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Our grass is green and growing so quickly that it appears we will have to mow soon. The last of the snow has gone, finally and the ducks are nesting on the pond. They make loud clucking noises constantly. The frogs are back and singing steadily. For some reason, I am not hearing many birds. No sign of the foxes lately either, but a deer has come by to eat our trees and emerging garden plants each night.
I wired the trailer socket on the van in preparation for my trip west. The original had been beaten to death by gravel. I prefer a connection lying inside the back gate, but this van had a factory setup with an exterior socket.
After I did that I tried hooking up the other, smaller trailer than Jean left here and found that it was wired with the wrong gender fitting. The fitting that should have been on vehicle was on the trailer harness. I had a correct fitting on hand, but found it lacks the internal ground connection on the pin. It has a loop for screwing to the chassis. instead. My understanding is that relying on the chains and the ball for ground is not reliable. Why would they have a dead ground pin? I was tired by that time and it was quite warm out, so lay down for a pleasant nap.
After that, I started stacking up boxes. I have done five hives and so far have not seen one cluster. There are a few small clumps of dead bees, but no large cluster. These hives were beautiful, strong hives and all so far had three or more boxes. The boxes are quite heavy. The frames are beautiful brood frames with some new ones on the outside. Odd.
* * * * * *
I see now, also, that I've been lying to myself, or perhaps kidding is a better word?. I tend not to believe anything I am told because I know how faulty my own grasp of what I am doing can be. Sitting here in the house, I've been convincing myself that the hives were too big and hard to do mite drops on last fall, but now that I go out, and work on the yard, I see that many were in doubles going into winter. Of course, they were not in doubles in late August and September when they should have been sampled. They were in three and four and I was leaving the boxes on because I was feeding, but I did have the drop boards and could probably have tested at least some of the wood hives. That should have given me a wake-up call, judging by what I found later, but maybe not. I still do not know what dwindled these hives so uniformly and quickly in fall.
* * * * * *
I notice there are some interesting ads alongside this page when I discuss beekeeping. When I discuss other matters, not so much.
I'm starting to think about the trip west and the trip east that follows it. The news today was full of reports of record gas prices in Canada. I checked gasbuddy.com and did not see what the fuss is about. These days, though, I always keep my tank full. Last I checked it would pay me to drive east through the US. The prices there are about 80% of our prices.
Today is the eleventh. I've been planning to drive out to BC around the fifteenth and am watching the weather. Cool, rainy weather would be best. I'm ready to go any time now. I'd planned to clean up the deadouts first, but that is not essential. They are still taking about high gas prices this morning. I checked again and see that nobody has updated the prices since last night, but it is still early (6 AM).
The day proved windy and I decided to get some indoor work done and save the outdoor work for a calmer day. Wind can be very tiring and the wind today is blowing steadily from the southeast, so my yard is exposed.
One of my server hosts has been getting less and less responsive, so I spent a few hours last night moving some of my websites to another server farm I've been using for a while. It is a time-consuming project, but should be finished soon.
"Sunny with cloudy periods. Wind southeast 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 25. UV index 6 or high."
It looks to be a warm day coming up. I should get my bees back here soon. I plan to transfer a few more websites to the new servers this morning and then get outdoors. The wind looks daunting again, though. I should be windsurfing.
I'm still moving websites to the new server farm and it takes time. I worked at the desk until midnight last night and until after lunch today and until I could not stand it anymore. In mid-afternoon I went out and tidied a bit, then mowed some grass. It was still gusty from the SE and rained a bit as I worked. One gust blew the swing set over.
In the grass, I saw the first dandelion, and promptly ran it down with the mower. It was a pretty sad-looking flower anyhow. The grass is already getting thick and if we don't get it mowed, it will soon be impossible. In a few days it will be bee heaven around here.
When Jon and his kids were here at Easter, Katrina fell and broke her two front teeth on our treadmill. Today Jon sent a picture. Amazing! I broke my teeth at about the same age in about the same way and never did get them repaired. I had been thinking of doing it in Mexico, but so far have not done so.
Speaking of new Zealand, several others from there wrote me saying that the talk of CCD is not -- as far as they know -- borne out by facts, but the press is always looking for a story and if anyone speculates at all...
Mckenzie called and has a piano recital Sunday. Saturday happens to be 43rd wedding anniversary. I had hoped to celebrate it on the way back from B.C. with a load of bees, but it looks, with two big events like this, I have no excuse and the ladies trump the bees this time.
When I was in Diamond City last weekend, I think I mentioned that we dropped in on Rick Cote. Some beekeepers may remember him because he was active in the association at one time. Anyhow, we have been good friends for a long time and enjoy a lot of the same things (like fording the Oldman River in an old Ford 4x4). Anyhow, it happens that Rick had a Smart Car sitting there and I asked, He says it is great and he should know because he is a mechanic and also a motorcycle guy, so I took note. This one is s diesel and he says it gets around 75MPG. His son said there was one, a convertible, in Claresholm at the Ford dealer and I was ready to go buy it on the way home but my boss said, "No". She wanted to go home. No car shopping for her. The dealer was probably closed anyhow.
Now that the gas prices are up, the idea looks to have been almost prescient. I may just go and get one. Used they are under $10,000 and I did not blow my wad on a new van, so I can afford it.
Today: Sunny. High 23. UV
index 6 or high.
Where did the week go? I'm still here at my desk with a day or so of work until I'm done.
The weather looks good for the next week and I'm thinking that maybe Monday morning I'll head out to BC. I had thought to go right out to the coast, but it seems I'm running out of time, so it looks like a round trip to Salmon Arm is ion the cards.
I worked on websites most of the day, but did go out and clean up the yard somewhat and cut some grass.
We have a serious deer problem. they kill everything Ellen plants. They are extremely tame and won't be chased off.
Today: Sunny. Wind southeast
30 km/h gusting to 50. High 19. UV index 6 or high.
That is today's local forecast, quoted above. It's not a nice day, so far, for working outside, until the wind drops. I'm still grinding away at my desk, anyhow. Moving these websites is a big job. I'm almost done, but the worst is still ahead in that I have moved the small, static ones. Now it comes time to move the large ones with databases.
* * * * * *
The image at left above is coming week for our area. The one at right above is for Salmon Arm, since I am watching both for a good window for pickup. A cool rainy day is best.
I don't know exactly what my load will look like and have yet to plan the details. I have the trailer and the straps, tarps, etc., but have to finalize the loading plans. There are the hives, plus some extra equipment. I have space inside the van as well as on the trailer. I checked the allowable maximum GVW and the trailer regulations and I should be well within limits.
The trailer is 5 x7 inside and can carry 1,540 lbs. I have a spare tire and wrenches as well, and am covered by AAA for free towing up to 100 miles with a trailer included, so figure that part is covered.
It is a 401-mile trip each way through the mountains, and I have done it many times in all sorts of weather, driving everything from a white 1956 Oldsmobile Starfire 98 convertible to a decrepit 1973 Doge 1-ton flat deck. I remember especially finding myself halfway up a hill on the trans-Canada just east of Three Valley Gap in a snowstorm, unable to climb further and having to back down. I'm not expecting that sort of weather this trip. Another time, I lost a wheel between Banff and Lake Louise on a long weekend and spent a few days limping back home. In those days, it was different world. In 2011, my equipment has all been checked carefully and I'm hoping this will not be in the cards this trip.
Ellen and I drove to Read Deer, did a little shopping, then dropped out to Smoky Trout Farm and picked up some supplies. I got an aerator diffuser for our air pump and some blue dye to reduce the sun penetration in order to reduce weed and algae growth.
From there, we continued to Lacombe, had supper with the Orams and drove to the piano recital. The first part was a mild form of torture, much like Vogon poetry, but as the programme proceeded, the more accomplished students played and I found myself quite enjoying the music. We were pleasantly surprised to see how Mckenzie has progressed. She shows some talent for the instrument. Personally, I was never very inspired and dropped out of piano lessons as soon as my parents would let me. We returned home directly from the recital and arrived around 9:30.
Along the way, we walked through a bee yard beside the road and glanced at the entrances. Although there appeared, from the empty spots on pallets, to be low winter losses, there were only about four hives strong enough to have entrance activity, at eleven in the morning. It is hard to say more without lifting lids, and that would probably not be right. (Although I think that although many will not admit it, most beekeepers do take a peek inside hives now and then when passing other beekeepers' yards). From what I hear the Alberta winter losses are quite high this year when all is tallied up.
We noticed along the way that gasoline prices continue high. People assume it has to do with the price of crude oil, but there is actually a glut in the US south and the storage is full. The reason for the high prices is refinery and distribution shutdown in the U.S. Mississippi region due to flooding.
Dandelions are now getting started here.
Local weather Salmon Arm weather
Today, I have to install the pond aerator and get ready to drive west. We'll see how that goes and I'll leave when ready. That could be around noon and it could be tomorrow. I don't plan to rush.
The weather forecast has changed and if it is to believed, one day is about as good as another.
I am accustomed to moving bees with so0lid tops and open entrances, but I am starting to think that Bob's idea of using screens might be a good idea. The trip is through mountains and if I have to stop along the way due to breakdown, I might no be able to get off the highway more than a few feet. In that circumstance, I have no backup truck to show up with a crew to help out and a cloud of bees -- or even a few flyers -- would create a sensation with any would-be assistance that arrived.
I left at 1:48 PM and at 9:30 or so, I arrived at Hacks' after driving pretty well straight through. The van performed flawlessly on the way out. After I left Alberta, much of the trip was in rain, which promised good moving weather if it persisted. When I arrived, we visited a while, then called it a night.
Bob and Char are fascinating people and I felt very much at home there. We found much in common. I could try to cover our visit , but you can see the bee world thru Bob's eyes here. That link leads to more...
After breakfast and more visiting, Bob and I went out to the bees and began preparing the load. I didn't bother pulling frames or inspecting the hives. I could tell that everything was as described. We just got to work.
We had just finished and were tying down when it was time for lunch. After a pleasant and relaxed meal, I hit the road, drove steadily, and was back in Swalwell around 9:30. The van performed flawlessly again, and easily kept up with traffic, even with the loaded trailer in tow. Fuel consumption was not too badly affected by the load and dropped to about 13.5 litres per 100 kilometers from the average of around 10.7 I have seen lately on the highway. The van revved up to 6,000 RPM as we climbed the hills. That kind of RPM was unheard of a few years back when stock engines redlined at around 5, but these engines are something else! They redline around 7.
Weather on the trip home changed constantly, with alternating rain and sun, but it stayed well within the parameters I figured would be best for the load. At one point, in Calgary, the outside temperature got up to 22, and at the top of the Rogers Pass, I noted +5. These were the extremes, so the conditions were pretty good on the whole. The bees were protected from the wind by the tarp and yet had good airflow through the shade cloth that Bob provided. I put tape over the entrances, so that I would be able to stop, which I did twice, at A&W, and although there were a few hitchhikers flying around, all was calm
On arrival home,
though, I found there was a chilly breeze and we thought it best
to remove the tarp and put the ventilated inner covers on. We
then threw the tarp over again and left them for the night. The
bees seemed fine.
I was up early this morning, and unloaded the hives in the early morning coolness. I then removed the lathe, and put on wraps. This work is always easier in the morning than at night when it is dark and the bees are upset. The job can be done without much flying if the hives are not disturbed too much, and as long as the bees are not accustomed to flying at that early hour. After nine or so, they get active and it is best to be finished and out of their way.
I decided to wrap the hives since they come from a milder climate and I don't want the brood to be chilled during our cool and sometimes windy nights. There is a chilly breeze these mornings and I figure that the bees can profit from the protection of the wraps, especially until they get settled. It is no hassle for me to work on the hives with the wraps on, and if I need to take them off, the wraps slide on and off easily when they are not on four-way pallets.
Here is a sample of what the hives look like with lids removed and in the cool of the morning. These were overwintered five-frame nucs that have been moved to standards a while back and had a second box placed under recently. Bob uses Randy's 'Kitchen Sink' protein formula and says it works well for him. I notice that it goes hard if not consumed quickly. The white is fondant.
I don't see any brood at the entrances -- yet. There are a few dead bees, but not many, so guess the frames did not swing too much on the road. I had notice that the frames are loose and not glued up, but they are the self-spacing type, and the shoulders help keep them from clapping together as the trailer bounces. Straight end bar frames can be a problem on the road if they are not held in place by spacers. Even them, they swing more.
I placed the hives in a row on purpose. I do realize that this configuration can cause drifting, but when arranged this way, it is really easy to work on the hives, and they all face south, which is optimal in many ways.
It is also easy to equalize hives later by simply exchanging strong and weak hives when they are flying freely. I'll do that, if I need to, after I see how they settle out. I noticed that of the ten, there is one a bit weaker than the others. There are also three that are stronger. I noted that without pulling any frames. A frame by frame inspection will come later, but for now, I just look at entrances, and what I can see on the top bars. They have been through enough for now
Dandelions are now coming into bloom. The bees are robbing the deadouts a bit, though, so that indicates that the flow is not yet on. Any idea I might have had about keeping these new bees separate from the equipment where the bees died last fall, are proven impractical. My storage is not nearly bee-proof..
I was up at 4 AM today. No reason. Just was. I caught up on a few things and Joe came by for lunch.
After lunch, Joe and I went out and lifted two lids and pulled several frames. Joe was favourably impressed. The brood and populations look pretty good, especially in this year where 40% losses are pretty widespread. Joe noticed, just as I did, that the bees look small, but they are good bees. Joe wanted to see what Randy's "Kitchen Sink" (pollen patty) looks like, so we poked it a bit. (Bob went to the trouble of sourcing the components and mixing it up.) The patty was hardened up on the surface, compared to Global's patties which do not. Nonetheless, I figure it is a good formula, even if it hardens. There should be a workaround.
Then I had to run. I was asked to visit the museum to help them understand the historical bee equipment that they had been given. As it turned out, I recognized quite a bit of it. I had made or used or sold much of it. How historical is that? Makes me feel ancient!
I bought groceries and Zip and I returned home. The Toyota van is making new sounds. I hear the front pump whining. Is the filter blocked? Are the seals getting hardened? Is the tranny toast? Time for the magic tyranny seal conditioner, methinks. I hardly want to have to deal with this now, just before I head east for the summer.
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