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A panorama shot from my front door.  Blue beehives are left of centre

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

Tuesday August 10th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Mom left for Sudbury at 6 AM and I'll be following around noon.  Late tonight, tomorrow morning, actually, I expect to be sleeping in my own bed in Swalwell.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

I drove to Sudbury, had supper with Mom, and then she drove me to the airport.  I arrived in Calgary at 1:05 AM and the cab was waiting.  Shortly thereafter, I started my car in Airdrie and drove home.  I arrived at about 2:30.  The grass is high and everything is damp.  What a change from most summers.  Most years things are dry and often the grass is brown all summer.

Wednesday August 11th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I lifted a few lids this morning to get an idea of what to expect.  As anticipated, some hives are slow and some are looking crowded.  I see the skunks are doing damage.  Today is cool and wet, so I have to wait for some sun before I start going through the hives.  I have other things to do, including catching up on  the books and paying bills, so I'll be busy anyhow.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

The sun came out and things dried up, so out I went.  First order of business was to cut the grass in the beeyard.  Now for the interesting part...

I started at the poor end of the yard, and checked twelve hives.  Of the twelve, four hives were either empty or queenless and dwindling.  That is a shock, but what is most surprising is that the duds were pretty all in EPS boxes so far.  I have a stack now of 9 EPS boxes without bees and zero wooden boxes stacked up.  Some of the wooden hives actually needed more room, so I equalized a bit. 

I had asked on BEE-L if there is any out-gassing or other effects which might make it advisable to "age" EPS boxes before use and the answer was, "No".  At this point, I am not so sure.  Granted, this is a limited sample form the poor end of the yard, but we will soon know as I go on down the line.

I had some old foundation and some new.  I gave one hive a box of the older stuff and found they are drawing comb alright, but across between the frames, not on the surface.  Another hive had drawn the whole box quite well.  Go figure.

At this point, I am thinking that I did far better last year with walk-away splits and letting them raise their own queens.  It was far less work, although at that point I did not need to work through boxes which had been sitting as long.  We'll see.  I have only started looking through them.

I mowed grass in the afternoon.

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Thursday August 12th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

hallo Allen, im beekeeper from greece. i want to ask you something about wintering. i see that on canada wintering your hives with wraps and plastic hives. Do you think that very closed or plastic hives makes very much moisture and mold to the frames?

Yes, this can happen.

do you think that cost problems to the bees?

It does not seem to hurt them if water is not dripping on the bees and there is good airflow through the hive.

in greece the scientists said that the hives should be ventilated to prevent moisture, but in all over the world nobody think that moisture is problem for bees.

Opinions vary everywhere, but all agree that some ventilation is essential.  Too much makes the bees work harder to stay warm and slows spring build-up.  Too little can suffocate the bees or cause water to condense and wet the bees.

in greece the beehives have an australian type cover for summer and winter like this.  i want to put some plastic or nylon or close the holes of the cover with duct tape. do you think that the bees will have problems from the moisture?

I don't know where in Greece you are, so I do not know how cold or damp your winters are.  I know that if you are around Athens, that you have a mild winter compared to us.  We get minus forty degrees Celsius sometimes.  I think you should ask beekeepers near you what works best.

...and something else.  in greece we have a local races apis melifera cecropia and macedonica they are very good races but they always swarm, they love swarming. i want to make some italians but i will have some hybrids. what do you think about hybrids? are they good ?or the clean races is better?

All of my bees are crosses between races.  I have no experience with pure races and wonder if they even exist except in theory and in some isolated places.  That said, I do know that crossing some strains of bees can result in unfriendly bees.  As far as production  and wintering is concerned, if the parent stock is good, so, generally speaking, are most of the offspring.  It is possible to get bees that are less than ideal, though, so, again, you should ask local beekeepers if they have tried crossing these bees with Italians and what happened.

The day has been cool and windy, with a a bit of rain from time to time.  Nevertheless I was able to work through more hives and the results are more encouraging than what I saw yesterday.

With 33 hives now inspected and worked over, I hit only one more dud to add to the previous four, leaving 28 good hives.  I did see two colonies working on supercedure, but they seem to have functioning queens, so I expect that process will take care of itself and I was careful not to damage the cells.

The surviving hives are now in three and four boxes and doing well.  Some have packed in an alarming amount honey, so I loosened them up by moving up brood and inserting foundation or empty comb where indicated.  I also added boxes of foundation and put a frame or two of brood into the middle of the new boxes to bring the bees up and to set the comb orientation.

I'm adding foundation and hoping it gets drawn.  We are at the point now where we could have a killer frost any day.  We could also have another two months of flow.  We've had enough rain that if it gets hot, we could see some really heavy flows, so I have to provide room.  The fact that I'll be away for a few weeks complicates the decision since I won't be here to react to whatever conditions present themselves.

If we get a frost, then I'll have to reverse the hives and place the newly drawn foundation below so that the bees are not spending the winter on it.  I may also have to remove any that is undrawn.  This should be done as soon as the end of the season becomes apparent so that the colonies have plenty of warm weather left to arrange their brood nest after the disturbance.

I worked on the scale hives and found that they are quite typical of what I have seen in the yard so far.  The scale had gained 35.5 lbs in the past week.  That is about 9 lbs for each of the four hives on the scale per week, not too bad for splits.  Since I added a box to several of them, I had to recalibrate the scale.

When I quit at five, I decided I should check the other yards to make sure lids are still on and drove around to see.  They all look OK, but at Elliotts', a quick glance showed that some hives did not move up into the boxes of foundation I gave them, and have plugged their single brood chambers, widening the combs and building burr comb.  I saw one dud there, too.  I'll know more when I work on them.

Losses are now at 5 out of 33 or 15% in the ones I have examined and worked through so far.  That is about what I expected.  Many of these hives are the parent colonies, though, so when I get to the splits, which were picked up and moved out, the losses could be much higher.  If this trend holds, however, I'll lose 16 and have 89 hives going into winter.  I'm guessing though, that the actual number will be more like 75.  We'll see.

The hives look healthy, with the exception of the first pair of hives at the poor end of the yard.  They are not looking very good, and I have no idea why.  I have kept them around, but maybe should have just put them out of their misery.

I am not seeing any brood disease and few signs of varroa and I'm not noticing much difference between the EPS (Styrofoam) hives and the wooden ones, except that they may be drawing foundation better.  It is hard to say at this point.

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Friday August 13th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999\

Hi Allen! I realize that you are a commercial concern and when you make protein patties you are 'supersizing'. As for me, I have only one (1) colony and I want to give it all the chance possible to make it thru this coming winter here in Allegany, New York (S/Western New York State). Could you give me ingredient portions for my one hive only?

The proportions are not critical.  You need yeast, soy and sugar and water.  Use lots of sugar (over 50% of the dry ingredients) and equal amounts of yeast and soy.  Some people just use yeast and leave out the soy.  It is not critical.  Add water until you get the right consistency and figure it will stiffen up a bit after sitting.

Your biggest problem will be finding the correct yeast and soy.  It is very easy to get the wrong ingredients and some can be toxic.  Buy from a bee supplier like Betterbee, not your local health food or animal feed store.

 Also can it be fed to my bees thru the winter without harm? Right now I am feeding them syrup, sugar water, which they consume about a pint a day of and should help them get their brood chamber going. I would like to have a strong colony going into winter. Goldenrods are just now blooming so they should do well with those which should be about the last big bloom.

I have left patties on all winter and found they don't touch them unless there are young bees emerging.  It does not seem to harm them, but it does little good until brood rearing gets going.

I visit a friend at Round Lake, NY, each year and look at his bees.  In my opinion the biggest issue is getting enough feed into the hives early enough that the bees can settle down.

The weather has been trending cooler, but the nighttime temperatures are holding up quite well.  It will be interesting to see if there is a big difference between wood and EPS hives as the season winds down.

I have five days before I fly south, so I have to get things done regardless of the weather.

The day turned out to be cool with frequent showers and strong winds, so I took the opportunity to do some long-promised work on a neighbours' computer, taking off Norton and replacing it with Microsoft Security Essentials and doing quite a bit of additional clean-up.

I also lent them my Rocket Hub since it seems that Airenet has cut them off after their last round of problems, and their consequent complaints and refusal to pay the bill until service proves acceptable.  It is hard to know for sure if they are cut off, since Airenet has been so unreliable for years and because Airenet  has no customer service to speak of. They do not return calls and often blame the customer when Internet fails.  It could be that the service is just broken down again.

No matter.  Airenet has lost another customer.  My neighbours liked the Hub so much that they ordered one.  I ordered a second one for Ellen as well, since I intend to fire Airenet and she needs Internet when I am away.  In spite of terrible service, I hate to fire Airenet, though.  Loyalty is one of my weaknesses.

I also managed to get a start on the books and bill paying.

In the evening, I watched "The Blue Max".  The Zip review says, "...highly acclaimed film with its uncompromising story and spectacular flying sequences".  That about sums it up.  I was not disappointed, as I am so often these days when I start watching contemporary films.  I have that opportunity often when flying Air Canada, which offers free movies on demand on seat-back monitors . 

I used to catch up on the latest films when flying, but lately I prefer to read, sleep, or watch the silent screens of others around me.  The images are interesting, but the sound tracks and "plots" are too often disappointing

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Saturday August 14th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999\

I notice that the prediction for tonight is only 3 degrees above freezing.  That is not something I like to see.  Not only do cool nights cause the smaller colonies to contract and the bees to think twice about storing high in the supers, but I am planning to add boxes and spread brood a bit in some hives and I do not want to chill brood or stress the bees.

We are getting close to our normal earliest first frost date and the trend has been cool, so we may be looking at a year with early frost.  Last year spoiled us, since the majority of weight gain in my hives was after this date and ran into late September.

It was August 23rd last year when I placed the four hives (splits from earlier in the year) on the scale and began recording.  Between then and the end of September when the flow tapered off, the hives gained an average of 88 lbs!  See chart at right.

I decided to go back in time and have been reading my notes from this time last year just now.

Of special interest, besides the long season, was my observation that I had not seen AFB to that point and was assuming that the bees today are improved enough to suppress it.

We know that subsequently I did - quite suddenly - have AFB problems, lost several hives to AFB, and had to resort to medicating.  Most of the hives were resisting AFB quite well, but several turned out to be susceptible.  Since then, I have added better genetics.

I say that with reservation, though, since I noted that several of the best and most productive hives showed some AFB, but not enough to destroy them.  I also noticed that the assault by AFB was causing spotty brood in the resistant colonies and placing a load on them as well, so currently available resistant stock may still be affected by AFB, even if it does not break down to the point of showing rotten larvae and roping.  As a result of this experience, I think periodic use of some preventative medication -- OTC or Tylan -- may have economic advantages in improving health and productivity and in preventing breakdown.

Some of my commercial friends say you can have resistant, tough bees or you can have productive bees and choose to buy the most productive bees and support them with chemicals.

In small-scale beekeeping, it is practical to examine all combs often and to know where everything is.  In commercial beekeeping, hives are spread throughout the country and equipment gets moved around and combs are interchanged, often without inspection.  Inspecting combs requires good sunlight and commercial beekeeping often takes place in overcast conditions.  Moreover, not all staff are well enough trained or scrupulous enough to spot any breakdowns before the combs are distributed to other hives.

Even my commercial friends who have gone without significant AFB breakdown in recent years are realizing that they may be wise to do a little prophylactic treatment periodically to knock back the background (subclinical) infection levels and forestall breakdown.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

The weather improved and I worked through another 7 colonies this morning.  I found they are pretty strong and some were getting plugged.  I added boxes and moved brood up, and left several in five standards.  The best ones were the original queens plus two frames with brood.  This is the good end of the yard.  We'll see what I encounter further down.

It is a good thing that I bought the foundation.  It is getting used up fast.  I worry, though that I may have the same problem as last year with undrawn foundation in the brood chambers.  This year I am ready, though and will just reverse the hives early or pull any that are undrawn, long before Halloween.

The scale seems to have lost 15 lbs since I last took a reading on Thursday.  That is quite a loss over three days!  It amounts to a little over a pound a hive a day.


Another panorama made using Microsoft Image Composite Editor (free download)

I finished the quonset home yard (above) by five.  There were three duds on the north side and five on the south.  All were at the poor end of the yard (left side in picture).  That leaves 49 hives here.  8 duds out of 57 gives a 14% failure rate.  Not bad. (Success: 49/57)

I saw several drone layers in the failed splits and this is unusual for me.  I guess we had some bad mating weather.  In addition, two hives seem to have only recently found a queen.  They are only five frames strong and I may have to boost or combine them.  I do what I call forklift equalizing.  When I am sure there are no queens being mated, I swap strong with weak hives.  Sometimes, pallet by pallet or by turning a pallet around and sometimes by moving individual hives. I have a hive mover which picks up individual hives, but it has some problems.  Tall hives tip forward or back, and it cannot lift the EPS boxes, since they have larger outside dimensions.  I have to alter and improve it, I guess.

Before I went away, I had put on some full boxes of plastic foundation in wooden frames.  These boxes have been sitting around, unused,  for over seven years.  I don't know if the sheets were waxed or not, but the bees in some hives drew them perfectly while others built comb between the sheets, either parallel or perpendicular to the surface.  I cut the stray new combs off and would normally use the fresh honey in new white comb for table honey, but this year I am treating against AFB and the honey must be reserved for the bees.

The new foundation I bought recently and am now putting into hives is waxed and seems to be accepted much better - so far.  There are two types: white Pierco and both black and white Permadent in Western Bee wood frames.  I don't know which I prefer.  They are very different.  I put some of each into each hive to see if I can discern any preference on the bees' part.

I spent a few hours on the mower, too.  It makes a nice break after the hot, intense work with the hives.


Another panorama shot from my south deck

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Sunday August 15th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today promises to be another good day and I see some hot, clear weather in the forecast as well.  We need it.  We have moisture and flowers everywhere, but have been lacking good flow weather.  Tonight's low is forecast to be 5 degrees, though, and that concerns me, coming so soon after I manipulate the hives and before the bees have much time to adjust to the added space and rearranged combs.

I heard a spray plane this morning and drove out to see what is up.  Seems it is spraying wheat.  I imagine it is a desiccant, but it could also be an insecticide.  There is no drift, so I'm not worried, although there is an alfalfa field next to it.

I mentioned that I am using two types of plastic foundation and wondering how they will compare as far as the bees are concerned.  I took the opportunity today to compare them and here are two pictures.  (You can click to enlarge and check my counts).

I did a rough count of the rows and columns to estimate the number of cells on each comb face.  For the Pierco, I got 88 x 50 = 4400 cells.  For the Permadent, I got 80 x 42 = 3360 cells. 

That means that the one on the right has only 76% as many cells as the one on the left, or, stated another way, the Pierco has 32% more brood cells per frame!  I took a look at this question years ago.  At that time, I estimated the difference at 20%.  Maybe I need to count again.

Whatever the real number, that's a huge difference.  A ten-frame brood box of the Permadent would have 10 x 3360 x 2 = 67,200 cells.  A ten-frame brood box of the Pierco would have 10 x 2 x 4400 = 88,000 cells.  According to Larry Conner, a good queen lays 1,500 eggs a day.  Eggs take 21 days to mature.  That means that a minimum of 1,500 x 21 = 31,500 cells are required just for brood in a colony.  For those of us who run singles under excluders, or make Ross Rounds over singles, that cell count can make a difference in the amount of brood raised and how long it takes for a hive to starve if the supers are removed and feeding does not commence immediately for some reason and the flow fails.

Some people claim that a good queen lays 3,000 eggs a day (I don't believe them), and in that case, one standard height, ten-frame brood box Permadent would be short of space for such a queen, but the Pierco would have room for honey and pollen to boot.

Originally, the size of the standard box (brood chamber, super) was chosen because, at that time, the volume was considered sufficient for the brood and necessary immediate stores of a good queen.  At that time, foundation was typically made with cells of 5.1 or 5.2mm diameter.  Since then, people have started using foundation with larger cells and also using only 9 frames in a 10 frame box and using one and a half or two brood boxes.

Northern beekeepers tend to prefer double or even triple brood chamber hives, largely due to the need for sufficient winter feed and to allow for fast spring build-up.  (I think that having the cluster up off the ground helps, too, but some beekeepers have good luck wintering singles in the north.  I never have) When foundation with larger cells such as 5.45mm are used, the number of cells on a frame is very significantly less and double broods may be necessary just to provide room for the queen and stores.   Having excess room in the brood chamber can add new problems if excluders are used, especially with conservative bee strains.  When more than a little honey is stored in the brood chamber, bees may refuse to go through excluders.

Last I measured, Pierco standard one-piece are 5.25mm and Permadent is 5.35mm.  Other Pierco sizes and types have differing cell sizes.

I worked the eight hives in the front yard after lunch and found two more drone layers, so I shook them out.  I was thinking the drone layer problem was due to mating weather, but maybe I handled the cells at the wrong time?

Many hives were quite compact, staying in one box, and looking plugged, so I loosened them up -- a lot, adding foundation and more space.  I'm counting on a flow to get the combs drawn and filled. (Success: 6/8)

*     *     *     *     *     *    

Liz Huxter sent me some queens back in July and I have been wondering how they are doing.  This afternoon, I worked through some of the hives where I installed them.  I know I lost two of the queens, dead in the cages before they were released, but do not know how the rest made out.  I pulled some brood, but only saw one queen.  I did not want to spend time digging through and doing damage.  The queen I saw was marked, so I know it is one of the ones from Liz.

They are Minnesota Hygienics mated to Kettle Valley stock.  These hives were not the largest I've come across in the past few days, but each of them was drawing foundation perfectly.  That surprised and pleased me greatly.  I don't know if it is the stock or the location or something else.  These hives are in two boxes: one brood box and one box of (old) plastic foundation and they have entrance reducers on.  The previous hives did not have entrance reducers.  These hives face east and west and the other were all facing north and south.   There is some different stock further down the same line, so I'll soon see if it is the stock or the circumstances.

The picture at right shows a varroa hitch-hiking on a bee near the same queen.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

I see they raised the forecasted low for tonight by two degrees to 7 from 5.  Good. 

I have eight more hives in that row to do, then the yard of 20 splits at Elliotts' and I'm done.

The scale had put on a few pounds by 3:42 this afternoon.  Eight, in fact, since 12:53 on Saturday.

I checked again at 7:37 and they had added another 5 lbs.  The flow is on.

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Monday August 16th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Just when it seemed we would have unbroken hot, sunny weather ahead, the forecast changed. Tomorrow looks to be cool and rainy.  At least the overnight temperatures look OK.  Forecasters have had a rough time this year.  Some blame this on unusual behaviour in the jet stream.

The above ten-day forecast from The Weather Channel is not too promising for beekeepers or farmers hoping to pick up their cut hay.  At least there is no frost in sight.  We know from history, though, that frost often comes with little warning. 

Looking at the two predictions above, one from Environment Canada and the other from The Weather Channel, it is obvious that they do not agree on the highs from Wednesday on.   The lows are not too different though.  It makes me wonder...

When I look at the radar weather and the satellite weather charts, an unbroken sunny day today is not as likely as it seems.  There are rain showers west of here and tracking this way, but I see they are scattered and breaking up as the sun rises.

Today I have to finish working through the bees, then I have tomorrow to get the last few chores done before I fly to LA on Wednesday.

I hear the spray plane again west of here this morning.

First off, I pressure-washed the extractor I borrowed last year so it is ready to go back.  I also washed the mower.  It is amazing how filthy it has gotten in just a few months.  That took a few hours, all told.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

I'm finished.  I did the last of the south group  (Success: 18/20) and then Elliotts' Home (Success: 8/16).  Out of eight, there were two duds in the former, and eight out of sixteen were no good in the second.  I occurs to me that there may have been a shortage of drones are the more remote yard accounting for the dismal performance.  It is also possible that this group came from the poor end of the yard.  As wee, the hay had been freshly cut there and not much was in sight when I moved the hives there.  Could that be it?  I figured there was lots of forage within a mile or two, but the home yard is within a mile and maybe the foragers drifted back.  If so, then why did they not do so in my south yard?

In the past, I've noticed that if splits lose foragers when they are first made and moved, they do not do well. It could as easily be the short-term loss of water carriers rather than pollen and nectar foragers which causes the serious set-back.  I don't know.

The hives at Elliotts' were typically plugged in their single broods and refusing or just beginning to go into the seconds to draw comb.

The seconds were mostly wood frames of seven(+) year old plastic foundation, some partially drawn and some undrawn.  I loosened the broods up, raising brood and inserting foundation, and gave some a third as well.  I sure hope the weather and the flow holds.  Some did start on the foundation, but for every good comb, there was one like at right.

I looked at the scale mid-afternoon and it read the same as last night.  I'm guessing it lost weight overnight as the bees distilled the nectar and then gained back up to where it had been.

After supper it is up three pounds again.  Not a tremendous flow, if you ask me, and I am expecting the bees to draw foundation.  I'm going to have to start cramming  the feed to them.  I have a drum or so of sucrose syrup my friends brought, c/w thymol (where did I put the rest of the thymol?) and the tank of HFCS from 2002.  I had it tested and some of it is decent feed, but none of it is winter quality.  For winter, we need nothing but the best: fresh, highly refined sucrose syrup.

I'm realizing now that I should have been feeding all summer.  A big tank of open feed in the quonset would have kept the comb building going.  I also like to feed pollen patties, but had run out.  I think this may have affected how well the colonies have developed this year and I haven't had time to get more in time to get them on the hives.  I suppose I can try feeding in the entrance, but I have one more day and I really need to get the accounting up to date before I go.

As they say, "at the end of the day", 82 hives remain of the 105 or so I had or thought I had.  That is around an 80% success rate.  If we consider the original (parent) hives to be a slam-dunk, then on the splits, the success is less.

I looked back over the season, and including the time I spend writing, I think I am just about as busy with 100 hives as I was with 4,500.  OK.  I know, that is a slight exaggeration

Did I say 100?  I am now down to 80.  That was predicted, but by winter, I'll be lucky to have 75.  And next spring?  Maybe 63? (75 x 85%). This has been an awful lot of work for middling results.  Of course I am doing it for fun, BUT...

I could blame it on a crappy year, but I'm on a learning curve, and the simple fact is that some things just did not work as well as planned.  Here are some reasons:

  • AFB took a bite out of last year's ending hive numbers since I had to eliminate several hives after a sudden breakdown.  Up to that point the bees seemed to be handling it.
  • Lesser, subclinical AFB symptoms and the associated burden on the hives continued into this spring. 
    (Lesson learned -- again.  Don't believe everything you read on BeeSource, or anywhere else for that matter).
  • Queen introduction problems in spring resulted in lost effort and poor results.  I knew cells are better and have had fabulous luck with walk-aways. 
    (How many times do I need to learn that lesson and stop believing what others say?)
  • Queens and cells later did not give the hoped-for results, and the season has been poor. 
    Walk-away splits seldom let me down.
  • I brought a lot of old comb back into use and that was a burden on the bees. 
    (But they don't like foundation any better).
  • Foundation is always a challenge for small hives and I gave them lots.  Some of it was old.  Freshly wax-coated is best, but one still needs to loosen the cluster and/or feed, feed, feed.
    (I knew that!)
  • I used standard-sized boxes and comb.  Possibly results would be better with smaller -- 6-frame or 5-frame equipment. 
    (I don't know).

For whatever reasons, I came nowhere near Mel Disselkoen's results.  I've been a skeptic, but maybe I should try it his way?  I think our season is shorter and that is a huge factor.  A few extra weeks of frost-free climate makes a huge difference.

When I say middling results, if I do have 63 hives next spring from this year's 25 and they are good doubles worth $300 each, then that is $11,400 gross profit.  From that comes the cost of the equipment ($50/hive = $1,900) and overhead ($0 -- everything is paid for). 

The remainder is return to labour, risk, and profit.  Roughly $10,000 return on about one month of work, 6 months of worrying, and several flights home to get the jobs done is acceptable, I suppose.

If, instead, I had run the 25 hives for honey and gotten 200 lbs per hive (I have never made 200 lbs) and sold it for $1.50, that would have been $7,500, and much less work in some ways. 

I might have even gotten some splits.  I would need to have because we typically lose about 30% of our original spring count by the following spring, so I'd be down to 16 hives the next year if I did not, so add $1,000 to costs for replacement packages or $2,500 for overwintered replacement hives.

I hate extracting.

In retrospect: I really do not like splitting frame-by-frame as I did this year.  I much prefer to split box-by-box.  The results, to me are more consistent.

Whether to add a cell or let them raise their own queen, I don't know.  The way i am thinking at present is that the ideal is to:

  • Reverse a week ahead of splitting to ensure young brood in each box.
  • Split doubles into two onto new stands close beside the original, with an empty brood chamber under each to make new doubles. (Omit the box under, where comb is to be drawn, since singles do it better).
  • Add a mature cell in a protector three days after splitting (to allow them to have their own back-up).
  • That's it!  Super as needed.

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Tuesday August 17th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

We had rain overnight and the forecast promises warm days until Friday.

So much for promises.  The day was cool and rainy.  We started the furnace. I spent the day in tidying and book work.  It is pretty well up to date now.

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Wednesday August 18th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Going by yesterday and comparing the forecast to the actual weather we got, I am wondering if I should even to bother look at the forecast.  I am starting to think that no one can guess the weather this year.

I was up at 3, and packing for my flight.  I like to have a few hours to wake up before the drive.  My flight is at 10:40, but I have heard horror stories about the security at YYC and how people there 3 hours early were missing flights in Calgary and Edmonton.  My last trip through YYC security on a domestic flight impressed me by how slow and fiddly they are.  Since I am flying to the US from Canada, I called Westjet to make sure that carry-on is back to normal and ask how far ahead to show up.  The woman I reached said two hours should be plenty and that they don't open the counter until 2-1/2 hours ahead.  We'll see. 

If all goes well, I should be in LA on the 410 by 2 PM.

I checked the scale hive on the way out of the yard and I see it is up again by 3 pounds. 

*     *     *     *     *     *    

Well, here I am at the gate, two hours early.  Customs and security was a breeze.  You never know.  I'm connected by YYC free wi-fi. What a horrible system.  It takes forever to get connected and then the time is limited unless you choose to sign up for things I don't want.

*     *     *     *     *     *    

I arrived at LAX on time, got my blue Yaris and drove to Laguna Beach.

Jon and the kids were home when I got there at three. I took the kids shopping, then swimming in the surf at the Alicio Creek beach and supper at Jack in the Box so he had time to clean the apartment without distractions.

Kalle is a good shopper. He had $20 and bought his Dad a lunch box for a present and two little toys for himself and came back with $11. Katrina had $26 and came back with about $2. She did get the thermos she needs and some other item.

Thursday August 19th 2010
August past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today is Jon's birthday.  He is at work, since he had a few days off this week already.  The kids and I are meeting him for supper at the San Diego Zoo, since his distance to the Zoo from work is the same as to home.

This jetting around is hard on me.  It taxes my mind and my memory.

It is not the travel that is taxing, but the sudden and drastic change of scene and activities each time.  I get very 'into' everywhere I go and the next leap is always very different.  I always hate to leave where I am and can never envision exactly what it will be like when I arrive at the destination.  When  I first arrive, I find have forgotten street names and minor details, but find my way around and find things with no problem, but after a day or two, it all comes back and is as if I had never left.  My wife calls this, "Turtle Recall".

In recent months, I have jumped from Swalwell to Sudbury to Florida to Burlington to Sudbury to Swalwell to Bellingham to Swalwell to Sudbury to Port Carling to Sudbury to Swalwell to Port Carling to Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury to Port Carling to Toronto to Port Carling to Sudbury to Swalwell to Los Angeles and Laguna Beach.  We're off to San Diego today.  If I were just travelling as a tourist, it would be one thing, but I have a piece of my life in many of these places.  Each of these venues is totally different and my role is recast each time I get off a plane.

I can see why most people only take one or two vacations a year.  One change of scene is enough for most people.  My motto?  "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing".

We drove to Oceanside and were on the beach when I discovered the kids had left their passes at home, as well as the lunch Katrina had made.  Kalle had We changed plans and called Jon.  Birthday supper is at home.  We picked up a cake and here we are, waiting.

Ellen weighed the hives at 5:22 and I see we have an increase in weight again.  Gain per hive since July 18: 33.5 lbs approx. 

Date July 11 July 18 Aug 4  Aug 12 Aug 14 Aug 15 2:24
Aug 16
5:22
Aug 19
Scale
Reading
46.5 31.5 63.5 99 Before
35.5 After
20 27.5 33 48
Change
(4 Hives)
0 -15 32 35.5 35.5 7.5 5.5 15
Change
Per Hive
  -4 8 9 9 2 1.5 4
Days Since
Last Weight
  7 17 8 2 1 1 3
Daily Change
Per Hive
  -1/2 1/2 1 4 2 1.5 1

One year ago, tomorrow, I set four hives on the scale and from there they put on 88 lbs each, average.  What will we see this year?  Place your bets.

Supper was delivered to our door by Domino's Pizza.  We designed the pizza online and it showed up a half-hour later.  We ate what we could and took the rest over to friends across the court and sat around for a few hours on the balcony.   There are many good things to be said about city living.

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