The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
icon of list

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor – April 2019

- April 1, 2019 -


I live on the beachside in east-cen­tral Florida just east of Melbourne (town of Indialantic). Although there are a few negatives to beekeeping here (e.g. wild colonies are often Afri­canized, woodenware rots much fast­er, and queens wear out twice as fast), there are some decided positives as well. These include beekeeping year around, no winter prep of hives, and nectar flows from February through November.

I recently discovered another ad­vantage, i.e. exploiting a recently introduced species of orchid bee to clean gunk from queen excluders.

For me, gummed up queen exclud­ers have always been a significant annoyance and an object of procras­tination. Online blogs and forums list several ways to clean propolis and wax from queen excluders including

heat gun, hot water, solar wax melter, hot pressure-wash, various solvents, special scraper tool, hive tool fol­lowed by stiff bristle brush, freeze the excluder and then flex or bang it and, believe it or not, releasing a team of bantam chickens. Most are time con­suming and messy.

Several years ago, I noticed irides­cent green bees, slightly smaller than a honey bee, that curiously hovered in a perfectly stationary mode about eye level, only to zip away for a second or two to drive away an interloper, and then to return to exactly the same spot in mid-air.

I did some research and learned they are Green Orchid Bees (Euglossa dilem­ma), a recent introduction from Central America. They were first collected in Broward County, FL, about 160 miles to the south of my location in 2003 by USDA specialists working on fruit fly monitoring. The bees are thought to have arrived from Mexico, perhaps concealed on a wooden pallet.

Males have an enlarged, hollow hind tibia with a hole and spongy material inside. They visit orchids in their native environs or alternative sources of fragrances in Florida such as basil or resins oozing from rotten wood. Volatile essences are stored in the hollow chamber and then thought to be «spray ventilated» to attract females. In contrast, females have typical corbiculae (pollen baskets) on their hind legs for collecting pollen and plant resins. They build their nests with propolis.

When I read that last fact, I began to wonder. I scraped some propo­lis from a hive during an inspection and put a sticky blob on a flat surface near an orchid bee’s “territory”, i.e. where I had seen one hovering. Sure enough, within minutes, a  ….


I accumulate various magazines so that I can read them on long air­plane flights. I usually have a large stack and on a recent trip I read two articles in the April 2018 edition that were very especially moving for this “newbee” beekeeper.

The Detroit Hives story by Rusty Burlew was terrific — I have fond memories of visiting family near De­troit and to see the rebirth of that city by bringing in the bees is not only needed but also an immensely uplift­ing story.

I loved the article by Kane M. titled “Grant Me the Courage” — this story alone is well worth the subscription price. What a great outreach for lo­cal beekeeping associations to part­ner with local prisons — I will check with our county association to see if we already provide this support or whether we could start one.

I also have a confession — I no­ticed the address label said that my subscription expired in November so please sign me up for another year and please keep the great articles coming. Thanks, and I will try to stay more current on my reading!

Phil Wenzell
Xenia, Ohio


Dear Mr. Linder,

Thank you for writing the article, “Modern Farm Myths” for the Ameri­can Bee Journal. And I am thankful that the ABJ chose to print it. Spending nearly all of my life in non-ag areas of New Jersey and New York has kept me fairly ignorant about farming.

When I was about 21 or 22 years old, a friend of mine said to me, “You’re either growing, or backslid­ing.” Now, he said this in regard to one’s relationship with Jesus, as I was closely involved with an evan­gelical group called the Navigators at the time, but I have been able to translate that into my life in general. We cannot ever stop learning nor close our eyes to information outside of what we tend to see while wear­ing blinders. This article gave me a great deal of understanding to the farming picture of the nation, and made me think more of the “Big Pic­ture” of agriculture.

The photos and graphs were also very helpful. I looked up the term “pellet alfalfa,” rather than read past it, and I learned something new!

For me, the best line of the article was, “When the monoculture suits our needs, we tend to be silent.” How true!

Best wishes,

Joe Treimel, age 68 and a beekeeper for 38 years
Carmel, New York