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Varroa Mite Drop Records Over 140 Days
Five Oxalic Acid Evaporation Treatments Were Applied Over The First 71 Days (Arrows)
The Hives Look Good

Saturday March 10th 2012
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I did the input and updates for the mite drop counts today.    The job is no longer exciting since there is little to see.  It took several hours.  Drops have diminished to near zero.  Maybe it will be more interesting as spring arrives.

I'll have to clean off the screens one of these days since I see some bees on them and imagine they are preventing some of the drop.  At this point, though, I suspect much of what I see is mites that died long ago finally dropping to the board.

The Windows 8 preview I am running on one machine got me thinking about operating systems and I ran my Ubuntu 11.10 install inside the VirtualBox last night and updated it.  Virtualbox runs real Linux inside a window on my Windows 7 machine and I can Alt +Tab between real Linux and real Windows instantly.

I have been unhappy with that Ubuntu install because it did not recognise my monitor resolution and was running at a lower resolution and looked fuzzy.  Today, I increased the memory allocation for the system and for the video and restarted it.  Voila!  The resolution is now correct.

Also due to the Windows 8 trial, I got to looking at themes, since the machine can now run aeroglass and themes under Win 8, whereas it could not under WIn 7.  Win 8 seems to require much less machine to run well.  I don't usually run themes since they absorb processor power and resources but I knocked myself out downloading a bunch of new ones and an working my way through them now.  There are quite a few new themes and I am enjoying them.

> Hi Allen,

> I for one very much appreciate your work on this. I know how tedious it can be but you have a wealth of information for all of us in this work.

Thanks. It is good to know that people are watching this project . I figure it will be of some use eventually. If nothing else, I seem to be proving that five OA evaporations does not kill bees dead in the short run.

> I think that there are several aspects to this study that are important. I thought that hive 3 would be dead by now because the winter bees had been exposed to such high mite counts. It seems to disprove that one must treat very early in the fall or late summer

> [I have a similar situation with a hive that had DWV and I treated with OA vapor 3 times. It's a little weak but still alive and will probably survive.]

> You also helped me with my concerns about treating my hives 3X with OA vapor. All treated hives are still alive as of yesterday. It also shows that one can get a very good mite kill with 3-4 treatments of OA vapor.

> Although this spring I'm using formic, I will probably use OA vapor next winter as a clean-up.

Yeah. I have also learned we need a better OA vapour applicator than any that are out there.

I think I can build one for a lot less using a common clothes iron, but I am waiting until I get a round tuit.

> Keep me in the loop, I'm interested.  Thanks again for all you do


You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships
until both have been tested by adversity.
J. K. Rowling

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Sunday March 11th 2012
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This may be a good day to take a look at the bees if it is not windy.

We had a south wind all day, so I didn't get an opportunity to take a look.  More warm weather is on its way, though, so there is no rush.

I spent the day in cleanup and repairing a heater, then the garage doors.

Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue
elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity.

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Monday March 12th 2012
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We had some runoff over the past few days and it appears to be about over and the pond is not nearly full.  We could still have a big dump of snow, in fact it is almost certain, but the ground is thawing and any new moisture will likely soak in.

I'm itching to get out to the bees and thinking it may be almost time to start feeding supplement.  I figure that one brood cycle -- three weeks -- before pollen starts coming in is best, so maybe I should wait until the end of the month. 

Commercial beekeepers start earlier, but that is because it takes them weeks to get around to all the yards, and because they may be kept out of yards by snow and mud.  Nevertheless, starting too early can be worse than not feeding at all.

By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man's, I mean.
Mark Twain

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Tuesday March 13th 2012
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I had a bone density scan scheduled for two, so I drove to Red Deer.  The roads were good and the day was clear.  I had the scan and then did some shopping.  When I was finished and exited the store at around 8 PM, the visibility was down to 500 yards in wet snow.  I drove to Costco for a few items and when I came out the snowfall was over.

The trip home was slippery, and I passed a Coke truck jack-knifed in a ditch.  Traffic was crawling, but I had no problem maintaining the posted speed and arrived home at nine-thirty.

NASA captures Las Vegas sprawl from space

I don't want any yes-men around me.
I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their jobs."
Samuel Goldwyn

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Wednesday March 14th 2012
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The day started cool, at minus seven, and although the temperature is promised to be plus seven this afternoon, I doubt I'll have a chance to check the bees.  A SW wind is promised and the apiary is open to the south.

It is about time to open them all and check to makes sure they are near their stores, and perhaps remove unnecessary boxes.

I like to have three boxes on each hive, though, with the cluster in the top box bees do better when they are up off the ground.  Also, bees seem to know how much room they have and will expand to fill larger spaces.  The downside of the large volume, though, is that the hive may be cooler, reducing the volume covered by the cluster.  Smaller clusters sometimes need to be confined to a tight space to build up.

I think I'll go out and pull the master brake cylinder off the forklift today and see if I can hone it out and install the kit I bought the other day.

Dear Allen,
I have taken a piece of natural comb removed from a swarm nest and took a ten cell horizontal measurement. The result is: 5.40 cm or 5.4 mm per cell. The comb is clean and bright white with thin walls. I also have no diseases, mites (Varroa or tracheal) or SHB.

(The above relates to this project from some time back.  More details can be found in the in Selected Topics list).


Drat!  I like red meat.

Adversity is the trial of principle. Without it a man hardly knows whether he is honest or not.
Henry Fielding

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Thursday March 15th 2012
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Today I did some housework and repairs, then drove to Airdrie to do some shopping.  I bought a new toilet and some floor tile plus a new chair for my computer desk.  On the way back, I dropped into the furniture warehouse and scored a great deal on a slightly damaged bed.  All this fit into the van nicely and I headed back, but stopped briefly to pick up some vacuum cleaner bags -- the original reason for the trip in the first place, and an extra set of coveralls since I am planning to do a lot of work in the coming weeks.  I like to keep my work clothes clean. 

This is embarrassing. I don't know where that habit came from since when I was younger, I did not worry about such things, but these days, I wash my bee suits almost every time I wear them and wash my jumpsuits every other day.  I suppose that is partly because I like to be able to wear my work clothes in the house.

 Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he's supposed to be doing at the moment.
Robert Benchley

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Friday March 16th 2012
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I have lots of new toys to play with today.  A new toilet to install, new floor tiles, and more.  I put the computer desk chair together last night and am now sitting comfortably in it.  I also set up the bed.   That was quite a job for one person, but I managed it without hurting myself or doing damage.

I installed the three new $12 CF tri-light bulbs into lamps last night, too, and was puzzled to find they have a medium, low, high sequence rather than the traditional low, medium, high.  When I installed the first one, I thought it was defective, but the second and third ones were the same.  Then I noticed that was mentioned in tiny letters somewhere on the packaging.

I bought both soft white" (2700 K) and daylight versions to compare them.  I find "daylight" (6500 K) more uplifting, but the soft white is more popular and also claims a bit more light output: 600, 1500, & 2200 lumens, vs. 550, 1400, & 2100 lumens.  I doubt anyone can tell the difference they are so close, but the daylight does look brighter to me in spite of supposedly being less bright.

My main computer monitors are LED types and they tend to have colder light than the old LCD style, and my LCD monitor that once seemed so impressive looks dead in comparison.  BTW, by cooler, I mean cooler in the colour sense, not the colour temperature.   6500 K looks cooler (bluer) than 2700 K, which is considered warmer, being redder/yellower.  The monitors can be set to whatever colour temperature is desired, but I like the bluer hues.  They seem brighter and more stimulating.

The tri-light bulb packages tell me that each bulb will save $113 USD over the 8000 hour life of the bulb at 12 per KWH.  We are paying 28/KWH currently.  One normal year has 8760 hrs (+/-).  (This year we get an extra 24hours.)  So, if I leave one of these on all year I will save $289.51?  Hmmm.  Somehow I doubt it.  I think I'll turn them off now and then.

I also picked up a screw-in black light bulb for $6.  I intend to use it to look at some AFB combs I kept around.  AFB scale glows yellow in black light, as I recall.  It has been a long time since I have done this and my memory is fuzzy.

I have to say that I am impressed by the amount of packaging that comes with all these items.  Disposing of it is a job in itself, and I have to wonder how much it adds to the cost.  For some items, it seems to me that there is more material and value in the packaging than in the product inside.

I've been accumulating recyclables for about a year and did take back bottles and cans several times, but have put off sorting and delivering the rest of it.  We don't have blue box service here (or green box either), so we have to sort and deliver the material to the depot in Three Hills.

Frankly that has been Ellen's department in the past and it has not seemed worth the bother so most of it went with the garbage or was burnt, but with time on my hands, I thought I'd try being a good boy and do the sorting.

My first problem was that there are no really clear instructions.  Both the bottle depot and the recyclers have websites with some info, but one is written more like advertising than instructions and the other is written from the viewpoint of the people who run the facility than for the understanding of the clientele delivering.  Both could benefit from nice printable poster with clear and unambiguous instructions and few if any fancy graphics.

Does anyone know what this machine is (left) or where to get one?  The picture is from here.  I am assuming that this is an oxalic acid evaporator for treating bees.  I looked through the (rather large) document and did not see a mention of what it is or where it comes from. 

The document is a Australian look at varroa, its origins and its effects.

BTW, here are the instructions for the Alberta-made evaporator.

A reader sent me this link after reading my mention of black light and AFB.  The little handheld light looks like just what the doctor ordered.  I should probably mention that AFB is not the only thing that may be seen in a frame that glows under blacklight, but it is the most likely and it is obvious since it glows where the scale should be -- on what is the the lower surface of a cell or cells when the frame is sitting upright in its normal orientation.  This is because the pupa sorta melts as it decomposes and forms a black flake on the lower cell wall.

AFB scale is also readily visible in ordinary bright light.  The recommendation is to hold the frame upside down with the sun over one shoulder and move the frame so that the light shines on the scale.  If the scale is fairly fresh and not polished by the bees, there will be a bump at the opening where the pupa's tongue was.

Here is a link to handheld UV flashlights on Amazon.  One of these should make spotting AFB easier in dark places like a storage shed and help confirm suspected AFB.

What am I doing tonight?  Well, I'm playing with some Ubuntu, Mepis , and Fedora distros inside a VirtualBox.  I watched another episode of "Republic of Doyle" before that.  I blew away the Mepis because it was pretty old.  Nice distro, but life is short.  Fedora (KDE) is updating as I write this.  Will the update be worth keeping?  The install is several versions old.  I don't know, but it is really charming and runs well.  There is a lot of heart in it.

Having spent the last four decades staring into a glass onion and then a flat panel, a lot of my life is in computers, in code, and online.  Many of my friends I have met through my computer interest.  Our son has picked up where I did not go.  In the nineties, I was offered a job in the LA area programming.  The job paid 90 grand. At the time, that was BIg Money.  I love SoCal.  I love money.  I love programming, BUT I loved where I was and what I was doing.  So, now Jon is in SoCal, programming, making the big bucks. Regrets?  No.  To quote Popeye, "I am what I yam".

Maybe I'll check Facebook.  I have not figured out what it is good for yet, other than sending me emails alerting me that people I hardly know ('friends') have commented on something or another of little interest to me or that a good friend (a real friend) bought a pig on Farmville.  I have had a Twitter account forever, too, but have not figured a use for that either.  I'm not too much into push.

What I would really like right now is to be 1,000 miles from land on a good boat with a good friend going somewhere very distant.  At the same time, I have to admit that I am having a pleasant time right here, right now.

Non-Chemical and Minimum Chemical Use Options for Managing Varoa

 One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the
belief that one's work is terribly important.
Bertrand Russell

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Saturday March 17th 2012
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I received several responses to my query about the machine I showed yesterday.  See this forum post.

Today, it is dull outside and I spent the morning at the desk again.  I should get back to my construction work, but I have e few things to do here first and I'm feeling lazy today.

Diagnosis of Honey Bee Diseases

Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science
fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?
Kelvin Throop III

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Sunday March 18th 2012
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I'm vacuuming today.  It is huge job in this vast place.  Then I hope to get back to recycling and the bathroom makeover.

>>> AFB scale glows yellow/green in UV light.

> Source of that very interesting fact, please !

I Googled it for you. Here is one reference:


--- begin quote ---

...brood combs of diseased colonies usually have a spotty brood pattern (pepperbox appearance), and the cappings tend to be darker, concave (sunken), and punctured. The combs may contain the dried remains of larvae or pupae (called scales), which are found lying length-wise on the bottom sides of brood cells. Sometimes scales are difficult to locate because of the condition of the comb. In such cases, scale material can easily be located using long wave ultraviolet or near-ultraviolet light.

Exposure to wavelengths of 3,100 to 4,000 angstroms causes scale material to fluoresce. Some discretion must be used with this technique because honey and pollen may also fluoresce.

--- end quote ---

UV light used to be a bit awkward to use, requiring a lamp and power, but with the new LED flashlights being so cheap, everyone can have one in the glove box and one in the toolkit.

AFAIK, the wavelength is not critical, and the common flashlights are between 380 and 400, but it seems that yellow glasses may improve the detection.

I haven't used UV for thirty years, so I'm hoping someone reading here has been experimenting with the new equipment available.

*   *   *   *   *

> I said more than once last year that I was getting a bad feeling about an outbreak of AFB here since beginners are a dime a dozen.

You should not have a problem if you keep your eyes open. AFB takes a while to get a foothold and you'll see a few cells at first if you are looking, then more and more if the bees cannot handle it. You can then decide whether to cull, treat, or re-queen, or all three, depending on the seriousness.

I have commercial friends who run 8,000 hives and do not treat prophylacticly. There are bad beekeepers around with open AFB hives abandoned and yet these pros only pick up about 25 of their own hives a year in fall to burn. They inspect all deadouts and also check brood when they are working the hives. Their staff is well-trained to recognise AFB.

Personally, I don't consider AFB to be a problem and have been known to put scale into hives to see what happens. Don't do it, even though truly hygienic bees can clean it up and keep on going. The problem is that this increases the background spore count and some day when you get some less hygienic queen you'll have a major breakdown. In the meantime, the bees will be aborting more larvae than they would in a clean comb and that cuts into winter survival and production.

I should add that I don't hesitate to use an antibiotic if AFB starts to get going, but for those who are confident that the one case they are seeing is an anomaly and not a sign that the whole outfit is at risk, fire is the simplest, but most drastic solution.

*   *   *   *   *

I received an interesting email off-list and feel it is worth passing on in case anyone is hoping that UV could be a magic bullet in the hands of persons with no clear idea where scale is located, where pollen is located or what pollen in cells looks like.

--- begin quote ---

The "false positive" with UV is overwhelming, as pollen also fluoresces when exposed to the same wavelengths where AFB would fluoresce, and does so far more brightly. I walked up and down the angstroms, and found only anguish.

-- end quote ---

In my experience, and that is far back in my distant memory, UV is useful for revealing scale which has already been suspected in dark comb, but which has been polished by the bees -- or for picking out combs for further examination when working in in dim lighting conditions.

Of course any tool that encourages examination of brood comb and stimulates curiosity is bound to be of some value, but as my correspondent pointed out, it is far from being a substitute for an understanding of where to look and a proper examination in good light.

As a tool for detecting AFB, one that could be used by beekeepers with no idea where to look or what they are seeing, I can see how UV would offer too many false positives. However I was hoping that it might be a useful tool to assist an experienced beekeeper in glancing at the open brood cells in a typical empty brood frame in the semi-darkness of a shed.

Maybe not. I have a few AFB frames around here somewhere and will take a peek. As I say, it has been a long time since I last examined the question.

I finished cleaning up the recycle stuff and got to work on the toilet installation.  I see I'll have to replace some of the underlay before I put down the tiles as the plywood has degraded and the tile would not be level.  The floor is sound, but this one spot was where people (children) stood after getting out of the bath and the plywood has delaminated.  It is a simple matter to just cut out a square and replace it, assuming that plywood thickness has not changed in 40 years.

I also am working on updating Fedora.  The original iso download was 670 MB and the updates amounted to about 470 MB (which seems like a lot of updating for a new installation) but the process kept aborting.  I finally decided to update 50 or so pieces at a time and that way found the one file which was giving me grief.  Some people do puzzles, I play with computers.

I don't do much with the various Linuxes I install, but have used several fairly intensively until they broke beyond my ability to repair them.  No matter what some people may say, Windows is very robust.

 A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.
Alfred E. Wiggam

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Monday March 19th 2012
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We are being promised a dump of snow and strong winds today.

Today: Cloudy. Snow at times heavy and blowing snow beginning early this morning. Amount 10 cm except 2 cm over western sections. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50. High plus 2.

Tonight: Light snow and blowing snow ending early this evening then clearing. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light this evening. Low minus 12.

After all the updates last night, Fedora went from being slow and unresponsive to quick and impressive.  I am running it in  a VirtualBox, so there were a few wrinkles to iron out, even after the updates.  Whereas Ubuntu automatically recognizes the VirtualBox extensions, Fedora requires some work in the terminal doing installations with yum, then running the extension installer.  The extensions integrate the guest system better with the host, so that it runs just like any other window in the host.

> I was wondering if any of you use, have tried or have thoughts about
> brood rearing in winter as described by H. J. Pirker in his articles...

I knew Henry and AFAIK he was a good beekeeper. He was able to do things others found too difficult or less than completely practical. I think, also, that he had an area with exceptional pollen. I have noticed that this is often the difference between one beekeeper's success and another's failure. Dave Green has remarked on that, too. It is not the amount, it is the quality and telling the difference is not possible, except by the difference in results, which can be stunning.

> I am thinking more in terms of overwintering success in short season
> areas and early season production of foragers as opposed to profitable
> package production. Many here overwinter indoors but the bees don't
> have the opportunity to fly out nor are the cold chambers suited for early
> stimulative feeding as described in these articles.

I was impressed by Henry's writing at the time and built a shed to imitate his methods. Unfortunately for me, the success depends on the quality of the hives going into winter as much as anything else, and my colonies had been used for comb production. Comb production is hard on bees in that they tend to have lower populations in fall.

I also lacked Henry's devotion and self discipline, and, at any rate, it did not work out for me. That is not to say that the idea is not a good one, but in all the years since he wrote the articles and spoke at meetings, no one has made a success of producing packages and many of his neighbours find it more practical to haul the bees to warmer areas for winter and for spring work. The rest just winter in buildings without entrances or winter in snowbanks outdoors.

For your purposes, and on a limited scale, a bee house could work quite well for you, but it involves work and expense and devotion to the bees that simply feeding, wrapping and going away until spring does not. IMO, if your bees are strong, healthy and free of disease and pests, and full of good feed and good pollen, then wrapped and kept in a sheltered but sunny spot, you should have a build-up which could have your bees swarming out of wrapped hives in early May.

Keep in mind, though, that if the hive is too warm, there is not much brood, and the entrances are not controlled, the bees may fly excessively and dwindle. I've seen that more than a time or two.

Pushing bees too hard and too early can result in loss and also disease later. Many Alberta beekeepers are out now feeding their bees and putting on patties, but I am not. I'll wait a while and then do the same, and I'll bet my bees pass theirs and will be less stressed and therefore healthier into the summer.

Hope this is helpful.

The bathroom project continues along with vacuuming, books, etc.  I cut the delaminated chunk out of the bathroom floor and found I don't have a piece the right thickness, so off to town I go tomorrow.

I see that Frank was not too fussy about getting the old lino off.  It seems that PL-200 compensates for a lot of sins.  No matter, the floor was fine for the last 30 years or more.

Well, we did not get any snow at all.  We had a bit of wind and a fairly warm day.  All our snow is pretty much gone.

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
Oscar Wilde

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