A Beekeeper's Diary

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-- John Gunther --

Pictures sent by Kristy at Stawn's Honey, Vernon, B.C. Canada

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Saturday 10 January 2004
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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Blaise Pascal

I got a message back from Peter Kevan, and, rather than try to interpret, I'll reproduce his proposal in the Forum and people can comment.  (We'll also find out if the forum works, since no one seems to post there anymore, after the last screw-up). 

I've also been thinking we could get a group of interested beekeepers together, at either Winnipeg, or the Alberta IPM meeting coming up in February, or both, to discuss how we will finance this and which beekeepers will get to have the work done on their locations. 

The budget Peter has roughed out looks a bit daunting if you just glance at it, but if you consider that he is not taking into account that the seed growers have offered to match any research money raised by their beekeepers and that there are 40,000 hives on pollination -- 50,000 next year? -- and that one of the biggest problems on pollination is poor nutrition and the effects of poor nutrition such as poor wintering, queen loss, poor spring build-up, etc, and also the fact that a lot of in-kind may be able to be treated as cash, I think we can get together a "Coalition of the Willing", and do this thing.

Please do not even mention a commission and how that will solve all our troubles, because, even if it comes about, eventually, I guarantee it will be same old, same old, and even if it raises money and makes lots of noise, nothing real will get done.  Of course I'll never prove this to anyone, but let's talk in three years...

What this job needs right now is ten beekeepers with vision and leadership who will take it on, this spring, and commit a few hives and a few thousand dollars a year, in hopes of saving that same amount in each of future years, by knowing what to feed, when to feed; and by having better bees on account of it.  There is also the possibility of forming a company to manage the project and own the results, although I prefer the idea of doing the job for its own sake and sharing the results freely.

We need people who would love to have the project take place right in their own yards so they can learn what works and what doesn't, up close and personal.  The study will not damage the hives in any way and will not inconvenience the beekeepers.  There should be no loss of crop.  In fact, the hives in the study should do better than those not in it, since they will be examined more carefully.  Those who sign up stand to benefit big by being at the front of the line and by getting the inside track on what to buy and what to avoid.

Check out the proposal in the Forum, and feel free to make the project your own.  I'm really excited about this, but I am retired.  It is up to my friends to see the value in this and ante up.  I can see that the seed companies should be very excited, too.   Please everyone, call your friends, get some discussion going here and ask questions in the forum if you don't understand.  As I see it, the project could take as little as $15,000 a year from the beekeepers, plus some supplies you are already buying.  That is pennies per hive, and the rewards are HUGE!

I spent a few thousand dollars a few years ago having Adony do some studies on my farm, and the benefits far outweighed the costs.  I learned a lot.  This kind of thing is not an expense, it is an investment.  A good one, too.


Hello Allen,

Attached please find few pictures for your collection.

Thanks to my friends dealing with thermovision devices I had a chance to see my hives in IR view. Pictures are made on 6. January about 23:30, ambient temperature -10 Celsius (14 F).  Hope you find it interesting.


View of 3 hives.  The rightmost have 2 heat centers because I stacked a nuc above mother colony and they didn't unite yet.


A nuc shown in an infrared photo.

Best wishes,
Ivan


Ivan's pictures were a hit, and so I wrote him again.  In response, he sent more detail:

Hi Allen,

I included into pictures all available information.  Camera type is ThermaCAM P60 by FLIR Systems company. Courtesy of http://www.TMVSS.cz   Can you pass it on BeeGadgets, please?

Thanks, Ivan

P.S. Hives are located in the Central Europe, Czech Republic (50N 13,75E).  I am hobbyist having few hives at backyard. Wooden bodies about 2 cm thick.


Today : A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming west 30 km/h near noon. High 7. / Tonight : A few clouds. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light overnight. Low minus 5. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4.

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Sunday 11 January 2004
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Okay.  I'm off to an early start on Sunday's page.  Here is some food for thought.

Hello again Allen

Sorry to bother you, I know you are not into the "retail" side of beekeeping supplies but I wonder if you might be able to suggest some sources for April 1st delivery queens. I was told last fall that January was the usual order time but nobody seems to be able to commit to delivery any earlier than June 21st.  As you can imagine I am starting to worry that my yard preparation and equipment purchases and preparation are not going to be very productive!!!!

Anyhow.... hope you have some ideas for me , and I look forward to hearing from you when you have time

Thanks again
Kamloops BC

Meijers were over the other night and commented that Gus is now taking $3 deposits on next spring's queens (a good idea IMO) and that queens are still in desperately short supply.  He should have done that a long time ago, and then might have had the confidence to expand enough to fill all the orders.

I am really quite disgusted that the shortage continues.  Nobody can buy queens at any price, and the small beekeeper who is not well connected or who is not in touch with suppliers constantly gets the shaft.  I know small beekeepers who had to let their nucs make their own queens last spring simply because no queens were available.  I know other beekeepers who had packages on order to replace their serious losses and had their orders simply cancelled due to shortages.

Did I mention that this is a disgrace -- and a terrible reflection on our national organisation?


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We are beginning for feeding the bees


I work with hive Dadant Blatt and (arnia italica carlini ) the supers is high 15,5 cm and is exclusive for storage honey


Moffett forklift - used for the movements of the hive


The forklift loaded onto the truck


Cargo of beehives after the eucalyptus.

Wow!  I'm getting lots of pictures from my friends around the world.   Here are some from an outfit in Italy.  Now, Italy is one place I really want to visit some day.  Maybe I'll see these hives in person some day.

Hello allen

Thanks to you for all the job that you make and for the example that give to the bee-keepers I send some photos on our job with the bees.

Giuseppe Caboni


I live in San Sperate town in Sardegna country and I have 34 year old and writing bad, bad English excuse me.  I hope to learn it better.

I make honey of citrus , miillefiori , cardo (galactites tormentosa), eucaliptus (eucalyptus camaldulensis), asfodelo (asphodelus microcarpus - http://www.fotodisardegna.it/flora/a/asfodelo.htm),  and particularly honey bitter corbezzolo (arbutus unedo)

Regards
Giuseppe Caboni

See http://www.unaapi.it/ -- Italian professional beekeeping site


Thanks, Giuseppe, these are great pictures.!  If you have any explanations for the pictures, I would be glad to put them here.

I reduced the pictures to a smaller size than the originals and made thumbnails.

As with most of the small images on my pages, clicking on any thumbnail should open a larger image in a new window.


Trucks for the transport of the hives (Mecedes Atego 18/28 k)


Syrup pump


Honey extractor room by tomas (


Supers indoors at my company, “Cooperativa Apistica Mediterranea”


The ability to foresee that some things cannot be foreseen is a very necessary quality.
 Jean Jacques Rousseau

Getting all these pictures is wonderful.  Please, everyone, keep your eyes open for interesting pictures and send them to me, BUT, if you are sending me more than 500 Kb, please save your messages until January 24th, since I will be away and using my little computer and a dialup connection in hotels until then.

Today : Sunny. Wind becoming west 20 km/h this morning. High 7. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 5. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4.

Monday 12 January 2004
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I took down the nutrition forum last night, after receiving further comments from Peter.  It seems that wishes take a proprietary approach to research, and wants to maintain ownership of trade secrets, etc. in a company or similar structure, and that he is not comfortable with sharing even the very vague and tentative outline that was presented.  Perhaps a less public and transparent approach will work, and perhaps some investors will step forward, however, this approach increases the risk, presents obstacles to getting set up, and changes the focus.  I had thought that I could throw something together quickly, but this approach will take time and the structuring and agreements will make lots of work for lawyers, if it proceeds.

My Grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.
Henny Youngman

I've exchanged a few ideas with Peter, and it seems he has a prototype diet that the bees will eat, but I have not seen any data on the efficacy of feeding it compared to anything except BeePro, which the bees, for some reason would not eat in his experiment.  That latter thing seems odd, since global makes patties with BeePro to special order for some large and successful beekeepers and they have never complained.  We fed BeePro patties, ourselves, and never had any less consumption when compared to other diets.  At any rate, peter seems more interesting in developing, refining and proving his own diet than in analyzing our current diets for efficacy, and that is what we originally had in mind.

Who knows, maybe, non-beekeeper that I am these days, I would even invest in a company personally, since I am looking for good investments anywhere they can be found, but, I'd put up money only after seeing how I would get a payback.  At this point, I can't see much hope for getting a return on investment out of this project for purely financial backers.  I can see how the researchers make money for sure, the patty maker might benefit, if the work is credible, and he can recover the royalties and increase business as well, and the beekeepers stand to save a lot if an improved product gives a bigger bang for the buck. 

The drawbacks are that proceeding this way adds greatly to the cost, and the risk, and thus the amount that needs to be advanced and the amount, therefore that must be recovered eventually.  It also looks to me as if making up insect diets is a common skill, and if there is any sign of profit, every bee researcher in North America will have his or her own propriety formula within a year, driving down any possible premium on the a new improved formula. 

The other problem is credibility.  People rely on independent studies, and tend to be much more skeptical about work done by the same outfit that markets the product, so commercialization of this project would, at first glance, tend to devalue any results.

I had thought we could throw together an informal coalition where the beekeepers would get some information, and the researchers would be paid for their work.  I had thought that a discussion forum would allow all to consider the project and that it might be close to running by the time I get back.  The results would be public.  Global would continue to make patties at the lowest possible cost for beekeepers.  Win/win/win, I thought.

Perhaps the idea of proprietary formulae and royalties, etc. can work, but I just do not have the time right now.  I'm off to Florida tomorrow, early and will gone 10 days. After that, the Winnipeg meeting comes up fast.  I'll probably miss it.  I had thought of preparing a PowerPoint presentation for that meeting, since CHC should be extremely interested in that analysis, which demonstrates -- clearly and unequivocally -- the damaging effects of border closure on Western Canada since 1986.  However I have received no comment or interest from CHC, not even an acknowledgement that the idea is worth pursuing, and have not gotten around to polishing it up and double-checking the work.  I don't think they want to see the damage they have wrought on our industry.  I wonder how the view is from there?


Allen,

 Now that your hive inventory has been reduced down to around 50 or so hives I am curious as to what changes to your old methods you plan to use for Spring Management:

1)       Feeding Protein

2)       Feeding Syrup, Co-op with others to buy a Tanker Load

3)       Installing Packages

4)       Making Splits

5)       Spring Management

6)       Fall Feeding

7)       Supering, Pulling Supers, and Extraction

I imagine that your strategy has changed quite a bit. I wonder how you will go about the changes; and, I hope that your Diary will discuss as the days go by your current approach to beekeeping. The outcomes could benefit the sideliners and the hobby beekeepers. I wish you and Ellen a very successful New Year, good health, and happiness. Hope that you enjoy Florida.

 Always the Warmest Regards,

 Chuck


Well, , actually, several people who got bees from me last year, liked them very well and want to buy the remainder from me.  I have promised the bees to one of them.  Probably, there will be some hives that are not quite up to it, and so I may have 5 or so left, but I hope not.

If package bees were available, which they are not, I'd install a hundred or so into the empty brood chambers I have left, super and go on holidays.   They'd develop, and I'd extract in August, then we'd winter them, selling again the next spring.

However, packages are not available.  Not even Australian packages!  Everything, including April and may queens, is sold out, and it looks as if we are snookered, largely due to the dominance of ideology of economics in the national organisation.  I think maybe they see now how they shot us in the foot and cost our industry millions and millions of dollars in lost growth, extra expense and risk, and are coming around, but the damage is done and small beekeepers, particularly, like me now, are paying the price of their hubris.

 If I were running the hives, though, my management would not be very different from what I did in the past.  I have a tank of syrup on hand, but if I needed one, I'd just take a drum to a nearby commercial beekeeper and get it filled.  I'd expect to pay a few dollars over his cost for the bother, but many would just pass it on at their cost.

As for the pulling and extracting, I'd just pull the honey, weight the supers and take them to a friends for commercial extraction, as I did last year.

All in all, I'd say the way things have been described on the diary pages of previous years is pretty much how I would do things now.  The only change I'd make is to try to get away from using drugs entirely over the next few years.  To do that I'd want hygienic, mite resistant queens, and our lack of access to US queens hampers that approach, or at least makes it difficult.  I'm not interested in going through the bother of selecting and raising my own, and do not know of a supplier I would trust in Canada, particularly one who would have queens for a decent price at a time of year when I would want them and a way of getting them delivered here.


Allen,

As a businessman, I understand your response; however, as a Beekeeper I am saddened by your response, as I know that you have a deep love for beekeeping and honey bees.

I agree about the Border situation - see my posts in Bee-L - the Border could be opened very easily with just an order having rec’d the proper recommendations from the proper people. It would have been easy. Dirty Politics! Canada needs bees and queens from the lower 48, in April 2004 and Canada needs those queens and packages now! Too many people besides Beekeepers depend upon honeybee pollination.

Again, Warmest Regards,

Chuck


I imagine I can get lots of beekeeping in when I want, at neighbours' yards.  For now, I'm enjoying the freedom.


I mentioned a shortage of queens a few days back, and got this note from Kristy at Stawn's Honey.  They are a supplier in the B.C. Okanagan district.  I tend to think in terms of 100s of queens, and just check the Alberta Co-op.  At one time, the Co-op was on top of the market and got stock from anywhere any could be found.  Lately, they may not be as aggressive in seeking supplies, and for those who need fewer queens or packages, there may be some available here and there.  It pays to ask around.  Some of the large commercial beekeepers bring in stock and sell the extra to others.  Sid Greidanus, Reese Chandler, and others do this in Alberta.

Pursuant to your diary page regarding the guy looking for Spring Queens in Kamloops... we have 200 coming the first week of April and 100 the next week... most of them are already spoken for but I can most likely accommodate at least some of his needs. He'll have to be quick though, I'm expecting people to start ordering them soon.

Kristy
Stawn's Honey


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Australian Bee Industry Information

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Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.
John Ruskin

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. High 6. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Wind becoming west 20 km/h overnight. Low 1. / Normals for the period : Low minus 16. High minus 4.

Tuesday 13 January 2004
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We were up early, and Ellen drove me to the airport for my early morning  flight.  Around 5:30 in the evening, I landed at Orlando, and by 5:55 had rented a car, a bright red Hyundai Accent.  It was a peppy, comfortable little car with A/C and power windows (and no cruise), but revved at 2,900 RPM on the highway, even in overdrive, which strikes me as a bit high.  My Olds turns 1,900 at the same speed. 

I usually measure mileage on rental cars to see how they compare, but I did not get an exact mileage reading on this one, since we forgot to write down the final fill, but the first tank figured out to be around 30 MPG (US) or 38 MPG (imperial).  I suspect that the tank was not completely full when I got it, and expect it might have been doing a bit better than that.  All in all, it was a nice little car and I would not mind owning one, although I prefer larger luxury models.

From Orlando, I headed for Jacksonville.  Aaron and I had agreed to share a room at the convention and travel for a few days after, sharing expenses , but I didn't know exactly where the hotel would be or if he would have arrived yet, so I stopped in Orange Park.  By that time, I was getting too tired to go searching for the hotel on the chance that Aaron was already there.  I had trouble finding a room, but finally, I wound up at a Comfort Inn for the night.

Tuesday : Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h. High 7.

Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
Steven Wright

Wednesday 14 January 2004
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In the morning, I was in no rush to get moving, since the ABF program was mostly opening ceremonies and business until noon, so I drove around a bit, arriving around noon.  The hotel was not, as it turned out, on the beach as it had appeared in the photo, but actually inland a ways.  This was a disappointment to me, since ocean beaches for me are almost a religious experience and one of the reasons for choosing the ABF over the AHPA this year..  At any rate, it was a pretty fancy place.  A valet took my car away on arrival, and I didn't see it again for three days.

Aaron had arrived the previous day and had a room.  I settled in and soon I was mingling with old friends.  The first person I ran into was Bob Harrison. I took in the afternoon program and got used to being in a warm climate.


In the sessions, Gordy Wardell discussed his new liquid bee diet, which is still under development.  He distributed quite a quantity to co-operators and is waiting to get results back.  I get the impression that some of the recipients are not sending results back, leaving him waiting.  It would be nice if the laggards would get moving on this, so that the analysis can be completed and the formula fine-tuned.

Anita Collins held a session in which, among other things, she discussed the effects of coumaphos on the development of queens and also the build-up rate of residues in brood comb wax.   Apparently, it goes to 25 ppm the first year, 50 the second, then accumulates a bit more slowly thereafter.  The distribution is even over the entire comb and not just concentrated at the site of the strip.  At 100 ppm, tests have shown that the success of queens raised in cells made of such wax falls to less than 25% of the original hatch, when checked after a few months.  There is an immediate drop in grafting success, but even the queens that look okay, are not present in their hives a few months after introduction.

I've always been convinced that coumaphos is very bad stuff and would never put it into my hives.  Looking around, I really don't think that good beekeepers ever need to use it, although there is a definite place for it among those too brain-dead or disorganized to learn IPM, or in emergencies.  There are other, much less destructive solutions to varroa.  

Once used, coumaphos never goes away, and brood comb in hives treated with Checkmite+ should be eliminated from the hive after about five years of such use.  That gets burdensome and expensive.  We always figured that 10% was a comfortable rotation rate, and that going above that cost production. 

As I have said before, I have never lost even one hive to varroa, and always had low counts with minimal treatment, but scrupulous monitoring, and cannot see a need for coumaphos, except for emergencies, where varroa gets ahead of the beekeeper.

Wednesday : A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 3. High plus 3.

Thursday 15 January 2004
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Humor is just another defense against the universe.
Mel Brooks

I woke up and realized that I had come to the meeting partly to distribute literature for Global Patties.  Frank wants to ship into the US, and we had already met the FDA and the bioterrorism requirements, so I realized that I should make up some handouts.  At this point, my previous preparation paid off, and I was able to simply go to the business office and have a hundred sheets run off from the ads on the Global Patties website.

The National Honey Board presentation was, as always good and informative.  They are working on coming up with a mass spec fingerprint for each varietal honey -- and for HFCS and for Ultra filtered honey.  They also showed a table of the mineral contents of each and that was very instructive.  It seems that it is getting easier to see exactly what is in a jar of honey. 

Frankly, I cannot see why the US honey producers are trying to destroy the NHB.  Since its inception it has done a lot of fine work.   Granted, it has made some mistakes, but my feeling is that the industry would be totally sunk by now if not for the NHB.  As I sat in a session with four packers at the front discussing the honey market, it became very apparent to me that the packers' objectives are not nearly congruent with the beekeepers, and that handing them the NHB is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

The packers -- including the co-op -- want to sell generic honey in large quantities.  Their main concern -- clearly expressed at the session -- is to keep the US mass market at around 400 million pounds, so that they do not get into a battle with one another, or suffer shrinkage.  Their margins are determined by competition, and price and market share is a bigger concern to them than quality.

The US beekeeper, on the other hand, has very different objectives.  Local markets and varietal honey, with zero adulteration serve them best.  Less than 200 million pounds -- half the current US market -- is all they produce, and if the market shrunk to 200 million pounds with much fewer imports and higher prices, that would be fine for beekeepers.  I think that is where the AHPA thrust has been going, but they have been swimming upstream against a strong US dollar and honey producing countries that have their currency pegged to the US dollar, at artificially low rates to boot.

All this may get better soon as China will be letting the renminbi float up a bit and the euro's strength is focusing exporters attention in that direction.  Japan's economy is starting to get going again, too, and Japan was once a huge market for honey.

US leadership in the world economy has benefited US consumers, but had a terrible toll on US producers.  The US has taken on the burden over the past decade in the absence of other contenders, but China is now growing its domestic demand and planning to reduce its export growth, which has been running 30% a year.  (see 'links' for more background).  Europe and Japan seem to be coming back from a long readjustment period, so maybe the worm will turn.  One thing is for certain: the US needs to take the pressure off its producers for a while and let them heal.  A dropping US dollar is providing relief, and the rise in other currencies is helping too.

The Baton Rouge Bee Lab Report ended the morning, and is covered later on in this diary. In the afternoon, there was no program; rather, we had a choice of tours.  Aaron and I chose the Agricultural Museum.  It was a long bus ride, and, as it turned out, the museum was mostly just a dream at present.  We visited a barn, and the central building, and had a lecture, then went to a historical resort at the Flats.  On the way back, snaking through narrow country lanes over swamp and fields, our bus driver sideswiped a post and we had to wait for a mechanic to bring an new hub cover, then we drove to Saint Augustine for supper at the Columbia Restaurant, and back to the hotel.

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Thursday : A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 4. High plus 2.

Friday 16 January 2004
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I saw a number of Canadians at the ABF, more than in previous years, i think.  Moreover, I heard that there was a large Canadian contingent at the Texas AHPA meeting.  IMO, that is a good thing, and maybe a precursor to reintegrating the North American bee industry.

Something that comes to mind is that we all hear horror stories about US beekeepers being wiped out by varroa, usually told by someone who knows the beekeeper involved personally.   The tales are really impressive and usually explain how the beekeeper just walked away from hives or lost everything.

To listen to these stories, we'd think that the whole US industry is a wreck, yet I did not see that when in the US kicking hives, or when I did an analysis of the Canadian and US industries after 1986 using historical data from both countries.  I did see the effect of the extraordinarily strong US dollar and cheap imports on the US beekeepers, but, when the effect of price was nulled out, no significant fallout from mites was apparent.

In Western Canada, on the other hand, the effect of mites was drastic, since the threat of mites closed the border and cut beekeepers off from the cheap supplies of replacement bees on which the majority in the West depended and still needs for optimal production.

Anyhow, to get back to the horror stories, I've concluded that at least some are true, but that, since the US is so huge, such tales of woe are not significant compared to the success stories that were going on at the same time but are seldom mentioned.  Human nature being what it is, people love to talk up the shocking tales, but are not as eager to discuss the success of those who have done well.  For one thing, it is always more pleasant to talk about those who were not as smart as us, but less enjoyable to have to admit that others saw opportunity where we only saw risk and who have done much better than us.

In Canada, we hear tales of huge losses in the US due to mites, but, when it comes right down to it, these tales are not representative of the whole.  They are fascinating, but a distraction from the truth, and the truth is that the US industry is doing just fine, thank you very much, now that prices are a bit better.


Something noteworthy that came up in one session, is that many of such losses can be attributed to use of non-approved farm pesticides for mite control.  The result of such treatments is often hives that are of no value due to high residue levels.  Lawrence Cutts reported in one session that if you add up all the hives in the USA, and then add up all the Apistan™ and Checkmite+™ sold in the country, that the obvious conclusion is that 95% of the hives in the USA are being treated with non-approved methods.


By the way, in case it is not apparent, there are many concurrent sessions at the AFB, and I am only mentioning the ones that interested me personally and which I attended.

Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it.
Max Frisch

- Diana Sammataro: “Softer Ways to Control
Mites”
- Gordon Wordell: “Meeting the Challenges of
Developing a Liquid Bee Diet”
- “Status of the Voluntary Quality Assurance Program” -
Julia Pirnack, Executive Vice President, NHB
- “The Packer Importer Honey Board” -
- Weslaco Bee Lab Report:
- Frank Eischen: “Fungicides: Friends or
Foes?”
- Patti Elzen: “How Chemicals Affect Your
Bees”

Friday : Sunny. Low minus 6. High zero.

Saturday 17 January 2004
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- “Alternative Mite Controls” - scientist panel

The ABF meetings wound up in the afternoon.  We had reserved and room for the evening, and stayed the night, but skipped the banquet.

As it turned out, I had lent my laptop to a presenter for the morning session and, when I got it back, the power cord got left behind.  By the time I figured that out, in the evening, the National Honey Board had picked it up and, for some reason know only to them, shipped it to Colorado.  Thus, I found myself without a computer until I could find a replacement power supply.  If you have read my security page, you know how I feel about public terminals, but, even if I wanted one, there were none to be found, other than the one in the business office for 65c a minute and open only 9-5.

Aaron got to thinking about the cold weather -- twenty-five below on the news -- at home in New York State, and called home only to learn that his house had frozen up in his absence.  Apparently the furnace had failed to light, but restarted at the press of the reset.  This news posed an quandary for Aaron -- whether to stay until Friday as planned and look around and/or visit beekeepers, or to rush home to start repairs.  Without a clear idea of what he would do, we went day to day until he finally decided that, after contacting the insurance company several days later, that he would stay.  As a result of that indecision, we decided not to drive to the Keys -- a 8 to 10 hour drive --  but stay close to Orlando, where our flights were scheduled for our trips home.

Sunday 18 January 2004
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Just before noon. we checked out of the Sawgrass Marriott and headed south on A1A with no clear destination in mind.  We soon arrived in Saint Augustine and decided to explore a bit.   In our explorations, we crossed the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia island and came across the Alligator Farm.  That sounded interesting, but we had no idea how fascinating a place it was until we went in and started looking around.  The exterior is understated and their website lacks pictures, but the 'Farm' turned out to be a large, well managed, and accredited zoo.

After watching the feeding of the adult 'gators, then spending the afternoon looking at exhibits and feeding the baby alligators, we decided to find some supper.  We had been told of a good restaurant, by people we had met on the dinner tour to Saint Augustine, and so we stopped the Seafood Kitchen, for supper.  After, we found a very nice motel on the beach on Anastasia Island.  Apparently January is off-season, and we got a good room for $45. 

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Mark Twain

I've often had connection problems with his laptop, and wonder if it is the modem.  The processor is only a 600 Mz PII with 192 MB on board, and the modem software seems to take a lot of its processor power, especially when a connection is poor.   Under such conditions, multi-tasking often results in dropped lines, and even without any other processor load, lines are often dropped without apparent reason.   I think it is time for a new machine, but I have been watching prices drop and features improve, and don't want to spend on a new machine any sooner than necessary.

I wanted to be able to check email, so went to Staples to get a power supply.  Once there, I saw a good deal on cameras and picked up good one for $179.  It's a Samsung with 3X optical zoom, 3+ megapixels, plus MPEG and sound capability.  Once I booted the laptop, unfortunately, we found the phone system did not support Internet access very well and connections were slow and dropped again and again.  It was aggravating, to say the least

Monday 19 January 2004
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 | Four Years ago | Forum | Sale | Home | Write me

At our motel front desk, we learned that we could get a three day trolley pass, and it included a shuttle downtown, so we bought one each and then hopped the shuttle to the lighthouse.

I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.
Woody Allen

From there, we caught the shuttle downtown and took the trolley around the town.  By then it was raining, and we got off at the Old Jail for an indoor tour.  We then took the trolley back to the centre of town and looked into a few shops and had lunch outside, on the balcony of a Mexican restaurant.   After a bit more poking around, we went back to the motel for the evening.
 

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