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A slide from Pierre Giovenazzo's presentation on "Integrated Pest Management (IPM) with emphasis on monitoring against Varroa".

  means some control.  means good control.

and are the safe thresholds for one-day natural drops at that time of year

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Wednesday February 9th 2011
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I was tired last night and didn't post, but we had a lot of very interesting info.  We had an excellent presentation from Quebec as well as presentations from Ontario and Saskatchewan.  The SK test was entirely independent.  The experimenters bought all supplies without accepting donations from suppliers, and was not financed by NOD or any supplier.  The Ontario test was financed from an number of sources, including NOD, the supplier.

Ontario tested the MAQS strips against untreated hives only, but SK tested them against the simple, common, cheap, legal methods Canadian beekeepers use to apply formic.  I am including photos of some important slides from Geoff's (Saskatchewan {SK}) presentation below.

Slides from the Saskatchewan Study

Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

(It has been long known that for varroa control, 5 weekly treatments with
the Dri-loc 50s are required.  This test used 3, and thus the 69% result)

(Later... I am now informed that Medhat claims ~90% efficacy with only three treatments ten days apart. 
Geoff got about 70% here.  the thing is: these acids and oils are quite variable).

Geoff tested 50% formic, above, because some beekeepers have been following the Amrine method and wondered if the concentration would be effective.  The SK tests were in double brood chambers

Although I was not very impressed by the Ontario work, there was one thing that I found interesting (Below).  I went to the OBA site on the chance that a report of the project might be there, but if it is, I cannot find it.

NOD has made a huge big deal about the ability of their MAQS strips to kill varroa under cappings in sealed brood.  AFAIK, this is not unique to MAQS, and this property has been claimed for many years for various formic treatments. How important this effect is, I do not know.  The idea is that formic kills the sole male mite in each cell, so any daughter mites are sterile and cannot reproduce.

Although they were looking at the MAQS effects, the Ontario Bee Girls also counted the dead mites in the control hives for comparison.  Although the MAQS hives were of interest to them, the fascinating thing to me was the control hives.

Notice how many of the varroa are dead in the controls.  Something is killing varroa in non-treated hives.  What is it?  Virus?  Bacteria?  Some natural control?  This is big, and may reflect on something I've been wondering about.  (Click images to enlarge).

I treated with Tylosin this year and had a huge unexpected varroa bloom.  Did I kill whatever was suppressing the varroa with the antibiotic?  Proving that one way or the other should be an easy project for some grad student.

At any rate, the obvious deficiency in the Ontario work was the lack of a generic formic treatment for comparison to verify of the MAQS strips are unique in the killing of mites under cappings, although the Mite Away II were used in the second trial.  Apparently there were some problems with the interpretation of the second trial though.

The Ontario group found the strips to be effective while the SK test found them lacking.  Near the end of the SK test, NOD informed the experimenters that the samples they had received and which were supposed to be the same as the product NOD intends to market were not, but were a test batch with a different concentration.  I don't think the SK guys were favorably impressed.

More on the meeting further down...

The Meijers and I drove out to Beaver Plastics and talked to Paul about the possibility of making Swienty-style expanded polystyrene boxes and it looks feasible.

These boxes are one-piece and also slightly heavier than the BeeMax boxes which gave me so much trouble this summer.  Write me if you are interested in getting some. The white one in the foreground is the type we are considering.  The example here is eight years old and has not been painted.

Meijers stayed for a factory tour and I went ahead, to Jean & Chris' for supper and for the night.  I have promised Mckenzie that tomorrow, we will ski.

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Thursday February 10th 2011
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Well, this morning I wrote an entry and when it came time to save it, the software froze.  I thought I had saved some of it, but apparently not, so the weather shown is for tonight, not today. 

Today was warm, above freezing, and Mckenzie and I went skiing at Canyon.  The skiing was excellent and at seven, she is a good companion.  We bombed the Powderhorn and had an all round good time.  The snow was perfect and I remembered back 30 years to when Jon and I were on the ski patrol there.

Back to the meeting; there is much to report. (There are more slides further down, after the rant which follows)

This year, we had an all-Canadian line-up for "Beekeeping for the Future", as the IPM Workshop is titled. Usually we have speakers from Europe and/or the US.

The speakers this time were all excellent -- at least until we got down to the end.  I was particularly impressed by the Quebec presentations, and Saskatchewan did well, too.

As for the end of the second day, I had suggested at the Alberta Beekeepers AGM in November, that since quite a few beekeepers are reluctant to register under the CFIA and others who are registered are not happy, that we get CFIA people down for a candid discussion with beekeepers as to the good and bad points of honey house inspection as it is happening now, and ways to improve participation by beekeepers.

I had invited CFIA for a discussion once before, back in 1986 (I think) after we managed to stand up to and hold off unreasonable and drastic changes in regulations suggested by CFIA.  During the process, I had had constructive personal discussions with the CFIA department head  at the time, so impressed by his candor and his understanding of the various issues, I had arranged to include him on the AGM agenda.  He had a fairly decent slot in the programme to give a presentation and to discuss issues.  He came and gave a talk alright, but all he talked about was the organizational structure of CFIA. I realized right away I had been had.  He was months from retirement and he was not going to say anything at all, and also not leave time for beekeepers to say much either.

We were taken again this time in exactly the same way. The first speaker, a young lady, gave a good short and to the point presentation, then the geezer got up and dragged on far past his time limit explaining the intricacies of filling in forms and astounding the audience with his apparent lack of understanding of what was expected.  I personally left and did not even stay for Medhat's talk which followed.

I daresay that half the people in the room had already been through that paper process and the other half were intending to put off that indignity as long as possible. What were were expecting was to discuss the problems beekeepers have with CFIA inspections they way they are currently done, how CFIA dwells on insignificant matters and misses the important issues, but that never happened.  All this guy did was convince the assemblage that CFIA is insensitive and uncomprehending.  I was flabbergasted.  They got me twice!

Last time I had an inspection, it was years ago when we were registered and producing honey.  The inspectors arrived one day, parked in the middle of the driveway so no one could come or go, put on lab coats, hairnets and hard hats, and acted as if they were doing a drug bust.  It was a joke and made them look like clowns.  They raved on about cross-contamination, since their training taught them that insects should not contact food <laugh here>.  They also have problems with food being in contact with wood.  What are beehives and frames made from?  Of course they have to give a warning about something every time they visit and they decided that they did not like the drums we were filling and obsessed about paint chips.  Frankly, I do not like drums for honey either, but that is how things are done, and these drums are what the Co-op provided and the honey was going to the Co-op to be heated and filtered.  The paint in question was the very same paint that lined the drums.  Go figure.  Anyhow, we dropped the registration before I killed anyone.  We were shipping within the Province anyhow and the registration was voluntary.

We need CFIA and there are some good people at CFIA, but I think the culture turns them bad.  CFIA inspectors have to look at food plants and guess what will go wrong next.  In something like a honey plant, where there are few hazards and almost no history of problems, they have nothing substantive to look for, they pick on little things and make sure they harass the operators so that if something does go wrong, they can say they gave warnings.  It is a full employment for food inspector project.  No matter that it is useless burden on the producers and sadly does not deal with the real concerns of the industry in anything approaching an efficient way.

An example of the type of witch hunt CFIA can get onto: It was discovered some years back that there were low levels of lead found in some honey.  Immediately, galvanized equipment was fingered as a scapegoat and the lead solder in some seams suspected.

The matter was examined but nobody ever came clean afterwards and admitted that the lead was found to be environmental, from the flowers, and maybe from nearby traffic or industry -- or the ground.  Beekeepers were pressured to replace perfectly good machines for no benefit to anyone.  Nobody bothered either to acknowledge that any honey that contacts the solder in a seam is likely to stay right there as a surface coating until the next washdown, then go down the drain with the wash water!  Yet CFIA acts as if they discovered a real threat and this guy even brought that up in his monologue.  We need inspection, but we sure need something better than this.

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Friday February 11th 2011
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I drove our 1998 Toyota van to Edmonton and back.  It is still a good machine.  We have driven it for 6-2/3 years now and average around 28 MPG (10litres/100km).  At an original cost of $11,000 and a total maintenance of about $700 for tires thus far, plus some oil changes, it has been a very good value.

I see we have some warm days coming up.  I suppose we'll lose a lot of snow.  We're past the winter halfway mark.  That occurred on Feb 2nd, Groundhog Day.  A month from now, people will be opening hives and feeding syrup and patties.  For those who can wait, and not worry about starvation, I really think we are better to leave them alone as long as we can.  I'm not worried about starvation, but I am thinking I'll lose as much as 2/3rd of my hives, judging by what I saw last fall.

Back to the Edmonton meeting: I was pleasantly surprised to hear Pierre Giovenazzo speak on "Integrated Pest Management (IPM) with emphasis on monitoring against Varroa".  Quebec has only 36,000 hives and I had pretty well written it off as a player on the Canadian scene, except for Jean-Pierre Chapleau's work which I consider important, but this fellow convinced me that Quebec is very much in the game.  For one thing, he believes that natural mite drop is a valid monitoring method and provides convincing proof.  Many have discounted the method, but it was the only method I used when we were running thousands of hives and we never lost hives to varroa at that time.

Pierre is a dynamic speaker with plenty of unique content.  Anyone looking for a speaker for a meeting should look him up. 

Here are few of his slides, which are pretty much self-explanatory:

Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

Examination of the correlation of natural mite drop
and other assay methods to total mites

Correlation between spring
mite counts and hive production

An examination of various methods and timings.
Measurement of effects on colonies, mite control and production.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

  means some control.  means good control.

and  are the upper thresholds for one-day natural drops at that time of year

As well as confirming my belief that natural mite drop is one of the best methods of mite monitoring, he also indicated that using oxalic drizzle multiple times in the early season does not seem to harm colonies, that mid-summer, the mites are in the brood and oxalic does not do much, and that multiple treatments in the fall are harmful.  I guess one reason I really enjoyed this fellow was that his presentation was well paced and that he confirmed what I have come to believe, but which is contrary to what others have reported.

Although I do have quite a few slides from the Ontario presentation, I have not yet put them here because I am quite uncertain what the assumptions were, how the data were handled, and exactly what the product was that was being tested.   Apparently there are more than one?

On BEE-L, Dave Tharle wrote : As you know, I didn't attend the Edmonton presentations this year.  I have spoken to two individuals since though, to get a bit of a recap.  Both indicated that there were two studies in Ontario as well as the Saskatchewan research.  The first one in Ontario went well, but the second not so good.  As the results from the 2nd one were being reviewed, they were advised they had been shipped the wrong product.

Both attendees understand that Geoff Wilson (Sask) then made a point of asking about his strips and was assured they were good. When he reported his results then he advised he also had received the wrong product.

Over the years, we've heard lots of reasons from NOD as to how we the beekeepers have screwed up using their products, so at least now they taking a little credit.

To me, this sort of screw-up is unbelievable.   First, Mite Away II was sold to us as being the solution, with cartoon ads bragging about its efficacy, then it was withdrawn from the market.  The Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) were to replace them, but then there was a long delay due apparently to production problems.  In the meantime, researchers were encouraged to try them out and some did.  Some gave positive reviews.  Some who didn't are told they were sold or given the wrong formulation.   I don't know what I can believe, but I do know I believe that I'll avoid them until others have established a track record for them.

I started to put up some of the slides from the ON presentation, but they are not self-explanatory, have no indications of how they were determined and no reference points.  Some seem to make no sense at all, so I am very reluctant to offer them here.  If I do, you are on your own.  I can't make any sense of them.

They also did some tests of an idea Ernesto de Guzman came up with using a mixture of thymol and icing sugar on newspaper which seemed more straightforward and which compared the mixture of thymol and icing sugar to Apilife VAR.  I understand that Ursula of Medivet financed the trial. 

I asked what the mixture was and was told that they can't say because it is proprietary.  That surprised me since I thought that this has been discussed before and is no secret.

I found this work more understandable than the MAQS test, but there was one slide which Janet thought might be incorrect, so I left it out.  The treatment is pictured on the first slide.  Unfortunately, they chose a busy background for their slides and that makes them harder to read, but I think they are clear enough for our purposes.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

I don't understand ascribing efficacy to the untreated control, rather than using it as the zero base, but that is what they did.  They apparently observed a decline in mite numbers in the sugar control which just had sugar sitting on a piece of newspaper on the top bars.  That efficacy number was about 50% in one of the two replications, and from the appearances of the data I suggested they could have just used twice as much sugar and left off the thymol.

They did not say which newspaper they used, or test newspaper alone, since it seems to have been common to all treatments, and if we assume that sugar is inert for these purposes, can we assume the same of paper with ink of unknown origin on it?  Not me.

I was not comfortable with how they presented their work in any of their presentations and was always left wondering.  The problem is that if I am left wondering about one thing, I am left wondering about it all.

Dr. Rob Currie gave two presentations as well, but he delivered rapid-fire lectures and lost me in wonder early on.  He has done a lot of formic work and also done work with wintering and HFCS which I have found very useful in the past.  Previously, he has gone more slowly and taken questions, but seemed short of time here in Edmonton.

Maybe it is just me, but I like slow, clear, carefully spelled out talks with no internal contradictions.  In Rob's first talk, I got hung up when two successive slides obviously showed very different formic treatments or timing as comparisons to something else, but somehow that discrepancy was unimportant.  When something like that happens, I get distracted thinking about it.

I have learned much of what I know about some of these matters from Rob's previous talks and the work his students have done, but I found that he covered far too much ground for me and went into matters which at this point are very fascinating and answer important theoretical questions -- but seem to have no practical application.

I spent far too much time reporting on all this material from the meeting so I hope people find it useful.  I did.

Questions and comments?  Go here
Feel free to start a new topic.

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Saturday February 12th 2011
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We are having a Chinook and the snow is melting fast.  I decided to walk over to take a look at the bees.  I was expecting to see a lot of loss, but when I got here and looked around, I could see the loss is pretty well total.  I had noticed some collapse in the fall and dwindling, but hoped some would survive.  Apparently not.  There are a few small clusters, but they won't survive.  If there were any decent hives there, the snow in the yard would be yellow today.  There are no dead bees on the snow and no yellow.

What is the cause?  I don't know, but I did see high varroa levels when I got around to checking and did not check or treat for nosema.  I'm assuming that the virus loads got too high, and maybe there was a nosema problem, too. 

This goes to prove that Medhat is right about losses.  It also goes to show that I should be checking my own bees, when I have them, and maybe spending less time on others'.  I grew from 3 hives to 100 over several summers and found the workload was getting pretty heavy.  This is the normal way things go.  We expand until we can't manage the bees we have, I guess.

At any rate, that changes my plans a bit.  For one thing, unless I decide to take a chance and buy bees, I'll have the spring and summer off.

If nothing else, it goes to show that all the management and treatments I did faithfully when I was a commercial beekeeper paid off.  Going without treatments is risky.  It is normal to lose most of a yard and none of another, so it is hard to draw any conclusions from this at this point, other than it pays to take precautions.

>...it is not as simple as concentration. There is additional chemistry
>and a physical barrier involved. The formic chemically reacts in the inert
>gel to reach an equilibrium between the acid and the formate ester.

Can you be more specific about how that works? We have heard a number of divergent things from a number of people who have had first-hand experience with the product, and the reviews vary from raves to concern. Additionally, it seems that there have been a number of  different formulations released for testing without disclosure of that  fact at the time. Do you know for sure what you were testing?

> Then the critical wrapper, which adds greatly to the cost, slows the 
> diffusion of the formic vapors out of the strip.

That is also true of the Dri-loc 50 pads as well, except for the cost part. There a number of ways of adjusting release rate.

Speaking of cost, do you know what the cost will be?

>I hesitate to suggest handling methods, but due to the slow release of
>formic across the wrapper, I will say that the strips are extremely safe to
>handle! They are nothing like Allen's mite wipe pads or the Mite Away II

That is a good aspect, I suppose, and may be important to some. On the  other hand, an awful lot of formic is dispensed every year in Canada  without reports of accidents. Personally, I think gasoline is more dangerous, yet untrained personnel and children are permitted to handle gasoline.

>I strongly suggest that those on the list refrain from judging the MAQS
>until they have actually tried them!

Where did that come from? This is BEE-L and we examine whatever information we can get and where it comes from without prejudice.

We have reports from independent reporters and those who are influenced by the manufacturer one way or another. We have fact, and we have conjecture. Some may pre-judge, but most of us are merely trying to ascertain if the product is really all that different, and different enough to justify the cost, whatever it turns out to be, and what the effect on hives and production might be.

Some have had experience with previous products which were hyped as special and effective, but which turned out to be less than effective, and harmful to bees and brood in addition.

There seems to be a discrepancy between the opinions of the two. In the interest of full disclosure, which are you? Independent, or on retainer?

In Canada, One of our friends has selflessly shouldered the cost of registering formic acid as it has been used by beekeepers over the years on a temporary permit, so we are not in the position where we have to use MAQS or nothing. We are also aware that a manufacturer of formic treatments tried hard to get our freedom to use formic in this way revoked in favour of an expensive commercial product of questionable efficacy, using the safety argument and we had to fight for our rights. Fortunately, our apiarists stood up for us.

We understand that US beekeepers have to love anything anyone gets past the ponderous and fragmented regulatory system, but up here, any  commercial formic product is going to need to be something really special to  attract much interest, since we already have cheap, safe, legal and adjustable formic treatments readily available to us.

We hope this product turns out to work well for you since it seems you have no other legal choice.

Bill Ruzicka chimed in today at BEE-L

Bill has done a lot of work with formic and his ideas are worth examining:

"THERE is absolutely no reason to kill brood to obtain good to complete
control of WAROA.

"65% formic acid on its own does not have any bad effects. They all results of application methods,

"And wrong timing. HOW TO GET TO ZERO MITES reed: (This Page)

Bill Ruzicka

Bill's Honey Farm - Home of the MiteGone Formic Acid Treatment

2910 Glenmore Road North
Kelowna, British Columbia,
V1V 2B6
Tel/Fax: 1-250-762-8156
(the best way to reach me is by phone Pacific Time)
Email: billruzicka@mitegone.com
(include your phone number so I can call you back)
Website: www.mitegone.com

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Sunday February 13th 2011
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I've been in the market for a vehicle since I damaged the Mercury. 

I could repair it to good condition for about $3,000, but it is a 1993 model and getting obsolete.  I think that there have been significant advancements since then, besides, I like vans for their flexibility.  I'll probably just give it away.  MY wife tells me that I should not waste time on it.

I test-drove several new and nearly new Dodge and Chrysler vans recently, and like the 2011 vans better than the 2010 and earlier units due to a change of design and a new suspension as well as the new softer interior.  I had a 2009 Grand Caravan for inspecting last year and liked it well enough, though.  Both the 2011 and recent models are good, but when I look at the price, I see that I can buy at least five and maybe six five-year-old premium vans for the price of one top of the line new unit or five for the price of a 2010.  Even allowing for repairs, I can see the advantage of buying older vehicles.  I pencil it out periodically and always see the cost is half or less, over the life of the unit.

I can afford a new van, but it would make me miserable.  The first dent or scratch would hurt and I would be obsessively careful with it.  An older unit already has some scuffs and as long as it is presentable, I don't care nearly as much.  Besides, I like to be frugal.  Having a little money in reserve and knowing I can buy what I like gives me much more pleasure than spending it.  I have not bought a new vehicle since 1967, and I have been through quite a few since then, including a fleet of trucks.

So, I have checked the ads and am off to Calgary to, hopefully, buy a van today.  We'll see.  I have several lined up, all private sales, since I can meet the owner and also save the tax.  On a $5,000 vehicle 5% is only $250, but $250 is $250.  Now that I look at that number I really wonder, since buying private means extra legwork and some slight risk.  Hmmm.  Maybe I'll give dealers a second look.

Perhaps, in five years, I'll buy that fully loaded 2011 model for $6,000 or so.  That's how it works.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

We drove to Calgary and looked at the vans I had found on Kijiji.  None were what we wanted, so I used "Places" on the Galaxy Tab to find nearby dealers.  The first one we found seemed just fine, but did not have any Grand Caravans.  He said he could get us what we want and his price sounded fine, so we will wait and see what he emails us.  On the way back home, we stopped to get an oil change and also to look at vehicles at the dealership in Airdrie.  Their prices are high.

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Monday February 14th 2011
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    Valentines Day      

Mckenzie phoned last night and she wants to go skiing Friday.  Finally, I have an eager ski partner.  Canyon is our destination, but we have lost a lot of snow here on the prairie in the past few days of warm winds.  Two more warm days may finish off their base.  We'll see.  When I look at the weather forecast, the high Friday is predicted as minus 13.  That is a bit on the cold side for good skiing.

It is an hour further for us to go up to the mountains.  From my place, Canyon is an hour and twenty minutes.  The trip is mostly pavement with 20 miles of gravel roads.   Nakiska is two hours and ten minutes by pavement.  The difference is hardly much considering the huge difference in terrain and conditions, but from Lacombe, where they live, Canyon is close-by and the mountains are much further than from here.

I ordered 10 hives from a beekeeper who is selling off some hives in BC, so I have to figure out how to pick them up.  I figure I can put them in a van and pull a trailer, but we will see how that works out.  I've been meaning to buy one of those little 4'x8', 2,000 lb trailers for some time now and my wife has always talked me out of it.  We do have a little one, about 3'x4' inside, but that is too small, methinks.

"Each hive will include two deeps, bottom board, vented inner cover and outer cover. Also included separately are two medium drawn honey supers. These hives will be strong enough to split in time for dandelion bloom. They are last years late queens/nucs that were hived out last fall. These queens have never been in production.

How many doubles will fit in a van, I wonder?  If a 4'x8' sheet of plywood fits with room to spare on the sides, then, assuming the overhang on the floors is 4": 3 hives should fit across (16-1/2"x3) and 4 front to back (24"x4), giving 12.  Carrying inside the van could result in overheating and smothering if the hives are strong, so hauling open in the trailer at night would be preferable IMO.

What will I do with the hives?  I plan to split each into about four and build back up. 

I wonder about the equipment I have on hand, though.  Is it contaminated with a virus or spores?  Did the bees somehow get poisoned? 

Although the hives seemed to be just fine until the end of the season, with the exception of the end hive that never did well and dwindled, I wonder if the feed was somehow bad.  I fed a mixture of HFCS and sucrose and also fed thymol for the first time, and although I doubt that did harm, I really do not know.  My friends did the same, though, in some yards, so we'll see how they do.

Once again, I did the beekeeper thing: I did the same new things to all my hives, not just a few.  Duh!

Joe and Oene came over for supper and we had a good evening talking about bees and other things.

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Tuesday February 15th 2011
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Seems that the celebration about getting our permissions for formic use established permanently may be premature.  Medhat now says we should know in March.  Is there anything we can do?  I don't know.  Apparently, although one of our suppliers has supported and financed the effort, another has made the process difficult.  Maybe we made a mistake relying on commercial interests.  I am sure an application from the industry itself would be more effective and seem less biased.  Once again, The Canadian Honey council has dropped the ball.   We could have easily raised the required funds from commercial beekeepers.  I am sure I could raise the $20,000 or so with less than ten phone calls.  Maybe we need to start a salvage operation ASAP.  Comment, please, in the Honey Bee World Fo

I've been tired this last week and so has Ellen.  Today, I am feeling much more energetic.

I decided I have all I can stand of Windows Live Mail and downloaded Thunderbird again.  I had trouble previously importing my old email from WLM and gave up,  but today I finally figured out how to import from WLM.  I may write it up later, but I need to get outside while the weather is nice.  Later today it will get cold again.

I went out and measured up the forklift for a new gear shift linkage.  After taking a beak, I came up with a good design and found that I have most of what I need handy, so set to work.  I'll finish when I have chance, since Chris called and said that Jean has to take it easy until the baby comes and Ellen is going up tomorrow.  I'll probably go, too, but I'll have to drive back and forth if she stays long since we have the furnace to mind and animals to care for.

I have decide that I like Thunderbird now.  It takes some getting used to, but it now works quite well.  I'm hoping to import more of my really old email, like from the nineties.

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Wednesday February 16th 2011
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How to import Windows Live Mail Email from Windows Live Mail Desktop into Thunderbird: Step by Step

  1. Download and install Thunderbird. The standard installation options are OK.

  2. Download ImportExportTools. This an add-on to import non-standard mailboxes like those used by Windows Live Mail.  Remember where you save it on your computer.

  3. In Thunderbird, go to the Tools menu and select Add-ons

  4. Click Install at the bottom and browse to the ImportExportTools file you downloaded and click on it to install it.

  5. Restart Thunderbird, then go to the Tools menu and select Add-ons

  6. Find ImportExportTools in the list and change any options you may wish to change then restart if required.  The standard settings should be OK.

  7. In Thunderbird, go to the Tools menu and select ImportExport Tools and then move to the action you wish to do.  See thumbnail at right.

If you know where the files are, and what you want, then enter the location into the box and import the files you wish to keep in Thunderbird, and skip over the next part which helps find the files.

If you do not know where your Windows Live Mail emails are stored, go into Windows Live Mail and find them by clicking the dropdown menu (down arrow) in the little rectangle at upper left and

  • Click Options

  • Click Mail

  • Click  the Advanced tab. 

  • Click the Maintenance button and then

  • Click the Store Folder button

  • Click in the window saying Your personal message store is located in... to select the contents and copy the address.  That is where you email is stored by WLM.

  • Return to Thunderbird and pick up where you left off at step #7.

Import and indexing may take a long time (a half-hour) depending on the amount of old email.

You may wish to experiment, especially if you intend to import old email from many sources and some may be redundant).  in that case be aware that your original import may need to be deleted and redone several times until you get what you want.  If you plan to just import from one source, the process should be quite straightforward.

If this does not find the files, or you have other email stores you wish to add to Thunderbird, the download Everything, a search engine which will find anything on your hard drive and search for .eml or .mbx files.

There are add-ons for thunderbird which will remove duplicates.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I drove Ellen to Lacombe, then did some shopping there since I needed some supplies for finishing the shifter on the forklift.  We then had supper and I drove home.  The roads were quite good, but there was blowing snow in spots.  We took the back roads to avoid traffic.

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Thursday February 17th 2011
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... I wonder if I could share some info with you with respect to the Dodge Grand Caravan.

We have a 2008 with the six speed trans, and 3.8l v-6. We really like it. I feel they have put a lot of thought into the interior especially when comparing them to the earlier rounder models, 06 and less I think. We used to rent them often so we knew that we wanted a 07 or newer, due to the improvements made.

I really like the 6 speed over the 4 especially since we tow a small cargo trailer with it from time to time. Dodge does not recommend towing with the 4 speed. It is good on gas, 10.5l./100kms, and quite peppy when it needs to be.

In 07/08 however, they had serious trouble with the 6 speed trans. In fact we had to wait close to two weeks for a new one on warranty at 30 000 kms. as they were back ordered 260 units at the time.

These two years are really hard on brakes too. We have just replaced them for the second time, with this time replacing the rear calipers as they were seizing up at 130 000 kms. The rotors need to be replaced as well but I think that I will run them one more time.

So I thought that I might recommend to you, that an 09 and on might be better as these issues will likely have been addressed. And I see now that they have discontinued the 3.8l. and now offer the 4l. that used to only be available in the more luxurious Chrysler Town and Country. Also it has 240 hp compared to the 3.8l. at 180hp.

One last note is that ALL the seats fold into the the floor. I know that the Honda and Toyota are better build vans, but their middle seats only fold against the front seats using up valuable cargo space. And when the seats are in the floor of the caravan, the floor is virtually flat, whereas the others have a little curb in the middle of the van. You can put a full sheets of plywood in my van and the doors close.

When we do our little trade shows, I sleep in the back on my foamy. Even in Edmonton at -28C. I leave the engine idle and put the heat on low and sleep very well. About $7 in gas for eight hours sleep. Then into the husky for a $7 shower and I am ready for work!

Hope this helps, Really enjoy your articles,


Customizing Thunderbird can take a while, but so far, it is worth it.  I am, at this point, very glad to be rid of Window Live mail.  Microsoft had a good thing with MSN messenger, but they morphed it into Windows Live messenger and began sharing information people do not want shared.  I have abandoned WLM as much as possible and when TB proves to be totally set up, I'll uninstall most of WL.

*    *    *    *    *    *  

It's minus twenty five again this morning, so I am home caring for the furnace and the animals.  Jean and Chris are off to Edmonton for a doctor's appointment, so I expect to have some better idea today how the next few days will go.  Ellen is holding the fort in Lacombe.

*    *    *    *    *    *  

I received the letter at left in my diary feedback and it has given me something to think about.

I had decided that anything 2005 and newer would be fine, but that whatever I bought would have to have Stow-and-Go and a power driver's seat -- at minimum.  There are a few other features I would like, too.  I figured $7,000 +/- would cover it just fine.  This message made me think it through all over again.

What I would really like best is the 2011 Chrysler Town and Country with all the bells and whistles.  That would total somewhere close to $50,000.  I could step down a bit, but that would take me to the 2010 models and I am still looking at around $20-$30,000 and the 2011 units are quite improved over the 2010 and earlier vehicles.  Also the 2010s tend to have the 3.3 engine and 4-speeds.

Since I have a vehicle in Ontario and rent often when travelling and am not home a lot of the time, spending big money makes little sense. 

Ellen would like a newer van, but her 1998 Toyota Sienna is in perfect condition and looks like new.  I've been driving it and my only complaints are that the steering pulls with the road crown and or wind ,and it lacks a power tilt driver's seat.  I like to change positions during long trips and tip it back a bit now and then.  As for the pull in the steering, when we bought it, I took it to the alignment shop, expecting they would just diminish the caster, but was told that in Toyotas it is not adjustable.  I also like a van with seats in it, but Ellen likes them out since she hauls paintings from time to time and they are heavy to lug in and out.  With the seats out, the van rides nose-down and the lights are aimed low.  Road noise also would be absorbed by the upholstery.

We are still concerned about the expiry of Note to CAPCO C94-05  for the use of formic acid.  Hopefully it will continue to be permitted, but the deadline is approaching.

  • Formic works well for varroa and tracheal mite control and can be used when other, less biologically safe chemicals cannot.  There is almost zero risk of contamination of the honey and no risk of contaminating the combs.

  • The industry is now well educated in formic's use.

  • Formic has proven safe in handling over many years in many varied situations.

  • Formic acid is recommended by Provincial Apiarists in varying treatment regimes and application methods.

  • Beehives vary in size and design and any one commercial product cannot address the various special situations that arise when  treating full size hives, nucleus hives, splits and mating nucs.

  • Seasonal and microclimate conditions require differing dosing and timing.  As a result of diverse climates and differing management differences between operations and regions Provincial Apiarists are currently able to prescribe specific methods, amounts and timing of treatments in response to local conditions and the results of monitoring in accordance with IPM principles.

  • Commercial formic acid products tend to be one-size-fits-all and are not very adaptable.

  • Commercial formulations using formic acid have previously been brought to market with initial good reports and enthusiastic advertising, then proven wanting in practice and withdrawn, leaving beekeepers with dead or damaged colonies.

  • The current proposed commercial product being introduced now is less vulnerable to weather changes than the previous effort by that firm, but is still not as flexible as beekeeper-designed and applied formic treatments.

  • It has received mixed reviews by a number of researchers.

  • The high cost and transport costs of commercial products encourage clandestine use of non-approved products and methods and lack of disclosure by beekeepers.

  • Commercial products will have to demonstrate their advantages over time in direct competition with the current methods.  If they cannot, then nothing is lost.

  • There is a place for commercial formulations and products requiring fewer precautions in handling, especially for small and hobby operations, but they do not fill needs of commercial beekeepers.

  • If permissions for formic acid which have been long-standing now are withdrawn, there will be a large cost to the industry that will not be mitigated by the approval of a commercial product since commercial products have proven not to be satisfactory alternatives, but merely complementary.

I spent the entire day at the keyboard.  First I had to get Thunderbird flying right, then I set up a website for the family reunion my brother and I plan to host this summer.  Those jobs  took a while.  Actually what took most of the time was finding family emails and entering them into the contacts list.

It has been minus twenty-five or colder outside all day.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

As I sit here, now, at 8:30 PM, I am waiting for word as to Jean's condition.  She went to the hospital at eleven last night and is scheduled for a c-section right about now.  Ellen is at Jean's place taking care of McKenzie and the cats.

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Friday February 18th 2011
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It's minus twenty-four outside and we have another two cold days coming according to the forecast. Actually, the next week looks chilly but we can expect some snow Wednesday.  Powder season is underway.  It's too bad the powder always is accompanied by cold weather, but that is how it is.  The mountains have been getting good dumps lately.

I awoke at 5:30 and checked email.  Chris says that the baby boy arrived just before midnight.  He weighs just over 6 pounds.  Mom and baby are doing fine and here is a picture.  Isn't technology wonderful?

Zippy and I'll be driving to Lacombe this morning to pick up Ellen and Mckenzie and then on to Edmonton to see Jean and the baby.  We'll return to Lacombe tonight and either Ellen & I will bring Mckenzie back here or they will stay in Lacombe.  I expect I'll come back here.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I left home around 10:45, was in Lacombe at 12:30, and picked up Ellen and Mckenzie.  We had lunch at A&W, then drove to the Royal Alexandra hospital.  We spent an hour with Jean and family then Ellen and I drove home, arriving around 8:15.

Chris is off for the weekend and since all went very well, they decided that Mckenzie will ride with Chris and that gives Ellen the weekend off.  She will go up and help Jean when she returns home and Chris is back at work.

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Saturday February 19th 2011
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> Regarding your Toyota being nose down with seats removed, seems there could be a handling safety issue in a crisis.  Have you considered adding some ballast over the rear axle?

Pretty much the same problem as with pickup trucks.  The trouble with ballast is that if it is not anchored, it can be deadly in an accident.

The problem is mostly one of lights.  FWIW, I ordered a new set of top-line tires today.  That is the secret IMO to safe driving: good tires.  These had 30% left, but they always perform badly when they get to that point.

> I recall reading a warning not too long ago about operating a car with unmatched tires front-back. In a hard braking situation, the rear brakes and tires have to grip enough to avoid the back spinning around.

Yes, the recommendations have changed.  Actually, I lost my Merc because I did not pay attention to that detail.  I had noticed the tires on the back were worn and my local tire guy reassured me the front ones were good and that they would last until summer.  I should have just followed my instincts because I was actually suggesting we change the tires at that time, but he talked me out of it.

Not too long later, I had a 2-wheel skid, followed shortly after by a 4-wheel skid which put my on the guardrail and finished off the car.  It is drive-able, but looks like hell.

He almost talked me out of changing the tires on the van today in the same way, but this time, I stood firm, and said' "They are too worn. Let's change them." and it turned out I had a 30% credit due to the mileage on the tires and the warranty.   Still expensive, though at $565, but these Nokians are the best.

> There is some percentage of braking that has to come from the rear (less than 50% though). Reduced weight over the rear wheels could have the same effect as reduced tire tread in some stopping situations.

With the advanced braking systems these days, it is less of a problem. I'm a careful braker, though, having pulled many heavy trailers.

> I share your fear of driving a brand new car. We deal with it by carrying collision damage insurance during the first year, then just liability in following years.

When I checked the cost of full insurance on a new car the other day, I was surprised to find that it was no more than the less full insurance on my current machines.

I'm up at 6:30 and thinking of skiing.  The day is bright and sunny and the mountains have had quite a bit of snow recently.  A look at the Nakiska weather gives me pause, though.

I also have planned to go to Three Hills with Ellen today to check the Toyota's tires. There is some vibration in the steering of the Toyota and I am wondering if there is a separation in a tire, since the flutter showed up after the tires were last rotated.  It could be the CV joints, though.  Hope not.  That gets into big money.

Still no word from the fellow we commissioned to find us a van. I emailed him yesterday , but it was Friday, and maybe he was off for the day.

I have the parts for the shifter I am building for the forklift and I'll do that today, I think.  I'm actually quite excited about it.  I like cutting, drilling and welding.  I have no doubt that it will work and work well.

When Matt put the Pontiac engine into the forklift, he used a cable for the shifter and it has proven troublesome.  I plan to use a simple mechanical linkage with a bellcrank and rods.

After the concern for Jean and baby, and uncertainty about the timing of the event, our lives have settled down and I find I am free for the foreseeable future again.  I do have to be around for the next week or two, but after that I can travel.

I hate the dark months of winter here in Alberta.  The skiing is still rocky, the days are short and the shadows are long, but this house is roomy and bright and once the sun begins to return, it is a pleasant place to be after the end of January. 

The coldest days are burdensome, though, since bulky clothes are needed to go out even for a few minutes and the air is dry, making my skin itch and crack.   I worry, too, about the heating system.  Although we still have our faithful coal stoker, even the most modern system can quit, especially if there is a power failure, and we have had failures that extend over 24 hours here in the recent past.  We have some propane space heaters, but we really should install a back-up gas heater so that even if the power goes off, we don't have to worry.  As it is, we need to monitor the place and someone needs to check every 12 hours when the outside temps are below minus ten.

I'm expecting that we should be able to monitor the house by Internet these days, but am waiting for the market to settle down.  Additionally, if the power goes off, so does the Internet.  I can configure a battery backup that will last at least 24 hrs, but have not done that yet.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

We went to town and I had the tires checked, so that is done.

Jean phoned this afternoon and is on the way home, so that adventure is over and a new one has begun.

I noticed that my browser has been caching this page and if I reload it, sometimes it does not update, even if there have been changes, so I added some code to keep browsers from caching it.  I wonder how many people have thought it did not change day to day.

I made up the linkage for the shifter tonight and now it is just a matter of waiting until it is warm enough to install it comfortably, probably on Monday.  I still have a few mounting pieces to weld on, but the bellcrank and rods are ready.

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