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We were undecided about going to Nakiska for a day of skiing after looking at the forecast, but took a chance and found it was a perfect day. The forecast promised clouds and a cool day, but it was quite warm and sunny.
Jon and his two, and Chris and his daughter and I spent the afternoon skiing. Kalle had never skied, but by the end of the day was leaving the rest of us in the dust. He hasn't had a wreck yet.
I had been feeling stiff and had a sore ankle and a heel that had been bothering me, but once I put on the boots, I never thought of them once. At the end of the day they were fine. I had taken along an old pair of poles and was reminded when I saw the notches I marked on them years ago how much I used to ski. In those years, I was apologetic if I did not get out at least thirty days and often camped up at the hill in my motorhome. I need to get out more.
I collected the mite boards before leaving and counted on returning home. I see I had screwed up the colour-coding of queenlessness on the spreadsheet, so once again Dropbox saved me by bringing back a previous version of the file. I am now on V.10 of the spreadsheet. (Click to download if you have MS Office 2010).
Today is Jon's last day here before he and the kids return to LA. I drive them in to YYC tomorrow morning and they fly at noon.
The weather continues mild. It's just above freezing and the bees are patrolling the auger holes when I go out to get the drop boards.
The warm spell has resumed after the brief drop to minus fifteen yesterday. It is plus four at 2 AM. I'm driving Jon and the kids to YYC this morning and will do a bit of shopping along the way home.
Just looking at the drops, it seems to me that one Apivar hive has no mites left to drop, but the other drops mites on days where the mean temperature rises above 0. That makes sense, since the bees need to move around to brush against the strips and to distribute the chemical. As the cluster gets tighter, the individual bees move less. The cluster temperature is bound to be warmer than the environment. If the cluster is 10 degrees warmer (C), then zero is around where the cluster would be getting dense enough that the bees would stop wandering around inside it.
I drove Jon and the kids to YYC at 8:15 AM, then dropped in to see Mike, Liz, and Attila in Airdrie. from there, I did a little shopping and got home mid-afternoon. I looked at beds again, as I like this one I bought the other day well enough to consider buying another. After looking around, I concluded that the deal I made right off was better than any I saw afterwards. I like it when that happens.
Tonight, I watched a little video, then worked on the charts. I decided to upsize the individual hive charts and posted them on the data page. I don't know if anyone will appreciate them or not, but it was something to do on a winter night.
Another morning above freezing, with temperatures in the teens predicted. As usual with these Chinooks, we will expect Chinook winds that bring in the warm air. They can be very strong and sometimes blow empty semi-trailers and motor homes onto their sides or off the roads.
The high temperatures can be expected to allow the bees to entirely break cluster, so we should see increased drops as the bees tidy the hives and bottom boards.
It is quiet around here. After two weeks with three children and five adults coming and going, this is a big change. The fridge is full of food that will have to be frozen since Ellen and I won't be able to eat it all soon. First, I have to clean out the freezer.
During the day, there were reports of wind damage south of here and grass fires covering many square kilometers. I wonder about my beekeeper friends in the south who have hives in the areas where the fires were sweeping the prairie. A number of homes and farm buildings were reported as having been destroyed and some highways were closed for a while. The wind was not too bad here, but the warm air melted the surface of the pond so that there was an inch of water lying on it by evening.
In the afternoon, I drove to Three Hills to pick up some medication, a wheelchair and some supplies. When I got home around 4, I drove through the bee yard and noticed the bees flying and cleaning out hives. I could see dead bees on the screens, dropped there by the cleaning activity but not enough to block the screens much. I'll have to check, though. I have a wire to pull bees out the entrance which is only a centimetre high, but ideally, I need a little brush that would clean the screen as well as pull out bees.
I pulled a few drop boards for a glance since I expect to see more mites dropping with all this activity and it appears that there are more mites than in previous days, but I can't tell with the naked eye. I 'm taking a decongestant due to a cold and my near vision is not at its best today.
I then drove to Drum to meet up with Joe and Oene for supper.
It's still three degrees here this morning.
Sure enough, the warm spell dropped more mites. Looking at the boards, I wonder how many of the mites have been dead for a while and are just dislodged now and how many are fresh. I do see some that look as if they have been dead a long time. These hives are in three boxes, so the mites have a long ways to fall and obstacles like top bars along the way.
I see the Apivar is working better. I have some fresh strips now that I may put in at some point, but it seems the strips I added are working once the temperature moves up a bit.
This is Day 84 and I am starting to tire of this project. I wonder what I have accomplished?
For one thing, it seems clear that if the published results for Apivar are true and as long as Apivar continues to work without resistance occurring, that it is far more reliably effective. I wonder how accurate the reports are, though. What I am seeing with oxalic vapourizing does not match the literature. Of course, I have three boxes on the hives and that could be a factor, but with Apivar, it does not matter how many boxes are on the hive. I could certainly use a method of lifting the hives off the bottom boards to inspect the screens.
For example, taking the hive with 4372 mites to date, some of those mites were bred during the test period.
How should I rate my efficacy? Others speak in terms of mites dropping vs. total mite load, and I suppose that with the Apivar hives, I should be able to assume a total after it is on for 42 days and then totaling the mites before and after adding the strips. That total, though, includes both the mites which were on the hives at the beginning and those which were bred during the time the hives had brood. What number should I use?
We have yet one more warm day. I slept until almost nine, if I can call that sleeping. This cold woke me up every hour or two with congestion in spite of my taking the maximum recommended doses of pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine and some acetylsalicylic acid. The cold was down in my chest overnight, but seems better this morning.
I've been considering the question of computing efficacy for these treatments. The normal way is to divide the total mite drop from the treatment by the total mite drop from the treatment plus the drop from the finishing treatment. The finishing treatment is something 'known' to achieve near 100% efficacy on the remaining mites, like Apivar.
The problem with that method is that a lot of time has passed and new mites were being bred between the beginning and the end of the series of treatments. That total includes both the original mites and any new mites which came along during the trials. There is no way of knowing what the original load was, so the best we have is to divide the total drop from the treatments by the total mites killed as described above.
We can also, however, compare the daily or cumulative drops to current drops and get an idea that way, although it is not a standard method.
If we look at the daily drops, I am seeing drops (average) now that are about one ninth of those during the first and second treatments. That calculates to a 89% reduction (average) if the drops are any reflection of the total mites.
That is average, and each case is different, however.
Hive One has dropped only 3 mites in the current treatment, vs. a total of 944 to date. That amounts to a daily drop of 3/14 mites a day and if we figure a multiplier (average mite lifespan) of 50, then that suggest that there are about eleven mites left in that hive. That would suggest 99.7% efficacy with the four treatments. Looking at it another way, on Day Fourteen, during the second treatment, after brood emergence ceased, the drop added up to 448. 3/448x100=0.7% or a reduction of 99.3%. Those two calculations agree surprisingly closely for estimates.
Hive Three: looking at Hive Three the same way as we looked at Hive One, we take the 73-mite drop over the past 14 days and figure out a drop of 5 mites/day. Using the 50 multiplier times the 5 mites a day average, we estimate 261 mites left in the hive. Since the hive has dropped 4374 to date, then 6% are left and the efficacy was 94%. This hive had brood the longest of the group, but we'll do the same calculation as for Hive One and compare the total from this treatment to the total from the second treatment and thus, 73/2371 is 3% remaining, or 97% efficacy. These two estimates, again, are surprisingly close.
Hive Four is still dropping more mites than the others. Average daily drop over the last fourteen days is 292. Divided by 14, we get 20.1 per day. Times 50, gives 1043 remaining mites. 1043 divided by the total over time (3254) gives 32%, meaning that the efficacy on this hive might be 68%. If we take 292/971 we also get 70% efficacy. Again, close agreement. For some reason, the oxalic did not appear to work well on this hive.
Hive Five is another Apivar hive, but nothing much has dropped for a long time. The remaining mites in this case are estimated at 3/14x50, or 11 mites. 11/1104 gives 99% efficacy. 3/125 gives 97.6%, but then again, this is an Apivar hive.
Hive Six: 44/14x50 gives 157 remaining mites. 100-100x(157/1710)=91% efficacy, but when we look at the data, we see that it includes 16 mites which may have been from previous treatments, so the efficacy may have been as high as . 100-100x(100/1710)=94.2%
* = preliminary
At any rate, these numbers are surprisingly good, with one exception, when compared to other methods. I suspect that other methods also have some scatter in efficacy between hives.
We could calculate the efficacy after the second and third treatments as well, but it is clear that even the four treatments have not managed good control in all hives.
The average looks good at 90%, but hides a really bad result in one hive. Leaving that one hive out of the average, as some would do, gives a 95% efficacy over the five treatments.
In the afternoon, Ellen and I drove to Three Hills to have some blood tests done and to get her a flu shot. I had mine the other day. She is feeling a better today, after being bed-ridden for a day with nausea. The sailor's seasickness patch seems to have done the trick.
My cold has broken, I think, and I slept well last night, without the congestion that awoke me almost hourly on previous nights. I've been making a point of sleeping as long as I can. I slept twelve hours Thursday night, but was up and down periodically. Last night, I slept eleven and was only up once for a half-hour. My normal sleep time is around seven hours.
The temperatures are cooler again today, but not really cold. I went out and got the boards, wearing a light sweater. I'm noticing a definite tendency for the drops to increase and decrease as the mean temperature crosses back and forth across the freezing line. The chart at right (click to enlarge) is a larger than usual copy of the daily drop chart with the temperature lines on it. for your appraisal. It is worth a good looking over.
At Day 86 of this observation, I am
starting to think it may be time to wind it down, or at least move to weekly
counts. I'll give it a few more days, though, since I am interested
For now, though, I'm going to cut back on the daily reporting on this page, but will continue to update drop page daily.
I may decide, some nice day, to pull some frames to see if there is any brood. I imagine there should be by now. I saw one pale mite. It was not extremely pale, being tan in colour, but paler than most. Please offer ideas on what I should look for.
Drops are tapering right down now. I'm only updating the drop page and the Excel file now and not bothering with daily thumbnails on this page. It appears that the Apivar response is low when the temperatures drop below zero, although the temperature numbers do not necessarily express the warmth or chill of the day since wind and sun are factors, too, as well as the length and timing (day/night) of the temperature excursions. Today is expected to be warm, so maybe we'll see more mites tomorrow, but it is overcast and predicted to be windy, so the temperatures may be overridden by the lack of sun and the hill from the wind. Bees are patrolling the auger holes.
Actually, I don't hate the word, just dislike it and Wordpress is very good. It is the best solution for most people, probably, but I have a whole raft of possibilities I can offer from Content Management Systems (CMS) and bulletin boards to guest books and shopping carts. I don't go looking for clients, but have accumulated a number over the years.
The Chinook is blowing as I write at 3 PM and the mercury is up to plus eleven and it is sunny. I haven't gone to see the bees yet, but I'm sure they are active.
Ellen and I drove to Calgary for an appointment with the doctor and some x-rays then drovbe home. It is shirt-sleeve weather today in Southern Alberta. The wind was strong on the highway and the tailwind coming home made the trip quite quiet.
On returning, around 3:45, I walked over to the bees to take a look and get some exercise. There is almost no snow. I expected to see bees flying, but they were inside and clustered, although there were a few on the outside, trying to warm up. I guess they flew earlier and had not adequately oriented before going. Bees were active in the auger holes as usual, though.
I lifted a few lids and placed extra pillows on the few I had not done previously. The bees look very good, and the spots on the hive lids look like good healthy defecation dots, not the messy smears that indicate problems. The bees are clustered, but a few bees are roaming around outside the cluster and some are mining honey frames above or to the side.
I notice one hive has a lot of full, new frames in the top box and the bees are still not up into it. There is a group coming up the one side, though, pulling out honey for the cluster. I see new white cappings on the floors sometimes and grains of sugar, so I know that some of that honey has granulated. I did not feed syrup in the fall this year.
So far, it looks good. I am optimistic that losses may be about 20% or less.
In spite of the warm weather, I only counted a total of 4 mites on the drop boards, removed at 9:15 AM. Typically the large drops follow the warm days by a day or more, so we'll see what we get tomorrow. It looks as if we can expect to back into the deep freeze tonight and for the next few days this week. Some snow is forecast, so maybe I can slip away and go skiing.
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