The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
icon of list

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – April 2020

- April 1, 2020 - (excerpt)

The thermal mite Treatment Concerns

It was with great interest that I read Ali McAfee’s article in the January edition concerning thermal varroa mite treatment. I am a small beekeeper running an average of 10 to 15 hives. I am in my 8th year of beekeeping and have fought all the issues facing our honeybees. I do not like using chemicals in my hives and have relied on essential oils for treatment. I will start down the oxalic acid trail, reluctantly this year to control varroa. I do not view any treatment as safe that requires a gas mask, face shield and rubber gloves like oxalic acid does but the essential oils just are not enough.

That is the main reason I was hoping the thermal treatment would work, but the cost for Mr. Williams’ Mighty Mite Killer unit is just a hard pill to swallow for something that is not independently proven. I talked with Mr. Williams a couple of years ago about his product but my take was a lot of claims but really not much proof. I continued to research this treatment and discovered another unit that runs on battery, also made in the U.S., called The Victor made by Robert Warner of It heats from the top down via warm air circulation whereas Mr. Williams uses convection heat from the bottom up. Hopefully someone will take the time for true research and side-by-side trials of both units. If Mr. Williams and Mr. Warner really believe in their products they should offer them up to an independent party to trial and publish the results. Another interesting fact is Mr. Williams sells his units for $349.00.  Mr. Warner sells his unit for $179.00. This is a substantial difference especially for the small beekeeper.

In conclusion at least from my point of view the small beekeeper needs a viable option to chemical treatments for their bees. I can tell you in my short time as a beekeeper I have been sold some shoddy bees & bee supplies by folks in the industry that claim to be in it for the bees while taking advantage of fellow beekeepers. More than once I have considered getting out of beekeeping altogether because of this, yet I continue on. I have learned to do my research before parting with my hard-earned money especially in the beekeeping world. I really do hope these products work as advertised but I can’t afford to take any more hits in the beekeeping world to try one of them.


H.G. Gillispie

Prescribed Burns Benefit Bees

This is great! I’m a natural resource manager as well as a beekeeper and this is what I have been trying to express for years. So glad to see research shared to beekeepers on this level from this platform!


Clint Brooks
Brooks Mill Farms LLC
Locust, North Carolina

These Northern Queens Are Very Good!

In response to “Are Northern Queens Really Better?” (February Letters):

The Queens that I get do come from Kirk Webster and they are very good queens. Yes, they do have some Russian in them. I have 10 hives; yes, they are all Russian and no, they are not mean like people think. I have been into bees from 1978 till now. I guess I will have hives till I cannot do it anymore and yes, I do have a full-time job too. That’s a lot for one person to do.


Donald Fradet
Lou, Kentucky

Are These Asian Hornets?

I am writing in regards to the article from the February ABJ entitled “Giant Alien Insect Invasion Averted.” Released from prison in 2016, I began beekeeping shortly thereafter. My first hive was a complete colony purchased very locally. Throughout that first year, I would occasionally see a really big, black/yellow/orange wasp dead in front of the hive. During my second year I saw more of the same, but additionally saw many of these insects alive around the hummingbird feeders I had added to the porch.

In late spring of 2018, I came home to discover about a dozen of these wasps flying around a hive of Carniolans I had purchased that year. They were picking bees from the sides/front of the hive and landing to eat them, at which point I killed them with my hive tool, much like John Duff from the article. By that time, I had read of the threat of the Asian Giant Hornet, but assumed since experts were saying it was not yet in North America, I was seeing something different.

Parole proved to be too much for me and I was incarcerated again soon after this last encounter. On TV here in prison I watched a National Geographic program about predator and prey. Without giving the location of the hive, it showed amazing video of a group of AGHs attacking a colony of honey bees. It was exactly what I had seen at my own hive. Now here I read that in August of 2019 the first sighting of Vespa mandarinia in North America was confirmed in Canada.

So now I have questions. The size, color and behavior of the wasps I’ve seen is the same as described. Is there another wasp in the Southeast that is easily confused with V. mandarinia? If not, I live in extreme NW Georgia on the outskirts of the Chattahoochee National Forest. If I have seen these since 2016, 6-8 hours from the coast, then they have been here much longer. I regret that I am not home to “bag and tag” one of these insects this year. My mother saw them last year and I’ve asked her to keep an eye out and get a picture if possible.

Georgia beekeepers: Seen these wasps?

Kane M.
Central State Prison
Macon, Georgia


Hi Kane,

I ran this by Jennifer Berry, Lab Manager with the University of Georgia Honey Bee Program, who said there is no evidence of the Asian hornet in Georgia to date. But if your mother could send a photo, or better yet an actual hornet, they would be happy to identify it.


Decorated HIves

decorated hivesWife and daughter decorated my new hives.

Bill Bledsoe
Contra Costa County, California


Easier Queens in Small Quantities

The February article by Tina Sebestyen, titled “Are you raising your own queens this year?” was excellent, with “Cell builder/finisher” colony information. Having an extremely strong colony of worker bees to place the cells with larvae into is number one in importance. To “graft” you need a …