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Thursday June 20th 2013
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Today is dark and rainy.  There are floods in Banff and Canmore and the Trans-Canada Highway is closed.

I'm home, contemplating the next few weeks.

I still have a mild headache.  Ellen was up and about early, so it seems she is better today.

My big jobs of the day are to prepare the last few singles for delivery tonight and hopefully repair the quonset.

How long can it take to prepare two singles?  Quite a while it seems if the combs are fat, even if the hives are already checked.  I had to transfer combs to wood boxes, since that is what people are used to.

Once I have made up the single, I set it on the parent colony above an excluder to equalize the bees between them.  Although I do not care for wood-bound excluders normally, for this purpose they are ideal as, unlike steel excluders, they have a bee space above and below.

These ones have a lot of wax.  I used to clean them, but seldom do anymore.   The bees don't care, and if they need wax, like when a lot of foundation is nearby, they will 'borrow' it.

I got the order put together.  I had finished with the home yards and had been counting on the South Yard to supply any required balance.  When I got there, I found the yard does not have much to offer.  I did find two acceptable singles, however and completed the job -- in the rain.  It had rained on and off all day and I was not about to quit.  I suppose that is something beekeepers and sailors have in common: both are happy to work in the rain.

When I bought a boat, however, I made sure it has full enclosure.  I've seen trans-Atlantic sailors show up in Bermuda sunburnt from being in the open.  I can only imagine what storms and days of rain would be like.  I like my comfort.

Dawn, the Sidney Cooper Boating booking agent, phoned today and said she has a 28-day charter lined up for next June, but that we need to give a small additional discount to clinch it. 

I did the math in my head, including probabilities and said, "Sure, of course".  Long charters are best since shorter rentals have an unpaid day at dock in between each booking for turn-around.  I suppose I could wait it out and see if we can beat this year's June bookings (left), but chances are we would match the 28 days at best.

The client plans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island.  28 days is a reasonable time to do the 600 nautical mile trip, and leaves adequate time for gunk-holing. 

600 nm in 28 days is only 21-1/2 miles or as little as three hours of travel a day, and the days are long at that time of year on a sailboat.  Weighing anchor at 0900 or 1000 and docking at 1600 or so gives six or seven hours of travel.  Some days are longer and some days are spent at anchor or in towns.  I did a 13-day Campbell River to Tofino trip back in 2005 and recommend it.

I began plotting that trip on Google Earth, screenshot at right.  I'll have to finish it sometime.

BTW, I'm, looking for sailing companions if anyone reading is a sailor or wants to be.

I'm sold right out of bees for now, but should have some more by July 10th, in time for the main honeyflow, especially if it is late this year and goes on into September due to the rain and excellent ground moisture in Central and Southern Alberta.

I have also decided that I will no longer sell doubles.  I'll stick to singles from now on since otherwise, I lose too much comb.

Bee sales have gone as well or better than expected.  After a slow start, I have sold all I want to for now and the people seem happy.  I'm glad because my aim is to give good value.

Now, I have to count the remaining hives, fix the quonset and head east.

This came in by email just now...

"Happy would be a understatement by far. Ecstatic would be a better term in my case. I found the queen without looking, your bees are flying when everything else is huddling from the cold wet weather in the hive. Very good value indeed."

Thanks. I'm glad to hear that. I always worry. Unlike a gas pump,
there is no exact measure in these things. I have to judge what is correct
and hope others agree.

 I have now sold 24 hives. 

I spent the last hour of the evening trying to remember the details of my 2005 Trip from Campbell River to Tofino using Google Earth.  I could not recall the last few nights and the area is not well reported, so I could not get hints.  ActiveCaptain, for example has almost no markers in that region.  I let the dog and cat out, gave up and went to bed.  Ellen had been sleeping all evening, but was now up.

University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.
Henry Kissinger

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Friday June 21st 2013
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I slept soundly, dreaming only of navigating into inlets and searching for sound anchorages, then awoke to the sound of dog barking.  I glanced at the clock and saw it was minutes before two.  Then I realised I had forgotten to let Zippy back in.  She really hates the dark and the cold  and was barking that lonely, scared, half-bored dog-out-for-the-night bark.   You know the one.  It's the one that drives the neighbourhood crazy.  Bark, bark, bark, (listen), bark, bark, bark...  I got up and let her in.  She was closely followed by the cat.

I went back to bed, but soon realised I was awake.  If I am not sleeping, I get up and stay up until I'm tired, so I turned on the main computer.

It seems that I am not the only person up at this hour.  An email came in and asked some good questions.

Since I worry that people may misunderstand what I am selling, how I grade the hives,  and who my target customer is, I am posting my reply here.  I appreciate the direct questions and am uncomfortable when people assume things since a few always expect more than what is reasonable.  I would much rather have an explicit understanding up front.

I don't want any misunderstandings.  I am in this for fun and to be useful.  I'm not in this for the money -- or to undercut other beekeepers' prices.


> How strong are your hives? Can you give me an estimate of how many
> bees / how many frames of brood?

As strong as I make them. Not too strong to travel well. I advertise four frames of brood in all stages and the adhering bees, and make sure all frames are covered with bees, but not crowded and hanging out. They vary a bit, some have more. If in doubt, I shake in extra bees.

> In a strong hive the queen should be laying at least 1500 eggs per
> day - say about 3/4 of the max we could ever expect.

That is a reasonable expectation, however in this wet weather some strains of bees cut back noticeably and I am seeing that in some hives.

> 3 frames should carry 1.5 - 2 lbs of bees and corresponding numbers
>  of larvae. That should be about 7,000 bees or so.

I am sure I exceed that, but don't know the numbers. I went through that whole question last winter when discussing how to gauge the number of strips of Apivar to use, but have now forgotten since I just know what I need to know by looking. I try not to think too much.

It is really hard to estimate the number due to various factors. I do all the calculations and figuring every so often and then forget. One thing I know is if you make up a good hive and the weather gets cold, it does not kook as good, but on a hot day they may hang out or start building cells.

> How do you do your estimates?

I just go by my 40+ years of experience.

Also, I am selling hives strong enough that they should not need much management and should produce a nice crop of honey but not swarm. I'm not selling monster hives that are hard to transport and which are already building swarm cells.

The hives I sell are aimed at being ready for a flow starting around the first or second week of July and to still be building a bit until then so they do not peak or swarm if the flow is a bit late.

My target customer is a new or moderately experienced beekeeper who would like to put down a hive or two, add more boxes, stand back and make some honey without having to do extensive beekeeping -- or chase swarms down the street.

> Note since your hives are still building numbers it really doesn't
> matter if they do it in your bee yard or mine. The only significance
> I can see is that I can have some more queens available July 2 and
> you are back on the 6th. This is _if_ I decide to do it. My plan
> would be to pull a "few" frames and set them back a few days in order
> to set up hives to over winter for next year. Last year I pulled 1
> or 2 frames per hive but they were all 2 brood chambers.

It is a bit iffier with singles, and this has been a bad year for buildup so far. If things change and the season is long, then that will work, but I have been punished in years with no flows after August 10th. May/June is the best time for making small splits. Each week that passes after that demands another frame of brood for success.

> This worked well for me last year and I think I did it on July 9.

Yes, this is a good plan, but it all depends on how the hives develop and it works better some years than others. We have not had a year with no August or September lately, but I can remember years like that. If August turns out like June, and it can, and if September is cool, all bets are off.

> All of these splits over wintered and none produced much honey but I
> expected this. Comments on the technique?

It is a good plan, but like anything in beekeeping it is a gamble. You and your supplier can do everything right and you can still still lose, or you can do do everything wrong and still win or break even sometimes. I suppose that is the fascination of the art.

I remember one year when a friend had some of the most miserable-looking bees at the end of June and I pitied him. Come September, I pitied him much less when he called me to help him load a semi-trailer of full drums.

I should mention I have another customer ahead of you who wants to take all the hives I can supply, and I had indicated that I might be able to supply, but he is wanting doubles. He may not be as interested when I explain that I am having to stop selling doubles as I costs me too much drawn comb.

We'll see. At the rate things are going, we may all be drowned by July. This spring has been full of surprises. I thought I'd be selling hives a month earlier.

One other potential area of misunderstanding that I try to discuss with everyone is what sort of equipment I am selling. 

What I have for sale is what I use myself with no selecting except on the basis of bees, brood and feed associated with them.  I am not making up nucs,  I am taking colonies as they are and occasionally adding or subtracting a frame of brood or two as indicated to equalize.

I keep my hives in EPS boxes, but have been transferring the frames in correct order to wood boxes I have lying around when requested.  Floors and lids -- unless arranged otherwise and purchased separately -- are old wood parts that are good enough for travel and a non-fussy beekeeper, but not guaranteed to be pretty, matched, or free of rot or breakage.  Those who want the EPS boxes (worth $20 each, but included free) can have them.  I prefer to sell in the EPS boxes.

All hives have ten frames.  The frames vary from very newly drawn new frames to some ancient combs.  Most are intact, but there may be the occasional broken tab but if that frame is part of the brood nest (cluster), it goes with the hive.   They were good enough for me and the bees...

What an individual buyer gets is just the luck of the draw.  Some hives contain mostly new, fully-drawn  Pierco, Mann Lake wood frames, or PF-100s drawn out in the last year or two and some are mostly combs that I have used for years.  There is the occasional; partly-drawn frame, but no sheets of foundation.

In the past, I have never used coumaphos and only occasional small amounts of Apistan (1 strip annually for several years) or recently, Apivar.  For many years, the equipment which is not new in the past three years was either out of use or treated with oxalic only.

The boxes are serviceable, but not necessarily perfect.  Paint can vary from none to fairly fresh paint.

 

This just in:

I have not been to your website in a while but did get a look at a few diary entries today.  I noticed a reference to eating beans and then this:

"I woke up a little before four, sweating. The house is around 68, so I don't know why. "

There are all sorts of possible reasons, but here is some info that you might not be aware of. If someone with extra body fat switches from a high-fat diet containing animal foods to a low-fat (<10% by calories) diet based on plant starches (which includes beans), the body is going to shed weight at 1/2 lb per day (or more) until it reaches close to the traditional "normal" weight. The fat that is shed will be burned during sleep. I have woken up around 4 am hot at times and I believe this is the reason in my case.

I was unaware at how low-fat beans are (left).  Makes sense.  I've lost ten pounds recently without trying.  I'm still eating seeds and nuts as well, and a bit of meat or poultry, but not nearly much as I used to.

1/2 lb a day is 3.5 lb per week or 14 lbs/month or 168 lbs per year!  That is amazing, but what is a 'traditional normal weight for a six-foot man in his sixth decade?'

I see I am eating more seeds and nuts than I should, and some days more than others.  I see both are high in saturated fat (right) and I will reconsider, and reduce consumption.

Here is a useful site about fats   More about sunflower seeds.   Nutritional Value of Dry Beans

I should be fixing the quonset, but it has poured rain all day.  We have the TV on and are watching the flooding of Calgary.  We knew that there are flood plains in the city, but we never expected the entire Zoo and downtown would be under water.  The Calgary Stampede  grounds are under water and the Stampede is only 13 days away. 

> ...the bedside glucose meters we use in the hospital are only accurate to
> within 20%, and that accuracy is  considered acceptable. We are trained
> to believe the results in conjunction with the patients' symptoms

At present, I am not diabetic, but merely trying to be proactive. I have been unable to relate my readings -- which are always in acceptable range although higher than optimal IMO -- to any physical effects or symptoms.

I did read the brochure that comes with the strips and it claims accuracy within 0.83 mmol/L or 20% of laboratory 96 times out of 100, after testing 36 strips from 47 batches, so occasional readings out of those accuracy limits can be expected. I just seemed to hit a run of them. They seem better lately.

> In short checking your blood sugar regularly is important, but don't
> stress the individual pieces of data - follow the trend over the weeks -

A variation of 20% of 6.8 is +/-1.36 mmol/L, so the above means that a lab reading taken from the same blood sample as any one test showing 6.8 on the meter could really be anywhere from 5.44 to 8.16.  ...And, that is 96 times out of 100. What about the other 4?

> I am also noticing in myself a tendency to winter sloth, and
> approaching 50, a winter weight gain. Running is no longer any fun, but
> I have recently rediscovered a bicycle as an efficient low stress way of
> burning calories - again it is no use in the winter; However, I find
> myself looking forward to getting on it again, unlike running which I
> find to easy to put off.

I was biking daily for a few years, but have gotten out of the habit.

> and keep exercising.

Thanks. My goal is to avoid going over the line into full-blown diabetes.

Cheryl, Ellen's university roommate arrived around noon and will be here for a week to keep El company and drive her around.  That is reassuring, as I worry.

The flooding in Calgary is not affecting us much.  Yesterday, the downtown flooded and many riverside neighbourhoods were under water.  Out here, we are experiencing rain shower after shower, with some heavy downpours, but other than a little water in the basement garage door we are dry.  The pond is not  filling appreciably.

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.
Charles de Gaulle

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Saturday June 22nd 2013
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Today, I fly at 0945.  Usually I fly earlier as it is cheaper, but since I rebooked and am paying full fare, all times of day cost the same.  Going East, this is as late as I can fly and still get there for supper.  This schedule means I don't have to rise at three. 

I awoke at five, sharp and have 2-1/2 hours until I have to leave.

I left on time, drove to Airdrie, and met up with Mike.  He drove me to YYC and a few hours later I was at YYZ, waiting for my delayed flight to YSB.  Our flight coming had been delayed a while, too, in a holding pattern as there were thundershowers passing over YYZ.  We waited so long, the pilot said we might be diverted to Ottawa, but we managed to get down before the fuel situation demanded the diversion. The same showers delayed the arrival of my outgoing plane and I got to YSB and hour later than planned.  That's better than finding myself in Ottawa, though.

Mom was waiting, and we we to Red Lobster for supper.

From a beekeeping friend:

Read Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book "Eat to Live". Pounds will be easily shed. blood sugar level will fall into place with ease. I followed his guidelines and lost 30 pounds easily. Essentially eat whole based plant foods, avoid processed foods. Avoid animal products. Eat GBOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, seeds).

He has some very good recipes which is helpful and another reason I recommend his book.

I feel way better for having lost the weight.

I do like sailing if you need a companion for brief outings, 2-4 days. Longer is hard with bees. I cook, vegetarian only :)

I checked Cassiopeia's bookings just now, and if the current bookings all work out, I will have broken even on a cash basis for this year.  That is assuming no further expense, and it is a safe bet there will be more bills coming.  Insurance renews at the end of this month.

Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Sunday June 23rd 2013
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I woke up in Sudbury after a good night's sleep. 

I see the cool, wet, rainy weather continues in Alberta, with hot weather predicted later in the week.  Here in Sudbury, it is warm and mostly sunny, and even the overcast moving in now in the afternoon is not too bad compared to the gloom and rain at home.

Mom and I went to Wal-Mart this morning, checking on the Farmers Market along the way.  The Market is just getting set up and although there is a radio station broadcasting, and a live band, there were only three booths and none of them had fresh vegetables, so we kept going.  Mom is enjoying their battery-operated shopping carts as, with her arthritis, walking is difficult.

Ooops!  They found me, I don't know how, but the rains of Southern Alberta are showing up here in the forecast. (see above).  Lightning, too, and sailors hate lightning.  Drat! 

Victoria is hardly better, though (above).

I'm up in the air about what to do.  My scheduled flight home from here is on the 5th, however, Cassiopeia is free from the 26th (Wed) thru the 2nd of July and I'm itching to be there.  After this, she is currently booked for two weeks in July, and I am hoping she will be booked solid for the rest of the summer.  August and September are both 50% booked up at present.

Maybe I should fly out to Victoria and spend the week on the boat.  I have some odd jobs to do.  I ordered the Beachmaster wheels from New Zealand and they arrived there recently, and there are the LED lights to install.  I brought them with me.  I'm still working on the manual, too.

I want to sail around here, though, in the North Channel, and called up Discovery Yacht Charters in Little Current.  Seems they have a boat free anytime I want it during the time I'm here -- and although they normally charter by the week, they will let it out for a day or two if I wish.  They also have a 2002 Gibsea for sail at a reasonable price.  I'll have to go up there and look around.  I figure my little Hunter is just too small for the Big Water.  The Great Lakes can be every bit as dangerous as most Oceans, and quite suddenly, too. 

I opened some cans of beans I had on hand here and made a bean salad for snacks.  The black turtle beans turned out to be surprisingly tasty, with a lovely texture. What's New and Beneficial about Black Beans

The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.
General George Patton

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Monday June 24th 2013
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It is unexpectedly sunny this morning.  I'm going outside and I'll either launch my boat here on Ramsay or take a drive out to Little Current.

It may be a bit early to say, but I am seeing that my morning blood glucose seems to be under 6 when I eat beans in the evening.  (5.2, 5.5, 5.7, 5.7) as opposed to 6.3 average otherwise.  Interesting!  I has an HbA1c of 5.9 recently, so am watching myself more closely.

I drove to Little Current, visited with a charter firm there, and looked over their boats.  I may charter a boat one of theses days, or buy a boat to put in charter with them, but for now, I'm just looking.  On the way back to Sudbury, I stopped at Whitefish Falls and caught a ride with Bill over to Rock Valley Lodge for supper with Bill, Faye, Mayra and Kenny.  After supper they went across to pick up Emma and Alex.  I caught a ride back to Whitefish Falls and drove back to 1207.

I have an existential map; it has 'you are here' written all over it.
Steven Wright

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Tuesday June 25th 2013
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Today, I plan to clean up my van and my boat.

I cleaned the van, had a swim, and went shopping after supper.

You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going,
because you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

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Wednesday June 26th 2013
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Good bee weather in Alberta, it seems.

I got down to cleaning the boat this afternoon and it feels good.  I've been torn between many possibilities in the last week and now I am doing something real.  It will take most of tomorrow to finish the job, but then it will be done.

During the day, I did a bit of boat shopping and am looking at a boat in Pentang.  It is a Nonsuch, a type I've wanted for some time.  This one is a 26 footer, small, but very roomy compared to my Hunter, and the type of boat I can take out in big water.

I talked to the charter outfit in Little Current and they do not want and old boat.  Too bad.  I figure it would be really popular.  It would require some upgrading, and TLC, but is simple enough that there is little to go wrong.   Anyhow, this has cooled my enthusiasm for now and I am looking at boats that might suit the fleet.

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.
Voltaire

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Thursday June 27th 2013
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Alberta is hot and sunny.  With all the heat and ground moisture, the bees should be going right to work. 

Bees are tropical insects and although it always amazes me to see them out flying around naked at 50 degrees F when I am chilly in a tee shirt, they do best when temperatures are up near our body temperature.  Maintaining nest temperature is easier and wax is softer, meaning fewer bees are required to heat and manage the nest.

The honey bee nest temperature is very close to our own body temperature.  Ours is 98.6 F and their brood nest temperature is 95-1/2 degrees.  In both cases -- bees and humans -- a normal healthy temperature varies less than a half degree.

Here in Sudbury, it is damp and showers are promised for the next few days.

Today: Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers late this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. High 21. UV index 5 or moderate.

I plan to pressure wash the interior of Carpe Diem today and finish cleaning the exterior.

I spent the morning washing the hull liner.  It is a slow, wet, job.  Using the pressure washer in confined quarters has its hazards too.  I barely grazed my hand with the jet and the high pressure water cut the skin. (right).  It is a good thing that I did not blast the back of my hand directly.

Pressure washing puts a lot of water into the bilge.  Bailing with a sponge or bucket would be difficult, so I bought a wet-or-dry vacuum for $20.  After emptying it 25 times with lots left to go, I realized how much water is in there.  There is a lot of dirt, too.  Was all that dirt in there all along?  Somehow I doubt it,  Could it have gotten in last winter and this spring?  Hard to believe.

I return home July 5.  For those looking for bees, most of what I have is spoken for, but check this out.  Sometimes deals fall through.

When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before.
Mae West

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Friday June 28th 2013
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We have rain here today.  That will slow my boat cleaning a bit as I will wait for things to clear off.

I find I am very stiff this morning.  Could be due to the contortions yesterday cleaning the far recesses of the boat or the 40 year old mattress here at Mom's, or maybe the weather?

I noticed this in the forum.  Comments?

This came in by web comment form:

You've hit the nail on the head, Allen, regarding your latest comments on "hot bees" and varroa treating.

Thanks to the never-ending stream of uneducated sensationalism in the media in recent years regarding honeybees, a tremendous number of wannabees are jumping on the beekeeping bandwagon with little or no education, or mentoring, of any kind.

And when they do choose to be educated before getting bees, they often choose classes, websites, and literature being provided by other newbeeks who are presenting largely unproven and unreliable methods (or methods not at all appropriate for our weather and locale), who tell them how incredibly easy it is for absolutely anyone to keep bees (often while presenting a plethora of lovely beekeeping "must-haves" for purchase), and are, as you said, quite "fudgey" about their own successes and failures.

The newbeeks that show up at our club these days have almost always come because they find themselves in desperate need of help. And we are finding that not only are their original sources of information either completely unable, or unwilling, to help them, but their understanding of even the most rudimentary basics of a hive is almost non-existent.

It's really quite shocking.

I copy the above here with some trepidation because I think if I were one of the people mentioned I'd feel a bit hurt and I do not want to seem to blame the victims.  They are already suffering enough from the losses, yet this has to be said.

I also have no confirmation at this point that my guess is correct.

On the other hand, I know that being hurtful is not the intent of the writer.  She is just as frustrated as I am to see beginners led astray with romantic notions of pastoral bliss and "natural" beekeeping when we are faced with impossibly harsh and long winters and two varieties of imported vampire mites -- and who knows what unknown imported viruses.  Besides, our climate is outside the natural range of honeybees.  Without human management, odds are that honeybees would be extinct here within a decade.

There are no "natural" honeybees in central and northern Alberta.  All  the bees we have are imported and must be re-imported annually and/or conserved with "unnatural" methods.

Almost all the people I meet who lose their bees due to following the wrong advice are earnest, prudent folks who saved up money to invest and surveyed the field before beginning.  They read books and magazines and took courses.  Granted there are the exceptions, but generally this the case.

Why do they fall into the wrong hands?

The problem is that established beekeepers who really know, and who could  offer the best advice have the least incentive to seek out people to preach to.  Secure, competent people who manage bees successfully have, for the most part, no need to propagandize or sell ideas.   Some teach courses for fun, for something to do, to get out of the house, or because they got railroaded into it by the club.  The money is usually not much.

In my own case, I caught two swarms in borrowed equipment.  I had no clue and they died over winter.  The next spring, we bought packages.  ($6 each -- 2lb + queen).

Of course, I built equipment, read, and dreamed all winter in preparation -- and I was led astray by magazine articles and books full of arcane bee manipulations, exactly like these new beekeepers.  I lost half my first year's packages and the rest did not amount to much. It took years of unlearning to finally get it to where I could count on having bees over winter and have bees support me instead of vice versa.

Over forty years later, I've never forgotten that, or the professional beekeepers who took the time to straighten me out (and it was not easy).  My website is my way of paying it forward.  I hope I am not leading people too far astray.  When it comes to bees, there is never just one right way, and anything can fail occasionally.

You never know how people will take things either.  Back in 2002, when I decided to investigate small cell and take Dee up on her offer to show me around, Joe and I went down and visited and I wrote a series of articles for Bee Culture.  At the time, I did not think 4.9 would become a cult.  You just never know.

Looking back, I see the first of the series reads like a puff piece.  I assumed that people would use their own judgment, and be more skeptical that they turned out to be.  Joe and I did not believe for a minute that 4.9 was a panacea and when Dee sent us the earliest 4.9 plastic foundation, we tried it and declared it to be a less-than-good idea.

My day of working on the boat dampened my Optimus black phone further -- I suspect it was already still damp from the dunking in a syrup drum April 26th --and it was blinking.  It was already a bit flakey and showing a blotchy screen from when it fell into the syrup a month or two back, and I need it for staying in touch and also for my Internet connection, so I drove to New Sudbury and got a new Nexus 4.  I'd wanted one anyhow, but I also love this Optimus Black.

Getting the Nexus to sign into Google was impossible and a call to *611 did not help.  I did have Internet from the phone, though, so I Googled the problem and remembered that with 2 step authentication, Google requires an application-specific password for such devices. I set up a new an application-specific password and was soon signed in.  I now  have to install all my apps manually and I guess I should Google how to restore them all without doing it one by one..

Few things are harder to put up with than a good example.
Mark Twain

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Saturday June 29th 2013
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I awoke at 5, had some trail mix and an ibuprofen, and went back to bed.  Next I knew it was 9:30.  The ibuprofen was for my lower back pain and it worked, somewhat.  It also made me less aware of how hard this mattress is.  Anyhow, I had a good sleep and had none of the weird ibuprofen dreams that I sometimes have when  I take one. 

Later, talking to Mom, she says she never takes her arthritis medication (an NSAID) before bed due to the odd circular dreams they cause.  I have been aware of that ibuprofen effect, but others I've mentioned it to don't seem to have noticed it.  For one thing, I only encounter that after several days' use.  I seldom take more than the occasional pill.

I have heard nothing more on the forum about the cross hive, so can't say if my guess was right.  I hope I was not too indiscreet, but the matter was posted in a public forum and it is a widespread problem.  I believe that we have to learn form one another's mistakes and oversights. 

That is why I document my own stupidities here.  I made a similar error -- knowing better -- in 2010 and lost all 75 of my overwintering colonies.

An' here I sit so patiently Waiting to find out what price You have to pay to get out of Going through all these things twice. Oh, Mama, can this really be the end, ...
(Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Zimmerman)

Anyhow, moving right along, I got an email from my brother saying he doubts we can agree on a price for him to buy me out of Pine Hill.  I figured.  Although I love the place, I never wanted to own it. In fact, I don't want to own much of anything, and I do.  I can understand owning a boat (or two or three) as they are 'personal items' but real estate, not so much. 

Of course, I've owned real estate all my adult life, so maybe if I did  not, I'd want to.  At present, though, I have two white elephants: The Old Schoolhouse, which my wife indicated we might sell when we 'retired' and then decided not to, and a share of Pine Hill, a 110-year old unheated cottage 2,000 miles from there.  And I own a boat on the West Coast, 650 miles in the other direction.  Each demands attention.

I spent the afternoon cleaning the interior of Carpe Diem and got her cleaner than I have ever seen her.  I also made a few minor changes.  I don't know why I did not do them earlier. 

It seems, although in some ways I am more muddle-headed than I recall, in some ways I am less.  Decisions are much easier than before, and with fewer dependencies.  I always found some decisions difficult as I tend to think 20 moves ahead and see I am checkmated if I follow a certain path, so don't.  So, I'm now wondering if maybe I am losing my reasoning capabilities and for that reason things look simpler than in the past.  And, for another thing, my timeline is shortening and the future does not look so distant.

I'm also less patient right now.  The death of my sister, my wife's unpredictable illness, the bad bee spring and difficult weather during bee sales, the amazingly destructive floods in Calgary (where some of my bees went recently), not to mention the Pine Hill situation and having to deal with my boat here in Sudbury are all spinning me.  Moreover, my cousin is seeing his wife succumbing quickly to dementia and total disability.

I tend to look on the bright side, but to do so without losing touch with reality is a balancing act.  Planning is difficult.  Fortunately, Mom is well and we are having a good visit.  Carpe Diem is shaping up, too.  Nonetheless, I am quite crazy these days as far as I can tell, but this trip is doing me good, I am and getting saner by the day.  Hopefully, I'll be recovered by the time I go home.

There some action in the forum.

In regard to the acceptable varroa loads in Western Canada, here is a PDF describing testing and what the professional apiculturalists recommend.  Note that the thresholds are now much lower than they were previously.  Click on the image at right to see the slide full-size.

Thank you, Allen, for "softening" my comments. I didn't realize I came off harshly, and in no way did I mean to add to the woes of folks who have put their hard-earned cash into beekeeping with the best of intentions, only to be led astray by one, or several, of the currently trendy beekeeping "prophets".

Keeping bees is not "easy", and especially not in Alberta, and newcomers just don't have the experience to be able to discern between the "liars", or exaggerators, and those telling the truth. Especially when truth is usually quite boring and in a very plain wrapper - it doesn't compete well against all the charismatic "pied pipers"!

I don't think you were harsh but someone feeling sensitive might, thus the 'softening'.

As a writer, I have sympathy for other writers, too.  It is hard not to lead others astray.  Beekeeping is complex and the answer to just about any question is, "It depends".  I confessed yesterday that my Lusby series may have led some astray.  I think I assumed a higher level of sophistication in the reader than I might have if I knew then what I know now.

We assume that others know what we know and thus always leave out some of the essential ingredients when trying to describe the steps to success.  People talk about how Grandma's recipes never seemed a good when they took them home and tried them and sometimes were a disaster.   They think Grandma was foxy and withheld an essential ingredient to maintain her superiority, but my guess is that she just assumed that everyone knew the little things she does without thinking.

Every time I write an article, I am overcome by how hard it is to give a complete picture.  Maybe that is why I write so much and spend three times more time and effort re-writing and re-writing, sometimes days later.   Who was it who said, "I apologise for being so wordy.  If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter"?

I used to expect that I could explain away misunderstandings, but have learned I cannot.  More than a little explaining just leads to more explaining, and more explaining, and more frustration and misunderstanding.

Those who will understand will understand with a few well-chosen words. 

Those who won't, won't.

The key to the whole Lusby success after losing almost all their bees twice was as far as I can tell, Africanized bees (AHB). 

AHB naturally build 4.9 cells. European bees naturally build cells averaging somewhere around 5.2mm.  Is it a coincidence that 4.9 works for Dee?  I think not.  Read this.  I rest my case.

I was impressed that these AHB were not particularly vicious, but I was there in winter and the hives were small.  Maybe I should have put a bit more emphasis on the AHB aspect, especially after seeing Dean's Lusby bee video (now removed from the Internet).

This afternoon, Mom and I went looking for a kitchen table and two chairs to replace the chrome set she has used for the past 50 years or so.  The table is 42" circular with dropping sides and is in pretty good shape, considering.  The chairs are about finished, though.  A 36" would fit the kitchen better.  I walked through 6 furniture stores and found only two that size.  Both were wood and the finish did not look as if it would last 50 years.  In one store, the saleswoman said that she gets requests, since people are downsizing away from monster homes, but that the the companies just do not offer smaller furniture these days.

After supper, I went out and moved the boat back to her storage spot beside the garage.  I had moved her to where I could tip her forward and back to clean the bilge, but that job is done.  I also started reorganizing the various items that go inside.  Other than that, I did little work on the boat.

I like the new phone.  It is fast and the battery seems to last.  The battery is not removable, though. 

I have been drying out my old Optimus Black in Mom's vegetable drier at 125 degrees F. and it is responding well. The screen is now not flashing and performance is normal.  There is still some splotching from the dunking in a syrup drum April 26th, but it is still brighter and better than many phones.  Of course, it now only works on wifi as I moved my phone number over to the new one, but it works.  I'm leaving it in the dryer indefinitely to see if it fully recovers.

Breaking in a new phone is a nuisance, and time-consuming.  Android no longer auto-installs all the apps and there is no bulk install in Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), so each app has to be installed individually.  Then the passwords must be found and entered on the Android soft keyboard.  Ugggh!

Cheryl has left for home, so Ellen is on her own.  Jean will be taking her to Drum on Tuesday and her friends drop by to check on her.

I see that there is a storm watch at home.

I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought
upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.
Benjamin Franklin

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Sunday June 30th 2013
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I awoke at 4:30 today and seem to be wide awake, so I am up, for a while, anyhow.  I slept very well and my back is better.  I took ibuprofen once during the day yesterday and once before bed and slept soundly.  I find that dealing with back problems with an anti-inflammatory promptly reduces the duration and severity.  Otherwise the muscles spasm and the problem gets worse.

We have more discussion in the forum today.

I noticed a little back pain after sitting an hour at this desk, took an ibuprofen and went back to bed.  I awoke again at ten.  In the meantime, I had some odd dreams, including one where I dreamed I was dreaming.  Interesting.  And, yes, the dreams were in colour, with good quality sound.  My back is almost 100% again.

After the post here the other day, I enquired about the Lusby videos and Bee-L obliged.  Here they are.

Warning: If you watch too many of these videos, or believe the narratives, they will rot your brain.  Use your eyes and ignore the commentary. All you really need to see is how the bees attack the camera.  These are very hardy bees.  They resist disease and mites but they are Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) and not safe to keep near habitations or livestock.  They are also swarmy.  I saw a swarm in January.

...and an article by Dee before she started kidding herself and others:

Well, the boat is clean and ready to use.  There is some exterior cleaning to do, but nothing serious.  One thing for sure: I'm going to cover it better next winter.

This is the last day of June.  2013 is half used up and new Years Eve is six months away.  I'm hearing fireworks all around me.  Haven't bothered to look.   There will be lots more tomorrow.  Science North has a professional display scheduled at duck.

The honey flow should be starting anytime now in Alberta and should be a good one, given all the ground moisture.

Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.
 Carl Gustav Jung

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