The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – August 2020

- August 1, 2020 - (excerpt)

Over-regulated in Indiana

You can add Indiana to the group-think health department bureaucracy (From the Editor: “Local Honey and Public Safety,” June 2020). One of the consequences of these draconian rules is that they ruined the sale of honey at the State Fair. We used to have a beautiful and wonderful selection of honey from the north, south, east and west parts of the state. Now it has dwindled to the commercial and sideliner beekeepers, and a few hobbyists who can meet these silly rules. It is a loss to the honey loving public. It is a stick in the eye to the hobbyist who can’t earn a bit of money to support his beekeeping hobby. All these regulations are a solution in search of a problem.

Name withheld by request

Editor’s response:


Thanks for sharing your Indiana experience. I can understand your withholding your name for fear of antagonizing the local enforcement authorities; some in Missouri beekeeping circles were fearful that our attempt to change the law would only invite stronger enforcement. A reader from another state wrote with similar thoughts, and asked that his letter not be published for fear of “prejudice.”

But as it turned out, our biggest hurdle in the legislature was time. We encountered no opposition from either party; the effort came down to the wire only because we didn’t get the bill introduced until midway through the session. If you intend to try changing the law, I recommend getting the ball rolling now. Find a majority-party legislator who is expected to still be in office following November’s election, and work with them on a bill that can be introduced first thing. (In most states, bills can actually be “pre-filed” before the session begins, which gets them onto the committee calendars earlier.) In some states, including Missouri, non-controversial bills with no revenue implications can go from committee to a “Consent Calendar,” from which they can be exempted from the normal hearing calendar and enacted with a straight up-or-down vote.


Prison Beekeeping Education

Bless you, bless you, bless you for printing the article by Jacob Keiter (“First Step to a Second Chance,” June 2020) and for donating to his beekeeping program in the Bureau of Prisons. It was a heartwarming and generous act.


Randy Mason
North Reading, Massachusetts


Thanks, Randy. The fact that Jacob is spending his time there helping others says something about his character, and we wish him well.

To give credit where credit is due, former Editor Kirsten Traynor used a donation to set up a small fund to help prisoners like Jacob who reach out for information on beekeeping. I’ve been happy to keep that going.


Pandora Reprise

Rusty Burlew’s article (“CRISPR for the Curious: A Primer,” July 2020) was well-written. She describes CRISPR in terms nearly everyone can understand — a nearly impossible task for tackling something so complicated. Even I got a sense of what CRISPR does, and I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.

But in her article, she makes bacteria out to be very smart little, imaginative creatures with thinking ability and a pocketful of tools to protect themselves. The word for this might be “anthropomorphic,” assigning human traits to sub-human or non-human creatures/objects.

Rusty makes this all seem rather interesting, exciting and positive. Non-browning mushrooms and glowing cats — it all sounds rather intriguing, right? But what about a sentence like “In fact, researchers have refined the system to the point where they can delete, edit, or replace strings of code, or even single letters, with amazing speed and accuracy”? On one hand, a benign, well-meaning scientist might find a way to alter bad things out of a human baby; but what about a dangerous scientist with the tools to create monsters? “Most likely, CRISPR technology will revolutionize the world of agriculture” — well what if it’s not limited to ag? Who is keeping it in control? Is “evolving at breathtaking speed” necessarily a good thing? Do we really want “Enhanced techniques for assuring more precise cuts that reduce over-clipping and other uncertainties will soon be standard in labs everywhere”? In the hands of the wrong people, working to “create” adjustments to humans, driven and guided by wrong cultural worldviews, these amazing “advancements” could certainly come back to bite us. Rusty acknowledges that we might regret having tinkered with something much later, even generations later. Does that sound like a good idea?

Conclusion: Beware those who take on themselves the role of Master Adjuster of even our very genes. She ends with a warning, and I thank her for that: “In the meantime, deep thinking about what we should or should not do with such power should be a worldwide priority.” White mushrooms and green cats make us smile, but Godless scientists with Godless worldviews working at amazing speed to alter creation? Think while you read, people! If we open Pandora’s box, how do we shut it again?


Ron Rynders
Sioux Center, Iowa


Urban Beekeeping Survey: Not sure of these numbers in LA


William Blomstedt’s “An Urban Beekeeping Survey” in the June issue invites clarification of his preliminary findings.

I am an experienced hobbyist beekeeper with 3 years of experience mentoring backyard beekeepers in the …