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Anchored at the Bight on Norman Island

Thursday January 10th 2013
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The night was very gusty and rolly and this morning is rainy. with squalls whipping up salt spray, even in the mooring field.  We watched a number of boats leave and encounter 30 knot wind gusts once clear the point.  The little jitney for the resort left in the morning as well with departing guests, and braved huge swells broadside on the course for Road Town.  From where we sat, it did not look like a comfortable ride for the landlubbers aboard and we imagined that several breakfasts would be on the cabin sole.

Our plans have been repeatedly altered by "Christmas Winds", that far exceed the forecasts, and we are now thinking we'll just go across to Road Town today, tie up, fuel up, water up, and provision for Frank's next group coming on board Saturday at Soper's just after I leave.  He has to do all that sometime before then, and today looks like the ideal day.  This will be a more formal week coming up, with a couple signed up for some training.  Frank suggested I alter my plans and stay another week, since there is an empty cabin, but I've been disconnected for days -- Internet is scarce here -- and my wife is alone in the cold dark north.  I have a kite to fly, and my boat awaits in Vancouver.  I'm booked to go out to Vancouver for the week of the Boat Show and that is coming up fast.  I haven't been skiing or snowboarding even once.  A week or so here in the Islands has been great and I'll come back for a longer visit in the future, but for now, I'm going home.

I guess I won't know what I think of these Islands until I get home.  I've gotten a good sampling over the past week.  In that time, I've gotten used to swimming every day, being sweaty all the time, and sleeping in a new anchorage every night, with interesting people to talk to everywhere.  Rural Alberta in winter will be a shock, I'm sure.

The weather settled a bit, and we sailed into Road Town, arriving just after lunch and after a wait for a slip, tied up at Village Cay Marina in Road Town.  Frank went out to get provisions and I rested a while, then wandered downtown to look around.

 Frank returned and we visited with the neighbours who had bought a a 2007 50-foot Beneteau a year ago for less than the price being asked for the 1999 model we looked over, then went for supper at the marina restaurant.

Tomorrow, we sail to Soper's Hole and moor for the night.

The average person thinks he isn't.
Father Larry Lorenzoni

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Friday January 11th 2013
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We spent the morning tied up in Road Town, provisioning, having showers and filling the water tanks.  At noon, we motored out of the harbor, raised the genoa and ran down to Soper's Hole to moor.  We caught a ball right a way -- no waiting -- and dinghied into the dock to get gas. 

As it turned out, the spare tank had a leak but we had to buy a used one from the dock crew.  Then we had a few beers at the waterside cafe and returned to the boat for supper.  Frank grilled up some steaks and made a Caesar salad.

I set alarms for 5 AM to be sure to catch the ferry from West End, a few hundred yards from our boat, at 6:45 and turned in.

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didnít.
Erica Jong

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Saturday January 12th 2013
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I was up at 5 and packed by six, and we dinghied across to the ferry terminal.  Frank and I were at the departure gate for the ferry before the desk personnel showed up.  I paid the departure tax and passed thru security, which was a rough approximation to airport security and at 6:45 we were on our way to Saint John.  I could have gone to Charlotte Amelie by ferry, but was told previously by ferry personnel that there was a risk of taking too long in customs at the main terminal and missing my flight, and that clearing at Saint John then catching a taxi at Red Hook was bound to be faster.

The ferry arrived at the dock in Saint Johns on time but the customs line was slow and we were almost a half hour late resuming the trip to Red Hook.

On arrival there were plenty of cabs waiting, so I said OK to the first one I spoke to. He took my bag and placed it in the back. I asked the price to the airport. He said $30. I said "What?". He said,$20. I said, "OK", then expected we'd leave,, but we didn't.  He was looking for more passengers.  I asked if we were going directly to the airport and he said,"No".  I asked how much to go direct and he said "$100".

I knew the fare should be $20, and, knowing that time was running short, I grabbed my bag and went back to the queue of cabs and shouted, "Who is going to the airport?"   One cab driver and two other passengers replied and I said, lets go, or we're going to miss the plane!

This cabbie quoted us $15 each and we got under way as quickly as anything seems to happen on the Islands.  Once underway, he understood the urgency and made good time. We jumped out, paid the fare, and I walked up to the American Airlines desk desk with only 3 minutes to spare.  There were no lineups and we three made the flight. And, yes, we did tip the driver for getting us there so quickly. 

We had all been unable to check in online due to lack of Internet in the BVIs and thus, not being checked in.  Therefore we were subject to being refused service if not checked in one hour before flight time.

That flight went well and I killed the time watching a rather forgettable, but entertaining, in-flight movie, "Liberal Arts". 

After a two-hour layover in Miami, I made the hop to DFW where I am now killing another three hours, waiting on my YYC flight. 

On the MIA-DFW flight I watched another movie, "Perfect Pitch", about singing  a cappella and dancing.  In spite of some obvious flaws, I quite enjoyed it.  The music was great, even if not completely 'a cappella'.  I'd consider buying the soundtrack if it is released, and I never buy music.

I arrived at YYC at 10:20 and was in my van headed home by 10:40.  At 11:30, I was home and, shortly after, in bed asleep. 

I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.
Marilyn Monroe

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Sunday January 13th 2013
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Yesterday was a tiring day with two long layovers, and I had experienced some allergy -- or something -- that made it hard to sleep and hard to stay awake on the last leg.  The last plane was an S80 and the seats were very uncomfortable, making my legs twitch and forcing me to change position constantly.

Anyhow, I made it and was greeted by minus four temperatures and inches of snow on the ground.  Home is a world away from where I woke up yesterday morning.  Surprisingly, I am glad to be home, even after 8 days in "paradise".  Although I did enjoy the time on the boat, I think I prefer offshore passages with stops in ports and canal trips over poking around the Islands.  I'll have a better idea after I'm home a few days and have a chance to digest the experience.

I just noticed that the 2013 Beekeepers for the Future Integrated Pest Management Systems meeting is Feb 4 & 5 in Edmonton.  I guess I knew that, but had forgotten when I bought my plane ticket to go to  the Boat Show in Vancouver.  I fly out of Calgary mid-day on the 6th.  I've skipped the US national meetings and the BCA meetings this year, but this meeting is one I like to try to attend.

> Allen, In previous years, I have tried the no treatment beekeeping, with 40%-70% winter losses. Last fall, I treated singles with one strip of the Mite Away Quick Strip pads.

> I know you have talked in your diary about just treating for mites with one Apistan strip in the spring. I bought some Apistan strips.

> Everyone around me (hobbyists) quit using any treatments on bees several years ago, so I suspect that if there was any local resistance to Apistan, it is gone by now. So I plan on treating my hives with an Apistan strip this spring.

> What was your timing for putting the strips in? Did you put the strips in 6 or 8 weeks ahead of fruit tree or dandelion blooms? Or did you just stick a strip in whenever you had a nice day in January or Feb.? Did you put on patties the same time you put mite strips in?

I think that the end of the ideal window for inserting strips is six weeks before your intended splitting/equalizing date so that all treatment is complete before then. Treating after that date is a hassle and requires many more strips. For us strips should be in at least six weeks before May 10th. That means mid-March, the same time as I find ideal to start patty feeding.

The ideal beginning date is less distinct and depends on the hives and your management. Ideally, we want to insert the strip while the brood area is small and distinct in shape so that the strip is near all the nurse bees and brood and when the hive floors are cold a lot of the time so that even live falling mites die and get no 'second chance'. The bees should not be in a tight cluster 24/7 since bee movement and contact with the strip are essential to achieving efficacy. Also, we do not want to cause disruption to the colony by forcing a strip into a tight cluster.  Even if the beekeeper does not mind killing a few bees while inserting the strip, the queen is quite likely to be right where we are pushing the strip through the cluster.

In my mind, around here, the best time to insert the strip is when the first pollen patties go on, in mid-March. The goal is to insert the strip(s) into the middle of the brood ball, so a day when the cluster is distinct, but loose is ideal. An IR thermometer  is helpful for finding the brood centre without pulling frames, although many beekeepers may be moving feed in towards the cluster and removing bad frames at that time and actually see the brood.  If patties have been placed on the hives earlier, the place where the most is eaten out will be the centre of the brood.

As for whether Apistan will work or not, there is a simple test you could do right now, the Pettis test.  Also see this.  This test is a bit of work, but if you are spending time and money on an unknown, I'd say it is worth the effort to have an idea in advance since you only have one ideal six to eight week treatment window each spring and a missed or failed treatment leaves you worrying all summer.

One sample will not be definitive, but it will tell you if you can expect 20% efficacy -- or 90+%. Anything less than 85% is going to be disappointing IMO.

Around here, Apivar is the Gold Standard and even many of us who would never use coumaphos consider Apivar to be fairly benign and has returned beekeeping to where our winter losses are back to 'normal'.

I was reading the latest Alberta Bee News today and notice that Medhat is saying pretty much what I have been saying about the timing of Apistan/Apivar treatments, but recommends one strip for every five frames of bees.  I think that one strip will do for most hives.  I notice that Apivar is now available in some US states, and Eric Mussen reports that that their strips have 0.5g of Amitraz per strip.   Ours are advertised as having 3.3% Amitraz.  Since each strip weighs 15g, that comes out to be the same thing.

According to the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (RAC),  Apivar is in Group 19 and Apistan is in Group 3, so resistance to one should not translate to resistance to the other. 

Alternating between Apivar and Apistan could be a good idea since they have different modes of action and the odds against any one mite being resistant to both and also fit seem small.  I wonder about using one strip of each at the same time.

In March, many hives will average about seven frames of bees, and not even that, if the criterion is that a frames must be fully covered with bees to be counted as a full frame  That presents a quandary: use one strip and under-dose or use two and over-dose.  I'd tend to use one and maybe follow up with a light formic treatment to mop up the resistant survivors and nail any tracheal that might be in the hives.

Formic must be used with care, though, particularly in spring, as the potential exists to do more harm than good.

I am tired today, with a slightly sore throat and a slight headache, so I spent the day at my desk, catching up.

Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.
Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower

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Monday January 14th 2013
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I woke up early today, stuffed up with a cold in my head and chest.  I spent the day at the desk and in bed and went to bed right after supper.

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
Sherlock Holmes

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Tuesday January 15th 2013
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I awoke early and am feeling better.  I'm still sick, but not as stuffed up as yesterday -- so far, at least.

The temperatures are above freezing this morning and the day promises to be windy, so I may do some kiting today.  I also should do some grocery shopping, but the roads may be icy as rain is in the forecast.

The day warmed up and the sun came out and we never did get much wind.  El and I went to town and I finally got the resonator put into the truck exhaust.  It does quiet the exhaust note down a lot.

The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.
Adolph Hitler

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Wednesday January 16th 2013
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After another good night's sleep, I continue my recovery from the cold and hope to get outside today.  We are promised wind again today, and if we do get 10 MPH or more, I have several kites to fly.

Otherwise, I plan to do the front brakes on the Toyota van and get my desk tidied up.  I may also set up the TV in the gym to make exercising more interesting.  I don't watch programmed TV often, but do use the LG Smart TV for movies and YouTube. 

Besides the popular drivel on YouTube, there are many useful instructional videos.  When My snowblower was acting up, and I suspected the carburetor, I went to YouTube and found a number of very helpful videos which illustrated the procedures to follow.  The carb job went perfectly and the blower now runs smoothly.  I could have done the job without that assistance, but it is nice to see how things will go before pulling something apart. I also used YouTube as a guide for a front wheel bearing job and other repair projects.

I also have a lot of marine-related subjects to study as I now have definite plan to sail on the West Coast out of Vancouver and Sidney.  My first trip of any size may be the delivery of Cassiopeia from Vancouver to Sidney, (right)

Even though I am qualified to do so and have sailed the area before, both a skipper and crew, there are strong tides funneling through narrow passes with dangerous rips and strong currents and careful planning with a Plan B is advisable.  Fog can come in quickly out there as well.  Planning a trip means careful consultation with charts and tables and the weather forecasts. I'm glad I have radar, and plan to add AIS, but need to brush up on the radio frequencies, etc.

I wrote my Intermediate CYA sailing qualification years ago and did the practical work for both the Advanced and the Offshore since, but never bothered to write either test.  I suppose I should write them both.  Also, don't tell anyone, but I have not obtained the restricted operators certificate required to legally use a marine VHF radio.  I wonder how many other boaters bother, but as the owner of a boat with a licensed marine radio, I suppose I should.

To add another complication, the US/Canada border zigzags across this cruising area and both governments take this imaginary line quite seriously.  Consequently,  for those blundering across, there is the potential for interception and boarding by armed people with no sense of humour, or of interrogation, inspection, and possible detention on making landfall.  I need to brush up on procedures for clearing customs and obtaining cruising permits and perhaps obtain a Nexus card. 

Sailing here, we must be constantly aware of where the border is, as crossing it can result in requirements to clear customs even if there was no intent to cross.  I recall on one cruise in the San Juans, out of Bellingham, a US port, we accidentally crossed into Canada just south of Saturna Island for a few moments.  Our breach did not result in any response from Canada or the US, but if we had continued, it might have.  The authorities closely monitor all movement near the border.

I have not participated in Nexus so far as I have an aversion to providing any more biometric info to governments than absolutely necessary.  Government use of information and power may be currently be fairly benign and often beneficial, but history shows that even good governments can go bad, and fast.  Nonetheless, I am getting older and have less to lose, and the convenience may tip the balance.  We'll see.

I'm not as energetic as I had hoped and really did not do much all day.  When the wind finally did build to 10 MPH, I was tired and slept for an hour.  I got up and was groggy and by the time I got out, the wind had dropped.  I was still able to fly a kite, but some of the the time, it sat on the ground waiting for enough breeze to launch.

There are only two tragedies in life:
 one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Oscar Wilde

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Thursday January 17th 2013
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I did not get to sleep until midnight, but slept well until morning.  Today I'm not as congested and my head is clearer.   The day is well below freezing, but expected to be warm and windy at plus five with 30 KPH winds this afternoon.

The wind picked up this afternoon to 20 KPH and I took my latest kite, a 4-square metre, two handle model, out and flew it.  I had a good session, and was pulled off my feet and planted on my face or my back in the soft snow a few times when the wind gusted.  I am still just on my feet, without skis or a snowboard since I am still learning to control the kite.  I think I may be at the point where I could try skis, but have to consider how to get home as it is likely that I'll wind up downwind as ways.

Flying a traction kite is hard work and I had to stop and rest from time to time.  The snow is about a foot deep and the walking around is tiring.  Handling the kite provides a high intensity whole-body workout as well. After about two hours of this heavy exertion, I went back to the house and discovered that in spite of the cool winds, I was soaked in sweat .  I had no idea that flying a kite could be some much fun.  Kites cost money, too.  I now have over $700 in kites and they are all just trainer models.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly

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Friday January 18th 2013
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I don't seem to have done anything today except a little tidying and watching two hours of Netflix.  I did write a few articles and letters and do a  bit of planning for our family March Break in Victoria and my next excursion on Cassiopeia, delivering her from Vancouver to Port Sidney.  Cassiopeia is currently on the hard at Granville Island undergoing some structural repairs, and will be out of the water until mid-February.

There was no wind until after dark, so no kiting for me today.

I'm bored.  I have too many things to do and none of them particularly interest me.  The FACS meeting was tonight, but driving 75 miles in to the meeting, then 75 miles back makes little sense.  That is the problem with living 15 miles from the nearest town and 60+ miles from major cities.   Airdrie is a bit closer at about 50 miles, and Drumheller is 30, but these places are smaller and the stores there are smaller, too.

> I don't think worker or drone brood will be damaged unless it is fierce shaking.

Beekeepers often strike the end of a frame top bar on a lid or a doorstep to dislodge stubborn bees. It works well, but gives a real jolt that is much more forceful than shaking by hand. That is why we do it when bees are clinging and shaking does not work.

Experienced beekeepers often do a "quivering shake" which works well and is easier on the beekeeper and maybe the brood.

 

> We have a very mixed plant community for our bees. This includes
> alfalfa. This past year we had enough alfalfa blooming that I
> watched it very close. As long as the bees had other forage blooming
> they would not use the alfalfa. When I started collecting seed this
> fall the alfalfa was almost totally devoid of seed. Most years I
> can collect several pounds of a very tough drought resistant alfalfa
> seed. The big difference this year was sainfoin. Its bloom period
> totally overlapped with the alfalfa.

Interesting observations, and you are right. Sanfoin is very attractive
to honey bees. I have some in my yard and it takes care of itself, too.
I planted it twenty years ago,.

Competition from non-target crops is a problem everywhere pollination is
attempted and the effects of competition can be unpredictable.
Competition from other crops may vary from region to region, from year
to year, and with the recent history of the hives in question. Time of
day can be a big factor as well, as some plants only secrete at certain
times of day.

To try to avoid having competing plants draw away the bees intended for
pollination of high value crops, those crops requiring pollination are
planted where possible in locations which are expected to be distant
from competing crops where possible. Longer flying distances decrease
the attractiveness of a crop. Proximity increases attractiveness.

Different varieties of the same crop can vary considerably in
attractiveness. Climate and weather factors as well as the type of soil
may affect attractiveness of a crop, too.

Moreover, individual bees develop loyalty to particular plant varieties
and may not switch easily as long as the earlier-blooming plant is yielding.

To manage these issues, bees for pollination are intentionally brought
in only after the target crop is in bloom, and the hives are placed
close to the target crop and spaced throughout that crop if the field is
large.

Where we are located, alfalfa is often the only blooming crop in an area
during some periods and we find the bees work it readily, but alfalfa
does not provide much pollen. Therefore, we try to have other sources
of nectar and pollen nearby if we can and we don't much care if and when
they work any particular crop as long as they work and gain weight.

In times past, in Southern Alberta, honey bees were the sole pollinators
of the alfalfa seed crops and were very effective, but at that time
there was much less rapeseed was grown. Canola had not yet been
developed back then.

FWIW, rape would have been a strong competitor to alfalfa, but
beekeepers hated rape as the honey was quite unpleasant and avoided it
as much as possible. Before the double zero varieties were bred, rape
oil was not suitable for food and the oil was used industrially.

Currently, Canolas, direct descendants of rapeseeds are in high demand
for meal and oil for livestock and human diets and blooming Canola crops
are sought out by beekeepers for the high quality, light coloured honey
produced. Canola is an example of a very successful plant breeding
program that achieved great success in a mater of only a decade or so.

 

>> Would the invasion of the AHB from the south not be an exception
>> where natural selection in some areas is definitely favouring the
>> new genes, and quite rapidly?

> This is where it gets tough. Is a man-created invasion the same as
> natural propagation of species across the globe?

Actually, this was not the question. The question was not about the
invasive species, but the rate of natural selection in the US (and
necessarily the contiguous countries).

The original statement being discussed was:

>>> I seriously doubt whether natural selection has had much effect
>>> on US honey bees, since human selected bees are far more
>>> numerous in most locales,

I think that the well documented adaptation and rebound of the feral
bees in Louisiana and elsewhere after an initial collapse due to the
spread of mites is another example where we see fairly rapid natural
selection.

Human activities have, of course, an influence, but it seems that the
bees themselves have adjusted.

Also, the Primorsky stock was the result of natural selection over a
period of only a century or so and imported for its ability to withstand
mites and other scourges. After importation, the ARS has attempted,
successfully, it seems, to accelerate the selection and to reduce the
frequency of undesirable (from the human perspective) attributes and
emphasize desirable ones.

So, I submit we have imported bees which were considered superior due to
natural selection in their home region, then observed natural selection
in North America rapidly eliminating the colonies which could not deal
with mites and then replacing them with colonies which could.

I also submit that the results of natural selection are likely to be
more enduring than the changes we accomplish by our own puny human
methods. Although many special strains of bees have been bred over the
centuries, few endure without a great deal of human effort.

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, youíre still a rat.
Lily Tomlin

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Saturday January 19th 2013
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This was another dull day with temperatures just below freezing.  The wind was sufficient that I got out for two sessions with the kites.

 Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity,
but don't rule out malice
Heinlein's Razor

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