indicates personal ramblings that have little to do with
bees and beekeeping.
July 10th 2010
Today: Cloudy with
40 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm
this afternoon. High 21. UV index 3 or moderate.
with 40 percent chance of showers early this evening
and risk of a thunderstorm. Clearing near midnight.
Sunday: Sunny early
in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent
chance of showers early in the evening. Risk of a thunderstorm
early in the evening. Wind becoming south 20 km/h in
the afternoon. High 26.
awoke to general rain. Looking around, we see grey clouds
in all directions, but a glance at the
weather radar shows we can expect clearing soon. Weather
is of interest since I am now down to the last two days to get work
done before I leave. The comfortable daytime temperatures will help.
of August will we have? The current conditions are excellent
and moderately hot days with rain every few days or
nights is ideal for honeyflows.
however had Augusts so dry that flows were poor and
Augusts so wet that there was no flow and any honey
on the hives was wet. I recall the extraction
being at 19% moisture.
with a fantastic fall, I made a large crop on splits
in late August and September, but some years we have
had a killer frost on the 20th of August.
have an ideal year, then my splits should flourish and
winter well. If we have a short August, then I'll
have to feed and possibly combine some down.
My main task is to
get seconds and thirds in some cases onto the hives before I go.
I ordered 1,000 frames of foundation yesterday and they should be
here when I get back from my trip.
I was worried that
too many bees might have abandoned the splits at Elliotts' and returned
here to their parent hives, so this morning, early, I drove out
and looked into all sixteen. The rain had stopped, but the
clouds remaine and the air is a little cool.
I am pleased to report
that they all have adequate populations. I measured the temperatures
on the top bars and got numbers in the mid-eighties. That
is a little low, but I assumed that the brood itself was warmer.
I also checked the
hives where the cells had failed to emerge and found that they all
have nice-looking emergency cells, so they should be fine.
They will be behind the others about two weeks, since the cells
will not mature for another twelve days.
All the cells I inserted
should have emerged by now. Some were slower than others,
but that seems to be normal. Why did I not measure the surface
temperature of the brood when I had it out? Dunno. Still
sleepy, I guess.
out of Global Patties
and won't have time to get more before I leave. I suppose
the bees will be okay with natural forage since the season is
looking good, but I like to have patties on the splits, since
until they get going, they may have population age imbalances
and be short of foragers. Fast build-up requires a lot
of protein and if we get a week of rain, they may run short.
Mating flights can start any time,
now, so I had better make sure that the yards are orderly and that
I am not going to be moving things around when the queens are orienting.
Drifting queens can be a problem, resulting in hopelessly queenless
I had a half-hour
nap, and decide to take a Benadryl. That seems to be working
and I am waking up. Allergies were it, I guess.
Allergies can have many strange effects besides the obvious
I don't like
to take Benadryl when I plan to be working because, as it says
on the bottle, it can cause drowsiness. Now, we think
of drowsiness as being sleepiness, but, in fact, for me the
drowsiness that Benadryl causes is more like an inability to
multi-task and thus a subtle tendency to be distracted without
being aware of it. I may actually become more wide awake
as I did this morning. That, IMO, is what makes operating
machinery while using Benadryl dangerous, not the risk of falling
asleep! Moreover, the effects can endure longer than the
four-hour duration of its benefits. Benadryl also has
some interactions with cheddar cheese and red wine, which can
amplify the side-effects quite unpredictably.
10:30 AM: It's raining again,
lightly. I've been down to look at the Kettle Valley queen
hives. I was surprised to see two queens dead in their cages
on the top bars. There were lots of bees showing interest
in them, so I don't know what happened.
That is what I hate about buying mated
queens. It is a great way to get new stock, but I always lose
at least 10% and often more at some stage of the game. I did
everything right here. I introduced them into nucs with no
old bees during a flow. At $20+ per queen, a 20% loss raises
the cost of the survivors considerably.
I am realizing that I should
have started some cells myself on an ongoing basis from the
time I came home to split. Simply starting a swarm box
and placing a frame of eggs and young larvae into it or simply
de-queening a good hive would have been fine. There is
no need to graft if the cells will be used locally. I
could really use some cells now. The hives where the cells
failed are making their own, but I could have saved them two
Speaking of the nucs, this
takes me back to what I said about thinking we are doing one
thing while actually doing another. Although all the nucs
were adequate, they were not equal in size or amount of brood.
I suppose the best way to do splits is to pull all the surplus
brood into collector boxes, then make up the nucs all at once
from that supply. Relying on finding the right amount
and right stages of brood as I go is not reliable, since one
hive may never have been split and have lots of brood in all
stages, and the next may be just starting a new queen with only
a few frames of young brood.
I also should make sure to
reduce the entrances and I should really move them the two miles,
just to be sure unless I do the side-by-side thing. I
do have a yard two miles away. I was just not too eager
to drive the forklift that far.
By around lunchtime,
I realized that I am not well today. I simply have no energy to
do anything much. I had another half-hour nap and still am
feeling foggy. I have a woman coming this afternoon at 4 to
buy a nuc and that may be the limit of my accomplishments.
4 PM: Well, it was
allergies. I went to bed for another half-hour around 1 and
slept well, but still felt dull. I took two Benadryl and now
I am fine. I've been out tidying the quonset in fact.
Of interest is the fact that I was
able to make three decent hives out of each of the two package hives
I bought this spring. That reduces the cost per colony
from $110 to $37, if they survive the winter and if my time is worth
nothing. Interesting also was the fact that they were very
blonde and I see blonde bees in many of the hives all over the apiary.
Their temper has improved and that is a good thing. The Australian
queen was on my hit list, but now has a reprieve for good behaviour.
It comes to mind that I still
hear very little about the Alberta Green Certificate in Beekeeping.
I keep writing Gertie to suggest that the Alberta beekeepers
get the Green Certificate people to give a talk at Convention
and have a booth, but I never hear back. Since I wrote
the Green certificate Manual in 2005, I have never seen even
the finished copy of the manual!
My customer showed up with her husband
and son and we made up a nuc for them in the light rain. The
hive I had saved to split for them turned out to have queen cells
and no brood under four days. Had I already messed with it?
Quite probably. Some of the hives continued to balloon even
after splitting and maybe this was one of those. Anyhow, I
opened another hive and found four good frames with brood in all
stages and a queen which was laying up a storm. I added bees
shaken from four other brood frames and charged $135. Everyone
I went out after supper, made up some
more brood chambers, and put them on hives. The skunks were
there, Mom and baby, cleaning up scraps of honey dropped from my
frame scraping. They are quite tame, but the little one whimpered
in fear when it saw me and ran, looking for a pallet to hide under.
I had moved pallets around, and picked up around the shop, so they
were disoriented. I suppose they will become a problem.
I worry they may scratch the EPS (BeeMax) hives, but so far that
has not been a problem.
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July 11th 2010
Today: Sunny. Becoming
a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating
early this morning. High 26. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight: A few clouds.
cloudiness. Showers at times heavy beginning near noon.
Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Amount 20 to 30
mm. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h
gusting to 60 early in the evening. High 24 with temperature
falling to 12 in the afternoon.
Tuesday: Cloudy with
70 percent chance of showers. Windy.
Low 7. High 13.
I slept well and am
raring to go this morning. What a difference a day makes.
I don't like what I see in the forecast.
High winds and low temperatures are hard on splits, the smaller
of which could have trouble covering their brood in cooler conditions.
The forecast changes constantly, let's hope it changes for the better.
Maybe I worry too much. the daytime prediction is no colder
than many nights.
I leave early tomorrow,
so I have a lot to do today. I have brood chambers to make
up and put on and packing to do. I guess I had best stop this
and get going.
First up is brood chambers.
I have a stack ready to go on, so that will be first.
So far, the forklift
keeps working, although shifting into gear sometimes takes a
minute or so. I wonder if changing the fluid would help?
I have a replacement transmission sitting waiting, but am reluctant
to start that job. It could be simple, but I could hit
a snag and find myself hung up in the middle of the job.
went about making up and adding brood chambers this morning and
checking the hives as I went. I try to make sure they are
okay for the next month.
I noticed that the hives where the
queen cells I added failed to emerge have their own cells coming
along nicely. They should be fine. I think that, other
than for purposes of acquiring new stock, that cells raised at home,
either by the Hopkins/Case method, or simply by splitting and leaving
the hives is superior to buying mated queens.
see scratching in front of a hive this morning, so I think the skunk
truce is over and I will have to do something about the skunks.
They can do a lot of damage to strong hives. Of course, I
should keep the hives supered so that they do not beard, but that
is not always possible. I wonder what the best way is to get
rid of them?
set four hives on the scale again There is an assortment:
two good ones, one making some cells (upper right) and on which
has a new virgin from the batch of cells I used back on the 5th.
My shot is fuzzy, but the reading looks like 46-1/2 lbs.
says you can't fix a Pierco frame with broken tab? This works,
but I bet there are lots of other ways, one of which would simply
to cut some tabs off other badly damaged frames and glue them on
with the appropriate glue.
glues will melt the material together in a weld which should be
a good as new. If tabs are not available, I am sure some other
little item and maybe another piece of a frame would serve.
1:46 PM: I've
done 36 out of 96. They are marked ready for the next three
weeks or month until I get around to them again.
I had to make two
more splits as I went. One was the hive the skunk was bothering.
They had some nice cells started. Bonus! I did a side-by-side
walk-away splits are simply the easiest splits one can possibly
make. I made splits on top of excluders this year and
the difference in ease and convenience of these splits I made just
now is amazing compared to the ones where I counted frames and stored
them above the parent hive. I can actually adjust the bee
distribution better with this quick-and-dirty method.
all there is to it is
upper box and look below to be sure there are lots of bees
and brood in the bottom box. If the hives have been
reversed in the past week or two, that is a virtual certainty.
still, tip the whole hive forward enough that you can glance
at the bottom bars and make sure there are bees on most
of the frame bottoms.
down into the bottom box should reveal some brood, but it
is sure to be there if there are lots of bees down there
and the top box is at all heavy.
a frame from the top box, carefully, in case there are some
is to be sure that there are young larvae in both boxes
so that the queenless half -- which ever it is, we don't
check -- can make a queen.
top box onto a floor, add a lid, put the lid on the parent
hive and that is it.
boxes to either or both if they are full of bees.
weather is iffy, like May, add any additional boxes underneath,
not on top.
You have mentioned raising
queens with the Hopkins/Case method a few times recently.
Would you mind detailing the process that works for
you? I want to raise some queens, but haven't been having
much success and not sure what I am doing wrong.
I have tried it twice
so far, and each time the bees plugged the frame with
honey within a couple days. The second time I tried
it they made 3 or 4 queen cells. I was removing the
queen at the time I added the frame of 4 day old eggs
in the jig.
I have heard it helps
if you make the hive hopelessly queenless before adding
the frame of eggs and hatching larvae. Is this how you
do it? Remove the queen from the cell builder hive,
and then knock down all their emergency queen cells
4 days later, and add the frame of hatching larvae overhead
at that time?
I'm the wrong guy to ask,
Michael Bush mentions it on his site and I assume
he has done it. I have never gotten around to
it, but will next time, unless I use
Mel Disselkoen's recommended method. I found
Mel's self-promotion a bit hard to take, but I think
he is pretty smart and has some good ideas. I
may even buy some of his nuc boxes some day.
I can give some clues,
When raising queens, first
get rid of the older bees. They are nothing but
trouble, bringing in honey and plugging the nuc.
Move the hive back in
the yard and turn it around. And, yes, do de-queen it
a day or so ahead. You should remove any cells
they make, but they are not a problem unless you plan
to keep your cells in there until hatching date.
I trust you placed the
After making the side-by
side splits, the splits or the parent colony can be supered or checked
without much moving of boxes. If the bees are not dividing
evenly, just put a lid in front of the one attracting too many bees
for a while to hide it from them, as I did at right. (You
can't see it, but although both have many bees around the hole,
more of the returning bees were choosing the middle (parent) hive).
When there is a rainy
spell and the bees have not been flying much for a few days, the
hives can be distributed around the yard without risk of drifting.
Or else, they can be moved out with a little smoking any early morning
or evening after they are all home.
Time for a break. I just finished the home yard and there
are now 59 hives here, I found a few more I had to split.
I also discovered a big stack of new boxes of foundation and decided
that was an easy out. I stacked it onto any hives I wondered
about. One box of foundation is like two or three boxes
of drawn comb for adding space.
I don 't know if I am done or not. I can't guess how big these
hives will get in three weeks. I've run models and have experience,
but it is hard to say if they will be fine in two boxes or need
three. Some I have given three, but others not yet.
Anyhow, I'm running out of time. I don't want to overdo things,
but I don't want to return home to swarms, either.
8:52 PM: I'm in the house and everything I planned to do
is done. Wow, who would have imagined? It has been a
hectic sixteen days since I flew back to split the hives.
When I arrived, I had, what?, 40 hives? I can hardly remember.
I guess that is why I write a diary. Now I have 104 and they
are all fed, medicated, supered and ready for the next act.
I think we can relay on a good July after all the heat and rain,
but what will August bring? Stay tuned...
We are in the
middle of a thunderstorm and the sky is golden to the west.
There should be a rainbow and !!! BANG! Flash!
No time to count. That was right here! But we still
have power and lights, and I don't smell smoke. The dog
OK. It didn't
get us, but Airenet must have gotten a headache. Suddenly we
have no Internet! Switch to Plan B. Rogers works.
OK. Where did my router go? It is no longer showing
up in the list of wifi options. Ah Ha! It is dead.
Nope. Its wall wart (power supply) is dead according to
my trusty multimeter.
I never throw anything away. What voltage? 12.
Check! What polarity? Centre positive. Check! What amperage?
0.5. OK. Whatever. Here is one in the junk box with
that many milliamps and a little more. Hope that Linksys
thingamajig is well fused. Bingo! Airenet is on
again. Ellen should be happy for the next week.
haven't had as much fun with my bees since 1972.
think that if I had gotten a forklift early on, it would have changed
what I eventually did. I doubt I would have expanded as much
or hired as many people. I could have done far more myself.
There is nothing
wrong with hiring people. It is actually one of the most
socially conscious things one can do. I realized a while
back that a lot of people need someone to give them a job.
I was never really one of them, but I did appreciate the jobs
I had. Someday I'll write about all the jobs I had back
when I was a kid. I haven't been gainfully employed since
I turned 22, if you don't count fun jobs like part-time bee
inspecting. I've done some IT work, too, but strictly
I was an entrepreneur
from the time I could talk, but I understand how socially important
it is to hire others, personal burden though it may be.
The masses, without someone to tell them what to do and feed
them regularly, are at best unhappy, and at worst a starving
recedes like success. Profitability in beekeeping usually comes
with numbers. With numbers comes reduced returns per unit
-- The Law of Diminishing Returns.
beekeeping is all about chasing that sweet spot where the next hive
or the next employee still adds profit. The uncertainty of that
equation is what keeps many of us enchanted.
know many of the iconic US commercial beekeepers personally. We
always have a great time when we get together, whether in a luxury
resort, some sleazy truck stop or a bee yard.
beekeeper is a member of the brotherhood or sisterhood, if you wish,
and every beekeeper (even those on the lunatic fringe) is warmly
accepted in beekeeping circles, but only those who have bet it all
on the bugs are in that select circle of commercial beekeepers.
It is now 10:06 and I have to get ready for the flight tomorrow.
I meet Mike at 5:45 to get to YYC by 6 and fly at 7 to YYZ,
then YSB. Those airports are getting to be like home.
That reminds me,
I must still check in! And, of course, I'm not even
packed. I usually get up at 3 and pack. That gives me
time to wake up before the drive. Also, it is a huge shift
mentally from here to there and I have trouble being in two
places at once.
OK? I'm checked
in. Good night. See you tomorrow -- from a different,
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Monday July 12th
was a travel day. I was up at 3, packed and on the highway
at 5, and on the plane headed for Toronto at 7. When I left
home, my gas gauge read low and I could not recall if I had filled
up or not. On a new tank, the gauge does not show full for
a while, and so I ducked into the quonset to grab a can of gas in
case I hadn't. I almost stepped on Momma skunk. Thank
goodness she knows me and just ambled off.
had a hasty lunch at the Exchange Cafe at YYC and was on the plane
to YSB shortly later. We touched down at 3:05 and the airport
shuttle dropped me at 1207 at 4. Jean & Chris had planned
to pick me up at the airport, but were running late.
gathered a few things, put the rear seat into the van, dropped in
at Harri's to get the starter for the boat and pointed the van south
to Port Carling. We needed a new battery for the boat, so
I stopped in Parry Sound at Canadian Tire and picked one up, arriving
at Pine Hill around 8.
spoke to Ellen along the way. She said it is windy and cold
and that the mower won't start.
had no time for the diary.
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July 13th 2010
|Hi Allen, Here another
comment on the use of EPS boxes. Maybe you should try
the "Segeberger" made by Sther in Germany! Its a great
hive, made of one piece and fits nicely. (box upon box
) It's being used all over Europe for almost 25 years
! If you want more information, I will be glad to help
you. With kind regards and greets, Arie
I have had quite
a bit of feedback about EPS boxes. I looked these
ones up and it appears that they take a different frame
size from our North American standard. This would
create problems for me. I have a commercial way
of thinking which values simplicity and standardization
and I am a commercial again with 105 hives.
are some styrofoam (EPS) nuc boxes which were designed
by an Alberta Beekeeper, which are made in Quebec and
are quite popular. They use standard deep frames.
They are reinforced and tough as nails. They last
forever. Meijers delivered my cells in one.
What we need to
find is a manufacturer who makes the standard deep box
in a tough and inexpensive version. Swienty would
be fine if they can deliver them cheaply. BeeMax
are simply too tender for commercial use.
Have you thought of
drawing up a deep box and contacting some EPS molding
They list two companies
Plasti-Fab seems to
be just flat panels for house insulation, but
Beaver Plastics seems to do molded components.
Actually, I have
thought of renting molds from Swienty or another company
or making molds.
Beaver has made
bee equipment before. Decades back, they made
a hive top feeder of EPS. They worked well, but
the bees chewed them. For whatever reason, the
bees do not chew BeeMax or Swienty boxes. Some
say it is due to the density of plastic used.
slept 'til 8:30. It is foggy and damp here at Pine Hill this
morning, but everyone is up and Mom and Doreen are off to town to
look at fridges and stoves. Chris went for a jog, and Jean
& Mckenzie are canoeing.
they returned, we had a swim. My Big Job for the day was to install
the new starter and run the engine. Changing Chev starters
of that vintage is a difficult job. The bolts are always hard
to access, and in this case, I had to lie on my stomach on the engine
and\grope around in the bilge turning, or trying to turn the bolts.
got it done and the boat started, so we went for a spin.
have to admit that this is a fast boat. At 4200 RPM, it must
be doing 30 MPH. I should take my GPS next time to see.
We went out to see how fast it goes. At 4,200, it is doing
39 MPH. That is too fast for comfortable skiing and
deadly for tubing <Grin>.
That turns out to be 39 KNOTS, not MPH. I had my GPS set up
for sailing. 39 KPH is 45 MPH).
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July 14th 2010
(regarding diary comments on July 11, you said...
"Side-by-side walk-away splits are simply the easiest
splits one can possibly make. I made splits on top of
excluders this year and the difference in ease and convenience
of these splits I made just now is amazing compared
to the ones where I counted frames and stored them above
the parent hive."
what you meant, re: the excluders. You don't mention
how you used them in the description that follows.
think I covered it further back at the time I did it,
or at least when I was planning it.
in short, I went through the hives, pulling out
brood, shaking the bees down into the bottom box
and leaving only one frame and the old queen down
there, with more or less all the bees. (Most
queens were new this year from previous work).
placed one excluder above the bottom box and queen,
and made up more or less bee-less queenless splits
in the boxes above with three or four frames with good patches
of brood in each box, along with feed and empty
hives made three splits plus the original, some
one, some none.
stack was left for the bees to equalize through
the boxes for a day or two, max.
divider sheets of plastic were slid in between each
box and cells introduced into each of the queenless
a day or two, but before the new queens were flying,
the upper boxes were moved out to separate stands
elsewhere and given another box or two. The
parent hives also got a box or two.
split most of my colonies in May, walk-away method,
separating the two brood chambers, but with split set
on top of the (supered) main hive. This was mainly because
I didn't have the space or enough spare floors/lids
to set the new units on the ground next to the parents.
are tricky. I assume that there was a solid separator,
like a lid in between?
about half of these divisions swarmed 2-3 weeks later,
when virgins emerged, the nectar flow being quite intense
early in the season here.
always give the splits two brood boxes or lots of supers
each above excluders and never have a swarming problem.
suppose I could have gone into each split and removed
all q. cells but one, but I didn't have the time. Still
not a perfect system used this way (tried it before,
also with too many swarms resulting, same deal) but
when the brood chambers were reunited at beginning of
July (past the swarm season) the colonies were strong
in 5-6 deeps, and now all have their new self-reared
queens. Even the colonies that swarmed have a substantial
population, having had two young queens laying for a
few weeks prior to uniting.
region is different. In my experience, except
in severe swarming years, all that is needed to forestall
swarming is lots of room (at least twice what they seem
to need) and reasonable ventilation.
of population build-up and peaking is a bit of an art,
as well, and if build-up occurs too early for the regional
flows, then swarming is a likely result.
your website as always.
and I went to town this morning and she ordered a new fridge and
stove for the cottage. the old fridge runs all the time and
the old stove is getting unreliable. For one thing, the oven
is off-temperature and uneven. Yesterday a burner quit.
Chris and Mckenzie and I were in and out of the River all day.
It was a hot one. I cleaned up my boat and it is ready to
sail, but there was little wind, so we went to town and bought a
huge tube to pull behind the boat. We spent the rest of the
afternoon pulling it around the Lake behind Cloud 9.
reports that the foundation was delivered today and that the forklift
would not work, so the cargo -- three pallets -- was unloaded by
hand. The lawn mower will not start.
Bill Ruzicka sent
out an email today, titled, "CANADA Beekeepers With no purchases
Yes you can eliminate MITES from your hives".
It starts off with,
"You Enquired about MITEGONE in past if you used it you wood have
I waited until I have consecutive Two years of virtually zero results
before releasing this report.
Abstract: Series of attached tests and treatments proved that two
treatments with 65% FORMIC ACID and MITEGONE METHOD can virtually
eliminate VAROA mite
From 500 hives Pollination and bee breeding operation, without any
bad effects but many side benefits. (Link).
With demise of MIEAWAY II, and Hawaii beekeepers reporting QUIK
STRIP to be harsh on bees, queen loses, Supersede, and yes it kills
Varroa in cells together with brood. It is time to use method wit
none of those problems, contamination ,or signs of CCD and lot of
good side benefits.
MITEGONE method was
greatly simplified and reuse of pads bring yearly cost down: (Link)
New safe ready to fill kits (to be filled by trained person locally)
were developed and are now available For HOBY or sideliners: (Link)
For commercial operators FAST CUTING and SOAKING of 10 “pads; and
large ready to fill and use kits are available;
I hope you understand
that BEEKEEPERS can use formic acid in their own hives and choose
their own method of application regardless: If PMRA cancels C-94.
The acid will become
unregulated substance and none of their business. Tel PMRA that
only solution to save their face is FREE REGISTRATION OR EXEMPTION
FOR LIQUID FORMIC ACID and LEAVING CHOICE OF APPLICATION METHOD
TO the BEEKEEPER.
Before you call with
all your Questions: have your computer on and Set to our website:
Bill is an interesting
and hard-working guy. I quote the above FWIW.
July 15th 2010
again Allen - Yes, when I split the two brood boxes
(both containing lots of brood) I use a plywood board
with a rim. This year, top and bottom units were both
deep-supered over excluders. I think I should have omitted
the excluders, since the heavy early nectar flow around
dandelion-chokecherry bloom clogged the brood nests
somewhat, the bees didn't do much storing in the combs
above the excluders right away, and I believe this encouraged
the swarming. (I guess.) If I had split sooner that
might have prevented the swarm urge to a large extent.
Nights were still cold in April, but colony development
was a couple of weeks early this year. I did not see
drones flying until about the time I made the divisions,
so I am not sure how the new queens would have fared
if I'd split much sooner than I did. I could try for
earlier next year, and/or try to do side-by-side instead,
with an empty brood chamber placed below each half of
the split colony, to give space even though weather
is still quite cool, and reverse them later, as you
Interesting. Baiting above the excluder with a
frame of brood could have helped, perhaps. Bees
which haven't experienced excluders are often slow to
pass through them. We have done S-B-S splits and
just supered the single with comb supers (all foundation
and no excluders) and had no swarming problems.
This year, I used foundation boxes as seconds on about
twenty-five of the splits, so we will see.
The EPS nuc boxes I have are like the one shown on your
recent page, but I am not sure of the material density.
Regarding EPS and ants, in areas with that problem,
one might avoid storing the polystyrene equipment on
*or* near any rotting or potentially infested wood,
hive stands, pallets, etc. and keep a little open space
right under and between the stacks, so that ants won't
be as likely excavate in between and start tunneling
into the polystyrene.
> I have had close to
95% acceptance on queens this season by first transferring
them to JzBz plastic cages, removing nurse bees initially
then a few days later cutting open the opening designed
to let workers in for orientation and familiarization.
Not sure what you mean
> I keep the candy tube
end covered with duct tape. In a few days the bees have
eaten all the candy from the inside. At that point I
do a direct release.
If an opening is cut,
what keeps the queen in?
> Obviously keeping the
brood over an excluder for for few days ensure no viable
eggs or larvae for Q cell making (in the case of making
splits & nucs).
That helps, but requires
multiple visits, inspections and a keen eye.
> All this takes time
and attention, but I am having higher success rates
where as in past times I have failed in trying to get
faster transfers and acceptance. No sense in hurrying
the process especially when the bees are smarter than
we are anyway and they may be anxious to supersede at
the slightest justification.
That is the problem.
To ensure acceptance, queens must be held long enough
that cells are almost as quick and also, queens often
die, for whatever reasons, during long confinements,
and the beekeeper has to do a lot of work.
> The method described
above I believe is supported by the old documentation
and experience, especially that of Jay Smith in the
later parts of his classic, Better Queens.
Seems to me that with
introducing mated queens, we congratulate ourselves
on our successes and forget our failures.
It also seems to me
that we need to have a very good reason to justify the
expense and difficulty that is associated with using
mated queens. In my case it is obtaining new genetics
For production hives,
though, ripe cells introduced at time of splitting with
protectors is far more reliable and cost-effective.
Adding a back-up cell a few days later might even increase
success. My main problem with cells is the variability
in hatch dates, making candling difficult. Maybe I should
write to Martin Braunstein about that. He seems not
to have that problem.
There are times of
year when raising queens or cells is not practical,
but I do my beekeeping in the spring, preferably in
swarming season when the bees are thinking the same
as I am,. The rest of the year, I just combine and/or
pick up dead-outs.
Looks like good honey
weather in Alberta. It's hot and muggy down here, too.
hope to do some sailing today.
planning to sail over to Windermere and do some swimming and then
sail back. Orams are going out for supper.
we sailed across the Lake we saw a storm approaching, but there
was no sign of lightning, so we proceeded and anchored off Windermere
Beach. Jean and Mckenzie dinghied in and swam a bit off the
shore. Chris and I swam in.
finished our swim and started back about the time the rain began
and we sailed back in a steady rain. The wind and rain were
warm, so Jean, Chris and I sat out in the cockpit enjoying
the sail, but Mckenzie decided she would prefer to stay below in
arrival back at Pine Hill was just as planned and the Orams headed
off for their dinner engagement.
There is some
discussion on BeeSource about the Hopkins method. Apparently
several people tried it during a flow without making the cell builder
hopelessly queenless and without eliminating the excess foragers
by moving the hive to a new stand. They also did not knock
down the unwanted cells. As a result, the bees plugged the
cells with honey and built burr comb under the frame where the cells
were supposed to be.
There are certain
basics to queen rearing: proper nutrition, many young bees,
little or no competition from other brood, no other queen cells
in the hive, and bees that need to raise a queen. Some
crowding can help, but any significant incoming nectar can cause
problems, so more than enough foragers to maintain water and
adequate nutrition can be a problem.
If there is no open
brood other than the queen cells, the needs will be low. Nectar
and pollen will accumulate. Young bees do consume pollen,
though, so pollen is less of a worry, but an excess of incoming
nectar can inhibit and interfere with cell building and also get
the queen cells webbed with comb.
Depending how long
the cells will be in the builder, and how many young bees are emerging,
it may be advisable to move the hive several times to lose excess
bees once the cells are built and being capped if a heavy flow develops.
Any bees lost this way drift to nearby hives.
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July 16th 2010
the morning, we all ran up to Rosseau in Cloud 9 to attend the Market.
Jean and Chris and Mckenzie took turns on the tube for the whole
10 mile ride. Mom was spotter. We had sausages and crepes
at the market, then headed back to Pine Hill. That was about
all the excitement for the day.
swam and had supper, then swam again.
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July 17th 2010
Back on July 2nd,
I presented this table to describe the development of the new splits.
We are now off the end, so I'm adding a row.
Make up nucs
also showed this population projection. The chart assumes
that the new queens lay 1,500 eggs a day, with 80% hatch, and they
begin egg laying on the 15th of July, and also that a bee's life
expectancy is six weeks (click to enlarge). See also
the June 30th diary entries.
is the spreadsheet I used.
According to my plans, the
hives with the original queens have had enough sealed brood removed
that they should not increase in size more quickly than the splits.
The splits have more maturing brood, and that should compensate
for the break in brood rearing while the queens get laying.
They idea is that all the hives
should develop at the same rate and be at the same state when I
get back, occupy two boxes fully and be ready for thirds if they
do not yet have them. Of course there will be some ahead and
some behind. Due to the unevenness of the hives going in,
I was somewhat uneven in my splitting. Moreover, some were
split earlier and some later, and some drifting occurred, leaving
some hives stronger and some weaker. Some cells failed to
emerge, too, and therefore these hives will be about two weeks behind
This illustrates beautifully
why large-scale prairie commercial beekeepers try to keep all
hives at the same state. Once some hives get ahead and
some behind, managing becomes more and more complex.
For efficient commercial
beekeeping, yard visits must be scheduled, limited in number,
and focused in purpose. The labour hired is typically
good at repetitive, simple tasks, but any exceptions require
the attention of the owners or the few specialized beekeepers
in the outfit. As a result, most commercial beekeepers
simply shake out the slow hives and split the excessively strong
ones and try to keep the exceptions to a minimum.
20% of the hives
are responsible for 80% of the work and
20% of the hives produce 80% of the profit.
They are not the same 20%
Most of the real beekeeping
is done in the spring. After a certain date, usually in
late June or early July, beekeeping ends and honey work begins.
This continues until the honey work is done and there is time
to do a little beekeeping again in the fall in preparation for
winter. Fall work is mostly feeding, picking up dead-outs,
monitoring and treating if necessary, and wrapping.
By early August, there will
be little time left for the bees to develop further if the season
is short and all efforts must be directed towards being ready for
the coming winter. If I have calculated correctly and had
average luck, then 90% or more of the hives will look fit.
We have had a tremendous early summer with heat and rain; so far
everything is on track.
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July 18th 2010
The JzBz plastic queen cage was
changed to have a plastic bar across the the end opening.
A couple of years ago I met the inventor who explained
that this opening was re-designed to be small enough
to confine the queen, after the plastic bar was cut
out. Picture and description at (this
This allows workers in for the
get acquainted period. It achieves the same purpose
as the Jay Smith intro cage from the early 1900s.
page 95. and pictures attached (right).
I get fairly reliable cell hatching
times on shipments from Miksa. He only does overnight
shipping by UPS and I live near a major UPS hub. So
the cells are hatching 18 - 24 hrs after I pick them
Looks to me like a bumper July
honey crop coming up in Southern and Central Alberta. The
weather is ideal with alternating hot and cooler days and lots of
HONEY BEES WILL FORAGE
Distance from irrigated
area (sweet clover and alfalfa)
Average change in Hive
Weight over 18 days
How far can bees fly to forage
and still make honey? The chart at right is from
How Far Do Bees Fly? One Mile, Two, Seven? And Why? Details
are in the article.
The populations and condition
of the hive after the flow are not discussed, but reason would suggest
that flying longer distances would tax the bees more and consume
resources from the bees bodies as well as expose them to more hazards.
Bee colonies can gain weight while depleting the body reserves of
the bees, resulting in poor wintering.
Today's reading assignment
here. This paper is quite useful for understanding nutrition
and bee social differentiation.
today and we all went over to Spences for lunch on the deck.
We then returned to Pine Hill, got out the tube and took a spin
out into the Lake. After an hour or so, we were about out
of gas and I went to town to get a few Jerry cans filled.
On the way back, I looked at kayaks. Deciding about kayaks
turns out to be more technical than one might think. We thought
we'd just get two cheapies. Maybe they won't support a person
of any size and they won't be very stable.
We had a big
home-made pizza supper.
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July 19th 2010
In the morning,
I drove to Penetang and looked at a boat for sale. It turned
out to be pretty beat up. Then I drove to Barrie where I got
Smart Tabs for Cloud 9 and a $299 kayak and on to YYZ to pick up
Ellen. We returned to Pine Hill in time for supper.
The kayak was a hit. It should be a good starter unit.
If it gets a lot of use, we may get a fancier model as well.