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Bees feeding from an open drum
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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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