<< Previous Page           December 2011            Next Page >>

 


Using the Heilyser Oxalic Acid Evaporators for Varroa Mite Control

The nearby battery is connected by jumper cables to the battery of the van, which is idling to maintain the full battery voltage
for the four evaporators. They draw 50 AMPS (total) for the two minutes per evaporation.

Home | Current Diary Page | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Search HoneyBeeWorld.com | Top | End
 Diary Archives - 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011| 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 |1999
My Weather Station | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Contact me

Saturday December 10th 2011
Click to visit November pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

It continues mild today, and we are at two degrees above freezing before sunrise this morning.


Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page

I notice there seem to be more dead bees on some bottom boards than I would expect and wonder if the direct evaporators are harder on bees than the blower types.  The blowers inject the vapour in a stream of cool air, whereas the vapours boil up directly above these little units.   If the cluster is close to the evaporator, then they are subjected to hot vapour.

The recommendations are to smoke the bees up, but smoking does not always drive them up.  I neglected to smoke since it was getting late in the day, and in one hive, the cluster was in the bottom box near the evaporator.  I was not happy about that and neither were the bees.  I think that in future, I'll have to be sure to take the time to smoke the hives several times before evaporating the acid.

The bees have been more active in the last twenty-four hours since it warmed up, and there is a lot more debris on the boards, including granulation.  The previous day, there was almost nothing, probably due to the cold weather.

Looking at the drop counts and the individual charts, it is clear that only two hives are anywhere near being free of mites, hives one and five.  I wonder if they have queens? 

It seems there are still a lot of mites in the rest of the hives.  I'd like to get the natural drop down to five or less mites a day, and of course zero would be ideal.  We'll be back to natural drop levels in two weeks as the treatment wears off.  In theory, at this point, since there is no brood and all mites should now be phoretic, we should have killed around half the phoretic mites, but I'm having doubts.

I mentioned earlier how these bees seem to remember the hive orientation and how I had problems when I faced my splits north after all the hives had been south-facing.  I noticed today, when I went out after mid-day in the warm part of the afternoon that there were bees collected on the south faces of the hives almost as if they remember the location of the entrances before I turned the hives.  The entrances had been north and south faces in the summer yard, but when I moved the hives to the winter location, I rotated them to face east-west.  Do they somehow remember, or were they just sitting on the warm side?

Hi Allen,

Just read a bit of your more recent diary entries and just wanted to confirm your observations regarding mite levels in wood and poly hives.

From way back it has been very apparent to me that the levels of varroa build higher in Poly hives late in the season and requires a bit more attention than in the wooden ones. This is undoubtedly due to the longer brood season (a thing of great value to us actually) when it continues on for at least a couple of weeks longer than in the wooden hives. Until then the levels seem broadly equal but in the Polys it gets another couple of weeks of the exponential upswing.

Whilst superficially this may seem serious in fact it makes little difference to the winter management and the application of oxalic acid. An untreated poly hive will collapse the next season (assuming it has significant mites). An untreated wooden hive will collapse the next season. Same consequence, maybe just a little less quick to happen. The mite drops in some hives after oxalic treatment (we dribble 3% in syrup using a sheep doser and backpack) can be huge, and the patch of pallet under the mesh can look like a sesame seed bun (albeit rather small sesame seeds) there are so many mites there, thousands sometimes. It is into our oxalic application window right now btw, and the black bees in particular start to tick over with a little brood rearing (thought to be a moisture regulation means for the bees....research by Mobus some years ago) almost immediately after the solstice. By the time January is past it is generally too late.

The slower start in spring is also real, but it is only a few days, maybe a week or so, late, and they go past the wooden hives quite early on in the season as they can raise more brood. We *assume* this is due to the bees inside a poly hive not being as sensitive to the climatic changes going on outside as those in wood are. Leaving some invert syrup in the hive top feeders of the poly units seems to correct this and get them going faster. Not so easy if you feed differently.

ps. Yes...hive 3 sounds a problem. Biggest concern is the late date for drone eviction implying a significant degree of general unsettledness.. The bees do not sound 'north adapted' to me but life is full of surprises and it may well turn out exactly the opposite of expectations. I have had bees like that in the past however, and generally they took up more of your time, more of your syrup, and underperformed in the full supers department relative to the inputs required.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Sunday December 11th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I'm looking at the data, now that I have done the final treatment of the series and wondering if I have overdone it and maybe not been patient enough to let each treatment fade completely before re-treating.  It is hard to say.

I'm also looking at each drop series and noticing patterns and the occasional exception.  One example is the series from hive five.  Although the trends are as expected, Day 18 and Day 41 stand out. In the first case, the drop on that one day is triple the nearby days, and in the second, the drop goes to 64 from zero before and after.  I look for explanations, such as the possibility that I mixed up the boards on those days, but there is no reasonable explanation, since the other drop series are coherent on that day.  I know that it did count correctly. 

How should we handle anomalies like this?  There is the off-chance that they are caused by errors, but there is a greater chance that we are seeing some phenomenon which needs explaining.  Glossing over or throwing out such data could result in a false understanding.  In the case of the 64 count, that one day dropped as many mites as the previous two weeks and more than have dropped in over two weeks to date since.  If this number is real, it shows that something special happened that day in that one hive, but what?

Other observers have reported that drops can be inconsistent and have deprecated daily drop counts as monitoring methods on those grounds.  For some reason, though, the same people recommend alcohol wash which can be just as inaccurate on any one occasion.  Over time, and with multiple samples, though both are useful IMO, as long as the seasonal factors and other limitations are understood and the necessary conditions for proper sampling are maintained.

In alcohol wash, samples must be made from nurse bees actually on brood for accurate measure.  For drops,  the screens must be clear of debris and the time of year and amount of brood must be considered.  Thresholds are different between methods, and, again, they are dependent on season.

Of interest, also, is the difference in response time to the Nov 28 treatment in hives two and three.  Hive three had maximum drop on Day 3 and hive two peaked on Day 6, by which time the drops in hive three had dropped to 1/3 of the Day 3 peak.

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data
on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

At this time of year, there is no need to check daily.  There is seldom much debris on the boards and a weekly count would be perfectly adequate for monitoring purposes.  Of course, a weekly count would conceal the interesting daily variation we are observing here.

*   *    *    *    *   *

Jean and family stayed until after lunch, then headed home.  I spent the afternoon cleaning out the fridge and getting supper ready.    Fen, Bert, Joe and Oene arrived at five.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Monday December 12th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

This morning, after examining the diary in several browsers, I globally increased the font size in this year's and last year's posts.  If you have found them too small and not figured out to press the control key and the '+' or '-' key at the same time to increase or decrease the font size, this is for you.

Randy mentioned the question of ambient temperature and its effect on the drops, so I am looking for that data to add to the reports.  Environment Canada sometimes reports daily temperatures quite late, so it was not possible to add that data in real time.

From my informal observations, there is some relationship between daily drops and ambient temperature, but it does not appear to be a major effect.  I am sure, however, that below some minimum temperature, weather could reduce efficacy due to the bees being too tightly clustered and too inactive to make contact with the dust.

*   *    *    *    *   *

We have to run to Calgary again today, and I see the temperatures are cooler today. We've also had 5 cm of snow in the last 24 hours, so we'll have to see how the roads are.

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

Well, it seems that the daily drops are diminishing rapidly and that the last treatment had less effect than the previous ones.  I know I did a good job: I used two evaporators per hive with half the dose in each and it did evaporate.  Could it be that the mites are about defeated for now? 

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Tuesday December 13th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Today, we have one last trip to Calgary.  The appointment is earlier than usual, 9:30, which means driving in rush hour traffic all the way across town.  Moreover, rain and snow are forecast, so we are up early and have to plan on at least a half hour extra.

I added the high and mean daily temperature plots to the daily average drop chart after a comment on BEE-L.  Temperature excursions above freezing and daily drop do show a slight correlation, as can be expected.  Increased bee activity and loosened clusters will allow more mites to drop and knock down more mites which may be sitting on top bars and the screen.  Possibly, also, when the cluster loosens, individual bees may groom a few more off than usual.  Although there is some obvious temperature effect, the oxalic acid effect, overall, is obviously much larger.

It turned out that I was looking at the Port Carling forecast this morning (see above), not the forecast for Three Hills, and our drive to Calgary turned out to be uneventful.  I must have clicked on the wrong bookmark.  Even the north Deerfoot was clear sailing.  We got off at McKnight and were lucky.  As we exited, we noticed  that the road appeared plugged further down, judging by the brake lights ahead and by the red section on "Beat the Traffic", a handy Android app I use often when approaching civilization.  I hardly ever use my Garmin GPS anymore.

From BEE-L:

AD: > the end result is decent control in my situation -- if multiple applications are used.

Allen, I don't know how you come to that conclusion! From your main graph, it appears that your initial average natural mite fall was about 10 mites/day. Your final natural fall (even with oxalic residues) at the end of the trial is about 7 mites per day. So how in the world do you conclude  that you've gotten "decent control"?

And what makes you think that your treatments actually did anything at all, since many studies have shown that natural mite fall would have been expected to naturally fall off during the treatment period in which you collected data?

Your data clearly show that oxalic vapor treatments temporarily accelerated natural mite drop. Other than that, I don't see how you can draw further conclusions from your data!

--
Randy Oliver
Grass Valley, CA
www.ScientificBeekeeping.com

I picked up the drop boards two hours early and adjusted the drops accordingly (x 24/22).  The drops continue to taper off.  The next two weeks should be interesting.

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

To BEE-L:

> Allen, my suggestion of "weather" as a variable was completely arbitrary--I
> was simply trying to make the point that without a control group, one can't
> really state that the increased drops were due to the experimental
> treatment.

I realise what you were saying, but in a sense, that proof is provided by the repeated applications and the subsequent mite drops. Granted, this is not absolute proof, but there does seem to be a cause and effect. That effect, though, does diminish and is not as pronounced after the change of evaporation devices from Cowan to Heilyser. That lowered response bears investigating further, but appears to be due to the lack of remaining mites.

I would feel quite safe in concluding, from comparing the drops in the various hives and the various times, that the drops are associated with something that is happening when I use the applicators and evaporate oxalic acid inside the hives. I had already ruled out temperature and other possible factors, but have now added a mean temperature plot to the chart so you and others can see what I had already seen -- and eliminated.

> And without a control group, one can't say whether your four treatments
> with oxalic vapor were of any benefit in mite control over natural
> mortality at that time of year.

Inasmuch as greatly enhanced drops occurred in almost all hives in the days immediately following these events, it seems highly probable there is a causal relationship. There are, however several anomalies which have been discussed in the diary. The lack of response to one treatment in one hive at one time could be attributed to negligence on the part of the applicators, a fluke in the machine, or intervention by the omnipresent Murphy.

The one anomalously high drop (64) in a hive which dropped almost zero every nearby day before and after is a mystery and is likely due to Divine Intervention on behalf of the long-suffering bees or the oft-demonstrated incompetence of the principal investigator. It could also be explained by the phrase, "These things happen". They do and most self respecting experimenter would cook them out of the records, but I don't have to look good, and besides, I think it could be significant.

Whatever it is -- assuming I did not make a big goof, and I did not -- if we could identify it and cause it to happen at will, we would not need oxalic or any other such treatment. Dee spoke of 'clean out events' as I recall. Was this a one-day cleaning bee? (Sorry, couldn't resist).

> My point: if one is trying to determine the efficacy of any sort of > treatment or management technique, one MUST include controls! Sometimes the controls are internal, like this. Granted, having some untreated hives would make things more kosher, especially if I never interfered with them in any way, like changing drop boards every day.

> And without a control group, one can't say whether your four treatments
> with oxalic vapor were of any benefit in mite control over natural
> mortality at that time of year.

OK. I see what you are saying here. It _is_ remotely possible that all the oxalic did is accelerate the natural drop and kill mites which would die in the next few days anyhow, resulting in no additional total mite drop over what would have occurred naturally. Having some untreated hives to compare would be valuable to prove that the oxalic resulted in increased mite mortality. Given the variability I demonstrated , I wonder how many controls it would have taken, and would we take the average, or track each control hive?

Interesting as that could be, that takes me far from where I was going.

Proving that oxalic evaporation kills more mites than using nothing was not my purpose. I think others have proven that conclusively enough for me.

What I did was merely record observations of my treatments and the after effects on each of six hives, and share that detail FWIW.

I also made note of the young mites dropping and suggested that they are an indicator of emerging brood in hives with non-zero mite loads, and that this could be used to predict the efficacy of treatment -- or not -- since presence of brood is known to reduce efficacy.

So, given that I accepted that evaporating oxalic acid in hives kills plenty of mites, my contribution was recording the variation from the mean that is commonly presented, and thus showing how the response is highly variable between hives.

The interesting thing is that regardless of the variation in magnitude and timing of the kill -- it is beginning to appear -- the end result is decent control in my situation -- if multiple applications are used.

 

> > >As you say, maybe the mites would have all died off anyhow.

Glad to see you open to discussion Allen! FWIW, I never said that *all* the mites would have died off. It's obvious that some mites survive the winter in the far north (but there is also some broodrearing in the normal winter cluster, so that may be a factor).

When I look at your "average" chart, I see a baseline mite drop level typically between 10 and 20 mites per day, punctuated by spikes after you treat. But my point is, if your oxalic treatments were effective, I'd expect to see the baseline drop permanently after each treatment, and to near zero after four treatments! That doesn't appear to be the case.

I'm not concluding whether the treatments worked or not. I'm just saying that your data does not support the hypothesis that they did.

>You mention a bunch of studies. How about sending me a few?

Getting ready to run to the bee yards, will do later. Any plot of natural mite drop over time shows a decrease in winter. See Fig 3 at http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fighting-varroa-reconnaissance-mite-sampling/

Here is that figure and description.  The entire article is worth reading.

Figure 3. Recommended threshold levels of natural 24-hr mite drop onto sticky boards, ranging from conservative to very liberal as far as allowable mite levels. The dates are for a mid-latitude temperate climate. Note that these curves do not show the total mite population, but rather natural mite drop. I’ve indicated the approximate total mite population relative to the peak drop about the first week of September. The “very liberal” colony could still survive if virus levels stay low. Mite levels above a curve indicate that the colony requires treatment. Data compiled and extrapolated, with liberties, from various researchers.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Wednesday December 14th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I went out at the regular time and collected the mite boards.  I did not bother adjusting for the slight time difference since the counts are so low.  That drop for hive 6 should be a "2".  I noticed that when I double-checked after posting the image.  It is correct in the file.


Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

>A question, Did you have a control treatment to determine how many mites left in after your oxalic treatment?

Not at this point, although I have been considering applying Apivar for that purpose. The problem is the lateness of the season and the disruption to the colonies which are four stories high and heavy.

I suppose it all comes down to how serious I want to be and whether I (and others who are interested) would be happy enough to look at winter survival and spring counts. Are the observations so far valid enough to warrant continuing?

> In most experiments run to determine efficacy, we use what is called a finishing treatment. This treatment is done using a miticide with efficacy more than 95% such Apivar for 42 days. After collecting all mites during the 42 days. This will represent what is left after the initial treatment (e.g. oxalic acid). Thus, we will be able to get a relative efficacy to known product.

In this case, my attempts at reducing what I considered to be excessive varroa levels to tolerable numbers has turned into something more serious and interesting than I originally intended. I am willing to take suggestions like this, if the benefit in terms of proving something that is not already known or which cannot be inferred is greater than the cost to me and my bees in terms of disruption and probable consequent hive death in winter. There is also the question of whether I want to count mites for another 42 days after I finish this measurement in the next two weeks. Of course, I would not have to count daily in that finishing drop. bi-weekly would probably suffice.

And would I be annoyed if the finishing treatment dropped a total of fifty mites or less in the six hives over 42 days after I was already convinced that I had high efficacy? (Yes).

>Generalizations and assumption have to be handled carefully!

So it seems.

It also seems that the problem is often in recognizing that the assumptions are assumptions.

 

I have been thinking about Randy's comments, and the area under the chart lines I imagine to be created under his suggestion and the area under the actual plot lines charts I present on my site at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/files/drop.htm ...

Randy said, "When I look at your "average" chart, I see a baseline mite drop level typically between 10 and 20 mites per day, punctuated by spikes after you treat. But my point is, if your oxalic treatments were effective, I'd expect to see the baseline drop permanently after each treatment, and to near zero after four treatments! That doesn't appear to be the case. "

...and I think the simple answer is this:

  • If we stayed at Randy's baseline of, "between 10 and 20 mites per day" for 62 days straight, we get a total drop of 1240 mites dying naturally over that time.

  • If use my data and we start at 14.5 and taper (linearly for the sake of convenience)  to the 4 mites we see dropping today, we get (14.5+4)/2 x 62 = 574 mites.

The real cumulative average drop is 2279 -- by actual count.

In the first, artificially skeptical case, we would still calculate that the treatments killed 2279-1240 = 1039 more mites than the background natural drop -- even if that natural drop is exaggerated.

Using the actual data, then the treatments killed 2279-574 = 1705 mites more than could have been predicted to die and drop naturally, or 3.97 times the expected natural drop over that time, subject to the assumptions above.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

I drove to Three Hills this morning and did a little shopping.  The main purpose, though, was to have the exhaust on the Toyota checked.  It has been getting a little noisy.  The shop says that a flex pipe is cracked and it is a dealer item.  They priced it at $1700 plus labour.  I don't think that I'll be spending $1700 on a 1998 Toyota Sienna with 280,000 km on the clock, even if the van is otherwise mint.  I imagine that I should be able to patch that pipe, but at this point I am just guessing, seeing as I was a little slow getting to the hoist where they were looking at it and have yet to see it myself.  They say it is behind a heat shield anyhow, so I'll have to run it up on ramps and drop the shields to see.  A quick Google search seems to indicate that I can do the job cheaply, maybe under $100.

> The 10-20 baseline was what I see on your chart--it is not "my number."

Whatever. Why quibble? That was what you wrote. My number was 14.5, with the qualifications previously mentioned. They come out the same, FAI&P.

> You can't extrapolate from that, since it is suppressed due to your
> obvious accelerated mite drops due to the treatments.

I was assuming (yes assuming) that this number should naturally decline over time from the data you provided and simply drew a straight line to the current drop number, although it is not a natural drop at this point and won't be for a week or more.

> My point is that you can look at your chart, and draw a nearly horizontal line
> through the baseline mite drop between spikes.

Maybe, maybe not. I realise you are a busy man and doctored up the chart for you with some lines and areas delineated http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/images/2011/bl10.h7.jpg

> If your treatment actually had an effect (forget your fanciful
> calculations), then that baseline should have clearly dropped down stepwise
> after each treatment, and by the end should have been near zero (not 4,
> since that is not that far from the baseline).

Maybe that is not the only plausible way to think about this, and perhaps it is not the best since it ignores the ongoing brood emergence during the early part.

I have marked the brood period and the non-brood period clearly, and the arrows indicate the treatments. The current drop of 4 is still in the accelerated (not natural) drop period following the the last treatment, and I have been anticipating that the natural drop will be less than 4. I am not at all convinced though that we will see all zeros every day. From the total drops per hive so far, what would indicate a good control?

>>> Quod erat demonstrandum.

> Hardly! Latin back to you:
> Cum hoc ergo propter hoc--Correlation does not imply causation!

Some people need more proof. And then there is the question of certainty. For me, in light of other work and experience, I need less proof than others might.

> Allen, the only reason that I'm belaboring this thread is that recently
> there was a discussion about alternative interpretations of scientific
> studies. I'm simply using your small "study," and the unsupported
> conclusions that you drew from it as an example.

Sure, and I agree. I also don't think that any one study alone proves anything, especially if stats are used. In fact the stats say so in so many words, but few listen.

So, as far as I can see, we are in agreement. I'm convinced, and need less effect and less certainty to deem the treatment successful than you. That's fine. IMO.

As for standing up to the standards we expect of formal planned and published studies, I certainly don't make any such claims. This is an accidental project, dreamed up as it progresses. It is what it is.

I still have plenty of reservations and questions -- and I appreciate your assistance in this -- but I am quite convinced that the oxalic treatment killed more mites and sooner than I would have seen dead if I let nature take its course -- unless of course the hives died the way they did last year in which case, I would have 100.0000 % mite kill. I am attempting to avoid that way of controlling mites by reducing the populations earlier than nature would -- I hope.

> Medhat and others have clearly demonstrated that *properly applied* oxalic
> vapor can bring mite levels down. But your data set cannot be used to
> support the hypothesis that that is what actually happened in your hives.

That seems to be a matter of opinion, and the project is incomplete.

> This is not a criticism of your study--I found it very interesting to read
> your learning curve about sticky board counts, and to see the spikes
> following oxalic vapor treatment. But that's as far as I think that you
> can legitimately go as far as conclusions, unless you do either a cleanup
> treatment or in-hive alcohol wash and brood sample to confirm the actual
> amount of mites still happily residing in the comfort of your tall, warm,
> styrofoam-insulated varroa hotels.

I'm waiting to see what happens to the natural drops after this is all over in another week or two..

Just to reiterate:

I did not expect high efficacy in the treatments done during the brood period, although I did compare the response to that of broodless hives as I went along. The initial treatments were done earlier than optimal to try to knock down as many varroa as possible while waiting for the brood to clear out and to hold the mite populations back. That is all they accomplished -- IMO

I see quite different response in the two treatments done after the brood rearing stopped, but the second is not completely played out. (I used a different application system on these as well, and that confounds things).

The last two treatments are intended to provide control for next season, and the jury is still out as far as I am concerned, but the trend is in the right direction.

I'm not sure that some have grasped that point. It is illustrated more clearly at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/images/2011/bl10.h7.jpg

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Thursday December 15th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

> I would have run your slanted line much more horizontally through the middle of the
> smaller zigs and zags, rather than through the final point, until we see whether the
>final point is actually part of a trend.

Granted, if it were intended as a trend line, but it is actually the upper bound of an area which represents an imaginary natural drop calculated by taking a simple integral from the beginning point to the end point for comparison to the actual mite deaths recorded.

If it were a trend line, it would also have to be broken at the point where the brood rearing ceased. That could be difficult because evidence of emerging brood varied from hive to hive and my goal here is to examine and the variance, not the means. That chart is the _average_ of all six hives and represents what is so often presented. Unlike most research I've read, my interest is actually in all the individual hives and the exceptions which add up to make that average.

>Re the brood/broodless cut off, does that date refer to when you think all
>the remaining brood had emerged, or the last date of egglaying?

All my data is from examining the drop boards under magnification. From the nature of the the debris I was able to infer when brood emergence ended with -- to me -- acceptable certainty. As for egg laying, I have no way to know. I suppose an infra-red thermometer might give an indication, but even that would have to be invasive. The data behind my inferences are in the multi-colour table near the bottom of the summary page. (Above the weather) http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/files/drop.htm 

I did not open the hives during the observations except to quickly move a top brood chamber (no bees) to the bottom on some hives. (More details in the full record).

Some of the hives seem to end emergence much earlier than others. One seemed broodless beginning October 29 and the last kept going until November 24. Of course this makes the composite chart less revealing than the individual charts which are offered on the same page, with much less analysis markup. That composite chart conceals the actual goings-on that vary from hive to hive and is as useful for real understanding as saying the average height of an adult human is 5 feet. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height#Average_height_around_the_world ).

I apologise for the voluminous record. "Like Topsy 'it growed' while I wrote." I've tried to provide a summary page and explanations , but inevitably, the more I explain, the more there is to read and the less transparent it becomes .

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

I was cleaning up downstairs last night and found some Apivar, just enough for the test hives..  People have been suggesting I do a finishing treatment.

"A question, Did you have a control treatment to determine how many mites left in after your oxalic treatment? In most experiments run to determine efficacy, we use what is called a finishing treatment. This treatment is done using a miticide with efficacy more than 95% such Apivar for 42 days. After collecting all mites during the 42 days. This will represent what is left after the initial treatment (e.g. oxalic acid). Thus, we will be able to get a relative efficacy to known product.

I'm thinking that this would be overkill for my observations, especially it the daily drops go down near zero as they seem to be, but it would elevate my little project to greater respectability.  Nonetheless, it is still subject to valid criticism for lack of control hives and it is too late now by far to remedy that deficiency.

I could insert the Apivar without too much disruption -- I think, but I'm concerned that the disruption of inserting Apivar at this late date could kill the hives.  I'd be tempted to fog several hives, though, -- at least the worst two of the six -- one more time to see if OA drops any more after this treatment wears off.  We'll see.   Maybe I'll do both.

I received the part from Heilyser and repaired the evaporator that lost the pan in shipping and also repaired the cord on the one which quit on me.  I now have 8 working evaporators.

While I was at it, I followed the advice in the forum and removed the u-ground third prong so that inserting the plugs should be easier.

The other day, I mentioned that these bees seem to remember the south side entrances they had a long while back, before I turned them to face east-west.  Here is a picture.  Maybe they are just warming themselves on the warm surface, but I don't recall that many doing so in the past and they seem to be searching for an entrance. 

At right is a hive with frost near both auger holes indicating they are definitely breathing through them and controlling the entrances, even down below freezing.  When I closed all the holes, I saw water on the underside of the plastic pillow under the lid.  A little moisture up there can be good, but if there is much, it forms ice and then melts on the bees, killing them.

I did some work in the coal bin in the evening and we received a load of coal around 8:45.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Friday December 16th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Drops are now down to 1.8 per day, with the largest drop being 5 mites in hive 4.  Hive 3, which seemed to be a problem previously, shows only 1 mite.

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

In spite of the forecast, the temperature got up to freezing and I went out to put more pillows on the bees.  In the process, I got to see some of the clusters, since some are up at the top.  Others are still at the bottom. 

I picked up one dead hive, all four full boxes, completely empty of any sign of bees alive or dead.  We always see the odd one like this.  In the process of putting the boxes away, I got to see some of the newly drawn foundation, both Mann Lake PF-100 frames and Permadent.  At least, I think they are PF-100s, they were unlabeled when I received them and the PF-100s I see in the Mann Lake catalog are not white like these.

What I saw confirmed my previous impression: the bees draw the Permadent perfectly, with the odd exception where the neighbouring comb is uneven and they draw the smaller cells unevenly.  Here are few shots taken with my cellphone.  I realise that it is limited sample, but is consistent with what I have seen in other hives thus far.  Note that there is a little distortion from the camera at the edges.

Take a look, decide, then let me know in the Honey Bee World Forum



Above are shots of the Permadent.


Here are some shots of the PF-100s

BTW, and FWIW, I stored some of the PF-100s where they were exposed to sunlight and after a few months, found that they are extremely brittle and shatter.  I realise that bee frames are usually kept in the dark, but wonder about the quality of plastic used.

How are my bees doing?  I'd rate them 4 out of 10, although there are some really good hives.  It seems that the splits just did not do well this year.  As mentioned, I had drifting problems and queen acceptance problems.  I was a way a lot and did not pay much attention to them.  The drifting splits problem I have seen once before, but not quite this way.  I also wonder in hindsight if varroa levels were high enough to affect the queen acceptance and mating. 

If I have to guess at my survival next spring, I'm guessing that I'll lose about a third of the starting number (25), but several should be boomers.

Here is a Google Earth link to where my hives are kept, showing both summer and winter locations.  You'll need Google Earth to use the link.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Saturday December 17th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Today should be warmer and so maybe the mite droops will increase a bit, but the trend has been down.  The next week should be interesting in that regard.

I think that I should evaluate the test hives to verify that the reduction in mite fall is not due to dwindling colonies.  I have looked into several and they look OK, but I'll have to look further when I have a chance and it is warm enough.

We are expecting Jean and Chris (and Mckenzie and Nathan) to come today.  We have to get the place ready for the Christmas holidays.  The tree is up, but we have to arrange the beds.  I'm looking at the snow on the rink on the pond and considering if it would be wise to clear it or to leave it.  If rain is in the forecast, that could be a problem either way.

There is some discussion at the Honey Bee World Forum about the comb pictures I put up yesterday .  To forestall misunderstanding, I should emphasize a few points.

  1. This is not a comparison of "Small Cell" to normal sizes.  It is a comparison of two brands of supposedly standard foundation.

  2. The smaller of these combs are not "small cell" by the common definition, being 5.0mm, but are on the small side of standard.  Just as the 5.4mm Permadent is 2mm large, the 5.0mm PF-100 is 2mm small.

  3. These pictures are a very limited sample, shot casually with my phone, from only one box.  I have yet to accumulate enough samples to do a comprehensive comparison.  I plan to do so.

  4. From what I have seen so far without close examination, some hives seem to have drawn the PF-100s just fine, but some mess them up.  I don't see that with the Permadent or Pierco (5.25mm).

  5. Contrary to the common belief, use of small cell (4.9) apparently does not reduce the size of resulting bees by more than a few (~2-3%) percent according to some studies I have recently read.

The weather warmed yesterday and shook some more mites loose it seems.  The count is up a bit again, as expected.

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

I see, now, there is more discussion at the Honey Bee World Forum, and some of what would normally be here is over there today.  Join in, if you like.

Jean and family were here for the day and we got the beds ready for the rest of the gang we are expecting over Christmas.  I cleared the rink and Mckenzie skated for a half-hour.

I remembered I have DOSBOX installed and played a little Jazz Jackrabbit, then looked up DOS Games and downloaded a clone of Space Invaders, a game we played on the early Commodore Pet I had back in 1979.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Sunday December 18th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

We have another warm morning.  It was minus one at 6 AM, but is dropping as I write.  There is an inch or two of fresh snow on the rink I cleared yesterday.

I see a little ice on several drop boards again (right), a sign that there was ice higher up in the hives from condensation which the warm weather melted.   The water then ran down onto the drop boards and froze again at night. 

That ice formation seems to indicate a need for more ventilation.  I had closed up some of the auger holes when fogging the hives with oxalic vapours and maybe should have opened them earlier.  I also see an oxalic cinder from my first attempt at using the Heilyser units when I used too much acid for the unit to handle and it boiled up.  I did not see that with subsequent treatments where I used smaller amounts in each evaporator.

The counts are higher today, as they were yesterday.  The warmer weather seems to loosen the clusters and dislodge mites.  Until then, we had a declining trend, but it is now broken to some extent, so it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next weeks.  The snow is getting deep in the yard and I'm wondering how much longer I can drive in without firing up the 4X4.  Right now, I am using a van.

How many mites are left in these hives?  I don't know.  How big are the clusters now?  I don't know.  Where exactly are the clusters?  I don't know.  Some clusters are at the top, so that means the fumes have to rise a long way and that the mites have a maze of top bars and other obstacles to pass through as they drop.

These are tall hives and it is possible that oxalic evaporation does not work as well in such conditions due to the variable location of the clusters and greater amount of equipment inside.

We are at Day 12 of this treatment and the effect is attenuated by Day 14 and wears off by Day 21, according to the comparisons I have been using.

Regular readers will note that I have given up trying to guess what the efficacy is.  We saw that during brood rearing, the mite drops returned to essentially the same levels after treatment.  Now that the brood rearing has ceased AFAIK, the weather has had an effect and the bees have likely dwindled a bit -- or a lot. 

It is anyone's guess what the remaining mite populations might be and I know of no easy, non-destructive way to establish that.  Alcohol wash would give us a number, I suppose, but from where in the cluster should it be taken, and how can one be sure to not take the queen in cool weather, which is all we have at this time of year.

Drops are easy and non-destructive, but do they tell us what we want to know?

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

I got curious and at 3:30, I went out and took a look at the test hives.  I was wondering if they had dwindled down and that might be the reason for the lower mite drops.  I took pictures and am now reassured that the hives are just fine, with some reservations about the first one.  I didn't pull frames, or expose the bees for long.  While there, I added several extra pillows under the lids.

This is Hive One: It turned look to be one of the weakest of the bunch, but is still down a ways in the hive so I had to lift off two boxes to see bees.  The cluster is in several boxes, which makes it harder to evaluate.  The shots are of the top of the second box, then the top of the bottom of the three boxes I'd say this hive looks OK.

         


Hive Two: This hive is still down a ways in this box and probably the one below. Only the middle is up to the top.

    


Hive Three: A good-looking hive. All these hives are clustered fairly tightly and the bees hardly move when the hives are opened.

    


Hive Four: What can I say? looks good to me.

    


Hive Five: This one is interesting in that it is all on newly drawn and filled PF-100s.  I moved most new comb below on other hives, but left this box on top because it was well-filled and I'm curious how the bees do.  So far, the bees look good. 

Again, the cluster is still down a bit and so, although the bees are on all frames, they are only visible in this picture on the centre frames.  The pillow was in close contact with the frame tops, too, so bees are just coming up a bit after I lifted the pillow.

    


Hive Six: Another good-looking hive.

    

The job went well.  The bees were settled down and hardly responded to my opening the top for a moment, or even to having one box lifted down to check for bees in the case of hive one.

I suppose that if I had been thinking, I could have taken the infra-red thermometer out to check the cluster temperatures and look for brood temperatures, but I did not.

I should remember to check to make sure the cellphone camera lens is clean, too. I see some blurring in these photos.

Note:  I keep referring to the fact that some of my wintering hives are in four boxes, but should clarify that only eleven of the twenty-four remaining hives are in four boxes and the rest are in three. 

All the test hives are in three boxes on screened bottoms with solid drop boards under them.

Things are quite busy in Honey Bee World Forum.  Thanks to those who post there.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBee:World List | Diary Home | Write me

Monday December 19th 2011
Click to visit December pages from previous years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

 
Click on each image to enlarge, or here for all the data on one page, or  here for the Excel 2010 data file.

There was water on the drop boards again, today and more than usual amount of debris on Hive 1's board, due, I assume, to my having lifted up the two top boxes to verify the hive population yesterday.

The counts are lower than any time in the past, but that is expected sue to less activity and lower bee populations that earlier, so it is hard to attribute it to the treatments.  Drops in hives 2 and 4 remain stubbornly high.

Just for fun, I changed the plot to logarithmic to see if a pattern is more obvious.  Please ignore the junk plots for temperature.  Log charts have trouble with negative numbers, and I was too lazy to clean up the chart.

 

Hi Allen: I was wondering how you are enjoying your 2 new monitors? Are they hooked to a desktop system running windows7? I need a new system , so I was looking for ideas? Do you have a favorite RSS reader? I would love to be able to monitor large amount of feeds!

Above is a shot of Swalwell Mission Control.  Three computers -- two laptops and a netbook, all connected wirelessly, all running Windows 7 -- and three monitors. 

All computers are linked with Synergy and run off one keyboard and one mouse which moves seamlessly from one to the other.  I can copy images or text on one computer and paste it on another.

The monitor at right is the older LCD monitor and it does not hold a candle to the new LED monitors.  The netbook and one notebook are LED also, but the notebook at left is LCD.  The difference is amazing.

As for RSS, I use Google Reader on my mobile devices and sometimes on the PCs.  I have other readers, but have never found them too good.  I have considered adding RSS to my site, but it is a hassle to keep up the way I operate.  My experience with RSS is that it is a time waster for me.

At right is a shot of the noisy pipe on my Toyota Sienna which to replace with factory parts would be $1700.  I imagine I can do it for $100 or less.  We'll see.

*   *   *   *   *   *

After looking at the Toyota van which is still up on the ramps, I gathered my notes, got into the Dodge and went hunting for the items on my lists.  I left the dog at home.

Airdrie was my destination.  I started at Canadian Tire and looked for a flex pipe, as I had seen them there once years ago.  A helpful partsman searched for fifteen minutes, digging trough old parts books, but came up empty.  Just the same, I was impressed with the help.

Next, I went to Wal-Mart.  Lots of people knock Wal-Mart , but for me, it is heaven.  I bought some groceries and then some pillows and comforters for when the grandkids are here in a few days and was able to do all that in one store.

After that, I went to Home Depot, next door and bought some 4x2s, and then decided it was time to head home for the day.  The thermometer on the overhead console read plus 6 degrees C as I drove home.

Search | Selected topics | Honey Bee World Forum | HoneyBee:World List | Diary Home | Write me

 

<< Previous Page           December 2011            Next Page >>

Local radar and satellite weather charts

Three Hills Area Weather Forecast
Intellicast | Yahoo | Weather Channel
Webcams  | Banff  | Banff | Sunshine Village | Calgary
Satellite Pictures 1
Canadian temperatures are in degrees Celsius

allen's Computer Security Page
A collection of helpful ideas and links
Free Online Virus Scans
 Panda | Trend Micro
Free Online Security Check

Convert Currency | Convert Measurements
Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit >
Chart
  Calculator

   "If I make a living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
Please report any problems or errors to Allen Dick
© allen dick 1999-2014. Permission granted to copy in context for non-commercial purposes, and with full attribution.

Home