A Beekeeper's Diary

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-- Ralph Waldo Emerson --

A nice frame of brood in a package hive almost three weeks after installation.  It's a big picture, so may be slow loading.

A frame from a package hive

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Monday 10 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

If all the rich people in the world divided up their money among themselves there wouldn't be enough to go around.-- Christina Stead

Today, finally, is the deadline for the comment period on queen importation.

Today is also the day on my calendar that splitting should be underway in my part of Alberta, with a goal of finishing by the 24th.  (We should have US queens NOW, not whenever CFIA eventually gets moving).

Allen's Link 

of the Day: A Good Article on Virus-writers in the New York Times Magazine

Today -- May 10th -- we count 6 weeks before the beginning of July.  Splitting now ensures adequate build-up in time to make a crop, and, about now, the first big hatch of brood is emerging, making the populations big enough to split safely.  Over the years, I have proven to myself -- over and over -- that splits made after May 24th can sometimes pay off, but in other years, bees split later are not ready for the main flow.  Such colonies can be made for increase, to produce the following year, but they cannot be expected to produce much the first year -- unless the flow is unusually late.

Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet. -- Dave Barry

One factor that can affect late May splits is a dearth that occurs in June and early July, some years, slowing build-up.  Feeding patties and syrup can help, but the best thing is to make the splits as early as the hives are strong enough and a decent flow is underway to ensure queen acceptance, so the colonies are powerful enough by June to keep building.  Earlier than May 10th, and many years, most colonies have often not completed enough brood rearing to have enough young bees to make good splits.  Too much later, and the bees may decide to split themselves and leave before you get there.

I have written reams about splitting in the past, but I notice that I had not indexed it, so maybe only a few readers have found it lately.  Ooops!

I'm updating my anti-virus -- AVG -- daily now, and finding there is always an upgrade.  If you are not updating daily, maybe you should.

Today : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this afternoon. Wind south 20 km/h. High 8. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight : Rain changing to snow this evening. Snowfall amount 5 to 10 cm. Wind becoming north 20 km/h near midnight. Low minus 1. / Normals for the period : Low 3. High 16

Tuesday 11 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it. -- Henry Allen

Another nice day in Vancouver with temps around 18 C forecast, but in Alberta, 10 cm of snow is expected! I was to go to Brooks to look at some hives today with a beekeeper who wants an opinion on some losses and poor performance, but I'm in Vancouver and have no inclination to be in Alberta right now.  Besides, it doesn't sound like good bee weather.

So, now, the comment period has closed (I assume).  I wonder how long it will take for CFIA to get moving on providing permits, or if they will continue to stall.  I'm watching the USDA and the embargo on our beef, and thinking that common sense is not that common in these matters.  Perception is reality, and if a few vocal people think (or pretend) that there is a risk and make a public fuss -- even if there is not -- then doing the right thing gets very difficult.

Today : HEAVY SNOWFALL WARNING ISSUED Snow. Amount near 10 cm. Wind north 30 km/h. High 2. / Tonight : Cloudy. 70 percent chance of flurries this evening. Low minus 3. / Normals for the period : Low 3. High 16.

Wednesday 12 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

I spent the day reading and writing and at the beach.  I also called some of the people who have been wanting supers and now have sold all we have available.  Experience has shown, however, that sometimes deals fall through -- I haven't received the deposit cheque yet -- so if you happen to be interested, be sure to call and have me put you on the waiting list.

I also have a few hives that I am thinking I should sell (I don't care one way or the other, but I don't have an extractor, and they are going to make honey).

In a moment of weakness, I bought 20 packages and they are doing very well, plus I have a few hives that looked a bit slow when Leroy came to get his, but which have since caught up.  I suspect that they are just carniolans, which always look small early in the spring, but which explode as soon as they get pollen.

Now, assuming that all the stuff is truly sold and gone, we'll be selling the quonset (shown on the right), too.  It is 102 by 32 feet, and has been an excellent shelter.  It breaks down into a box that fits in the back of a pickup truck, and takes a day or two for two persons to assemble. I haven't set a price on it yet, but think that is worth around $8,000.  New ones are $11,500, and a new cover is worth about $2,200. This cover could last another 5 years, easily.  It has light panels (windows) in it, which were experimental at the time, but have worked well.   I suppose I'm open to offers.  For those who have equipment of any sort sitting outside, a shelter like this can save it's cost in a matter of a few years, and still be worth what you paid.

Now that I am really and truly retired, I have some time on my hands, plus industry contacts and management experience and a little money to invest.  I really don't want to get back into the physical or day to day aspects of beekeeping, but am open to considering management and financing options if the right situation and/or partners came along.

Today : Periods of snow ending this morning then cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Snowfall amount 2 cm. High 6. UV index 3 or moderate. / Tonight : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of rain showers changing to flurries this evening. Low minus 2. ? Normals for the period : Low 3. High 16.

Thursday 13 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

If God lived on earth, people would break his windows. -- Jewish Proverb

Today, I am feeling more energetic, but my ankles are sore.  I don't know the stiffness and slight pain is from all the walking I've been doing, or just the last effects of the flu we had before I left.  At any rate, I stuck around the house and worked on various projects and read for fear that taking a long walk would be hard on them.  Tomorrow. 

I think it is time to buy a good pair of walking shoes.  Although my Birkenstocks -- all four pairs -- are still look okay, I think these sandals have all gone flat from extended use, and are now doing my feet harm, particularly on long walks.  At home, I bicycle, and that spares my feet, but I have no bike here.  Bikes are cheap and I am always tempted to buy one when I am anywhere without one for a period of time, and give it away when I leave.  Averaged out over a week or more, the $100 or so is cheap entertainment.

I've been feeling slow, generally for the last three weeks and I've gotten quite out of shape.  Such are the hazards of retirement.  Too much sitting and visiting.  Also I don't believe in exercising much when I am feeling under the weather for fear of doing damage to my joints.   My fingers have never been quite the same after pulling a yard of heavy boxes the other summer while sick with the flu.

I was down at Jericho the other day and was pleased to see that the windsurfing rentals are open.  Checking back, I was surprised to see that it has been almost four years since I rented a board there.  It was late in the day when I was there this time, and not very windy, but I plan to take them up on 10 hours of high-performance rental for $80.  I can split it up over several days if I like, and I will.  Four or five hours at a session is plenty.  They have some nice 210m litre boards and 8.1 metre sails on hand.

I notice that I weighed more back then in 2000.  I said 250 lbs.  These days I'm around 240. 

I notice that everyone is now into high-protein diets, and I suspect that the pendulum has swung past me, but I do know that cutting out the starches and placing more emphasis on protein content -- balanced eating -- has helped me stop the increase in my weight and kept me at a stable and comfortable mass.  I'd like to lose another 10 lbs and get back to where I was the Fall before last, and I imagine I will, but it has been a stressful year, and I'm still adjusting to less activity.

My project this evening was to find some yacht lessons.  One thing I had in mind, when I got my business done, was to sign up for a three to five day cruise with lessons.  I've been waiting until I feel up to it, and also for a spell of warm weather.  Now I  see that several sailings that I had in mind are filled up, but I think I'll find something.

I'm really enjoying this wireless high speed Internet, and getting things done that would be impossible or take much longer at home.  Today I downloaded Winamp, a program that I have not used for a long time (five years? Maybe six?).   I used to listen to Internet radio back then, even over dialup, using Winamp.  Then I changed computers and did not get around to setting it up again.  I tried Window Media Player, which was the default, but never got much satisfaction.  Several times lately I thought I'd like to try listening again, and again tried using Windows Media Player (WMP), but gave up each time. 

WMP is so amazingly lame that I was starting to think that maybe easy 'net radio was a thing of the past -- there was that much hassle with using WMP.  Winamp, however, gave me a pleasant surprise.  It's still free, it works, it looks good, and it sounds good too.  I also checked it over for spyware and it seems totally clean, at least when installed intelligently. The paid version is also still cheap enough that it is a tempting buy.

Have I mentioned that I will not touch RealPlayer with a 10-foot pole?  I don't remember how many machines that I have had to take it off to cure gremlins in the system.  Maybe it is better now, but , last time I gave it a try, it wanted to own my whole system and then was always doing things that made me uncomfortable with the Internet.

Before bed, I got a reply to an email I sent out to see if there is still room on a Monday morning sailing.  Looks as if there is a berth.  We'll talk by phone in the morning.

I don't know if you've noticed, but this new computer and this high speed has changed how I do things.  My habit was to open lots of new windows, since on dialup, that allows the new window to open and fill in the background while the reader enjoys the present window until finished, by which time the new window should be complete.  With high speed, that is unnecessary, and the extra windows get to be a bother.  Things also look different on this screen, and that likely affects my composition.

Allen's Links of the Day:

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. High 8. UV index 6 or high. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Low minus 3. / Normals for the period : Low 3. High 16.

Friday 14 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.
--  Oscar Wilde

I spoke with the skipper first thing this morning and deferred a decision until 1 PM.  I think I'll take the offer, but I had office work to do. I had emailed my accounting file to the accountant, but they were having trouble un-encrypting it.  It eventually turned out that the first try had somehow been corrupted in transit, and the second attempt worked.  Nonetheless, that killed an hour.  I also spoke to beekeepers who are buying our supers and my wife about paying some bills.  I have transferred most of my office work to this portable, and now can do my office work anywhere.

I noticed a couple of really nasty emails slipped through my SPAM filter this morning, each carrying a destructive payload.  I deleted them without opening, but can see that we need to be very, very, vigilant. 

NEVER open SPAM email.  I recommend ePrompter for safe previewing  of multiple accounts.  Anything can be read on the server, and what is not wanted can be deleted on the server without further downloading.  Of course, Mailwasher is still a good choice as well.

The  following message reminded me that maybe I should sound a warning:

Date:            May 14, 2004
Time:            04:47 PM

Hello Allen and Ellen,

Long time reader of your Diary and just noticed tomorrow is your anniversary. So Happy Anniversary!

Ps.. Using the form cause someone from India got into our servers and messed up email.  We are at the 3rd level of support from MS.

I had showed the Network Administrator in January that we were vulnerable using your Security page as my guide.  They know too much to listen to me and read the proof, so now they are suffering with a few days of work that might have been avoided.  MS said it came thru email.

I sent him back an email, but of course his email isn't working and it bounced!


Thanks.  I almost forgot, seeing as I am in Vancouver.  Saved my life.  How
long is it now?  2004-1968=36 years!

Glad the security page helped out.  It keeps growing and I fear that it is
not as 'simple' as it used to be, or as it is still titled.


Allen's Links of the Day:

Well, I finally got in touch with the skipper and met him for coffee.  I could have signed up over the phone, but I like to eyeball the man I am going to be spending 5 days with, on a boat out on the salt water, and who will be selecting my food and companions and setting the rules we live by. 

He measured up well.  He's a large, trim, man of 50, with a strong voice, a firm grip, and a steady eye.  He answered all my questions well.   I think we'll be fine.  That means, though, that as of Monday morning at eight bells, I'll be off the web for five days.  I hope all the diary junkies -- and allen -- can go that long without an Internet fix.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. High 13. UV index 6 or high. / Tonight : Cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers this evening. Wind becoming west 20 km/h this evening. Low zero. / Normals for the period : Low 3. High 17

Saturday 15 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000
My 36th wedding anniversary

You don't get anything clean without getting something else dirty.-- Cecil Baxter

I was having trouble with Spybot Search and Destroy this morning.  S&D would not load and run and, lately, Pest Patrol has not been finding any dirt -- spooky! One of the first things that some viruses and trojans do is shut down anti-virus and firewall software, so I wondered if something was up.  So, suspecting monkey business, I decided to run a Panda scan.  Panda found 9 items, but fortunately they were all in newsgroup messages that had been automatically downloaded, but which I never would read, so basically, my system checks out as clean.  I was going to post you the log, but I think I'll spare you the annoyance of reading it -- and spare this page an 'adult' rating from the search engines.

I went to Granville Island for a while and bought some deck shoes and a hat, then returned to Ron's and had supper with the kids -- Carling cooked and then spent the evening visiting and updating her laptop.  Took about 100 pests off, including W32/Holar-G.  No updates had been made for a year or more, so put Windows Update on automatic.  I also cut back the restore quota to a half gig, and got her another gig or so of hard drive space.  I ran defrag and PageDefrag and generally cleaned up.  Even on high speed, the updates took hours.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High 15. UV index 6 or high. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Low 2. / Normals for the period : Low 3. High 17.

Sunday 16 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves. -- Peter McArthur

News Flash!

From Brent Ash, President, Canadian Honey Producers Association...

I spoke briefly with Federal Ag Minister Speller today, and he told me that he signed the paperwork Friday for the border to open for US queens.

Effective immediately.

It was only a quick meeting so we didn't get a chance to go into details.

I would suggest that even if you don't need the queens (regulations are late) submit an application for import permit to the CFIA.

The cost is $30 for a one time use permit (I think?).

For an application you can contact: Dr. Ken Orchard / Mr. Peter Szarkowicz @ 403-292-5825 (Calgary)

or visit the CFIA website @ www.inspection.gc.ca and proceed to Animal Health and then to Application for Permit to Import.


Brent Ash

Today : Sunny with cloudy periods. 70 percent chance of showers this afternoon with the risk of a thunderstorm. High 18. UV index 6 or high. / Tonight : Cloudy periods with 70 percent chance of showers this evening. Risk of a thunderstorm. Clear overnight. Low 7. / Normals for the period : Low 4. High 17

Monday 17 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.-- Dandemis

A view from the companionway of the Agua Verde

Our Skipper and his boat

Monday: At 8:30, in the parking lot at the Vancouver Rowing Club, near Stanley Park, I met the four strangers who were to be my close companions for the next five days: Colin, the Skipper, Bernard, Bill, and Angela.  When we were all aboard the Agua Verde, after paying our fees, doing a little preparatory work, and settling in, we cast off the lines, backed out of the slip, motored out under the Lion's Gate Bridge, and set sail for the Gulf Islands, some twenty miles off to the west.

The next five days were spent sailing, and learning the essentials for surviving the tides, rocks, traffic and other hazards of the region.  When we returned to that same dock dock at the end of it all, late Friday afternoon, each of us had earned an operator's card and a Day Skipper rating. 

Although I have sailed all my life, each class of boat and each region is unique and there is much to learn.  I had been told that, with my experience, I could take a higher level course without the Basic  -- which is normally a prerequisite -- but I figured that rushing can be a mistake.  Since my goal was to spend some time at sea without buying a boat, what is the point in cutting corners?  Time at sea is time at sea, and the cost of a 'cruise and learn' is the same as a charter or less -- and someone else has all the worries.  More pictures of the area and details of the boat, etc. can be found on Bewley's site.

Winds were moderate from the NW, so we made Porlier Pass on one tack, averaging about six knots.  We had timed it right, and Agua Verde passed through the narrows at slack tide, then anchored in Clam Bay off Kuper Island.  Colin cooked supper, and later we turned in for our first night in our new home.

Tuesday: We awoke, had breakfast, weighed anchor, then practiced sailing as we made our way to Ganges. Along the way, we stopped at Montague for ice cream, to buy a newspaper and to make some phone calls.  An hour later, we cast off again and by late afternoon we arrived at Ganges where we tied up at Moby's dock for the night.  We hoisted a few in the pub, then called it a day.

Wednesday: I had a shower onshore at the marina first thing ($1), then Bill & I walked up to Dagwood's for my traditional Salt Spring breakfast.  By the time we got back, the others were up.  We all boarded and motored out of the harbour, thinking to get clear of the boats, airplanes and rocks before we set the sails.  Agua Verde has a three cylinder Kubota (32 HP) which impresses me with its easy starting, 6-1/2 knot cruise speed, and a reported fuel consumption of only a half-gallon per hour.  The engine is similar to the four cylinder Kubota we put into the Swinger I recently sold, and mentioned here a week or two back.  They are fabulous, reliable engines.

If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.
-- John A. Wheeler

Once we were clear of traffic, we readied the sails and the Skipper went and  forward to attend to some details at the mast.  I'd been watching him carrying his wallet, fat with our cash  in his back pocket the previous day, and had wondered about its safety.  His sailing pants were a nylon wind shell; there was a flap over the back pocket, but the button appeared to be either missing or possibly undone.  As he worked on deck, as we prepared to raise the canvas, I again noticed that the wallet made quite a bulge on his backside, and a thin line of black leather was peeking out from under the loose flap, but the wallet did not appear to about to work its way out, so I said nothing.  By reflex, however, I checked my own wallet in my front right pocket, and went about my task, hardening the sheets.

When we were ready to bear off, he came aft again, and as he was about to step down into the cockpit, Angela asked, "Did you have something in your back pocket"?  He put his hand onto his left cheek and confirmed he carried his wallet there.  She said she had thought she saw something go overboard a moment earlier but wasn't sure.  He stopped and realized what had happened.  No time was wasted on regret.  We halted our progress, and searched the choppy waters astern for any signs of a small black object.

Nothing could be seen nearby, and it did not take Colin long to conclude the wallet, and all that cash -- several thousand dollars -- was gone.  We all knew that a heavy leather object might float for a minute, but not longer.  Besides we were still moving and the seas were heaving around us.  Where would it be?  Spotting a tiny black object at any distance in those waves was highly improbable.  His earnings for the voyage were undoubtedly sinking somewhere behind us, on their way to Davy Jones locker.

Or not!  Although the search was now called off, I hadn't quit looking, and I spotted something small and white about seventy-five yards off our stern.  We maneuvered closer.  It was the wallet, floating, open, and we were seeing a big wad of receipts he had tucked into one of those plastic pockets that are designed for photos, but hadn't gotten around to removing.  Fishing the open wallet from a moving boat in heaving seas took a bit of finesse, but he managed to snag it in a bucket on a rope, on the third try and what had seemed a certain loss turned out to be just another adventure with a happy ending.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
-- Albert Schweitzer

After we settled down from the excitement, and the crew set sail for passage around the island, heading east, the Skipper spread his receipts out below to dry.  Our target this time was the Thetis Island marina, where we planned to spend the night.  We were under some pressure to get to Thetis in time to see the Calgary Flames game, since this was to be the deciding game in the semi-finals and we had some hockey fans on board.  We arrived in time to watch Calgary win the series.  The marina turned out to be a smaller facility, but very nice, and we spent a pleasant evening.

Thursday: Silva Bay was our destination today, chosen because it is on the Vancouver side of the pass, and because it is normally a short reach across to to Vancouver on the prevailing northwesterly winds.  We sailed all day and studied.  The winds were light and the scenery beautiful, so we alternately motored and sailed, and arrived in early evening.  We decided to have a restaurant supper.

Friday: We wrote our test in the morning at eight, and all did well.  Then we motored out of the Islands and set sail for Point Grey.  After four days of sun, we found the overcast and cold quite a change, and had to drag out the foul weather gear.  Touques, windbreakers and long pants helped, but even with warm clothes, we found it cool out in the wind.

At first we thought we might make Vancouver on one tack, but the wind shifted against us and we wound up over by Bowen Island and had to make several tacks to Atkinson Point and then English Bay.  Nonetheless, we made good time, close-hauled, averaging 6 knots or better  in a 14 knot northeast breeze.  We encountered rain as we came near the Spanish Banks, but it passed quickly.  We watched a few windsurfers ripping in and out as we approached. 

After doing a few man overboard exercises in the Bay, we motored in to our dock, gathered our things and made our farewells.  For me, it was back to Ron's for the night.

Monday : Sunny with cloudy periods. High 19. UV index 6 or high./ Tonight : A few clouds. Low 5. / Normals for the period : Low 4. High 17.

Saturday 22 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them. -- Dame Rose Macaulay

I spent the day in the house, at the computer, catching up and visiting with Ron & family.  Ideally, I should be at Keho for the Force Ten speed trials.  I haven't made them for quite a few years, now, and I won't make them this time.  They are 600 miles away.  I still have a time posted on the list, at 45.4 km/hr, but that was 1991.

I'm deciding when to head back home.  There is the long weekend traffic to consider, and also the snow in the Rockies.  I'd rather drive in good weather and without all the crazy Albertans cutting in and out and tailgating on their way home.

Today : A few showers. Wind becoming east 20 km/h this morning. High 7. / Tonight : Rain showers or wet flurries. Low 2. / Normals for the period : Low 4. High 18.

Sunday 23 May 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others. -- Cyril Connolly

Further to the announcement made here in the 16th, here is more info: (Ooops.  New computer.  I have to install the import filters for *.wpd files).  Setting up a new machine is a huge job.  Anyhow, from Medhat, here are the proposed protocols: Click here and the announcement

I started out from Vancouver around two, and stopped to see Jean-Marc at one of his yards.  His bees are looking great, and there is blueberry honey waiting to be extracted on some of the hives.  The yard he was working in has nucs in various stages, and he was checking queens.  He raises cells in right the yard (see picture), and uses them for nucs.  Clover and buttercups are in bloom and the blackberries are just beginning.


I drove as far as Sicamous and stayed at the Monashee Motel.

Today : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers or morning flurries. Wind north 20 km/h. High 9. UV index 3 or moderate. / Tonight : Clearing this evening. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low minus 1 with frost. / Normals for the period : Low 5. High 18.

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   "If I make a living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
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