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Chris, Mckenzie and I went snowshoeing with Zippy and Sophie on Christmas Day

Thursday December 20th 2012
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I got word late last night that the seller had accepted my suggested adjustments for deficiencies and the deal was firm.  I now own another boat.  The broker phoned today and asked if I am excited.  I thought a moment and said, no, that I am happy however.  Now I just have to pay the balance and wait.  The deal closes on the 27th.  That day the boat is scheduled for its first charter.

Ellen has appointments today in Calgary and I have to figure out how to get the money to BC.

We drove to the Tom Baker and there were the usual blood tests and x-ray, then the doctor looked her over and said that things look stable.  From there, we went to the bank in Airdrie and got a draft, then drove back to Calgary to deposit the draft to the broker's account.

That accomplished, we returned home.

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
H. G. Wells

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Friday December 21st 2012
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Nothing happening today, except a trip to Three Hills to run some errands.

Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
Napoleon Bonaparte

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Saturday December 22nd 2012
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I relaxed all day.  Jean came down for lunch, then she,  Ellen, and Mckenzie went to Rosebud to meet Fen and Stella to see a children's play .  They arrived back around 4:30 and we had turkey and mashed potatoes for supper.

I spent an hour or two looking for flights to Saint Thomas to meet up with Frank.  The problem is to find an affordable flight that takes less than 18 hours.  The best I found were about 12.

The truth is more important than the facts.
Frank Lloyd Wright

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Sunday December 23rd 2012
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Nothing much happened today

I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
Woody Allen

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Monday December 24th 2012
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Today, we are off to spend Christmas Eve at Orams'.  We'll stay over and come back tomorrow.

The weather continues bitterly cold and no respite is promised until the end of the week.  Even then, we will not break above the freezing point.

We arrived at Jean's mid-afternoon, visited and had supper, then opened presents.

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

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Tuesday December 25th 2012
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We slept well, got up late and Mckenzie made breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon plus pancakes. We had a late lunch, then Chris, Mckenzie and I took the dogs out for a walk.  The humans used snowshoes out on the field behind their place.  The dogs frolicked and burrowed through the snow.

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
Ellen Goodman

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Wednesday December 26th 2012
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We continue with weather well below normals.  I have been researching flights to Saint Thomas to meet up with my friend, Frank on his boat in early January.  I had planned to go to the AHPA meeting, but decided that I'll skip it again this year.  Today I booked a flight, leaving on the 3rd and returning on the 12th.  One flight is 12 hours with the layovers and the other is over 15.  Oh, well.

Here is more info about my boat:  Click here to view Pictures

She is in charter with Cooper Boating, http://cooperboating.com/aboutUs/  but mine to use whenever I want. The plan is for her to be at Granville Island until April, then Sydney. Powell River is also an option.

Why the charter setup? They take care of her professionally and she is always ready to go. During the recent ice storm, I was at tied up at the dock, napping in the vee berth, and heard the staff clearing the ice off the rigging to prevent damage. Cool!

Also, the difference between chartering and just owning is the difference between spending a lot of money each year for insurance, mooring, maintenance and incidentals, and worrying all the time, plus mooring on some distant finger a long walk from parking vs. mooring in premium space and receiving  a yearly income after all costs, including necessary maintenance and upgrades -- plus having a crack management crew watching the boat at all times. Of course the boat ages faster in charter, but boats age fast anyhow and the idea is to use them and maintain them, not store them.

Anyhow, as reality sinks in, I'm realizing that I made a good purchase, have a great company behind me and that I have a wonderful boat in great locations any time I care to sail. El and I plan to do a little sailing -- she has never cruised -- but otherwise, I'm sailing alone or with volunteers.

This boat is cozy at freezing temperatures and fully loaded with radar, etc. in the fog. (No AIS yet, but that is next).  The boat accommodates up to 8 comfortably -- or more if they are really good friends or kids.

An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.
Charles F. Kettering

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Thursday December 27th 2012
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I have one week now until I fly to Saint Thomas for 8 days on Compass Rose -- and two full days in airplanes and airports coming and going.  In the meantime, I don't have a lot to do.  The weather is extremely cold, so my outdoor work waits.

I'd like to get the heating system improved, since we rely on one coal stoker and need backup in case the electricity or the furnace fails.  We had a salesman come by to do an estimate the day I left for the east.  He took weeks to get back to us and he figured it would be $30,000+.  It also seems he has no clue about our building or the existing system and ductwork.  So I have to start over.

I have Elijah scheduled to come this afternoon for a few hours to get some cleanup and other tasks done.

*   *   *   *   *

Elijah came at one and we did some snowblowing, moved some pails to the shed and put extra pillows on hives.

The hives are variable and I am unable to estimate their condition.  I see two with more signs of loose bowels than I like, but the clusters are still down in the hives and guessing the strength is difficult.  I noticed a pile of bees between two hives and am wondering what is happening there. Tracheal?

I got a note that snowkiting lessons are scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday.  I checked the weather and wrote back and forth with the instructor and decided to go to Chestermere tomorrow, so I watched "The Way to Fly" until bedtime to get in the mood.

TWTF is an excellent kiteboarding instruction video that explains how to dive the kite to get the traction necessary to make a start, then how to manipulate the kite to go where you want.  I have three videos and am hoping they will assist in quicker learning.

Take it that you have died today, and your life's story is ended; and henceforward regard what further time may be given you as an uncovenanted surplus, and live it out in harmony with nature.
Marcus Aurelius

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Friday December 28th 2012
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I have to be at Lake Chestermere by noon for my lesson.  This should interesting.  The Three Hills weather report says it is minus twenty-eight there.  My weather station says minus twenty, and the forecasts vary all over the map.  Most agree on warming and wind.  I guess I'll find out.  I'm scheduled to spend to  hours standing out on a Lake.

Here is our weather pattern this past week.  It has been cold.  Today, though, looking west and south, I see a Chinook arch, the sign of warm windy weather approaching.   At 9 AM, I see the temperature is up to -15 and rising fast as I watch the thermometer.

I drove to Chestermere for the lesson.  Along the way, the outside thermometer changed quickly from minus 17 to minus 5 and back as I drove up and down hills.  At Chestermere it was minus 5 with a very light wind.  We were able to fly kites, but there was not enough to ski and snowboard using them for traction.  We quit early and I followed Patrick to his place in Calgary to buy another trainer kite, bought groceries, then returned home.

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realise that half of them are stupider than that
George Carlin

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Saturday December 29th 2012
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I've been writing on BEE-L again lately.  Seems that is what I do when I am bored, but why should I be bored?  I have a new boat to whip into Bristol condition, I am learning snowkiting, have several new kites to play with and am headed south to the Caribbean on Thursday, meaning I have to get the books caught up and chores done.  Maybe that is it: procrastination.

I'm not posting all my BEE-L articles here.  They are available at the BEE-L site.  I think this article (below is important because a decade ago I wrote a series of articles in Bee Culture about the Lusbys. 

At that time, it was uncertain how their project would turn out, and, looking back, I don't think the bees were as Africanized as they appear to be now.  I recall the Tucson lab was not Africanized in 2002 although the city of Tucson was.  In 2005, the lab had hot bees and an AHB section.  Anyhow the article outlines my concerns about adopting the Lusby methods without being aware that Dee does not get much of a crop with her operation.

> As far as my own production I've answer this request before > on this site just a month or so ago but to summerize:

Yes, Don has posted this information before and given us a pretty clear idea of what he is doing and how it is working for him. Not bad, it seems.

We appreciate that openness because it allows us to see how viable his activities are thus far.

A while back, we got into a discussion with of a member who advocates and breeds a local British bee in his region. When we doubted the productivity of his stock, he he gave us a credible response, including yields, that showed us that his stock and methods seem to be quite productive.

I just watched a video in which Michael Bush states if I understood him correctly, that he had not extracted for years. The URL is http://youtu.be/XOePxKgMh-o?t=5m20s

The audio was terrible, the mention was in passing, and I was sufficiently distracted at the moment that I am not certain that honey production was a goal or that he was not making comb or selling bees, but he also gave that important information and is not being cagey about how he is making out. Bravo!

I think that it is only fair that if people preach a method of beekeeping or a breed of bee that they reveal what sorts of honey yields they achieve with their methods. If they have marketing tricks that make an otherwise unprofitable beekeeping methods viable, that needs revealing too if the methods are being promoted.

If marketing and achieving unusual prices is a critical part of the system and if the desire is to keep these details secret, then the best policy is to stay silent, not to go around preaching while keeping the secret ingredients hidden from the audience.

When asked, I gave my yield numbers recently, not that it was at all relevant to anything. I'm no advocate and I don't recommend that people do anything in particular, except maybe raise bees for sale instead of honey production and I'm not sure how good I am at doing that myself. It will take a few more years to get a track record.

I did make a pretty good living at commercial beekeeping, starting with not much, and managed to retire in reasonable comfort but I attribute that mostly to luck and don't suggest others use me as an example for anything except that a beekeeper can do OK in spite of repeatedly making blunders.

Of course, production numbers tend to be a bit approximate in cases where honey production is not a goal or even when it is the principal business. Conditions vary from year to year and the hive count on which we calculate -- spring hives, fall hives, nucs and swarms included or not -- may not be the same between beekeepers.

Moreover, we all make errors in calculation and forget details, but the numbers we come up with do give an indication whether out operation is anywhere near being viable economically -- and readers can ask for details if they need to understand better.

That, IMO, is being totally open, and I think that anyone advocating a method or a breed owes it to his/her audience to be straight and honest about such an important detail.

As for Dee, she is strongly advocating methods but concealing the most important detail -- how much honey her methods produce. Moreover, she is decrying methods which are supporting other beekeepers and suggesting they should abandon those methods and adopt hers.

As I understand it, she started with what was once an established, viable multi-generational commercial bee operation, considerable money in trust and real estate that appreciated immensely as Tucson grew, so I am not surprised she is paying her bills.

It is interesting that, gathering from her comments, that the State has had some doubts about her status as 'agric'. I have to wonder, too.

My most generous estimate of her production is 25 pounds per hive from some numbers she mentioned a while back, but that may have been the accumulated crop over more than one season as she sells into a specialty market that is not very large.

On occasion she can get a significant premium for her honey due to her claims, backed by lab tests, that it is free of common chemicals. If she can get a premium, that compensates quite well for very low yields, but that market is a niche market that is so small, with so few customers, that it tends to be very unreliable for an operation of any scale and there is not much room for others to move in. I think Joe Carson taps that high price market with his Alaska honey and its unique story.

Zero chemical claims is a marketing tool that works well for some, at the expense of deprecating other honey which is not marketed that way. Whether the honey on the market from other sources actually contains measurable amounts of those chemicals is an interesting question, since we don't hear a lot about that and commercial honey is traded internationally with many importing countries using very stringent testing. Additionally, no one really knows if tiny amounts of a chemical in a product which is only consumed in small amounts is of any significance beyond being a marketing tool. The remainder of most peoples' diet contains far more chemical residue that any amount they would be expected to consume from honey.

Dee can correct me if I misunderstood what she and Ed told me in 2002 and 2005 and what I have observed since.

Elijah came over after lunch  and found me down in the field flying a kite. 

There was enough wind that I was getting a fair pull on the power dives.  I think that little 3.5 metre kite could give me a decent ride if the wind gets up, but it is really just a trainer. It pulled me around quite a bit on foot.

 My problem is getting back if I run downwind as most beginners do until they develop the skill of tacking.  I need someone to come and get me or I'll have to make a long trek back through foot-deep soft snow, lugging my gear.  The 4X4 is having trouble in this snow when I go off-road as it has highway tires, not lugs on and I'd be a long ways down an open field with no road nearby.  I could put on chains, I suppose. 

I found chasing the kite around wore me out, and that is without a hike.

We went back to the house and did a little snowblowing and put additional pillows on the remaining hives.  Then I took out the accumulated drums of ashes.  There were eight.  That is a drum and a third per week since I last took them out in November.  It has been a very cold December.

Dead bees on the snow (right) are normal, as old bees naturally leave the hives, but the occasional hive has more in front than others, indicating greater attrition than average.

I am a bit disappointed on the whole in how the bees look.  It is hard to tell about most of them, but I see a number that are not going to make it and the average size looks smaller than expected.  Of course it is still quite cold out and the bees are tightly clustered where I can't see them and it is hard to guess what winter losses will be at this point.

As I recall, I have about 80 hives, so if I lose 15% -- my normal loss -- that would 12 goners, so maybe what I am seeing is not so bad after all.   The natural tendency is to notice the poor ones and remember them, not so much the good ones.  From here on out, the clusters move up and expand, so in a month I should have a better idea.

I did not feed Global patties all summer this year and only fed in fall.  That might account for the smaller populations.  We'll see.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
Marilyn Monroe  

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Sunday December 30th 2012
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Our region of Alberta can be windy, with weeks of breezy days, so normally I am hoping the winds will be calm, but today I am hoping for winds around ten MPH and temps around zero (C). I have kites to fly.  Now, at 9, the winds are at 2.2 MPH. and the temp is minus thirteen.  I plugged in the diesel.

While I wait, there are books to do, bills to pay, and the furnace to service.

Well, I paid some bills, did some procrastination, took a one-mile walk and watched the wind speed all day.  It never got up to 5 MPH.  I need twice that to fly a kite and have fun.  I did not get around to the furnace job, and I unplugged the truck

What's up with kites?  Check out the videos on YouTube that show up after a search for snowkiting or kiteboarding.  Even if the idea of being dragged around the country or the lake does  not appeal, some of the stunts one can do with kites are quite amazing.

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.
André Gide

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Monday December 31st 2012
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The morning dawned sunny and bright, a pleasant change from recent overcast conditions.  I have a few things on my mind today.  Of course I am hoping for wind, but also thinking I should work on the Toyota brakes and service the furnace.  The predicted warmer weather makes both stopping the furnace for a few hours and working on the van outdoors look feasible.

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