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Bees flying freely in mid-January.  We've had unseasonably warm weather this winter -- so far.

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Wednesday February 1st 2012
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I remember 1988, when it was minus forty for a week about this time of year.  We were planning to drive to Mexico with some friends and held off for warmer weather since we had windsurf equipment on the roof and were worried about cracking from the cold.  We finally gave up on waiting and went anyhow.

I'm off to Calgary today for a meeting.  Ellen is up and about and doing wash and heating up the studio.  Mom called and she is home again in Sudbury.

BEE-L is quiet lately.  Some are working on bees preparing for the almonds.  Others are travelling and others are (I'm guessing) depressed by the season. 

Me, I'm a bit relieved today.  I had several chest x-rays in the past two years due to some pains in the chest and the second one showed some "fullness", whatever that is. The radiologist commented that nothing had changed from the previous x-ray a year back, though.  That seemed odd, because nothing had been noted on the first one.  The doctor asked me what I thought and when I said I like to know, not guess, he sent me for a scan. 

Given Ellen's condition, I was wondering if, by some freak of fate, I had the same thing, since my pains are similar.  I also realise that I tend to be empathetic and feel things others close to me do, especially my wife's pains, but that is hardly scientific.  I like facts.

Since I am having to review our affairs this afternoon, and since my imminent demise might change our planning a bit, and since I had not heard back since the blood tests and the CT scan, I called the doctor's office this morning to find out if there is any news.  I was told that there nothing significant showed up in the CT scan, so I can stop wondering about that and the blood test are normal enough that anything of note can be dealt with at my annual next month.

Doctors tend to not call after tests unless something is wrong, but they also don't call if the courier lost the reports or they somehow misplaced the file. I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy, so I like to get the reports myself and go over them, or at least verify that they have been examined by the doctor and his staff.

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Thursday February 2nd 2012
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We went to Red Deer today for a bone scan.  After the injection of the radioactive dye, there is a 3-hour wait, so we ran up to see Jean and Nathan in Lacombe.  After the scan, we returned home.  The thermometer read plus six, so I spread some more of the mulch and decided to pull the drop boards for a reading.

I did the counts, and have now entered them into the spreadsheet and posted them.  The counts are 0, 13, 1, 31, 1, and  1.  That is up a bit, but I see lots of old mites, including some coated with white, so I assume that during the recent hot day, when bees were seen flying from all the auger holes and the bottom entrances (right), that already-dead mites were brushed loose and dropped to the sticky boards.  Full details are on the drop summary page and the Excel 2010 file can be downloaded for closer examination.

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Friday February 3rd 2012
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We have some very warm days predicted in the near future, and I'm inclined to take a look at brood if I have the chance.  I'm curious how many mites are in the brood since some claim that all the phoretic mites enter the first brood after a broodless period, but Randy said he did not observe this.

A friend mentioned, after I brought up the topic of pulling brood for inspection in winter, that he uses a sheet of clear plastic over himself and the hive to protect the brood and I replied that I never felt the need.  The other day when I pulled the frame I showed here, however, it was cool and breezy, and I did feel the need, so I plan to try that approach.  I was unwilling to brush the bees off the brood or examine it and if I am going to do so, it needs protection from the breeze.

"The way I safely check for brood during cold weather (such as early March) is to drape a large sheet of clear plastic sheeting over my head and the hives. After a few minutes on a sunny day, the climate under there warms up enough so brood will not be harmed when I pull a frame.

We had a busy day.  First we had a business meeting and later Mike and Liz came by for a visit.

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Saturday February 4th 2012
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Today may be warm enough to take a look at some brood. We'll see.

I didn't.  I instead went to Three Hills and bought a new stove at Sears.  We loaded it into the back of my van and I returned home, brought it in the dock door, then converted it over to propane and hooked it up.  That was the day's work.

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Sunday February 5th 2012
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I did some housework this morning, then made a shepherds pie for lunch in the new oven. Jean and family arrived just after noon and we had lunch.  Afterwards, I cleaned off the pond for Mckenzie to skate, but she found the ice to rough and only skated for about ten minutes.  They stayed until four, then headed home.

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Monday February 6th 2012
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We're on the road to Calgary early this morning for some more tests and a visit with the doctor.

That all went well, and the doctor says that indications are that Ellen's treatments are working.  We drove home and then I ran to Three Hills to get some prescriptions and by then it was supper time.  Shirley dropped over in the evening.

Tomorrow is the IPM workshop in Edmonton and I'm planning to drive up in  the morning if the fog is not too bad. 

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Tuesday February 7th 2012
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I'm up at 3 AM and at 5, will be headed north for the meeting at 8:30.

I was on the road at 5:30 and they were bare and dry, making for an easy drive.  My lack of sleep caught up with me, though, and I had to stop several times to pull over and nap.

I arrived just after 9 and found I hadn't missed much.  Most of the material presented was a review and I don't have much to report.  I'll review the program and maybe remember something to report later.  There were several good slides I'd offer here, but I forgot my camera at home.  I use the Tab or my phone  for snapshots so much that I don't remember to bring the camera, and it is the only device able to zoom in to photograph slides on a screen up front.

Having an opportunity to chat with the speakers again was worthwhile however, and I was able to confirm that the questions which have come up in my winter varroa population behaviours don't seem to be answered, although apparently Rob Currie has done some work in that line and I'll have to check with him.

The meeting is, as usual, well attended.  In the evening, a group of us went to Tony Roma's at the Mall for supper.

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Wednesday February 8th 2012
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I can think of anything at all Earth-shattering from today's programme.  There was a lot of good material, but I found most of it to be review, even though I have missed all the various bee meetings since the IPM meeting last February. 

I left at 3:30, did some shopping along the way in Red Deer, and was home around eight.

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Thursday February 9th 2012
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Today is the 9th, so it is a week since the last mite count.  Time flies.  I'll pull them again today.

I went out and got the drop boards and did the counts.  I got 0, 0, 0, 5, 0 & 0 for test hives One through Six, respectively.

Jean and Mckenzie came in time for lunch today and are staying until late tomorrow.  After lunch, Mckenzie and I went out and flooded the ice on the pond with the garden hose.  It froze quickly.

(Later) I did the file and page updates.  Check them out.

As previously mentioned, details of the varroa oxalic acid treatments, the subsequent observations and my learning experiences are on the drop summary page and in this diary beginning in mid-October.  The Excel 2010 file with all the data and charts can be downloaded for closer examination.

I see that I should alter the charts.  I remarked on the point at which it seemed that there was no more brood emerging.  I know there is sealed brood now, but I will not be able to detect it from immature mites dropping, since there are few mites left.  I should be able to see some males and nymphs, but that won't work if no mites are reproducing. 

Now that I think of it, I should be able to prove or disprove the idea that all the phoretic mites pile into the first available brood by what falls out.  So far, I see nothing to confirm that theory. 

There is so much to think about.  It is all right in front of me.  Can I see it?

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