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Finally! The pond ice is gone (April 22). Well, there is still a little this morning.
Jean and family are coming for lunch today. Ellen is wide awake and ready for company.
There is still ice on the pond, but I see two ducks there this morning. So far I only saw one duck the other day, so this is an indication that maybe, finally, spring is coming.
Jean and family came and had lunch. We celebrated Mckenzie's birthday a few days early, then Chris and I hooked up my 5x5 trailer behind their Escape so they can use it while they are building their new house and moving. I don't need it these days since I bought the 4X4. I had bought it to use behind a van.
After they left, I had a nap. Later I spent a few hours working on charting software. I have SeaClear and OpenCPN. Each of these allows use of a generic GPS connected to the PC to show real-time progress, but I lack good Canadian Charts for them. Garmin Mapsource has excellent Canadian charts, but does not show the output of a GPS attached to my laptop.
I begin by taking. I shall find scholars later to demonstrate my perfect right.
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I may be able to get out and pick up some deadouts and put on patties this afternoon. At 8:30 AM, the wind is 9.4 MPH from the WNW and we are 5 Celsius degrees below freezing. The ice on the pond cleared entirely by the end of the day yesterday, but it froze over again last night.
I think I'll put the bubbler in today. That should turn the water over and eliminate any further ice.
Tomorrow looks like a good bee day, but the nights are still very cold, so I have to be careful how much disturbance I cause and also that I don't leave hives with too much ventilation.
I have to sort some papers today as well, but first I need some exercise. The day is bright and I think I'll go outside for a while.
I did go out and I picked up some more deadouts, charged batteries and installed the bubbler in the pond. The day is cool and breezy, and I come in from time to time to warm up and rest, but I am getting things done. I'm not opening live hives, just picking up and stacking the deadouts.
As I see it, I have just two weeks before the hives should be needing a second round of attention (and they have not had the first!), although, this year, I can stretch that to three, I think, or maybe even more. Between now and then I have to go through all the hives and pick up the deadouts, turn in my income tax papers tomorrow, and that is about it. I should probably do a little work on the vans, too.
Getting out and moving feels good. I sit too much and I have been feeling it. I also have noticed my blood sugar has been in the 6s (over 114 for the US readers) during the day and higher after meals. Just getting out and doing chores drops that to 5.4 which is ideal. There is a message in that.
All are lunatics, but he who can
analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.
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This morning, I heard talk on the radio about warm weather coming later this week. Hmmm.
A coming heat wave is not predicted in the forecast I routinely post here (above). So, I compared the Environment Canada (EC) forecast -- the one I post here daily -- with the Weather Underground forecast (WU)(below). (I normally follow EC forecasts, but also use personal a Weather Underground page to document my own local weather here in my back yard).
There is an amazing divergence in opinion. Friday, for example is predicted to be 8° Celsius by EC, and 19° by WU. How can the guesses be that far apart?
If WU is to be believed, Wednesday promises to be a good bee day at +12. The night promises to be around freezing, so I can get into the hives and not expect a damagingly cold night to follow the disturbance. EC agrees on the nighttime temperatures, but thinks the day will only reach +8° C. Either way I figure I should be good to go.
They diverge on the daytime high by 4°, but anything above 8° is just fine as long as there is sun and not too much wind, and both forecasts agree on the nights.
An hour later, I see that WU has altered their forecast, raising Thursday by 3° C and dropping Friday's forecast by 12° C! 19° would have been nice. 20° C is room temperature. A day like that would really get the bees working and expanding.
What to believe? Both these sources tap the best data available. If they cannot even agree on the weather several days out, and if it turns out both were wrong, which it often does, how can we believe the climate "scientists" who claim that the climate change debate is over and that they have the answers?
I went out and began working through the next group of hives. The first hive I opened had a lot of bees on seven frames, plus lots of polished cells and empty dark comb in the top box, but no sign of a laying queen. I had a hunch and looked in the box below. Sure enough, even though there were only two or three frames of bees down there, there was brood. Some queens don't travel between boxes well unless there is a bit of ladder comb. Many beekeepers scrape frames clean all the time, but I leave a bit of such wax for exactly that reason.
A few hives are very strong, even if they have no brood to speak of. Even though there is lots of honey in combs nearby, it is soft granulated and I don't see much liquid nectar in open cells around the brood. These hives would benefit from a little liquid feed.
Here is a shot of one such frame, and a picture of the queen, too, just for those who like to always see the queen.
I worked with bare hands, but they got very gummed up with propolis. I had to use alcohol to clean them and they still are not clean. Time for rubber gloves, I guess.
Three Hills got up to 8° today and here I recorded 11°. I spent the afternoon on the bees, taking it easy as this is the first day of such exertion and I don't want to overdo it.
I worked through 28 stands today, picking up deadouts and checking the hives for queens and disease. At the end, I had 14 strong hives out of the 19 survivors on the 28 stands. As always, there are a few that are especially good. At right is one of the best ones. IT is still nothing like what I saw several years ago.
This hive and several others that have several frames of sealed brood may be ready to split in a few weeks, but I'm guessing from the amount of brood I saw in most hives that splitting for most of them will be almost a month away. That is because it takes three weeks from egg to emergence and I am not seeing much brood yet. One hot day (Thursday?) will change that and the race is on. Three weeks later, the populations will explode.
This puts survival so far at 28 out of 45 or 62%. That means the losses are 38% so far. 20 of the 28 I rated as strong, meaning they have at least a few frames of bees and some brood. One strong hive seems queenless, but I have to check in a few days to confirm. If so, I'll combine it with a weak hive that has a queen.
So far, I see no pollen coming in.
Some people complain about burr and ladder comb on Pierco frames. I always say that they either do not have their frames aligned properly or they have bad bee space -- or they plugged the hive by supering late. At left is a full super of newly drawn and filled Pierco from last year.
I've promised hives and nucs to a few people and cut back on taking any more orders after seeing that the wintering was not going as well as it does sometimes. As it stands now, it will be a few weeks before I will feel comfortable selling bees.
Some buyers wanted to buy the hives back in November and December when I was offering a great deal previous to winter. One fellow managed to get here and get two hives. The others did not, as the snow got too deep. They may be lucky as they would have suffered greater losses than most years.
That is the risk that one takes buying bees in fall. You can win or you can lose. I hear the fellow who did get hives is doing OK last he checked, so I guess he got two winners. That is the luck of the draw. I suppose he could as easily have gotten two losers, although we did pick several of the strongest. That said, some of the hives that died had been very strong, too, so it is hard to predict. That's why I sell hive cheaper in fall.
Looking back at April 5th of last year, I see the hives were well ahead of what I see today.
While we are postponing, life
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On the radio this morning, word is that this is the coldest spring in 100 years for Regina. No word on Swalwell. There is no ice on the pond this morning.
I see that EC has raised the forecast temperatures for later this week, but still predicts a cold night tonight. Once again, WU predicts a slightly warmer weather further out, but predicts cooler weather today with cool NW winds for 10 to 30 KPH. WU predicts tonight to be 2° C warmer than EC does, however. WU promised 60% probs of precipitation today. EC does not mention rain.
Looking at current conditions, WU is closer to my own readings than EC. I may have to consider switching my favourite weather source to WU.
Weather is very important for bee build-up. Not only does weather determine when pollen and nectar become available and whether the bees are able to leave the hive to get it, but weather also has a strong influence on hive interior temperatures. Strong hives can cover lots of comb and produce enough heat to expand regardless of the weather, but weaker hives require environmental warmth to help them liquefy honey and expand the brood nest.
Once brood is established and the larvae develop, the brood produces some heat and assists in maintaining nest heat, but several days and nights -- almost a week -- of warm days and nights are required to establish that brood and get it to the point where it contributes.
I had a doctor's appointment this morning at 11:15, but at 10:45 noticed that Google Calendar had it scheduled for 10:15. Thinking I had missed the appointment, after waiting a month for this day to arrive, I called the office and learned that it is actually scheduled at 3. I guess the office had called and changed the time and I had not received the message. Good thing I called.
I also discovered that I had indeed entered 11:15 into the calendar, but Google, in its wisdom had understood that as 10:15 PDST, Victoria time, not MDST, which is the local time here. Maybe I was in Victoria when I entered it? Gotta watch that!
So, I have some time and could be working on the bees, but the wind is blowing cold at 18 MPH. I'll do some indoor work.
* * * * *
I did a few things, then went to town to see the doctor, drop off the tax papers and get a few groceries. Along the way, I encountered rain, snow and hail along with high winds. As much as I would have like to have worked on the bees today, it is clear that would have been hard on the bees -- and me.
Both forecasts missed on the temperature, as we saw +9.1 today, here in my yard at least, but WU nailed it on the precip.
Where are we going, and why am I
in this handbasket?
No food or drink for me this AM. I have some blood tests to do in Three Hills. The weather looks promising for working on the bees when I get back.
I'm comparing the EC and WU forecasts and see that EC has changed considerably, but that WU is holding steady with their prognosis.
In either case, the weather looks good for bee work as long as the wind does not get too strong.
I drove to Three Hills for the blood work. Ellen was to go, too, but is not feeling well.
That was all done by 9:30, so I have the rest of the day free.
I arranged some sales last fall and winter and will be able to meet the orders I accepted. People are wondering, though, since the spring is so late and other sources are looking iffy, what to expect from me.
At this point, I have about 60% loss on 87 hives, leaving me about 50. I want to keep 25 for splitting, so that means I have 25 for sale. I have only promised about 15, so I have 10 or so that are not committed, although there is a line-up if they work out. I don't want to disappoint anyone, so I am careful what I promise and keep a cushion in case of problems.
One fellow who ordered triples going into winter, but was unable to pick them up was asking what the deal is now.
I'll price them by comparing the bees to what the packages and other nucs are selling for and the amount of equipment involved.
Well, it seems I wasted an hour and half here at the keyboard. I'm going outside.
Well, the weather guessers were both wrong. I see 12.5° C right now on my backyard weather station at 12:30 PM.
Now it is 14.2° at 3:17. I'm too hot working out there with sweats and jumpsuit. I'll have to strip down a bit.
There is little sealed brood and some were getting low on feed. One was so good though that it has some drone brood started. The one on the left is typical. The one on the right is a strong one.
The next groups I began on are not nearly as good. I wonder why. I'm a little over half done and have another 45 or so to work through,
I did the back row at the Quonset and found 50% dead and four very weak. I'm now 80% done checking hives and see 36% losses. That goes up to 53% loss if we count the weak ones as dead. I think I can save most of them, though.
First they ignore you, then they
laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Only Eight More Months Until Christmas
We are scheduled to go to Drumheller again today.
The weather looks good and I expect to get back in time to work on the bees again today. I need to go through the last yard and then start back at the North Yard to adjust feed and maybe put frame feeders back into the brood chambers and give them all some feed. I may take the bottom box off and scrape floors.
The warm weather expected today and for several days will allow them to liquefy more feed, but syrup would certainly help.
I need to deal with the hives identified as very weak by adding bees, and perhaps some brood or by combining or switching them with stronger hives.
Comparing the EC and WU weather forecasts today, I am seeing less divergence, but what I see is significant. EC predicts minus two on Friday night, but WU predicts plus five. That is a huge difference and is something I would like to know to decide how to manage the weakest colonies.
WU is also predicting some precipitation during the week, while EC is not. EC also predicts the winds. EC does not unless they exceed an unstated minimum.
I think I had better put in some drop boards, too. I treated for varroa last fall, and a spring treatment should therefore not be required, but sometimes the bees cluster away from the strips. Moreover, treatment chemicals can fail if resistance develops and unless the beekeeper checks for failures after treating these problems may go undetected.
As it turns out, Ellen does not feel well enough to go to Drum yet, so that trip is delayed. At 8:45 we are up to 8.3°, so I guess I had better get to work.
Well, both forecasts were under. It is now 19.5 degrees and it has been for a few hours.
The bees are flying and robbing lightly on the boxes from the deadouts. That does not concern me at all as they are not fighting and they need some feed.
I tidied up the Quonset yard and interchanged several pallets to add bees to some weaker hives. As often happens the first hot day of the year, I was not very energetic and did not get down to the South Yard. Between the heat and the wind, I found myself less ambitious than I had expected and a bit wind burned.
At suppertime, I decided to drive to Acme to get a bottle of wine. I took the back roads for old times sake and enjoyed the trip past locations where I had kept bees in the past. Those days are now a decade behind me.
My advice to you is get married:
if you find a good wife you'll be happy;
When I got up at 7 AM, the temperature read 8.9° C. This is the kind of weather that builds up the bees, but I still see no pollen at all coming in. I have at least one patty on every hive I've worked now. I need to do the last few hives today.
The two forecasts are within 4 degrees of one another over the coming seven days, with no nasty weather promised, so the bees should come along well.
Today promises to be warm, at 20°. I have to go to town first thing for a retest as my blood sugar came in high in the last test. I knew it would as it tested at 7.3 here before I went and they got 7.2. Today, it read 5.9 when I got up and 6.2 right now.
I went to town and got the test over with, then came back home and had a nap. Ellen is not at all well today.
It is windy out right now and promising to get windier. I should be outside working, but am feeling lazy.
At 1:30, we are seeing 22° and the wind has dropped.
I went out and re-graded the hives at the Quonset, then decided to clean the straw out of a feeder barrel that still has some sugar syrup in it. The straw gets waterlogged if rain or snow gets on it. I was getting the job done when I heard a "plop" and realised that my smartphone which had been in my breast pocket had just fallen into the syrup.
Fortunately, the drum was only 1/4 full, so I reached in and recovered the phone. It was still working, but I knew that it would not work for long, so I went into the house and pulled the battery off.
I then washed the phone over and over again in de-ionized water, blowing it off with compressed air between washes. After a final blowing out, it is now sitting in the sun inside the south window to complete drying. I'm quite confident that it will be fine after drying out. Washing circuit boards with water is a common practice. I wonder about the speaker and microphone, though.
We'll see. It dried off pretty well, so I tried it and see the screen is not lighting up properly. I'll dry it a bit longer. The water may have penetrated into some tight spaces.
It's 23.1° now at 3:12 PM. I'd better get back out there.
I did go out and pick up pallet load of deadouts from the South Yard. The colonies I checked there were mostly weak. Some are so weak, I wonder how they can ever build up. There is a queen and some young bees on a patch of brood the size of my palm.
The young bees must be the result of one successful round of brood raised recently. There is is little capped brood in most hives at this point. Ten or fifteen hives are an exception, and have several frames with sealed brood.
Wise men make proverbs, but
fools repeat them.
It is 6.4 degrees at 6:20 AM. I left a window open last night and the room is still 65° F this morning, so spring is here, I guess. There are a few remaining patches of snow where the deepest drifts were last winter, on the north-facing slopes and in the shadow of tree lines, but I heard a frog in the pond last night.
The EC and WU forecasts agree fairly closely and they both predict warm weather for the next week, but a minus six on Monday night. By then the bees should have managed to get their stores organized and brood should be underway.
I had planned to be back out in Sidney by now to spend time on Cassiopeia, but put off reserving flights as we did not know what to expect going into the last meeting with Ellen's doctors. As it turned out, she began a new treatment regime and has been bedridden lately, so holding off committing to a BC trip was a wise decision.
At mid-day, the wind has been gusting up to 20 MPH from the SSW. Although it is warm enough for the bees, they tend to stay in if the wind is too strong. I'm doing some inside chores, including repairing several BeeMax boxes which have sprung or broken at the corners.
As mentioned here before, the BeeMax design is very weak, regardless of whether we glue them or not.
Repairs are quite easy. All it takes is a few dabs of Weldbond glue, brushed along the broken surface, and some long drywall screws.
The same box is shown broken (left) and repaired (right). Unfortunately, the camera flash washed out the detail, but we can see how the entire end of the BeeMax box shears off -- tabs and all -- due to weak design and that using Weldbond and screws restores the box to service.
In fact, a box can go back to work the moment the screws are driven in although it should be treated gently until the glue sets. When set, it is probably stronger than an assembled and glued new box since now the glue covers the entire joint.
I didn't do much this afternoon other than shovel ashes, do wash and go grocery shopping.
Advice is what we ask for when
we already know the answer but wish we didn't
The weather is improving and it looks and feels like spring -- finally. The grass greened up yesterday and there are only a few patches of snow left where the drifts were deepest and hardest. Surprisingly, some on the far side of the coulee west of us are in full sun.
Ellen is feeling better today. Jean is coming down for lunch.
I've never been sorry about buying my Galaxy Tab, either LG phone or the iPad. Each has been a very good investment. I personally don't care for the Apple world, but my wife does not mind being in "jail" and the screen and function generally is excellent and reliable. It works for her. Personally, I like Android better, but I'd never turn either down.
The day was windy and I stayed in much of the day, making lunch, cleaning and visiting, but by mid-afternoon, I needed some exercise and Zippy was leading me to the door, so we went for a walk.
I initially planned to walk around the entire property, but after 1.0 nautical miles (1.15 statute), I decide that I had enough and went in. Finishing would have meant another 1/4 mile. I'll have to measure it some time. My path is outlined in yellow at right. That is the Hamlet of Swalwell on the left.
Along the walk, I found that the wind had blown off two lids in the South Yard, in spite of a 4-lb brick on each. I put them back on. The bees seemed fine.
Ellen is much better today and was up all day visiting with Jean and doing odds and ends. Having her ill is hard on me as I don't know what to expect. Sometimes she is quite well and other times, she just lies in bed. When she is well, I can travel, but since the recent change of condition, I can't make plans.
I started working on the flex joint on the Toyota this afternoon, but dulled two cutoff saw blades and decided this is a job for a grinder. I have no decent cutting disks for my angle grinder, so I had to quit.
The Toyota has been sitting in the shop for almost two weeks now and I want to get the job done. For one thing, the mower is in behind it and I'll need to get it out soon. The hood has some rust, too and I think I have the paint for it somewhere nearby. Otherwise the van is in perfect condition. The interior is near-perfect and there is no rust anywhere else.
The repair is a minor job, but I have to decide to do it. It is a matter of blasting out the rust, priming, filling and painting. I'm very good at body work, once I get around to it and when I am finished, one cannot detect that it was ever rusty.
Once that bit is done, perhaps I should sell one or the other -- or both. We don't need two vans anymore and they are both excellent running vehicles that would serve someone well in spite of having almost 300,000 , km on them. The Toyota has an almost-new set of $600 premium tires.
I've been tempted to buy an almost new 2012 or 2011 Town & Country, but the ones I want are about $30,000 and I hate spending money. I also wonder if I would not be better off buying a car.
Actually, I know the answer. I had a car and found I could not carry what I wanted to carry and now own three vans -- and two trucks.
The secret of success is to know
something nobody else knows.
We have a light fog and sunshine this morning. I see the temperature dropped to minus seven overnight. The forecast was for 14 today, but was changed in the last hour to a high of 9. Coming nights are also expected to be colder than we were promised earlier. Lately, long term forecasts i.e. forecasts extending more than a day into the future -- or less -- are just wild guesses.
Right now, at 10:30 AM, the temperature is right at freezing and the wind is blowing at 10 MPH -- hardly good bee weather. Still no natural pollen!
Around noon, I went to Three Hills and had a follow-up visit to the doctor, another blood test and ran a few chores, then drove home, through high winds and driving snow.
Later, I drove to Drum where I renewed vehicle licenses and shopped at Wal-Mart. At five, I met Joe and Oene for supper at Yavis Restaurant, then bought some groceries and drove home.
I decided to go to Sidney for the weekend -- Friday noon through Tuesday evening -- to spend time on Cassiopeia, and so I booked flights online. Given that the decision was somewhat last-minute, the price was not too bad.
I hope the weather is decent during my stay there. For Victoria, Environment Canada says,
What could be nicer than that? Maybe the West Coast forecast is more reliable than the prairie forecasts have been. WU agrees, and rates Monday as 20 degrees, sunny, and clear. As of today, Tuesday is not yet in the forecast.
Looking at the Swalwell forecasts from Environment Canada and Weather Underground, they don't agree at all beyond tomorrow. What's new?
We all agree that your theory is
crazy, but is it crazy enough?
It is minus 6.5 at 4:40 and the wind is gusting up to 10 MPH. This has to be hard on the bees. Will we ever get spring?
I woke up around three-thirty and was up for a bit over an hour. If I wake up and can't sleep, I don't just lie there, I get up and do something until I am tired. I took some Bepto-Bismol and waited. An hour and a half later, I went back to bed and slept soundly until 9.
At nine, the doorbell rang. I got up , threw on a robe and stumbled to the door, expecting a mail delivery, but there was a friend from a distant Hutterite colony, looking for nucs. He had phoned and left a message on the machine and I had not gotten around to returning the call. I have tired of telling people that I don't have any more bees for sale, so sometimes the messages stack up.
Not having bees for sale is more trouble sometimes than selling them when I have them. I have all the calls and emails to handle, explanations to make, and am paid nothing for the trouble. Moreover, some people just don't seem to understand that if I don't have bees to sell, I just don't have bees to sell. It seems simple to me, but some just don't get it.
As I write this, an incoming email is requesting nucs... Sorry.
After lunch, I drove to Linden to get more acetylene. Matt had run the bottle to near-empty and put the bottle on my truck for me. On the way back, I stopped at Cal's Cycle and got two flats of farm eggs.
I finished cutting out the flex pipe, fitted in an new section and clamped it as best I could, given that there was not much to clamp onto. A test drive revealed that there is still noise coming from down there, so I guess it did not seal, and I will have to weld. I'm not looking forward to that job as it is overhead, close to the engine, and joining thin material to some rusty pipe.
After that, I pulled one brake drum of the red van. The brake warning light has been coming on intermittently for some time now and I figured that the shoes must be worn. I had a tough time getting the drum off, but finally succeeded. That one seemed OK. By then. it was 8:30 and, I figured, time to quit, so I went up and watched an episode of "The Job" and a TED talk, and went to bed.
The opposite of a correct
statement is a false statement.
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"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)
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