'IPM' stands for 'Management'.

Each time is the first time. Every case is, to some varying degree, different. We can hardly decide that something will not work, and discard it summarily on the basis of speculation, when we know that others are using it with success.

We need a full toolbox of methods and treatments, and we have to use them in response to what we observe at a particular moment of time in some particular circumstance, not what we think we will observe, what others have observed, what we saw last year...

We cannot just adopt some formula and blindly follow it. That has not worked and never will. Somehow, though people keep trying to reduce things to a ritual.

From the time we get up in the morning to when we go to bed, we react to what we observe, even when walking familiar paths, like from the bedroom to the kitchen. Maybe a door is closed. Maybe a toy is in the way. Maybe the furniture has been moved. Maybe we have to walk around someone. The path is safe and familiar, yet we cannot just walk blindly with assurance of arriving unscathed. We have to observe and respond appropriately.

Why, then, do we try to substitute rules for observation and reason when we work with our bees? Observing and responding appropriately, drawing on a fully equipped toolbox of ideas, methods, and products is necessarily behind all successful beekeeping.

Someone asked about my use of a single Apistan strip in spring, suggesting that I might be ignoring the label, and also fostering fluvalinate resistance. Well, this made me chuckle, since it seems that many do not know that the labels on Apistan vary considerably from country to country, or even exactly what their own label currently stipulates.

People also don't know what to do if the label says a strip for every five frames, and there are six frames of bees. Cut a piece off a strip and stick it in?  I know some people who would do that. Or maybe there are seven?  What then?

Imaginary voice speaks: "Wait, perhaps that is 6-1/2? It looked like 10 yesterday afternoon when it was warm and I was feeding, and it was 15 when I was telling my friends about my hive at the meeting last week"  (But the bee inspector called it four, with terminal AFB, and said to burn it)...  

Of course we are guessing, since 'a frame of bees' is an inexact measure and varies with the observer, the flow and the weather conditions. Should we then use two strips, and risk an overdose? Of course this is silly; the recommendations are necessarily an approximation and require some judgement on the part of users.

The safest and most logical assumption would be to round off the required number of strips to the nearest integer. If the label calls for a strip for five frames of bees, then 3 frames get a strip, as do 7, but if there are 8, then time for a second strip? What about two frames of bees? Zero strips? The label does not say, and that is where that rare commodity, common sense, could come in very handy.

Furthermore, anyone with much insight will realize that the numbers behind assessing the potential for the development of resistance are somewhat imprecise and speculative, seeing as many factors are not known and that the product will be used a wide range of conditions. The best that can be accomplished is an educated guess at the probabilities, and that is what makes up the label recommendations.

The window between overdose and under-dose may be wide or it may be narrow. The method and timing of application and the environmental conditions during the period of treatment are immensely important factors in determining this, but there is no way they can all be known or stipulated on the label. A recommendation that should be safe under all conditions is used, but odds are that is suboptimal in most situations.

As it happens, the single strip has proven pretty much exactly correct -- according to the label -- for the median cluster size in my spring colonies. Not only that, but my method ensures that the falling mites, many of which are merely stunned, fall far below the cluster into a cold and unoccupied portion of the hive, so that even the partially resistant ones should (hopefully) have no second chance, as they do in the fall when the cluster reaches to, and covers, the hive floor.

The early spring method I have used for the past few years has been developed for our conditions through careful observation by expert beekeepers and also meets the label specs. It also results in levels of mites far below those experienced by those beekeepers who slavishly follow the rules what they have heard recommended by people who have never had to buy a strip with their own money. ---

Each, any and all of the many approved and soon-to-be-approved control methods have their place, and can result in a cost-effective and sufficient control of varroa when used by beekeepers who know their enemy, and who take the time and effort to observe before selecting a weapon.



Today : Sunny. Becoming cloudy this afternoon. High minus 8. / Tonight : Periods of snow. Amount 2 cm. Wind becoming north 20 km/h this evening. Low minus 17. Wind chill minus 27. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4

Monday 29 December 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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> But. We are not talking about a benign chemical. If you are going to
> use it in an evaporator, unless you dress accordingly and have a
> respirator, you are in about as much danger as the mites you are
> treating.

This is the kind of thing that needs to be resolved, just as much as residue fears, and why some money needs to be spent in North America to obtain, translate, analyse and generally adapt the European material to North American conditions and sensitivities.

While some things may be overlooked in one jurisdiction, they may be carefully scrutinized and strongly regulated just over the fence. Worker safety and transportation rules differ around the world. In Europe, I would guess that most beekeepers do not have staff that is covered under workers compensation, yet in North America, thousands of outfits have hired help. This is a big consideration for commercial outfits planning to employ a chemical.

I notice that whenever we discuss legality and approvals, and other such topics, confusion reigns.  People state directly opposing opinions and understandings, and often, it seems all are correct to some extent. It seems that some people are carrying on with a practice publicly for years, yet someone else is being charged or given a hassle by authorities. In the past, a blind eye has been turned to many such practices, but this is a new world; scrutiny is coming to bear on everything we do, and, as we can see in politics, ultimately there are no secrets.

It is therefore increasingly important that, before using chemicals and techniques that might be questionable or have a risk component that all possible authorities be alerted, and consulted if possible. By being upfront and dealing with the objections and fears ahead of time, we make additional work and expense for ourselves, but then have the assurance that our products will be saleable, and that we are not in line for a lawsuit or legal action of some sort or another.

By consulting with all the various authorities and receiving input, issues may be identified that have not previously been raised, and all potential opponents brought on side.

I'm also sure that an improved application method can be devised to replace the crude and awkward evaporators on the market today that risk operator exposure to the vapour by their very design. Proper design would reduce the danger to operators and increase the consistency of application. The unit shown so clearly at http://beeman.se/research/oxalic/oxalic-1-nf.htm, while being OK for a single-operator outfit with a few hives to treat, is lacking for a large outfit with hired help and thousands of hives to manage.

http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/2002/diary111002.htm#oxalic shows an initial attempt at an applicator designed for commercial use. It is big and clumsy, but could be refined in mass production. The operator -- a well respected beekeeper -- assures me that, so far, he has seen good control using it experimentally over one year. He tested with strips on a sample of the treated hives a year after the first use, and found that there were few mites this fall, without having used any other treatment whatsoever. So, it works for him. We need to smooth off the rough edges, prove that it is safe, and works in more places than his yards, get oxalic approved for general use, and start to benefit.


Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

Aaron has his picture taken with Santa

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of flurries. High minus 12. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Low minus 19. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4.

Tuesday 30 December 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 trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.
Lily Tomlin

I spent the day doing some writing and other tasks.  I decided to start a page devoted to my thoughts and accumulated links on investment topics.  I found that I have a lot of pent-up thinking and I learn best what I think when writing it out.  The page is for me, but I don't mind sharing my thoughts. 

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High minus 11. / Tonight : Increasing cloudiness this evening. Low minus 13. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4

Wednesday 31 December 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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Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
W. C. Fields

New Years Eve.  Purves-smiths and the Orams (Jean & Chris & baby) came over.  We stayed up until midnight, playing games and watching "Just for Laughs", then called it a year.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High minus 2. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Low minus 14. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4.

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