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Spring is Now One Month Late Here in Swalwell

Wednesday April 10th 2013
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We're expecting a warm, but overcast day.  It was windy all day, but I was extremely tired and not in the mood to do any kiting.  I did go out and do a bit of work in the yard, charging batteries, taking out ashes, and bringing in the lawn mower.

Mostly, I did nothing all day.

A witty saying proves nothing.
Voltaire

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Thursday April 11th 2013
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We're off to see Ellen's doctors today.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first create the universe.
Carl Sagan

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Friday April 12th 2013
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Today promises to be sunny.

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.
Milton Friedman

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Saturday April 13th 2013
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I woke up with a cold and a sore throat.  I had a hint of what was coming in past days with tiredness and a raw throat, plus head congestion and now I have the real thing.

We're expecting up to a foot of snow in the next day or so.

The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people they think it's their fault.
Henry Kissinger

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Sunday April 14th 2013
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I'm better today, still a bit sneezy and congested, but not as tired.  I took two Benadryl and a decongestant last night and slept well.

Snow accumulated overnight as promised, and powder snow is about a foot deep on the steps so I am looking outside and watching the wind speed. 

The wind is averaging about 7 MPH and the snow is ideal, but I need 10 MPH to reliably launch my kite and ride.

The robins are back (right).

I did go out and launch the kite.  The wind was up and down from 7 to 10 MPH and changeable in direction, but I did get a few good rides up and down the field.

There was not enough consistent wind to ride back to where I started, though, and  after an hour or two, I was tired, walked back to the truck, came back to the house, and here I am at the keyboard.  Of course the wind picked up above 10 MPH as soon as I quit (left).

I may go back out if it keeps up.  This snow won't last long, but I am being careful not to overexert myself.

I did not go out kiting again and spent the rest of the day doing deskwork.  One project I'd like to get cleared up is the charter manual for Cassiopeia, so I worked on that job until midnight.  I also worked on my Garmin charting software.

It's interesting to see how much I don't know or remember about the boat.  Writing the manual turns up little details and a few items needing attention.

Sidney, where my boat is located, is only 5.5 nautical miles from the US border and it is easy to sail across if not paying attention.  Although the nearby Gulf Islands (Canadian) are a major attraction, the San Juan Islands which are in sight of the marina are also an attractive cruising area nearby.  Since the San Juans are across the border in the USA, charter clients need to be aware of the rules and required documents for crossing into the USA and back.  Each country has reporting requirements.

On the chart (map) above are the tracks of my May 2010 sailing trip in the San Juans.

If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.
Mario Andretti

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Monday April 15th 2013
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More cool weather is in the forecast for today.   Thursday looks like the first good day for working on the bees.  I have income tax papers to organize and some other desk jobs, so that will keep me busy until then.

I worked on the charter manual for Cassiopeia, then noticed the wind was almost strong enough to kite.  The remaining snow is a bit patchy, but good enough to ski.  I went out and set up.  The first run was good, but then the wind died.   I also had some tangling in the kite bridle and spent a half-hour straightening that out, then went in for supper.  I worked on the manual until midnight again.

I'm getting a lot of panicky calls for bees.  I sold out long ago, and cancelled my ads.  I'll be able to keep my promises, I am quite sure, but the terms will have changed. 

I sold some hives as triples going into winter and others were scheduled to be picked up, but the snow got too deep and the weather too cold, so those hives were not delivered.  Those hives were priced so was that the buyers got a low price to compensate for the probable winter loss.  At this point, I have now taken most of the probable loss and any hives I sell will be queenright and certain to build up.  As a result, I'll have to work through them and re-price them on that basis.

Ellen's condition has worsened a bit and she is scheduled for a new treatment starting Thursday and that is affecting my plans as well.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
Henry Ford

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Tuesday April 16th 2013
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Still waiting for some bee weather...

I spent much of the day working on a manual for Cassiopeia and then dealing with CRA, as there was a hitch in the tax claim.  Meijers dropped by for coffe on the way back from Global patties in the late afternoon.

After supper, I did some tidying downstairs on preparation for working on the vans in the shop.

Colin is hoping to take Cassiopeia to the Victoria Floating Boat Show tomorrow.

When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Wednesday April 17th 2013
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I plan to do some work on the vans today. The Toyota has an exhaust leak and the Dodge brake light comes on.  I think the back shoes have had it.

If the wind goes down, I may do a little bee work, although tonight promises to be cold and I figure the bees are best left alone if they will be challenged by temperature shortly after being worked.

I also have to get the income tax info to the accountant soon as the April 30th deadline approaches rapidly.  That means I have to sort papers first and that always turns up some distractions...

Zip and I walked over to the hives and I see I lost a few more and others could use a little attention.  The weather is nice enough today, but I am pretty busy with tax and a trip to town, so it will have to wait.  The ground is still wet.  I have a lot of deadouts to pick up and stack.  I was wondering how exactly to do that, but realise I have a trailer with a good 8 X 16-foot deck doing nothing.  That is ideal!  I have another, too, but want that clear for trips top the dump.

I contact Colin and he tells me that Cassiopeia will be featured in the Cooper Boating display at the Victoria Floating Boat Show. tomorrow, but I'll be sitting around in Drumheller for five hours while Ellen undergoes chemo.

I pulled the Toyota into the shop to patch the exhaust, after pulling it out of a snowdrift, and am off to town to pick up El's medication.

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it
Henry David Thoreau

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Thursday April 18th 2013
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We're up early and off to Drumheller for an appointment.

We arrived at the hospital at 8:30 and the treatment took until 1:30.   The process was quite pleasant. So far, so good.

While waiting, I went to Canadian Tire and then the Royal Tyrrell Museum Before going in, Zippy and I hiked around the hoodoos from the lower parking lot.  The slopes are mud and still wet from melting snow.  While we found it warm in the parking lot, we encountered cold winds as we reached the top of the hills.

I had not been to the Tyrrell for some time and find that the displays have been updated since I was there last.  We used to go often when the kids were growing up, and we also hiked the Valley fairly often.  I've grown out of the habit in recent years.

The Royal Tyrell is a world class museum of paleontology, located right in the centre of a region where many significant fossils have been discovered.

In the evening, I worked on getting an MMSI number and a radio license for Cassiopeia.  The boat is berthed right near the US border and the radio license is required when in the US.

Although I have been to Sidney often on land, I did not realise that I have been as nearby on water as I have.  Studying the charts, I see that I came within 10 miles or so when sailing out of Bellingham in 2010 and visited many of the San Juan Islands nearby.  That trip is shown with colored tracks on the chart at right.  Cassiopeia's' home is in the crosshairs.

Itís easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled
Mark Twain

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Friday April 19th 2013
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The morning is cool, breezy and overcast, but the forecast is for seven degrees and calm this afternoon.  I have some jobs to do inside this morning, but will try to get out for at least a few hours this afternoon.

Where did the day go?  I wrote a little, and my phone rang a lot.  We discussed my boat, my tax claim, and then on email and another call, the extent of winter losses in Alberta and Western Canada.  It seems they will be higher than usual at 25% or so, but some beekeepers have still to open hives due to snow.

After three, I managed to get out and I worked through the North Yard.  Of the 19 that went into winter, I sold 2, and now 9 are left alive.  Of that 9, 3 are weak. Some are strong, though, but just beginning to build (right).

I gave all of the hives a 15% Global pollen patty or two.  As it happens these have Honey Bee Healthy (HBH) in them, since someone had custom-ordered patties with HBH, that was what Global had hand in the shop that day.

I have never believed that HBH is the panacea some claim, but I do know it is an attractant.  Will it make the patties more attractive?  I don't know since the bees already consume them rapidly.

Once again, I see the effects of wintering on new comb.  In several cases the colony drew out a full super of perfect capped comb, then died over winter, in one case leaving a miserable mess. (left).

At right  is another shot of perfect comb colonies that a colony drew and filled before dying over winter.  I'm not sure what it is about new comb, but colonies just don't do as well on new comb as they do on comb which had contained brood for a year or two.

I know this runs contrary to what a lot of "experts" recommend, but in my experience, too much new comb in the wintering brood nest reduces the chances of a good wintering outcome -- both survival and colony condition -- by a large factor.

In my experience, a colony can handle 10 to 30% new comb each year without problems.  A few new combs in the wintering brood nest don't hurt. either, but if the cluster moves up into a an entire box of new comb, they are in peril.

As with many bee-related observations, these rules do not apply every year.  The problem is that maybe we can get away with late splits or lots of foundation up top one year with no harm, but the year next we may have a complete wipeout.

I'm increasingly thinking that I need to ad the boxes of new foundation under the brood chambers.  That is where bees naturally draw new comb.  The thing is that this method does not have a good reputation for making good comb.  We'll see.

Ellen was very tired and dozed on and off all day.

I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
Xenocrates

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