A short video about the bees, beekeeping and the Town of Mount Royal beekeeping project that Apiguru will be part of.
A brief recording explaining some methods of winter colony inspection. The audio quality is on occasion choppy due to the windy conditions at the apiary, but most of the important info can be understood (I hope :)). The only info that is badly distorted by wind is the frequency of the winter checkups, that can be every 3-4 weeks (I prefer the 4 week periods).
The recording was made "on the fly", so some of the info that was worthy mentioning was forgotten (eg. if you press your ear against one side of the hive and you don't hear a thing, try from the other side, as the cluster may be on the opposite side of the hive), but I hope that the video provides enough to get everyone going in the right direction.
Now, this is a machine that is worth having :) It punches some 1000 supers per work shift, and needs two operators. It trims the boards to size, cuts the box joints, handholds, frame rests, and even drills the nail holes through the fingers (box-joint fingers, not the operator's :)). The only thing it doesn't do is to assemble the boxes :). Visit the Woodman Engineering website, (or search on YouTube) to see the videos of the machine in operation. I have to buy one of these,....wait,....has anyone seen my wallet? :) :) :)
ApiGuru has a brand new logo,..check it out! Design by Erika Timoshenko.
Well, if you haven't seen it yet, the CAPA report about the 2012/2013 winter losses can be found at:
The encouraging part of the report is that, I believe, for the first time the acute and chronic pesticide poisoning is cited by a lot of beekeepers as one of the reasons for the winter losses, and finally the nonsense that it is all because of varroa is being pushed in the background. I wouldn't put much money on the claim of Nosema (at least N. apis) being a too serious bee pathogen, as from my experience the disease kicks in due to the presence of some stress factors (inadequate food, high humidity, weakened bees due to high varroa infestation of the wintering bees, pesticides, etc.), so it is rather there just to finish off the bees, and not to be the main cause of the loss. If you google "neonicotinoids + nosema", you'll find some good reading on the topic and inspiration to start thinking out of the box (and maybe a possibility of what is really going on in cases when Nosema is "the major reason for colony mortality"). Another reason for the losses,..."poor queens",...well,...not much can be expected from the mass-produced, selected-for-nothing, queens of a size of a worker bee that come from the God-knows-where to winter in Canada. I must say that some of the queens produced in Quebec that I saw were not much bigger than those imports :(
Now, back to the pesticides,...Health Canada has just published a "Notice of intent - Action to Protect Bees from Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides" at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pest/part/consultations/_noi2013-01/noi2013-01-eng.php. Nice, but not nearly enough! It deals only with the acute (and really sporadic) poisoning at the seed planting time, and does not address at all the chronic effect of neonicotinoid exposure, which is in my humble opinion the main problem with these pesticides. The "beauty" in dealing with the chronic poisoning is that not many beekeepers are aware of it's possibility, and if I may return to the "Statement of honey bee losses" above, most of the things that the beekeepers reported as being the reasons for the bee mortality (poor queens, weak colonies in fall, nosemosis, even varroa infestation) may had actually been the result of the underlying chronic neonicotinoid poisoning. But who is to blame them,...with the "beekeeping experts" we have (and also the pesticide producers) singing the same old (varroa) song, the beekeepers are powerless.
Near the end of the "Notice" is an interesting sentence: "Health Canada's PMRA applies a science-based approach to regulate pesticides. We continue to review new scientific information as it becomes available...". Well, review this HC-PMRA: “In situ replication of honey bee colony collapse disorder. Bulletin of Insectology, 65: 99-106."
The article nicely indicates the chronology of the colony loss due to the sub-lethal (chronic) neonicotinoid poisoning, and pretty much reflects to the details the observations of the colony losses at the McGill Apicultural Association apiary.
I've just bought the bee smoker from Amazon (http://www.amazon.ca/Hive-Smoker-Updated-Design-Protection/dp/B00D8ORVG6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377814117&sr=8-1&keywords=bee+smoker), and thought to give it a quick review. The price is more than decent, at 29.99, it is a half price comparing to the similar smokers that are offered by the beekeeping suppliers in Quebec. It also qualifies for Amazon's free shipping (I ordered it Thursday afternoon, and it arrived next Tuesday), and my smoker arrived, as it appears, with the taxes included in the price. By the way, it is made by a BC company Aspectek (who are we kidding, it was most probably made in China :)) .
Although I expected it to be a piece of junk (for that price), I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised that this 11" stainless steel (advertised as high-heat resistant standard steel?) smoker is not much worst than the more expensive smokers. It features hinged lid, heat shield with mounting hook, lid (safety) hook, steel base plate/screen and the package includes a brief manual. It is advertised as having a leather bellows, but that is not the case with the one I received.
Now, the minor annoyances,...The base plate/screen comes as a flat plate with punched out holes and legs that need to be bent to place it on the bottom of the smoker. The plate is made of very thin steel and the legs are a bit too short, so when in place, the plate is positioned in the middle of the air intake opening instead being above it (see the red arrow).
Now the interesting thing is that the steel plate/screen is described in the manual as being used as a cover, to prevent the smoking material from flying out while using the smoker. While some manufacturers build their smokers with the screen built in the smoker's cover, I'm sure that the Aspectek folks got it all wrong :)
Another thing that bothers me a bit can be seen on the blurry photo on the left, the bellow's metal strapping is wrapped flat against the wood, that is, it doesn't have a lip, so the smoker feels like slipping when held with one hand. Also, the bellows is attaches to the smoker with screws, instead of bolts, which shouldn't be a big issue (replacing it may be an issue, though).
Despite those minor flaws, this smoker is of a quite good quality, and will surely last for a good while, if taken care of. Taking the price into consideration (value of 2 kg of honey), this smoker is definitively a good buy.
Now,...there it is,...the very first ApiGuru blog post. In the essence, it marks the start of the activities on this website, and the activities of the company, which will offer a range of beekeeping services and products, catering to the beginner and mostly small scale, backyard beekeepers. In a way, the ApiGuru can be seen as my attempt to continue the work started with the McGill Apicultural Association (MAA), to try to realize all those neat projects that were on the table at some point in the MAA history, but were destined never to happen due to this, or that reason. Although established as a business, offering services and product in exchange for dollar bills, the spirit of sharing the beekeeping knowledge and experiences started with the MAA will also be present at the ApiGuru, mainly through the ApiGuru's support of the MAA activities (hopefully supporting the MAA financially too, if the business picks up as planned), contributions from the people associated with the ApiGuru, this blog's postings and the beekeeping articles that will be published on this website. Anyways, the website is up, but the work on it is still in progress (some pages may be blank), so check out the pages often for the news and updated content. The comments will always be greatly appreciated.