The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – April 2021

- April 1, 2021 - (excerpt)

Horsefly Traps and Bees

I am writing to inform the beekeeping community about a situation that I did not know existed until a few weeks ago. In a conversation with a landowner adjacent to a property on which I wanted to locate a new out-yard, I was told that he owned horses and that his horses had had difficulty with horseflies the past summer. To help relieve some of the horses’ misery, he had installed horsefly traps — I had never heard of such a thing — and that these traps come premixed with sugar to which the user just adds water and hangs around the property. Obviously if it has an opening large enough for a horsefly to enter, it becomes a death trap for many pollinating insects in the area. As I said, I had never heard of such a thing and have no idea how widespread the use of such traps is. Is this where a lot of our bees and other pollinating insects are disappearing to? Given our concern with pollinator decline, how can we allow such a practice to continue? I would like the beekeeping community, especially those who are connected to regulatory agencies, to look into this practice and inform the rest of us as to how to help end it. Also, the horse owner is open to other horsefly control methods that don’t involve sugar water traps. Any ideas?

Sam Stone
Little Mt.,South Carolina


Editor’s Response:

Thanks for sharing this, Sam. I’d never heard of horsefly traps either until now. I contacted a couple of friends who raise horses and cattle, and they have not used them. But it would seem to me that even if they fill up with bees, they would not have a measurable impact on neighboring hives (much less pollinator populations in general), and the landowner would quickly learn that another type of trap was needed to catch his target pests.

A Google search tells me these traps come in various styles, at least one of which is designed to avoid trapping bees. Perhaps other readers can share their experiences.



Thanks for prison beekeeping coverage, and love the December cover

First I would like to say thank you for all the recent entries about beekeeping in a prison environment. Everyone makes mistakes, but the ones whose mistakes lead them to prison are often so greatly looked down upon that it seems impossible to overcome at times. By showcasing prison beekeeping and prisoners in your magazine it not only lifted my spirits at the time but all the other prisoners around me that I showed it to. Thank you.

Also, I would like to nominate the two sisters on the cover of the December 2020 issue for Honey Queen and Princess! Judging by the grime on their suits, they definitely know their way around a bee yard. If all else they are not afraid to get their hands dirty and put in a little work. Something that I strongly feel is necessary in politics. Something that I strongly feel that we have lost recently.

Anyway, that’s it. Thanks for putting out a great magazine every month. I’m eagerly waiting for the next one at every mail call!

Steven LaRue
Pampa, Texas


Editor’s Response:

Thanks, Steven. We’ve received a lot of compliments on our beautiful December cover; I’m glad you liked it too.

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on prison and beekeeping. It’s nice to know that we’re having some positive impact. Hang in there, and thanks for reading!



Aloha From Hawaii

I enjoy reading articles in ABJ. Most of them are about taking care of honey bees in colder climates like the USA, Canada, Japan and countries north of 30° latitude. Most of Hawaii is south of 22° latitude. It’s a sunny, breezy day here on Kauai. Temperature in the 70s. Wax and propolis harder than I like, but needed some honey for friends and family, so pulled 8 frames from a medium super to tide us over for a while.

Taking care of bees in Hawaii is different from caring for bees in colder climates. We and our bees like living here. It is warm, pollen and nectar are available all year. The days are getting longer and the bees are busy. Have worked for larger bee, honey, and queen raisers. Fed their bees HFCS, sugar, antibiotics and used Bee-Go and made barrels of honey, raised thousands of queens and yes, they were Big Businesses, going fast. But I like the peace and quiet of sitting in our bee yard, taking care of my bees my way and jumping in the river to cool off and erase the clutter that accumulates from living in today’s modern world.

Why take care of honey bees? God created us to take care of His Garden and honey bees are an important part of it. After 77 years of observation and 50+ years of caring for honey bees, we listen to the bees, do what we can to improve their lives and keep them happy! Feeding sugar is not necessary here but may be necessary in colder climates. We should plant more pollen and nectar producing plants, shrubs and trees for the bees and for the benefit of everyone. We need to take care of our world because everything we need, food, shelter and clothing, comes from the soil, and the honey bees pollinate a lot of our food.

We hope you and your bees are surviving the winter, spring is on its way, and the bees are busy gathering nectar and pollen. Life goes on.

Aloha and Mahalo for all your good thoughts and supplies to take care of the honey bees.

David Maki
Kekaha, Hawaii


 Beginners Need More Hands-on Training

We have enjoyed Grant Gillard’s first two contributions to ABJ (Jan/Feb 2021), not least the emphasis on honey bee biology and the seasonal development of a colony, combined with close observation of, and collaboration with, the bees themselves.

There was one aspect of the second article, “Beekeeping Classes: Far From One-and-Done,” which we felt was understated and would benefit from further emphasis. For one of us, the Introduction to Beekeeping Class consisted of six, two-hour, indoor sessions being talked at, and only the last half hour was in the beeyard, gussied up in brand new bee suits, watching from a safe distance as a beekeeper opened a hive. In other words, less than 10 percent of the entire class could be described as …