The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor – May 2017

- May 1, 2017 - (excerpt)

New Project to Fight the Mite! : Treating Packages

This Spring many beekeepers will be replenishing dead hives with packages. As all bees have some level of varroa mites, controlling mites in newly installed hives before brood is capped is key to ensure colony growth in the spring and summer. NY Bee Wellness, partnering with Beta-tec, maker of HopGuard II, will be conducting a program where beekeepers will treat their newly hived packages with either HopGuard II or oxalic acid, retreating in the Fall, and checked monthly for efficacy of treatments. This monitored trial is a first for the Northeast region. Similar trials have been done in the Southwest.

Beekeepers who are not directly involved in this program are also encouraged to treat their package bees, too, by doing the following:

  • Products should be used before brood is capped
  • HopGuard II: Strips may be applied at the rate of one strip per five deep combs covered with bees in each brood super; see instructions.
  • Oxalic Acid: 5ml of oxalic solution per seam of bees, per instructions
  • Mite counts should be done about 2 days after treatment to determine mite levels, and monitored monthly for varroa levels.
  • Retreat in the Fall after honey supers are removed
  • Beekeepers are also encouraged to treat newly hived swarms before brood is capped, hives that have swarmed and are requeening and splits—once the capped brood have emerged, or any time a brood break is initiated.

For more info, contact Pat:

Pat Bono
New York

The Honey Bee In New Spain and Mexico

I received an inquiry regarding my recent article on African Bees and my statement that the Spanish brought honey bees to Mexico. The question was about the source of it. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly where I first heard it, so I did a little digging. Here are a few references:

> The honey bee, Apis mellifera, was introduced into many areas, especially in the New World and on islands, by European explorers and settlers in the sixteenth century in the Americas, and as late as the nineteenth century in Indoaustralia. — Jones, R. (2013) Stingless Bees: A Historical Perspective. In: Vit, P., Pedro, S. R., & Roubik, D. (Eds.). (2013). Pot-honey: a legacy of stingless bees. Springer Science & Business Media.

> It is not known for certain when the first honey bees arrived in New Spain. Brand echoing reports from various sources concludes that the Spaniards possibly introduced this type of bees between 1520 and 1530. Moreover, we know that Hernandez, who was in Mexico in 1570 to 1577, describes different types of honeys among them an “entirely similar to the honey of Spain, identical and produced spontaneously by bees similar to those of Spain in hollows of trees that the Indians cut and that collected in the ground.” Perkins, on the other hand, cites a report of 1660 which states that “a swarm made a colony aboard a ship that went from Spain to the New World, and when reaching the present Veracruz the bees flew to land and settled in a barrel that Provided shelter like a beehive.” In turn, Father Cobo mentions American bees similar to the Spanish ones. — Lorén, J. (2007). Miel y cera de las abejas europeas en las misiones franciscanas de nueva España y Méjico. Aproximación a un problema. In 38th International Congress for the History of Pharmacy, Sevilla September 19-22 2007.

“Brand” refers to “The Honey Bee In New Spain and Mexico” by Donald D. Brand, published posthumously in 1988. The article is lengthy and relies on deductions using indirect evidence. Some of his conclusions:

  1. There was an introduction of the European bee into New Spain in the 1520s or 1530s.
  2. The early colonial Spaniards and creoles in New Spain were not bee-keepers, the highland Indians were poor beekeepers, and soon most of the European bees were quite wild.
  3. The European bee went with the religious orders (especially the Franciscans and Jesuits) into northern Mexico, were introduced to the Indians, and eventually went wild in the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental, where today [1970] there is the greatest concentration of wild small black European bees.
  4. There was a reintroduction of the European bee, this time from Cuba, in the latter part of the 18th century.

— Brand, D. (1988). The honey bee in New Spain and Mexico. Journal of Cultural Geography, 9(1), 71-82. — This study has as its objectives to provide a brief background statement on the nature and status of the native honey bee in New Spain and Mexico, and to present a discussion of the probable manner and chronology of the introduction of the European honey bee.

Peter Loring Borst
Ithaca, NY

Thank You for Tom Seeley’s “Darwinian Beekeeping” Article

Thank you for publishing Tom Seeley’s “Darwinian Beekeeping: An Evolutionary Approach to Apiculture.” It has always been the “wild” nature of honey bee colonies that has fascinated me about working with bees – the primordial mystery and elemental complexity of their existence. But of course, being human, I have used honey bees for my own practical purposes: obtaining honey and beeswax, renting colonies for pollination, essentially making money doing work I find rewarding in so many other ways.That said, I struggle with not only the challenges of maintaining healthy colonies year after year, but also with the