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Snorkeling at Teepee 2300

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Monday June 20th 2011
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Wednesday appears to promise the sort of hot weather that gets the bees working throughout the hive and expanding brood to the max, assuming enough bees and ample food is at hand.  When the hive reaches the 90 degree zone, wax gets soft and easy to work and the old granulated honey in combs is easier to re-liquefy and transport throughout the hive.  Less effort is required to maintain the temperatures and humidity in the hive.  Under these conditions, foundation is quickly drawn and old comb can be renewed.  The queen will venture farther out from the centre and empty boxes stacked on the hive will show signs of occupation.

Optimal brood temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit, but if the ambient gets that high, the bees have to expend energy cooling since the sun adds heat and the bee's activity generates heat that must be expelled.  As a result, the optimal ambient temperatures are below that level, and if the weather gets much above 90, the bees often stay home and rest, since many flowers do not yield nectar during the hot part of such days.

In the afternoon, I went down to install the gas tank and found the boat has 10 or 12 inches of water in it, enough to cover the starter and put 2" above the cockpit sole.  I had left it hanging on the slings and later asked Sarah to check it to see all was well.  She returned and said it was fine, but she had lowered it a bit.  I figured a bit meant a bit and not 6 inches.. I lifted it back up and started the 110 volt pump to empty it.  The boat's own bilge pump des not work, of course, since I have not yet put in the battery.  Now I have to dry out the starter and wait for the boat to dry out enough to work in before I can get started.  I just goes to prove that never can assume that people understand things that are explained to them.  Words can be ambiguous.

Later, After pumping for an hour while I pressure-washed the dock, I discovered there seems to be water entering through the outdrive opening in the transom.  Either the bellows is cracked or chewed by an animal, or something froze.  I don't see how freezing could have caused damage, since I drained the system and even added anti-freeze last fall, and that is something The Boatworks never did.  Another possibility is that the gasoline in the bilge from the leaking tank last fall degraded the rubber, but I would have thought it to be oil-resistant, given the application.  Whatever the cause, it cannot be seen easily.  I'll take another look later, bit I'm guessing that this means more than a little work and expense

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Tuesday June 21st 2011
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Summer Solstice

A week tomorrow, I'll be back home in  Alberta.

From the forecast, I see we have some excellent bee weather coming up in Alberta this week.  Here in Muskoka, the weather is turning cool and rainy.  Mom and I have some work to finish up here, then we head back to Sudbury.

In talking to people at home, I hear that hives are not gaining much weight on the dandelions, and getting into yards is difficult due to the wet spring.  My friends plan to have some cells ready for my splits from the breeder queen that we obtained from Albert.  Meijers have been using his Saskatraz bee stock along with other strains and are have confidence in it.  They have a mating yard with a preponderance of Saskatraz drones and suggested I mate my splits there.  The problem is that my vans with trailer hitches are here in Sudbury,

Water in the bilgeI went back down and looked at the boat and found that the bilge was again full of water and above the starter (see picture).  Apparently waves from passing boats were pumping water through whatever hole there is in the transom, even though it is above the actual water line. 

A more thorough examination of the outdrive reveals that it could be fairly simple to remove.  I had been planning to remove it anyhow to clean and paint it, just not right now.

A dull day on the Indian RiverAfter pumping the bilge once again, I raised the boat, and closed up the boathouse.  Then, we had an early supper and drove to Sudbury, arriving just after eight.

We had considered staying another day, but Mom was tired since she cleaned constantly all the time we were there and her arthritis was acting up.  The damp weather today did not help and it appears to be continuing for the next few days.  She is much happier at home when the weather is wet.

Once we arrived and settled in,  I called Ellen.  She had just walked in the door at home after returning from Finland and Sweden.  She reported that the trip was excellent and that she and Jonathan had a great time.  She also said the grass is tall and everything is growing wild.  She'll check the bees tomorrow and report back

Now, I have to decide what to do in my remaining week.  I can do a lot, or a little.

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Wednesday June 22nd 2011
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I awoke to the sound of rain here in Sudbury.  We are in for a few cool, damp days, right through the weekend, it seems.  In Alberta, though, the weather should be good for bees.  There is a bit of rain, but also warm temperatures and sun.

I had planned to work on my sailboat today and perhaps take it south, but I also have to research the stern drive repairs and how to obtain parts.  So far, at 10:30 AM, I am off to a slow start.

I spent the day researching the outdrive repair.  The job seems straightforward, and it seems quite likely that the leak is caused by a rodent chewing the boots (bellows) in the outdrive.  I had no real idea how these work, but it seems that the engine simply sits in the boat and that the driveshaft, shift linkage and the exhaust exit through the transom through three separate rubber bellows to a steerable leg' that is similar to the one on any outboard.  Apparently the leg is worth about $3,000, new or rebuilt.  I'm not expecting that the leg needs replacing.  The issue seems to be simply that one boot has  a hole.

In the process, I watched videos and did searches.  This is dreary work, and I ended the afternoon with a nap that lasted an hour and a half.  I had planned to go shopping, but the rain was pouring down hard and my umbrella is in the van.

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Thursday June 23rd 2011
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Ellen sent me a blurry shot of the hive scale and says it was reading '50' at 9 AM today.  That means the four hives have gained 36 pounds since I left on the 10th of June, 9 pounds per hive or 3/4 pounds each per day over the twelve days.  Not bad. 

The forecast is for sun and cloud with 30% chance of showers at home, then sunny weather for the next six days.  Excellent!  I expect another gain by the time I return a week from yesterday and hopefully they will be ready to split again by the time the cells are ready in the first week of July.

I continue to work on the plans for repairing the outdrive.  I emailed several firms.  The pricing varies all over the map, and I found a complete new outdrive for half the previous price I mentioned previously.

The rain quit and I went out to look at my sailboat.  It seems I had left the hatch open a bit and a rodent, probably a squirrel, had gotten in and chewed a cushion.  Rodents are causing me trouble this year.  The tarps are also not quite waterproof.  Maybe I need to double-tarp next time.

In reviewing these pages, I see that some features are not rendering quite right after upgrading  to IE9.  In particular tables placed to right of text are out of place.  I've known that my editor is 9 years old and wondered when that would start to matter.  I guess that time is now.

I spent more time researching the outdrive job and decided I'll run down to Pine Hill for a day or two and take it apart, then order supplies for reassembly when I return in July.  The various websites provide a partial picture, but not a beginning to end view of the process and the various necessary checks.

Then I ran out and returned the extra power washer and bought some groceries.  I have few more errands for after supper.

The local hams (radio amateurs) are preparing for Field Day.  I had thought I might participate, but am not too enthused.  It is a day and a night of steady radio work on all bands, accumulating contacts.  It can be a lot of fun, especially if the weather is nice and the bugs are not too bad.  The idea behind field day is that this exercise ensures preparedness for emergency situations where hams may need to provide communications.  In spite of all the advances in technology lately, hams with old-fashioned UHF, HF and VHF gear have been indispensible in some recent disasters.

Another option for the weekend is to go to Midland and spend Saturday at the OBA summer meeting.  Larry Connor is the featured guest and he is always good, but I have been to quite a few of his presentations and I may just prefer to go to the cottage and disassemble the outdrive.

A third option is to take one van and boat to Pine Hill, stay over, drive to Midland which is fairly close, then catch a ride back north with a Sudbury beekeeper.  I want to leave one van in Muskoka for the summer.

The fourth, and the one I'll probably choose is to drive to Port Carling and spend a day pulling the boat apart and figuring out what I need.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *   

After supper, I went out and bought Quickbooks 2011.  I have been using QB 2002 all this time and it is getting long in the tooth.  At some point, it is time to give in and upgrade. 

The software comes in a box with a CD.  I much prefer download.  I don't have a CD or DVD drive, so I'll have to transfer the software onto a USB drive on Bill's computer in order to install it on mine.  Then, I found out from reading the book in the sealed box, I have to upgrade my data in stages, since the current version only can load files from 2004 versions and up.  The instructions for older versions is on the Quickbooks.ca website and, guess what?  The website was down for repair when I went to get the instructions.  That does not give me a good feeling. One reason I am reluctant to buy new versions of QB software is the bad experiences in the past. Once they get the wrinkles patched up, it is reliable, but the first release can be dreadful.

I then went to Princess Auto to see if I could find a MerCruiser Hinge Tool.  The night staff was a bunch of kids and they were no help at all.  I didn't find one.  I'll need one before I pull the drive off.

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Friday June 24th 2011
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I woke up at 4, couldn't get back t sleep and had breakfast. 

After working awhile on the project and calling a dealer, I realised that I have misread the model number on the outdrive.  That makes the model different from the one I was researching, although there is not a lot of difference.  Stamped serial numbers are often faint or misshapen and this was the case, here. 

As it turns out, the change of model makes the job easier than expected and I located a helpful dealer right along my route from Sudbury to Port Carling -- Bonus!  I think I'll run down tomorrow and get started. 

I'll have to build a platform to work on, then remove the outdrive.  The dealer will give me everything he thinks I may need and I can return what is not needed.

All this takes time and means sitting behind a keyboard and a phone.  I think I am nearly done now and the weather is clearing a bit.  It is exactly noon.

I got out an began organising the vans, then got an email from my accountants' assistant.  The next three hours were lost in providing her with info that I could have easily given before I left for Ontario.  Oh, well.  Then I went out again, only to be met with rain.  I'll have to get organised tomorrow instead.

Ellen says, "The pond still smells but there are some insects and I saw one live snail. I didn't see any fresh water shrimp. The water is still murky." I t looks as if next year will be soon enough to get fish.

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Saturday June 25th 2011
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Six Months until Christmas

...And the warm weather is just barely beginning... we hope.  The pictures are worse the the actual forecast

This is actually pretty good bee weather, and the hives have been gaining.  Some of my best crops have been in years when the bees have to work between showers.  Slightly warmer temperatures are better, though.  Somewhere in the mid-twenties for a high is best IMO.  That range suits me best, too, so maybe I am just thinking of my own comfort, but the bugs seem to be able to work in cool temperatures.  I wonder what others have found.

Here in Northern Ontario, I was driven indoors by rain last evening and this morning I spent an hour doing some research for a friend who was trying to figure out the Alberta Legal Land Description system.  This sitting at a desk is killing me and I am itching to get going and do something physical.  The weather looks better this morning and I am planning to go to Muskoka today.  I have not decided when, and if I will take my boat or keep it simple.  I have to leave by noon, though if I want to pick up the parts on the way.

The ham field day starts today and I hear them driving out as I listen on 2 metres.  I had thought of participating as well, but decided against it this year.  Now I am contemplating dropping by the field day site for a little while, cleaning up the vans and boat, going to the John Island camp Open House Sunday, and going to Muskoka Monday.  Decisions, decisions. 

I attended John island years ago and am considering sending Katrina, Kalle and Mackenzie there.  The first two are attending camp Muskoka this year, but I am thinking of the future.  I also find it interesting to visit places I went as a child and see how they -- and I -- have changed.

*   *   *   *   *   *  

I've decided.  I'm going to stay in Sudbury and get things organised, then attend the open house tomorrow and drive south Monday morning to work on Cloud 9.  I'll return Tuesday night to  be here in plenty of time to fly out at noon Wednesday.  That gives me plenty of time to do everything I want to do, with good weather all the way.

Ellen writes: "Poured rain during the night and everything is wet and cool today."  From the picture of the scale, I see the hives have gained a pound each since the last reading.  Time to split soon. They are already very heavy.

I spent the day detailing both the vans.  Having two is  twice the work of one and neither has been cleaned for quite a while.  I then went to Princess Auto to get a sandblaster and drove on out to Azilda to the ham field day setup.  I visited a bit and then went home.  I may go back out if they need an operator later on.

I took a wrong turn and drove through The Valley.  Surprisingly, there are nice farms there and attractive communities.  I lived in Sudbury until I was in my early twenties but never went out that way.

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Sunday June 26th 2011
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Today, I'm off to John Island in the North Channel.  Looks like a perfect day for it.

I arrived at the Cutler docks around 10:30 and was one of the earliest guests to arrive.  About 8 very enthusiastic and well-trained camp staff were waiting to greet visitors and soon I was whisked across to the Island on a fast boat with several other visitors. 

The trip used to take an hour, from Spanish on Kismet , a wooden diesel powered displacement boat skippered by Elwood Mitchell, but now the Camp uses a dock that is much closer to the Island and several fast, planing aluminum utility boats.. 

I  did not recognize the camp dock when we arrived and the walk in to camp was much longer than I remembered.  Along the way we passed over a bridge and a cove with several yachts anchored.  On the far side of the bridge, Kismet sat decaying at the edge of the trail as a monument.

Later I was told that the dock is new and when I walked to the old dock, I could see that the water has receded to the point where navigation in that bay is now impractical.  The famous John Island poison ivy is still there, along the path to the camp.

The dining hall is largely unchanged in 50 years.  The kitchen and tuck shop have moved, but otherwise it is quite recognizable.  The waterfront has moved out and dunes have built up since I was last there.

Friendly staff were waiting everywhere to take guests on tours, and I suppose I should have taken a tour, but I just wandered around and looked at everything.

The cabins have been rebuilt and now have, by the looks of it, insulated walls and finished interiors.  In my day, the insides were unfinished.  A new cabin is on the left, an old one is on the right.

The craft shop is the same, except that it has accumulated an incredible amount of graffiti.  I must have seen 100 canoes, 40 kayaks and thirty sailboards.  There are three new sailing cats as well as the older fleet of sailboats.  In my day, we had 3 gaff-rigged cedar strip dinghies.

The camp has added a climbing wall and it was popular with the younger visitors.

Along the way back to the dock for the return trip to Cutler, I passed Kismet once again and soon I was back at my van. 

It was just after noon and that left me with the afternoon and no commitments.  I drove a short distance west to the North Channel Yacht Club where Calvin gave me a tour of the boats for sale there. I then wandered back to Sudbury by the back road, stopping at Spanish along the way.

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Monday June 27th 2011
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Here we go.  Finally, some really good bee weather, by the looks of it. The scale has gained two pounds total over the past two days, or a quarter-pound per hive per day, but Ellen reports lots of activity today, so we'll see if that rate increases.  See the picture at left.

Today, I'm off to Muskoka to work on the outdrive. 

*    *    *    *    *    *   

I arrived around two PM and got to work.  By eight, when I quit for the day, I had the boat pulled apart and up on blocks.

I started by removing the back seat and the gas tank.  I was about to replace it when I realised that having the tank out allows closer inspection of the transom, which is known to have some soft spots.  I crawled in and probed the transom with a screwdriver and soon  discovered that I could push the blade almost all the way through at one spot.  It went through two of the three layers of plywood. 

The transom is a double layer of 3/4" plywood plus an outer layer of 3/8" mahogany plywood.  From the outside, though, it seems sound.  I tapped around the area with a hammer and it seems sound enough for this year, but I can see I will have to rebuild the transom. That discovery made me realise that I should survey the rest of the hull and that means removing all the cabin sole, so I put that job aside and started on the outdrive.  I figure that the outdrive job will be a stop and go effort, since I am bound to hit snags and need to order or find parts and the hull work can be done in the interludes while I wait for delivery.

The River is warm and so is the weather.  I cooled down by swimming and snorkeling from time to time.

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Tuesday June 28th 2011
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It's hot and sunny in Alberta today.  I'll be there tomorrow night, and I see that the weather will cool to greet me.

We are expecting a cooler day here in Muskoka, with some showers.  I'm off to town to get some supplies first thing this morning.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *   

I worked on the boat all day and returned to Sudbury around 11 PM.  The drive back was less than ideal, with pouring rain and poor visibility, especially in the construction zones.  The new four-lane portions are wonderful.  Although they are a pleasure to use in good weather, it is bad conditions that their superiority is most evident.

I wasted a lot of time trying to pull the hinge pins, and finally went back to the Internet to discover there are some keeper pins and how to remove them.  I had spent a lot of time in research previously, but do not have a manual.  I was beginning to think I was overdoing he prep, but this proved I could have done more prep than I did and would saved time in  the long run.

Anyhow, I got the pins out and found that I can examine the bellows quite easily from the exterior.  The exhaust and the drive bellows were fine, although they are probably ten years old and one has a scuff on it from contacting a rough, corroded surface .  As it turns out, it was the shift cable boot which leaks.  I'll replace all  the rubber parts anyhow.

I could have replaced the shift cable boot without pulling the pins, I suspect, but at this point, I'm thinking I'll do a thorough job and change everything, clean up the corrosion, and repaint the lower unit.

In the process of lowering and lifting the boat and cleaning the bilge, I got to thinking that maybe the leak problem was caused by the fact that I left the steering off-centre over winter.  I tried centering it and discovered the leak seemed to stop as long as the steering was not turned to the right right.  Later examination showed that the boot was cracked on one side, so that it only opened up when turned one way.  I don't think it cracked over winter and may have been an ongoing problem, for some time.

Nonetheless, it could sink the boat in an hour or two in the right conditions, for example when the steering is left off-centre after docking in town or after entering the slip, and I am sure it was leaking slowly even when centered.  It is lucky I discovered it, but if I had not left the steering off-centre, then pumped the bilge dry, we might have launched the boat and used it all summer, blissfully ignorant of the problem -- until it sunk overnight in its slip without warning.

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Wednesday June 29th 2011

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At 1030, Mom and I leave for the airport.  By 4 this afternoon, I should be in Calgary.  I see the forecast there has changed and the day will be hot.

Mom drove me to YSB and the plane left on time.  The second flight was 45 minutes late leaving, but I'm now at 40,000 feet and three hours from Calgary.

I arrived home and Ellen was waiting at the curb.  We drove home and I'm going to bed early.

When I arrived, I checked the bees by walking through and looking at the entrances. There are several which are stronger than the rest and several that are weaker.  That is to be expected, but I doubt I'll have trouble multiplying the number by two.

One problem, though -- there is at least one mean hive and when I stay in the yard more than a few minutes bees approach me and sting.  I got three stings tonight, just for being there and was followed at least 100 feet.  The weather this evening is hot and a flow is on, so they have no excuse, other than, perhaps, a few ants.  I plan to split with cells, and that means that I'll have the original mean queen or queens, plus the risk of the new stock mating with mean bees.

Tomorrow, I should test them all for temper and also start the splitting.  The hives are in now four boxes on the assumption that the bees require two and that they will clean up and condition the bottom ones so they will be freshened up to use in the splits.  The splits will be in two.  Bees prefer combs which have been recently occupied by bees over stale comb from storage.

I'm wondering, though, if I shouldn't add a third under the splits when I make them, since I plan to be a way again and these hives are quite heavy already.  If I want the new boxes on the bottom,. the best time to put them there is when I split.

I see they have put on another half-pound.

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Thursday June 30th 2011

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Today, I plan to work the hives, but before that, we take delivery of a truckload of mulch and I have to run to town to pick up the accounting file and year end for the company.  Tomorrow, everything is closed. for Canada Day.

We got a call at 7:30 in the morning, announcing that the mulch will be delivered today.  Ellen bought a truckload of bark to mulch the gardens and trees,  It arrived a few hours later and will be a lot of work, but that is El's project. I have learned to keep out of her projects.

I have to figure out how I am going to do the splitting.  I may decide to use pallets, since I will need to move some a distance since they are all close together.  How to do that without losing flying bees may be a challenge.  Juanse suggests using ammonium nitrate in the smoker to "sleep" the bees, but I have never tried that.  I understand it erases the bees' memories and they recover and re-orient.  They also accept new queens without any problem when smoked this way.  Ammonium nitrate used to be easy to find, but nowadays, thanks in large part to Timothy McVeigh, it is controlled.  I used to unload boxcars of 100 lb bags.  That is too much.  I need, maybe one pound.  I phoned around and may be able to round some up, but this is a holiday weekend coming up.  I may not get it in time.

I ran to town and picked up the accounting records and then spent some time updating QuickBooks 2011.  I have yet to get it running.  I managed to install it and got the file updated by the accountant, but am still getting the local copy of the program up to date.  Intuit is, in my experience, bad that way: they bring out the software, then patch like crazy.  The first release has flaws, sometimes serious, but after a year, it works satisfactorily.  This is up to R5 already -- I bought R1 on the disk and have to update with a 68 MB patch -- and it is just June.  I learned the hard way to never buy the latest version  and expect it to work until they have released at least several [patches.  I did that in 2002 right at tax time and had a horrible time.

I also got some groceries and gas for the mower.  We have been using quite a bit due to the wet weather.  I'm sure the mower has paid for itself several times over by now.  I also hear the mowing contractors have become unreliable lately.

*    *    *    *    *    *   

After mowing the lawn for a few hours, around two, after the day heated up, I opened the first four hives at the weak end of the row. 

  • The first hive had brood in one box, but the brood was in all but the outside frames.  The partner hive, from splitting, was just mating a virgin, so I guess the US queen I introduced was rejected or more likely laid a bit then failed.  Otherwise the virgin should be laying by now and she does not look mated. 

    Could be she is a dud, but I'm thinking she will work out.  She has that look.  Nonetheless, now I have to be careful not to confuse here when she is on a mating flight by moving hives around.
     

  • The next pair of hives had brood in three boxes in the first one, but only a few frames below the top box. Its partner was doing fine, too, and had a frame with brood  below the top box.

I had hoped for stronger hives to split, but these should be OK unless the summer turns out to be a complete bust.  I did not feed patties this year, due to not getting around to picking them up and I can see a difference.  I am also working on the weakest hives, judging by entrance activity.

The four hives I worked so far are not aggressive.

I made the first splits on May 29th, so the hives have now had one month to build up.  I'm thinking that they are not quite yet ready, but my cells will be ready in a day or two -- I haven't heard yet -- so I'll have to proceed anyhow.  Things should work out. but maybe I should have figured on six weeks between splits, but everything is behind.  This is a strange year.

Last year I made the second split on July 1st., but I had made the first split on May 2nd.  This year, I split on the 29th.  For the same development time between splits, I should be splitting about July 28th this year.   I like to make strong splits, but it seems some will be four frames or so.  That should be sufficient to make strong hives by winter.

El and I went to Three Hills for supper with the P-Ss, Laura Lee and Elijah.  As it happened, Elijah is free to do some yard work, so he may help Ellen spread the mulch.

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-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
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allen dick 1999-2014. Permission granted to copy in context for non-commercial purposes, and with full attribution.

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