Posts Tagged ‘Log hives’

2489 Hal looking at bees in #3, 3-4-16

#3 Log Hive is still occupied after 4 years.

 Number 4 Tall Hive in it’s glory days last year.

893B Hal stands next to #4, 5-21-15.jpg+++ copy

After not finding any decent logs, Hal bought some rough-cut red cedar and built this ‘log’ hive last year. This picture was taken after a swarm of bees decided on their own to move into it in May 2015.

20A Hal points out the bottom of natural comb, July 2015 copy

This was in July last year.  The bees built natural comb about 3.5 feet long.  The entrance to Hal’s observation hive is seen on the left.

21A The view from the back of back of the hive, July 2015. copy

Looking through the observation window, you can see beautiful natural comb.

23 Hal's Observation hive, 7-14-15

Hal’s observation hive was full of natural comb and bees at that time too.

So you can imagine the heartbreak of realizing the #4 hive was a goner in late September.  Hal took it down and opened it up…

6 Long comb, 10-1-15

We took the lid off #4 after we suspected it had died out. We were impressed at the length of the comb…but unimpressed at the lack of honey. It’s possible it was cleaned out by yellow jackets last summer because we could see a pile of cappings on the hive floor.

Not to be discouraged, Hal cleaned out #4 hive and tacked on some screens.

4A Ventilation holes covered with screens copy

Feb. 9, 2016…screened off the ventilation holes to keep the yellow-jackets out…

2A Added more honeycomb, foundation for this year copy

…added some honey comb and new foundation, and re-homed it.

1609 #4 Hive on location, back, 2-28-16-1

Late February 2016…Number 4 hive on location, braced against a tree for support, baited for more bees and in plenty of time for a nice swarm of bees to repopulate it.

1637 Observation window&Cover, 2-28-16

Feb. 9, 2016…Log hive #5, showing the observation window and cover. This hive is approximately 2″ thick (5 cm) and 8′ (2.4m) tall. A sheet of plexi-glass is mounted inner-most of the window which starts at just about the end of the foundation. I always admire Hal’s craftsmanship.

8 Hal's #5 Bottom screen+mite board 2-9-16

Another look at #5 log hive, awaiting its move to the new location. This photo shows the square access ‘window’ to a screen towards the bottom of the hive. Above the square is a slide-out mite board. Also pictured is the cover to the access hole.  Hal explains how it works in the video.

4553 Brodie Parrish, 3-16

Grandson Brodie Parrish helps Hal take off delivery straps.

4584A Hal setting up #5, 3-7-16 copy

Hive #5 just about ready for an April swarm. Hal is sharing his bee expertise with the younger generation.

884 Patti, pond, ducks, fountain, 5-21-15.JPG+++iPhone

Patti, a young 80 year-old, built this fountain and pond completely by herself.

Patti’s Poem

“Hal is Hooked on Bees” 

Oregon’s spring will be here before long
Birds will twitter their unending song
Trees, shrubs, flowers will come alive
Orchards and gardens soon will thrive

But, without the honey bees we are lost
Salubrious summer sun is tossed
On our gardens where we toil and till
Hoping bees come with a working will

Years ago we had plenty of Bees so true
But when the old century turned into new
Along came CCD, bee colonies collapsed
Trumpets began playing dead Bee Taps

Bee deaths plagued my husband dear
A calm bee keeper for many a year
Now we tell how he learned to care
To save Bees so all the world can share

In 1995 our friend thought of us to show
How Honey Bees helped our garden grow
A lush home garden must have bees near
Pollination! Don’t even consider sting fear

Two bee hives placed near our front door
Our friend kept stacking up supers galore
With the boxed frames beeswax filled
A new swarm brought in the honey swill

Every week supers were piled on high
Hives grew seven feet nearer the blue sky
We saw pollen carried into the new hive
On every bee’s legs & the colony thrived

Our friend baited Hal, he just had to say
Bees dance! To show where to work today
Scouts fly to find tree homes that are okay
Then they dance to show swarms the way

Well, Hal was hooked, he had to try
Do the bees really dance, as well as fly?
Yes, said our friend as he harvested honey
And that liquid gold lasts longer ‘n money

Honey! The only food that never spoils
Made by the Honey Bees unending toils
On Crest Acres the World Record was set
Two hives gave more than anyone bet

Honey, six hundred and thirty pounds
Hard to believe, when it was so near town
That honey was soon taken with care
It was like St. Nicholas had visited there

Our friend put honey in a clear pint jar
Sent to the County Fair, to the Judge’s bar
Clear as glass, our honey took first prize
Friend gives pint to Hal, enticement-wise

Seven supers of honey were taken away
But the winter-ready hive has honey today
The Queen rests, as her ladies slip along
Used-up drones no longer sing their song

Wind rakes and the rains soak forest trees
The Queen is surrounded by her lady bees
They work the winter cleaning wax cells
Waiting ‘til warmth rings the Queen’s bell

Lady bees search out dry days in winter
Like to leave their warm, comfy center
They’re full, eating plenty of pollen soup
On good days, they fly out to take a poop

Early spring pulls the Queen’s trigger
She lays 2500 rice-sized eggs – not bigger
Every day at each cell she carefully stops
Each of the six-sided cells gets one drop

Right at ninety degrees the brood is kept
While the warm neat hive is cleanly swept
As the nurse bees crawl quietly about
In 21 days little bees chew their way out

Coquille Valley’s growth is super awesome
Good and plenty spring/summer blossoms
The Queen works, but may get moody too
Gather her team and swarm into the blue!

Patti Strain, January 2012
Updated: March 15, 2016

Patti also wrote The Story of Hal’s Bee Trees

887 Hal and Patti, log flower bed, 5-21-15.JPG+++

Hal and Patti Strain

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2016 has not been a good year for my bees.  My ‘end-of-year’ hive status saw four bee hives that had activity.  Now I have only one.

After being in denial for a few weeks, I figured I’d face up to the fact this Warré was a goner.

2239 Warre plastic film protected, 12-25-15 copy

Dec. 25, 2015…I had pulled off the empty top box and pinned some protection from rainwater getting in. It was too late.

2378 Warre 2 dismantled+detailed, 2-7-16 copy

Feb. 7, 2016…This is the top box. There was plenty of honey on the four outboard bars, but very little in the middle.

Biting the bullet I figured I’d better find out ALL the bad news…and opened up Bee Beard log hive.  Somehow rainfall had gotten inside here too, even with the hat and headband.  Because of El Niño, we’ve had copious amounts of rainfall.  Yes, it’s good for the forests, but not so good for the bee hives.

2430 Bee Beard, hat off, 2-20-16

2-20-16 I pull off Bee Beard’s hat.

Footnote to above…I’d like to make a waterproof ‘hat’ for this hive.  If anyone has a suggestion, please pass it on to me.

So why have these hives died back?  Could it be the El Niño effect?  Record rainfall in December?  Ron lost his hives around December.  This year I didn’t cover my hives very well.   I should have been more careful.

Another thing that’s been bothering me for awhile is the questionable source of swarms I get from time to time.  Where are they coming from?  I’m beginning to realize they might be coming from the commercial hives in the cranberry bogs.  The commercial hives, I just learned from a cranberry grower, come straight up from the almond orchards in California.

These ‘almond orchard bees’ could be infecting my bees and I DON’T GET any payment.

181 Several hundred hives, 3-24-15

March 25, 2015…..Less than 3 miles (4.8 km) distance away from my bee hives is the staging area for the commercial cranberry hives. These hives are most likely coming from the almond orchards south of us in California. They were being held here prior to being placed in the cranberry bogs.  Arrrrgh!  Bog bees…”diseased and loaded with mites.”

My wife suggests I ask Bill W. if he sells any Warré nucs.  Bill lives inland about 150 miles (241 km).  I tell him of my suspicions of commercial hives.  His reply…

“Hello Pat,
I don’t have Warré nucs for sale.  I get a lot of “bad” swarms also. These are mostly from poorly kept urban high density colonies having bees from poor commercial sources.  I pick up a lot of swarms with poor genetics and failing queens.  It has caused me to put out more hives and rely upon higher colony failure.
In the Willamette Valley, many commercial beekeepers will keep their colonies here when not busy with almonds or cranberries or something else.
Good luck. -Bill”

2223A Anchored GKLH today, 12-19-15 copy

The Grand Kids Log Hive is most likely inhabited by “bog bees.” Maybe I should say “was inhabited,” because it’s been silent for almost two months. I thought it successfully superceded, but I’ve not seen any activity since early January.

After assuming my troubles have come from the cranberry “bog bees,” I asked Steve about his bees.  We had gotten a swarm of bees, (most likely they were from cranberry hives) last year, May 30th.

105751 Steve's hive, 2-17-16

Feb. 17….. Steve sent this photo and said…”My bees are fine, but I fed them 50 lbs of sugar in the fall.”  Should I rethink feeding sugar to them?

Then there’s Pete’s beehives.  I asked him recently about his bees.  He is near cranberry bogs too.  “They’re doing great.  Out flying every non-rainy day, getting into madrone blossoms and other things, possibly even gorse, bringing back all kinds of pollen.”

Bob (of home-built bee vac fame) said his hives were doing fine too.  Bob is located near the bogs too.  Hmmm, maybe I can’t blame my bee problems on the bogs.

2454 The only active hive left, 2-23-16

February 23…the Green hive in the tree is the only active one left. The bees are flying in small numbers on sunny days…even bringing in pollen, but again in small numbers. When our willow tree blossomed, I expected to see bees all over it. I was disappointed. Few bees were seen. Maybe it was the almost constant rain.

Since my tree hive seems to have lasted through everything, I decide to try another one. I’ve got to do some trimming around it, but this will be the location for the next one.   It’ll hold Warré sized bars, but it’s too heavy to lug around for a bait hive, so I’ll be trying to attract a swarm.

2506 Next tree hive location, 3-10-16

I’ve got to cut back the laurel hedge limb and holly tree. Then I’ll custom fit the hive box between the trunk and the angled limb. I’ve tried it. I think it’ll work.

Bottom line…I think it was the El Niño rainfall.  I chose NOT to cover my Warré bee hives this winter.  Why not?  I didn’t see other beekeepers cover their hives up.  I think the difference this year is my observation window covers are slightly warped (outward)  Some rain possibly entered there.  With so much more rainfall this year than in other years, it was just too much.  Somehow the rain got into Bee Beard Log Hive too.  I’ll have to work up some kind of ‘head gear’ to shed water.   As for the Grand Kids Log hive?  I still have to figure that one out.  Maybe it WAS a weak, diseased strain of bees from the commercial hives.

Fixing Bee Beard Log Hive…

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Standing tall, Bee Beard Log hive is doing well since it was revived in August 2014. It swarmed at least once on May 11, but that swarmed moved on without us capturing it.

Standing tall, Bee Beard Log hive is doing well since it was revived in August 2014. It swarmed at least once on May 11 of this year, but that swarm moved on without us getting it.

Sept. 23...Lots of good orange pollen being carried into this hive. This hive will go into winter without me intervening in any way.

Sept. 23…Lots of good orange pollen being carried into this hive. This hive will go into winter without me intervening in any way.

Sept. 17...These birdhouse bees are doing so well, I'm starting to think that small bee hives are the way to go. This hive has no other openings other than the entrance. I don't understand how they can survive without much ventilation, but they are doing well, which is a good way to head into the winter shadow.

Sept. 17…These birdhouse bees are doing so well, I’m starting to think that small bee hives are the way to go. This hive has no other openings other than the entrance. I don’t understand how they can survive without much ventilation, but they are doing well, which is a good way to head into their second winter shadow.

Here's a closer look at the entrance showing how crowded they are.

Here’s a closer look at the entrance showing how crowded they are.

The video shows the amount of pollen flying in. This is at 125x (digital zoom) and not as sharp.

The video shows the amount of pollen flying in.

May 14...The day after the big swarm moved into the Grandkids Log hive, Bee-atrice went into swarm mode.

May 14…The day after the big swarm moved into the Grandkids Log hive, Bee-atrice log hive went into swarm mode.

May 14...Ron got this one. He lives just up the road. I'm happy to report that Ron says they are doing well. They are active and bringing lots of pollen. They can be seen flying well here... https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byp0gCTqCQ6rZjBJVmZOa0FJZzQ/view?usp=sharing

May 14…Ron got this one. He lives just up the road. I’m happy to report that Ron says they are doing well. They are active and bringing in lots of pollen.
They can be seen flying well here…

Sept. 23...I'm down to only one Warre hive now. It's doing well with lots of pollen coming in. You can see Bee-atrice Log hive 'shuttered' in the background. When the wasps were running rampant inside, I had to wrap it up. I'll clean it out (scorch it) come spring and try to attract another swarm.

Sept. 23…I’m down to only one Warre hive now. It’s doing well with lots of pollen coming in. You can see Bee-atrice Log hive ‘shuttered’ in the background. When the wasps were running rampant inside, I had to wrap it up. I’ll clean it out (scorch it) come spring and try to attract another swarm.

Bees head into the Warre loads of pollen. This hive is heavy. I haven't taken any honey from it. I think they will make it through the winter without me feeding.

Bees head into the Warre loaded with pollen. This hive is heavy. I haven’t taken any honey from it. I think they will make it through the winter without me feeding.

Sept. 23, 2015...Sad to say, this hive is not going to make it. The temperature started falling in mid July, and now I see wasps nosing around and drones flying out.

Sept. 23, 2015…Sad to say, the Grand Kids Log hive is not going to make it. The temperature started falling in mid July, and now I see wasps nosing around and drones flying out.  The Grand Kids are back.

Sept. 3...Temperature is down to 87F (30C)

Sept. 3…Temperature is down to 87F (30C)

Sept. 21...Looking up into the empty combs, this hive is clearly NOT going to make it. When the wasps start attacking, I'll plug up the entrances and wait until spring. Maybe I'll get lucky with another swarm...

Sept. 21…Looking up into the empty combs, I see a lack of bees.  Clearly the queen isn’t laying and I’ve seen a few drones exiting.   Footnote:  This hive must have superceded a queen, because there are not only new bees, but also new comb.  This is the only hive I can see from the house…from where I eat actually, and I gotta say, I’m so happy to see the bees flying to and from this hive when I sit down to eat!!!

Steve says his swarm 'is hanging in there,' but he's starting to feed again because they haven't built up enough comb to get them through the winter.

Steve says his swarm ‘is hanging in there,’ but he’s starting to feed again because they haven’t built up enough comb to get them through the winter.

We are headed into autumn with four hives, which is all I ever really wanted, but I had really hoped that Grand Kids Log hive would be among the survivors.  It begs the question…are smaller hives better?  I’m beginning to think so.  I’ve thought about partitioning off the big log hive, but then there might be air flow issues.  The birdhouse bees seem to deal with lack of air flow, so maybe it won’t be an issue.  Right now I’ll let nature take it’s course and hope I can attract another swarm in spring.

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March 17th...Since it was my birthday, I skipped work to see how Brian was progressing on the faces. The 'quilt box' has been added on top and Brian is figuring out what kind of carving he will add to the very top to shed rainwater and add another uniqueness to my already very unique hive.

March 17th…Since it was my birthday, I skipped work to see how Brian was progressing on the faces.
The ‘quilt box’ has been added on top and Brian is figuring out what kind of carving he will add to the very top for the purpose of shedding rainwater and to add another uniqueness to my already different looking hive.

Here he describes what he has done and what is remaining to be done.  He plans to be done in a week and that means I better get prepared for it…SOON!

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March 10, 2015...Here's the roughing out of the faces for the Grand Kid Log hive.

March 10, 2015…Here’s the roughing out of the faces for the Grand Kid Log hive.

Images of grand kids for Brian Vorwaller to compare when carving the faces.

Images of grand kids for Brian Vorwaller, the wood carver.

March 16...The sun came out so I was able to get some time outside.  The pencil lines line up with the top bars on the top of the log hive.

March 16…The sun came out so I was able to get some time outside. The pencil lines line up with the top bars on the top of the log hive.

March 16...The sun came out so I was able to get some time outside.  This shows the first few cuts in the quilt box.  I'm using an electric chain saw plugged into my solar system with canola oil to lubricate the chain.  (I don't want any hydrocarbons in my hive)

This shows the first few cuts in the quilt box. I’m using an electric chain saw plugged into my solar system with canola oil to lubricate the chain. (I don’t want any hydrocarbons in my hive)

This was so easy I made a bunch of cuts...

This was so easy I made a bunch of cuts…

...and then pushed them out.

…and then pushed them out.

Then I enlarged it outwards towards the pencil line.

Then I enlarged it outwards towards the pencil line.

I cleaned up the sides with the "Sa-burr" wheel on the handheld grinder.

I cleaned up the insides with the “Sa-burr” wheel on a handheld grinder.

The #8 screen will hold the quilt and the sawdust at the top of the hive.  This will enable the bees to regulate the temperature and ventilation of the hive by plugging up or eating through sections of the cloth.

The #8 screen will hold the quilt and the sawdust at the top of the hive. This will enable the bees to regulate the temperature and ventilation of the hive by plugging up or eating through sections of the cloth.

I took a photo of this old 'quilt' taken from a Warré hive.  You can see where the bees have chewed spaces (I assume) for ventilation into the box above that's full of sawdust.  The upper box has another 'quilt' to keep the sawdust from falling into the interior of the hive.   When you let the bees build their own comb (I don't use any wax foundation or heaven forbid any plastic foundation) they are free to decide where to put holes in the comb for whatever purpose they want, be it ventilation or for just passing through  the comb.

I took a photo of this old ‘quilt’ taken from a Warré hive. You can see where the bees have chewed spaces (I assume) for ventilation into the box above that’s full of sawdust to hold the hive scent. The upper box has another ‘quilt’ to keep the sawdust from falling into the interior of the hive.

I’ll take the quilt box to the wood carver so he can shape up the structure on top of it.  I think he’s going to carve a type of birdhouse top that will shed water.

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The beginning of the project

Grand Kids’ Log Hive Status Report, as of February 15, 2015

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Bee-atrice log hive is on the left.  The inner tube is a draft reducer, not what it looks like, so no snide remarks!

Bee-atrice log hive is on the left. The inner tube is a draft reducer, not what it looks like, so no snide remarks!

Here's a better shot of Bee-atrice.  The blue tarp in the background is protecting my Tower of Jewels echium plants and artichokes.  I'm hoping they will bloom this time around.

Here’s a better shot of Bee-atrice log hive. The blue tarp in the background is protecting my Tower of Jewels echium plants and artichokes. I’m hoping they will bloom this year because the nectar is so good for the bees and they’ll bloom all summer.

The outside temperature is a frosty 34˙F.  Barely above freezing.  It's no wonder the bees aren't flying today.

The outside temperature is a frosty 34˙F. Barely above freezing. It’s no wonder the bees aren’t flying today.

While the outside temperature is 35˙F (1.67˙C), the inside is 50˙F (10˙C).  Someone should have cleaned off the cob webs. :)

While the outside temperature is 34˙F (1˙C), the inside is 50˙F (10˙C), which means there is something warm inside.  Someone should have cleaned off the cob webs before he shot the photo. 🙂

Looking through the observation window of Bee-atrice Log Hive reveals lots of honey.  It's such an improvement over last year's status of 'no bees.'

Looking through the observation window of Bee-atrice Log Hive reveals lots of honey. It’s such an improvement over last year’s status of ‘no bees.’

Bee Beard Log hive is doing well with the August 9th swarm that chose to move in.

Bee Beard Log hive is doing well with the August 9th swarm that chose to move in.

This hive in the tree swarmed three times during summer.  Two went to Bob and one we transferred into Del's hive.

This hive in the tree swarmed three times during summer. Two went to Bob and one we transferred into Del’s Warre hive below.

Del's hive...the bees came from the green hive in the tree.  After hanging on the pine tree for about three days, I tried to get them to crawl into an inverted swarm catcher scented with lemon grass oil.  No luck.  They finally disappeared.  I thought, "Good, I've got enough hives," only to find them on a branch of this spruce tree.  After they had hung out for at least 6 days, I dropped them into this hive that I had planned to donate to the bee club.

Del’s Warre hive…the bees came from the green hive in the tree. After hanging on the pine tree for about three days, I tried to get them to crawl into an inverted swarm catcher scented with lemon grass oil. No luck. They finally disappeared. I thought, “Good, I’ve got enough hives,” only to find them on a branch of this spruce tree. After they had hung out for a total of 6 days, I dropped them into this hive that I had planned to donate to the bee club.  Lost it…see below.

This hive catches the afternoon sun.  Some bees responded to the warmth.

Del’s hive catches the afternoon sun. Some bees responded to the warmth and gathered outside.

12-31-14...Birdhouse bees.  These bees came from Mary's backyard birdhouse swarm.  When I couldn't get them to move into my new Warre, I 'posted' them here.  Today they are not flying.  Too cold.  You can see frost on the ground in front.

12-31-14…Birdhouse bees. These bees came from Mayor Mary’s backyard birdhouse swarm. When I couldn’t get them to move into my new Warre, I ‘posted’ them here. Today they are not flying. Too cold. You can see frost on the ground in front.  They are in the shade possibly until March.

A closer look at the birdhouse bees shows no bee activity.

A closer look at the birdhouse bees still shows no bee activity.  Guess I’ll have to wait til it warms up.  This hive is in the coldest part of the property.  If they make it, it’ll be because they are strong bees, not because I treated them.

Warre 3...The bees came from Warre 2, around May 10, 2014.  They built up fast but only in the top box.  This 'shelter' leaves something to be desired because every time we get a stiff wind, the sheets of fiberglass blow off.  Thus the reason for the tie down.

Warre 3…These bees came from Warre 2, May 10, 2014. They built up fast but only in the top box. This ‘shelter’ leaves something to be desired because every time we get a stiff wind, the sheets of fiberglass blow off, thus the reason for the tie down.  Lost it…see below.

 

So there it is…from three hives a year ago to eight hives this year.  As a third year natural beekeeper, I believe in letting my bees swarm.  I like the article written by British beekeeper John Haverson that “Swarming Bees are Healthy Bees,” so I don’t destroy the queen cells or otherwise try to thwart their natural tendency to swarm.

I go against the recommendations of my local bee association which advises to kill the varroa mites.   I know there are beneficial mites in the hive.  According to long time beekeeper Michael Bush, who wrote “The Practical Beekeeper,” there are over 30 kinds of mites in a typical hive.  If you are killing varroa mites, you are upsetting the ecology of the hive.  I think we should let the bees adapt to living with mites.  Conversely, if we poison the mites, they will eventually build up a resistance at the expense of the bees.

Since we have just started winter, I know that it’s possible that some hives won’t make it, especially if I choose not to feed them.  Those would be the weak hives.  As a fairly new beekeeper I’m constantly questioning whether I’m doing the right thing.  Right now, I am of the mindset that we should not be propping up weak hives because we will be passing on weak genetics.   In my humble opinion when you capture a swarm, you should not kill that queen,  but keep her with the swarm.  She has survived the winter and proven herself.  All my bees have come from swarms.

If my bees can make it to early February, the pussy willows will bloom and weather permitting, nectar and pollen will be available in a critical stage of winter.

Yesterday I noticed honeybees on the gorse blossoms down the road from me.  This was a happy surprise because I don’t usually see bees on gorse blossoms possibly because gorse is harder to work (or so I’m told), but if there’s nothing else available, the bees will be able to get nourishment.  Some individuals around here hate the gorse.  It’s spiny thorns make it impossible to walk near, it grows prolifically, and it’s blamed for burning the town in the big 1936 fire.

March 4th note…  We lost Del’s hive.  It’s not a surprise because it never really built up any ‘honey weight’  pre-winter.  I haven’t taken it apart yet, but when I do, I’ll clean it out, put in observation windows, and donate it back to the bee club.

We lost #3 Warré too.  I took it down last week after I saw robber bees visiting it.  There was still some capped honey in the combs.  About 125 bees were dead on the bottom.  Some of the combs were moldy, so I’m guessing it’s been dead for awhile.  Both hives were weak hives.  While I’m upset at having lost them, I’m thinking that maybe it’s for the best because if the bees can’t survive in our relatively mild winter, maybe they shouldn’t be in the gene pool.  I’m down to six hives now, but the willow tree has been blooming for about three weeks and I can see the bees bringing in orange pollen and that means nectar too!

 

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