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One side of the one comb with brood as of March 1st in an average hive

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Monday March 1st, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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The snow is melting fast.  Another two or three weeks and we will have run-off.

I've been home a month now, two weeks of which I have had this cold.  There is another good reason to go south and stay south.

I wandered over to the hives and played with the weights.  The thumbscrew broke and I need to find a replacement which masses the same.  I could not find a brass screw, but got a stainless one, but it is a touch light, so I have to add washers.

I could not resist pulling off a lid and taking out a frame.  The picture below is the total brood in a hive with five frames of bees.  I am tempted to add a patty, but I know better.  It is too soon.  Best to conserve the bees for a few weeks from now when it will be time to start building up in earnest.

I used no smoke and the bees were fine, but a few found me a nice place to sit and prowled around my face and ears while I took pictures.
 

The images are larger than usual so that anyone who wants to take a close look can just click and examine them instead of going out and bothering a hive.  This is the amount of brood to be expected now.  I looked for mites and did not see any. 

I had read that the early brood would be loaded with mites since all the phoretic mites should by some accounts rushing into the open brood, and I have wondered about that, but this does not seem to be the case.  Of course I drizzled oxalic last fall.  I wonder if I should do some mite tests?  I like to do drops, but I don't have enough clearance under these hives to do them easily.  I could do an alcohol wash, but hate to keep killing bees, 300 at a time, just out of curiosity.

I watched a bit of a "Gilligan's Island" DVD tonight and decided it was even worse than I remembered and that it has zero redeeming qualities, so I sent it back.

Tuesday March 2nd, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I'm feeling better today, but not so great that I feel like the long drive to the Bluewater club meeting tonight and back.  As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing, since the fog rolled in and I would have been driving home in fog.

I did go out and dump some ashes and poke around outside a bit in the afternoon, though.  It was a lovely day, with everything melting.  While out there, I brought in the old fridge I used to use as an oven to melt pails of honey.  I had it set up with light bulbs in it for heat, controlled by a thermostat and with shelves for pails.  I ripped out the wiring when I took it outside, assuming it was headed for the dump, but need it again, so may have to set it up again.  I have about ten pails of honey with wax in them that need to be settled.

Tonight, I watched "Serenity", a sci-fi flick that has had good reviews, but found the plot sketchy and the fighting tedious.  Actually, I am finding the car chases, fruit cart upsets and the extended combat scenes in movies totally vacuous lately.  I think my continued bout with the common cold has me a bit weary and depressed... or maybe I am just seeing things as they really are.

Wednesday March 3rd, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I'm thinking of spring and planning and I also got looking back in my diary for info on when I bought the syrup which still sits outside in a poly tank. 

I came across this table (right) from back in November 2004.  In light of the increasing number of reports of hives surviving without treatments I found this interesting.  The fact that I am also looking at getting more Styrofoam boxes makes it relevant, too.  If this experience means anything, it seems that varroa does better in the Styro boxes.

Week

Action

Count

Feb 28

Est

29

Mar 7

Now

25

Mar 14

 

 

Mar 21

Start Patties

 

Mar 28

Build-up

 

Apr 4

Build-up

 

Apr 11

Build-up

 

Apr 18

Build-up

 

Apr 25

Build-up

 

May 2

Build-up

 

May  9

First Split

25

May 16

Queens laying

50

May 23

Build-up

50

May 30

Build-up

50

June 6

Build-up

50

June 13

Second Split

90

June 20

Queens laying

90

June 27

Build-up

90

July 4

Build-up

90

July 11

Build-up

90

July 18

Third Split

160

July 25

Queens laying

160

By Fall

10% Loss

145

By Spring   

Lose 20%

115

I went out and counted.  I have 29 live hives at this point. I also have about 70 extra brood chambers beyond what are on these hives.  Total brood boxes: ~125

Plan of action?

March:

  1. Take a complete inventory

  2. Decide on stock to use and
    - whether to use cells ($2?)
    - or mated queens ($20)

  3. Decide on hive configurations
    - nucs or standards

  4. - paper partitions?

  5. Obtain and feed patties

April:

  1. Continue to feed patties.

  2. Set up nucs on floors, get lids
    and reducers, etc. ready

  3. Obtain queens or start cells

  4. Order frames and/or boxes

May:

  1. Check success

  2. Continue to feed patties.

  3. Prepare more hives

  4. Week of May 10th - 1st split

  5. Move half out to yards

  6. Apply patties continuously

June:

  1. Check success

  2. Continue to feed patties.

  3. Prepare more hives

  4. Obtain queens or cells

  5. Week of June 18th - 2nd split

  6. Apply patties continuously

July:

  1. Check success

  2. Continue to feed patties.

  3. Prepare more hives

  4. Obtain queens or cells

  5. Week of July 13th - 3rd Split

  6. Apply patties continuously

  7. Move half out to yards

August:

  1. Check success

  2. Continue to feed patties.

September and October:

  1. Feed syrup if necessary

  2. Get ready to wrap and wrap

I figure I will have 25 hives come May 10.  In mid-May, I'll split everything in half to get 50 and all will be in singles at that point.  To do so, I'll need 25 queens or 25 cells.  Should I replace the old queens, too?  If so, then I need 50.

Then I figure they should be ready to split again in 5 or 6 weeks. If I start on May 10th, then the next split is the week of June 15th.  Assuming that the failure rate is 10%, the successful count will be 45 and that will split again to 90.

The next split would be July 18th.  That is plenty early for the splits to build up for winter.  Assuming the same 10% attrition, I'll split about 80 and get 160.

Five weeks later, that will shrink to about 150 or so.  I would not split them, since the hives need time to build up for winter.

If my 29 becomes 150, that will use up 300 boxes going into winter in doubles and I currently have about 125, so I'll have to convert some supers or buy some frames.  I have plenty of boxes.  For that matter, I could just place an empty box under for wintering.  the dead air space seems to work just as well as comb.  I do know that I have not had luck wintering single storey hives.

Am I going to do this?  I really don't know.  It sounds like a lot of work and I tend to be away a lot in summer.  I may, though, but will have to figure out a schedule and stick to it.  I will also have to figure how to winter them since I only have wraps for about 25 without dragging out the old large multi-hive wraps.  I suppose I could use them, though.  I'll also need more locations, and my truck is pretty old for going very far.  It will pull the trailers, though.

So, what would I do with the 125 surviving hives the next year?  If I split them the same way, I'd have 500.  That is far more than I can handle or have the equipment to house.  Obviously, I'd have to sell some -- probably 100.  That means I'd have to buy more equipment.  Good doubles I am told have been selling as high as $300.  Singles should get at least $150, I would think.  That would be $15,000 at least, minus the costs and loss of equipment.  Selling nucs in May is a possibility, too.

So, if I do this splitting, how best should I do it?  Should I just split using full-sized standard boxes the way I usually do, or divide the boxes in half, or use a paper or plastic shroud over the middle frames to make temporary smaller compartments?  Too large a box for a split can result in slow build-up or even damage to nucs in early spring.  One year I made some one-frame nucs in early June and the frost did them harm.

Thursday March 4th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Another warm, sunny day is coming up.  I'm feeling better.  I am wondering if one of the reasons I have been feeling a bit punk is the Aldara I am using on the precancerous spots on my head.  I noticed that yesterday I felt fine when I got up, but after I put it on my head, I was tired.  It does seem to be working, though.  I notice the spots on my head are looking less inflamed and starting to heal.  It will be interesting to see how the spots clear up eventually.  The doctor said to use the cream three times a week for a month.  I have a week and a little to go.


Looking at yesterday's posting, I guess I will start with an inventory.  Then I will have to go through all the brood boxes inspecting and sorting.  I will also scrape.  I have not done any of these things for quite a while, but I guess it is time.

Meijers are coming for coffee today, so I guess I'll discuss my queen supply options with them.  I tend to rely on their opinions and contacts.

I'm still waiting to hear what is happening with Hawaii and also when I will be working this spring.


Meijers came by and we decided to go to the Queen breeding Workshop in Lethbridge Monday.  Joe Latshaw is the instructor.  I'm not sure why I am going.  I guess I just hate to miss a party.

 

I started asking on  some of the US sites about queen suppliers willing to send resistant queens to Alberta. Right off, I got one offering to do so and offering a variety of types.

  • Russian x VSH hybrids,

  • full VSH,

  • Minnesota Hygienic,

  • feral x VSH, and

  • Italians

...available early April. 15 bucks. 3 hole candy cages/hair rollers.

My Russian and VSH stock is Instrumentally Inseminated, from Glenn Apiaries.

Italian is from a local queen breeder, very gentle, very yellow, big bees.

Ferals are black bees, medium cluster, very clean hives, decent comb builders, but not gentle by any regards.

Large orders are not a problem, contact for pricing on LARGE orders...

We MAY offer Buckfast queens in late April also, dependent on finding gentle stock".

Who wants in?  I'll try to get one of the usual importers to do the job, but who knows?  I might just do it myself.

I personally want some really hygienic, productive queens.  If I could get all the Konas I wanted, when I wanted, that would be fine, but the way they are distributed, it is hard to get enough.

As for the $15, well that is US$ and there are costs, but it is a nice starting point, don't you think?

Minnesota hybrids sound good to me.  So do all the others, actually.

I went out and checked the hives this afternoon and did an inventory.  I see there are two hives dead and one weak.  One was dead in the fall, and another has given up since. That takes me down to the 25 I had predicted .  We'll see if I lose any more by May.

Here is what I have to play with
Wood Brood Boxes 124
Styrofoam Brood Boxes 21
Supers 150
Foundation 48

Total Boxes

243

If I had 35 early last fall, and have 25 in May, that means an attrition rate of 10/35=29%.  Maybe I should factor that into my calculations.  Maybe not.  I don't know. I do plan to do a better job of beekeeping.

I re-did the calculations above and see that I can only expect about a 4:1 increase year over year after factoring in expected losses.  We'll see.  I should count pallets and lids, I suppose, but I do have lots.

That is enough for 120 doubles going into winter.  There are other options, though.

Hold the press! I just got word.

Hawaiian queens will be accepted into Canada this spring (surprise -- not!).

Gus is in the field right now. I just received word that the matter has
been resolved. The border is open and permits will be issued starting
tomorrow.

The border closure came about when Canada asked the US to provide
certification of "no more than 1% varroa in 5% of the apiary". The USDA
responded to Canada by asking that varroa be removed entirely from the
certification. They have been negotiating and closed the border during the "discussion".

Canada's requirement of "1% varroa" will be upheld for now and the matter will be reviewed by our government authorities again in the Fall.

Seems I got a scoop.  Nobody else seems to know.

What am I watching tonight? 

"Desperate Housewives".  Yeah, who would ever have thought, heh?  I wouldn't have.  I rent movies as a sort of sociological study and this is one I dreaded getting but figured if I wanted to understand this millennium I had to do it, but guess what?  It is a total blast.

Of course, I used to be a TV repairman and I hated afternoons because of the soap operas...


I got a call tonight from the guy in the US willing to make us some interesting queens. Sounds good.  Write me if you are interested.


Friday March 5th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Ellen's show opens tonight.  Everyone is welcome!

We drove to Red Deer and the opening went well.  Quite a few people showed up, including our friends.  They went off for supper after, but seeing as El is feeling tired from the cold, we headed home.

Here are some nice bee pictures looking in under the pillows.  Click to enlarge.

 

Saturday March 6th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Another nice, sunny day, so nice in fact that I just have to go outside.

I took out my bike and took the dog for a run.  I think I'm finally over this cold.
 

Sunday March 7th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I'm now planning to go east again, perhaps later this week.

I see the hives are now starting to burn up feed.  There is a big spike in the weight loss.  We'll see if it continues.

The picture at right show normal fecal spotting on healthy hives when they get to flying freely.

Meijers picked me up mid-afternoon and we drove to Lethbridge.  We arrived in the evening and had a good supper at Montana's and checked into our rooms.

 

Monday March 8th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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A continental breakfast (ugh) and we were off to the meeting.  Joe Latshaw and Medhat put on a pretty good seminar which was pretty much a review for us old guys, but there were lots of new beekeepers and young people there. 

We left at 4:30, drove back, and arrived in the evening. 

I'm still trying to decide exactly how I will proceed this spring.  It looks as if I will be inspecting sometime in April, but I have decided that I will be away until then.  People are putting on pollen patties and I am hearing of hives with several frames of brood already.  Some are feeding syrup in open feeders and it is being taken.  To my mind it is early, but if the bees are raising a significant amount of brood, then perhaps I should get some patties onto the hives. I always say mid-March is the time to start patties and I guess that is about now.  I won't feed syrup, though.  I do not want to stimulate them.

Tuesday March 9th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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A day at my desk.

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