Read, every day, something no one else is
reading. Think, every day, something
Wednesday 10 February 2004
I was tired today and stayed around the house until noon. It was a gorgeous day, however, with temperatures rising to 14C.
I went down to the beach and walked from Kits towards Jericho and back. I stopped at Future Shop and got a wireless card to try hooking my notebook into Ron's network, but was unable to connect, since Graham has encrypted the site, and Graham is up in the mountains building snow caves until Friday.
Today : Sunny. High minus 3. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 5 with temperature rising to minus 1 by morning.
Thursday 11 February 2004
After catching up on some paperwork in the morning, I caught the 1 PM ferry to Schwartz Bay, and went on through to Salt Spring. I had supper with Bruce at Moby's and that was my day. The weather was again, perfect.
Thursday : Sunny. Wind becoming west 30 km/h in the afternoon. High 7.
Friday 13 February 2004
I'm getting out of shape. All the worrying and dislocation from retiring has kept me from my usual activities, so today I suggested we take a hike, and we wound up at Burgoyne Bay Park.
Bruce is a rock hound and a bit of an archeologist, so he took his metal detector along. Going on walks with Bruce is always fascinating, since he always finds something. We found some wire and a carburetor, plus some bottle caps, but no treasure.
I spent the afternoon reading and sleeping a bit. Bruce helped Jane with setting up the film fest for tomorrow. We all met at Moby's for supper later.
Friday : Sunny. Low minus 1. High 7.
Sat & Sun 14 & 15 February
I spent Saturday reading, and attending the film fest. In the evening, I had supper at the Harbour House. That was notable in that I had a hamburger that rated with the best I've ever eaten
Sunday, I caught the ferry back and drove to Ron's.
Saturday : A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus
5. High plus 4.
Monday 16 February 2004
I took the rental car back, Neil picked me up, and we drove to Osoyoos, arriving in mid-afternoon. The usual gang was there and ready to work on bees,, but it was raining and we went down to the pub and visited for a while. Everyone was tired, so we all called it a day earlier than usual.
Today : Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h
this afternoon. High 5.
Tuesday 17 February 2004
In the morning, we went out to see Grant and Denis' bees. They all look good. It seems to me that Grant's look even better than last year, but it might be the fact that he has a chunk of expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam®) on the inner lids and that make the bees warmer, so they spread out more. I like to think that feeding supplement in spring has a lasting effect, however, and -- maybe it is my imagination -- but it seems to me that the bees retain some residual effect over the entire year, and that I can see the increased quality of the hives. Grant's losses are very low so far, around 5%, and that is to be expected, since we all have hives that lose queens at the end of the season and go into winter queenless. Few commercial beekeepers have time to check that late in the season, and, besides, we know that the disruption of checking late in the season can cause additional losses during winter. I think Grant must like the effects of the patties, too, since he was putting on as many as four on the good hives, while last year he only used one or at most, two on the first pass.
It was plus two Celsius and bitterly cold, but the guys went ahead with applying the patties. We watched a while, then headed for Alberta. We left around 9 and got home at 11 PM, after waiting 1-1/2 hours at Revelstoke for avalanche control.
Wednesday 18 February 2004
I rested up a bit today and started catching up with the pile of paper on my desk. I also got the Swinger going. It started on my first try today, after refusing to start all last month. I suspect the problem was that I had left summer diesel in it, and today the temperature was warm enough (+6C) to turn the fuel liquid again. I added some anti-gel compound to the fuel and imagine it will not give us any further trouble starting now, even if temperature drops to minus twenty.
Among things that I've had to face today is further problems with the Alberta Honey Producers Co-op. I've alluded to this before and suggested I'd say more, but, frankly, I'd hoped that if I ignored them, the problems would clear up, that we'd get along, and we'd all be spared the embarrassment of further confrontation. Apparently that hope is not shared by the AHPC board.
Apparently, rather than just say, "We understand, and this is only a tiny bit of product, we knew it was coming, it's only a matter of a few days, and we won't be packing your honey immediately anyhow -- and besides you have been a member for a long time" -- they are telling me, as I understand it, and I hope I am mistaken -- that due to this bad weather,
I'm told that I can appeal to the board, etc., but what does that mean? They've already made up their minds. Is there a chance they will change their position? All this over a few days here or there, an inconsequential amount of honey, and after we have delivered many hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years? Am I being silly, or does this not seem unnecessarily hard, and a bit oppressive? Write me, and tell me if I'm wrong.
Maybe I should add that AHPC has been complaining that members are not delivering enough honey -- and seem upset with me for not shipping my whole crop to them although we have no contract to do so -- so, I also, in the same note, mentioned that a young fellow who had bought bees from me might be interested in delivering against our quota. I did not specify whether into the past or coming crop year. They refused that as well. What is with these people? Am I missing something? I think I've finally lost my patience with this kind of treatment from a firm that I -- supposedly -- own and which should be operating, at least to some measure, to my benefit. Are there others who feel that they are being mistreated? I'd like to know.
Although, at one time, AHPC very much lived up to the "co-operative" part of their name, in in their dealings with me, in recent years I have found them very unco-operative. In fact, their actions in dealing with me recently seem overtly oppressive to my interests as a member, capricious and petty. Recent AHPC boards have changed policies in mid-stream without sufficient notice to members to allow members to adjust, and then they have enforced arbitrarily and oppressive policies towards some of us, for little gain, but much acrimony. I find this puzzling and unprofessional. I also wonder about its legality.
Over the years, while I was a big shipper, I was always impressed that I was, personally, treated extremely well at AHPC, but at times I've seen what appeared to me to be unjustified and arbitrary treatment towards other members. I've always believed that this cultural problem has done the organisation great harm over the years and is largely responsible for the continuing decline of the organisation. I have tried to change the AHPC culture for the better and even (successfully) defended a former chairman of the AHPC board when they kicked him out over a similar oversight. I would have though that they would have learned.
In my own case, I noticed a change as soon as I announced my upcoming retirement. Up to that point, I always found AHPC accommodating and reasonable, but in the past several years I have experienced little but hassle and pettiness in my dealings with them. I think I cannot ignore this any longer, for my own sake, and for the sake of other members or would-be members.
Inasmuch as I'll have to turn attention to this unpleasant matter, and decide how far to take it, and how, I'll try to outline and document the whole series of events that have led to my disillusionment with AHPC, as candidly as I can over the next few weeks as I have time and energy and share it here so others with similar problems, and those with their money at risk in the co-op can see how they might fare someday, and comment.
Tomorrow, I am headed to Edmonton tomorrow for a two day meeting. The agenda is on the ABA website.
Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High 9.
Thursday 19 February 2004
I awoke a little later than I intended, and drove to Edmonton. I missed the first two presentations, and found the room packed. This annual meeting has become very popular and people come from far and wide to attend. It is very pleasant to go to these meetings, since many of the people in the industry are like family to me, and we have known one another, or known of one another for decades and gone through many campaigns together. It does not matter much whether we were allies or adversaries; most of us get over things and try to deal with the issues as they come up without getting personal.
9:00-9:15 John Brown: The Apiculture Program in Alberta Agriculture.
This presentation was very interesting in that we learned of all the various antibiotics and other potential contaminants that the Canadian Food Inspection agency (CFIA) looks for in domestic and imported honey and the extremely sensitive techniques they use. In most cases, the sensitivity is in single-digit parts per billion or better.
10:30-11:20 Adony Melathopoulos: The 3R’s of Managing AFB.
With the spread of rAFB over much of North America, AFB and its control has become a popular topic. Moreover, with advent of coumaphos use in Alberta, beekeepers now face the need to change their brood combs often due to the rapid buildup of this chemical in wax and its deleterious effects on queens and drones. While this rapid rotation will be a necessity for coumaphos users, those who can avoid Checkmite+ use can get longer life out of their combs by using irradiation to sterilize them periodically or if faced with AFB scale in them.
I am a skeptic about the economics of replacing more than a few brood combs a year, and have found that bees have never wintered well for me on new comb, compared to darker comb. Moreover, those wishing to expand can seldom afford to discard brood combs unless they are damaged. Consequently, I counsel caution to those thinking of using Checkmite+ and/or discarding perfectly good brood comb prematurely.
3:30-4:30 Bob Ballard: Alberta Beekeepers Strategic Plans. Grant Hicks: Alberta Beekeepers
I skipped this part. I'm retired, and, besides everyone knows I am not a supporter of the concept. It's none of my business, so I butted out. Ralph wanted to see the West Edmonton Mall, so Joe, Oene and I took him on a tour until Medhat, Bob and Gertie were able to meet him for supper.
7:30-8:30 Edmonton and District Beekeepers Association Meeting with Sue Cobey, Ralph Büchler, Adony Melathopoulos, and Medhat Nasr. Panel Discussion on Bees, Pests & Diseases.
I skipped his too, but hear it was good.
Thursday : Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h. High 7.