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Harvest time, and time to cull the losers to get ready for fall and winter

Friday August 10th 2012
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I slept in today and am resting up.  There are just the two of us here now and after the activity of the past week, it seems quiet.  I doubt I'll get much done today.

Well, I did a fair bit.  After the routine of vacuuming the pool and and afternoon of doing little, I got to work on the 4 x 4.  I spent some e time trying unsuccessfully to figure why the wipers don't always work, then pressure washed out the box and, then transferred fuel and removed the slip tank that came with it, and touched up the paint.  The truck is black and I figure a dash of Tremclad black spray paint is good enough for an old truck.  We had some white trucks which looked pretty bad when we got them and used white Tremclad spray on them.  Years later, they still looked pretty good.  Non-metalic black or white are not too hard to match.

By then it was getting dark and I quit for the day.

One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him. Booker T. Washington

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Saturday August 11th 2012
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I had in mind to run out to the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to see Jean and family and Jonathan and the kids today and to give the new truck a run and prepared last night, but had not made a definite decision.  This morning I decided to go and headed west.  I had only driven the truck a few kilometres so far and was pleased to find it runs straight on gravel and pavement and has a good ride.  I had cleaned it up a bit and touched up the paint  a bit and was running with the tailgate off and my bike in the back.

I arrived just in time for lunch and stayed until supper.  Their campsite was up from the Lower Kananaskis Lake in Loop A, and was well laid out with a gravel pad and a good fireplace.  There were plenty of sites there, but the nearby neighbours were not too close.  Trees separated the sites and although we could see others, we did not hear them.  We visited and bicycled around the park and went for ice cream mid-afternoon.  I had supper with the group, then headed home.  In Airdrie, I stopped to fill the truck with diesel so I could calculate the fuel economy and bought some groceries as well.   Using a rough calculation, the economy looks surprisingly good, at something over 20 MPG -- amazing for a heavy truck with a turbo 7.3 diesel engine.  I'll calculate more accurately later.

Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.
George Santayana

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Sunday August 12th 2012
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I get regular enquiries about the Meijer boxes.  Here is a link to how to get them.

Today, I puttered around the place and did some small repairs on the truck.  Matt had lost interest in it after buying a newer one and there were a number of small things to fix. 

Jon and the kids arrived in time for supper.

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The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday August 13th 2012
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Jon and the kids are here today.  Tomorrow, they fly home. 

I calculated the fuel economy on my Saturday trip more closely and it comes to 22 MPG (Imperial) or 13 litres per 100 km.  I'm going by just the one tankful, and there is no definite way to decide exactly when the tank is full, so that is an estimate, but a close one, I think.

That mileage figure is only a little worse than what my the red van has averaged over time, and diesel fuel is 10 cents cheaper, making the cost comparable!  This was a 475 km round trip at highway speeds, however, and with more short trips the average number is bound to be lower.  We'll see.

My only complaint on the trip was the exhaust noise.  The exhaust is overly loud when the engine is working at all hard, but I think that may be easy to fix.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
Carl Sagan

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Tuesday August 14th 2012
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> On your web site you state......
>
> My strong preference is for Global Patties, since they are the lowest cost, are not a secret formula, and...
>
> It appears they are now a secret formula. I searched the website for the ingredients to no avail.

> Did I miss something?

I don't know if you did or not.

The ingredients are listed right on each product description in the Global price lists.

Global Patties are yeast and soy with or without pollen, plus sugar and water. Recently Global has been including Dr. Joe Latshaw's vitamins in amounts as recommended by Joe.

The mixing formula is right here on honeybeeworld.com, with a calculator to determine proportions.  Check out Selected Topics.

Global also makes patties to any recipe a customer requests.

I drove Jon and the kids to YYC and dropped them off, then went to see Mike at Global. 

While in Airdrie, I filled up again and did another calculation on the truck fuel economy.  Now the average of all the fill-ups is 18.7 MPG.  It is hard to be certain on one or two fillings since the tank does not stop filling suddenly at a definite point like most vehicles.  This one fills to the top of the filler, then goes down, then takes a litre or two more a number of times before finally refusing further fuel.  Today, it took another 10 litres after it first seemed full at 30 litres.  That is an extra 33%.  Over time, I should get a closer fix on the true number.

After Airdrie, I went to Costco ay Crossiron and while I was in Costco, there was a sudden very loud noise, much like the hissing when a large gas pipeline is emptied for service or like the sound of a jet engine.  Then the lights flashed on and off.  Everyone was looking outside.

The racket turned out to be hail on the skylights!  Some of the stones sounded quite large. so I was a bit apprehensive about my truck outside, remembering the news reports of serious large hail in Calgary yesterday which broke windows and did extensive damage to vehicles, and imagining going out to find a smashed windshield and large dents.  When  I went out, all that was left from the storm was a few piles of hailstones and some tree branches on the road.  The truck was fine.

Just as I was leaving Costco, I received a text from Jon.  Their plane was being held on the runway due to the storm, but about to take off.  I returned home and settled in.  It had been raining here and there had been quite a windstorm.  I noticed some crop damage as I drove the last miles.

Then Jon texted that the flight was cancelled.  There was a security lockdown at LAX and besides, Westjet had lost their slot at the terminal there anyhow due to delay.  I had a nap and waited to see if I had to drive the 60 miles back to YYC, but then he said they would fly at 7.

I guess they did.  It's 8:47 now and I received no further word.  No news is good news.

Man's nature is not always to advance; it has its advances and retreats.
Blaise Pascal

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Wednesday August 15th 2012
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Jon texts that they finally took off at 8, 7 hours late and the rest was all good.

Today is foggy to start, but the sun came out and it is warming.  The predicted high is 19, though, so it will be nice for working outside, but the bees will not be doing much and swimming will be cool.

The EAS annual summer meeting is on now and I'd love to be there, but not this year.  In fact, I'm wondering when I'll be in the clear to go back to Pine Hill.  I still have bees to work.  Today I have no ambition again and even after an afternoon nap and 5 cups of strong coffee, I am sluggish.  Maybe tomorrow.

I did get a few tasks done like several loads of laundry, a little cleanup, some paperwork, and some touch-up on the truck exterior.  I also got it insured.  Now I have to license it.

All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.
Adlai Stevenson

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Thursday August 16th 2012
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I mentioned that I was noticing some arthritis recently and that bee stings did not have any obvious offsetting effect.  At one time I took glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM daily, but discontinued since I don't like to take supplements unless indicated and because some studies seemed to indicate that it is ineffective.  I went a long time with few pains, but lately my feet and ankles have been giving me a few problems and one thumb has been giving some pain.  So, the other day, I bought a bottle and started using it again.  Surprise!  My symptoms have almost disappeared.  Coincidence?  I don't know.

We dropped off the truck at the detailer here in town and then Ellen and I drove to Calgary for our bimonthly meeting with the doctors, then stopped at Costco on the way back.  The consensus is that her condition is stable and improving.

Don't write so that you can be understood. Write so that you can't be misunderstood
William Howard Taft

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Friday August 17th 2012
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The main season is now over and the expansionary period is in the past.  From now on, the hives are preparing for winter.  The neighbours cut the nearby alfalfa just as it was coming into bloom, so that will reduce the pasture even if there is lots of bloom farther away.  My own alfalfa and clover will bloom shortly and I expect the hives will manage to break even over the coming weeks, but not make much surplus or draw much foundation unless they are fed.

The time has come to work through the hives and to combine the losers.  Some years we have frost about now, but this year does not appear to be one of them.  We could have no frost until November or it could come any day, so it is best to set up the hives so that they can prosper regardless.

I also need to check for varroa and consider using some formic acid in case there is tracheal activity in some hives.  Formic hits both miters, but will not reduce them to zero.

I had another lazy day and did no bee work.  I did burn some branches trimmed from the crabapple trees, though, and skim the swimming pool.

Faith moves mountains, but only knowledge moves them to the right place
Joseph Goebbels

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Saturday August 18th 2012
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Today I run the town to register the truck, take in some recycle and drop off some prescriptions, plus get gas for the mower.  In the afternoon, there is a memorial for our friend Bill P-S who passed away earlier this year.  We are expecting that Mckenzie will stay with us overnight and until Monday.

I went to the memorial around four and stayed until 9.  There were about 250 people there from many far-flung places and it was quite an event, complete with sound stage.

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Sunday August 19th 2012
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I finally got around to the bees this morning.  I've been putting the work off, assuming that the longer I wait, the easier the decisions will be.  I've also been less than energetic and been distracted by company.  The company is all gone for now and I am feeling much better.  Partly, I think it is summer -- I always get more alive as summer goes on and fade over winter -- and partly the glucosamine, chondroidin and MSM I started taking.  I'm not stiff and sore and my feet don't hurt.  My back is not too bad either.

Working through the yards an extra time or two might have resulted in having more hives into winter, but I am realizing that I have more work than I really want and will have far too many hives unless I sell some.  I'm advertising, but this is not the time of year most people buy.

There is a limit to the amount of work that is profitable and worthwhile for a given number of hives.  Extra work will result in some additional reward, but that marginal reward drops off quite quickly after the basic tasks are done. 

Diminishing returns set in quite early after that and the few hives which might be produced or saved are not worth the damage to other hives from being worked excessively or worth the the extra labour.  That is why most commercial beekeepers elect to run more colonies rather than work fewer hives more intensively.  Capital is cheaper than labour here in North America.

*   *   *   *   *   *

It is time to get the hives set for winter.  The queenless ones must be combined with queenright hives and excess honey removed.  I still have to allow enough room for any flows that happen, and must prepare to feed as soon as we have major frost, and that could come almost without warning, any day.

*   *   *   *   *   *

This morning, first thing, I worked through 10 stands and when I was done there were 6.  Those six will be good for winter.  I also got four or five boxes of honey which I think I will have extracted unless it turns out I need the honey for feed.  I doubt it.

*   *   *   *   *   *

After lunch I went out and worked through 9 more and they all 9 were just fine.  I had not expected much from several of them and had left them as doubles.  They had drawn all their comb and were plugged.   It seems bees do best when they are a little crowded.  The problem is that if a beekeeper crowds bees early in the season they swarm.  Later  in the season, that is not so much a problem, BUT, speaking of swarms, I see I have another recent one in the equipment stack.  Occasional late swarms are bound to happen when many queens are being raised in a yard.

I loosened up these hives by adding a super of foundation, raising some brood up, and adding a frame or two of foundation in its place (This is not some thing everyone should try but it is a trick pros use sometimes when they know that there will either be a flow or that they will be feeding heavily if there isn't) and  I now have about five boxes of good honey to get extracted.  I have to extract it seems, in order to get more empty brood comb.  I don't need a lot of feed in new white comb.  I already have too many boxes of good dark brood combs full of feed.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Today I was again able to use abandonment (tipping) and work without a veil, using very little smoke.  The flow is on again and the bees are in good humor.  See picture at top of page.

The bees have done a beautiful job of drawing the black Pierco frames, with very few burr combs or other nuisances to cut off.  At this point, I have to say they are much better than the PF-100s, although the PF-100s are far better than I expected.  I plan to get some typical samples of each uncapped and extracted so that they can be compared more easily.  With fully capped combs it is hard to see how well the bees have followed the pattern on the foundation.

I'm watching for disease and seeing none.  I have yet to look for varroa beyond being observant.  Today, nothing.

Each time I took a break, I had a swim.  The pool started out at 18 degrees C in the morning and got up to 22 by late afternoon.  If the pool contains 4500 US gallons, that is 22,500 lbs of water.  To raise it 4 degrees C would require 162,000 BTU over the day and apparently the sun provided that plus whatever heat was lost to evaporation.  A BBQ burner makes 40,000 BTU/hr and could make a decent heater if I were so inclined.  A pound of propane contains  91,690. BTU, so at 75% efficiency, or 30,000 BTU/hr, that BBQ would be almost as good as the sun.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Before supper, I did another 14 hives and eliminated 4 of them.  I had marked more than that but some  had made queens and have brood now.  I had wondered if that might happen and one of the reasons I have not worked them until now was that I wanted to wait and be sure before eliminating hives.

If my count is correct, I did 10+9+14=33 hives today and have 6+9+10=25 good ones.  That is a success rate of 25/33=76%.  Not bad.  Of course, I did take some other losses in previous splits this year.

I saw something very interesting in the digital ABJ that I think I could use.  My main reason for not grafting and making cells is the effort of making up the cell builders and managing the cells.  This idea could simply make use of hives which are already set to make cells but allow selecting the mother queen and also make cells which can be moved without damage.  Here is an excerpt.  Click image to view.

After supper, I went out and lifted the remaining tipped boxes that still have a few bees onto the tops of hives so they can finish emptying of bees.  Bees leave best just at dusk and after dawn.  I had to raise the boxes up for the night because some nocturnal critter eats any frames I leave exposed at ground level at night and some animal also eats any pollen supplement I leave exposed. 

I don't know if both culprits are one and the same.  Whatever eats the combs is has enough strength to remove a light lid with a brick on it sometimes.  I had originally thought the patty problem was magpies, but something was eating patties from an open box under a tarp and I doubt they would go under there.  The marks on the patties look like bird pecks, but there are dirty smears like skunks make.  I am seeing no sign of skunks bothering the hives, though.  Skunks signs are usually obvious, with scratched and dirty packed grass in front and scratches on the hives and floors.

I also noticed  clusters hanging out on some hives tonight, so I supered as many hives as I had the energy to do and marked the rest for tomorrow or the next day.  I was starting to think that I had bought too much equipment, but now it is disappearing onto hives quickly.  I used fifteen or twenty boxes of foundation today.  I have about the same amount left, I reckon, so may run out.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I had been thinking that it is time to start feeding since robbing had begun and since I had not planned to make honey.  I have foundation to draw, and bees draw it well in late summer as long as there is food coming in.  If the flow gets going again and goes on as it sometimes does, feeding is weeks away again.

Tomorrow, I go on a river trip with Fen and her gang.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Annie Dillard

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