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The drifts are deep enough that the body of the high 4X4 truck is dragging

Friday March 1st 2013
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Today is predicted to be warm.  We are at 1.8 degrees above freezing already at 9 AM. The wind meter reads 0.0 MPH.

I spent the morning, as usual, at my desk.  It seems I cannot break the habit.  I've been thinking I should make a rule that I cannot sit down until I have spent an hour in the shop or outside, but it seems that something in the office always calls.

Among my tasks this morning was a conference call with the crew that is maintaining my boat in Vancouver.  There were quite a few items on the list since the boat had been somewhat neglected over the past year or more and there was some hull damage that had not been properly repaired in the past.  My goal is to have the boat in Bristol condition going back into charter and then maintain her in top condition.

I want to make sure that all Cassiopeia ready for the trip to Sidney in late March.  Cassiopeia has had all her hull repairs completed and is back in the water.  I had not tested the radar and put it on the list. I learned today that the guys tested it and it is not functioning.  Hopefully the problem is just a switch or wire. We'll see.

A other few things remain to be done.  The saloon seating/dining area is to be converted to provide a fourth double bed when needed, and the rigging needs to be tuned.  A sail is to be cut down, and of course, there is detailing to finish.

I had to prepare for the meeting and update my notes after.  Then there is this diary to waste a bit more time, especially at month-end when there is extra work to change months.

The wind teased me all day, blowing up to 6.8 MPH, then dropping to 2 MPH and shifting around through 90 degrees within minutes. 

I went out and drove around the yard, but access to the bees is still difficult, so, during the afternoon, I assembled one of the shelves I bought recently.  I brought in two boxes to use to guide the lid building I need to do.

Later, I did go out and I tried to launch the 8.5 m foil Concept Air foil.  I put on skis and tried for a half-hour, but there simply was not enough wind to fill the foils. The weather station in my back yard indicated there should be enough wind (>5 MPH) so maybe I had picked a launch spot that was partly sheltered.  IT looks wide open, but in a northeast wind, there is slightly higher ground upwind.

I had been warned that keeping the lines and bridles on large foils sorted out was not easy. but found out first hand.   I hope I develop a routine that keeps them sorted.

After trying with no success, I packed up the kite and went in to make supper.  Fen, Lauralee and Maddy arrived shortly after and we had a good dinner together, just like old times, but with some of us now absent.

This book fills a much-needed gap.
Moses Hadas

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Saturday March 2nd 2013
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Today:  Mainly cloudy. Fog patches dissipating this morning. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 7.

This looks promising. 20 km/h is ideal for kiting and SE winds won't carry me too far from home.

Sunday: Cloudy with 30 percent chance of snow late in the morning and in the afternoon. Snow and local blowing snow beginning late in the afternoon. Risk of freezing rain late in the morning. Snowfall amount 5 to 10 cm. Wind becoming north 30 km/h gusting to 60 late in the morning. High plus 1.

Tomorrow does not look as pleasant.  My plan is to attend the Yacht Expo Seminars in Calgary and the roads promise to be less than ideal for travel. I had intended to attend the seminars last year, but feeling unwell presented my going the first day and threatened bad weather had prevented my going the second. This year may be a repeat as we are facing bad weather tomorrow. 

I have more incentive to go this year since I know some of the presenters and the team will be promoting my boat to the attendees.  I first came in  contact with Cooper Boating as a result of communication last year about these seminars.  That contact ultimately resulted in my buying Cassiopeia and placing her in charter with them.

I had seen Cooper Boating when visiting Granville Island in the past, looked at their storefront and their literature, and had written them off as higher cost than the competitors.  I was looking for bargains.

After seeing their promotions and meeting their people, I can see that they are worth a bit extra.  As an owner of a boat in their fleet, I want a sales force that earns their pay. 

The function of a real sales force is to get a premium price and differentiate their product from others, not to give away the products or service.  Anyone can do that. 

As a former sales manager, I appreciate what a good sales force can do for a company -- and the damage a poor sales force can do.  Many companies don't know the difference and it costs them big money in lost sales and commodity pricing.

I respect a firm that promotes as strongly as Cooper does and am confident that their aggressive marketing should result in business for my boat.  So far, Cassiopeia is only booked for ten days this coming season, but this is only March and the peak charter season is still well off in the future.  At this time of year, the Northwest Coast tends to be cool, cloudy, and rainy.  Moreover, Cassiopeia has been out of the fleet for a year.

Ever wonder why US university scientists were working on making robotic bees and getting large government grants?

It wasn't just to satisfy intellectual curiosity, it seems, or to come up with robotic pollinators. Check out the video (left).

I made an effort today to get away from the desk earlier than usual and not spend the morning sitting, but at 10 AM I am still here.  I was late getting up, though.  That is my excuse.  Wind is 2.7 MPH, and the sun just came out.  We had dense fog from the time that our company left last night until an hour ago.

*   *   *   *    *

3 PM: I'm down making floors and lids and realizing that time has flown.  I just bought a kite and I'll be leaving here on March 11 and be gone until who knows when?  I have only eight days to use the kite, make lids, sell hives and get ready to go!  I have a lot to do.

5:30 PM:  I made four lids in two hours.  They were good lids, and I made them one at a time, since I'm still perfecting the design and dimensions.  I will have to get a lot quicker if I plan to make twenty more, and I do.

I'm enjoying the work, so I'll get back down there after supper.  Maybe the work is not profitable at this rate, but neither is watching Netflix, and this has to be done.  I have sold ten or twelve hives and they must go as soon as we can get to them and load them without shaking them up.  I can get in with the 4X4 with chains, but the ride is very rough as the chains dig the snow and the truck shimmies.

9 PM: I made another batch of parts, but this is slow.  In two hours, I may have made the equivalent of six lids.  I've been using drywall screws to assemble them, but think I may have to pull out an air stapler.  My gun has not been used for 15 years, but I still have lots of staples.  I think the gun I have works, but I also think I may have sold my better one.

 Sex and religion are closer to each other than either might prefer.
Saint Thomas More

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Sunday March 3rd 2013
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At 4:30 AM, looking outside, there is no sign of the impeding storm, but it looks as if Calgary is already getting it.  The report is light freezing drizzle.  My plan is to drive to Calgary today and that is looking risky.

Yesterday, without warning, Evernote forced me to reset my password.  I wondered if the message was a phishing attempt, but here is the news from Evernote. Google "Evernote hacked" for more details.  Changing the password was long overdue anyhow.

At 7:30, the snow is beginning.  I have to leave in the next hour to be at the Glenmore Yacht Club on time.  The cameras show the roads in and around Calgary to be okay at present.  I have no way of knowing how they will be in two hours.  I'll take the Toyota since it has the best winter tires.

Actually, I decided to take the Grand Caravan.  I started out in the Toyota, but decided the exhaust is too loud.

The roads were passable in the country, but in Calgary, the streets were poor ,and with detours due to power pole fires and repair, the drive took an hour and a half.

The seminars were probably worth the trip, and I returned home, leaving at 8:30 and arriving at ten.  The roads were snow covered in some areas and quite slick in spots.

The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it.
George Bernard Shaw

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Monday March 4th 2013
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I'm wondering whether to go back to Calgary again today or stay home.  The roads should be OK, but I have a lot to do  before I leave for Ontario a week from today.  For one thing, I have to get the lids and floors ready for the sale of hives, then arrange for the buyers to pick them up.  I should also check all the hives before I go, too.

I do need to get some more plywood, and the lumber store is two thirds of the distance to the seminars.

First, though, I'll blow some of the snow off our driveways.

*   *   *    *

Blowing the snow took  and hour and was a good workout.  I needed that.  I've decided to take the chains off the truck and go to the lumberyard and to the seminars.

*   *   *    *

The trip to Calgary was easier today and I arrived right on time.  The seminars were worth the trip.  I left at 8:30 and did some grocery shopping on the way home.  I arrived around 11:30

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Alexander Pope

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Tuesday March 5th 2013
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We're overcast and minus 10 here this morning, with light snow drifting down. and a breeze of 4.2 MPH.

The plan for the day is to unload the lumber and get back to making floors and lids.

The turn signal switch I ordered for the van arrived yesterday -- I ordered it through Amazon and saved 2/3 the local price -- so if I have time, I'll pull the red van inside and do that and check the brakes.  I'm guessing that will not happen today, however.  The carpentry will keep me busy all day.

I have a week to prepare for my trip east, then west, so I have to start thinking about what to take.

I decided to work on the lids and floors again and finished off 15 lids and started on the floors.  So far, after two days, I have 15 lids and 3 floors.  The floors are much simpler than the lids, as the lids have an inner rim to allow 1-1/2 inches above the hive for insulated pillows and to allow space for feeding patties or treating with formic pads.

This is a lot of work.  When I was just using up my wood equipment and existing equipment, the beekeeping work was simple and quick, but now that I have added new equipment , I am finding myself spending far more time than I anticipated.  I am going through the typical new beekeeper expansion problem; what was easy and fun with a few hives turns into massive task as the numbers go up.

Jobs like this are always slow at first, as there is measuring and setting up to do.  measure twice cut once.

After a few pieces are made, things get more streamlined.  When we were making hundreds, I designed each step in the manufacturing process for optimum efficiency.  Once we were sure of the dimensions and had tried the product in the field, we would cut out all the parts in advance, then assemble them in a jig.

I was trained in time studies when I worked at Lincoln Electric back in the 1960s.  We learned to minimize waste movements and each step was timed with a stopwatch to determine the fastest and easiest way to do each step in cutting and assembly. Equipment was moved between stages to eliminate extra footsteps or hand motions in the next phase.

It is interesting to watch untrained people work and wear themselves out doing jobs that could be made safer, more simple and much easier.  I had to routinely remind my people to move the trucks close to where the material was needed or to the material to be loaded.  Otherwise many would happily carry hundreds of individual boxes 100 feet rather than move the truck so that no carrying was needed.

I have five more days to get ready to leave for the east and decide what I will need for my trip west.

Clowns to the left of me,  Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with you.
Stealers Wheel

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Wednesday March 6th 2013
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It's minus sixteen, with hoar frost and a light breeze.  So far, I have not had a chance to kiteski except perhaps on Sunday when I chose to go to the seminars.  Yesterday, there was a period of about two hours when the wind came up to where I might have been able to fly the kite.

I'll finish the current batch of floors today and see if I can get near the hives to take a look. The day promises to be cool, but I should be able to get a few things done.  I must as I won't be back until the first week of April.

I have to decide whether to rearrange feed frames in the top boxes and get some patties and put them on or just let the hives live or die until I get back.

Hey Allen,

Enjoying reading your diary as usual. Hope your bees came through winter ok.

From the looks of things, they could be better.  I did not feed a lot of patties mid-season last year and also some are wintering on new comb.  I did not feed heavily in fall, and some look light up top.

I am also working on lids and bottoms for the upcoming season, have you noticed a drastic increase in the price or lumber, especially plywood? What could be had for as little as $22 this time last year is now over $33.(3/4" spruce) Any explanation for a 50% increase in just a year? I supposed the local building boom could be an excuse, but would think the prices are the same everywhere.

Hurricane Sandy rebuilding and a slight recovery in US new home building is having an impact on prices here.

As for efficiency in any repetitive jobs like anything beekeeping, you neglect to consider the ambitions of those doing the job. When you are doing it for yourself, the objective is to complete as many of the best quality in the shortest amount of time. If its an employee, the objective is to get to 5 o'clock. I've worked on many bee crews, and see it on every one.

I always either put such jobs on piecework or on bonus.  Otherwise, the work just got slower and slower.  For patties, I farmed the work out.  That is how Global Patties got a start.

I pick up a light gauge sheet metal from a local newspaper, (.25$/sheet) for covering lids. Takes about the same time as painting, but never has to be painted. Probably old news, but I like to use it.

I had some and gave it away to my friends when I retired.  I could use some now, it seems.

I was tired today and so was El.  Shirley dropped by before noon and distracted us for a few hours.  Then I had a nap.  Mid-afternoon, I got back to making floors.

This equipment building is turning out to be my private purgatory.  I have things I'd rather be doing and the job is sooooo slow.  I used to make fifteen lids in an hour, not a day and a half, back when I was set up and had help.

Some beekeepers love building or assembling bee equipment and I did enjoy it at one time.  I was so gung-ho back then that I even hired a large truck to drive 300 miles to get pine logs at the Sue Burn near Golden, had them custom-milled, built the gang saw and jigs to make the frames and boxes, then built 100 whole six-story hives bottom to top. That was fun.  In those days we were building furniture for a living and this was just an extension of that activity.

That was then.  This is now.  I guess I got that out of my system.  These days I just find this work mildly boring.  It is nice to know I still have the knack, but one day on the job proved that.  This Day Three.  I'm going to have to rethink this bee selling business.  I don't need the work.

I'm done for now.  I made enough tops and bottoms for 15+ hives and that is all I need.

Today, we had only a few minutes of wind strong enough to do any kiting. Anything less than an hour is a waste of time since it takes a half-hour to get ready and get out there.

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools.
 Let's start with typewriters.
Frank Lloyd Wright

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Thursday March 7th 2013
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It's minus ten this morning, with winds ranging from 5 to 8 MPH, so I can get out and kiteski if I like.  It is still early and I'm hoping for some sun, but the forecast is for cloud and snow.  Minus ten in cloud tends to be quite cold.

I went out and flew the kite.  I'm not happy with this one, yet at least.  It is hard to re-launch and gets itself tied up.  I did, however get a few rides of fifty feet or so.  Not great, but one has to expect to pay one's dues. 

Here is the wind chart (below).  I was out from 9 until 11 roughly.  During that time, the sun did come out and there were a few gusts to 7 or 8 MPH.  It seems that 8 MPH is the minimum to get a ride from this kite.  At 5, it just sits on the ground.

 

Although it is below freezing, the day is turning nice and I think I'll go out and check some hives.

Internet searches lead to discoveries of drug side effects

I got into the North Yard and did a count.  Breaking a track in through the deep crusty snow was brutal. 

After lifting lids, I see that I have 7 strong  dead, 5 very weak, and 5 dead hives. 

I had sold two strong hives previously from this yard, so that means 47% strong (including the sold hives), 26% weak and 26% dead.  I expect that of the weak ones, half will die for a loss of  39% in that yard.

I then broke my way thru the drifts to the Quonset Yard and checked the 8 west-most hives.  Of those, 5 are strong, 2 weak, and 1 dead, or 63% strong, 25% weak and 13% dead.

Overall, the stats so far are 44% strong, 26% weak, and 22% dead after looking at 27 hives of the 90 or so going into winter.

I know that I have quite a few dead in the South Yard, having glanced at them earlier.  If the sample I took today is borne out through the remaining hives, though, then I should to see expect 40 strong hives, 23 weak hives, and 20 dead.  We'll see.

I have customers for about 15 hives so far and that is all I dare book until I see how the winter ends.  Fifteen out of 40 leaves me 25 to split, plus the weak ones to baby.  I can probably sell another ten or fifteen, but it is too soon to say.

I want to have about twenty to split three ways and get up to 60, but that is just a rough plan.  I think 90 going into winter is a few too many unless I get more shelter.  I expect that the North and South Yards which are exposed to more wind will have lost more hives when all is said and done.

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.
Oscar Wilde

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Friday March 8th 2013
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Time marches on.  I now have only three days until I leave.  In checking my notes, I see I reserved the red-eye on the 11th, not the afternoon flight I thought I had.  I've done this before.  The airlines don't all use the same time format.  Air Canada uses the 24-hour format and that has thrown me more than once.  One time I showed up 12 hours late for a flight.

After lunch, I went out and checked all the hives and things are not as bad as I feared.  The chained up Ford Super Duty Turbo diesel 4X4 had to work hard to push through the drifts, but I have made it into all the yards now.  The strong hive count is over 50% and the weaker hives are another 25% or so.  I'm estimating 25% dead.

Tomorrow will be plus five and I should take my smoker and hive tool and do a little adjusting.  I did centre a few clusters today and I moved some feed frames, but I really do need smoke to drive the bees down so that the job is more pleasant for both the bees and for me.

I had saved the counts  on my phone, but it seems the memos were not saved.  I went to take a picture and the camera said there was not enough battery.  Hmmm.  Annoying.

If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars.
J. Paul Getty

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Saturday March 9th 2013
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I'm down to the wire.  I have to be at the airport at midnight tomorrow, so it is time to get ready.  I have to pack tor both Ontario and British Columbia.

For Sudbury, I need nothing, having left a full closet there last time.  In British Columbia, I have to be ready to sail my boat across from Vancouver to Sidney, through Active Pass. 

That means taking all my sailing gear, navigation stuff, and some books.  There is no way I can avoid checking baggage this trip so I can take more than usual.  Should I take my kites?  I'm tempted since I may have a chance to fly them in Sudbury and winter is almost over.

I should go out and look at the hives today and I think I will.  I don't have enough wind to fly my kite.  I should also patch the exhaust pipe in Ellen' van.

But first I have a lot of papers to file.

Enjoyed your posting for May 2010 about the bee max hives which is what I have

Are you using sticky boards to identify mites? How are you using them with the bee max bottom board?

Mites are a new thing for us here in the Thunder Bay (Ontario) area and we are all just learning

I go into a lot of detail in my diary about my experiences, methods to estimate the mite load in hives, and treatments, but I realise that there is a lot of material to wade through to find it.

The take-home message is, IMO, that varroa mites are deadly and if they don't kill the hive the first year, they are doing damage and building up in number.   For beginners, the best solution is to use Apivar every spring. 

Use the alcohol wash method to verify the mite numbers before and after, but don't skip the treatment.

As for the BeeMax floors. I don't use them myself.  I build wooden floors and slope them forward.

Nonetheless, it is possible to make a rim of wood or screw on 3/4"X1-1/4" wood strips to lift the hives up a bit so that sticky boards fit into the BeeMax entrances. 

No matter how busy I am, it seems I always have time to write something on BEE-L.

> But first we should clarify what we mean by "sustainable." How about
> defining it as a practice that will still be successful five human
> generations from now (~100 years).

Randy went on to outline plenty of reasons why current practices won't be around in 100 years.

Looking around, I don't see any summerfallow. Fifty years ago, around here, the country was 50% in summerfallow and farmers doubted that "continuous farming" could go more than seven years without a fallow year. Impossible, they said.

Today, I never see even one field in summerfallow. Continuous farming has been the practice for four decades now.

Times change and knowledge, materials and economics change. Farmers adapt.

Obviously, we are using up critical resources. The question is whether we can find a path forward that substitutes new production methods using new resources and information -- or not.

Can we imagine what food production will look like in 100 years? It will be nothing like what we see today. I'd be stretching to see 10 years into the future as new and disruptive technologies just keep appearing on the scene.

Looking back into history for clues, I am always stunned at the many advanced civilizations stretching back 7,000 years that were overtaken and destroyed by political or environmental events. It is hard to imagine that ours will not meet the same fate.

Climate shifts, exhaustion of glacial river water sources, overpopulation, superstition, wars, invasions, and epidemics repeatedly bring an end to centuries of progress.

For us, it is easy to forget it is only 200 years (~ two to three lifetimes) since the big challenge was to develop a railway engine that could sustain more than 10 MPH reliably.  See this link.  

Our knowledge and methods today are crude and inefficient. We dig up mountains for a gram or two of gold in a tonne of gangue while a cubic mile of seawater contains far more, plus all the minerals we could ever want -- if only we knew how to extract it. Plants do.

If we don't destroy ourselves with fighting, over-population or some other folly first, perhaps we can learn the secrets of nature that allow us to find and extract the materials we need and produce food by less violent methods.

The future? Totally unknowable, IMO.

And, no, nothing we do is sustainable. Ask a dinosaur.

I went out, chained up the rear tires, too and went back out to check hives. 

I'm seeing quite a few hives off-centre and some with signs of having suffered harm in the centre before moving to one side, and am concluding that the blast of cold air from the auger hole was too much for some hives in unsheltered yards. I used several less sheltered yards this year due to the number of hives I have.

I'm seeing a bit of moldy patty (right), or at least the paper -- The patty seems OK -- and that is something I have seldom seen before.  The patty in the picture turns out to be a remnant of the experimental patties we tried out last year.

Sometimes the dirtiest entrance don't mean anything.  These hives (left) are the strongest group I have.  All eight measured strong, but from the entrances, I would not have guessed.  The entrances are caked with feces.

Am I doing any good out there?  I'm starting to doubt it.  I might save a hive or two, but harm another two.  It is still too early, but after tomorrow, I won't be here for three weeks.

Here are the numbers:

Yard Strong Sold Weak Dead Percent
Dead
Quonset Yard East Side 27 0 5 12 27%
South Yard 8 0 3 6 35%
North Yard 7 2 5 5 26%
Quonset Yard West 5 0 2 1 13%
Totals 47 2 15 24 27%
Percent 53% 2% 17% 27%  
  55% 17% 27%  

27% is a high loss, but it could be worse.  In  fact, it probably will as some weak colonies will die by May.

Last year on March 20th, I figured  I had a 12% loss, so this year my losses are doubled. Why?  I attribute this partly to a lot of new frames, and not feeding  either syrup or patties as heavily as previously.  The winter was also harder this year.  Last year at this time we already had runoff and the pond was full.  This year the snow is still knee-deep.

Black holes are where God divided by zero.
Steven Wright

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