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This photo was shot with my point and shoot Fujifilm
FinePix XP15 waterproof camera
through the eyepiece of a 40x dissecting microscope
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First thing today, I looked at yesterday's post and noticed that there was an error in the hive six record. I had somehow over-written the last several weeks of data for that hive with "26". That is a problem since I had saved the accidental changes on top of the previous version of the file.
Fortunately, Dropbox saved me. I keep the working file in my Dropbox and share it at this link. So, I just right clicked the file and looked at the previous versions that Dropbox automatically makes each time I save the file. I found a previous version with the original, correct data and pasted those data into the latest version and am back on the rails. I updated and corrected the diary post.
Back in May, I wrote about Dropbox and I am quoting that post below. I highly recommend Dropbox as a way to back up, access and share your files and pictures securely in the cloud. If you use the Dropbox links here, I get a small reward -- some additional free space.
Dropbox is also a superior way to share photos. Forget about PhotoBucket and all those other photo sites. This is far better. You have full control, easy access on your own computer and no special uploads. Everything is automatic.
The thumbnail at
To create that excellent example gallery, I simply dragged a folder on my computer into the Public Photos folder in my Dropbox folder and published the link here. The files in my Dropbox folder are also in the same folder on all my devices, including my phone.
I am starting to see increased drops again. It could be that it takes time for the oxalic acid to act. Yesterday's count was made only about 12 hours after the application, so for a 24-hour number one would have to double it. I do the counts just after 9AM and the application was done at around 9PM the night before..
We are off to Calgary again today for another appointment. The snow has been melting as the Chinook winds continue, but the temperature is dropping. The roads are icy.
I went out to get the drop boards this morning and found the mailbox had blown over again, as had a burning barrel. We had very strong winds during the night and I notice it had been powerful enough to blow the drop board drawers an inch further under two hives, and for a moment I thought they were missing. I also notice that wind blowing in the cracks had blown a few mites across the boards a bit and they were up against the far rim, but most were stuck down. Nonetheless, the strong wind may have affected the drop count a bit by blowing some mites away and by forcing the bees to cluster more tightly.
It seems that all the hives are broodless, or close to it, judging by the lack of pale mites dropping, so this confirms that December 1st has to be about the best time to treat.
A problem, of course arises in waiting until; now if the hives have been allowed to accumulate high mite levels, as apparently several of the hives under observation did. The solution, I'm guessing is to do what I did and treat early to knock them back, but be sure to do a final application in early December to clean up the mites in hives that raised brood late. It will be interesting to see how these hives do next spring after all the treatments.
How long the hives will remain broodless is always a good question., but I'm thinking there should be at least a one-month window. Seems to me that I noticed that the brood rearing got going in the second or third week of January when I was watching the hive scale the other year.
How does the Heilyser device stack up against the Cowen machine when treating three and four-storey hives? We'll soon see, since Meijers will be over tomorrow and we'll do a repeat treatment on the test hives and a third treatment on the rest of the hives, which I did not treat when I did the third and repeat treatments with the Heilyser devices earlier this week.
So far, the spike in the graphs following the Heilyser treatment has been lower than the Cowan peaks, but that could be because we have already killed off a lot of mites. If not, then we should see when we re-treat the test hives. I suspect that the blower assisted application has to be better for large hives or colonies that are clustered in the top boxes.
We drove to Calgary and back, then ran up to Three Hills for some supplies. We expect a lot of company tomorrow.
It is minus seven this morning, just before sunrise. We are expecting visitors today, so I have quite a few chores to get done early.
Meijers are planning to come over with their oxalic vaporizer to give all the colonies their final (I hope) treatment for this fall. I'm looking at the forecast and wondering how pleasant this will be if the forecast is correct and there is blowing snow, and if we should put the job off until Tuesday, when we will again have settled weather -- again if the forecast is correct.
There was snow on some of the drop boards, having filtered in through a crack. That does not affect the drops as far as I can figure.
We had people lined up for supper tonight and a friend planning to stay over, but a light snow is falling, the roads are icy, and wind is predicted. As a result, all except one who is nearby cancelled. We have a big roast in the oven to share among three of us.
It's minus eight this morning, with fresh snow on the ground. I went out to get the drop boards and se there are large drops from some hives still. I see a bit of oxalic ash(?) has dropped onto one board (picture). It must have been stuck to the screen. I don't know what to think of it. Does it represent un-evaporated OA? I can't see how it would not.
Scrutinizing the charts and drop histories of the six different hives, all treated in the same way at the same times, we see some interesting patterns and also lack of pattern. I think we can make some tentative conclusions.
Note that my hives are three and four stories high and in EPS boxes. This may affect the cluster location in relation to the treatment and also the timing of the end date for brood emergence.
So far, I have not needed more than I have been given and earned, but if I do need more, I would not hesitate to pay the fee. It would be worth it. Until recently, I have been restricted from cloud storage due to my ISP, but the limits have been raised recently.
In the meantime, until I do decide to pay and jump to 50 GB for $99/yr, please do give it a try. I get even more space and you get a really handy service for free.
We made the drive to Calgary again today and were back around 3:15. I had big plans, but lay down for a nap and did not wake up until almost five. When I woke up, all ambition had faded.
* * * * * *
Here are today's counts. The drops are diminishing and we are planning to give them all another blast tomorrow, this time with the Cowan machine. If we don't, then the next temperature window will be Friday, since the forecast is for minus temperatures until then.
I am undecided though, since the effect from the last treatment has not entirely worn off, judging by the charts. Adding pressure to do the hives, though, is the fact that the other nineteen hives have not had a third treatment. If the six I am profiling are representative, then the others do need a shot, and I'd like to do it before the snow gets too deep. or we get into a prolonged cold spell.
I found another small error in my spreadsheet. Excel can be really tricky that way. I insert a column at right inside the last data column, then copy and paste it over, enter the new data in the last column, and then check and correct in order that I don't have to reassign the data range for each graph each time.
This also goes to illustrate a major point of this site, which is how easy it is to make mistakes, and how hard it is to do science. The mistake was not material, but I wonder how often serious errors are made in data recording and reporting and never noticed. Am I that more error-prone than others, or just more diligent in pointing out my errors?
* * * * * *
I did my duty and went to Beebiosecurity.ca and filled in the form. I can understand that the intentions behind this initiative is good, but I also recall something people say about the road to hell. Here comes more empire building, regulation and expense.
We have an appointment at 1:15 today and were planning to treat the remaining hives this afternoon after returning. Judging by the forecast, though, we won't be treating the hives this afternoon. Recommendations are to treat when it is above freezing.
Here are today's counts.
Since the last day we saw evidence of emerging brood was November 24 and the last treatment was November 28/29, we should expect efficacy approaching 90% after two to three weeks. This is yet to be proven in my hives, but has been the pattern in other broodless hives. (See charts at left and right).
Mite drops are tapering down again, as expected, with an average of 23 today. Two boards are showing zero for several days in a row now. This last treatment has so far dropped half the total mites that the two previous treatments had each dropped eight days after. This is a good sign, assuming the treatments are all equally efficacious, which is also yet to be proven.
* * * * * *
We were home at three, having taken slightly over three hours for the entire trip. The weather was holding, so I decided to go out and do the treatments with the Heilyser units I purchased previously and not wait for the blower units to be available.
The job went quite well, and took about an hour and a half to do the twenty-five hives. It would have taken less, but a second unit unit failed, in addition to the one which arrived damaged, leaving me with six working units out of the two sets of four. I also decided to use two units per hive, having found that if I put the required amount -- 3g -- into one unit, that it was inclined to boil over. That also slowed me down, since I was short one pair.
However, the units did fit into all my hives and worked quite well. I probably used about four grams per hive, as each hive has four boxes, with several exceptions that have three. I don't know if I melted any plastic frame bottoms, but did not smell any plastic. The units are not recommended for EPS boxes, but the hot units cleared the EPS boxes when I pulled them out, and I saw no melting. I did get a few bees and some wax in the cups, though. I really should have smoked the hives first, but was short of time. As it was, I finished at dusk.
It took about two minutes of electric heat per cycle and about an extra minute of waiting to allow the evaporation to finish, and since it took me 90 minutes to do 25 hives, then that works out to about four minutes a hive. Fiddling with the wiring wasted quite a bit of time andI can see several ways to improve the setup once I get the two defective units repaired. I can see having a spare unit is also a good idea if the plan is to run four units at a time, since they have so far proven to be subject to failure. I'm down to 6 out of 8.
I may have been a little early treating this time for best evaluating how the last treatment worked, but I was eager to get this job done and all the hives treated. So, tomorrow morning's drops should be interesting to see. Stay tuned.
* * * * * *
The open-circuit turned out to be at a crimp-on connector in the wiring harness (non-Heilyser). Those connectors can be very useful, but are also a frequent cause of trouble, especially where they are used on stranded wire that is flexed or where corrosion can get going. In this case, the wire broke off at the connector. I'll solder the connection and tape it up and be back in business. I ordered a replacement pan from Heilyser and it should arrive soon. Then I will have two complete four-unit setups.
When will I need them again? I don't know, but I'll be ready.
* * * * * *
I mentioned some time back that we bought an LG SmartTV and that I subscribe to Netflix streaming video. I have to say it is a pleasure to watch. We watched an episode of Monk tonight followed by an episode of Murder She Wrote. There are no commercials, the quality is good and we can start and stop as we please.
The morning is cool at minus 6 and snow is drifting down. We have drive to the city and back again today.
Here are today's drops. It is only a half-day since the treatment, but the drops are up a bit. I'm not seeing much OA on the boards. I think the trick is not to overfill the evaporation pans. Using two units per hive allows placing one on each side and that should ensure more even application.
Here is a something new. I have kept the same axes on all the charts so far in order that a comparison can be made visually without having to check the scales on the axes each time, but have decide to keep a separate set with the axes adjusted to the individual charts so that each plot reaches the top of the chart at some point and patterns can be seen better. NB: I did not maintain the same ratio of left to right axes as I did in the unadjusted charts above, so be careful not to assume that relationship from chart to chart.. The adjusted set is at right and may give a different perspective. As always, click to enlarge.
Ellen is very tired and the roads are bad, so we cancelled the appointment and I am at home today. I'm exhausted, too and slept an hour and a half after lunch. I don't seem to be able to anything too mentally challenging, like the advertisements I have promised and which are several days late.
* * * * * *
I've now treated my hives four times with oxalic vapour. Is that good? Is that bad for the bees? I really do not know. Looking at the daily drops as of yesterday, several were over the 24-mite threshold, but that reading appears to have been elevated since the last treatment did not wear off completely before I did this one. Maybe I jumped the gun and maybe I overdid it. We'll see in the next few weeks and next spring.
It's minus twenty and dropping here this morning at 6 AM. At four, when I got up, it was only minus fifteen. We have to make the trek to Calgary and back again today, and leave earlier than usual, so I decided to make an early start. I had gone to bed early last night and slept well. When I awoke at 3:30, I found I was not sleepy, so I got up, had breakfast, and got to work.
In the interval from four to six, I managed to get the ad finished, submitted, and accepted and that is a huge relief. Finishing was not actually a massive job, but a creative one that required getting back into the right state of mind and using some complex software.
I had come within a hairsbreadth of completing on my last attempt, but I ran right out of time and had to drop it. It might seem to some to be a simple thing to just pick up where I left off, but those of you who do creative work know how hard it can be to get back into the groove when the job is interrupted. To do so often requires hours of procrastination, and then a lot of fiddling before things suddenly fall into place.
FWIW, I appreciate comments pro and con about any of my work. I realize that I am often too close to what I am doing to see obvious errors and oversights, so please feel free to make constructive comments using the links above and below every daily entry.
Above is a chart that shows the average of all six hives under observation. Each is shown individually below in two separate views
What do you make of the results? It's actually looking as if we are gaining control. The drops, for the most part, are less than from previous treatments. Two hives still seem to have some, though. This is quite intriguing.
Most studies concentrate on the averages, but I am more interested in the individual response, because IMO, that is where the weaknesses are. As they say, "The devil is in the details".
* * * * * *
We made the trip again today, the 80 miles from Swalwell to the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic in Calgary, then back. I'm getting to know the route and the maze of halls there quite well. Today, we had two meetings and spent over three hours at the hospital, so the round trip took about six hours, but it was a good day.
Off to Calgary again, today. Then Jean and family are coming for a visit.
What can I say about the mite drop counts today except that they are not at all what I expected. On day three fogging broodless colonies, we should have dropped about 40% of the remaining mites according to our guideline charts from other studies.
If so, we have two hives approaching zero mites and, surprisingly, hive three is well below threshold for natural drop (24/day), and this is not a natural drop, this is accelerated due to two recent treatments. That was the hive we figured would be a problem, but it appears to be responding very well. Another look at the young/total mite drop chart (right) may shed some light on what we are seeing now.
Hive two is a bit of a surprise, too, providing a heavy drop. Looking at the individual chart, I suspect we flubbed the second treatment or for some reason, hive two did not respond at that time as well as the others and therefore is one treatment behind.
Although the day was predicted to have a high of minus two, we saw temperatures as high as plus eight during the day. If this affects the mite drops we will see. It could be that tight clusters keep mites from dropping as freely as looser clusters. We'll see.
We made the trek to Calgary and back again and returned in time to put a roast into the oven. Jean and family arrived at 6:30 and we had a pleasant evening.
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