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Four-packs Moved Down the Field

 

Sunday May 20th 2012
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The weather station here says -1.5 C at 6 AM.  The record indicates that the drop from about +2 happened between 4 and  5 AM.  At the same time, the wind dropped from 6 KPH to 0 KPH.  I'd like to know the interior hive temperatures right now.  Last night the thermometer read around 80 to 85 F all around the top bars.

My left thumb is still a bit swollen and hot.  So far the 'click' is not fixed.  The right thumb, which got stung equally but 8 hours earlier is quite normal.

We have another beautiful day coming up, but the barometer is falling and I see cooler, wetter weather coming later this week.

I have been worrying about how quickly the battery in the new phone was running down.  It dropped to 60% in a matter of hours, but I left it on continuously without charging for a day or more and when it got down to 30% or less, the rate of decline was much less and the last 10% seemed to last forever.

I went out this morning and tightened the belt on the hydraulic pump on the forklift.  It was getting so I could not lift much.  Now it is strong enough to lift the back of the FL off the ground again.  I lifted the front of the van in preparation for doing the wheel bearing.  I really do not look forward to that job.

I also cut the grass around the rail shed.  We let it grow wild last year, but I think it wise to control tall grass in case of fire. 

While I am doing these other things, I'm thinking about using ammonium nitrate on a four pack and moving it.  The day is getting hot so maybe it is a little late for today.  I should really put a frame of brood into the dummy hive so I can see how many bees come back.  On the other hand, if I do, then maybe bees returning for a look before going to the new location might stay.  Designing a good experiment is difficult.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I decided to just try the ammonium nitrate, so I took a four-pack and treated the two north-most hives and not the southern ones, then moved it a half-mile or so south.  I placed a dummy hive in its place.  The idea is flawed from the start, because the bees are flying and not even between hives, but I thought I might get an idea of the drift-back.

At left is the four-pack before moving.  I have not yet treated them in this picture.  Note the activity is uneven between the two. At right is the inside of the busiest dummy hive after I moved the four pack away and while the original hive was still asleep.

Frankly, I really did not like what I saw after smoking with ammonium nitrate,  The bees do indeed look dead, and some are moving; others not.  How do I know how much is enough.  Also, I did not see the black smoke Juanse described.  I just saw really dense light brown smoke.

I moved the four-pack down the strip and noticed that now there are some dead bees on the bottom board, but not on the non-ammonium nitrate hives.  I also found that the gassed bees are very, very cross when they wake up.

In addition, I moved two more pallets down the strip and set them beside the first pallet.   I smoked all the hives well before moving to calm them and keep them from flying during the move, then loaded them onto the forks, drove down the strip and sat them with the others.  Before leaving them, I plugged all the auger holes with grass to encourage re-orienting.

We had company when  I got in from moving the bees and that kept me occupied for an hour or two.  That, and baking a cake.   After they left, around five and about three hours after the move, I went out and checked the hives.

I graded all the moved hives for strength and will observe.  A far as I can tell few bees returned to the original location today.  We will see what happens tomorrow.

When I checked, I found a sparse frame or less of bees in each dummy hive that was sitting on the original spot where the hives which had been gassed with  N2O had sat -- and virtually none in the other two in the dummy hives beside them on the spot where the two comparison hives were only smoked well and moved.  So far, there is little drifting from the hives that got  N2O2 or from the ones that just got smoke.  We'll see what happens tomorrow.  I've moved the dummy hives away now, though, and will just look for bees looking to land where the pallets had been.

So far, I consider the  N2O to be a failed idea for what I am doing.

I didn't go to college at all, any college, and I'm not saying you wasted your time or money,
but look at me, I'm a huge celebrity.
Ellen DeGeneres

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Monday May 21st 2012
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Here comes another nice day.  On my list for today are

  1. take a walk

  2. change that wheel bearing

  3. check the queenless hives.

  4. monitor the hives I moved to see if they seem to lose populations

  5. watch where they sat to see if there are bees searching for the hives.

  6. make up some brood chamber boxes for when I split again.

I also have to get the corporate books done and ready for the accountant and do some more yard tidying.

As for the queenless hives, I am thinking now that I may just drop in a frame of young brood and be done with it.

The days are long and the grass is growing.  I see more grass winter kill than I expected and also think I may have left it too long last fall, and may have been cutting the grass a bit too short this spring.  At any rate, the lawns look good and we are getting the trim areas under control with Roundup and with mulch.

Ellen is much better lately and has been spending hours out gardening and trimming.  I have been mowing.

After not buying that van, which seemed to be an excellent deal, I am suddenly noticing that better vans are appearing on Kijiji, and at very good prices.  The dealer had said that van sales were slow, and now I am seeing the result.

I think the the Greek situation is having an effect on confidence. The Canadian stock index is now back below where it was two years ago and appears to be forming a head-and-shoulders top, indicating a potential drop back to 8,000, the 2008 low. 

*   *   *   *   *   *

Of course, I began the day by doing nothing on my list.  I cleaned the kitchen, did the wash and vacuumed.

Now to the list...

*   *   *   *   *   *

Zippy and I did the one-mile walk.  Now, at 9:30 it is already hot. 

Along the way, I checked on the 12 hives that I moved yesterday and also the spots where they had been sitting before the move.  The bees were orienting nicely on the new location (right) and I saw no sign of lost bees circling the old locations. It seems the smoking and stuffing entrances with grass was all it took to get them to relocate.

Of course, there are similar-looking hives beside where they sat, so the bees could just be going into them.  I marked the hive strengths on the moved hives yesterday with bricks and I'll look in a day to see if they have dwindled at all noticeably.

At the new location, the two hives I gassed with N2O had dead bees on the doorstep and in front  The other hives did not.  (See the right-hand hive in the picture at left.  The one beside it was not gassed).

Otherwise the gassed hives seemed fine.  The way I did it at least, I see no advantage in using  N2O.  When I fumed the bees, it felt all wrong.  Perhaps for smaller hives and to introduce queens it might make sense, but I am doubting it.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Now I have to decide how to deal with the queenless hives.  I could raise some queens, I could get more mated queens from my friends -- or I could just insert a frame with some young larvae.  I think that is what I will do.  It will be three weeks until they are queenright, but I won't have to fool around and waste time and money on them.

Actually, I should have added larvae the moment I suspected they were queenless.  As it is, I have lost several days.  Additionally, if they have eggs and larvae there are no cells built in three days, that indicates they may have a queen. 

It is possible I'll find some of the hives that appeared queenless on the 19th have laying queens today, and they just took a while to get started, but I'm not betting on it.

The caraganas are in bloom (right).

I worked through 14 hives and then stopped for lunch.  One of the queenless ones now has eggs and another has a newly hatched virgin, judging by the clean hole in the cell I saw.  I gave that hive larvae anyhow, just to be sure, and did the same for another queenless hive as well as I went.  The colonies look strong and the queens are now laying well.

I checked the four-packs next to where the moved hives had been and I think they area bit more populous than they were, so there may have been some drifting back.  I'll check the moved hives this afternoon to see if they have shrunk much.

For my purposes, it does not matter if they have lost a few bees as long as they are still strong enough to keep their brood warm and to forage.  A bit of drift-back simply makes the hives at the original spot stronger and ready to split sooner.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I forgot to put, "7.  have an afternoon nap" on the list.  I meant to.  Anyhow, I lay down at 2:20 and awoke at 4.  Nice work!.

It's been a day of intermittent sun and cloud, with temperatures fluctuating a few degrees, a falling barometer and an east wind switching to south and increasing .  A front is on its way and hopefully, we'll get rain.  We're dry.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Well, this is depressing.  I just checked all the hives and of the 46, 11 are queenless, have virgins, or are superseding.  Considering that I made 24 splits, that is not too good. 

  • In any yard, it is normal to have 10% with problems, though, and that would mean I should expect 5 problem hives, not 11.

  • Several of the problem hives are hives with original queens, but the rest are the purchased queens.  Most of the failures are in hives which got the second lot of purchased queens.

  • Maybe I did a bad job of introduction on them or maybe they were just poor queens.  For another thing the weather was cool during the second introduction period and the splits were also getting old, having sat a week without a queen

  • In  two cases I noticed, the hives had sealed queen cells when I checked them later and I was sure I had broken down cells when introducing, so I don't know what happened.

At any rate, I tired of wasting my time fighting the bees and I did what I should have done in the first place.  I gave them frames with young larvae and marked them to be left alone.

If I had just split them and let them raise their own queens in the first place, the new queens would be laying by the 26th.  That is only five days from now.  I'd have a few duds, but I'd have spent nothing, done much less work, and not have used up over $600 worth of queens.

Actually, I think I will leave the hives alone for a few weeks.  I think I am wasting my time.  I'll get more brood chambers ready and when the time comes to split again, I'll just split the hives in half, walk away, and let them  raise their own queens.   I may raise a few cells to hurry them along.  We'll see.

I can see that my equipment limits me.  In particular, the pallets I use are too small for the larger EPS boxes and the hives are crowded tightly together so that the boxes and lids are in tight contact.

As a result, I cannot tip hives forward easily to look under them to estimate strength and I also cannot put drop boards under since the clearance is too tight.

The former limits my ability to split the easy way, and the latter limits my ability to monitor varroa easily.  As a result, I am doing things the hard way or not doing them at all.

Not monitoring varroa well cost me all my bees the other winter, so I did get some screened bottoms from Meijers some time back, and I used them for my study last fall and winter, however they are not ideal, and they are not built for EPS boxes.

I need to decide how much time I want to put into my bees.  What began as a simple, fun activity is taking all my time and summer is coming.

Today is a holiday Monday and years ago I would have been at the beach,  Today I was digging around in hives.  I need to get some perspective.

So, I have decided the bees can fend for themselves for the next two weeks, but I may work on some equipment changes and I suppose I will need to add more patties.  So far, I am on the tenth box this spring.  That means the 22 original hives ate -- or are eating -- 400 patties. 

Beekeepers with 100 hives tell me they couldn't use a pallet of patties (1,600 lbs).  By my reckoning, 88 hives could use up a whole pallet by May 24th.

At the rate my bees are consuming feed, a truckload -- 44,000 lbs -- feeds 2,400 hives up to the May 24th weekend.

Moreover, we have seen that they will eat the same amount in summer.  Does it pay?  I really don't know, but it stands to reason that it should.  The cost is about the same as requeening that number of hives.

BTW, here is how the bees fool us into letting them run out of feed.

At left are some patties which have been on a hive for a few days at most.  (I've flipped them over, to show the bottom). Note how the bees tunnel under the patties and consume them from the bottom.  From the top, these patties look as if they have not been touched yet, But from the bottom, we see that they are being consumed quickly.   At right is what we see a few days later and several days after that, nothing is left except a few scraps of paper.

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
Diogenes Laertius

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Tuesday May 22nd 2012
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I'm done with the bees for a week at which time I'll check for patties.  The colonies seem to eat one or two a week each lately.  There are a lot of young bees emerging and they need protein in the first two weeks of life.

The dandelion flow will be starting soon and that should send the bees down into the bottom boxes and get them drawing comb.  Judging by the forecast, we have a few cool days before that happens, though.  So far, I'm seeing a little bit of foundation being drawn, but mostly with brown-tinted wax, meaning they are borrowing wax from elsewhere.

We have a dull day so far (9 AM).  Here are the day's plans. 

  1. take a walk

  2. change that wheel bearing

  3. bathroom floor

  4. mow grass and trim trees

  5. make up some brood chamber boxes for when I split again.

  6. count equipment and think about improving the floors

They could change.  I'm still dreaming about vans and there are some good ones advertised.

I don't look forward to building floors or altering lids.  100 floors at 10 minutes each is 1,000 minutes.  That is two solid days.  Ten minutes a floor might be underestimating the time involved, especially if I build drop boards with screens. 

I have to decide exactly what I want to do.  Do I want hives side-by-side?  Or do I want them on four-way pallets?  Each has its advantages.

Finding a good spot for the weather station may not be as easy as I thought.  I just found a location away from trees in the back yard and put it up.  The location is on top of the garden shed. 

This morning I told my wife that the temperature is 15 and the wind is from the west at 5 KPH -- and she said she did not think so. 

She was looking out the west window and the trees were waving and the neighbour's flag was flying.  So I looked out to the west and then walked the yard. 

The wind on the west side is considerably stronger.  On the east side, even 60 feet from the building, there is in an eddy.  I'll have to reconsider the location.  It seemed to work fine earlier, but now the trees have leafed out and that is affecting the readings.

(Now, a few minutes later, the unit has caught on and says 27 KPH from the NNE).

*   *   *   *   *   *

After supper I finished the wheel bearing job.  When I bought the new hub, I bought brake pads, too, in case the existing pads were worn, but I see they still have more than 50% left and everything looks good, so I left them.  I did not want to have to pull the other wheel, which I would have to do -- if I changed this side, I would have to change the other, too, for balance.

The shops quoted me $250 for the bearing job, and doing it myself cost me $90.  The bother was not really worth the $160 (+ tax) savings, but taking the van to town and getting it back is a huge hassle and the shops are so busy they schedule everything for a week away.  It would have taken the same amount of time -- two trips to town plus gas -- plus hassle if anything went wrong.

Now that the left front bearing is changed, on the test drive, I imagined I heard other wheel bearings.  Maybe I did, but nothing as bad as this one, and nothing to worry about for now.  That drivers side front bearing was getting pretty noisy as time passed, and when I got it off I found quite a bit of slack. 

Some of that slack might have come from the violence required to remove the bearing from the knuckle, but just the same, the play was surprising.  Even with 1/16" to 1/8" of slack, it did not feel rough when I turned it.  I am impressed by how the bearing is designed in a manner that the wheel would not come off, even if the bearing failed so completely that the problem would become obvious to even the most negligent driver.  A lot of thought goes into the design of vehicles in this new millennium and they are worlds apart from those of the last century.

Bee pollen can cause life-threatening allergic reactions.  Why am I not surprised?  Almost anything can, but pollens are a known and very common allergy.

I see that I did not get much of my list done today, but the bearing was a biggie.  I am amazed at the relief I feel having accomplished that chore.

As for the walk I had planned, changing that bearing was exercise enough.

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
B. F. Skinner

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Wednesday May 23rd 2012
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We have a few cool days coming up, but the nights are predicted to be warm.  The days are long and this is the weather when bees brood up well as long as they have enough food.  With this wind, I'm thinking that plugs in the top entrances would be nice, but any time I check, the bees seem fine and I know they build up better in spring with the auger holes, so maybe being challenged a bit is good for them.  I don't know.

Let's try that same list again.  I see the wind is up to 17 KPH from the west.  That'll make for a windy walk.

  1. take a walk

  2. bathroom floor

  3. mow grass and trim trees

  4. make up some brood chamber boxes for when I split again.

  5. count equipment and think about improving the hive floors

  6. work on the books

Add to that, "go to Drumheller".  Ellen needs some bedding plants, so the regular programming has been preempted.

This morning, I reserved my flight to Sudbury for mid-June.  Ellen is well enough to be on her own now and I have been home for 7 months and 16 days, with just three days away in Palm Desert in January to see my mother.  That is 227 days, but who's counting?  I'll open the cottage, work on Cloud 9, launch my boat, work on Cloud 9, stay down there for a few weeks, then come back here for a while.

Plans changed.  Ellen is too tired to go to Drum and the wind is making being outside unpleasant, so I ordered some new mower blades and think I'll make the bathroom my sole project for the balance of day.  If it turns nice, I'll have a walk.  Narrowing focus to one task helps get things done faster.

The symbol at right (above) shows the temperature (degrees C.) in the circle and wind speed and direction.   The arrow points from the wind direction and the feathers on the arrow show strength. A large feather indicates ten knots of wind and a short feather shows 5 Knots.  In this picture, we see 15 knots indicated.  15 knots is roughly 27 KPH.  More info.

This would be a great windsurfing day.  I must dig out my gear one of these days.

I spent a few hours on tiling the floor and the job stretched into the evening.  I chose to make a complex pattern and it is taking longer than expected, but the end looks to be only hours away now.

That was it for my list. The wind was strong all day, so outside work was not attractive.  Rain began in the evening.

Only the educated are free.
Epictetus

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Thursday May 24th 2012
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We received another 4/10 inch, adding up now to 1-1/2 inches this spring.   We're still dry and no rain is predicted.

We're off to Drum this morning.

We spent a few hours shopping and returned home.  Meijers came for supper.

Natural ability without education has more often attained to glory and virtue
than education without natural ability.
Cicero

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Friday May 25th 2012
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At nine, the doorbell rang and it was UPS.  My Samsung computer is back.  As expected, they replaced the hard drive and it was naked.  The O/S had to be installed and updated and updated and updated...  I spent the rest of the day restoring it to the way I like it and it is still far from finished.  I am regretting (mildly) not having imaged the hard drive before the crash.  I say mildly because this way I get a clean installation and I would have had to be constantly backing up in anticipation of this eventual event.  I would never know how good the backup was until I had to use it.  These things can screw up.  As it is, I have my important files in Dropbox and that was an easy restore.

In  the afternoon, I did take some time off the computer job go out to get two hives ready for a customer who emailed me a week ago.  I had thought to go through some hives in advance to check for problems, but I got distracted when I checked hive strength and found that three had bees on all bottom bars and needed splitting again.  I had to make up brood chambers and that was a bit of work.  I split them and went for supper.

After supper, I headed back out and Garry came along right at that moment, so I tipped several promising looking hives and they also had bees on the bottom bars and floors, so we smoked them and loaded them.  They were heavy.  After he left, it occurred to me that I had intended to inspect them and check for bad frames, disease, etc., but did not.  No matter.  I had inspected them only a week ago and I only saw one chalkbrood mummy on one floor after we lifted the hive off.

Tipping hives forward is the best way to evaluate strength.  I had said previously that I cannot do it with the EPS boxes on the pallets made for wood boxes, but I have discovered that I can.   The fit is a bit tight, but it can be done.

I use these pallets because I happen to have them.  I like the floors Meijers built, though and if the feet were left off, they would be ideal on grocery pallets, as hives could be slid  from pallet to pallet easily.

What did Garry get for $300/hive?  He got two heavy, strong hives with two EPS boxes each c/w a new floor and a new lid made by Meijers.  I'm guessing there was at least 50 lbs of feed in each hive.  When I figure it out, and deduct the value of the equipment, I probably got $100 for the bees.  That is too cheap, really, since in Alberta, 2-lb packages sell for at least $125 and these bees would have made two such packages. 

$20/box x 2 + $2/frame x 20 + $2/lb feed in combs x 50 + $12/lid + $8/floor = $200 for equipment alone, and I'm probably underestimating the value of the lid and floor.

I also threw in a bee brush and a hive wrap and pillow for his one wood hive at home.   He took 10 medium depth supers as well for additional cost since I discovered he had no supers to speak of and was taking two hives that need supers soon, if not immediately.

All in all, I was pleased to sell the hives and may sell a  few more this spring.  Selling hives has been my plan all along and although I had my sights set on getting up to 100 hives and selling the surplus hives, I am realizing that I save a lot of work by selling hives when the demand is there.  I now have four less hives since I would have split these again and I don't really need more work.  With the three splits I made today, I still have 47 hives and could well still wind up with close to 100 by fall.

Did I split too early?  There was one hive in the whole bunch which was too weak to split and I just left it alone and split all the others.

Today I tipped it and saw it was ready to split.  When I went through it to check for brood, disease, bad combs, etc., I found that it had more brood than I was seeing in most other hives, even if I add the brood in both the splits made from them.

I'm enjoying having people drop by to buy hives and talking bees.

An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't.
Anatole France

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Saturday May 26th 2012
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The day looks ideal to finish checking the hives for strength and splitting any that need it.  We had two degrees of frost last night and expect a few more cool nights in the coming days, but the bees are on the upswing.

Jean and family are coming for lunch, so I have tidy-up and lunch to do before I get much done outside.

They arrived around noon and we had burgers for lunch.  Later, Chris and Nathan and I walked the mile.

Mackenzie and I baked a layer cake and then flew a kite.  The kite ended up in a tree and we had to abandon it there.

After they left, I went to the beeyard and made up some brood chambers.  I had forgotten how I dislike that job.  It is OK when I have a balanced assortment of combs, but what I am working through right now has a surplus of fat combs and partially drawn foundation left over from two winters ago when I lost the bees.  They died without eating their feed, so I have too much.  I did not need those boxes last year, but will need them this year, but the hives are heavy and the extra boxes are, too, so I may have a problem.

I managed to make up eight decent brood chambers by 7:30 and quit for the day. 

I need two boxes for each hive I split -- one to go under each half -- and I expect to split thirty or forty more hives by the time I am done.   I counted what I have on hand and it seems I have about 110 boxes of brood comb and 25 boxes of foundation in frames.  I'm short of EPS boxes unless I put some hives back into wood and that might not be a bad idea since I expect that when I sell hives some people will want wood.  I also have lots of lids and floors for wooden equipment and lots of wraps.

Education is the best provision for old age.
Aristotle

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Sunday May 27th 2012
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This was a productive day.  I started by installing the new toilet in the east bathroom, then mowed for an hour or two. 

After that, I went out and made up four brood chambers and split six hives, using them and the eight from yesterday. 

When splitting,

  1. I place a floor beside the hive -- on a stand if necessary to match the height of the hive being split.  The idea is that the new split should look just like the hive beside it.

  2. I place a made-up brood box onto the new floor

  3. I move the top box from the parent colony over on top of it

  4. I check for brood in the bottom box of the parent colony. 
     -- Even if it is full of bees, there is not always brood there. 
    -- If not I add some young brood.

  5. I then lift the bottom box off the original floor and stand it on end while

  6. I slip another new brood chamber into its place, and then

  7. I place the box of bees (standing on end) on top.

  8. I then add two patties to the top bars of each hive and

  9. put pillows and lids on top. 

  10. I mark the splits with a marker, showing which splits are pairs so when I check queens, I only have to check one splits carefully and can guess about the other.

  11. I place bricks on top.  The positions and numbers of

  12. the bricks indicate various things which change over time.

When I am done there are two hives close together where there had been one.

The flying bees divide fairly evenly between them.

One half has the laying queen. 

The other will have one in about 21 days unless something goes wrong -- or sooner if there are already cells under way.  I don't know since I did not go through the frames.  I just lifted boxes.

It occurs to me that I do not need to split into doubles.  It is just a (good) habit. I could actually split each original double into two singles and wait to add the second box.  Clusters which were crowded in a doubles are comfortable when split into two singles for a little while.

I always add new boxes under the box with the bees in spring so they don't get chilled and so they have time to work on the cold, stale comb before occupying it. 

Most queens will go down when it is time, but occasionally reversing can be helpful if they get honeybound.

I split into doubles to give them lots of room and so I won't have to panic for a while. Nonetheless, when drawing whole boxes of foundation, singles are best since they are still fairly small colonies when they start and also they do not have other comb to distract them.  I should give that some thought.  I do have 25 boxes of foundation to draw and I could put on whole boxes.

Fall wintering preparations would be a problem, though, since I would have to be sure to reverse the new comb to the bottom.  It is very obvious how much better the colonies do on older comb compared to all the new comb I have in some hives.  New comb is fine below the wintering cluster, though.

I found that tipping strong hives to look under -- even though it's possible -- is not the same with these thicker hives as it is with wood.  I felt I crush too many bees setting them back down, so I found that just pulling the entrance reducer and looking in told me just as much. and it is easier.  I can see the bottom bars through the entrance and if there are bees on all of them, I mark the hive for splitting soon.  If there are bees hanging down, then they need splitting now.  I can spot the splitting candidates just by looking at the reduced entrance and don't bother with the hives that have no bottom entrance activity and are obviously not nearly ready.

There are another 10 or so hives which can be split before I go east, but I'm guessing, but maybe I can split more if I split the ones raising cells.  There is some risk of damaging cells when moving frames or of confusing mating virgins if the timing is wrong, though.  Some of those queenless hives with cells are very strong, though from emerging brood and could make two hives.

I don't want the hives to get too strong and start making honey.  That would be a nuisance.

I now have 57 hives.  After splitting, I counted and got 41 (below).  That stopped me for a moment until I remembered the 16 down the trail, so I went down to check them. (Right)

*   *   *   *   *

Zip and I did the one-mile walk around 8.  The wind dropped and a few mosquitoes came out of the grass,  I don't mind bees buzzing me, but I hate mosquitoes. I got a few bites, but they were not too bad.  I remember nights in Lomand unloading or loading bees for canola pollination.  Sometimes the mosquitoes were thick.  We carried Deep Woods Off in all the trucks.  I still have about ten cans.

Speaking of bees buzzing, these bees are definitely interested in me when I approach.  The Saskatraz bees are bred for many things, but I think tameness is a ways down the list. 

These 16 hives were the ones I moved with and without using ammonium nitrate.  They were all equally weaker than the home yard, so I assume that there was some drifting back, regardless of the treatment or not.  They are not weak, though and two can be split. That location is cooler and breezier than the home yard, too and that could account for the smaller appearance.  At any rate, with a casual examination at least, the two treatment groups did not differ in any obvious way.

My conclusion is that gassing the hives with ammonium nitrate had no real effect on their memory of their nearby previous location.  The hives on the spot where they stood at the home location were larger that the moved hives and they should have been about the same had the bees not drifted back.

The Army has carried the American ... ideal to its logical conclusion.
Not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and color, but also on ability.
Tom Lehrer

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Monday May 28th 2012
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I drove Ellen to Red Deer for a bone scan and we visited Jean for a while in Lacombe, then picked up  a bag of live fish out near Sylvan Lake, then new mower blades on the way home.

I purchased twenty-five 6 to 8 inch trout for the pond.  We'll see how they work out this time.  I had 100 trout in the early days of the pond, but it got polluted for a few years by the uphill neighbour's runoff.  I have aerated the pond for a year now and maybe they will thrive.  We'll see.  These will not be cheap fish.  I've spent over $500 on aeration supplies and dye and fish and feed.  That does not include the cost of electricity to run the air pump continuously all last summer and since the ice came off the pond this year. The fish farm tanks are shown at right.

When we got home, it was suppertime.  After, I went out and split another four hives.  Hives that were not ready yesterday were ready today.  We are currently having a big hatch of young bees, I guess.  Hives can double in population in matter of days.

This time I split the doubles into two singles and I immediately see an advantage.  I can lift and carry singles easily. This will be handy if I decide to put them on pallets, and I will have to do that, I think.

I still have to figure out how to move the extra hives away from the current location.  They are getting too crowded together to work, and I will have to do more splitting if I don't want to  make honey.  The pallets seemed to be widely spaced out when I started, but the yard has filled in.  If I had 57 hives yesterday, I now have 61.

Since ammonium nitrate did not erase location memory, I have to figure out how to move the splits without losing the flying bees.  I could move them, then screen them three days or move them out several miles, then bring them back after a few days.

The first idea is not simple and there is the risk of suffocating hives.  The second plan means I need to have a method of moving them out and back.  For that idea, I do have several large trailers and a truck that could pull them several miles on a back road although I would not take them on the highway.  That would be fairly simple, since I would not have to load and unload more than once.

I could, however just let the flying bees drift back.  The risk is that this could deplete some of the hives that have unbalanced population demographics.  Some hives have much more brood and young bees than others, even though the total populations look quite even.

Some of these splits may be mating queens soon, so moving less than two miles could turn out to be a logistical nightmare.

This is the problem with beekeeping: too may moving parts and problems of scale.  One day you have 22 hives and then a while later, 61 and at that rate, 100 is not too far away.  Of course there will be shrinkage as some of the splits fail to make queens.

I have lost track of how many boxes of Global 15% patties I have fed now, but I keep putting them on and the bees keep eating them at a rate of one patty per hive per week.  Of course I try to never let any hive get to where they have less than a whole patty unconsumed, and that means putting on two or three at a time.  The hives are booming and I attribute a lot of the growth to feeding patties.  Now that young bees are emerging, they need all the protein they can get,  Bees only eat pollen in their first 18 days of life.

It is a great ability to be able to conceal one's ability.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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Tuesday May 29th 2012
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Ellen and I were up early and at the Drumheller hospital for a CT scan by 8:45.  Then we went to Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire to look at bedding plants.  We were back home by lunchtime.  The day has been very windy and unpleasant outdoors, so I did chores inside.

I have decided how to manage the splits, I think.  My plan is to split the remaining doubles into singles and place one full box of foundation on each.  Some of the hives I have already split will need splitting again, too.  Of course, there will be duds and I'll just pick them up and/or combine them with other hives.  Nothing in beekeeping turns out to be as neat as it appears in the planning.

We used to do something similar when we produced comb honey, only with two full supers of Ross Rounds sections instead of frames of standard foundation.  The bees should draw a box with no problem.

The beauty of this plan is that the foundation will provide plenty of room and keep the bees busy.   I don't want to make honey, but do need more good brood comb and this is a good way to use the nectar to make comb rather than honey, solving two problems.

This plan also takes some of the pressure off me.  Making up spring brood chambers has been very difficult since my extra brood boxes are full of honey.   I am short of empty brood comb.  The boxes full of feed are great for wintering, but spring hives need room for brood rearing and full boxes of feed do not provide that room.

Come fall, I'll just reverse the two boxes so the new comb is on the bottom since new comb is not good for wintering, but is just fine below the cluster.  I may also add a third box from my piles of brood chambers with feed under the cluster to make the hives three high.  That way, they'll winter well, won't run out of feed in late winter, and I should have a good unit to sell the next spring.

(I think I wrote this already, but somehow today's post got lost).

Anyhow, I have enough foundation for about 25 boxes and need to get more in case we have a long summer and heavy flows.   I called my friends and no one has extra right now.

When  I get frames from friends, I have to take what they have and for that reason ended up with some PL100s two years ago.    5.0 mm cells would not have been my first choice, but I have them and used them and they are working out better than I might have expected.   I wonder, though about hives with mixed 5.3 and 5.0 mm combs intermixed in the brood chamber.

When I called Joe , he said they  need foundation, too, so  we combined orders.  I called the Co-op and and we now have 8,000 frames coming next week -- hopefully.  We both like the Pierco black standard frames, so this way we get what we like best.  The price is pretty good, too, at $1.75.

I had a doctor's appointment at four and drove to Three Hills.

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Wednesday May 30th 2012
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We had a good rain last night -- 1/3 inch according to the weather station n our back yard, but 2/10ths according to the rain catcher in the front yard.  The grass was wet when Zip and I did the one-mile walk at 9 AM.

I have an eye appointment at 4 today and a computer repair job in the same area anytime before that.

The computer repair was minor and I showed up for the eye appointment almost an hour early.  They took me pretty much right away and I was done.  I headed home and got as far as the Deerfoot and it was moving at 20 KPH, so I took the Memorial Drive exit and found myself at The Source.  I asked what was new and exciting and the kid dragged out a big box with a drone and we looked it over.  I said, "What the heck", and bought it, plus a new router and drove home.  By then the roads had opened up.

At home, I put the drone on charge and wasted an hour or two setting up the router.

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Thursday May 31st 2012
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I mowed grass today.  Although we have had less than two inches of rain since runoff, the grass is green and growing fast.

Later, we went to Three Hills for blood tests.

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