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I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), (Attributed)

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Tuesday December 1st, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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The kids -- all five -- and I are off to Bluebird Canyon playground this morning.

 

> Mr. Dick, Just that I enjoy your diary and the information. I am also very jealous of your skills. I claim to do everything correct....but this year, of my 30 live hives in Indiana....I did not harvest one super of honey.

Sometimes doing everything right isn't enough. We need luck, too.

Lately, I have been realising that the most important thing is keeping the hives alive and healthy, then working for the long term.

A poor crop now and then does not have to be a disaster if we can keep our bees in good shape.

Unfortunately, though, a poor crop often is the result of conditions which also provide inadequate nutrition for our bees and can lead to bad wintering and then a poor year following, not due to the season, but because the bees are run down.

I see the consumption reading has rebounded.  Could be just the moisture changing or maybe the drop in temperatures.  El says there was a white-out last night, but not much snow.  I'm thinking that the high reading should be averaged over the past few low readings, but will leave it for now and see.  Could be the bees are adjusting for the colder weather.  These hives are already for winter, being in styrofoam boxes.  I wonder if I should plug the lower auger holes.  I think so.

No snow here in Laguna Beach, though, but it was cool - 70 degrees F.  I took the kids to Bluebird this morning and they swam all afternoon in the pool.

Wednesday December 2nd, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Sarah's sister and the kids flew back to RI today, leaving at 6AM to get to LAX by 7:30 and arriving in Boston in the late afternoon.  It is much quieter around here.  I enjoyed having five kids around.  Now we are back to two.
 

Thursday December 3rd, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Daily feed consumption has dropped right back again to the lowest levels.  I tend to assume that the recent spike was due to snow load and moisture, and may adjust those days a bit, distributing the changes more evenly between days with zero consumption (is zero consumption really likely?) and ensuing days which are higher than the norm, but I won't fiddle the results -- yet, at least.  I may adjust the days around the snow event slightly, after we have a few more such events and can see if the squiggles are due to the snow or something the bees are doing.

It is possible that the bees were affected by the storm and dropping temperatures and ramped up consumption  to move a bit or accomplish some other function, then settled down again.  The smoothed line tells the tale as to average usage.  The daily line is bound to have some  noise.  I also find that Ellen and I read the scale differently sometimes.

I see the cumulative loss per hive is now around 18 lbs since October 17th.  From Sept 28th, when the gains ended and losses began, I did not record, due to doing some work on the scale.  A rough estimate, using the average to date daily feed consumption of 0.4lbs/day would suggest that, between Oct 28th and the Oct 17th resumption of recording, we lost 0.4 x 20 = 8 lbs for a total of 26 lbs to date.  Projected consumption at current rates is around 55 lbs per hive, plus that 8, through to April 1st, or 63 lbs total.

Assuming that we consume 65 lbs of feed per hive over winter, and that honey is worth $1.25 in the comb, then wintering costs ~$81 in feed.  Assuming 20% winter loss, the figure per surviving hive becomes ~$100.

That $100 is a bargain, and could be reduced by feeding sugar in place of honey, if the honey can be replaced without damaging the hive -- by short-term starvation while waiting for the feed, for example.

If sugar is $0.38/lb and we figure that a pound of sugar makes a pound of feed, then the cost drops to ~$30 per surviving hive plus labour.

Each of those surviving winter hives should be more productive -- more honey and a split or two -- than a package.  I heard recently that packages in Canada go for as much as $165, and nucs are not too far behind in price.

Of course, there is some work and risk in wintering, but from the above, it is obvious that it pays make the small investment in time and learning in order to winter well.

Friday December 4th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I drove up to Newport Beach and visited a yacht broker.  I've been thinking of buying a boat, but I don't know if I need the hassle.  There are plenty of good deals with smaller boats going for almost nothing.  The boat does not cost much, but slip fees, taxes, etc.  can easily add up to $5 or $10,000 a year and more.

No report on the scale hives.  Too much snow home.  No snow here, though.  Just flowers and dull, foggy mornings.

Saturday December 5th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Kalle had a basketball game at the Boys and Girls' Club and his parents are coaching.  I went along to watch ad have to say this game was far more entertaining than an NBA game.  The kids weren't sure which net they were targeting and which they were defending.  The ref had to ignore pretty well everything, since everyone was travelling etc.  There were absolutely no physical offenses and everyone had fun.  All the parents clapped and cheered for both teams.  At the end, both teams were declared winners, as it seems no one kept score.  That's my kind of basketball.

Sunday December 6th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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 Jon and Sarah went Christmas shopping and I held the fort.  I'm preparing the computer to upgrade to Windows 7.  I figure that a cleanup and defrag is the minimum to do before the process.  I also had to uninstall iSobi, the only program that the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor suggested would be incompatible.

Meanwhile, the weather at home settled enough that Ellen took a reading.  Weight loss continues pretty much in a straight line.

I've decided to return to Swalwell for  while.  My original plans included a possible side-trip on  the way home to Ontario to visit Mom and Linda. but am now thinking I'll put that off for at least a  few days and maybe until after Christmas.

If I go after Christmas, I'll stay until I leave for Florida.  I'm thinking that while in Florida, I may well chaarter a boat or crew for someone.

My favourite aps these days are still Everything, Dropbox, Evernote, and Mozy backup.  I downloaded Expression Web Trial again and am giving it another shot.

Monday December 7th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I spent much of the day updating to Windows 7.  I used a downloaded iso image to install, and it worked out well.  I had installed the iso onto a thumb drive, though using unetbootin and it took me a while to figure out that I had to unplug the stick at each reboot then plug it in again after the machine started.

The process took forever, but completed successfully.  I'm assuming I'll like Windows 7, but we'll see.  It is familiar, but different.

The hives weight loss continues right on trend despite the extremely cold weather.

I see the forecast is moderating a bit from what was previously predicted.  Nonetheless, it will be pretty cold when I get back.

Ellen called to say the power supply on her computer has given up.

Tuesday December 8th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Windows 7 seems pretty good.  It may be a bit faster than Vista, but, of course, I just installed it.  Even though I installed over Vista, a newly installed system is bound to be cleaned up compared to the old one.

Wednesday December 9th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I'm off for home today.  I left San Ysidro around eleven and drove to LAX.  Using a GPS makes it easy.  I have used Microsoft Streets and trips for many years, and have a netbook which is less bulky than previous machines, but the dash mount of a dedicated GPS makes navigation a little less distracting.

I've decided that the Garmin Nuvi 275WT I bought a few weeks back is pretty good.  Compared to the TomTom I had I last summer, it is easier to use and the backlight adjusts to ambient much better.  It has a problem, though with knowing when it arrives at a destination and will take me for a whirl around the neighbourhood if I don't stop and reset the destination. I also miss the speed limit warnings the TomTom gave me.

My flight was at four, but I like to get to the airport really early.  I arrived at Deluxe Car Rental at two and was delivered to LAX within minutes.  I like LAX.  It is a huge airport, but their design makes each segment seem like a small airport.  There is very little walking, compared to Calgary or Toronto.

We were a few minutes late into Calgary, having circled up to Red Deer and back waiting for a snow squall to pass and the aprons to clear.  They were de-icing outbound aircraft and things were running a little behind.

Atti picked me up and drove me to my car.  It was half-buried in a drift and the roads were snowy.  The weather being very cold, though, traction was good and I got home in decent  time.

Thursday December 10th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I installed Windows 7 on my home machine (Acer laptop).  It took most of the day, then I went out and cleared the drive.  There is quite a bit of loose gravel and I'll have to raise the snow blower a bit before finishing up.

The scale hive is under snow, so I can't weigh it until I blow the snow off.  I also need to wrap the bees soon.  I like to get the job done before Christmas.

Friday December 11th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I was up early and off to Three Hills to get some rough spots on my head burned off with liquid nitrogen.  There are no family doctors available in Three Hills, so I have to go to emergency.  That is a bit of a joke.  They are supposed to open at 8, but I was the only person there.  I went downtown and made a bank deposit and returned.  There were several more people waiting there then.  At 9:15, the doctor wandered in.

Finally, I was called in and he explained they don't just burn spots off anymore, but have to do a biopsy before treating.  It seemed he was about to go into a long explanation, so I told him to do whatever he had to do, but do it and do it well.  I know too many people who have died because a doctor did not recognise a cancer. He said this looks like (some word) dermatitis.  Whatever.  He did a biopsy on one spot.  The results will be back in two weeks. (Picture after the biopsy at right - Gosh, I'm bald!).

Skin cancer is a risk associated with full-time beekeeping, especially if the beekeeper spends a lot of time in the sun and without sun protection.

I finished clearing the driveway.

Saturday December 12th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I caught up on deskwork and continued installing Windows 7 on the various computers in the house.

In the evening, the usual suspects showed up for supper.

Sunday December 13th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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It was bitterly cold today, but in the afternoon, Ellen and I drove to Strathmore to visit Ken and Wendy.  We had supper and played a game of Scrabble, then headed home.

I got back from San Diego just in time to enjoy the minus thirty weather.  Today, I wandered over to out to check the bees.

I brushed off the snow and checked the scale, then updated the chart.


The temperature as I walked over was minus twenty-five.  I see the bees are a bit active at the auger holes, but no need to put on supers yet.  The poor old skunk has been foraging around, judging by the tracks around the yard, but is leaving the hives alone so far. Skunks are mousers, so I appreciate that aspect of her foraging.

Long-time readers know that I have always been sceptical about claims of Anthropogenic Global Warming and also aware that I am very concerned about over population, overexploitation of resources and pollution.  Recent events seem to vindicate that view, Copenhagen notwithstanding.

Click on the above text (or here) for a graphic of earth's temperatures over time.

Tuesday December 15th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I managed to get the books up to date and drove to Three Hills in the afternoon to do some banking, get a few groceries, and get the tires checked since the light has been coming on.  With the cold weather lately, it turned out that the pressure in the van tires had dropped from over 35 lbs down to near 20 lbs!

Wednesday December 16th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Finally, a weather break. We'll be up to near freezing today and stay around that level in the daytime for a few days.

I cleared the pond rink for Saturday. The ice is awful.  Besides the tracks of the neighbours' cattle crossing, there is a quite a bit of surface water -- as much as four  inches on one spot.  I have no idea where it is coming from, since we have had very cold weather and the water seems to be coming from all sides. 

The water seems to be leaching from the hills on all sides.  Could be that there was a lot of groundwater that did not freeze.  I wondered if we had a water main break but there are no soft spots along the line and the water seems to be coming from all directions.  I'm wondering if the ice will be useable without flooding, and flooding looks to be out of the question since the weather will be warm in the coming days.

I checked the scale hives and see they are wintering well.  I reached zero on the sliders and had to remove a counterweight.  I then found that removing 100 lbs of counterweight requires a 104-lb move on the slider.  That puzzled me until I realised that i broke off a brass thumbscrew when repairing the scale.  That tiny loss of weight resulted in a 4% error!  I compensated, but will have to find a replacement -- a screw that weighs the same.

I'll have to get out and finish wrapping soon.  I wonder if I can find enough wraps.

 Thursday December 17th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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One week from today is Christmas Eve.  Our tree is up, and Ellen decorated it today.

My old Toshiba finally bit the dust.  The computer was fine, but the power supply cord somehow got damaged.  In the process of repair, somehow the supply gave up the ghost and it seems damaged the computer as well.

 Friday December 18th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I got out and did some more snow blowing, then wrapped some more hives.  I notice that one was showing signs of dysentery.   When I lifted the lid, I could see that the cluster is small and the bees look a bit distended.  I doubt this one will survive.  I did not bother wrapping it, and may shake the bees out so they do not drift into other hives.

On looking into a few more hives, I see that the clusters are smaller than I would like, although the cold weather my have them more tightly clustered than when I usually look at them.  We had a strong late flow, and in my experience, that can lead to poor wintering.  We'll see.

Oh. by the way, I like Window 7.  I've used Windows ever since the days when we wondered if it would be O/S2, *nix, or Windows.  Back then, Windows was the worst of the bunch, but it has been steadily improving.  Lately, I have been trying Ubuntu and even thought it might replace Win7.  No way!  If you are using Vista, I'd recommend to upgrade now.  You will never look back.  More here.

Saturday December 19th, Sunday December 20th,
Monday December 21st, 2009

Tuesday December 22nd, 2009
Wednesday December 23rd, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Thursday December 24th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I cleared snow in the morning and Jean, Chris and McKenzie arrived after lunch and we did some skating.  We had our big Christmas turkey dinner and opened presents in the evening. The turkey was 28 pounds.  A friend, Sharron raises then free-run and organic.  I don't know if all that matters, but it was certainly very good.

 Friday December 25th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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By ten, Jean, Chris, Mckenzie and I were in the van, headed for Nakiska for an afternoon of skiing.  The weather was good and the snow not too bad, so we had a fine time.  Skiing Christmas Day is a tradition.  There are never any crowds.

At four, we headed home and called Ellen to see how she was doing, since we were all to meet at the Mill for a Christmas dinner with our friends.  She reported that she had gotten part way there and the "check engine" light had come on and the dash lights had dimmed about the same time, so she had returned home. 

The dash lights dim automatically when the headlights come on at dusk, and the "check engine" light has been coming on routinely lately due to a minor issue which I have to fix from time to time.  It was on full-time when we bought the car 100,000 Km ago.

So, we all returned to Swalwell and had a hot turkey sandwich, which was just fine after a long day.

Saturday December 26th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Jean and Chris and Mckenzie left this morning for Calgary after we all watched the foxes play on the pond.  They enjoy the rink when I clear it.  They spend hours playing on it, but otherwise don't bother being on the pond much.

Later on, I got a call and spent the afternoon, driving back and forth to the neighbours, cleaning up their computers.  My cleaner of choice was Malwarebytes (free) run in safe mode.  One machine could not run in normal mode having been hijacked.

Norton 360 had failed miserably to protect them from 31 different exploits and viruses on one machine and 4 on another.  It had also failed to do backups or notify them adequately.  I won't go into details.  Suffice it to say that it just did not work, and they are paying good money

I got out to the hives and brushed off the snow.  There are some dead bees on the snow in front, but al in all, not too bad.  There bees were buzzing fairly loudly after I cleaned them off, although I was pretty quiet about it.

The weather has moderated a bit and I have to finish wrapping before Orlando.  I have a room there, and the deadline for early-bird registration is coming up fast.  So far, I have no roommate.  I like to split the room costs and also have someone to travel with to split car expense, but so far my usuals are not available.

Sunday December 27th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Today, I spent some time doing computer work and changing servers, then went out and cleared a bit more snow, brought the forklift over and got ready to take ashes out.  I was going to do some more wrapping, but never did get that far.

Monday December 28th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Tuesday December 29th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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We had accumulated nine drums of ashes in the basement and the time had come to take them out, so I got to work.  The job is quite simple, except I discovered that a weld had broken in the accelerator linkage of the forklift and had to weld it.  Even then, the cables were sticky in the cold, minus ten degree weather.  Anyhow, I got that done and wrapped two more hives.  I had been worried I might be short of wraps, but it turns out I have enough.

I'm realising that the Styrofoam hives have an advantage here.  They have been wrapped all along.

I checked the scale and updated the chart.  Daily loss is around 1/4 to 1/3 pounds a day per hive.

 

Wednesday December 30th, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I did something today, but nothing very significant that I can recall.  A bit of basement cleanup, some bookkeeping and snow blowing, and that is about it.

Thursday December 31st, 2009
December past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Today, being New Years Eve, we drove up to Lacombe to spend the evening with our daughter and family.  Temperatures are cold and there was blowing snow near home, but the drive was just fine.  The van still runs well.  It is turning 290,000 Km and showing a few little rust specks, and the interior needs a cleaning, but otherwise it is just fine.  We've had it for 5-1/2 years now, and the car just about the same.  I can't think of a good reason to replace either one.

I reserved my flight to Sudbury today.  After finalising things on the web and getting my confirmation, I realised that I should return one day later than I had arranged, so I called Aeroplan and moved the date back a day.  What many people do not know (and the agent to whom I spoke did not at first, either) is that Air Canada allows changes to be made in an itinerary the same day as it is arranged without penalty.  That privilege may extend to 24 hours.  I don't know.  Otherwise there is a $90 penalty for making changes.

I still have not arranged the flight to Florida or the car rental.  I had better do that soon.  I had thought that I might drive down from Sudbury, but that is looking less likely.  I have a room at the Wyndham Resort, but after talking to another beekeeper found that I can get a room nearby for $42 instead of the $120 or so that Wyndham charges.

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