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Bees feeding from an open drum

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

Wednesday September 1st 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

I was in bed sometime after midnight, but woken several times by Jon's cell phone which I was using as an alarm clock, then up at 3:30 for the one hour drive to the car rental and shuttle to LAX.  All went off like clockwork and I was airborne at 6:50, in Round Lake by 6 PM, and we were looking at some of Aaron's bees shortly thereafter.  I turned in at ten or so and slept 11 hours.  It is very warm here in Upper NY state, although there is talk of Hurricane Dean or some of the effects dropping by.

Ellen says we escaped the frost last night.

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Thursday September 2nd 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Aaron and I are headed up to the Adirondacks for some tubing on the rapids on the Sacandaga River near Hadley.

Discussion on BEE-L these days is excellent.

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Saturday September 4th 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

I have been a bit sporadic in keeping up this diary.  Travel has a way of disrupting a person's sense of time.  Flying from LA to NY offsets time by three hours, and when I haven't been sleeping 12 hrs, Aaron and I have been busy looking at his bees and visiting.  This has been a brief visit.  I fly out tomorrow at 4:05 PM and arrive home around 11 PM if all goes well.

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Sunday September 5th 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Aaron and I went out to look at some bees in the morning, then made a trip to Home Depot to look at blowers.  He bought a small battery operated unit to clear his mediums when there are a few stragglers.  He chose the Ryobi unit for $100. 

We'll see if it has enough power for the job.  For standard deeps and clingy bees a more powerful blower is needed, but for stragglers in supers left over escape boards or the few left when using abandonment, even a vacuum cleaner exhaust is sufficient.  At one time I pulled honey from 100 hives using a shop vac (the blowing end) and a generator.  I extracted the honey in the yard in a school bus and returned the supers immediately to the bees.

Here are his comments after trying it...

Anyway, the Ryobi is a nice toy, but won't be up to the task if the bees are holding on, or inclined to return. It was handy in clearing the stragglers from the escape boarded supers, and may have been a good tool at my sister's to clear the supers I left there to get dried out, but the charge was only good for the first yard (25 supers +-) and then it gave out after 3 supers at Daryl's.

Definitely need 2 battery packs, and even then I'm not sure it's a reliable tool.

From there we drove to ALB and at 4:05 I was airborne to YYZ on an 18 passenger turboprop.  After a short layover, I boarded a jet for YYC, caught a taxi to my car, then was home in bed shortly after eleven.

Here are some shots from what I observed in the past several days at Aaron's.  The first (at left) is a mouse guard that Aaron makes for hardware cloth and leaves on all the time.  He says they work very well. At right is a shot of bees being counted after a varroa test.  Aaron's bees tested high since the legal treatment options in the US are limited.  Although many commercial beekeepers have secret concoctions, hobbyists are pretty well dependant on proprietary formic treatments, and the availability of them is limited.

Next are shots of a stack of full supers after removal and waiting for the bees to abandon.  Since this is robbing season, escape boards are used to protect the honey. 

For each stack, there is an triangle-type (Quebec) escape board underneath and one on top.  You can see the bees leaving in a stream.  They can find their way out, but not their way back in.  Only a single triangle is really necessary for the bees to leave, but the double triangle provides insurance if the supers are left for a period of time.  Some bees are smart enough to find the holes and go in, but bees naturally follow the wall and follow around soft angles and this design steers any entering bees down along the outside channel and back outside the next entrance.

Below are shots of a solar wax melter.  It is a Mann Lake design and apparently over time the fiberglass sags and the newer models are made of different materials.  No matter, this one works very well.

 

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Monday September 6th 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

From the web reply form...

> Interesting to observe how Aaron uses the bee escapes. I've always only used one and only on top of the colonies. It appears from the photo as if the stack of supers are placed above a couple of empty hive bodies. I've never tried it this way. I always thought that the bees would clear faster when placed on top of colonies.  From this configuration he would not have to further disrupt the colonies when he picks up the honey supers. I guess he is confident that it will not rain with that second bee escape on top. I suppose the honey might be cooler using this method. I like the bee escape method because I can still harvest even in inclement weather. It is quiet and does not stink unlike other methods.

Yes.  He also has some stacks on hive stands where there are missing stacks.  The supers seem to be clearing very well since the bees are flying freely and actually would have abandoned if we were willing to wait.  We could not leave them open to the bees, however, since we could see a little robbing starting when the boxes emptied of bees.  If the bees had not been flying much, this setup would not work nearly as well since the bees would not know their way home as well.  In that case, placing the stack on hives would be more reliable.

Rain actually is not a big problem since very little water is likely to find its way down the centre hole.  The triangles deflect the water in most cases.  A little rain does not seem to affect the moisture much either, in my experience.

I looked into some of the hives and dug out my syrup pumps.  I washed out a 5-drum poly tank and discovered that it has a crack.  I taped the crack on the inside and think it shoul hold, but will have to research plastic welding.  I guess it got dropped on a cold day.  I can't recall.

Meijers came over for supper and brought a tote of syrup and I filled some drums and the bottom of the tank.  I plan to feed in hive and also open feed from drums.  Historically, I figured one drum per 20 hives, but this year I may double that.  I'm hoping to get some foundation drawn.  Tibor Szabo did some studies on that and it seems possible to draw quite a bit in September.  I think I should close the top entrance holes, though since bees draw comb much better in closed, dark spaces.

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Tuesday September 7th 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today I drive to Edmonton to pick up the van and supplies for my inspection duties.

I got to Edmonton around three and drove home, stopping at Lacombe to visit Jean and Chris for a while.  Chris had an extra cell phone, so now I have a phone again

The vehicle supplied is a Ford Flex.  It is smaller than a van, but similar in concept.  It is very comfortable and drives well.  Sirius satellite radio is built in.  The fuel economy it reports is similar to my older (and larger) vans.  I had expected that fuel economy would be improved by now.  I guess not.

I arrived home around nine and checked the drums of feed.  The one that they had started on was down to 1/4th from 3/4th this morning.  The others were almost untouched.  The difference?  The drum that was down has thymol added at about 1/2 g per gallon.

I see at least one skunk is still working the hives.  In fact, I don't really know how many skunks there are, but they are making a mess and the scat I see is full of bees.  I saw a dead skunk or two around and figured that was it, but apparently not.  However many there are, they have to go.  They make a mess in front of the hives, deplete the populations, make the bees angry and damage any supers they can get at by pulling out frames or reaching down in.  I bought a trap on the way north and more mouse poison, too.  If I get rid of the skunks, I'll have more mice.  I hadn't realized that the bars are still available.  I stocked up.

Wednesday September 8th 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today is dull and rainy.  I have a chance to get caught up on things and to prepare my plans for inspecting.  I see tomorrow is not promising either.  The weekend looks good, so maybe I'll work over the weekend if the beekeepers are available.

Actually, I wound up doing the books and paying bills.  I'm pretty well caught up now.

I also mixed up some thymol and added it to the syrup.  I found that I had energy for deskwork, but not too much for outside chores.  Jet lag?  I don't know.

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Thursday September 9th 2010
Septembers past: 2009,
2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999

Today was dull and depressing in the morning.  Things brightened up a bit in the afternoon and I went to town for gas and groceries.  I got the bookkeeping further organized and worked on plans for the inspection job.  The bees were robbing the drums a bit in late afternoon.  I see the skunks are still at work.  I'll have to figure out the trap and set it up.

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