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Putting Pollen Patties on Hives at Round Lake NY

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Thursday March 10th 2011
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It's raining here in Round Lake, and also in Sudbury, a fact I learned when I called Mom.  We had hoped to look at some of Aaron's hives but conditions are not co-operating.

My friends have decided to buy a mold and make a run of standard sized EPS boxes.

The boxes will be priced competitively to the BeeMax type, but made of higher density material and also be cast in one piece, eliminating the need for assembly and also eliminating the extreme weakness of the BeeMax corners. They should be a lot tougher.

Shipping may be a bit more expensive, though, since they do not come in flat pieces.

The frame rest will be cast in place.

Stay tuned.

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We went up to Saratoga Springs in  the afternoon and watched "Unknown" in the theatre.  It was a pretty good movie IMO.  Of course it had the obligatory car chases with at least one streetcar involved, cars bursting into flames on impact, and the usual ridiculous fights, but the plot was novel.  I would rate much higher than the critics have, but I am not as jaded from watching as they are.

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Friday March 11th 2011
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I awoke at 8:30 and looked at the Tab.  Overnight, Japan has experienced an earthquake and a tsunami, so the morning was spent watching TV.  Tsunamis are of special interest to those of us who spend time on ocean-going boats or live on the coast.  Katrina and Kalle go to school less than a kilometer from the Pacific Ocean, but are up on a high point above the Pacific coast, at El Morro School -- elevation 108 feet.  I wonder if they are having the day off.  Their home is high up the canyon at plus 424 feet.

I could be in Vancouver looking at a boat today, just in time for the tsunami warning, but chose to come east instead.  From the charts on TV, it looks as if the west coast of Vancouver Island should get some wave action, but I doubt it will be very strong in Vancouver.

Aaron wanted to take a look at some of his bees, so we visited two yards.  His losses are not as bad as mine, but look to be around 50%. 

We stopped at the nearby church which had held the pancake supper.  They had mentioned honey running down the walls.  We noticed bees flying from the peak.  Aaron said that there were bees there when he was a kid.  I don't know what anyone can do about this mess.  I guess things are OK inside the church.  I hope.

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Saturday March 12th 2011
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I'm on the Maple Leaf, bound for Toronto, riding economy coach.

Well, I was, but gave up writing on the train for the time being and am catching up later, sitting upstairs in Sudbury. 

Aaron drove me to the train in Albany by 9:30 and the Maple Leaf pulled out of the station on time at 10.   I had looked forward to a bright sunny trip, but the day was overcast and with rain and dirty-looking melting snow, so everything looked drab and rundown. I was pretty tired too, since Aaron and I stayed up late BSing.

Northern New York has bright spots, but much of it is pretty run-down and depressed.  There are beautiful old houses and there are shacks, and there are lots of abandoned industrial sites.  I like the area and have spent quite a bit of time there over the years, driving through to Rhode Island, visiting Aaron, attending EAS, and of course, my two canal trips with Frank on sailboats across the Erie Canal.

The train follows the same course as the thruway and the rivers, so I found myself following a familiar course, within sight of the river and the highway much of the time.

When we got to Niagara Falls, everyone had to leave the train and walk through customs.  That wasted an hour.  I really think that customs could improve their act and be less of a nuisance.  they are like a lot of other government departments in that they are given a somewhat impossible task and are bound to fail at it some of the time and have no way of predicting when and how.  As a result they make a big show of hassling everyone so nobody can say they were not on the job.

Once in to Canada, I had Internet again, first on the Rocket Hub, then on my Tablet, but by then it was getting late and I was in no mood to write.  I moved to business class for the last stage of the trip, for $1.  No matter what class, rail travel is rough compared to road.

We arrived at Union Station in Toronto on time just after 7 PM, and I had two hours to kill before The Canadian left.  Unlike Amtrak and airports, nothing was well explained and we found ourselves standing in the station in a line for a half-hour when there were seats nearby.

We boarded on time and at 10 PM sharp, headed north towards Washago, then across through Muskoka, passing about ten miles from Pine Hill, I'm guessing.  I dozed on and off through the night.  By now, my seat was sore from the ride.  Sleeping in coach seats is less than comfortable, even though I was lucky and had two seats to myself. 

Mom is 92 today.

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Sunday March 13th 2011
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We arrived at Sudbury Junction around 6:20 AM, an hour late, due to the change to Daylight Savings Time.  None of the train crew seemed to have a clue about that.  None even remembered that trains used to run on Standard Time, year round.  I worked on the railway almost fifty years ago, and used to ride the Canadian and the Dominion to work, but none of the current crop recall that far back.  It looks to me as if they are still running the exact same rolling stock as fifty years ago.

It took an eternity for cabs to show up but and hour and $25 later, I walked in Mom's door.  She was up and having breakfast.   I gave her a hug and went to bed.  I slept until noon, then washed all my clothes.  The trip was an experience, as I expected, but a bit hard on me.  I haven't done a long rail trip since Jean was a year old, back in 1977.  Would I do it again?  Probably.

My van was in a snowdrift and the battery was just about flat.  After lunch, I cleaned it off and charged the battery up.  Fortunately, the battery does not seem to have frozen.

I haven't been here since October.  I had meant to be back, but things came up.  I'm thinking that I'm doing too many things.  The bee inspection is definitely cutting into my spring and fall, since I find myself on call and held up by weather, and the FACS Spring Thaw cruise at the end of May also impacts my time down here.  On top of that I'm planning to buy a boat on the West Coast, so something is going to have to give.  It may be the inspecting.  \

I also have some bees on order.  I suspect all my existing stock died.  Maybe it is a mistake getting more bees.  I'm going to have to manage them better.

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Monday March 14th 2011
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More spring-like weather is coming to Alberta and Ontario, too, it appears.  Bill came by in the afternoon with a radio for me.  We're hams and the VHF repeater is a handy way to stay in touch.  He had to take his Mom to the clinic and left.  In the evening, I went out to New Sudbury and spent some time in Canadian Tire.

I have noticed that my van tires are showing sidewall cracks and they are getting worse.  The tread looks OK, though.  I interviewed one of the tire guys and learned that tires are considered worn out at 3/32nds tread depth and start, typically at 10/32nds.  He also said that at five years old, tires are now considered to be at the end of their service life, even on the shelf due to evaporat5ion of the compounds and hardening.  Hmmm.  I have had the van for five and a half years and the tires had sidewall cracks then.

He quoted me about $550 for a set of decent tires, installed and balanced, incl. HST.

I bought a tire gauge for $3.99 (plus HST) and started measuring in the parking lot, in the dark.  I found some spots seemed close to the 3/32nds on one tire.  I decided to look further in the daylight. 

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Tuesday March 15th 2011
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Mom and I visited Linda in the morning.  After lunch I went shopping for tires.   I found that $550 was typical everywhere.  I had paid $550 or so for the Nokians in Alberta for Ellen's van, and that was after a 30% allowance for warranty.  Bill suggested trying Costco, though, and I found a sale on there for Bridgestone tires that dropped the price, all-in to $455 for a quality tire, regularly sold at $108 each.  I'll be there tomorrow at 9:45 AM to get them installed.

I drove over to Bill's and we had a 2-mile hike around his neighbourhood.  We set up the Rocket Hub I'm giving him and I went home for supper.  After supper, I lay down and slept for two hours.

It seems Mom is out pretty well every day lately playing bridge or visiting or doing various chores.

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Wednesday March 16th 2011
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The weather is warming up and the ice on the sidewalks is melting.  Alberta is warming, too, but I doubt run-off at home will be on March 17th as it used to be in the 90s.  We've had several cold winters in the last decade and this is the coldest I can recall in recent years.

This arrived today.  Eric is a good friend who kept bees near Gibbons and was the president of the Alberta Beekeepers Association and also, at another time, the chairman of the Honey Co-op.  I have not seen him or Marnie for a few years.

This is Eric Abell's son sending this on behalf of my mom.

Eric was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in June 2009. It has progressed rapidly and he now in the palliative care unit near Saanichton. Could you pass the word to any beekeepers that know him.

Thanks,
Marnie
(via Darcy Abell)

And further word:

It is likely a matter of hours or days. He is pain free and comfortable.

My m&d email for anyone who wants to contact is .  My mom is staying at the hospital, likely will not see emails for a few days, but she will likely check if\when she pops back home for a bit.

I will let her know you got the info, she will be happy to know the email made it.

Not sure at this point, but likely a service would be sat 26 - but really an unknown.

Darcy

> A fundamental aspect of climate change is the potential shifts in flowering phenology and pollen initiation associated with milder winters and warmer seasonal air temperature.

Climate change has always been with us. While some areas are warming, others seem to be cooling. The bias over time has been to warming and the periods of human advancement have been coincident with the warming periods and the setbacks with cooling. 10,000 years ago evidence suggests that there were glaciers covering what are now well populated areas.

Looking back over history, as best we can observe it, there have always been periods of unusual warmth and unusual cold, and local changes in climate due to shifts in ocean currents and air masses.

In Alberta, we have had unusually cold and long winters with far more snow and prolonged spells of extreme cold than we have seen in previous decades. Last year, the jet stream remained unusually farther south and also we have observed an unusual sun spot cycle. Some associate it with what we observe on Earth, some do not.

Humans have always associated climate change with human activity and when the climate turned against us, we have always turned to sacrifice in an attempt to appease forces which we associated with our gods at the time. Sometimes it has seemed to work. Other times it has seemed to fail.

Whatever else is to be expected, we can count on continuing continental drift, changes in sun activity and a changing climate.

It is hard to get a good grasp on what is actually occurring, since observation points change over time, as do the observers. What were rural locations are now in the middle of cities. Also, observations tend to be made at convenient locations and even if the observations are accurate, a weighting must be assigned and meaning deduced. I suspect it is at that stage where objectivity is lost in the search for a moral for a story with no plot.

Humanity finds it hard to accept that we are on a wild ride on a rock hurtling through space and struggle to assert control. If we cannot achieve it in fact, we can achieve it in our myths.

This is shocking news.  I have thought about Eric and Marnie from time to time, but had not expected this. 

I am now very closely approaching the exact age at which my father died of a heart attack, so I am getting to the point where my own end could come at any time and where friends and contemporaries are passing on.  In contrast to my Dad, my Mom just turned 92, drives her car around town, and and lives in her own home.  She leads an active life and shows no signs of quitting anytime soon.  She has outlived her friends, then new, younger friends and attends a lot of funerals.  That is not something I'm looking forward too.  I'm not very fond of funerals and am considering skipping out my own.

*      *      *      *     *

Today is garbage day on North Shore Drive, and I have to run to Costco early to get the tires installed so I'll attend to that detail, too.   The garbage is now divided into three bags: Compost, Recyclables, and Trash.

Since I am doing the tires, I am also wondering about the shocks.  Since I bought the 2002 model of the same van at home, I have a comparison and this one seems to have more road noise from pavement cracks.   The red van at home had new shocks all around some time before I bought it.  It has 50,000 less km and is four years newer, but that should not account for the difference.  Sudbury roads might, though, and so might the loads I have carried in this one, plus hauling that big boat.  The difference could also be in the tires.  I specified that I want tires that are less noisy, so will soon see.

I got the tires changed and while I was waiting, I spent some more money.  In Costco, I found a 9" Android tablet for $198.  It has an Android system and wifi so, I snapped one up to play with.  It could be perfect for Mom.  I also picked up another snorkeling set since I'm tired of lugging my other one back and forth.

*      *      *      *     *

I've been writing in the Honey Bee World Forum a bit lately as well as here.  Check it out.

*      *      *      *     *

My daughter wrote today to say that the wreckers came for my car.  It was too dark to take a picture after it was loaded, but she took one when they pulled up. 

I have to tell you that it really hurts to see that faithful old car go to the boneyard.  It served me well.  It may have been the best car I ever had.  I bought it just as we retired and that was about seven years ago.

Come to think of it, Eric and I retired about the same time, Eric first, then us, and we communicated quite a bit about whether and how to do it, and about the process of selling off assets.  Ellen and I visited him on the Island a few times about then.  I was out on Eric's boat the day before 9-11-2001 and flew home that night in time to see the Twin Towers go down the next morning as we extracted honey in what is now Elle's studio.   Wow!  That was ten years ago -- almost.

*      *      *      *     *

Bill and I did the same hike again today.  I need to walk a few miles every day.  I feel much better when I do.

Then, Mom and I went to Buzzy Brown's for prime rib.

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Thursday March 17th 2011
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    Saint Patrick's Day   

After supper last night, I ate a piece of chocolate-covered ginger.  At one AM, I was still not asleep.  I sometimes forget what keeps me awake and ginger is one of them.

*      *      *      *     *

Yesterday, I heard a grinding sound when I applied the brakes going down the Van Horne hill.  The noise went away, but got me to thinking so I looked up a brake shop and drove out to Speedy around ten this morning for a "free" brake inspection.  They said they could take it right away, and put it up on the hoist.  I watched through the glass doors. 

The rear drums were a job to get off, but when they did come off, it turned out that a spring had broken and fallen into the shoes.  The shoes were almost new, so it was just a matter of replacing the spring, but one of the front pads was down to the metal and the rotors were worn, corroded, and under limit.  There also proved to be suspension link that was worn and clunking a bit.  Two hours and $332 later I drove away in better shape.

I've owned this van for 5.53 years and driven 27,000 miles.  I've hauled a heavy (3,500+  lb) boat behind it  trips for 120 miles a number of times at highway speeds and it has performed well.  For the first two years, it turned out that the boat trailer did not have working brakes.  I did not notice any deficiency in braking on the highway, but when I decided to pull the wheels and check the hubs, I found the brake cylinders were rusted up and could never have worked.  I repaired that, but assume that the heavier braking load would have used up brake pads more quickly than normal.

I checked the gas mileage so far and this 1998 3.8 is getting about 26 MPG (Imperial) on average compared to the 2002 3.3 I just bought that seems to be getting 20 MPG so far.  Hmmm.

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Friday March 18th 2011
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I met Mom for lunch at Gonga's then went to Bill's since it is nearby. Bill and I took a 1.7-mile walk around the neighbourhood after lunch, then I returned to North Shore and worked on catching up on my deskwork.

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Saturday March 19th 2011
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We visited Linda in the morning and in the afternoon, I went over to Bill's for another walk.  I'm out of shape and walking two miles a day is good for me.

I'm looking back a year in the diary.  What a difference a year makes.  Last year, I was on an upswing in numbers.  I was remembering that varroa does better in EPS hives compared to wood and wondering if I needed to test.  I was playing wit the idea that bees might do OK without treatments.  This year I have few bees alive and am buying replacements.  Shoulda checked.

I should read my own diary more often.  The trouble is that I find it boring.  Been there, done that.  Must keep moving on.  If I did, though, I could have followed my own advice and saved some loss.  I think that Medhat pretty well proved that maintaining low varroa and low nosema levels reduces losses to a minimum.

I find it a little amusing to follow my projections and plans.  I actually followed them pretty well, but lost out when I underestimated the varroa loads.  I got up to 100, but had queen and build-up problems.  August was awful and September the year before had spoiled us.  This past September was poor.

In 2009, I was troubled a bit with AFB from not treating and bringing a lot of old comb back into use.  I lost a few hives.  Old comb is not bad in its own unless it was chemically contaminated which mine was not, but working through boxes distributes AFB if there is any and I guess there was.  I was not too careful about checking combs, and some were full of honey which could have masked some disease.

In 2010, I treated for the AFB and conquered it easily, but then had a varroa bloom.  I still wonder if the medication assisted the varroa explosion.  Maybe the EPS boxes were part of the increased varroa, but maybe until now something was keeping them back.  Perhaps the Tylosin treated the varroa and not just the bees.  Actually, it had to have.  I just do not know if varroa has a disease that normally limits them, but is controlled by Tylosin.  Interesting speculation.

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