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Drums of cut out combs and drums of wax for melting

Sunday March 31st, 2002
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of the Day:

  • Ever need to send a link and found that the URL was so long that it wrapped in the editor?
    Make A Shorter Link has a solution

  • Here are several links to hosting for mailing lists : SmartGroups, Lyris & Topica

Today..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries late this afternoon. Wind becoming west 40 gusting to 60 km/h. High plus 9. 
Tonight..Snow this evening then clearing. Snowfall amounts near 5 cm. Wind north 40 with gusts to 60 this evening diminishing to north 30 overnight. Low minus 14. 
Monday..A mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries late in the afternoon. Wind north 30. High minus 9. 
Tuesday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 18. High minus 8. 
Wednesday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 19. High minus 3. 
Thursday..Mainly cloudy. Low minus 11. High 8. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 6. High 7. 

Saturday March 30th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

The temperatures continue well below normal, with only one warm day predicted in the forecast.

El & I drove to Red Deer to meet Jean and Chris and to do some shopping, then returned home for supper.  Along the way, we stopped at Vanovers yard and looked into 17 hives.  

We found two dead and the rest thriving with bees clustered quietly on as many as eight frames.  They all seemed okay for feed and most were up to the top bars.  We noticed that there was some condensation on the pillow above the bees in one hive where they had not quite gotten all the way up, but the bees looked just fine, and we know the bees need some humidity to raise brood.

What we checked is a small sample, but comes out to be an 11% loss.  Usually by the time we have opened 100 hives, we have a good idea what the total loss will be, barring unusual losses in one particular region.

I am thinking that this cold weather is doing us some good by holding the bees back and discouraging futile foraging before the flowers are ready.  So far there has been no pollen, and hopefully when the trees do bloom, the weather will allow the bees to get to the pollen.  Some years the trees have bloomed early while the days are still short and cool resulting in short, weak bursts of brood rearing and bee attrition due to the stress of trying to raise brood in marginal conditions.  

From what I saw today, many of our hives are strong enough right now to take to pollination.  Of course, there will be a period where the old bees die off and the new ones are not yet hatched and there will still be colony losses yet due to queeenlessness and other factors.  Usually we expect to see the losses measured at April 1st double by May 10th -- especially if we count the hives that dwindle below economic size by then.

Link of the Day:

OpenOffice is a full-featured, file compatible, free alternative to MicroSoft Office and StarOffice (review), and it runs on M$ and *nix O/Ss.  I've read good reviews, but am just downloading it now -- 45 MB in the Wintel version.  The only thing it is missing, apparently is a database, and many (most?) people don't need a DB.

Today..Mainly cloudy. Flurries ending this morning. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h. High minus 3. 
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind south 20. Low minus 6. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 7. High 7. 

Friday March 29th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

We had a visit this morning from some people who run river tours and who want Ellen to teach some art workshops.

We spent a quiet day, then went to Robinsons' for supper.

Links of the Day:

Yahoo is now charging for its webmail and there are bugs and ads in the Yahoo system, so here are some alternatives: Runbox "offers a clean, intuitive, and fast webmail".  FastMail.FM "provides powerful, reliable email, with both free and paid options". Fastmail.ca offers "Canada's Web Email System".

Today..Mainly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind northwest 20 km/ h. High plus 2. 
Tonight..Mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind northwest 20 diminishing in the evening. Low minus 7. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 7. High 6. 

Thursday March 28th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

I'm back.  I apologize for not having announced this in advance, but my wife and I flew to Los Angeles on Friday last week, on the spur of the moment.  I didn't realize I would generate concern in the form of email and phone calls (my home phone was forwarded to my cell) by suddenly falling silent, but I also did not want to announce to the world that we would be away since I have no idea who reads this. Writing a public diary is an interesting idea and I have no idea who reads it and to what purpose. (I'll write more about this some time).

I have a full schedule to catch up today and hope to go out and lift some lids in the afternoon, so I'll try to catch the diary up over the next few days.  In the meantime, for those suffering diary withdrawal, I should perhaps mention again that I often go back and patch up and add to previous days activities, so for anyone wanting to read something new, I recommend checking back over the past month's pages.

In addition to that, there are now entries from two previous spring seasons to read along with my spring management pages (which I recently fixed up a bit). .  Together with the links, it amounts to a lot of reading.

Who thought I would ever stick to this diary?  I sure wondered when I started out, since I had never kept a diary before -- even for a few days -- in all my 56 years.

I'm sitting at my desk and I can see that I really needed that vacation.  I can't read my notes from before I left.  They are incomplete and I can't figure out why I wrote down some of the phone numbers and names.  I can't even remember who these people are!  Normally, I do good notes and can see what happened when and why.

The weather got nicer while we were away.  I gather that we got up to freezing starting about Monday and there is frozen slush in the yard.  Nonetheless, we are two weeks late for run-off, and the season is running late.  We would normally be putting on patties and starting to feed, but we want to ensure that the weather has turned before stimulating the bees.  Most Alberta beekeepers seem to be resisting the temptation to disturb their bees.  Although we have several requests to test samples, most have not opened many hives yet.

The afternoon turned cold and we decided not to bother the bees by opening hives.  By suppertime, it was overcast, snowing and windy.  Meijers came for supper and dropped off several bee samples for testing.   They had checked a few hives this afternoon to gather the samples and say that their inside wintered bees look good, as well as the 12 outdoor colonies which they opened that had not been on pollination.  

In contrast, some outdoor hives that were on pollination last summer showed 50% loss for the small number that they checked.  As we learned when we were pollinating, Southern Alberta canola pollination is very hard on bees, since they miss the main honey flow most years.  Pollination is looking much less attractive these days with improved honey prices, renegotiated pollination contracts and unpredictable requirements that are not confirmed until very late in the spring.  Meijers also reported honey prices offered at $CAD 1.20  for next crop and spot prices up to $1.35 CAD currently.  $1.00 CAD = about $0.63 USD.

Links of the Day:

Los Angeles Transit info.  I should have read this better before going.  This info is hard to find on the street in LA.

Los Angeles Adventurer 'All Suite' Hotel.  ...and International Youth Hostel... and cheap car rental.  Go figure.  The name says it all.  It's a funky place to stay near LAX -- and cheap too if you don't mind an airport shuttle driven like a video game with loud rock music blasting, and surfboards hung for decoration in a hotel that appears to have been built in the 1950s.  The suites are well-maintained, large, quiet and quite nice --for $55/night!  (Less if you get one of the green discount books available at gas stations on the Interstates and car rental places.  Click here to find where these coupons are available across the USA).

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 30 gusting 50 km/h. High plus 5. 
Tonight..30 percent chance of showers this evening. Clearing overnight. Wind northwest 40 gusting 60 diminishing to 20. Low minus 7. 
Monday..Mainly cloudy. 70 percent chance of flurries. Windy. Low minus 16. High minus 2. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 7. High 6.

Friday March 22nd to Wednesday March 27th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

  For six days I turned off all my computers except my Palm m105 and took a vacation.  

El & I caught a jet to LA Friday and I deliberately left my notebook computer at home.  Frankly, I did not miss these toys at all, but I did forward all my calls to my cell phone and was able to deal with some incoming business calls while in San Diego, just as if I were at home and I also made a few notes on my PDA in spare moments.  Since then, I have also since written a bit from my recollections of the trip.  Here are the PDA notes -- plus some recollections:

Friday: We were up at 3 and out the door at 4. We arrived at the airport 2 hrs before scheduled departure time. After waiting an hour, we learned our flight would be 2 hrs late. We arrived without incident around 11 and by 12:20 we had our car, a green Kia Rio. The Rio proved to be a nice unit. It only did a bit over 35 MPG.  That's imperial gallons (4.55 litres).  That is also only slightly better than my 1986 Olds a bigger and much nicer car.  Compared to an Echo which I recently rented and which got 50 MPG, that is miserable, but, considering the purchase price difference, it is tolerable.  Even though gas had jumped to $1.65 from $1.20 or so in January, the Rio only used about $US 15 or so in the 500+ miles we covered. 

We decided to head for San Diego and headed down the old Pacific Coast Highway as far as Laguna Beach, then hit the #5, since it was getting late, and drove to the Mission Bay Motel. 

Saturday: In the morning, we reserved a room at the Motel 6 in San Ysidro by phone then drove down and parked there while we walked over to Tijuana for the day.  Ellen enjoyed the stained glass at the booths on the way to Revolucion, then we caught a public taxi to Las Playas de Rosarito. We visited the Rosarito Beach Hotel, then ate most excellent fish tacos at the fish shop and wandered the back streets. It's amazing: the main street was full of (obnoxious?) youngsters on spring break, but even 1/2 block off the strip none were to be seen. We watched some local kids skateboarding in a skateboard park, then hailed a cab back to Revolucion.

It was about 4 when we got back to Tijuana and we decided to go back to the USA. We had walked across the international border and intended to walk back.  When we arrived at the border, there was already a line-up extending from the border almost to the bridge.  We decided to wait and see if it got shorter.  Bad move. It only got longer.  We had been watching the vehicle traffic and noticed Tijuana to San Ysidro shuttle buses in the line-up, and we also noticed that they were not completely full, so we decided to walk through traffic and get on one near the border.  We paid our $1 each and at least had a seat while we waited.  I think the foot traffic moved faster than the busses.  All in all we were over 2 hours crossing, and it was raining when we exited the customs building.  We walked the mile or so back to our motel in the rain.

Sunday: We awoke and decided that we had had enough of the border crossing and would head north to San Diego, perhaps to visit the zoo.  We drove around a bit and wound up at the zoo, but by then it was after noon and we felt that it would be a waste to go in that late, so we went for a drive and had coffee in Little Italy, visited Belmont Park again, then went out to Coronado and had a beer at the Hotel del Coronado

After visiting Coronado, we decided to get a hotel in Hotel Circle, but, after chasing supper away east on I8, we decided to try one of the motels in El Cajon that looked cheaper in the discount book.  We hadn't been to El Cajon much since 1990, when we had a breakdown there.  At that time, Ellen, Jean and I spent over a week in a motorhome park there while I rebuilt the engine in our Winnebago. As it turned out, the motel there refused to honor our coupons and we returned to Hotel Circle where we had no problem checking into a Motel 8 using a coupon.

Monday: We awoke and headed up to the San Diego Zoo for the day.  Late in the afternoon, after the zoo, we headed north to LA, stopping at the Flower Fields a little too late to go in.  We headed north again and, when we pulled off to look at our maps, we got side-tracked on the toll highway 241 to Riverside.  We spent four dollars for nothing, and drove a few extra miles since there was no easy way back, but eventually found our way to Anaheim where we found a very nice motel for $39.00 off 91 at Euclid.

Tuesday:  With two more days until our return home, Ellen wanted to go to the Getty Museum.  I wanted a day to myself, and didn't feel like spending a day in a museum, so I spent about three hours in freeway traffic delivering her there and back.  I underestimated the traffic.   It seems to me that the freeway congestion is much worse than I remember.  Maybe it's because of Spring Break?   

I was impressed to notice that, where there are carpool lanes, how few vehicles are able to use them.  By a vast percentage, most of the cars, trucks, and SUVs had only one occupant.  When I was going to pick El up, I had to drive in the congested lanes.  After picking her up, we qualified to breeze by the other traffic in the special lanes. 

In the morning before we drove to the Getty, we located a hotel for the night near the airport and car drop-off to make things simple for the next day.  After I dropped Ellen off at the Getty, I drove up Mulholland, then Encino to the old Nike missile lookout site. As I wandered up the trail, a ranger stopped to warn me that the rattlesnakes are out on the roads sunning themselves.  I was wearing sandals.  As I walked, I looked around to see if I could spot any bees and I observed some honey bees working in the various flowering bushes at the site.  These bees seemed to be the 'normal' size that I am accustomed to seeing.  After an hour or so up at the site, I drove down steep back streets into Sherman Oaks and then, after a quick lunch, proceeded down to Santa Monica and Venice via the 405 and 10 to kill a few hours.   At four, I picked El up and we returned to our hotel for free champagne and snacks at six.   The Los Angeles Adventurer turned out to be an interesting place.

I can see now that my laptop computer would have been extremely handy for gathering info on the Getty and the MTA if I had taken it along.  Nonetheless, it would have been just one more thing to worry about -- and we did manage OK.

Wednesday: We awoke and went for a drive down to Venice Beach.  Our rental car was due back at 12:20, and our hotel had a shuttle to Venice leaving at noon, so we took the car back a bit early, caught a ride to the hotel and returned to Venice for the afternoon.

Our shuttle picked us up at four and, after we retrieved our bags from a locker at the hotel, a hotel shuttle dropped us at LAX.  We went through security, which seemed horribly disorganized and makeshift and then had two hours to wait for our flight.

Our flight left only about a half hour late -- not bad for Alaska Airlines -- and we got into Calgary a little after midnight.  

Thursday: We retrieved our car and arrived home at 2 AM to be greeted by our three cats.  They had taken care of things nicely for the six days.  Everything seemed in good order and we settled in.  Before I went to bed, I downloaded all my email -- 500+ messages (mostly SPAM) -- since I was concerned that my mailboxes might be full.  Spam is getting awful.  I predict something is going to have to happen soon to eliminate it.

Thursday March 21st, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

It's Minus 27.0 at 5:30 AM.  This cold spell is getting very tedious -- and costly, I imagine, for the bees in the hives sitting outside, and for their owners.  We'll see when we get out to look at the bees and put on patties -- next week, if we can believe the weather guessers.  They have been annoyingly accurate lately and I hope they are right about a break coming next Monday to plus four. That is at least warm enough for the bees to move around in their hives, but not warm enough for much in the way of cleansing flights, and definitely not warm enough for foraging..

We have some snow on the ground -- about six inches -- and I imagine that when the temperatures get up, if they ever do, that they could go suddenly to plus 15 or twenty.  With these longer days we could see significant run-off and possible flooding.

I went  to town and got an alignment and four new tires.  Now the car handles much better.  I stopped to see Les and got air tickets to fly to LA tomorrow.

Links of the Day:

My collection of formic acid links (Now getting a bit old)

Blue Shop Towel Method an effective, inexpensive treatment for tracheal mites. I had heard nothing but good things about it before we tried it, and now we have used just one application we can find no tracheal mites almost a year later.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Today..Sunny. Wind light. High minus 9.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind light. Low minus 15.
Friday..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h. High minus 2.
Saturday..Periods of snow. Low minus 20. High minus 7.
Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 17. High minus 4.
Monday..Mainly cloudy. Low minus 14. High 3. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 8. High 4.

Wednesday March 20th, 2002
Last year on this date       Year 2000 on this date

  This is -- believe it or not -- the first day of spring 2002.

It's minus twenty-four this morning.  This has got to be hard on the bees. At least it is sunny for a change. They are predicting minus 30 for tonight again and nothing warmer than minus 8 until after Sunday.

Click to enlargeIn recent years, questions about the proper size of worker cells for North American and European honey bees has become a hot topic. Most current foundation in these regions is made in the 5.25 to 5.4 mm range (Average cell width when measured the shortest way across 10 cells).  While cutting out old combs for melting we found a midrib from one that was made of embossed aluminum foil.  I examined it and found that the sheet  measured 42 centimeters across, and in that span I counted 84 complete cells.  That means the overall average cell width is 5.0 mm.  Although the piece was distorted a bit, the width was consistent, so I don't think it was deformed in that dimension by much.  Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.

I went to the Kneehill Watershed Advisory Council (KWAC) annual meeting and was away most of the day.  While I was gone, Matt finished the Olds and it is back on the road, running well.  I cannot believe how different it is from the Buick.  Once I got used to the Buick and fixed all its little problems, it grew on me.  In comparison, the Olds is big and soft.  I like it too, but it wanders; I think it needs an alignment.

Link of the Day:

3D Traceroute
a graphic traceroute tool

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind light. High minus 17. 
Tonight..Clear. Wind light. Low minus 27. 
Thursday..Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h. High minus 9. 
Friday..Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 21. High minus 6. 
Saturday..Mainly cloudy. 70 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 17. High minus 7. 
Sunday..Mainly cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 18. High minus 8. 
Normals for the period..Low minus 8. High 4. 

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