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The North Yard - Splits are behind the row

Wednesday July 10th 2013 
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I still have a sore throat and now I have a dry cough and sniffles.  This morning I have to be in Red Deer by eleven for a doctor's appointment.  Then I am to pick Ellen up in Three Hills around three.

I went to see the urologist and we decided I really did not need to see him  The GP was just worried about my PSA which has been high for a decade.

I did some shopping, then returned to Three Hills and picked Ellen up at the hospital.  She is shaky, but glad to be out of there.  The staff was very nice and everything was great, but there is no place like home. 

We stopped at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and while I waited, I noticed the chart at right on their blood pressure machine.  I have been tracking my blood pressure and pulse. This chart explains the variation I am observing.

I'm still a bit under the weather with this cold an figure it would have been safer to keep her there another day, but here she is.

I would like to go out and make up some mating nucs, but am a bit shaky myself.  Plus, it is 28 degrees out right now and should cool down in a while.

I wonder if the cells I have in mind have hatched. If so, my plan won't work.  They did look pretty ripe.  I suppose I should go out and see if there is a swarm.  It's four o'clock and swarms usually issue around one or two.

I went out and there was no swarm in sight.  The bees were not hanging out of the spits the way they hung out of the double before I split it, but I have supered each split and they have lots of room now.

I don't think they swarmed, but if they did, I think I know where to find them.  I have some accessible equipment stacks around.

I dug out some queen rearing stuff and started thinking this through.  One problem with queen rearing is the need for young bees.  I'll need at least 1-1/2 cups of bees for each nuc and that will deplete my hives since the most of the hives are not super strong, and besides, I had promised some of them to buyers and can hardly pillage them for bees.

I had people lined up wanting hives when I returned from Ontario, but have not heard from any of them.  I suppose the Calgary floods have distracted people from beekeeping.

That's OK.  Now that I can get rid of the honey, I can raise as many hives as I like.  Up until now, my hives would get plugged with honey as fast as the combs were drawn, using up all my combs.  Maybe I'll sell more hives and maybe not.

Recently, my friends brought me a lift of supers.  I'll just put them on my hives, take them off when full, and put them on a pallet.  My friends will take them away and bring me more empties, and that is all I will have to do with honey.  Beauty!

I have always said that dealing with honey is the worst part of beekeeping.

When the grandkids were here last month (June 5th to 8th), they left some art behind.  Our house was originally a school and we kept the greenboards in  the kitchen.  Kids love them.   These illustrations are quite charming.

I vacuumed until bedtime.  This is a big place and the job takes hours.

It is time I stepped aside for a less experienced
and less able man.
Scott Elledge

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Thursday July 11th 2013 
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I'm feeling better today, and maybe this cold is in retreat.  Ellen is sleeping a lot, which is a good thing.  In the hospital, people come and go at all hours and I suspect that makes deep sleep difficult.

We have another warm day ahead, so I had better get outside while it is cool.

I decided to finish the vacuuming first.  The dust balls were starting to get to me.  Also, I don't like to disturb colonies until they are flying freely, given a choice, and that is after 10 AM these days.

Colonies are more tranquil and the cluster is looser after nine as the older bees are out working.  Finding queens is harder later in the day, though. as the bees spread out and the queen may go down and to outer frames or even the hive walls.  Early in the day, she should be somewhere in the middle of the top box, assuming that brood and some empty brood cells are located there.

I'm tired today and my ribs hurt.  Why, I cannot imagine, unless it is from coughing.  I went out and looked through the two splits and found that there is a virgin in one half.  I thought I saw a mother queen in the other. Time will tell.  Then I had a nap.

Ellen is better and walking around a bit.  Her colour is returning.

After supper I went out and cut some grass, then read some sailing books I have had around but not yet used much.  This sort of book is fascinating, but not light reading. One is about preparations for sailing offshore and covers a lot of little details that one might not think about.  The other is a heavy little book that is about what one needs to know when cruising in the Caribbean.

When we sailed offshore we did not worry about many of these details and watched the weather carefully to avoid the worst conditions, but when crossing an ocean weather prediction is more difficult and the chances of encountering really heavy weather are greater than on the 1000-mile trips we made.

Will I ever cross an ocean on a sailboat?  Good question.  The boat I have now, Cassiopeia, could do it with a little preparation, but I am not getting any younger and time is running out.  Nonetheless, I have seen much older people arriving in port from a trans-oceanic voyage.

As for the Caribbean, I have only been there three times and not for long.  I spent a week there in 2010, then sailed north through Bermuda and New York.  In 2006, We spent a day before sailing north on the same route.  This past January, I spent a little over a week cruising the BVIs with Frank.  Would I spend more time there?  Yes, but maybe not just in the BVIs and USVIs, I'd probably follow the Thornless Path.

Men are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of things.
Epictetus

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Friday July 12th 2013 
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Nothing is pressing today. The home care nurse comes by today and we may have company for supper.  Elijah says he can cut some grass, so maybe we'll get that caught up.

I am going to try to relax.  I've put myself under a lot of pressure over the past year.

Ellen is better but still shaky.  She is walking around now and doing things.

I went out and looked at the Quonset West yard and made up my mind what I'm going to do.  I'll make all my hives into singles and add an excluder and a honey super. 

That way, I can check the brood chambers for queens easily, the honey will go up top.  Come September I'll add a second brood box underneath and feed if necessary.  I have lots of boxes full of honey and singles never winter well for me unless they are placed on a second box.  If I place singles on a good brood box, they winter almost as well as doubles.

Where the hives I find today are strong doubles -- maybe 10% of the remaining unsold hives -- I'll split them and look for cells further along or let them raise their own queen. 

It is getting late for starting queens, but there is still time.  Any brood from queens started today will not emerge until August 16th.  That does not leave much time for hives to build up for winter, especially if we get frost August 20 -- as we have a number of times in memory.

I went to Three Hills for a few items, then began supper.  Meijers arrived and we had supper and a visit, then unloaded the supers onto the front lawn, intending to move them to the Quonset Yard in the morning.

Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
Wilson Mizner

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Saturday July 13th 2013 
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I woke up early today and realised it is raining.  My weather station says 4.1 mm so far.  We unloaded supers as the guys were leaving last night and I did not cover them.  Some honey will have washed down and may kill several spots on the lawn.  The rain won't hurt the supers, but I should have covered them or moved them to storage, but it was 9 o'clock and I was done for the day.

The rain was not enough to be noticeable on the supers and they were not wet this morning when I checked them. 

There are 14 hives at Quonset West now that I have I finished the group.  I found one hive that was ready to swarm.  It still has lots of bees, but there were plenty of almost ripe cells and no new eggs, just hatching eggs, so I figure they were just on the verge.  I saved the extra cells and split the hive.  I also found three hives which appear to have hatched a queen, but have no eggs.  I gave them ripe cells from the swarmy colony.  If they have a virgin, no harm.  If they do not, then  this should help.

Beekeeping is fun again, now that I am reducing hives to singles and adding a super.  I am finding some full supers, but not enough to pull yet.

I worked on the bees until I was tired, then mowed grass.  Seems our two teen mower operators are not as motivated as we hoped.

I encountered a queenless hive and recalled I had found a small swarm that had taken up residence in the comb inside two feeders which were in a stack, so I inserted them into that hive and assume the queen will move out into the normal frames. I presume it was a mating swarm.  Sometimes bees leave with a queen on her mating flight and take up residence somewhere other than home.  These are very small swarms.  The queen should be good, though.  We'll see in a few days.

Something else I saw that made me wonder is the shot at right.  These good-looking queen cells are a distance from where the brood is.  Did the queen lay in undrawn cell impressions on the foundation, or wander over to lay in cell cups the bees built there?

Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting.
Karl Wallenda

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Sunday July 14th 2013 
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Jean and family are coming today.

They came around noon.  Fen came as well and we had BLTs for lunch.  They left mid-afternoon. 

I then went out and counted the hives.  I count a total of 70.  I doubt that I'll have that many come fall, but I imagine I'll do a bit more splitting, too, so if I have around that number going into winter, that will suit me fine. 

I sold 24 hives this spring after a bad winter and slow spring.  If I winter 70, and have 15% loss, then I'll have 60 to split and sell from.  This year I had 69 hives in spring and about 36% loss or 53% counting the weak ones as dead.

Yard

Now In Singles

To Work On

Quonset W

16

 

Quonset

4

32

South Yard

 

 8 

North Yard

4

10

Total

20

50

This afternoon, I volunteered to organize the Bluewater Cruising Association's Thanksgiving Rendezvous at Thetis Island for this year.  There is not much to it.  Call the marina, buy a keg of beer, order some bakery items, find a coffeepot and assign duties.   At least that is what I hear.  Should be fun.  Thanksgiving is late this year, but I recall good weather in early October in previous years on the Coast and had planned to be out there on my boat anyhow.  The wildcard is Ellen's health.  She has been frail lately.

I came in from working around six as I had forgotten a headband.  It was just too hot and sweat was running into my eyes.   I'd only done two hives and figured that might be it for the day, but after eating, and a couple of glasses of strong red wine, I went back out and got a lot done.  I came in  again around nine.  If I stay out longer the bees get crawly.

The best time to work bees is from about four until dusk IMO.

The cynics are right nine times out of ten.
Henry Louis Mencken

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Monday July 15th 2013 
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We have another dull, cool day with rain in the forecast.  This has been a cool summer so far. 

I have yet to put up the pool.  It is a bit of a job and I need to do it before August when Jon and the kids come.

I am hoping to continue working the bees today.  The honey flow is on and the hives are filling with honey.  I've seen cool, wet Julys like this and although one might think that the flow conditions are poor and not check the yards, I've gone out to find the lids glued down and all supers full.  It never pays to make assumptions.

At 10 AM I went out to check for mail.  Nothing has come yet, but I discovered that the wind is now blowing cold from the north.  There is no way I can work on bees this morning. 

I was hoping the ignition module for the kitchen stove had arrived.  The stove is only a little over a year old, and the module died already.

I did go out and did a few hives.  The flow is on  here and I need to get the hives done.  I have a number of boxes I could pull right now, but just put them back on for keeping until I have enough for a pallet.

The weather turned cold and I went in again.  I've been tired all day and slept a lot.

Plato was a bore.
Nietzsche

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Tuesday July 16th 2013 
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It is sunny and 12 degrees at 8 AM.  Looks like a good day to get the bees done before afternoon when we expect 25 degrees.  Will I set up the pool?

At 11:30, I have done a fair bit and the day is heating up.  I count 20 hives yet to reduce to singles.  As I go, I am making up the bottom brood boxes to add under in fall.   They are quite heavy and I doubt I'll have to feed much then.

It got too hot around noon and I think my cold is still affecting me.  I felt a bit faint, so went in after all, only "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun".  Anyhow, I got a few things done indoors and started setting up the pool.  Once it is set up, I can cool down any time.  Ten minutes in the pool and I am good for an hour in the hot sun.

We were out of eggs, so I ran up to Cal's Cycle.  I have purchased farm eggs from Cal's Dad and now Call and his son for 40 years.  The cycle shop is a converted chicken barn, ten miles from nowhere.  I have no idea where the chickens are now.

After supper, while waiting for the outdoor temperature to drop, I started a Facebook page for my boat.  It is a bit late now for this year, but I am shocked that my charter company seems to be content to have prime time like July unbooked. Granted, I am doing well, but as a promoter, this looks negligent to me.  The boat should be 100% booked IMO.

I then went out and worked on more hives.  I did another four hives, but it seems there are lots more to do.

I'll just get finished this job and it will be time to pull honey.  Then I'll spread brood and rotate frames and that will be the time to add foundation at the outer edges.  At this point, I am not seeing a lot of foundation being drawn, and that seems odd, as normally, I see good wax production beginning in May and June.

A book that can be summarized should not be written as a book.
Nassim Taleb

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Wednesday July 17th 2013 
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Here comes another hot day, and the honeyflow continues.  I imagine that my friends are extracting by now.  I hope so, as I will have boxes to extract and need some empties.

It is 9 AM, the temp is 18.2 degrees already, and I'm headed out. 

The day turned a bit cooler and overcast, but that made for ideal working conditions.  I did another 4 or 5 hives and then came in.  Ellen's ankles are swollen and so we are off to see the doctor.

I had to make some phone calls today and got put on hold several times.  What is with 'music' on hold?  What makes the owners of switchboards think I want to listen to their choice of sound?  Whatever happened to a simple beep every few seconds?

Is it not insult enough to put people on hold forever without blasting pseudomusic at them?  Some companies even run commercials as an added insult.

If I am on hold at my desk, I have the phone on 'speakerphone' and don't really care how long I am on hold.  However, that noise is most annoying.  I can't turn it off or I won't hear if and when someone finally comes on the line.

The bee work is going well and it is just a matter of time and not hard work.

When I am done, and all the hives are in single brood chambers with ten frames and a super over an excluder, working the hives should be much easier.  I'll be able to concentrate on the bees.  Having a large amount of comb in two and three brood chambers was a problem, especially since much of the comb was full of honey.

As a result, working the hives was hard work; I had to handle a lot of heavy boxes and many heavy frames.  This way, the brood chambers will be solid brood and I can manipulate frames easily.  The honey will be above and can be removed easily.  The hives will be light enough I can move them around.

I'll have to spread brood a bit since some queens don't spread out much and prefer to move vertically rather than horizontally.

Come fall, I'll just place the heavy boxes I am making up now on a floor in front of each hive and lift the single brood chamber hive on top of it.

The single brood box configuration may make it possible to go back to using oxalic acid for varroa control.

I would never try to winter in singles.  Some people have success, but it just does not work for me.  It may work one year, but be a disaster the next.  For me, the bees do much better in a larger space and farther from the entrance. 

Fall and spring management is much easier in doubles.  Singles can starve very quickly, especially if they have a lot of brood when the supers are removed since they have very little honey in the brood chamber.  In spring, they have smaller reserves and need to be watched.  If they don't starve, they can plug out and swarm.  Doubles are less likely to starve and slower to plug up.

I finished the Quonset yard and now just have the South Yard and the North Yards to do.

Howcum the Internet gets stuck?  Sometimes there is a blizzard of email and sometimes nothing comes in for hours at a time.  I assume that the Internet is not the cause of the spurts and that email is delivered instantly. What is it that makes people act in waves?

I was listening to "Ideas" tonight on CBC as I worked in the kitchen, repairing the stove -- the new igniter came today -- and cleaning up.  The topic was the Teutonic Knights, Crusades, Knights Templar and all that.  Very insightful. 

There are known knowns;
there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns;
that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns;
there are things we do not know we don't know."
Donald Rumsfeld

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Thursday July 18th 2013 
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Today, we are off to Drum for a CT scan.

We got there early and were told to wait.  At the appointed time, the appointment was delayed another 3/4 hour.  Finally, at 3:10, Ellen was done and we returned home.

I went out and worked on the North Yard.  Some supers are ready to extract.  When I came in for supper, there were four left to work on.

After supper and a nap, I went out and did three more before a thunderstorm sent me inside.  Now I have a total of nine left to do -- one here and eight in the South

Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.
Leo Tolstoy

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Friday July 19th 2013 
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Another hot day is predicted.  I'm up early and planning to get out before the heat.  My goal is to finish setting up the pool and get the rest of the hives into singles and all the supers onto hives.

Jean and Chris are building a new house at Gull Lake and it is coming along well. It is the one on right in the image at right.

I got off to a good start today by watering the plants.  We have quite a few houseplants and the project uses about 8 gallons of water.  I water weekly, with a some special watering in between.  The tomatoes (yes, they are indoors), for example need water every day.   At right is a shot of some of the plants in our hall, under the skylights.
 

I went out around 9:30, did the last hive in the North Yard and cleaned up.  That last hive had recently requeeened nicely.  At left and right are some shots of the emerged cells on one of the two frames which had cells.  That is what I love to see.  If I had needed some cells, these are the sort I would use.  Can you spot all three cells?

There are 14 hives in the North Yard right now, including splits.  Three are raising queens.  The rest have made nice-looking queens and are in various stages of building up.  Several have filled a super.

My plan was to go out again after lunch and finish the hives, but first to finish setting up the pool so I can fill it.  I did get the pool set up and began filling it, but Ellen was having problems keeping food and water down and I had to take her to the hospital.  They admitted her, but even though she was in there just a week ago, the process is very slow and used up the afternoon.  I returned home at six.  The pool is filling nicely

I had supper and went to the South Yard.  I really was not expecting much, but found that I had three monsters. Of course I am late getting here and they are full of cells.  I'm out of time and just split the triples in  three and supered them. The yard went from 8 to 16 hives.  Some will work out.  Some won't.  I'll combine them as required after the swarming urge is past and I see which ones have queens.  At right is a shot taken before I returned to put on more lids and bricks.  The hay will be cut in the next few days and I'll trim around the hives.

I had to get 'er done.   Time is running out and it was 9 PM before I finished.  By then the bees were telegraphing  their disapproval on my skin.

Working bees at this time of year is brutal in every sense of the word. 

Before Ellen went to the hospital, I promised Zeke I'd go sailing on Glenmore tomorrow.  I am going to do it.  Come to think of it, this will be the first time I have entered Calgary south of the airport since the Flood.

So, I have finished another round.  Hives are building up and supers are filling.

10 PM: My animals are gathered close.  Thunderstorms are passing through.  Storms don't bother me.  I'm fatalistic and I love the sound of rolling thunder and rain falling. 

Wit is educated insolence.
Aristotle

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