Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor - April 2014


April Cover Painting

I’ve titled the painting Golden Days. The painting is done on an old inner cover. My husband keeps bees and I’m a self taught artist. I love anything vintage, especially old trucks. My husband acquired that specific inner cover from an old beekeeper who had recently gotten out of it. When I saw it, I knew I wanted to paint a bee scene on it (that included an old Ford). The painting is available for sale for $100.
I do custom work at an affordable price and anyone can reach me at this email. My work can be viewed on my etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Payntstar or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Payntstar.
For prices on prints, you can contact my business email: artbyclarissaburford@gmail.com.

Clarissa Burford
Port Allegany, PA

Starving Bee Sponges, Bee Aware of Triclosan!

Reference: Starving Bees!, pages 149-152, February, 2014 ABJ article.
Common kitchen sponges labeled “antibacterial” are likely to be impregnated with Triclosan, an antibacterial-antifungal ingredient with a known toxicity to fish, frogs and test mice. These antibacterial cellulose sponges should not be used in baggies for feeding sugar syrup to your bees as it is unknown whether or not it is toxic to them. Currently, the FDA believes it is safe for humans in its current use in cosmetics, hand soaps, household cleaning products, etc. to combat bacteria. However, it is reviewing new information on Triclosan and possible toxicity to humans.

A trip to any grocery store, (not a health food store), found it impossible for me to find sponges not labeled “antibacterial” although Triclosan was not listed on the label. I must assume it is Triclosan, as it is the cheapest and most commonly used antibacterial in such products.

So . . . a simple inexpensive solution to the antibacterial sponge problem is to use “grout” sponges found at any home improvement store near the masonry supplies. These are small celled usually polyester sponges that hold twice as much liquid as common kitchen sponges, (a plus for the feeding project). Use a utility knife to cut the super large sponge into smaller sizes to fit the baggie and continue on as I have instructed.

Thanks to Michael Jaross of Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association for bringing this to my attention.

T’Lee Sollenberger

Mississippi Bee Stewardship Program

I wanted to share with you the quick status of an ongoing effort here in Mississippi concerning the pollinator/pesticide issue.  

Many of you may know that Andy Whittington, our MFBF Environmental Programs Coordinator, has recently been appointed to serve on EPA’s Pesticide Policy Dialogue Committee.  Andy is representing the American Farm Bureau Federation in this position. 
In an effort to be proactive on this issue, Mississippi Farm Bureau® arranged several meetings with the Mississippi Beekeepers Association, the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi State University Extension Service, and row crop farmers to develop a plan where all parties recognize the need to coexist together and outline some basic standards on how to achieve a cooperative relationship that minimizes any adverse effects to beekeepers and at the same time does not put a producer at risk of yield loss.   An additional component of the program is the creation of the “Bee Aware” flag (see attached image).   Our goal is for it to become so common place that you will never pass one on a turn row of a grower field where you don’t think about bees and producers will take precautions if preforming any activity that might be detrimental to hives.

Recently, a document and plan was adopted by all parties and will create a very important foundation for problem solving at the local level through education and stewardship.  Our next steps in this program are to develop a brochure/flyer/communication piece that we will promote to our beekeepers, row crop producers, and other stakeholders and begin this communication effort. 

Again, we simply wanted to make you aware of this effort. We will need your support in working with producers and industry to emphasize the importance of this program.  Hopefully this will be a successful effort that we can provide to EPA as a great example of the cooperation that can exist between beekeepers and farmers to better protect our bee population.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Justin Ferguson
Commodity Coord.- Cotton, Rice, & Soybeans
Regional Manager-Region One
MS Farm Bureau Federation

Teaching Beekeeping

As part of a biology class from Carroll University in nearby Waukesha, Wisconsin, I have been conducting a two-hour lecture on beekeeping biology, followed by an hour out in my backyard beeyard of around 70 beehives. I teach the students about honeybee biology and behavior, and give them an up-close look at the honeybees in the hive. I demonstrate the sting response of the honeybees, outlining the mechanism and the specifics. At the point of the sting on my forearm, the instructor snapped this photograph of her students, and the reaction is priceless. After two years of bringing her classes out to our operation, the instructor, Danielle Greer, and her husband, Andy, are now set to start two beehives of their own.

Andy Hemken the Bee Guy
Big Bend, Wisconsin

Beekeeper in Training

At four years old, Tommy Dotterweich is already a beekeeper in training. He often joins his mom at Marshy Point Nature Center in Baltimore MD, where she works as a naturalist. Together they care for the bees in the nature center’s apiary. Children and families visit Marshy Point to learn about honey bees and the important role they play in pollination. Tommy is eager to share his love of bees with visitors.

Pam Mattice
Tommy’s grandmother