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Tuesday September 1st, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Wow!  August was a long month, in this diary, at least, with lots of bee-related activity and comment on these pages.  September may be just as full, since I will be working on an extension job.  How much I write about that here remains to be seen.  Come to think of it, though, nothing is likely to change much, except I'll be really busy, maybe too busy to write much.  Somehow, though, I seem to find time.

Jean left for home yesterday afternoon, and Jonathan left early this morning.  We were up at 4:30 and had him at the airport by 5:30 for his 6:05 flight to Toronto.  From there, he flies to Denver, then John Wayne, and should be home in Laguna Beach by 2:30.

Sudbury airport is small and casual -- although the security is as stringent as any -- and if you get there an hour before the first flight of the day, you are practically the only person there.  The desk staff show up shortly, though.

The day he flew up here to Sudbury was his last day employed with a company which has employed him for years.  When he gets back, he has several good job offers and will start work again later this week or early next.  Although the recession is still biting and California is broke, seems his skills as an application developer are in demand.


  Of course, immediately after I said that the seasonal nectar flow trend is down, the gain yesterday was the best since I began recording weights a week back.  Ellen says yesterday was a hot day, 30 degrees, and that is right in the optimal range, at least until the ground moisture gives out. You have to wonder.  If these splits are putting on around twenty pounds a week at the tail end of the season, what is going on.  Nonetheless, I used always to leave a third on my hives until late September or even early October in some yards, long after other beekeepers had finished.  The boxes were usually quite full.


Time to think about varroa again.  The chart (left) is from a talk at the 2009 Alberta Beekeepers convention by a Polish gentleman with a very simple message: hit mites when they are vulnerable, and before they can do harm.  The jet fighters on the chart are zooming in to destroy mites at the times he thinks optimal.

I was looking back to 2004 and the mite loads that Medhat noticed then in my hives at that time.  Interesting to note that a little AFB showed up in my Australian packages that year and none in the overwintered Konas.  Also interesting to note that the mite levels appear to have been higher in the styrofoam hives.  Coincidence?  Don't know.

I am getting interested in such things again and have all my styrofoam boxes full of bees  In fact the scale hives are styro and are performing well.  We'll have to do a mite survey and see.

In 2006 and 2007, I pretty well ignored the bees.  I had pulled some honey, but could not get it extracted.  I counted on friends, and that did not work out.  I was also away most of the time. 

I split them in 2006, but did not wrap.  In 2007, I just let them sit.  By 2008, I was down to 3 and began splitting back up to about ten.

This year I am up to 35 hives or so. My current plan is to get the brood chambers reconditioned by using them as supers this year as well as to draw some of the foundation that has been sitting around for years.  I'll pull the unoccupied brood chambers from top and bottom at the end of the season and store them for use while splitting next year.  I'll then winter in two or three boxes depending on the colony's needs.

Next year, I'll split two or three ways in May, and hopefully in two again by the end of July.  Whether to raise queens, buy queens or get cells, I have yet to decide.  With 85% success each time, that should yield (35 x 0.85) x 3 x (0.85) x 2 x (0.85) = 129 colonies.  We'll see.  There is a lot more work in 130 colonies than in 35, and the 35 I have are getting to be a bit of work.

I smartened up this year.  A few years back, I split hives and mixed styro and wood boxes on the same stand. That made it impossible to wrap in the fall.  This year, I am keeping wood with wood and styro with styro.  I've made a few exceptions when it comes to supers, though, since I ran out of styrofoam boxes, and because the supers will come off before wrapping.

As for varroa treatment, I think I will sample this fall, and likely drizzle oxalic again where indicated.  It should be interesting to see.  I also am interested in looking for AFB.  I have not seen any, but there should be some if these bees are not hygienic.  The base stock is quite good, but I have been letting them raise their own queens and not testing for HYG. 

I guess this is the test.  All my equipment has been exposed at one time or another and we know there is a low background spore level, from the testing that Beaverlodge did some years back.  There is a limit to what HYG can accomplish.  I noticed the swarm that found the old AFB stack somehow is not doing well, even if they are not showing much active.  Combs scaled with AFB are hard to clean out, and infect larvae repeatedly until they are clean, so bees hived on AFB scale have an uphill battle, no matter how hygienic they are.  That is why, at minimum, beekeepers remove scaly comb no matter whether they use medication  or not.

I don't think much about tracheal anymore.  I am trusting that the breeders whose stock I use have done their homework.  In the US, that would be a crapshoot, but the stock in Canada (and Kona AFAIK) has been more carefully selected.


It is settled. I'll be back in Alberta next Tuesday night and at work on Thursday looking through hives in Southern Alberta and determining the mite and disease levels as well as appropriate responses.

Those bees are making a liar out of me.  This the biggest gain yet!  23 pounds.  That is 6 lbs per hive in 24 hrs.  That would be 180 lbs a month if it could continue.
Eric Mussen's summer newsletter came in just it and it dispelled any doubts about missing the WAS meeting.  Being a westerner, I wondered if I should have gone, but from the report in the newsletter, it sounded pretty lame.  I had hoped the western society would approach the eastern group in size and content, but so far it does not seem to.

Wednesday September 2nd, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2009 14:49:14 -0400

> In fact, we are being told now to recycle combs after 3 years or so due to > the build-up of pathogens.  These same combs are generally darkened -- by the > painting of them with propolis by the bees. So, the question is: does > propolis really help? If it does, we are pitching out propolized combs. If > it doesn't...

I am glad you brought this up. I have been puzzled and a tiny bit annoyed at the advice given so often -- to use as much new comb as possible and throw away perfectly good combs. It is a pet peeve, in fact.

In my experience, bees do some things well on new comb, and at some times of year, but for wintering in the north, nothing beats old comb. No matter what some respected beekeepers and researchers say, in my experience, my bees do best overall on middle-aged and older combs.

Bees are happy to raise brood in new comb, but prefer to store honey in older, darker comb. That is the opposite to how we like do things, since we want the nectar to be stored in unstained comb so that the honey is white, and to use our older combs in the brood nest, since we have them on hand, and too much foundation slows build-up and cuts into production.

We did a few tests years back. See http://honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/fdnvsdrawn.htm  and http://honeybeeworld.com/diary/2000/diary040100.htm#ResearchDetails 

After trying wintering on new comb a few times, we gave in and follow Don Peer's advice (in the above links) to me when I was just starting out. Even if the bees have been summering on new comb, we make sure they winter on dark comb.

Also, we find that it is harder to get a hive up to proper wintering weight on light comb -- around here, at least, and if we do, the bees often just die for no apparent reason, even when wintered on a beautiful perfect super of brand new comb full of honey.

In my opinion, middle-aged darkened comb is a beekeepers best asset, and it pains me to hear recommendations to destroy it. I can understand that there is a need where coumaphos has been used, and to a lesser extent where fluvalinate has been used, but isn't it the same people making that recommendation who recommended using these chemicals in the first place, and in a manner that was bound to contaminate comb?

Chemical build-up in comb is an obvious reason for cycling older combs out, but as for the build-up of disease in combs, I am not so sure. For one thing, good bees should have some resistance to the diseases, and below a threshold, exposure is likely harmless, and, conceivably, even beneficial.

I see no need to destroy comb because of pathogen build-up. AFB, possibly is an exception in some circumstances simply because the scale is so hard for bees to remove. As you mention, though, irradiation is a good option where practical.

We often see new comb of brood with lots of larvae missing, particularly near the wires. An older comb beside it will be solid with brood. That says something to me.

As a result, I really do not think the same advice applies in all situations, and that the advice to destroy good combs is overly simplistic..

> What is the point of throwing out good combs, if the rest of the hive is > covered with all the same stuff? ...One would have to study clean new > hives, versus old sticky ones, to determine whether a clean environment is > really better or not

That would be a difficult study to control, for reasons discussed above, but I think I have done the uncontrolled version and, ceteris paribus, older is better in my country.

I can see the argument to be made that the young are raised in the comb, and are imprisoned next to whatever is in the comb, while the boxes and other parts -- even outer combs -- are more distant and contact is more transitory. However, I think that as with many things we assume about bees and beekeeping, these ideas are deduced by logic performed on assumptions, rather than empirical, carefully observed fact and, as such, very suspect until tested against reality.


Another fine day for the bees in Swalwell -- a 25 lb, 24hr gain for the four-hive pallet, and a 34 lb gain per hive over 10 days.

Swalwell is usually a poor bee pasture -- everyone always did better than me -- but this year, our home yard is doing well in the late season.

I find, too, that hives that are late building tend to finish up well and these are spits.


Today, we picked up some flagstone to repair Mom's front step and talked to a mason.  I took a drive to the Rowing Club to discuss windsurfer rentals, then we decided to drive to Pine Hill after supper, so I can finish the shower project and we will close up for the season.

Thursday September 3rd, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Today, I worked on the shower project.  It took me some time to get onto it.  I had cleaned up and put everything away and finding the tools and parts took time, as did disassembling the temporary setup I  did for the time that others were here.

The weather here in Muskoka is perfect.  Warm, but not hot days and warm nights.  Sun, no clouds and light wind, and predicted to continue until after we leave.

In Alberta, Ellen says, "Hot again and extremely windy this evening.........south east wind." 

I can see that in the hive scale results.  I assume the wind has kept the bees down.  Could be that the heat is using up the moisture, too, but I would not have expected such a sudden decline in one day from that.  Wind is a more plausible explanation IMO.


I have agreed to work with Medhat on the Bee Health Program, and am headed home sooner than I had originally planned, arriving next Tuesday and starting work on Thursday, a week from today, with an expected completion date around the end of the month.

I look forward to seeing my buddies and looking into hives around southern Alberta with them.


 

Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Sep 2009 04:16:01 -0400

> Uraguayan researchers also found that spraying an extract of propolis > decreased the number of AFB spores in colonies.

Good subject for study IMO. I should think that results of spore counts are dependant on the measurement method, though.

I wonder if they are reporting spore count -- live and dead -- or just viable spores, and how they determined viability if that is the case, since I should think that culturing spores would give different results than a microscopic examination.

It has long been my contention that although AFB spores have been observed to remain viable for long times and be very resistant to heat, that time and environmental influences -- like heat, atmosphere, chemical reactions, solar and other radiation, coating with wax and propolis -- reduce their vitality over time.

Given that, in order to infect larvae sufficiently to cause what we call AFB, a number (more than one) of spores must be in the right place at the right time, and be able to germinate in the short time before the window of opportunity closes. Too slow, and the opportunity is gone AFAIK. (I don't know how a half-infected larva would turn out).

In other words, even if AFB spores are weakened by any of those factors -- time, heat, atmosphere, chemical reactions, solar and other radiation, coating with wax and propolis -- and although they may still be demonstrated to be viable in lab tests, the spores may not be sufficiently viable to actually infect larvae effectively in a real world hive situation, or may require greater numbers to achieve infection, especially in less susceptible strains of bees.

> However, as Allen says, beekeepers have long found that a supply of used > drawn combs are one's most valuable asset. Bees clearly prefer to store > honey in dark comb above the brood.

I have always been amazed how southern beekeepers are able to replace dead colonies and destroyed comb over a fairly short period without apparent economic damage when the same losses would destroy a northern beekeeper. Up north, we have problems replacing typical normal 30% annual shrinkage in numbers without sacrificing crop.

It is quite typical for a northern beekeeper to buy 10% of the operation's total numbers annually in package bees to compensate for losses over the year. Although splitting can replace the annual attrition, splitting sufficiently to replace the losses would burden the operation excessively.

On the other hand, southern beekeepers, of course, sell those packages and then go on to pollinate and make a crop. The bees they sell are often surplus, and would be in the trees unless shaken and sold.

Of course, too, southern farmers plant two or three crops a year on the same acreage that a northern farmer would plant and harvest only once.

Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: randy oliver
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Sep 2009 08:11:04 -0700

>I wonder if they are reporting spore count -- live and dead -- or just viable spores

Just viable spores (from the honey) that started colonies on Petri dishes.

> (I don't know how a half-infected larva would turn out).

Virtually every organism alive is "half-infected" by bacteria and viruses, including bee larvae. Their immune system either eliminates the infection, or keeps it in check (once infected, this response lasts for the rest of the bee's life). So "half-infected" larvae would appear normal.

Great page on your comb experiments, Allen. Thanks! I am very much aware that the huge amount of comb that I am forced to draw severely limits my honey crop. It is obvious when I compare the difference in colony production when I actually have drawn comb to super with.

In my own operation, we are considering shifting from nuc sales and bulk honey sold wholesale to local honey production bottled and sold retail. I'm tired of the driving, and the market is good for anything "local." In order to produce serious honey, we will need to build a stockpile of drawn combs. > > > > >One thing that confounds the issue is that some years are so good that a > beekeeper can do everything wrong and still get a crop and winter well. This > sets the beekeeper up for future years of losses and puzzlement.

I always tell those wishing to begin a bee business that the worst thing that can happen is to have a great year the first year--it sets an unreasonable "standard" in one's mind.

This year was one of those exceptionally good years in my location. And for a change, we actually managed to not drop behind until the very end. Hence, my sons' venture into retail marketing of a large local crop. We are not about to extrapolate for planning purposes that we will see a year like this again!

Randy Oliver

Subject: Re: HMF in HFCS
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2009 21:26:40 -0400

> I'm confused. Do I now have to dispose of the 2 drums of HFCS that I have > left, or is there a proper way to store syrup?

I don't know how old or heated it is, but if it is not too bad, feeding it in late spring or summer during dearth would probably not cause economic adverse effects and could do some good.

The problems with HMF are worst when it is in the only feed available and the bees are confined.

I have heard that the colour is an indicator, but maybe not always. Clear and water-white is good. Murky and/or tinted is bad.

YMMV.

Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Sep 2009 10:15:50 -0400

> I seem to recall postings from Tony in Norway that indicated a very high > amount of comb replacement as a nosema control, and think that Norway > could not be considered "southern" beekeeping. Juanse's bees are so > southern that they could almost be considered "northern" and because he > has a market for old comb (for raising wax moth!) they are largely on new > comb, and seem to be healthier I thought as a result.

I admit to being puzzled by these reports, along with others. These reports and others of the sort plus the comments of some researchers were the reason behind our experiments linked in my previous post.

Although not definitive, our tests did prove to us what we had been observing less formally over the years and what we had been told (and did not want to believe). We measured the cost. Did you take a look? See http://honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/fdnvsdrawn.htm  and http://honeybeeworld.com/diary/2000/diary040100.htm#ResearchDetails 

There is a high cost to more than a small amount of annual comb replacement in our situation -- our country, our bees, our management -- but apparently this is not universal -- or else the beekeepers in question find that cost acceptable. Either that, or perhaps they are not aware of the difference. I suppose that there is also the possibility that their disease or chemical problems are so serious that the advantages that come from extreme comb replacement outweigh the costs, or that their management is much better than mine.

I have to say, though, that disease and mites have seldom been more than a slight nuisance to me, and that when they have, like the time we had 30% chalkbrood measured in some Australian packages, it was from genetic problems and the cure was obvious -- change the bees, not the comb. Nosema has never been a problem for me that I could detect (an example at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/beescience/default.htm  ), and I have looked hard, although I suspect it would be if I put pressure on my bees to draw more than 10% new comb a year and tried to winter on it

In beekeeping, I find that the problems of one year follow into the next and the success of one year also follows and builds over time. If you get a disease, it takes several years to clean it up; if you have an episode of malnutrition, it takes more than a year to fully recover. This is perhaps due to our locale and short season. I see the southerners seem to recover much more quickly (Or do they really? Is their superior climate a mask and able to compensate for the multitude of problems many cause by their management style?).

I should mention that I do not scrape frames or boxes any more than I have to in order to prevent crushing bees when I work, and everything is waxed up and propolized. I keep several sheets of foundation in every brood chamber, at the outside in case the bees get crowded enough to need to mass there, and sometimes insert a frame in the centre at the right moment (a risky maneuver for the inexperienced), and often insert foundation into supers, but I make sure, other than the one case, that the bees are not forced to draw foundation. I ran the world's largest Ross Rounds operation at one time, so it is not that I don't know how to get bees to draw comb.

One thing that confounds the issue is that some years are so good that a beekeeper can do everything wrong and still get a crop and winter well. This sets the beekeeper up for future years of losses and puzzlement.  Successive failures accumulate problems in combs.

It is not the great years, but those other, challenging years that tell the tale as to whether a technique is wise or not for any given beekeeper.

Right now, I am listening to "Wild West Radio - High Cholesterol, Low Protein Radio - 95.4% Saturated Fat" on Winamp.  I enjoy country music done well, and this is not your run of the mill country music.  This Internet radio station plays stuff you'll never hear elsewhere.  Very clever lyrics with incisive social commentary, not just the same old cheatin' and hurtin' songs, and not all country...

Friday September 4th, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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This the lowest gain, yet.  It was hot today, but windy.  Ellen says, "Still windy and cooler.  Hard to get a reading again today because the wind blows the balance beam around!".  Cooler?  Only 30 degrees (C).  What causes the drop in activity?  Heat?  Dryness?  Difficulty measuring?  Hard to say, but quite a surprise.  Wind is my guess.  WInds over 20 KPH make flying difficult.

It was 24 here in Muskoka today, and that is warm enough for me. John Pat had John H. and me over for burgers this evening.  In later afternoon, we took a spin in his powerboat, out to the lake for a swim.  I decided that I really don't enjoy speedboats anymore.  Sailing has spoiled me.  I don't enjoy the pounding over the chop, the noise and the wind.  I like going slowly and looking at things along the way.

I worked on  the bathroom again today and the end is coming into sight.

Alberta weather continues hot.  Should be good for the work I have planned, visiting beekeepers later next week.
 

Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2009 08:03:57 -0400

Does anyone know what travel stain is?

Also, when hives are robbed, there is a sort of 'mud' left on the entrance holes.

Anyone know what that is?

I don't know what the former is. Could be propolis, but the latter does not appear to be.

Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: deknow
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2009 17:28:36 GMT

>Does anyone know what travel stain is?

i thought it was adhesive tarsal secretions by workers, and anything that might stick to them...which is probably anything that is or gets into the hive.

http://books.google.com/books?id=p-ii-nVqFCIC&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&dq=bee+foot+secretions+gland&source=bl&ots=8mHva1l2-J&sig=QhtFGydbGhiuORVzYfLa9fEX2LA&hl=en&ei=QE2hSq-wJNud8Qav2ZzjDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=bee%20foot%20secretions%20gland&f=false 

(This passage)


Subject: Re: Propolis conundrum
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2009 14:24:21 -0400

>i thought it was adhesive tarsal secretions by workers, and anything that might stick to them...which is probably anything that is or gets into the hive.

Thanks. That is the best answer yet, and good reference, too.

The reference says it is colourless, though, so what is the stain material? ..."probably anything that is or gets into the hive"?

Saturday September 5th, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Ellen says, "Still breezy but the bees have been working despite the wind".

I spent the day working on the shower again.  I'm nearly done. Another 3 or 4 hours...

Here is an interesting sequence of brood photos.  These photos, taken about ten days apart, illustrate darkening of the comb as well as the effect of the metal in the wiring on larvae in new comb on wired wax foundation. They also show the initial brood area and how it is out of phase with the outer ring, laid later. At any given time each area is empty, then capped, then empty, then capped, while to he other is the opposite. Also, failed cells in each area fall out of phase and stay out of phase as well or are filled with nectar and/or pollen. This would seem to be a good queen with good bees on a flow. It is obvious that any cell that fails to go a full cycle is cleaned and laid or filled again immediately.
 

Subject: Re: How to approach a Masal selection?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2009 03:10:26 -0400

> I have for each of my yard the hive number and for each hive the number of > frames covered by bees. I can dispose right now - cause of a good winter - > close to 30% of my colonies... The distribution for each yard resembles a > Weibull rather than a Gauss > (normal) distribution.

As I understand it, depending on the parameters, a Weibul distribution can "mimic the behavior of other statistical distributions such as the normal and the exponential". Thus, I think we need a better description before we understand what you see.

> I think I should discard those colonies that are 1 standard distribution > down the average. But ...

From this, I assume that you are thinking to cull on just this one criterion. To me that is surprising, since size is only one selection criterion, and not necessarily a meaningful one -- unless it is linked to other characteristics you seek.

My understanding is that you are approaching your spring season and that these are overwintered bees. Unless your major goal is splitting, and I think if you have a surplus of bees, it is not, then large populations at this date could actually indicate undesirable properties by many standards. You may wish to keep the medium ones -- or conceivably even the small ones -- depending on their condition otherwise, the timing of your season and other factors like winter feed consumption.

Personally, I would not use this one characteristic as a selector. I would look for clean bottom boards (no chalk), disease history, and other indicators of health, manageability and productivity.

Moreover, I would have marked the best performers in each yard for the previous season and consider keeping them regardless of size if they were disease-free and not vicious.

Subject: Re: How to approach a Masal selection?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2009 08:43:12 -0400

> Allen can you further explain this statement? what are you thinking on? > .. then large populations at this date could actually indicate undesirable > properties by many standards

I don't know where to start. It seems fairly obvious to me, and we have discussed the various aspects of this question here fairly recently, and also going back into BEE-L antiquity.

You may recall that Bob is an advocate of prolific bees and does not mind the feed and drug costs, while others prefer stock that is more conservative and generally more hardy. I have also written that hive strength is one of my (several) spring selection criteria and why.

Without knowing more about your genetics, average yearly losses, and goals, as well as flow dates, and pollination dates, etc., anything I write would be very general, and very time-consuming.

All I can say is that you have a problem many would love to have and I think your problem is that you are feeding too much pollen substitute. I have some friends who had the same problem after feeding supplement for several springs -- too many bees. It was a huge problem since they had to split, and they had a lot of extracting to do every summer.

So they quit feeding patties and the problem went away the next year. The year after, they were buying a lot of package bees, and fighting mysterious bee diseases again.

My advice: Stop feeding artificial feeds. Your bees are doing far too well.

Subject: Re: How to approach a Masal selection?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2009 09:11:11 -0400

> I think I should discard those colonies that are 1 standard distribution > down the average. But ...

Unfortunately your chart got a bit gibbled up coming through the email, and I see no data for yard three.

From what I can see, though, and without plotting the data, your distribution is not too far off the normal distribution one might expect to see. I doubt that I would find the chart very useful anyhow -- for practical purposes. For interest and reflection, it may carry insights.

For other than for curiosity purposes, such an analysis to me serves no purpose. The real work has to be done in the yards, and unless you run your operation as an intellectual exercise primarily, the question is how to best resolve the problem most quickly, neatly, and efficiently, with due consideration for any hidden ramifications.

Many beekeepers faced with your problem would just go out and double or triple up everything that looks weak and take away the extra boxes in a few weeks, then requeen those hives if they appear to need it. That is probably what I would do, but I have never had the problem.

IF, however, you are doing queen selection and breeding from the total population, you may be concerned about keeping poor genetics in the pool and may wish to ensure that drones are not raised in poor colonies.

This is a complex question, and I think that calculating distributions is a bit of overkill in dealing with a real beeyard situation

Subject: Re: How to approach a Masal selection?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2009 22:10:04 -0400

> I started from stock of four different origins threey ears ago... I have all the lines availables in Chile, italians (cordovans, starline), yugos, primosky, buckfast, many locals ecotypes, etc , etc and I have been freely mixing them up... Darker ones are a bit slower in building up but catch up quite nicely with the lighter ones. Darkers are better in managing their reserves.

I think this accounts for some of the variation. Luck may account for the rest. BY selecting for size, you may select for one type over others.

>Finally I believe this is going to be a very swarming season. We are under El Niño influence, with lost of rain and high temperature. Bloom are some 15 to 20 days ahead past year and buds looks promising.

I was wondering about that. I was also wondering how you woulld cull. Would you sell bees, or kill them, or as I suggested, combine them.

>I was thinking that by culling a given amount of the smaller ones I was going to improve the winterability trait of my stock and at the same time reduce the amount of hives now before the swarming season.

I think that you are probably correct in that assumption, although I am not sure how you improve on the success you have had. Moreover that success is causing you problems.

Maybe you need to shake bees into packages and sell package bees. Is there a market for them?

At any rate, I don't think you need to figure standard deviations. It appears you need to get rid of some hives, and the weak ones in each yard are the obvious choice.

Sunday September 6th, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Ellen says, "Still gaining tho' the weather is cooling and it is still breezy. Zippy found a skunk this morning when I was nail raking the ash pile at the quonset.  She has had several treatments of the special skunk deodorizer formula but there is still a faint skunky smell around her.  Quiet here.........except for the occasional irritated skunk".

Calculating, I see that each hive on the scale has gained 43 lbs since we started weighing.  I wondered when I was finishing up supering half an hour before leaving for my flight east two weeks ago, if I was wasting my time.  Apparently not, and the season is not over yet.

I just about finished the bathroom at Pine Hill -- I have a little trim to add -- closed up, then drove back to Sudbury.  Tomorrow I wrap my boat and Tuesday I fly home.  Wednesday after lunch I have to be in Edmonton for training and briefing.

Monday September 7th, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Today, Mom and I visited Linda in the morning. Her daughter, Sarah and a friend are up for the weekend.  My boat was tied up there, so I drove the van and trailer over to the ramp nearby and left it there, catching a ride with Mom the rest of the way.  After the visit, I was going to motor over to the ramp and pulled the boat out, , but the day was so perfect that I decided to go sailing instead.  I covered pretty well the whole lake and then pulled the boat onto the trailer at the end of the day.  I had planned to tarp it today, but there is always tomorrow.  I have the morning only, though, since I lift off at 3:30 for home

Apparently it was cooler today at home.  Ellen reports the dog smells less like skunk.  Also, the dog has gotten used to measuring the hives at 5 every afternoon and goes to get Ellen at 4:45.

The rest of the week is cooler, too (see my home area forecast at the right) which is fine for me as long as we don't get frost, since I will be working on bees.  There is risk of frost in the forecast.

I saw my contract today.  I am  described as a volunteer.

Tomorrow night, I'll be back home.  My bees need some attention.  I have been feeding patties constantly and plan to go a couple more rounds before quitting for the fall.  Some research seems to indicate that it is the decline in pollen incoming that triggers the cutback in brood and the raising if winter bees.  Since these are splits and some are fairly recent, I figure several extra weeks of brood will build populations.

I also have to decide whether to extract.  Ugghhh!

Tuesday September 8th, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I had set today aside to clean up my van and to get my boat ready for winter.  I had planned to tarp the boat again, but decided that it is already dirty enough that I have to do a major cleaning in spring and that the hatches are water-tight.  I decided to make sure it is level and won't accumulate water in the stern seam if it leaks, or on the deck, where the ice could pry hatches enough to let water in.

Mom drove me to the airport and I had a pleasant flight to Toronto, then to Calgary.  Mike met me at the airport and I was home by ten.

The scale reached the end of the beam and the small slider is being pressed into service.  Looks like 1206, when the first scale is taken as reading 201.

Looks as if the production is on the upswing again.  There is a risk of frost tonight, though.

Looks as if the wind was the culprit for the bad day.  That would seem to indicate that locations where the bees are able to forage on windy days might have an advantage.  If the bees can get out of the hive and have a protected forage area like a woods or a valley, they may be able to work on windy days. 

I wonder what the bee losses are on windy days compared to calm days. 

Wednesday September 9th, 2009
September past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Today I drove to Edmonton to get my instructions and pick up the van and supplies for the next few weeks.

As mentioned previously, I have agreed to help out inspecting hives in Southern Alberta this fall.  I also mentioned that my comments here in that regard will be very limited.  Unless someone I visit explicitly tells me that he or she would like something we observed or something he or she is doing shared with the world, my activities are regarded as confidential.

I'll still have some things to write about, though, I am sure.

Seeing as I am home, I did not get a scale hive picture emailed today.  I am told, though that the gain  was five pounds, so I guess that the frost missed us last night.

I reactivated the Honey Bee World Forum quite a while ago, but nobody seems to be posting there.  Is it locked or something?  Has anyone tried it?  I was able to post.

 

 

 

 

 

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