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Tuesday October 20th, 2009
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OK.  Where to start?

The skunk repellers seem to work.  There are some dirty paw marks on a few hives, but no bees on the ground, and the marks were only on the first few hives.

I ordered some weights for the scale today.  As soon as I did that, I found one on the ground where it had fallen when I moved the scale.  No matter.  Now I will have a full set for next year.  Cost me probably the better part of $100, though -- and the guy at the scale shop said he was digging them out of the scrap pile!

Weight loss.  I weighed the hives again today, and they have gained a couple of pounds since last measure.  I somehow don't think so.  There is something fishy with the scale, methinks, although it was raining lately.  Could they have picked up two pounds of water?

I tried removing more boxes and figured out my problem.  With auger holes in every box, the bees don't all go down. A contingent hangs out near every entrance to protect from robbers.  I left a few lids off and also placed some wedges in to lift the top box a bit so the bees will go down overnight.

I was looking in the bottom of some boxes and can see the results of placing foundation in with the drawn combs.  Some combs are 1-1/2" thick, while the foundation remains undrawn or thinly drawn.  No matter.  Most of the foundation was started and most was finished.

I brought the supers into the shop.  So far I have 28, and there are that many more out there.  I have to get them off, too, since I want to treat with oxalic before too long

 

Wednesday October 21st, 2009
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I checked the scale again and it seems to have settled down.  I am adjusting the one odd reading to get a linear chart.  I realise that I am cooking the data and state that explicitly.  I hate to do that since the anomaly may have shown something important, but I really doubt it.  Here's what I get if I dump the one anomalous reading.  I now get 3/8 lb/day loss and roughly 11 lbs/month.  Over time, we should get a clearer picture.

 


From my BEE-L posts

> It is a beautiful winter picture of hives consisting of mostly 3 and 4 > brood supers with open wholes in them. Are those holes for ventilation?

Yes, they provide ventilation in winter, and an entrance year round. I can also assess how the hives are doing by the activity at the holes.

> Do you always keep them open? Do you ever close them?

I normally keep them open, and normally, I would not have so many brood boxes on.

My goal is to not produce honey, but rather to split the hives when ever they got strong enough.

The problem was that it got too late for splitting, and the hives needed more boxes, so I kept piling them on. I finally gave up and used some supers, too. I don't know why the hives did so well, but I did feed 15% pollen patties all summer, and we had a long fall. They made 90 lbs each in the last month.

I plan to take the extra boxes away and winter in two or three, but am having problems, since the bees are still occupying as many as five boxes in some hives and the weather is getting cold for chasing bees down.

I place an empty pallet in front of the pallet with the hives, then lay the hive down.  It is then easy to remove the bottom box or even roll the hive upside down to drizzle oxalic syrup.

Normally, when I use supers, which do not have holes, for the top boxes, the bees retreat to the bottom several boxes quite early, but it seems the holes are keeping the bees up in the top boxes. They stay up to guard, I suppose. Also that is dark comb up there.

It is an interesting problem. All the smart beekeepers I know just chased the bees down a month ago, fed, medicated and wrapped -- and are now planning their winter vacation. I still have supers on. Brood boxes, at least.

I think I may have to winter in five or bite the bullet and chase the bees down. I have several very good blowers, and it is easy to just blow the bees directly down into the broods from the top. if the ground is too cold and the days to cool for normal blowing.

I'd prefer to reduce the number of boxes because I want to use oxalic drizzle and I am not sure how to do it in five boxes. I laid one hive down after taking the top box off (with bees) to see if I could take the bottom boxes, (see today's diary) but they are down there, too! I managed to lift it back up, but those four boxes must weigh 200 lbs. One way to drizzle the bottom box is to roll the hive upside down, but with four boxes, I don't think this will work.

Anyhow, this is probably more than anyone wanted to know.


> The "EZ Lift is half aluminum which makes the dolly fairly light and has two settings. The upper setting is for moving hive bodies from pallet to pallet and the lower setting is for moving hives with bottom boards around.

Mann Lake's version can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/yzzktw2 

The picture is not very good. The description says, "With this ingenious steel hive truck, you can single-handedly move hundreds of pounds! By simply walking the cart into the first or second box of the colony, you can re-palletize, rotate boxes or move bees. The retractable hive catch slips easily into the hand holds for secure lifting and adjustments to lift deeps or shallows. Amazingly responsive, you can manoeuvre and adjust a colony with ease".

The picture is pretty poor and I cannot see how the "retractable hive catch slips easily into the hand holds" and how you get it out. I also notice that the unit lifts hives from the side, which can cause the frames to swing to one side and crush bees.

Does anyone have better pictures?

Here are pictures of the hive mover I use. It has a lever to grab and release the hive body.

http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/images/lift2.jpg  http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/images/2004/lift1.jpg 

allen


> The scale Mike uses is the Pelouse utility no. 5w587

http://tinyurl.com/yhskryq

> I tried one of these but returned to Grainger and picked up the Pelouse
> digital no. 4TH72 with the 9 foot cord so I could weigh hives by myself.

http://tinyurl.com/yhl5kow

For all scales: http://tinyurl.com/yj24nof

> The tool I use to move the hive from the 4 way pallet to the scale is the
> same tool we use to move hives around from pallet to pallet. The dolly I
> use is sold by Mann lake pg. 93 MH-105 (2009 catalog) .

http://tinyurl.com/yzzktw2

> The "EZ Lift is half aluminum which makes the dolly fairly light and has
> two settings. The upper setting is for moving hive bodies from pallet to
> pallet and the lower setting is for moving hives with bottom boards
> around.

Seems to me that you should not actually need a scale with this unit, since
the downward pressure on the handle should be directly proportional to the
hive weight. Should be simple to rig a spring scale of some sort to measure
that. Then there would be no need to move the hive. Lifting a hive would
be enough.

We should suggest that small addition to Mann Lake. A spring, a needle and
several pieces of steel, and a calibrated card would be all that is needed.
Of course there are many ways to rig a scale ne up, since the pivot is
already in place -- the axle.

> I obviously can judge the amount of feed needed to over winter but when a
> hive is really light and I weigh I write the amount of feed (in Gallons) I
> want pumped and the before weight on the top

Seems Southern Alberta beekeepers are back to using hive-top feeders again,
and the amount of barrel feeding is much less than in the past. These
feeders come from Western Bee in Poulson, MT. http://www.westernbee.com/  I
see they are not listed online. They hold -- I'm guessing -- 6 gallons at
least.

Thursday October 22nd, 2009
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I was up early and off to an eye appointment in Calgary.

When I got home in late afternoon , I got home and went to work on the hives.  The weather was good, and I decided to take off the extra boxes, using the blower.  I drove out to Elliott's' and got to work.  First off, I discovered that some of the foundation in top boxes was only partially drawn  That presents a problem.  I don't like to rearrange frames this slate, so I pulled the top boxes.  second, I discovered a couple of stinkers: hives with AFB.  They were close together, so I assume they were splits of the same hive, and also genetically related.  I did what I could, then headed home for supper.

Then I got a call to head to Lacombe.  Jean said Mckenzie has hives and a cold and that i should drive Mom to the airport tomorrow.  I figured to sleep in Lacombe, since I did not want another early morning drive, so off I went.

Friday October 23rd, 2009
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Click here for some interesting bee pictures from Michael Palmer

I drove Mom to Calgary, then stopped in Airdrie to see Frank, then drove home, intent on getting more bee work done.  I found I was tired, however, and had a nap.

I watched a "The Honeymooners" video in the evening.

Saturday October 24th, 2009
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I was tired again all day.  I'm thinking it is the flu shot I got in Calgary that is the cause.  Hope so.  The H1N1 shot comes out next week.  I suppose I'll get that one, too.

I went out to Elliotts' and brought back one pallet of bees to winter here at home.  The wind was bitter. One down, two to go.

I estimate that at the current rate of hive weight loss (right), 60 lbs of feed will be consumed by April 1. I don't expect the rate of loss to be linear, though, and my measurements are a bit rough, what with having re-worked the scale and being currently working on the hives.

Sunday October 25th, 2009
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Two months until Christmas

> You might want to direct your analytical mind towards the > H1N1 flu vaccine issue before you get the shot. It is > my impression that you are in a low-risk age group and > that all medical interventions, including this one, > carry risks.

Thanks. I realise that I am not likely to die from it, but I have had the flu -- real flu -- not just a virus fourteen years ago.  It resulted in some pneumonia, and changes in my metabolism such that I have never been the same. Not only that, my bees starved because my son and I were too weak to get out to feed them for a month or so.

Since then I have always taken the seasonal flu shot and never since been bothered much by 'viruses" and colds, although the shots are not supposed to be effective against anything but three or four flu strains.  Previously, I had spent at least one week every winter being being very ill. If you have any good references on the risks of the H1N1 shot, though, I'll certainly reconsider.

I'm certainly not impressed by all the hype about H1N1. It is almost as bad as the AGW hoax. I guess people need something to panic about, and the authorities need something to goad the herd into compliance. My motives are not that I care about the 'pandemic' scare so much as, having had flu once, I just don't want to get any flu again and it sure does seem H1N1 is coming this way.

> Secondly, on Oct 23, you gave a pointer to some "interesting > bee pictures." Viewers who just looked at some of the photos > might not realize that they are from Mike Palmer's operation. > Some attribution on your link might reduce confusion.

Yes, I have received a puzzling email already asking for copies. I'll make a change.

The slide show is cool, but the rest of Photobucket is most annoying, with flashing, squirming ads, and no clear explanation..

I have been using Dropbox for the past few months and its photo sharing feature is much nicer in that regard.  I have no patience for obtrusive squirming ads. 

Additionally Dropbox allows me to have the my currently important files on all my computers or any public computer transparently and also to recover any files I accidentally over-write, sine it keeps old versions for a month.  I recently used that feature when I absent-mindedly saved the new winter version of the spreadsheet I use to track my scale weights over the historical summer one.

Thanks for the heads-up(s).

Much appreciated.

allen

As I wrote the above, I listened to a discussion on CBC about the H1N1 scare.  Seems everyone just looks at the death rate and not the side-effects of getting the flu.  Some of those side-effects can be permanent.  I suppose there is a small risk in the shot, but there is a much larger risk in getting the flu. Name anything that is risk-free.


Another useful system I use and recommend is Mozy backup.  I have several paid accounts and one that is on the free backup.  Both work well.  It seems, though, that Dropbox replaces much of the need for Mozy.  So far, I am on the free version of Dropbox and I have many of my docs in the server and access them from at least four computers and O/Ss (yes, it works on Linux, so I can use some of my docs created in Windows on my Linux systems).

I also use Evernote constantly. My notes also can be accessed and manipulated from Linux systems, using the Evernote web interface.

All these Internet backups and shares work well, are free of obtrusive ads, are secure, and also free to try and stay so under certain (generous) usage levels.  For those who find them indispensible, the the unlimited versions are cheap -- cheaper than buying local backup.

Monday October 26th, 2009
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Ellen & I tightened up the quonset again and I brought another pallet of hives home from Elliotts'.

The weights for the scale arrived, so I changed out the makeshift one I had on and I checked the scale.  It seems there has been no weight loss over the past two days.  Hard to believe, but possible. It is easier to believe that the scale is a bit flakey, though.  I already knew that.  Small changes are hard to measure.  The scale does seem to be accurate within a half-pound or so, but what it says is not what i expect.

How could the hives not lose weight over two days?  It seems to happen when they are able to fly.  I suppose that they could take on some water, either by hauling it or by absorption, but I am sure they are not getting nectar or pollen.  Could this be the result of robbing?  I doubt it.

Tuesday October 27th, 2009
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Allen, I really enjoy your website. Discovered it last week, researching hive wraps.

Have you refined your technique for wintering over the BeeMax hives, if so would you share your ideas with me?

I have wooden and BeeMax hives; last year I lost hives of both. This year I want to prevent that, if possible, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

All my hives have screened bottom boards, do you recommend leaving them open or closing them for the winter?

How do you ventilate your BeeMax hives during the winter months?

I live in central Missouri. I know our winters are not as cold as yours but our springs are cold and wet, at least they have been the last 2 years. This year our fall is too and I know the bees have not been able to get out and forage on the fall flowers; therefore, I feed constantly hoping to have them built up to survive the winter.

Would you share your source for the industrial batting? Thank you.

Thanks.

I just let the bees arrange themselves and their stores in the BeeMax hives and make sure they are heavy, which they always are, since I leave them all the honey.

In the BeeMax hives, I had no upper entrances, other than where I pulled the pillow back a fraction to allow a 3/8" gap in one front corner.  This year, I drilled auger holes in the front of each box like I have in the wood ones.

As for the screened bottoms, I don't use them.  It is not that I think they are bad.

I think that the secret to success is good bees that have never come close to starvation, low mite levels, and lots of feed put where the bees want it, preferably months or weeks before the cold weather starts.

I get my Kodel from Inland Plastics in Drumheller, AB. It is manufactured in the Carolinas somewhere -- AFAIK .

Wednesday October 28th, 2009
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In the afternoon, Ellen, Zip and I drove to Rosebud.   Ellen had some artwork in an exhibition there which had just ended, and was picking it up. I went to visit Don, a former beekeeper who is moving and has some equipment to dispose of.  He also happens to have a sailboat for sale on the West Coast that interests me.

Thursday October 29th, 2009
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We tightened up the quonset a bit more this morning.  The wooden block and screw method seems to be working to hold the end patch on.  We had big problems earlier with tarp tape, but this seems to work.

I looked at the scale and don't know what to think.  The hives don't seem to be losing much weight now.  In fact, the changes are so small that the hoarfrost on the hives in the morning and humidity may be affecting my measurements.  I have been charting and the results are at right (click for a larger view).  I expected that the losses would taper off as the brood emerges and the old bees leave and the last of the nectar is dried down, and maybe this is what I see happening.

The spreadsheet predicted a 59-lb loss to April 1, but now predicts a loss of only 41 lbs.  We know that such linear projections are mostly entertainment, since colder weather, changing populations and the start of brood rearing will change the predicted outcome as time passes.

Friday October 30th, 2009
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I got outside today.  The weather was good and I hauled some ashes, tidied the yard a bit.

Saturday October 31st, 2009
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This afternoon, I finished pulling the honey.  I'd intended to leave as many as four boxes on, but after looking at the frames in the top boxes, I realised that I had put foundation in the boxes I threw on at the end and saw that some of the foundation was not well drawn, and also that the bees would wind up wintering on it, and suspected the result was likely to be sad.

Not only that, but the frames right next to the foundation are doubly wide.  This is not an ideal brood nest for spring.  So, I pulled them down to the best brood box and some are in two, some in three.   Moving things around this late is not great, either, but I figured this is the best route.

I have around 50 boxes of honey now have to extract it.  At twenty frames per load and maybe 6 or seven frames to do per box, and twenty minutes a spin, I get 50 x 7 / 20 x 20 / 60 = around six hours.  That means at least a day of work, even if I don't extract it all.  Some appears to be granulated and, besides, my original intent was to use it all as feed.

Going into winter I now have 34 hives, but two have AFB and I think I'll have to put them out of their misery.

When I arrived to pull the honey, I noticed that the scale lost two pounds since last measurement.  After pulling supers, I rebalanced it.  Slightly over two hours later, after I had finished and left them a while, I noticed it was down another two pounds, the stress apparently ramped up the rate of burning honey as fuel, I'm guessing.

Six hives are in the BeeMax  or Swienty boxes.  The rest are in normal wooden boxes and will need wrapping.

I have yet to drizzle oxalic on the bees.  That is next -- after the Alberta Beekeepers Convention.

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