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Frost and Falling Leaves

Tuesday October 1st 2013
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Thirty days has September, April June and November... So this is October.  Already.

Winter is coming and the leaves are falling.

I woke up this morning with a sore neck and found I am feeling vaguely disoriented.  I have work to do today: checking bees, sorting papers and signing forms in Calgary, and attending the Bluewater Cruising Association meeting in Calgary tonight.

Speaking of nucs going into winter...

> Probably not an option, no indoor place to put them.

An European-style bee house is an option. They don't have to be elaborate.

>>>  Not being robbed and no ants. I have the hives staggered and
>>> different colors to prevent drift but you never know.

>> Progressive robbing is invisible as it just looks like normal coming and
>> going.

That is the reason for reducing weak colony entrances in fall. Not all robbing is visible.

> I am sorry I did go with deep over deep so it was more
> interchangeable. I do not use med.'s for much, I use deeps and
> shallows.

All the divided hives I have seen use standards. Queen like tall combs and shallower ones not so much.   Jumbos (11-1/8"" deep) frames are seldom used anymore, but queens loved them.

The problem with beekeeping is too many moving parts. Less is more.

> Some day deeps will be more than I can lift, I am ageing you know.

Even if you can lift them. the repeated lifting and twisting can be hard on the spine and ankles.

The trick is to find ways to avoid lifting more than necessary and handle heavy ones frame by frame.

I should mention that I once extracted 100 hives in a 4-frame extractor and by removing the frames one by one, brushing them and placing them in an empty box.

See also these Bee Culture articles I wrote many years ago:

I spent the morning planning the BCA Rendezvous and then went out to check on the feed situation.  There was not much bee activity in the feed drum, so I lifted lids in the North Yard and hefted the hives.  I can see why the bees are not out feeding.  They are full. 

The quonset yards seem full, too, but the South Yard, where I worked last and simply put the semi-full feed boxes on top is spotty.  I am going to have to reverse and/or feed many of them, and perhaps combine a few.

First, I think I'll move them north into shelter.  I have the perfect spot picked out.   It will be cool enough for the next few days that they will not fly much and I should be able to move them a half-mile Friday with no drifting back. 

Two days without flight is cutting it a bit short, but I can tell when I pick them up.  If a few bees come out and follow the hives rather than flying back to the location, all is well.  If not and they fly away, I take them back.

Looking at the hives, I predict a 20% wintering loss, and maybe a bit higher, depending on the winter.

*   *   *   *   *

I found that I'm very tired today and may need a nap.  I have to be in Calgary by 1630, and it is now 1420, so time is short.  It is an hour and a quarter drive -- minimum.

I decided to have a strong coffee instead.  That worked.

*   *   *   *   *

By the time I left, I was running short of time and had to cut short my shopping plans.  I did stop in Airdrie for gas and to buy wine and rum for the party I planned while driving in.  My birthday is coming up and I decided to have birthday party for myself Saturday and  invited the usual suspects.

I arrived in time to sign the papers and then had some time to shop.  I found myself snarled in city rush hour traffic, but finally got onto Bow Trail and found myself at Westbrook Mall with a half-hour to kill. I wandered around, but did not buy anything as I  was parked too far from the store.

The meeting was worth the drive.  The speaker was a local landscaper who decide to buy a brand new French multi-million dollar ocean racer to do a solo circumnavigation race. 

"Bostik departed Cherbourg, France and arrived in New York, 15 days and two broken ribs later, all in preparation for the SolOceans solo sailing competition.

"Bostik is part of a fleet built to the same exacting specifications (including hull, equipment and sails), making SolOceans the first true "equal opportunity" around-the-world competition.

"Phil embarked on the first of several solo oceanic voyages in 1979. He's crossed every ocean at least once, including two years sailing & home schooling in the South Pacific with his family.

He went to France, boarded the boat, and left France for New York with a French crew on a test run.  The day they left, there was a big sendoff lunch with dignitaries and politicians.  He had a great time at the party, but drank too much wine and threw up once he was on the boat.  Once underway, he broke his ribs in a freak mishap and spent the first days wet and miserable. They made it  to New York, travelling the 3500 nm at speeds up to 25 and 30 knots.  All in all, though, it was no picnic. 

After the trip, he learned that the race was cancelled since no other boats had entered by the deadline, so he got his deposit back.  After his ordeal, I think he was glad to escape the commitment

I arrived home at 2300 and went right to bed.

All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions.
Leonardo da Vinci

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Wednesday October 2nd 2013
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I slept well and awoke at 0625.  I have a stiff neck and a few aches again today, but am less groggy.  I had been thinking I was fighting a cold for the past few days, but it did not materialize.  Maybe it is the weather change?  We are having rain and the forecasters are talking about snow in the next few days.

Hi Allen

I know when we spoke in the summer that you have wintered with 3 brood boxes. I know that Joe Andreas does as well. Last spring, some of my hives were overflowing with bees so I added a third brood box so they wouldn’t swarm. I split some hives as well. I am trying different things to see what works for me.

Now that winter is approaching I have reduced some to 2 brood boxes but still have 3 that are 3 brood boxes. The problem is that everyone tells me I should only winter with 2 because the bees will have a smaller space to keep warm. The 2 top boxes are almost solid honey and the queen is in the third lower box I suspect. Frankly, I have never identified a queen and only look for brood. It is getting cold out and I need to decide ASAP. Without seeing them, I know your advice can only be a good suggestion. What do you recommend? If you think 2 is always better I will take the top box off and place some of the honey from the top box in the bottom box so there is only about 2 frames free of honey (hoping I don’t chill the brood or kill the queen). It will be a lot of work and is there really that big of a risk if the bottom box is even empty if they are wrapped well?

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give.

People give conflicting advice, and often everyone is right, more or less.  You have to ask what their assumptions are, because the same advice can be right in some situations and not in others.

First, until late winter and spring, the bees do not keep the hive warm.  Once they raise a lot of brood, their increased activity may warm the hive somewhat, however a strong colony will control; conditions inside the cluster, regardless.  It is the weak ones we need to worry about.

If you have hives that occupy three boxes, I would leave them in three, assuming the top boxes are fully drawn and not brand new comb.  Ideally, the combs have held brood before.

Since there is not much honey in the bottom, that box will just act as a dead air space under the colony as they move up, and that is a good thing.  Unless you have too much ventilation and a windy spot, the air in the hive forms layers, with the warmest at top, and what lies below has little influence.  That is why few commercial beekeepers, if any, insulate the floors, but everyone insulates the lids..

I assume you will wrap?  If so, you can wrap the whole hive or if your wraps are only two boxes high, just wrap the top two boxes and the lid.  The most important insulation is the insulation you place on the lid.

I'd reduce the bottom entrance and have a top entrance that is 0.75 square inch -- either a 1"auger hole or a 38" x 2" slit.

Once spring comes, if a colony is weak, it will benefit from having space removed from the hive, but at this point, as you note, any disturbance is likely to do more harm than good.

I have some hives in two, and some in three.  I have even wintered in four sometimes, with excellent results.

The forklift was left in the south pasture yesterday as I drove the truck I store there back for a charge and tire check. This is the time of year that tires go down and batteries show their age and time to charge or swap them out before, one cold morning, nothing happens. 

Failure to change batteries or replace them when they begin to die can result in damage to the starter and alternator.  The starter is at risk because a failing battery's voltage is low and the starter drags.  Slow cranking won't start the engine quickly and starter comm and windings get hot. The alternator fails because it is not designed to charge a fully discharged battery, especially if the driver has the defroster on full and the headlights on, adding to the exceptional load.

So I went over to bring it back and put the battery on charge. While there, I moved a few hives.  The bees came out and made a cloud around the entrance, but none flew back to the spot where they had been.  Bonus!

I tidied and sorted things until 1645 and then went to bring the truck back.  I noted that no bees were flying around the old location and there were only a few bees on a nearby equipment stack.  I think I can move the South Yard tomorrow , but might wait until Friday to be sure.

Doing what little one can to increase the general stock of knowledge is as
respectable an object of life, as one can in any likelihood pursue.
Charles Darwin

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Thursday October 3rd 2013
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At 0733, the sun is just below the horizon and the day looks to to be somewhat clear.  There are clouds in the south and west. The chance of rain is at 30% and the day promises to be cool.

I'm tied up with deskwork and also getting ready for the party I am throwing for myself on Saturday.  I hope to get out and move the South Yard to better shelter later this afternoon as sure as I am certain that it will not warm up.  At 1030 it is still 4 degrees C, so I think the odds are good

*   *   *   *   *

Around 1600, the sun was out and I took a walk down the tracks.  I did not walk the whole mile, though.   I have been feeling groggy and dopey and figured a walk would do some good.  It did, but I think I am a bit sick with something.  I could have done the whole mile, but did not want to overdo it, and was wanting to get to work moving bees.

I checked the South Yard and the bees were not flying, so I took the forklift down and brought the hives back in two loads.  (right0

After supper, I got to thinking that I need groceries and that it would be a good time to get groceries to save time tomorrow.  I drove to Three Hills, loaded up my cart, then ran through the checkout.   The total was $60 and I reached for my wallet, then realized that I had left it at home.  Often I take my wallet out of my pocket when I don't need it if I am doing something where it would be in the way or get dirty and sometimes forget to pick it up on the way out to shop.

By then it was 2045 and too close to closing time to drive home and back, and the manager was not there, so they put the things in the back.  He would have just given me credit, but the kids at the register had no authority to do so.

Now, I have to go back tomorrow anyhow.  I did not save any time.

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is:
be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
Elbert Hubbard

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Friday October 4th 2013
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I have to drive to Three Hills to pick up the groceries.   I'll do it first thing and get that job out of the way. 

I wonder how I can remember to take my wallet?  I don't carry it at home, but I do carry my cell phone everywhere, so remembering the phone is usually no problem.  Living alone and being an old guy now, I figure having a phone nearby is a good idea.  I write a list of items I need on the kitchen blackboard as I think of them, then make up a list to take shopping.  Maybe I should put "wallet" on the board, too.

Waiting for the store to open, I firmed up plans for my party tomorrow.  Most say whether they are coming and how many in the group, but one family is hard to pin down and could arrive with one or six people.  That is rude, and makes it hard to plan, so am I rude to text her and say I need to know now?  Whatever.  I did.  I am going away for ten days so don't want a of leftovers, or to put out a lot of food on the chance that people may or may not come.  I also have to plan the seating.

I went to town, not at 0900, but at 1030.  Seems things came up to delay me.  I picked up the groceries and went to the bank, then drove home.  When I got home, Zippy did not want to get out of the van.  She had been trembling a bit before left and I thought that odd.  She did come in with some encouragement, but got less energetic all afternoon.  I'm worried about her.

I drove down to where the South Yard was and saw zero bees flying around.  Seems the bees were happy to stay where I put them.

Zippy seems better, but has not recovered her zip yet.  I wonder if she ate something bad? I can't imagine what.

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth.
The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
Kurt Vonnegut

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Saturday October 5th 2013
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Today I am setting up for a party from 1600 hrs until 2000.  I went to bed early last night and was up at 0520 this AM.  I have lots to do in the next two days.  The weather promises to be warm and sunny.

Fortunately I am feeling more normal today.  Whatever was making me weak and groggy seems to have passed.  Zippy seems better today, too, but is still not zippy.  Could we have been affected by the same thing?  Dogs and people don't usually get the same viruses AFAIK, but food poisoning? 

10 Dog Poisons: Plants, Foods, Medicines, and More

Dangerous Foods That Dogs Should Never Eat - WebMD Slideshow

My understanding has been that dogs can eat lots of things that would make people sick or even die and vice versa.  Am I wrong?  I Googled and found the New Scientist site which has lots of interesting articles on  dogs, but requires a subscription.  Tempting.

Anyhow, I saw her eating grass two days ago.  Ellen planted all sorts of unusual plants in here garden and some plants, even common ones are poisonous to dogs, so who knows?

Zippy is not eating, She won't even eat the pill pocket with her medication which she found tasty until now.  I have to be concerned that maybe the medication is part of the problem. 

You never know about medications.  When  Ellen was getting worse, they changed her medication and I faithfully ensured she took the pills on schedule.  As it turned out, the new medication made things worse and we did not know until she was back in the hospital and they adjusted the medication again.

Sometimes medications can be a problem.  I doubt that for Zippy.  This is simply a systemic antibiotic for her infected paw and she was taking it with no issues for almost a week now.  I would have expected problems with it to show up sooner.

0859: Suddenly Zippy is zippy again and asked to go out.  She ran around the house and came back in, looking good. I see she ate her medicine.  Whew! (Actually she did not AFAIK.  I saw it lying around later and I think Jean's dog ate it later as it was a small pill in a Pill Pocket.  Pill Pockets are a tasty little snack that is designed to be very attractive, and mask any smell or taste from the drug ).

Jean and the kids arrived at 1400 and the rest at 1600 and shortly after.  We had not all been together since the burial.  Everyone was in a jolly mood and we had a great time.  I scheduled this from 1600 to 2000 hrs so that those who don't like to drive at night can get home in daylight.  We're all getting older.

So far I don't worry about night driving and think my vision is still about as good as ever as long as the windshield is clean, but as people age, light sensitivity decreases and other problems crop up. 

Also, as we age, we have had enough experience to know how much there is out there near and on the road  that we cannot see at night even if the headlights and vision are good.  Lights from oncoming traffic tend to temporarily blind drivers long enough that a lot can happen.  In some areas, the deer and moose come out and are sometimes crossing or even standing on the highways. 

Dark coloured cattle and horses have been known to get out and tend to walk down the road.  While they would be very obvious in daytime, more than a few in my memory have been hit at night.  The effect is much like hitting a brick wall.  A neighbour hit a black steer less than 1/4 mile from my driveway and totaled a his brand new truck.  Of course, the steer was totalled, too.

BY 2000, everyone had left.  They had done a lot of the cleanup, so Jean and I finished the job, then she left for home.

Zip is staying with Ruth and Dave for the next ten days.  I explained that to her in advance and when they were leaving, she went out and was happy to jump into Dave's truck.  She seems better now, so maybe she ate something she should not have.

I sat around a while thinking what good friends I have and not feeling like watching video, or reading on the web, I spent some time reading Currents magazine, then went to bed a bit early.

Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break,
 but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.
Marcus Aurelius

Sunday October 6th 2013
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I slept until 0725 and checked the weather.  Today looks like a hot one by fall  standards -- twenty-one degrees C.

Jean and I cleaned up before she left last night and I woke up at midnight. Not falling immediately back to sleep, I reloaded the dishwasher and did a few more little jobs, so the party cleanup is done and out of the way.

I have checked in for the flight now and have my seat.  All that remains is to check through the bees I moved and straighten them, pack and visit with the people who will be taking care of the house, plants and cat while I am gone.

At 1700, after it had warmed up, I went out and worked through the hives I had moved up from the South Yard.

Fen and Maddy came for supper and I gave them the tour, covering plant watering and furnace management.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. Charles Darwin

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Monday October 7th 2013
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I opened my eyes at 0220, found I was wide awake an hour earlier than planned, got up and washed the dishes while I finished waking up.  Although I have laid out the items I plan to take along, I always pack at the last moment.

I have to be in Airdrie at 0615 and that means leaving here at 0505 at the latest.  My flight takes off at 0745, so I should be there in plenty of time.  I'm checking a bag and the cutoff is an hour before the flight these days, so I don't want to be late.  I'm perfectly happy to spend time at the airport.  I have books, magazines and my electronics to entertain me.

If all goes well, I should be aboard Cassiopeia around 0900 PDST.  I'm thinking I'll spend the day in Sidney and maybe have a nap this afternoon.  Rain is expected in Sidney today.

*    *    *    *

Mike dropped me at YYC an hour early.  I boarded an almost-empty plane and slept most of the 1-1/2 hour flight.  Coming in, we passed right over Sidney.  That is my marina in the centre upper right.

My baggage was off the plane before I was, and I was on the boat before 0900.  The day was spent moving in, fixing things and shopping.

Exhausted, I was in bed shortly after 1800 hrs.

The variety of all things forms a pleasure.
Euripides

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Tuesday October 8th 2013
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I slept soundly and awoke with the dawn.  I still have a lot of tidying to do. So far the day is overcast and I have yet to check the weather.

I borrowed the truck and went shopping again.  I needed muriatic acid to remove the scale from the toilets.  The dock crew suggested that they need replacement, but a half-hour and $10 worth of acid made them like new, with no scrubbing.  That saved me $600. The camera does not show how white the entire bowl really is.  The darkness in the picture at right is shadow, not stains.

I also got some flowers, big pots of blooming begonias and mums for $12, total.  I always like to have flowers around.

Mid-afternoon, I decided that no matter how much I enjoy fixing my boat, I really should sail it.  Bedwell Harbour is an easy 2-hour sail, so that was my choice.  I got ready rather hastily as I had only three or four hours to sundown and pulled out of the slip at 1530 hrs. At 1823, I have already been tied to ball at the marine park for a while and it is not nearly dark.

The sail was upwind and uneventful and I sailed almost right up to the mooring ball.  I'm glad the trip was not too challenging as I discovered how rusty I am.  It has been May since I sailed.

I think my mind must be going.  I had one of the dyslexic days where forward and reverse get mixed up.  I think the stress of the past two years must have been getting to me.   I can't even type anymore.  We are coming up on two years since Ellen was diagnosed with terminal cancer and two months since we buried her. 

Oddly, it is moments like this when I am somewhere distant and pleasant and I get an urge to phone her that I realize she is gone.  Another time when the finality hits me  is when I drive by the cemetery, which I do whenever I go to Calgary.

Anyhow, I navigated well, and sailed reasonably well, especially considering most sailors want crew aboard to handle a big boat like this and I do it all alone.  A smaller boat left Sidney today with four aboard.  People look at me strangely when I say, "No, I am fine. I like sailing alone."

I was in Sint Maartin with Frank and we were tied up with megayachts and all sorts of boats.  A Swan 65 came in from 1,000 miles away somewhere and there was just one old guy on board.  We got to talking and I decided he had a good idea there.

  In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
John Adams

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Wednesday October 9th 2013
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Swalwell seems like another world today.  Sitting in my boat in Bedwell Harbour as the sun rises, home is almost entirely out of mind and the concerns that preoccupied and worried me only a few days ago -- bees, animals, plants, furnace -- seem very distant and vague. 

Tomorrow, I plan to be back at Sidney, but today, any way the wind blows.  I'll start my day by organizing a bit and putting the outboard onto the dinghy.

Here is some helpful feedback from a reader:

---
"I can't even type anymore."

I had something similar happen nearly 3 years ago (more corporate burnout, less so family issues), where I lost my ability to read and write (and reason things through, make decisions, etc).

It's taken you a couple years of ongoing stress to get to this point, it may take a couple years to recover. And you have lost Ellen too. The "missing" will only add up as you come to terms with all the many, small connections you had together, so be kind and patient with yourself. You are allowed to not be "all there" all the time.

The process to sort out all the emotions involved is different for everyone, but no one can circumvent it or skip it. And while your innards are busy with that, your brain may not always be "on" for other things. I know you like to keep busy - and it's important to do things (especially things you enjoy) so your brain doesn't go completely to mush - but get LOTS of rest too. As much as you need, whenever and wherever you need it, sleep is healing. And eat healthy and regularly.

Try to stay away from alcohol too (you may think it helps but it really doesn't).

I wish you well.
---

I appreciate the advice.  Some of it I already know, but it never hurts to have this reinforced because 'knowing' and doing are not the same thing.

I also realise that I am not the only one going through this sort of experience, and as I get older, should I be that lucky, it only gets worse as friends and family sicken and die.  This year I lost my sister and then my wife.  My mother is 94 and going strong, but increasingly crippled by arthritis.

All any of us can do, really, is stay positive and active and enjoy the ride.  Must be hell for control freaks.

As for alcohol, I think that is good advice and was already cutting back, but expect to cut back more.  One thing about being on a boat is that one need always have one's wits about one, especially when anchoring as the unexpected can happen and does quite often.

Food is an interesting topic.  I am finding the diet that suited me well in the past no longer suits and I am increasingly finding vegetation fare more attractive and meats less so.

I put the outboard on the dinghy and can see it is a bit heavy for the boat.  It runs well, and I went into the beach to pay for mooring and discovered it is free after September 30.  Then I cast off for Fulford and had a beautiful, but slow sail downwind to Saltspring.

Before I reached Russell Island, the wind died and I doused the sails, then motored into Fulford and tied up at the pubic dock.  The fee was only $30, which is cheap.  Bruce met me for supper on the boat.

Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
Dalai Lama

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