Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search
  A Beekeeper's Diary

<< Previous Page           April  2012            Next Page >>

 


Reduced Auger Holes

 

Friday April 20th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I slept well and woke up late, at eight.  I have lots to do today and feel like doing it.

I'm on fire today.  I have done several chores already and am primed for more.  The question of splitting is no my mind.  I have the bag of ammonium nitrate I bought last year and am thinking of using it. 

Here is what Juanse had to say here.

It doesn't last long in the smoker, maybe a couple of minutes. You have to work fast. We prepare a set of 10 nucs to sleep at a time. Then we lit the smoker again. The smoker won't last long either as the temperature gets really high

As said on a previous post the effect on the bees last between 5 to 10 minutes. It is impressive. The first time you probably think you have kill them all. If you are planning to inspect the frames, it is wise to separate them before sleeping the bees, other wise you will smash them.

Yes I have tried them with mated queens and it works in the same way. I believe bees loose their memory, cause I have interchanged the mated queen from two adjacent colonies with ammonium nitrate and they were accepted after wake up.

I have also use it to move colonies some meter away during pollination when the farmer asked me so because they had to repair an irrigation pipeline. This was done early in the morning and all bees recognized the new site (some 5 meters away) as theirs.

On one location I sleep some 100 colonies in a site because they were no longer pollinating the blueberries but preferring the apple bloom. When they recovered from sleep they "discovered" the blueberries. It took them some 5 days to come back to apples. The above based on the color of the pollen loads and the traffic in the blueberry field.

--- and here ---

How much? Well we light the smoker quite heavily. Then place like a spoon full of ammonium (nitrate) in it. When you hear the smoker "bubbling" and the color of the smoke turns dark, we puff some two to three times under the lid or by the entrance. If we open and there are too many bees "awake" we puff some more.

--- and here ---

> What is already in the smoker?

You have to have a well-lit smoker. We use pine needles or eucalyptus bark.

> How much ammonium nitrate to add?

A soup spoon full (20 gr?). In reality we put two times what ever ends up in equilibrium on the tip of the hive tool.

> How to know when things are right to puff?

You start hearing like bubbling inside the smoker and the smoke turns very dark.

One smoker will last for some 10 nucs (5 frames ones). Therefore we work in batches. We place 10 caged queens, then sleep the 10 nucs, then free the 10 queens, then light the smoker again for the following batch of 10.

> How much to smoke the hive, and when to stop?

We place the virgin queen in a cage. The cage on top of the frames. Lid on top of all this.

We puff a couple of times in the entrance plus a couple of puff under the lid. You hear "silence" after some 30 seconds of application.

> How to know when they are 'asleep'?

Silence is our sign, but if you open the lid you will see them all dead (asleep).

> How long they take to recover?

They recover in between 5 to 10 minutes. It is important not to take frames out or do any manipulations because you risk of crushing the bees.

> Any adverse effects?

I haven't notice any.

As the gas that is liberated is nitrous oxide better not to inhale it or you will end up laughing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrous_oxide#Production

> What happens if you use too much?

The first time I tried it I sleep 12 times the same hive during a day. After the 12th time I start noticing some of the older bees dead. I think is quite secure. You will only use it once in the bees life.

> Do the bees lose their sense of location?

I think so.

> Any mortality?

No if you use it once

(spelling corrected)

I have been thinking of making four-frame splits with a fifth foundation frame, and taking them indoors for several days until they forget the location and accept the queen.  This ammonium nitrate method would allow making up the splits and setting them out in the same neighbourhood without having to screen them or place them indoors -- or take time releasing queens.   Less complication means greater likelihood of completing the process and not having problems.

My current thinking is to break down strong hives into four splits, watching for the queen as I go.  I'd then add the queens to the queenless splits and set them all out immediately.  I have to decide how much entrance to allow.  I have found that the plastic caplugs with a 5/16" hole works adequately as an entrance, allowing bees to both come and go.  Whether there would be enough ventilation with such a tiny hole is a question, but I can make up plugs with varying sizes of holes and then can adjust the nuc entrance from 5/16" right up to the 1" open auger hole.  I can also have two holes or a screened bottom.  I'm thinking that in the first days, heat conservation will be the main goal.

A 1" round hole has a surface area of 0.8 in2.  A 3/4" round hole has an area of 0.44 in2.  A 1/2" round hole has an area of 0.2 in2. A 3/8" round hole has an area of 0.11 in2.  Several bees can come and go at once through a 3/8" hole.  I've watched, and an amazing amount of traffic can pass to and fro through small holes.

As for ventilation for cooling?  Dunno.  If the hole is used for exhausting hot air by fanning bees, then there has to be a similar air inlet somewhere to provide the air to exhaust.  I'm thinking two holes on the same face would work well, one below and another higher up.

Hive
Number

March 29

April 13

April 20

28 days

Per day 15 days Per day 7 Days Per Day

1

0

0

Removed

Removed Removed Removed

2

13

0.5

12

0.8

0

0

3

8

0.3

4

0.3

1

0.1

4

82

2.9

77

5.1

20

2.9

5

18

0.6

26

1.7

0

0

6

2

0.1

1

0.1

2

0.3

Average 20.5 0.7 24 1.6 4.6 0.7

I collected and counted the drop boards this afternoon.  Hive #4 continues to be high.  About half the mites looked pretty old.   I suspect we are still getting drop from mites which died over winter.  It will be interesting to see how the count changes as the hive gets cleaned out more.  Confounding things, though is the fact that many of the mites will now be hiding in brood.

I have yet to decide how to update the drop summary page.  That page is still where to get the background on the hives shown in the table here, but I think I'll start new charts for the current drops.  When I split, however, it will be a whole new game.  I'll have to start afresh.

I always use April 20 as my predicted date for the beginning of pollen, and this year is right on schedule.  We are seeing big pollen loads yesterday and today, and lots of bees in the poplars.

Bubbles occur when perception achieves escape velocity from reality.
Robert Fitzwilson

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Saturday April 21st 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

The next few days promise to be very warm, and that should get the colonies brooding up strongly.

From Bob by email this morning:

> I use wood pellets in my smoker. They last all day. Don't have to keep pumping the smoker. When I use ammonium nitrate, I never have to worry about my smoker going out.

> Each year I used to split hives, queen about 100 to a 150 nucs, all in my back yard using ammonium nitrate. It worked great. Completely eliminated all drifting back and queen rejection.

> I overwintered my nucs with the bottoms fully screened.

Bob is the beekeeper who sold me the hives I bought last spring.  The hives worked out very well.

I've wondered about how the NH4NO3, would work out if I continue to use the burlap I normally employ for smoker fuel.  Juanse uses bark.  I have lots of bark, come to think of it, having bought a truckload load of it last year for mulch, but pellets seem more uniform.  I wonder, though, how to keep the pellets from moving around when tipping the smoker, as any I have examined are small and rounded.

Wikipedia says, "Ammonium nitrate decomposes in temperatures normally well above 200C. However the presence of impurities (organic and/or inorganic) will often reduce the temperature point when heat is being generated. Once the AN has started to decompose, then a runaway reaction will normally occur as the heat of decomposition is very large. AN evolves so much heat that this runaway reaction is normally impossible to stop."

My concern about entrance size and screening has to do with the size of split I decide to make.  To get maximum numbers from the hives I have, smaller splits are indicated. 

Small splits can be very successful, if made early and under the right conditions, and if the weather co-operates, but they are very vulnerable to weather. 

Around here, looking at the climate chart, there is the outside chance of temperatures as low as minus thirteen around May 1st, judging by the extremes on the chart!  If combined with wind, this is lethal to small clusters.  I have had one and two-frame splits killed in early June!  As a result I am gun-shy and normally make fairly large splits, opting to split again later if things go right. 

At the same time as minus thirteen is a possibility, on the other extreme, plus thirty-five is not unknown on the same date.  Making sure that any splits I make can weather either extreme in comfort and without either hanging out or having to form a tight cluster is my goal.  The bees can control their hive temperature if the population is matched to the cavity and the entrances are right. 

The additional constraint, and this is the tough one, is that I'm wanting the nucs to be able to go a month, minimum, from the date they are made up without requiring any attention at all in case I am away.  I'm still trying to decide whether to fly to Nassau the day after they are set out.

The problem is that if I use much sealed brood, within three weeks, the population will mushroom, potentially crowding the nuc.  Including a sheet or more of foundation provides a bit of space, but not for long.  

I could use a whole standard box instead of a five-frame division and use newspaper to divide off the occupied area so that they can enlarge the cavity when necessary, I suppose.

I usually provide an empty box underneath when splitting, since dead air is a good insulator and heat rises, but that is less practical with the five-frame nuc idea.

I'm headed outside to do some odd jobs, but before going, I did a little writing in the forum about oxalic evaporation.

I filled propane bottles and emptied ash drums than found that it was lunchtime.  After lunch, I went to town for paint, but by the time I got back, there was not enough time for Elijah to paint the boxes.  He had come at one and was leaving at three. Besides I was distracted from that job since a beekeeper had dropped by with a beetle to show me.  It was not SHB, but we had a good visit.

I did more odds and ends of chores around the yard.  Spring is cleanup time.  I have lots of cleanup to do.  Time flies.

Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.
Aesop

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Sunday April 22nd 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Today's predicted temp has been dropped three degrees and tomorrow's boosted by the same.  This should really bring on the bees.

Yesterday Juanse posted a link to a YouTube video about an evaporator made by a friend of his.  Looks interesting.  The biggest concern with any of these units using a heated pot is temperature limitation and also cooling between charges.  Nonetheless, this looks like an easy unit to make and one that delivers the oxalic acid at an optimal rate.

Spring always makes me more energetic.  The longer days and warmer outside temperatures combine to make me more active and being active makes me more energetic.  I have lots to do this week. 

Out of 26 hives last fall, 22 are looking good and seven are cleaning the bottom boards in hives that are three and four stories high.  I'm pretty excited about the bees and can't keep from looking at them several times a day. 

I don't open them.  I just look to see how they are flying and what they are carrying.  The bees are carrying in big pollen loads.  I do take an occasional peek in the top, though, and see it is already time to add more supplement to some of the hives. Some hives have eaten the middle out of the patty stack and that is where the patties do the most good, so I add more and sometimes put a double stack in that area. 

Their protein needs are high at this time of year and they need a reserve so I pile on the patties.  Additionally, I don't know how good the natural pollen is, so supplements help ensure a balanced diet.

I'm finding the paper on these patties a bit tough and think I should carry a box knife to slash the patties when I stack them so the paper is not a barrier to the upper patties in the stack.  Nonetheless, the bees are tearing up the paper and throwing it out at a good rate, so maybe I am just being fussy.

Cheryl, Ellen's roommate from school comes today and plans to stay for a few days.

Bob Hack responded today with the following:

OK. I made up a couple of posts here for links:

The later should help explain the nucs. Feel free to email or comment on post if you have any further questions.

Of particular note on those pages:

Most bagged ammonium nitrate that is sold today as 34-0-0 fertilizer, is in the form of pellets, prilled with a clay that will retard burning. To make it easier to lite, I dissolve the ammonium nitrate pellets in water. Let the clay settle and pour off the ammonium nitrate to evaporate in a warm place. Note: Dissolving ammonium nitrate in water results in an endothermic reaction. Meaning the solution gets quite cold. This is of no concern.

People who ask our advice almost never take it. Yet we should never refuse to give it,
upon request, for it often helps us to see our own way more clearly.
Brendan Francis

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Monday April 23rd 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

The weather-guessers just can't make up their minds.  Now we are looking for 28 degrees today, not the 30 they predicted yesterday.  We are also expecting a southwest wind at 20 KPH, gusting to 40.

I drove to Calgary, intending to buy a van.  I found that it was the same van I had seen on Kijiji a week ago.  It was a US van that is almost identical to Jonathan's.  I looked it over and drove it, but decided it was not much better than the van I'm driving.  On the4 way home, I stopped in  Airdrie to pick up some patties and test drove a 2011 Chrysler Town & Country with all the add-ons.  It was pretty spunky and a nice ride, but it had a hum.  Could have been the roof rack, but I decided that it is not that much better than the van I'm driving and bought for 1/8th the price.

When I got home, I went to the hives and checked the feed.  I'm feeding the hives all they will eat and so I put on another box of patties, bringing my total to 5-1/2 40lb boxes on the 22 hives so far this spring.

Some hives had eaten almost all their stash, and others just a hole in the middle.  No matter.  I replaced any that had been eaten and left them with the equivalent of about three or four patties each on the top bars.  That computes to about two boxes of the 5-1/2, meaning that they have actually consumed 3-1/2 boxes or 140 pounds over the 22 hives or a little over 6 patties consumed per hive since March 27th.  The results can be seen at right.  Of course that is the best hive.  Some are only half as good.

I last loaded up these hives with patties April 16th -- one week ago.  At that time, they had at least three patties on top and some had five, including some double-stacked. 

Here are some shots of what I saw today before reloading them.  Obviously I need to check more often or put more on at a time.

       

       

   

        (I had accidentally posted several older pictures here and removed them when I noticed.  These are all from today,)

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.
Confucius

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Tuesday April 24th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Ellen and Cheryl got into the Toyota to go to Drum this morning and it would not start.  The battery was flat.  That van has not been driven for a month and there is always a small drain from the electronics.  Moreover that battery came with the van when we bought it 7.88 years and 89,441 kilometres ago.  I asked the girls to buy a new one when in town.  This one would be okay if we use the van enough, and surprisingly it started the van all winter, but I think it is time for a new one.  I wonder, now, though if a dome light was left on last time we used it.  Everything shuts down automatically after twenty minutes, but that could have drained the battery enough to weaken it.

We have another warm day and this weather is ideal to get the queens laying to the fullest.  I bought a sheet of 1/4" GIS mahogany plywood yesterday and think I will start building some nucs so I will be ready to split soon.

One hive seemed to be eating more slowly than others, so I went through the top box to make sure there is a good queen.  Usually slow patty consumption indicates a problems with a hive.  When I turned the patties over, I saw that there had been more consumption than was apparent from above.

At right is a shot of the patties which were on the hive.  I took them off temporarily to work the hive and figure this is a good illustration of how the bees eat invisibly from underneath until suddenly the patties are gone.  These patties appeared almost untouched from above, but are about 50% eaten.  I loaded the hives up yesterday.  Some of these patties may have been on the hive at the time and several were probably added at that time.

Six frames of the ten had brood.  I did not go down through the other boxes, but assume that at least the one under had similar amounts. There were capped drones, too, so no worries.

One pallet in the yard seemed to have a lot more bee activity in the two southernmost hives, so I rotated the pallet 180 degrees with the forklift.  Shortly after, the hives seem more equal at the entrances.  I did that with another pallet earlier on.  This is an easy way to equalize without having to go through the hives.

Large loads of at least three colours of pollen are arriving now (left).  My April 20th rule of thumb for expecting reliable pollen was dead-on this year.  Before that we saw very little.  About no most beekeepers would quit feeding supplement, but I am continuing.  On cool, wet or windy days the bees still need pollen and at night they have only what they have been able to accumulate on good flying days.   I see some pollen in cells near the brood when I inspect frames, but that is usually in the afternoon after it warms up.  I wonder what I would see early in the morning.

Don't give advice. It will come back and bite you in the ass. Don't take anyone's advice.
So, my advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything will be fine.
Ellen DeGeneres

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Wednesday April 25th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

From BEE-L and well worth reading:

> We had such a mild winter that many people are having spring mite problems
> which is not the usual for Maine. Usually the brood-less period over the
> winter reduces the mite load and we do not see a spring problem.

Hi Karen and all

Because of our mild winter I expected to have high mite levels by now. I have never used MAQS but have used formic acid for many years. I have never treated with formic in the spring because it kills brood is hard on queens and, according to a local researcher, sterilizes drones at a time we are trying to build colony strength. I have attached a post I sent to our local association members encouraging them to check before treating

Hi All

My three strongest hives are doubles and are boiling in bees. One was a nuc in 2009(P8), another a nuc in 2010(P2) and the third a swarm I brought home in 2010(R6B). All are on screened bottom boards open to the ground, the first two were left open all winter whereas the third was closed with styrofoam. I do 24 hour varroa drops every 2 weeks all summer and normally don't start until June because there are never any mites to count. This year, because of the mild weather resulting in lots of early brood, I did my first counts today expecting high numbers of mites.

Apr 20/12 - P2 - 1 mite / 24 hours, P8 - 0 mites / 24 hours, R6B - 4 mites / 24 hours

As a result of these low mite counts, I will not be treating for varroa this spring, unless the next count in 2 weeks is considerably higher.

Last summer the mite counts were low, likely caused, in part, by the late spring

Aug 30/11 - P2 - 1 mite / 48 hours, P8 - 0 mites / 48 hours, R6B - 3 mites / 48 hours

Sep 20/11 - P2 - 2 mites / 48 hours, P8 - 3 mites / 48 hours, R6B - 4 mites / 48 hours

I did not use my normal formic acid mitewipe varroa treatment last autumn as a result of the low counts. I did, however, treat with oxalic acid in late November and counted the mites dropping afterwards.

Nov 30/11 - P2 - 115 mites / 68 hours, P8 - 41 mites / 68 hours, R6B - 111 mites / 68 hours

These counts seem high but are really quite low and show how effective the oxalic treatment is, in spite of there being no other varroa treatments all year.

I still expect varroa levels to rise this year and plan to treat as early in August as I can get the July honey off

Bob Darrell
Caledon Ontario Canada
44N80W
snowing here today

The above really makes me wonder.  I had no varroa problems for years, when I just used oxalic drizzle in the fall and split heavily in summer, then got completely wiped out in winter 2010/2011.  There is something mysterious about varroa population dynamics some years.

Leslie came mid-afternoon to drive Cheryl back to Calgary, so Ellen and I are alone again after weeks of visits.

Morley phoned in the afternoon saying he has 180 Australian queens descended from Saskatraz stock for $18.  That is cheap and I almost bought them, but checked with Joe and we do have queens on the way.  They are Kona and Saskatraz from the US and cost considerably more.

Kona has always been a favourite of mine, and Joe is convinced the US Saskatraz queens will be more true than the Australian version which is less directly related to the current Saskatraz stock.  I have liked Australian stock in the past and found the ones I have had to be good producers and winterers.  They did seem at that time, though, to be more susceptible to AFB.  The Australian queen producers are constantly bringing in superior and resistant stock from around the world, so my experience from a decade back may no longer apply.

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they
want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S Truman

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Thursday April 26th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

To BEE-L today:

Border closure has been a disaster for Prairie beekeeping in Canada. While a percentage of beekeepers have been able to adapt, survive, and increase hive numbers, the closure disrupted the growth in the industry which was paralleling improvement in roads and technology to that point. Many were driven out of business or suffered heavy financial losses. The business became unattractive to new entrants. A few beekeepers and a lot of government employees have benefited, but all beekeepers have suffered from greatly increased expense and complexity, and unpredictable risk.

Whereas, until closure, cheap replacement bees could be obtained from the south on short order, the cost doubled when new sources were tapped and we had to accept different stock than we traditionally had used. Our investment in the Alberta Bee, which cost us about $1 million and was developed on the assumption that we could send the stock south for reproduction and bring the offspring north annually was scuttled. Beekeepers in the northernmost regions with a much shorter season, suffered most as they tend to have random and high winter losses with no certainty of being able to find affordable or suitable replacement stock on short notice.

The closure was to be precautionary and temporary due to the discovery of tracheal mites in the US. As it turned out, the tracheal mite was already in Canada, but undetected at that date.

The closure was accomplished in two stages. Alberta went along with the temporary closure on the assumption that the closure would be for a few months, but were double-crossed by the other provinces when the time came to reopen it. The claim was made that the border could not be opened province by province, even though it was closed in stages.

A lot of deliberate and disingenuous fear-mongering created deadlock and the protectionists have had their way right up to the present. Alberta did, through considerable expense and effort, manage to open a number of sources over time, even to where we can get queens from California, but with a huge extra cost to cover paperwork and administrative burden -- and restricted selection.

The irony is that after the supplies were made available through Alberta effort and expense, and against strong opposition from other provinces, beekeepers in the provinces which fought Alberta tooth and nail, by fair means and foul, immediately rushed to exploit those supplies, causing -- in some cases -- shortages.

There was never a legitimate reason not to open the border province by province, according to provincial needs. Each province has different liquor and other restrictions at the US border, and Alberta bees and equipment are embargoed by Saskatchewan, indicating that inter-provincial and international trade are separate matters, but the closure has been a great full-employment scheme for bureaucrats and lobbyists so it is impossible to change. Looking back, we (I was in the room) should never have advocated the temporary closure, but we were naive and trusting.

Alberta beekeeping was originally established and supplied by California beekeepers along with some from beekeeping families in Southern Ontario. Honey bees are not natural in Alberta and would likely die out entirely within decades or a century at most if human management were not maintaining them.

The global warming which began several thousand years ago and continues to present has been a blessing, lengthening the growing season during the recent advance, and making bee wintering less risky, however, even after a decade and half of "protection" from US package imports, most provinces have not recovered to their pre-border numbers or profitability.

Strangely, Alberta is the lone exception and we credit the strong co-operative spirit and the anti-regulatory bias for our success. That, and moving bees south to where a person can spit across the the US border for wintering.

As for our bee stock, in the event of unexpected loss, bees are obtained from anywhere they are available. Queens come from Hawaii, Australia, new Zealand and California, so nothing has changed except the hassle and expense of the added bureaucratic load, plus we cannot get US packages.

There are breeding programmes, though, and the Saskatraz project has gained some respect. They may winter better or resist mites and disease better, but there is no real way of knowing.

Our success in maintaining numbers is, like everywhere, a matter of luck. Randomly, everyone has an unexpected big loss sooner or later. Beekeepers in the US south can take a 80% loss and recover within a year if they don't go broke, but up here we cannot reproduce bees like in the south. We are lucky to maintain our numbers and make a crop most years, and typically commercial beekeepers need to buy an average of 10% of their total hive count in packages each year.

A few beekeepers seem to be able to make surplus bees and sell nucs quite consistently, but some years the nucs advertised are suddenly removed from the market as the owner needs them him/herself to make up unexpected losses. I bought hives last spring and they came a month late and at half the expected strength due to weather.

Queens can be raised in summer here, but not reliably or well when they are most needed -- in early spring -- thus tens or hundreds of thousands are imported annually.

As for all the scourges that this bureaucratic layer of expense and inconvenience are supposed to keep out of Canada, every one of them has already been here. You name it: AHB, rAFB, varroa, tracheal Mites, SHB, viruses... I can't think of anything that is known to be in the US that has not been seen here in Canada. Our climate seems to limit the worst of them.

In seven out of our ten provinces bees fly freely back and forth across the border, and bees are moved freely to and from those areas, so I think I'll leave it to the reader to judge whether border closure has any basis in reason.

I have written other articles on the subject and they can be accessed at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/topics.htm

BTW, Where I live, I am closer to Los Angeles (2614 km) than Toronto (shortest route is 3311 km -- via the USA). 

Why should people east of Toronto or Ottawa -- and separated from us by rugged bee-hostile terrain and legal jurisdictions which exclude Alberta bees -- have any say in what we do out here? 

It is simply oppression and a travesty.

 

From a private communication:

> Just received a message on the internet re bees and a pesticide group called neonicotinoids made by Bayer. Claim is that these pesticides are contributing to the demise of bees worldwide. Is this something that is recognized as a hazard in the bee keeping community too?

This another one of those stories that unfortunately catches the public imagination and takes on a life of its own. I have been tracking the neonics for a decade and set up what was probably the first site on the web relating to the question, long before anyone else was aware of the potential harm from systemics. Every day, I moderate a worldwide discussion list where scientists (some are the ones investigating bee disappearances) and beekeepers (including some who have had losses) discuss this and other bee issues.

The neonic fears did not prove out. Although there are instances of local poisonings due to negligence and misapplication, as can be found with all pesticides, and some specific crops where prudence has restricted their use, there is no evidence that convinces impartial and scientific observers that neonics are implicated in massive worldwide losses -- or even that any unusual losses are occurring.

Inexplicable large bee losses occur every decade or two. Bee cycles are a lot like tent caterpillar cycles. We suspect viruses and, in recent years, inability to control the varroa mite, a major scourge of honey bees, has allowed that particular disease vector to get ahead of many beekeepers.

I personally know the guy who started the whole CCD thing, Dave Hackenberg, and the bee inspector, Tony Jadczak, who told Dave he would soon have a massive bee losses his varroa was badly out of control. Shortly after that warning in Maine and after moving the bees to Florida, Dave had a huge loss and screamed bloody murder to the press.

Dave is a former American Beekeeping Federation president, with friends in congress and the media and his influence and the resulting brouhaha brought immense public sympathy for beekeepers (who were public lepers in urban areas and highways) and a massive injection of public funds into bee research (which was about to be cut from budgets). So everyone wins and very few make a fuss. If beekeepers or scientists say it simply ain't so, they say it quietly among themselves. The media, of course, love a circus and keep the whole thing going with selected quotes and by repeating speculation endlessly.

Things were dying down lately, but somehow a professor at a branch of Harvard which has nothing to do with bees did an ill-conceived and hugely flawed 'study' and pre-released to the press (against all the usual rules for publication) and that Harvard association has fanned the flames again. Anyone who knows anything about bees or pesticides or CCD finds the paper very embarrassing in its assumptions and execution. It is a disgrace, plain and simple.

Hopefully the paper will be withdrawn before its June publication, but the genie is out of the bottle and people who have not actually read it (I have) think, due to the association with Harvard, that it proves something.

All he proved was that if you keep putting more and more poison into beehives, the bees will eventually die. The most amazing thing about the 'study' was how long and how much time and  imidacloprid it took to kill the colonies. In fact, he had to change his plans and increase the original dose drastically because the bees were not dying as expected.

Anyhow, this is probably more than you wanted to know... The bees are fine and my friends all over North America and elsewhere are reporting the best bees in years.

Meantime this urban legend rolls on making popular heroes out of beekeepers and bankrolling all sorts of research that would have been unfunded without the fuss.  As for neronics, they are pesticides and, yes, they do kill insects -- including bees on occasion -- but far fewer and less often than previous classes of insecticides.  Moreover, they are far less harmful to mammals, including humans, than the nasty old chemicals which they replaced.

We don't know everything about the neonics and some corners were cut in approving them in the hurry to eliminate the old nerve gas insecticides, and some of the information submitted to obtain approval has been withheld as proprietary, but all we have against them is some few incidents and a lot of speculation.

Beekeepers don't like pesticides, but we recognize they are necessary evils.  In fact most beekeepers use selected pesticides to control weeds, bugs, rodents and mites.  We don't like the systemics, but we don't want to go back to the bad old days when there were real and obvious mass bee poisonings from the organophosphates and other old classes of bug killers.

We continue to be vigilant, and look for any connection to neonics in bee deaths, but any honest examination of fact usually shows that varroa mites, diseases they vector, or other agents were the primary cause of bee death.

I bought a weather station the other day at Costco and today I set it up.  It has a standalone screen which receives and displays that data from the sender which can be up to 100 metres away, a USB connection to my computer with a local display programme (left), and also sends data to a web page on the Internet (right) that can be viewed anywhere.

I've been looking for a full-featured weather station for some time and this one has all the features I want, including rainfall -- all for about $55.

In the evening, I set up to paint the 22 boxes I got from Meijers.  They are easy to paint compared to the BeeMax ones, since they don't have brands embossed into them and only the handholds need to be brushed.  I used one coat of quality latex.  It cost me $52 for the US gallon and covered quite well.  Last time, I sprayed the boxes and I don't think it was much faster.

The trick for rolling is to have a plank sticking out a few feet and secured on one end.  The boxes are hung on the plank and, as each side is painted, the box is rotated on the plank to expose a new side for painting.  When done, the boxes are removed and stacked and several more are hung on the plank.  It's very quick.

http://www.farecast.com/

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made.
Destiny is made known silently.
Agnes de Mille

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Friday April 27th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I was expecting some Kona queens today, but apparently that order has been cancelled.  This may be for the best, since the weather is cold and breezy and will be for a few days. 

I am very happy that I loaded up the hives with patties since the bees won't be flying much, but still have to feed a lot of brood.

I also have a few more days to get ready to split, and of course this means that the hives will be hatching more young bees by splitting time.  This rain also means that at least some of the queens will be shutting down for a few days.  I'll be wanting good weather for splitting to ensure good queen acceptance and prevent brood chilling after splitting, even if I use the ammonium nitrate trick, which I plan to do.

I've been working my way through my old diary pages, starting at the beginning.  I figured I'd never make it all the way through, reading.  We'll see.  I am at April 9,2000.  There is a long way to go to get to the present.

I'm tired today.  Windy, cold, rainy days are good days to do nothing.  Mike and Liz were to come out to look at bees and have supper, but I cancelled.  It is too windy to have much of a look at the bees.  Wind chill is minus nine, but the wind is from the NW, so the hives are somewhat sheltered.

I should switch out the drop boards again today.  Another week has passed.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I exchanged boards but have not counted them.  There was water on several, so I put paper towel on them and left them to evaporate.

The new weather station continues to entertain me and I discovered I could register it with www.wunderground.com  so that its location and data show up at its own page.  It appears I have to leave a computer running 24/7 for this to have continuous data.  I'm going to have to think about that.  For now, I'm leaving one machine running, but may choose to use the netbook or another low-consumption unit later.

Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. George Patton

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Write me | Search

Saturday April 28th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

It is starting to register on me that my computers are using more power than I may think.  Two laptops at 50 watts each and two LED monitors at 50 watts each adds up to 200 watts.  Running 12 hours a day, that would be 0.2x12=2.4 KWH/day or 2.4x30=72 KWH/month or $260/year!

At $0.30 per KWH, that comes to $21.60/month or .  Of course, this is just a wild guess.  I have a clamp-on AC ammeter.  I think I'll make up a special extension cord so I can clamp over just one wire and measure.

I'm counting the boards I brought in last night.   The job is impossible.  There is a lot of debris and the water carried a few mites away, I am sure, when I spilled a little picking them up.  I see quite a few on the paper towel I put on to absorb the water.  Up until now, I have had some confidence in my counts, but even with bright light and a magnifier, plus specs, I doubt that I am seeing 80% of them.  I also see that a mouse has been cruising through on top of the screens, dropping seeds and generally knocking things down.   An entrance reducer might have been a good idea.  The take-home lesson is don't believe reported mite counts unless you are certain that the conditions were ideal and the person counting very scrupulous in making observations.

Hive
Number

March 29

April 13

April 20

April 27

28 days

Per day 15 days Per day 7 Days Per Day 7 Days Per Day

1

0

0

Removed

Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed

2

13

0.5

12

0.8

0

0

17

2.4

3

8

0.3

4

0.3

1

0.1

34

4.9

4

82

2.9

77

5.1

20

2.9

123

15.6

5

18

0.6

26

1.7

0

0

2

0.3

6

2

0.1

1

0.1

2

0.3

10

1.4

Average 20.5 0.7 24 1.6 4.6 0.7

37.2

5.3

This will probably be my last count for these hives as I will be manipulating them this week, starting, I hope, today.

It seems, though, that I still have a significant varroa mite problem.  Most of these hives are still above threshold, -- at least from this drop count.  Individual drop counts can be quite wide of the mark.  I'll have to keep monitoring somehow and/or consider more treatments.

Looking at these numbers we can see how the results of the treatments and wintering leave us with varroa loads that are all over the map.  This is the problem with averaging and statistical presentations.  Treatments that involve fumigation and are susceptible to the vagaries of hive and cluster configuration.

I would have expected lower drops now since the varroa should be hiding in brood --unless all these mites are from last winter and have just now fallen down.  I would not count on it, though.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?  I am listening in the Honey Bee World Forum.

I have come up with a plan.  I intend to go through the hives, organizing and scraping and replacing combs so that the frames are easy to move later and I know where the brood is.  I intend to place an excluder between each box, so that the queen can continue work and the bees can move through the hive, but in several days it should be obvious where she is by the egg laying in only one box.

At that time, when the queens arrive, I intend to set a brood chamber from storage on each position on a pallet, and then place one entire box with brood and feed from the current hives on top, making a double with three or four frames with brood, plus frames of bees and feed in the top box.  I'll check them quickly for a queen, gas them all with ammonium nitrate, add a queen to the queenless hives I've just made up, and then move the pallets to another yard down the track before they wake up too much.

That is the plan.  We'll see how the reality stacks up when I get out there and the bees tell me where I am wrong.

*    *    *    *    *

Elijah and I drilled holes in the new boxes, then I went out and worked through one hive.  It was four-high and was one of the two I had made up of a weak hive and queenright hive earlier. There is brood in all four boxes, but it looks to me as if it is not quite ready to split.  I then got distracted by burning brush and old frames and lawn mowing.  At three I went to town for supplies -- including some wood pellets for the smoker -- and Meijers came for supper at six.

Humor is everywhere, in that there's irony in just about anything a human does.
Bill Nye

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Weather | Write me | Search

Sunday April 29th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I spent the morning cleaning up and around noon, Jean and family showed up, followed by Israel and Helena.  We had lunch and visited.  They all left around three.

Mid-afternoon, I did some lawn mowing.  There were a few showers, but the grass was not too dry and not too wet, so I got good results.

After supper, I went out and cut some more, but noticed the deck was had to start.  When I engaged the PTO, the engine stalled, so I jacked the machine up and turned the blades.  One was very hard to turn, so I removed the blade and the bearing pedestal.  A closer examination revealed that something had wrapped and burred the aluminum a bit.  Also, the bearing seemed very tight, but smooth, so I greased it and also shot the whole thing up with WD40, then reinstalled it.  A trial run showed slight heating, but smooth operation.  We'll see.

Getting parts takes days and at the rate the grass is growing, we can't stand too many days more without finishing the first cut.

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Weather | Write me | Search

Monday April 30th 2012
Click to visit April pages from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I am happy with this weather station.  It does a good job of prediction and also lets me know the current wind strength and direction.  Wind can make being outside unpleasant, and also affects what we choose to do at any given time, so this information is very useful.

We're continuing to discuss the use of ammonium nitrate to produce nitrous oxide to erase bee memory on BEE-L and in the Honey Bee World Forum.  I have yet to try it.

I went out and mowed for a few hours.  The grass is growing and this is my opportunity to shorten it and cut some areas that got ragged last year.

I hear the queens come tomorrow night.  I'm thinking we may have to hold them a few days before we are able to use them.

In the forum, we are discussing the use of N2O to erase bee memory.  I dug up some info and posted it here.

The wit makes fun of other persons;
the satirist makes fun of the world;
the humorist makes fun of himself.
James Thurber

Home | Selected Beekeeping Topics | Honey Bee World Forum | Diary Home | Diary Archives | Weather | Write me | Search

 

<< Previous Page           April  2012            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 1999-2012. Permission granted to copy in context for non-commercial purposes, and with full attribution.

Home