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Two Hives I Sold Just Before Going East

These are strong, heavy doubles in in BeeMax Boxes with BeeMax Floors and Lids

(They have been smoked in and it is raining lightly)

Sunday June 10th 2012
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Today, at 7 AM, the weather is stormy and not what I need for opening bee hives. I'm hoping I get a break in the weather a bit later and be able to arrange for the customer pickup tonight.

Jean and family are planning to come for lunch today also -- and I have to finish preparing for my flight early tomorrow.

Cam posted a further ammonium nitrate update at the forum today, I see.

*   *   *    *    *

Ellen was not feeling like company today, so we cancelled Jean's visit.  That leaves me with time to tie up all the loose ends and get ready to go tomorrow.  At 10 AM, the wind continues, but the rain has stopped.

*   *   *    *    *

It is now 9:50 PM and I finished working with the bees.  It was windy and rainy, but I got it done. I was a bit rougher than I like to be at the end, but I got it done.  What a relief.  I'll now pack so I am ready to get up at 3 and leave by 4 AM to fly out of YYC at 6.

I now have 72 stands and have so far sold three colonies.  All come from the 22 overwintered hives.  The hives I split tonight were getting plugged and I gave them each a box of foundation on top of the box of bees from the double.  I am now out of foundation and out of EPS boxes.  I had to use two wood boxes to finish the job.

The buyers came for their 2 hives tonight and all went well.  I am not making money on the deal since they got two new EPS boxes, 20 frames, an EPS floor and lid plus strong bees, plus about 80 pounds of honey for $300 + Tax.  In future, I'll have to charge extra for the EPS boxes.  They are worth two to three times the value of a used wood box.

I find it hard to sell hives and harder not to.  I get attached to them, even if selling them is the plan.  If I don't split them, I have to super them.  If I super, I'll get honey.  If I get honey, I'll have to extract.  So, I have to sell hives.

I suppose that I could just put on supers and get friends to extract them, but the last time i tried that the honey did not get picked up and the honey granulated in the combs.  I now have a trailer, though, and can deliver it if I have to.

America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year
than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.
Evan Esar

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Monday June 11th 2012
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It's just after 10, Alberta time, and I'm currently about 1,675 miles away, sitting in the Toronto airport, waiting for my Sudbury flight.  I slept maybe four hours last night and got an hour on the flight, but am quite fresh.  I should be at 1207 by 3.  Mom is picking me up at the airport.  The forecast says 32C there, so maybe I'll have a swim.

it's been October since I was last in Sudbury.  Back then, I closed the cottage then towed the boat home to Sudbury, but left it unwrapped and the van full of things I'd be needing since I was expect I'd be back in a few weeks to put everything away for the winter.  Things did not work out that way.  Ellen was diagnosed with a serious cancer and I spent the winter driving her to treatments and taking care of things at home.  This is the first time I've been away except for the three days I went to Palm Desert to visit Mom there back in January. It feels good to be on the road again and back in Ontario.  I'll only stay two weeks, though, on this trip since I there are things to do back at home.  The bees will need work and Ellen may not be able to handle everything.

I arrived in Sudbury and Mom picked me up.  My van and boat appear to have wintered well.  I'm tired after yesterday's rush to finish and the travel. I'll take a closer look tomorrow.

Education... has produced a vast population able to read
but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.
G. M. Trevelyan

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Tuesday June 12th 2012
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I slept until 8, and was still tired, but got up anyhow, as Ron D. promised last night to come early with the guide bars for my trailer.  He showed up around ten.

Mom and I went shopping for a better walker and canes and had lunch at Guylaines.  The eggs were cold and the sausages only so-so.

*   *   *    *    *

There is good activity lately on BEE-L and also in the honeybeeworld forum

Here is a link to an important study about the age of queens at introduction.  The results might explain why one batch of queens is great, and the next one from the same supplier, not-so-great.  I'm still wondering about the second batch we got.  Seems that Joe's results were better with the first batch, too, and less good with the second.

My experience this time was so bad that I won't be buying mated queens again for a while unless I get Konas.  I seldom had less than good luck with Gus' bees.  The one time I did have very bad luck, he sent me a replacement 100 queens for free and I am not sure it was even his fault.  Great guy, great bees.

I'm simply going to have to raise some cells when I get home in two weeks.  No more excuses.

*   *   *    *    *

I'm resting up today.  I washed the cobwebs off the van and then visited Linda and Sid after supper. As for going to Pine Hill, there is no rush.  It is nice here and the longer we put off the trip, the more of the pine pollen will be down when we get there.  The pollen gets on everything and has to be cleaned up if we open too early.

That's what college is for - getting as many bad decisions as possible out of the way before you're forced into the real world. I keep a checklist of 'em on the wall in my room.
Jeph Jacques

Wednesday June 13th 2012
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I reported widely varying results from two alcohol wash samples from the same hive on the same hive inspection some time back.

I was reading the ABJ online today and note that Larry Connor reports a similar experience in an article there:

--- Begin quote ---

To be statistically solid. sample the same hive with multiple jars of bees. For example, I worked with a group of beekeepers where 6 samples were taken. We found only 4 mites in one sample and 14 in another' with an average of 8 mites overall. The statistical average is much stronger than any one single sample.

--- end quote ---

The take-home message is that no one sample can be expected to be accurately representative of the actual mite populations. Only multiple samples can give results reliable enough for making management decisions.

This is especially true where comparison is being made to threshold benchmarks. Personally, if my sampling comes within 50% of a published threshold, I consider that an indication that intervention should be considered.

The neonics are coming under new scrutiny by PMRA in Canada.

Both the ABJ and Bee Culture released their July digital issues today.  ABJ has also released an app for smartphones and Tablets.

I washed the boat this afternoon and although I am not finished, it is cleaning up well in spite of not being covered up over the winter.  After supper, I went shopping and got a battery for the boat and a few other items.  My energy is coming back.

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A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition,
 and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday June 14th 2012
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The June weather in the Swalwell area continues to be ideal for bees.  There has been good rain in our area and moderate temperatures with no cold snaps -- so far.  

We're always on the lookout for a late frost or cold nights that can damage nucs and weaker colonies, but the coolest predicted is plus six and that is just fine.  I recall in July, going to the Stampede in ski clothes it was so cold.  One year we had such a dry spring that we were forced to feed our package bees, already in doubles with a super, in early July -- so anything can happen. 

Here in Sudbury, the drought and the serious forest fires have ended and everything is green.  I'm enjoying the lake and being in a city, and resting up.  I'm realizing that I've been quite stressed.  That, with jetlag, which I seldom experience, has had me catching up on sleep over the past few days.

Today, I'll get the file ready for the accountant and work some more on my boat.  Mom has a doctor's appointment after lunch.

Discussion of EPS boxes and ammonium nitrate continues in the forum. Not much happening on BEE-L today.  Just talk about the ABJ app for iOS and Android.

I ran Mom out to an appointment after lunch and did some accounting, then, as it is a beautiful day, I worked outside, recharging the van's A/C and attaching the guides to the boat.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol

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Friday June 15th 2012
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The rain continues in Alberta.  We are having a green spring.  Some years have been dry, to the extent that we only cut the grass until July, but this is looking like a wet year.  Of course, that could change anytime.

I'm starting to think about what I'll be doing when I get back home and how to proceed.  I think that I should raise some cells right away on my return.  They take about 12 days to mature, as I recall, so they would be ready within two weeks.  I'll probably use the Hopkins Case method, mentioned here in previous spring posts, and detailed here, for simplicity.  On the other hand, grafting might be just as easy, if I have the cell cups at home.  Maybe I should order some.

The thing about grafting is that the cells are separate and easy to pluck and the larvae can be selected.  The Hopkins Case method requires finding a suitable frame with hatching eggs over its entire surface and thus ready to use or waiting four days for the queen to fill a frame with eggs and the eggs to hatch.  In the former case, I would have to just use whatever queen that happens to have a ready frame.  With grafting, I can select which queen I use, or use larvae from several queens.

In either case, I'll have to make up a cell builder and decide how to incubate them.  I do have an egg incubator which we used to use years ago.  At least I think we do.

I slept in again, then went shopping for an impact wrench strong enough to twist off the rusted nuts on the boat trailer spring assembly.  I bought an electric gun with 350 ft-lbs torque.  I had wanted one with 480, but all I could find was this one and I paid just under $100.  Hope it works.

From there, I kept a noon appointment at the Sudbury Canoe Club, where I signed up and qualified to use the sailboard gear, then spent an hour sailing in light wind -- I did not even get wet -- and went to Bill's to borrow some sockets.

I jacked up the boat trailer and tried the impact wrench.  It did not nearly loosen the bolts.  I'll have to cut the heads off.  I don't have eye protection adequate for using the cutting wheel, so I went shopping again and that was my day.  Tomorrow, I hope to get the springs changed.

He who rejects change is the architect of decay.
The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.
Harold Wilson

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Saturday June 16th 2012
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I was planning my day when we got a call from Sarah.  She was at Pine Hill, wondering where we were and how to turn on the water.  That made up my mind and we packed quickly and were at port Carling at 2.

We all did some cleaning and then went to The Falls for supper.  Before we went, I had my first swim of the year.  The water was brisk. but pleasant and I snorkelled a while.

School is learning things you don't want to know, surrounded by people you wish you didn't know,
while working toward a future you don't know will ever come.
Dave Kellett, Sheldon

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Sunday June 17th 2012
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We did some more cleanup and the girls left.  There is still lots to do, but Mom and I are going back to Sudbury later today.  The weather looks hot and damp for the next few days and we have things to do at home.

Around five, we left Pine Hill for Sudbury.  We stopped in Parry Sound for supper then continued north, arriving around 8.

Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.
King Whitney Jr.

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Monday June 18th 2012
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From BEE-L:

> Whenever I have tried to make shook swarms or made splits using NEW polystyrene
> equipment there have always been big problems with absconding.

EPS boxes are offered by BeeMax, Swienty, and other brands, including Beaver Plastics at Atkinson, near Edmonton, Alberta.

EPS hives required no winter wrapping and survive well in even the coldest climates.

BeeMax boxes are shipped knocked down and require assembly. Their design allows cheaper shipping, but the design is intrinsically weak due to the way the lock corners are made.  Other brands are molded in one piece with no assembly required and much greater strength in service.  All EPS boxes require more care when prying and handling than wood, but make excellent brood chambers.

I first noticed a problem when I moved good hives from wood into brand new BeeMax boxes just before winter. They had arrives in fall and I wanted to use them right away. To my surprise, I lost most of those hives over winter.

In subsequent winters the EPS hives did noticeably better than wood -- once I drilled 1" holes in them and left them open all winter. They are also very easy to manage and build up fast in spring -- again, as long as they have the holes. I had assumed that the holes allow the bees to notice that spring has come, but in consideration of this discussion, there also may be a need for guaranteed air exchange, especially in newer boxes.

I also have observed that the varroa builds up more quickly in EPS hives than wood, which, I suppose is because the bees raise more brood.

My questions to those who have used EPS for a period of time are:

1.) Do you do anything special to break in the new boxes?
     Do you air them out, or just use them as-is?
2.) Have you inquired what might be used in manufacture that causes this effect?

I have found that pentane gas is used as an expander, but suspect there may be anti-bacterial or surfactant additives used in the steam boiler and also maybe some anti-bacterial or anti-fungals used in the beads, or mold release agents which affect the bees. We have begun enquiries, but will not know for a while as Joe is in Europe right now.

As it stands, I am recommending scattering new boxes out in the sun and rain for a while before using, rather than storing them stacked in a building.

I spent the day getting the books up to date and ready for the accountant.  At 2, I drove Mom to the doctor again for a quick check of her leg.  We stopped at Tim Horton's (her choice, not mine) and returned.  I finished the books at 6 and went to Bill's to put the tires onto the bandsaw.  We got that job done, after heating the urethane tires in hot water, then we dropped over to see Harri.

The less their ability, the more their conceit.
Ahad HaAm

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Tuesday June 19th 2012
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I'm free today to do anything today -- no tasks pressing.  We'll visit Linda and do some shopping, then I'll work on the boat trailer and boat this afternoon, if all goes according to plan.  If the wind comes up, I'll do some windsurfing, maybe. 

I have not decided whether to take the boat to Pine Hill, or keep it on Ramsey.  Partly, this depend son when I return west.  I don't have to be home until the first week of July, but my bees could use some work sooner.  Is it worth going early?  I am of two minds.

If I go back early, I can work through them all and maybe requeen some that have failed to make queens.  That might mean having three to five more viable colonies.  If I leave them another week, the failures will be very obvious and the work more cut and dried.

*   *   *   *   *

I last worked the bees on the 10th of June just before I left, with some having being worked a few days earlier.  Assuming it takes three weeks for a new queen to be raised and begin laying, the earliest I can be reasonably sure which hives are queenless is July 2nd, and adding a few days to that adds to certainty.  Moreover, disturbing the yards earlier can result in confusing queens returning from mating flights. 

On the other hand, if there is a good early flow and some hives are becoming crowded, supering earlier can prevent plugging and/or swarming.  Swarm preparations could work in my favour, though, since the cells would come in very handy for splitting and dealing with queenless hives.

Since I plan to add supers of foundation in new EPS boxes when I return, and they are now (hopefully) over at Meijers', I may need to plan on spending a few days getting, painting and airing them before putting them on since there will be about 70 to add and more to hold in reserve,  If the hives need further splitting, there could be 100 needing to go on soon.  I need to schedule at least two days to get them ready.

Tonight, I asked Ellen to check the yard quickly.  It was raining as we spoke, but she drove over and looked.  The bees are not hanging out and there is no skunk damage, so I can delay my return until sometime in July.

*   *   *   *   *

This afternoon, after sending the files to the accountant -- never an easy task since the staff is not too computer literate and since they have an email system that eats zip attachments -- I began work on the boat trailer again.

I had jacked the trailer up before we went to Muskoka, and today I cut the U-bolts on one side and prepared to reassemble the spring and hanger.  At that point, I discovered that the parts I had bought were not the correct ones and had to run back out to Princess Auto to exchange them.  I lucked out and found what I need in the junk box and paid $8 for what had cost me $75.  I also discovered that the u-bolts are worth $10 each -- when I can find them -- and it seems I bought the last two around, so I'll take the effort to try to salvage the other two when I do the other side.

I reassembled the spring and lowered the trailer, only to discover that I had only gained a half-inch in height.  That is not much, but with the clearance from axle to frame being only about 2", maybe 1/2" is a lot.  We'll see.  I'm hoping these new springs are a little stiffer, too.  I'm going to wait before changing the other one, though.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Aristotle

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