Page October 20th to 31st, 2004
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I have long been of the opinion that
if work were such a splendid thing
the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.
-- Bruce Grocott --
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I've had problems accessing this
site for a few days, so it is a bit behind. Also very busy right now, so I
recommend looking back over past years.
Today, I worked on the furnace and cleaned up the furnace room.
It really needed doing.
Wednesday : Cloudy with sunny periods. 40 percent chance of flurries. High zero.
/ normals for the period : Low minus 1. High 13.
Today : Periods of snow. Amount 2
cm. High minus 1. / Tonight : Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus
7. / Normals for the period : Low minus 2. High 12.
Medhat came by in the afternoon to
sample the 8 hives that he
treated previously with oxalic acid some time back. We went out and pulled a frame
in each hive,
brushed off some bees and that was it.
I'll be interested in the results.
I also wonder if the act of pulling these few frames will result in higher
losses in these hives. If so, that could be attributed to the oxalic, when
the disturbance is the actual cause. I've proven over and over to myself
that pulling frames or moving them around this late in the season can result in
losses, even if the disturbance seems minor to us. On the other hand,
trucking whole hives around -- even leaving them on the truck for a day or two
-- without disturbing the contents seems to be harmless.
Today : Cloudy. 60 percent
chance of flurries this morning. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High 3. /
Tonight : Cloudy. Low minus 5. / Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 10.
I went to Calgary to do some
shopping. We had purchased a treadmill on our visit to the city on the
19th and discovered damage to the control. I returned it to the store and
they exchanged it for a new one.
Saturday : A mix of
sun and cloud. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light in the morning. High plus
Another day at home, fiddling on
My weight has been getting up into
the high 240s and I'm getting soft, so I'm starting to do some walking on the
treadmill. I'm hoping that this new one will be more fun to use than its
predecessor. The one we had one before, was not motorized and was awkward
to use. This one is larger and has power assisted incline and a 2.25 HP
motor to maintain a constant speed.
Today : Sunny
with cloudy periods. Fog patches early this morning. High plus 3. /
Tonight : Clear. Low minus 9. /
Normals for the period : Low minus 2. High 11.
Two months until Christmas.
Since the meeting on the 12th, I
have not even looked at the curriculum project or opened my briefcase. Today I
am going to get back to it and see if I can figure out how to proceed. I
find collaborative meetings very energy sapping. I am a creative writer, and
creative writing is a solitary occupation. They say a camel is a horse
designed by a committee, and I am now starting to see the truth in that.
I spent some time on it, and got
back to work. I also took the dash apart on my Grand Marquis to see if I
could get the headlight switch out. It was a daunting task, but turned out
to be a simple matter of removing enough screws (20?). I could see what
was wrong with the dash light dimmer and fixed it, saving myself $125 for the
part, and who knows how much in labour.
In the evening I got a
call about some misinformation on BEE-L.
I wrote this to BEE-L:
> An overview of the formic acid
situation in Canada:
I wondered when I read this
interesting article, and it was not long until my phone rang.
My source is very close to the CAPA,
the CHC Chemical Committee and PMRA discussions, and takes issue
with the suggestion that these bodies intend to withdraw or limit
the use of either formic by Canadian beekeepers. Specifically, my
source tells me that in a conference early last year, CAPA, CHC, and
PMRA agreed to leave formic use as-is and also decided to work
towards approval of oxalic acid for general use, employing data from
Europe and also local experience from tests in Canada.
I'm also told that it almost seems
that several Canadian beekeeper/entrepreneurs are trying to gain
control of formic and oxalic treatments and generate a profit by
developing proprietary applications, then attempting to discredit
and outlaw the inexpensive, effective methods that are proven and
recommended in our different regions. If there is any pressure to
limit the use of liquid formic, I'm told that this is where it is
coming from, not the authorities.
Don't get me wrong, these proprietary
methods certainly have their place, particularly for small operators
or those who are not prepared to learn what they need to use formic
safely or effectively, but I am also told that they do not work in
all circumstances, and that, for example, the NOD treatment has
problems where time is short, and a quick fix is required. This is
not to say that it is not good, but that the various other
applications definitely have their place.
In short, if there is a move under
foot to limit the use of formic and oxalic by beekeepers, I have not
See also tomorrow's comments.
Today : Sunny. High
Tonight : Clear. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h near midnight. Low minus 9. /
Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 11.
Here comes another day of slaving over a hot
Here's the article in question from BEE-L...
> Some of us were talking last year about getting
> motions passed at the AHPA
> and ABF meetings to get formic and oxalic approved
> for use the USA.
An overview of the formic acid situation in Canada:
In 1994, on the initiative of the Canadian Association
of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA), a PROPOSED scheduling of formic
acid, PMRA document C94-05, was issued. It lays out the standards and
the manner in which Canadian beekeepers may use formic acid to control
tracheal and varroa mites. It is available on the web. Just type into a
search engine "C94-05".
The beekeepers took this as an OK for legal use of
formic acid, mostly by word of mouth. Many, if not most, have never even
heard of C94-05, never mind having read or followed it.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the
Canadian government agency that oversees pest control products, was
shifted from being under the Agriculture Ministry to Health Canada in
1995. Since then all pest control products have been undergoing review.
In 2001 formic acid came up and the PMRA reviewers were not impressed
with what was going on in the beekeeping community.
The use requirements set out in C94-05 were not being
followed. Provincial Apiarists were publishing their own recommendations
with no scientific review of new application methods. Industrial grades
of formic acid with excessive levels of impurities were being sold
through bee supply outlets, and beekeepers were not training themselves
or their staff in basic safety procedures for handling such a highly
corrosive product. Reports were coming out of beekeepers losing the skin
off their hands by not using the right gloves, skin off their legs and
arms from splashes going through clothing. A friend working with
Mite-Wipes had a bucket he was carrying slosh acid that struck him in
the face, run down behind his goggles and into his eyes that led to
permanent partial loss of vision as well as leaving extensive acid burns
to his face.
PMRA had had enough. In November of 2001 the industry
was told it would require the registration of formic acid products or
permission to use formic acid in beehives would be officially removed.
The agency was willing to work with the industry through a transition
period. At that point Apistan was still fully effective and beekeepers
did not have to rely on any other products or management for varroa
None of the bee supply outfits or Medi-Vet decided to
pursue the registration of liquid formic acid. Mite-Wipes decided not to
pursue registration. As far as I know, PMRA has not received any form of
application for registration from MiteGone. NOD Apiary Products,
producer of Mite-AwayII, has been working with PMRA since January of
2002, and submitted a registration package in January of 2003. The PMRA
review was completed August 24 this year, they officially decided the
application has "merit", issued a PRDD, and it will soon go into the
public review process.
The Canadian Honey Council(CHC) and CAPA Chemical
Committee have been kept informed of this process. January 2004 the CHC
voted to request PMRA to have all non-registered formic acid
applications off the market in two years. They realize in the era of
resistance to hard chemicals, now spreading in Canada, beekeepers need
formic acid applications that are proven to work, treatments the
industry can rely on. It is not known what PMRA will do with this
request, but it is likely that 2005 will be the last year any form of
working with liquid form acid will be legal in Canada.
The Canadian beekeeping industry has managed its
approach to varroa very well. The Canadian border closure since 1987
delayed the coming of varroa until 1992, and the emergence of hard
chemical resistance until two years ago. It has had 11 years to work
with formic acid, to work the bugs out. It has a proven soft chemical
management strategy in place, with the full registration of Mite-AwayII
imminent and for oxalic acid underway.
I was at the North Dakota Beekeepers Association
meeting last week and there were commercial beekeepers there talking
about the collapse of their colonies over the last six weeks. A lot of
these colonies were to be heading to California for almond pollination,
and now there were no bees. My heart went out to them as they struggle
to keep these family outfits viable. Many were envious of the Canadian
situation and are looking forward to the completion of the EPA
registration of Mite-AwayII by the end of 2004. Hopefully an approach to
registering oxalic acid for use in the US will be worked out by the US
NOD Apiary Products
And a reply...
In response to several beekeepers' calls regarding
NOD's e-mail to Bee-L. I asked Heather Clay, Canadian Honey Council,
National Coordinator to verify the published information. I included her
reply at the end of this message.
NOD indicated in the post at Bee-L that Canadian
beekeepers would lose formic acid applied with various methods in two
years. The CHC did not vote in their resolution to have all
none-registered formic acid application off the market in two years as
indicated in NOD's post.
The CHC voted to ask the PMRA to maintain the existing
C94-05 to permit using formic acid in bee hives for a further 2 years.
As I understand and being with the rest of provincial apiculturists,
representatives of the CHC on a conference call with representatives of
PMRA, most of the provincial apiculturists requested from the PMRA to
maintain the C94-05. This would allow beekeepers to use formic acid in
forms that are effective and safe as at meet their own environment.
Limiting the use to one method of application with a single
recommendation will not fit a country of a size like Canada. Several
beekeepers have experienced brood loss when applied MiteAway II in the
spring as reported by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec beekeepers.
Beekeepers in the Prairie provinces have short spring and fall with
quick changes of temperature. This change of temperature does not allow
them to rely on Mite Away or any other type of single application of
formic acid. In limited areas, beekeepers are using it, but so far the
multiple application is the preferred method of application. The short
season and intensive management would allow beekeepers to visit their
hives in the spring once every week. Thus, beekeepers would be able to
apply formic acid on regular bases.
With the same frame work in mind, the CHC is heading
the way to register the oxalic acid with PMRA. It is always a good
policy to give several options to beekeepers to choose from. This will
allow beekeepers to adopt the method that fits their management system
and their environment.
Heather Clay response:
Hi Medhat and John The CHC voted to ask PMRA to
maintain the existing arrangement for formic acid for another two years.
The intention was to allow beekeepers access to the various applications
of the product during that time. The wording is below.
#15 Carried Whereas the treatments using formic acid
fit within Integrated Pest Management and will be used on an immediate
and long term basis. Be it resolved that the Canadian Honey Council asks
the PMRA to maintain the existing C94-05 to permit using Formic Acid in
beehives for a further 2 years"
I should mention that
Medhat was one of the major contributors to the development of the
application method that NOD has been refining and marketing, as well as
the short term applications now in widespread use, so I consider
Medhat's comments, above, to be very significant.
There were further comments on
BEE-L, which I will not reproduce here, including one from a fellow who, in
spite of a good intellect and a demonstrated ability to do really good work,
often exhibits a lot more style than substance, and a preference for
sophistry and attempts at humour over common sense. The writer in
question can usually be counted on to miss the point of any article, then
write a long and pedantic rebuttal to things others have not said.
I've given up on ever trying to talk to him. Too many
In the current discussion, he missed
again, assuming that reference in my recent article about the need for ABF and
AHPC to each make it an official policy to work towards obtaining official
approval -- or at least official indifference -- for beekeeper use of formic and
oxalic without having that approval tied to any proprietary product. He
always emphasizes the risks of mishandling and says he does not think that the
government would ever permit lowly beekeepers to use such potent substances.
<irony> I guess he is right, and Drano, gasoline, muriatic acid, etc...
will soon be removed from use? </irony>
A big problem in the USA, if
I can be so bold as to say so, is the gradual transition we are seeing from a
society where anything that is not forbidden by statute has been considered
legal (if not necessarily desirable), to one where anything that is not
specifically permitted by some regulatory agency, statute or local custom is
forbidden, or at risk of official sanctions, some of which have been seen
recently to be overbearing and capricious.
Today : Sunny. High
minus 1. /
Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 9. /
Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 10.
Well, a lot more discussion has taken place on
BEE-L, but I haven't time to post it all here. I am busy with the
curriculum, and also have an
art show of Ellen's to attend tonight at Fort Calgary.
Here's another article I wrote on BEE-L...
> Is it possible to go over how Canada
> is handling the heavy metal side of the formic acid
> treatments and what they are doing and/or how regulating,
> to not worry about hive product contaminations of honey,
> wax, propolis, and pollen?
I recall looking at the chemical profiles of commercial
formic some many years back, and concluding that the levels of contaminants
in commercial formic are only slightly different from higher grades and
negligible when considering the following:
1 how tiny an amount of formic is used
2 what a tiny part
of that small amount of formic contaminants make up
3 the long period of time between treatments
4 that formic is used in the brood chamber only
5 the amount of these same elements that are in the
6 that the formic is diluted with water that may
contain some of the same minerals,
7 bees may carry similar amounts of similar
elements into the hive with water they gather
8 that most of the formic
diffuses out of the hive
9 there is no proof that significant residues
remain in the hive
10 the fact that bees consume most of the honey and
pollen in the brood chamber
Of course, others might reach different conclusions,
depending on their assumptions and what they need to believe.
And, after more thought...
Let me add several other things to my previous comments:
When we used formic, it was evaporated from pads, which
1. I do not know if the minuscule amounts of impurities
documented evaporate with the formic or stay in the pad.
2. Apparently the formic dissipates from the hive fairly
rapidly, leaving no measurable residue after a time.
I do not know if the
impurities leave with the formic, but if they are so bound with the formic
that they have not been left behind to that point I wonder.
Any such question is a good question. Assumptions should
be tested, and sometimes in the process, we are surprised by what we learn.
Also, with the rapid expansion of knowledge underway these days, what was
assumed correct ten years ago may be subject to reconsideration today.
Today : Sunny. High 7. /
Tonight : Clear. Low minus 17. /
Normals for the period : Low minus 3. High 10.
The dinner and show went well.
The day started with a trip to town to get a furnace
duct altered. By the time that was all done, and i settled down to my
desk, a problem with the stoker cropped up, and I wound up working on it for the
rest of the day.
It seems that NOD did not like my comments much. Here's
> Just a case
of "shoot the messenger". NOD has only
> responded to the FA-PMRA situation, not caused or ever
> stirred it. They came to us in Nov. 2001 threatening
> to pull C94-05 unless registration took place.
Perhaps, perhaps not. These authorities seem to be
attracted to any private party making claims. An oxalic promoter on the West
coast got his wings clipped, too, by CFIA for making claims, but those doing
research or responsible private treatment in consultation with provincial
apiarists are left alone.
I suspect that, by attempting to create a commercial
product that you have raised the bar, and attracted attention to, and
endangered, a tacit working agreement made between those authorities and
> CHC just didn't have time to deal with the offer...
> Due process is to draw up a resolution for the AGM,
> discussion, amendments and vote...
True, CHC is very cumbersome, and often has trouble making
good decisions for those reasons. I do definitely know about that!
Personally, however, I think you are forcing the issue and
bringing formic registration to the front burner by your activities, and in
the process may well make it difficult for the many Canadian beekeepers who
have a safe, effective, and inexpensive formic regime in place. Moreover, we
know by experience that your product is not the answer for many of us in the
Maybe we do need to work together to get a formal general
registration place to allow all existing formic use, but, to date, no one
has had big problems with the status quo, and everyone was careful not to
rock the boat and possibly bring on overregulation.
I try to keep things level, so, after some thought,
In reviewing recent discussion here and where the topic
has gone, I realize that, perhaps I need to clarify my original intent when
> Some of us were talking last year about getting motions
passed at the
> AHPA and ABF meetings to get formic and oxalic approved for use the
> USA. Somehow, the idea came to nothing, and now, it is looking like a
> fumble that could lose the game for many.
I appreciated NOD's contributions, because it illustrates
that there are numerous perspectives to the topic, and how the development
of commercial product or products a situation can compete with and threaten
non-proprietary applications using generic products.
Speaking very generally, the claims that developers of
branded products need to make to differentiate themselves and to justify
their 'value added' to what are often really commodity items, intentionally
raise concerns in prospective customers, and the public, and can alarm
Marketers and developers of new processes typically
emphasize safety, efficacy, and convenience in their own products, and, even
if they do not intentionally denigrate the alternatives, this strong
emphasis on the desirable properties of their product or process (even if
they are marginal advantages) raises doubt about competing products or
processes in the minds of listeners. The strong emphasis on safety,
convenience, and efficacy, true or not, necessarily implies -- human
psychology being what it is -- the lack of these characteristics in
competing concepts or products. Otherwise, the listener thinks, why would
anyone mention them?
Few really bother to check the facts, and most go along
with what is most familiar. Since the promoter invests money and time into
promotion, while others may not bother, we wind up with the best promoted
product, and not necessarily the best product. I'm writing this on a
Windows® computer, and I think that amply proves my point.
Anyhow, back to the original point: My friends who were
discussing AHPA and ABF motions were not looking for a commercial sponsor,
but thinking more along the lines of how formic and oxalic have been used in
Canada and Europe and hoping that such use could be permitted -- or at least
not prosecuted -- in the US. In actual fact, it very much appears that the
several attempts to come up with a commercial formic product in the US,
which have failed, have distracted the industry from what it really needs: a
go-ahead to use the products as they are used safely and successfully
elsewhere in the world.
That's where the motion came in: We think that the ABF and
AHPC each must make it an official policy to work towards obtaining official
approval -- or at least official indifference -- for (at least temporary)
beekeeper use of formic and oxalic, without having that approval tied to any
Let's hope, for the sake of the bees -- an the almond
industry -- that something makes people wake up and see that beekeepers need
to do this for themselves. It CAN be done. Of course there are those who can
make very powerful arguments that it cannot, but if they get onside and turn
their minds and their writing skills to the job and prove of why it CAN be
done, instead of wasting effort proving why it cannot happen, everyone will
After all, the US bee industry has put up the funds and
willpower for countervail, and created the NHB. I cannot believe that they
cannot manage to get approval for at least some generic formic and oxalic
applications. I'm sure that the almond people would put up some bucks and
pull some strings.
Anyhow, it is really not my business.
Today : Sunny with
cloudy periods. High plus 3. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 14. / Normals
for the period : Low minus 4. High 10.
I worked on the curriculum all day,
then Ellen & I went to Drum to have dinner with Joe and Oene.
We called the Mid-US Honey Price
Hotline. Nothing new since October 3rd. I hear that Canadian buyers
are talking $1.20, but not very eager. Opinion is that nothing much will
happen until after convention or into the new year.
Then I went home and worked some
more. I seem to be getting somewhere, now.
A reminder: Update your operating
system and virus protection regularly. I run
Trend Micro online weekly, just to double check on my resident
applications. This past week something turned off my
AVG virus checker and some
other aps, so I have been suspicious, but found nothing. Who knows.
Some people say that Windows® itself is a virus
Today : Sunny. High
Tonight : A few clouds. Wind southwest 20 km/h. Low 2. /
Normals for the period : Low minus 4. High 9.
Today is Stan's auction sale.
At 86, he has moved into Three Hills, leaving Ellen & me as the hamlet's
longest-dwelling residents by far. We've been here since 1968.
We really don't need anything, and
could actually have added quite a few items to the sale, had we found the time,
but we plan to go down and some of our friends will be dropping over for burgers
Well, we dropped by the auction, but
didn't see much we wanted and went home. As it turned out, only Fen came
by around noon, but Ruth came by later for supper.
Today : A mix of
sun and cloud. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h this morning. High 10. /
Tonight : Cloudy periods. Low minus 3. /
Normals for the period : Low minus 4. High 8.
I spent the day working on the
curriculum project. Bert dropped by in the evening
Today : Sunny. High
Tonight : Clear. Low minus 12.
Monday : Sunny. High 6.
Tuesday : A mix of sun and cloud. Low minus 1. High 9.
Wednesday : Sunny. Low minus 5. High 6.
Thursday : Sunny. Low minus 4. High 7.
Normals for the period : Low minus 5. High 8.
Page October 20th to 31st, 2004
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"If I make a
living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
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