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I've had to add more boxes of foundation.  The closest two groups are done.
 

Wednesday August 1st 2012
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Today, El's relatives arrive from Scandinavia.

The house got a well-deserved vacuuming with my new vacuum cleaner and we did some last-minute tidying and bed-making. I am still waiting a bit before doing much bee work, so I spent a few hours mowing grass. 

The pool got lots of use again today, although the weather has cooled a bit.

Mid-afternoon, Jon drove to YYC to pick up the visitors.  We had supper and a good visit afterwards.  The three all speak good English, which is good, since even after being married for over forty years to a Canadian-born Finn, I speak no Finnish.

People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous
Edmund Burke

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Thursday August 2nd 2012
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Today, it is raining and cooler, which is a bit of a relief after the sunny 32-degree days we have seen lately.  The visitors are settling in.

The other day, I asked the kids, "Who wants to get some honey from the bees?", and Kalle was the only one of the three who said yes, so I decked him out in a bee suit and veil and we set out to get a frame of honey. 

Although I dressed him up, I wore only my bathing suit and sandals with no veil and it was mid-day during a honey flow, so I knew the bees would not be at all difficult.  They were not defensive, and we pulled a frame, shook off the bees and the kids had a treat.

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies.
Robert F. Kennedy

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Friday August 3rd 2012
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Today I spent tidying the yard. After lunch, the others drove to Drum and did some sightseeing. 

I also supered the hives which were finished their second or third (top) box.   They seem to have drawn their foundation very nicely. I think I was a little late for some of them and hope they are not too plugged and go up OK.   I had intended to also check for queens, but never got that far.

In the afternoon some local Hutterites came by and bought some supers from me and a sample Meijer box with Pierco frames.  We had intended to go by the colony in the evening to visit, but since they came for the supplies and our supper was late, we didn't get around to going.

In looking for supers, I found I have another 20 or more supers of foundation.  The foundation has been sitting around for a few years and I need to dip the frames into hot beeswax before I put them on.  The frames I have used lately from that batch have been accepted, but I notice the new Piercos with the fresh wax dip from the factory were drawn better and more promptly.  I also need to get more EPS boxes to drawn the frames in.  I think that the better temperature regulation in EPS makes a difference.

After supper, I tidied the yard more and dragged out a bee trailer and the sailboat boat so they are in position for use.  The others partied.

Four little words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more.
A. Lou Vickery

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Saturday August 4th 2012
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It's 10 AM and I have been out working.  I've checked 19 hives and only one is apparently queenless so far. I had to super several more as they are getting full again.  Several of the splits have four boxes on now.

The day is heating up and it is getting too hot to wear a bee suit.  I think I'll work in my bathing suit for a while and then have a swim.  If I do another 10 or 20 hives, that will be a good day, as we have other things to do as well.  For one  thing, we have to get ready for the party we plan for tomorrow.

At 1 PM, I've now checked 29 and only found two without laying queens.  I've had to add boxes to several more hives and can see that I may run out again.

At 2:30, I have done another 14 and 7 of them apparently don't have laying queens.  Several have emerged cells and one had swarmed, so maybe I am a bit early for them.  Part of this yard was done several days earlier than the rest.  Anyhow, that brings the tally to 33 done and 9 with no queen apparent.  That is a 27% failure rate and a bit high according to my long-term experience which has shown 20% failure to be a median loss in splits of this sort.  10% queen loss over the summer in production colonies is to be expected, so why should splits not have losses too?

This shows how samples can be unrepresentative.  I suppose the first 29 were a sample that was untypically good and the second 14 was a sample which is untypically bad.  At least that is what I hope, and I expect to wind up with 20% duds after I have done all 113.

This illustrates quite well how a lucky person can assume that everyone should have his success, when his success is just a fluke.  This is known as the representative fallacy.

By 4:30, I had done another 10 and found three more duds.  One I shook out it had dwindled so much.  Other duds are often strong, with lots of honey and bees.  The tally is now 43 and 12 or 28% duds.

Some duds are looking more queenless than others and I suspect some may still turn out to have queens, given a bit more time.  We are now just under one month since I split them.  Although they are queenless, the duds continue to produce and if they do get a queen soon, will go on to winter well, assuming that we have a good fall.

I saw my first varroa in a worker cell today.  Time to start checking for varroa.

Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
W. Somerset Maugham

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Sunday August 5th 2012
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\

This afternoon at three, we are expecting guests.  I spent the morning cleaning, cooking, maintaining the swimming pool, etc.  No time for bees today, except when Meijers come a bit early we may lift some lids.

From BEE-L a while back:

Gary Reuter was a speaker at ESHPA last weekend and he gave a
presentation on using powdered sugar for a shake. He says their method is
quite accurate, and frankly, in my application of alcohol wash I have seen
variability, particularly where the bees or the alcohol are cool, so I think a
lot comes down to the operator.

Anyhow, his method was to measure 300 bees into a pint mason jar.
A screen is then screwed on, replacing the tin part of the lid. The screen is
coarser than window screen, but the mesh is small enough that bees don't
get through. (6 or 8 mesh?)

two tablespoons of icing sugar is added and the jar is rotated and shaken
until the bees are all coated with sugar. The jar is then inverted over
a white saucer and left 1-2 minutes and then shaken again
so the mites drop out. When no more mites come out, then the mites are
counted. If too much sugar in the saucer makes counting hard, then add a
little water to make the mites easier to see.

He indicated they have calibrated this method and it compares well with
alcohol wash and takes about the same time. I am also assuming that,
ideally, a few jars would be used so one can sit while another is being prepared.

After all is done, the bees can be added back to the hive and go about their
business.

Just before lunch, Jean brought the trays of vegetables and fruit, plus a tray of sandwiches for twenty we had ordered from Sobeys.  At two, company started showing up.  Some of us had a swim and Joe, Oene and I looked into a few hives.

We had a good afternoon, and that was followed by a bonfire and the kids roasting marshmallows.

Just after dusk, Kalle reported that Amos, our cat, had been wrestling with a large white bird.  We concluded that a young owl had tried to take him away and failed.  The coyotes are getting bold around here, too, and we hear them very close by at night.

Any fool can make a rule.
Henry Thoreau

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Monday August 6th 2012
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Today,Ulla, Tulla, Jukka and I drove to Crossiron Mall to see what shopping in Alberta is like.  We spent an hour there.  They didn't like it much.  I don't either.  Too noisy, too crowded and too much junk.  From there, we went to Wal-Mart and had a much better time.  I bought groceries and they found a few presents.

We returned to Swalwell and had supper, then sat on the deck, shooting at my decoy ducks on the pond with an air gun.

> but we still AFB (and any lack of it is more likely due to burning hives than by treating them with antibiotics)

I beg to differ.

I suppose we have to decide what constitutes a lack of AFB to properly analyze this statement.

I've never burnt a hive and I have bought badly diseased equipment, then cleaned it up to the point where it did not break down even without medication.

For some, I suppose that lack of AFB would be defined as a complete absence of AFB spores in a hive (hard to prove). For most of us, though, I think it is safe to say, lack of AFB means no dead brood from AFB, no observed ropey, decaying cells, and no apparent scale.

Does 'lack of AFB' mean all hives in an apiary must always be clean for all time, or almost all? How big is an apiary? 1 hive or 1,000? Obviously, this AFB-free state is more likely to occur in smaller samples, and easier to observe than in large ones.

Of course, the norm is a state somewhere between zero observable AFB over many years and a full-blown apiary-wide outbreak right now.

Reasons for lack of observed AFB can be many, from lack of exposure to highly hygienic bees to prophylactic drug treatment or a combination. Strategic use of antibiotics can be another. Replacement of older combs contributes. Time and coating with wax and propolis also diminish the viability of spores, and with the best bees the window of opportunity for the spores to germinate and infect is short. The longer hives are free from breakdown, the less likely they are to break down from internal spore load.

Personally, in spite of having supposedly AFB resistant bees, I saw some AFB the year before last and treated those hives with Tylosin. (I have little respect for the efficacy of OTC, having experimented extensively with it in the past and OTC requires more diligence and repetition in application than most of us can muster).

Since then, I have seen zero AFB until this spring when I saw some suspicious brood in two hives out of 60 or so. The brood was not sufficiently decayed for a positive ID but I just treated those two hives once with Tylan and the condition cleared up.

I am examining frames in 110 hives monthly as I split and verify queen presence, and I see zero AFB.

From long experience, including deliberately placing scale into hives, and reports going back to Phillips, who recommended buying diseased equipment since it is so cheap and then curing it with drugs (sulfa at that time), I am convinced that strategic application of a drug by a knowledgeable beekeeper can result in hives that do not show any sign of AFB even long after the cure.

For me, no visible AFB and no signs of AFB is 'lack of AFB'.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
Winston Churchill

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Tuesday August 7th 2012
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In the middle of the night, we had a huge sheet lightning storm which put on quite a show. There was not much rain or wind, and most of the lightning was in the clouds.   Somewhere a power line took a hit, though and I awoke at 4:20 to find the electricity had gone off.  It was restored an hour or so later, but I worry when the power fails at night since the fish bubbler stops.  Nighttime is when the pond plants consume oxygen rather than producing it and a fish kill can happen quickly.  I don't know if the fish are alive or not.  We have not seen them since I put them in, months ago.

By nine this morning everyone had piled into the red van and left  for the mountains.  I remained here at home.  My excuse is that there are eight of us and the van holds seven.  We could have taken two vans, I suppose, but that makes the logistics more complex.  Besides I am quite happy to have the place to myself for the day.

> I think if a hive is 1 or 2 prophylactic treatments away from clinical symptoms of AFB, then you are not free of AFB.

Agreed, but that is not the case where antibiotics are used knowledgeably and new infection is not being introduced by robbing or manipulations.

> if your antibiotic of choice is especially persistent, then you would have to adjust this figure...if it is only the presence of antibiotics that is keeping your bees from showing symptoms, than they are not free of AFB.

Obviously, but if your antibiotic is that persistent you cannot produce legally marketable honey in Canada or Europe. Not sure about the U.S. And, for that matter, if your prophylactic treatments are continued and completely successful, after a few seasons, barring new infection, either from outside or from internal breakdown, your bees will not need them and AFB breakdown will be rare and limited in scope.

Persistence is only helpful in that the antibiotic has to be continuously present for at least several brood cycles during the 'cure' or there is breakdown. Breakdown re-seeds the hives and the process has to be begun anew. After the cure, the antibiotic must be consumed by the bees before the hive can be used in production.

Persistence is a problem for exporting honey producers and Canadian beekeepers are very careful about use of antibiotics (other than fumigillan, it seems). Many prefer burning the few cases they find to the risk of accidentally having tainted honey. In large operations, it is hard to know exactly what everyone is doing and where treated hives might have gone, so simply burning them as they are found is the simplest.

On the other hand, I discovered a few AFB cells in several hives in each of four yards in one large commercial beekeeper and reported that to him. He has a low level but widely distributed problem and I doubt his solution was to burn. My guess is that he treated all hives that fall and then changed his management to carefully inspect all brood chambers routinely until all signs disappear and finds are infrequent.

This sort of problem usually arises when someone is careless or untrained in spotting AFB and is assigned to make up brood chambers from deadout hives, especially in a dark room. AFB detection in such situations requires very bright light and good vision, plus scrupulous attention to each comb. People tend to let down their guard if AFB levels are low and one hive can seed ten or more when the combs are sorted. In a few years of this, the disease is everywhere.

Today's bees seem able to hold AFB back much better than in the past, but over time if there are successful infections the AFB spore levels in all hives build to where the most susceptible hives break down quickly.

A word of warning to those experiencing drought: Be especially vigilant in watching for AFB this year. Dearths are known to bring on AFB outbreaks.

The peace and quiet allowed me to finish grouting the bathroom tile floor.  I also ran up and met with Matt to look at a truck he has for sale.  I decided to buy it.  It is  heavy duty diesel 4 and I am a little intimidated at the potential maintenance, but I figure, what the heck.

The afternoon free of distractions gave me a chance to change the kitchen sink and countertop, a job that has long needed doing.

Our intention creates our reality.
Wayne Dyer

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Wednesday August 8th 2012
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Global has been using Latshaws' vitamin and mineral supplements in their patties for a year or more now and Joe and his dad came up with a dry mix as well, so Global is partnering with them to provide the product in patty form. 

Mike made up a batch for me to evaluate just when I came back on the 25th and I have stored it out in my quonset until I have a chance to use it.  H also made a similar amount of zero pollen Global patties and 15% pollen patties for comparison.   Joe has tested their formula already, and we do not doubt him, but we like to do our own tests. 

After several weeks sitting in my quonset under a tarp in temperatures and humidity varying from plus four C to plus 33 and humidity from 10% to 100%, the product looks very good.  Now I have to put it on the bees.

In the picture at left, the Latshaw patties are on the left and the Global 15% are on the right.  Both look good after weeks of storage at typical summer ambient conditions.  Neither are sagging or going moldy, and actually the new patties have held their shape better.

These patties were scientifically designed to provide optimum bee nutrition and also be affordable.  Time will tell how the bees and the beekeepers like them, but I have confidence in them.  Joe shares our philosophy of providing large quantities of superior products at the lowest prices we can afford, not by  selling small amounts at high prices. 

Unfortunately several of the people I approached a decade or so ago to work on improving nutrition for the benefit of beekeepers decided it was a license to print money.  They produced products that are high-priced, and not necessarily because of production cost.  I wish them well, and hope their products are as good as they claim, but we are still working on giving greater value and driving down prices -- and working for the beekeeper.

> I am interested in the EPS and the Meijer boxes, are these used primarily for brood? And not suppers

They are primarily intended for brood, but I think for small operators, they make great supers, too. The stable temperatures in EPS encourage comb building, even in weaker hives.

> Looking at the frames the honey is only capped for approx 1.5" along the top and 2" along the outer sides. Conflicting info in the books we have. But the Alberta book said to wait until 80-90% of the honey is capped. What's your thought

Generally if a frame is fat and completely full and the weather has not been wet, the honey is OK to extract even if it is only partly capped. Bees often don't cap fully until the weather cools or the season ends.

There is no harm in waiting, but if you want some honey now, by all means take a comb, stand it on a cookie sheet and press the honey out of the comb with a spoon, then see how it looks in a jar. If it is as thin as store-bought honey, then you should wait before doing more than your immediate needs.

Number One grade store honey is always as thin as they can get away with, and usually pasteurized, even if it says not, as heat is always used in commercial honey filtering and packing and heat kills the yeasts that can spoil thin honey.

To test, invert the jar and watch the bubble rise. It should come up more slowly than store honey at the same temperature.

Also, If you can shake honey out of the frame, it is not ready to extract.

For your own use, even thin honey stored in the freezer will stay liquid and not spoil, but for sale, it is better to make sure it is not too thin.

If you plan to make mead or pancake syrup, then they thickness is not an issue.

If you are selling or giving honey away want to be sure about moisture, check out the tools on this page:
http://www.beemaidbeestore.com/browse.php?txtCatID=199

 

Hi, everyone. Here are updates about our unique Commercial beekeeping program.

2012 Bee program

This year’s students are busy doing field work with commercial beekeepers; they are learning and working hard! Eric Stromgren, program instructor/coordinator, reports the queen rearing course provided students with valuable, hands-on learning and that students enjoyed the presentations and meeting beekeepers at the Beaverlodge Field Day in June. By end of September, students will be back in class for the second set of courses. They will also be touring Alberta honey processors & packers in late October and attending the Alberta Beekeepers Convention.

Updates & Looking Ahead to 2013

· We have made some changes to benefit student learning and increase accessibility for international students. The revised program is one week longer at 46 weeks; there are 23 weeks classroom study and 23 weeks of paid work experience. As before, the program starts in January and runs through November.

· Attached document is the updated program information sheet. For complete program details go to http://www.gprc.ab.ca/programs/details.html?ID=307 

The 2013 program starts January 7-- Interested students should begin their application process as soon as possible.

· For more program information, interested students are encouraged to contact Eric Stromgren or Lin Roy. estromgren@gprc.ab.ca  leroy@gprc.ab.ca

Our goal is a robust, current and practical program that will provide a solid foundation for the next generation of beekeepers. We look forward to having students from Alberta, from across Canada and from the world!

Please help us build awareness of this unique program--forward/share as you can. Thanks!

Cheryl King

GPRC Program Developer

780 539 2227

Jon and I looked at putting the camper onto the truck and decided it is not worth the bother for now since he is going to campgrounds where he does not know if he can get space. Maybe later. 

I took it easy all day and did a little cleaning in the basement.  At five, I went out to look at the bees again and it is clear that the flow has slowed a lot.  The bees are flying, but the boxes are not filling. 

Specifically, I checked the queenless group and established that none are going to requeen.  It is odd how that happens in a group.  Is it the genetics of those adjacent hives?  Is it the weather the day they were split?  Was there a huge flow on that distracted them from making cells?  I can't see a pattern involving new EPS boxes. 

I see a few cut-out queen cells.  Are they from the previous splitting or do they indicate that they did raise a virgin that did not, for some reason, mate?  Anyhow, I have lots of duds to stack onto better colonies it seems. 

I should have stuck with my plan and raised some cells the day I got back.  If I had, these hives might well be queenright about now. There is still time to build up for winter.

I must do some mite checks soon.  I plan to use the sugar shake idea shown in Sunday's post as well as the alcohol wash and mite drops.  I'd like to compare.  I plan to use oxalic vapour earlier, rather than later, and maybe should use a formic pad treatment or two as well.  I've been considering drizzle, and it would make sense to treat the queenless hives before combining them with good hives.

It is just a matter of getting organized to do all that.  There are details to attend to.

The surprising thing about young fools is how many survive to become old fools.
Doug Larson

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Thursday August 9th 2012
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Today is Ellen's birthday.  It is also the day that the relatives go home. 

Their visit has been a high energy eight days, and things will quiet down a bit this afternoon when they all go to the airport, then tomorrow when Jon and the kids go camping with Jean and Chris. 

I hope to get caught up on my bee work soon, but my arthritis is acting up.  I have never had much of a problem until recently, but now my back is acting up a bit. 

It all began with what I thought was plantar fasciitis about a year ago and seems to be getting worse.  Do bee stings help?  I don't know.  I have nothing to compare to.

We'll soon have cooler weather and that may help.  The days have been so hot that I have had to work stripped down to shorts and I've come close to a burn.  The swimming pool has been a blessing during these hot days and I wonder what we would have done without it.  Maybe we would have gone to the beach a bit.

Jon drove the visitors to the airport, leaving at 1 for one-hour trip to YYC.   They had a 6:40 flight, but did not want to take any chances on missing it.  I think they did a little shopping on the way.  Jon was back around 5 and set about preparing the van for a trip out to camp with Jean and family at the Lower Lake Campground in the Kananaskis.  What with doing wash, loading bikes, etc.,  They were finally ready around 9, but by then it was getting late for a 2-1/2 hour drive to an unknown location so the kids slept in the van.  All Jon has to do tomorrow is drive away.

One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.
Oscar Wilde

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