The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
icon of list

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – November 2022

- November 1, 2022 - (excerpt)

Types of hives, and Ukraine

I read Jim Bernt’s article with interest, but feel he missed a major category … One size fits all. [See September’s “Which Type of Hive is Right for You?”]

After struggling for many decades on how to replace old brood comb in a conventional brood chamber, I switched to ONE SIZE. Now I can move any frame anywhere, anytime. When those brood combs get old and black, or blocked with old pollen, but still have something useful, like some brood, in them, I simply move them to the top box, on the outside. By the next extraction, the bees will have removed anything useful, and maybe filled with honey. Then I can simply extract, and dump that frame.

So, what size?? I chose medium supers, because I can still lift one full of honey … just!!! One friend, young and strong, chose 8-frame deeps, partly because he sells a lot of nucs, and can lift an 8 full of honey. Most women, I recommend 8-frame supers.

About annually, I take the hive apart, place an empty super on the bottom board, and rebuild it. Good brood frames in the bottom, bad ones or pollen-bound frames in the top, or a few tossed. By the next robbing, anything good has hatched, or filled with honey, and some more frames can be recycled. Research has shown that old brood combs can produce smaller bees.

So, why not use a queen excluder? I do a lot of removals and about 20% would take off a day or so later. A lot of work for nothing. So I now cut a strip of plastic excluder, and staple over the entrance. Keeps her in until settled, but then I realized how much they struggle to get through it. So, why am I making them struggle to get the honey up high??? At what extra effort for them?? Now I have a frame or two of brood in the “honey” super … so what, if it is better for them.

Cutting down broods to supers is easy on a table saw. Frames a little harder, but I found an easy way.

By the way, I read MEA’s article on Ukraine, and it brought tears to my eyes. Apiaries being blown up, keepers abandoning them to fight for their country. WOW!!!! [See September’s “The Beekeepers of Ukraine, Their Bees and War,” by M.E.A. McNeil.]

Derek Lewis
St. Petersburg, Florida
‘keeper since’52

“Wokeness” or just less confusion?

A response to Dan Hughes [September Letters], let’s be precise in Language.

Hughes calls for the continued use of the common name “Asian giant hornet” for Vespa mandarinia, citing that “this wokeness has to end somewhere,” after the Entomological Society of America’s assignment of the moniker of “Northern Giant Hornet.” To the ESA, it isn’t wokeness, rather a decision to not use names that may lead to confusion or may lead to some kind of discrimination while used.

To me it begs the question, if you had a choice between two names, one that might lead to discrimination of a group of people, especially if something bad were to happen, say a person is killed by them while hiking, and a common name that is far less likely to do so; why wouldn’t you want the latter? We want the headline to that article to be “Man Killed by Northern Giant Hornet,” not “Man Killed by Asian Hornet,” because of the sad reality that negative associations will be applied to Asian People, by some people, because the word “Asian” is in the headline. It is a sad reality that blame will be given to Asian people, not the hornet. If “wokeness” is just an attempt to have fewer negative and unjustified assumptions about a group of people, why is that a bad thing when it does not reduce the understanding of the greater issue at large, the way that renaming the Africanized bee to “truculent bee” or “mother-in-law-bee” might.

Poor naming leads to poor attempts at finding a “solution.’’ For example, during the swine flu outbreak millions of pigs were killed because it was thought that the flu was related to the swine, “easy” to assume as it is in the name right? A bad common name led to money and resources that were spent killing pigs. To relate it back to hornets, we want all hands on deck here and zero confusion as to the issue at hand, the fact that these hornets are here, not from whence they came. It is a sad reality that some people will use energy blaming Asian people when we want them thinking of solutions.

Pat Harrison
Northern New Jersey


The Editor responds:

Thank you, Pat. Your argument is understandable, though I’m not sure the writer was tied to the “Asian giant hornet” moniker so much as he was annoyed by the rationale for changing it. And regarding ESA’s concern for the Asian population, I would contend that someone who stoops to justifying discrimination or even violence against Asians on such dubious grounds is, quite frankly, anti-Asian to begin with.

But what jumped out at me in the ESA’s press release (also reprinted in our September edition) was the statement that “all hornets — 22 species of wasps in the genus Vespa — are native or common to Asia, meaning ‘Asian giant hornet’ does not convey unique information …” and thus “ESA has also adopted ‘southern giant hornet’ as the common name for the species Vespa soror and ‘yellow-legged hornet’ for Vespa velutina,” a “similarly large” species.

Would that not have been justification enough for renaming this insect, without leaving the Society open to accusations of “wokeness”?