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New splits in a hayfield.

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Brown text indicates personal ramblings that have little to do with bees and beekeeping.

Saturday July 10th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Today: Cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm this afternoon. High 21. UV index 3 or moderate.

Tonight: Cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers early this evening and risk of a thunderstorm. Clearing near midnight. Low 10.

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.

We 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.

What kind 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. 

We have, 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.

Last year, 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.

If we 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.

I'm running 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.

Day 16
Wed 7
Queens emerge

Day 17
Thurs 8

Day 18
Fri 9

Day 19
Sat 10

Day 20
Sun 11
 Mating
Flights

Day 21
Mon 12
 Mating
Flights

Day 22
Tues 13
 Mating
Flights

Day 23
Wed 14
 Mating
Flights

Day 24
Thurs 15
 Laying
begins

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 hives.

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 ones.

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 weeks.

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.  We'll see.

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 was happy.

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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Sunday July 11th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

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. Low 15.

Monday: Increasing 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.

I 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.

I 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?

I 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.

Who 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.  Some 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 split. 

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.

Basically, all there is to it is

  • Tilt the 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.

  • Better 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.

  • Looking 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.

  • Then pull a frame from the top box, carefully, in case there are some cells started. 

  • The idea 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. 

  • Lift the top box onto a floor, add a lid, put the lid on the parent hive and that is it. 

  • Add more boxes to either or both if they are full of bees.

  • If the weather is iffy, like May, add any additional boxes underneath, not on top.

Hello Allen,

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, though.

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 frame horizontal?

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.

4:00 PM:  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.

6:13 PM:  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!

Zero seconds!  No time to count.  That was right here!  But we still have power and lights, and I don't smell smoke.  The dog is unhappy.

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.

Thank goodness 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.

I haven't had as much fun with my bees since 1972.

I 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 free-lance.

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 menace.

Nothing recedes like success. Profitability in beekeeping usually comes with numbers.  With numbers comes reduced returns per unit -- The Law of Diminishing Returns.

Commercial 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.

I 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.

Any 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.

Oh, well.  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, non-beekeeping world.

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Monday July 12th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Today 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.

I 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.

I 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.

I spoke to Ellen along the way.  She said it is windy and cold and that the mower won't start.

I had no time for the diary.

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Tuesday July 13th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

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.

There 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.

Hi Allen,

Have you thought of drawing up a deep box and contacting some EPS molding companies. (Link)

They list two companies in Alberta...

Plasti-Fab seems to be just flat panels for house insulation, but Beaver Plastics seems to do molded components.
Doug.


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.

I 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.

When 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. 

I got it done and the boat started, so we went for a spin. 

I 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>.

(Note: 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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Wednesday July 14th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

JG: Allen (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."

JG: Curious what you meant, re: the excluders. You don't mention how you used them in the description that follows.

AD: I think I covered it further back at the time I did it, or at least when I was planning it.

Anyhow, 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).

I 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 comb.

Some hives made three splits plus the original, some one, some none.

The stack was left for the bees to equalize through the boxes for a day or two, max. 

Then divider sheets of plastic were slid in between each box and cells introduced into each of the queenless boxes.

After 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.

JG: I 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.

AD: Words are tricky.  I assume that there was a solid separator, like a lid in between?

JG: Anyway, about half of these divisions swarmed 2-3 weeks later, when virgins emerged, the nectar flow being quite intense early in the season here.

AD: I always give the splits two brood boxes or lots of supers each above excluders and never have a swarming problem.

JG: I 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.

AD: Each 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.

The management 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.

JG: Enjoying your website as always.

AD: Thanks!

Mom 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.

Jean, 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.

Ellen 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 same results.

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;
(link)

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: www.mitegone.com

(etc.)

Bill is an interesting and hard-working guy.  I quote the above FWIW.

Thursday July 15th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

JG: Hi 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 have suggested.

AD: 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.

JG: Note: 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 by this.

> 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 quickly.

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.

I hope to do some sailing today.

We're planning to sail over to Windermere and do some swimming and then sail back.  Orams are going out for supper.


As 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.

We 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 the V-berth.

Our 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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Friday July 16th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

In 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.

We swam and had supper, then swam again.

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Saturday July 17th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

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.

 Day 4
 Friday 25
  Graft date 
 Day 5
Saturday 26
     Day 6
Sunday 27
       Day 7
 Monday 28
Day  8
Tuesday 29
   queen cells 
  capped
  Day 9
Wednesday 30
(Today)
 Day 10
Thursday 1
Day 11
Friday 2
  Make up nucs
Day 12
Saturday 3
  Make up nucs
Day 13
 Sunday 4
  Make up nucs
Day 14
Monday 5
  Install queen cells
Day 15
Tuesday 6
 
queens begin
  to emerge
Day 16
Wednesday 7
Day 17
Thursday 8
Day 18
Friday 9
Day 19
Saturday 10
Day 20
Sunday 11
 Mating Flights
Day 21
Monday 12
 Mating Flights
Day 22
Tuesday 13
 Mating Flights
Day 23
Wednesday14
 Mating Flights
Day 24
Thursday 15
 Laying begins
Day 25
Friday 16
Day 26
Saturday 17
Day 27
Sunday 18
Day 28
Monday 19
Day 30
Tuesday 20
Day 31
Wednesday 21
Day 32
Thursday 22

I 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.  Here 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 the others.

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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Sunday July 18th 2010
July past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

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 page)

This allows workers in for the get acquainted period. It achieves the same purpose as the Jay Smith intro cage from the early 1900s. See 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 up.

Kind regards,
Joe

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 rain.

DISTANCES HONEY BEES WILL FORAGE
Distance from irrigated area (sweet clover and alfalfa)
Average change in Hive Weight over 18 days
0.0 miles +25.3 pounds
0.5 31.6
1.0 23.3
1.5 21.3
2.0 18.1
3.0 13.8
4.0 5.1
5.0 -3.0
6.0 -6.2
7.0 -8.6

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 is here.  This paper is quite useful for understanding nutrition and bee social differentiation.

Sarah came 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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Monday July 19th 2010
July past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

 

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.

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