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The North Yard is Ready for Winter (almost)

Monday September 10th 2012
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Today is to start warm and sunny, then turn windy and cool, so the best plan is to get out and get started early.  It is 7:30 now, but I've had breakfast and I'm headed out the door.

*   *   *   *   *

By noon, I had done lots, but no actual hive work.  I cleaned up the end of the quonset and sorted the pallets that I had just dropped around the work area.  I had to do some organizing just to get ready to get back to the main job.  There is still lots of cleanup to do, but I think I had better get Apivar into the hives.

*   *   *   *   *

I did everything today except put Apivar into hives.  I got onto a roll cleaning up and that is all I did today, but I did a lot.  I think I must have had some instinct that this is not the day to work my bees.  We were expecting some change of weather in the afternoon, but what we got was quite extreme. Mid-afternoon, I was tidying and as I noticed the weather was changing I went in.  By the time I got into the house, the rain had begun and the wind was starting to gust.  I went in and closed doors as quickly as I could, while other doors blew open and closed.   Limbs were blown off trees and when I looked out to the south, the boxes of foundation that I had carefully stacked had blown over.

I have recently shown what BeeMax look like when broken.  Now I get to show the Meijer boxes in a similar state.  This stack was mostly Meijer boxes and they really got slammed by the gusts.  More on that further down. Anyhow, I have some boxes to glue.

I should mention that there was a batch of these Meijer boxes which was a bit defective due to some injection problems at Beaver Plastics, and I agreed to take some since I figured that I am easy on boxes.  Maybe not.  Anyhow, they are easily fixed..

The stack was not the only casualty.  Lids were blown off in all my yards, 9 out of 17 in the south yard, 3 in the north yard, and 6 in the quonset yard -- and they all had 4-lb bricks on them!  Our outhouse, which has stood for 30 years went down, too. (right)

After the storm was over, I went out and cleaned up the mess.  All in all, it was a good day.  I got a lot done.  None of it was on my list, though.

I don't know what to make of the hive scale.  It reads 49 and the last reading was 36.5 on Saturday.  Did the hives gain weight?  They must have gained 3 lbs each.

"Thought you might like this... Extracting honey supers and came across this little peanut. I'm almost positive this super was down against the queen excluder. This box has been off the hive for 6 days, and was packed full of honey. No other signs of brood, and no bees hanging around. When I scratched the cell open, the larva was still wiggling a bit, lots of royal jelly."  -  Doug T.

Nothing worse could happen to one than to be completely understood.
Carl Jung

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Tuesday September 11th 2012
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I'm headed outside early again today.  We'll see what I accomplish. 

I hear we had frost last night.  I did not record the low temperature, though, as my backyard weather station went offline for a few hours and the reading was stuck at 5 degrees whereas there was frost on roofs and Three Hills recorded a -1.  The glitch had nothing to do with the cold, it seems, as I got a USB error message and unplugging it, then plugging it in again fixes the problem.

"Got the stuff on the way to make up some formic pads and apply Apivar.  The homemade pads, they say to apply 5-6 treatments at ~5 day intervals... but I've read (including on your diary) that the formic is mostly evaporated in the first day. Is this interval simply to capture the various stages of brood rearing/mite development?

Yes.  Also, be sure to place the pads to either side of the upper box 1/3 from the back.  I did get some brood kill, including mature pupae, where I accidentally placed the pads directly over brood.

> I don't use the top pillows, so I assume perforations up/down won't make much of a difference, unless the pad is pressed fairly tight against my inner cover.

Can't say.  Try it and check the pads 24 hours later.

"Interesting to see the increased mite loads in the EPS boxes. I know your 'studies' aren't true scientific cases, but they are still incredibly useful information... and could be the basis for others to take on more extensive studies. In some ways, what you're showing is a much more real-world case. "Here I am, this is what I've got... your results will vary because that's nature."

...And look at how I goofed :(

As for the EPS boxes, I did notice this a bit back in 2004.  (See Table part way down).  That instance was not definitive due to the small sample and varying locations and histories, but gave a glimpse.

It was cool and windy out today, so first thing, I went downstairs and fixed the broken EPS boxes.  The one BeeMax box took the longest since I had to fit, glue and screw all the little end pieces which sheared off.  The Meijer boxes went quickly, since several had only opened at one corner from the impact and it was a simple matter to just brush on glue and drive in two or three drywall screws to clamp the joint.  I have been using Weldbond glue with good results.  It is water-based, but water resistant when dry and seems to hold up well.

Of the 30 boxes in the stack (left), only 6 boxes were damaged.  The reason that there was only one broken BeeMax box in the bunch was that the stack that blew down was almost exclusively Meijer boxes, with only three or four BeeMax, and they were lower on the stack. 

The stack in the background is the same stack put back up with replacement boxes.  I made sure I tied the top boxes together this time and put on lots of weight.

I spent about 40 minutes gluing the 6 boxes.  Half of that was clearing a workspace, setting up and doing the one BeeMax puzzle box.  The Meijer boxes only took a minute or two each, with the exception of two boxes with multiple breaks, which took a minute or two longer.  When they dry, they will all be as good as new.

I went out mid-day to work on the bees and got another 9 hives done.  There are about 30 to go now. 

Most of the hives I worked today are in three brood chambers and quite heavy.  I'm having to reverse quite a few to get the brood up top and to make sure that the cluster will be on good, drawn comb, with at least most of the combs having served a year or two in brood service.  I exchange whole boxes when doing this. and do not shuffle combs in the box which will be the top box. It is too late in the season to do that IMO.  I do pull out excess foundation from the bottom boxes, though, and occasionally have to take out honey.

There are several reasons for reversing right now. These hives have a lot of new frames in the upper boxes and not all of them are fully drawn fully or filled.  The mature brood chambers are on the bottom, from when the splits were made.  For best wintering, it is important that the best brood chambers are on top since that is where the bees will be in winter and spring (winter being defined as starting in late December and running to late March).  I also want at least some of the young brood on top, where I am placing the Apivar.  I'm going to have to remove the strips 6 weeks from now and don't want to have to look for strips in the lower boxes.

The bees were very testy, and robbing is starting to get more aggressive.  The frost kill and cool breezy weather have changed the rules.  I wore a suit and veil and used quite a bit of smoke at times.  The first colony was the worst, possibly since I was a bit careless in not smoking it to begin with and since I left it open while I was setting up.  I also suspect a skunk had bothered it.

Further down the line, I found another dud.  It was a large hive this time, in three boxes, but apparently queenless.  Since I had a five-frame colony with a good queen in a single across the yard, I pulled one incomplete box of mostly foundation off it, and set the smaller one on top with newspaper in between. 

I don't normally use newspaper, but I had a feeling that -- although I saw no fighting in the yard yet -- that taking this precaution might be wise, especially given the strength of the lower colony.  I also figured that the bees in the large colony were used to 3 boxes and the former inhabitants of the third box would rush up into the new 3rd box unless constrained a little.  Being older bees, accustomed to inhabiting what had been a super, they might not be all the friendly to the new queen and attending bees.

Would people applaud me if I was a good plumber?
Marlon Brando

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Wednesday September 12th 2012
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We had a frost again last night, down to minus 1.5.  I'll have to check the fields to see if the flowers survived.

Today, I have an eye appointment in Calgary, so I doubt I'll get much done in the bee yards.

Here is an excerpt from a BEE-L post I wrote the other day:

For field samples, the hand shaker shown in these pictures is hard to beat ...

The jars are cheap and when we were doing the field samples, we went out with boxes of the jars pre-filled with alcohol and did the shakes, then lidded the samples and put them, back in the boxes to be re-examined in the lab.

Note: if the alcohol is cold from sitting outside in a vehicle overnight, the mites do not come off the bees as readily as when the alcohol is warmer.

These shakers are designed for a 300-bee sample, but in my experience, counts are most consistent using 200 to 250 bees due to the screen size. Of course, for smaller samples, the calculations must be adjusted, and a smaller sample may not be as representative, so there is a trade-off here.

These shakers are easy to make, but I would recommend using a jar of the same capacity, but with a wider mouth if such jars can be found. In my opinion, a slightly larger screen area would be better for the standard 300 bee-sample.

The shaker shown in the pictures has about one inch of bees on the screen (300 bees) when draining the alcohol and mites through to the lower jar for examination. IMO, that one inch is the maximum thickness of bees that will allow essentially all the mites to flow with the alcohol under all conditions.

Half that thickness of bees (1/2") would be better, and that can be achieved by simply doubling the screen area. These jars are 70 mm inside, but have a 63mm mouth. That small difference reduces the mouth to 80% of the area of a similar jar with straight sides. To double the mouth area from this model, a jar with a 89mm diameter mouth would be required, and IMO, would be more accurate.

Nonetheless, these jars are plenty good enough for our purposes.

FWIW, some people tend to think a larger sample should be more accurate and wash more than 300 bees, but the resulting mass of bees can act as a filter and prevent some of the mites from going through the screen with the alcohol, resulting in a false count. Bigger samples need a larger screen area.

I drove to Calgary and had my eye checkup.  It seems the SLT worked again and the IOP (pressure) has dropped to 16 in both eyes, so I should be OK for a while.  The last treatment lasted 6 years.

 On the way back, I stopped at Wal-Mart and got groceries.

Abuse, if you slight it, will gradually die away; but if you show yourself irritated,
you will be thought to have deserved it.

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Thursday September 13th 2012
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Another ideal day for bee work is coming up and I am keen to get started, so I'll push away from this keyboard now.

I got out and worked 4 more hives.  The job is pretty routine, now.  I just reverse the order of the boxes and find most of the brood in the bottom one, which becomes the top box.  I then insert two Apivar strips and pile on five patties and then lid the hive.

Queens are naturally driven down in the hives during the summer season, as the bees instinctively place new honey above the brood.

Thus, the natural place for the brood is lower in the hive and that is where the cluster starts the winter, then eats its way up to the top by spring.

What I am doing now works against nature in this regard, but as the current brood hatches out, the bees will bring honey up and fill the empty space, driving the queen down again. 

That is one reason I won't feed yet.  I want the brood to stay up top for the present since that is where the Apivar is.  I'll feed in mid-October, about the time the Apivar comes out.

Since I did these adjustments early in fall, with lots of good weather ahead, the bees have lots of time to correct my changes and adjust everything to the way they like it.

I did one alcohol wash and got ten mites.  That is not too scary at all and if all the hives were at that level, I'd have no worries, especially since I am adding Apivar.   I did see counts in the twenties when I did washes earlier in this round.

This is the wrong time of year to use Apivar IMO.  I should have used it this spring.  The ideal time to use it is mid-March when adding the first patties.  That way, one strip is sufficient, the mites are weakened after the winter, and the clusters are in the top of the hive.  Any varroa that are merely stunned, drop down into the cold regions and die.  At this time of year, they have a chance of catching a passing bee and recovering, since the bees are everywhere in the hive.

I may well treat again in spring to knock the mites down even further and to catch any that did not get adequate treatment now.  Placing the strips can be tricky, as the brood is scattered through the hive at this time of year.  In early spring, the broodnest is well-defined and the brood area is comparatively small.

The sun was hot and there is no wind, so working in the sheltered yard got quite uncomfortable, so I am on a break.  I did drive down to look over the alfalfa fields and still see lots of bloom, but the flowers are a bit wilted, so we'll see if the bloom continues.  The bees are robbing quite freely, so I expect that the flow may be over for the year.

*   *   *   *   *

All in all, today I reversed, treated and fed 19 hives.  I am putting the hives all into three boxes as much as possible, so they all look the same, and because they winter better in three.  In spring, they have enough room to build up and also enough feed.  They can be left until May if need be without starving, but they may well swarm by mid-May if not split.

I have 15 hives left to do, then some general tidying and organizing.

*   *   *   *   *

After supper, I went out to check on the yard and to tidy a bit.   The skunk was there, eating the crawlers and scrapings.  He wasn't scratching at hives, but I have seen some signs that he has  -- claw marks on the entrances and grass scratched flat and muddy.  I watched for quite a while from a few feet away.  He never saw me.  I suppose I'll have to do something, but for now, I let him be.

I worry that the dog will stumble into a skunk.  She has done that before.  She follows scent trails at a run, and a time or two, a skunk was standing at the end of that trail.  The result is not pleasant.

I bought a live trap the other week, but when I opened the box, I can see it is too small to hold this skunk

All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with
great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end.

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Friday September 14th 2012
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From BEE-L today:

Hi all

... My screened bottoms are open to the ground. I put 11"x17" squared paper covered in Vaseline on restaurant trays with sloped sides and slide them under the hive in slots cut in the SBB to hold the tray. Once the mites are counted, the paper is burned or trashed, leaving the tray mostly clean for next time.

I usually do biweekly counts but too many hives, too old and too lazy this year. First and hopefully last varroa treatment (until oxalic in Nov/Dec) was finished in August. High mite counts (80+) in the shaded hives, lower in full sun (30-) in early Aug.

Different year than 2011 as oxalic in Dec was only treatment (all hives under 10 mites all season).

Bob Darrell Caledon
Ontario Canada

Will I finish today?  I certainly hope so.  I'm tired of this and have other things to do.  For one thing, I need to build some sort of loader to lift hives.  That way I can change floors, and move individual hives.  I also think I need to design and build individual floors and lids for these larger boxes.

*   *   *   *   *

I did another 5 hives before lunch and discovered another dud.   I now have 12 left to do.

Working in the sheltered bee yard proved to be extremely hot at midday and I decided to work in the shade and deal with some honey in pails that has been in the way in my basement from 2009, so I set up a drum with water and a torch to heat the water and put the pails in long enough to loosen the honey, then dropped it into a honey drum.  The honey in pails had been run into pails from the 20-frame extractor (right) and, since it contained a lot of wax and had a wax layer, I never did do much with it.  Putting it into a drum allows me to sell it easily and frees up the pails -- and the floor space it has been occupying.

That job took the rest of the afternoon, and leaves the rest of the hive work for tomorrow, which promises to be cooler.

The hive scale reads "42".  Last reading was "49" on the 10th, so the hives have lost about 2 pounds each over the last four days, or a half-pound a day.  Robbing is picking up in the yards and I see the alfalfa is looking quite wilted.

To show resentment at a reproach is to acknowledge that one may have deserved it.

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Saturday September 15th 2012
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Today looks like a good day to the remaining hives treated and fed patties.  I've glanced under a few lids and see that some hives have eaten a lot of I have about 6 boxes left.  The remaining 12 hives will use 12x5=60 patties, or a box and half.

I began the day again by melting out old honey pails and went over to see how the quonset yard is looking.  I can see I have a skunk problem, so I went and borrowed a skunk trap.  I don't know how many skunks there are , but they have begun bothering the hives.  That, together with the risk of the dog being sprayed or one of us walking into a skunk in the dark says they have to go.

I reserved a flight for Sudbury for the 29th.  I had planned to go earlier, but was blocked out of the cottage for the fourth time on the 23rd, which was the time I expected to be well into the project.  I need two and preferably three solid, uninterrupted weeks at Pine Hill to complete the boat so that I don't have to rush, so I have time for interruptions and surprises and  don't have to repeatedly set up, then put everything away.  Setting up takes a day, and putting things away takes the same.

The day passed with a number of odd jobs.  After supper, I went to the south yard where I had discovered that most of the 5 patties I had put on Aug 27 are gone.  That was true more of the north end of the yard than the south which was done on Sept 7th.  I replenished the patties.

After supper, the skunk trap had tripped, so I emptied it and reset it, and an hour later when I went to check it again,  another was in the trap and I saw three mid-size skunks running away.  That is two down and three more (at least) to go. 

So far today, I'm just seeing smaller skunks, but I saw a big one the other day.  I guess there has been a skunk family growing up here over the summer and until they grew up and until the food became scarcer due to the larger population and summer nearing an end, they were not a problem. 

My vet says that she raises sheep and coyotes are a problem.  She has three dogs since, with only two, the coyotes will split them from one another and lead them off, then move up the middle and take lambs.  With three dogs, they can't do that.

What was interesting in the conversation was that she said that there are good coyotes that leave the sheep alone and there are bad coyotes that concentrate on the flock.  She says a wise farmer makes sure to only shoot the bad ones and to leave the good ones alone as they set a good example and that shooting them leaves the field wide open for the bad ones to take over.

That is interesting and makes sense.  Of course if times are tough, then even the 'good' coyotes may be driven to preying on the sheep.  Nonetheless, I found this approach to be sensible and somewhat like IPM in mite management.  Don't trey to wipe out the entire pest population.  You can't do it. Rather, deal with problem situations and just monitor the continually. 

So, I ask, are there 'good' varroa destructor, and 'bad' varroa destructor?  Seems that maybe there are, and our current controls are preventing the bees and mites from reaching a standoff as they apparently have in some regions.  See this.   We kill them all, good and bad, and maybe the more benign ones are killed first, just leaving the nasties. 

Of course we have no real choice, since leaving the bees and mites to reach a compromise on their own over time means taking losses that are economically unbearable for most of us.  (see my 2010/11 100% winter loss of 75 good hives).

Additionally, if we did achieve that halcyon state, new bee stock and new mite strains are apt to be introduced through purchase or swap of queens and bees by ourselves or our neighbours, and by migratory beekeepers.

As for skunks,  her policy for coyotes has been my policy for skunks, but it seems their population boom has made them a serious nuisance to me, my bees, pets and the neighbours, making action unavoidable.

I recall when inspecting a few years back coming a bee yard that stunk.  It smelled of skunk, dead meat, and American Foulbrood so strongly that I could recognize the smells from 100 yards away when I was walking in.  There was a pile of about ten dead skunks next to the yard and AFB rampant in 2 out of 3 hives in  the yard.  There were egg shells in front of some hives and it was obvious that the beekeeper had served up strychnine in eggs to poison the skunks.  Why he just left the skunks so nearby is a mystery.

At any rate that method i-- strychnine in eggs -- is very effective, but there is great concern that accidental or secondary  poisoning of non-target animals, birds, pets or livestock could occur.  Even if I had some strychnine, I would be reluctant to use it.  I am not sure about the legality of doing so.  As for how to deal with skunks, I called the local animal control guy and he said they just trap an/or shoot them, so I guess it is always open season on skunks and that skunks are not protected in Alberta.

The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.
Carl Jung

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Sunday September 16th 2012
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Jean and family are coming today to store their camping trailer in the quonset.

I hope regular readers check back a day or two when looking at each day's entry since, although I don't materially alter older pages, I do augment and enhance the past few days routinely and update the previous day each morning.   I am a slow and tedious writer and write and rewrite my material several times before I am content.  Even then there are sometimes factual or semantic errors a few days back that become obvious a day or two later.  Sometimes statements are ambiguous or only Clear If Previously Understood (CIPU).  I try to correct that.

Since I write things down and check back, I am often amazed to see how inaccurate my observations or recollections can be.  I don't think I am different from most people, (although I do know some who are exceptional) so I leave the back pages unchanged except for occasion formatting improvements.  I finds it fascinating how I fool myself.

> Hello Allen I'm looking for plans on how to build a loader like the one in your picture.  Any help will be appreciated . My brother and I are just starting and I want to be ready to make the jump to loader before my back goes out !


A lot of people are looking for plans and write me.

I don't have any.  I am planning to make a loader myself soon, though.

It will be a small, simple one, and rather than using a track, it will articulate like the Billet Esyloader and use a 12-volt winch.  Tracks are a pain, and this design allows moving right close to the pivot without fighting the weight and inertia of a long rotating arm.  This arm is half- length.

Maybe I should draw up plans, but I am more likely to just get out the welder and the chop saw and the torch and have at it.  If I do and if I ever get finished, I'll take some pictures.

The basic arm is dead simple to build and the winch can mount either at the tip, or back at the pivot depending on whether it is easier and cheaper to run more winch cable or more electrical wire.

I don't need 360 degree rotation, so it will have a stop at some point in the circle.  I'll probably mount it on the forklift or a trailer.  I suppose it could go on one of my 4x4s, though.

I may need some leveling legs, or a way to keep the main shaft vertical, but maybe not.  The cradle for holding hives is fairly simple to build, depending on the tasks to be accomplished.  I just want to lift and move hives around in my local yard, not load trucks or trailers.

Jean and family were here for lunch.  Ellen had made a lasagna. 

After lunch, we picked up tree branches which were blown down last week and had a bonfire. 

They left around four and I went to work on the bees.  I finished the quonset yard and now just have a few things to do before the bees are ready for winter.

The secret to a long life is knowing when it's time to go.

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Monday September 17th 2012
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I now have 90 hives ready for winter, more or less.  I expect that by a month from now, a few will peter out, but currently most look good.  I can never tell for sure which are going to dwindle and be robbed out, so I leave it to the bees to sort that out.  I just make sure they are all looking decent, then leave them and pick up the empty boxes at the end of the season.  I'm sticking with my estimate of 80 good hives going into winter in November.


Boxes/Hive Total Hives
1 2 3 4
South Yard 0 3 12 2 17
Quonset Yard 1 2 50 0 53

North Yard

1 10 9 0 20
Total Hives 2 15 71 2

15 hives are in doubles and I am inclined to add another box underneath for better wintering.  I have plenty of full combs and about 40 EPS boxes that are not on hives, so I may do that, but I'll need a way to lift the hives first.

I have now caught 4 skunks and there are more.  I have been surprised twice now to see that they have removed the bait (a piece of Global patty) and not tripped the trap.  I don't see how it is possible, but they did.  Maybe they are smarter than people think.  If they were, though, I would have expected that they would clear out by now, but maybe the lessened competition makes the area more attractive to the remaining skunks.  I don't know.  These are interesting questions and I'd like to coexist with them, and have for most of the year, but I can see that skunk overpopulation is a problem, not just for the bees, but for the neighbourhood.

The afternoon was spent in tidying the yard, adjusting the door on a garden shed, draining the pool, etc.

After supper, I took some time to examine my steel pile, looking for suitable material for the boom loader I am thinking of making.

The best deal is the one you're willing to walk away from.

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Tuesday September 18th 2012
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This morning, I got down to drawing and pondering the design for the loader.  Pardon the crude drawings.  I trust they convey the idea, but they are far from the perfectly drawn and lettered work I turned out in Engineering Drawing classes at U of T fifty years ago.  After all, though, who can complain?  They are free.

Side View

Top View

Whatever I decide to build in the way of a loader, it has to be simple, and I have an articulating arm in mind.  It uses no track or fancy winch like the Kelly and other boom loaders.  I have limited needs and my boom only has to have a radius of a few feet -- 10 or 12 feet maximum, and has to mount on either a pickup, a trailer, or the forklift -- or possibly interchange between all of the above using a common mount.  I only need about an 8-foot swing, but will probably over-build so that I don't find myself too constricted. 

Longer booms are harder to swing to the moment of inertia which increases with the square of the boom length.  (I=mL2/3).  Articulated booms get around this somewhat since each section is half the length of an equivalent straight boom and each piece moves independently and has its own moment when working close to centre.  Nonetheless, the rotating effort increases with longer booms.

A second problem is that any long boom has too much leverage when the load is far from the main pivot and will tip a light vehicle to the extent that the load will swing out and run downhill away from the centre with increasing force, and at some point become unmanageable unless the boom is re-leveled to compensate. 

At that point, the operator is struggling to maintain control with both hands and can't let go until it reaches the maximum possible distance, at which point the load cannot go further and again is manageable. but we can see that too long a boom could seriously tip a light vehicle unless equipped with stabilizing legs out to the side. 

I can an put a limiter on the elbow joint  of an articulated boom so that it cannot extend past the point where it runs away on me if that becomes a problem, or simply make a shorter end boom that can be exchanged for the original for some situations. 

The other solution to the tipping problem and consequent loss of control when moving away from the main pivot, one which is used on the Billet Ezyloader, is a re-leveling setup which can be automatic or manually activated by the operator from the remote controls. Here are some potential actuators: One Two Three

Two mercury switches (and solenoids if required), mounted such that each turns on only when the mast is off-level one way or the other, can be wired in series with each of two such jacks mounted at right angles to one another at the bottom of a hinged main post.  For stable vehicles operating on level ground, only one such jack, for side to side tipping compensation, is often enough.  The degree of vehicle tipping front to back is normally very small in comparison to the amount of tipping side to side and much less troublesome.

My design will require 12-volt power and probably use a cheap 12-volt winch for the lifting.  The winch will mount at the outer boom tip since it is easier to run a single high current 12V line out the boom than to run both the control cable and the winch cable.  The 12-volt return (negative line) can be the boom frame itself, and the vehicle frame so that only the one heavy wire needs to run out the boom.  Ground jumpers might be required at the pivots, but normally the ground current seems to travel through steel hinges just fine without them.

The alternative is to use a 110-volt winch which is quieter and needs a smaller power cord.  That would require an inverter to convert 12 volts to 110 (added expense) or a portable power plant (not very practical).

I'd like the entire loader unit to disassemble easily for dismounting, with the main pivot being a simple pipe that drops down over an inner vertical pipe and just lifts off.  The inner pipe is welded to a base which bolts to the vehicle frame.  The elbow pivot should be of a pintle and gudgeon design so the outer arm just lifts off the main boom.  The winch and power cords should be easily  detachable.

As for the cradle, that is a whole different project and can be as simple or as complex as one desires.

We'll see if I ever get around to this job.  It looks simple, but we all know how things are seldom as simple as they seem at first.

Bill of Materials for 12-foot (approx) Basic Articulated Boom Loader

  • 18" of pipe or tubing about 3" diameter or bigger

  • 17" of pipe to fit over the above.  Clearance 1/8" max.

  • 35 feet of 1-1/2 x 3/16 flat iron

  • ~2 feet of 1 or 1-1/2" pipe or heavy tubing

  • ~1 foot of a pipe or heavy tubing that fits outside the above.  Clearance 1/8" max.

  • (heavy plastic tubing that fits over one and inside the other can be used as a spacer).

  • A winch and necessary wiring and controls.

  • 4 grease nipples (zerks) -- 2 for main pivot and 1 for each elbow hinge section

  • Misc nuts, bolts, welding rod, nylon ties, paint, etc.

Tools required:

  • Chop saw

  • Welder

  • Angle Grinder

  • Drill

  • Bit and tap to drill and tap for for zerks

  • Wrenches, etc.

  • Paint Brush or Sprayer

  • Grease Gun c/w grease

Expected Time to Completion: 16 Hours

  • Measure and cut out parts: 2 hours

  • Fitting and Welding: 5 Hours

  • Grinding and Painting: 3 hours

  • Install winch and mount loader on vehicle: 3 hours

  • Miscellaneous fooling around and fixing mistakes, coffee breaks, etc.: 3 hours (min.)

No need to provide measurements here.  Just draw it out on the floor with chalk and make sure that the angles are correct, then cut to fit the outline, piece by piece and tack each piece to the last, then cut and fit the next.  Of course, never complete the welds until it is all tacked together and you've taken a good look, or you'll have to do some extra cutting and fixing.

Leveling devices can be added, either by adding legs either side of the vehicle to reduce vehicle tipping or by hinging the main post and adding adjusters, either screw jacks (electric?) or hydraulic.  All such devices are more difficult to devise than the loader itself which is a very basic project.

I set up the game camera last night and I see the skunks are still around in numbers.  I have caught five in the past five days and there are still more.

After lunch, I remembered the drop boards.  I have not looked at them since before I put in the Apivar.  I checked the scale at the same time and see it has not changed since the 14th.  

*   *   *   *   *

The drop boards have been in since the 5th of this month or almost two weeks.  During that time, the hives have had formic and then Apivar.  Here they are, in order I reported on them earlier.  I have not tried to count, but may sometime.  You are certainly welcome to give it a try, and post the results in the  Honey Bee World Forum.


Click each thumbnail to enlarge

It's been smoky here all afternoon and it seems there is prairie fire somewhere north and not too far away.   When the wind is from the north, visibility is down to 6 miles and normally about 30 to 50 around here.  I hear nothing on the radio, but I am glad we keep our grass cut short. 

I drained the swimming pool yesterday and today and wonder if I did so too soon.  It makes a good reservoir for the fire pump.  I still have to wash and dry the liner.  I considered putting in our basement gym, but think if I need a pool down there, the 12-foot one will do.

Today has been a 'rest day'.  The bees are done and I'm kicking back a bit. 

Never get down in the mud to wrestle with a pig. You'll only get dirty, and the pig will enjoy it.

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Wednesday September 19th 2012
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I have to finish putting away the swimming pool today, then in the afternoon, run over to Meijers.

There are lots of other odd jobs to do as well, and I have to look at the steel pile again and begin the detailed design.  That will all be in my head, once I decide what material to use.  I'll just lay it al out and start cutting and tacking. In the article yesterday, I specified 1-1/2" flat iron and other explicit materials, but I could just as easily use pipe or even re-bar, depending on what I find handy.

I guess I'll have to continue my campaign against the skunks, but I took a day off from that yesterday.

> Allen posted a comment about Medhat's formic acid method.
> How is it different from the method posted by Allen on his site?

Medhat reads BEE-L, so he may add to this or correct me if I am off. My
information may not be the latest, but I think so.

There is no real difference, but lately, for double brood chamber hives
in fall, Medhat has been recommending two Dri-loc 50s placed on either
side of the top box, 1/3 of the way from the back. I think the placement
is to minimize brood damage. Placing pads directly over brood will
definitely kill brood, but in fall, usually the brood is in a few frames on
centre, so side placement protects the brood.

I have to say that this application does drop varroa -- and fast. However,
the treatment has to be repeated a number of times for either tracheal
mites or for varroa, and the hives should be monitored to verify results.

Anywhere from 3 to 6 applications may be necessary although even one
treatment is very helpful. Although generally a repetition every five to seven
days is recommended, that is basically the shortest wait that makes sense.
Longer or random periods between treatments work just about as well IMO,
but since the weather window for treatment is sometimes short, it is
important to know the earliest that one should repeat the application..

Basically, each formic hit kills X% of the mites in the hive at the time and
mostly gets phoretic varroa mites, which may be only 30% or less of the
total varroa load, although some mites in capped brood are affected.

These flash treatments release most of their load each time within 24 hours
of pads being applied, then we wait a few days for more mites to emerge
from cells and be exposed, then apply again. Because each application only
lasts a day (if we ignore the effect on sealed brood which is variable and
unreliable) multiple applications are required.

Tracheal is relatively difficult to detect and quantify, so many beekeepers just use
several treatments when convenient since they know formic helps with varroa, and
weakens or kills any varroa that manage to survive the Apivar application, and
does not seem to harm the bees much if done properly.

This should reduce the likelihood of Apivar resistance developing and at the same
time reduces tracheal to safe levels for wintering.

This morning, I decided it is time to look at drops again and I pulled out the boards that have been in for two weeks and cleaned them off.

I did not bother looking at them further (I posted pictures yesterday), and just put in clean boards.  I want to see what the current drop is and I'll look at them tomorrow.  I am not going to count carefully, though, since my goal is just to get an idea of what is happening.

The hives have all had Apivar for eleven days now, so the drops should be interesting. I'd give them more formic, but I have the top bars loaded with pollen patties and there is no place for the pads.

I went out to see if there is room for pads and see that some hives have finished their patties.  Others need to have some more feed placed in the middle since the centre is bare.  I suppose I could put on formic pads and feed more patties at the same time.

I also pulled a few drop boards from the first few test hives that I placed there an hour ago at most, and counted 6, 13, 3, 2, and 3 freshly dropped mites

Times 24 hours, that is 144, 312, 72, 48, and 72 mites/day
for hives 1,2,3,4, &5 respectively.

I did not bother looking at more boards, but noticed that many of the mites on these boards were dark in colour and moving.  The Vaseline traps them nicely, though, even if other bugs walk around freely on the boards.

Here is the chart from Sept 4 again, and a link to a more complete version (right) for comparison to the natural and accelerated drops several weeks ago.  I don't know if we can draw any conclusions from these observations, but the data is here anyhow.  A day or so more should tell more, and a repetition in a week or two should show a reduction in drops -- I hope!

Aug 28 Aug 29 Aug 30 Aug 31 Sept 1 Ave Sep
1 113 107 28 72 70 78 60 64 168
2 4 6 2 7 25 9 15 17 463 321
3 174 106 60 122 78 108 72 98 152 72
4 31 29 8 21 32 24 34 56 415 48
5 22 21 10 10 8 14 16 9 31 72
6 21 39 15 22 41 28 40 57 112  
7 76 103 86 92 75 86 79 180 386  
8 155 102 86 186 181 142 360 813 428  
9 90 71 32 45 67 61 294 489 157  
10 41 54 29 81 110 63 81 87 62  
Av 73 64 36 66 69 61 105 187 237
  = 2 Formic pads applied Sept 3
  = 2 Formic pads applied Sept 1

Oxalic Drizzle Sept 3

All test hives received 2 strips of Apivar and 2 more formic pads Sept 7 or 8th

I arrived at Meijers around 4 and we unloaded, then had supper at Jake and Doreen's.  After, we loaded some syrup and I drove home.  It is nice to have a heavy-duty pickup truck again. 

I unloaded the tank just before dark  Surprisingly, even though the sun had gone down and I could hardly see them in the dusk, bees were still flying around in the yard.  The door to the skunk trap was not still open, but usually the skunks are not out too early in the evening.   There were one or two keeners, but I think that the competition is less now and the remaining skunk may not be as ravenous and desperate.

I figure a skunk has to be desperate to take on a beehive and from what I have observed in person and on the game camera, they are usually happy just to wander around the yard eating crawlers, scraps and maybe a mouse or two.  If there are too many, or one is starving, perhaps due to worms or excess competition from other skunks, they will tackle anything to survive, even a an angry hive of bees.

I'll be happy when I don't have to catch any more skunks.

Always book your next gig before your last one opens.

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