This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmas bird count

 We participated in the annual Christmas bird count today. No odd birds at all this year. We were lacking a couple species that we have seen this year but not on the official count day. When you do the count, you count the most birds you see at once. We have literally hundreds of birds coming to the feeders all day. Many birds visit many times.











Red bellied Woodpecker and a Red Breasted Nuthatch

Our count:
5 - Black capped Chickadee
3 - Blue Jays
11 - Cardinal
1 - Coopers Hawk
25 - Goldfinch
4 - House Finch
9 - Junco
2 - Mourning Dove
2 - Nuthatch, White Breasted
2 - Nuthatch, Red Breasted
2 - Pine Sisken
15 - Purple Finch
4 - Downy Woodpecker
2 - Hairy Woodpecker
1 - Red Bellied Woodpecker

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Covered my hives - finally

 I got lazy with the warm temperatures and no snow that we have been enjoying. The cool temperatures are perfect winter weather conditions. Cold enough that bees shouldn't raise anymore brood, but warm enough that the demand on stored food would be minimal. If this winter comes out to be a warm one, colonies that normally would starve, will be thriving. This happened several years ago when it was a warm winter. During that winter, if a hive had 40 lbs of honey, they survived. 

 So I covered my hives yesterday. I did get to my sugar cakes that I made in a previous video. I made 3 cakes. 2 in a plastic pan and 1 in a 2 lb rubber beeswax block mold. The beeswax block mold held together pretty good. The 2 plastic pan sugar blocks did not fair well. I think they were too thin and ended up structurally deficient. The pan cakes broke apart and were still a little damp on the bottom. Hindsight tells me to make the cakes with a wooden frame with a cardboard bottom. Doing it this way, the cakes could be turned over and allow to dry on two sides instead of one.

The sugar broke up in chunks. Still usable but I needed plan B. You can see the sugar brick from my beeswax mold in the center held together quite well.
Wax paper works great for putting sugar on a hive. The bees can chew up the wax paper as they eat the sugar, making it easier for the bees to access
I added a shim to the top of the hive for room to stack up the sugar
This hive was short of stores and may not make it. I put down a sheet of wax paper on top of the cluster.
This hive was also short on stores.
Sugar is placed on top of the wax paper. The sugar could simply be granulated sugar, but I used the sugar chunks and some loose sugar. The bees will be able to get to the sugar easily.
This is what the top of the hive looked like. On top of the top box is a shim, inner cover and moisture board.

I have two hives short on stores in this yard. Notice I have two bricks up on end, now I can remember which hives have the sugar on. Later in winter, I can check these two hives to see if they need more sugar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

EV's - My Opinion Part 6 Last of the Series

 Disclaimer: I do own Tesla stock, I have a CyberTruck on order. The following post is my opinion, it is not a recommendation or investment advice. I have been following Tesla for a long time and my opinion will reflect that. If you are going to purchase an electric vehicle, do your homework.

 As a beekeeper, I have been trying to be more conscious to our environment. My wife and I put in a big solar array to lower our carbon footprint. Our interest in doing our part to make this world a better place started there. Now we are looking for an electric vehicle to keep on a green track. 

 Tesla is my choice for an electric vehicle. Tesla has been in the EV business since 2003. Elon Musk has been on a crusade to bring the world into a more sustainable energy future. I will have to say, Musk forced the hand of automobile manufacturers. All of a sudden there is a mad dash to bring EV's to market. With new battery tech and new manufacturing techniques, Tesla will soon be able to price their EV's cheaper than gas cars.

 Tesla is years ahead of the competition in battery tech, full self driving, and manufacturing tech. Tesla is the only EV maker that does over the air software updates. Ford wants $150.00 from me to update my maps in my truck, something Tesla does for free. Most Tesla owners have said that their cars are completely different than when they first purchased it, because of the software updates. Volkswagen which is releasing new EV's, is trying to launch Mission T which is to try to catch Tesla by 2024. Even VW is admitting that they are four years behind Tesla right now. VW is one of the biggest automakers in the world. Tesla's stock has benefited from their industry lead,  One stock analyst has Tesla at a share price of $2500.00 a share within three years.

I do believe that the Long Range Model Y with the new 4680 high nickel battery cells will be the best EV in the world. The new battery pack and the aluminum cast front and rear structure will be a better vehicle when compared to the competition. The availability of that EV may start sometime in late summer 2021. I have heard that the new battery will have a fifteen year lifespan and is well over a million mile battery. Tesla has not openly stated this, so they would not fall victim to the Osbourne effect

 The CyberTruck I ordered is supposed to have a 240 volt plug in. In the future, homeowners may be able to plug their CyberTruck and power their home during a power outage. With a 100 kilowatt battery in the CyberTruck, a home could be powered for a couple days, maybe longer with some conservation. If the power outage lasts a while, the truck could be recharged at a supercharger that is not suffering from an outage.

 Tesla is more than a car company. 

Tesla is:

  • A software company, their full self driving, FSD (now a $10,000.00 option) will bring about Robotaxi's. If 500,000 customers buy the FSD option, that is 5 billion dollars for Tesla. Every year this will grow. Imagine calling for a taxi and a car without a driver shows up and takes you to your destination. This may make Tesla trillions. Your own Tesla vehicle could be used as a Robotaxi and could make the owner thousands of dollars a year. This may put Uber and Lyft out of business.
  • Insurance Company, Tesla will soon offer insurance to all it's Tesla owners. Tesla has data on its entire fleet of EV's. This data will give them the ability to offer insurance at a cheaper rate. Now available in California. This insurance business may really impact insurance companies as more Tesla's get on the road.
  • Power Company, Tesla is making micro grids. Micro grids can help make the electric grid more efficient. The Megapack has been installed in Australia and has saved the consumers millions of dollars in a very short time. Elon Musk feels that the energy business will be bigger than the EV business. Having a grid sized storage system will make the electric grid much more efficient and save on energy, especially during peak demands.
  • Solar company, the Tesla solar roof with a powerwall battery storage will give many homeowners an opportunity to be much more electrical independent. Having more and more solar homes contributing to the grid, will be able to lessen our demand on coal. The extra solar power generated during the day could be stored in a Tesla grid sized Megapack.
  • A semi company, Tesla semi is still in the works with production coming in the near future. With full self driving the Tesla semi could disrupt the railroad industry. Imagine a truck leaving California driving to Minnesota without a driver. Sounds scary, can that be pulled off? Maybe driver occupied during inclement weather.
  • Tesla has the best supercharging network. While not widespread in Minnesota at the moment, there are several superchargers in the metro area. Mostly located next to interstates for when traveling. While you are driving down the road, your Tesla EV can tell you where the superchargers are at and can even can tell you how many charging spots are open at the moment.
Tesla is right now in a great place in the market. Tesla has several factories, Fremont California, Shanghai China, Berlin Germany (under construction, open early 2021) and Austin Texas (under construction, open late summer 2021). Tesla just announced a sale of 5 billion dollars in stock. Tesla will now be sitting on 20 billion dollars in cash. The future for Tesla is bright. There will be many EV makers coming on line in the future. I am sure that many will end up going bankrupt. The EV makers will find out soon, that competing with Tesla may be too difficult. There is much more to say about EV's and I have just glossed over a few major points. If you need questions answered, ask an EV owner, they will more than likely be more than happy to answer your questions. Electric Vehicles are not perfect. There is a learning curve on how to use and operate the EV. As time goes on, there will be an EV in your driveway.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Need More Info About EV's? Part 5

 YouTube has many videos of people driving their electric vehicles. Easy to find out what's good and bad, range anxiety, cold weather batteries, charging advice etc. EV drivers are like beekeepers, they are quick to answer questions and readily offer good advice.

If you want more information about Electric Vehicles, here are some links to some channels I watch on YouTube:

Munroe Live Sandy Munro tears down vehicles then tells what is good and bad about them. He has great insight and gives an honest assessment.

Electrek Video's on all things Electric. They also have a podcast.

Cleanerwatt  Video's on electric vehicles a lot on Tesla.

Hyperchange   Mostly Tesla video's. Gali is a Tesla fanboy. He must make a video after he drinks a six pack of Red Bull. The guy really is a talker. 

Tesla Daily  Daily videos and podcasts about Tesla. Any news about Tesla.

Electrified  Electric Vehicle video's mostly Tesla

Torque News  Video's about Tesla, sometimes several a day. 

Casgains Academy videos on the electric vehicle industry

Manufacturers of EV's



Lucid Air 

Nissan Leaf 

General Motors



There are many more EV's out there. Keep looking if these don't answer your questions.



Monday, December 7, 2020

EV's - Reasons to buy an EV Part 4

 In the next five years, probably 40% of new car buyers will be buying an electric car. 

Electric cars are:

  • faster than ICE cars. 
  • cheaper to fuel 
  • no more oil changes, or engine mechanical repairs
  • quieter to drive
  • more environmental friendly
  • Tesla will be offering Full Self Driving soon. Imagine, giving the car and address and the car takes you there. They are running a Beta version right now.
  • Possibly run your Tesla as a robotaxi. They claim Robotaxi could earn a Tesla owner $30,000.00 per year in revenue.




Reasons you should (not) buy an electric car


Sunday, December 6, 2020

About EV's - Types of EV batteries part 3

 There is basically three types of EV battery cells. Cylindrical, Prismatic and pouch cells. Different EV makers use different battery cells in their cars. The battery business is changing so fast, it seems like every week there is new EV and battery news.

Cylindrical cells come in a few different sizes 18650, 21700 and the 4680.  The 18650 is 18mm in diamter and 65mm tall, the 21700 is 21mm in diameter and 70mm tall, the 4680 is 46mm in diameter and 80mm tall. The bigger the battery the more power it can store.  The Cylindrical cells are cheaper to mass produce than pouch or prismatic cells. 

At this time, I only know of maybe 3 EV makers that use the cylindrical cells, Lucid Air, Rivian (a pickup truck coming out next year) and Tesla. It is hard to know for sure because many EV makers have still not produced a vehicle yet.  

General Motors and VW are using pouch cells. Pouch cells are more expensive to produce. 

The battery cells for EV's is changing almost everyday. Deals being made with battery makers LG Chem, CATYL and Panasonic to name a few. 

 Most EV makers are coming on strong with designs and concept vehicles. These same EV makers are all going to run into the same problem of being battery constrained. This means that for most of the EV makers, they may not be able to get batteries for their cars. There are not many EV makers that actually make their own batteries. General Motors is building a battery plant right now for their Ultium battery. Even Tesla who has been in the EV business since 2003 purchases their batteries through their partner Panasonic. Tesla is shifting to in house battery production with their new tabless 4680 High Nickel battery cell. But Tesla has deals with battery makers Panasonic, LG Chem and CATYL.

The demand for raw materials will grow considerably in the next year or two. Lithium, nickel and cobalt to name a few, may be hard to obtain and the price may increase in the short term. The result of this may be that an EV maker with plans to make 100,000 EV's may only be able to deliver 25,000.  

 How are cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch style battery cells different?

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Electric Vehicles - It is all about the battery part 2

 When I talk electric vehicles I do not mean hybrid or any ICE assisted battery vehicle. A true electric vehicle gets all of the energy to power the car exclusively from the battery pack. Battery packs are rated in Kilowatts. The Kilowatts is the total amount of usable energy stored for use in the car. Something to be clear of, some electric manufacturers are better at using their battery pack efficiencies. An example of this, a 100 KW battery pack, while one manufacturer gets 250 miles of range, another manufacturer may get over 300 miles of range.

 Overall efficiencies can come from battery chemistry, software and the drive unit transmission.

Battery Chemistry: There are several different battery chemistries used in a EV battery. All of the battery chemistries work, the difference is performance, type of battery and cost.

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) LFP batteries can have a high cycle life, but are less energy dense than other Lithium Ion batteries. LFP batteries hold a smaller charge, they are reliable and relativity inexpensive. The downside is the LFP battery will give a lower miles of range. Probably in the low 200 miles of range.

Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) probably the most popular battery chemistry. Many EV makers are trying to reduce or eliminate Cobalt from their battery chemistries because of the accusations of labor abuse at the Cobalt mines in Africa. Long cycle life and higher energy density of the battery. Battery range of this battery chemistry is usually in the 250 - low 300's miles of range.

High Nickel - This is a new chemistry that Tesla has come up with. The chemistry in the new 4680 battery cell has a higher energy density. Tesla will be putting these new cells in some of their EV's soon. Tesla has really not stated specs on this battery chemistry because the battery is not in vehicles at the moment. This high nickel battery chemistry, (which has been developed under Tesla's secret Roadrunner project) has a range of around 350 mile plus. The High Nickel cells are a breakthrough technology that will be 50% cheaper to build when compared to NMC cells. The Rumor is that the new CyberTruck will have the high nickle battery cells and will have a range of 500 plus miles.

I am sorry for much of this content being about Tesla, but Tesla is the largest EV maker in the world and most of the chatter out there in the EV world is about Tesla.

In September of 2020, Tesla had their much hyped battery day. Tesla talked about their new 4680 battery cells. This video is from Sandy Munroe as he gives his opinion on Tesla's new battery cell.



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Short Series About Electric Vehicles

 During the month of December, there is not much happening in the hive. Right now beekeepers should have covered their hives and wished the bees good luck for the coming winter. 

 So I am going to take a different turn over the next couple weeks. The subject will be about the coming worldwide change to Electric Vehicles (EV's). Many people scoff at the idea of EV's. That the EV market is a trend that will go away. This series of posts will explore most of the information about EV's and will give the reader a good idea what is out there and what is coming. I will be offering my opinion and be posting YouTube videos to give some clarity on the subject. 

Disclaimer: I do own Tesla stock and I have a Cybertruck on order. What I am going to talk about is not investment advice but purely good solid information to become  more informed about EV's.

Electric Vehicles started out over 100 years ago, then through innovation, the internal combustion engine (ICE) became the technology of choice for transportation. 

This video is from Munroe Live. Sandy Munroe has a business of improving manufacturing processes. Companies will bring a product to Munroe and they will tear the product down completely and then offer opinion on how to improve the product. The improvements could be material choices, manufacturing techniques or engineering changes. Munroe will take apart an automobile and completely tear it down to the last bolt. Then they will offer and opinion on the complete build of the automobile. Munroe is savvy on all manufacturing processes from old technology to new cutting edge technology. 

Some definitions of jargon used in the video   EV=electric vehicle, ICE=internal combustion engine vehicle, OEM=original equipment manufacturer like Ford, General Motors or Toyota for example, Model 3 or Model Y=Tesla car models.

         The Past, Present and Future of EV's