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Brown text indicates personal ramblings that have little to do with bees and beekeeping.
Wednesday October 20th 2010
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I got home at about 3 AM. My Calgary flight arrived about 45 minutes late, even though we boarded pretty much on time. I don't know how that happened. I know we sat the gate refueling for a while, but it hadn't seemed to be an extra 45 minutes.
I'm catching up on things today and getting ready to drive out to Cranbrook tomorrow for the BCHPA meeting, where I will be a speaker on Saturday at the education session.
I went out to take a look at my hives today and I'm not impressed. Quite a few hives appear to have less than a box of bees. I don't know: maybe I've switched to more conservative bees and they have smaller clusters, but these clusters are smaller than I like to see. Many clusters are vertically situated through several boxes, so judging the strength is difficult as well. I notice some appear to have moved off their strips a bit.
They all looked strong a few weeks ago, so it looks to me as if I have some serious dwindling and will be lucky to have 50% wintering success. What is the cause? I'm not sure, but I did see high varroa levels in several when I checked, and that often causes an outbreak of virus problems. I did not see DWV or nosema when I checked, but I'm thinking now that should take a closer look. I may have to spend a day on them when I get home from BC.
I'm off to British Columbia to attend the BCHPA AGM in Cranbrook. I'm leaving around noon today for the five-hour trip.
I'm in Cranbrook today at the BCHPA meeting. I arrived last night in time for the social. The drive took me 6 hours. Somehow my GPS lied to me about the time. It had predicted a little under 5 hours. No matter, the drive through the mountains was most enjoyable.
Attendance looks good and it is great to see everyone again. Last time I spoke at this meeting was October 25th and 26th, 2002 and it was in Quesnel.
The business meeting went well. Is it my imagination, or have beekeepers and beekeeping organizations matured in the last decade or two? Maybe it is just me getting older and wiser, but I see a greater level of education and understanding in the meetings I attend. People express their conflicting opinions well and with consideration for others and the chairs manage the meetings deftly, walking the thin line between chaos and authoritarianism.
I get a very good feeling attending bee conventions these days. It was not always thus. (I haven't been to Saskatchewan for a while). Of course I have known beekeepers in each group for decades and these meetings are like a family reunion, but I get the feeling that even newcomers feel included.
The banquet went well, with the usual tomfoolery, but I left early to get some sleep and ponder my presentation tomorrow.
Having gone to bed early, I awoke at 2:30 and decided to go over my presentation. The last time I gave this one, it was in Iowa and that was a while ago. Things have changed a lot, and this is Canada, too. How much have things changed? I used to lecture on the subject of the Internet and now, I am sure many who attended could teach me some things about it.
At any rate, I looked it over. The presentation was largely slides of talking points and I rearranged them, changed the words, "State" to "Province" and reduced the US emphasis and added a few pictures.
There are guidelines that help ensure a good presentation and I try to remember a few. I tend to think I drone on a bit and would love to be taped some time so I can see myself. People seem to like my talks, though. That's what they come over to tell me, and I get asked back.
Here are a few tips I've received over the years and also learned from watching good speakers (and some pretty bad ones, too).
After I finished, word came that the last speaker was held up at the border and would be late. Could I fill in? I said, "sure", and got out another presentation and worked up a slide show, too. I was just beginning when he showed up and was able to take over the podium.
The meeting wrapped up just after four and although many were going for supper across the road, I decided to high-tail it for home. I haven't been there much lately and will be off again soon to Edmonton for the Alberta Beekeepers AGM. (Agenda at right. Click image to enlarge).
I got home at ten and was in bed shortly thereafter.
I'm glad I drove last night. At mid-morning, it is still foggy. I don't know how general the fog is, but driving could be awful.
I bought a new Fujifilm FinePix XP10 camera the other day. It is the same as my older one, but a newer model, with 5X zoom, instead of the 3X on the older one. I mostly bought it because it was only $168 at Wal-Mart and because the screen on the old one had gotten scuffed to the point where it was hard to see in daylight. I see it as low as $142 online in the US.
I immediately bought some LCD screen protectors package for $10/pkg, but found that the plastic fell off in my pocket pretty well immediately. I gave up on the useless protector and replaced it with common transparent packing tape which seems to work better and has stayed on. The price is right, too. I'll return the useless protectors for a refund.
I showed the camera off at the meeting during my talk and mentioned how it is honey-proof and washable, and has a macro setting. Quite a few people asked about it after the talk.
Two more months until Christmas!
We have a skiff of snow this morning and the days are getting short. Winter starts in less than two months, now.
I've been busy on BEE-L.
In the morning I spent some time dreaming about boats and looking them up on the Internet and looking into gas heat for our building.
In mid-afternoon, I decided to take Zippy for a walk, but made it as far as the hives and decided that I was not dressed for the weather.
I took a few pictures. At left is a drone chilled, but clinging to the hive and at left is bee activity in an auger hole entrance. Some hives seem strong, but others don't look too good. Not much I can do now. They are fed and wrapped and Apivar is in, now it is up to nature. I'll have to pull the Apivar in another three weeks -- November 17 -- but I think I may be moving some of the strips a bit, so that would add two weeks to that date, making it December 1st. What are we to do if we move some and not others?
"Do not handle more than 200 strips per person per day." I wonder how a commercial outfit would ever put in 24,000 strips if one person can only handle 200 strips a day. That is 100 hives or maybe 2-1/2 yards a day per person -- or 120 days for one person to complete the job. It would be time to take them out before half were put in. The label also does not specify if the 200 limit is for new or for used strips. I would assume there would be less risk from used strips, anyhow
On what is that based? Some regulations were made to be broken (*). What is it about handling the strips which makes that so urgent and immutable that it is placed on the label? Is it the fumes from opening the package? If the user stands back when opening packages and is wearing nitrile gloves -- which everyone with half a brain does -- where is the risk?
Further the Apivar label states: "This pest control product is to be used only in accordance with the directions on the label. It is an offence under the Pest Control Products Act to use this product in a way that is inconsistent with the directions on the label. The user assumes the risk to persons or property that arises from any such use of this product."
Wikipedia says, "On animals it (Amitraz) is used to control ticks, mites, lice and other animal pests. The United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies amitraz as Class III - slightly toxic. It cannot be used on horses, because it can cause irreversible gut stasis." (Whatever gut stasis is...). OK. Apparently the digestion comes to a halt, just the way it sounds. Hmmm.
From http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/11/3018.long: "Amitraz is an insecticide used to prevent tick and mite infestation (Hollingworth, 1976) and is in common use around the world. Amitraz is applied to cattle (McDougall and Lewis, 1984) and sheep in dip baths at concentrations of 0.025% (Eamens et al., 2001; Mekonnen, 2001), to dogs from collars impregnated with 0.025% amitraz, or by topical application in a bath of 0.05% amitraz (Paradis, 1999; Shaw and Foster, 2000; Elfassy et al., 2001), to pigs in sprays containing 12.5%, and to cotton and hops (Weichel and Nauen, 2003) by spraying 20% solutions of amitraz from aeroplanes and ground sprinklers. In addition, amitraz is used to control psylla infestations of pears (Gosselin et al., 1984; Schaub et al., 2002). Human exposure to amitraz occurs when diluting the concentrate obtained from the manufacturer, when applying the amitraz to crops or animals, and when working in amitraz-treated areas, for example pear orchards or cotton fields (US Environmental Protection Agency, 1996). To our knowledge, there are no controlled studies describing amitraz exposure in humans". (Emphasis added).
OK. Are we to believe these dogs take a bath by themselves and no human is getting just as wet??? Somebody never washed a dog, methinks. Not to mention kids petting and hugging and sleeping with dogs with flea collars on.
What planet are these folks on? Where does that arbitrary number come from? What conditions are assumed? No wonder PMRA and CAPA can't get no respect.
Why does thought this come up when I mention PFRA? Coincidence I expect. (Who is that at the door?)
At the BCHPA meeting, an opportunity came up to do some extension work in Cambodia setting up bee operations with/for the local people. I indicated some interest and also indicated that Ellen might be interested, too, so we are looking over the pros and cons.
Cambodia is a country only recently recovering from extreme turbulence. It is also a country where antibiotic resistant malaria has emerged, and there are many other things to consider -- drinking water, language, customs, land mines, snakes, insects, diseases, and who knows what? We have a lot of research to do. There are, apparently, though, already facilities and people working on other projects.
Here at home, we would be leaving a large home with coal-fired heat in the coldest season. The heating system requires daily attention in cold weather and there are only a few people who could service it if something went haywire.
So, Ellen and I drove to Calgary to look at gas heating options. We have gas into the building, so it is just a question of suitability and cost. We went to a number of gas fireplace stores and looked at options. The problem is that our peak hear demand is around 250,000 BTU and these units only rate at 44,000 max and at maximum efficiency, the actual heat output is about 38,000 BTU each. We could install gas furnaces, but that may take more time and money than we want to spend.
I'm now researching Cambodia and beekeeping. Seems there is a lot of info out there. For one thing, there are many types of bees.
I went out to look at my hives and see that they are even worse than I thought. I looked at the worst, of course and see that some have dwindled right down. I don't know if this is CCD or not, but they collapsed quickly. Well, I guess it serves me right for wasting time on BeeSource and believing (or trying to) the BS there. I also should have checked my own hives first when I was waiting to go inspecting. I assumed -- and that was my mistake -- that my loads would be the same as last year and the year before or lower due to the bad season. I also assumed that the supposedly superior stock I brought in would add protection. Obviously it did not. It is now clear that I should have checked mid-summer and/or spring, too. I'm spending too much time on other people's bees and not enough on my own.
The more I research Cambodia and the proposed bee project, the more I wonder. I've compiled quite a few articles and it seems that, at least in some parts, there is a well-established honey trade exploiting native bees. I wonder how promoting apis mellifera would go over with those folks. Not only that apis cerana is native there and all the bee pests which afflict it, including tropilaelaps are found there.
There are also warnings about border disputes with Thailand, albeit hundreds of miles form the proposed project. Add to that the various warnings about visiting Cambodia from the Canadian Government and one has to think. Of course a visit to The U.S. Government tourist advisory site about Canada makes one wonder if it is safe to go there, and we all know what Canadians think about the U.S., with its world-record incarceration rate and reportedly rampant crime.
I weighed a Swienty box and a BeeMax one and found that the Swienty weighs about an eighth pound more than the BeeMax. The Swienty weighs four pounds and the BeeMax weighs about 3-7/8. That suggests that the BeeMax density is a little less (~3%), but when I tapped each with a hammer to test impact resistance, the dents were similar.
Perhaps my assumption about density is off, though. When I measure wall thickness, I see that each has a slightly thicker end wall than side wall and that the BeeMax walls are very slightly thinner. For all intents and purposes, though, they are the same dimensions and completely interchangeable.
The Swienty box is white and 8 years old. The BeeMax is blue and brand new. I painted the latest batch of BeeMaxes with two coats of high quality oil-based paint. In retrospect, though, I am thinking that two coats of latex would have been as good and much cheaper. I se the oil paint scratches off easily where they are rubbed and the skunks have taken the paint off around the auger holes in places. I don't hear the same about latex, but if appearance is a big deal, then these may not be the best choice. they do dent and scratch much more easily than wood.
The BeeMax boxes, though, creak when picked up and I am quite sure that one with 90 pounds of honey in it would have to be handled with real care for fear of breakage. As it is, I have to handle heavy brood chambers with care.
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