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My Wintering Hives at the Beginning of March

Thursday March 1st 2012
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It is now two weeks to the day since I did the last mite drop counts.  I went out and picked up the boards.  Did not count yet.  Looking in the entrances, I see some dead bees on the screens, so this could affect the drop counts.  I did nothing about it at this time.

Jean  and the kids came down for supper and stayed the night.  Mckenzie and I are going skiing tomorrow.

Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people
in America.  If I'm not there, I go to work.
Robert Orben

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Friday March 2nd 2012
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Friday, Mckenzie and I went to Nakiska for a day of skiing and were back by supper time.

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 Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. Did you know
that right and left shoes were thought up only a little more than a century ago?
Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

Saturday March 3rd 2012
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I did some odd jobs today.  The dishwasher had not done a good job on the cutlery, so I cleaned the screens again.  They were not nearly as bad as last time, but there was some food blocking the grate and a piece of nylon tie.  It pays to be very fussy about scraping and rinsing plates going into the machine.

In the evening, I made a cake, and enjoyed using the new oven.  The old one was uneven.  This one is much better.

The Universal Browser Test

 Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers

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Sunday March 4th 2012
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At left is the best reason I know to paint EPS hives a dark colour.  Compare the general appearance of these 8-year-old BeeMax boxes to the painted hives in the pictures at the top of the page.

EPS boxes chalk and yellow after a few years and they look awful.  Even after 8 years of unpainted service, these are still standing up though.  Lacking paint, the surface has powdered a bit and I am certain that the boxes will last longer and rub off less on clothing if painted. 

On the new boxes (top), I used an expensive paint, with a proper undercoat, sprayed on carefully, but from what I have seen, other beekeepers have had as good or better results using cheap exterior latex paint and a roller.  Rollers are slow, though and the BeeMax are particularly annoying to paint manually due to the many little molded-in marks on all surfaces.  The Meijer boxes have only handholds to make a bit of extra work and no other marks to worry about.

The boxes shown here are all BeeMax boxes.  I should mention that I no longer recommend BeeMax due to their poor design and cheap construction which became apparent when I assembled this last order of 100, and also had a better look at the ones I have had for about 8 years.   Some arrived broken in shipment and when I was painting them after assembly, several stacks fell over and the boxes actually broke! 

Beaver Plastics is now making boxes with Meijers' mold, and can be had for about the same cost.  The Meijer boxes are denser and far tougher, but my tests showed they insulate just as well as the lighter duty boxes. 

Meijer boxes may cost a bit more to ship since they are cast in one piece and don't knock down flat, but they do not require assembly.  Assembly takes a fair bit of time and requires glue  (I used the wrong kind),  so the slight shipping advantage is lost to the extra labour required. 

Even with glue, BeeMax corners are very weak, though, since there is no way to glue most of the joint surface since it is inaccessible.  I would never want to try to stand on a BeeMax box, but can stand safely on one of Meijers'.  As for lifting heavy BeeMax boxes, one must handle them carefully or risk sprung corners.  Breaks are easily fixed with Weldbond glue and a few drywall screws to hold the joint until it sets, but it is a hassle.

Joe Standing on the new EPS bee boxMeijers EPS boxes are now available from
Beaver Plastics Ltd
Head Office: 7-26318-TWP RD 531A, Acheson, Alberta
Toll free in the U.S. and Canada: 1-888-453-5961
1 780 962 4433 Fax: 1 780 962 4640
E-mail: techsupport@beaverplastics.com

Price is $16.00 in lots of 500 or more FOB the factory, or delivered in truckloads of 1456 boxes.
Small quantities are $19.95 per box FOB the factory.

The boxes are high-density and cast in one piece. Solid frame rests are built into the boxes during manufacture.

More on EPS boxes:
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/2010/diary070110.htm and

Repairing EPS bee boxes:
See May 28 at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/2011/diary052011.htm

or Search honeybeeworld.com

I checked my bees this afternoon. They all seem OK, except one looks to be queenless.  It has that look.  Others vary in strength and one was very light in the top box, but the bees looked good.  I pulled the box off the bottom and put it on top.  I don't like to reverse at this time of year, but I don't like hives starving either.  The bees looked to be OK and were not quivering or anxious, so I think they will be fine. 

The box at right was the top brood box on one hive I opened.  The bees are not up into it yet.  It is solid new comb, full of capped honey.  I pulled a frame and the bees are barely into it.  I don't care much for this and should probably have placed an empty brood comb in the centre, but I did not.

BTW, I'm downloading and installing Windows 8 preview on my netbook in the background right now.  I figure the netbook could not run a whole lot worse than it has been.   It was so bad last summer that I bought a replacement.  Actually, I bought the replacement  partly because I did not need such a small machine now that I have the Tab and the phone.  I bought a bigger laptop. 

I cleaned the netbook software and registry, but I had loaded it with lots of programs, then uninstalled many.  Then, to add insult to injury, I had run an optimizer.  If the machine was not screwed up before 'optimization', it was after.  Fortunately the optimizer saved backups and I got the netbook running reasonably well again, but in the past, I have found that installing a new Windows version over an old one often results in a decent performing machine, so I figure, "What the heck?"

I have yet to count the mite boards.  I seem to have lost interest for now.  They are sitting here, waiting.

Fen and the Meijers came for supper.  I had made a shepherds pie. 

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has
a university education he may steal the whole railroad.
Theodore Roosevelt

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Monday March 5th 2012
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The next several days promise snow, and there is a bit coming down now.  March is a big snow month in Alberta and offers some of the best skiing in the Rockies -- if you can get there.  The roads can be pretty snowy and slippery.

Windows 8 Preview installed without a hitch and presented me, much to my consternation, with the screen at right.  I examined it, saw a square that was labeled. "Desktop", and was taken immediately to my familiar desktop which woks pretty well the same as it did under Windows 7.  The start orb is gone and that is a bit of a puzzle.  It seems that just moving down where it should be has the same effect.  I don't know about all the 'apps" that seem somewhat useless, but I suppose they will get better.  Anyhow, the computer is no faster or slower and seems to work OK.

We're off to Three Hills this morning for more blood tests.

I've been shopping for a new van for some time now and the Dodge and Chrysler vans have been the main focus, although lately I have been considering Toyota and Honda as well as Hyundai and Nissan.    The advertised gas mileage on the new models has been a motivator and justification for purchasing a late model rather than the ten-year old models I have always favoured.  The many new features, like backup cameras, are added incentives to go newer.

If prices of fuel stay up and Canadian mileage estimates are accurate, driving a newer vehicle should pay for itself over a sufficient number of miles. 

We now have two three vans (forgot the one down east), so maybe that makes sense...  Dunno.  I'll have to sell one or two of them one of these days. Maybe I should just get a little car in place of one of them.  The problem is that I hate sitting on the ground, looking up under larger vehicles and not being able to see down the road past the other traffic.  Also, owning a small car that gets great mileage in addition to a van sorta makes sense until I realise I still need a larger machine to pick up purchases and carry passengers from time to time and that I would probably be driving the wrong vehicle when I needed the other half the time.

I was pretty well convinced the newer vans make the advertised 35 MPG (Imperial) mileage advertised on the window -- which is pretty good compared to the real 22 MPG the Dodge gets and the real 26 MPG the Toyota gets -- but then I found this and this.  If this is true, the 35 MPG advertised becomes a mere 28 MPG.  That is still better than the 22 MPG my 2002 Dodge is getting or the 24.5 the 1998 Plymouth gets, but not better than the 28 MPG the 1998 Toyota Sienna has given us over time. 

       In Imperial MPG

  21.6 32.5 24.1 39.2  
  21.6 30.1 25 35.8  


23.2 35.8  

That's still good, but now I don't know what to think.  The payback contribution from fuel savings has shrunk to almost nothing compared to the higher cost unless gas prices double, and in that case, I won't be driving far enough to make those projected savings -- I'll cut back --  or  I'll be inspired to be driving something smaller for most purposes.

I think I'll just use the US figures.  What started me thinking about this was that the Canadian stickers say 35 MPG and the US reports say differently.

The U.S. government got rid of the test Canada's carmakers use back in 2008. Since then, American cars have been more rigorously tested for real life conditions and the Environmental Protection Agency said some cars use 30 per cent more gas than the previous tests showed.

Below is a comparison from the EPA website.  I chose two vehicles I have, and two I might like.  I have to multiply the numbers shown there by 4.55/3.78 or 1.20 to get Imperial MPG.

It occurs to me that the US figures for the 2002 Dodge may still be from the old system of measurement that approximated the inaccurate and overly generous system that Canada still uses now.  The 22 MPG (US) shown translates to 26.4 MPG (Imperial) and I have never gotten anywhere near that with this van.  If that number is 20% overstated, then it makes the newer units look better than if it isn't.  As it stands, taking the number as being by the current, accurate method, the advantage for a new van looks like around 10%, but if the number is by the old method, the advantage could be as high as 30% in favour of the newer vans. 

A 30% reduction would be worth paying a bit more for.  I put on about 30,000 km a year, so in 5 years that is 150,000 km.  Each year, at around $1 per litre, I would spend $2,400 at 35 MPG, but $4,800 at $2. 

At 22 MPG, I would spend $3,800 at $1 and $7,600 at $2.  I expect we'll see $2 gas sometime in the next 5 years. So, I'd save $1,400 a year, or worst case, $2,800/year. 

Big deal.  That does not pay for a new van.  It barely pays the interest on the capital cost of a $30,000 or $40,000 vehicle, let alone the accelerated depreciation that takes place in the first few years of ownership for new vehicles.

I can see that logic dictates against buying a brand new van.  Drat!  I have not bought  a new vehicle since 1967, although I have bought a lot of cars and trucks and vans over the years.  Each time I scope it out, It seems clear that an older machine costs about half over the ownership period that the new one does.

That is assuming that repairs do not amount to much.  New vehicles should cost nothing much (beyond tire wear and oil changes, windshield replacement, dent repair, etc.) to maintain over the warranty period.  Vehicles off-warranty typically require up to $1,000 a year (average, max) in maintenance costs for typical driving patterns and that has to be accrued in favour of the new vehicle.  As for reliability, I have not seen much difference between a new machine and a good used ten-year-old one. 

I also like older machines because every little scratch is not a crisis.  I use my vehicles hard.  I drive on gravel, through brush, and I carry big, heavy, and sometimes dirty or sharp things inside.  After a year or two, any vehicle I have looks used.  I have no clue how anyone can drive a vehicle 200,000 km, have it detailed, and have it look like new.

From Eric Mussen's Newsletter...

1.) ...it is interesting to note what Zachary Huang’s lab discovered (ABJ abstract #14) about feeding fumagillin to honey bees to control Nosema ceranae. In their studies, they found that the antibiotic impacts both the parasite and the protein makeup of the honey bee intestinal tract. In fact, as the level of fumagillin decreases in the bees over time, it reaches a low level which actually stimulates spore production of N. ceranae. A similar effect is seen with N. apis, but it is not nearly so pronounced. It could be that the low levels of fumagillin may be suppressing the honey bee immune system. The use of fumagillin as a last resort cancer treatment in mammals severely impairs their immune system. 2.) Chris Mullin and his cooperators at Penn State University (ABJ Abstract #20) have been reverse-engineering some pesticide formulations and testing some of the common “inert ingredients” for honey bee toxicity. N-methylpyr-rolidone (NMP) was the first to be emphasized. The researchers found that NMP is toxic to honey bees, especially so for brood. With a bit of NMP in the commercial formulations, Bravo® was four times as toxic to brood as the active ingredient chlorothalonil is by itself. Tactik®also was four times as toxic to brood as was straight Amitraz. As I mentioned earlier, it is going to be very difficult to try to regulate pesticides based on potential danger to bees when so many inert ingredients and adjuvants are complicating the picture.

(Emphasis added)


"I cried because I had no shoes, 'till I met a man who had no feet.
So I said, 'You got any shoes you're not using'?"
Steven Wright

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Tuesday March 6th 2012
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Well, we got our snow and I drove to Three Hills on slippery roads this morning to cash in on 10% Tuesday at the local IGA.  I had trouble getting out the driveway and that was after I managed to scrape enough of the ice layer off the windshield to see.  I loaded up with groceries and then drove home.

It seems most people hate grocery shopping, but I actually love it.  I appreciate how many people in far-flung places have to work together to produce, ship and handle all this perishable food, just so that I get to pick through to choose what I want.  It is a privilege I never fail to appreciate.

The IGA is a locally - owned store and although it is not large, it has most of what we need and a lot of what we want -- and there is never a line-up at the cash.  This little store has maybe 5% of the merchandise area, but more cashiers and checkouts open than the nearest Wal-Mart. 

The owner is  smart man and he knows that most people hate shopping for groceries and they only stew and fret if they have to wait to pay and get away.  The long line is what they remember next time they think about groceries.   He makes it easy to leave and the local kids he hires are well-trained and polite.  If there are more than two people at a checkout, they hustle to open another.  The kids bag and carry the groceries, too.   There is none of the bogus "green" no-bag and pack-your-own-groceries nonsense that the Loblaws chain foolishly uses to alienate and insult their customers.  The IGA has a recycle bin for used bags and I, for one, use it.

The prices in Three Hills tend to be a bit higher than the big stores 30 or more miles away, but on the first Tuesday of the month, there is a 10% discount on the first $150 in groceries and 15% on anything above that.  That was today, and I saved $40, plus the $25 I would have spent driving to a city.  Bonus!

After I got home, I had along nap and tackled the snowy driveway with the snow blower.  I got it done in good time since I don't have to do as good a job as in early winter.  We are expecting a few hot days soon and I just want to make sure we don't have a slushy mess.

It was quite a workout and I realise that this long winter at home playing chauffeur and housemaid has me out of shape.  I had planned to be in Florida this winter on a boat, and in the Caribbean, but que sera, sera.

What am I watching these evenings?  The Republic of Doyle (watch) and Bones.

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news,
which obeys its own set of laws." -- Douglas Adams

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Wednesday March 7th 2012
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What do I think of Windows 8 so far? Well, I am less than impressed by the user interface, but when I restored an old desktop theme, it looks and acts just like Windows 7 -- once I get to the desktop, and that was not easy.  I had to press F1 the first time and thankfully "Help" worked as always and I was able to figure it out. 

As for being optimized for netbooks, I am not seeing any improvement over Win7 so far, and I have run updates and defragged several times.  The atom processor is slow and as I look at the machine right now, the processor is running at 100% and the memory at 55%.  (It is installing the latest Evernote update).  I do have a 20" monitor hooked up to it running 1440 x 1050 and I imagine driving that many extra pixels in full colour is working the processor hard as well.  Maybe with just the built-in display it would run faster.  At least the machine is reasonably responsive even with the processor pegged to the pin.

It seems the opening screen of this version is designed for touch screens, but it also works with a mouse and keyboard once I figured out how.  I'd have preferred that the install had detected a PC and come up with a more familiar desktop right off, much like previous Windows versions and all the various Linux flavours.

Maybe I'll take that back about performance.  I think it is running a bit better than Win 7 even though the CPU seems to be almost pegged all the time.  We'll see.  At present the indexer is pretty busy and services.exe is using 1/3 to 1/2 the CPU.  Maybe it will settle down after it finishes indexing.

(Later) I think it is faster and I see I am able to use the eye candy that stalled Win 7.  I doubt I will continue to do so, however since this is such a puny machine.

I was very frustrated with the initial view and the help was not much help, but I am now reading the Microsoft forum devoted to this release and have learned a bit more about getting around.  The Metro UI is very clunky for desktop users, but I imagine that by release time that this will be fixed.

The processor is now idling at 50%, so the break-in has passed.

"Faith moves mountains but only knowledge moves them to the right place."

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Thursday March 8th 2012
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Today we drove to Calgary to see several doctors and renew prescriptions.  For various reasons, I wound up walking the entire length of the east hospital complex four times, adding up to a one-mile hike, so I got some exercise out of the visit.  

It all went well and we visited Peter and Edie on the way home.  From start to end, we were gone eight hours and Ellen held up well.  We are told the treatments are working and I can see that she is a lot stronger lately.

Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.
Spanish Proverb

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Friday March 9th 2012
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I got the power bill today and see that our price per KWH is still near 30c.  Several people sent me their power costs a while back and I appreciate it.  What I do is simply take the total price I pay (including delivery, taxes and all the other components) and divide that total by the number of KWH being billed for the month.  It is clear that, for a guy who is sitting directly on top of a major supply of oil, gas and coal, I am paying far more than most people in North America do. 

The current government "deregulated" the power monopolies some time back and we have been paying ever since.  We have a Provincial election coming up and I hope our electricity prices will be an issue. 

Tonight I watched the last episode of Republic of Doyle that Netfix offers.  Now I've watched the first two seasons and am into the current run.  Fortunately, it can be seen on the 'net.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln

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