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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – November 2020

- November 1, 2020 - (excerpt)

Treatments are Harmful to Bees

I do not understand why people keep on treating bees with Formic Pro and Checkmite and other things that can hurt your queens. Just look at the picture of the person with gloves and a long sleeve shirt on page 865 in the August 2020 issue.

If you need gloves on just think about your bees and queens. They have legs and eyes so it may just hurt your bees and queens too. All my bees and queens are Russian and I have not treated for many years. Just try Russian queens.

Donald Fradet
Louisville, Kentucky

”Windshield Effect” Article


I enjoyed Rusty Burlew’s well-written article “Thinking Like a Scientist” (September 2020).

I have a possible, although maybe only partial, solution to the question as to why we wash less bugs off our windshields these days. If you compare the picture of the old truck in the article to the picture of a 2020 model of a pickup, you will find that the angle of the windshield has gone from almost vertical to at least 45 degrees, if not more. I have not measured, but suspect that the actual vertical height of exposed windshield would be 25% (or more) less. I am thereby suggesting that because of design differences, more bugs get pulled over our modern vehicles in the windstream, rather than being violently smashed into the front of a more squared windshield. So, my proposal is that some citizen scientist with an old truck like that make a simple study: Drive that vehicle and a new model down the same road, at the same speed and other variables (like not following too closely so the first one gets all the bugs, etc.), and see if my grand brainstorm passes scientific scrutiny.

My other comment is that the final sentence in the article left me chuckling. I was left wondering if that sentence was “inductive reasoning” (a generalized conclusion from specific instance) or a “hasty generalization.” My conclusion is that it is a hasty generalization that applies better to bees than to human relationships. For all our knowledge these days, we humans still riot and burn down buildings, start wars, experiment with new chemical concoctions of which we do not know the final results, look down our noses at others, and say some pretty nasty things to one another. My point is, let’s be careful not to lift up “science” alone as the way forward, but that all our knowledge is packed within virtues like humility, kindness, and patience. If not, the bees might make it, but we will not. (You can decide if my final sentence is “inductive reasoning” or a “hasty generalization.”)

Mike Atnip
Bernville, PA

Ticks in the Apiary

I saw a question posed to Jamie Ellis about ticks on a hive (“The Classroom,” August 2020). I could tell you a short story on this. Thirty-five years ago I took a beekeeping course under Dr. Alfred Dietz at UGA. He is fairly well known in beekeeping circles (Keith Delaplane took his place). Well, I had to do a bee project for the course requirements, and I chose to investigate hive invaders. One of the critters I found was a tick crawling on the outside of the hive. In the paper I wrote on the project, I included this tick, but asked Dr. Dietz if this was a common occurrence, or an anomaly. He then asked me (in his very heavy German accent) what might be attracting ticks to a hive? Honestly, I was a bit confused and intimidated by the question (and the questioner if you knew Dr. Dietz🙂), and he proceeded to tell me that if you think of the hive as an individual organism, it is producing enough CO2 just as a species of wildlife might produce, which is what the ticks are attracted to! It all made sense then. So for the reader that asked the question about ticks on their hives, this may be the explanation.

Joe Conti
Colbert, Georgia

Well-built Woodenware

My neighbor (ABJ subscriber Allen Mills) has run a small commercial bee operation (Prattville Honey Farm) for the last several decades and in the process has accumulated lots of assorted woodenware from fellow beekeepers who gave up the business for one reason or another. He has often mentioned the heart cypress supers he has that have weathered so well for the last few decades. Some woodenware just seems to last much longer than others.

I recently passed judgement on one of his hive tops that had considerable decay on the inner boards. It was very well constructed but it was time for the burn pile. The heavy sheet metal covering still appeared usable so …