You don't get anything clean without getting
something else dirty
Our HFCS Tanks. Here, I am re-circulating
the syrup to dissolve a bit of
El & I decided to spend the day geocaching and drove to Drum for the afternoon. We visited four caches and had some fun. Meijers met us at Fred and Barney's for supper.
Sunday: A mix of sun and cloud. Low 2. High 15.
Here are my BEE-L posts for April
Today: Sunny. High 11. UV index 5 or moderate. Tonight: Clear. Low minus 4.
I went to Calgary in the afternoon, stopping on the way to see Frank and Mike. In the city, I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was pretty true to the book, and I'll give it 5 stars.
Today: Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming south 20 km/h near noon. High 21. UV index 5 or moderate. Tonight: Cloudy periods. Low 1.
Finally, some good weather for pleasant outdoor work! The grass is growing, and dandelions are showing. Moreover, the days are long enough that I can spend the evening outdoors. We've had some decent weather, but I've been busy or away at the time. Now I have some time to get outdoors.
I set out to work on the bees today. I gave them patties a few weeks ago, on April 10th, and haven't opened them since. I was getting started on organizing to go out, and happened to be talking to Joe on the phone. He mentioned that he is out feeding. They had checked some areas recently and found them okay, but heard from a neighbour that his hives near theirs in their northern area were light. They checked and found that they could lift hives with one finger, so they got right to work feeding. I wasn't worried about mine, since they were quite heavy when I last checked, and I had left out two drums of feed for the 30 hives I still keep.
When I got going, I checked the feed drums and found the drums empty, so I started distributing feed. I have lots, in the bigger tank shown, and so I refilled the drums and took them to the bees. While there, I lifted a few lids and found that the patties are entirely gone. I decided that, since I want to divide the colonies, rather than produce honey, and since they are heavy, that I'll just plop another brood chamber on top of the strong ones to give the bees room to expand. The bees were pretty testy and I had no smoker or hive tool along, so decided to come back later, with the necessary tools. I could work without a smoker, but not without a hive tool.
I didn't get back to the bees. I got busy with filling propane bottles, taking out ashes, and pumping the syrup from the tank into a smaller one. In the process, I discovered a few inches of soft granulation in the bottom and circulated that for a while, using the pump shown. Usually the precipitated sugars will re-dissolve in an hour or two. I went back out after supper and worked a bit more, but will have to leave the bees for tomorrow.
Today: A mix of sun and cloud. High 20. UV index 5 or moderate. Tonight: Cloudy periods. Low 4.
I planned to get out and see the bees today, but a tonne of small jobs got in the way.
First thing, a neighbour came by, and we sold all our cattle; then we had some resulting paperwork and decisions. Later, in the afternoon, when I was done and about to go out, I turned off my laptop. Then a friend dropped in with a question, and I turned the machine back on, but it would not boot, and, instead, gave me an error.
Not only that, but the laptop would not boot from my Windows CD. I persisted, and later it decided it would, but the recovery console demanded an administrator password, which I do not have. (See here if this problem interests you). I then inserted my Knoppix 3.8 CD, booted and was able to see the hard drive, just fine, so I gather I can recover my user data easily enough by inserting my 1GB USB key and copying.
For that matter, I can use the computer, running Knoppix, seeing as it sees the internet just fine and has a full compliment of software, but I miss my customized Windows setup and want to get it working again.
Anyhow, I did not get it running properly, and friends arrived for supper. We had a pleasant evening.
Today: Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h this morning. High 24. UV index 5 or moderate. Tonight: Cloudy periods. Wind southeast 20 km/h. Low 9.
First thing, we cleaned up a bit in the yard. Ellen had applied to renew our fire permit, and we figured that, since we were going to rake the fire area anyhow, and since the fire chief said he would drop by to bring the papers, we should have things spiffy ASAP. We got quite a bit done and the permit was renewed with no hassle, but I still have not been back to the bees.
Okay! I got to the bees and gave them all several more patties. I took the boxes from the dead hives and put them on as thirds, which most of the survivors needed, since some were already down to the floor. Most were perfect for brood and can be taken away as splits in a week or two. Two were very heavy, though.
I assume that the hive they came from had been queenless in the fall and that is why it had plugged up so well, and why the bees died early, leaving all that feed. Such full boxes can be a problem, and I really should have moved out some of the feed, but I plunked them onto hives and let the bees figure it out. Bees eat a frame of honey for every frame of bees they produce, anyhow, so I expect they will manage.
One reason that I feed patties, besides that fact that the bees do so much better, is that spring work is dead simple. I never have to pull frames, except on poor hives to verify the problem. One glance, and the ones that have problems are obvious. It lets me be a boxkeeper, rather than a beekeeper. I work whole boxes at a time, and let the bees do what they do best. I simply eliminate or remediate the poorer ones, freeing up the resources, and give the best ones room and resources. I don't fiddle with success, and with patties, success is obvious by the consumption rate.
Our wraps have been discussed elsewhere and they make spring work easy, since the lids are removable all year round, and when I add a box, I can just pull the wrap up.
At Elliotts', I lost two of the six, but that worked perfectly, since I needed three boxes. I took one along, since the fourth hive was not ready for it yet. I must return with the hive mover and tidy up, since one hive is on the ground on a floor. I'll also switch the poor one with a strong hive to boost it. Perhaps I'll requeen it.
In the home yard, I got as far as the North end. There were eight hives remaining, and three dead. That worked well, too, but I'll now have to find some more brood chambers.
I also discovered, in the process of feeding, that it makes little, if any difference how much pollen is in the patties, since, on April 10th, I had laid three patties across each hive: 10% pollen, BeeFeed (no pollen content), and 20% pollen. From the pictures, we can see little difference, except that the BeeFeed seems to have been eaten a little less quickly, even though it was in the centre, at least judging by what is left on the hives (see pictures above). the difference in consumption is more obvious on weaker hives and might have been more apparent on the stronger ones a week or two ago, before they cleaned up the more peripheral parts of the patties.
Today: Cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon. High 22. UV index 4 or moderate. Tonight: Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers this evening with the risk of a thunderstorm. Low 8.
When you're through changing, you're through -- Bruce Barton
Jean and Chris came over Saturday after lunch, and Ellen went to an antique show in Red Deer with Ruth.
Sunday, we had a leisurely breakfast, then set up a geocache nearby. Later, the Orams left for home, and Ellen & I drove to Ruth's to drop off here furniture, bought the previous day. the three of us then went to Drum for supper, we went to Turtleback, rather than Fred & Barney's, since the buffet at F&B's has gotten too spicy and greasy for me. I had an excellent steak.
Saturday: Cloudy with sunny periods. High 19. Sunday: Cloudy. Low 4. High 15. Monday: Cloudy. Low 7. High 16. Tuesday: Cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Low 4. High 14.
When you're through changing, you're through -- Bruce Barton
Well, my project for today is to finish the bees. A few years ago, we did several hundred hives a day. Now it takes me three days to work through 30. Of course it is not the bee work per se that takes the time, it is the getting ready and tidying up after that is time consuming, plus all the little maintenance jobs that are encountered along the way.
Here are some pictures. Descriptions will follow when I have time.
Today: Cloudy with sunny periods. High 20. UV index 5 or moderate. Tonight: Cloudy. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h overnight. Low 4.