Archive for apiculture

Lost one of my Bee Hives by Jimmy Earl Cooley

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Lost one of my Bee Hives

by Jimmy Earl Cooley

Bad news with the Hebert Bee Hive.

I have been watching both hives but not examined in a month. Lots of activity with going and coming but in the case of the Hebert Hive it may have been more going than coming.

Two days ago I noted less activity at the HH and yesterday almost none.

I opened today and found everybody and everything has been moved out!

Found 11 dead bees, a couple of small roaches, and one caterpillar like worm.

Bees, eggs, larva, honey, pollen, nectar and everything gone just mostly empty cells. Some cells sealed over and some black. It’s as if robber bees came in the night and removed everything. See Photos. I had two brood boxes and one super. Everything cleaned out and a good cleaning. No dead bees anywhere around except the 11 mentioned.

I completely disassembled the HH and left parts out. It seemed so clean that no bees were coming around to forage leftovers. There was very little residue on inside bottom board.

As I was finishing the disassembly I heard a loud noise at the Shirley Hive, which has been very active.

I went over and bees were swarming around the entrance and then got larger and larger and up into the sky approx 25 ft above and forward of the SH.

This is the same thing I experienced last year when the HH split. But after about 20 minutes the bees settled and all returned to the SH. I thought for sure a small swarm had left the SH but could not find one.

I am assuming it was a prelude to a split or a cleaning flight.

The SH has two brood boxes and one super. I opened the SH and it had lots of bees.

So I removed 5 frames (brood, honey, babies, and etc) from second brood box and moved to a new brood. Replaced empty spots in SH and new brood box with new frames. Moved the new brood box away to new location. After looking at number of bees now left in the SH, I decided to split again. So I moved the second brood box from SH to the location of the previous HH with a new foundation board. Then took 4 of frames from lower SH brood box and moved to second box, which I had moved to the HH location.

So now I have three boxes.

  1. The original HH hive is gone.
  2. The second brood box from the SH, along with frames from the lower SH and top is now in the original location of the HH.
  3. Frames from the second brood box of the SH were removed and placed in new a new brood box, along with new frames and top cover and moved to another location.
  4. The original SH lower brood box was left in place with new frames added and cover lid.

Hope this makes sense. Now have three hives with lots of bees and frames of essentials.

I saw the remains of a couple of queen cells that seemed to be already opened.

I did not find the queen so assume she is in one of the boxes and the other two will have to make new queen.

Sure disappointed I lost the HH. Was hoping for lots of honey.

I found a small caterpillar like worm that seemed to be eating the honey remains down in the cells.

I took lots of photos, but only sending a few. Can show you all if you wish.


Jimmy Earl Cooley




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My Bees, Jimmy Earl Cooley


My Bees by Jimmy Earl Cooley, 1/12/2014

Inspecting and feeding bees today and was stung seven times by Shirley Hive Bees.

Used normal procedure, including smoke.  First opened the Shirley Hive and immediately several swarmed my head.  I continued to remove the top and inner cover and removed two frames so I could get to the sugar water container.  Put more sugar water in feeder and by then the bees were swarming around my head and stung thru suit and several got me thru shirt around left shoulder and one or two got under the vail and all told was stung 7 times.  Used Benedryl on stings and took a Benedryl tablet.  Itching has almost gone but some swelling in neck and shoulder.  Noted that some of the rascals were holding on to bee suit and trying to push stinger inside.

Real bad bees – these Shirley ones.  I think the queen must be replaced.  Suppose to be one of the queens we got from Weaver last year, but dont know for sure.

I think my plan should be to split the Shirley Hive immediately and kill the queen and divide the workers and frames and put in a ,new queen or queen cells if you have any, in each split.  I have ordered, received  and assembled three new hives, each containing 2 brood boxes and one super, along with base, inner cover, and top.  Can use for the split.  All three are sitting near the Hebert and Shirley Hives.  This is about a dozen stings I have had from the Shirley Hive since installation.  What you think?

I then opened the Hebert hive and fed and observed and not a single bee approached me!  I would hope that there would be queen cells in the Hebert hive to put with the split of the Shirley hive or at least raise some queens from the bees in the Hebert hive.  Maybe I could try that with my queen nook and split workers from the Hebert hive.

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Dead Bees By Jimmy Earl Cooley

Dead Bees By
Jimmy Earl Cooley

I opened my two bees hives for inspection on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 .  I found many dead bees.

I have two bee hives, one named Hebert (named after Richard Hebert) and one named Shirley (named after Charles Lee Shirley) located between my ½ acre pond and a 90 wide airplane runway.  The Hebert hive is three years old and the Shirley Hive is one year old.  The Shirley Hive consists of an screen bottom base with plastic insert in place and two brood boxes plus inner and outer cover. When I removed the outer and inner cover of the hive I saw many dead bees on top of the frames and little or no activity in the hive.

I removed several of the frames and there were dead bees on some of the foundations, sitting around areas of _ and honey.

I also saw dead bees between the frames of the lower brood box.  I heard some bee activity in the lower brood box.  I closed the hive and retreated to think about the problem and what to do.

I then opened the Hebert Hive and saw many dead bees.  The Hebert Hive consists of wooden base with two brood boxes and one top nook box with 1/2 inch spacers between the inner and top covers.  Again, there were dead bees on top of the nook frames and between the frames of the brood box.  The Hebert hive contains more overall bees so therefore more dead bodies.  I heard bee activity in the lower brood box. I replaced the frames, inner cover, and outer cover.

After researching the situation and discussing the situation with experienced beekeepers at the South West Louisiana Beekeepers Association.  I anticipated cleaning the hives and removing the dead bees and residue but decided (as suggested by the experts)  it was best to leave the hive for the bees to clean and care for.

On December 3, six days later, I inspected the hives and found most all of the dead bees were gone from inside the hives and placed, by the bees, on the outside of the hives near the entrances.  So the bees took care of the problem.

What happened to kill the bees?

I believe the most likely problem was the cold weather  and the north wind we experienced on the evenings of November 25th and 26th.  I estimate approximately 500 to 100 bees dead from the Hebert Hive and a much smaller number for the Shirley Hive.  The dead bees photo is the Hebert Hive.

I originally located the two hives near the pond (for plenty of water)  and in a semi wooded area facing basically east and west, with the entrance toward the southeast. This allows the hives to be bathed in direct sunlight from sunrise till around 2 pm and then in partial shade until sundown.  This allows the bees to better cope with our tropical weather.

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SW LA Beekeepers Association May Newsletter


Hello Fellow beekeepers,
Old man winter has hit us with a couple of late cool snaps this last month. The hardest one came the last week of March/first week of April with two mornings of heavy frost that really hurt some of the fruit bloom. The frost killed the white clover blooms, which took about a week to recover. Many people lost their tomatoes and pepper plants, even with them covered. The third week of April cooled down a bit with the north side of our area seeing temperatures in the thirties. By the end of May we will be pleading for the cool weather to return.
The bees are beginning to bring in surplus nectar and I am seeing some fresh wax starting to show up. This year the bees may not swarm as much a normal or the swarming has been delayed a little. I have had only three or four swarm calls where as last year I had a dozen or more by this time. On Saturday April 20, I had just added a honey super to a crowded hive and was adding to other hives when a swarm poured out and settled on a branch about twenty foot up. I gathered up my swarm bucket and extra box only to return and find that they had went on to greener pastures. Maybe a caring beekeeper has found them. Awesome sight to watch them swarm.
May is upon us and the tallow bloom in coming at the end of the month, better have the honey supers ready to add. We have had an average rain fall this year so the nectar flow should be good this spring. I love chicken trees!(Chinese tallow trees) The white clover will hang around till the temperatures get close to 90 degrees which is usually mid-may.
This month our club meeting will be on May 6th at my house, 4456 hwy 27 DeRidder la. Board member Suzie Langly will go over inspecting a hive and what to look for in a healthy hive. If you have a suit and veil bring it because we will open up a hive and go thru it. If you don’t have a suit, come on any way I have one you can borrow. The fun starts a 7 O’clock so we only have a little over an hour before dark then we will have to go inside for discussion and questions. Looking forward to seeing you there, so come on.
Mr. Jimmy Cooley had some fun when his hive swarmed only days before they were to be requeened. The cool weather had delayed queen shipment and put him later requeening than planned. O well “what man proposes, God disposes” Mr. Jimmy’s marked queen left with half or more of the workers. Plan B, Pull out the new queens and introduce the purchased queen. I have posted some on Jimmy’s photos of the requeening event.

Richard Hebert,

President, SWLABA

requeening 4

A few new Weaver queen bees.

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Installing New Queen Bees in Bee Hives by Jimmy Cooley & Richard Hebert


Installing New Queen Bees in Bee Hives


Jimmy Earl Cooley

Richard Hebert

requeening 3

Jimmy Earl Cooley has one bee hive designated, Hebert Hive, which was started in April of 2012. He purchased a complete bee starter kit from Mann Lake and assembled on April 16, 2012. Richard Hebert, president of the Beauregard Parish Beekeepers Association and long time bee keeping hobbyists captured swarm of bees in DeRidder, LA and placed the swarm, with queen, into Jimmy’s hive on April 25th. With help and assistance, visits, emails, telephone calls and personal contact, and beekeepers meetings Jimmy has managed the healthy hive through the spring and summer of 2012 and harvested one half gallon of honey in September 2012.  The hive successfully made it through the winter of 2012 in good shape.  It was decided to replace the queen bee in the spring of 2013 so several queen bees were ordered from RWeaver of Texas. The Queen bees were ordered; marked and clipped and delivered to us on April 17th.  The original plan, before the swarming, was to split the Hebert Hive into two groups with a new queen in each of two hives.  Hebert and Shirley Hives.

Unfortunately, on April 12, 2013 the Hebert Hive swarmed and   at least 50 % of the bees were lost, plus the queen. When I noticed the overhead swarming around 11 am on this morning and consequently the gathering of the swarm on a 40 foot tall pine sapling.  I decided to try to capture the swarm and truly I should have called for help in removing the swarm from the top of the young pine tree. This would have allowed for additional hands and knowledge in trying capturing the ball of bees that had settled near the top of the pine sapling. It would have allowed for one person to cut the tree and the other to slowly lower the tree, allowing for capture of the bees in a box, rather than what happened, which was: I cut the tree diameter too much and it fell and the bees dispersed and lost the queen in process. This resulted in the queen flying away to another tree near the original tree, but a sweet gum instead of pine. By time I tried to react the new swarm being formed, in the sweet gum tree and consequently the swarm leaving for unknown parts and The hive remained queen less (or we thought so) for two days before the new queens arrived and  we proceeded to open the hive and install a new queen on April 18th.  When the hive was opened we found many queen cells that were already opened and Richard retrieved two young queens from the open hive.  He captured and removed the 2 new queens and placed in plastic queen containers.  He then installed one of the new queens (Buckfast variety) at 6 pm on April 18 into the hive and closed it.  The Hebert Hive was opened on Saturday the 20th at 7 pm for inspection to see if the new queen had been released by the workers from the queen box into the hive.  The queen box was empty and the queen and workers that were shipped with her were gone and in the hive.  The hive seemed content with this arrangement.

For the Shirley Hive, Richard had a queen less group of bees that he removed from one of his hives so he installed this bunch of bees into my Shirley Hive (which was empty) along with one of the new queens (All American) and the hive closed, again around 6pm on April 18th .  This hive was also opened on Saturday, April 20th for inspection to see if the new queen had been released by the workers from the queen box into the hive.  The sugar was not completely eaten away and she was not released, so I carefully opened a small hole in the candy disc and she quickly left the queen cage and dropped into the hive.  I looked at the hive around dark and all seemed content.

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by Richard Hebert, President

Hello Fellow beekeepers,

We all enjoyed some warm days in March and the bees are busy building up. Beekeepers get ready for your days to get a little busier with bee stuff. April is a good month to reverse hive bodies and cull out some old frames. You will likely have to add a super by mid-month and watch for swarming. This is the month for swarming, with the peak around the fifteenth. I have heard of a couple of swarms to our south, near I 10.

Thanks to Mr. Keith and all the folks that took part in the basic beekeeping field day. All went well; we had 16 folks that attended. The food, weather, and fellowship were wonderful. We were able to open up a couple of hives and locate the queens and demonstrate picking her up to mark and release. I look forward to another class in the future.

LOTS and LOTS of pollen everywhere with most of it coming from the oak and pine trees. The dew berries are thru blooming and its time for black berries. Clover is doing well. Some of the blooming plants will be hurt with the two nights of heavy frost that we just received. Mr. Ground hog missed his spring prediction.


Richard Hebert at a recent beginning beekeepers workshop. Photo by Jimmy Earl Cooley

Our April 1st meeting will not be at the Civic Center but has been moved to the sheriff’s training building just south of the sheriff’s office. Mr. Keith has a bee biology power point to go over and discuss getting started with beekeeping. Look forward to seeing all the beekeepers there, come if you can.

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Hebert Hive – operating hive since April 2012 by Jimmy Earl Cooley

AgCenter letterhead

February 8th, 2013    Friday

Ref:  Hebert Hive – operating hive since April 2012

Shirley Hive – Now empty of bees but completely furnished as Hebert Hive

Five Frame Hive – Queen Raising

Queen Rearing Kit – ready to install in five frame hive

I opened the Hebert hive for inspection and to change the entrance to larger for the hive as I have noticed the bees collecting around the winter opening (small) now that they have begun to gather pollen.   I removed the top cover and the inner cover and the bees were very gentle and almost all were inside the hive and none in or under the inner or outer cover.  No beetles noted whatsoever.  See photos attached.  Smoked very little and started by removing the frame from the super that we replaced with new one when Richard Hebert last inspected the hive.   This frame is again completely clear of any activity and looks like the day we put it in the hive.  Removed the second thru the seventh frame in top super and inspected and saw various patterns or honey, brood, and pollen (I think).  There were just about as many bees as there were in January and all looked well to my inexperience eyes.  All the bees and activity was centered around the 4,5,6,7 frame or deep inside the super.  I did not remove all the frames in the super so did not look at lower brood box as all seemed well as far as I could see down to brood box.  I did notice several patches of comb, with larva and bees, about the size of golf ball and smaller.  Bees were completely covering these pieces and seemed attached to the top of the brood box frames and over to the associated inner side of the frame plastic.   There are several photos with this mass inside the box and others with the comb material removed and placed on a board for photographing.  What is this?  Queens or larva being born or what?  Should it be something to be concerned with?

In general all looked good and bees were fairly gentle – at 11am – but became more adjusted the further I went into the hive, and began to fly around my head but still no problem.  I lifted the brood box enough to rotate the entrance strip so a larger opening is now open for the spring and summer.  They seemed to enjoy this and immediately started using it to go in and out.  Think the small entrance for the winter was not limiting their activity into and out of the Hive.  Noted many bees with yellow pollen pouches going into the hive.  Would like to sit down with Richard and go over photos so I can understand what is going on and should I be doing something before we introduce the new queen in April 10. Out of necessity we will have to kill the existing queen when the new queen is placed in the hive.  Can we save her for another hive of someone else’s that has lost their queen?


I have a complete second hive (Shirley Hive) set up near the first (Hebert Hive) which had a brood box, queen separator, and super – all complete with frames, inner cover, outer lid, and entrance board.  It has a screen bottom but the Hebert Hive has a solid wood bottom and it is doing well but has a screen board for the Hebert Hive but not installed yet, should I do this or not since they seem to be doing so well.  I have two queens coming in April and plan is to remove the old queen from the Hebert hive and install one of the new queens in this hive.  At the same time remove (some number of frames with honey, brood, pollen or whatever) from the Hebert Hive and place these in the Shirley Hive and move the empty frames from the Shirley Hive into the Hebert Hive and install the second new queen into the Shirley Hive then and move hive to a different location, some distance away.

I now have a queen kit complete with frame that contains plastic cups for eggs, larva, and so forth.  I have a five frame medium hive now that I could use to try to grow queens.  When should I start this?  Soon I think.  Idea is to take some number of frames from the Hebert Hive and put into the 5 frame with the special queen frame with the plastic cups.  The bees will recognize there is no queen and start queen cells in the plastic cups and presto new queens will be made, or I think that is supposed to be what happens.  The queen kit is set up so when the queen emerges from the plastic cup she is captured in a plastic tube so she can be transferred easily.  So big question is.

When do I take frames from Hebert Hive and move to five frame hive with queen kit?  Now that the bees have begun to forage it appears it should be soon.

Frames will be removed from the Hebert Hive and placed in the Shirley Hive as soon as the new queens arrive, April 10.  Old queen removed from the Hebert Hive and other new queen placed in Hebert Hive.

So if Hebert hive has 20 frames, (10 in super and 10 in brood box) how many frames will go to Shirley Hive and how many frames will go to 5 frame queen rearing hive?

I think perhaps 5 to Shirley and 5 to new frame hive.    What to include:   honey frame, brood frame, pollen frame, nectar frame, drone frame.  OK or not?


Frames covered with happy bees.

Understand that the new queens will have to leave hive and meet drones in air or is this necessary with the new queens???    These bees are curious creatures but I’m having fun and looking to getting a lot of honey in September and some new queens soon to share with club members or others or even start more hives myself.  Guess the big question is how many frames and what kind to leave in the Hebert Hive so the new queen can get started and they can build up enough food sources before winter so they can survive.  Also should the queen hive (5 frames) be moved far away from the other two hives???

Jimmy Earl Cooley   March 8, 2013

 Best Regards,

Jimmy Earl 

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Honey Bee Enemy #1: Varroa Mites

By George Giltner, Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1]MasGarTM5x7_w85[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter & Beauregard Master Gardeners

                      Honey bees pollinate about 1/3 of the human diet, directly or indirectly to apples, blueberries, and 130 other crops in the United States.  For fruit and nut crops, the degree of pollination dictates the maximum yield and profitability of these crops.  This is why bee pollination services are reported at $9 billion plus within the United States alone.

Valuable bee populations have risen and fallen within the past decade due to numerous causes.  Some report that the honey bee’s worst enemy is man with improper use of insecticides.  However I disagree. We propagate bees, promote their good genes, aid their health against natural diseases, and supply them with abundant foraging acreage in a mutual beneficial relationship.  Enemy # 1 is debatable, but Varroa destructor, a mite (below arrow above) rate very high on the list.  The worst enemy is the one in a beekeeper’s hive.

Varroa mites actually originated in Asia.  There they did little harm to the eastern honey bees.  But when American honey bees were brought to Asia, the devastating damage to hives became evident.  Then over the past 100 years, these mites have spread worldwide.

5 varroa mites

A Varroa mite (under blue arrow) attacking a juvenile honey bee

The adult mites are reddish brown, round, and range from one to two millimeters in diameter.  Varroa go between the bee segments, puncture the soft tissue, and feed on bee hemolymph through the puncture.  The mites are passed from bee to bee in the hive.  Also they are transported to other hives when bees drift into other hives, when healthy bees rob weaker hives, and when beekeepers put hives in new locations.

When the mites reproduce, they enter the brood cells of larval bees that are about to be capped.  The mites feed on the bee larvae, lay eggs that soon hatch, and both continue to feed on the bee larvae.  The result of this feeding is damage or death to the developing bee.  It is safe to assume that hundreds of thousands of bee hives have been destroyed, causing billions of dollars of economic loss.

It sounds hopeless, but beekeepers can take countermeasures.  Sticky traps underneath a screen bottom tray can capture the varroa mites as they frequently fall off the bees.  Placing colonies in full sun modestly reduce varroa numbers.  Fogging mineral oil and dusting the bees with powdered sugar have not been proven to be effective to this date.

The most significant advancement toward control has been through genetic breeding programs.  Favored genes are associated with bee behavior.  One behavior is for the bees to groom themselves and other bees in the brood.  Therefore mites are knocked off the bees lowering the mites in the bee colony.  Another behavior is hygienic bees that can detect problems in the developing brood.  They uncapped the infected larvae and remove it from the hive.  This hygienic behavior is called ‘varroa sensitive hygiene’ or simply ‘VSH’.  Bees with these genetic traits can be purchased from specific bee suppliers.

Contact Keith Hawkins (337-463-7006) at the LSU Agcenter or the Southwest Beekeeper’s Association for additional information.

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Open Bee Hive for Inspection…..Nov 2012

by Jimmy Earl Cooley, beekeeper & Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1] A Blog from the LSU AgCenter, Beauregard Parish, LA

I have been feeding sugar water for two months in hopes of giving necessary food to tempt bees to fill the two empty frames in my top, of two, brood boxes with sugar.  I opened the hive in Nov 23rd and found it amazingly clean and free of hive beetles and all bees docile and cooperative. Although the two frames were still completely empty with no activity, although they were consuming a quart bottle of sugar water every few days.  Must be using to support the hive or other bees and yellow jackets stealing water.  I rotated the entrance board to reduce the entrance hole from approx. 3inch to 1 inch for winter and placed spacers between inner cover and top cover to allow for ventilation during winter.  I removed several frames from top brood box and looked down to bottom brood box and everything looked good and clean and full of bees.  Noticed on the side of a frame from top brood box, what appeared to be a queen cell or maybe several together, with openings on top, as if queens may have hatched out.  I did not pull any lower or other frames from top box to search for queen. So looks like winter is progressing without incident or problems.  Plan to open hive again for quick inspection in Dec.  Comments appreciated.   Jimmy Earl Cooley 11-24-2012

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Summer Beekeeping Notes by Jimmy Earl Cooley


Summer Beekeeping Notes

by Jimmy Earl Cooley



July 9th, 2012

Inspected the Hebert Hive and put ½ gallon of food in the vertical feeder.  I was getting brave and did not put on all my bee suit, just the hat, veil, and long gloves with short sleeve shirt.  Well big mistake!  When putting more sugar water into the vertical feeder the little rascals found a separation between the end of my glove and the sleeve of my short sleeve shirt and crawled up between the glove and my skin and started stinging, think there were at least two.  As I was in the middle of the operation – I just brushed at the top of the glove and finished what I was doing.  After a few seconds it became unbearable so I stopped and directed smoke toward the rascals and pulled the glove up enough to see the bee and brushed him away with my left hand and glove.  Of course, his body went flying and the stinger remained – tried to flick it away with my glove finger to no avail so backed off the hive and removed left glove and picked away the stinger with my fingers from the right arm.  Dawned the gloves again and went back and finished assembling the hive.  Moved away and removed gloves and veil and saw where the stinger had been – a slightly red, bloody spot which continued to sting.   Went back home and placed ice on the spot and some alcohol and some hydrocortisone ointment and took a Benadryl capsule.  He got me under the arm between the elbow and shoulder, very sensitive spot on me.  It continued to swell and sting and I tried several insect bite stings spray and ice and etc.  And it is still somewhat swollen and itchy today (four days later) but getting better.  WILL not try that again, i.e. without full suit.  I used full suit today without any sting.  What is the recommended procedure for treating a bee sting?  Know to remove stinger with credit card or fingers without pressing and shooting more venom into bite, but what is best to do i.e.: ice first – cold water – what medication is recommended as best?  Have not read about any procedure for treating bee stings?????

 July 14, 2012

After several days of hard rain I inspected the Hebert Hive and put 1 gallon food in vertical feeder.  Looked at several frames in the upper medium before I removed to get at the vertical feeder in the second large super.  There was clear excellent looking honey on several of the frames in the upper super and lots of activity in this box.  The second large super also had lots of activity in it.  I did not inspect any of the frames in this second or lower box.  Think I should look at some frames in the lower, brood box soon???  There is not activity in the Shirley Hive.  Guess my next step is to order a batch of bees and a queen or wait for another swarm to appear in our locale. 


 Best Regards,

Jimmy Earl 

Editor’s Note: Mr. Jimmy Earl is a beginning beekeeper who shares his experiences to help aspiring beekeepers.

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