Letters to the Editor

 Letters to the Editor - April 2015


April Cover Picture - Bee on Buckwheat Blossom

A number of years ago I submitted a photo of a honey bee on a chicory blossom, and was privileged to have it appear on the front cover of the February 2010 issue (volume 150, No. 2). Today I am attaching a photo I took when we planted a field of buckwheat on our farm, and I thought you might enjoy it. I entered this photo in 4-H where it received champion at the county level and went on to receive a blue ribbon at the Indiana State Fair.

When I sent that photo in 2010 I was fairly new to beekeeping, but since then I have truly been blessed with my endeavors in beekeeping. With my family we maintain about 70-100 hives, and for every one of the six years I took Bees as a project in 4-H, I placed Grand Champion in my county, and went on to receive blue ribbons and special merits at the state fair.

In 2010 I was named Indiana Young Beekeeper of the Year and now I am honored to serve as the 2015 Indiana Honey Queen. Publications like the ABJ have been an excellent source of information for me and have provided much insight into the fascinating world of apiculture. Thank you so much for your great magazine; keep up the wonderful work!

Rebecca Eldridge

Snow Covered Colonies in Connecticut

Good morning from a chilly Higganum, CT! My dad, George Hartke, found his bees covered in the middle of Blizzard Juno!

Jessica Hartke
Honey Bee Farm
Higganum, CT
Bee Busters, Inc.

The Blind Beekeeper

We all like to think we are open minded and thoughtful people when it comes to our daily lives and especially our beekeeping. We want what is best for our bees as that is a great benefit to us if our bees are healthy and thriving. Good hives bring in lots of nectar and produce lots of honey which provide us with the money to continue doing what we love to do in our daily lives. Many of us sell by-products of the hive like the wax, the cosmetics we make, candles, pollen, propolis, honey, on and on it goes.

But how did we get to where we are today? Was it pure luck, or did we have the good sense to find a mentor who could help us grow with our bees and be as valuable to our bees as they are to us? Did we join a beekeeping club and attend meetings regularly where we could ask questions and get good answers to the problems we were having with our bees at different times of the year? Is it time to pull honey? What are the bees feeding on? How much smoke do we need to use to open a hive? Again, the questions are endless and they should all be asked and answered. But many times, this is where the problems begin. Many beekeepers are blind.

No, they can see all right, but somewhere in their minds they cut off their own learning experience by not allowing the light of truth to shine in.

This happens with new and longtime beekeepers alike. Example: A new beekeeper joins or visits a beekeeping club and asks a question such as, “Should I start with top bar hives?” The leaders in the club may answer, “No,” and let it go at that. Now the person asking the question is bewildered because they may have little funds to buy pre-made hives or may have read somewhere how great top bar hives can be. This can be a turn off to many as they have blinded themselves to the truth. The mentor has caused this temporary blindness by not explaining why starting with a top bar may not be good for a beginner.

Starting with top bar hives may be fun and exciting, but it does take some understanding on how the hives work. Many new beekeepers have worked top bar hives and have been very successful as some folks just seem to be in the right place at the right time or just plain lucky.

Many experienced beekeepers have seen the problems that may ...