Saturday June 20th 2015
Good morning. I woke up at 0305 and was wide awake and hungry, so I got up for a while and had breakfast. I'll work for an hour and go back to bed and sleep another four.
I went back to bed at 0435 and slept until 0930.
I went out and did some yard cleanup, cut some grass, and continued to work through hives. I'm getting to some hives that have been untouched for three weeks or more and they are looking good.
I almost finished the Quonset Yard and a storm moved in. Storms threaten for a while, but take quite some time to actually arrive. I usually have a sense for when the rain will hit and made it in the door just before the rain started in earnest.
I have been really stressed about the bees this spring. What I am doing is actually not that stressful or difficult if everything works out. The problem is that I am trying to rush things and also that I made assumptions that did not prove out -- and I had no plan B.
Being brought empty drawn supers and having them taken away when full is perfect for me. I don't want anything to do with honey. It just gets in my way.
Does anybody have empty drawn supers and want me to fill them? Call me. I need to keep my brood chambers from plugging. Drawing too much foundation puts pressure on the brood chambers and gets the brood combs drawn out too fat and plugged with honey.
Another mistake I made this year was to not mark the dates of splits on lids. I did not want to mark the lids up and that cost me time, and caused some confusion and duplicated effort. I need a better record-keeping system. My brick signals are not enough, even when I can remember what they mean.
One thing that has reduced my stress level is that I bit the bullet this year and got more new lids and floors that fit better to allow easier handling and moving of hives.
I went out after supper and finished the Quonset Yard. I'm now running out of floors and lids again. I must have over 140 hives right now. Of course, that will shake down to a much smaller number by fall.
On my way over to the hives, I saw a Great White Owl circle and land in their favourite elm tree. I had noticed that there seem to be fewer of the little skunks. Meijers saw several (five?) the other night. I only saw one skunk last night.
Maybe my developing skunk problem will be solved by nature.
Owls can take away fairly large animals. Kalle reported seeing an owl try to take Amos one time, but Amos fought the owl off.
Few men of action have been able to
make a graceful exit at the appropriate time.
June 21st 2015
From today on, the days get shorter and we have a little over six months until Christmas.
We are coming into the prime build-up weather for bees, with warm days and warm nights. In spite of the rains, I don't expect much of a flow for a few weeks since the spring bloom is over and summer bloom is weeks off. Nonetheless, we could be surprised. I was with the heavy dandelion flow this year.
Around lunchtime, I went out and vacuumed the pool. I still have algae in the bottom, but it may be getting better.
Then, I went to the North Yard and mowed and tidied a bit. I have a bit of work to do there since I had just dropped everything on my last visit, maybe ten days ago. I think I needed something and went to get it and never got back. As I have been saying, I am brain-dead and disorganized these days.
Then I went to pack to go to Orams' for supper. I have a lot of shopping to do along the way and back, so getting ready requires some organizing. I also decided that i will change the spring and the bearing on the sailboat trailer and get the boat in to the water this year, so I went down to size up what I need.
I was in the basement, looking for my impact wrench to pull the wheels off the sailboat trailer when Jean called. I was to go to their place for supper, but it seems they are coming down with a bug, so if i don't want it, staying home would be wise. That suits me. I was just getting going nicely on several projects.
I mowed some grass, went out and worked on the North Yard, but realized that there are newly-hatched virgins that may or may not be mated and that rearranging hives could result in drifting and loss of mating queens, so decided to only do minimal work there.
My hopes that the owls would take the skunks has not yet come true. I went in for a while, then returned to the North Yard and found two little skunks there cleaning up the mess I'd made. They are very tame and almost ignore me.
I counted the floors needing skids, now that I decided that is the way to go and I need enough for 60 floors. At 18" front and back, that is 180 feet of 2X4 or 2X3, or 15 twelve-footers.
Well, this is interesting. I was downstairs on the treadmill -- I decided I need more exercise and I guess my ringer got turned off somehow -- and I noticed that I had received three calls from the 780 area code, which is quite a ways north of here. There was a blank voicemail, too, so I thought it must be urgent and called back. A voice at the other end wanted to offer me supers to fill, and I explained that I have what I need for now.
Just so everyone knows, my problem was a springtime problem. Bees don't draw foundation well until late June, so, although I have lots of foundation, I was desperate earlier for empty drawn comb -- especially when queens got plugged out by a strong dandelion flow. With the dearth now, the bees are consuming honey and brood is hatching, so the queens have room again.
A beekeeper who is buying forty hives from me is bring his boxes tomorrow and I'll put them on as needed. At this point, I doubt the bees will do much in them until July, but at least the colonies will have room for queens to lay and maybe take up some honey from the brood chambers.
From now on, on my remaining hives, I'll be putting on a box with ten frames of foundation above an excluder. I may seed these boxes with a frame or two of brood from below to make room down there and to bring the bees up.
If I sell singles, I'll just pull the super and place it elsewhere, but having that room will allow the colonies to expand.
I still like Pierco standard one-piece frames, but as I say, they have to be oriented all the same direction when spaced at ten-frame spacing -- 1-3/8" OC.
The pessimist complains about the
wind; the optimist expects it to change;
June 22nd 2015
Hot weather coming!
I woke up at 0505 full of energy and ideas. Maybe walking a few kilometers in the evening is good for me?
I sat down to do my morning computer chores and found my custom search on this site comes up 404 and Google thinks there is unusual activity from my IP. I ran a few scans - Kaspersky - Malwarebytes - Eset - and found nothing. What a way to slow down my day!
At 0730, Bryan pulled in to drop off a trailer with 40 supers to put on the hives he is getting to take the pressure off the brood chambers. Too bad I did not think of this earlier.
* * * * *
It's 1130 and I have been to town, bought groceries, dropped off a sample at the lab, visited Rod's for parts, stopped at the Lube-go for advice on changing the oil in the PowerStroke diesel truck with custom oil filter, bought lumber, and repaired my Chrysler van dipstick and gas cap problems. Many days, I would still be in my housecoat.
Suddenly I'm feeling like myself again. I had lunch, then decided on a siesta. Today is ideal weather for doing things, but first things first.
One reason I decided on the nap was that I was having visual disturbances again for the first time in over a week. Was it the wieners and beans? Was it the breakfast sandwich I had in town? Was it the handful of nuts and seeds I ate? Is it stress? I don't know.
I used No More Nails to assemble the slats onto the floors and was disappointed. It does not measure up to its literature. Things slide around and it takes longer to set than promised. I also notice it does not fill gaps well. I hope the runners stay on.
This job is another part of beekeeping I don't much like. Let me list jobs I do not like:
That's all I can think of right now. I love anything that involves opening hives.
I had supper, mowed grass, worked on hives, and met a customer who came for two singles at about 2000.
We chased two tame little skunks out of the North Yard and loaded the hives into the back of her pickup. The bees stayed in nicely without smoke.
I went in and watched an episode of Suits and went to bed at 2200. No treadmill tonight. I'm tired.
A difference of opinion is what
makes horse racing and missionaries.
June 23rd 2015
I slept until 0715 and woke up refreshed.
Here comes another long sunny day. Sunrise was at 5:15 and sunset is at 21:56. We have about seventeen hours of daylight and only a few hours of darkness.
My project for the day has been changing the oil in the 4X4. This truck has a bypass oil filter that complicates things a bit. Lube-Go offered to change the oil for $110, but I decided to do it at home, so I drove to town and got oil and a filter, then drove home and drained the oil, washed the air filter, and refilled the oil. I might have saved myself $15 for a job that kept me busy for two hours.
I filled up in town and noticed that diesel is now ten cents cheaper than gasoline for the first time in along while!
I felt poorly all day, with a slight headache and vision disturbances in the afternoon, but did tidy-up and general odds and ends.
After supper, I went out and worked in the South of the Hedge yard until my customer came and we loaded her hive. Tonight, the bees were hardly flying and not hanging out as they so often were in the previous weeks. That made the loading go well.
She got home and sent a picture to make sure the bees were okay after unloading. They look fine to me.
A wise man adapts himself to
circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.
June 24th 2015
I 'm feeling better today and I am wondering if I had food poisoning yesterday, a food allergy, allergic reaction from mowing or something more serious. I've had episodes over the past two months now that seemed to clear up, but recur periodically. If it is allergy or food sensitivity, it is hard to pin down since the effects are not always immediate and can linger. I had a little congestion overnight, so I suspect mowing.
Anyhow, today looks to be another great summer day. I plan to get out early.
I changed the oil in the 4X4 yesterday and that was an accomplishment. I had never changed it since I bought the truck. The truck has a bypass filter that extends the change interval, but a filter does not remove corrosive combustion byproducts. Now I need to change the oil in the red bee truck. It is long overdue, too.
I was held back earlier by lack of good floors and lids and was liberated when I had more made a few weeks ago, but I am running low again, so I ordered another 50 sets. They should come soon. In the meantime, I can get by.
I screwed on some more runners onto floors I had been using without them -- I like to standardize -- and then worked the rest of the way through the South of the Hedge Yard. When I was done, there were 21 hives, all but four with queens. I had split three.
It is a huge relief to get the hives off pallets and onto floors with slats. It allows much greater flexibility and a neater yard.
I also put the customer's supers on some of the doubles that are going out as a group. He may be able to take a load Thursday. I had a pallet truck that was good for moving hives but I think I sold it. The ones I have left have short tongues, but I see that Princess Auto has one that should be perfect.
During the heat of the day, I finished off a banner I was working on for for the Bluewater Cruising Association. It is a quick-and-dirty project that turned into a tarbaby. I'm trying to promote the Thanksgiving Rendezvous I organize annually for the Calgary chapter. Last year we broke records for attendance and i hope to break records again this year.
I seem to have lots of energy today again. The day was hot enough that I paused twice for a dip in the pool. The water is twenty degrees and that is just brisk enough that a five-minute soak cools me down for an hour or two afterwards.
At 1530, I decided to have a nap and slept forty-five minutes.
I had ordered some turkey breasts at the local IGA last week. I buy in bulk and the butcher gives me about a 33% discount. He called this morning to say they were in and I said I'd be up, imagining that I'd find a reason to drive the fifteen miles sometime during the day. By 1630, I still had not gone, so I loaded Zippy into the van and drove to Three Hills. I don't want him to think I don't appreciate the service -- and the generous discount
Once I got on the road, I was enjoying the drive. The day was sunny and hot, everything was green and lush, and fluffy clouds were lined up across the sky. I was thinking of what I could do in town -- have supper, go swimming, drive out to the airport... however, Zippy does not stand the heat well and I could not leave her in the van for long. She starts coughing if the room gets up to 80 degrees F. Besides, I had fresh meat to take home and in the sun, the van heated up the moment the air conditioner turned off, so I drove home, put a steak on the grill and had supper outside.
After supper I went out and hooked up a big trailer to the 4X4. I'm planning to start hauling things to the dump.
Anyhow, I hooked it up and made a start. Then I got the mower and mowed where the trailer had been and more of the tall grass.
Keeping in kind the effects of breathing the dust from dead grass I've been experiencing after mowing, I tried using a dust mask. How well this cheap mask sealed with my beard is a good question, but I followed up with a shower, inhaled some water, then rinsed my sinuses. We'll see how I sleep tonight.
It'll be a warm night tonight, and that is good. At 2300, it is still 17 degrees. Heat is what bees like for brooding up and drawing foundation.
Do not spoil what you have by
desiring what you have not;
June 25th 2015
I slept reasonably well, and was woken up by a fly in the bedroom and loud trains climbing the hill -- three in an hour. I did experience some mild congestion overnight, though, so I gather that either the dust mask did not protect me completely or I got enough dust and chaff in my eyes to bypass its benefits. I suppose I could have taken an antihistamine, but I always wonder about the side effects, mild as they may be.
It is now 0657 and another train just went by, the fourth in two hours.
I noticed last night that we are getting a bit of a flow. Not much, and we can't expect much until the crops bloom, but with this dry hot, weather coming, I expect it to continue.
I made a bean stew, then went out and did a few chores and began on the North Yard. That yard is out of the south breeze and very hot today, so I went for a dip in the pool every half-hour. The water is up to twenty-three degrees and that is about right.
This goes to show that the bees will happily make comb below the brood chamber, however this free-built comb is all drone, as such comb usually is. We also see that this comb is darker suggesting that the bees reused wax from nearby.
This also goes to show that we can do good beekeeping with limited and makeshift equipment. I think this hive had an advantage in that it did not run out of space as it would have if it had been on a solid floor. Who needs floors? Maybe I should be running all my hives this way.
I've heard of commercial beekeepers who simply placed hives on pallets with no floors. The bees simply came and went through the pallet slats.
That work was followed by a nap and supper and more bee work, plus dips in the pool every half-hour.
I am expecting a customer tonight and another beekeeper will drop by to recover his trailer.
* * * * *
Everyone came and went and by 2055, I was done for the day.
This was another good day.
I didn't have my usual group for supper since Elijah's graduation banquet is tonight and some of the gang are going. Plans are to do it tomorrow night.
Note to self: Get out earlier in the morning and work in the basement at mid-day.
At a few minutes to midnight, it is still not completely dark out. This view is looking north from my doorstep. At this time of year at this latitude (53°N), the sun sets and rises in the northern sky.
Under democracy one party always
devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is
unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.
June 26th 2015
Note to self: Get out earlier in the morning and work in the cool of the basement at mid-day.
I have full schedule today. I have bee work to do, as well as house cleaning and laundry to finish.
People are coming for bees and Orams may come down on the weekend, I may be having a barbecue tonight, and I have to take the Toyota to Three Hills tomorrow for air conditioning repair. (I tried charging it, but that did not solve the problem).
The temperatures are predicted to soar this week, almost reaching 100° F at one point, so things will get really dry unless we get a cloudburst from a passing thunderstorm. The conversion chart at right compares Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Going to the dump (AKA Landfill or Transfer Station) is not the simple job it once was. These days one has to find when the appropriate dump is open, identify and sort the trash, then haul it to the correct location and drop it at the correct spot in the dump.
The bees are coming along well and I will have no problem meeting my commitments. I always hope to have bees ready to go earlier than practical. All it takes is patience. Even with purchased queens it takes a while to get them established. With cells it takes several weeks and a month for emergency cells.
I'm planning to run to the dump a few times in the coming days to clean up the yard. I changed the oil, dragged out a trailer, filled the flat tire, and am now considering a plan of action. I have yet to verify that the trailer lights and brakes work. Trailer lights are a perennial puzzle.
I got outdoors in good time, shortly after 0900, but spent the first hour screwing slats onto the floors, and I am not done yet. The main value in this work, besides getting slats on the floors so I can move hives easily, is in developing appreciation for the guy who likes to make lids and floors for me and only needs a little money in return, not my time and attention. As I have said, I like working on the bees, but don't much care for working with boxes, frames, floors, etc.
It occurs to me that I need a shade for working hives if I am going to be out at midday as it seems I am. They use moveable shades in the southern US to make working hives in the hot sun tolerable. I wonder if I can adapt my picnic umbrella.
At 1048, it is already getting hot out there, but we do have a little breeze. At noon, I am just finishing the carpenter work.
I decided I should count the hives and get exactly 140. No wonder I feel overworked. Anyhow, sixty will be going out, pronto. and then I have to decide from there. In the 140 are at least seventy with undefined queen status. Half will have queens, but probably twenty will have to be combined down. My goal is to wind up with about fifty going into winter -- at most.
Fen and Rick came over to borrow a trailer and we had supper, then I went out to look at the hives again.
What I see is a really good argument for my practice of putting new brood boxes under an existing single. That way the clustering bees are in the new box. Hives that have recent brood chambers or supers added on top are still hanging out -- instead of going up.
I swam at least eight times today. The water is up to twenty-five degrees C. Balmy!
It is 2300 hours and I smell skunk. I also twice heard the rustling of a big bird on my roof right outside where I am working. I am thinking: the owl.
For some reason, I feel like going to New York. That makes no sense. Go figure.
I see my Google custom search panels are working again. They went offline for a while and now they are back. I did nothing AFAIK.
At midnight, it is still twenty degrees out.
I have some theories about charity
in general, mainly that most of it has real externalities.
June 27th 2015
It's 0415, day is breaking and and I have slept less than four hours. Sleeping by an open window, the smell of skunk wafted in several times during the night, rousing me slightly and finally waking me.
I'm going back to bed. Maybe I should close the window, but it is still hot compared to what I am accustomed to, at fourteen Celsius degrees outside and twenty-three in here.
I have another problem, though, besides the skunk aroma. There is a fly in here, the kind that likes to land on me and tickle.
* * * * *
I didn't go to bed, quite yet anyhow. I wandered out to take a picture of the dawn and found two middle-sized skunks foraging in the North Yard. These are bigger than I have been seeing and not the baby skunks I have seen during the day.
There are still beards on the hives, but the skunks are not bothering them. They are eating crawlers, discards, and cleaning up scraps around the yard and getting what they can from any boxes left near the ground. They like honey and will scrap it off any frames left accessible to them.
The skunks were totally unaware of my presence until I spoke to them and then they wandered off a little, then turned and looked at me. I understand they are quite civil and make good pets, not that I am about to try that.
This shot at right is taken facing north toward the sunrise at 0445 and is the same messy yard where I dropped everything when interrupted last evening.
I am going back to bed, but first, I'll have breakfast. I sleep better after breakfast and a few cups of java.
I had breakfast and went back to bed for an hour or so. My phone alarm roused me at 0830 with the "Robots for Everyone" refrain and I got up and drove to Three Hills, where Dan pumped out and refilled the Toyota air-conditioning system.
It is hot out, but with the breeze, it does not feel too bad, so I think I'll do some bee work. Somehow, I keep finding myself out there at mid-day, along with mad dogs and Englishmen...
My Chrysler air-conditioning does not seem to be cooling properly, so I am going back up to Three Hills.
* * * * *
I had a short nap, then drove back up to town. We tried charging the system further, but the air still was blowing only slightly cool, so we evacuated the A/C and refilled it, just as we did the Toyota, and that took another hour.
From there, I drove to Trochu to get more RoundUp. I'm finding RoundUp works, but takes far longer than I had expected. It takes two to three weeks to see where I missed.
At 1600, all I have managed to do is get the A/C serviced on two vehicles, buy a few things, and take a dip in the pool. It is 32 degrees with only a slight occasional breeze.
I'm now about to go out and do some bee work. 4 PM is the ideal time to start bee work at this time of year since the sun is no longer high in the sky and the bees are mellow. Around 7 (1900), the bees start to settle down for the night and by 2030, they are all home, at which point the hives get harder to work.
Well, I was wrong about that. I no sooner got out and opened a hive when I felt faint and a bit nauseous. The heat was getting to me already. No sense pushing things.
I closed the hive, drove back to the house and had a dip to cool down. Then I put a steak on the grill, microwaved a potato and a cob of corn and called it a day.
Charlie is planning to show up sometime this evening and we'll load his hive and that is it for me.
It is 31.2° (88 degrees F) in the house right now. Maybe I'll go and work down in the shop where it is always cool, but first, another dip in the pool.
By 1900, it had cooled enough that I went out and worked in the North Yard until Charlie came. We loaded his hive and he left and I continued working until 2100. The bees were fine and I was able to work without a veil. I had another dip and came in.
All that is left in that yard is to deal with two or three hives and tidy it up.
At this point, I have enough equipment for a while and the extra fifty floors and lids will be surplus until next year.
I'll still need supers, though. I'll see how many after the next round. I'll be sure to use excluders this year, but the honey will be a problem unless I have a forklift or hand bomb it onto a truck. I've had honey granulate in supers before when the forklift was not working. Honey is such a pain. Beekeeping is quite easy -- except for dealing with honey.
Seeking means: to have a goal; but
finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.
Sunday June 28th 2015
Today promises to be even hotter than our recent hot days, then a slight cooling is expected over the coming week.
I am expecting to see Orams today, along with a friend of theirs who wants two hives. If I plan to get much done with the bees, I had better get out before noon. After lunch, the day will be too hot for working in comfort and I may have company.
I see the canola starting to bloom as I drive through the country and hives are showing signs of a flow, so I need to get the hives checked and put boxes on them.
I went out to check the North Yard and noticed some bits of grass un covered when I moved hives around needed mowing, so I got out the mower and cleaned up the ragged spots, then, for good measure I mowed the apple orchard. Then I noticed it was not yet 7 AM on a Sunday morning.
This an ideal time to do this sort of thing. There is just enough dew that mowing does not raise a dust; there is full light, but day is still cool.
* * * * *
I looked over my orders and I need to come up with 15 singles and 41 doubles in the next week. That should be easy. I'm over halfway on the doubles and the singles just need checking over.
* * * * *
A while back, I bought a little outboard for the car-top boat, so I mounted it today made a few circles in the pond.
The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming and, later, a barbecue. At seven, we loaded Rory's hives and everyone left a while later.
I went to bed early and slept well.
Humility is not thinking less of
yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
Monday June 29th 2015
As so often is the case, our forecast has changed considerably from what we expected a few days ago. More moderate weather is predicted, with a chance of rain. We could use quite a bit of rain at this point. The lawns are brown again and word is that crops are dry.
People are coming for hives daily now, as fast as I can inspect them, mark to them for pickup and notify people.
At 0800, it is 20.5 degrees out, but after the recent heat wave, 20 degrees feels cool.
* * * * *
Now, at 1100, it's raining. My plans are to inspect hives today, but that will have to wait.
* * * * *
At 1337, the rain has slacked off. I went out an vacuumed the pool. That wispy stuff won't vacuum out. It just goes right through my paper filter. I think it is dead algae, but don't know for sure. It seems harmless and when stirred up, makes the water slightly cloudy.
Ray called and my lids and floors are ready, so I went and picked them up. I now have 50 lids and floors I will not need until next year. Goes to show how disorganized and muddle-headed I've been this spring.
I haven't done any bee work all day, but, now at 1550, I'm headed out to check some hives. A beekeeper is coming for 20 hives tonight.
I did get out, accomplished a fair bit in an hour and a half. The bees are not in the best of humour, however, and the stronger hives are bearding. At any rate, I have twenty-five of the forty hives ready and they will go in two loads of twenty over the next few days.
They stayed in fairly well with only a little smoke and we did not need veils even though some hives were hanging out.
We were able to get the job done in full daylight and he pulled out around 2015 in sunshine. He has an hour drive and then has to unload.
* * * * *
Hmm. It just occurred to me to text him and warn him to have good foot and leg protection when unloading with a hand truck, especially if it gets dark. Crawling bees on the deck, the ramps, and the grass can drive a person crazy in short order.
We used forklifts, and even then unloading could be unpleasant, especially if an unthinking forklift operator turned on the lights.
* * * * *
I have not been painting floors and lids lately and have quit painting EPS boxes. While there are arguments in favour of painting or dipping, there are costs involved and the job is messy.
I don't know what it costs to paint a lid or floor, but I would guess somewhere around $6/per set of floor and lid.
Leaders think and talk about the
Tuesday June 30th 2015
It is a dull, misty morning, so I decided to go to town. My intent was to get some groceries and two handcarts, and to scratch some other items off my lists.
I started off for Airdrie and Calgary, then changed course for Red Deer since I figured I might be able to get a wetsuit there and the distance is not much different. Each is an hour or so away.
I had to be back home in time to meet customers at 9 PM, and move two hives from EPS to wood at their request before they arrived. I still get a few people who want wood. Why, I just don't understand.
From there I drove to the Super Store to buy gas and some groceries.
From there, it was on to the Boat Mart to try on wetsuits.
By then the day had turned hot and sticky and the job was not a pleasant one. Getting in and out of a wetsuits is a chore even when you are not hot and sticky. They only had XXL suits and I knew from the charts that XXXL is recommended for me, but I thought it was worth a try. The charts turned out to be right, so that did not work out.
On the way home, I stopped at Canadian Tire and Peavy Mart, then drove back to The Old Schoolhouse, arriving in plenty of time to prepare, but it was raining, so I waited a while then did the transfer once it stopped.
My customers showed up around nine, but spent a while driving around the country before finally phoning, having gone right by. I had supplied a Bing map that ends right at my driveway, but somehow, they kept going.
When finally they found the place, we loaded up the hives and they were on their way.
What you do speaks so loudly that I
cannot hear what you say.
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