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Wednesday 10 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

They always talk who never think -- Matthew Prior

 I'm just back from convention.  Hope to write it up soon.

Click for US national bee meetings info Don't forget the US meetings coming up in January.

Southern Alberta canola pollination numbers, from Medhat's talk, if I got this right...

2002 - 22,000 hives
2003 - 30,000 hives
2004 - 48,000hives

Thanks to pollination, Alberta now has about 250,000 hives.  That makes us  Number 3 in North America, after California and Florida.  Imagine how many we'd have if the border had not closed.

Wednesday : Sunny. Low minus 8. High minus 4.


Thursday 11 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo -- H. G. Wells

    A day at the desk.  Meijers and Purves-Smiths came for supper.

From BEE-L discussion...

> Bob Harrison writes:
> With tens of thousands of hives crashing in the U.S. right
> now more than ever (from varroa resistant to both Apistan &
> Checkmite) do beekeepers need those bees & packages.

> Dee asks:
> Where are your figures coming from for this information or
> is this just a statement of your beliefs?

At the Alberta Beekeepers Association meeting earlier this week, Lyle Johnston (AHPA president) indicated that he suspects that there will be a loss of about 40% of US hives between now and February. Bad news just keeps coming in. May US beekeepers have relied on Apistan, then coumaphos. Now neither are working.

Eric Mussen, at the same meeting, says that in California, coumaphos is good for about two years, then resistance develops.

Beekeepers are still not monitoring, and many surprises await those who don't.

allen

Today : Sunny. High 7. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 13. / Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 4.


Friday 12 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes -- Henry David Thoreau

A day at the desk.  Meijers and Purves-Smiths came for supper.

> At the Alberta Beekeepers Association meeting earlier this week, Lyle
> Johnston (AHPA president) indicated that he suspects that there will
> be a loss of about 40% of US hives between now and February. Bad
> news just keeps coming in.

OK, I forgot. There is good news... and some more bad...

Allen's Link of the Day:

Beekeeping in the Midwest

Good News: Almond pollination is looking like $75 this year and may hit $100 next.... And... There is an opportunity for those who are in a position to split multiple times and either sell nucs or packages. With packages at $35, a hive split 8 times during a season would return $245 and still leave a hive on the stand to repeat the next year.

This could work for Canadians, too, since we can sell packages south. I sent several hundred packages to Arizona in October many years back.

People not having mite trouble, and in an area where such splitting is feasible, might be smart to forget honey production and just produce bees for pollination, since...

Bad News: ...honey may be headed back to 60c. Countervail may be failing. Apparently Sioux Bee has pulled back from a $135,000 commitment

Bad News: As for packages, there may be a shortage in Canada this coming Spring, since the US can now buy from Aus and NZ -- AFAIK. If there is a general collapse in the US, there may be competition for any supplies available.

Good News: If you are an Australian package producer, things look rosy

allen

Today : Sunny. High 9. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 14. / Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 4.


Saturday 13 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Nothing is as irritating as the fellow who chats pleasantly while he's overcharging you -- Kin Hubbard

Another day working on the curriculum.  Ellen and Shirley went to an antique sale in Calgary.

> what would be pushing the price
> down in the USA and possibly Canada?

Good questions.

First, let me say that I am talking worst-case, and that things may not work out the way we predict.

A sudden price decline is not a certainty, although a number of things are falling into place for such an eventuality over the next few years.

Many things can change, although the huge sudden collapse of US bee populations is already well underway. Chemicals are now failing everywhere, and many beekeepers did not use the temporary respite they provided to get a sustainable program working for them. Many STILL do not monitor their mite load! Some are now going to high-dose fluvalinate - 10x the recommended - but we all know that avenue is a dead end.

Anyhow...

The honey price in Canada will fall far more than in the USA, since the Canadian dollar has been low (saving our bacon over the past few years), but now is headed for par with the US dollar. The loonie is already up 30% over the past 24 months from its all-time low. See http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=CADUSD=X&t=2y . The mitigating factor for Canucks, though is that white honey should fall less than the darker grades, and most of the Western Canadian crop is very white.

> Are imports going to
> increase some how to drive the price down to consumers and
> beekeepers, or just beekeepers?

The talk of consumer resistance turns out to have been just that, talk. Apparently retail sales are healthy, although industrial grades did prove to be price-sensitive. Industrial honey sales are expected to recover somewhat with lower prices.

Retail packers, however, have gotten used to an expanded business, and margins are back up. Their locked-in expenses - and debts - have adjusted to the increased dollar volume. None of them will want to see their businesses shrink. They'll resist a retail price drop. Thus, the retail price is expected to hold better than the producer price. We'll see, since US packers may get hit by low-priced packaged imports, as the Canadian packers were recently.

In the background, many new countries are ramping up their bulk production, and, even if China learns to eat their entire production, plus some, in the next decade, which I predict, there are others like India and Brazil that have their eye on the USA, and think that $US 1.00 per kilogram is a very attractive price. (That is 45c/lb). Even with the US dollar dropping like a stone, the price may not change much, since the major culprits currently driving down honey prices in the USA - China and Argentina - have their currency pegged to the US dollar.

> And if less bees used for
> less USA honey production with more used for pollination
> work, can you go deeper into specifics why what you said
> may be coming about?

Almond acreage is up, almond prices are up, and the cost of bees as a portion of the return to growers - even at $75 (or even $100) per set - is actually still quite low. Growers know they need bees -- at least two hives per acre. Some are wanting three for insurance, since the third colony will pay for itself, plus some, although a third hive is not nearly as essential as the first two.
Also see http://honeycouncil.ca/users/folder.asp?FolderID=876&nID=445 

Allen's Link of the Day:

API-Nutrition Enterprise Ltd

Even if US producers quit honey production entirely (will never happen) there will be little effect on honey prices, since the imports set the price and the world supply of honey is increasing.

Having said all that, don't panic. A lot hinges on the next Argentine crop, due in February. They are now out of white honey, and if they have a failure, then the price may rebound.

For the long term the answer is in quality assurance programs to differentiate North American honey from competitors, and provide grounds to exclude many of the current imports, on the basis of inadequate safety and sanitary precautions. Canada is well on the way to having a program in place: C-BISQT, it is called, short for Canadian Bee Industry Safety Quality and Traceability program. The US has nothing (zero) happening on this front, and I am told that many US beekeepers could not even meet the standards in some third world countries with their present set-ups, so it is not likely to happen soon. It is not even on the radar as far as I can tell.

BTW, Lyle said the packer/importer honey board will not happen, for various reasons, and, FWIW, he did say some nice things about the current NHB.

Now, more than ever, it is important to get out to the 2005 US National meetings. Info at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/USmeetings/ .

Anyone who has been thinking of coming to Alberta and hasn't made it yet, we're hoping to meet at the Fantasyland Hotel in the world-famous West Edmonton Mall again next year, so plan to attend.

allen

Today : Sunny. High 9. / Tonight : A few clouds. Low minus 12. / Normals for the period : Low minus 8. High plus 3.


Sunday 14 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error -- John Kenneth Galbraith

Allen's Link of the Day:

New US Import Regulations

Looks like another day working on the curriculum, coming up.

Time to upgrade to a new free AVG  virus checker.  Here's where to download 7.0.  6.0 is no longer as well supported and will lose all support at year end.

I downloaded 7.0 and installed it.  All went well, but it took me some time to figure out how to turn off the tag lines on incoming and outgoing mail and to turn off the little popup nuisance that comes on when checking email on the server. It is all in the e-mail scanner properties | configuration window.  Turn of the progress 'Notification' options and the 'Certify' options.  Who wants a 'certified by' tag line on his email.  Embarrassing!

Update is now automatic.  It's default is to pop up it starts checking, so I turned off the update progress notification so that a popup window will not steal focus while I am working.

Seems to me the scan is much slower the new AVG took over an hour to scan my HD.  I found it was hogging resources, so turned down its priority a notch so I can work while it is scanning.  Anyhow, the new AVG works well, and I am grateful to Grisoft, especially when I hear all the horror stories about Norton and McAfee.

Today : A mix of sun and cloud. High 11. / Tonight : Cloudy. Low 3. / / Normals for the period : Low minus 9. High plus 3.


Monday 15 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist -- G. K. Chesterton

Looks like another day working on the curriculum, coming up.

It was.  Another 10 hours.  A lot of the work is formatting and fiddling, it seems.

[quotes.shtml]

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h this afternoon. High 14. / Tonight : Cloudy periods. Low minus 4. / Normals for the period : Low minus 9. High plus 3.


Tuesday 16 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

There must be more to life than having everything -- Maurice Sendak

Looks like another day working on the curriculum, coming up, and a trip to the accountant this afternoon.

From BEE-L discussion...

> Soft controls have got limitations. Why commercial beekeepers are
> slow to embrace soft varroa controls. Control in U.S. tests generally
> falls around 70% for formic and thymol (ABJ 2004). Control can
> certainly be higher and can certainly be lower when weather problems
> and application problems happen.

Formic and oxalic in syrup have problems handling infestations much over 5%, unless there is no brood present. Period. That's the way it is.

Nonetheless, most beekeepers STILL do not monitor their mite problems, and are expecting these treatments to work miracles on the heavy infestations that catch them by surprise. They will not.

Also, formic and oxalic drizzle work best when no brood is present, and in some regions, that is a much shorter window, with a much longer period of mite reproduction in between, than the northern regions where these chemicals are working well.

Nonetheless, we have had a long time to learn about mites and the various possibilities of managing them, but many, if not most beekeepers have left the job to others.

Allen's Link of the Day:

Google News

We have had fluvalinate and coumaphos as an emergency backup, and should have been using alternate controls and monitoring as a frontline ,but regulators recommended using them as a first line of defence, and now we are finding they are not working in emergencies. (I have chronicled our minimal chemical regime on my diary. Most of our overwintered hives had lower levels of varroa, 18 months after treatment with a single Apistan(r) strip, than Australian packages established this Spring!)

Oxalic evaporation shows promise, since it works over a longer time period and can, reportedly, be repeated without harm to the bees, but, in southern regions, we do not know if it will do the job. Who knows? Apparently no one has tried. Officially, at least.

> Formic is temperature dependant. In many areas cold weather had set in > before the beekeeper discovered their first attempt at control had > failed.

Actually, formic can work in cool weather, as long as there are some warm days, which we see up here well into October.

> ALSO when the first application was done hives were approaching
> threshold. Add another four weeks of a failed control and hives
> with a lethal load of varroa & in most cases advanced PMS. Formic &
> thymol will not work as they provide slower over a period of time
> control unlike effective chemical strips which
> will clear a hive of varroa in a hurry WHEN varroa is not resistant
> to the strip.

That's the problem. People get used to miracles and don't monitor.

> Both formic acid & thymol work best when temperatures are ideal and > varroa is not at high levels.

Exactly

> Varroa tolerant bees are a reality but in short supply. I have not
> a clue if the Weavers bees are varroa tolerant but I hope they are!
> His goals and mine are moving in the same direction so I wish the
> Weavers the best . If the Weavers bees do not prove to be varroa
> tolerant then beekeepers will not only not trust the Weavers but the
> rest of us saying we are indeed seeing varroa tolerant bees.

The problem is that your varroa resistant bees may not do well in my area, nor mine in yours. Moreover, since the tolerance depends on a rather fine balance of multiple factors, the tolerance demonstrated in one region may not be apparent in another. That may even be true from one operation to another in the same region, since management methods and hive environment can vary dramatically.

> We want a survivor bee which will tolerate varroa in all settings
> including large cell comb.

That's the problem.

We get lots of anecdotes about success in special cases and with intensive, idiosyncratic management, however the mammoth commercial bee/pollination industry in North America needs/wants an all-purpose bee (or bees) that can be parachuted into existing operations, in all regions, without a huge disruption, without discarding all the existing equipment, and without complex management requirements. (At this point, however, maybe all the existing equipment has to go anyhow, since the beekeepers have themselves polluted it to the point where it is toxic to bees).

At any rate, people are again expecting a miracle - that tolerant bees will allow them to continue to ignore advice to monitor and manage.

I predict that no matter how good the tolerant bees turn out to be, that we will still have regular reports of people being wiped out.

How long have we had AFB and simple management methods to control and suppress it? We still hear of people who let it get to the point where they have 50-100% outbreaks.

Monitor, monitor, monitor.

allen


allen dick wrote:

> (I have chronicled our minimal chemical regime on my diary. Most of
> our overwintered hives had lower levels of varroa, 18 months after
> treatment with a single Apistan(r) strip, than Australian packages
> established this Spring!)

I should correct myself. I did the math after posting and, they are actually the same, at a 0.5% average, if we throw out the one outlier at 6.28%, or about double at a 1.1% average, if we leave it in.

Of course the hives that died last winter and those that were sold out of the lot last Spring are not considered. They are gone. We are just looking at the ones that are here.

Such is the difficulty in trying to make sense of things, but that is a different topic: How many neat scientific study summaries fail to mention the hives that fell by the wayside and anomalies discovered (and swept under the carpet?) on the way to that conclusion?

allen

Today : Clearing this morning. High 8. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 4. / Normals for the period : Low minus 9. High plus 3.


Wednesday 17 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? -- Abraham Lincoln

I see Aaron won Beekeeper of the Year

I spent the day working o the curriculum again.  Seems the more I write, the more I find to write. I'm almost done though.   A lot of time has been spent fighting MS Word and it's formatting.

Today : Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h. High 7. / Tonight : Clear. Low minus 10. //Normals for the period : Low minus 9. High plus 2.


Thursday 18 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you'll never find it. -- C. P. Snow

I finished up this phase of the curriculum and sent it in.  There are still a few topics to cover, and work to be done, but that's it for a while.  The job has been quite a bit of work and I've been putting in quite a few hours lately.  The break is quite a relief.

El & I went to Calgary to hear a presentation on land investment, then did a bit of shopping.

Today : Becoming cloudy late this morning. High 2. / Tonight : Cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries overnight. Low minus 9. / Normals for the period : Low minus 10. High plus 2.


Friday 19 November 2004
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Today's events in 2003  2002  2001  2000

We do what we must, and call it by the best names -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's nice to have a day to putter.  I took out ashes and tidied up, paid bills, etc.

Jean and Mackenzie came for the day.

Today : Cloudy with sunny periods. Clearing this afternoon. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this afternoon. High zero. / Tonight : Increasing cloudiness early this evening. Clearing overnight. Low minus 11. / Normals for the period : Low minus 10. High plus 2.

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