<< Previous Page September 2012 Next Page >>
Here is a view
under the pillow of a good honey bee
colony with Apivar inserted.
The five Global patties fed a short while ago are almost entirely eaten
This morning, there was no skunk in the trap. No bait, either. Somehow, sometimes they manage to take the bait without tripping the trap. I see signs of a skunk having worked on a hive entrance, so that problem is not over yet.
The game camera had no pictures, either. I must have failed to turn it on. When mounted, its operation state is sometimes hard to see. I should mount it higher up, I suppose.
I am not worried about the best hives, I am worried about the ones consuming slowly. There could be many reasons for slower consumption. Some are worrisome, some at not.
Nonetheless, I'll get out today, adjust the patties, give them more patties, and mark the slowest ones for further observation.
Once the centre part of the patties is eaten, the weaker colonies have only the patty that may be outside the cluster remaining, so I'll move that in and add more on-centre for them. I'll pile the patties up rather than spread them out on such colonies. My pillow and lid system makes this possible without losing the hive-top seal which is very important in this windy country.
I want to use all the pollen patties before freeze-up. Patties should not be kept in storage for long periods. After six months or so, the feed value declines and I have read studies where old patties were found to be useless and even slightly harmful.
I'll also apply some more formic pads and use them up. You can be sure I'll be using gloves and being careful. My fingers are still sensitive.
I went out and counted the first drop board. A day has passed. I estimate about 200 mites without actually counting. Counting is too much work. I'll wait a week and put in clean boards. When there are 50 or fewer in 24 hours, I'll consider counting again.
I have no idea what 200 means in terms of control. The number I really want to see -- eventually, is zero, however to get there, we have to have accelerated drops and higher numbers.
In the meantime, I really should make a workable mask to cover 3/4 of the board at random so I have 1/4 of the counting to do. Multiplying that count by 4 should give an estimate that is close enough for practical work. In fact, when we used drop boards in our commercial bee business, we used to just glance at the boards to see how heavy the mite drop was and act on that. We seldom counted.
I checked the hive scale and it gained 2 lbs since the last reading.
Then I went to work on the north yard, applying formic and adding patties. Interestingly, although the Global 0% patties have been my favourite in the summer, I found a few had dried out badly now, in fall. Most were eaten right up, though, even the dried ones were being consumed. The 15% patties, which I find a bit gooey in comparison, did not dry out. The test formula patties stayed moist, but some coarse particles are being discarded and the patties tend also to be mealy and tear apart. All the patties work just fine, though, and are consumed rapidly.
This pallet (left) demonstrates the range of consumption, with the lower left hive being the worst in the yard and upper left one of the best. The two on the right are poorer than average. All the hives started off with a similar amount of feed, (as seen on the hive with the least consumption). These are all doubles and on the weak end of the yard. This is the hive scale pallet. The bees have been smoked down, BTW.
I did notice a big difference between the triples, with three brood boxes, and the doubles, with two, in terms of strength and general robustness. The doubles tend to plug early and have smaller populations and less brood.
I had a long nap after lunch, then went to the south yard. Most of the hives still had a fair amount of patty, but I evened it out and added more, then treated with formic pads. (See left). Neatness does not count. It also does not much matter IMO if the formic contacts the patty, although I do move the patty back to make room for the pads.
I'm seeing skunk scratching here in the south yard, too. It seems my tolerance has come back to bite me. Skunks not only scratch the landing boards, but also scratch the EPS boxes if they are left to do so. The damage is minor and cosmetic -- mostly the paint so far -- but enough is enough. This is war.
* * * * *
When the south yard was done, I began on the quonset yard. All the hives are eating well and that is a good sign. I discovered, though, that drying of the patties was becoming a problem in some hives and with the 0% patties mostly. Some edges were rock-hard. It seems the bees are eating them, though and I don't see debris at the entrance. I assume that this drying, which I have never seen before, is due to the dryness of the ambient air and excess airflow through the hive, so I closed off the upper auger hole entrances. I would have sealed up the auger holes and the pillow gaps anyhow to keep the formic fumes in the hives longer, but this gave me added incentive.
I ran out of pads in my carrier around 6:15 and counted the remaining hives before going in for supper. I see 35 are left to do. I have 2-1/2 boxes of patties left. That is 100 patties, or about three per hive. Then I am out unless I get more.
I worked all these strong hives all day without a veil and only a little smoke. This has been pleasant work, opening hive after hive to find the bees are eating well and the colonies look wonderful, then placing pads and more patties. There are a few exceptions to the good news, but maybe only 5 colonies look weaker and slower so far, and those hives still have promise.
I feel confident, even if I have hives dropping 200 varroa a day. I trust that this high drop is due to the efficacy of the Apivar I inserted and the formic treatments. I also expect it will diminish in a week or two to under ten a day, then less.
Normally varroa levels as measured by alcohol wash go up by a factor ranging from 3 to 10 as the last brood hatches out and as a result, hives which seemed fine may suddenly go over threshold.
My Apivar removal date is October 24th (+/- as I installed it over several days) so the Apivar still has more than a month to work. The two formic hits should have had a strong effect, too. I am realizing that I should stop stimulating brood soon, since the Apivar has about 33 days to go and worker brood takes 21 days to complete development and emerge.
Ideally, brood rearing would reduce or cease while the Apivar is in so that more mites are forced to be phoretic for longer, but it seems that I may have mis-timed things for that to happen. (You can never have it all, it seems).
I will feed the last of the patties regardless, and trust that the Apivar will get the emerging varroa as they cycle through the brood. Hopefully, there is not a lot of drone brood now, since varroa multiply far more abundantly in drone cells, but there is some.
Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence.
Current Diary Page |
Selected Beekeeping Topics |
Search HoneyBeeWorld.com |
I went out early and checked the skunk trap, which I had left in the south yard this time. It had caught another one, a smaller one this time. This is skunk number six in the past few days, and from looking in the quonset yard and north yards, skunks are still at work there, too. How many are there, anyways? I thought ten, but now I'm wondering... 20 ... 100?
In the picture at left, we see the discards for a patty recipe we have been testing and also the disturbance in the dust from the skunks' claws. They provoke the bees by clawing, then eating the defenders when they come out. This has to stop.
I called UFA and they have no traps in Trochu, but Airdrie has two in stock. I think I'll buy two more traps and have three, including this borrowed one. That should shorten the time until the problem is solved. I'm tired of having to go out each day and pick up one more skunk, then wait a day for the next. In the meantime, the damage continues.
I smelled a slight hint of formic when walking into the yard that I treated late in the day yesterday, and see I did some brood damage again from the formic (right).
Again, I see visible damage only in the doubles. Pupae about to emerge seem vulnerable to formic damage if it is paced too close to them. See the picture at right. Those are new young bees dead on the landing board and in the grass. I have to assume that the open brood is getting hit, too.
* * * * *
At left is my formic application kit. Eye protection, etc. not shown. (I don't use them, but you should). I use a food container and salad tongs, plus heavy nitrile gloves and have a pail of clean water and baking soda in a jar at hand at all times when handling formic pads.
I closed off the flight/vent holes when treating in order to conserve the fumes, but maybe saving moisture, here in the dry, dry prairie is a good idea, too. I open them in winter, since otherwise water builds up in hives, but close some in spring to conserve heat, and, I guess, also moisture. Moisture is a critical factor in initiating and maintaining brood rearing in spring. Protein is the other.
* * * * *
I finished off all except 16 hives before lunch. After lunch I went to finish the rest and that was quick. I did another 8, then ran out of pads and all the hives had lots of patties still from when I put in the Apivar a week or so ago. I'm off to Airdrie to shop and get more traps.
* * * * *
I bought the two traps, but they are a different design and smaller. I think they will work. Ellen has been having deer problems in her garden, so I bought her an electric fencer. After buying groceries, I drove home.
By the time I got here, I was too tired to set traps and that will have to wait until tomorrow.
Be honorable yourself if you wish to
associate with honorable people.
Current Diary Page |
Selected Beekeeping Topics |
Search HoneyBeeWorld.com |
Fall for 2012 begins in the Northern Hemisphere on the Autumnal Equinox which is on September 22, 10:49 A.M. EDT.
I had a problem this summer when I took some newly-drawn Pierco to my friends' for extracting. The frames were drawn and capped, but the copings were flush with the top bars, making it difficult to uncap. In retrospect, I realise that when I saw a full box of drawn frames that were not capped, I should have pulled a frame and adjusted the rest to 9-frame spacing.
I glanced at the drop boards this morning. Hive 1 has dropped about 1,000 mites since the boards were changed on the 19th. Before treatments, that hive averaged 78 mites dropping per day. 1,000 (est. -- feel free to count them at left) mites in three days is not bad. I can see hope for knocking the varroa population to very low levels in the next month if this keeps up. What we see here, though, is the Apivar and the formic both at work. I won't be applying more formic. Several of the other boards only show less than 100 over the past three days.
The scale has lost 6 lbs since the 20th, or 3/4 lb per day per hive.
I've often said that if I had to keep bees out of a pickup truck again, I'd quit. I don't have to since I have the forklift, but I do use this old truck a lot, so I decided to take the Sawzall to it today. I'm half-done but it is hot outside, so I am on a break, a siesta in fact. When I am done, it will be a flat-deck -- a real bee truck.
I finished cutting off the sides. Maybe I should have just dropped the box off, but I wanted to use the bed and the wiring.
After supper, Ellen and I went out and set up an electric fence in hopes of discouraging the deer which have been destroying our gardens and shrubbery.
If at first you don't succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.
Current Diary Page |
Selected Beekeeping Topics |
Search HoneyBeeWorld.com |
Today, I'm off to go sailing on Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary with a friend on his San Juan 21. The event is a race and I have long forgotten most of what I knew on the subject. I haven't raced sailboats for about 55 years. so I'll have to brush up on the rules. I did participate in a race on English Bay back five years or so, but was mostly just good for ballast.
Before I went, I checked the skunk traps and the hive scale. The new trap was sprung, but empty. The old one was in the north yard and sat open. The hive scale has gained 2 pounds since yesterday.
Zeke, Charlie and I went sailing on Glenmore. I had not realised how quiet that little lake is and how easy it is to reach now. It is in the very centre of a large city. Years ago, driving to Glenmore meant going down slow city backstreets, but now freeways come within a half-mile. It is now actually closer and more accessible than many of the lakes I have sailed over the years and only an hour and twenty minutes away.
At first it looked as if we would have no wind and we delayed launching, but then we got enough to sail and went out. We took second in the first race, but did not have time to stay for the second race.
I stopped at Princess Auto on the way home for more electric fencing supplies, then Home Depot for some plywood. It is nice to have a pickup truck again.
Ellen reports the fence seems to be discouraging the deer. She claims she knows if they have eaten even one leaf from her gardens. So, there is hope.
I set the skunk traps before sundown. Wildlife is getting to be a problem around here. The deer and skunks are nuisance lately.
Nobody hunts much anymore and the new pesticides are not killing birds, fish, and everything else the way the old ones did in the '70s.
Birds are not a problem -- although the magpies harass everything and an owl tried to carry off our cat a while ago -- but some of the mammals are. We hear coyotes close by at night and I hear raccoons have been spotted not to far away. We don't need raccoons, and we're not in bear territory -- not yet anyhow.
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand
miles from the corn field.
Nothing is pressing today. I have to prepare to go east this coming Saturday, but I'll only be gone a week.
Once the sun came up, I checked the skunk traps. They had defeated the new one again, it was tripped, but the bait was gone, so I am returning it. It does not work. The old trap was untouched. They have fooled it a time or two, but it has usually worked for me.
This morning, early, I improved the design details for the extractor drive described above, on Saturday.
Later, I got to work on the truck. I got to the point where I have to decide how best to proceed and got stuck, so I vacuumed the hall and bedroom. I try to remember to vacuum every two months whether the place needs it or not.
Sometimes, the best solution is to stop thinking about a problem until it solves itself somewhere in the back of the mind. Yeah, that is my junk in the background. I have three trailers sitting there, and a forklift plus two trucks -- all for 90 hives.
I think I decided. I'll use the plywood crosswise and limit the with to about 6' 6". That way, I can reach half-way across the deck. At 8', I could not. I'll use 2X4s for edges.
Sometimes in the evening lately when I am too tired to do anything else, I've been watching Glades on Netflix. In the summer the idea of watching a drama does not appeal, but as the days grow shorter, it gets more attractive.
If two people know a secret, then it's no secret at all.
First thing today, after asession at the keyboard, waiting for the sun to come up, I went out and blew off the drop boards and I plan to see what the 24-hour drop is tomorrow. By now, we should be seeing something interesting.
As I checked the hives, I see more skunk damage. I have caught 6 skunks so far and that does not seem to be slowing the problem yet. This damage is as severe as I have seen. (See the shot at left and the detail at right). I wonder how long it will be before they discover they can tear the boxes apart. I don't want to wait and find out.
Although raising the hives and using carpet tack strips on the entrance is supposed to stop skunks, the picture at right of a pallet raised up on an extra pallet and with the tacks along the entrance proves that this is not much of a setback for a determined skunk. I suppose I could raise them higher and devise other discouragements, but the fact is, there are just too many skunks for the available food and they are starving. Otherwise skunks don't bother beehives.
After putting in the drop boards, I checked the trap down at the quonset and found it caught skunk number 7 last night. It seems there are a lot of little skunks and only a few larger ones, so I suspect that several families grew up nearby this summer. It was a fantastic summer, with hot weather and just enough rain. We did not see the foxes around this year and the coyotes have not been near at night lately, so the skunks managed to out-populate the carrying capacity of the locale and are getting desperate. Who would have guessed there would be so many? And who can guess how many are still out there molesting my hives?
I went to Trochu and stopped at the GuZoo along the way and borrowed some more traps and a pail of tiger and cougar poo for my wife who is combating deer in her gardens. My Trochu trip was to return the two traps I had bought, but Lynn, who is an expert in these things, figured they are fine and should work, so he kept one and I took the other back home. I went to town anyhow and picked up 50 more posts for electric fencing.
I intended to help Ellen put up more fence after supper, but fell asleep and awoke an hour and half later. By then she had done what she wanted to do. I went out and set four skunk traps, hoping to get at least one tonight. My bait is Global 15% patties. The skunks love them.
Today was dull and I got a few things done, but not as much as some days. Tomorrow, I get to check the drop boards.
People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.
Ah, yes, the drop boards. At 6:46, it is still dark out, Just a few weeks ago, the sun would be coming up about now. Winter is coming.
A soon as the dawn breaks, I'll go out and bring them in. 24 hours will not have elapsed, but I should get a good idea how things are going. If the drops are fairly low as judged by a glance, I'll just put them back for a few more days before counting -- if I do count. IF they show heavy drops, I'll count a few and clear them off before putting them back.
At daybreak, I went out and retrieved 4 boards. Here are the results for a little less than 24 hours. I may have switched hives 3 and 4 when picking them up. Not sure. I really should label them better.
So, what am I looking for in the 24-hr drops? I am looking for the day that the mite drop falls below and stays below the average drop back in early September. That would be a fairly clear sign that the total mite population is diminishing as hoped.
When can I expect this happy day? That is a complex question and that day will be different for every hive. The position of the Apivar, the location, age distribution and amount of the brood, the hive population number of boxes will all affect the rate of mite attrition, as will other more subtle factors.
There were only 6 pictures. Besides myself coming and going, I see only one skunk wandering around, then the closed trap. Maybe this is the last? I'd be surprised. We'll see.
While walking through the yard, I saw small clusters at the entrances (right). I don't know why the bees were hanging there unless they were waiting to go for water or there is some sort of flow. It could be they are trained to be defensive and are waiting for the skunk. If so, they play right into the skunks plan. The weather has changed for the cooler and I would have expected the bees would be settling down for the season, not hanging out.
I have closed off the auger holes and maybe that is causing the bees to hang out at the bottom to see out. I'll open the holes in the seconds, but leave the top holes closed for now to preserve humidity for the patties.
* * * * *
Saturday, I fly East to see Mom, haul my boat, and close Pine Hill. I have allowed 8 days for the trip.
* * * * *
I went out to liberate the skunk I assumed I had caught and the trap was empty. Somehow they are beating the traps these days. They get the bait and spring the trap, but manage to get out without being caught. They only way I can imagine this is if there are two skunks in the trap. The game camera is not catching the action for some reason. It catches a skunk walking around and the trap sprung, but nothing in between. I am going to try setting the camera on "video" and see what I can learn.
As for the bees at the entrance, I now think the skunk was hassling them.
I made a post to the HoneyBeeWorld List today. Since I have not been moderating, sometimes BEE-L goes over a day without messages coming through. It all depends on when Aaron gets around to it. Maybe it is time for the HBW list to get a little more active again.
The hive scale shows another 6-lb loss since the 23rd, or a half-pound a day. There are 7 months until any kind of significant nectar flow. That is about 210 days and at this rate, the hives would lose 105 lbs each. Of course, this rate of loss will not continue after the bees quit flying and settle down.
Nevertheless, extrapolating this rate of loss gives a hint that the hives will need lots of feed to winter well, and I always figure they should have 20 lbs or so extra for a safety margin. Even if there is feed left in the corners of the hives, that is often of little use to the late winter cluster. We need lots of feed and above the bees, not somewhere down below.
I'll be open feeding syrup to top up the lighter hives once I return from Ontario. I don't want to do that too soon since I will just plug the heavy hives. The later hives still have a lot of comb dedicated to brood. When the brood has hatched out and the bees are settling down, is the best time to provide some syrup to fill in the voids.
If I had pulled a lot of honey and my hives were light, I would have fed two rounds by now. Hungry hives fly themselves to death in fall and die in winter. I like my hives heavy in fall, and, believe me, mine are heavy. I'll still feed.
Meijers came by late in the afternoon and brought back my supers and drums. We had a good visit and supper.
After supper, they left and, since I was tired, I had what once again turned out to be a long nap. This is the second day in a row that I have fallen asleep right after supper and slept for more than an hour.
The more sensitive you are, the more likely you are to be brutalized, develop
scabs and never evolve.
It seems that a fair number of people drop by this diary and a few write me. For some reason, very few post in the Honey Bee World Forum. At one time, the forum was very active, but lately it has been very slow.
The forum was offline for a year or two due to SPAM until I brought it back with hardened security. Ever since, though, the traffic on the forum has been very limited. People obviously visit it and read the public content, but don't post. I have asked a few times whether the sign-up process is too daunting and received no replies. I've tried it myself from a strange computer and had no difficulty. So, if you have tried to use the forum and had difficulty, please write me.
We are entering another cooling trend (See the forecast image above and the history image below) . Nectar flows have pretty well ended, but the bees are still fairly active. Maybe the cooler weather predicted will encourage them to settle down for winter.
I caught two more skunks last night. That adds up to eight so far and I'll set the traps again tonight. There seems to be no end.
I have been thinking. I need to lift some hives up enough to place a third box under them before winter and had though to build a loader arm and presented the plans here a few days back.
It occurs to me that in order to use that arm, I'd need to build a cradle to grip the hive to lift it. that could be a simple as forks that go in the entrance or as elaborate as a cradle that grabs the handholds and presses down on the lid. I've used both in the past.
The former is very simple, but requires smoking the bees well so they are up off the bottom bars and presents problems when lowering the hive onto the new box, since the forks must be withdrawn from the stack somehow.
I have a hive mover, designed for wooden boxes, and it sorta works on EPS boxes, but it does not lift the hive up high enough. I could actually just lift the double hive up manually, but they are heavy and awkward and my hands would be full. I'd be unable to place the new box without setting the hive down for a moment.
Possibly, if I set up several boxes on which to set the double while inserting the new box on its stand, I could make it work, but it would be difficult and awkward. The job could be done with little prep, though. I think I'll try that first.
* * * * * *
It worked! The doubles are incredibly heavy, but I was able to lift them against my knees using the handholds of the top box and spin around with them. Thankfully, they were well enough glued that none of the bottom boxes fell on my foot. That would have been a bad experience.
So, this afternoon, I placed a third box under all the doubles and finally, I am really done working the hives -- except for removing the Apivar in a month and feeding syrup any time now. Given the weight of the lightest hives, I think I'll wait a while. I'll also move them around a bit before winter and maybe do a little forklift equalizing. I'm also still thinking of spray painting the boxes in place.
There are no solutions...there are only trade-offs.
Tomorrow, I'll be in the air by now with any luck. I'm going a way for a few days, so I have a lot of last-minute things to do today.
First thing, I checked the skunk traps. I got two more skunks, small ones, last night for a total of ten to date, and I suspect there are still more skunks working the hives. The new trap finally caught one. They tripped one trap of the four -- a Havaheart -- again without getting caught and I don't know how they do that unless several are crowding in and that keeps the trap open until they exit. It is a mystery.
I washed the tarp I used with the honey load, filled up the truck with fuel and am putting away the pool. It is amazing how hard it is to get granulated honey off a tarp with a pressure washer. After the pool, I have to run to town for some blood work and then tidy the equipment.
I drove to town and back, There were no lineups and the process took only minutes. I drove the truck. I didn't have to, but I enjoy it.
Oene dropped by in the afternoon to pick up the Apivar. We had a good visit. After, I finished picking up the pool parts and putting them away. It was dusk by the time I finished that and miscellaneous tidying jobs.
The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof,
I'm writing late today. I was up at 2:45 AM and at YYC by 6. The flights were uneventful and I arrived at YSB at 2:30 PM. Along the way, I watched The Sting. It was a good today as it was back in 1973, and that is very good.
Mom picked me up and when we got to 1207 a half-hour later, we had a chat and than I slept an hour and a bit. After supper, I settled in and here I am now.
The weather is cool and the wind is from the east. Looks like some more cool, damp weather is coming. Alberta continues warm for a few days, but is promised snow and frost Wednesday.
I watched The Misfits pilot for something different on Netflix. It was bizarre, if nothing else.
To see what is before ones eyes is a constant struggle.
I'm in Sudbury today. Mom is off to church and I'm relaxing and getting caught up on computer things, including looking through my Evernote backlog. Every so often I go through and delete old notes and label and sort the ones taken on the fly in the past month or two so I can find them again. Having them organized helps a lot when trying to find things on one of my handheld devices.
I'm not sure what date he is talking about here, when he speaks of "summer", but early September is still 'summer', so some of the the drops I recorded in the last days of August and the first days of September look pretty lethal according to his chart. Hives 3 and 8 were in the danger zone. I got Apivar into the hives fairly promptly -- it took me more than a week -- so here is hoping I got them in time.
I am also now wondering if I was wise to use formic or not. Tracheal has not been a problem and formic does have side effects on some hives, with brood damage and potential queen loss.
I did get the formic on more quickly, though, than I was able to place the Apivar into hives due to my determination to place the brood and Apivar in the top box. My insistence in doing so was due to my hearing that some beekeepers had placed Apivar into the top box of doubles and then fed five Imperial or 6 US) gallons of syrup. That drove the bees down to the bottom box and apparently the Apivar did not work very well for them. I need it to work very well.
After church, Mom and I went out for lunch. After, I tidied up some back pages in the diary and did a few other tasks until supper. I also cleaned up the Selected Beekeeping Topics page.
After supper, I took a stroll around the neighbourhood, looking at the houses where I delivered newspapers 55 years ago and the new houses that filled in since then. Back then, it was much less populated and we had lots of bush to play in.
Most of the greatest evil that man has
inflicted upon man comes through people feeling quite certain about
something which, in fact, was false.
<< Previous Page September 2012 Next Page >>
"If I make a
living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
|Please report any problems or errors to Allen Dick
© allen dick 1999-2014. Permission granted to copy in context for non-commercial purposes, and with full attribution.