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Title: Langstroth on the Hive and the Honey-Bee - A Bee Keeper's Manual
Author: Langstroth, L. L. (Lorenzo Lorraine), 1810-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Historical Literature in Agriculture (CHLA), Cornell


        So work the Honey Bees.
    Creatures that by a rule in Nature, teach
    The art of order to a peopled kingdom.--_Shakspeare._]

[Illustration: Worker.    Drone.    Queen.

The above are a very accurate representations of the QUEEN, the WORKER
and the DRONE. The group of bees in the title page, represents the
attitude in which the bees surround their Queen or Mother as she rests
upon the comb.]


A Bee Keeper's Manual,





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



This Treatise on the Hive and the Honey-Bee, is respectfully submitted
by the Author, to the candid consideration of those who are interested
in the culture of the most useful as well as wonderful Insect, in all
the range of Animated Nature. The information which it contains will be
found to be greatly in advance of anything which has yet been presented
to the English Reader; and, as far as facilities for practical
management are concerned, it is believed to be a very material advance
over anything which has hitherto been communicated to the Apiarian

Debarred, by the state of his health, from the more appropriate duties
of his Office, and compelled to seek an employment which would call him,
as much as possible, into the open air, the Author indulges the hope
that the result of his studies and observations, in an important branch
of Natural History, will be found of service to the Community as well as
to himself. The satisfaction which he has taken in his researches, has
been such that he has felt exceedingly desirous of interesting others,
in a pursuit which, (without any reference to its pecuniary profits,)
is capable of exciting the delight and enthusiasm of all intelligent
observers. The Creator may be seen in all the works of his hands; but in
few more directly than in the wise economy of the Honey-Bee.

    "What well appointed commonwealths! where each
    Adds to the stock of happiness for all;
    Wisdom's own forums! whose professors teach
    Eloquent lessons in their vaulted hall!
    Galleries of art! and schools of industry!
    Stores of rich fragrance! Orchestras of song!
    What marvelous seats of hidden alchemy!
    How oft, when wandering far and erring long,
    Man might learn truth and virtue from the BEE!"

The attention of Clergymen is particularly solicited to the study of
this branch of Natural History. An intimate acquaintance with the
wonders of the Bee-Hive, while it would benefit them in various ways,
might lead them to draw their illustrations, more from natural objects
and the world around them, and in this way to adapt them better to the
comprehension and sympathies of their hearers. It was, we know, the
constant practice of our Lord and Master, to illustrate his teachings
from the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the common walks
of life and pursuits of men. Common Sense, Experience and Religion alike
dictate that we should follow his example.

                                                   L. L. LANGSTROTH.
    _Greenfield, Mass., May 25, 1853._



Deplorable state of bee-keeping. New era anticipated, 13. Huber's
discoveries and hives. Double hives for protection against extremes of
temperature, 14. Necessary to obtain complete control of the combs.
Taming bees. Hives with movable bars. Their results important, 15.
Bee-keeping made profitable and certain. Movable frames for comb. Bees
will work in glass hives exposed to the light. Dzierzon's discoveries,
16. Wagner's letter on the merits of Dzierzon's hive and the movable
comb hive, 17. Superiority of movable comb hive, 19. Superiority of
Dzierzon's over the old mode, 20. Success attending it, 22. Bee-Journal
to be established. Two of them in Germany. Important facts connected
with bees heretofore discredited, 23. Every thing seen in observing
hives, 24.


BEES CAPABLE OF DOMESTICATION. Astonishment of persons at their
tameness, 25. Bees intended for the comfort of man. Properties fitting
them for domestication. Bees never attack when filled with honey, 26.
Swarming bees fill their honey bags and are peaceable. Hiving of bees
safe, 27. Bees cannot resist the temptation to fill themselves with
sweets. Manageable by means of sugared water, 28. Special aversion to
certain persons. Tobacco smoke to subdue bees should not be used.
Motions about a hive should be slow and gentle, 29.


THE QUEEN BEE. THE DRONE. THE WORKER, 30. Knowledge of facts relating to
them, necessary to rear them with profit. Difficult to reason with some
bee-keepers. Queen bee the mother of the colony--described, 31.
Importance of queen to the colony. Respect shown her by the other bees.
Disturbance occasioned by her loss, 32. Bee-keepers cannot fail to be
interested in the habits of bees, 33. Whoever is fond of his bees is
fond of his home. Fertility of queen bees under-estimated. Fecundation
of eggs of the queen bees, 34-36. Huber vindicated. Francis Burnens.
Huber the prince of Apiarians, 35. Dr. Leidy's curious dissections, 37.
Wasps and hornets fertilized like queen bees. Huish's inconsistency, 38.
Retarded fecundation productive of drones only. Fertile workers produce
only drones, 39. Dzierzon's opinions on this subject, 40. Wagner's
theory. Singular fact in reference to a drone-rearing colony.
Drone-laying queen on dissection, unimpregnated. Dzierzon's theory
sustained, 41. Dead drone for queen, mistake of bees, 43. Eggs
unfecundated produce drones. Fecundated produce workers; theory
therefor, 44. Aphides but once impregnated for a series of generations.
Knowledge necessary for success, Queen bee, process of laying, 45. Eggs
described. Hatching, 46. Larva, its food, its nursing. Caps of breeding
and honey cells different, 47. Nymph or pupa, working. Time of
gestation. Cells contracted by cocoons sometimes become too small. Queen
bee, her mode of development, 48. Drone's development. Development of
young bees slow in cool weather or weak swarms. Temperature above 70
deg. for the production of young. Thin hives, their insufficiency. Brood
combs, danger of exposure to low temperature, 49. Cocoons of drones and
workers perfect. Cocoons of queens imperfect, the cause, 50. Number of
eggs dependent on the weather, &c. Supernumerary eggs, how disposed of,
51. Queen bee, fertility diminishes after her third year. Dies in her
fourth year, 52. Drones, description of. Their proper office. Destroyed
by the bees. When first appear, 53. None in weak hives. Great number of
them. Rapid increase of bees in tropical climates, 54. How to prevent
their over production. Expelled from the hive, 55. If not expelled, hive
should be examined. Provision to avoid "in and in breeding," 56. Close
breeding enfeebles colonies. Working bees, account of. Number in a hive,
58. All females with imperfect ovaries. Fertile workers not tolerated
where there are queens, 59. Honey receptacle. Pollen basket. The sting.
Sting of bees, 60. Often lost in using. Penalty of its loss. Sting not
lost by other insects. Labors of workers, 61. Age of bees, 62. Bees
useful to the last, 63. Cocoons not removed by the bees. Breeding cells
becoming too small are reconstructed. Old comb should be removed. Brood
comb not to be changed every year, 64. Inventors of hives too often men
of "one idea." Folly of large closets for bees, 65. Reason of limited
colonies. Mother wasps and hornets only survive Winter. Queen, process
of rearing, 66. Royal cells, 67. Royal Jelly, 68. Its effect on the
larvæ, 69. Swammerdam, 70. Queen departs when successors are provided
for. Queens, artificial rearing, 71. Interesting experiment, 72.
Objections against the Bible illustrated, 73. Huish against Huber, 74.
His objections puerile. Objections to the Bible ditto, 75.


COMB. Wax, how made. Formed of any saccharine substance. Huber's
experiments, 76. High temperature necessary to its composition, 77. Heat
generated in forming. Twenty pounds of honey to form one of wax. Value
of empty comb in the new hive. How to free comb from eggs of the moth,
78. Combs having bee-bread of great value. How to empty comb and replace
it in the hive, 79. Artificial comb. Experiment with wax proposed, 80.
Its results, if successful. Comb made chiefly in the night. 81. Honey
and comb made simultaneously. Wax a non-conductor of heat. Some of the
brood cells uniform in size, others vary, 82. Form of cells
mathematically perfect, 83. Honey comb a demonstration of a "Great First
Cause," 84.


PROPOLIS OR BEE GLUE. Whence it is obtained. Huber's experiment, 85. Its
use. Comb varnished with it. The moth deposits her eggs in it, 85.
Propolis difficult for bees to work. Curious use of it by bees, 87.
Ingenuity of bees admirable, 88.


POLLEN OR BEE-BREAD. Whence obtained. Its use. Brood cannot be raised
without it. Pollen nitrogenous. Its use discovered by Huber, 89. Its
collection by bees indicates a healthy queen. Experiment showing the
importance of bee-bread to a colony, 90. Not used in making comb. Bees
prefer it fresh. Surplus in old hives to be used to supply its want to
young hives. Pollen and honey both secured at the same time by bees.
Mode of gathering pollen, 91. Packing down. Bees gather one kind of
pollen at a time. They aid in the impregnation of plants. History of the
bee plain proof of the wisdom of the Creator. Bees made for man, 92.
Virgil's opinion of bees. Rye meal a substitute for pollen. Quantity
used by each colony, 93. Wheat flour a substitute. The improved hive
facilitates feeding bees with meal. The discovery of a substitute for
pollen removes an obstacle to the cultivation of honey bees, 94.


Fifty-four Advantages which ought to be found in an improved hive,
95-110. Some desirable qualities the movable comb hive does not pretend
to! Is the result of years of study and observation. It has been tested
by experience, 111. Not claimed as a perfect hive. Old-fashioned
bee-keepers found most profit, &c. Simplest form of hive, 112. Bee
culture where it was fifty years ago. Best hives. New hive is submitted
to the judgment of candid bee-keepers, 113.


destroyed by extremes of weather. Evils of thin hives. Bees not torpid
in Winter. When frozen are killed, 114. Take exercise to keep warm.
Perish if unable to preserve suitable degree of warmth. Are often
starved in the midst of plenty. Eat an extra quantity of food in thin,
cold hives, 115. Muscular exertion occasions waste of muscular fiber.
Bees need less food when quiet than when excited. Experiment, wintering
bees in a dry cellar, 116. Protection must generally be given in open
air. None but diseased bees discharge fæces in the hive. Moisture, its
injurious effects. Free air needful in cold weather, with the common
hive, 117. Loss by their flying out in cold weather. Protection against
extremes of weather of the very first importance. Honey, our country
favorable to its production. Colonies in forests strong. Reasons for
this, 118. Russian and Polish bee-keepers successful. Their mode of
management, 119. Objection of want of air answered, 120. Bees need but
little air in Winter if protected. Protection in reference to the
construction of hives. Double hives, preferable to plank. Made warm in
Winter by packing. Double hives, inside may be of glass, 121. Advantages
of glass over wood, 122. Advantages of double glass. Disadvantages of
double hives in Spring. Avoided by the improved hive, 123. Covered
Apiaries exclude the sun in Spring. Reason for discarding them. Sun, its
effect in producing early swarms in thin hives. Protected hives fall for
want of sun. Enclosed Apiaries, nuisances. Thin hives ought to be given
up, they are expensive in waste of honey and bees, 124. Comparative
cheapness of new and old hives, 125. Protector against injurious
weather. Proper location of bees. Preparations for setting hives, 126.
Protector should be open in Summer and banked in Winter. Cheaper than an
Apiary. Summer air of Protector like forest air. In Winter uniform and
mild, 127. Bees will not be enticed out in improper weather. Secures
their natural heat. Dead bees, &c., to be removed in Winter. Temperature
of the Protector, 128. Importance of the Protector. Its economy in food,


VENTILATION. Artificial ventilation produced by bees. Purity of air in
the hive, 130. Bad air fatal to bees, eggs and larvæ, 131. Bees when
disturbed need much air. Dysentery, how produced. Post mortem condition
of suffocated bees, 132. Great annoyance of excessive heat. Bees leave
the hive to save the comb. Ventilating instinct wonderful, 133. Should
shame man for his neglect of ventilation. Comparative expense of
ventilation to man and bees, 134. Importance of ventilation to man. Its
neglect induces disease, 135. Plants cannot thrive without free air. The
union of warmth and ventilation in Winter an important question.
House-builder and stove-maker combine against fresh air, 136. Run-away
slave boxed up. Evil qualities of bad air aggravated by heat. Dwellings
and public buildings generally deficient in ventilation. Degeneracy will
ensue, 137. Women the greatest sufferers. Necessity of reform, 138.
Public buildings should be required to have plenty of air. Improved
hive, its adaptedness to secure ventilation, 139. Nutt's hive too
complicated. Ventilation independent of the entrance, 140. Hive may be
entirely closed without incommoding the bees. Ventilators should be
easily removable to be cleansed. Ventilation from above injurious except
when bees are to be moved, 141. Variable size of the entrance adapts it
to all seasons. Ventilators should be closed in Spring. Downing on
ventilation, (note,) 142.


SWARMING AND HIVING. Bees swarming a beautiful sight. Poetic description
by Evans. Design of swarming, 143. The honey bee unlike other insects in
its colonizing habits. It is chilled by a temperature below 50 deg.
Would perish in Winter if not congregated in masses. Admirable
adaptation, 144. Swarming necessary. Circumstances in which it takes
place. June the swarming month. Preparations for swarming. Old queen
accompanies the first swarm. No infallible signs of 1st swarming, 145.
Fickleness of bees about swarming. Indications of swarming. Hours of
swarming, 146. Proceedings within the hive before swarming. Interesting
scene. Bells and frying-pans useless, 147. Neglected bees apt to fly
away in swarming. Bees properly cared for seldom do it. Methods of
arresting their flight when started, 148. Conduct of bees in
disagreeable hives, 149. Why bees swarm before selecting a new home.
They rarely cluster without the queen. Interesting experiment, 150.
Scouts to search for new abodes. Scouts sent out before and after
swarming, 151. Bees remain awhile after alighting. Curious incident
stated by Mr. Zollickoffer. Necessity of scouts. Considerations
confirmed, 152. Re-population of the hive, 153. Inability of bees to
find their hive when it has been removed. After swarms, 154. Different
treatment to the cells of dead and living queens. Royal larvæ sometimes
protected against the queens. Anger of the queen at such interference,
155. Second swarming, its indications. Time, 156. Double swarms. Third
swarm. After swarms seriously reduce the strength of the hive. Wise
arrangement, 157. After-swarming avoided by the improved hive.
Impregnation of queens. Dangerous for queens to mistake their own hives,
158. Precautions against this. Proper color for hives. Time of laying
eggs. None but worker eggs, the first season, 159. Directions for
hiving. Hives should be painted and well dried. Bees reluctant to enter
thin warm hives in the sun, 160. Management with the improved hives,
161. Drone combs should never be used as guide comb. Pleasure of bees in
finding comb in their new quarters. Bees never voluntarily enter empty
hives. Rubbing the hive with herbs useless, 162. Small trees or bushes
in front of hives. Inexperienced Apiarian should wear a bee-dress.
Moderate dispatch in hiving needful, 163. Process of hiving particularly
described, 164. Old method of hiving should be abandoned, 166.
Importance of speedy hiving. Should be moved as soon as hived. Curious
fact stated by Dr. Scudamore, (note), 167. How to secure the queen. She
does not sting. Hiving before the hives are ready, 168. Another method
of hiving. Natural swarming profitable. Objections to natural swarming.
Common hive gives inadequate winter protection, 169. With it, the bees
often swarm too much. With the improved hive this is avoided.
Disadvantages of returning after-swarms. Third objection, inability to
strengthen small late swarms, 170. Evils of feeble stocks. Fourth
objection, loss of queen irreparable. By the new hive her loss is easily
supplied, 171. Fifth, common hives inconvenient when bees do not swarm.
This objection removed by the new hive. Sixth, the ravages of the moth
easily prevented by the improved hive. Seventh, the old queen, when
infertile, cannot be removed or replaced. Both can be done by the new
hive, 172.


(Two Chapters numbered x, by error of the Press.)

ARTIFICIAL SWARMING. Numerous efforts to dispense with natural swarming.
Difficulties of natural swarming. First, many swarms are lost, 173.
Second, time and labor required. Sabbath labor, 174. Perplexities to
farmers. Third, large Apiaries cannot be established, 175. Fourth,
uncertainty of swarming. Disappointments from this source, 176. Efforts
to devise a surer method, 178. Columellas's mode of obtaining swarms.
Hyginus. Small success which attended, those efforts, Schirach's
discovery, 179. Huber's directions. Not adapted to general use. Dividing
hives in this country unsuitable. Bees without mature queens make no
preparation to rear workers, 180. Dividing hives to multiply colonies
will not answer, 181. Huber's hive even, inadequate. Common dividing
hives unsuccessful. Multiplying by brood comb in an empty hive, vain,
182. Multiplying by removal and substitution useless. Mortality of bees
in working season, 183. Connecting apartments a failure, 184. Many
prefer non-swarming hives, 185. Profitable in honey but calculated to
exterminate the insect. Improved hive good non-swarmer, if desired.
Disadvantages of non-swarming. Queen bee becomes infertile. Remedied by
the use of the improved hive, 186. Practicable mode of artificial
swarming, 187. Bees will welcome to their hives strange bees that come
loaded. Will destroy such as come empty, 188. Forced swarming requires
knowledge of the economy of the bee-hive. Common hives give no facility
for learning the bee's habits. Equalizing a divided swarm, 190. Bees in
parent hive, if removed, to be confined and watered, 191. Bees removed
will return to their old place. Supplying bees with water by a straw.
Water necessary to prepare food for the larvæ, 192. New forced swarms to
be returned to the place of the old one, or removed to a distance.
Treatment to wont them to new place in the Apiary, 193. Bees forget
their new locations. Objection to forced swarming in common hives, 194.
Forced swarming by the new hives removes the objection. Mode of forcing
swarms by the new hives, 195. Queen to be searched for. Important that
she should be in the right hive, 196. Convenience of forced swarming in
supplying extra queens. Mode of supplying them. Should be done by day
light and in pleasant weather, 197. Honey-water not to be used. Safety
to the operator. Forced swarming may be performed at mid-day. Advantages
of the shape of the new hive, 198. Huber's observation on the effect of
sudden light in the hive. True solution of the phenomenon. Bees at the
top of the hive, less belligerent than those at the bottom, 199. Sudden
jars to be avoided. Removal of honey-board. Sprinkling with sugar-water,
200. Loosening the frames. Removing the comb. Bees will adhere to their
comb, 201. Natural swarming imitated. How to catch the queen. Frames
protected from cold and robbery by bees. Frames returned to the hive.
Honey-cover, how managed. Motions of bee-keeper to be gentle. Bees must
not be breathed on. Success in the operation certain, 202. New colonies
may be thus formed in ten minutes. Natural swarming wholly prevented. If
attempted by the bees cannot succeed. How to remove the wings of the
queens, 203. Precaution against loss of queen by old age. Advantages of
this, 204. Certainty and ease of artificial swarming with the new hive.
After-swarms prevented if desired, 205. Large harvests of honey and
after-swarming impracticable. Danger of too rapid increase of stocks.
Importance of understanding his object, by the bee-keeper, 206. The
matter made plain, 207. Apiarians dissuaded from more than tripling
their stocks in a year. Tenfold increase of stocks attainable, 209.
Certain increase, not rapid, most needed. Cautions concerning
experiments, 210. Honey, largest yield obtained by doubling colonies.
The process, 211. May be done at swarming time. Bees recognize each
other by smell, 213. Importance of following these directions
illustrated. Process of uniting swarms simplified by the new hive, 214.
Very rapid increase of colonies precarious. Mode of effecting the most
rapid increase, 215. Nucleus system, 217. Can a queen be raised from any
egg? Two sorts of workers, wax workers and nurses, 218. Probable
explication of a difficulty, 219. Experimenting difficult work. Swarming
season best time for artificial swarming. Amusing perplexity of bees on
finding their hive changed, 220. Perseverance of bees. Interesting
incident illustrating it, 221. Novel and successful mode of forming
nuclei, 223. Mode of managing nuclei, 225. Danger of over-feeding.
Increasing stocks by doubling hives, 229. Important rule for multiplying
stocks. How to direct the strength of a colony to the rearing of young
bees, 230. Proper dimensions of hives. Reasons therefor, 231. Easy
construction of the improved hive. Precaution of queen bees in their
combats, 234. Reluctance of bees to receive a new queen. Expedient to
overcome this. Queen nursery, 235. Mode of rearing numerous queens, 237.
Control of the comb the soul of good bee-culture. Objection against
bee-keeping answered, 233. No "royal road" to bee-keeping. A prediction,


ENEMIES OF BEES. Bee-moth, its ravages. Defiance against it, 240. Its
habits. Known to Virgil. Time of appearance. Nocturnal in habits, 241.
Their agility. Vigilance of the bees against the moth. Havoc of sin in
the heart, 242. Disgusting effects of the moth worm in a hive. Wax the
food of the moth larvæ. Making their cocoons, 243. Devices to escape the
bees. Time of development, 244. Habits of the female when laying eggs.
Of the worm when hatched, 245. Our climate favorable to the increase of
the moth. Moth not a native of America, 246. Honey, its former plenty.
Present depressure of its culture. Old mode of culture described, 247.
Depredations of the moth increased by patent hives. Aim of patent hives.
Sulphur or starvation, 249. Feeble swarms a nuisance, 250. Notion
prevailing in relation to breaking up stocks. Improved hives valueless
without improved system of treatment, 251. Pretended secrets in the
management of bees. Strong stocks thrive under almost any circumstances,
252. Stocks in costly hives. Circumstances under which the moth succeeds
in a hive, 253. Signs of worms in a hive, 254. When entrenched difficult
to remove. Method of avoiding their ravages, 255. Combs having moth eggs
to be removed and smoked, 257. Uncovered comb to be removed, 258. Loss
of the queen the most fruitful occasion of ravages by the moth.
Experiments on this point, 259. Attempts to defend a queenless swarm
against the moth useless, 260. Strong queenless colonies destroyed when
feeble ones with queens are untouched. Common hives furnish no remedy
for the loss of the queen. Colonies without queens will perish, if not
destroyed by the moth, 261. Strong stocks rob queenless ones. Principal
reasons of protection, 262. Small stocks should have small space.
Inefficiency of various contrivances, 263. Useful precautions when using
common hives. Destroy the larvæ of the moth early. Decoy of a woolen
rag, 264. Hollow or split sticks for traps. If the queen be lost, and
worms infest the colony, break it up. Provision of the improved hives
against moths, 265. Moth-traps no help to careless bee-keepers.
Incorrigibly careless persons should have nothing to do with bees, 266.
Worms, how removed from an improved hive. Sweet solutions useful to
catch the moths. Interesting remarks of H. K. Oliver, on the bee-moth,
267. Ravages of mice. Birds. Observations on the king-bird, 269.
Inhumanity and injurious effects of destroying birds, 270. Other
enemies of the bee. Precautions against dysentery. Bees not to be fed on
liquid honey late in the season. Foul brood of the Germans, 271.
Produced by "American Honey." Peculiar kind of dysentery, 272.


LOSS OF THE QUEEN. Queen often lost. Queens of strong hives seldom
perish without providing for successors. Their death commonly occurs
under favorable circumstances, 273. Young queen sometimes matured before
the death of the old one. Superannuated queens incapable of laying
worker eggs. Case of precocious superannuation, 274. Signs that there is
no queen in a hive. Signs of queenless hives, 275. Exhortation to wives,
276. Difficult in common hives, to decide on the condition of the stock.
Always easy with the movable comb hive, 277. Bees sometimes refuse to
accept of aid in their queenless state. Parallel in human conduct. Young
bees in such hives will at once provide for a queen. An appeal to the
young, 278. Hives should be examined early in Spring. Destitute stocks
should be united to others having queens. Reasons therefor. General
treatment in early Spring, 279. Hives should be cleansed in Spring.
Durability and cheapness of hives, 280. Undue regard to mere cheapness.
Various causes destructive of queens, 281. Agitation of the bees on
missing their queen, 282. Treatment of swarms that have lost their
queens, 283. Examination of the hive needful, 284. Examination and
treatment in the Fall. Persons who cannot attend to their bees
themselves, may safely entrust their care to others, 285. Business of
the Apiarian united with that of the gardner. Experiments with queen
bees, 286.


colonies should be broken up, Spring and Fall. Small colonies should be
united. Animal heat necessary in a hive. Small swarms in Winter consume
much honey, 287. Colonies to be united, should stand side by side. How
to effect this. Removal of an Apiary in the working season, 288. To
secure the largest quantity of honey from a given number of stocks, 289.
Non-swarming plan. Moderate increase best, 290. Transferring bees from
common, to the movable comb hive, 291. Successful experiment. Should not
be attempted in cold weather. The process of transfer, 292. Best time.
May be done at any season when the weather is warm, 294. Precaution
against robbing, 295. Combs should be transferred with the bees, 296.
Caution on trying new hives, 297. Thrifty old swarms. Conditions of
their thrift, 298. Procuring bees to start an Apiary. New early swarms
best. Signs to guide the inexperienced buyer, 299. Directions for
removing old colonies. For removing new swarms, 300. To procure honey
the first season. Novices should begin in a small way. Neglected Apiary,
303. Superstitions about bees. Cautions to the inexperienced, against
transferring, renewed. Parallel between bees and covetous men, 304.


ROBBING. Idleness a great cause of it, 305. Colonies should be examined
and supplied with food in Spring. Appearance of robber bees, 306. Their
suspicious actions. Are real "Jerry Sneaks," 308. Highway robbers, 309.
Bee battles. Subjected bees unite with the conquerors. Cautions against
robbery. Importance of guarding against robbery, 310. Efficiency of the
movable blocks to this end. Comb with honey not to be exposed, 311.
Curious case of robbery, 314.


DIRECTIONS FOR FEEDING BEES. Feeding greatly mismanaged. Condition of
the bees should be ascertained in the Spring. They should be supplied if
needy, 315. Many perish from want. Connection between feeding and
breeding in the hive, 316. Caution in feeding necessary. Results of over
feeding, 317. Necessary to feed largely in multiplying stocks. How to
feed weak swarms in Spring, 319. Considerations governing the quantity
of food, 320. Main object to produce bees. Proper condition of an Apiary
at close of honey season, 321. Feeding for Winter attended to in August.
Unsealed honey sours. Sour food is unwholesome to bees. Striking
instance, 322. Spare honey to be apportioned among the stocks. Swarms
with overstocks of honey do not breed so well. Surplus honey in Spring
to be removed, 323. Full frames exchanged for empty ones. Feeble stocks
in Fall, to be broken up. Profits all come from strong swarms.
Composition of a good bee-feed, 324. Directions for feeding with the
improved hive, 325. Feeding useless when but little comb in the hive,
326. Top feeding. Feeder described. Importance of water to bees, 328.
Sugar candy a valuable substitute for honey. Summer feeding, 330. Bees
with proper care need but little feeding. Quantity of honey necessary to
winter a stock, 331. Feeding as a source of profit. Selling W. I. honey
a cheat, 332. Honey not a secretion of the bee. Evaporation of its water
the principal change it undergoes, 334. Folly of diluting the feed of
bees too much. Feeders of cheap honey for market, deceivers or deceived,
335. Artificial liquid honey, 336. Improved Maple sugar, 337. Feeding
bees on artificial honey not profitable, 337. Dangerous feeding bees
without floats. Their infatuation for liquid sweets, 339. Like that of
the inebriate for his cups, 340. Avarice in bees and men, 341.


HONEY. PASTURAGE. OVERSTOCKING. Honey the product of flowers, 342. Honey
dew. Aphides, 343. Qualities of honey, 345. Poisonous honey. Innoxious
by boiling. Preserving honey, 346. Modes of taking honey from the hive.
Objections to glass vessels, 347. Pasteboard boxes preferred. Honey
should be handled carefully. Pattern comb to be used in the boxes. Honey
safely removed, 348. Should not be taken from the bees in large
quantities during honey harvest. Pasturage, 349. The Willow. Sugar Maple
and other honey-yielding trees, 350. Linden tree as an ornament. White
clover, 351. Recommended by Hon. Frederick Holbrook as a grass crop,
352. Sweet-scented clover, 363. Hybrid clover front Sweden, 354.
Buckwheat. Raspberry, 355. Garden flowers. Overstocking, 356. Little
danger of it. Bee-keepers and Napoleon. No overstocking in this country.
Letter from Mr. Wagner on the subject, 357. Flight of bees for food,
361. Advantages of a good hive in saving time and honey. Energies of
bees limited. Bees injured by winds, 362. Protector saves them from
harm. Estimated profits of bee-culture. Advice to the careless, 363.
Value of Dzierzon's system. Adopted by the government of Norway. Want of
National encouragement to agriculture, (note), 364.


Gentleness of the bee, 365. Feats of Wildman. Interesting incident, 366.
Discovery of a universal law. Its importance and results, 367. Cross
bees diseased. Never necessary to provoke a whole colony of bees, 368.
Danger from bees when provoked. A word to females, 369. Kindness of bees
to one another. Contrast with some children, 370. Effects of a sting.
The poison, 371. Peculiar odors offensive to bees. Precautions against
animals and human robbers, 372. Sense of smell in the bee, 373. By this
they distinguish their hive companions. Robbers repelled by odors, 374.
Stocks united by them, 375. Warning given by bees before stinging. How
to act when assaulted by bees, 376. Remedies for the sting, 377.
Bee-dress, 380. Instincts of bees, 381. Distinction between instinct in
animals and reason in men. Remarkable instance of sagacity in bees, 383.
Facilities afforded by the Author's Improved Observing Hive.
Indebtedness of the author to S. Wagner, Esq., 384.



Patented October 5, 1862.

Each comb in this hive is attached to a separate, movable frame, and in
less than five minutes they may all be taken out, without cutting or
injuring them, or at all enraging the bees. Weak stocks may be quickly
strengthened by helping them to honey and maturing brood from stronger
ones; queenless colonies may be rescued from certain ruin by supplying
them with the means of obtaining another queen; and the ravages of the
moth effectually prevented, as at any time the hive may be readily
examined and all the worms, &c., removed from the combs. New colonies
may be formed in less time than is usually required to hive a natural
swarm; or the hive may be used as a non-swarmer, or managed on the
common swarming plan. The surplus honey may be taken from the interior
of the hive on the frames or in upper boxes or glasses, in the most
convenient, beautiful and saleable forms. Colonies may be safely
transferred from any other hive to this, at any season of the year, from
April to October, as the brood, combs, honey and all the contents of the
hive are transferred with them, and securely fastened in the frames.
That the combs can always be removed from this hive with ease and
safety, and that the new system, by giving the perfect control over all
the combs, effects a complete revolution in practical bee-keeping, the
subscriber prefers to _prove_ rather than assert. Practical Apiarians
and all who wish to purchase rights and hives, are invited to visit his
Apiary, where combs, honey and bees will be taken from the hives;
colonies which may be brought to him for that purpose, transferred from
any old hive; queens, and the whole process of rearing them constantly
exhibited; new colonies formed, and all processes connected with the
practical management of an Apiary fully illustrated and explained.

Those who have any considerable number of bees, will find it to their
interest to have at least one movable comb-hive in their Apiary, from
which they may, in a few minutes, supply any colony which has lost its
queen, with the means of rearing another.

The hive and right will be furnished on the following terms. For an
individual or farm right, five dollars. This will entitle the purchaser
to use and construct for his own use on his own premises, as many hives
as he chooses. The hives are manufactured by machinery, and can probably
be delivered, freight included, at any Railroad Station in New England,
or New York, cheaper than they could be made in small quantities on the
spot. On receipt of a hive, the purchaser can decide for himself,
whether he prefers to make them, or to order them of the Patentee. For
one dollar, postage paid, the book will be sent free by mail. On receipt
of ten dollars, a beautiful hive showing all the combs, (with glass on
four sides,) will be sent with right, freight paid to any railroad
station in New England or New York: a right and hive which will
accommodate _two_ colonies, with glass on each side, for twelve dollars;
for seven dollars, a right and a well made hive that any one can
construct who can handle the simplest tools. In all cases where the
hives are sent out of New England or New York, as the freight will not
be prepaid, a dollar will be deducted from the above prices.
                                         L. L. LANGSTROTH,
                                              _Greenfield, Mass._



The present condition of practical bee-keeping in this country, is known
to be deplorably low. From the great mass of agriculturists, and others
favorably situated for obtaining honey, it receives not the slightest
attention. Notwithstanding the large number of patent hives which have
been introduced, the ravages of the bee-moth have increased, and success
is becoming more and more precarious. Multitudes have abandoned the
pursuit in disgust, while many of the most experienced, are fast
settling down into the conviction that all the so-called "Improved
Hives" are delusions, and that they must return to the simple box or
hollow log, and "_take up_" their bees with sulphur, in the
old-fashioned way.

In the present state of public opinion, it requires no little courage to
venture upon the introduction of a new hive and system of management;
but I feel confident that a _new era_ in bee-keeping has arrived, and
invite the attention of all interested, to the reasons for this belief.
A perusal of this Manual, will, I trust, convince them that there is a
better way than any with which they have yet been acquainted. They will
here find many hitherto mysterious points in the physiology of the
honey-bee, clearly explained, and much valuable information never before
communicated to the public.

It is now nearly fifteen years since I first turned my attention to the
cultivation of bees. The state of my health having compelled me to live
more and more in the open air, I have devoted a large portion of my
time, of late years, to a careful investigation of their habits, and to
a series of minute and thorough experiments in the construction of
hives, and the best methods of managing them, so as to secure the
largest practical results.

Very early in my Apiarian studies, I procured an imported copy of the
work of the celebrated Huber, and constructed a hive on his plan, which
furnished me with favorable opportunities of verifying some of his most
valuable discoveries; and I soon found that the prejudices existing
against him, were entirely unfounded. Believing that his discoveries
laid the foundation for a more extended and profitable system of
bee-keeping, I began to experiment with hives of various construction.

The result of all these investigations fell far short of my
expectations. I became, however, most thoroughly convinced that no hives
were fit to be used, unless they furnished _uncommon protection_ against
_extremes_ of _heat_ and more especially of COLD. I accordingly
discarded all thin hives made of inch stuff, and constructed my hives of
_doubled_ materials, enclosing a "dead air" space all around.

These hives, although more expensive in the first cost, proved to be
much cheaper in the end, than those I had previously used. The bees
_wintered_ remarkably well in them, and swarmed _early_ and with unusual
_regularity_. My next step in advance, was, while I secured my surplus
honey in the most convenient, beautiful and salable forms, so to
facilitate the entrance of the bees into the honey receptacles, as to
secure the largest fruits from their labors.

Although I felt confident that my hive possessed some valuable
peculiarities, I still found myself unable to remedy many of the
casualties to which bee-keeping is liable. I now perceived that no hive
could be made to answer my expectations unless it gave me the _complete
control of the combs_, so that I might remove any, or all of them at
pleasure. The use of the Huber hive had convinced me that with proper
precautions, the combs might be removed without _enraging_ the bees, and
that these insects were capable of being domesticated or _tamed_, to a
most surprising degree. A knowledge of these facts was absolutely
necessary to the further progress of my invention, for without it, I
should have regarded a hive designed to allow of the removal of the
combs, as too dangerous in use, to be of any practical value. At first,
I used movable slats or bars placed on rabbets in the front and back of
the hive. The bees were induced to build their combs upon these bars,
and in carrying them down, to fasten them to the sides of the hive. By
severing the attachments to the sides, I was able, at any time, to
remove the combs suspended from the bars. There was nothing _new_ in the
use of movable _bars_; the invention being probably, at least, a hundred
years old; and I had myself used such hives on Bevan's plan, very early
in the commencement of my experiments. The chief peculiarity in my
hives, as now constructed, was the facility with which these bars could
be removed without enraging the bees, and their combination with my new
mode of obtaining the surplus honey.

With hives of this construction I commenced experimenting on a larger
scale than ever, and soon arrived at results which proved to be of the
very first importance. I found myself able, if I wished it, to _dispense
entirely_ with _natural swarming_, and yet to multiply colonies with
much greater _rapidity_ and _certainty_ than by the common methods. I
could, in a _short time, strengthen my feeble colonies_, and furnish
those which had _lost their Queen_ with the means of _obtaining
another_. If I suspected that any thing was the matter with a hive, I
could _ascertain_ its _true condition_, by making a thorough examination
of every part, and if the _worms had gained a lodgment_, I could quickly
_dispossess_ them. In short, I could perform all the operations which
will be explained in this treatise, and I now believed that bee-keeping
could be made _highly profitable_, and as much a matter of _certainty_,
as any other branch of rural economy.

I perceived, however, that one thing was _yet_ wanting. The _cutting_ of
the combs from their attachments to the _sides_ of the hive, in order to
remove them, was attended with much loss of _time_ to myself and to the
bees, and in order to _facilitate_ this operation, the construction of
my hive was necessarily _complicated_. This led me to invent a method by
which the combs were attached to MOVABLE FRAMES, and suspended in the
hives, _so as to touch neither the top, bottom, nor sides_. By this
device, I was able to remove the combs at pleasure, and if desired, I
could speedily transfer them, bees and all, _without any cutting_, to
another hive. I have experimented largely with hives of this
construction, and find that they answer most admirably, all the ends
proposed in their invention.

While experimenting in the summer of 1851, with some observing hives of
a peculiar construction, I discovered that bees could be made to work in
glass hives, _exposed to the full light of day_. The notice, in a
Philadelphia newspaper, of this discovery, procured me the pleasure of
an acquaintance with Rev. Dr. Berg, pastor of a Dutch Reformed church in
that city. From him, I first learned that a Prussian clergyman, of the
name of Dzierzon, (pronounced Tseertsone,) had attracted the attention
of crowned heads, by his important discoveries in the management of
bees. Before he communicated the particulars of these discoveries, I
explained to Dr. Berg, my system of management, and showed him my hive.
He expressed the greatest astonishment at the wonderful similarity in
our methods of management, both of us having carried on our
investigations without the slightest knowledge of each other's labors.
Our hives, he found to differ in some very important respects. In the
Dzierzon hive, the combs are not attached to _movable frames_, but to
_bars_, so that they cannot, _without cutting_, be removed from the
hive. In my hive, which is opened _from the top_, any comb may be taken
out, without at all disturbing the others; whereas, in the Dzierzon
hive, which is opened from one of the ends, it is often necessary to
_cut_ and _remove many_ combs, in order to get access to a particular
one; thus, if the _tenth_ comb from the end is to be removed, _nine_
combs must be first _cut and taken out_. All this consumes a large
amount of time. The German hive does not furnish the surplus honey in a
form which would be found most salable in our markets, or which would
admit of safe transportation in the comb. Notwithstanding these
disadvantages, it has achieved a _great triumph_ in Germany, and given a
_new impulse_ to the cultivation of bees.

The following letter from Samuel Wagner, Esq., cashier of the bank in
York, Pennsylvania, will show the results which have been obtained in
Germany, by the new system of management, and his estimate of the
superior value of my hive to those in use there.

                                      YORK, PA., DEC. 24, 1852.

The Dzierzon theory and the system of bee-management based thereon, were
originally promulgated, _hypothetically_, in the "Eichstadt
Bienenzeitung" or Bee-journal, in 1845, and at once arrested my
attention. Subsequently, when in 1848, at the instance of the Prussian
government, the Rev. Mr. Dzierzon published his "Theory and Practice of
Bee Culture," I imported a copy, which reached me in 1849, and which I
translated prior to January 1850. Before the translation was completed,
I received a visit from my friend, the Rev. Dr. Berg, of Philadelphia,
and in the course of conversation on bee-keeping, mentioned to him the
Dzierzon theory and system, as one which I regarded as new and very
superior, though I had had no opportunity for testing it practically. In
February following, when in Philadelphia, I left with him the
translation in manuscript--up to which period, I doubt whether any other
person in this country had any knowledge of the Dzierzon theory; except
to Dr. Berg I had never mentioned it to any one, save in very general

In September, 1851, Dr. Berg again visited York, and stated to me your
investigations, discoveries and inventions. From the account Dr. Berg
gave me, I felt assured that you had devised substantially the _same
system_ as that so successfully pursued by Mr. Dzierzon; but how far
_your hive_ resembled his I was unable to judge from description alone.
I inferred, however, several points of difference. The coincidence as to
system, and the principles on which it was evidently founded, struck me
as exceedingly singular and interesting, because I felt confident that
you had no more knowledge of Mr. Dzierzon and his labors, before Dr.
Berg mentioned him and his book to you, than Mr. Dzierzon had of you.
These circumstances made me very anxious to examine your hives, and
induced me to visit your Apiary in the village of West Philadelphia,
last August. In the absence of the keeper, as I informed you, I took the
liberty to explore the premises thoroughly, opening and inspecting a
number of the hives, and noticing the internal arrangement of the parts.
The result was, that I came away convinced that though your system was
based on the same principles as Dzierzon's, yet that your hive was
almost totally different from his, in construction and arrangement; that
while the same objects _substantially_ are attained by each, your hive
is more simple, more convenient, and much better adapted for general
introduction and use, since the mode of using it can be more easily
taught. Of its ultimate and triumphant success I have no doubt. I
sincerely believe that when it comes under the notice of Mr. Dzierzon,
he will himself prefer it to his own. It in fact combines all the good
properties which a hive ought to possess, while it is free from the
complication, clumsiness, _vain whims_, and decidedly objectionable
features, which characterize most of the inventions which profess to be
at all superior to the simple box, or the common chamber hive.

You may certainly claim _equal credit_ with Dzierzon for originality in
observation and discovery in the natural history of the honey bee, and
for success in deducing principles and devising a most valuable system
of management from observed facts. But in _invention_, as far as
neatness, compactness, and adaptation of means to ends are concerned,
the sturdy German must yield the palm to you. You will find a case of
similar coincidence detailed in the Westminster Review for October,
1852, page 267, et seq.

I send you herewith some interesting statements respecting Dzierzon, and
the estimate in which his system is held in Germany.

                           Very truly yours,
                                       SAMUEL WAGNER.

The following are the statements to which Mr. Wagner refers.--

"As the best test of the value of Mr. Dzierzon's system, is the
_results_ which have been made to flow from it, a brief account of its
rise and progress maybe found interesting. In 1835 he commenced
bee-keeping in the common way, with 12 colonies--and after various
mishaps, which taught him the defects of the common hives and the old
mode of management, his stock was so reduced that in 1838 he had
virtually to begin anew. At this period he contrived his improved hive
in its ruder form, which gave him the command over all the combs, and he
began to experiment on the theory which observation and study had
enabled him to devise. Thenceforward his progress was as rapid as his
success was complete and triumphant. Though he met with frequent
reverses--about 70 colonies having been stolen from him, sixty destroyed
by fire, and 24 by a flood--yet in 1846 his stock had increased to 360
colonies, and he realized from them that year six thousand pounds of
honey, besides several hundred weight of wax. At the same time most of
the cultivators in his vicinity who pursued the common methods, had
fewer hives than they had when he commenced.

In the year 1848, a fatal pestilence, known by the name of "foul brood,"
prevailed among his bees, and destroyed nearly all his colonies before
it could be subdued--only about ten having escaped the malady, which
attacked alike the old stocks and his artificial swarms. He estimates
his entire loss that year at over 500 _colonies_. Nevertheless he
succeeded so well in multiplying by artificial swarms, the few that
remained healthy, that in the fall of 1851 his stock consisted of nearly
400 colonies. He must, therefore, have multiplied his stocks more than
three fold each year."

The highly prosperous condition of his colonies is attested by the
Report of the Secretary of the Annual Apiarian Convention which met in
his vicinity last spring. This Convention, the fourth which has been
held, consisted of 112 experienced and enthusiastic bee-keepers from
various districts of Germany and neighboring countries, and among them
were some who when they assembled were strong opposers of his system.

They visited and personally examined the Apiaries of Mr. Dzierzon. The
report speaks in the very highest terms of his success, and of the
manifest superiority of his system of management. He exhibited and
satisfactorily explained to his visitors his practice and principles;
and they remarked, with astonishment, the _singular docility_ of his
bees, and the thorough control to which they were subjected. After a
full detail of the proceedings, the Secretary goes on to say:--

"Now that I have seen Dzierzon's method practically demonstrated, I must
admit that it is attended with fewer difficulties than I had supposed.
With his hive and system of management it would seem that bees become at
once more docile than they are in other cases. I consider his system the
simplest and best means of elevating bee-culture to a profitable
pursuit, and of spreading it far and wide over the land--especially as
it is peculiarly adapted to districts in which the bees do not readily
and regularly swarm. His eminent success in re-establishing his stock
after suffering so heavily from the devastating pestilence--in short the
recuperative power of the system demonstrates conclusively, that it
furnishes the best, perhaps the only means of reinstating bee-culture lo
a profitable branch of rural economy.

Dzierzon modestly disclaimed the idea of having attained perfection in
his hive. He dwelt rather upon the truth and importance of his _theory_
and _system_ of _management_."

_From the Leipzig Illustrated Almanac--Report on Agriculture for 1846._

"Bee culture is no longer regarded as of any importance in rural

From the same for 1851, and 1853.

"Since Dzierzon's system has been made known an entire revolution in bee
culture has been produced. A new era has been created for it, and
bee-keepers are turning their attention to it with renewed zeal. The
merits of his discoveries are appreciated by the government, and they
recommend his system as worthy the attention of the teachers of common

Mr. Dzierzon resides in a poor sandy district of Middle Silesia, which,
according to the common notions of Apiarians, is unfavorable to
bee-culture. Yet despite of this and of various mishaps, he has
succeeded in realizing 900 dollars as the product of his bees in one

By his mode of management, his bees yield, even in the poorest years,
from 10 to 15 per cent on the capital invested, and where the colonies
are produced by the Apiarian's own skill and labor they cost him only
about one-fourth the price at which they are usually valued. In ordinary
seasons the profit amounts to from 30 to 50 per cent, and in very
favorable seasons from 80 to 100 per cent."

In communicating these facts to the public, I have several objects in
view. I freely acknowledge that I take an honest pride in establishing
my claims as an independent observer; and as having matured by my own
discoveries, the same system of bee-culture, as that which has excited
so much interest in Germany; I desire also to have the testimony of the
translator of Dzierzon to the superior merits of my hive. Mr. Wagner is
extensively known as an able German scholar. He has taken all the
numbers of the Bee Journal, a monthly periodical which has been
published for more than fifteen years in Germany, and is probably more
familiar with the state of Apiarian culture abroad, than any man in this

I am anxious further to show that the great importance which I attach to
my system of management, is amply justified by the success of those who
while pursuing the same system with inferior hives, have attained
results, which to common bee-keepers, seem almost incredible. Inventors
are very prone to form exaggerated estimates of the value of their
labors; and the American public has been so often deluded with patent
hives, devised by persons ignorant of the most important principles in
the natural history of the bee, and which have utterly failed to answer
their professed objects, that they are scarcely to be blamed for
rejecting every new hive as unworthy of confidence.

There is now a prospect that a Bee Journal will before long, be
established in this country. Such a publication has long been needed.
Properly conducted, it will have a most powerful influence in
disseminating information, awakening enthusiasm, and guarding the public
against the miserable impositions to which it has so long been

Two such journals are now published monthly in Germany, one of which has
been in existence for more than 15 years--and their wide circulation has
made thousands well acquainted with those principles, which must
constitute the foundation of any enlightened and profitable system of

The truth is that while many of the principal facts in the physiology of
the honey bee have long been familiar to scientific observers, it has
unfortunately happened that some of the most important have been widely
discredited. In themselves they are so _wonderful_, and to those who
have not witnessed them, often _so incredible_, that it is not at all
strange that they have been rejected as fanciful conceits, or bare-faced

Many persons have not the slightest idea that _every thing_ may be
_seen_ that takes place in a bee-hive. But hives have for many years,
been in use, containing only one large comb, enclosed on both sides, by
glass. These hives are darkened by shutters, and when opened, the queen
is exposed to observation, as well as all the other bees. Within the
last two years, I have discovered that with proper precautions, colonies
can be made to work in observing hives, without shutters, and exposed
continually to the _full light of day_; so that observations may be made
at all times, without in the least interrupting the ordinary operations
of the bees. By the aid of such hives, some of the most intelligent
citizens of Philadelphia have seen in my Apiary, the queen bee
depositing her eggs in the cells, and constantly surrounded by an
affectionate circle of her devoted children. They have also witnessed,
with astonishment and delight, all the steps in the mysterious process
of raising queens from eggs which with the ordinary development, would
have produced only the common bees. For more than three months, there
was not a day in which some of my colonies were not engaged in making
new queens to supply the place of those taken from them, and I had the
pleasure of exhibiting all the facts to bee-keepers who never before
felt willing to credit them. As _all_ my hives are so made that each
comb can be taken out, and examined at pleasure, those who use them, can
obtain from them all the information which they need, and, are no longer
forced to take any thing upon trust.

May I be permitted to express the hope that the time is now at hand,
when the number of practical observers will be so multiplied, that
ignorant and designing men will neither be able to impose their conceits
and falsehoods upon the public, nor be sustained in their attempts to
depreciate the valuable discoveries of those who have devoted years of
observation and experiment to promote the advancement of Apiarian



If the bee had not such a necessary and yet formidable weapon both of
offence and defence, multitudes would be induced to enter upon its
cultivation, who are now afraid to have any thing to do with it. As the
new system of management which I have devised, seems to add to this
inherent difficulty, by taking the greatest possible liberties with so
irascible an insect, I deem it important to show clearly, in the very
outset, how bees may be managed, so that all necessary operations may be
performed in an Apiary, without incurring any serious risk of exciting
their anger.

Many persons have been unable to control their expressions of wonder and
astonishment, on seeing me open hive after hive, in my experimental
Apiary, in the vicinity of Philadelphia, removing the combs covered with
bees, and shaking them off in front of the hives; exhibiting the queen,
transferring the bees to another hive, and, in short, dealing with them
as if they were as harmless as so many flies. I have sometimes been
asked if the bees with which I was experimenting, had not been
subjected to a long course of instruction, to prepare them for public
exhibition; when in some cases, the very hives which I was opening,
contained swarms which had been brought only the day before, to my

Before entering upon the natural history of the bee, I shall anticipate
some principles in its management, in order to prepare my readers to
receive, without the doubts which would otherwise be very natural, the
statements in my book, and to convince them that almost any one
favorably situated, may safely enjoy the pleasure and profit of a
pursuit, which has been most appropriately styled, "the poetry of rural
economy;" and that, without being made too familiar with a sharp little
weapon, which can most speedily and effectually convert all the poetry
into very sorry prose.

The Creator intended the bee for the comfort of man, as truly as he did
the horse or the cow. In the early ages of the world, indeed until very
recently, honey was almost the only natural sweet; and the promise of "a
land flowing with milk and honey," had then a significance, the full
force of which it is difficult for us to realize. The honey bee was,
therefore, created not merely with the ability to store up its delicious
nectar for its own use, but with certain properties which fitted it to
be domesticated, and to labor for man, and without which, he would no
more have been able to subject it to his control, than to make a useful
beast of burden of a lion or a tiger.

One of the peculiarities which constitutes the very foundation, not
merely of my system of management, but of the ability of man to
domesticate at all so irascible an insect, has never, to my knowledge,
been clearly stated as a great and controlling principle. It may be thus


The man who first attempted to lodge a swarm of bees in an artificial
hive, was doubtless agreeably surprised at the ease with which he was
able to accomplish it. For when the bees are intending to swarm, they
fill their honey-bags to their utmost capacity. This is wisely ordered,
that they may have materials for commencing operations immediately in
their new habitation; that they may not starve if several stormy days
should follow their emigration; and that when they leave their hives,
they may be in a suitable condition to be secured by man.

They issue from their hives in the most peaceable mood that can well be
imagined; and unless they are abused, allow themselves to be treated
with great familiarity. The hiving of bees by those who understand their
nature, could almost always be conducted without the risk of any
annoyance, if it were not the case that some improvident or unfortunate
ones occasionally come forth without the soothing supply; and not being
stored with honey, are filled with the gall of the bitterest hate
against all mankind and animal kind in general, and any one who dares to
meddle with them in particular. Such radicals are always to be dreaded,
for they must vent their spleen on something, even though they lose
their life in the act.

Suppose the whole colony, on sallying forth, to possess such a ferocious
spirit; no one would ever dare to hive them, unless clad in a coat of
mail, at least bee-proof, and not even then, until all the windows of
his house were closed, his domestic animals bestowed in some safe place,
and sentinels posted at suitable stations, to warn all comers to look
out for something almost as much to be dreaded, as a fiery locomotive
in full speed. In short, if the propensity to be exceedingly
good-natured after a hearty meal, had not been given to the bee, it
could never have been domesticated, and our honey would still be
procured from the clefts of rocks, or the hollows of trees.

A second peculiarity in the nature of the bee, and one of which I
continually avail myself with the greatest success, may be thus stated.


It would be quite as easy for an inveterate miser to look with
indifference upon a golden shower of double eagles, falling at his feet
and soliciting his appropriation. If then we can contrive a way to call
their attention to a treat of running sweets, when we wish to perform
any operation which might provoke them, we may be sure they will accept
it, and under its genial influence, allow us without molestation, to do
what we please.

We must always be particularly careful not to handle them roughly, for
they will never allow themselves to be pinched or hurt without thrusting
out their sting to resent such an indignity. I always keep a small
watering-pot or sprinkler, in my Apiary, and whenever I wish to operate
upon a hive, as soon as the cover is taken off, and the bees exposed, I
sprinkle them gently with water sweetened with sugar. They help
themselves with the greatest eagerness, and in a few moments, are in a
perfectly manageable state. The truth is, that bees managed on this plan
are always glad to see visitors, and you cannot look in upon them too
often, for they expect at every call, to receive a sugared treat by way
of a peace-offering.

I can superintend a large number of hives, performing every operation
that is necessary for pleasure or profit, and yet not run the risks of
being stung, which must frequently be incurred in attempting to manage,
in the simplest way, the common hives. Those who are timid may, at
first, use a bee-dress; though they will soon discard every thing of the
kind, unless they are of the number of those to whom the bees have a
special aversion. Such unfortunates are sure to be stung whenever they
show themselves in the vicinity of a bee-hive, and they will do well to
give the bees a very wide berth.

Apiarians have, for many years, employed the smoke of tobacco for
subduing their bees. It deprives them, at once, of all disposition to
sting, but it ought never to be used for such a purpose. If the
construction of the hives will not permit the bees to be sprinkled with
sugar water, the smoke of burning paper or rags will answer every
purpose, and the bees will not be likely to resent it; whereas when they
recover from the effect of the tobacco, they not unfrequently remember,
and in no very gentle way, the operator who administered the nauseous

Let all your motions about your hives be gentle and slow. Accustom your
bees to your presence; never crush or injure them in any operation;
acquaint yourself fully with the principles of management detailed in
this treatise, and you will find that you have but little more reason to
dread the sting of a bee, than the horns of your favorite cow, or the
heels of your faithful horse.



Bees can flourish only when associated in large numbers, as a colony. In
a solitary state, a single bee is almost as helpless as a new-born
child; it is unable to endure even the ordinary chill of a cool summer

If a strong colony of bees is examined, a short time before it swarms,
three different kinds of bees will be found in the hive.

1st. A bee of peculiar shape, commonly called the _Queen Bee_.

2d. Some hundreds, more or less, of large bees called _Drones_.

3d. Many thousands of a smaller kind, called _Workers_ or common bees,
and similar to those which are seen on the blossoms. A large number of
the cells will be found filled with honey and bee-bread; while vast
numbers contain eggs, and immature workers and drones. A few cells of
unusual size, are devoted to the rearing of young queens, and are
ordinarily to be found in a perfect condition, only in the swarming

The _Queen-Bee_ is the only _perfect female_ in the hive, and all the
eggs are laid by her. The _Drones_ are the _males_, and the _Workers_
are _females_, whose ovaries or "egg-bags" are so _imperfectly
developed_ that they are incapable of breeding, and which retain the
instinct of females, only so far as to give the most devoted attention
to feeding and rearing the brood.

These facts have all been demonstrated repeatedly, and are as well
established as the most common facts in the breeding of our domestic
animals. The knowledge of them in their most important bearings, is
absolutely essential to all who expect to realize large profits from an
improved method of rearing bees. Those who will not acquire the
necessary information, if they keep bees at all, should manage them in
the old-fashioned way, which requires the smallest amount either of
knowledge or skill.

I am perfectly aware how difficult it is to reason with a large class of
bee-keepers, some of whom have been so often imposed upon, that they
have lost all faith in the truth of any statements which may be made by
any one interested in a patent hive, while others stigmatize all
knowledge which does not square with their own, as "book-knowledge," and
unworthy the attention of practical men.

If any such read this book, let me remind them again, that all my
assertions may be put to the test. So long as the interior of a hive,
was to common observers, a profound mystery, ignorant and designing men
might assert what they pleased, about what passed in its dark recesses;
but now, when all that takes place in it, can, _in a few moments_, be
exposed to the _full light of day_, and every one who keeps bees, can
_see and examine_ for himself, the man who attempts to palm upon the
community, his own conceits for facts, will speedily earn for himself,
the character both of a fool and an impostor.

THE QUEEN BEE, or as she may more properly be called THE MOTHER BEE, is
the common mother of the whole colony. She reigns therefore, most
unquestionably, by a divine right, as every mother is, or ought to be, a
queen in her own family. Her shape is entirely different from that of
the other bees. While she is not near so bulky as a drone, her body is
longer, and of a more _tapering_, or sugar-loaf form than that of a
worker, so that she has somewhat of a wasp-like appearance. Her wings
are much shorter, in proportion, than those of the drone, or worker; the
under part of her body is of a golden color, and the upper part darker
than that of the other bees. Her motions are usually slow and matronly,
although she can, when she pleases, move with astonishing quickness.

No colony can long exist without the presence of this all-important
insect. She is just as necessary to its welfare, as the soul is to the
body, for a colony without a queen must as certainly perish, as a body
without the spirit hasten to inevitable decay.

She is treated by the bees, as every mother ought to be, by her
children, with the most unbounded respect and affection. A circle of her
loving offspring constantly surround her, testifying, in various ways,
their dutiful regard; offering her honey, from time to time, and always,
most politely getting out of her way, to give her a clear path when she
wishes to move over the combs. If she is taken from them, as soon as
they have ascertained their loss, the whole colony is thrown into a
state of the most intense agitation; all the labors of the hive are at
once abandoned; the bees run wildly over the combs, and frequently, the
whole of them rush forth from the hive, and exhibit all the appearance
of anxious search for their beloved mother. Not being able anywhere to
find her, they return to their desolate home, and by their mournful
tones, reveal their deep sense of so deplorable a calamity. Their note,
at such times, more especially when they first realize her loss, is of
a peculiarly mournful character; it sounds something like _a succession
of wails on the minor key_, and can no more be mistaken by the
experienced bee-keeper, for their ordinary, happy hum, than the piteous
moanings of a sick child can be confounded, by an anxious mother, with
its joyous crowings, when overflowing with health and happiness.

I am perfectly aware that all this will sound to many, much more like
romance than sober reality; but I have determined, in writing this book,
to state facts, however wonderful, just as they are; confident that they
will, before long, be universally received, and hoping that the many
wonders in the economy of the honey bee will not only excite a wider
interest in its culture, but will lead those who observe them, to adore
the wisdom of Him who gave them such admirable instincts. I cannot
refrain from quoting here, the forcible remarks of an English clergyman,
who appears to be a very great enthusiast in bee-culture.

"Every bee-keeper, if he have only a soul to appreciate the works of
God, and an intelligence of an inquisitive order, cannot fail to become
deeply interested in observing the wonderful instincts, (instincts akin
to reason,) of these admirable creatures; at the same time that he will
learn many lessons of practical wisdom from their example. Having
acquired a knowledge of their habits, not a bee will buzz in his ear,
without recalling to him some of these lessons, and helping to make him
a wiser and a better man. It is certain that in all my experience, I
never yet met with a keeper of bees, who was not a respectable,
well-conducted member of society, and a moral, if not a religious
man.[1] It is evident, on reflection, that this pursuit, if well
attended to, must occupy some considerable share of a man's time and
thoughts. He must be often about his bees, which will help to counteract
the baneful effect of the village inn. "_Whoever is fond of his bees is
fond of his home_," is an axiom of irrefragable truth, and one which
ought to kindle in every one's breast, a favorable regard for a pursuit
which has the power to produce so happy an influence. The love of home
is the companion of many other virtues, which, if not yet developed into
actual exercise, are still only dormant, and may be roused into wakeful
energy at any moment."

The fertility of the queen bee has been much under-estimated by most
writers. It is truly astonishing. During the height of the breeding
season, she will often, under favorable circumstances, lay from two to
three thousand eggs, a day! In my observing hives, I have seen her lay,
at the rate of six eggs a minute! The fecundity of the female of the
white ant, is much greater than this, as she will lay as many as sixty
eggs a minute! but then her eggs are simply extruded from her body, to
be carried by the workers into suitable nurseries, while the queen bee
herself deposits her eggs in their appropriate cells.


I come now to a subject of great practical importance, and one which,
until quite recently, has been _attended_ with apparently insuperable

It has been noticed that the queen bee commences laying in the latter
part of winter, or early in spring, and long before there are any
drones or males in the hive. (See remarks on Drones.) In what way are
these eggs impregnated? Huber, by a long course of the most
indefatigable observations, threw much light upon this subject. Before
stating his discoveries, I must pay my humble tribute of gratitude and
admiration, to this wonderful man. It is mortifying to every scientific
naturalist, and I might add, to every honest man acquainted with the
facts, to hear such a man as Huber abused by the veriest quacks and
imposters; while others who have appropriated from his labors, nearly
all that is of any value in their works, to use the words of Pope,

    "Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
    And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."

Huber, in early manhood, lost the use of his eyes. His opponents imagine
that in stating this fact, they have thrown merited discredit on all his
pretended discoveries. But to make their case still stronger, they
delight to assert that he saw every thing through the medium of his
servant Francis Burnens, an ignorant peasant. Now this ignorant peasant
was a man of strong native intellect, possessing that indefatigable
energy and enthusiasm which are so indispensable to make a good
observer. He was a noble specimen of a self-made man, and afterwards
rose to be the chief magistrate in the village where he resided. Huber
has paid the most admirable tribute to his intelligence, fidelity and
indomitable patience, energy and skill.

It would be difficult to find, in any language, a better specimen of the
true Baconian or _inductive_ system of reasoning, than Huber's work upon
bees, and it might be studied as a model of the only true way of
investigating nature, so as to arrive at reliable results.

Huber was assisted in his investigations, not only by Burnens, but by
his own wife, to whom he was engaged before the loss of his sight, and
who nobly persisted in marrying him, notwithstanding his misfortune, and
the strenuous dissuasions of her friends. They lived for more than the
ordinary term of human life, in the enjoyment of uninterrupted domestic
happiness, and the amiable naturalist scarcely felt, in her assiduous
attentions, the loss of his sight.

Milton is believed by many, to have been a better poet, for his
blindness; and it is highly probable that Huber was a better Apiarian,
for the same cause. His active and yet reflective mind demanded constant
employment; and he found in the study of the habits of the honey bee,
full scope for all his powers. All the facts observed, and experiments
tried by his faithful assistants, were daily reported to him, and many
inquiries were stated and suggestions made by him, which would probably
have escaped his notice, if he had possessed the use of his eyes.

Few have such a command of both time and money as to enable them to
carry on, for a series of years, on a grand scale, the most costly
experiments. Apiarians owe more to Huber than to any other person. I
have repeatedly verified the most important of his observations, and I
take _the greatest delight_ in acknowledging my obligations to him, and
in holding him up to my countrymen, as the PRINCE OF APIARIANS.

My Readers will pardon this digression. It would have been morally
impossible for me to write a work on bees, without saying at least as
much as this, in vindication of Huber.

I return to his discoveries on the impregnation of the Queen Bee. By a
long course of experiments most carefully conducted, he ascertained that
like many other insects, she is fecundated in the open air, and on the
wing, and that the influence of this lasts for several years, and
probably for life. He could not form any satisfactory conjecture, as to
the way in which the eggs which were not yet developed in her ovaries,
could be fertilized. Years ago, the celebrated Dr. John Hunter, and
others, supposed that there must be a permanent receptacle for the male
sperm, opening into the passage for the eggs called the oviduct.
Dzierzon, who must be regarded as one of the ablest contributors of
modern times, to Apiarian science, maintains this opinion, and states
that he has found such a receptacle filled with a fluid, resembling the
semen of the drones. He nowhere, to my knowledge, states that he ever
made microscopic examinations, so as to put the matter on the footing of

In January and February of 1852, I submitted several Queen Bees to Dr.
Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia, for a scientific examination. I need
hardly say to any Naturalist in this country, that Dr. Leidy has
obtained the very highest reputation, both at home and abroad, as a
skillful naturalist and microscopic anatomist. No man in this country or
Europe, was more competent to make the investigations that I desired. He
found in making his dissections, a small globular sac, not larger than a
grain of mustard seed, (about 1/33 of an inch in diameter,)
communicating with the oviduct, and filled with a whitish fluid, which
when examined under the microscope, was found to abound in spermatozoa,
or the animalculæ, which are the unmistakable characteristics of the
seminal fluid. Later in the season, the same substance was compared with
some taken from the drones, and found to be exactly similar to it.

These examinations have settled, on the impregnable basis of
demonstration, the mode in which the eggs of the Queen are vivified. In
descending the oviduct to be deposited in the cells, they pass by the
mouth of this seminal sac or spermatheca, and receive a portion of its
fertilizing contents. Small as it is, its contents are sufficient to
impregnate hundreds of thousands of eggs. In precisely the same way,
the mother wasps and hornets are fecundated. The females alone of these
insects survive the winter, and they begin, single-handed, the
construction of a nest, in which, at first, only a few eggs are
deposited. How could these eggs hatch, if the females which laid them,
had not been impregnated, the previous season? Dissection proves them to
have a spermatheca, similar to that of the Queen Bee.

Of all who have written against Huber, no one has treated him with more
unfairness, misrepresentation, and I might almost add, malignity, than
Huish. He maintains that the eggs of the Queen are impregnated by the
drones, after she has deposited them in the cells, and accounts for the
fact that brood is produced in the Spring, long before the existence of
any drones in the hive, by asserting that these eggs were deposited and
impregnated late in the previous season, and have remained dormant, all
winter, in the hive: and yet the same writer, while ridiculing the
discoveries of Huber, advises that all the mother wasps should be killed
in the Spring, to prevent them from founding families to commit
depredations upon the bees! It never seems to have occurred to him, that
the existence of a permanently impregnated mother wasp, was just as
difficult to be accounted for, as the existence of a similarly
impregnated Queen Bee.


I shall now mention a fact in the physiology of the Queen Bee, more
singular than any which has yet been related.

Huber, while experimenting to ascertain how the Queen was fecundated,
confined some of his young Queens to their hives, by contracting the
entrances, so that they were not able to go in search of the drones,
until three weeks after their birth. To his amazement, these Queens
whose impregnation was thus unnaturally retarded, _never laid any eggs
but such as produced drones_!!

He tried the experiment again and again, but always with the same
result. Some Bee-Keepers, long before his time, had observed that all
the brood in a hive were occasionally drones, and of course, that such
colonies rapidly went to ruin. Before attempting any explanation of this
astonishing fact, I must call the attention of the reader, to another of
the mysteries of the Bee-Hive,


It has already been remarked, that the workers are proved by dissection
to be females, all of which, under ordinary circumstances, are barren.
Occasionally, some of them appear to be more fully developed than
common, so as to be capable of laying eggs: these eggs, like those of
Queens whose impregnation has been retarded, _always produce drones_!
Sometimes, when a colony has lost its Queen, these drone-laying workers
are exalted to her place, and treated with equal respect and affection,
by the bees. Huber ascertained that these fertile workers were generally
reared in the neighborhood of the young Queens, and he thought that they
received some particles of the peculiar food or jelly on which the
Queens are reared. (See Royal Jelly.) He did not pretend to account for
the effect of retarded impregnation; and made no experiments to
determine the facts, as to the fecundation of these fertile workers.

Since the publication of Huber's work, nearly 50 years ago, no light has
been shed upon the mysteries of drone-laying Queens and workers, until
quite recently. Dzierzon appears to have been the first to ascertain the
truth on this subject; and his discovery must certainly be ranked as
unfolding one of the most astonishing facts in all the range of
animated nature. This fact seems, at first view, so absolutely
incredible, that I should not dare to mention it, if it were not
supported by the most indubitable evidence, and if I had not, (as I have
already observed,) determined to state all important and well
ascertained facts, without seeking, by any concealments, to pander to
the prejudices of conceited, and often, very ignorant Bee-Keepers.

Dzierzon advances the opinion that impregnation is not needed in order
that the eggs of the Queen may produce drones; but, that all impregnated
eggs produce females, either workers or Queens; and all unimpregnated
ones, males or drones! He states that he found drone-laying Queens in
several of his hives, whose wings were so imperfect that they could not
fly, and that on examination, they proved to be unfecundated. Hence he
concluded that the eggs of the Queen Bee or fertile worker, had from the
previous impregnation of the egg which produced them, sufficient
vitality to produce the drone, which is a less highly organized insect,
and one inferior to the Queen or workers. It had long been known, that
the Queen deposits drone eggs in the large or drone cells, and worker
eggs in the small or worker cells, and that she makes no mistakes.
Dzierzon inferred, therefore, that there was some way in which she was
able to decide as to the sex of the egg before it was laid, and that she
must have a control over the mouth of the seminal sac, so as to be able
to extrude her eggs, allowing them to receive or not, just as she
pleased, a portion of its fertilizing contents. In this way he thought
she determined the sex, according to the size of the cells in which she
laid them. Mr. Samuel Wagner of York, Pa., has recently communicated to
me a very original and exceedingly ingenious theory of his own, which he
thinks will account for all the facts without admitting that the Queen
Bee has any special knowledge or will on the subject. He supposes that
when she deposits her eggs in the worker cells, her body is slightly
compressed by the size of the cells, and that the eggs, as they pass the
spermatheca, receive in this manner, its vivifying influence. On the
contrary, when she is egg-laying in drone cells, this compression cannot
take place, the mouth of the spermatheca is kept closed, and the eggs
are, necessarily, unfecundated. This theory may prove to be true, but at
present, it is encumbered with some difficulties and requires further
investigation, before it can be considered as fully established.

Leaving then the question whether the Queen exercises any volition in
this matter, for the present undecided, I shall state some facts which
occurred in the summer of 1852, in my own Apiary, and shall then
endeavor to relieve, as far as possible, this intricate subject from
some of the difficulties which embarrass it.

In the Autumn of 1852, my assistant found, in one of my hives, a young
Queen, the whole of whose progeny was drones. The colony had been formed
by removing part of the combs containing bees, brood and eggs from
another hive. It had only a few combs, and but a small number of bees.
They raised a new Queen in the manner which will hereafter be
particularly described. This Queen had laid a number of eggs in one of
the combs, and the young bees from some of them were already emerging
from the cells. I perceived, at the first glance, that they were drones.
As there were none but worker cells in the hive, they were reared in
them, and not having space for full development, they were dwarfed in
size, although the bees, in order to give them more room, had pieced out
the cells so as to make them larger than usual! Size excepted, they
appeared as perfect as any other drones.

I was not only struck with the singularity of finding drones reared in
worker cells, but with the equally singular fact that a young Queen, who
at first lays only the eggs of workers, should be laying drone eggs at
all; and at once conjectured that this was a case of a drone-laying,
unimpregnated Queen, as sufficient time had not elapsed for her
impregnation to be unnaturally retarded. I saw the great importance of
taking all necessary precautions to determine this point. The Queen was
removed from the hive, and carefully examined. Her wings, although they
appeared to be perfect, were so paralized that she could not fly. It
seemed probable, therefore, that she had never been able to leave the
hive for impregnation.

To settle the question beyond the possibility of doubt, I submitted this
Queen to Dr. Joseph Leidy for microscopic examination. The following is
an extract from his report: "The ovaries were filled with eggs; the
poison sac was full of fluid, and I took the whole of it into my mouth;
the poison produced a strong metallic taste, lasting for a considerable
time, and at first, it was pungent to the tip of the tongue. The
spermatheca was distended with a perfectly colorless, transparent,
viscid liquid, _without a trace of spermatozoa_."

This examination seems perfectly to sustain the theory of Dzierzon, and
to demonstrate that Queens do not need to be impregnated, in order to
lay the eggs of males.

I must confess that very considerable doubts rested on my mind, as to
the accuracy of Dzierzon's statements on this subject, and chiefly
because of his having hazarded the unfortunate conjecture that the place
of the poison bag in the worker, is occupied in the Queen, by the
spermatheca. Now this is so completely contrary to fact, that it was a
very natural inference that this acute and thoroughly honest observer,
made no microscopic dissections of the insects which he examined. I
consider myself peculiarly fortunate in having enjoyed the benefit of
the labors of a Naturalist, so celebrated as Dr. Leidy, for microscopic
dissections. The exceeding minuteness of some of the insects which he
has completely figured and described, almost passes belief.

On examining this same colony a few days later, I obtained the most
satisfactory evidence that these drone eggs were laid by the Queen which
had been removed. No fresh eggs had been deposited in the cells, and the
bees, on missing her, had commenced the construction of royal cells, to
rear if possible, another Queen, a thing which they would not have done,
if a fertile worker had been present, by which the drone eggs had been

Another very interesting fact proves that _all_ the eggs laid by this
Queen, were drone eggs. Two of the royal cells were, in a short time,
discontinued, and were found to be empty, while a third contained a
worm, which was sealed over the usual way, to undergo its changes from a
worm to a perfect Queen.

I was completely at a loss to account for this, as the bees having an
unimpregnated drone-laying Queen, ought not to have had a single female
egg from which they could rear a Queen.

At first I imagined that they might have _stolen_ it from another hive,
but when I opened this cell, it contained, instead of a queen, _a dead

I then remembered that Huber has described the same mistake on the part
of some of his bees. At the base of this cell, was an extraordinary
quantity of the peculiar jelly or paste, which is fed to the young that
are to be transformed into queens. The poor bees in their desperation,
appear to have dosed the unfortunate drone to death: as though they
expected by such liberal feeding, to produce some hopeful change in his
sexual organization!

It appears to me that these facts constitute all the links in a perfect
chain, and demonstrate beyond the possibility of doubt, that
unfecundated queens are not only capable of laying eggs, (this would be
no more remarkable than the same occurrence in a hen,) but that these
eggs are possessed of sufficient vitality to produce drones. Aristotle,
who flourished before the Christian era, had noticed that there was no
difference in appearance, between the eggs producing drones and those
producing workers; and he states that drones only are produced in hives
which have no queen; of course the eggs producing them, were laid by
fertile workers. Having now the aid of powerful microscopes, we are
still unable to detect the slightest difference in size or appearance in
the eggs, and this is precisely what we should expect if the same egg
will produce either a worker or a drone, according as it is or is not
impregnated. The theory which I propose, will, I think, perfectly
harmonize with all the observed facts on this subject.

I believe that after fecundation has been delayed for about three weeks,
the mouth of the spermatheca becomes permanently closed, so that
impregnation can no longer be effected; just as the parts of a flower,
after a certain time, wither and shut up, and the plant is incapable of
fructification. The fertile drone-laying workers, are in my opinion,
physically incapable of being impregnated. However strange it may
appear, or even improbable, that an unimpregnated egg can give birth to
a living being, or that the sex can be dependent on impregnation, we are
not at liberty to reject facts, because we cannot comprehend the reasons
of them. He who allows himself to be guilty of such folly, if he seeks
to maintain his consistency, will be plunged, sooner or later, into the
dreary gulf of atheism. Common sense, philosophy and religion alike
teach us to receive all undoubted facts in the natural and the
spiritual world, with becoming reverence; assured that however
mysterious to us, they are all most beautifully harmonious and
consistent in the sight of Him whose "understanding is infinite."

There is something analogous to these wonders in the bee, in what takes
place in the aphides or green lice which infest our rose bushes and
other plants. We have the most undoubted evidence that a fecundated
female gives birth to other females, and they in turn to others still,
all of which, without impregnation, are able to bring forth young, until
at length, after a number of generations, perfect males and females are
produced, and the series starts anew!

The unequaled facilities, furnished by my hives, have seemed to render
it peculiarly incumbent on me, to do all in my power to clear up the
difficulties in this intricate and yet highly important branch of
Apiarian knowledge. All the leading facts in the breeding of bees ought
to be as well known to the bee keeper, as the same class of facts in the
rearing of his domestic animals. A few crude and hasty notions, but half
understood and half digested, will answer only for the old fashioned bee
keeper, who deals in the brimstone matches. He who expects to conduct
bee keeping on a safe and profitable system, must learn that on this, as
on all other subjects, "knowledge is power."

The extraordinary fertility of the queen bee has already been noticed.
The process of laying has been well described by the Rev. W. Dunbar, a
Scotch Apiarian.

"When the queen is about to lay, she puts her head into a cell, and
remains in that position for a second or two, to ascertain its fitness
for the deposit which she is about to make. She then withdraws her
head, and curving her body downwards,[2] inserts the lower part of it
into the cell: in a few seconds she turns half round upon herself and
withdraws, leaving an egg behind her. When she lays a considerable
number, she does it equally on each side of the comb, those on the one
side being as exactly opposite to those on the other as the relative
position of the cells will admit. The effect of this is to produce the
utmost possible concentration and economy of heat for developing the
various changes of the brood!"

Here as at every step in the economy of the bee our minds are filled
with admiration as we witness the perfect adaptation of means to ends.
Who can blame the warmest enthusiasm of the Apiarian in view of a
sagacity which seems scarcely inferior to that of man.

"The eggs of bees," I quote from the admirable treatise of Bevan, "are
of a lengthened oval shape, with a slight curvature, and of a bluish
white color: being besmeared at the time of laying, with a glutinous
substance,[3] they adhere to the bases of the cells, and remain
unchanged in figure or situation for three or four days; they are then
hatched, the bottom of each cell presenting to view a small white worm.
On its growing so as to touch the opposite angle of the cell, it coils
itself up, to use the language of Swammerdam, like a dog when going to
sleep; and floats in a whitish transparent fluid, which is deposited in
the cells by the nursing-bees, and by which it is probably nourished; it
becomes gradually enlarged in its dimensions, till the two extremities
touch one another and form a ring. In this state it is called a larva or
worm. So nicely do the bees calculate the quantity of food which will be
required, that none remains in the cell when it is transformed to a
nymph. It is the opinion of many eminent naturalists that farina does
not constitute the sole food of the larva, but that it consists of a
mixture of farina, honey and water, partly digested in the stomachs of
the nursing-bees."

"The larva having derived its support, in the manner above described,
for four, five or six days, according to the season," (the development
being retarded in cool weather, and badly protected hives,) "continues
to increase during that period, till it occupies the whole breadth and
nearly the length of the cell. The nursing bees now seal over the cell,
with a light _brown cover_, externally more or less _convex_, (the cap
of a drone cell is more convex than that of a worker,) and thus
differing from that of a honey cell which is _paler_ and somewhat
_concave_." The cap of the brood cell appears to be made of a mixture of
bee-bread and wax; it is not air tight as it would be if made of wax
alone; but when examined with a microscope it appears to be reticulated,
or full of fine holes through which the enclosed insect can have air for
all necessary purposes. From its texture and shape it is easily thrust
off by the bee when mature, whereas, if it consisted wholly of wax, the
young bee would either perish for lack of air, or be unable to force its
way into the world! Both the material and shape of the lids which seal
up the honey cells are different, because an entirely different object
was aimed at; they are of pure wax to make them air tight and thus to
prevent the honey from souring or candying in the cells! They are
concave or hollowed inwards to give them greater strength to resist the
pressure of their contents!

To return to Bevan. "The larva is no sooner perfectly inclosed than it
begins to line the cell by spinning round itself, after the manner of
the silk worm, a whitish silky film or cocoon, by which it is encased,
as it were, in a pod. When it has undergone this change, it has usually
borne the name of _nymph_ or _pupa_. The insect has now attained its
full growth, and the large amount of nutriment which it has taken serves
as a store for developing the perfect insect."

"The _working bee nymph_ spins its cocoon in thirty-six hours. After
passing about three days in this state of preparation for a new
existence, it gradually undergoes so great a change as not to wear a
vestige of its previous form, but becomes armed with a firmer mail, and
with scales of a dark brown hue. On its belly six rings become
distinguishable, which by slipping one over another enables the bee to
shorten its body whenever it has occasion to do so.

"When it has reached the twenty-first day of its existence, counting
from the moment the egg is laid, it comes forth a perfect winged insect.
The cocoon is left behind, and forms a closely attached and exact lining
to the cell in which it was spun; by this means the breeding cells
become smaller and their partitions stronger, the oftener they change
their tenants; and may become so much diminished in size as not to admit
of the perfect development of full sized bees."

"Such are the respective stages of the working bee: those of the royal
bee are as follows: she passes three days in the egg and is five a worm;
the workers then close her cell, and she immediately begins spinning her
cocoon, which occupies her twenty four hours. On the tenth and eleventh
days and a part of the twelfth, as if exhausted by her labor, she
remains in complete repose. Then she passes four days and a part of the
fifth as a nymph. It is on the sixteenth day therefore that the perfect
state of queen is attained."

"The drone passes three days in the egg, six and a half as a worm, and
changes into a perfect insect on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth day
after the egg is laid."

"The _development_ of _each species_ likewise proceeds more slowly when
the colonies are weak or the air cool, and when the weather is very cold
it is entirely suspended. Dr. Hunter has observed that the eggs, worms
and nymphs all require a heat above 70° of Fahrenheit for their

In the chapter on protection against extremes of _heat_ and _cold_, I
have dwelt, at some length, upon the importance of constructing the
hives in such a manner as to enable the bees to preserve, as far as
possible, a uniform temperature in their tenement. In thin hives exposed
to the sun, the heat is sometimes so great as to destroy the eggs and
the larvæ, even when the combs escape from being melted; and the cold is
often so severe as to check the development of the brood, and sometimes
to kill it outright.

In such hives, when the temperature out of doors falls suddenly and
severely, the bees at once feel the unfavorable change; they are obliged
in self defence to huddle together to keep warm, and thus large portions
of the brood comb are often abandoned, and the brood either destroyed at
once by the cold, or so enfeebled that they never recover from the
shock. Let every bee keeper, in all his operations, remember that brood
comb must never be exposed to a low temperature so as to become chilled:
the disastrous effects are almost as certain, as when the eggs of a
setting hen are left, for too long a time, by the careless mother. The
brood combs are never safe when taken for any considerable time from the
bees, unless the temperature is fully up to summer heat.

"[4]The young bees break their envelope with their teeth, and assisted,
as soon as they come forth, by the older ones, proceed to cleanse
themselves from the moisture and exuviæ with which they were surrounded.
Both drones and workers on emerging from the cell are, at first grey,
soft and comparatively helpless so that some time elapses before they
take wing.

"With respect to the cocoons spun by the different larvæ, both workers
and drones spin _complete cocoons_, or inclose themselves on every side;
royal larvæ construct only _imperfect cocoons_, open behind, and
enveloping only the head, thorax, and first ring of the abdomen; and
Huber concludes, without any hesitation, that the final cause of their
forming only incomplete cocoons is, that they may thus be exposed to the
mortal sting of the first hatched queen, whose instinct leads her
instantly to seek the destruction of those who would soon become her

"If the royal larvæ spun complete cocoons, the stings of the queens
seeking to destroy their rivals might be so entangled in their meshes
that they could not be disengaged. 'Such,' says Huber, 'is the
instinctive enmity of young queens to each other, that I have seen one
of them, immediately on its emergence from the cell, rush to those of
its sisters, and tear to pieces even the imperfect larvæ. Hitherto
philosophers have claimed our admiration of nature for her care in
preserving and multiplying the species. But from these facts we must now
admire her precautions in exposing certain individuals to a mortal

The cocoon of the royal larva is very much stronger and coarser than
that spun by the drone or worker, its texture considerably resembling
that of the silk worm's. The young queen does not come forth from her
cell until she is quite mature; and as its great size gives her abundant
room to exercise her wings she is capable of flying as soon as she quits
it. While still in her cell she makes the fluttering and piping noises
with which every observant bee keeper is so well acquainted.

Some Apiarians have supposed that the queen bee has the power to
regulate the development of eggs in her ovaries, so that few or many are
produced, according to the necessities of the colony. This is evidently
a mistake. Her eggs, like those of the domestic hen, are formed without
any volition of her own, and when fully developed, must be extruded. If
the weather is unfavorable, or if the colony is too feeble to maintain
sufficient heat, a smaller number of eggs are developed in her ovaries,
just as unfavorable circumstances diminish the number of eggs laid by
the hen; if the weather is very cold, egg-laying usually ceases
altogether. In the latitude of Philadelphia, I opened one of my hives on
the 5th day of February, and found an abundance of eggs and brood,
although the winter had been an unusually cold one, and the temperature
of the preceding month very low. The fall of 1852 was a warm one, and
eggs and brood were found in a hive which I examined on the 21st of
October. Powerful stocks in well protected hives contain some brood, at
least ten months in the year; in warm countries, bees probably breed,
every month in the year.

It is highly interesting to see in what way the supernumerary eggs of
the queen are disposed of. When the number of workers is too small to
take charge of all her eggs, or when there is a deficiency of bee bread
to nourish the young, (See chapter on Pollen,) or when, for any reason,
she judges it not best to deposit them in cells, she stands upon a comb,
and simply extrudes them from her oviduct, and the workers devour them
as fast as they are laid! This I have repeatedly witnessed in my
observing hives, and admired the sagacity of the queen in economizing
her necessary work after this fashion, instead of laboriously depositing
the eggs in cells where they are not wanted. What a difference between
her wise management and the stupidity of a hen obstinately persisting to
set upon addled eggs, or pieces of chalk, and often upon nothing at all.

The workers eat up also all the eggs which are dropped, or deposited out
of place by the queen; in this way, nothing goes to waste, and even a
tiny egg is turned to some account. Was there ever a better comment upon
the maxim? "Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of

Do the workers who appear to be so fond of a tit-bit in the shape of a
new laid egg, ever experience a struggle between their appetites and the
claims of duty, and does it cost them some self denial to refrain from
making a breakfast on a fresh laid egg? It is really very difficult for
one who has carefully watched the habits of bees, to speak of his little
favorites in any other way than as though they possessed an intelligence
almost, if not quite, akin to reason.

It is well known to every breeder of poultry, that the fertility of a
hen decreases with age, until at length, she becomes entirely barren; it
is equally certain that the fertility of the queen bee ordinarily
diminishes after she has entered upon her third year. She sometimes
ceases to lay Worker eggs, a considerable time before she dies of old
age; the contents of the spermatheca are exhausted; the eggs can no
longer be impregnated and must therefore produce drones.

The queen bee usually dies of old age, some time in her fourth year,
although instances are on record of some having survived a year longer.
It is highly important to the bee keeper who would receive the largest
returns from his bees, to be able, as in my hives, to catch the queen
and remove her, when she has passed the period of her greatest
fertility. In the sequel, full directions will be given, as to the
proper time and mode of effecting it.

Before proceeding farther in the natural history of the queen bee, I
shall describe more particularly, the other inmates of the hive.


The drones are, unquestionably, the male bees. Dissection proves that
they have the appropriate organs of generation. They are much larger and
stouter than either the queen or workers; although their bodies are not
quite so long as that of the queen. They have no sting with which to
defend themselves; no proboscis which is suitable for gathering honey
from the flowers, and no baskets on their thighs for holding the
bee-bread. They are thus physically disqualified for work, even if they
were ever so well disposed to it. Their proper office is to impregnate
the young queens, and they are usually destroyed by the bees, soon after
this is completed.

Dr. Evans the author of a beautiful poem on bees thus appropriately
describes them:--

            "Their short proboscis sips
    No luscious nectar from the wild thyme's lips,
    From the lime's leaf no amber drops they steal,
    Nor bear their grooveless thighs the foodful meal:
    On other's toils in pamper'd leisure thrive
    The lazy fathers of the industrious hive."

The drones begin to make their appearance in April or May; earlier or
later, according to climate and the forwardness of the season, and
strength of the stock. They require about twenty-four days for their
full development from the egg. In colonies which are too weak to swarm,
none, as a general rule, are reared: they are not needed, for in such
hives, as no young queens are raised, they would be only useless

The number of drones in a hive is often very great, amounting, not
merely to hundreds, but sometimes to thousands. It seems, at first, very
difficult to understand why there should be so many, especially since it
has been ascertained that a single one will impregnate a queen for life.
But as intercourse always takes place high in the air, the young queens
are obliged to leave the hive for this purpose; and it is exceedingly
important to their safety, that they should be sure of finding one,
without being compelled to make frequent excursions. Being larger than a
worker, and less quick on the wing, they are more exposed to be caught
by birds, or blown down and destroyed by sudden gusts of wind.

In a large Apiary, a few drones in each hive, or the number usually
found in one, might be amply sufficient. But it must be borne in mind,
that under these circumstances, bees are not in a state of nature.
Before they were domesticated, a colony living in a forest, often had no
neighbors for miles. Now a good stock in our climate, sometimes sends
out three or more swarms, and in the tropical climates, of which the bee
is a native, they increase with astonishing rapidity. At Sydney, in
Australia, a single colony is stated to have multiplied to 300 in three
years. All the new swarms except the first, are led off by a young
queen, and as she is never impregnated until after she has been
established as the head of a separate family, it is important that they
should all be accompanied by a goodly number of drones; and this
renders it necessary that a large number should be produced in the
parent hive.

As this necessity no longer exists, when the bee is domesticated, the
production of so many drones should be discouraged. Traps have been
invented to destroy them, but it is much better to save the bees the
labor and expense of rearing such a host of useless consumers. This can
readily be done by the use of my hives. The cells in which the drones
are reared, are much larger than those appropriated to the raising of
workers. The combs containing them may be taken out, to have their
places supplied with worker's cells, and thus the over production of
drones may easily be prevented. Some colonies contain so much drone comb
as to be nearly worthless.

I have no doubt that some of my readers will object to this mode of
management as interfering with nature: but let them remember that the
bee is not in a state of nature, and that the same objection might be
urged against killing off the super-numerary males of our domestic

In July or August, soon after the swarming season is over, the bees
expel the drones from the hive. They sometimes sting them, and sometimes
gnaw the roots of their wings, so that when driven from the hive, they
cannot return. If not treated in either of these summary ways, they are
so persecuted and starved, that they soon perish. The hatred of the bees
extends even to the young which are still unhatched: they are
mercilessly pulled from the cells, and destroyed with the rest. How
wonderful that instinct which teaches the bees that there is no longer
any occasion for the services of the drones, and which impels them to
destroy those members of the colony, which, a short time before, they
reared with such devoted attention!

A colony which neglects to expel its drones at the usual season, ought
always to be examined. The queen is probably either diseased or dead. In
my hives, such an examination may be easily made, the true state of the
case ascertained, and the proper remedies at once applied. (See Chapter
on the Loss of the Queen.)


I have often been able, by the reasons previously assigned, to account
for the necessity of such a large number of drones in a state of nature,
to the satisfaction of others, but never fully to my own. I have
repeatedly queried, why impregnation might not just as well have been
effected _in the hive_, as on the wing, in the open air. Two very
obvious and highly important advantages would have resulted from such an
arrangement. 1st. A few dozen drones would have amply sufficed for the
wants of any colony, even if, (as in tropical climates,) it swarmed half
a dozen times or oftener, in the same season. 2d. The young queens would
have been exposed to none of those risks which they now incur, in
leaving the hive for fecundation.

I was unable to show how the existing arrangement is best; although I
never doubted that there must be a satisfactory reason for this seeming
imperfection. To suppose otherwise, would be highly unphilosophical,
since we constantly see, as the circle of our knowledge is enlarged,
many mysteries in nature hitherto inexplicable, fully cleared up.

Let me here ask if the disposition which too many students of nature
cherish, to reject some of the doctrines of revealed religion, is not
equally unphilosophical. Neither our ignorance of all the facts
necessary to their full elucidation, nor our inability to harmonize
these facts in their mutual relations and dependencies, will justify us
in rejecting any truth which God has seen fit to reveal, either in the
book of nature, or in His holy word. The man who would substitute his
own speculations for the divine teachings, has embarked, without rudder
or chart, pilot or compass, upon the uncertain ocean of theory and
conjecture; unless he turns his prow from its fatal course, no Sun of
Righteousness will ever brighten for him the dreary expanse of waters;
storms and whirlwinds will thicken in gloom, on his "voyage of life,"
and no favoring gales will ever waft his shattered bark to a peaceful

The thoughtful reader will require no apology for the moralizing strain
of many of my remarks, nor blame a clergyman, if forgetting sometimes to
speak as the mere naturalist, he endeavors to find,

    "Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
    _Sermons_ in '_bees_,' and 'GOD' in every thing."

To return to the point from which I have digressed; a new attempt to
account for the existence of so many drones. If a farmer persists in
what is called "breeding in and in," that is, from the same stock
without changing the blood, it is well known that a rapid degeneracy is
the inevitable consequence. This law extends, as far as we know, to all
animal life, and even man is not exempt from its influence. Have we any
reason to suppose that the bee is an exception? or that ultimate
degeneracy would not ensue, unless some provision was made to counteract
the tendency to in and in breeding? If fecundation had taken place in
the hive, the queen bee must of necessity, have been impregnated by
drones from a common parent, and the same result must have taken place
in each successive generation, until the whole species would eventually
have "run out." By the present arrangement, the young females, when they
leave the hive, often find the air swarming with drones, many of which
belong to other colonies, and thus by crossing the breed, a provision is
constantly made to prevent deterioration.

Experience has proved not only that it is unnecessary to impregnation
that there should be drones in the colony of the young queen, but that
this may be effected even when there are no drones in the Apiary, and
none except at some considerable distance. Intercourse takes place very
high in the air, (perhaps that less risk may be incurred from birds,)
and this is the more favorable to the continual crossing of stocks.

I am strongly persuaded that the decay of many flourishing stocks, even
when managed with great care, is to be attributed to the fact that they
have become enfeebled by "close breeding," and are thus unable to resist
the injurious influences which were comparatively harmless when the bees
were in a state of high physical vigor. I shall, in the chapter on
Artificial Swarming, explain in what way, by the use of my hives, the
stock of bees may be easily crossed, when a cultivator is too remote
from other Apiaries, to depend upon its being naturally effected.


The number of workers in a hive varies very much. A good swarm ought to
contain 15,000 or 20,000; and in large hives, strong colonies which are
not reduced by swarming, frequently number two or three times as many,
during the height of the breeding season. We have well-authenticated
instances of stocks much more populous than this. The Polish hives will
hold several bushels, and yet we are informed by Mr. Dohiogost, that
they swarm regularly, and that the swarms are so powerful that "they
resemble a little cloud in the air." I shall hereafter consider how the
size of the hive affects the number of bees that it may be expected to

The workers, (as has been already stated,) are all females whose ovaries
are too imperfectly developed to admit of their laying eggs. For a long
time, they were regarded as neither males nor females, and were called
Neuters; but more careful microscopic examinations have enabled us to
detect the rudiments of their ovaries, and thus to determine their sex.
The accuracy of these examinations has been verified by the well-known
facts respecting _fertile workers_.

Riem, a German Apiarian, first discovered that workers sometimes lay
eggs. Huber, in the course of his investigations on this subject,
ascertained that such workers were raised in hives that had lost their
queen, and in the vicinity of the royal cells in which young queens were
being reared. He conjectured that they received accidentally, a small
portion of the peculiar food of these infant queens, and in this way, he
accounted for their reproductive organs being more developed than those
of other workers. Workers reared in such hives, are in close proximity
to the young queens, and there is certainly much probability that some
of the royal jelly may be accidentally dropped into their cells; as, in
these hives, the queen cells when first commenced are parallel to the
horizon, instead of being perpendicular to it, as they are in other
hives. I do not feel confident, however, that they are not sometimes
bred in hives which have not lost their queen. The kind of eggs laid by
these fertile workers, has already been noticed. Such workers are seldom
tolerated in hives containing a fertile, healthy queen, though instances
of this kind have been known to occur. The worker is much smaller than
either the queen or the drone.[5] It is furnished with a tongue or
proboscis, of the most curious and complicated structure, which, when
not in use, is nicely folded under its abdomen; with this, it licks or
brushes up the honey, which is thence conveyed to its honey-bag. This
receptacle is not larger than a very small pea, and is so perfectly
transparent, as to appear when filled, of the same color with its
contents; it is properly the first stomach of the bee, and is surrounded
by muscles which enable the bee to compress it, and empty its contents
through her proboscis into the cells. (See Chapter on Honey.)

The hinder legs of the worker are furnished with a spoon-shaped hollow
or basket, to receive the pollen or bee bread which she gathers from the
flowers. (See Chapter on Pollen.)

Every worker is armed with a formidable sting, and when provoked, makes
instant and effectual use of her natural weapon. The sting, when
subjected to microscopic examination, exhibits a very curious and
complicated mechanism. "It is moved[6] by muscles which, though
invisible to the eye, are yet strong enough to force the sting, to the
depth of one twelfth of an inch, through the thick skin of a man's hand.
At its root are situated two glands by which the poison is secreted:
these glands uniting in one duct, eject the venemous liquid along the
groove, formed by the junction of the two piercers. There are four barbs
on the outside of each piercer: when the insect is prepared to sting,
one of these piercers, having its point a little longer than the other,
first darts into the flesh, and being fixed by its foremost beard, the
other strikes in also, and they alternately penetrate deeper and deeper,
till they acquire a firm hold of the flesh with their barbed hooks, and
then follows the sheath, conveying the poison into the wound. The action
of the sting, says Paley, affords an example of the union of _chemistry_
and mechanism; of chemistry in respect to the _venom_, which can produce
such powerful effects; of mechanism as the sting is a compound
instrument. The machinery would have been comparatively useless had it
not been for the chemical process, by which in the insect's body _honey_
is converted into _poison_; and on the other hand, the poison would have
been ineffectual, without an instrument to wound, and a syringe to
inject it."

"Upon examining the edge of a very keen razor by the microscope, it
appears as broad as the back of a pretty thick knife, rough, uneven, and
full of notches and furrows, and so far from anything like sharpness,
that an instrument, as blunt as this seemed to be, would not serve even
to cleave wood. An exceedingly small needle being also examined, it
resembled a rough iron bar out of a smith's forge. The sting of a bee
viewed through the same instrument, showed everywhere a polish amazingly
beautiful, without the least flaw, blemish, or inequality, and ended in
a point too fine to be discerned."

The extremity of the sting being barbed like an arrow, the bee can
seldom withdraw it, if the substance into which she darts it is at all
tenacious. In losing her sting she parts with a portion of her
intestines, and of necessity, soon perishes.

As the loss of the sting is always fatal to the bees, they pay a dear
penalty for the exercise of their patriotic instincts; but they always
seem ready, (except when they have taken "a drop too much," and are
gorged with honey,) to die in defence of their home and treasures; or as
the poet has expressed it, they

    "Deem life itself to vengeance well resign'd,
    Die on the wound, and leave their sting behind."

Hornets, wasps and other stinging insects are able to withdraw their
stings from the wound. I have never seen any attempt to account for the
exception in the case of the honey bee. But if the Creator intended the
bee for the use of man, as He most certainly did, has He not given it
this peculiarity, to make it less formidable, and therefore more
completely subject to human control? Without a sting, it would have
stood no chance of defending its tempting sweets against a host of
greedy depredators; but if it could sting a number of times, it would be
much more difficult to bring it into a state of thorough domestication.
A quiver full of arrows in the hand of a skilful marksman, is far more
to be dreaded than a single shaft.

The defence of the colony against enemies, the construction of the
cells, the storing of them with honey and bee-bread, the rearing of the
young, in short, the whole work of the hive, the laying of eggs
excepted, is carried on by the industrious little workers.

There may be _gentlemen_ of leisure in the commonwealth of bees, but
most assuredly there are no such _ladies_, whether of high or low
degree. The queen herself, has her full share of duties, for it must be
admitted that the royal office is no sinecure, when the mother who fills
it, must superintend daily the proper deposition of several thousand


The queen bee, (as has been already stated,) will live four, and
sometimes, though very rarely, five years. As the life of the drones is
usually cut short by violence, it is not easy to ascertain its precise
limit. Bevan, in some interesting statements on the longevity of bees,
estimates it not to exceed four months. The workers are supposed by him,
to live six or seven months. Their age depends, however, very much upon
their greater or less exposure to injurious influences and severe
labors. Those reared in the spring and early part of summer, and on whom
the heaviest labors of the hive must necessarily devolve, do not appear
to live more than two or three months, while those which are bred at the
close of summer, and early in autumn, being able to spend a large part
of their time in repose, attain a much greater age. It is very evident
that "the bee," (to use the words of a quaint old writer,) "is a summer
bird," and that with the exception of the queen, none live to be a year

Notched and ragged wings, instead of gray hairs and wrinkled faces, are
the signs of old age in the bee, and indicate that its season of toil
will soon be over. They appear to die rather suddenly, and often spend
their last days, and sometimes even their last hours, in useful labors.
Place yourself before a hive, and see the indefatigable energy of these
aged veterans, toiling along with their heavy burdens, side by side with
their more youthful compeers, and then say if you can, that _you_ have
done work enough, and that you will give yourself up to slothful
indulgence, while the ability for useful labor still remains. Let the
cheerful hum of their industrious old age inspire you with better
resolutions, and teach you how much nobler it is to meet death in the
path of duty, striving still, as you "have opportunity," to "do good
unto all men."

The age which individual members of the community may attain, must not
be confounded with that of the colony. Bees have been known to occupy
the same domicile for a great number of years. I have seen flourishing
colonies which were twenty years old, and the Abbe Della Rocca speaks
of some over forty years old! Such cases have led to the erroneous
opinion that bees are a long-lived race. But this, as Dr. Evans has
observed, is just as wise as if a stranger, contemplating a populous
city, and personally unacquainted with its inhabitants, should on paying
it a second visit, many years afterwards, and finding it equally
populous, imagine that it was peopled by the same individuals, not one
of whom might then be living.

    "Like leaves on trees, the race of bees is found,
    Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
    Another race the Spring or Fall supplies,
    They droop successive, and successive rise."

The cocoons spun by the larvæ, are never removed by the bees; they stick
so closely to the sides of the cells, that the knowing bee well
understands that the labor of removal would cost more than it would be
worth. In process of time, the breeding cells become too small for the
proper development of the young. In some cases, the bees must take down
and reconstruct the old combs, for if they did not, the young issuing
from them would always be dwarfs; whereas I once compared with other
bees, those of a colony more than fifteen years old, and found no
perceptible difference. That they do not always renew the old combs,
must be admitted, as the young from some old hives are often
considerably below the average size. On this account, it is very
desirable to be able to remove the old combs occasionally, that their
place may be supplied with new ones.

It is a great mistake to imagine that the brood combs ought to be
changed every year. In my hives, they might, if it were desirable, be
easily changed several times in a year: but once in five or six years is
often enough; oftener than this requires a needless consumption of honey
to replace them, besides being for other reasons undesirable, as the
bees are always in winter, colder in new comb than in old. Inventors of
hives have too often been, most emphatically "men of one idea:" and that
one, instead of being a well established and important fact in the
physiology of the bee, has frequently, (like the necessity for a yearly
change of the brood combs,) been merely a conceit, existing nowhere but
in the brain of a visionary projector. This is all harmless enough,
until an effort is made to impose such miserable crudities upon an
ignorant public, either in the shape of a patented hive, _or worse
still, of an UNPATENTED hive, the pretended RIGHT to use which, is
FRAUDULENTLY sold to the cheated purchaser_!!

For want of proper knowledge with regard to the age of bees, huge "bee
palaces," and large closets in garrets or attics, have been constructed,
and their proprietors have vainly imagined that the bees would fill
them, however roomy; for they can see no reason why a colony should not
continue to increase indefinitely, until at length it numbers its
inhabitants by millions or billions! As the bees can never at one time
equal, still less exceed the number which the queen is capable of
producing in one season, these spacious dwellings have always an
abundance of "spare rooms." It seems strange that men can be thus
deceived, when often in their own Apiary, they have healthy stocks which
have not swarmed for a year or more, and which yet in the spring are not
a whit more populous than those which have regularly parted with
vigorous swarms.

It is certain that the Creator, has for some wise reason, set a limit to
the increase of numbers in a single colony; and I shall venture to
assign what appears to me to have been one reason for His so doing.
Suppose that He had given to the bee, a length of life as great as that
of the horse or the cow, or had made each queen capable of laying
daily, some hundreds of thousands of eggs, or had given several hundred
queens to each hive, then from the Very nature of the case, a colony
must have gone on increasing, until it became a scourge rather than a
benefit to man. In the warm climates of which the bee is a native, they
would have established themselves in some cavern or capacious cleft in
the rocks, and would there have quickly become so powerful as to bid
defiance to all attempts to appropriate the avails of their labors.

It has already been stated, that none, except the mother wasps and
hornets, survive the winter. If these insects had been able, like the
bee, to commence the season with the accumulated strength of a large
colony, long before its close, they would have proved a most intolerable
nuisance. If, on the contrary, the queen bee had been compelled,
solitary and alone, to lay the foundations of a new commonwealth, the
honey-harvest would have disappeared before she could have become the
parent of a numerous family.

In the laws which regulate the increase of bees as well as in all other
parts of their economy, we have the plainest proofs that the insect was
formed for the special service of the human race.


If in the early part of the season, the population of a hive becomes
uncomfortably crowded, the bees usually make preparations for swarming.
A number of royal cells are commenced, and they are placed almost always
upon those edges of the combs which are not attached to the sides of the
hive. These cells somewhat resemble a small ground-nut or pea-nut, and
are about an inch deep, and one-third of an inch in diameter: they are
very thick, and require a large quantity of material for their
construction. They are seldom seen in a perfect state, as the bees
nibble them away after the queen has hatched, leaving only their
remains, in the shape of a very small acorn-cup. While the other cells
open sideways, these always hang with their mouth _downwards_. Much
speculation has arisen as to the reason for this deviation: some have
conjectured that their peculiar position exerted an influence upon the
development of the royal larvæ; while others, having ascertained that no
injurious effect was produced by turning them upwards, or placing them
in any other position, have considered this deviation as among the
inscrutable mysteries of the bee-hive. So it always seemed to me, until
more careful reflection enabled me to solve the problem. The queen cells
open downwards, simply _to save room_! The distance between the parallel
ranges of comb being usually less than half an inch, the bees could not
have made the royal cells to open sideways, without sacrificing the
cells opposite to them. In order to economize space, to the very utmost,
they put them upon the unoccupied edges of the comb, as the only place
where there is always plenty of room for such very large cells.

The number of royal cells varies greatly; sometimes there are only two
or three, ordinarily there are five or six, and I have occasionally seen
more than a dozen. They are not all commenced at once, for the bees do
not intend that the young queens shall all arrive at maturity, at the
same time. I do not consider it as fully settled, how the eggs are
deposited in these cells. In some few instances, I have known the bees
to transfer the eggs from common to queen cells, and this _may_ be their
general method of procedure. I shall hazard the conjecture that the
queen deposits her eggs in cells on the edges of the comb, in a crowded
state of the hive, and that some of these are afterwards enlarged and
changed into royal cells by the workers. Such is the instinctive hatred
of the queen to her own kind, that it does not seem to me probable, that
she is intrusted with even the initiatory steps for securing a race of
successors. That the eggs from which the young queens are produced, are
of the same kind with those producing workers, has been repeatedly
demonstrated. On examining the queen cells while they are in progress,
one of the first things which excites our notice, is the very unusual
amount of attention bestowed upon them by the workers. There is scarcely
a second in which a bee is not peeping into them, and just as fast as
one is satisfied, another pops its head in, to examine if not to report,
progress. The importance of their inmates to the bee-community, might
easily be inferred from their being the center of so much attraction.


The young queens are supplied with a much larger quantity of food than
is allotted to the other larvæ, so that they seem almost to float in a
thick bed of jelly, and there is usually a portion of it left unconsumed
at the base of the cells, after the insects have arrived at maturity. It
is different from the food of either drones or workers, and in
appearance, resembles a light quince jelly, having a slightly acid

I submitted a portion of the royal jelly for analysis, to Dr. Charles M.
Wetherill, of Philadelphia; a very interesting account of his
examination may be found in the proceedings of the Phila. Academy of
Nat. Sciences for July, 1852. He speaks of the substance as "truly a
bread-containing, albuminous compound." I hope in the course of the
coming summer to obtain from this able analytical chemist, an analysis
of the food of the young drones and workers. A comparison of its
elements with those of the royal jelly, may throw some light on subjects
as yet involved in obscurity.

The effects produced upon the larvæ by this peculiar food and method of
treatment, are very remarkable. For one, I have never considered it
strange that such effects should be rejected as idle whims, by nearly
all except those who have either been eye-witnesses to them, or have
been well acquainted with the character and opportunities for accurate
observation, of those on whose testimony they have received them. They
are not only in themselves most marvelously strange, but on the face of
them so entirely opposed to all common analogies, and so very
improbable, that many men when asked to believe them, feel almost as
though an insult were offered to their common sense. The most important
of these effects, I shall now proceed to enumerate.

1st. The peculiar mode in which the worm designed to be reared as a
queen, is treated, causes it to arrive at maturity, about one-third
earlier than if it had been bred a worker. And yet it is to be much more
fully developed, and according to ordinary analogy, ought to have had a
_slower growth_!

2d. Its organs of reproduction are completely developed, so that it is
capable of fulfilling the office of a mother.

3d. Its size, shape and color are all greatly changed. (See p. 32.) Its
lower jaws are shorter, its head rounder, and its legs have neither
brushes nor baskets, while its sting is more curved, and one-third
longer than that of a worker.

4th. Its _instincts_ are entirely changed. Reared as a worker, it would
have been ready to thrust out its sting, upon the least provocation;
whereas now, it may be pulled limb from limb, without attempting to
sting. As a worker it would have treated a queen with the greatest
consideration; whereas now, if placed under a glass with another queen,
it rushes forthwith to mortal combat with its rival. As a worker, it
would frequently have left the hive, either for labor or exercise: as a
queen, after impregnation, it never leaves the hive except to accompany
a new swarm.

5th. The term of its life is remarkably lengthened. As a worker, it
would have lived not more than six or seven months at farthest; as a
queen it may live seven or eight times as long! All these wonders rest
on the impregnable basis of complete demonstration, and instead of being
witnessed by only a select few, may now, by the use of my hive, be
familiar sights to any bee keeper, who prefers to acquaint himself with
facts, rather than to cavil and sneer at the labors of others.[7]

When provision has been made, in the manner described, for a new race of
queens, the old mother always departs with the first swarm, before her
successors have arrived at maturity.[8]


The distress of the bees when they lose their queen, has already been
described. If they have the means of supplying her loss, they soon calm
down, and commence forthwith, the necessary steps for rearing another.
The process of rearing queens artificially, to meet some special
emergency, is even more wonderful than the natural one, which has
already been described. Its success depends on the bees having
worker-eggs or worms not more than three days old; (if older, the larva
has been too far developed as a worker to admit of any change:) the bees
nibble away the partitions of two cells adjoining a third, so as to make
one large cell out of the three. They destroy the eggs or worms in two
of these cells, while they place before the occupant of the third, the
usual food of the young queens, and build out its cell, so as to give it
ample space for development. They do not confine themselves to the
attempt to rear a single queen, but to guard against failure, start a
considerable number, although the work on all except a few, is usually
soon discontinued.

In twelve or fourteen days, they are in possession of a new queen,
precisely similar to one reared in the natural way, while the eggs which
were laid at the same time in the adjoining cells, and which have been
developed in the usual way, are nearly a week longer in coming to

I will give in this connection a description of an interesting

A large hive which stood at a distance from any other colony, was
removed in the morning of a very pleasant day, to a new place, and
another hive containing only empty comb, was put upon its stand.
Thousands of workers which were out in the fields, or which left the old
hive after its removal, returned to the familiar spot. It was affecting
to witness their grief and despair: they flew in restless circles about
the place which once contained their happy home, entered and left the
new hive continually, expressing, in various ways, their lamentations
over their cruel bereavement. Towards evening, they ceased to take wing,
and roamed in restless platoons, in and out of the hive, and over its
surface, acting all the time, as though in search of some lost treasure.
I now gave them a piece of brood comb, containing worker eggs and worms,
taken from a second swarm which being just established with its young
queen, in a new hive, could have no intention of rearing young queens
that season; therefore, it cannot be contended that this piece of comb
contained what some are pleased to call "royal eggs." What followed the
introduction of this brood comb, took place much quicker than it can be
described. The bees which first touched it, raised a peculiar note, and
in a moment, the comb was covered with a dense mass; their restless
motions and mournful noises ceased, and a cheerful hum at once attested
their delight! Despair gave place to hope, as they recognized in this
small piece of comb, the means of deliverance. Suppose a large building
filled with thousands of persons, tearing their hair, beating their
breasts, and by piteous cries, as well as frantic gestures, giving vent
to their despair; if now some one should enter this house of mourning,
and by a single word, cause all these demonstrations of agony to give
place to smiles and congratulations, the change could not be more
wonderful and instantaneous, than that produced when the bees received
the brood comb!

The Orientals call the honey bee, Deburrah, "She that speaketh." Would
that this little insect might speak, and in words more eloquent than
those of man's device, to the multitudes who allow themselves to reject
the doctrines of revealed religion, because, as they assert, they are,
on their face so utterly improbable, that they labor under an _a priori_
objection strong enough to be fatal to their credibility. Do not nearly
all the steps in the development of a queen from a worker-egg, labor
under precisely the same objection? and have they not, for this very
reason, always been regarded by great numbers of bee keepers, as
unworthy of credence? If the favorite argument of infidels and errorists
will not stand the test when applied to the wonders of the bee-hive, can
it be regarded as entitled to any serious weight, when employed in
framing objections against religious truths, and arrogantly taking to
task the infinite Jehovah, for what He has been pleased to do or to
teach? Give me the same latitude claimed by such objectors, and I can
easily prove that a man is under no obligation to receive any of the
wonders in the economy of the bee-hive, although he is himself an
intelligent eye-witness that they are all substantial verities.

I shall quote, in this connection, from Huish, an English Apiarian of
whom I have already spoken, because his objections to the discoveries
of Huber, remind me so forcibly of both the spirit and principles of the
great majority of those who object to the doctrines of revealed

"If an individual, with the view of acquiring some knowledge of the
natural history of the bee, or of its management, consult the works of
Bagster, Bevan, or any of the periodicals which casually treat upon the
subject, will he not rise from the study of them with his mind
surcharged with falsities and mystification? Will he not discover
through the whole of them a servile acquiescence in the opinions and
discoveries of one man, however at variance they may be with truth or
probability; and if he enter upon the discussion with his mind free from
prejudice, will he not experience that an outrage has been committed
upon his reason, in calling upon him to give assent to positions and
principles which at best are merely assumed, but to which he is called
upon dogmatically to subscribe his acquiescence as the indubitable
results of experience, skill and ability? The editors of the works above
alluded to, should boldly and indignantly have declared, that from their
own experience in the natural economy of the insect, they were able to
pronounce the circumstances as related by Huber to be directly
_impossible_, and the whole of them based on fiction and imposition."

Let the reader change only a few words in this extract: for "the natural
history of the bee or its management," let him write, "the subject of
religion;" for, "the works of Bagster, Bevan," &c., let him put, "the
works of Moses, Paul," &c.; for, "their own experience in the natural
economy of the insect," let him substitute, "their own experience in the
nature of man;" and for, "circumstances as related by Huber," let him
insert, "as related by Luke or John," and it will sound almost precisely
like a passage from some infidel author.

I resume the quotation from Huish; "If we examine the account which
Huber gives of his invention (!) of the royal jelly, the existence and
efficacy of which are fully acquiesced in by the aforesaid editors, to
what other conclusions are we necessarily driven, than that they are the
dupes of a visionary enthusiast, whose greatest merit consists in his
inventive powers, no matter how destitute those powers may be of all
affinity with truth or probability? Before, however, these editors
bestowed their unqualified assent on the existence of this royal jelly,
did they stop to put to themselves the following questions? By what kind
of bee is it made?[9] Whence is it procured? Is it a natural or an
elaborated substance? If natural, from what source is it derived? If
elaborated, in what stomach of the bee is it to be found? How is it
administered? What are its constituent principles? Is its existence
optional or definite? Whence does it derive its miraculous power of
converting a common egg into a royal one? Will any of the aforesaid
editors publicly answer these questions? and ought they not to have been
able to answer them, before they so unequivocally expressed their belief
in its existence, its powers and administration?"

How puerile does all this sound to one who has _seen_ and _tasted_ the
royal jelly! And permit me to add, how equally unmeaning do the
objections of infidels seem, to those who have an experimental
acquaintance with the divine hopes and consolations of the Gospel of


[1] The author of this work regrets that his experience does not enable
him to speak with such absolute confidence as to the character of all
the bee keepers whom he has known.

[2] In this way she is sure to deposit the egg in the cell she has

[3] If ever there lived a genuine naturalist, Swammerdam was the man. In
his History of Insects, published in 1737, he has given a most beautiful
drawing of the ovaries of the queen bee. The sac which he supposed
secreted a fluid for sticking the eggs to the base of the cells is the
seminal reservoir or spermatheca.

[4] Bevan.

[5] This work being intended chiefly for practical purposes, I have
thought best to use, as little as possible, the technical terms and
minute anatomical descriptions of the scientific entomologist.

[6] Bevan.

[7] Having already spoken of Swammerdam, I shall give a brief extract
from the celebrated Dr. Boerhaave's memoir of this wonderful naturalist,
which should put to the blush, if any thing can, the arrogance of those
superficial observers who are too wise in their own conceit, to avail
themselves of the knowledge of others.

"This treatise on Bees proved so fatiguing a performance, that
Swammerdam never afterwards recovered even the appearance of his former
health and vigor. He was almost continually engaged by day in making
observations, and as constantly engaged by night in recording them by
drawings and suitable explanations."

"This being summer work, his daily labor began at six in the morning,
when the sun afforded him light enough to survey such minute objects;
and from that hour till twelve, he continued without interruption, all
the while exposed in the open air to the scorching heat of the sun,
bareheaded for fear of intercepting his sight, and his head in a manner
dissolving into sweat under the irresistible ardors of that powerful
luminary. And if he desisted at noon, it was only because the strength
of his eyes was too much weakened, by the extraordinary afflux of light
and the use of microscopes, to continue any longer upon such small
objects, though as discernible in the afternoon, as they had been in the

"Our author, the better to accomplish his vast, unlimited views, often
wished for a year of perpetual heat and light to perfect his inquiries,
with a polar night to reap all the advantages of them by proper drawings
and descriptions."

[8] The formation of swarms will be particularly described in another

[9] Suppose that we are unable to give a satisfactory answer to any of
these questions, does our ignorance on these points disprove the _fact_
of the existence of such a jelly?



Wax is a natural secretion of the bees; it may be called _their oil or
fat_. If they are gorged with honey, or any liquid sweet, and remain
quietly clustered together, it is formed in small wax pouches on their
abdomen, and comes out in the shape of very delicate scales. Soon after
a swarm is hived, the bottom board will be covered with these scales.

    "Thus, filtered through yon flutterer's folded mail,
    Clings the cooled wax, and hardens to a scale.
    Swift, at the well known call, the ready train,
    (For not a buz boon Nature breathes in vain,)
    Spring to each falling flake, and bear along
    Their glossy burdens to the builder throng.
    These with sharp sickle or with sharper tooth,
    Pare each excrescence, and each angle smooth,
    Till now, in finish'd pride, two radiant rows
    Of snow white cells one mutual base disclose.
    Six shining panels gird each polish'd round,
    The door's fine rim, with waxen fillet bound,
    While walls so thin, with sister walls combined,
    Weak in themselves, a sure dependence find."

Huber was the first to demonstrate that wax is a natural secretion of
the bee, when fed on honey or any saccharine substance. Most Apiarians
before his time, supposed that it was made from pollen or bee-bread,
either in a crude or digested state. He confined a new swarm of bees in
a hive placed in a dark and cool room, and on examining them, at the
end of five days, found several beautiful white combs in their
tenement: these were taken from them, and they were again confined and
supplied with honey and water, and a second time new combs were
constructed. Five times in succession their combs were removed, and were
in each instance replaced, the bees being all the time prevented from
ranging the fields, to supply themselves with bee-bread. By subsequent
experiments he proved that sugar answered the same end with honey.

He then confined a swarm, giving them no honey, but an abundance of
fruit and pollen. They subsisted on the fruit, but refused to touch the
pollen; and no combs were constructed, nor any wax scales formed in
their pouches. These experiments are conclusive; and are interesting,
not merely as proving that wax is secreted from honey or saccharine
substances, but because they show in what a thorough manner the
experiments of Huber were conducted. Confident assertions are easily
made, requiring only a little breath or a drop of ink; and the men who
deal most in them, have often a profound contempt for observation and
experiment. To establish even a simple truth, on the solid foundation of
demonstrated facts, often requires the most patient and protracted toil.

_A high temperature_ is necessary for comb-building, in order that the
wax may be soft enough to be moulded into shape. The very process of its
secretion helps to furnish the amount of heat which is required to work
it. This is a very interesting fact which seems never before to have
been noticed.

Honey or sugar is found to contain by weight, about eight pounds of
oxygen to one of carbon and hydrogen. When changed into wax, the
proportions are entirely reversed: the wax contains only one pound of
oxygen to more than sixteen pounds of hydrogen and carbon. Now as
oxygen is the grand supporter of animal heat, the consumption of so
large a quantity of it, aids in producing the extraordinary heat which
always accompanies comb-building, and which is necessary to keep the wax
in the soft and plastic state requisite to enable the bees to mould it
into such exquisitely delicate and beautiful shapes! Who can fail to
admire the wisdom of the Creator in this beautiful instance of

The most careful experiments have clearly established the fact, that at
least _twenty pounds_ of honey are consumed in making a single pound of
wax. If any think that this is incredible, let them bear in mind that
wax is an animal oil secreted from honey, and let them consider how many
pounds of corn or hay they must feed to their stock, in order to have
them gain a single pound of fat.

Many Apiarians are entirely ignorant of the great value of empty comb.
Suppose the honey to be worth only 15 cts. per lb., and the comb when
rendered into wax, to be worth 30 cts. per lb., the bee-master who melts
a pound of comb, loses nearly three dollars by the operation, and this,
without estimating the time which the bees have consumed in building the
comb. Unfortunately, in the ordinary hives, but little use can be made
of empty comb, unless it is new, and can be put into the surplus
honey-boxes: but by the use of my movable frames, every piece of good
worker-comb may be used to the best advantage, as it can be given to the
bees, to aid them in their labors.

It has been found very difficult to preserve comb from the bee-moth,
when it is taken from the bees. If it contains only a _few_ of the eggs
of this destroyer, these, in due time, will produce a progeny sufficient
to devour it. The comb, if it is attached to my frames, may be suspended
in a box or empty hive, and thoroughly smoked with sulphur; this will
kill any _worms_ which it may contain. When the weather is warm enough
to hatch the eggs of the moth, this process must be repeated a few
times, at intervals of about a week, so as to insure the destruction of
the worms as they hatch, for the sulphur does not seem always to destroy
the vitality of the eggs. The combs may now be kept in a tight box or
hive, with perfect safety.

Combs containing bee-bread, are of great value, and if given to young
colonies, which in spring are frequently destitute of this article, they
will materially assist them in early breeding.

Honey may be taken from my hives in the frames, and the covers of the
cells sliced off with a sharp knife; the honey can then be drained out,
and the empty combs returned to be filled again. A strong stock of bees,
in the height of the honey harvest, will fill empty combs with wonderful
rapidity. I lay it down, as one of my _first principles_ in bee culture,
that no good comb should ever be melted; it should all be carefully
preserved and given to the bees. If it is new, it may be easily attached
to the frames, or the honey-receptacles, by dipping the edge into melted
wax, pressing it gently until it stiffens, and then allowing it to cool.
If the comb is old, or the pieces large and full of bee-bread, it will
be best to dip them into melted rosin, which, besides costing much less
than wax, will secure a much firmer adhesion. When comb is put into
tumblers or other small vessels, the bees will begin to work upon it the
sooner, if it is simply crowded in, so as to be held in place by being
supported against the sides. It would seem as though they were disgusted
with such unworkmanlike proceedings, and that they cannot rest until
they have taken it into hand, and endeavored to "make a job of it."

If the bee-keeper in using his choicest honey will be satisfied to
dispense with looks, and will carefully drain it from the beautiful
comb, he may use all such comb again to great advantage; not only saving
its intrinsic value, but greatly encouraging his bees to occupy and fill
all receptacles in which a portion of it is put. Bees seem to fancy _a
good start in life_, about as well as their more intelligent owners. To
this use all suitable drone comb should be put, as soon as it is removed
from the main hive. (See remarks on Drones.)

Ingenious efforts have been made, of late years, to construct
_artificial_ honey combs of porcelain, to be used for _feeding_ bees. No
one, to my knowledge, has ever attempted to imitate the delicate
mechanism of the bee so closely, as to construct artificial combs for
the ordinary uses of the hive; although for a long time I have
entertained the idea as very desirable, and yet as barely possible. I am
at present engaged in a course of experiments on this subject, the
results of which, in due time, I shall communicate to the public.

While writing this treatise, it has occurred to me that bees might be
induced to use old wax for the construction of their combs. Very fine
parings may be shaved off with glass, and if given to the bees, under
favorable circumstances, it seems to me very probable that they would
use them, just as they do the scales which are formed in their wax
pouches. Let strong colonies be deprived of some of their combs, after
the honey harvest is over, and supplied abundantly with these parings of
wax. Whether "nature abhors a vacuum," or not, bees certainly do, when
it occurs among the combs of their main hive. They will not use the
honey stored up for winter use to replace the combs taken from them;
they can gather none from the flowers; and I have strong hopes that
necessity will with bees as well as men, prove the mother of invention,
and lead them to use the wax, as readily as they do the substitutes
offered them for pollen. (See Chapter on Pollen.)

If this conjecture should be verified by actual results, it would exert
a most powerful influence in the cheap and rapid multiplication of
colonies, and would enable the bees to store up most prodigious
quantities of honey. A pound of bees wax might then be made to store up
twenty pounds of honey, and the gain to the bee keeper would be the
difference in price between the pound of wax, and the twenty pounds of
honey, which the bees would have consumed in making the same amount of
comb. Strong stocks might thus during the dull season, when no honey can
be procured, be most profitably employed in building spare comb, to be
used in strengthening feeble stocks, and for a great variety of
purposes. Give me the means of cheaply obtaining large amounts of comb,
and I have almost found the philosopher's stone in bee keeping.

The building of comb is carried on with the greatest activity in the
night, while the honey is gathered by day. Thus no time is lost. If the
weather is too forbidding to allow the bees to go abroad, the combs are
very rapidly constructed, as the labor is carried on both by day and by
night. On the return of a fair day, the bees gather unusual quantities
of honey, as they have plenty of room for its storage. Thus it often
happens, that by their wise economy of time, they actually lose nothing,
even if confined, for several days, to their hive.

    "How doth the little busy bee, improve each _shining_ hour!"

The poet might with equal truth have described her, as improving the
gloomy days, and the dark nights, in her useful labors.

It is an interesting fact, which I do not remember ever to have seen
particularly noticed by any writer, that honey gathering, and comb
building, go on simultaneously; so that when one stops, the other ceases
also. I have repeatedly observed, that as soon as the honey harvest
fails, the bees intermit their labors in building new comb, even when
large portions of their hive are unfilled. They might enlarge their
combs by using some of their stores; but then they would incur the risk
of perishing in the winter, by starvation. When honey no longer abounds
in the fields, it is wisely ordered, that they should not consume their
hoarded treasures, in expectation of further supplies, which may never
come. I do not believe, that any other safe rule could have been given
them; and if honey gathering was our business, with all our boasted
reason, we should be obliged to adopt the very same course.

Wax is one of the best non-conductors of heat, so that when it is warmed
by the animal heat of the bees, it can more easily be worked, than if it
parted with its heat too readily. By this property, the combs serve also
to keep the bees warm, and there is not so much risk of the honey
candying in the cells, or the combs cracking with frost. If wax was a
good conductor of heat, the combs would often be icy cold, moisture
would condense and freeze upon them, and they would fail to answer the
ends for which they are intended.

The size of the cells, in which workers are reared, never varies: the
same may substantially be said of the drone cells which are very
considerably larger; the cells in which honey is stored, often vary
exceedingly in depth, while in diameter, they are of all sizes from that
of the worker cells to that of the drones.

The cells of the bees are found perfectly to answer all the most refined
conditions of a very intricate mathematical problem! Let it be required
to find what shape a given quantity of matter must take, in order to
have _the greatest capacity, and the greatest strength_, requiring at
the same time, _the least space, and the least labor_ in its
construction. This problem has been solved by the most refined processes
of the higher mathematics, and the result is the hexagonal or six-sided
cell of the honey bee, with its three four-sided figures at the base!

The shape of these figures cannot be altered, _ever so little, except
for the worse_. Besides possessing the desirable qualities already
described, they answer as _nurseries_ for the rearing of the young, and
as _small air-tight vessels_ in which the honey is preserved from
souring or candying. Every prudent housewife who puts up her preserves
in tumblers, or small glass jars, and carefully pastes them over, to
keep out the air, will understand the value of such an arrangement.

"There are only three possible figures of the cells," says Dr. Reid,
"which can make them all equal and similar, without any useless spaces
between them. These are the equilateral triangle, the square and the
regular hexagon. It is well known to mathematicians that there is not a
fourth way possible, in which a plane may be cut into little spaces that
shall be equal, similar and regular, without leaving any interstices."

An equilateral triangle would have made an uncomfortable tenement for an
insect with a round body; and a square would not have been much better.
At first sight a circle would seem to be the best shape for the
development of the larvæ: but such a figure would have caused a needless
sacrifice of space, materials and strength; while the honey which now
adheres so admirably to the many angles or corners of the six-sided
cell, would have been much more liable to run out! I will venture to
assign a new reason for the hexagonal form. The body of the immature
insect as it undergoes its changes, is charged with a super-abundance of
moisture which passes off through the reticulated cover which the bees
build over its cell: a hexagon while it approaches so nearly the shape
of a circle as not to incommode the young bee, furnishes in its six
corners the necessary vacancies for its more thorough ventilation!

So invariably uniform in size, as well as perfect in other respects, are
the cells in which the workers are bred, that some mathematicians have
proposed their adoption, as the best unit for measures of capacity to
serve for universal use.

Can we believe that these little insects unite so many requisites in the
construction of their cells, either by chance, or because they are
profoundly versed in the most intricate mathematics? Are we not
compelled to acknowledge that the mathematics must be referred to the
Creator, and not to His puny creature? To an intelligent, candid mind, a
piece of honey comb is a complete demonstration that there is a "GREAT
FIRST CAUSE:" for on no other supposition can we account for so
complicated a shape, and yet the only one which can possibly unite so
many desirable requisites.

    "On books deep poring, ye pale sons of toil,
    Who waste in studious trance the midnight oil,
    Say, can ye emulate with all your rules,
    Drawn or from Grecian or from Gothic schools,
    This artless frame? Instinct her simple guide,
    A heaven-taught Insect baffles all your pride.
    Not all yon marshall'd orbs, that ride so high,
    Proclaim more loud a present Deity,
    Than the nice symmetry of these small cells,
    Where on each angle genuine science dwells."



This substance is obtained by the bees from the resinous buds and limbs
of trees; and when first gathered, it is usually of a bright golden
color, and is exceedingly sticky. The different kinds of poplars furnish
a rich supply. The bees bring it on their thighs just as they do bee
bread; and I have caught them as they were entering with a load, and
taken it from them. It adheres so firmly that it is difficult to remove

"Huber planted in Spring some branches of the wild poplar, before the
leaves were developed, and placed them in pots near his Apiary; the bees
alighting on them, separated the folds of the largest buds with their
forceps, extracted the varnish in threads, and loaded with it, first one
thigh and then the other; for they convey it like pollen, transferring
it by the first pair of legs to the second, by which it is lodged in the
hollow of the third." The smell of the propolis is often precisely
similar to that of the resin from the poplar, and chemical analysis
proves the identity of the two substances. It is frequently gathered
from the alder, horse-chestnut, birch, and willow; and as some think,
from pines and other trees of the fir kind. I have often known bees to
enter the shops where varnishing was being carried on, attracted
evidently by the smell: and Bevan mentions the fact of their carrying
off a composition of wax and turpentine, from trees to which it had
been applied. Dr. Evans says that he has seen them collect the balsamic
varnish which coats the young blossom buds of the hollyhock, and has
known them to rest at least ten minutes on the same bud, moulding the
balsam with their fore feet, and transferring it to the hinder legs, as
described by Huber.

    "With merry hum the Willow's copse they scale,
    The Fir's dark pyramid, or Poplar pale,
    Scoop from the Aider's leaf its oozy flood,
    Or strip the Chestnut's resin-coated bud,
    Skim the light tear that tips Narcissus' ray,
    Or round the Hollyhock's hoar fragrance play.
    Soon temper'd to their will through eve's low beam,
    And link'd in airy bands the viscous stream,
    They waft their nut-brown loads exulting home,
    That form a fret-work for the future comb;
    Caulk every chink where rushing winds may roar,
    And seal their circling ramparts to the floor."

A mixture of wax and propolis is used by the bees to strengthen the
attachments of the combs to the top and sides of the hive, and serves
most admirably for this purpose, as it is much more adhesive than wax
alone. If the combs, as soon as they are built, are not filled with
honey or brood, they are beautifully varnished with a most delicate
coating of this material, which adds exceedingly to their strength: but
as this natural varnish impairs their delicate whiteness, they ought not
to be allowed to remain in the surplus honey receptacles, accessible to
the bees, unless when they are actively engaged in storing them with

The bees make a very liberal use of this substance to fill up all the
crevices about their premises: and as the natural summer heat of the
hive keeps it soft, the bee moth selects it as a proper place of deposit
for her eggs. For this reason, the hive should be made of sound lumber,
entirely free from cracks, and thoroughly painted on the inside as well
as outside. When glass is used, there is no risk that the bed moth will
find a place in which she can insert her ovi-positor and lay her eggs.
The corners of the hive, which the bees always fill with propolis,
should have a melted mixture of three parts rosin, and one part bees-wax
run into them, which remains hard during the hottest weather, and bids
defiance to the moth. The inside of the hive may be coated with the same
mixture, put on hot with a brush.

The bees find it difficult to gather the propolis, and equally so to
remove from their thighs, and to work so sticky a material. For this
reason, it is doubly important to save them all unnecessary labor in
amassing it. To men, time is _money_; to bees, it is _honey_; and all
the arrangements of the hive should be such as to economize it to the
very utmost.

Propolis is sometimes put to a very curious use by the bees. "A
snail[10] having crept into one of M. Reaumur's hives early in the
morning, after crawling about for some time, adhered by means of its own
slime to one of the glass panes. The bees having discovered the snail,
surrounded it and formed a border of propolis round the verge of its
shell, and fastened it so securely to the glass that it became

    "Forever closed the impenetrable door,
    It naught avails that in his torpid veins
    Year after year, life's loitering spark remains."[11]

"Maraldi, another eminent Apiarian, has related a somewhat similar
instance. He states that a snail without a shell, or slug, as it is
called, had entered one of his hives; and that the bees, as soon as they
observed it, stung it to death: after which being unable to dislodge
it, they covered it all over with an impervious coat of propolis."

    "For soon in fearless ire, their wonder lost,
    Spring fiercely from the comb the indignant host,
    Lay the pierced monster breathless on the ground,
    And clap in joy their victor pinions round:
    While all in vain concurrent numbers strive,
    To heave the slime-girt giant from the hive--
    Sure not alone by force Instinctive swayed,
    But blest with reason's soul directing aid,
    Alike in man or bee, they haste to pour,
    Thick hard'ning as it falls, the flaky shower;
    Embalmed in shroud of glue the mummy lies,
    No worms invade, no foul miasmas rise."

"In these cases who can withhold his admiration of the ingenuity and
judgment of the bees? _In the first case_ a troublesome creature gained
admission to the hive, which, from its unwieldiness, they could not
remove, and which, from the impenetrability of its shell, they could not
destroy: here then their only resource was to deprive it of locomotion,
and to obviate putrefaction; both which objects they accomplished most
skilfully and securely--and as is usual with these sagacious creatures,
at the least possible expense of labor and materials. They applied their
cement where alone it was required, round the verge of the shell. _In
the latter case_, to obviate the evil of decay, by the total exclusion
of air, they were obliged to be more lavish in the use of their
embalming material, and to case over the "slime girt giant" so as to
guard themselves from his noisome smell. What means more effectual could
human wisdom have devised under similar circumstances?"

    "If in the insect, Season's twilight ray
    Sheds on the darkling mind a doubtful day,
    Plain is the steady light her _Instincts_ yield,
    To point the road o'er life's unvaried field;
    If few these instincts, to the destined goal,
    With surer coarse, their straiten'd currents roll."


[10] Bevan.

[11] Some very extraordinary instances are related of the protraction of
life in snails. After they had lain in a cabinet above fifteen years,
immersing them in water caused them to revive and crawl out of their



This substance is gathered by the bees from the flowers, or blossoms,
and is used _for the nourishment of their young_. Repeated experiments
have proved that no brood can be raised in a hive, unless the bees are
supplied with it. It contains none of the elements of wax, but is rich
in what chemists call nitrogenous substances, which are not contained in
honey, and which furnish ample nourishment for the development of the
growing bee. Dr. Hunter dissected some immature bees, and found their
stomachs to contain farina, but not a particle of honey.

We are indebted to Huber for the discovery of the use made by the bees
of pollen. That it did not serve as food for the mature bees, was
evident from the fact that large supplies are often found in hives whose
inmates have starved to death. It was this fact which led the old
observers to conclude that it was gathered for the purpose of building
comb. After Huber had demonstrated that wax is secreted from an entirely
different substance, he was soon led to conjecture that the bee-bread
must be used for the nourishment of the embryo bees. By rigid
experiments he proved the truth of this supposition. Bees were confined
to their hive without any pollen, after being supplied with honey, eggs
and larvæ. In a short time the young all perished. A fresh supply of
brood was given to them, with an ample allowance of pollen, and the
development of the larvæ then proceeded in the natural way.

When a colony is actively engaged in carrying in this article, it may be
taken for granted that they have a fertile queen, and are busy in
breeding. On the contrary, if any colony is not gathering pollen when
others are, the queen is either dead, or diseased, and the hive should
at once be examined.

In the backward spring of 1852, I had an excellent opportunity of
testing the value of this substance. In one of my hives, was an
artificial swarm of the previous year. The hive was well protected,
being double, and the situation was warm. I opened it on the 5th of
February, and although the weather, until within a week of that time,
had been unusually cold, I found many of the cells filled with brood. On
the 23d, the combs were again examined, and found to contain, neither
eggs, brood, nor bee bread. The bees were then supplied with bee bread
taken from another hive: the next day, this was found to have been used
by them, and a large number of eggs had been deposited in the cells.
When this supply was exhausted, egg-laying ceased, and was again renewed
when more was furnished them.

During all the time of these experiments, the weather was unpromising,
and as the bees were unable to go out for water, they were supplied at
home with this important article.

Dzierzon is of opinion that the bees are able to furnish food for the
young, without the presence of pollen in the hive; although he admits
that they can do this only for a short time, and at a great expense of
vital energy; just as the strength of an animal nursing its young is
rapidly reduced, when for want of proper food, the very substance of
its own body as it were, is converted into milk. My experiments do not
corroborate this theory, but tend to confirm the views of Huber, and to
show the absolute necessity of pollen to the development of brood. The
same able contributor to Apiarian science, thinks that pollen is used by
the bees when they are engaged in comb-building; and that unless they
are well supplied with it, they cannot rapidly secrete wax, without very
severely taxing their strength. But as all the elements of wax are found
in honey, and none of them in pollen, this opinion does not seem to me,
to be entitled to much weight. That bees cannot live upon pollen without
any honey, is proved by the fact, that large stores of it are often
found, in hives whose occupants have died of starvation; that they can
live without it, is equally well known; but that the full grown bees
make some use of it in connection with honey, for their own nourishment,
I believe to be highly probable.

The bees prefer to gather _fresh_ bee-bread, even when there are large
accumulations of old stores in the cells. Hence, the great importance of
being able to make the _surplus_ of old colonies supply the _deficiency_
of young ones. (See No. 28, in the Chapter "On the advantages which
ought to be found in an Improved Hive.")

If both honey and pollen can be obtained from the same flower, then a
load of _each_ will be secured by the industrious insect. Of this, any
one may convince himself, who will dissect a few pollen gatherers at the
time when honey is plenty: he will generally find their honey-bags full.

The mode of gathering is very interesting. The body of the bee appears,
to the naked eye, to be covered with fine hairs; to these, when the bee
alights on a flower, the farina adheres. With her legs, she brushes it
off from her body, and packs it in two hollows or _baskets_, one on each
of her thighs: these baskets are surrounded by stouter hairs which hold
the load in its place.

When the bee returns with pollen, she often makes a singular, dancing or
vibratory motion, which attracts the attention of the other bees, who at
once nibble away from her thighs what they want for immediate use; the
rest she deposits in a cell for future need, where it is carefully
packed down, and often sealed over with wax.

It has been observed that a bee, in gathering pollen, always confines
herself to the same kind of flower on which she begins, even when that
is not so abundant as some others. Thus if you examine a ball of this
substance taken from her thigh, it is found to be of one uniform color
throughout: the load of one will be yellow, another red, and a third
brown; the color varying according to that of the plant from which it
was obtained. It is probable that the pollen of different kinds of
flowers would not pack so well together. It is certain that if they flew
from one species to another, there would be a much greater mixture of
different varieties than there now is, for they carry on their bodies
the pollen or fertilizing principle, and thus aid most powerfully in the
impregnation of plants.

This is one reason why it is so difficult to preserve pure, the
different varieties of the same vegetables whose flowers are sought by
the bee.

He must be blind indeed, who will not see, at every step in the natural
history of this insect, the plainest proofs of the wisdom of its

I cannot resist the impression that the honey bee was made for the
especial service and instruction of man. At first the importance of its
products, when honey was the only natural sweet, served most powerfully
to attract his attention to its curious habits; and now since the
cultivation of the sugar cane has diminished the relative value of its
luscious sweets, the superior knowledge which has been obtained of its
instincts, is awakening an increasing enthusiasm in its cultivation.

Virgil in the fourth book of his Georgics, which is entirely devoted to
bees, speaks of them as having received a direct emanation from the
Divine Intelligence. And many modern Apiarians are almost disposed to
rank the bee for sagacity, as next in the scale of creation to man.

The importance of pollen to the nourishment of the brood, has long been
known, and of late, successful attempts have been made to furnish a
_substitute_. The bees in Dzierzon's Apiary were observed by him, early
in the spring before the time for procuring pollen, to bring rye meal to
their hives from a neighboring mill. It is now a common practice on the
continent of Europe, where bee keeping is extensively carried on, to
supply the bees, in early spring, with this article. Shallow troughs are
set in front of the Apiaries, which are filled, about two inches deep,
with _finely ground, dry, unbolted rye meal_. Thousands of bees resort
eagerly to them when the weather is favorable, roll themselves in the
meal, and return heavily laden to their hives. In fine, mild weather,
they labor at this work with astonishing industry; and seem decidedly to
prefer the meal to the _old_ pollen stored in their combs. By this
means, the bees are induced to commence breeding _early_, and rapidly
recruit their numbers. The feeding is continued till the bees cease to
carry away the meal; that is, until the natural supplies furnish them
with a preferable article. The average consumption of each colony is
about two pounds of meal!

At the last annual Apiarian Convention in Germany, a cultivator
recommended wheat flour as an excellent substitute for pollen. He says
that in February, 1852, he used it with the best results. The bees
_forsook the honey_ which had been set out for them, and engaged
actively in carrying in large quantities of the wheat flour, which was
placed about twenty paces in front of the hives.

The construction of my hives, permits the flour to be placed, at once,
where the bees can take it, without being compelled to waste their time
in going out for it, or to suffer for the want of it, when the weather
confines them at home.

The discovery of this substitute, removes a serious obstacle to the
successful culture of bees. In many districts, there is a great
abundance of honey for a few weeks in the season; and almost any number
of colonies, which are strong when the honey harvest commences, will, in
a good season, lay up sufficient stores for themselves, and a large
surplus for their owners. In many of these districts, however, the
supply of pollen is often so insufficient, that the new colonies of the
previous year are found destitute of this article in the spring; and
unless the season is early, and the weather unusually favorable, the
production of brood is most seriously interfered with; thus the colony
becomes strong too late to avail itself to the best advantage of the
superabundant harvest of honey. (See remarks on the importance of having
strong stocks early in the Spring.)



In this chapter, I shall enumerate certain very desirable, if not
necessary, qualities of a good hive. I have neither the taste nor the
time for the invidious work of disparaging other hives. I prefer
inviting the attention of bee-keepers to the importance of these
requisites; some of which, as I believe, are contained in no hive but my
own. Let them be most carefully examined, and if they commend themselves
to the enlightened judgment and good common sense of cultivators, let
them be employed to test the comparative merits of the various kinds of
hives in common use.

1. A good hive should give the Apiarian a perfect control over all the
combs: so that any of them may be taken out at pleasure; and this,
without cutting them, or enraging the bees.

This advantage is possessed by no hive in use, except my own; and it
forms the very foundation of an improved and profitable system of
bee-culture. Unless the combs are at the entire command of the Apiarian,
he can have no effectual control over his bees. They swarm too much or
too little, just as suits themselves, and their owner is almost entirely
dependent upon their caprice.

2. It ought to afford suitable protection against extremes of heat and
cold, sudden changes of temperature, and the injurious effects of

In winter, the interior of the hive should be dry, and not a particle of
frost should ever find admission; and in summer, the bees should not be
forced to work to disadvantage in a pent and almost suffocating heat.
(See these points discussed in the Chapter on Protection.)

3. It should permit all necessary operations to be performed without
hurting or killing a single bee.

Most hives are so constructed that it is impossible to manage them,
without at times injuring or destroying some of the bees. The mere
destruction of a few bees, would not, except on the score of humanity,
be of much consequence, if it did not very materially increase the
difficulty of managing them. Bees remember injuries done to any of their
number, for some time, and generally find an opportunity to avenge them.

4. It should allow every thing to be done that is necessary in the most
extensive management of bees, without incurring any serious risk of
exciting their anger. (See Chapter on the Anger of Bees.)

5. Not a single unnecessary step or motion ought to be required of a
single bee.

The honey harvest, in most locations, is of short continuance; and all
the arrangements of the hive should facilitate, to the utmost, the work
of the busy gatherers. Tall hives, therefore, and all such as compel
them to travel with their heavy burdens through densely crowded combs,
are very objectionable. The bees in my hive, instead of forcing their
way through thick clusters, can easily pass into the surplus honey
boxes, not only from any comb in the hive, but without traveling over
the combs at all.

6. It should afford suitable facilities for inspecting, at all times,
the condition of the bees.

When the sides of my hive are of glass, as soon as the outer cover is
elevated, the Apiarian has a view of the interior, and can often at a
glance, determine its condition. If the hive is of wood, or if he wishes
to make a more thorough examination, in a few minutes every comb may be
taken out, and separately inspected. In this way, the exact condition of
every colony may always be easily ascertained, and nothing left, as in
the common hives, to mere conjecture. This is an advantage, the
importance of which it would be difficult to over estimate. (See
Chapters on the loss of the queen, and on the Bee Moth.)

7. While the hive is of a size adapted to the natural instincts of the
bee, it should be capable of being readily adjusted to the wants of
small colonies.

If a small swarm is put into a large hive, they will be unable to
concentrate their animal heat, so as to work to the best advantage, and
will often become discouraged, and abandon their hive. If they are put
into a small hive, its limited dimensions will not afford them suitable
accommodations for increase. By means of my movable partition, my hive
can, in a few moments, be adapted to the wants of any colony however
small, and can, with equal facility, be enlarged from time to time, or
at once restored to its full dimensions.

8. It should allow the combs to be removed without any jarring.

Bees manifest the utmost aversion to any sudden jar; for it is in this
way, that their combs are loosened and detached. However firmly fastened
the frames may be in my hive, they can all be loosened in a few moments,
without injuring or exciting the bees.

9. It should allow every good piece of comb to be given to the bees,
instead of being melted into wax. (See Chapter on Comb.)

10. The construction of the hive should induce the bees to build their
combs with great regularity.

A hive which contains a large proportion of irregular comb, can never be
expected to prosper. Such comb is only suitable for storing honey, or
raising drones. This is one reason why so many colonies never flourish.
A glance will often show that a hive contains so much drone comb, as to
be unfit for the purposes of a stock hive.

11. It should furnish the means of procuring comb to be used as a guide
to the bees, in building regular combs in empty hives; and to induce
them more readily to take possession of the surplus honey receptacles.

It is well known that the presence of comb will induce bees to begin
work much more readily than they otherwise Would: this is especially the
case in glass vessels.

12. It should allow the removal of drone combs from the hive, to prevent
the breeding of too many drones. (See remarks on Drones.)

13. It should enable the Apiarian, when the combs become too old, to
remove them, and supply their place with new ones.

No hive can, in this respect, equal one in which, in a few moments, any
comb can be removed, and the part which is too old, be cut off. The
upper part of a comb, which is generally used for storing honey, will
last without renewal for many years.

14. It ought to furnish the greatest possible security against the
ravages of the Bee-Moth.

Neither before nor after it is occupied, ought there to be any cracks
or crevices in the interior. All such places will be filled by the bees
with propolis or bee-glue; a substance, which is always soft in the
summer heat of the hive, and which forms a most congenial place of
deposit for the eggs of the moth. If the sides of the hive are of glass,
and the corners are run with a melted mixture, three parts rosin, and
one part bees-wax, the bees will waste but little time in gathering
propolis, and the bee-moth will find but little chance for laying her
eggs, even if she should succeed in entering the hive.

My hives are so constructed, that if made of wood, they may be
thoroughly painted inside and outside, without being so smooth as to
annoy the bees; for they travel over the frames to which the combs are
attached; and thus whether the inside surface is glass or wood, it is
not liable to crack, or warp, or absorb moisture, after the hive is
occupied by the bees. If the hives are painted inside, it should be done
sometime before they are used. If the interior of the wooden hive is
brushed with a very hot mixture of the rosin and bees-wax, the hives may
be used immediately.

15. It should furnish some place accessible to the Apiarian, where the
bee-moth can be tempted to deposit her eggs, and the worms, when full
grown, to wind themselves in their cocoons. (See remarks on the

16. It should enable the Apiarian, if the bee-moth ever gains the upper
hand of the bees, to remove the combs, and expel the worms. (See

17. The bottom board should be permanently attached to the hive; for if
this is not done, it will be inconvenient to move the hive when bees are
in it, and next to impossible to prevent the depredations of moths and

Sooner or later, there will be crevices between the bottom board and the
sides of the hive, through which the moths will gain admission, and
under which the worms, when fully grown, will retreat to spin their
webs, and to be changed into moths, to enter in their turn, and lay
their eggs. Movable bottom hoards are a great nuisance in the Apiary,
and the construction of my hive, which enables me entirely to dispense
with them, will furnish a very great protection against the bee-moth.
There is no place where they can get in, except at the entrance for the
bees, and this may be contracted or enlarged, to suit the strength of
the colony; and from its peculiar shape, the bees are enabled to defend
it against intruders, with the greatest advantage.

18. The bottom-board should slant towards the entrance, to assist the
bees in carrying out the dead, and other useless substances; to aid them
in defending themselves against robbers; to carry off all moisture; and
to prevent the rain and snow from beating into the hive. As a farther
precaution against this last evil, the entrance ought to be under a
covered way, which should not, at once lead into the interior.

19. The bottom-board should be so constructed that it may be readily
cleared of dead bees in cold weather, when the bees are unable to attend
to this business themselves.

If suffered to remain, they often become mouldy, and injure the health
of the colony. If the bees drag them out, as they will do, if the
weather moderates, they often fall with them on the snow, and are so
chilled that they never rise again; for a bee generally retains its hold
in flying away with the dead, until both fall to the ground.

20. No part of the interior of the hive should be below the level of the
place of exit.

If this principle is violated, the bees must, at great disadvantage,
drag their dead, and all the refuse of the hive, _up hill_. Such hives
will often have their bottom boards covered with small pieces of comb,
bee-bread, and other impurities, in which the moth delights to lay her
eggs; and which furnished her progeny with a most congenial nourishment,
until they are able to get access to the combs.

21. It should afford facilities for feeding the bees both in warm and
cold weather.

In this respect, my hive has very unusual advantages. Sixty colonies in
warm weather may, in an hour, be fed a quart each, and yet no feeder be
used, and no risk incurred from robbing bees. (See Chapter on Feeding.)

22. It should allow of the easy hiving of a swarm, without injuring any
of the bees, or risking the destruction of the queen. (See Chapter on
Natural Swarming, and Hiving.)

23. It should admit of the safe transportation of the bees to any
distance whatever.

The permanent bottom-board, the firm attachment of the combs, each to a
separate frame, and the facility with which, in my hive, any amount of
air can be given to the bees when shut up, most admirably adapt it to
this purpose.

24. It should furnish the bees with air when the entrance is shut; and
the ventilation for this purpose ought to be unobstructed, even if the
hives should be buried in two or three feet of snow. (See Chapter on

25. A good hive should furnish facilities for enlarging, contracting,
and closing the entrance; so as to protect the bees against robbers, and
the bee-moth; and when the entrance is altered, the bees ought not to
lose valuable time in searching for it, as they must do in most hives.
(See Chapters on Ventilation, and on Robbing.)

26. It should give the bees the means of ventilating their hives,
without enlarging the entrance too much, so as to expose them to moths
and robbers, and to the risk of losing their brood by a chill in sudden
changes of weather. (See Chapter on Ventilation.)

To secure this end, the ventilators must not only be independent of the
entrance, but they must owe their efficiency mainly to the co-operation
of the bees themselves, who thus have a free admission of air only when
they want it. To depend on the opening and shutting of the ventilators
by the bee-keeper, is entirely out of the question.

27. It should furnish facilities for admitting at once, a large body of
air; so that in winter, or early spring, when the weather is at any time
unusually mild, the bees may be tempted to fly out and discharge their
fæces. (See Chapter on Protection.)

If such a free admission of air cannot be given to hives which are
thoroughly protected against the cold, the bees may lose a favorable
opportunity of emptying themselves; and thus be more exposed than they
otherwise would, to suffer from diseases resulting from too long
confinement. A very free admission of air is also desirable when the
weather is exceedingly hot.

28. It should enable the Apiarian to remove the excess of bee-bread from
old stocks.

This article always accumulates in old hives, so that in the course of
time, many of the combs are filled with it, thus unfitting them for the
rearing of brood, and the reception of honey. Young stocks, on the other
hand, will often be so deficient in this important article, that in the
early part of the season, breeding will be seriously interfered with. By
means of my movable frames, the excess of old colonies may be made to
supply the deficiency of young ones, to the mutual benefit of both. (See
Chapter on Pollen.)

29. It should enable the Apiarian, when he has removed the combs from a
common hive, to place them with the bees, brood, honey and bee-bread, in
the improved hive, so that the bees may be able to attach them in their
natural positions. (See directions for transferring bees from an old

30. It should allow of the easy and safe dislodgement of the bees from
the hive.

This requisite is especially important to secure the union of colonies,
when it becomes necessary to break up some of the stocks. (See remarks
on the Union of Stocks.)

31. It should allow the heat and odor of the main hive, as well as the
bees themselves, to pass in the freest manner, to the surplus honey

In this respect, all the hives with which I am acquainted, are more or
less deficient: the bees are forced to work in receptacles difficult of
access, and in which, especially in cool nights, they find it impossible
to keep up the animal heat necessary for comb-building. Bees cannot, in
such hives, work to advantage in glass tumblers, or other small vessels.
One of the most important arrangements of my hive, is that by which the
heat ascends into all the receptacles for storing honey, as naturally
and almost as easily as the warmest air ascends to the top of a heated

32. It should permit the surplus honey to be taken away, in the most
convenient, beautiful and salable forms, at any time, and without any
risk of annoyance from the bees.

In my hives, it may be taken in tumblers, glass boxes, wooden boxes
small or large, earthen jars, flower-pots; in short, in any kind of
receptacle which may suit the fancy, or the convenience of the
bee-keeper. Or all these may be dispensed with, and the honey may be
taken from the interior of the main hive, by removing the frames with
loaded combs, and supplying their place with empty ones.

33. It should admit of the easy removal of all the good honey from the
main hive, that its place may be supplied with an inferior article.

Bee-Keepers who have but few colonies, and who wish to secure the
largest yield, may remove the loaded combs from my hive, slice off the
covers of the cells, drain out the honey, and restore the empty combs,
into which, if the season of gathering is over, they can first pour the
cheap foreign honey for the use of the bees.

34. It should allow, when quantity not quality is the object, the
largest amount of honey to be gathered; so that the surplus of strong
colonies may, in the Fall, be given to those which have not a sufficient

By surmounting my hive with a box of the same dimensions, the combs may
all be transferred to this box, and the bees, when they commence
building, will descend and fill the lower frames, gradually using the
upper box, as the brood is hatched out, for storing honey. In this way,
the largest possible yield of honey may be secured, as the bees always
prefer to continue their work below, rather than above the main hive,
and will never swarm, when allowed in season, ample room in this
direction. The combs in the upper box, containing a large amount of
bee-bread and being of a size adapted to the breeding of workers, will
be all the better for aiding weak colonies.

35. It should compel, when desired, the force of the colony to be mainly
directed to raising young bees; so that brood may be on hand to form new
colonies, and strengthen feeble stocks. (See Chapter on Artificial

36. It ought, while well protected from the weather, to be so
constructed, that in warm, sunny days in early spring, the influence of
the sun may be allowed to penetrate and warm up the hive, so as to
encourage early breeding. (See Chapter on Protection.)

37. The hive should be equally well adapted to be used as a swarmer, or

In my hives bees may be allowed, if their owner chooses, to swarm just
as they do in common hives, and be managed in the usual way. Even on
this plan, the great protection against the weather which it affords,
and the command over all the combs, will be found to afford great
advantages. (See Natural Swarming.)

Non-swarming hives managed in the ordinary way are liable, in spite of
all precautions, to swarm very unexpectedly, and if not closely watched,
the swarm is lost, and with it the profit of that season. By having the
command of the combs, the queen in my hives can always be caught and
deprived of her wings; thus she cannot go off with a swarm, and they
will not leave without her.

38. It should enable the Apiarian, if he allows his bees to swarm, and
wishes to secure surplus honey, to prevent them from throwing more than
one swarm in a season.

Second and third swarms must be returned to the old stock, if the
largest quantities of surplus honey are to be realized. It is
troublesome to watch them, deprive them of their queens, and restore
them to the parent hive. They often issue with new queens again and
again; and waste, in this way, both their own time, and that of their
keeper. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." In my hives,
as soon as the first swarm has issued, and been hived, all the queen
cells except one, in the hive from which it came, may be cut out, and
thus all after-swarming will very easily and effectually be prevented.
(See Chapter on Artificial Swarming, for the use to which these
supernumerary queens may be put.) When the old stock is left with but
one queen, she runs no risk of being killed or crippled in a contest
with rivals. By such contests, a colony is often left without a queen,
or in possession of one which is too much maimed to be of any service.
(See Chapter on the Loss of the Queen.)

39. A good hive should enable the Apiarian, if he relies on natural
swarming, and wishes to multiply his colonies as fast as possible, to
make vigorous stocks of all his small after-swarms.

Such swarms contain a young queen, and if they can be judiciously
strengthened, usually make the best stock hives. If hived in a common
hive, and left to themselves, unless very early, or in very favorable
seasons, they seldom thrive. They generally desert their hives, or
perish in the winter. If they are small, they cannot be made powerful,
even by the most generous feeding. There are too few bees to build comb,
and take care of the eggs which a healthy queen can lay; and when fed,
they are apt to fill with honey, the cells in which young bees ought to
be raised; thus making the kindness of their owner serve only to hasten
their destruction. My hives enable me to supply all such swarms at once
with combs containing bee-bread, honey and brood almost mature. They are
thus made strong, and flourish as well, nay, often better than the first
swarms which have an old queen, whose fertility is generally not so
great as that of a young one.

40. It should enable the Apiarian to multiply his colonies with a
certainty and rapidity which are entirely out of the question, if he
depends upon natural swarming. (See Chapter on Artificial Swarming.)

41. It should enable the Apiarian to supply destitute colonies with the
means of obtaining a new queen.

Every Apiarian would find it, for this reason, if for no other, to his
advantage to possess, at least, one such hive. (See Chapters on
Physiology, and loss of Queen.)

42. It should enable him to catch the queen, for any purpose; especially
to remove an old one whose fertility is impaired by age, that her place
may be supplied with a young one. (See Chapter on Artificial Swarming.)

43. While a good hive is adapted to the wants of those who desire to
enter upon bee-keeping on a large scale, or at least to manage their
colonies on the most improved plans, it ought to be suited to the wants
of those who are too timid, too ignorant, or for any reason indisposed,
to manage them in any other than the common way.

44. It should enable a single individual to superintend the colonies of
many different persons.

Many would like to keep bees, if they could have them taken care of, by
those who would undertake their management, just as a gardener does the
gardens and grounds of his employers. No person can agree to do this
with the common hives. If the bees are allowed to swarm, he may be
called in a dozen different directions, and if any accident, such as the
loss of a queen, happens to the colonies of his customers, he can apply
no remedy. If the bees are in non-swarming hives, he cannot multiply the
stocks when this is desired.

On my plan, gentlemen who desire it, may have the pleasure of witnessing
the industry and sagacity of this wonderful insect, and of gratifying
their palates with its delicious stores, harvested on their own
premises, without incurring either trouble or risk of injury.

45. All the joints of the hive should be water-tight, and there should
be no doors or slides which are liable to shrink, swell, or get out of

The importance of this will be sufficiently obvious to any one who has
had the ordinary share of vexatious experience in the use of such

46. It should enable the bee-keeper entirely to dispense with sheds, and
costly Apiaries; as each hive when properly placed, should alike defy,
heat or cold, rain or snow. (See Chapter on Protection.)

47. It should allow the contents of a hive, bees, combs and all, to be
taken out; so that any necessary repairs may be made.

This may be done, with my hives, in a few minutes. "A stitch in time
saves nine." Hives which can be thoroughly overhauled and repaired, from
time to time, if properly attended to, will last for generations.

48. The hive and fixtures should present a neat and attractive
appearance, and should admit, when desired, of being made highly

49. The hives ought not to be liable to be blown down in high winds.

My hives, being very low in proportion to their other dimensions, it
would require almost a hurricane to upset them.

50. It should enable an Apiarian who lives in the neighborhood of human
pilferers, to lock up the precious contents of his hives, in some cheap,
simple and convenient way.

A couple of padlocks with some cheap fixtures, will suffice to secure a
long range of hives.

51. A good hive should be protected against the destructive ravages of
mice in winter.

It seems almost incredible that so puny an animal should dare to invade
a hive of bees; and yet not unfrequently they slip in when the bees are
compelled by the cold to retreat from the entrance. Having once found
admission, they build themselves a nest in their comfortable abode, eat
up the honey, and such bees as are too much chilled to make any
resistance; and fill the premises with such an abominable stench, that
on the approach of warm weather, the bees often in a body abandon their
desecrated home. As soon as the cold weather approaches, all my hives
may have their entrances either entirely closed, or so contracted that
a mouse cannot gain admission.

52. A good hive should have its alighting board constructed so as to
shelter the bees against wind and wet, and thus to facilitate to the
utmost their entrance when they come home with their heavy burdens.

If this precaution is neglected, much valuable time and many lives will
be sacrificed, as the colony cannot be encouraged to use to the best
advantage the unpromising days which so often occur in the working

I have succeeded in arranging my alighting board in such a manner that
the bees are sheltered against wind and wet, and are able to enter the
hive with the least possible loss of time.

53. A well constructed hive ought to admit of being shut up in winter,
so as to consign the bees to darkness and repose.

Nothing can be more hazardous than to shut up closely an ill protected
hive. Even if the bees have an abundance of air, it will not answer to
prevent them from flying out, if they are so disposed. As soon as the
warmth penetrating their thin hives tempts them to fly, they crowd to
the entrance, and if it is shut, multitudes worry themselves to death in
trying to get out, and the whole colony is liable to become diseased.

In my hives as soon as the bees are shut up for Winter, they are most
effectually protected against all atmospheric changes, and never
_desire_ to leave their hives until the entrances are again opened, on
the return of suitable weather. Thus they pass the Winter in a state of
almost absolute repose; they eat much less honey[12] than when wintered
on the ordinary plan; a much smaller number die in the hives; none are
lost upon the snow, and they are more healthy, and commence breeding
much earlier than they do in the common hives. As some of the holes into
the Protector are left open in Winter, any bee that is diseased and
wishes to leave the hive can do so. Bees when diseased have a strange
propensity to leave their hives, just as animals when sick seek to
retreat from their companions; and in Summer such bees may often be seen
forsaking their home to perish on the ground. If all egress from the
hive in Winter is prevented, the diseased bees will not be able to
comply with an instinct which urges them "To leave their country for
their country's good."

54. It should possess all these requisites without being too costly for
common bee-keepers, or too complicated to be constructed by any one who
can handle simple tools: and they should be so combined that the result
is a simple hive, which any one can manage who has ordinary intelligence
on the subject of bees.

I suppose that the very natural conclusion from reading this long list
of desirables, would be that no single hive can combine them all,
without being exceedingly complicated and expensive. On the contrary,
the simplicity and cheapness with which my hive secures all these
results, is one of its most striking peculiarities, the attainment of
which has cost me more study than all the other points besides. As far
as the bees are concerned, they can work in this hive with even greater
facility than in the simple old-fashioned box, as the frames are left
rough by the saw, and thus give an admirable support to the bees when
building their combs; and they can enter the spare honey boxes, with
even more ease than if they were merely continuations of the main hive.

There are a few desirables to which my hive makes not the slightest
pretensions! It promises no splendid results to those who purchase it,
and yet are too ignorant, or too careless to be entrusted with the
management of bees. In bee-keeping, as in other things, a man must first
understand his business, and then proceed on the good old maxim, that
"the hand of the diligent maketh rich."

It possesses no talismanic influence by which it can convert a bad
situation for honey, into a good one; or give the Apiarian an abundant
harvest whether the season is productive or otherwise.

It cannot enable the cultivator rapidly to multiply his stocks, and yet
to secure, the same season, surplus honey from his bees. As well might
the breeder of poultry pretend that he can, in the same year, both raise
the greatest number of chickens, and sell the largest number of eggs.

Worse than all, it cannot furnish the many advantages enumerated, and
yet be made in as little time, or quite as cheap as a hive which proves,
in the end, to be a very dear bargain.

I have not constructed my hive in accordance with crude theories, or
mere conjectures, and then insisted that the bees must flourish in such
a fanciful contrivance; but I have studied, for many years, most
carefully, the nature of the honey-bee; and have diligently compared my
observations with those of writers and practical cultivators, who have
spent their lives in extending the sphere of Apiarian knowledge; and as
the result, have endeavored to adapt my hive to the actual wants and
habits of the bee; and to remedy the many difficulties with which I have
found its successful culture to be beset. And more than this, I have
actually tested by experiments long continued and on a large scale, the
merits of this hive, that I might not deceive both myself and others,
and add another to the many useless contrivances which have deluded and
disgusted a credulous public. I would, however, most earnestly repudiate
all claims to having devised a "perfect bee-hive." Perfection can belong
only to the works of the great Creator, to whose Omniscient eye, all
causes and effects with all their relations, were present, when he
spake, and from nothing formed the universe and all its glorious
wonders. For man to stamp upon any of his own works, the label of
perfection, is to show both his folly and presumption.

It must be confessed that the culture of bees is at a very low ebb in
our country, when thousands can be induced to purchase hives which are
in most glaring opposition not only to the true principles of Apiarian
knowledge, but often, to the plainest dictates of simple common sense.
Such have been the losses and disappointments of deluded purchasers,
that it is no wonder that they turn from everything offered in the shape
of a patent bee-hive, as a miserable humbug, if not a most bare-faced

I do not hesitate to say that those old-fashioned bee-keepers, who have
most steadily refused to meddle with any novelties, and who have used
hives of the very simplest construction, or at least such as are only
one remove from the old straw hive, or wooden box, have, as a general
thing, realized by far the largest profits in the management of bees.
They have lost neither time, money nor bees, in the vain hope of
obtaining any unusual results from hives, which, in the very nature of
the case, can secure nothing really in advance of what can be
accomplished by a simple box-hive with an upper chamber.

_A hive of the simplest possible construction_, is only a close
imitation of the abode of bees in a state of nature; being a mere hollow
receptacle in which they are protected from the weather, and where they
can lay up their stores.

_An improved hive_ is one which contains, in addition, a separate
apartment in which the bees can be induced to lay up the surplus portion
of their stores, for the use of their owner. All the various hives in
common use, are only modifications of this latter hive, and, as a
general rule, they are bad, exactly in proportion as they depart from
it. Not one of them offers any remedy for the loss of the queen, or
indeed for most of the casualties to which bees are exposed: they form
no reliable basis for any new system of management; and hence the
cultivation of bees, is substantially where it was, fifty years ago, and
the Apiarian as entirely dependent as ever, upon all the whims and
caprices of an insect which may be made completely subject to his

No hive which does not furnish a thorough control over every comb, can
be considered as any substantial advance on the simple improved or
chamber hive. Of all such hives, the one which with the least expense,
gives the greatest amount of protection, and the readiest access to the
spare honey boxes, is the best.

Having thus enumerated the tests to which all hives ought to be
subjected, and by which they should stand or fall, I submit them to the
candid examination of practical, common sense bee-keepers, who have had
the largest experience in the management of bees, and are most
conversant with the evils of the present system; and who are therefore
best fitted to apply them to an invention, which, if I may be pardoned
for using the enthusiastic language of an experienced Apiarian on
examining its practical workings, "introduces, not simply an
_improvement_, but a _revolution_ in bee-keeping."


[12] A writer in the New England Farmer for March, 1853, estimates that
the mild winter has been worth in the saving of fodder to the farmers of
New Hampshire alone, two and a half millions of dollars! By suitable
arrangements, bees even in the very coldest climates can have all the
advantages of a mild winter.



I specially invite a careful perusal of this chapter, as the subject,
though of the very first importance in the management of bees, is one to
which but little attention has been given by the majority of

In our climate of great and sudden extremes, many colonies are annually
injured or destroyed by undue exposure to heat or cold. In Summer, thin
hives are often exposed to the direct heat of the sun, so that the combs
melt, and the bees are drowned in their own sweets. Even if they escape
utter ruin, they cannot work to advantage in the almost suffocating heat
of their hives.

But in those places where the Winters are both long and severe, it is
much more difficult to protect the bees from the cold than from the
heat. Bees are not, as some suppose, in a _dormant_, or _torpid_
condition in Winter. It must be remembered that they were intended to
live in colonies, in Winter, as well as Summer. The wasp, hornet, and
other insects which do not live in families in the Winter, lay up no
stores for cold weather, and are so organized as to be able to endure in
a torpid state, a very low temperature; so low that it would be certain
death to a honey-bee, which when frozen, is as surely killed as a frozen

As soon as the temperature of the hives falls too low for their comfort,
the bees gather themselves into a more compact body, to preserve to the
utmost, their animal heat; and if the cold becomes so great that this
will not suffice, they keep up an incessant, tremulous motion,
accompanied by a loud humming noise; in other words, they take active
exercise in order to keep warm! If a thermometer is pushed up among
them, it will indicate a high temperature, even when the external
atmosphere is many degrees below zero. When the bees are unable to
maintain the necessary amount of animal heat, an occurrence which is
very common with small colonies in badly protected hives, then, as a
matter of course, they must perish.

Extreme cold, when of long continuance, very frequently destroys
colonies in thin hives, even when they are strong both in bees and
honey. The inside of such hives, is often filled with frost, and the
bees, after eating all the food in the combs in which they are
clustered, are unable to enter the frosty combs, and thus starve in the
midst of plenty. The unskilfull bee-keeper who finds an abundance of
honey in the hives, cannot conjecture the cause of their death.

If the cold merely destroyed feeble colonies, or strong ones only now
and then, it would not be so formidable an enemy; but every year, it
causes many of the most flourishing stocks to perish by starvation. The
extra quantity of food which they are compelled to eat, in order to keep
up their heat in their miserable hives, is often the turning point with
them, between life and death. They starve, when with proper protection,
they would have had food enough and to spare.

But some one may say, "What possible difference can the kind of hives in
which bees are kept make in the quantity of food which they will
consume?" Enough, I would reply, in some single winters, to pay the
difference between a good hive and a bad one!

I cannot move my finger, or wink my eye-lids without some waste of
muscle, however small; for it is a well-ascertained law in our animal
economy, that all _muscular exertion_ is attended with a corresponding
_waste_ of muscular fibre. Now this waste must be supplied by the
consumption of food, and it would be as unreasonable to expect constant
heat from a stove without fresh supplies of fuel, as incessant muscular
activity from an insect, without a supply of food proportioned to that
activity. If then we can contrive any way to keep our bees in almost
perfect quiet during the Winter, we may be certain that they will need
much less food than when they are constantly excited.

In the cold Winter of 1851-2, I kept two swarms in a perfectly dry and
dark cellar, where the temperature was remarkably uniform, seldom
varying two degrees from 50° of Fahrenheit; and I found that the bees
ate very little honey. The hives were of glass, and the bees, when
examined from time to time, were found clustered in almost death-like
repose. If these bees had been exposed in thin hives in the open air,
they would, in all probability, have eaten four times as much; for
whenever the sun shone upon them, or the atmosphere was unusually warm,
they would have been roused to injurious activity, and the same would
have been the case, when the cold was severe. Exposed to sudden changes
and severe cold, they would have been in almost perpetual motion, and
must have been compelled to consume a largely increased quantity of
food. In this way, many colonies are annually starved to death, which if
they had been better protected, would have survived to gladden their
owner with an abundant harvest. This protection, as a general thing,
must be given to them in the open air, for it is a very rare thing, to
meet with a cellar which is dry enough to prevent the combs from
moulding, and the bees from becoming diseased.

Bees never, unless diseased, discharge their fæces in the hive; and the
want of suitable protection, by exciting undue activity, and compelling
them to eat more freely, causes their bodies to be greatly distended
with accumulated fæces. On the return of warm weather, bees in this
condition being often too feeble to fly, crawl from their hives, and
miserably perish.

I must notice another exceedingly injurious effect of insufficient
protection, in causing the _moisture_ to settle upon the cold top and
sides of the interior of the hive, from whence it drips upon the bees.
In this way, many of their number are chilled and destroyed, and often
the whole colony is infected with dysentery. Not unfrequently, large
portions of the comb are covered with mould, and the whole hive is
rendered very offensive.

This dampness which causes what may be called a _rot_ among the bees, is
one of the worst enemies with which the Apiarian in a cold climate, has
to contend, as it weakens or destroys many of his best colonies. No
extreme of cold ever experienced in latitudes where bees flourish, can
destroy a strong colony well supplied with honey, except indirectly, by
confining them to empty combs. They will survive our coldest winters, in
thin hives raised on blocks to give a freer admission of air, or even in
suspended hives, without any bottom-board at all. Indeed, in cold
weather, a _very free_ admission of air is necessary in such hives, to
prevent the otherwise ruinous effects of frozen moisture; and hence the
common remark that bees require as much or more air in Winter than in

When bees, in unsuitable hives, are exposed to all the variations of the
external atmosphere, they are frequently tempted to fly abroad if the
weather becomes unseasonably warm, and multitudes are lost on the
_snow_, at a season when no young are bred to replenish their number,
and when the loss is most injurious to the colony.

From these remarks, it will be obvious to the intelligent cultivator,
that protection against extremes of heat and cold, is a point of the
VERY FIRST IMPORTANCE; and yet this is the very point, which, in
proportion to its importance, has been most overlooked. We have
discarded, and very wisely, the straw hives of our ancestors; but such
hives, with all their faults, were comparatively warm in Winter, and
cool in Summer. We have undertaken to keep bees, where the cold of
Winter, and the heat of Summer are alike intense; and where sudden and
severe changes are often fatal to the brood: and yet we blindly persist
in expecting success under circumstances in which any marked success is
well nigh impossible.

That our country is eminently favorable to the production of honey,
cannot be doubted. Many of our forests abound With colonies which are
not only able to protect themselves against all their enemies, the
dreaded bee-moth not excepted, but which often amass prodigious
quantities of honey. Nor are such colonies found merely in _new_
countries. They exist frequently in the very neighborhood of cultivators
whose hives are weak and impoverished, and who impute to a decay of the
honey resources of the country, the inevitable consequences of their own
irrational system of management. It will not be without profit, to
consider briefly under what circumstances these wild colonies flourish,
and how they are protected against sudden and extreme changes of

Snugly housed in the hollow of a tree whose thickness and decayed
interior are such admirable materials for excluding atmospheric changes,
the bees in Winter are in a state of almost absolute repose. The
entrance to their abode is generally very small in proportion to the
space within; and let the weather out of doors vary as it may, the
inside temperature is very uniform. These natural hives are dry, because
the moisture finds no cold or icy top, or sides, on which to condense,
and from which it must drip upon the bees, destroying their lives, or
enfeebling their health, by filling the interior of their dwelling with
mould and dampness. As they are very quiet, they eat but little, and
hence their bodies are not distended and diseased by accumulated fæces.
Often they do not stir from their hollows, from November until March or
April; and yet they come forth in the Spring, strong in numbers, and
vigorous in health. If at any time in the winter season, the warmth is
so great as to penetrate their comfortable abodes, and to tempt them to
fly, when they venture out, they find a balmy atmosphere in which they
may disport with impunity. In the Summer, they are protected from the
heat, not merely by the thickness of the hollow tree, but by the leafy
shade of overarching branches, and the refreshing coolness of a forest

The Russian and Polish bee-keepers, living in a climate whose winters
are much more severe than our own, are among the largest and most
successful cultivators of bees, many of them numbering their colonies by
hundreds, and some even by thousands!

They have, with great practical sagacity, imitated as closely as
possible, the conditions under which bees are found to flourish so
admirably in a state of nature. We are informed by Mr. Dohiogost, a
Polish writer, that his countrymen make their hives of the best plank,
and never less than an inch and a half in thickness. The shape is that
of an old-fashioned churn, and the hive is covered on the outside,
halfway down, with twisted rope cordage, to give it greater protection
against extremes of heat and cold. The hives are placed in a dry
situation, directly upon the hard earth, which is first covered with an
inch or two of clean, dry sand. Chips are then heaped up all around
them, and covered with earth banked up in a sloping direction to carry
off the rain. The entrance is at some distance above the bottom, and is
a triangle, whose sides are only one inch long. In the winter season,
this entrance is contracted so that only one bee can pass at a time.
Such a hive, with us, as it does not furnish the honey in convenient,
beautiful and salable forms, would not meet the demands of our
cultivators. Still, there are some very important lessons to be learned
from it, by all who keep bees in regions of cold winters, and hot
summers. It shows the importance which some of the largest Apiarians in
the world, attach to protection; practical, common sense men, whose
heads have not been turned, as some would express it, by modern theories
and fanciful inventions. They cultivate their bees almost in a state of
nature, and their experience on what we would term a gigantic scale,
ought to convince even the most incredulous, of the folly of pretending
to keep bees, in the miserably thin and unprotected hives to which we
have been accustomed.

But how, it will be asked, can bees live in Winter, in a hive so closely
shut up as the Polish hive? They do live in such hives, and prosper,
just as they do in hollow trees, with only one small entrance. It is
well known that bees have flourished when their hives were buried in
Winter, and under circumstances in which but a very small amount of air
could possibly gain admission to them. Bees, when kept in a _dry_ place,
in properly protected hives and in a state of almost perfect repose,
need only a small supply of air; and the objection that those
cultivators among us, who shut up their colonies very closely in Winter,
are almost sure to lose them, is of no weight; because the majority of
our hives are so deficient in protection, that if they are too closely
shut up, "the breath of the bees," condensing and freezing upon the
inside, and afterwards thawing, causes the combs to mould, and the bees
to become diseased; just as many substances mould and perish when kept
in a close, damp cellar.

We are now prepared to discuss the question of protection in its
relations to the construction of hives. We have seen how it is furnished
to the bees in the Polish hives, and in the decayed hollows of trees. If
the Apiarian chooses, he can imitate this plan by constructing his hives
of very thick plank: but such hives would be clumsy, and with us,
expensive. Or he may much more effectually reach the same end, by making
his hives double, so as to enclose an air space all around, which in
Winter may be filled with charcoal, plaster of Paris, straw, or any good
non-conductor, to enable the bees to preserve with the least waste,
their animal heat. I prefer to pack the air-space with plaster of Paris,
as it is one of the very best non-conductors of heat, being used in the
manufacture of the celebrated Salamander fire-proof safes. Hives may be
constructed in this way, which without great expense, may be much better
protected than if they were made of six-inch plank. As the price of
glass is very low, I prefer to construct the inside of my doubled hives
of this material. When a number of hives are to be made, as the lowest
price glass will answer every purpose, I can furnish a given amount of
protection cheaper with glass than wood, while the glass possesses some
most decided advantages over any other material. The hives are lighter
and more compact, than when made of doubled wood, and can be more easily
moved, while the Apiarian can gratify his rational curiosity, and
inspect at all times, the condition of his stocks. The very interest
inspired by being able to see what they are doing, will go far to
protect them from that indifference and neglect, which is so often fatal
to their prosperity. The way in which I make my hives, not only protects
the bees against extremes of heat and cold, but it guards them very
effectually, against the injurious and often fatal effects of condensed
moisture. By means of my movable frames, the combs are prevented from
being attached to the sides, top or bottom of the hive; they are in
fact, suspended in the air. If now the dampness can be prevented from
condensing any where, _over_ the bees, so that it may not drip upon
their combs, and if it can be easily discharged from the hive wherever
it may collect, it cannot, under any circumstances, seriously annoy
them. Such are the arrangements in my hives, that but very little
moisture forms in them, and all that does, is deposited on the sides in
preference to any other part of the interior; just as it is upon the
colder walls or windows, rather than the ceiling of a room. But as the
combs are kept away from the sides, this moisture cannot annoy the bees;
nor can it penetrate the glass as it does unpainted wood or straw, thus
causing a more protracted dampness; it must run down their smooth
surfaces, and fall upon the bottom-board, from whence it can be easily
discharged from the hive. By packing in winter, the necessary amount of
protection is secured for the top and sides of the hive, and the very
worst property of glass, (its parting so rapidly with heat,) is changed
into one of the very best for the purposes of a bee-hive. I prefer not
only to make the sides of my hive of glass, but of _double_ glass, with
an air space of about an inch between the two panes of glass. The extra
cost[13] of this construction will be amply repaid by the additional
protection given to the bees. It will be absolutely impossible for any
frost ever to penetrate through this air space, and the packing between
the outside case and the main hive. The combs in such a hive cannot be
melted down, even if the hive is exposed to the reflected and
concentrated heat of a blazing sun: the same construction which secures
them against the cold of Winter, equally protecting them from the heat
of Summer. There is one disadvantage to which all well protected hives
of the ordinary construction, are exposed. In the Spring of the year, it
is exceedingly desirable that the warmth of the sun should penetrate the
hives, to encourage the bees in early breeding; but the very arrangement
which protects them from cold, often interferes with this. A bee-hive is
thus like a cellar, warm in Winter, and cool in Summer; but often
unpleasantly cool in the early Spring, when the atmosphere out of doors
is warm and delightful. In my hive, this difficulty is easily remedied.
In the Spring, as soon as the bees begin to fly, on warm, sun-shiny
days, the upper part of the outside case is removed, so that the genial
heat of the sun can penetrate to every part of the hive. The cover must
be replaced while the sun is still shining, so that the hives may be
shut up while they are warm. The labor of doing this, need occupy only a
few minutes daily, and as soon as warm weather fairly sets in, it may be
dispensed with. It may be performed without any risk, by a woman or a

If the hive is of glass, it will warm up all the better, and as the
combs are on frames, they cannot be melted or injured by the heat. It is
a serious objection to most covered Apiaries, that they do not permit
the hives to receive the genial heat of the sun at a period of the year
when instead of injuring the bees, it exerts a most powerful influence
in developing their brood.

This is one among many reasons why I have discarded them, and why I
prefer to construct my hives in such a manner that they need no extra
covering, but stand exposed to the full influence of the sun. I have
known strong colonies which have survived the Winter in thin hives, to
increase rapidly and swarm early, because of the stimulating effect of
the sun; while others, deprived of this influence, in dark bee houses
and well protected hives, have sometimes disappointed the hopes of their
owners. Although my glass hives are very beautiful, and most admirably
protected, still hives of doubled wood may often be built to better
advantage by those who construct their own hives, and they can be made
to furnish any desirable amount of protection.

Enclosed Apiaries are at best but nuisances: they soon become
lurking-places for spiders and moths; and after all the expense wasted
on their construction, afford, but little protection against extreme

I have been thus particular on the subject of protection, in order to
convince every bee keeper who exercises common sense, that thin hives
ought to be given up, if either pleasure or profit is sought from his
bees. Such hives an enlightened Apiarian could not be persuaded to
purchase, and he would consider them too expensive in their waste of
honey and bees, to be worth accepting, even as a gift. Many strong
colonies which are lodged in badly protected hives, often consume in
extra food, in a single hard winter, more than enough to pay the
difference between the first cost of a good hive over a bad one. In the
severe winter of 1851-2, many cultivators lost nearly all their stocks,
and a large part of those which survived, were too much weakened to be
able to swarm. And yet these same miserable hives, after accomplishing
the work of destruction on one generation of bees, are reserved to
perform the same office for another. And this some call economy!

I am well aware of the question which many of my readers have for some
time been ready to ask of me. Can you make one of your well protected
hives as cheaply as we construct our common hives? I would remind such
questioners, that it is hardly possible to build a well protected house
as cheaply as a barn.

And yet by building my hives in solid structures, three together, I am
able to make them for a very moderate price, and still to give them even
better protection than when they are constructed singly. If they are not
built of doubled materials they can be made for as little money as any
other patent hive, and yet afford much greater protection; as the combs
touch neither the top, bottom nor sides of the hive. I recommend however
a construction, which although somewhat more costly at first, is yet
much cheaper in the end.

Such is the passion of the American people for cheapness in the first
cost of an article, even at the evident expense of dearness in the end,
that many, I doubt not, will continue to lodge their bees in thin hives,
in spite of their conviction of the folly of so doing; just as many of
our shrewdest Yankees build thin wooden houses, in the cold climate of
New England, or plaster their stone or brick ones directly on the wall,
when the extra cost of fuel to warm them, far exceeds the interest on
the additional expense which would be necessary to give them the
requisite protection; to say nothing of the doctors' bills, and fatal
diseases which can be traced often to the dreary barns or damp vaults
which they build, and call houses!


I attach very great importance to the way in which I give the bees
effectual protection against extremes of heat and cold, and sudden
changes of temperature, without removing them from their stands, or
incurring the expense and disadvantages of a covered Bee-House. This I
accomplish by means of what I shall call a _Protector_ which is
constructed substantially as follows.

Select a dry and suitable location for the bees, where they will not be
disturbed, or prove an annoyance to others. If possible, let it be in
full sight of the sitting room, so that they may be seen in case of
swarming; and let it face the South-East, and be well protected from the
force of strong winds. Dig a trench, about two feet deep; its length
should depend upon the number of hives to be accommodated; and its
breadth should be such that when it is properly walled up, it should
measure from the outside top of one wall to another, just sufficient to
receive the bottom of the hive. The walls, may be built of refuse brick
or stones, and should be about four feet high from the foundation; the
upper six inches being built of good brick, and the back wall about two
inches higher than the front one, so as to give the bottom-board of the
hives, the proper slant towards the entrance. At one end of this
Protector, a wooden chimney should be built, and if the number of hives
is great, there should be one at each end, admitting air in Winter, and
yet excluding rain and snow. The earth which is thrown out in digging,
should be banked up against the walls as high as the good brick, and in
a slope which, when grassed over, may be easily mowed with a common
scythe. The slope on the back should be more perpendicular than in front
so as not to be in the way when operating upon the hives.

The bottom may be covered with an inch or two of clean sand and in
winter with straw. In Summer, the ends are left open, so that a free
current of air may pass through, while in Winter, they are properly
banked up; and straw, evergreen boughs, or any other material, suitable
for excluding frost, may if necessary, be placed all around the outside
of the Protector. Such an arrangement will be found very cheap, when
compared with a Bee-House or covered Apiary, and may be made both neat
and highly ornamental. It may be constructed of wood by those who desire
something still cheaper, and any one who can handle a spade, hammer,
plane and saw, can make for himself a structure on which a hundred hives
may stand, at less expense than would be necessary to build a covered
Apiary for ten. As the ventilators of the hive open into this Protector,
the bees are, in Summer, supplied with a cool and refreshing atmosphere,
as closely as possible resembling that which they find in a forest home;
while in Winter, the external entrances of the hives may be safely
closed, and they will receive a supply of air remarkably uniform and
never much below the freezing point. As the hives themselves are double,
no frost can penetrate through them, and thus their interior will almost
always be perfectly dry. When the weather suddenly moderates, and bees
in the common hives fly out, and are lost on the snow, those arranged in
the manner described, will not know that any change has taken place,
but will remain quiet in their winter quarters, unless the weather is so
warm that their owner judges it safe to open the entrances, so that the
warmth may penetrate their hives, and tempt them to fly, and discharge
their fæces. Let it be remembered that the object of this arrangement is
not to _warm up_ the hives by _artificial heat_; but merely to enable
the bees to retain to the utmost their own animal heat, to secure the
advantages set forth in this Chapter on Protection. Once or twice during
the Winter, the blocks which regulate the entrances to my hives should
be removed, and as the frames are kept about half an inch from the
bottom-board, by means of a stick or wire, all the dead bees and filth
may, in a few moments, be removed: or as the entrance of the hives by
removing the blocks, may be so enlarged as to offer no obstruction to
its introduction or removal, an old newspaper can be kept on the
bottom-board, and drawn out from time to time, with all its contents.

A movable board of the same thickness and length with the bottom-boards
of the hive and about six inches wide, separates the hives from each
other, as they stand upon the Protector.

I have made numerous observations upon the temperature of a Protector
made substantially on the plan described, and find that it is
wonderfully uniform. The lowest range of the thermometer during the
months of January and February, 1853, in the Protector, was 28°; in the
open air, 14° below zero; the highest in the Protector 32°; in the open
air 56°. It will thus be seen that while the thermometer out of doors
had a range of 70°, in the Protector it had a range of only 4°. While
bees in common hives during some warm days flew out and perished in
large numbers on the snow; the bees over the Protector were perfectly
quiet. To this arrangement I attach an importance second only to my
movable frames, and believe that combined with doubled hives, it removes
the chief obstacle to the successful cultivation of bees in cold
latitudes.[14] In the coldest regions where bees can find supplies in
Summer, they may during a Winter that lasts from November to May, and
during which the mercury congeals, be kept as comfortable as in climates
which seem much more propitious for their cultivation. The more snow the
better, as it serves more the effectually to exclude the cold from the
Protector. However long and dreary the Winter, the bees in their
comfortable quarters feel none of its injurious influences; and actually
consume less, than those which are kept where the winters are short, and
so mild that the bees are often tempted to fly, and are in a state of
almost continual excitement. It is in precisely such latitudes, in
Poland and Russia, that bees are kept in the largest numbers, and with
the most extraordinary success. In the chapter on Pasturage, I shall
show that some of the coldest places in New England, and the Middle
States, are among the most favored spots for obtaining the largest
supplies of the very purest honey.

Having thoroughly tested the practicability of affording the bees by my
Protector, complete protection against heat and cold, at a very small
expense, and in a way which may be made highly ornamental, the proper
steps will be taken to secure a patent right for the same; although no
extra charge will be made for this, or for any other subsequent
improvement, to those who purchase the right to use my hive.


[13] The cost of the glass for one hive so as to give the air space all
around, if purchased at the wholesale prices will not exceed 25 cts.
Where three hives are made in one structure, the glass for the three
will cost less than 50 cents; if double glass is not used, the expense
would be less by one half.

[14] The observations to test the temperature of the Protector were made
in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in latitude 42 deg. 36 min.



If a populous hive is examined on a warm Summer day, a considerable
number of bees will be found standing on the alighting board, with their
heads turned towards the entrance, the extremity of their bodies
slightly elevated, and their wings in such rapid motion that they are
almost as indistinct as the spokes of a wheel, in swift rotation on its
axis. A brisk current of air may be felt proceeding from the hive, and
if a small piece of down be suspended by a thread, it will be blown out
from one part of the entrance, and drawn in at another. What are these
bees expecting to accomplish, that they appear so deeply absorbed in
their fanning occupation, while busy numbers are constantly crowding in
and out of the hive? and what is the meaning of this double current of
air? To Huber, we owe the first satisfactory explanation of these
curious phenomena. These bees plying their rapid wings in such a
singular attitude, are performing the important business of
_ventilating_ the hive; and this double current is composed of pure air
rushing in at one part, to supply the place of the foul air forced out
at another. By a series of the most careful and beautiful experiments,
Huber ascertained that the air of a crowded hive is almost, if not
quite, as pure as the atmosphere by which it is surrounded. Now, as the
entrance to such a hive, is often, (more especially in a state of
nature,) very small, the interior air cannot be renewed without resort
to some artificial means. If a lamp is put into a close vessel with only
one small orifice, it will soon exhaust all the oxygen, and go out. If
another small orifice is made, the same result will follow; but if by
some device a current of air is drawn out from one, an equal current
will force its way into the other, and the lamp will burn until the oil
is exhausted.

It is precisely on this principle, of maintaining a double current by
_artificial means_, that the bees ventilate their crowded habitations. A
body of active ventilators stands inside of the hive, as well as
outside, all with their heads turned towards the entrance, and by the
rapid fanning of their wings, a current of air is blown briskly out of
the hive, and an equal current drawn in. This important office is one
which requires great physical exertion on the part of those to whom it
is entrusted; and if their proceedings are carefully watched, it will be
found that the exhausted ventilators, are, from time to time, relieved
by fresh detachments. If the interior of the hive will admit of
inspection, in very hot weather, large numbers of these ventilators will
be found in regular files, in various parts of the hive, all busily
engaged in their laborious employment. If the entrance at any time is
contracted, a speedy accession will be made to the numbers, both inside
and outside; and if it is closed entirely, the heat of the hive will
quickly increase, the whole colony will commence a rapid vibration of
their wings, and in a few moments will drop lifeless from the combs, for
want of air.

It has been proved by careful experiments that pure air is necessary not
only for the respiration of the mature bees, but that without it,
neither the eggs can be hatched, nor the larvæ developed. A fine
netting of air-vessels covers the eggs; and the cells of the larvæ are
sealed over with a covering which is full of air holes. In Winter, as
has been stated in the Chapter on Protection, bees, if kept in the dark,
and neither too warm nor too cold, are almost dormant, and seem to
require but a small allowance of air; but even under such circumstances,
they cannot live entirely without air; and if they are excited by being
exposed to atmospheric changes, or by being disturbed, a very loud
humming may be heard in the interior of their hives, and they need quite
as much air as in warm weather.

If at any time, by moving their hives, or in any other way, bees are
greatly disturbed, it will be unsafe to confine them, especially in warm
weather, unless a very free admission of air is given to them, and even
then, the air ought to be admitted above, as well as below the mass of
bees, or the ventilators may become clogged with dead bees, and the
swarm may perish. Under close confinement, the bees become excessively
heated, and the combs are often melted down. When bees are confined to a
close atmosphere, especially if dampness is added to its injurious
influences, they are sure to become diseased; and large numbers, if not
the whole colony, perish from dysentery. Is it not under circumstances
precisely similar, that cholera and dysentery prove most fatal to human
beings? How often do the filthy, damp and unventilated abodes of the
abject poor, become perfect lazar-houses to their wretched inmates?

I examined, last Summer, the bees of a new swarm which had been
suffocated for want of air, and found their bodies distended with a
yellow and noisome substance, just as though they had perished from
dysentery. A few were still alive, and instead of honey, their bodies
were filled with this same disgusting fluid; though the bees had not
been shut up, more than two hours.

In a medical point of view, I consider these facts as highly
interesting; showing as they do, under what circumstances, and how
speedily, disease may be produced.

In very hot weather, if thin hives are exposed to the sun's rays, the
bees are excessively annoyed by the intense heat, and have recourse to
the most powerful ventilation, not merely to keep the air of the hive
pure, but to carry off, as much as possible, its internal warmth. They
often leave the interior of the hive, almost in a body, and in thick
masses, cluster on the outside, not simply to escape the close heat
within, but to guard their combs against the danger of being dissolved.
At such times they are particularly careful not to cluster on the combs
containing sealed honey; for as most of these combs have not been lined
with the cocoons of the larvæ, they are, for this reason, as well as on
account of the extra amount of wax used for their covers, much more
liable to be melted, than the breeding cells.

Apiarians have often noticed the fact, that as a general thing, the bees
leave the honey cells almost entirely bare, as soon as they have sealed
them over; but it seems to have escaped their observation, that in hot
weather, there is often an absolute necessity for such a course. In cool
weather, on the contrary, the bees may often be found clustered among
the sealed honey-combs, because there is then no danger of their melting

Few things in the range of their wonderful instincts, are so well fitted
to impress the mind with their admirable sagacity, as the truly
scientific device, by which these wise little insects ventilate their
dwellings. I was on the point of saying that it was almost like
human-reason, when the painful and mortifying reflection presented
itself to my mind that in respect to ventilation, the bee is immensely
in advance of the great mass of those who consider themselves as
rational beings. It has, to be sure, no ability to make an elaborate
analysis of the chemical constituents of the atmosphere, and to decide
how large a proportion of oxygen is essential to the support of life,
and how rapidly the process of breathing converts this important element
into a deadly poison. It has not, like Leibig, been able to demonstrate
that God has set the animal and vegetable world, the one over against
the other; so that the carbonic acid produced by the breathing of the
one, furnishes the aliment of the other; which, in turn, gives out its
oxygen for the support of animal life; and that, in this wonderful
manner, God has provided that the atmosphere shall, through all ages, be
as pure as when it first came from His creating hand. But shame upon us!
that with all our intelligence, the most of us live as though pure air
was of little or no importance; while the bee ventilates with a
scientific precision and thoroughness, that puts to the blush our
criminal neglect.

To this it may be replied that ventilation in our case, cannot be had,
without considerable expense. Can it be had for nothing, by the
industrious bees? Those busy insects, which are so indefatigably plying
their wings, are not engaged in idle amusement; nor might they, as some
would-be utilitarian may imagine, be better employed in gathering honey,
or in superintending some other department in the economy of the hive.
They are at great expense of time and labor, supplying the rest of the
colony with pure air, so conducive in every way, to their health and

I trust that I shall be permitted to digress, for a short time, from
bees to men, and that the remarks which I shall offer on the subject of
ventilation in human dwellings, may make a deeper impression, in
connection with the wise arrangements of the bee, than they would, if
presented in the shape of a mere scientific discussion; and that some
who have been in the habit of considering all air, except in the
particular of temperature, as about alike, may be thoroughly convinced
of their mistake.

Recent statistics prove that consumption and its kindred diseases are
most fearfully on the increase, in the Northern, and more especially in
the New England States; and that the general mortality of Massachusetts
exceeds that of almost every other state in the Union. In these States,
the tendency of increasing attention to manufacturing and mechanical
pursuits, is to compel a larger and larger proportion of the population
to lead an in-door life, and to breathe an atmosphere more or less
vitiated, and thus unfit for the full development of vigorous health.
The importance of pure air can hardly be over-estimated; indeed, the
quality of the air we breath, seems to exert an influence much more
powerful, and hardly less direct, than the mere quality of our food.
Those who, by active exercise in the open air, keep their lungs
saturated as it were, with the pure element, can eat almost anything
with impunity; while those who breath the sorry apology for air which is
to be found in so many habitations, although they may live upon the most
nutritious diet, and avoid the least excess, are incessantly troubled
with head-ache, dyspepsia, and various mental as well as physical
sufferings. Well may such persons, as they witness the healthy forms and
happy faces of so many of the hardy sons of toil, exclaim with the old
Latin poet,

    "Oh dura messorum illia!"

It is with the human family very much as it is with the vegetable
kingdom. Take a plant or tree, and shut it out from the pure air, and
the invigorating light, and though you may supply it with an abundance
of water and the very soil, which by the strictest chemical analysis, is
found to contain all the elements that are essential to its vigorous
growth, it will still be a puny thing, ready to droop, if exposed to a
summer's sun, or to be prostrated by the first visitation of a winter's
blast. Compare now, this wretched abortion, with an oak or maple which
has grown upon the comparatively sterile mountain pasture, and whose
branches, in Summer are the pleasant resort of the happy songsters,
while, under its mighty shade, the panting herds drink in a refreshing
coolness. In Winter it laughs at the mighty storms, which wildly toss
its giant branches in the air, and which serve only to exercise the
limbs of the sturdy tree, whose roots deep intertwined among its native
rocks, enable it to bid defiance to anything short of a whirlwind or

To a population, who, for more than two-thirds of the year, are
compelled to breathe an atmosphere heated by artificial means, the
question how can this air be made, at a moderate expense, to resemble,
as far as possible, the purest ether of the skies is, (or as I should
rather say ought to be,) a question of the utmost interest. When open
fires were used, there was no lack of pure air, whatever else might have
been deficient. A capacious chimney carried up through its insatiable
throat, immense volumes of air, to be replaced by the pure element,
whistling in glee, through every crack, crevice and keyhole. Now the
house-builder and stove-maker with but few exceptions[15] seem to have
joined hands in waging a most effectual warfare against the unwelcome
intruder. By labor-saving machinery, they contrive to make the one, the
joints of his wood-work, and the other, those of his iron-work, tighter
and tighter, and if it were possible for them to accomplish fully their
manifest design, they would be able to furnish rooms almost as fatal
to life as "the black hole of Calcutta." But in spite of all that they
can do, the materials will shrink, and no fuel has yet been found, which
will burn without any air, so that sufficient ventilation is kept up, to
prevent such deadly occurrences. Still they are tolerably successful in
keeping out the unfriendly element; and by the use of huge
cooking-stoves with towering ovens, and other salamander contrivances,
the little air that can find its way in, is almost as thoroughly cooked,
as are the various delicacies destined for the table.

On reading an account of a run-away slave, who was for a considerable
time, closely boxed up, a gentleman remarked that if the poor fellow had
only known that a renewal of the air was necessary to the support of
life, he could not have lived there an hour without suffocation: I have
frequently thought that if the occupants of the rooms I have been
describing, could only know as much, they would be in almost similar

Bad air, one would think, is bad enough: but when it is heated and dried
to an excessive degree, all its original vileness is stimulated to
greater activity, and thus made doubly injurious by this new element of
evil. Not only our private houses, but our churches and school-rooms,
our railroad cars, and all our places of public assemblage, are, to a
most lamentable degree, either unprovided with any means of ventilation,
or, to a great extent, supplied with those which are so wretchedly
deficient that they

    "Keep the word of promise to our ear,
    And break it to our hope."

That ultimate degeneracy must surely follow such entire disregard of the
laws of health, cannot be doubted; and those who imagine that the
physical stamina of a people can be undermined, and yet that their
intellectual, moral and religious health will suffer no eclipse or
decay, know very little of the intimate connection between body and
mind, which the Creator has seen fit to establish.

The men may, to a certain extent, resist the injurious influences of
foul air; as their employments usually compel them to live much more out
of doors: but alas, alas! for the poor women! In the very land where
women are treated with more universal deference and respect than in any
other, and where they so well deserve it, there often, no provision is
made to furnish them with that great element of health, cheerfulness and
beauty, heaven's pure, fresh air.

In Southern climes, where doors and windows may be safely kept open for
a large part of the year, pure air is cheap enough, and can be obtained
without any special effort: but in Northern latitudes, where heated air
must be used for nearly three-quarters of the year, the neglect of
ventilation is fast causing the health and beauty of our women to
disappear. The pallid cheek, or the hectic flush, the angular form and
distorted spine, the debilitated appearance of a large portion of our
females, which to a stranger, would seem to indicate that they were just
recovering from a long illness, all these indications of the lamentable
absence of physical health, to say nothing of the anxious, care-worn
faces and premature wrinkles, proclaim in sorrowful voices, our
violation of God's physical laws, and the dreadful penalty with which He
visits our transgressions.

Our people must, and I have no doubt that eventually they will be most
thoroughly aroused to the necessity of a vital reform on this important
subject. Open stoves, and cheerful grates and fire-places will again be
in vogue with the mass of the people, unless some better mode of warming
shall be devised, which, at less expense, shall make still more ample
provision for the constant introduction of fresh air. Houses will be
constructed, which, although more expensive in the first cost, will be
far cheaper in the end, and by requiring a much smaller quantity of fuel
to warm the air, will enable us to enjoy the luxury of breathing air
which may be duly tempered, and yet be pure and invigorating. Air-tight
and all other _lung-tight_ stoves will be exploded, as economizing in
fuel only when they allow the smallest possible change of air, and thus
squandering health and endangering life.

The laws very wisely forbid the erection of wooden buildings in large
cities, and in various ways, prescribe such regulations for the
construction of edifices as are deemed to be essential to the public
welfare; and the time cannot, I trust, be very far distant, when all
public buildings erected for the accommodation of large numbers, will be
required by law, to furnish a supply of fresh air, in some reasonable
degree adequate to the necessities of those who are to occupy them.

I shall ask no excuse for the honest warmth of language which will
appear extravagant only to those who cannot, or rather will not, see the
immense importance of pure air to the highest enjoyment, not only of
physical, but of mental and moral health. The man who shall succeed in
convincing the mass of the people, of the truth of the views thus
imperfectly presented, and whose inventive mind shall devise a cheap and
efficacious way of furnishing a copious supply of pure air for our
dwellings and public buildings, our steamboats and railroad cars, will
be even more of a benefactor than a Jenner, or a Watt, a Fulton, or a

To return from this lengthy and yet I trust not unprofitable digression.

In the ventilation of my hive, I have endeavored, as far as possible, to
meet all the necessities of the bees, under the varying circumstances to
which they are exposed, in our uncertain climate, whose severe extremes
of temperature impress most forcibly upon the bee-keeper, the maxim of
the Mantuan Bard,

    "Utraque vis pariter apibus metuenda."

"Extremes of heat or cold, alike are hurtful to the bees." In order to
make artificial ventilation of any use to the great majority of
bee-keepers, it must be simple, and not as in Nutt's hive, and many
other labored contrivances, so complicated as to require almost as
constant supervision as a hot-bed or a green-house. The very foundation
of any system of ventilation should be such a construction of the hive
that the bees shall need a change of air only for breathing.

In the Chapter on Protection, I have explained the construction of my
hives, and of the Protector by which the bees being kept warm in Winter,
and cool in Summer, do not require, as in thin hives, a very free
introduction of air, in hot weather, to keep the combs from softening;
or a still larger supply in Winter, to prevent them from moulding, and
to dry up the moisture which runs from their icy tops and sides; and
which, if suffered to remain, will often affect the bees with dysentery,
or as it is sometimes called, "the rot." The intelligent Apiarian will
perceive that I thus imitate the natural habitation of the bees in the
recesses of a hollow tree in the forest, where they feel neither the
extremes of heat nor cold, and where through the efficacy of their
ventilating powers, a very small opening admits all the air which is
necessary for respiration.

In the Chapter on the Requisites of a good hive, I have spoken of the
importance of furnishing ventilation, independently of the entrance. By
such an arrangement, I am able to improve upon the method which the bees
are compelled to adopt in a state of nature. As they have no means of
admitting air by wire-cloth, and at the same time, of effectually
excluding all intruders, they are obliged in very hot weather, and in a
very crowded state of their dwellings, to employ a larger force in the
laborious business of ventilation, than would otherwise be necessary;
while in Winter, they have no means of admitting air which is only
moderately cool. I can keep the entrance so small, that only a single
bee can go in at once, or I can, if circumstances require, entirely
close it, and yet the bees need not suffer for the want of air. In all
ordinary cases, the ventilators will admit a sufficient supply of duly
tempered air from the Protector, and the bees can, at any time, increase
their efficiency by their own direct agency, while yet they will, at no
time, admit a strong current of chilly air, so as to endanger the life
of the brood. As bees are, at all times, prone to close the ventilators
with propolis, they must be placed where they can easily be removed, and
cleansed, by soaking them in boiling water.

As respects ventilation from above, as well as from below, so as to
allow a free current of air to pass through the hive, I am decidedly
opposed to it, as in cool and windy weather, such a current often
compels the bees to retire from the brood, which in this way is
destroyed by a fatal chill. In thin hives, ventilation from above may be
desirable in Winter, to carry off the superfluous moisture, but in
properly constructed hives, standing over a Protector, there is, as has
already been remarked, little or no dampness to be carried off. The
construction of my hives will allow, if at all desirable, of ventilation
from above; and I always make use of it, when the bees are to be shut up
for any length of time, in order to be moved; as in this case, there is
always a risk that the ventilators on the bottom-board may be clogged by
dead bees, and the colony suffocated. As the entrance of the hive, may
in a moment, be enlarged to any desirable extent, without in the least
perplexing the bees, any quantity of air may be admitted, which the
necessities of the bees, under any possible circumstances, may require.
It may be made full 18 inches in length, but as a general rule, in
Summer, in a large colony, it need not exceed six inches: while in
Spring and Fall, two or three inches will suffice. In Winter, it should
be entirely closed; unless in latitudes so warm, that even with the
Protector, the bees cannot be kept quiet. The bee-keeper should never
forget that it is almost certain destruction to a colony, to confine
them when they wish to fly out. The precautions requisite to prevent
robbing, will be subsequently described. In Northern latitudes, in the
months of April and May, I prefer to keep the ventilators entirely
closed; as the air of the Protector, at such times, like the air of a
cellar in Spring, is uncomfortably cool, and has a tendency to interfere
with breeding.

    NOTE.--Since the remarks on the neglect of ventilation were put in
    type, my attention has been called by Hon. M. P. Wilder, of
    Dorchester, to an article on the same subject, in the Nov. number of
    the Horticulturist, for 1850, from the pen of the lamented Downing.
    It seems to have been written shortly after his return from Europe,
    and when he must have been most deeply impressed by the woful
    contrast, in point of physical health between the women of America
    and Europe. While he speaks in just and therefore glowing terms of
    the virtues of our countrywomen, he says: "But in the _signs of
    physical health_ and all that constitutes the outward aspect of the
    men and women of the United States, our countrymen and especially
    countrywomen, compare most unfavorably with all but the absolutely
    starving classes on the other side of the Atlantic." Close stoves he
    has most appropriately styled "little demons," and impure air "The
    favorite poison of America." His article concludes as follows:

    "Pale countrymen and countrywomen rouse yourselves! Consider that
    God has given us an atmosphere of pure health-giving air 45 miles
    high, and _ventilate your houses_."


[15] The beautiful open or Franklin stoves, manufactured by Messrs.
Jagger, Treadwell and Perry, of Albany, deserve the highest
commendation: they economize fuel as well as life and health.



The swarming of bees has been justly regarded as one of the most
beautiful sights in the whole compass of rural economy. Although, for
reasons which will hereafter be assigned, I prefer to rely chiefly on
artificial means for the multiplication of colonies, I should be very
unwilling to pass a season without participating, to some extent, in the
pleasing excitement of natural swarming.

    "Up mounts the chief, and to the cheated eye
    Ten thousand shuttles dart along the sky;
    As swift through æther rise the rushing swarms,
    Gay dancing to the beam their sun-bright forms;
    And each thin form, still ling'ring on the sight,
    Trails, as it shoots, a line of silver light.
    High pois'd on buoyant wing, the thoughtful queen,
    In gaze attentive, views the varied scene,
    And soon her far-fetch'd ken discerns below
    The light laburnum lift her polish'd brow,
    Wave her green leafy ringlets o'er the glade,
    And seem to beckon to her friendly shade.
    Swift as the falcon's sweep, the monarch bends
    Her flight abrupt; the following host descends.
    Round the fine twig, like cluster'd grapes, they close
    In thickening wreaths, and court a short repose."

The swarming of bees, by making provision for the constant
multiplication of colonies, was undoubtedly intended both to guard the
insect against the possibility of extinction, and to make its labors in
the highest degree useful to man. The laws of reproduction in those
insects which do not live in regular colonies, are such as to secure an
ample increase of numbers. The same is true in the case of hornets,
wasps and humble-bees which live in colonies only during the warm
weather. In the Fall of the year, all the males perish, while the
impregnated females retreat into winter quarters and remain dormant,
until the warm weather restores them to activity, and each one becomes
the mother of a new family.

The honey bee differs from all these insects, in being compelled, by the
laws of its physical organization, to live in communities, during the
entire year. The balmy breezes of Spring will quickly thaw out the
frozen veins of a torpid Wasp; but the bee is incapable of enduring even
a moderate degree of cold: a temperature as low as 50° speedily chills
it, and it would be quite as easy to recall to life the stiffened
corpses in the charnel house of the Convent of the Great St. Bernard, as
to restore to animation, a frozen bee. In cool weather, they must
therefore associate in large numbers, in order to maintain the animal
heat which is necessary to their preservation; and the formation of new
colonies, after the manner of wasps and hornets, is clearly impossible.
If the young queens left the parent stock in Summer, and were able, like
the mother-wasps, to lay the foundations of a new colony, they could not
maintain the warmth requisite for the development of their young, even
if they were able, without any baskets on their thighs, to gather
bee-bread for their support. If all these difficulties were surmounted,
they would still be unable to amass any treasures for our use, or even
to lay up the stores requisite for their own preservation.

How admirably are all these difficulties obviated by the present
arrangement! Their domicile is well supplied with all the materials for
the rearing of brood, and long before any of the insects which depend
upon the heat of the sun, are able to commence breeding, the bees have
added thousands in the full vigor of youth to their already numerous
population. They are thus able to send off in season, colonies
sufficiently powerful to take advantage of the honey-harvest, and
provision the new hive against the approach of Winter. From these
considerations, it is very evident that swarming, so far from being, as
some Apiarians have considered it, a forced or unnatural event, is one,
which in a state of nature, could not possibly be dispensed with.

Let us now inquire under what circumstances it ordinarily takes place.

The time when swarms may be expected, depends of course, upon climate,
season, and the strength of the stocks. In the Northern and Middle
States, bees seldom swarm before the latter part of May; and June may be
considered as the great swarming month. The importance of having
powerful swarms early in the season, will be discussed in another place.

In the Spring, as soon as a hive well filled with comb and bees, becomes
too much crowded to accommodate its teeming population, the bees begin
the necessary preparations for emigration. A number of royal cells are
commenced about the time that the drones first make their appearance;
and by the time that the young queens arrive at maturity, the drones are
always found in the greatest abundance. The first swarm is invariably
led off by the old queen, unless she has previously died from accident
or disease, in which case, it is accompanied by one of the young queens
reared to supply her loss. The old mother leaves soon after the royal
cells are sealed over, unless delayed by unfavorable weather. There are
no signs from which the Apiarian can, with certainty, predict the issue
of a first swarm. I devoted annually, much attention to this point,
vainly hoping to discover some infallible indications of first swarming;
until taught by further reflection that, from the very nature of the
case, there can be no such indications. The bees, from an unfavorable
state of the weather, or the failure of the blossoms to yield an
abundant supply of honey, often change their minds, and refuse to swarm,
even after all their preparations have been completed. Nay more, they
sometimes send out no new colonies that season, when a sudden change of
weather has interrupted them on the very day when they were intending to
emigrate, and after they had taken a full supply of honey for their

If on a fair, warm day in the swarming season, but few bees leave a
strong hive, while other colonies are busily at work, we may, unless the
weather suddenly prove unfavorable, look with great confidence for a
swarm. As the old queens, which accompany the first swarm, are heavy
with eggs, and fly with considerable difficulty, they are shy of
venturing out, except on fair, still days. If the weather is very
sultry, a swarm will sometimes issue as early as 7 o'clock in the
morning; but from 10 to 2, is the usual time, and the majority of swarms
come off from 11 to 1. Occasionally, a swarm will venture out as late as
5 P. M. An old queen is seldom guilty of such a piece of indiscretion.

I have in repeated instances witnessed the whole process of swarming, in
my observing hives. On the day fixed for their departure, the queen
appears to be very restless, and instead of depositing her eggs in the
cells, she travels over the combs, and communicates her agitation to the
whole colony. The emigrating bees fill themselves with honey, some time
before their departure: in one instance, I noticed them laying in their
supplies, more than two hours before they left. A short time before the
swarm rises, a few bees may generally be seen, sporting in the air, with
their heads turned always to the hive, occasionally flying in and out,
as though they were impatient for the important event to take place. At
length, a very violent agitation commences in the hive: the bees appear
almost frantic, whirling around in a circle, which continually enlarges,
like the circles made by a stone thrown into still water, until at last
the whole hive is in a state of the greatest ferment, and the bees rush
impetuously to the entrance, and pour forth in one steady stream. Not a
bee looks behind, but each one pushes straight ahead, as though flying
"for dear life," or urged on by some invisible power, in its headlong
career. The queen often does not come out, until a large number have
left, and she is frequently so heavy, from the large number of eggs in
her ovaries, that she falls to the ground, incapable of rising with the
colony into the air.

The bees are very soon aware of her absence, and a most interesting
scene may now be witnessed. A diligent search is immediately made for
their missing mother; the swarm scatters in all directions, and I have
frequently seen the leaves of the adjoining trees and bushes, almost as
thickly covered with the anxious explorers, as they are with drops of
rain after a copious shower. If she cannot be found, they return to the
old hive, though occasionally they attempt to enter some other hive, or
join themselves to another swarm if any is still unhived.

The ringing of bells, and beating of kettles and frying-pans, is one of
the good old ways more honored by the breach than the observance; it may
answer a very good purpose in amusing the children, but I believe that
as far as the bees are concerned, it is all time thrown away; and that
it is not a whit more efficacious than the custom practiced by some
savage tribes, who, when the sun is eclipsed, imagining that it has been
swallowed by an enormous dragon, resort to the most frightful noises, to
compel his snake-ship to disgorge their favorite luminary. If a swarm
has selected a new home previous to their departure, no amount of
_noise_ will ever compel them to alight, but as soon as all the bees
which compose the emigrating colony have left the hive, they fly in a
direct course, or "bee-line," to the chosen spot. I have noticed that
when bees are much neglected by those who pretend to take care of them,
such unceremonious leave-taking is quite common; on the contrary, when
proper attention is bestowed on them, it seldom occurs.

It can seldom if ever occur to those who manage their bees according to
my system; as I shall show in the Chapter on Artificial Swarming. If the
Apiarian perceives that his swarm instead of clustering begins to rise
higher and higher in the air, and evidently means to depart, not a
moment is to be lost: instead of empty noises, he must resort to means
much more effective to stay their vagrant propensities. Handfulls of
dirt cast into the air, or water thrown among them, will often so
disorganize them as to compel them to alight. Of all devices for
stopping them, the most original one that I have ever heard of, is to
flash the sun's rays among them, by the use of a looking glass! I have
never had occasion to try it, but the anonymous writer who recommends
it, says that he never knew it to fail. If they are forcibly prevented
from eloping, then special care must be taken or they will be almost
sure soon after hiving, to leave for their selected home. The queen
should be caught and confined for several days in a way which will be
subsequently described. The same caution must be exercised, when new
swarms abandon their hive. If the queen cannot be caught, and there is
reason to dread a desertion, the bees may be carried into the cellar,
and confined in total darkness, until towards sun-set of the third day
after they swarmed, being supplied in the mean time with water and honey
to build their combs.

If a colony decides to go, they look upon the hive in which they are put
as only a temporary stopping place, and seldom trouble themselves to
build any comb in it. If the hive is so constructed as to permit
inspection, I can tell by a glance whether bees are disgusted with their
new residence, and mean before long to clear out. They not only refuse
to work with that energy so characteristic of a new swarm, but they have
a peculiar look which to the experienced eye at once proclaims the fact
that they are staying only upon sufferance. Their very attitude, hanging
as they do with a sort of dogged or supercilious air, as though they
hated even so much as to touch their detested abode, is equivalent to an
open proclamation that they mean to be off. My numerous experiments in
attempting from the moment of hiving, to make the bees work in observing
hives exposed to the full light of day, instead of keeping them as I now
do in darkness for several days, have made me quite familiar with all
their graceless, do-nothing proceedings before their departure. Bees
sometimes abandon their hives very early in the Spring, or late in
Summer or Fall. They exhibit all the appearance of natural swarming; but
they leave, not because the population is crowded, but because it is
either so small, or the hive so destitute of supplies, that they are
discouraged or driven to desperation. I once knew a colony to leave the
hive under such circumstances, on a springlike day in December! They
seem to have a presentiment that they must perish if they stay, and
instead of awaiting the sure approach of famine, they sally
out to see if something cannot be done to better their condition.

At first sight, it seems strange that so provident an insect should not
always select a suitable domicile before venturing on so important a
step as to abandon the old home. Often before they are safely housed
again, they are exposed to powerful winds and drenching rains, which
beat down and destroy many of their number.

I solve this problem in the economy of the bee, in the same manner that
I have solved so many others, by considering in what way, this
arrangement conduces to the advantage of man.

The honey-bee would have been of comparatively little service to him, if
instead of tarrying until he had sufficient time to establish them in a
hive in which to labor for him, their instinct impelled them to decamp,
without any delay, from the restraints of domestication. In this, as in
many other things, we see that what on a superficial view, appeared to
be a very obvious imperfection, proves, on closer examination, to be a
special contrivance to answer important ends.

To return to our new swarm. The queen sometimes alights first, and
sometimes joins the cluster after it has commenced forming. It is a very
rare thing for the bees ever to cluster, unless the queen is with them;
and when they do, and yet afterwards disperse, I believe that usually
the queen, after first rising with them, has been lost by falling into
some spot where she is unnoticed by the bees. In two instances, I
performed the following interesting experiment.

Perceiving a hive in the very act of swarming, I contracted the entrance
so as to secure the queen when she made her appearance. In each case, at
least one third of the bees came out, before the queen presented
herself to join them. When I perceived that the swarm had given up their
search for her, and were beginning to return to the parent hive, I
placed her, with her wings clipped, on the limb of a small evergreen
tree: she crawled to the very top of the limb, as if for the purpose of
making herself as conspicuous as possible. A few bees noticed her, and
instead of alighting, darted rapidly away; in a few seconds, the whole
colony were apprised of her presence, flew in a dense cloud to the spot,
and commenced quietly clustering around her. I have often noticed the
surprising rapidity with which bees communicate with each other, while
on the wing. Telegraphic signals are hardly more instantaneous. (See
Chapter on the Loss of the Queen.)

That bees send out scouts to seek a suitable abode, it seems to me, can
admit of no serious question. Swarms have been traced to their new home,
either in their flight directly from their hive, or from the place where
they have clustered; and it is evident, that in such instances, they
have pursued the most direct course. Now such a precision of flight to a
"_terra incognita_," an unknown home, would plainly be impossible, if
some of their number had not previously selected the spot, so as to be
competent to act as guides to the rest. The sight of the bees for
distant objects, is wonderfully acute, and after rising to a sufficient
elevation, they can see the prominent objects in the vicinity of their
intended abode, even although they may be several miles distant. Whether
the bees send out their scouts _before_ or _after_ swarming, may admit
of more question. In cases where the colony flies without alighting, to
its new home, they are unquestionably dispatched before swarming. If
this were their usual course, then we should naturally expect all the
colonies to take the same speedy departure. Or if, for the convenience
of the queen over fatigued by the excitement of swarming, or for any
other reason, they should see fit to cluster, then we should expect that
only a transient tarrying would be allowed. Instead of this, they often
remain until the next day, and instances of a more protracted delay are
not unfrequent. The cases which occur, of bees stopping in their flight,
and clustering again on any convenient object, are not inconsistent with
this view of the subject; for if the weather is hot, and the sun shines
directly upon them, they will often leave before they have found a
suitable habitation; and even when they are on the way to their new
home, the queen being heavy with eggs, and unaccustomed to fly, is
sometimes from weariness, compelled to alight, and her colony clusters
around her. Queens, under such circumstances, sometimes seem unwilling
to entrust themselves again to their wings, and the poor bees attempt to
lay the foundations of their colony, on fence rails, hay-stacks, or
other most unsuitable places.

I have been informed by Mr. Henry M. Zollickoffer of Philadelphia, a
very intelligent and reliable observer, that he knew a swarm to settle
on a willow tree in that city, in a lot owned by the Pennsylvania
Hospital; it remained there for sometime, and the boys pelted it with
stones, to get possession of its comb and honey.

The absolute necessity for scouts or explorers, is evident from all the
facts in the case, unless we admit that bees have the faculty of flying
in an air-line to a hollow tree, or some suitable abode which they have
never seen, though they cannot find their hive, if, in their absence, it
is moved only a few rods from its former position.

These obvious considerations are abundantly confirmed by the repeated
instances in which a few bees have been noticed prying very
inquisitively into a hole in a hollow tree or the cornice of a
building, and have been succeeded, before long, by a whole colony. The
importance of these remarks will be more obvious, when I come to discuss
the proper mode of hiving bees.

Having described the common method of procedure pursued by the new
swarm, when left without interference to their natural instincts, it is
time to return to the parent stock from which they emigrated.

In witnessing the immense number which have abandoned it, we might
naturally suppose that it must be almost entirely depopulated. It is
sometimes asserted that as bees swarm in the pleasantest part of the
day, the population is replenished by the return of large numbers of
workers that were absent in the fields; this, however, can seldom be the
case, as it is rare for many bees to be absent from the hive at the time
of swarming.

To those who limit the fertility of the queen to 200, or at most 400
eggs per day, the rapid replenishing of the hive after swarming, must
ever be a problem incapable of solution; but to those who have ocular
demonstration that she can lay from one to three thousand eggs a day, it
is no mystery at all. A sufficient number of bees is always left behind,
to carry on the domestic operations of the hive, and as the old queen
departs only when the population of the hive is super-abundant; and when
thousands of young bees are hatching daily, and often 30,000 or more,
are rapidly maturing, in a short time the hive is almost as populous as
it was before swarming. Those who assert that the new colony is composed
of young bees which have been forced to emigrate by the older ones, have
certainly failed to use their eyes to much advantage, or they would have
seen, in hiving a new swarm, that it is composed of both young and old;
some, having wings ragged from hard work, while others are evidently
quite young. After the tumult of swarming is entirely over, not a bee
that did not participate in it, seeks afterwards to join the new colony,
and not one that did, seeks to return. What determines some to go, and
others to stay, we have no certain means of knowing.

How wonderfully abiding the impression made upon an insect, which in a
moment causes it to lose all its strong affection for the old home in
which it was bred, and which it has entered, perhaps hundreds of times;
so that when established in another hive, though only a few feet
distant, it never afterwards pays the slightest attention to its former
abode! Often, when the hive into which the new swarm is put, is not
removed from the place where the bees were hived, until some have gone
to the fields, on their return, they fly for hours, in ceaseless circles
about the spot where the missing hive stood. I have often known them to
continue the vain search for their companions until they have, at
length, dropped down from utter exhaustion, and perished in close
proximity to their old homes!

It has been already stated that the old queen, if the weather is
favorable, generally leaves about the time that the young queens are
sealed over, to be changed into nymphs. In about eight days more, one of
these queens hatches, and the question must now be decided whether any
more colonies are to be sent out that season, or not. If the hive is
well filled with bees, and the season in all respects promising, this
question is generally decided in the affirmative; although colonies
often refuse to swarm more than once when they are very strong, and when
we can assign no reason for such a course; and they sometimes swarm
repeatedly, to the utter ruin of both the old stock, and the

If the bees decide to swarm again, the first hatched queen is allowed
to have her own way. She rushes immediately to the cells of her sisters,
and, (as was described in the Chapter on Physiology,) stings them to
death. From some observations that I have made, I am inclined to think
that the other bees aid her in this murderous transaction: they
certainly tear open the cradles of the slaughtered innocents, and remove
them from the cells. Their dead bodies may often be found on the ground
in front of the hive.

When a queen has emerged in the natural way from her cell, the bees
usually nibble away the now useless abode, until only a small acorn cup
remains; but when by violence she has met with an untimely end, they
take down entirely the whole of the cell. By counting these acorn-cups,
it can always be ascertained how many young queens have hatched in a

Before the queens emerge from their cells, a fluttering sound is
frequently heard, which is caused by the rapid motion of their wings,
and which must not be confounded with the piping notes which will soon
be described. If the bees of the parent stock decide to swarm again, the
first hatched queen is prevented from killing the others. A strong guard
is kept over their cells, and as often as she approaches them with
murderous intent, she is bitten, or otherwise rudely treated, and given
to understand by the most uncourtier-like demonstrations, that she
cannot, in all things, do just as she pleases.

When thus repulsed, like men and women who cannot have their own way,
she is highly offended and utters an angry sound, given forth in a quick
succession of notes, and which sounds not unlike the rapid utterance of
the words, "peep, peep." I have frequently, by holding a queen in the
closed hand, caused her to make the same noise. To this angry note, one
or more of the queens still unhatched, will respond, in a somewhat
hoarser key, just as chicken-cocks, by crowing, bid defiance to each
other. These sounds are entirely unlike the usual steady hum of the
bees, and when heard, are the almost infallible indications that a
second swarm will soon issue. They are occasionally so loud that they
may be heard at some distance from the hive.

About a week after first swarming, the Apiarian should, early in the
morning or at evening, when the bees are still, place his ear against
the hive, and he will, if the queens are piping, readily recognize their
peculiar sounds. If their notes are not heard, at the very latest,
sixteen days after the departure of the first swarm, by which time the
young queens are mature, even if the first colony left as soon as the
eggs were deposited in the royal cells, it is an infallible indication
that the first hatched queen is without rivals in the hive, and that
swarming is over, in that stock, for the season.

The second swarm usually issues on the second or third day after this
sound is heard: although I have known them to delay coming out, until
the fifth day, in consequence of a very unfavorable state of the
weather. Occasionally, the weather is so unfavorable, that the bees
permit the oldest queen to kill the others, and refuse to swarm again.
This is a rare occurrence, as the young queens, unlike the old ones, do
not appear to be very particular about the weather, and sometimes
venture out, not merely when it is cloudy, but even when rain is
falling. On this account, if a very close watch is not kept, they are
often lost. As piping ordinarily commences about eight or nine days
after first swarming, the second swarm generally issues ten or twelve
days after the first. It has been known to issue as early as the third
day after the first, and as late as the seventeenth. Such cases,
however, are of rare occurrence. It frequently happens in the agitation
of swarming, that several of the young queens emerge from their cells at
the same time, and accompany the colony: when this is the case, the bees
often alight in two or more separate clusters. Young queens not having
their ovaries burdened with eggs, are much more quick on the wing, than
old ones, and fly frequently much farther from the parent stock, before
they alight; though I never knew a second swarm to depart to the woods
without clustering at all. After the departure of a second swarm, the
oldest of the remaining queens leaves her cell; and if another swarm is
to be sent forth, piping will still be heard, and so before the issue of
each swarm after the first. I once had five stocks issue from one swarm,
and they all came out in about two weeks. In warm latitudes more than
twice this number of swarms have been known to issue in one season from
a single stock. The third swarm commonly makes its appearance on the
second or third day after the second swarm, and the others, at intervals
of about a day.

After-swarms, or casts, (these names are given to all swarms after the
first,) reduce very seriously the strength of the parent stock; for
after the departure of the old queen, no more eggs are deposited in the
cells, until all swarming is over. It is a very wise arrangement that
the second swarm does not ordinarily issue until all the eggs left by
the first queen are hatched, and the young fed and sealed over, so as to
require no further care. The departure of the second swarm earlier than
this, would leave too few laborers to attend to the wants of the young
bees. As it is, if the weather after swarming, suddenly becomes chilly,
and the hives are thin and admit too much air, the bees are too much
reduced in numbers, to maintain the heat requisite for the proper
development of the brood, and numbers are destroyed.

In the Chapter on Artificial Swarming, I shall discuss the effect of too
frequent swarming, on the profits of the Apiary. If the bee-keeper
desires to have no casts, he can, by the use of my hives, very easily,
prevent their issue. As soon as the first swarm is hived, the parent
stock may be opened, and all the queen cells except one removed. How
much better this is, than to attempt to return the after-swarms to the
parent hive, can only be appreciated by one who has thoroughly tried
both plans. If the Apiarian desires the most rapid multiplication of
colonies possible, where natural swarming is relied on, full directions
will be furnished, in the sequel, for building up all after-swarms,
however small, into vigorous stocks. It will be remembered that both the
parent stock from which the swarm issues, and all the colonies except
the first, have a young queen. These queens never leave the hive for
impregnation, until after they have been established as the acknowledged
heads of independent families. They generally go out for this purpose,
the first pleasant day after they are thus acknowledged, early in the
afternoon, at which hour the drones are flying in the greatest numbers.
On first leaving their hive, they always fly with their heads turned
towards it, and enter and depart often several times before they finally
soar up into the air. Such precautions on the part of a young queen, are
highly necessary that she may not mistake her own hive on her return,
and lose her life by attempting to enter that of another colony.
Mistakes of this kind are frequently made when the hives stand near, and
closely resemble each other, and are fatal, not only to the queen, but
to her whole colony. In the new hive there is no brood at all, and in
the old one it is too far advanced towards maturity to answer for
raising new queens. Such calamities, in my hive, admit of a very easy
remedy, as I shall show in the Chapter on the Loss of the Queen.

To guard the young queen against such frequent mistakes, I paint the
covered fronts of my hives, with the alighting boards, and blocks
guarding the entrance, of different colors. This answers the same
purpose as to paint the whole surface of the boxes, some of one color,
and some of another. The only proper color for a hive when exposed to
the weather, is a perfect white; any shade of color will absorb the heat
of the sun, so as to warp the wood-work of the hive, besides exposing
the bees to a pent and suffocating heat.

When a young queen leaves the hive for the purpose above mentioned, the
bees, on missing her, are often filled with alarm, and rush from the
hive, just as though they were intending to swarm. Their agitation soon
calms down, if she returns to them in safety. I shall give through the
medium of the Latin tongue, some statements which are important only to
the scientific naturalist, and entomologist.

Post coitum fucus statim perit. Penis ejectio, ut ego comperi, lenem
compressionem fuci ventris, consequitur; et fucus extemplo similis
fulmine tacto, moritur. Dominus Huber sæpe videbat fuci organum post
congressum, in corpore feminæ hæsisse. Vidi semel tam firme inhærens, ut
nisi disruptione reginæ ventris, non possim divellere.

The queen commences laying eggs, about two days after impregnation, and
for the first season, lays none but the eggs of workers; no males being
needed in colonies which will throw no swarm till another season. It is
seldom until after she has commenced replenishing the cells with eggs,
that she is treated with any special attention by the bees; although if
deprived of her before this time, they show, by their despair, that they
thoroughly comprehended her vast importance to their welfare.

I shall now give such practical directions for the easy hiving of
swarms, as will, I trust, greatly facilitate the whole operation, not
merely to the novice, but even to many experienced bee-keepers; and I
shall try to make these directions sufficiently minute, to guide those
who having never seen a swarm hived, are very apt to imagine that the
process must be a formidable one, instead of being, as it usually is to
those who are fond of bees, a most delightful entertainment. Experience
in this, as in other things, will speedily give the requisite skill and
confidence; and the cry of "the bees are swarming," will soon be hailed
with greater pleasure than an invitation to the most sumptuous banquet.

The hives for the new swarms should all be in readiness before the
swarming season begins, and should be painted long enough beforehand, to
have the paint most thoroughly dried. The smell of fresh paint is well
known to be exceedingly injurious to human beings, and is such an
abomination to the bees, that they will often desert a new hive sooner
than put up with it. If the hives cannot be painted in ample season,
then such paints should be used, as contain no white lead, and they
should be mixed in such a manner as to dry as quickly as possible. Thin
hives ought never to stand in the sun, and then, when heated to an
insufferable degree, be used for a new swarm. Bees often refuse to enter
such hives at all, and at best, are very slow in taking possession of
them. It should be borne in mind, that bees, when they swarm, are
greatly excited, and unnaturally heated. The temperature of the hive, at
the moment of swarming, rises very suddenly, and many of the bees are
often drenched with such a profuse perspiration that they are unable to
take wing and join the departing colony. The attempt to make bees enter
a heated hive in a blazing sun, is as irrational as it would be to try
to force a panting crowd of human beings into the suffocating atmosphere
of a close garret. If bees are to be put in hives through which the
heat of the sun can penetrate, the process should be accomplished in the
shade, or if this cannot conveniently be done, the hive should be
covered with a sheet, or shaded with leafy boughs. If a hive with my
movable frames is used, these should all be furnished, or at least,
every other one, with a small piece of worker-comb, attached to the
center of the frame, with melted wax or rosin. Without such a guide
comb, the bees will almost always work some of the combs out of the true
direction, and this will interfere with their easy removal. A sheet of
comb, not larger than five inches square, will answer for all the frames
of one hive. If even so small a piece of comb as this cannot be
procured, let a thin line of melted wax be drawn, lengthwise, over the
middle of each frame, and let the colony be examined, on the second day
after hiving, and all the frames which contain irregular comb, be
removed. This comb may be cut off, and attached so as to serve as a
proper guide to the bees. The possession of six frames containing good
worker comb, and wrought with perfect accuracy, may be made by the
following device, to answer a most admirable end. Put them into a hive
with six empty frames; first a frame with comb, then an empty one, &c.
After the bees have had possession of this hive two or three days, visit
them, and very politely inform them that the full frames were intended
as a loan, and not as a gift; and that having served to set them an
example how they should work, you must now have them to teach other
young swarms the same useful lesson; and that the new combs which they
have built with such admirable regularity, are beautiful patterns for
the empty ones which you must give them. In this way, the same combs may
be made to answer for many successive swarms.

Drone combs should never be attached to the frames as a guide, unless it
is desired to have the bees follow the pattern, and build large ranges
of drone comb, to breed a vast horde of useless consumers. Such comb, if
white, may be used to great advantage in the surplus honey-boxes; if old
and discolored, it should be melted for wax. I am now engaged in a
course of experiments, which I hope, will enable me to dispense with the
necessity of guide-combs for my frames, as they are sometimes difficult
to be procured by those who have just commenced bee-keeping. As a
general thing, however, every one, after a few weeks' experience, may
have enough and to spare, for such purposes. Every piece of good
worker-comb, if large enough to be attached to a frame, should be used
both for its intrinsic value, and because bees are so wonderfully
pleased when they find such unexpected treasures in a hive, that they
will seldom desert it. A new swarm has been known to take possession of
an old hive without any occupants, but well stored with comb. Though
dozens of empty hives may be in the Apiary, they never unless under such
circumstances, enter a hive, of their own accord. It might seem as
though an instinct impelling them to do so, would have been a most
admirable one, and so doubtless, it may seem to some that it would have
been much better for man, if the earth had only brought forth
spontaneously all things requisite for the support of man and beast,
without any necessity for the sweat of the brow. The first and last
frames in my hive, are placed about a quarter of an inch from the ends,
and the others just half an inch apart. When first put in, it will be
advisable to attach them slightly with a very little glue or melted wax,
to keep them in their places, until they are fastened with propolis, by
the bees. The rubbing of hives with various kinds of herbs or washes,
has always seemed to me, useless, and often positively injurious. There
ought always to be some small trees near the hives, on which the swarms
can cluster, and from which they can be easily gathered. If there are
none, limbs of trees about six feet high, (evergreens are best,) may be
fastened into the ground, a few rods in front of the hives, and they
will answer a very good temporary purpose. It will inspire the
inexperienced Apiarian with much greater confidence, to remember that
almost all the bees in a swarm, have filled themselves with honey,
before leaving the parent stock, and are therefore in a very peaceable
mood. If he is at all timid, or liable, as some are, to suffer severely
from the sting of a single bee, he should, by all means, furnish himself
with the protection of a bee-dress. (See Bee-Dress.)

I shall, in another place, give the best remedies for the relief of a
sting. As soon as the bees have quietly clustered around their queen,
preparation should be made to hive them without any unnecessary delay.
The headlong haste of some Apiarians, which, by throwing them into a
profuse perspiration, renders them very liable to be stung, is
altogether unnecessary. The very fact that the bees have clustered,
after leaving the parent stock, is almost equivalent to a certainty that
they will not leave, for at least one or two hours. All convenient
despatch should be used, however, lest other colonies issue before the
first one is hived, and attempt to add themselves, as they frequently
do, to the first swarm. The proper course to be pursued, in such a case,
will be subsequently explained. If my hives are used, the entrance on
the whole front must be opened, so that the bees may have every chance
to enter as rapidly as possible; and a sheet must be fastened to the
alighting-board, to keep the bees from being separated from each other
or soiled by dirt, for a bee thoroughly covered with dust or dirt, is
almost sure to perish. Unless the bees cluster at a considerable
distance from the place where they are intended to be permanently
stationed, the new hive which receives them may stand on the Protector
in its proper place, with the sheet tacked or pinned to the
alighting-board, and spread out over the mound in front of the entrance.
If the common hives are used, they must generally be carried to the
swarm, and propped up on the sheet, so as to give the bees a free
admission. When the bees alight where they can be easily reached from
the ground, the limb on which they have clustered, should, with one
hand, be shaken, so that they may gently fall into a basket held under
them, by the other. If the basket is sufficiently open to admit the air
freely, and not so open as to allow the bees to get through the sides,
it will answer all the better. The bees should now be carried very
slowly to their new home, and be gently shaken, or poured out, on the
sheet, in front of it. If they seem at all reluctant to enter, take up a
few of them in a large spoon, (a cup will answer equally well,) and
shake them close to the entrance. As they go in, they will fan with
their wings, and raise a peculiar note, which communicates the joyful
news that they have found a home, to the rest of their companions; and
in a short time, the whole swarm will enter, and they are thus safely
hived, without injury to a single bee. When bees are once shaken down on
the sheet, the great mass of them are very unwilling to take wing again;
for they are loaded with honey, and like heavily armed troops, they
desire to march slowly and sedately to the place of encampment. If the
sheet hangs in folds, or is not stretched out, so as to present an
uninterrupted surface, they are often greatly confused, and take a long
time to find the entrance to the hive. If it is desired to have them
enter sooner than they are sometimes inclined to do, they may be gently
separated, with a feather, or leafy twig, when they cluster in bunches
on the sheet. On first shaking them down into the basket, multitudes
will again take wing, and multitudes more will be left on the tree, but
they will speedily form a line of communication with those on the sheet,
and enter the hive with them; for many of them will follow the Apiarian,
as he slowly carries the basket to the hive.

It sometimes happens that the queen is left on the tree: in this case,
the bees will either refuse to enter the hive, or if they go in, will
speedily come out, and all take wing again, to join their queen. This
happens much more frequently in the case of after-swarms, whose young
queens, instead of exhibiting the gravity of the old matron, are apt to
be constantly flying about, and frisking in the air. When the bees
cluster again on the tree, the process of hiving must be repeated.

If the Apiarian has a pair of sharp pruning-shears, and the limb on
which the bees have clustered, is of no value, and so small, that it can
be cut without jarring them off, this may be done, and the bees carried
on it and then shaken off on the sheet.

If the bees settle too high to be easily reached, the basket should be
fastened to a pole, and raised directly under the swarm; a quick motion
of the basket will cause the mass of the bees to fall into it, when it
may be carried to the hive, and the bees poured out from it on the

If the bees light on the trunk of a tree, or any thing from which they
cannot easily be gathered in a basket, place a leafy bough over them,
(it may be fastened with a gimlet,) and if they do not mount it of their
own accord, a little smoke will compel them to do so. If the place is
inaccessible, and this is about the worst case that occurs, they will
enter a basket well shaded by cotton cloth fastened around it, and
elevated so as to rest with its open top sideways to the mass of the
bees. When small trees, or limbs fastened into the ground, are placed
near the hives, and there are no large trees near, there will seldom be
found any difficulty in hiving swarms. If two swarms light together, I
advise that they should be put into one hive, and abundant room at once
be given them, for storing surplus honey. This can always be readily
done in my hives. Large quantities of honey are generally obtained from
such stocks, if the season is favorable, and they have issued early. If
it is desired to separate them, place in each of the hives which is to
receive them, a comb containing brood and eggs, from which, in case of
necessity, a new queen may be raised. Shake a portion of the bees in
front of each hive, sprinkling them thoroughly, both before and after
they are shaken out from the basket, so that they will not take wing to
unite again. If possible, secure the queens, so that one may be given to
each hive. If this cannot be done, the hives should be examined the next
day, and if the two queens entered the same hive, one will have killed
the other, and the queenless hive will be found building royal cells. It
should be supplied with a sealed queen nearly mature, taken from another
hive, not only to save time, but to prevent them from filling their hive
with comb unfit for the rearing of workers. (See Artificial Swarming.)
Of course, this cannot be done with the common hives, and if the
Apiarian does not succeed in getting a queen for each hive, the
queenless one will refuse to stay, and will go back to the old stock.

The old-fashioned way of hiving bees, by mounting trees, cutting and
lowering down large limbs, (often to the injury of valuable trees,) and
placing the hive over the bees, frequently crushing large numbers, and
endangering the life of the queen, should be entirely abandoned. A
swarm may be hived in the proper way with far less risk and trouble, and
in much less time. In large Apiaries managed on the swarming plan, where
a number of swarms come out on the same day, and there is constant
danger of their mixing,[16] the speedy hiving of swarms is an object of
great importance. If the new hive does not stand where it is to remain
for the season, it should be removed to its permanent stand as soon as
the bees have entered; for if allowed to remain to be removed in the
evening, or early next morning, the scouts which have left the cluster,
in search of a hollow tree, will find the bees when they return, and
will often entice them from the hive. There is the greater danger of
this, if the bees have remained on the tree, a considerable time before
they were hived. I have invariably found that swarms which abandon a
suitable hive for the woods, have been hived near the spot where they
clustered, and allowed to remain to be moved in the evening. If the bees
swarm early in the day, they will generally begin to work in a few
hours (or in less time, if they have empty comb,) and many more may be
lost by returning next day to the place where they were hived, than
would be lost, by removing them as soon as they have entered; in this
latter case, the few that are on the wing, will generally be able to
find the hive if it is slowly moved to its permanent stand.

If the Apiarian wishes to secure the queen, the bees should be shaken
from the hiving basket, about a foot from the entrance to the hive, and
if a careful look-out is kept, she will generally be seen as she passes
over the sheet, to the entrance. Care must be taken to brush the bees
back from the entrance when they press forward in such dense masses that
the queen is likely to enter unnoticed. An experienced eye readily
catches a glance of her peculiar form and color. She may be taken up
without danger, as she never stings, unless engaged in combat with
another queen. As it will sometimes happen, even to careful bee-keepers,
that swarms will come off when no suitable hives are in readiness to
receive them, I shall show what may be done in such an emergency. Take
any old hive, box, cask, or measure, and hive the bees in it, placing
them with suitable protection against the sun, where their new hive is
to stand; when this is ready, they may, by a quick jerking motion, be
easily shaken out on a sheet, and hived in it, just as though they were
shaken from the hiving basket. If they are to remain in the temporary
hive over the second day, they ought to be shaken out on a sheet, and
after their comb is taken from them, allowed to enter it again, or else
there will be danger of crushing the queen by the weight of the comb.

I have endeavored, even at the risk of being tedious, to give such
specific directions as will qualify the novice to hive a swarm of bees,
under almost any circumstances; for I know the necessity of such
directions and how seldom they are to be met with, even in large
treatises on Bee-Keeping. Vague or imperfect directions always fail,
just at the moment that the inexperienced attempt to put them into

Before leaving this subject, I will add to the directions for hiving
already given, a method which I have practiced with good success.

When the situation of the bees does not admit of the basket being easily
elevated to them, the bee-keeper may carry it with him to the cluster,
and then after shaking the bees into it, may lower it down by a string,
to an assistant standing below.

That Natural Swarming may, with suitable hives, be made highly
profitable, I cannot for a moment question. As it is the most simple and
obvious way of multiplying colonies, and the one which requires the
least amount of knowledge or skill, it will undoubtedly, for many years
at least, be the favorite method with a large number of bee-keepers. I
have therefore, been careful to furnish suitable directions for its
successful practice; and before I discuss the question of Artificial
Increase, I shall show how it may be more profitably conducted than ever
before; many of the most embarrassing difficulties in the way of its
successful management being readily obviated by the use of my hives.

1. The common hives fail to furnish adequate protection in Winter,
against cold, and those sudden changes to unseasonable warmth, by which
bees are tempted to come out and perish in large numbers on the snow;
and the colonies are thus prevented from breeding on a large scale, as
early as they otherwise would. Under such circumstances, they can make
no profitable use of the early honey-harvest; and they will swarm so
late, if they swarm at all, as to have but little opportunity for
laying up surplus honey, while often they do not gather enough even for
their own use, and their owner closes the season by purchasing honey to
preserve them from starvation. The way in which I give the bees that
amount of protection in Winter, which conduces most powerfully to early
swarming, has already been described in the Chapter on Protection.

2. Another serious objection to all the ordinary swarming hives, is the
vexatious fact that if the bees swarm at all, they are liable to swarm
so often as to destroy the value of both the parent stock and the
after-swarms. Experienced bee-keepers obviate this difficulty, by
uniting second swarms, so as to make one good colony out of two; and
they return to the parent stock all swarms after the second, and even
this if the season is far advanced. Such operations consume much time,
and often give much more trouble than they are worth. By removing all
the queen cells but one, after the first swarm has left, second swarming
in my hives will always be prevented; and by removing all but two,
provision may be made for the issue of second swarms, and yet all
after-swarming be prevented. The process of returning after-swarms is
not only objectionable, on account of the time it requires, having often
to be repeated again and again before one queen is allowed to destroy
the others; but it also causes a large portion of the gathering season
to be wasted; for the bees seem unwilling to work with energy, so long
as the pretensions of several rival queens are unsettled.

3. Another very serious objection to Natural Swarming, as practiced with
the common hives, is the inability of the Apiarian who wishes rapidly to
multiply his colonies, to aid his late and small swarms, so as to build
them up into vigorous stocks. The time and money which are ordinarily
spent upon small colonies, are almost always thrown away; by far the
larger portion of them never survive the Winter, and the majority of
those that do, are so enfeebled, as to be of little or no value. If they
escape being robbed by stronger stocks, or destroyed by the moth, they
seldom recruit in season to swarm, and very often the feeding must be
repeated, the second Fall, or they will at last perish. I doubt not that
many of my readers will, from their own experience, endorse every word
of these remarks, as true to the very letter. All who have ever
attempted to multiply colonies by nursing and feeding small swarms, on
the ordinary plans, have found it attended with nothing but loss and
vexation. The more a man has of such stocks, the poorer he is: for by
their weakness, they are constantly tempting his strong swarms to evil
courses; so that at last, they prefer to live as far as they can, by
stealing, rather than by habits of honest industry; and if the feeble
colonies escape being plundered, they often become mere nurseries for
raising a plentiful supply of moths, to ravage his whole Apiary.

I have already shown, in what way by the use of my hives, the smallest
swarms that ever issue, may be so managed as to become powerful stocks.
In the same way the Apiarian can easily strengthen all his colonies
which are feeble in Spring.

4. As the loss of the young queens in the parent stock after it has
swarmed, and in the after-swarms, is a very common occurrence, a hive
which like mine, furnishes the means of easily remedying this
misfortune, will greatly promote the success of those who practice
natural swarming. A very intelligent bee-keeper once assured me, that he
must use at least one such hive in his Apiary, for this purpose, even if
in other respects it possessed no superior merits.

5. Bees, as is well known, often refuse to swarm at all, and most of the
swarming hives are so constructed, that proper accommodations for
storing honey, cannot be furnished to the super-abundant population.
Under such circumstances, they often hang for several months, in black
masses on the outside of the hive; and are worse than useless, as they
consume the honey which the others have gathered. In my hives, an
abundance of room for storing honey can always be given them, _not all
at once_, so as to prevent them from swarming, but by degrees, as their
necessities require: so that if they are indisposed, for any reason to
swarm, they may have suitable receptacles easily accessible, and
furnished with guide comb to make them more attractive, in which to
store up any amount of honey that they can possibly collect.

6. In the common hives, but little can be done to dislodge the bee-moth,
when once it has gained the mastery of the bees; whereas in mine, it can
be most effectually rooted out when it has made a lodgment. (See Remarks
on Bee-Moth.)

7. In the common hives, nothing can be done except with great
difficulty, to remove the old queen when her fertility is impaired;
whereas in my hives, (as will be shown in the Chapter on Artificial
Swarming,) this can easily be effected, so that an Apiary may constantly
contain a stock of young queens, in the full vigor of their
re-productive powers.

I trust that these remarks will convince intelligent Apiarians, that I
have not spoken boastfully or at random, in asserting that natural
swarming can be carried on with much greater certainty and success, by
the use of my hives, than in any other way; and that they will see that
many of the most perplexing embarrassments and mortifying
discouragements under which they have hitherto prosecuted it, may be
effectually remedied.


[16] Dr. Scudamore, an English physician who has written a small tract
on the formation of artificial swarms, says that he once knew "as many
as ten swarms go forth at once, and settle and mingle together, forming
literally a monster meeting!" Instances are on record of a much larger
number of swarms clustering together. A venerable clergyman, in Western
Massachusetts, related to me the following remarkable occurrence. In the
Apiary of one of his parishioners, five swarms lit in one mass. As there
was no hive which would hold them, a very large box was roughly nailed
together, and the bees were hived in it. They were taken up by sulphur
in the Fall, when it was perfectly evident that the five swarms had
occupied the same box as independent colonies. Four of them had
commenced their works, each one near a corner, and the fifth one in the
middle, and there was a distinct interval separating the works of the
different colonies. In Cotton's "My Bee Book," there is a cut
illustrating a hive in which two colonies had built in the same manner.



The numerous efforts which have been made for the last fifty years or
more, to dispense with natural swarming, plainly indicate the anxiety of
Apiarians to find some better mode of increasing their colonies.

Although I am able to propagate bees by natural swarming, with a
rapidity and certainty unattainable except by the complete control of
all the combs in the hive, still there are difficulties in this mode of
increase, inherent to the system itself, and therefore entirely
incapable of being removed by any kind of hive. Before describing the
various methods which I employ to increase colonies by artificial means,
I shall first enumerate these difficulties, in order that each
individual bee-keeper may decide for himself, in which way he can most
advantageously propagate his bees.

1. The large number of swarms lost every year, is a powerful argument
against natural swarming.

An eminent Apiarian has estimated that one fourth of the best swarms are
lost every season! This estimate can hardly be considered too high, if
all who keep bees are taken into account. While some bee-keepers are so
careful that they seldom lose a swarm, the majority, either from the
grossest negligence, or from necessary hindrances during the swarming
season, are constantly incurring serious losses, by the flight of their
bees to the woods. It is next to impossible, entirely to prevent such
occurrences, if bees are allowed to swarm at all.

2. The great amount of time and labor required by natural swarming, has
always been regarded as a decided objection to this mode of increase.

As soon as the swarming season begins, the Apiary must be closely
watched almost every day, or some of the new swarms will be lost. If
this business is entrusted to thoughtless children, or careless adults,
many swarms will be lost by their neglect. It is very evident that but
few persons who keep bees, can always be on hand to watch them and to
hive the new swarms. But, in the height of the swarming season, if any
considerable number of colonies is kept, the Apiarian, to guard against
serious losses, should either be always on the spot himself, or have
some one who can be entrusted with the care of his bees. Even the
Sabbath cannot be observed as a day of rest; and often, instead of being
able to go to the House of God, the bee-keeper is compelled to labor
among his bees, as hard as on other days, or even harder. That he is as
justifiable in hiving his bees on the Sabbath, as in taking care of his
stock, can admit of no serious doubt; but the very liability of being
called to do so, is with many, a sufficient objection against Apiarian

The merchant, mechanic and professional man, are often so situated that
they would take great interest in bees, if they were not deterred from
their cultivation by inability to take care of them, during the swarming
season; and they are thus debarred from a pursuit, which is intensely
fascinating, not merely to the lover of Nature, but to every one
possessed of an inquiring mind. No man who spends some of his leisure
hours in studying the wonderful habits and instincts of bees, will ever
complain that he can find nothing to fill up his time out of the range
of his business, or the gratification of his appetites. Bees may be kept
with great advantage, even in large cities, and those who are debarred
from every other rural pursuit, may still listen to the soothing hum of
the industrious bee, and harvest annually its delicious nectar.

If the Apiarian could always be on hand during the swarming season, it
would still, in many instances, be exceedingly inconvenient for him to
attend to his bees. How often is the farmer interrupted in the business
of hay-making, by the cry that his bees are swarming; and by the time he
has hived them, perhaps a shower comes up, and his hay is injured more
than his swarm is worth. In this way, the keeping of a few bees, instead
of a source of profit, often becomes rather an expensive luxury; and if
a very large stock is kept, the difficulties and embarrassments are
often most seriously increased. If the weather becomes pleasant after a
succession of days unfavorable for swarming, it often happens that
several swarms rise at once, and cluster together, to the great
annoyance of the Apiarian; and not unfrequently, in the noise and
confusion, other swarms fly off, and are entirely lost. I have seen the
Apiarian so perplexed and exhausted under such circumstances, as to be
almost ready to wish that he had never seen a bee.

3. The managing of bees by natural swarming, must, in our country,
almost entirely prevent the establishment of large Apiaries.

Even if it were possible, in this way, to multiply bees with certainty
and rapidity, and without any of the perplexities which I have just
described, how few persons are so situated as to be able to give almost
the whole of their time in the busiest part of the year, to the
management of their bees. The swarming season is with the farmer, the
very busiest part of the whole year, and if he purposes to keep a large
number of swarming hives, he must not only devote nearly the whole of
his time, for a number of weeks, to their supervision, but at a season
when labor commands the highest price, he will often be compelled to
hire additional assistance.

I have long been convinced that, as a general rule, the keeping of a few
colonies in swarming hives, costs more than they are worth, and that the
keeping of a very large number is entirely out of the question, unless
with those who are so situated that they can afford to devote their
time, for about two months every year, almost entirely to their bees.
The number of persons who can afford to do this must be very small; and
I have seldom heard of a bee-keeper, in our country, who has an Apiary
on a scale extensive enough to make bee-keeping anything more than a
subordinate pursuit. Multitudes have tried to make it a large and
remunerating business, but hitherto, I believe that they have nearly all
been disappointed in their expectations. In such countries as Poland and
Russia where labor is deplorably cheap, it may be done to great
advantage; but never to any considerable extent in our own.

4. A serious objection to natural swarming, is the discouraging fact
that the bees often refuse to swarm at all, and the Apiarian finds it
impossible to multiply his colonies with any certainty or rapidity, even
although he may find himself in all respects favorably situated for the
cultivation of bees, and may be exceedingly anxious to engage in the
business on a much more extensive scale.

I am acquainted with many careful bee-keepers who have managed their
bees according to the most reliable information they could obtain,
never destroying any of their colonies, and endeavoring to multiply them
to the best of their ability, who yet have not as many stocks as they
had ten years ago. Most of them would abandon the pursuit, if they
looked upon bee-keeping simply in the light of dollars and cents, rather
than as a source of pleasant recreation; and some do not hesitate to say
that much more money has been spent, by the mass of those who have used
patent hives, than they have ever realized from their bees.

It is a very simple matter to make calculations on paper, which shall
seem to point out a road to wealth, almost as flattering, as a tour to
the gold mines of Australia or California. Only purchase a patent
bee-hive, and if it fulfills all or even a part of the promises of its
sanguine inventor, a fortune must, in the course of a few years, be
certainly realized; but such are the disappointments resulting from the
bees refusing often to swarm at all, that if the hive could remedy all
the other difficulties in the way of bee-keeping, it would still fail to
answer the reasonable wishes of the experienced Apiarian. If every swarm
of bees could be made to yield a profit of 20 dollars a year, and if the
Apiarian could be sure of selling his new swarms at the most extravagant
prices, he could not, like the growers of mulberry trees, or the
breeders of fancy fowls, multiply his stocks so as to meet the demand,
however extensive; but would be entirely dependent upon the whims and
caprices of his bees; or rather, upon the natural laws which control
their swarming.

Every practical bee-keeper is well aware of the utter uncertainty of
natural swarming. Under no circumstances, can its occurrence be
confidently relied on. While some stocks swarm regularly and repeatedly,
others, strong in numbers and rich in stores, although the season may,
in all respects, be propitious, refuse to swarm at all. Such colonies,
on examination, will often be found to have taken no steps for raising
young queens. In some cases, the wings of the old mother will be found
defective, while in others, she is abundantly able to fly, but seems to
prefer the riches of the old hive, to the risks attending the formation
of a new colony. It frequently happens, in our uncertain climate, that
when all the necessary preparations have been made for swarming, the
weather proves unpropitious for so long a time, that the young queens
coming to maturity before the old one can leave, are all destroyed. This
is a very frequent occurrence, and under such circumstances, swarming is
almost certain to be prevented, for that season. The young queens are
frequently destroyed, even although the weather is pleasant, in
consequence of some sudden and perhaps only temporary suspension of the
honey-harvest; for bees seldom colonize even if all their preparations
are completed, unless the flowers are yielding an abundant supply of

From these and other causes which my limits will not permit me to
notice, it has hitherto been found impossible, in the uncertain climate
of our Northern States, to multiply colonies very rapidly, by natural
swarming; and bee-keeping, on this plan, offers very poor inducements to
those who are aware how little has been accomplished, even by the most
enthusiastic, experienced and energetic Apiarians.

The numerous perplexities which have ever attended natural swarming,
have for ages, directed the attention of practical cultivators, to the
importance of devising some more reliable method of increasing their
colonies. Columella, who lived about the middle of the first century of
the Christian Era, and who wrote twelve books on husbandry (De re
rustica,) has given directions for making artificial colonies. He says,
"you must examine the hive, and view what honey-combs it has; then
afterwards from the wax which contains the seeds of the young bees, you
must cut away that part wherein the offspring of the royal brood is
animated: for this is easy to be seen; because at the very end of the
wax-works there appears, as it were, a thimble-like process (somewhat
similar to an acorn,) rising higher, and having a wider cavity, than the
rest of the holes, wherein the young bees of vulgar note are contained."

Hyginus, who flourished before Columella, had evidently noticed the
royal jelly; for he speaks of cells larger than those of the common
bees, "filled as it were with a solid substance of a _red color_, out of
which the winged king is at first formed." This ancient observer must
undoubtedly have seen the quince-like jelly, a portion of which is
always found at the base of the royal cells, after the queens have
emerged. The ancients generally called the queen a king, although
Aristotle says that some in his time called her the mother. Swammerdam
was the first to prove by dissection that the queen is a perfect female,
and the only one in the hive, and that the drone is the male.

For reasons which I shall shortly mention, the ancient methods of
artificial increase appear to have met with but small success. Towards
the close of the last century, a new impulse was given to the artificial
production of swarms, by the discovery of Schirach, a German clergyman,
that bees are able to rear a queen from worker-brood. For want, however,
of a more thorough knowledge of some important principles in the economy
of the bee, these efforts met with slender encouragement.

Huber, after his splendid discoveries in the physiology of the bee,
perceived at once, the importance of multiplying colonies by some method
more reliable than that of natural swarming. His leaf or book hive
consisted of 12 frames, each an inch and a half in width; any one of
which could be opened at pleasure. He recommends forming artificial
swarms, by dividing one of these hives into two parts; adding to each
part six empty frames. After using a Huber hive for a number of years, I
became perfectly convinced that it could only be made servicable, by an
adroit, experienced and fearless Apiarian. The bees fasten the frames in
such a manner, with their propolis, that they cannot, except with
extreme care, be opened without jarring the bees, and exciting their
anger; nor can they be shut without constant danger of crushing them.
Huber nowhere speaks of having multiplied colonies extensively by such
hives, and although they have been in use more than sixty years, they
have never been successfully employed for such a purpose. If Huber had
only contrived a plan for suspending his frames, instead of folding them
together like the leaves of a book, I believe that the cause of Apiarian
science would have been fifty years in advance of what it now is.

Dividing hives of various kinds have been used in this country. After
giving some of the best of them a thorough trial, and inventing others
which somewhat resembled the Huber hive, I found that they could not
possibly be made to answer any valuable end in securing artificial
swarms. For a long time I felt that the plan _ought_ to succeed, and it
was not until I had made numerous experiments with my hive substantially
as now constructed, that I ascertained the precise causes of failure.

It may be regarded as one of the laws of the bee-hive, that bees, when
not in possession of a mature queen, seldom build any comb except such
as being designed merely for storing honey, is _too coarse for the
rearing of workers_. Until I became acquainted with the discoveries of
Dzierzon, I supposed myself to be the only observer who had noticed
this remarkable fact, and who had been led by it, to modify the whole
system of artificial swarming. The perusal of Mr. Wagner's manuscript
translation of that author, showed me that he had arrived at precisely
similar results.

It may seem at first, very unaccountable that bees should go on to fill
their hives with comb unfit for breeding, when the young queen will so
soon require worker-cells for her eggs; but it must be borne in mind,
that bees, under such circumstances, are always in an _unnatural_ state.
They are attempting to rear a new queen in a hive which is only
partially filled with comb; whereas, if left to follow their own
instincts, they never construct royal cells except in hives which are
well filled with comb, for it is only in such hives that they make any
preparations for swarming. It must be confessed that they do not show
their ordinary sagacity in filling a hive with unsuitable comb; but if
it were not for a few instances of this kind of bad management, we
should perhaps, form too exalted an idea of their intelligence, and
should almost fail to notice the marked distinction between reason in
man, and even the most refined instincts of some of the animals by which
he is surrounded.

The determination of bees, when they have no mature queen, if they build
any comb at all, to build such as is suited only for storing honey, and
unfit for breeding, will show at once, the folly of attempting to
multiply colonies by the dividing-hives. Even if the Apiarian has been
perfectly successful in dividing a colony, and the part without a queen
takes the necessary steps to supply her loss, if the bees are
sufficiently numerous to build a large quantity of new comb, (and they
ought to be in order to make the artificial colony of any value,) they
will build this comb in such a manner that it will answer only for
storing honey, while they will use the half of the hive with the old
comb, for the purposes of breeding. The next year, if an attempt is made
to divide this hive, one half will contain nearly all the brood and
mature bees, while the other, having most of the honey, in combs unfit
for breeding, the new colony formed from it will be a complete failure.

Even with a Huber hive, the plan of multiplying colonies by dividing a
full hive into two parts, and adding an empty half to each, will be
attended with serious difficulties; although some of them may be
remedied in consequence of the hive being constructed so as to divide
into many parts; the very attempt to remedy them, however, will be found
to require a degree of skill and knowledge far in advance of what can be
expected of the great mass of bee-keepers.

The common dividing hives, separating into two parts, can never, under
any circumstances, be made of the least practical value; and the
business of multiplying colonies by them, will be found far more
laborious, uncertain and vexatious, than to rely on natural swarming. I
do not know of a solitary practical Apiarian, who, on trial of this
system, has not been compelled to abandon it, and allow the bees to
swarm from his dividing hives in the old-fashioned way.

Some Apiarians have attempted to multiply their colonies by putting a
piece of brood comb containing the materials for raising a new queen,
into an empty hive, set in the place of a strong stock which has been
removed to a new stand when thousands of its inmates were abroad in the
fields. This method is still worse than the one which has just been
described. In the dividing hive, the bees already had a large amount of
suitable comb for breeding, while in this having next to none, they
build all their combs until the queen is hatched, of a size unsuitable
for rearing workers. In the first case, the queenless part of the
dividing hive may have had a young queen almost mature, so that the
process of building large combs would be of short continuance; for as
soon as the young queen begins to lay, the bees at once commence
building combs adapted to the reception of worker eggs. In some of my
attempts to rear artificial swarms by moving a full stock, as described
above, I have had combs built of enormous size, nearly four inches
through! and these monster combs have afterwards been pieced out on
their lower edge, with worker cells for the accommodation of the young
queen! So uniformly do the bees with an unhatched queen, build in the
way described, that I can often tell at a single glance, by seeing what
kind of comb they are building, that a hive is queenless, or that having
been so, they have now a fertile young queen. When a new colony is
formed, by dividing the old hive, the queenless part has thousands of
cells filled with brood and eggs, and young bees will be hourly
hatching, for at least three weeks: and by this time, the young queen
will be laying eggs, so that there will be an interval of not more than
three weeks, during which no accessions will be made to the numbers of
the colony. But when a new swarm is formed by moving, not an egg will be
deposited for nearly three weeks; and not a bee will be hatched for
nearly six weeks; and during all this time, the colony will rapidly
decrease, until by the time that the progeny of the young queen begins
to emerge from their cells, the number of bees in the new hive will be
so small, that it would be of no value, even if its combs were of the
best construction.

Every observing bee-keeper must have noticed how rapidly even a powerful
swarm diminishes in number, for the first three weeks after it has been
hived. In many cases, before the young begin to hatch, it does not
contain one half its original number; so very great is the mortality of
bees during the height of the working season.

I have most thoroughly tested, in the only way in which it can be
practiced in the ordinary hives, this last plan of artificial swarming,
and do not hesitate to say that it does not possess the very slightest
practical value; and as this is the method which Apiarians have usually
tried, it is not strange that they have almost unanimously pronounced
Artificial swarming to be utterly worthless. The experience of Dzierzon
on this point has been the same with my own.

Another method of artificial swarming has been zealously advocated,
which, if it could only be made to answer, would be, of all conceivable
plans the most effectual, and as it would require the smallest amount of
labor, experience, or skill, would be everywhere practiced. A number of
hives must be put in connection with each other, so as to communicate by
holes which allow the bees to travel from any one apartment to the
others. The bees, on this plan, are to _colonize themselves_, and in
time, a single swarm will, of its own accord, multiply so as to form a
large number of independent families, each one possessing its own queen,
and all living in perfect harmony.

This method so beautiful and fascinating in theory, has been repeatedly
tried with various ingenious modifications, but in every instance, as
far as I know, it has proved an entire failure. It will always be found
if bees are allowed to pass from one hive to another, that they will
still, for the most part, confine their breeding operations to a single
apartment, if it is of the ordinary size, while the others will be used,
chiefly for the storing of honey. This is almost invariably the case, if
the additional room is given by collateral or side boxes, as the queen
seldom enters such apartments for the purpose of breeding. If the new
hive is directly _below_ that in which the swarm is first lodged, then
if the connections are suitable, the queen will be almost certain to
descend and lay her eggs in the new combs, as soon as they are commenced
by the bees; in this case, the upper hive is almost entirely abandoned
by her, and the bees store the cells with honey, as fast as the brood is
hatched, as their instinct impels them always, if they can, to keep
their stores of honey _above_ the breeding cells. So long as bees have
an abundance of room below their main hive, they will never swarm, but
will use it in the way that I have described; if the room is on the
sides of their hive, and very accessible, they seldom swarm, but if it
is above them, they frequently prefer to swarm rather than to take
possession of it. But in none of these cases, do they ever, _if left to
themselves_, form separate and independent colonies.

I am aware that the Apiarian, by separating from the main hive with a
slide, an apartment that contains brood, and directing to it by some
artificial contrivance a considerable number of bees, may succeed in
rearing an artificial colony; but unless all his hives admit of the most
thorough inspection, as he can never know their exact condition, he must
always work in the dark, and will be much more likely to fail than
succeed. Success indeed can only be possible when a skillful Apiarian
devotes a large portion of his time to watching and managing his bees,
so as to _compel_ them to colonize, and even then it will be very
uncertain; so that this plausible theory to be reduced to even a most
precarious practice, requires more skill, care, labor and time, than are
necessary to manage the ordinary swarming hives.

The failure of so many attempts to increase colonies by artificial
means, as well in the hands of scientific and experienced Apiarians, as
under the direction of those who are almost totally ignorant of the
physiology of the bee, has led many to prefer to use non-swarming hives.
In this way, very large harvests of honey are often obtained from a
powerful stock of bees; but it is very evident that if the increase of
new colonies were entirely discouraged, the insect would soon be
exterminated. To prevent this, the advocates of the non-swarming plan,
must either have their bees swarm, to some extent, or rely upon those
who do.

My hive may be used as a non-swarmer, and may be made more effectually
to prevent swarming, than any with which I am acquainted: as in the
Spring, (See No. 34. p. 104,) ample accommodations may be given to the
bees, below their main works, and when this is seasonably done, swarming
will _never_ take place.

There are certain objections however, which must always prevent the
non-swarming plan from being the most successful mode of managing bees.
To say nothing of the loss to the bee-keeper, who has, after some years,
only one stock, when if the natural mode of increase had been allowed,
he ought to have a number, it is usually found that after bees have been
kept in a non-swarming hive for several seasons, they seem to work with
much less vigor than usual. Of this, any one may convince himself, who
will compare the industrious working of a new swarm, with that of a much
more powerful stock in a non-swarming hive. The former will work with
such astonishing zeal, that to one unacquainted with the facts, it would
be taken to be by far the more powerful stock.

As the fertility of the queen decreases by age, the disadvantage of
using non-swarming hives of the ordinary construction, will be obvious.
This objection to the system can be remedied in my hive, as the old
queen can be easily caught and removed; but when hives are used in which
this cannot be done, the Apiary, instead of containing a race of young
queens in the full vigor of their reproductive powers, will contain many
that have passed their prime, and these old queens may die when there
are no eggs in the hive to enable the bees to replace them, and thus the
whole colony will perish.

If the bee-keeper wishes to winter only a certain number of stocks, I
will, in another place, show him a way in which this can be done, so as
to obtain more honey from them, than from an equal number kept on the
non-swarming plan, while at the same time, they may all be maintained in
a state of the highest health and vigor.

I shall now describe a method of artificial swarming, which may be
successfully practiced with almost any hive, by those who have
sufficient experience in the management of bees.

About the time that natural swarming may be expected, a populous hive,
rich in stores is selected, and what I shall call a _forced swarm_ is
obtained from it, by the following process. Choose that part of a
pleasant day, say from 10 A. M. to 2 P. M., when the largest number of
bees are abroad in the fields; if any bees are clustered in front of the
hive, or on the bottom-board, puff among them a few whiffs of smoke from
burning rags or paper, so as to force them to go up among the combs.
This can be done with greater ease, if the hive is elevated, by small
wedges, about one quarter of an inch above the bottom-board. Have an
empty hive or box in readiness, the diameter of which is as nearly as
possible, the same with that of the hive from which you intend to drive
the swarm. Lift the hive very gently, and without the slightest jar,
from its bottom-board; invert it and carry it in the same careful
manner, about a rod from its old stand, as bees are always much more
inclined to be peaceable, when removed a short distance, than when any
operation is performed on the familiar spot. If the hive is carefully
placed on the ground, upside down, scarcely a single bee will fly out,
and there will be little danger of being stung. Timid and inexperienced
Apiarians will, of course, protect themselves with a bee-dress, and they
may have an assistant to sprinkle the hive gently with sugar-water, as
soon as it is inverted. After placing the hive in an inverted position
on the ground, the empty hive must be put over it, and every crack from
which a bee might escape, must be carefully closed with paper or any
convenient material. The upper hive ought to be furnished with two or
three slats, about an inch and a half wide, and fastened one third of
the distance from the top, so as to give the bees every opportunity to

As soon as the Apiarian is perfectly sure that the bees cannot escape,
he should place an empty hive upon the stand from which they were
removed, so that the multitudes which return from the fields may enter
it, instead of dispersing to other hives, where some of them may meet
with a very unkind reception; although as a general rule, a bee with a
load of freshly gathered honey, after the extent of his resources is
ascertained, is almost always, welcomed by any hive to which he may
carry his treasures; while a poor unfortunate that ventures to present
itself empty and poverty stricken, is generally at once destroyed! The
one meets with as friendly a reception as a wealthy gentleman who
proposes to take up his abode in a country village, while the other is
as much an object of dislike as a pauper who is suspected of wishing to
become a parish charge!

To return to our imprisoned bees. Beginning at the top, or what is now,
(as the hive is upside down,) the bottom, their hive should be beaten
smartly with two small rods on the front and back, or on the sides to
which the combs are attached, so as to run no risk of loosening them.
If the hive when removed from its stand was put upon a stool or table,
or something not so solid as the ground, the drumming will cause more
motion, and yet be less apt to start any of the combs. These "rappings"
which certainly are not of a very "spiritual" character, produce
nevertheless, a most decided effect upon the bees: their first impulse
is to sally out and wreak their vengeance upon those who have thus
rudely assailed their honied dome; but as soon as they find that they
are shut in, a sudden fear that they are to be driven from their
treasures, seems to take possession of them. If the two hives have glass
windows, so that all the operations can be witnessed, the bees, in a few
moments, will be seen most busily engaged in gorging themselves with
honey. During all this time, the rapping must be continued, and in about
five minutes, nearly every bee will have filled itself to its utmost
capacity, and they are now prepared for their forced emigration; a
prodigious hum is heard, and the bees begin to mount into the upper box.
In about ten minutes from the time the rapping began, the mass of the
bees with their queen will have ascended, and will hang clustered, just
like a natural swarm. The box with the expelled bees must now be gently
lifted off, and should be placed upon a bottom-board with a gauze wire
ventilator, so that the bees may be confined, and yet have plenty of
air. A shallow vessel or a piece of old comb containing water, ought to
be first placed on the bottom-board. If no gauze wire bottom-board is at
hand, the hive must be wedged up, so as to admit an abundance of air,
and be set in a shady place.

The hive from which the bees were driven, must now be set, without
crushing any of the bees, on its old spot, in the place of the decoy
hive, that all the bees which have returned from abroad, may enter.
Before this change is made, these bees will be running in and out of
the empty hive, (See p. 72,) but as soon as the opportunity is given
them, they will crowd into their well-known home, and if there are no
royal cells started, will proceed, almost at once, to construct them,
and the next day they will act as though the forced swarm had left of
its own accord. When the operation is delayed until about the season for
natural swarming, the hive will contain immature queens, if the bees
were intending to swarm, and a new queen will soon take the place of the
old one, just as in natural swarming. If it is performed too early, and
before the drones have made their appearance, the young queen may not be
seasonably impregnated, and the parent stock will perish.

It will be obvious that this whole process, in order to be successfully
performed, requires a knowledge of the most important points in the
economy of the bee-hive; indeed the same remark may be made of almost
any operation, and those who are willing to remain ignorant of the laws
which regulate the breeding of bees, ought not to depart in the least,
from the old-fashioned mode of management. All such deviations will only
be attended with a wanton sacrifice of bees. A man may use the common
swarming hives a whole life-time, and yet remain ignorant of the very
first principles in the physiology of the bee, unless he gains his
information from other sources; while, by the use of my hives, any
intelligent cultivator may, in a single season, verify for himself, the
discoveries which have only been made by the accumulated toil of many
observers, for more than two thousand years. The ease with which
Apiarians may now, by the sight of their own eyes, gain a knowledge of
all the important facts in the economy of the hive, will stimulate them
most powerfully, to study the nature of the bee and thus to prepare
themselves for an enlightened system of management.

In giving directions for the creation of forced swarms, I advised that
it should be done during the pleasantest part of the day, when the
largest number of bees are foraging abroad. If the operation is
performed when all the bees are at home, and they are all driven into
the empty hive, the old hive will be so depopulated that many of the
young will perish for want of suitable attention, and the parent stock
will be greatly deteriorated in value. If only a part of the bees are
expelled, the queen may be left behind, and the whole operation will be
a failure, and at best it will be difficult to make a suitable division
of the bees between the two hives. Indeed, under any circumstances, this
is the most difficult part of the process, and it often requires no
little judgment to equalize the two colonies.

Some recommend placing the forced swarm on the old stand, and removing
the parent hive with the bees that are deemed sufficient, to a new
place. If this is done, and the bees have their liberty, so many of them
will leave for the familiar spot, that the hive will be almost deserted,
and a very large proportion of its brood will perish. The bees in this
hive, if it is to be set in a new place, must have water given to them,
and be so shut up as to have an abundance of air, until late in the
afternoon of the third day, when the hive may be opened, and they will
take wing, almost as though they were intending to swarm. Some will even
then, return to the place where they originally stood, and join the
forced swarm, but the most of them, after hovering in the air for a
short time, will re-enter the hive. During the time that they have been
shut up, thousands of young bees will have emerged from their cells, and
these, knowing no other home, will aid in taking care of the larvæ, and
in carrying on the work of the hive.

Instead of trying to make an equitable division at the time of driving
out the bees, I prefer to expel all that I can, and to rely upon the
bees returning from their gatherings, to replenish the old stock. If the
number appears to be too small, I open temporarily the entrance of the
hive containing the forced swarm, and permit as many as I judge best, to
come out and enter their old abode. It must here be borne in mind, that
bees which are thus ejected from a hive, do not, in all respects, act
like a natural swarm, which having left the parent stock, of its own
accord, never seeks, unless it has lost its queen, to return; whereas,
many of the forced swarm, as soon as they leave the hive into which they
have been driven, will return to their former abode. The same is true of
bees which are moved to any distance not far enough to be beyond the
limits of their previous excursions in search of food. If we could only
make our bees when moved, or forced to swarm, adhere to their hives as
faithfully as a natural swarm, many difficulties which now perplex us,
would be at once removed.

Having ascertained that the parent hive contains a sufficient number of
bees to carry on operations, about sun-set, after the bees are all at
home, it may be removed to a new stand, and the bees, after being
supplied with water, must be shut up, according to the directions
previously given. If the hive is so constructed that water cannot be
conveniently given them, the following plan I have found to answer most
admirably. Bore a small hole towards the top on the front side, and with
a straw, water may be injected with scarcely any trouble. A mouthful
once or twice a day, will be sufficient. If the bees are confined
without water, they will not be able to prepare the food for the larvæ,
and multitudes of them must necessarily perish.

The expelled colony must be placed, on the same evening, precisely where
the hive from which they were driven stood, and have their liberty
given to them. The next morning, they will work with as much vigor as
though they had swarmed in the natural way.

The directions which have here been given for creating forced swarms,
will be found to differ in some important respects from any which other
Apiarians have previously furnished. I have already shown that it is
difficult to secure the right number of bees for the parent stock,
unless it is set temporarily on its old stand, so as to catch up the
returning bees. The common plan has been to try to leave in it, as many
bees as are needed, and then to shut it up for a few days, having placed
it in a new spot, while the forced swarm is immediately replaced so that
all the stragglers may be added to it. If we could always be sure of
driving out the queen, and with her, as many bees as we want and _no
more_, this would undoubtedly be the simplest plan; but for the reasons
already assigned, it will be found a very precarious operation.

Some Apiarians recommend putting the forced swarm in a new place in the
Apiary; but as large numbers of the bees will be sure, when they go out
to work, to return to the familiar spot, the new colony will often be so
seriously depopulated as to be of but little value. If the Apiarian can
remove his forced swarms, some two or three miles off, he may give them
their liberty at once, and in the course of a few weeks, he can, without
risk, bring them back to his Apiary.

If he chooses, he may allow the parent stock to remain on the old stand,
and confine the forced swarm, until about an hour before sun set of the
third day. They must in the mean time be supplied with both honey and
water, and if they cannot be kept cool and quiet, they should be removed
into the cellar until they are placed in their new position. Many will
even then return to the old spot, but not enough to interfere seriously
with their prosperity. If the bees cannot, as in my hives, be kept cool
and dark, they will be excessively uneasy, and may suffer very seriously
from so long confinement: hence the very great importance of setting
them in the cellar.

It may seem strange, that bees, when their hive is moved, or when they
are forcibly expelled from it, should not adhere to the new spot, just
as when they have swarmed of their own accord. In each case, as soon as
a bee leaves its new place, it flies with its head turned towards the
hive, in order to mark the surrounding objects, that it may be able to
return to the same spot; but when they have not emigrated of their own
accord, many of them seem, when they rise in the air, or return from
work, entirely to forget that their location has been changed; and they
return to the place where they have lived so long, and if no hive is
there, they often die on the deserted and desolate, yet home-like spot.
If, on the contrary, they swarmed of their own accord, they seldom, if
ever, make such a mistake. It may truly be said that

    "A 'bee removed' against its will
    Is of the same opinion still."

I have been thus minute in describing the whole process of creating
forced swarms, not merely on account of the importance of the plan in
multiplying colonies, but because the driving or drumming out of bees
from a common hive, is employed with great success in a variety of ways
which will be hereafter specified. I doubt not that many bee-keepers, on
reading this mode of creating colonies, are ready to object that it not
only requires more skill, but more time and labor, than to allow them to
swarm, and then to hive them in the old-fashioned way.

As practiced with ordinary hives, it is undoubtedly liable to this
serious objection, and I would easily with my basket hiver, undertake to
hive four natural swarms, in the time that it would require to create
one forced swarm; to say nothing of the care which must be bestowed upon
the artificial swarms, with their parent stocks, after the driving
process has been completed. For this reason, I do not advise the
bee-keeper to force his swarms from the common hives, until he has first
ascertained that they are not likely to swarm in tolerably good season,
of their own accord, unless he is afraid that they will come out during
his absence, and decamp to the woods.

By the aid of my hives, this process may be most expeditiously
performed. An empty hive, with its frames furnished with guide combs,
must be in readiness. The cover of the full hive should be removed, and
the bees gently sprinkled with sugar-water from a watering pot that
discharges a fine stream. In about two minutes, the frames may be taken
out, and the bees, by a quick motion, shaken on a sheet directly in
front of their hive. As fast as a comb is deprived of its bees, it
should be set in a proper position in the new hive, and an empty frame
put in its place. Two or three of the combs containing brood, eggs, &c.,
should be left in the old hive, as well to give them greater
encouragement, as to prevent them from being dissatisfied if their queen
should, by any possibility, be taken from them. In removing the frames
with the bees, I always look for the queen, and if I see her, as I
generally do, I return to the hive the frame which contains her, without
shaking off the bees. In that case, I put several of the necessary combs
into the new hive, with all the bees upon them.

In dislodging the bees upon the sheet, I do not shake them all off from
the frames; but leave about one quarter of them on, and put them with
the combs into the new hive. I never knew the queen to be left on a
frame after it was shaken so that the larger portion of the bees would
fall off. As soon as the operation is completed, and the necessary
number of bees have been transferred with their comb to the new hive, it
should be managed according to the directions previously given, in the
case of the old hive from which a swarm was drummed out.

If in the operation the Apiarian does not see the queen, he must, in the
course of the third day, examine the hive having the larger portion of
bees, and if they have commenced building royal cells among the combs
given to them, he may be certain that she is in the other hive. The comb
containing the royal cells may then be transferred to that hive, and the
queen searched for, and returned with the combs on which she is found,
to her proper place. A little experience, however, will enable the
operator to be sure from the first, that the queen is with the right

To most persons, it would seem to be of little consequence, in which
hive the queen is placed: but if the bees which have only a few frames
of comb, are compelled to rear another, they will be sure to fill their
hive with comb unfit for breeding purposes, and will also be so long
before they can have additions to their number, as to be of but little

If many swarms are to be created in this manner, and the operation is
delayed until near swarming time, in some of them, numerous royal cells
will be found, so that each stock which has no queen, may have one
nearly mature, given to it, and thus much valuable time may be saved.

By making a few forced swarms, about a week or ten days before the time
in which the most will be made, the Apiarian may be sure of having an
abundance of sealed queens almost mature, so that every swarm may have
one. If he can give each hive that needs it, an unhatched queen, without
removing her from her frame, so much the better; but if he has not
enough frames with sealed queens, while some of them contain two or more
queens, he must proceed as follows:

With a very sharp knife, carefully cut out a queen cell, on a piece of
comb an inch or more square; cut a place in one of the combs of the hive
to which this cell is to be given, just about large enough to receive it
in a natural position, and if it is not secure, put a little melted wax
with a feather, where the edges meet. The bees will soon fasten it, so
as to make all right. Unless very great care is used in transferring
these royal cells, the enclosed queens will be destroyed; as their
bodies, until they are nearly mature, are so exceedingly soft, that a
very slight compression of their cell often kills them. For this reason,
I prefer not to remove them, until they are within three or four days of
hatching. As the forcing of a swarm may always be conducted, with my
hives, in such a manner that the Apiarian can be sure to effect a
suitable division of the bees, the process may be performed at any time
when the sun is above the horizon, and the weather is not too
unpleasant. It ought not to be attempted when the weather is so cool as
to endanger the destruction of the brood, by a chill; and never unless
when there is not only sufficient light to enable the Apiarian to see
distinctly, but enough for the bees that take wing, to see the hive, and
direct their flight to its entrance. If hives are meddled with, when it
is dark, the bees are always more irascible, and as they cannot see
where to fly, they will constantly be alighting upon the person of the
bee-keeper, who will be almost sure to receive some stings. I have
seldom attempted night-work upon my bees, without having occasion most
thoroughly to rue my folly. If the weather is not too cool, early in the
morning, before the bees are stirring, will be the best time, as there
will be less danger of annoyance from robber-bees.

If honey-water is used instead of sugar-water in sprinkling the bees
when the hive is first opened, the smell will be almost certain to
entice marauders from other hives to attempt to take possession of
treasures which do not belong to them, and when they once commence such
a pilfering course of life, they will be very loth to lay it aside. When
the honey harvest is abundant, (and this is the very time for forcing
swarms,) bees, with proper precautions, are seldom inclined to rob. I
have sometimes found it difficult to induce them to notice honey-combs
which I wished them to empty, even when they were placed in an exposed
situation. This subject, however, will be more fully treated in the
remarks on Robbing.

Perhaps some of my readers will hardly be able to convince themselves
that bees may be dealt with after the fashion I have been describing,
without becoming greatly enraged; so far is this from being the case,
that in my operations, I often use neither sugar-water nor bee-dress,
although I do not recommend the neglect of such precautions.

The artificial swarm may be created with perfect safety, even at
mid-day, when thousands of bees are returning to the hive: for these
bees being laden with honey, never venture upon making an attack, while
those at home may be easily pacified.

I find a very great advantage in the peculiar shape of my hive, which
allows the top to be easily removed, and the sugar-water to be sprinkled
upon the bees, before they attempt to take wing. If like the Dzierzon
hive, it opened on the end, it would be impossible for me to use the
sweetened water, so as to make it run down between all the ranges of
comb, and I should be forced, as he does, to employ smoke, in all my
operations. Huber thus speaks of the pacific effect produced upon the
bees by the use of his leaf hive. "On opening the hive, no stings are to
be dreaded, for one of the most singular and valuable properties
attending my construction, is its rendering the bees tractable. I
ascribe their tranquility to the manner in which they are affected by
the sudden admission of light, they appear rather to testify fear than
anger. Many retire, and entering the cells, seem to conceal themselves."
I will admit that Huber has here fallen into an error which he would not
have made, had he used his own eyes. The bees do indeed enter the cells
when the frames are exposed, but not "to conceal themselves;" they
imagine that their sweets, thus unceremoniously exposed to the light of
day, are to be taken from them, and they fill themselves to their utmost
capacity, in order to save all that they can. I always expect them to
appropriate the contents of the open cells, as soon as I remove their
frames from the hive. It is not merely the _sudden_ admission of light,
but its introduction from an _unexpected quarter_, that seems for the
time to disarm the hostility of the bees. They appear for a few moments,
almost as much confounded as we should be, if without any warning the
roof and ceiling of a house should suddenly fly off into the air. Before
they recover from their amazement, the sweet libation is poured out upon
them, and surprize is quickly converted into pleasure rather than anger.
I believe that in the working season, almost all the bees near the top
are gorged with honey, and that this is the reason why opening the hive
from ABOVE is so easily effected. The bees below that are disposed to
resent any intrusions, are met in their threatening ascent, with an
avalanche of nectar which "like a soft answer," most effectually
"turneth away wrath." Who would ever be willing to use the sickening
fumes of the disgusting weed, when so much pleasure instead of pain may
be given to his bees. That bees never seem to be prepared to make an
instant assault from the top of their hive, but only near the entrance,
any one may be convinced of, who will put my frames into a suspended
hive with a movable bottom which may be made to drop at pleasure. If
now, for any purpose, he attempts to meddle with the combs from below,
he will find that unless he uses smoke, the bees will be almost, if not
quite unmanageable.

I shall now give some directions, which will greatly assist the Apiarian
in his operations. He must bear in mind that nothing irritates bees more
than a sudden jar, and that this must, in all cases, be most carefully
avoided. The inside cover of the hive, or as I shall term it, the
_honey-board_, because the surplus honey receptacles stand upon it, can
never be very firmly attached by the bees: it may always be readily
loosened with a thin knife, or better still, with an apothecary's
spatula, which will be very useful for many purposes in the Apiary. When
the honey-board is removed, its lower surface will be usually covered
with bees, and it should be carefully set on end, so as not to crush
them. There is not the least danger that one of them will offer to
sting, as they are completely bewildered by the sudden introduction of
light, and their removal from the hive. As soon as the cover is disposed
of, the Apiarian should sprinkle the bees with the sweet solution. This
should descend from the watering-pot in a fine stream, so as not to
_drench_ the bees, and should fall upon the tops of the frames, as well
as between the ranges of comb. The bees will at once, accept the
proffered treat, and will begin lapping it up, as peaceably as so many
chickens helping themselves to corn. While they are thus engaged, the
frames must be very gently pried by a stick, from their attachments to
the rabbets on which they rest; this may be done without any jar and
without wounding or enraging a single bee. They may all be loosened
preparatory to removing them, in less than a minute.[17] By this time,
the sprinkled bees will have filled themselves, or if all have not done
so, the grateful intelligence that sweets have been furnished them, will
diffuse an unusual good nature through all the honied realm. The
Apiarian should now remove one of the outside frames, taking hold of its
two ends which rest upon the rabbets, and carefully lifting it out
without inclining it from its perpendicular position, so as not to
injure a single bee. The removal of the next comb, and of all the
succeeding ones, will be more easily effected, as there will be more
room to operate to advantage. If bees were disposed to fly away at once
from their combs, as soon as they were taken out, it would be very
difficult to manage them, but so far are they from doing this, that they
adhere to them with most wonderful tenacity. I have sometimes removed
all the combs, and arranged them in a continued line, and the bees have
not only refused to leave them, but have stoutly defended them against
the thieving propensities of other bees. By shaking off the bees from
the combs upon a sheet, and securing the queen, I can, on any pleasant
day, exhibit nearly all the appearances of natural swarming. The bees,
as soon as they miss their queen, will rise into the air, and by
placing her on the twig of a tree, they will soon cluster around her in
the manner already described.

A word as to the manner of catching the queen. I seize her very gently,
as I espy her among the bees, and by taking care to crush none of them,
run not the least risk of being stung. The queen herself never stings,
even if handled ever so roughly.

In removing the frames from the hive, it will be found very convenient
to have a box with suitable rabbets in which they may be temporarily
put, and covered over with a piece of cotton cloth. They may thus be
very easily protected from the cold, and from robbing bees, if they are
to be kept out of the hive for some time; and such a box will be very
convenient to receive frames that are lifted out for examination. In
returning the frames to a hive, care must be taken not to crush the bees
where their ends rest upon the rabbets; they must be put in slowly, so
that a bee, when he feels the slightest pressure may have a chance to
creep from under them, before he is hurt.

The honey-cover, for convenience, is generally in two pieces: these
cannot be laid down on the hive, without danger of killing many bees;
they are therefore very carefully _slid_ on, so that any bees which may
be in the way, are pushed before them, instead of being crushed. If any
bees are upon such parts of the hive as to be imprisoned if the outside
cover is closed, it should be left a little open, until they have flown
to the entrance of the hive. It cannot be too deeply impressed upon the
bee-keeper, that all his motions must be slow and gentle, and that the
bees must not be injured or breathed upon. If he will carefully follow
the directions I have given, he may soon open a hundred hives and
perform any necessary operation upon them, without any bee-dress, and
yet with very little risk of being stung, but I almost despair of being
able to convince even the most experienced Apiarians, of the ease and
safety with which bees may be managed on my plan, until they have
actually been eye-witnesses of its successful operation.

I can make an artificial colony in the way above described in ten
minutes from the time that I open the hive, and if I see the queen as
quickly as I often do, in not more than five minutes. Fifteen minutes
will be a very liberal allowance of time to complete the whole work. If
I had an Apiary of a hundred colonies, in less than a week, if the
weather was pleasant, I could without any assistance easily finish the
business of swarming for the whole season.

But how can the Apiarian, if he delays the formation of artificial
swarms until nearly the season for natural swarming, be sure that his
bees will not swarm in the usual way? Must he not still be constantly on
hand, or run the risk of losing many of his best swarms? I come now to
the entirely novel plan by which such objections are completely
obviated. If the Apiarian decides that he can most advantageously
multiply his colonies by artificial swarming, he must see that all his
fertile queens are deprived of their wings, so as to be unable to lead
off new swarms. As an old queen never leaves the hive except to
accompany a new swarm, the loss of her wings does not, in the least
interfere with her usefulness, or with the attachment of the bees.
Occasionally, a wingless queen is so bent on emigrating, that in spite
of her inability to fly, she tries to go off with a swarm; she has "a
will," but contrary to the old maxim she can find "no way," but
helplessly falls upon the ground instead of gaily mounting into the air.
If the bees succeed in finding her, they will never desert her, but
cluster directly around her, and may thus be easily secured by the
Apiarian. If she is not found, the bees will return to the parent stock
to await the maturity of the young queens. The Apiarian will ordinarily
be prepared to form his artificial colonies before any of these young
queens are hatched.

The following is the best plan for removing the wings from the queens.
Every hive which contains a young queen, ought to be examined about a
week after she has hatched, (see Chapter on Loss of the Queen,) in order
to ascertain that she has been impregnated, and has begun to lay eggs.
Some of the central combs or those on which the bees are most thickly
clustered, should be first lifted out, for she will almost always be
found on one of them; the Apiarian when he has caught her, should remove
the wings on one side with a pair of scissors taking care not to hurt
her. On examining his hives next season, let him remove one of the two
remaining wings from the queen. The third season, he may deprive her of
her last wing. Bees always have four wings, a pair on each side. This
plan saves him the trouble of marking his hives so as to know the age of
the queens they contain.

As the fertility of the queen generally decreases after the second year,
I prefer, just before the drones are destroyed, to kill all the old
queens that have entered their third year. In this way, I guard against
some of my stocks becoming queenless, in consequence of the queen dying
of old age, when there is no worker-brood in the hive, from which they
can rear another: or of having a worthless, drone-laying queen whose
impregnation has been retarded. These old queens are removed at that
period of the year when their colony is strong in numbers; and as the
honey-harvest is by this time, nearly over, their removal is often a
positive benefit, instead of a loss. The population is prevented from
being over crowded at a time when the bees are consumers and not
producers, and when the young queen, reared in the place of the old one
matures, she will rapidly fill the cells with eggs, and raise a large
number of bees to take advantage of the late honey-harvest, and to
prepare the hive to winter most advantageously.

The certainty, rapidity and ease of making artificial swarms with my
hives, will be such as to amaze those most who have had the greatest
experience and success in the management of bees. Instead of weeks
wasted in watching the Apiary, in addition to all the other vexations
and embarrassments which are so often found to attend reliance on
natural swarming, the Apiarian will find not only that he can create all
his new colonies in a very short time, but that he can, if he chooses,
entirely prevent the issue of all after-swarms. In order to do this, he
ought to examine the stocks which are raising young queens, in season to
cut out all the queen cells but one, before the larvæ come to maturity.
If he gave them a sealed queen nearly mature, they will raise no others,
and no swarming, for that season, will take place. If the Apiarian
wishes to do more than to double his stocks in one season, and is
favorably situated for practicing natural swarming, he can allow the
stocks that raise young queens to swarm if they will, and he can
strengthen the small swarms by giving to them comb with honey and
maturing brood from other hives. Or he can, after an interval of about
three weeks, make one swarm from every two good ones in his Apiary, in a
way that will soon be described.

I do not know that I can find a better place in which to impress certain
highly important principles upon the attention of the bee-keeper. I am
afraid, that in spite of all that I can say, many persons as soon as
they find themselves able to multiply colonies at pleasure, will so
overdo the matter, as to run the risk of losing all their bees. If the
Apiarian aims at obtaining a large quantity of honey in any one season,
he cannot at the furthest, more than double the number of his stocks:
nor can he do this, unless they are all strong, and the season
favorable. The moment that he aims, in any one season, at a more rapid
increase, he must not only renounce the idea of having any surplus
honey, but must expect to purchase food for the support of his colonies,
unless he is willing to see them all perish by starvation. The time,
food, care and skill required to multiply stocks with very great
rapidity, in our short and uncertain climate, are so great that not one
Apiarian in a hundred can expect to make it profitable; while the great
mass of those who attempt it, will be almost sure, at the close of the
season, to find themselves in possession of stocks which have been so
managed as to be of very little value.

Before explaining some other methods of artificial swarming, which I
have employed to great advantage, I shall endeavor to impress upon the
mind of the bee-keeper, the great importance of thoroughly understanding
each season, the precise object at which he is aiming, before he enters
on the work of increasing his colonies. If his object is, in any one
season, to get the largest yield of surplus honey, he must at once make
up his mind to be content with a very moderate increase of stocks. If,
on the contrary, he desires to multiply his colonies, say, three or four
fold, he must be prepared, not only to relinquish the expectation of
obtaining any surplus honey, if the season should prove unfavorable, but
to purchase food for the support of his bees. Rapid multiplication of
colonies, and large harvests of surplus honey cannot, in the very nature
of things, be secure in our climate, in any one season.

If the number of colonies is to be increased to a large extent, then the
bees in the Apiary will be tasked to the utmost in building new comb,
as well as in rearing brood. For these purposes, they must consume the
supply of honey which, under other circumstances, they would have stored
up, a part for their own use in the main hive, and the balance for their
owner, in the spare honey-boxes.

To make this matter perfectly plain, let us suppose a colony to swarm.
If the new hive, into which the swarm is put, holds, as it ought, about
a bushel, it will require about two pounds of wax to fill it with comb,
and at least forty pounds of honey will be used in its manufacture! If
the season is favorable, and the swarm was large and early, they may
gather, not only enough to build this comb and to store it with honey
sufficient for their own use, but a number of pounds in addition, for
the benefit of their owner. If the old stock does not swarm again, it
will rapidly replenish its numbers, and as it has no new comb to build
in the main hive which already contains much honey, it will be able to
store up a generous allowance in the upper boxes. These favorable
results are all on the supposition that the season was ordinarily
productive in honey, and that the hive was so powerful in numbers as to
be able to swarm early. If the season should prove to be very
unfavorable, the first swarm cannot be expected to gather more than
enough for its own use, while the parent stock will yield only a small
return. The profits of the bee-keeper, in such an unfortunate season,
will be mainly in the increase of his stocks. If the swarm was late, in
consequence of the stock being weak in Spring, the early part of the
honey-harvest will pass away, and the bees will be able to obtain from
it, but a small share of honey. During all this time of comparative
inactivity, the orchards may present

    "One boundless blush, one white empurpled shower
    Of mingled blossoms,"

and tens of thousands of bees from stronger stocks, may be engaged all
day, in sipping the fragrant sweets, so that every gale which "fans its
odoriferous wings" about their dwellings, dispenses

    "Native perfumes, and whispers whence they stole[18]
    Those balmy spoils."

By the time that the feeble stock is prepared to swarm, if it swarm at
all that season, the honey-harvest is almost over, and the new colony
will seldom be able to gather enough for its own use, so that unless
fed, it must perish the succeeding Winter. Bee-keeping with colonies
feeble in the Spring, is most emphatically nothing but "folly and
vexation of spirit."

I have shown how the bee-keeper, with a strong stock-hive which has
swarmed early and but once, may in a favorable season realize handsome
profits from his bees. If the parent stock throws a second swarm, then,
as a general rule, unless this swarm was very early, and the honey
season good, if managed on the ordinary plan, it will seldom prove of
any value. It will almost always perish in the Winter, if it does not
desert its hive in the Fall, and the family from which it issued, will
not only gather no surplus honey, (unless it was secured before the
first swarm issued,) but will very often perish likewise. Thus the
inexperienced owner who was so delighted with the rapid increase of his
colonies, begins the next season with no more colonies than he had the
year before, and has very often lost all the time he has bestowed upon
his bees. I can, to be sure, on my plan, prevent the death of the bees,
and can build up all the feeble colonies, so as to make them strong and
powerful: but only by giving up all idea of obtaining a single pound of
honey. From the first swarm, I must take combs containing maturing
brood, to strengthen my weak swarms, and this first swarm however
powerful or early, instead of being able to store its combs with honey,
will be constantly tasked in building new combs to replace those taken
away, so that when the honey harvest closes, it will have scarcely any
honey, and must be fed to prevent it from starving. Any man who has
sense enough to be entrusted with bees, can, from these remarks,
understand exactly why it is impossible to multiply colonies rapidly in
any one season, and yet obtain from them large supplies of honey. Even
the doubling of stocks in one season, will very often be too rapid an
increase, if the greatest quantity of spare honey is to be obtained from
them; and when the largest yield of honey is desired, I much prefer to
form, in a way soon to be described, only one new stock from two old
ones; this will give even more from the three, than could have been
obtained from the two, on the ordinary non-swarming plan.

I would very strongly dissuade any but experienced Apiarians, from
attempting at the furthest, to do more than to triple their stocks in
one year. In order to furnish directions for very rapid multiplication,
sufficiently full and explicit to be of any value to the inexperienced,
I should have to write a book on this one topic; and even then, the most
of those who should undertake it, would be sure at first to fail.

I have no doubt that with ten strong stocks of bees in a good location,
in one favorable season, I could so increase them as to have, on the
approach of Winter, one hundred good colonies: but I should expect to
feed hundreds of pounds of honey, to devote nearly all my time to their
management, and to bring to the work, the experience of many years, and
the wisdom acquired by numerous failures. After all, what we most need,
in order to be successful in the cultivation of bees, is a _certain_,
rather than a _rapid_ multiplication of stocks. It would require but a
very few years to stock our whole country with bees, if colonies could
only be doubled annually; and an increase of even one third, would
before long, give us bees enough. This rate of increase I should always
encourage in the swarming season, even if, in the Fall, I reduced my
stocks (see Union of Stocks) to the Spring number. In the long run, it
will keep the colonies in a much more prosperous condition, and secure
from them the largest yield of honey.

I have never myself hesitated to sacrifice one or more colonies, in
order to ascertain a single fact, and it would require a separate volume
quite as large as this, to detail the various experiments which I have
made on the subject of Artificial Swarming. The practical bee-keeper,
however, should never, for a moment, lose sight of the important
distinction between an Apiary managed principally for the purposes of
experiment and discovery, and one conducted almost exclusively with
reference to pecuniary profit. Any bee-keeper can easily experiment with
my hives: but I would recommend him to do so, at first, on a small
scale, and if profit is his object, to follow the directions furnished
in this treatise, until he is _sure_ that he has discovered others which
are preferable. These cautions are given to prevent persons from
incurring serious losses and disappointments, if they use hives which,
if they are not on their guard, may tempt them into rash and
unprofitable courses, by allowing so easily of all manner of
experiments. Let the practical Apiarian remember that the less he
disturbs the stocks on which he relies for surplus honey, the better.
After they are properly lodged in their new hive, they ought by all
means to be allowed to carry on their labors without any interruption.
The object of giving the control over every comb in the hive, is not to
enable him to be incessantly taking them in and out, and subjecting the
bees to all sorts of annoyances. Unless he is conducting a course of
experiments, such interference will be almost as silly as the conduct of
children who pull up the seeds which they have planted, to see whether
they have sprouted, or how much they have grown. If after these
cautions, any still choose to disregard them, the blame of their losses
will fall, not upon the hive, but upon their own mismanagement.

Let me not, for a moment, be understood as wishing to discourage
investigation, or to intimate that perfection has been so nearly
attained that no more important discoveries remain to be made. On the
contrary, I should be glad to learn that many who have the time and
means, are disposed to use the facilities furnished by hives which give
the control of each comb, to experiment on a large scale; and I hope
that every intelligent bee-keeper who follows my plans, will experiment
at least on a small scale. In this way, we may soon expect to see, more
satisfactorily elucidated, some points in the Natural History of the
bee, which are still involved in doubt.

Having described the way in which forced swarms are made, both in common
hives and in my own, when the Apiarian wishes in one season merely to
double his colonies, I shall now show in what way he can secure the
largest yield of honey, by forming only one new colony from two old

Early in the season, before the bees fly out, or better still, after
they ceased to fly in the previous Fall, the two hives from which the
new colony is to be formed, should be placed near each other, unless
they are already, not more than a foot apart. When the time for forming
the artificial colony has arrived, these hives should be removed from
their stand, and the bees driven from them, precisely in the manner
already described. If all the bees are at home, I sometimes shut up the
hives on their stand, and drum long enough to cause the bees to fill
themselves before the hive is removed. Timid Apiarians may find some
advantage in this course, as the bees will all be quiet after they are
well drummed, and the hive may then be removed with greater safety. In
five minutes I can in this way reduce any swarm to a peaceable
condition. After the forced swarms are secured, the removed hives are
replaced, in order to catch up all the returning bees, and the forced
swarms must be shut up, until towards sunset; unless it is judged best
to keep the entrances temporarily open, so as to secure the return of a
sufficient number of bees to the parent stocks. The old stocks are now
moved to a new place, and managed according to the previous directions.
If neither of the expelled swarms was driven into the hive intended for
the new colony, then the proper hive must be placed, as near as
possible, in the center of the space previously occupied by the original
colonies. One of the swarms must now be shaken out upon a sheet, in
front of this hive which should be elevated, so as to enable the bees to
enter it readily. As soon as they are shaken out, they should be gently
sprinkled with sugar-water scented with peppermint, or any other
fragrant odor. Diligent search must now be made for the Queen, and if
found, she should be carefully removed, and given to the hive to which
she belongs. If the queen of the first swarm has been found, the second
colony may be shaken out, and sprinkled in the same way, and allowed to
enter without any further trouble. If the queen of the first colony was
not found, then that of the second one must be sought for; if neither
can be found, (though this, after a little experience, will very seldom
happen,) one of the Queens will soon kill the other, and reign over the
united family. The next day, the doubled colony will be found working
with amazing vigor, and it will not only fill its main hive, but will,
in any ordinary season, gather large quantities of surplus honey

The Apiarian who relies upon natural swarming, can double his new
colonies if they issue at the same time, by hiving them together, or if
this cannot be done, he may hive them in separate hives, and then,
towards evening, set one hive on a sheet, and shake down the bees from
the other, so that they can enter and join the first. It may be safely
done, even if several days have elapsed before the second colony swarms;
although in this case, I prefer after turning up their hive to sprinkle
the oldest swarm with scented sugar-water, and then to give the new
swarm the same treatment. I have doubled natural swarms in this way,
repeatedly, and have never, when they were early, failed to secure from
them a large quantity of honey. In sprinkling bees, let the operator
remember that they are not to be _drenched_, or almost drowned, as in
this case, they will require a long time to enter the hive. Bees seem to
recognize each other by the sense of smell; and when they are made to
have the same odor, they will always mingle peaceably. This is the
reason why I use a few drops of peppermint in the sugar-water.

If one of the queens of the forced swarms can be returned to her own
colony, it will of course, save them the time which would otherwise be
lost in raising another. I do not know that I can better illustrate the
importance of the inexperienced Apiarian following carefully my
directions, than by supposing him to return the queen to the colony to
which she does not belong. Now I can easily imagine that some bee-keeper
may do so, conceiving that I am foolishly precise in my directions, and
that the queen might be just as well given to one hive as to the other.
But if this is done before at least 24 hours have elapsed since they
were deprived of their own, she will almost certainly be destroyed. The
bees do not _sting_ a queen to death, but have a curious mode of
crowding or knotting around her, so that she is soon smothered; and
while thus imprisoned, she will often make the same piping note which
has already been described. In all this treatise, I have constantly
aimed to give no directions which are not important; and while I utterly
repudiate the notion that these directions may not be modified and
improved, I am quite certain that this cannot be done by any but those
who have considerable experience in the management of bees.

The formation of one new swarm from two old colonies, may, of course, be
very much simplified by the use of my hives. The two old hives are first
opened and sprinkled, and the bees taken from them and put into the new
hive in the same way in which the process was conducted when only one
colony was expelled, some brood comb being given to the united family.
There will be no difficulty in rightly proportioning the bees; one queen
may always be caught and preserved, and the operation may be performed
at any time when the sun is above the horizon. I have no doubt that
those who have a strong stock of bees, and who are anxious to realize
the largest profits in honey, will find this mode of increase, by far
the simplest and best. If judiciously practiced, they will find that
their colonies may always be kept powerful, and that they may be managed
with very great economy in time and labor. As Apiarians may be so
situated as to wish to increase their bees quite rapidly, I shall give
such methods as from numerous experiments, many of them conducted on a
large scale, I have found to be the best. I wish it however to be most
distinctly understood, that I do not consider _very_ rapid
multiplication as likely to succeed, except in the hands of skillful
Apiarians; and under ordinary circumstances it requires too much time,
care and honey, to be of very great practical value. Its chief merit
consists in the short time which it requires to build up an Apiary.
After trying my mode of management for a few seasons, a bee-keeper may
find out, that he is in all respects, favorably situated for taking care
of a large stock of bees. Suppose him to have acquired both skill and
confidence, and that he has ten powerful colonies. If he is willing to
do without surplus honey for one season, and the honey-harvest should be
very productive, he may without feeding, and without very much labor,
safely increase his ten colonies to thirty. If he chooses to feed
largely, he may _possibly_ end the season with fifty or sixty, or even
more; but he will _probably_ end it in such a manner as most thoroughly
to disgust him with his folly, and to teach him that in bee-keeping, as
well as in other things, "Haste makes waste."

On the supposition that by the time the fruit-trees are in blossom, the
Apiarian has, in hives of my construction, ten powerful colonies, let
him select four of the strongest, and make from each a forced swarm. He
will now have four queenless colonies, which will at once, proceed to
supply themselves with a young queen. In about ten days, he may make
from his other six stocks, six more forced swarms. He will probably find
in making these, many sealed queens, if he has delayed the operation
until about swarming time; so that he may give to each of the six stocks
from which he has expelled a swarm, the means of soon obtaining
another. If he has not enough for this purpose, he must take the
required number from the four stocks which are raising young queens, the
exact condition of which ought to have been previously ascertained. Some
of these stocks will be found to contain a large number of queen cells.
Huber, in one of his experiments, found twenty-four in one hive, and
even a larger number has sometimes been reared by a single colony. As
the Apiarian will always have many more queens than are wanted, he ought
to select those combs which contain a sealed queen, so as to secure say,
about fifteen combs, each of which has one or more queens. If necessary,
he can cut out some of the cells, and adjust them in the manner
previously described. Each comb containing a sealed queen must be put
with all the bees adhering to it, into an empty hive; and by a divider,
or movable partition, they must be confined to about one quarter of the
hive; water should be given to them, and honey, if none is contained in
the comb. I always prefer to select a comb which contains a large number
of workers almost mature, and some of which are just beginning to hatch,
so that even if a considerable number of the bees should return to the
parent stock, after their liberty is given them, there will still be a
sufficient number hatched, to attend to the young, and especially to
watch over the maturing queens. If the comb contains a large number of
bees just emerging from their cells, I prefer to confine them only one
day, otherwise I keep them shut up until about an hour before sunset of
the third day. The hives containing the small colonies, ought, if they
are not well protected by being made double, to be set where they are
thoroughly sheltered from the intense heat of the sun; and the
ventilators should give them an abundance of air. They should also be
closed in such a manner, as to keep the interior in entire darkness, so
that the bees may not become too uneasy during their confinement. I
accomplish this by shutting up their entrance, and replacing their front
board, just as though I were intending to put them into winter quarters.

These small colonies I shall call _nuclei_, and the system of forming
stocks from them, my nucleus system; and before I describe this system
more particularly, I shall show other ways in which the nuclei can be
formed. If the Apiarian chooses, he can take a frame containing bees
just ready to mature, and eggs and young worms, all of the worker kind,
together with the old bees which cluster on it, and shut them up in the
manner previously described; even if he has no sealed queen to give
them. If all things are favorable, they will set about raising a queen
in a few hours. I once took not more than a tea-cup full of bees and
confined them with a small piece of brood comb in a dark place, and
found that in about an hour's time, they had begun to enlarge some of
the cells, to raise a new queen! If the Apiarian has sealed queens on
hand, they ought, by all means, to be given to the nuclei, in order to
save all the time possible.

I sometimes make these nuclei as follows. The suitable comb with bees
&c., is taken from a stock-hive, and set in an empty one, made to stand
partly in the place of the old hive, which, of course, must previously
be moved a little on one side. In this way, I am able to direct a
considerable number of the bees from the old stock to my nucleus, and
the necessity of shutting it up, is done away with. If the bees from the
old stock do not enter the small one, in sufficient numbers, I sometimes
close their hive, so that the returning bees can find no other place to
enter. My object is not to catch up a _large_ number of bees. For
reasons previously assigned, I do not want enough to build new comb, but
only enough to adhere to the removed comb, and raise a new queen from
the brood, or develop the sealed one which has been given them. A short
time after one nucleus has in this way, been formed, another may be made
by moving the old hive again, and so a third or fourth, if so many are
wanted. This plan requires considerable skill and experience, to secure
the right number of bees, without getting too many.

If bees are to be made to enter a new hive, by removing the old one from
its stand, it will always be very desirable not only to have the new one
contain a piece of comb, but a considerable number of bees _clustered_
on that comb. I repeatedly found my bees, after entering the hive,
refuse to have anything to do with the brood comb, and for a long time,
I was unable to conjecture the cause; until I ascertained that they were
dissatisfied with its deserted appearance, and that, by taking the
precaution to have it well covered with bees, I seldom failed to
reconcile them to my system of forced colonization. I can usually tell,
in less than two minutes, whether the operation will succeed or not. If
the returning bees are content, they will, however much agitated at
first, soon begin to join the cluster on the comb; while if they are
dissatisfied, they will abandon the hive, and nearly all the bees that
were originally on the comb, will leave with them. They seem capricious
in this matter, and are sometimes so very self-willed, that they refuse
to have anything to do with the brood comb, when I can see no good
reason why they should be so rebellious.

I shall here state some _conjectures_ which have occurred to me on this
subject. Is it absolutely certain that bees can raise a queen from _any_
egg or young larva which would produce a worker? Or if this is possible,
is it certain that _any kind of workers_ can accomplish this? Huber
ascertained to his own satisfaction that there were two kinds of workers
in a hive. He thus describes them.

"One of these is, in general, destined for the elaboration of wax, and
its size is considerably enlarged when full of honey; the other
immediately imparts what it has collected to its companions, its abdomen
undergoes no sensible change, or it retains only the honey necessary for
its own subsistence. The particular function of the bees of this kind is
to take care of the young, for they are not charged with provisioning
the hive. In opposition to the wax workers, we shall call them small
bees or nurses."

"Although the external difference be inconsiderable, this is not an
imaginary distinction. Anatomical observations prove that the capacity
of the stomach is not the same--experiments have ascertained that one of
the species cannot fulfil all the functions shared among the workers of
a hive. We painted those of each class with different colors, in order
to study their proceedings; and these were not interchanged. In another
experiment, after supplying a hive deprived of a queen with brood and
pollen, we saw the small bees quickly occupied in nutrition of the
larvæ, while those of the wax working class neglected them. Small bees
also produce wax, but in a very inferior quantity to what is elaborated
by the real wax workers."

Now if these statements can be relied on, and thus far I have nearly
always found Huber's statements, where-ever I had an opportunity to test
them, to be most wonderfully reliable, then it may be that when bees
refuse to cluster on the brood comb and to proceed at once to rear a new
queen, it is because they find that some of the conditions necessary for
success are wanting. Either there may not be a sufficient number of
wax-workers, to enlarge the cells, or a sufficient number of nurses to
take charge of the larvæ; or it may be that the cells contain only young
wax-workers which cannot be developed into queens, or only young
nurses, which may be in the same predicament.

If any of my readers imagine that the work of carefully experimenting,
in order to establish facts upon the solid basis of complete
demonstration, is an easy work, let them attempt now to prove or
disprove the truth of any or all of my conjectures upon this single
topic. They will probably find the task more difficult than to blot over
whole quires and reams of paper with careless assertions.

All operations of any kind which interfere in the very least, with the
natural mode of forming colonies, are best performed in the swarming
season: or at least, at a time when the bees are breeding freely, and
are able to bring in large stores of honey from the fields. At other
times, they are very precarious, and unless under the management of
persons who have great experience, they will in most cases, end in
nothing but vexatious losses and disappointments.

It is quite amusing to see how bees act, when they find, on their return
from foraging abroad, that their hive has been moved, and another put in
its place. If the new hive is precisely similar to their own, in size
and outward appearance, they enter it as though all was right; but in a
few moments, they rush out in violent agitation, imagining that they
have made a prodigious mistake and have entered the wrong place. They
now take wing again in order to correct their blunder, but find to their
increasing surprise, that they had previously directed their flight to
the familiar spot; again they enter, and again they tumble out, in
bewildered crowds, until, at length, if they can find the means of
raising a new queen, or one is already there, they seem to make up their
minds that if this is not home, it not only looks like it, but stands
just where their home ought to be, and is at all events the only home
they are likely to get. No doubt they often feel that a very hard
bargain has been imposed upon them, but they seem generally determined
to make the best of it.

There is one trait in the character of bees, for which I feel, not
merely admiration, but the most profound respect. Such is their
indomitable energy and perseverance, that under circumstances apparently
the most despairing, they will still labor to the utmost, to retrieve
their losses, and sustain the sinking state. So long as they have a
queen, or any prospect of raising one, they struggle most vigorously
against impending ruin, and never give up, unless their condition is
absolutely desperate. In one of my observing hives, I once had a colony
of bees, the whole of which might have been spread out on my two hands,
busy at work in raising a new queen, from a small piece of brood comb.
For two long weeks, they adhered with unfailing perseverance and
industry, to their forlorn hope: until at last, one of the two queens
which they raised, came forth, and destroyed the other while still in
her cell. The bees had now dwindled away to less than half their
original number, and the new queen had wings so imperfect that she was
unable to fly. I watched their proceedings with great interest; they
actually paid very unusual attention to this crippled queen, and treated
her more as they are wont to treat a fertile one. In the course of a
week, there were not more than a dozen left in the hive, and in a few
days more, I missed the queen, and saw only a few disconsolate wretches
crawling over the deserted comb! Shame upon the faint-hearted and
cowardly of our own race, who, if overtaken by calamity, instead of
nobly breasting the dark waters of affliction, and manfully buffetting
with their tumultuous waves, meanly resign themselves to their ignoble
fate, and sink and perish where they might have lived and triumphed; and
double shame upon those who thus "faint in the day of adversity," when
living in a Christian land, they might, if they would only receive the
word of God, and open the eye of faith, behold a bow of promise spanning
the still stormy clouds, and hear a voice bidding them, like the great
apostle of the Gentiles, learn not merely to "rejoice in hope of the
glory of God," but to "glory in tribulations also."

I have been informed by Mr. Wagner, that Dzierzon has recently devised a
plan of _forming nuclei_, substantially the same with my own. His book,
however, contemplates having two Apiaries, three or four miles apart,
and his plans for multiplying colonies, as there described, were based
upon the supposition that the Apiarian will have two such
establishments. Such an arrangement would no doubt very greatly
facilitate many operations. Our forced swarms might all be removed from
the Apiary where they were formed, to the other, and our nuclei treated
in the same way, and there would be no necessity for confining the bees
after their removal. There are however, weighty objections to such an
arrangement, which will prevent it, at least for some time, from being
extensively adopted. The labor of removing the bees backwards and
forwards, is a serious objection to the whole plan; and in addition to
this, the necessity of having a skillful Apiarian at each establishment,
puts its adoption out of the question, with most persons who keep bees.
It might answer, however, if two bee-keepers, sufficiently far apart,
would enter into partnership, and manage their bees as a joint concern.
Dzierzon's new plan of creating nuclei, is as follows. Towards evening,
remove a piece of brood comb, with eggs and bees just hatching, and put
it, with a sufficient number of mature bees, into an empty hive; there
must be enough to keep the brood from being chilled over night. If the
operation is performed so late that the bees are not disposed to take
wing and leave the hive, by morning a sufficient number will have
hatched, to supply the place of those which may abandon the nucleus. In
my numerous experiments last Summer, in the formation of artificial
swarms, I tried this plan and found that it answered a good purpose; the
chief objection to it, is the difficulty often of selecting the suitable
kind of comb, if the operation is delayed until late in the afternoon. I
prefer, therefore, to perform it, when the sun is an hour or two high,
and to confine the bees until dark. If there are not a sufficient number
of bees on the comb, I shake off some from another frame, directly into
the hive, and shut them all up, giving them a supply of water. Sealed
queens if possible, should be used in all these operations.

I shall now give a novel mode of creating nuclei, which I have devised,
and which I find to be attended with great success. Hive a new swarm in
the usual manner, in an old box, and as soon as the bees have entered
it, shut them up and carry them down into the cellar. About an hour
before sunset, take combs suitable to form as many nuclei as you judge
best, say five or six, or even eight or ten if the swarm was large, and
you need as many. Bring up the new swarm and shake it out upon a sheet,
sprinkling it gently with sugar-water. With a large tumbler or saucer,
scoop up without hurting any of the bees, a pint or more of them, and
place them before the mouth of one of the hives containing a brood comb;
repeat the process, until each nucleus has, say, a quart of bees. If you
see the queen, you may give the hive in which you put her, three or four
times as many bees as any other; and the next day it may be strengthened
with a few combs containing brood, just ready to mature. If you did not
find her, at the time of forming the nuclei, when you afterwards examine
them, the one which contains her may be properly reinforced with bees
and comb, so as to enable it to work to the best advantage.

If this plan of forming nuclei, were attempted earlier in the afternoon
it would be difficult to prevent the bees from communicating on the
wing, and all going to the hive which contained their queen. If however,
the bees when first shaken out of the temporary hive, are so thoroughly
sprinkled, as not to be able to take wing and unite together, this mode
of forming colonies may be practiced at any hour of the day; and an
experienced Apiarian may prefer to do it, as soon as he has fairly hived
the new swarm. When the bees are shaken out in front of a hive which has
a sealed queen, or eggs from which they can raise one, having a whole
night in which to accustom themselves to their new situation, they will
be found, the next day, to adhere to the place where they were put, with
as much tenacity as a natural swarm does to their new hive. How
wonderful that the act of swarming should so thoroughly impress upon the
bees, an absolute indisposition to return to the parent stock. If this
were a fixed and invariable unwillingness, a sort of blind, unreasoning
instinct, it would not be so surprising, but we have already seen that
in case the bees lose their queen, they return in a very short time to
the stock from which they issued! If the nuclei formed in the manner
just described, found in their new hive, no means of obtaining a queen,
they would all return, next morning, to the parent stock.

When the Apiarian can obtain a natural swarm from any other Apiary, it
may be divided into nuclei in the same way, and even a forced swarm, if
brought from a distance, will answer equally well. If the Apiarian
wishes to form colonies earlier than the season of natural swarming, and
cannot conveniently obtain a forced swarm from an Apiary, at least a
mile distant, he may, before the bees begin to fly out in the Spring,
transport one of his stocks to a neighbor's, and force from it a swarm
at the desired time. Even if it is moved not more than half a mile off,
the operation will be almost sure to succeed. Of all modes of forming
the nuclei, this I believe will be found to be the neatest, simplest and

Having thus described the various ways in which I have successfully
formed my nuclei, I shall now show how they may be all built up into
powerful stocks. It will be very obvious that on the ordinary plan of
management, they would be absolutely worthless, even if it were possible
to form them with the common hives. If they were not fed, they would be
unable to collect the means of building new comb, and would gradually
dwindle away, just as third or fourth swarms which issue late in the
season; nor could they be saved even by the most generous feeding, as
they would only use their supplies to fill up the little comb they had;
so that when the queen was ready to lay, there would be no empty cells
to receive her eggs, and too few bees to build any, even if they had all
the honey that they required. Such small colonies must gradually waste
away, unless they can be speedily and effectually supplied with the
requisite number of bees, and this can be done only by hives which give
the control of all the combs. With such hives, I can speedily build up
my nuclei, (provided I have not formed too many,) to the strength
necessary to make them powerful stocks. The hives containing them, ought
if possible, to stand at some distance from other hives, say two or
three feet: and if this cannot conveniently be done, they should in some
way, be so distinguished from the adjoining hives, that the young queens
when they are hatched and go out to seek the drones, will not be liable
to lose their lives by entering a wrong hive on their return. A small
leafy twig fastened on the alighting board of such hives, when they
stand near to others, will be almost sure to prevent such a
catastrophe: if they stand near to each other, some may be marked in
this way, and others with a piece of colored cloth. (See Page 159.) To
guard them against robbers, &c., the entrances to these nuclei should be
contracted, so that only a few bees can enter at once. Those which were
confined, should be examined, the day after their liberty is given to
them; the others, the day after they were formed, when, if they were not
supplied with a sealed queen, they will be found actively engaged in
constructing royal cells. A new range of comb should now be given to
each one, and it should contain no old bees, but brood rapidly maturing,
and if possible, eggs and worms only a few days old.

This new addition of strength will greatly encourage the nuclei, and
give them the means of starting young queens, if they have not succeeded
in doing so with the first comb. I have very frequently found that for
some cause which I have not yet ascertained, they often start a large
number of queen cells, which in a few days, are all discontinued and
untenanted. The second attempt seldom fails. Does practice in this thing
make them more expert? But I will simply state the fact, referring to my
conjectures on page 218; and remarking that when they make a second
attempt, they seem frequently disposed to start a much larger number
than they otherwise would have done. In two or three days after giving
them the first piece of comb, I give them another, if their queen is
nearly mature, and I now let them alone until she ought to be depositing
eggs in the hive. I then give them, at intervals of a few days, two or
three combs more, and they will now be sufficiently powerful in bees, to
gather large quantities of honey, and fill the empty part of their hive.
The young queen is supplying with thousands of worker-eggs, the cells
from which the brood has emerged, and also the new ones built by the
bees, and the new colony will soon be one of the best stock hives in
the Apiary. If some of the full frames are moved, and empty ones placed
between them, as soon as the bees begin to build powerfully, there need
be no guide combs on the empty frames, and still the work will be
executed with the most beautiful regularity.

But what, in the mean time, is the condition of the hives from which we
are taking so many brood combs for the proper development of our nuclei;
are they not weakened so much as to become quite enfeebled? I come now
to the very turning point of the whole nucleus system. If due judgment
has not been used, and the sanguine bee-keeper has endeavored to
multiply his colonies too rapidly, a most grievous disappointment awaits
him. Either his nuclei cannot be strengthened at the right time, or this
can be done, only by impoverishing the old stocks, and the result of the
whole operation will be a most decided failure, and if he is in the
vicinity of sugar-houses, confectionaries, or other tempting places of
bee resort, he will find the population of his colonies very seriously
diminished, and will have to break up the most of the nuclei which he
had formed, and incur the danger of losing nearly the whole of his
stock. I lay it down as a fundamental principle in my nucleus system,
that the old stocks must never be so much weakened by the removal of
brood-comb and bees that they are not able to keep their numbers
sufficiently strong to refill rapidly all the vacancies among their
combs. If the Apiarian attempts to multiply his stocks so rapidly that
this cannot be done, I will ensure him ample cause to repent at leisure
of his folly. If however, the attempt at very rapid multiplication is
made only by those who are favorably situated, and who have skill in the
management of bees, a very large gain may be made in the number of
stocks, and they may all be strong and flourishing.

If a strong stock of bees in a hive of moderate size, which admits of
thorough inspection, is examined at the height of the honey harvest,
nearly all the cells will often be found filled with brood, honey or
bee-bread. The great laying of the queen, according to some writers, is
now over, not however as they erroneously imagine, because her fertility
has decreased, but merely because there is not _room_ in the hive for
all her eggs. She may often be seen restlessly traversing the combs,
seeking in vain for empty cells, until finding none, she is compelled to
extrude her eggs only to be devoured by the bees. (See p. 52.) If some
of the full combs are removed, and empty ones substituted in their
place, she will speedily fill them, laying at the rate of two or three
thousand a day! When my strong stocks are from time to time deprived of
one or two combs, if honey can easily be procured,[19] the bees proceed
at once to replace them, and the queen commences laying in the new combs
as soon as the cells are fairly started. If the combs are not removed
_too fast_, and care is taken not to deprive the stock of so much brood
that the bees cannot keep up a vigorous population, a queen in a hive so
managed, will lay her eggs in cells to be nurtured by the bees, instead
of being eaten up; and thus, in the course of the season, she may become
the mother of three or four times as many bees, as are reared in a hive
under other circumstances. By careful management, brood enough may, in
this way, be taken from a single hive, to build up a large number of
nuclei. Towards the close of the season however, as such a hive has been
constantly tasked in building comb and feeding young bees, almost all
its honey will have been used for these purposes, and although it may be
very populous, unless it is liberally fed, it will be sure to perish.
Since the discovery that unbolted rye flour will answer so admirably as
a substitute for pollen, we can supply the bees not only with honey,
when none can be obtained from the blossoms, but with an abundance of
bee-bread, when pollen is scarce. As I am writing this chapter, (March
29, 1853,) my bees are zealously engaged in taking the flour from some
old combs in front of their hives, and they can be seen most beautifully
moulding the little pellets on their thighs. By my movable combs, I can
give them the flour at once in their hives, as it can easily be rubbed
into an empty comb. The importance of Dzierzon's discovers of a
substitute for pollen, can hardly be over-estimated. If he had done
nothing more for the cause of Apiarian science, no true-hearted
bee-keeper would ever allow his name to be forgotten.

In the Chapter on Feeding, I shall give more specific directions as to
the way in which the cultivator must feed his bees, when he aims at
increasing, as rapidly as possible, the number of his stocks. Unless
this work is done with great judgment, he will find often that the more
he feeds, the less bees he has in his hives, the cells being all
occupied with honey instead of brood. Such is the passion of bees for
storing away honey, that large supplies of it will always most seriously
interfere with breeding, unless the bees are sufficiently numerous to
build new comb in which the queen can find room for her eggs.

I have no doubt that some who have but little experience in the
management of bees, are ready to imagine that they could easily strike
out a simpler and better way of increasing the number of colonies. For
instance: let a full hive have half its comb and bees put into an empty
hive, and the work of doubling, is without further trouble, effectually
accomplished. But what will the queenless hive do, under such
circumstances? Why, build of course, queen cells, and rear another. But
what kind of comb will they fill their hives with, before the young
queen begins to breed? Of that, perhaps, you had never thought. Let me
now lay down the only safe rule for all who engage in the multiplication
of artificial swarms. Never, under _any_ circumstances, take so much
comb and brood from your stock hives, as seriously to reduce their
numbers. This should be to the Apiarian, as "the law of the Medes and
Persians, which altereth not."

Suppose that I divide a populous stock, about swarming season, into four
or five colonies; the strong probability is, that not one of them, if
left to themselves, will be strong enough to survive the Winter. If fed
in the ordinary way, and yet not supplied with combs and bees, their
ruin will often be only accelerated. If, on the contrary, I had taken,
from time to time, combs sufficient to form three or four nuclei, and
had strengthened the new colonies, in such a way as not to draw too
severely upon the resources of the parent stock, I might expect to see
them all, in due time, strong and flourishing.

In the Spring of the year, if I desire to determine the strength of a
colony principally to raising young bees, I can easily effect it by the
following plan. A box is made, of the same inside dimensions with the
lower hive, into which the combs and bees of a full hive can all be
transferred, as soon as the bees are gathering honey enough to build new
combs. This box is now set over the old hive, which contains its
complement of frames with guide combs, or better still, with empty
combs. As soon as the bees begin to build, they take possession of the
lower hive, through which they go in and out, and the queen descends
with them, in order to lay her eggs in the lower combs. As soon as the
old apartment becomes pretty well filled, a large number of combs with
maturing bees, may be taken from the upper one, and when the hive below
is full, they may all be safely removed. If none of the upper combs are
removed, they will be filled with honey, as soon as the brood is
hatched; and as they will contain large stores of bee-bread, they will
answer admirably for replenishing stocks which have an insufficient
supply. In no other way, so far as I know, can so much honey be secured,
and if quantity, not quality, is aimed at, or if the test of quality is
its fitness for the use of the bees, I would recommend this mode as
superior to any other. If two swarms are hived together, or a very
powerful stock is lodged in a hive, so that at once they can have access
to the upper apartment, an extraordinary quantity of honey can be
secured, and of a very excellent quality. As soon as the bees have
raised one generation of young, in the combs of the upper box, or rather
in a part of them, they will use it chiefly for storing honey, and all
that it contains may be taken from them. In flavor, it will be found to
be nearly as good as honey stored in what is called "virgin comb."

In the Chapter on the Requisites of a good hive, I have said that in
size it should be adapted to the natural instincts of the bee, and yet
admit of enlarging or contracting, according to the wants of the colony
placed in it. I never use a hive, the main apartment of which, holds
less than a Winchester bushel. If small colonies are placed in such a
hive, it must be temporarily partitioned off, to suit the size of its
inmates; for if bees have too much room given to them, they cannot
concentrate their animal heat, and are so much discouraged that they
often abandon their hive. I am aware that many judicious Apiarians
recommend hives of much smaller dimensions, and I shall now give my
reasons for using one so large. If a hive is too small, then in the
Spring, the combs are soon filled with honey, bee-bread and brood, and
the surprising fertility of the queen bee, can be turned to no efficient
account. If the honey-harvest in any year, is deficient, such a colony
is very apt to perish in the succeeding Winter; whereas in a large hive,
the honey stored up in a fruitful season, is a reserve supply, in time
of need. In very large hives, I have seen large accumulations of honey
which have been untouched for years, while on the same stand, stocks of
about the same age, in small hives have perished by starvation. A good
early swarm in any situation at all favorable, will fill, the first
season, a hive that holds a bushel: and if there is any location in
which they cannot do this, a doubled swarm should be put into the hive,
or bee-keeping may, as far as profit is concerned, be abandoned. But it
may be objected that if the swarm was not sufficiently strong to fill
their hive, the bees often suffer from the cold in Winter, and become
too much reduced in numbers, to build early and rapidly in the ensuing
Spring. This is undoubtedly true, and hence the great importance of
putting a generous allowance of bees into a hive at the first start,
unless, as on my plan, the requisite strength can be given to them, at a
subsequent period. The hive, if large, should be all the more carefully
protected from extremes of cold, in order to give the bees an
opportunity of developing their natural powers of re-production, to the
best advantage.

In such a hive, the queen will be able to breed almost every month in
the year, even in the coldest climates where bees flourish, and on the
return of Spring, thousands of young bees will be found in it, which
could not have been bred in a small, or badly protected hive. The Polish
hives described by Mr. Dohiogost, have already been referred to. Some of
these hold about three bushels, and yet the bees swarm from them with
great regularity, and the swarms are often of immense size. These hives
are admirably protected, and at the time of hiving at least _four_ times
the number of bees are lodged in them, that are ordinarily put into one
of our hives. The queen bee, in such a hive, has ample room to lay her
three thousand eggs, or more, daily: and a prodigious colony is raised,
which often stores enormous supplies of honey. As all the frames in my
hives are of the same dimensions, the size of the hive may be
conveniently varied, to suit the views of different bee-keepers; for
they may be large or small, according to the number of frames designed
to be used. I hope, before long, to experiment with hives as large
again, as those that I now use; or rather, with such, as by containing
an upper box, may be made to accommodate twice as many bees. This whole
subject of the proper size of hives, certainly needs to be taken
entirely out of the region of conjecture, and to be put upon the basis
of careful observations. Unquestionably the size will require, in some
respects, to be modified by the more or less favorable character of the
country for bee-keeping; but I am satisfied that small hives will be
found of but little profit, and that large ones, unless well stocked
with bees, from the first, and thoroughly protected, will often fail to
answer any good end. If I should find on further experiment, that the
very large hives of which I have spoken, are better, my hives are at
present so constructed that without any alteration of existing parts,
they can easily be supplied with the required additions. I have already
mentioned that I sometimes build my hives, three in one structure, in
order to save expense in their construction. I do not however, wish to
be considered as recommending such hives as the best for general use.
For some purposes a single hive is unquestionably the best, as it can be
easily moved by one person; and this, will many times be found to be a
point of great importance. The double hives, or two in one, are for most
purposes, decidedly the best, as well as the cheapest. I have quite
recently contrived a plan of constructing my wooden hives in such a
manner as to give them very great protection against extremes of heat
and cold, while at the same time they can be easily and cheaply made, by
any one who can handle the simplest mechanical tools.

It has been previously stated that the queen bee cannot be induced to
sting, by any kind of treatment however severe. The reason of this
strange unwillingness to use her natural and powerful weapon, will be
obvious, when we consider how indispensable the preservation of her life
is to the very existence of the colony, and that her single sting, the
loss of which would be her death, could avail but little for their
defence, in case of an attack. She never uses her weapon, except when
engaged in mortal combat with another queen. As soon as the two rivals
come together, they clinch, at once, with every demonstration of the
most vindictive hatred. Why then, are not both of them often destroyed?
and why are not hives, in the swarming season, almost certain to become
queenless? We can never sufficiently admire the provision so simple and
yet so effectual, by which such a calamity is prevented. The queen bee
never stings unless she has such an advantage in the combat, that she
can curve her body under that of her rival, in such a manner as to
inflict a deadly wound, without any risk of being stung herself! The
moment that the position of the two combatants is such that neither has
the advantage, and that both are liable to perish, they not only refuse
to sting, but disengage themselves, and suspend their conflict for a
short time! If it were not for this peculiarity of instinct, such
combats would very often terminate in the death of both the parties,
and the race of bees would be in danger of becoming extinct.

The unwillingness of a swarm of bees, which has been deprived of its
queen, to receive another, until after some time has elapsed, must
always be borne in mind, by those who have anything to do with making
artificial swarms. About 24 hours must elapse before it will be safe to
introduce a strange mother into a queenless hive; and even then, if she
is not fertile, she will run a great risk of being destroyed. To prevent
such losses, I adopt the German plan of confining the queen, in what
they call, "a queen cage." A small hole, about as large as a thimble,
may be gouged out of a block, and covered over with wire gauze, or any
other kind of perforated cover, so that when the queen is put in, the
bees cannot enter to destroy her. Before long, they will cultivate an
acquaintance, by thrusting their antennæ through to her; so that, when
she is liberated the next day, they will gladly adopt her in place of
the one they have lost. If a hole large enough for her to creep out, is
closed with wax, they will gnaw the wax away, and liberate her
themselves, from her confinement. Queens that seem bent on departing to
the woods, may be confined in the same way, until the colony has given
up all thoughts of forsaking its hive. A small paste-board box with
suitable holes, or a wooden match-box thoroughly scalded, I have found
to answer a very good purpose.

I shall here describe what may be called a _Queen Nursery_ which I have
contrived to aid those who are engaged in the rapid multiplication of
colonies by artificial means. A solid block about an inch and a quarter
thick, is substituted for one of my frames; holes, about one and a half
inches in diameter, are bored through it, and covered on both sides,
with gauze wire slides; the wire ought to be such as will allow a
common bee to pass through, but should be too small to permit a queen to
do the same. Any kind of perforated cover may be made to answer the same
purpose as the gauze wire. If a number of sealed queens are on hand, and
there is danger that some may hatch, and destroy the others, before the
Apiarian can make use of them in forming artificial swarms, he may very
carefully cut out the combs containing them, and place them each in a
separate cradle! The bees having access to them, will give them proper
attention, and as soon as they are hatched, will supply them with food,
and thus they will always be on hand for use when they are needed. This
Nursery must of course, be established in a hive which has no mature
queen, or it will quickly be transformed into a slaughter house by the
bees. I have not yet tested this plan so thoroughly as to be _certain_
that it will succeed; and I know so well the immense difference between
theoretical conjectures and practical results, that I consider nothing
in the bee line, or indeed in any other line, as established, until it
has been submitted to the most rigorous demonstrations, and has
triumphantly passed from the mere regions of the brain to those of
actual fact. A theory on any subject may seem so plausible as almost to
amount to a positive demonstration, and yet when put to the working
test, it is often found to be encumbered by some unforeseen difficulty,
which speedily convinces even its sanguine projector, that it has no
practical value. Nine things out of ten may work to a charm, and yet the
tenth may be so connected with the other nine, that its failure renders
their success of no account. When I first used this Nursery, I did not
give the bees access to it, and I found that the queens were not
properly developed, and died in their cells. Perhaps they did not
receive sufficient warmth, or were not treated in some other important
respects, as they would have been if left under the care of the bees.
In the multiplicity of my experiments, I did not repeat this one under a
sufficient variety of circumstances, to ascertain the precise cause of
failure; nor have I as yet, tried whether it will answer perfectly, by
admitting the bees to the queen cells.

Last Spring, I made one queen supply several hives with eggs, so as to
keep them strong in numbers while they were constantly engaged in
rearing a large number of spare queens. Two hives which I shall call A
and B, were deprived at intervals of a week, each of its queen,[20] in
order to induce them to raise a number of young sealed queens for the
use of the Apiary. As soon as the queens in A, were of an age suitable
to be removed, I took them away and gave the colony a fertile queen from
another hive, C; as soon as she had laid a large number of eggs in the
empty cells, I removed the queen cells now sealed over, from B, and gave
them the loan of this fertile mother, until she had performed the same
necessary office for them. By this time, the queen cells in C, were
sealed over; these were now removed, and the queen restored; she had
thus made one circuit, and laid a very large number of eggs in the two
hives which were first deprived of their queens. After allowing her to
replenish her own hive with eggs, I sent her out again on her
perambulating mission, and by this new device was able to get an
extraordinary number of young queens from the three hives, and at the
same time to preserve their numbers from seriously diminishing. Two
queens may in this way, be made in six hives to furnish all the
supernumerary queens which will be wanted in quite a large Apiary.

It will be perfectly obvious to every intelligent and ingenious
Apiarian, that the perfect control of the comb, is the _soul_ of an
entirely new system of practical management, and that it may be modified
to suit the wants of all who wish to cultivate bees. Even the advocate
of the old fashioned plan of killing the bees, can with one of my hives,
destroy his faithful laborers, by shaking them into a tub of water,
almost, if not quite as speedily as by setting them over a sulphur pit;
while after the work of death is accomplished, his honey will be free
from disgusting fumes, and all the labor of cutting it out of the hive,
may be dispensed with.

I am now prepared to answer an objection which doubtless has been
present in the minds of many, all the time that they have been reading
the various processes on which I rely for the multiplication of
colonies. A very large number of persons who keep bees, or who wish to
keep them, are so much afraid of them that they object entirely even to
natural swarming, because they are in danger of being stung in the
process of hiving the bees. How are such persons to manage bees on my
plan, which seems like bearding a lion in its very den! The truth is
that some persons are so very timid, or suffer so dreadfully from the
sting of a bee, that they are every way disqualified from having
anything to do with them, and ought either to have no bees upon their
premises, or to entrust the care of them to some suitable person. By
managing bees according to the directions furnished in this treatise,
almost any one can learn, by using a bee-dress, to superintend them,
with very little risk; while those who are favorites with them, may
dispense entirely with any protection. I find in short, that the risk of
being stung is really diminished by the use of my hives; although it
will be hard to convince those who have not seen them in use, that this
can be so.

There is still another class who either keep bees or can be induced to
keep them, and who are anxiously inquiring for some new hive or new plan
by which, with little or no trouble, they may reap copious harvests of
the precious nectar. This is emphatically _the_ class to seize hold of
every new device, and waste their time and money to fill the coffers of
the ignorant or unprincipled. There never will be a "royal road" to
profitable bee-keeping. If there is any branch of rural economy which
more than all others demands care and experience, for its profitable
management, it is the keeping of bees; and those who have a painful
consciousness that the disposition to put off and neglect, was, so to
speak, born in them, and has never been got out of them, will do well to
let bees alone, unless they hope, by the study of their systematic
industry, to reform evil habits which are well nigh incurable.

While I feel very sanguine that my system of management will be used
extensively and very advantageously, by careful and skillful Apiarians,
I know too much of the world to expect that it will, with the masses,
very speedily supercede other methods, even if it were so absolutely
perfect, as to admit of no possible improvement. I hope, however, that I
may, without being charged with presumption, be permitted to put on
record the prediction, that _movable frames_ will in due season, be
almost universally employed; and this, whether bees are allowed to swarm
naturally, or are increased by artificial means, or are kept in hives in
which they are not expected to swarm at all.

    NOTE.--The very day on which I first contrived the plan, so
    perfectly simple, and yet so efficacious, of gaining the control of
    the combs by these frames, I not only foresaw all the consequences
    which would follow their adoption, but wrote as follows, in my
    Bee-Journal. "The use of these frames will, I am persuaded, give a
    new impulse to the easy and profitable management of bees; and will
    render the making of artificial swarms an easy operation."


[17] I have often spent more than ten minutes in opening and shutting a
single frame in the Huber hive, and even then, have sometimes crushed
some of the bees.

[18] The scent of the hives, during the height of the gathering season,
will usually inform us from what sources the bees have gathered their

[19] If they cannot obtain it, the Apiarian must himself furnish it.

[20] The queens taken from such hives may be advantageously used in
forming artificial colonies.



Of all the numerous enemies of the honey-bee, the Bee-Moth (Tinea
mellonella,) in climates of hot Summers, is by far, the most to be
dreaded. So wide spread and fatal have been its ravages in this country,
that thousands have abandoned the cultivation of bees in despair, and in
districts which once produced abundant supplies of the purest honey,
bee-keeping has gradually dwindled down into a very insignificant
pursuit. Contrivances almost without number, have been devised, to
defend the bees against this invidious foe, but still it continues its
desolating inroads, almost unchecked, laughing as it were to scorn, at
all the so-called "moth-proof" hives, and turning many of the ingenious
fixtures designed to entrap or exclude it, into actual aids and comforts
in its nefarious designs.

I should feel but little confidence in being able to reinstate
bee-keeping in our country, into a certain and profitable pursuit, if I
could not show the Apiarian in what way he can safely bid defiance to
the pestiferous assaults of this, his most implacable enemy. I have
patiently studied its habits for years, and I am at length able to
announce a system of management founded upon the peculiar construction
of my hives, which will enable the careful bee-keeper to protect his
colonies against the monster. The CAREFUL bee-keeper, I say: for to
pretend that the careless one, can by any contrivance effect this, is "a
snare and a delusion;" and no well-informed man, unless he is steeped to
the very lips, in fraud and imposture, will ever claim to accomplish any
thing of the kind. The bee-moth infects our Apiaries, just as weeds take
possession of a fertile soil; and the negligent bee-keeper will find a
"moth-proof" hive, when the sluggard finds a _weed-proof_ soil, and I
suspect not until a consummation so devoutly wished for by the slothful
has arrived. Before explaining the means upon which I rely, to
circumvent the moth, I will first give a brief description of its

Swammerdam, towards the close of the 17th century, gave a very accurate
description of this insect, which was then called by the very expressive
name of the "bee-wolf." He has furnished good drawings of it, in all its
changes, from the worm to the perfect moth, together with the peculiar
webs or galleries which it constructs and from which the name of Tinea
Galleria or gallery moth, has been given to it by some entomologists. He
failed, however, to discriminate between the male and female, which,
because they differ so much in size and appearance, he supposed to be
two different species of the wax-moth. It seems to have been a great
pest in his time; and even Virgil speaks of the "dirum tineæ genus," the
dreadful _offspring_ of the moth; that is the worm. This destroyer
usually makes its appearance about the hives, in April or May; the time
of its coming, depending upon the warmth of the climate, or the
forwardness of the season. It is seldom seen on the wing, (unless
startled from its lurking place about the hive,) until towards dark, and
is evidently, chiefly nocturnal in its habits. In dark cloudy days,
however, I have noticed it on the wing long before sunset, and if
several such days follow in succession, the female oppressed with the
urgent necessity of laying her eggs, may be seen endeavoring to gain
admission to the hives. The female is much larger than the male, and
"her color is deeper and more inclining to a darkish gray, with small
spots or blackish streaks on the interior edge of her upper wings." The
color of the male inclines more to a light gray; they might easily be
mistaken for different species of moths. These insects are surprisingly
agile, both on foot and on the wing. The motions of a bee are very slow
in comparison. "They are," says Reaumur, "the most nimble-footed
creatures that I know." "If the approach to the Apiary[21] be observed
of a moonlight evening, the moths will be found flying or running round
the hives, watching an opportunity to enter, whilst the bees that have
to guard the entrances against their intrusion, will be seen acting as
vigilant sentinels, performing continual rounds near this important
post, extending their antennæ to the utmost, and moving them to the
right and left alternately. Woe to the unfortunate moth that comes
within their reach!" "It is curious," says Huber, "to observe how
artfully the moth knows how to profit, to the disadvantage of the bees,
which require much light for seeing objects; and the precautions taken
by the latter in reconnoitering and expelling so dangerous an enemy."

The entrance of the moth into a hive, and the ravages committed by her
progeny, forcibly remind one of the sad havoc which sin often makes of
character and happiness, when it finds admission into the human heart,
and is allowed to prey unchecked, upon all its most precious treasures;
and he who would not be so enslaved by its power, as to lose all his
spiritual life and prosperity, must be constantly on the defensive, and
ever on the "watch" against its fatal intrusions.

Only some tiny eggs are deposited by the moth, and they give birth to a
very delicate, innocent-looking worm; but let these apparently
insignificant creatures once "get the upper hand," and all the fragrance
of the honied dome, is soon corrupted by their abominable stench; every
thing beautiful and useful, is ruthlessly destroyed; the hum of happy
industry is stilled, and at last, nothing is left in the desecrated
hive, but a set of ravenous, half famished worms, knotting and writhing
around each other, in most loathsome convolutions.

Wax is the proper aliment of the larvæ of the bee-moth: and upon this
seemingly indigestible substance, they thrive and fatten. When obliged
to steal their living as best they can, among a powerful stock of bees,
they are exposed, during their growth, to many perils, and seldom fare
well enough to reach their natural size: but if they are rioting at
pleasure, among the full combs of a feeble and discouraged population,
they often attain a size and corpulency truly astonishing. If the
bee-keeper wishes to see their innate capabilities fully developed, let
him rear a lot for himself among some old combs, and if prizes were
offered for fat and full grown worms, he might easily obtain one. In the
course of a few weeks, the larva like that of the silk-worm, stops
eating, and begins to think of a suitable place for encasing itself in
its silky shroud. In hives where they reign uncontrolled, this is a work
of but little difficulty; almost any place will answer their purpose,
and they often pile their cocoons, one on top of another, or join them
in long rows together: but in hives strongly guarded by healthy bees,
this is a matter not very easily accomplished; and many a worm while it
is cautiously prying about, to see where it can find some snug place in
which to ensconce itself, is caught by the nape of the neck, and very
unceremoniously served with an instant writ of ejection from the hive.
If a hive is thoroughly made, of sound materials, and has no cracks or
crevices under which the worm can retreat, it is obliged to leave the
interior in search of such a place, and it runs a most dangerous
gantlet, as it passes, for this purpose, through the ranks of its
enraged foes. Even in the worm state, however, its motions are
exceedingly quick; it can crawl backwards or forwards, and as well one
way as another: it can twist round on itself, curl up almost into a
knot, and flatten itself out like a pancake! in short, it is full of
stratagems and cunning devices. If obliged to leave the hive, it gets
under any board or concealed crack, spins its cocoon, and patiently
awaits its transformation. In most of the common hives, it is under no
necessity of leaving its birth place for this purpose. It is almost
certain to find a crack or flaw into which it can creep, or a small
space between the bottom-board and the edges of the hive which rest upon
it. A _very_ small crevice will answer all its purposes. It enters, by
flattening itself out almost as much as though it had been passed under
a roller, and as soon as it is safe from the bees, it speedily begins to
give its cramped tenement, the requisite proportions. It is utterly
amazing how an insect apparently so feeble, can do this; but it will
often gnaw for itself a cavity, even in solid wood, and thus enlarge its
retreat, until it has ample room for making its cocoon! The time when it
will break forth into a winged insect, depends entirely upon the degree
of heat to which it is exposed. I have had them spin their cocoons and
hatch in a temperature of about 70°, in ten or eleven days, and I have
known them to spin so late in the Fall, that they remained all Winter,
undeveloped, and did not emerge until the warm weather of the ensuing

If they are hatched in the hive, they leave it, in order to attend to
the business of impregnation. In the moth state, they do not actually
attack the hives, to plunder them of food, although they have a "sweet
tooth" in their head, and are easily attracted by the odor of liquid
sweets. The male, having no special business in the hive, usually keeps
himself at a safe distance from the bees: but the female, impelled by an
irresistible instinct, seeks admission, in order to deposit her eggs
where her offspring may gain the readiest access to their natural food.
She carefully explores all the cracks and crevices about the
bottom-board, and if she finds a suitable place under them, lays her
eggs among the parings of the combs, and other refuse matter which has
fallen from the hive. If she enters a feeble or discouraged stock, where
she can act her own pleasure, she will lay her eggs among the combs. In
a hive where she is too closely watched to effect this, she will insert
them in the corners, into the soft propolis, or in any place where there
are small pieces of wax and bee-bread, which have fallen upon the
bottom-board, and which will furnish a temporary place of concealment
for her progeny, and also the requisite nourishment, until they have
strength and enterprise enough to reach the main combs of the hive, and
fortify themselves there. "As soon as hatched,[22] the worm encloses
itself in a case of white silk, which it spins around its body; at first
it is like a mere thread, but gradually increases in size, and during
its growth, feeds upon the cells around it, for which purpose it has
only to put forth its head, and find its wants supplied. It devours its
food with great avidity, and consequently increases so much in bulk,
that its gallery soon becomes too short and narrow, and the creature is
obliged to thrust itself forward and lengthen the gallery, as well to
obtain more room as to procure an additional supply of food. Its
augmented size exposing it to attacks from surrounding foes, the wary
insect fortifies its new abode with additional strength and thickness,
by blending with the filaments of its silken covering, a mixture of wax
and its own excrement, for the external barrier of a new gallery, the
_interior_ and partitions of which are lined with a smooth surface of
white silk, which admits the occasional movements of the insect, without
injury to its delicate (?) texture. In performing these operations, the
insect might be expected to meet with opposition from the bees, and to
be gradually rendered more assailable as it advanced in age. It never,
however, exposes any part but its head and neck, both of which are
covered with stout helmets or scales impenetrable to the sting of a bee,
as is the composition of the galleries that surround it." As soon as it
has reached its full growth, it seeks in the manner previously
described, a secure place for undergoing its changes into a winged

Before describing the way in which I protect my hives from this deadly
pest, I shall first show why the bee-moth has so wonderfully increased
in numbers in this country, and how the use of patent hives has so
powerfully contributed to encourage its ravages. It ought to be borne in
mind that our climate is altogether more propitious to its rapid
increase, than that of Great Britain. Our intensely hot summers develop
most rapidly and powerfully, insect life, and those parts of our country
where the heat is most protracted and intense, have, as a general thing,
suffered most from the devastations of the bee-moth.

The bee is not a native of the American continent; it was first brought
here by colonists from Great Britain, and was called by the Indians, the
white man's fly. With the bee, was introduced its natural enemy,
created for the special purpose, not of destroying the insect, on whose
industry it thrives, and whose extermination would be fatal to the moth
itself, but that it might gain its livelihood as best it could in this
busy world. Finding itself in a country whose climate is exceedingly
propitious to its rapid increase, it has multiplied and increased a
thousand fold, until now there is hardly a spot where the bees inhabit,
which is not infested by its powerful enemy.

I have often listened to the glowing accounts of the vast supplies of
honey obtained by the first settlers, from their bees. Fifty years ago,
the markets in our large cities were much more abundantly supplied than
they now are, and it was no uncommon thing to see exposed for sale,
large washing-tubs filled with the most beautiful honey. Various reasons
have been assigned for the present depressed state of Apiarian pursuits.
Some imagine that newly settled countries are most favorable for the
labors of the bee: others, that we have overstocked our farms, so that
the bees cannot find a sufficient supply of food. That neither of these
reasons will account for the change, I shall prove more at length, in my
remarks on Honey, and when I discuss the question of overstocking a
district with bees. Others lay all the blame upon the bee-moth, and
others still, upon our departure from the good old-fashioned way of
managing bees. That the bee-moth has multiplied most astonishingly, is
undoubtedly true. In many districts, it so superabounds, that the man
who should expect to manage his bees with as little care as his father
and grandfather bestowed upon them, and yet realize as large profits,
would find himself most wofully mistaken. The old bee-keeper often never
looked at his bees after the swarming season, until the time came for
appropriating their spoils. He then carefully "hefted" all his hives so
as to be able to judge as well as he could, how much honey they
contained. All which were found to be too light to survive the Winter,
he at once condemned; and if any were deficient in bees, or for any
other reason, appeared to be of doubtful promise, they were, in like
manner, sentenced to the sulphur pit. A certain number of those
containing the largest supplies of honey, were also treated in the same
summary way: while the requisite number of the _very best_, were
reserved to replenish his stock another season. If the same system
precisely, were now followed, a number of colonies would still perish
annually, through the increased devastations of the moth.

The change which has taken place in the circumstances of the bee-keeper,
may be illustrated by supposing that when the country was first settled,
weeds were almost unknown. The farmer plants his corn, and then lets it
alone, and as there are no weeds to molest it, at the end of the season
he harvests a fair crop. Suppose, however, that in process of time, the
weeds begin to spread more and more, until at last, this farmer's son or
grandson finds that they entirely choke his corn, and that he cannot, in
the old way, obtain a remunerating crop. Now listen to him, as he
gravely informs you that he cannot tell how it is, but corn with him has
all "run out." He manages it precisely as his father or grandfather
always managed theirs, but somehow the pestiferous weeds will spring up,
and he has next to no crop. Perhaps you can hardly conceive of such
transparent ignorance and stupidity; but it would be difficult to show
that it would be one whit greater than that of a large number who keep
bees in places where the bee-moth abounds, and who yet imagine that
those plans which answered perfectly well fifty or a hundred years ago,
when moths were scarce, will answer just as well now.

If however, the old plan had been rigidly adhered to, the ravages of the
bee-moth would never have been so great as they now are. The
introduction of _patent hives_ has contributed most powerfully, to fill
the land with the devouring pest. I am perfectly aware that this is a
bold assertion, and that it may, at first sight, appear to be very
uncourteous, if not unjust, to the many intelligent and ingenious
Apiarians, who have devoted much time, and spent large sums of money, in
perfecting hives designed to enable the bee-keeper to contend most
successfully against his worst enemy. As I do not wish to treat such
persons with even the appearance of disrespect, I shall endeavor to show
just how the use of the hives which they have devised, has contributed
to undermine the prosperity of the bees. Many of these hives have
valuable properties, and if they were always used in strict accordance
with the enlightened directions of those who have invented them, they
would undoubtedly be real and substantial improvements over the old box
or straw hive, and would greatly aid the bee-keeper in his contest with
the moth. The great difficulty is that they are none of them, able to
give him the facilities which alone can make him victorious. No hive, as
I shall soon show, can ever do this, which does not give the complete
and easy control of all the combs.

I do not know of a single improved hive which does not aim at entirely
doing away with the old-fashioned plan of killing the bees. Such a
practice is denounced as being almost as cruel and silly as to kill a
hen for the sake of obtaining her feathers or a few of her eggs. Now if
the Apiarian can be furnished with suitable instructions, and such as he
will _practice_, for managing his bees so as to avoid this necessity,
then I admit the full force of all the objections which have been urged
against it. I have never read the beautiful verses of the poet
Thompson, without feeling all their force:

    "Ah, see, where robbed and murdered in that pit
    Lies the still heaving hive! at evening snatched,
    Beneath the cloud of guilt-concealing night,
    And fixed o'er sulphur! while, not dreaming ill,
    The happy people, in their waxen cells,
    Sat tending public cares;
    Sudden, the dark oppressive steam ascends,
    And, used to milder scents, the tender race,
    By thousands, tumble from their honied dome!
    Into a gulf of blue sulphureous flame."

The plain matter of fact however, is, that in our country, as many bees,
if not more, die of starvation in their hives, as ever were killed by
the fumes of sulphur. Commend me rather to the humanity of the
old-fashioned bee-keeper, who put to a speedy and therefore merciful
death, the poor bees which are now, by millions, tortured by slow
starvation among their empty combs! At the present time, (April 1853,) I
am almost daily hearing of swarms which have perished in this way,
during the last Winter; and I know of only one person who was merciful
enough to kill his weak stocks, rather than suffer them to die so cruel
a death.

If the use of the common patent hives could only keep the stocks strong
in numbers, and if the bee-keepers would always see that they were well
supplied with honey, then I admit that to kill the bees would be both
cruel and unnecessary. Such however, are the discouragements and losses
necessarily attending the use of any hive which does not give the
control of the combs, that there will be few who do not continually find
that some of their stocks are too feeble to be worth the labor and
expense of attempting to preserve them over Winter. How many colonies
are annually wintered, which are not only of no value to their owner,
but are positive nuisances in his Apiary; being so feeble in the Spring,
that they are speedily overcome by the moth, and answer only to breed a
horde of destroyers to ravage the rest of his Apiary. The time spent
upon them is often as absolutely wasted, as the time devoted to a sick
animal incurably diseased, and which can never be of any service, while
by nursing it along, its owner incurs the risk of infecting his whole
stock with its deadly taint. If, on the score of kindness, he should
shut it up, and let it starve to death, few of us, I imagine, would care
to cultivate a very intimate acquaintance with one so extremely original
in the exhibition of his humanity!

Ever since the introduction of patent hives, the notion has almost
universally prevailed, that stocks must not, under _any_ circumstances,
be voluntarily broken up; and hence, instead of Apiaries, filled in the
Spring, with strong and healthy stocks of bees, easily able to protect
themselves against the bee-moth, and all other enemies, we have
multitudes of colonies which, if they had been kept on purpose to
furnish food for the worms, could scarcely have answered a more valuable
end in encouraging their increase. The simple truth is, that improved
hives, without an improved system of management, have done on the whole
more harm than good; in no country have they been so extensively used as
in our own, and no where has the moth so completely gained the
ascendency. Just so far as they have discouraged bee-keepers from the
old plan of killing off all their weak swarms in the Fall, just so far
have they extended "aid and comfort" to the moth, and made the condition
of the bee-keeper worse than it was before. That some of them might be
managed so as in all ordinary cases, to give the bees complete
protection against their scourge, I do not, for a moment, question; but
that they cannot, from the very nature of the case, answer fully in all
emergencies, the ends for which they were designed, I shall endeavor to
prove and not to assert.

The kind of hives of which I have been speaking, are such as have been
devised by intelligent and honest men, practically acquainted with the
management of bees: as for many of the hives which have been introduced,
they not only afford the Apiarian no assistance against the inroads of
the bee-moth, but they are so constructed as positively to aid it in its
nefarious designs. The more they are used, the worse the poor bees are
off: just as the more a man uses the lying nostrums of the brazen-faced
quack, the further he finds himself from health and vigor.

I once met with an intelligent man who told me that he had paid a
considerable sum, to a person who professed to be in possession of many
valuable _secrets_ in the management of bees, and who promised, among
other things, to impart to him an infallible remedy against the
bee-moth. On the receipt of the money, he very gravely told him that the
secret of keeping the moth out of the hive, was to keep the bees strong
and vigorous! A truer declaration he could not have made, but I believe
that the bee-keeper felt, notwithstanding, that he had been imposed
upon, as outrageously, as a poor man would be, who after paying a quack
a large sum of money for an infallible, life-preserving secret, should
be turned off with the truism that the secret of living forever, was to
keep well!

There is not an intelligent, observing Apiarian who has been in the
habit of carefully examining the operations of bees, not only in his own
Apiary, but wherever he could find them, who has not seen strong stocks
flourishing under almost any conceivable circumstances. They may be seen
in hives of the most miserable construction, unpainted and unprotected,
sometimes with large open cracks and clefts extending down their sides,
and yet laughing to defiance, the bee-moth, and all other adverse

Almost any thing hollow, in which the bees can establish themselves, and
where they have once succeeded in becoming strong, will often be
successfully tenanted by them for a series of years. To see such hives,
as they sometimes may be seen, in possession of persons both ignorant
and careless, and who hardly know a bee-moth from any other kind of
moth, may at first sight well shake the confidence of the inquirer, in
the necessity or value of any particular precautions to preserve his
hives from the devastations of the moth.

After looking at these powerful stocks in what may be called log-cabin
hives, let us examine some in the most costly hives, which have ever
been constructed; in what have been called real "Bee-Palaces;" and we
shall often find them weak and impoverished, infested and almost
devoured by the worms. Their owner, with books in his hand, and all the
newest devices and appliances in the Apiarian line, unable to protect
his bees against their enemies, or to account for the reason why some
hives seem, like the children of the poor, almost to thrive upon
ill-treatment and neglect, while others, like the offspring of the rich
and powerful, are feeble and diseased, almost in exact proportion to the
means used to guard them against noxious influences, and to minister
most lavishly to all their wants.

I once used to be much surprised to hear so many bee-keepers speak of
having "good luck," or "bad luck" with their bees; but really as bees
are generally managed, success or failure does seem to depend almost
entirely upon what the ignorant or superstitious are wont to call

I shall now try to do what I have never yet seen satisfactorily done by
any writer on bees; viz.: show exactly under what circumstances the
bee-moth succeeds in establishing itself in a hive; thus explaining why
some stocks flourish in spite of all neglect, while others, in the
common hives, fall a prey to the moth, let their owner be as careful as
he will, I shall finally show how in suitable hives, with proper
precautions, it may always be kept from seriously annoying the bees.

It often happens, when a large number of stocks are kept, that in spite
of all precautions, some of them are found in the Spring, so greatly
reduced in numbers, that if left to themselves, they are in danger of
falling a prey to the devouring moth. Bees, when in feeble colonies,
seem often to lose a portion of their wonted vigilance, and as they have
a large quantity of empty comb which they cannot guard, even if they
would, the moth enters the hive, and deposits a large number of eggs,
and thus before the bees have become sufficiently numerous to protect
themselves, the combs are filled with worms, and the destruction of the
colony speedily follows. The ignorant or careless bee-keeper is informed
of the ravages which are going on in such a hive, only when its ruin is
fully completed, and a cloud of winged pests issues from it, to destroy
if they can, the rest of his stocks. But how, it may be asked, can it be
ascertained that a hive is seriously infested with the all-devouring
worms? The aspect of the bees, so discouraged and forlorn, proclaims at
once that there is trouble of some kind within. If the hive be slightly
elevated, the bottom-board will be found covered with pieces of
bee-bread, &c. mixed with the _excrement of the worms_ which looks
almost exactly like fine grains of powder. As the bees in Spring, clean
out their combs, and prepare the cells for the reception of brood, their
bottom-board will often be so covered with parings of comb and with
small pieces of bee-bread, that the hive may appear to be in danger of
being destroyed by the worms. If, however, none of the _black_ excrement
is perceived, the refuse on the bottom-board, like the shavings in a
carpenter's shop, are proofs of industry and not the signs of
approaching ruin. It is highly important, however, to keep the
bottom-boards clean, and if a piece of zinc be slipt in, (or even an old
newspaper,) by removing and cleansing it from time to time, the bees
will be greatly assisted in their operations. As soon as the hive is
well filled with bees, this need no longer be done.

Even the most careful and experienced Apiarian will find, too often,
that although he is perfectly well aware of the plague that is reigning
within, his knowledge can be turned to no good account, the interior of
the hive being almost as inaccessible as the interior of the human body.
The way in which I manage, in such cases, is as follows.

Having ascertained, in the Spring, as soon as the bees begin to fly out,
that a colony although feeble, has a fertile queen, I take the
precaution at once to give it the strength which is indispensable, not
merely to its safety, but to its ability for any kind of successful

As a certain number of bees are needed in a hive, in order as well to
warm and hatch the thousands of eggs which a healthy queen can lay, as
to feed and properly develop the larvæ after they are hatched, I know
that a feeble colony must remain feeble for a long time, unless they can
at once be supplied with a considerable accession of numbers. Even if
there were no moths in existence to trouble such a hive, it would not be
able to rear a large number of bees, until after the best of the
honey-harvest had passed away: and then it would become powerful only
that its increasing numbers might devour the food which the others had
previously stored in the cells. If the small colony has a considerable
number of bees, and is able to cover and warm at least one comb in
addition to those containing brood which they already have, I take from
one of my strong stocks, a frame containing some three or four thousand
or more young bees, which are sealed over in their cells, and are just
ready to emerge. These bees which require no food, and need nothing but
warmth to develop them, will, in a few days, hatch in the new hive to
which they are given, and thus the requisite number of workers, in the
full vigor and energy of youth, will be furnished to the hive, and the
discouraged queen, finding at once a suitable number of experienced
nurses[23] to take charge of her eggs, deposits them in the proper
cells, instead of simply extruding them, to be devoured by the bees.
While bees often attack full grown strangers which are introduced into
their hive, they never fail to receive gladly all the brood comb that we
choose to give them. If they are sufficiently numerous, they will always
cherish it, and in warm weather, they will protect it, even if it is
laid against the outside of their hive! If the bees in the weak stock,
are too much reduced in numbers, to be able to cover the brood comb
taken from another hive, I give them this comb with all the old bees
that are clustered upon it, and shut up the hive, after supplying them
with water, until two or three days have passed away. By this time, most
of the strange bees will have formed an inviolable attachment to their
new home, and even if a portion of them should return to the parent
hive, a large number of the maturing young will have hatched, to supply
their desertion. A little sugar-water scented with peppermint, may be
used to sprinkle the bees, at the time that the comb is introduced,
although I have never yet found that they had the least disposition, to
quarrel with each other. The original settlers are only too glad to
receive such a valuable accession to their scanty numbers, and the
expatriated bees are too-much confounded with their unexpected
emigration, to feel any desire for making a disturbance. If a sufficient
increase of numbers has not been furnished by one range of comb, the
operation may, in the course of a few days, be repeated. Instead of
leaving the colony to the discouraging feeling that they are in a large,
empty and desolate house, a divider should be run down into the hive,
and they should be confined to a space which they are able to warm and
defend, and the rest of the hive, until they need its additional room,
should be carefully shut up against all intruders. If this operation is
judiciously performed, the bees will be powerful in numbers, long before
the weather is warm enough to develop the bee-moth, and they will thus
be most effectually protected from the hateful pest.

A very simple change in the organization of the bee-moth would have
rendered it almost if not quite impossible to protect the bees from its
ravages. If it had been so constituted as to require but a very small
amount of heat for its full development, it would have become very
numerous early in the Spring, and might then have easily entered the
hives and deposited its eggs among the combs, without any let or
hindrance; for at this season, not only do the bees at night maintain no
guard at the entrance of their hive, but there are large portions of
their comb bare of bees, and of course, entirely unprotected. How does
every fact in the history of the bee, when properly investigated, point
with unerring certainty to the power, wisdom and goodness, of Him who
made it!

If there is reason to apprehend that the combs which are not occupied
with brood, contain any of the eggs of the moth, these combs may be
removed, and thoroughly smoked with the fumes of burning sulphur; and
then, in a few days, after they have been exposed to the fresh air, they
may be returned to the hive. I hope I may be pardoned for feeling not
the slightest pity for the unfortunate progeny of the moth, thus
unceremoniously destroyed.

Bees, as is well known to every experienced bee-keeper, frequently swarm
so often as to expose themselves to great danger of being destroyed by
the moth. After the departure of the after-swarms, the parent colony
often contains too few bees to cover and protect their combs from the
insidious attacks of their wily enemy. As a number of weeks must elapse
before the brood of the young queen is mature, the colony, for a
considerable time, at the season when the moths are very numerous, are
constantly diminishing in numbers, and before they can begin to
replenish the exhausted hive, the destroyer has made a fatal lodgment.

In my hives, such calamities are easily prevented. If artificial
increase is relied upon for the multiplication of colonies, it can be so
conducted as to give the moth next to no chance to fortify itself in the
hive. No colony is ever allowed to have more room than it needs, or more
combs than it can cover and protect; and the entrance to the hive may be
contracted, if necessary, so that only a single bee can go in and out,
at a time, and yet the bees will have, from the ventilators, as much air
as they require.

If natural swarming is allowed, after-swarms may be prevented from
issuing, by cutting out all the queen cells but one, soon after the
first swarm leaves the hive; or if it is desired to have as fast an
increase of stocks, as can possibly be obtained from natural swarming,
then instead of leaving the combs in the parent hive to be attacked by
the moth, a certain portion of them may be taken out, when swarming is
over, and given to the second and third swarms, so as to aid in building
them up into strong stocks.

But I have not yet spoken of the most fruitful cause of the desolating
ravages of the bee-moth. If a colony has _lost its queen_, and this loss
cannot be supplied, it must, as a matter of course, fall a sacrifice to
the bee-moth: and I do not hesitate to assert that by far the larger
proportion of colonies which are destroyed by it, are destroyed under
precisely such circumstances! Let this be remembered by all who have any
thing to do with bees, and let them understand that unless a remedy for
the loss of the queen, can be provided, they must constantly expect to
see some of their best colonies hopelessly ruined. The crafty moth,
after all, is not so much to blame, as we are apt to imagine; for a
colony, once deprived of its queen, and possessing no means of securing
another, would certainly perish, even if never attacked by so deadly an
enemy; just as the body of an animal, when deprived of life, will
speedily go to decay, even if it is not, at once, devoured by ravenous
swarms of filthy flies and worms.

In order to ascertain all the important points connected with the habits
of the bee-moth, I have purposely deprived colonies in some of my
observing hives, of their queen, and have thus reduced them to a state
of despair, that I might closely watch all their proceedings. I have
invariably found that in this state, they have made little or no
resistance to the entrance of the bee-moth, but have allowed her to
deposit her eggs, just where she pleased. The worms, after hatching,
have always appeared to be even more at home than the poor dispirited
bees themselves, and have grown and thrived, in the most luxurious
manner. In some instances, these colonies, so far from losing all spirit
to resent other intrusions, were positively the most vindictive set of
bees in my whole Apiary. One especially, assaulted every body that came
near it, and when reduced in numbers to a mere handful, seemed as ready
for fight as ever.

How utterly useless then, for defending a queenless colony against the
moth, are all the traps and other devices which have been, of late
years, so much relied upon. If a single female gains admission, she will
lay eggs enough to destroy in a short time, the strongest colony that
ever existed, if once it has lost its queen, and has no means of
procuring another. But not only do the bees of a hive which is
hopelessly queenless, make little or no opposition to the entrance of
the bee-moth, and to the ravages of the worms, but by their forlorn
condition, they positively invite the attacks of their destroyers. The
moth seems to have an instinctive knowledge of the condition of such a
hive, and no art of man can ever keep her out. She will pass by other
colonies to get at the queenless one, for she seems to know that there
she will find all the conditions that are necessary to the proper
development of her young. There are many mysteries in the insect world,
which we have not yet solved; nor can we tell just how the moth arrives
at so correct a knowledge of the condition of the queenless hives in the
Apiary. That such hives, very seldom, maintain a guard about the
entrance, is certain; and that they do not fill the air with the
pleasant voice of happy industry, is equally certain; for even to our
dull ears, the difference between the hum of the prosperous hive, and
the unhappy note of the despairing one, is sufficiently obvious. May it
not be even more obvious to the acute senses of the provident mother,
seeking a proper place for the development of her young?

The unerring sagacity of the moth, closely resembles that peculiar
instinct by which the vulture and other birds that prey upon carrion,
are able to single out a diseased animal from the herd, which they
follow with their dismal croakings, hovering over its head, or sitting
in ill-omened flocks, on the surrounding trees, watching it as its life
ebbs away, and stretching out their filthy and naked necks, and opening
and snapping their blood-thirsty beaks that they may be all ready to
tear out its eyes just glazing in death, and banquet upon its flesh
still warm with the blood of life! Let any fatal accident befall an
animal, and how soon will you see them, first from one quarter of the
heavens, and then from another, speeding their eager flight to their
destined prey, when only a short time before, not a single one could be
seen or heard.

I have repeatedly seen powerful colonies speedily devoured by the worms,
because of the loss of their queen, when they have stood, side by side
with feeble colonies which being in possession of a queen, have been
left untouched!

That the common hives furnish no available remedy for the loss of the
queen, is well known: indeed, the owner cannot, in many cases, be sure
that his bees are queenless, until their destruction is certain, while
not unfrequently, after keeping bees for many years, he does not even so
much as believe that there is such a thing as a queen bee!

In the Chapter on the Loss of the Queen, I shall show in what way this
loss can be ascertained, and ordinarily remedied, and thus the bees be
protected from that calamity which more than all others, exposes them to
destruction. When a colony has become hopelessly queenless, then moth or
no moth, its destruction is absolutely certain. Even if the bees
retained their wonted industry in gathering stores, and their usual
energy in defending themselves against all their enemies, their ruin
could only be delayed for a short time. In a few months, they would all
die a natural death, and there being none to replace them, the hive
would be utterly depopulated. Occasionally, such instances occur in
which the bees have died, and large stores of honey have been found
untouched in their hives. This, however, but seldom happens: for they
rarely escape from the assaults of other colonies, even if after the
death of their queen, they do not fall a prey to the bee-moth. A
motherless hive is almost always assaulted by stronger stocks, which
seem to have an instinctive knowledge of its orphanage, and hasten at
once, to take possession of its spoils. (See Remarks on Robbing.) If it
escape the Scylla of these pitiless plunderers, it is soon dashed upon a
more merciless Charybdis, when the miscreant moths have ascertained its
destitution. Every year, large numbers of hives are bereft of their
queen, and every year, the most of such hives are either robbed by other
bees, or sacked by the bee-moth, or first robbed, and afterwards sacked,
while their owner imputes all the mischief that is done, to something
else than the real cause. He might just as well imagine that the birds,
or the carrion worms which are devouring his dead horse, were actually
the primary cause of its untimely end. How often we see the same kind of
mistake made by those who impute the decay of a tree, to the insects
which are banqueting upon its withering foliage; when often these
insects are there, because the disease of the tree has both furnished
them with their proper aliment, and deprived the plant of the vigor
necessary to enable it to resist their attack.

The bee keeper can easily gather from these remarks, the means upon
which I most rely, to protect my colonies from the bee-moth. Knowing
that strong stocks supplied with a fertile queen, are always able to
take care of themselves, in almost any kind of hive, I am careful to
keep them in the state which is practically found to be one of such
security. If they are weak, they must be properly strengthened, and
confined to only as much space as they can warm and defend: and if they
are queenless, they must be supplied with the means of repairing their
loss, or if that cannot be done, they should be at once broken up, (See
Remarks on Queenlessness, and Union of Stocks,) and added to other

It cannot be too deeply impressed upon the mind of the bee-keeper, that
a small colony ought always to be confined to a small space, if we wish
the bees to work with the greatest energy, and to offer the stoutest
resistance to their numerous enemies. Bees do most unquestionably,
"abhor a vacuum," if it is one which they can neither fill, warm nor
defend. Let the prudent bee-master only keep his stocks strong, and they
will do more to defend themselves against all intruders, than he can
possibly do for them, even if he spends his whole time in watching and
assisting them.

It is hardly necessary, after the preceding remarks, to say much upon
the various contrivances to which so many resort, as a safeguard against
the bee-moth. The idea that gauze-wire doors, to be shut daily at dusk,
and opened again at morning, can exclude the moth, will not weigh much
with one who has seen them flying and seeking admission, especially in
dull weather, long before the bees have given over their work for the
day. Even if the moth could be excluded by such a contrivance, it would
require, on the part of those who rely upon it, a regularity almost akin
to that of the heavenly bodies in their courses; a regularity so
systematic, in short, as either to be impossible, or likely to be
attained but by very few.

An exceedingly ingenious contrivance, to say the least, to remedy the
necessity for such close supervision, is that by which the movable doors
of all the hives are governed by a long lever in the shape of a
hen-roost, so that the hives may all be closed seasonably and regularly,
by the crowing and cackling tribe, when they go to bed at night, and
opened at once when they fly from their perch, to greet the merry morn.
Alas! that so much ingenuity should be all in vain! Chickens are often
sleepy, and wish to retire sometime before the bees feel that they have
completed their full day's work, and some of them are so much opposed to
early rising, either from ill-health, or downright laziness, that they
sit moping on their roost, long after the cheerful sun has purpled the
glowing East. Even if this device were perfectly successful, it could
not save from ruin, a colony which has lost its queen. The truth is,
that almost all the contrivances upon which we are instructed to rely,
are just about equivalent to the lock carefully put upon the stable
door, after the horse has been stolen; or to attempts to prevent
corruption from fastening upon the body of an animal, after the breath
of life has forever departed.

Are there then no precautions to which we may resort, except by using
hives which give the control over every comb? Certainly there are, and I
shall now describe them in such a manner as to aid all who find
themselves annoyed by the inroads of the bee-moth.

Let the prudent bee-master be deeply impressed with the very great
importance of destroying _early_ in the season, the larvæ of the
bee-moth. "Prevention is," at all times, "better than cure": a single
pair of worms that are permitted to undergo their changes into the
winged insect, may give birth to some hundreds which before the close of
the season, may fill the Apiary with thousands of their kind. The
destruction of a single worm early in the Spring, may thus be more
efficacious than that of hundreds, at a later period. If the common
hives are used, these worms must be sought for in their hiding places,
under the edges of the hive; or the hive may be propped up, on the two
ends, with strips of wood, about three eighths of an inch thick; and a
piece of old woolen rag put between the bottom-board and the back of
the hive. Into this warm hiding place, the full grown worm will retreat
to spin its cocoon, and it may then be very easily caught and
effectually dealt with. Hollow sticks, or split joints of cane may be
set under the hives, so as to elevate them, or may be laid on the
bottom-board, and if they have a few small openings through which the
bees cannot enter, the worms will take possession of them, and may
easily be destroyed. Only provide some hollow, inaccessible to the bees,
but communicating with the hive and easily accessible to the worms when
they want to spin, and to yourself when you want them, and if the bees
are in good health, so that they will not permit the worms to spin among
the combs, you can, with ease, entrap nearly all of them. If the hive
has lost its queen, and the worms have gained possession of it, you can
do nothing for it better than to break it up as soon as possible, unless
you prefer to reserve it as a moth trap to devastate your whole Apiary.

I make use of blocks of a peculiar construction, in order both to entrap
the worms, and to exclude the moth from my hives. The only place where
the moth can enter, is just where the bees are going in and out, and
this passage may be contracted so as to suit the size of the colony: the
very shape of it is such that if the moth attempts to force an entrance,
she is obliged to travel over a space which is continually narrowing,
and of course, is more and more easily defended by the bees. My traps
are slightly elevated, so that the heat and odor of the hive pass under
them, and come out through small openings into which the moth can enter,
but which do not admit her into the hive. These openings, which are so
much like the crevices between the common hives and their bottom-boards,
the moth will enter, rather than attempt to force her way through the
guards, and finding here the nibblings and parings of comb and
bee-bread, in which her young can flourish, she deposits her eggs in a
place where they may be reached and destroyed. All this is on the
supposition that the hive has a healthy queen, and that the bees are
confined to a space which they can warm and defend. If there are no
guards and no resistance, or at best but a very feeble one, she will not
rest in any outer chamber, but will penetrate to the very heart of the
citadel, and there deposit her seeds of mischief. These same blocks have
also grooves which communicate with the _interior_ of the hives, and
which appear to the prowling worm in search of a comfortable nest, just
the very best possible place, so warm and snug and secure, in which to
spin its web, and "bide its time." When the hand of the bee-master
lights upon it, doubtless it has reason to feel that it has been caught
in its own craftiness.

If asked how much will such contrivances help the careless bee-man, I
answer, not one iota; nay, they will positively furnish him greater
facilities for destroying his bees. Worms will spin and hatch, and moths
will lay their eggs, under the blocks, and he will never remove them:
thus instead of traps he will have most beautiful devices for giving
more effectual aid and comfort to his enemies. Such persons, if they
ever attempt to keep bees on my plans, should use only my smooth blocks,
which will enable them to control, at will, the size of the entrance to
the hives, and which are exceedingly important in aiding the bees to
defend themselves against moths and robbers, and all enemies which seek
admission to their castle.

Let me, however, strongly advise the thoroughly and incorrigibly
careless, to have nothing to do with bees, either on my plan of
management, or any other; for they will find their time and money
almost certainly thrown away; unless their mishaps open their eyes to
the secret of their failure in other things, as well as in bee-keeping.

If I find that the worms, by any means have got the upper hand in one of
my hives, I take out the combs, shake off the bees, route out the worms
and restore the combs again to the bees: if there is reason to fear that
they contain eggs and small worms, I smoke them thoroughly with sulphur,
and air them well before they are returned. Such operations, however,
will very seldom be required. Shallow vessels containing sweetened
water, placed on the hives after sunset, will often entrap many of the
moths. Pans of milk are recommended by some as useful for this purpose.
So fond are the moths of something sweet, that I have caught them
_sticking fast_ to pieces of moist sugar-candy.

I cannot deny myself the pleasure of making an extract from an
article[24] from the pen of that accomplished scholar, and well-known
enthusiast in bee-culture, Henry K. Oliver, Esq. "We add a few words
respecting the enemies of bees. The mouse, the toad, the ant, the
stouter spiders, the wasp, the death-head moth, (Sphinx atropos,) and
all the varieties of gallinaceous birds, have, each and all, "a sweet
tooth," and like, very well, a dinner of raw bee. But the ravages of all
these are but a baby bite to the destruction caused by the bee-moth,
(Tinea mellonella.) These nimble-footed little mischievous vermin may be
seen, on any evening, from early May to October, fluttering about the
apiary, or running about the hives, at a speed to outstrip the swiftest
bee, and endeavoring to effect an entrance into the door way, for it is
within the hive that their instinct teaches them they must deposit their
eggs. You can hardly find them by day, for they are cunning and secrete
themselves. "They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds
are evil." They are a paltry looking, insignificant little grey-haired
pestilent race of wax-and-honey-eating and bee-destroying rascals, that
have baffled all contrivances that ingenuity has devised to conquer or
destroy them."

"Your committee would be very glad indeed to be able to suggest any
effectual means, by which to assist the honey-bee and its friends,
against the inroads of this, its bitterest and most successful foe,
whose desolating ravages are more lamented and more despondingly
referred to, than those of any other enemy. Various contrivances have
been announced, but none have proved efficacious to any full extent, and
we are compelled to say that there really is no security, except in a
very full, healthy and vigorous stock of bees, and in a very close and
well made hive, the door of which is of such dimensions of length and
height, that the nightly guards can effectually protect it. Not too long
a door, nor too high. If too long, the bees cannot easily guard it, and
if too high, the moth will get in over the heads of the guards. If the
guards catch one of them, her life is not worth insuring. But if the
moths, in any numbers, effect a lodgment in the hive, then the hive is
not worth insuring. They immediately commence laying their eggs, from
which comes, in a few days, a brownish white caterpillar, which encloses
itself, all but its head, in a silken cocoon. This head, covered with an
impenetrable coat of scaly mail, which bids defiance to the bees, is
thrust forward, just outside of the silken enclosure, and the gluttonous
pest eats all before it, wax, pollen, and exuviæ, until ruin to the
stock is inevitable. As says the Prophet Joel, speaking of the ravages
of the locust, "the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and
behind them a desolate wilderness." Look out, brethren, bee lovers, and
have your hives of the best unshaky, unknotty stock, with close fitting
joints, and well covered with three or four coats of paint. He who shall
be successful in devising the means of ridding the bee world of this
destructive and merciless pest, will richly deserve to be crowned "King
Bee," in perpetuity, to be entitled to a never-fading wreath of budding
honey flowers, from sweetly breathing fields, all murmuring with bees,
to be privileged to use, during his natural life, "night tapers from
their waxen thighs," best wax candles, (two to the pound!) to have an
annual offering from every bee-master, of ten pounds each, of very best
virgin honey, and to a body guard, for protection against all foes, of
thrice ten thousand workers, all armed and equipped, as Nature's law
directs. Who shall have these high honors?"

It might seem highly presumptuous for me, at this early date, to lay
claim to them, but I beg leave to enroll myself among the list of
honorable candidates, and I cheerfully submit my pretensions to the
suffrages of all intelligent keepers of bees.

In the chapter on Requisites, I have spoken of the ravages of the mouse,
and have there described the way in which my hives are guarded against
its intrusion. That some kinds of birds are fond of bees, every Apiarian
knows, to his cost; still, I cannot advise that any should, on this
account, be destroyed. It has been stated to me, by an intelligent
observer, that the King-bird, which devours them by scores, confines
himself always, in the season of drones, to those fat and lazy gentlemen
of leisure. I fear however, that this, as the children say, "is too good
news to be true," and that not only the industrious portion of the busy
community fall a prey to his fatal snap, but that the luxurious gourmand
can distinguish perfectly well, between an empty bee in search of food,
and one which is returning full laden to its fragrant home, and whose
honey-bag sweetens the delicious tit-bit, as the crushed unfortunate,
all ready sugared, glides daintily down his voracious maw! Still, I have
never yet been willing to destroy a bird, because of its fondness for
bees; and I advise all lovers of bees to have nothing to do with such
foolish practices. Unless we can check among our people, the stupid, as
well as inhuman custom of destroying so wantonly, on any pretence, and
often on none at all, the insectivorous birds, we shall soon, not only
be deprived of their aerial melody, among the leafy branches, but shall
lament over the ever increasing horde of destructive insects, which
ravage our fields and desolate our orchards, and from whose successful
inroads, nothing but the birds can ever protect us. Think of it, ye who
can enjoy no music made by these winged choristers of the skies, except
that of their agonizing screams, as they fall before your well-aimed
weapons, and flutter out their innocent lives before your heartless
gaze! Drive away as fast and as far as you please, from your cruel
premises, all the little birds that you cannot destroy, and then find,
if you can, those who will sympathize with you, when the caterpillars
weave their destroying webs over your leafless trees, and insects of all
kinds riot in glee, upon your blasted harvests! I hope that such a
healthy public opinion will soon prevail, that the man or boy who is
armed with a gun to shoot the little birds, will be scouted from all
humane and civilized society, and if he should be caught about such
contemptible business, will be too much ashamed even to look an honest
man in the face. I shall close what I have to say about the birds, with
the following beautiful translation of an old Greek poet's address to
the swallow.

    "Attic maiden, honey fed,
      Chirping warbler, bear'st away,
    Thou the busy buzzing bee,
      To thy callow brood a prey?
    Warbler, thou a warbler seize?
      Winged, one with lovely wings?
    Guest thyself, by Summer brought,
      Yellow guest whom Summer brings?
    Wilt not quickly let it drop?
      'Tis not fair, indeed 'tis wrong,
    That the ceaseless warbler should
      Die by mouth of ceaseless song."
                    _Merivale's Translation._

I have not the space to speak at length of the other enemies of the
honied race: nor indeed is it at all necessary. If the Apiarian only
succeeds in keeping his stocks strong, they will be their own best
protectors, and if he does not succeed in this, they would be of little
value, even if they had no enemies ever vigilant, to watch for their
halting. Nations which are both rich and feeble, invite attack, as well
as unfit themselves for vigorous resistance. Just so with the
commonwealth of bees. Unless amply guarded by thousands ready to die in
its defence, it is ever liable to fall a prey to some one of its many
enemies, which are all agreed in this one opinion, at least, that stolen
honey is much more sweet than the slow accumulations of patient

In the Chapters on Protection and Ventilation, I have spoken of the
fatal effects of dysentery. This disease can always be prevented by
proper caution on the part of the bee-keeper. Let him be careful not to
feed his bees, late in the season, on liquid honey, (see Chapter on
Feeding,) and let him keep them in dry and thoroughly protected hives.
If his situation is at all damp, and there is danger that water will
settle under his Protector, let him build it entirely _above ground_;
otherwise it may be as bad as a damp cellar, and incomparably worse than
nothing at all.

There is one disease, called by the Germans, "foul brood," of which I
know nothing, by my own observation, but which is, of all others, the
most fatal in its effects. The brood appear to die in the cells, after
they are sealed over by the bees, and the stench from their decaying
bodies infects the hive, and seems to paralyze the bees. This disease
is, in two instances, attributed by Dzierzon, to feeding bees on
"American Honey," or, as we call it, Southern Honey, which is brought
from Cuba, and other West India Islands. That such honey is not
ordinarily poisonous, is well known: probably that used by him, was
taken from diseased colonies. It is well known that if any honey or
combs are taken from a hive in which this pestilence is raging, it will
most surely infect the colonies to which they may be given. No foreign
honey ought therefore to be extensively used, until its quality has been
thoroughly tested. The extreme violence of this disease may be inferred
from the fact, that Dzierzon in one season, lost by it, between four and
five hundred colonies! As at present advised, if my colonies were
attacked by it, I should burn up the bees, combs, honey, frames, and
all, from every diseased hive; and then thoroughly scald and smoke with
sulphur, all such hives, and replenish them with bees from a healthy

There is a peculiar kind of dysentery which does not seem to affect a
whole colony, but confines its ravages to a small number of the bees. In
the early stages of this disease, those attacked are excessively
irritable, and will attempt to sting any one who comes near the hives.
If dissected, their stomachs are found to be already discolored by the
disease. In the latter stages of this complaint, they not only lose all
their irascibility, but seem very stupid, and may often be seen crawling
upon the ground unable to fly. Their abdomens are now unnaturally
swollen, and of a much lighter color than usual, owing to their being
filled with a yellow matter exceedingly offensive to the smell. I have
not yet ascertained the cause of this disease.


[21] Bevan.

[22] Bevan.

[23] A bee, a few days after it is hatched, is as fully competent for
all its duties, as it ever will be, at any subsequent period of its

[24] Report on bees to the Essex County Agricultural Society, 1851.



That the queen of a hive is often lost, and that the ruin of the whole
colony soon follows, unless such a loss is seasonably remedied, are
facts which ought to be well known to every observing bee-keeper.

Some queens appear to die of old age or disease, and at a time when
there are no worker-eggs, or larvæ of a suitable age, to enable the bees
to supply their loss. It is evident, however, that no very large
proportion of the queens which perish, are lost under such
circumstances. Either the bees are aware of the approaching end of their
aged mother, and take seasonable precautions to rear a successor; or
else she dies very suddenly, so as to leave behind her, brood of a
suitable age. It is seldom that a queen in a hive that is strong in
numbers and stores, dies either at a period of the year when there is no
brood from which another can be reared, or when there are no drones to
impregnate the one reared in her place. In speaking of the age of bees,
it has already been stated that queens commonly die in their fourth
year, while none of the workers live to be a year old. Not only is the
queen much longer lived than the other bees, but she seems to be
possessed of greater tenacity of life, so that when any disease
overtakes the colony, she is usually among the last to perish. By a most
admirable provision, their death ordinarily takes place under
circumstances the most favorable to their bereaved family. If it were
otherwise, the number of colonies which would annually perish, would be
very much greater than it now is; for as a number of superannuated
queens must die every year, many, or even most of them might die at a
season when their loss would necessarily involve the ruin of their whole
colony. In non-swarming hives, I have found cells in which queens were
reared, not to lead out a new swarm, but to supply the place of the old
one which had died in the hive. There are a few well authenticated
instances, in which a young queen has been matured before the death of
the old one, but after she had become quite aged and infirm. Still,
there are cases where old queens die, either so suddenly as to leave no
young brood behind them, or at a season when there are no drones to
impregnate the young queens.

That queens occasionally live to such an age as to become incapable of
laying worker eggs, is now a well established fact. The seminal
reservoir sometimes becomes exhausted, before the queen dies of old age,
and as it is never replenished, (see p. 44,) she can only lay
unimpregnated eggs, or such as produce drones instead of workers. This
is an additional confirmation of the theory first propounded by
Dzierzon. I am indebted to Mr. Wagner for the following facts. "In the
Bienenzeitung, for August, 1852, Count Stosch gives us the case of a
colony examined by himself, with the aid of an experienced Apiarian, on
the 14th of April, previous. The worker-brood was then found to be
healthy. In May following, the bees worked industriously, and built new
comb. Soon afterwards they ceased to build, and appeared dispirited; and
when, in the beginning of June, he examined the colony again, he found
plenty of drone brood in worker cells! The queen appeared weak and
languid. He confined her in a queen cage, and left her in the hive. The
bees clustered around the cage; but next morning the queen was found to
be dead. Here we seem to have the commencement, progress and termination
of super-annuation, all in the space of five or six weeks."

In the Spring of the year, as soon as the bees begin to fly, if their
motions are carefully watched, the Apiarian may even in the common
hives, generally ascertain from their actions, whether they are in
possession of a fertile queen. If they are seen to bring in bee-bread
with great eagerness, it follows, as a matter of course, that they have
brood, and are anxious to obtain fresh food for its nourishment. If any
hive does not industriously gather pollen, or accept the rye flour upon
which the others are feasting, then there is an almost absolute
certainty either that it has not a queen, or that she is not fertile, or
that the hive is seriously infested with worms, or that it is on the
very verge of starvation. An experienced eye will decide upon the
queenlessness, (to use the German term,) of a hive, from the restless
appearance of the bees. At this period of the year when they first
realize the magnitude of their loss, and before they have become in a
manner either reconciled to it, or indifferent to their fate, they roam
in an inquiring manner, in and out of the hive, and over its outside as
well as inside, and plainly manifest that something calamitous has
befallen them. Often those that return from the fields, instead of
entering the hive with that dispatchful haste so characteristic of a bee
returning well stored to a prosperous home, linger about the entrance
with an idle and very dissatisfied appearance, and the colony is
restless, long after the other stocks are quiet. Their home, like that
of the man who is cursed rather than blessed in his domestic relations,
is a melancholy place: and they only enter it with reluctant and
slow-moving steps!

If I could address a friendly word of advice to every married woman, I
would say, "Do all that you can to make your husband's home a place of
attraction. When absent from it, let his heart glow at the very thought
of returning to its dear enjoyments; and let his countenance
involuntarily put on a more cheerful look, and his joy-quickened steps
proclaim, as he is approaching, that he feels in his "heart of hearts,"
that "there is no place like home." Let her whom he has chosen as a wife
and companion, be the happy and honored Queen in his cheerful
habitation: let her be the center and soul about which his best
affections shall ever revolve. I know that there are brutes in the guise
of men, upon whom all the winning attractions of a prudent, virtuous
wife, make little or no impression. Alas that it should be so! but who
can tell how many, even of the most hopeless cases, have been saved for
two worlds, by a union with a virtuous woman, in whose "tongue was the
law of kindness," and of whom it could be said, "the heart of her
husband doth safely trust in her," for "she will do him good and not
evil, all the days of her life."

Said a man of large experience, "I scarcely know a woman who has an
intemperate husband, who did not either marry a man whose habits were
already bad, or who did not drive her husband to evil courses, (often
when such a calamitous result was the furthest possible from her
thoughts or wishes,) by making him feel that he had no happy home."
Think of it, ye who find that home is not full of dear delights, as well
to yourselves, as to your affectionate husbands! Try how much virtue
there may be in winning words and happy smiles, and the cheerful
discharge of household duties, and prove the utmost possible efficacy of
love and faith and prayer, before those words of fearful agony are
extorted from your despairing lips,

    "Anywhere, anywhere
    Out of the world;"

when amid tears and sighs of inexpressible agony, you settle down into
the heart-breaking conviction that you can have no home until you have
passed into that habitation not fashioned by human hands, or inhabited
by human hearts!

Is there any husband who can resist all the sweet attractions of a
lovely wife? who does not set a priceless value upon the very gem of his

    "If such there be, go mark him well;
    High though his titles, proud his fame,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
    The wretch, concentered all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust from whence he sprung
    Unwept, unhonored, and unsung."--_Scott._

I trust my readers, remembering my profession, will pardon this long
digression to which I felt myself irresistibly impelled.

When the bees commence their work in the Spring, they give, as
previously stated, reliable evidence either that all is well, or that
ruin lurks within. In the common hives however, it is not always easy to
decide upon their real condition. The queenless ones do not, in all
cases, disclose their misfortune, any more than all unhappy husbands or
wives see fit to proclaim the full extent of their domestic
wretchedness: there is a vast amount of _seeming_ even in the little
world of the bee-hive. One great advantage in my mode of construction is
that I am never obliged to leave anything to vague conjecture; but I
can, in a few moments, open the interior, and know precisely what is the
real condition of the bees.

On one occasion I found that a colony which had been queenless for a
considerable time, utterly refused to raise another, and devoured all
the eggs which were given to them for that purpose! This colony was
afterwards supplied with an unimpregnated queen, but they refused to
accept of her, and attempted at once to smother her to death. I then
gave them a fertile queen, but she met with no better treatment. Facts
of a similar kind have been noticed, by other observers: thus it seems
that bees may not only become reconciled, as it were, to living without
a mother, but may pass into such an unnatural state as not only to
decline to provide themselves with another, but actually to refuse to
accept of one by whose agency they might be rescued from impending ruin!
Before expressing too much astonishment at such foolish conduct, let us
seriously inquire if it has not often an exact parallel in our obstinate
rejection of the provisions which God has made in the Gospel for our
moral and religious welfare.

If a colony which refuses to rear another queen, has a range of comb
given to it containing maturing brood, these poor motherless innocents,
as soon as they are able to work, perceive their loss, and will proceed
at once, if they have the means, to supply it! They have not yet grown
so hardened by habit to unnatural and ruinous courses, as not to feel
that something absolutely indispensable to their safety is wanting in
their hive.

A word to the young who may read this treatise. Although enjoined to
"remember your Creator in the days of your youth," you are constantly
tempted to neglect your religious duties, and to procrastinate their
performance until some more convenient season. Like the old bees in a
hive without a queen, that seek only their present enjoyment, forgetful
of the ruin which must surely overtake them, so you may find that when
manhood and old age arrive, you will have even less disposition to love
and serve the Lord than you now have. The fetters which bind you to
sinful habits will have strengthened with years until you find both the
inclination and ability to break them continually decreasing.

In the Spring, as soon as the weather becomes sufficiently pleasant, I
carefully examine all the hives which do not present the most
unmistakable evidences of health and vigor. If a queen is wanting, I at
once, if the colony is small, break it up, and add the bees to another
stock. If however, the colony should be very large, I sometimes join to
it one of my small stocks which has a healthy queen. It may be asked why
not supply the queenless stock with the means of raising another? Simply
because there would be no drones to impregnate her, in season; and the
whole operation would therefore result in an entire failure. Why not
endeavor then to preserve it, until the season for drones approaches,
and then give it a queen? Because it is in danger of being robbed or
destroyed by the moth, while the bees, if added to another stock, can do
me far more service than they could, if left to idleness in their old
hive. It must be remembered that I am not like the bee-keepers on the
old plan, extremely anxious to save every colony, however feeble: as I
can, at the proper season, form as many as I want, and with far less
trouble and expense than are required to make anything out of such
discouraged stocks.

If any of my colonies are found to be feeble in the Spring, but yet in
possession of a healthy queen, I help them to combs containing maturing
brood, in the manner already described. In short, I ascertain, at the
opening of the season, the exact condition of all my stock, and apply
such remedies as I find to be needed, giving to some, maturing brood, to
others honey, and breaking up all whose condition appears to admit of
no remedy. If however, the bees have not been multiplied too rapidly,
and proper care was taken to winter none but strong stocks, they will
need but little assistance in the Spring; and nearly all of them will
show indubitable signs of health and vigor.

I strongly recommend every prudent bee-keeper who uses my hives, to give
them all a most thorough over-hauling and cleansing, soon after the bees
begin to work in the Spring. The bees of any stock may, with their
combs, &c., all be transferred, in a few minutes, to a clean hive; and
their hive, after being thoroughly cleansed, may be used for another
transferred stock; and in this way, with one spare hive, the bees may
all be lodged in habitations from which every speck of dirt has been
removed. They will thus have hives which can by no possibility, harbor
any of the eggs, or larvæ of the moth, and which may be made perfectly
free from the least smell of must or mould or anything offensive to the
delicate senses of the bees. In making this thorough cleansing of all
the hives, the Apiarian will necessarily gain an exact knowledge of the
true condition of each stock, and will know which have spare honey, and
which require food: in short, which are in need of help in any respect,
and which have the requisite strength to lend a helping hand to others.
If any hive needs repairing, it may be put into perfect order, before it
is used again. Hives managed in this fashion, if the roofs and outside
covers are occasionally painted anew, will last for generations, and
will be found, on the score of cheapness, preferable, in the long run,
to any other kind. But I ought to beg pardon of the Genius of American
cheapness, who so kindly presides over the making of most of our
manufactures, and under whose shrewd tuition we are fast beginning to
believe that cheapness in the first cost of an article, is the main
point to which our attention should be directed!

Let us to be sure, save all that we can in the cost of construction, by
the greatest economy in the use of materials; let us compel every minute
to yield the greatest possible practical result, by the employment of
the most skillful workmen and the most ingenious machinery; but do let
us learn that slighting an article, so as to get up a mere sham, having
all the appearance of reality, with none of the substance, is the
poorest possible kind of pretended economy; to say nothing of the
tendency of such a system, to encourage in all the pursuits of life, the
narrow and selfish policy of doing nothing thoroughly, but everything
with reference to mere outside show, or the urgent necessities of the
present moment.

We have yet to describe under what circumstances, by far the larger
proportion of hives, become queenless. After the first swarm has gone
out with the old mother, then both the parent stock and all the
subsequent swarms, will have each a young queen which must always leave
the hive in order to be impregnated. It sometimes happens that the wings
of the young female are, from her birth, so imperfect that she either
refuses to sally out, or is unable to return to the hive, if she
ventures abroad. In either case, the old stock must, if left to its own
resources, speedily perish. Queens, in their contests with each other,
are sometimes so much crippled as to unfit them for flight, and
sometimes they are disabled by the rude treatment of the bees, who
insist on driving them away from the royal cells. The great majority,
however, of queens which are lost, perish when they leave the hive in
search of the drones. Their _extra size_ and _slower flight_ make them a
most tempting prey to the birds, ever on the watch in the vicinity of
the hives; and many in this way, perish. Others are destroyed by sudden
gusts of winds, which dash them against some hard object, or blow them
into the water; for queens are by no means, exempt from the misfortunes
common to the humblest of their race. Very frequently, in spite of all
their caution in noticing the position and appearance of their
habitation, before they left it, they make a fatal mistake on their
return, and are imprisoned and destroyed as they attempt to enter the
wrong hive. The precautions which should be used, to prevent such a
calamity, have been already described. If these are neglected, those who
build their hives of uniform size and appearance, will find themselves
losing many more queens than the person who uses the old-fashioned
boxes, hardly any two of which look just alike.

The bees seem to me, to have, as it were, an instinctive perception of
the dangers which await their new queen when she makes her excursion in
search of the drones, and often gather around her, and confine her, as
though they could not bear to have her leave! I have repeatedly noticed
them doing this, although I cannot affirm with positive certainty, why
they do it. They are usually excessively agitated when the queen leaves,
and often exhibit all the appearance of swarming. If the queen of an old
stock is lost in this way, her colony will gradually dwindle away. If
the queen of an after-swarm fails to return, the bees very speedily come
to nothing, if they remain in the hive; as a general rule, however, they
soon leave and attempt to add themselves to other colonies.

It would be highly interesting to ascertain in what way the bees become
informed of the loss of their queen. When she is taken from them under
such circumstances as to excite the whole colony, then we can easily see
how they find out that she is gone; for when greatly excited, they
always seek first to assure themselves of her safety; just as a tender
mother in time of danger forgets herself in her anxiety for her
helpless children! If however, the queen is carefully removed, so that
the colony is not disturbed, it is sometimes a day, or even more, before
they realize their loss. How do they first become aware of it? Perhaps
some dutiful bee feels that it is a long time since it has seen its
mother, and anxious to embrace her, makes diligent search for her
through the hive! The intelligence that she cannot anywhere be found, is
soon noised abroad, and the whole community are at once alarmed. At such
times, instead of calmly conversing by merely touching each other's
antennæ, they may be seen violently striking as it were, their antennæ
together, and by the most impassioned demonstrations manifesting their
agony and despair. I once removed a queen in such a manner as to cause
the bees to take wing and fill the air in search of her. She was
returned in a few minutes, and yet, on examining the colony, two days
after, I found that they had actually commenced the building of royal
cells, in order to raise another! The queen was unhurt and the cells
were not tenanted. Was this work begun by some that refused for a long
time to believe the others, when told that she was safe? Or was it begun
from the apprehension that she might again be removed?

Every colony which has a new queen, should be watched, in order that the
Apiarian may be seasonably apprised of her loss. The restless conduct of
the bees, on the evening of the day that she fails to return, will at
once inform the experienced bee-master of the accident which has
befallen his hive. If the bees cannot be supplied with another queen, or
with the means of raising one, if an old swarm it must be broken up, and
the bees added to another stock; if a new swarm it must always be broken
up, unless it can be supplied with a queen nearly mature, or else they
will build combs unfit for the rearing of workers. By the use of my
movable comb hives, all these operations can be easily performed. If any
hives have lost their young queen, they may be supplied, either with the
means of raising another, or with sealed queens from other hives, or,
(if the plan is found to answer,) with mature ones from the "Nursery."

As a matter of precaution, I generally give to all my stocks that are
raising young queens, or which have unimpregnated ones, a range of comb
containing brood and eggs, so that they may, in case of any accident to
their queen, proceed at once, to supply their loss. In this way, I
prevent them from being so dissatisfied as to leave the hive.

About a week after the young queens have hatched, I examine all the
hives which contain them, lifting out usually, some of the largest
combs, and those which ought to contain brood. If I find a comb which
has eggs or larvæ, I am satisfied that they have a fertile queen, and
shut up the hive; unless I wish to find her, in order to deprive her of
her wings, (see p. 203.) I can thus often satisfy myself in one or two
minutes. If no brood is found, I suspect that the queen has been lost,
or that she has some defect which has prevented her from leaving the
hive. If the brood-comb which I put into the hive, contains any
newly-formed royal cells, I _know_, without any further examination,
that the queen has been lost. If the weather has been unfavorable, or
the colony is quite weak, the young queen is sometimes not impregnated
as early as usual, and an allowance of a few days must be made on this
account. If the weather is favorable, and the colony a good one, the
queen usually leaves, the day after she finds herself mistress of a
family. In about two days more, she begins to lay her eggs. By waiting
about a week before the examination is made, ample allowance, in most
cases, is made.

Early in the month of September, I examine carefully all my hives, so as
to see that in every respect, they are in suitable condition for
wintering. If any need feeding, (See Chapter on Feeding,) they are fed
at this time. If any have more vacant room than they ought to have, I
partition off that part of the hive which they do not need. I always
expect to find some brood in every healthy hive at this time, and if in
any hive I find none, and ascertain that it is queenless, I either at
once break it up, or if it is strong in numbers supply it with a queen,
by adding to it some feebler stock. If bees, however, are properly
attended to, at the season when their young queens are impregnated, it
will be a very rare occurrence to find a queenless colony in the Fall.

The practical bee-keeper without further directions, will readily
perceive how any operation, which in the common hives, is performed with
difficulty, if it can be performed at all, is reduced to simplicity and
certainty, by the control of the combs. If however, bee-keepers will be
negligent and ignorant, no hive can possible make them very successful.
If they belong to the fraternity of "no eyes," who have kept bees all
their lives, and do not know that there is a queen, they will probably
derive no special pleasure from being compelled to believe what they
have always derided as humbug or book-knowledge; although I have seen
some bee-keepers very intelligent on most matters, who never seem to
have learned the first rudiments in the natural history of the bee.
Those who cannot, or will not learn for themselves, or who have not the
leisure or disposition to manage their own bees, may yet with my hives,
entrust their care to suitable persons who may, at the proper time,
attend to all their wants. Practical gardeners may find the management
of bees for their employers, to be quite a lucrative part of their
profession. With but little extra labor and with great certainty, they
may, from time to time, do all that the prosperity of the bees require;
carefully over-hauling them in the Spring, making new colonies, at the
suitable period, if any are wanted, giving them their surplus honey
receptacles, and removing them when full; and on the approach of Winter,
putting all the colonies into proper condition, to resist its rigors.
The business of the practical Apiarian, and that of the Gardener, seem
very naturally to go together, and one great advantage of my hive and
mode of management is the ease with which they may be successfully

Some Apiarians after all that has been said, may still have doubts
whether the young queens leave the hive for impregnation; or may think
that the old ones occasionally leave, even when they do not go out to
lead a swarm. Such persons may, if they choose, easily convince
themselves by the following experiments of the accuracy of my
statements. About a week after hiving a second swarm, or after the birth
of a young queen in a hive, and after she has begun to lay eggs, open
the hive and remove her: carry her a few rods in front of the Apiary,
and let her fly; she will at once enter her own hive and thus show that
she has previously left it. If, however, an old queen is removed a short
time after hiving the swarm, she will not be able to distinguish her own
hive from any other, and will thus show that she has not left it, since
the swarm was hived. If this experiment is performed upon an old queen,
in a hive in which she was put the year before, when unimpregnated, the
same result will follow; for as she never left it after that event, she
will have lost all recollection of its relative position in the Apiary.
The first of these experiments has been suggested by Dzierzon.



Frequent allusions have been made to the importance, for various
reasons, of breaking up stocks and uniting them to other families in the
Apiary. Colonies which in the early Spring, are found to be queenless,
ought at once to be managed in this way, for even if not speedily
destroyed by their enemies, they are only consumers of the stores which
they gathered in their happier days. The same treatment should also be
extended to all that in the Fall, are found to be in a similar

As small colonies, even though possessed of a healthy queen, are never
able to winter as advantageously as large ones, the bees from several
such colonies ought to be put together, to enable them by keeping up the
necessary supply of heat, to survive the Winter on a smaller supply of
food. A certain quantity of animal heat must be maintained by bees, in
order to live at all, and if their numbers are too small, they can only
keep it up, by eating more than they would otherwise require. A small
swarm will thus not unfrequently, consume as much honey as one
containing two or three times as many bees. These are facts which have
been most thoroughly tested on a very large scale. If a hundred persons
are required to occupy, with comfort, a church that is capable of
accommodating a thousand, as much fuel or even more will be required,
to warm the small number as the large one.

If the stocks which are to be wintered, are in the common hives, the
condemned ones must be drummed out of their old encampment, sprinkled
with sugar-water scented with peppermint, or some other pleasant odor,
and added to the others, (see p. 212.) The colonies which are to be
united ought if possible, to stand side by side, some time before this
process is attempted. This can almost always be effected by a little
management, for while it would not be safe to move a colony all at once,
even a few yards to the right or left of the line of flight in which
the bees sally out to the fields, (especially if other hives are near,)
they may be moved a slight distance one day, and a little more the next,
and so on, until we have them at last in the desired place.

As persons may sometimes be obliged to move their Apiaries, during the
working season, I will here describe the way by which I was able to
accomplish such a removal, so as to benefit, instead of injuring my
bees. Selecting a pleasant day, I moved, early in the morning, a portion
of my very best stocks. A considerable number of bees from these
colonies, returned in the course of the day to the familiar spot; after
flying about for some time, in search of their hives, (if the weather
had been chilly many of them would have perished,) they at length
entered those standing next to their old homes. More of the strongest
were removed, on the next pleasant day: and this process was repeated,
until at last only one hive was left in the old Apiary. This was then
removed, and only a few bees returned to the old spot. I thus lost no
more bees, in moving a number of hives, than I should have lost in
moving one: and I conducted the process in such a way, as to strengthen
some of my feeble stocks, instead of very seriously diminishing their
scanty numbers. I have known the most serious losses to result from the
removal of an Apiary, conducted in the manner in which a change of
location is usually made.

The process of uniting colonies in my hive, is exceedingly simple. The
combs may, after the two colonies are sprinkled, be at once lifted out
from the one which is to be broken up, and put with all the bees upon
them, directly into the other hive. If the Apiarian judges it best to
save any of his very small colonies, he can confine them to one half or
one third of the central part of the hive, and fill the two empty ends
with straw, shavings, or any good non-conductor. Any one of my frames,
can, in a few minutes, by having tacked to it a thin piece of board or
paste-board, or even an old newspaper, be fashioned into a divider,
which will answer all practical purposes, and if it is stuffed with
cotton waste, &c., it will keep the bees uncommonly warm. If a _very_
small colony is to be preserved over Winter, the queen must be confined,
in the Fall, in a queen cage, to prevent the colony from deserting the

I shall now show how the bee-keeper who wishes only to keep a given
number of stocks, may do so, and yet secure from that number the largest
quantity of surplus honey.

If his bees are kept in non-swarming hives, he may undoubtedly, reap a
bounteous harvest from the avails of their industry. I do not however,
recommend this mode of bee-keeping as the best: still there are many so
situated that it may be much the best for them. Such persons, by using
my hives, can pursue the non-swarming plan to the best advantage. They
can by taking off the wings of their queens, be sure that their colonies
will not suddenly leave them; a casualty to which all other non-swarming
hives are sometimes liable; and by taking away the honey in small
quantities, they will always give the bees plenty of spare room for
storage, and yet avoid discouraging them, as is so often done when large
boxes are taken from them. (See Chapter on Honey.)

By removing from time to time, the old queens, the colonies can all be
kept in possession of queens, at the height of their fertility, and in
this way a very serious objection to the non-swarming, or as it is
frequently called, the storifying system, may be avoided. If at any
time, new colonies are wanted, they may be made in the manner already
described. In districts where the honey harvest is of very short
continuance, the non-swarming plan may be found to yield the largest
quantity of honey, and in case the season should prove unfavorable for
the gathering of honey, it will usually secure the largest returns from
a given number of stocks. I therefore prefer to keep a considerable
number of my colonies, on the storifying plan, and am confident of
securing from them, a good yield of honey, even in the most unfavorable
seasons. If bee-keepers will pursue the same system, they will not only
be on the safe side, but will be able to determine which method it will
be best for them to adopt, in order to make the most from their bees. As
a general rule, the Apiarian who increases the number of his colonies,
one third in a season, making one very powerful swarm from two, (See p.
211,) will have more surplus honey from the three, than he could have
obtained from the two, to say nothing of the value of his new swarms.
If, at the approach of Winter, he wishes to reduce his stocks down to
the Spring number, he may unite them in the manner described,
appropriating all the good honey of those which he breaks up, and saving
all their empty comb for the new colonies of the next season. The bees
in the doubled stock will winter most admirably; will consume but
little honey, in proportion to their numbers, and will be in most
excellent condition when the Spring opens. It must not, however, be
forgotten, that although they eat comparatively little in the Winter,
they must be well supplied in the Spring; as they will then have a very
large number of mouths to feed, to say nothing of the thousands of young
bees bred in the hive. If any old-fashioned bee-keeper wishes, he can
thus pursue the old plan, with only this modification; that he preserves
the lives of the bees in the hives which he wishes to take up; secures
his honey without any fumes of sulphur, and saves the empty comb to make
it worth nearly ten times as much to himself, as it would be, if melted
into wax. Let no humane bee-keeper ever feel that there is the slightest
necessity for so managing his bees as to make the comparison of
Shakespeare always apposite:

    "When like the Bee, tolling from every flower
    The virtuous sweets;
    Our thighs packed with wax, our mouths, with honey,
    We bring it to the hive; and like the bees,
    Are murdered for our pains."

While I am an advocate for breaking up all stocks which cannot be
wintered advantageously, I never advise that a single bee should be
killed. Self interest and Christianity alike forbid the unnecessary


The construction of my hive is such, as to permit me to transfer bees
from the common hives, during all the season that the weather is warm
enough to permit them to fly; and yet to be able to guarantee that they
will receive no serious damage by the change.

On the 10th of November, 1852, in the latitude of Northern
Massachusetts, I transferred a colony which wintered in good health, and
which now, May, 1853, promises to make an excellent stock. The day was
warm, but after the operation was completed, the weather suddenly became
cold, and as the bees were not able to leave the hive in order to obtain
the water necessary for repairing their comb, they were supplied with
that indispensable article. They went to work _very_ busily, and in a
short time mended up their combs and attached them firmly to the frames.

The transfer may be made of any healthy colony, and if they are strong
in numbers, and the hive is well provisioned, and the weather is not too
cool when the operation is attempted, they will scarcely feel the
change. If the weather should be too chilly, it will be found almost
impossible to make a colony leave its old hive, and if the combs are cut
out, and the bees removed upon them, large numbers of them will take
wing, and becoming chilled, will be unable to join their companions, and
so will perish.

The process of transferring bees to my hives, is performed as follows.
Let the old hive be shut up and well drummed[25] and the bees, if
possible, be driven into an upper box. If they will not leave the hive
of their own accord, they will fill themselves, and when it is
ascertained that they are determined, if they can help it, not to be
tenants at will, the upper box must be removed, and the bees gently
sprinkled, so that they may all be sure to have nothing done to them on
an empty stomach. If possible, an end of the old box parallel with the
combs, must be pried off, so that they may be easily cut out. An old
hive or box should stand upon a sheet, in place of the removed stock,
and as fast as a comb is cut out, the bees should be shaken from it,
upon the sheet; a wing or anything soft, will often be of service in
brushing off the bees. Remember that they must not be hurt. If the
weather is so pleasant that many bees from other hives, are on the wing,
great care must be taken to prevent them from robbing. As fast therefore
as the bees are shaken from the combs, these should be put into an empty
hive or box, and covered with a cloth, or set in some place where they
will not be disturbed. As soon as all the combs have been removed, the
Apiarian should proceed to select and arrange them for his new hive. If
the transfer is made late in the season, care must be taken, of course,
to give the bees combs containing a generous allowance of honey for
their winter supplies; together with such combs as have brood, or are
best fitted for the rearing of workers. All coarse combs except such as
contain the honey which they need, should be rejected. Lay a frame upon
a piece of comb, and mark it so as to be able to cut it a trifle larger,
so that it will just _crowd_ into the frame, to remain in its place
until the bees have time to attach it. If the size of the combs is such,
that some of them cannot be cut so as to fit, then cut them to the best
advantage, and after putting them into the frames, wind some thread
around the upper and lower slats of the frame, so as to hold the combs
in their place, until the bees can fasten them. If however, any of the
combs which do not fit, have no honey in them, they may be fastened very
easily, by dipping their upper edges into melted rosin. When the
requisite number of combs are put into the frames, they should be placed
in the new hive, and slightly fastened on the rabbets with a mere touch
of paste, so as to hold them firmly in their places; this will be the
more necessary if the transfer is made so late in the season that the
bees cannot obtain the propolis necessary to fasten them, themselves.

As soon as the hive is thus prepared, let the temporary box into which
the bees have been driven, be removed, and their new home put in its
place. Shake out now the bees from the box, upon a sheet in front of
this hive, and the work is done; bees, brood, honey, bee-bread, empty
combs and all, have been nicely moved, and without any more serious loss
than is often incurred by any other moving family, which has to mourn
over some broken crockery, or other damage done in the necessary work of
establishing themselves in a new home! If this operation is performed at
a season of the year when there is much brood in the hive, and when the
weather is cool, care must be taken not to expose the brood, so that it
may become fatally chilled.

The best time for performing it, is late in the Fall, when there is but
little brood in the hive; or about ten days after the voluntary or
forced departure of a first swarm from the old stock. By this time, the
brood left by the old queen, will all be sealed over, and old enough to
bear exposure, especially as the weather, at swarming time, is usually
quite warm. A temperature, not lower than 70°, will do them no harm, for
if exposed to such a temperature, they will hatch, even if taken from
the bees.

I have spoken of the _best_ time for performing this operation. It may
be done at any season of the year, when the bees can fly without any
danger of being chilled, and I should not be afraid to attempt it, in
mid-winter, if the weather was as warm as it sometimes is. Let me here
earnestly caution all who keep bees, against meddling with them when the
weather is cool. Irreparable mischief is often done to them at such
times; they are tempted to fly, and thus perish from the cold, and
frequently they become so much excited, that they cannot retain their
fæces, but void them among the combs. If nothing worse ensues, they are
disturbed when they ought to be in almost death-like repose, and are
thus tempted to eat a much larger quantity of food than they would
otherwise have needed. Let the Apiarian remember that not a single
unnecessary motion should be required of a single bee: for all this, to
say nothing else, involves a foolish waste of food. (See p. 116.)

In all operations involving the transferring of bees, it is exceedingly
desirable that the new hives to which they are transferred should be
put, as near as possible, where the old ones stood. If other colonies
are in close proximity, the bees may be tempted to enter the wrong
hives, if their position is changed only a little; they are almost sure
to do this if the others resemble more closely than the new one, their
former habitation. If will be often advisable, to transport to the
distance of one or two miles, the stocks which are to be transferred; so
that the operation may be performed to the best advantage. In a few
weeks they may be brought back to the Apiary. In hiving swarms, and
transferring stocks, care must be taken to prevent the bees from getting
mixed with those of other colonies. If this precaution is neglected many
bees will be lost by joining other stocks, where they may be kindly
welcomed, or may at once be put to death. It is exceedingly difficult,
to tell before hand, what kind of a reception strange bees will meet
with, from a colony which they attempt to join. In the working season
they are much more likely to be well received, than at any other time,
especially if they come loaded with honey: still new swarms full of
honey, that attempt to enter other hives, are often killed at once. If a
colony which has an unimpregnated queen seeks to unite with another
which has a fertile one, then almost as a matter of course they are
destroyed! If by moving their hive, or in any other way, bees are made
to enter a hive containing an unimpregnated queen, they will often
destroy her, if they came from a family which was in possession of a
fertile one! If any thing of this kind is ever attempted, the queen
ought first to be confined in a queen cage. If while attempting a
transfer of the bees to a new hive, I am apprehensive of robbers
attacking the combs, or am pressed for want of time, I put only such
combs as contain brood into the frames, and set the others in a safe
place. The bees are now at once allowed to enter their new hive, and the
other combs are given to them at a more convenient time. The whole
process of transferal need not occupy more than an hour, and in some
cases it can be done in fifteen minutes. If the weather is hot, the
combs must not be exposed at all to the heat of the sun.

Until I had tested the feasibility of transferring bees from the old
hives, by means of my frames, I felt strongly opposed to any attempt to
dislodge them from their previous habitation. If they are transferred in
the usual way, it must be done when the combs are filled with brood; for
if delayed until late in the season, they will have no time to lay in a
store of provision against the Winter. Who can look without disgust,
upon the wanton destruction of thousands of their young, and the silly
waste of comb, which can be replaced only by the consumption of large
quantities of honey? In the great majority of such cases, the transfer,
unless made about the swarming season, and _previous_ to the issue of
the first swarm, will be an entire failure, and if made before, at best
only one colony is obtained, instead of the two, which are secured on my
plan. I never advise the transfer of a colony into _any_ hive, unless
their combs can be transferred with them, nor do I advise any except
practical Apiarians, to attempt to transfer them even to my hives. But
what if a colony is so old that its combs can only breed dwarfs? When I
find such a colony, I shall think it worth while to give specific
directions as to how it should be managed. The truth is, that of all the
many mistakes and impositions which have disgusted multitudes with the
very sound of "patent hive," none has been more fatal than the notion
that an old colony of bees could not be expected to prosper. Thousands
of the very best stocks have been wantonly sacrificed to this Chimera;
and so long as bee-keepers instead of studying the habits of the bee,
prefer to listen to the interested statements of ignorant, or
enthusiastic, or fraudulent persons, thousands more will suffer the same
fate. As to old stocks, the prejudice against them is just as foolish as
the silly notions of some who imagine that a woman is growing old, long
before she has reached her prime. Many a man of mature years who has
married a girl or a child, instead of a woman, has often had both time
enough, and cause enough to lament his folly.

It cannot be too strongly urged upon all who keep bees, either for love
or for money, to be exceedingly cautious in trying any new hive, or new
system of management. If you are ever so well satisfied that it will
answer all your expectations, enter upon it, at first, only on a small
scale; then, if it fulfills all its promises, or if _you_ can make it do
so, you may safely adopt it: at all events, you will not have to mourn
over large sums of money spent for nothing, and numerous powerful
colonies entirely destroyed. "Let well enough alone," should, to a great
extent, be the motto of every prudent bee-keeper. There is, however, a
golden mean between that obstinate and stupid conservatism which tries
nothing new, and, of course, learns nothing new, and that craving after
mere novelty, and that rash experimenting on an extravagant scale, which
is so characteristic of a large portion of our American people. It would
be difficult to find a better maxim than that which is ascribed to
David Crockett; "_Be sure you're right, then go ahead._"

What old bee-keeper has not had abundant proof that stocks eight or ten
years old, or even older, are often among the very best, in his whole
Apiary, always healthy and swarming with almost unfailing regularity! I
have seen such hives, which for more than fifteen years, have scarcely
failed, a single season, to throw a powerful swarm. I have one now ten
years old, in admirable condition, which a few years ago, swarmed three
times, and the first swarm sent off a colony the same season. All these
swarms were so early that they gathered ample supplies of honey, and
wintered without any assistance!

I have already spoken of old stocks flourishing for a long term of years
in hives of the roughest possible construction; and I shall now in
addition to my previous remarks assign a new reason for such unusual
prosperity. Without a single exception, I have found one or both of two
things to be true, of every such hive. Either it was a very large hive,
or else if not of unusual size, it contained a large quantity of
worker-comb. No hive which does not contain a good allowance of regular
comb of a size adapted to the rearing of workers, can ever in the nature
of things, prove a valuable stock hive. Many hives are so full of drone
combs that they breed a cloud of useless consumers, instead of the
thousands of industrious bees which ought to have occupied their places
in the combs. It frequently happens that when bees are put into a new
hive, the honey-harvest is at its height, and the bees finding it
difficult to build worker comb fast enough to hold their gatherings, are
tempted to construct long ranges of drone comb to receive their stores.
In this way, a hive often contains so small an allowance of
worker-comb, that it can never flourish, as the bees refuse to pull
down, and build over any of their old combs. All this can be easily
remedied by the use of the movable comb hive.


A person ignorant of bees, must depend in a very great measure, on the
honesty of those from whom he purchases them. Many stocks are not worth
accepting as a gift: like a horse or cow, incurably diseased, they will
only prove a bill of vexatious expense. If an inexperienced person
wishes to commence bee-keeping, I advise him, by all means, to purchase
a new swarm of bees. It ought to be a large and early one. Second swarms
and all late and small first swarms, ought never to be purchased by one
who has no experience in Apiarian pursuits. They are very apt, in such
hands, to prove a failure. If all bee-keepers were of that exemplary
class of whom the Country Curate speaks, (see p. 33,) it would be
perfectly safe to order a swarm of any one keeping a stock of bees. This
however, is so far from being true, that some offer for sale, old stocks
which are worthless, or impose on the ignorant, small first swarms, and
second and even third swarms, as prime swarms worth the very highest
market price. If the novice purchases an old stock, he will have the
perplexities of swarming, &c., the first season, and before he has
obtained any experience. As it may, however, be sometimes advisable that
this should be done, unless he makes his purchase of a man known to be
honest, he should select his stock himself, at a period of the day when
the bees, in early Spring, are busily engaged in plying their labors. He
should purchase a colony which is very actively engaged in carrying in
bee-bread, and which, from the large number going in and out,
undoubtedly contains a vigorous population. The hive should be removed
at an hour when the bees are all at home. It may be gently inverted, and
a coarse towel placed over it, and then tacked fast, when the bees are
shut in. Have a steady horse, and before you start, be very sure that it
is _impossible_ for any bees to get out. Place the hive on some straw,
in a wagon that has easy springs, and the bees will have plenty of air,
and the combs, from the inverted position of the hive, will not be so
liable to be jarred loose. Never purchase a hive which contains much
comb just built; for it will be next to impossible to move it, in warm
weather, without loosening the new combs. If a new swarm is purchased,
it may be brought home as follows. Furnish the person on whose premises
it is to be hived, with a box holding at the very least, a cubic foot of
clear contents. Let the bottom-board of this temporary hive be clamped
on both ends, the clamps being about two inches wider than the thickness
of the board, so that when the hive is set on the bottom-board, it will
slip in between the upper projections of the clamps, and be kept an inch
from the ground, by the lower ones, so that air may pass under it. There
should be a hole in the bottom-board, about four inches in diameter, and
two of the same size in the opposite sides of the box, covered with wire
gauze, so that the bees may have an abundance of air, when they are shut
up. Three parallel strips, an inch and a half wide, should be nailed,
about one third of the way from the top of the temporary hive, at equal
distances apart, so that the bees may have every opportunity to cluster;
a few pieces of old comb, fastened strongly in the top with melted
rosin, will make the bees like it all the better. A handle made of a
strip of leather, should be nailed on the top. Let the bees be hived in
this box, and kept well shaded; at evening, or very early next morning,
the temporary hive which was propped up, when the bees were put into
it, may be shut close to its bottom-board, and a few screws put into the
upper projection of the clamps, so as to run through into the ends of
the box. In such a box, bees may be safely transported, almost any
reasonable distance: care being taken not to handle them roughly, and
never to keep them in the sun, or in any place where they have not
sufficient air. If the box is too small, or sufficient ventilators are
not put in, or if the bees are exposed to too much heat, they will be
sure to suffocate. If the swarm is unusually large, and the weather
excessively warm, they ought to be moved at night. Unless great care is
taken in moving bees, in very hot weather, they will be almost sure to
perish; therefore always be _certain_ that they have an abundance of
air. If they appear to be suffering for want of it, especially if they
begin to fall down from the cluster, and to lie in heaps on the
bottom-board, they should immediately be carried into a field or any
convenient place, and at once be allowed to fly: in such a case they
cannot be safely moved again, until towards night. This will never be
necessary if the box is large enough, and suitably ventilated.

I have frequently made a box for transporting new swarms, out of an old
tea-chest. When a new swarm is brought in this way to its intended home,
the bottom-board may be unscrewed, and the bees transferred at once, to
the new hive; (See p. 168.) In some cases, it may be advisable to send
away the new hive. In this case, if one of my hives is used, the spare
honey-board should be screwed down, and all the holes carefully stopped,
except two or three which ought to have some ventilators tacked over
them: the frames should be fastened with a little paste, so that they
will not start from their place, and after the bees are hived, the
blocks which close the entrance should be screwed down to their place,
keeping them however, a trifle less than an eighth of an inch from the
entrance, so as to give the bees all the air which they need. I very
much prefer sending a box for the bees: one person can easily carry two
such boxes, each with a swarm of bees; and if he chooses to fasten them
to two poles, or to a very large hoop, he may carry four, or even more.

If the Apiarian wishes, to be sure the first season, of getting some
honey from his bees, he will do well to procure two good swarms, and put
them both into one hive. (See p. 213.) To those who do not object to the
extra expense, I strongly recommend this course. Not unfrequently, they
will in a good season, obtain in spare honey from their doubled swarm,
an ample equivalent for its increased cost: at all events, such a
powerful swarm lays the foundations of a flourishing stock, which seldom
fails to answer all the reasonable expectations of its owner. If the
Apiary is commenced with swarms of the current season, and they have an
abundance of spare room in the upper boxes, there will be no swarming,
that season, and the beginner will have ample time to make himself
familiar with his bees, before being called to hive new swarms, or to
multiply colonies by artificial means.

Let no inexperienced person commence bee-keeping on a large scale; very
few who do so, find it to their advantage, and the most of them not only
meet with heavy losses, but abandon the pursuit in disgust. By the use
of my hives, the bee-keeper can easily multiply very rapidly, the number
of his colonies, as soon as he finds, not merely that money can be made
by keeping bees, but _that he can make it_. While I am certain that more
money can be made by a careful and experienced bee-keeper in a good
situation, from a given sum invested in an Apiary, than from the same
money invested in any other branch of rural economy, I am equally
certain that there is none in which a careless or inexperienced person
would be more sure to find his outlay result in an almost entire loss.
An Apiary neglected or mismanaged, is far worse than a farm overgrown
with weeds, or exhausted by ignorant tillage: for the land is still
there, and may, by prudent management, soon be made again to blossom
like the rose; but the bees, when once destroyed, can never be brought
back to life, unless the poetic fables of the Mantuan Bard, can be
accepted as the legitimate results of actual experience, and swarms of
bees, instead of clouds of filthy flies, can once more be obtained from
the carcases of decaying animals! I have seen an old medical work in
which Virgil's method of obtaining colonies of bees from the putrid body
of a cow slain for this special purpose, is not only credited, but
minutely described.

A large book would hardly suffice to set forth all the superstitions
connected with bees. I will refer to one which is very common and which
has often made a deep impression upon many minds. When any member of a
family dies, the bees are believed to be aware of what has happened, and
the hives are by some dressed in mourning, to pacify their sorrowing
occupants! Some persons imagine that if this is not done, the bees will
never afterwards prosper, while others assert, that the bees often take
their loss so much to heart, as to alight upon the coffin whenever it is
exposed! An intelligent clergyman on reading the sheets of this work,
stated to me that he had always refused to credit this latter fact,
until present at a funeral where the bees gathered in such large numbers
upon the coffin, as soon as it was brought out from the house, as to
excite considerable alarm. Some years after this occurrence, being
engaged in varnishing a table, and finding that the bees came and lit
upon it, he was convinced that the love of varnish, (see p. 85,) instead
of sorrow or respect for the dead, was the occasion of their gathering
round the coffin! How many superstitions in which often intelligent
persons most firmly confide, might if all the facts were known, be as
easily explained.

Before closing this Chapter, I must again strongly caution all
inexperienced bee-keepers, against attempting to transfer colonies from
an old hive. I am determined that if any find that they have made a
wanton sacrifice of their bees, they shall not impute their loss to my
directions. If they persist in making the attempt, let them, by all
means, either do it at break of day, before the bees of other hives will
be induced to commence robbing; or better still, let them do it not only
early in the morning, but let them carry the hive on which they intend
to operate, to a very considerable distance from the vicinity of the
other hives, and entirely out of sight of the Apiary. I prefer myself
this last plan, as I then run no risk of attracting other bees to steal
the honey, and acquire mischievous habits.

The bee-keeper is very often reminded by the actions of his bees of some
of the worst traits in poor human nature. When a man begins to sink
under misfortunes, how many are ready not simply to abandon him, but to
pounce upon him like greedy harpies, dragging, if they can, the very bed
from under his wife and helpless children, and appropriating all which
by any kind of maneuvering, they can possibly transfer to their already
overgrown coffers! With much the same spirit, more pardonable to be sure
in an insect, the bees from other hives, will gather round the one which
is being broken up, and while the disconsolate owners are lamenting over
their ruined prospects, will, with all imaginable rapacity and glee,
bear off every drop which they can possibly seize.


[25] Instead of using sticks, I much prefer to make the drumming with
the open palms of my hands.



Bees are exceedingly prone to rob each other, and unless suitable
precautions are used to prevent it, the Apiarian will often have cause
to mourn over the ruin of some of his most promising stocks. The moment
a departure is made from the old-fashioned mode of managing bees, the
liability to such misfortunes is increased, unless all operations are
performed by careful and well informed persons.

Before describing the precautions which I successfully employ, to guard
my colonies from robbing each other, or from being robbed by bees from a
strange Apiary, I shall first explain under what circumstances they are
ordinarily disposed to plunder each other. Idleness is with bees, as
well as with men, a most fruitful mother of mischief. Hence, it is
almost always when they are doing nothing in the fields, that they are
tempted to increase their stores by dishonest courses. Bees are,
however, much more excusable than the lazy rogues of the human family;
for the _bees_ are idle, not because they are indisposed to work, but
because they can find nothing to do. Unless there is some gross
mismanagement, on the part of their owner, they seldom attempt to live
upon stolen sweets, when they have ample opportunity to reap the
abundant harvests of honest industry. In this chapter, I shall be
obliged, however much against my will, to acknowledge that some
branches of morals in my little friends, need very close watching, and
that they too often make the lowest sort of distinction, between "mine
and thine." Still I feel bound to show that when thus overcome by
temptation, it is almost always, under circumstances in which their
careless owner is by far the most to blame.

In the Spring, as soon as the bees are able to fly abroad, "innatus
urget amor habendi," as Virgil has expressed it; that is, they begin to
feel the force of an innate love of honey-getting. They can find nothing
in the fields, and they begin at once, to see if they cannot appropriate
the spoils of some weaker hive. They are often impelled to this, by the
pressure of immediate want, or the salutary dread of approaching famine:
but truth obliges me to confess that not unfrequently some of the
strongest stocks, which have more than they would be able to consume,
even if they gathered nothing more for a whole year, are the most
anxious to prey upon the meager possessions of some feeble colony. Just
like some rich men who have more money than they can ever use, urged on
by the insatiable love of gain, "oppress the hireling in his wages, the
widow and the fatherless," and spin on all sides, their crafty webs to
entrap their poorer neighbors, who seldom escape from their toils, until
every dollar has been extracted from them, and as far as their worldly
goods are concerned, they resemble the skins and skeletons which line
the nest of some voracious old spider.

When I have seen some powerful hive of the kind just described,
condemned by its owner, in the Fall, to the sulphur pit, or deprived
unexpectedly of its queen, its stores plundered, and its combs eaten up
by the worms, I have often thought of the threatenings which God has
denounced against those who make dishonest gains "their hope, and say
unto the fine gold, Thou art my confidence."

In order to prevent colonies from attempting to rob, I always examine
them in the Spring, to ascertain that they have honey and are in
possession of a fertile queen. If they need food they are supplied with
it, (see Chapter on Feeding,) and if they are feeble or queenless, they
are managed according to the directions previously given. Bees seem to
have an instinctive perception of the weakness of a colony, and like the
bee-moth, they are almost certain to attack such stocks, especially when
they have no queen. Hence I can almost always tell that a colony is
queenless, by seeing robbers constantly attempting to force an entrance
into it.

It requires some knowledge of the habits of bees, to tell from their
motions, whether they are flying about a strange hive with some evil
intent, or whether they belong to the hive before which they are
hovering. A little experience however, will soon enable us to
discriminate between the honest inhabitants of a hive, and the robbers
which so often mingle themselves among the crowd. There is an
unmistakable air of roguery about a thieving bee, which to the observing
Apiarian, proclaims the nature of his calling, just as truly as the
appearance of a pickpocket in a crowd, enables the experienced police
officer to distinguish him from the honest folks, on whom he intends to
exercise his skill.

There is a certain sneaking look about a rogue of a bee, almost
indescribable, and yet perfectly obvious. It does not alight on the
hive, and boldly enter at once like an honest bee which is carrying home
its load. If they could only assume such an appearance of transparent
honesty, they would often be allowed by the unsuspecting door-keepers to
enter unquestioned, to see all the sights within, and to help themselves
to the very fat of the land. But there is a sort of nervous haste, and
guilty agitation in all their movements: they never alight boldly upon
the entrance board, or face the guards which watch the passage to the
hive; they know too well that if caught and overhauled by these trusty
guardians of the hive, their lives would hardly be worth insuring; hence
their anxiety to glide in, without touching one of the sentinels. If
detected, as they have no password to give, (having a strange smell,)
they are very speedily dealt with, according to their just deserts. If
they can only effect a secret entrance, those within take it for granted
that all is right, and seldom subject them to a close examination.

Sometimes bees which have lost their way, are mistaken by the
inexperienced, for robbers; there is however, a most marked distinction
between the conduct of the two. The arrant rogue when caught, attempts
with might and main, to pull away from his executioners, while the poor
bewildered unfortunate shrinks into the smallest compass, like a cowed
dog, and submits to whatever fate his captors may see fit to award him.

The class of dishonest bees which I have been describing, may be termed
the "Jerry Sneaks" of their profession, and after they have followed it
for some time, they lose all disposition for honest pursuits, and assume
a hang-dog sort of look, which is very peculiar. Constantly employed in
creeping into small holes, and daubing themselves with honey, they often
lose all the bright feathers and silky plumes which once so beautifully
adorned their bodies, and assume a smooth and almost black appearance;
just as the hat of the thievish loafer, acquires a "seedy" aspect, and
his garments, a shining and threadbare look. Dzierzon is of opinion that
the black bees which Huber describes, as being so bitterly persecuted by
the rest, are nothing more than these thieving bees. I call them old
convicts, dressed in prison garments, and incurably given up to
dishonest pursuits.

Bees sometimes act the part of highway robbers; some half dozen or more
of them, will waylay and attack a poor humble-bee which is returning
with a sack full of honey to his nest, like an honest trader, jogging
home with a well filled purse. They seize the poor bee, and give him at
once to understand that they must have the earnings of his industry.
They do not slay him. Oh no! they are much too selfish to endanger their
own precious persons; and even if they could kill him, without losing
their weapons, they would still be unable to extract his sweets from the
deep recesses of his honey bag: they therefore begin to bite and teaze
him, after the most approved fashion, all the time singing in his ears,
"not your money," but, "your honey or your life;" until utterly
discouraged, he delivers up his purse, by disgorging his honey from its
capacious receptacle. The graceless creatures cry "hands off," and
release him at once, while they lick up his spoils and carry it off to
their home.

The remark is frequently made that were rogues to spend half as much
time and ingenuity in gaining an honest living, as they do, in seeking
to impose upon their fellow-men, their efforts would often be crowned
with abundant success. Just so of many a dishonest bee. If it only knew
its true interests, it would be safely roving the smiling fields, in
search of honey, instead of longing for a tempting and yet dangerous
taste of forbidden sweets.

Bees sometimes carry on their depredations on a more magnificent scale.
Having ascertained the weakness of some neighboring colony, through the
sly intrusions of those who have entered the hive to spy out all "the
nakedness of the land," they prepare themselves for war, in the shape
of a pitched battle. The well-armed warriors sally out by thousands, to
attack the feeble hive against which they have so unjustly declared a
remorseless warfare. A furious onset is at once made, and the ground in
front of the assaulted hive is soon covered with the dead and dying
bodies of innumerable victims. Sometimes the baffled invaders are
compelled to sound a retreat; too often however, as in human contests,
right proves but a feeble barrier against superior might; the citadel is
stormed, and the work of rapine and pillage forthwith begins. And yet
after all, matters are not nearly so bad, as at first they seem to be.
The conquered bees, perceiving that there is no hope for them in
maintaining the unequal struggle, submit themselves to the pleasure of
the victors; nay more, they aid them in carrying off their own stores,
and are immediately incorporated into the triumphant nation! The poor
mother however, is left behind in her deserted home, some few of her
children which are faithful to the last, remaining with her, to perish
by her side, amid the sad ruins of their once happy home!

If the bee-keeper is unwilling to have his bees so demoralized, that
their value will be seriously diminished, he will be exceedingly careful
to do all that he possibly can to prevent them from robbing each other.
He will see that all queenless colonies are seasonably broken up in the
Spring, and all weak ones strengthened, and confined to a space which
they can warm and defend. If once his bees get a taste of forbidden
sweets, they will seldom stop until they have tested the strength of
every stock, and destroyed all that they possibly can. Even if the
colonies are able to defend themselves, many bees will be lost in these
encounters, and a large waste of time will invariably follow; for bees
whether engaged in attempting to rob, or in battling against the robbery
of others, are, to a very great extent, cut off both from the
disposition and the ability to engage in useful labors. They are like
nations that are impoverished by mutual assaults on each other: or in
which the apprehension of war, exerts a most blighting influence upon
every branch of peaceful industry.

I place very great reliance on the movable blocks which guard the
entrance to my hive, to assist colonies in defending themselves against
robbing bees, as well as the prowling bee-moth. These blocks are
triangular in shape, and enable the Apiarian to enlarge or contract the
entrance to the hive, at pleasure. In the Spring, the entrance is kept
open only about two inches, and if the colony is feeble, not more than
half an inch. If there is any sign of robbers being about, the small
colonies have their entrances closed, so that only a single bee can go
in and out at once. As the bottom-board slants forwards, the entrance is
on an inclined plane, and the bees which defend it, have a very great
advantage over those which attack them; the same in short, that the
inhabitants of a besieged fortress would have in defending a pass-way
similarly constructed. As only one bee can enter at a time, he is sure
to be overhauled, if he attempts ever so slyly to slip in: his
credentials are roughly demanded, and as he can produce none, he is at
once delivered over to the executioners. If an attempt is made to gain
admission by force, then as soon as a bee gets in, he finds hundreds, if
not thousands, standing in battle array, and he meets with a reception
altogether too warm for his comfort. I have sometimes stopped robbing,
even after it had proceeded so far that the assaulted bees had ceased to
offer any successful resistance, by putting my blocks before the
entrance, and permitting only a single bee to enter at once: the
dispirited colony have at once recovered heart, and have battled so
stoutly and successfully, as to beat off their assailants.

When bees are engaged in robbing a hive, they will often continue their
depredations to as late an hour as possible, and not unfrequently some
of them return home so late with their ill-gotten spoils, that they
cannot find the entrance to their own hive. Like the wicked man who
"deviseth mischief on his bed, and setteth himself in a way that is not
good," they are all night long, meditating new violence, and with the
very first peep of light, they sally out to complete their unlawful

Sometimes the Apiarian may be in doubt whether a colony is being robbed
or not, and may mistake the busy numbers that arrive and depart, for the
honest laborers of the hive; but let him look into the matter a little
more closely, and he will soon ascertain the true state of the case: the
bees that enter, instead of being heavily laden, with bodies hanging
down, unwieldy in their flight, and slow in all their movements, are
almost as hungry looking as Pharaoh's lean kine, while those that come
out, show by their burly looks, that like aldermen who have dined at the
expense of the City, they are filled to their utmost capacity.

If the Apiarian wishes to guard his bees against the fatal propensity to
plunder each other, he must be exceedingly careful not to have any combs
filled with honey unnecessarily exposed. An ignorant or careless person
attempting to multiply colonies on my plan, will be almost sure to tempt
his bees to rob each other. If he leaves any of the combs which he
removes, so that strange bees find them, they will, after once getting a
taste of the honey, fly to any hive upon which he begins to operate, and
attempt to appropriate a part of its contents. (See p. 304.) I have
already stated that when they can find an abundance of food in the
fields, bees are seldom inclined to rob; for this reason, with proper
precautions, it is not difficult to perform all the operations which are
necessary on my plan of management, at the proper season, without any
danger of demoralizing the bees. If however, they are attempted when
honey cannot be obtained, they should be performed with extreme caution,
and early in the morning, or late in the evening; or if possible, on a
day when the bees are not flying out from their hives. I have sometimes
seen the most powerful colonies in an Apiary, either robbed and
destroyed, or very greatly reduced in numbers, by the gross carelessness
or ignorance of their owner. He neglects to examine his hives at the
proper season, and the bees begin to rob a weak or queenless stock: as
soon as they are at the very height of their nefarious operations, he
attempts to interfere with their proceedings, either by shutting up the
hive, or by moving it to a new place. The air is now filled with greedy
and disappointed bees, and rather than fail in obtaining the expected
treasures, they assail with almost frantic desperation, some of the
neighboring stocks: in this way, the most powerful colonies are
sometimes utterly ruined, or if they escape, thousands of bees are slain
in defending their treasures, and thousands more of the assailants meet
with the same untimely end.

If the Apiarian perceives that one of his colonies is being robbed, he
should at once contract the entrance, so that only a single bee can get
in at a time; and if the robbers still persist in entering, he must
close it entirely. In a few minutes the outside of the hive will be
black with the greedy cormorants, and they will not abandon it, until
they have explored every crevice, and attempted to force themselves
through even the smallest openings. Before they assail a neighboring
colony, they should be sprinkled with cold water, and then instead of
feeling courage for new crimes, they will be glad to escape, thoroughly
drenched, to their proper homes. Unless the bees that are shut up can,
as in my hives, have an abundance of air, it will be necessary to carry
them at once into a dark and cool place. Early next morning the
condition of the hive should be examined, and the proper remedies if it
is weak or queenless should be applied; or if its condition is past
remedy, it should at once be broken up, and the bees united to another

I have been credibly informed of an exceedingly curious kind of robbing
among bees. Two colonies, both in good condition, seemed determined to
appropriate each other's labors: neither made any resistance to the
entrance of the plundering bees; but each seemed too busily intent upon
its own dishonest gains, to notice[26] that the work of subtraction kept
pace with that of addition. An intelligent Apiarian stated to me this
singular fact as occurring in his own Apiary. This is a very near
approximation to the story of the Kilkenny cats. Alas! that there should
be so much of equally short-sighted policy among human beings;
individuals, communities and nations seeking often to thrive by
attempting to prey upon the labors of others, instead of doing all that
they can, by industry and enterprise, to add to the common stock. I have
never, in my own experience, met with an instance of such silly
pilfering as the one described; but I have occasionally known bees to be
carrying on their labors, while others were stealing more than the
occupants of the hive were gathering, without their being aware of it.


[26] The bees in each colony had probably contracted the same smell, and
could not distinguish friends from foes.



Few things in the practical department of the Apiary, are more important
and yet more shamefully neglected, or grossly mismanaged, than the
feeding of bees. In order to make this subject as clear as possible, I
shall begin with the Spring examination of the hives, and furnish
suitable directions for feeding during the whole season in which it
ought to be attempted. In the movable comb hives, the exact condition of
the bees with regard to stores, may be easily ascertained as soon as the
weather is warm enough to lift out the frames. In the common hives, this
can sometimes be ascertained from the glass sides; but often no reliable
information can be obtained. Even if the weight of the hive is known,
this will be no sure criterion of the quantity of honey it contains. The
comb in old hives, is often very thick, and of course, unusually heavy;
while vast stores of useless bee-bread have frequently been accumulated,
which entirely deceive the Apiarian, who attempts to judge of the
resources of a hive from its weight alone. On my system of bee-culture,
such an injurious surplus of bee-bread, is easily prevented; (See p.

If the bee-keeper ascertains or even suspects, in the Spring, that his
bees have not sufficient food, he must at once supply them with what
they need. Bees, at this season of the year, consume a very large
quantity of honey: they are stimulated to great activity by the
returning warmth, and are therefore compelled to eat much more than when
they were almost dormant among their combs. In addition to this extra
demand, they are now engaged in rearing thousands of young, and all
these require a liberal supply of food. Owing to the inexcusable neglect
of many bee-keepers, thousands of swarms perish annually after the
Spring has opened, and when they might have been saved, with but little
trouble or expense. Such abominable neglect is incomparably more cruel
than the old method of taking up the bees with sulphur; and those who
are guilty of it, are either too ignorant or too careless, to have any
thing to do with the management of bees. What would be thought of a
farmer's skill in his business, who should neglect to provide for the
wants of his cattle, and allow them to drop down lifeless in their
stalls, or in his barn-yard, when the fields, in a few weeks, will be
clothed again with the green mantle of delightful Spring! If any farmer
should do this, when food might easily be purchased, and should then,
while engaged in the work of skinning the skeleton carcasses of his
neglected herd, pretend that he could not afford to furnish, for a few
weeks, the food which would have kept them alive, he would not be a whit
more stupid than the bee-keeper attempting to justify himself on the
score of economy, while engaged in melting down the combs of a hive,
starved to death, after the Spring has fairly opened! Let such a person
blush at the pretence that he could not afford to feed his bees, the few
pounds of sugar or honey, which would have saved their lives, and
enabled them to repay him tenfold for his prudent care.

I always feed my bees a little, even if I know that they have enough and
to spare. There seems to be an intimate connection between the getting
of honey, and the rapid increase of breeding, in a hive; and the taste
of something sweet, however small, to be added to their hoards, exerts a
very stimulating effect upon the bees; a few spoonsfull a day, will be
gratefully received, and will be worth much more to a stock of bees in
the Spring, than at any other time.

By judicious early feeding, a whole Apiary may be not only encouraged to
breed much faster than they otherwise would have done; but they will be
inspired with unusual vigor and enterprise, and will afterwards increase
their stores with unusual rapidity. Great caution must be exercised in
supplying bees at this time with food, both to prevent them from being
tempted to rob each other, or to fill up with honey, the cells which
ought to be supplied with brood. Only a small allowance should be given
to them, and this from time to time, unless they are destitute of
supplies; and as soon as they begin to gather from the fields, the
feeding should be discontinued. Feeding, intended merely to encourage
the bees, and to promote early breeding, may be done in the open air. No
greater mistake can be made than to feed largely at this season of the
year. The bees take, to be sure, all that they can, and stow it up in
their cells, but what is the consequence? The honey which has been fed
to them, fills up their brood combs, and the increase of population is
most seriously interfered with; so that often when stocks which have not
been over-fed, are prepared not only to fill all the store combs in
their main hive, but to take speedy possession of the spare honey boxes,
a colony imprudently fed, is too small in numbers, to gather even as
much as the one which was not fed at all! The inexperienced Apiarian has
thus often made a worse use of his honey than he would have done, if he
had actually thrown it away! while all the time, he is deluding himself
with the vain expectation of reaping some wonderful profits, from what
he considers an improved mode of managing bees.

Such conduct in its results, appears to me very much like the noxious
influences under which too many of the children of the rich are so
fatally reared. With every want gratified, pampered and fed to the very
full, how often do we see them disappoint all the fond expectations of
parents and friends, their money proving only a curse, while not
unfrequently beggared in purse, and bankrupt in character, they
prematurely sink to an ignoble or dishonored grave. Think of it, ye who
are slaving in the service of Mammon, that ye may leave to your sons,
the overgrown wealth which usually proves a legacy of withering curses,
while you neglect to train them up in those habits of stern morality and
steady industry, and noble self-reliance, without which the wealth of
Croesus would be but a despicable portion! Think of it, as you
contrast its results in the bitter experience of thousands, with the
happier influences under which so many of our noblest men in Church and
State, have been nurtured and developed, and then pursue your sordid
policy, if you can. "There is that withholdeth" from good objects, "more
than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty:" yes, to poverty of Christian
virtue and manliness, and of those "treasures" which we are all
entreated by God himself, to "lay up" in the store-house of Heaven. Call
your narrow-mindedness and gross deficiencies in Christian liberality,
nothing more than a natural love of your children, and an earnest desire
to provide for your own household. Little fear there may be that _you_
will ever incur the charge of being "worse than an infidel" on this
point; but lay not on this account, any flattering unction to your
souls; look within, and see if the base idolatry of gold has not more to
do with your whole course of thinking and acting, than any love of wife
or children, relatives or friends!

Another _sermon_! does some one exclaim? Would then that it might be to
some of my readers a sermon indeed; "a word fitly spoken," "like apples
of gold in pictures of silver."

The prudent Apiarian will always regard the feeding of bees, except the
little, given to them by way of encouragement, as an evil to be
submitted to, only when absolutely necessary; and will very much prefer
to obtain his supplies from what Shakspeare has so beautifully termed
the "merry pillage" of the blooming fields, than from the more costly
stores of the neighboring grocery. If not engaged in the rapid increase
of stocks, he will seldom see a season so unfavorable as to be obliged
to purchase any food for his bees, unless he chooses to buy a cheaper
article, to replace the choice honey of which he has deprived them. Just
as soon as the Apiarian begins to multiply his stocks with very great
rapidity, he must calculate upon feeding great quantities of honey to
his bees. Before he attempts this on a large scale, let me once more
give him a friendly caution, and if possible, persuade him to try very
rapid multiplication with only a few of his stocks. In this way, he may
experiment to his heart's content, without running the risk of seriously
injuring his whole Apiary, and he may not only gain the skill and
experience which will enable him subsequently to conduct a rapid
increase, on a large scale, but may learn whether he is so situated that
he can profitably devote to it the time and money which it will
inevitably require.

Before giving directions for feeding bees when a rapid increase of
colonies is aimed at, I shall first show in what manner the bee-keeper
may feed his weak swarms in the Spring. If they are in the common hives,
a small quantity of liquid honey may, at once be poured among the combs
in which the bees are clustered: this may be done by pouring it into the
holes leading to the spare honey boxes, but a much better way is to
invert the hives, and pour in about a tea-cup full at once. The Apiarian
can then see just where to pour it; he need not fear that the bees will
be hurt by it; any more than a child will be either hurt or displeased
by the sweets which adhere to its hands and face, as it feasts upon a
generous allowance of the best sugar candy! When the bees have taken up
all that has been poured upon them, the hive may be replaced, and the
operation repeated in a few days: the oftener it is done, the better it
will suit them. If the weather is sufficiently warm to allow the bees to
fly without being chilled, the food may be put in some old combs, or in
a feeder, and set in a sunny place, a rod or more from their hives. If
placed too near, the bees may be tempted to rob each other. With my
hives, I can pour the honey into some empty comb, and then put the frame
containing it, directly into the hive; or I can set the feeder or honey
in the comb, in the hive near the frames which contain the bees. I have
already stated, (see p. 225,) that unless a colony can be supplied with
a sufficient number of bees, it cannot be aided by giving it food. If
the bees are not numerous enough to take charge of the eggs which the
queen can lay, or at least, of a large number of them, they can seldom,
unless they have a tropical season before them, increase rapidly enough
to be of any value. If they are numerous enough to raise a great many
young bees, but too few to build new comb, they must be fed very
moderately, or they will be sure to fill up their brood comb with honey,
instead of devoting themselves to the rapid increase of their numbers.
If the Apiarian has plenty of empty worker comb which he can give them,
he ought to supply them quite sparingly with honey, even when they are
considerably numerous, in order to have them breed as fast as possible;
not so sparingly however, as to prevent them from storing up any honey
in sealed cells; or they will not be encouraged to breed as fast as they
otherwise would. If he has no spare comb, and the hive is populous
enough to build new comb, it must be supplied moderately, and by all
means, _regularly_ with the means of doing this; the object being to
have comb building and breeding go together, so as mutually to aid each
other. If the feeding is not regular, so as to resemble the natural
supplies when honey is obtained from the blossoms, the bees will not use
the food given to them, in building new comb, but chiefly in filling up
all the cells previously built. If honey can be obtained regularly, and
in sufficient quantities from the blossoms, the small colonies or nuclei
will need no feeding until the failure of the natural supplies.

In all these operations, the main object should be to make every thing
bend to the most rapid production of _brood_; give me the bees, and I
can easily show how they may be fed, so as to make strong and prosperous
stocks; whereas if the bees are wanting, every thing else will be in
vain: just as a land where there are many stout hands and courageous
hearts, although comparatively barren, will in due time, be made to "bud
and blossom as the rose," while a second Eden, if inhabited by a scanty
and discouraged population, must speedily be overgrown with briars and

If strong stocks are deprived of a portion of their combs, so that they
cannot from natural sources, at once begin to refill all vacancies, they
too must be fed.

I have probably said enough to show the inexperienced that the rapid
multiplication of colonies is not a very simple matter, and that they
will do well not to attempt it on a large scale. By the time the honey
harvest ordinarily closes, all the colonies in the Apiaries of all
except the skillful, ought to be both strong in numbers and in stores;
at least the _aggregate_ resources of the colonies should be such that
when an equal division is made among them, there will be enough for them
all. This may ordinarily be effected, and yet the number of the colonies
be tripled in one season; and in situations where buckwheat is
extensively cultivated, a considerable quantity of surplus honey may
even then be frequently obtained from the bees. Early in the month of
September, or better still, by the middle of August, if the colonies are
sufficiently strong in numbers, I advise that if feeding is necessary to
winter the bees, it should be thoroughly attended to. If delayed later
than this, in the latitude of our Northern States, the bees may not have
sufficient time to seal over the honey fed to them, and will be almost
sure to suffer from dysentery, during the ensuing Winter. Unsealed
honey, almost always, in cool weather, attracts moisture, and sours in
the combs, and if the bees are compelled to feed upon it, they are very
liable to become diseased. This is the reason why bees when fed with
liquid honey, late in the Fall, or during the Winter, are almost sure to
suffer from disease. A very interesting fact confirming these views as
to the danger resulting from the use of sour food, has come under my
notice this Spring. A colony of bees were fed for some time with
suitable food, and appeared to be in perfect health, flying in and out
with great animation. Their owner, on one occasion, before leaving for
the day, gave them some molasses which was so _sour_, that it could not
be used in the family. On returning, at evening, he was informed that
the bees had been dropping their filth over every thing in the vicinity
of the hive. On examining them, next day, they were all found dead on
the bottom-board and among the combs! The acid food had acted upon them
as a violent cathartic, and had brought on a complaint of which they
all died in less than 24 hours: the hive was found to contain an ample
allowance of honey and bee-bread.

If the Apiarian, on examining the condition of his stocks, finds that
some have more than they need, and others not enough, his most prudent
course will be to make an equitable division of the honey, among his
different stocks. This may seem to be a very Agrarian sort of procedure,
and yet it will answer perfectly well in the management of bees. Those
that were helped, will not spend the next season in idleness, relying
upon the same sort of aid; nor will those that were relieved of their
surplus stores, remember the deprivation, and limit the extent of their
gatherings to a bare competency. With men, most unquestionably, such an
annual division, unless they were perfect, would derange the whole
course of affairs, and speedily impoverish any community in which it
might be attempted. I always prefer to take away a considerable quantity
of honey from my stocks, which have too generous a supply, and to
replace it with empty combs suitable for the rearing of workers; as I
find that when bees have too much honey in the Fall, they do not
ordinarily breed as fast in the ensuing Spring, as they otherwise would.
A portion of this honey should be carefully put away in the frames, and
kept in a close box, safe against all intruders, and where it will not
be exposed to frost; so that if any colonies in the Spring, are found to
be in want of food, they may easily be supplied.

In the Spring examination, if any colonies have too much honey, a
portion of it ought by all means to be taken away. Such a deprivation,
if judiciously performed, will always stimulate them to increased
activity. Every strong stock, as soon as it can gather enough honey to
construct comb, ought to have one or two combs which contain no brood
removed, and their places supplied with empty frames, in order that they
may be induced to exert themselves to the utmost. An empty frame
inserted between full ones, will be replenished with comb very speedily,
and often the combs removed will be so much clear gain. If at any time
there is a sudden supply of honey, and the bees are reluctant to enter
the boxes, or it is not probable that the supply will continue long
enough to enable them to fill them, the removal of some of the combs
from the main hive so as to have empty ones filled, will often be highly

If in the Fall of the year, the bee-keeper finds that some of his
colonies need feeding, and if they are not populous enough to make good
stock hives in the ensuing Spring, then instead of wasting time and
money on them, he should at once, break them up; (See p. 322.) They will
seldom pay for the labor bestowed on them, and the bees will be much
more serviceable, if added to other stocks. The Apiarian cannot be too
deeply impressed with the important truth, that his profits in
bee-keeping will all come from his _strong_ stocks, and that if he
cannot manage so as to have such colonies early, he had better let
bee-keeping alone.

If liquid honey is fed to bees, it should always, (see p. 322,) be given
to them seasonably, so that they may seal it over before the approach of
cold weather. West India honey has for many years, been used to very
good advantage, as a bee-feed. It should never be used in its raw state,
as it is often filled with impurities, and is very liable to sour or
candy in the cells, but should be mixed with about two parts of good
white sugar, to three of honey and one of water, and brought to the
boiling point; as soon as it begins to boil, it should be set to cool,
and all the impurities will rise to the top, and may be skimmed off. If
it is found to be too thick, a little more water may be added to it; it
ought however, never to be made thinner than the natural consistence of
good honey. Such a mixture will cost for a small quantity, about seven
cents a pound, and will probably be found the cheapest liquid food,
which can be given to bees. Brown sugar may be used with the honey, but
the food will not be so good.

If one of my hives is used, the bee-keeper may feed his bees at the
proper season, without using any feeder at all, or rather he may use the
_bottom-board_ of the hive as a feeder. On this plan, the bees should be
fed at evening; so as to run no risk of their robbing each other. The
hive which is to be fed, should have the front edge of its bottom-board
elevated on a block, so as to slant _backwards_, and the honey should be
poured into a small tin gutter inserted at the entrance; one such will
answer for a whole Apiary, and may be made by bending up the edges of
any old piece of tin. As the frames in my hive are kept about half an
inch above the bottom-board, which is water-tight, the honey runs under
them, and is as safe as in a dish, while the bees stand on the bottom of
the frames, and help themselves. The quantity poured in, should of
course, depend upon the size and necessities of the colony; no more
ought to be given at one time than the bees can take up during the
night, and the entrance to the hive ought always to be kept very small
during the process of feeding, to prevent robber bees from getting in; a
good colony will easily take up a quart. It is desirable to get through
the feeding as rapidly as possible, as the bees are excited during the
whole process, and consume more than they otherwise would; to say
nothing of the demand made upon the time of the Apiarian, by feeding in
small quantities. If the bees cannot, in favorable weather, dispose of
at least a pint at one time, the colony must be too small to make it
worth while to feed them, if they are in hives by which they can be
readily united to stronger stocks.

If the bees have not a good allowance of comb, it will not, as a general
rule, pay to feed them. This will be obvious to any one who reflects
that at least 20 pounds of honey are required to elaborate one pound of
wax. I know that this estimate may to some, appear enormous; but it is
given as the result of very accurate experiments, instituted on a large
scale, to determine this very point. The Country Curate says, "Having
driven the population of four stocks, on the 5th of August, and united
them together, I fed them with about 50 pounds of a mixture of sugar,
honey, salt and beer, for about five weeks. At that time, the box was
only 16 pounds heavier than when the bees were put into it." He then
makes an estimate that at least 25 pounds of the mixture were consumed
in making about half a pound of wax!! No one who has ever tried it, will
undertake to feed bees for profit, when they are destitute of both comb
and honey.

If the weather is cool when bees are fed, it will generally be necessary
to resort to top feeding. For this, my hive is admirably adapted: a
feeder may be put over one of the holes in the honey-board directly over
the mass of the bees, into which the heat of the hive naturally arises,
and where the bees can get at their food without any risk of being
chilled. This is _always_ the best place for a feeder, as the smell of
the food is not so likely to attract the notice of robbing bees.

I shall here describe the way in which a feeder can at small expense, be
made to answer admirably every purpose. Take any wooden box which will
hold, say, at least one quart; make it honey-tight, by pouring into the
joints the melted mixture, (see p. 99,) and brush the whole interior
with the mixture, so that the honey may not soak into the wood. Make a
float of thin wood, filled with quarter inch holes, with clamps nailed
on the lower sides to prevent warping, and to keep the float from
settling to the bottom of the box, so as to stick fast: it should have
ample play, so that it may settle, as fast as the bees consume the
honey. Tacks on the clamps will always be sure to prevent sticking.
Before you waste any time in making small holes, for fear the bees will
be drowned in the large ones, try a float made as directed. In one
corner of the box, fasten with the melted mixture, a thin strip of wood,
about one inch wide; let it project above the top of the box about an
inch, and be kept about half an inch from the bottom; this answers as a
spout for pouring the honey into the feeder, and when not in use, it
should be stopped up. Have for the lid of the box, a piece of glass with
the corner cut off next the spout, so as to cover the feeder and keep
the bees in, and at the same time allow the bee-keeper to see when they
have consumed all their food. The feeder is now complete, with one
important exception; it has, as yet no way of admitting the bees. On the
outside corners of one of the ends, glue or tack two strips, inch and a
half wide, extending down to the bottom of the box, and half an inch
from the top; fasten over them a piece of thin board, (paste-board will
answer.) You have now a shallow passage without top or bottom, outside
of your feeder; give it a top of any kind; cut out just below the level
of this top, a passage into the feeder for the bees. It is now complete,
and when properly placed over any hole on the top of the hive, will
admit the bees from the hive, into the shallow passage which has no
bottom, and through this into the feeder. Such a feeder will not only be
cheap, but it might almost be made by a child, and yet it will answer
every purpose most admirably. If you have no wooden box that will
answer, a feeder may be made of pasteboard, and if brushed with the
melted mixture it will be honey-tight. By packing cotton or wool around
it, it might be used in most hives, even in the dead of Winter. Bees
however, ought never to need feeding in Winter, and if they do, it will
always be unsafe at this season to feed them with liquid honey.

I ought here to speak of the importance of _water_ to the bees. It is
absolutely indispensable when they are building comb, or raising brood.
In the early Spring, they take advantage of the first warm weather, to
bring it to their hives, and they may be seen busily drinking around
pumps, drains, and other moist places. As they are not noticed
frequenting such spots much, except in the early part of the season,
many suppose that they need water only at this period. This is a great
mistake, for they need it, and must have it, during the whole breeding
season. But as soon as the grass starts, and the trees are covered with
leaves, they prefer to sip the dew from them. If a few cold days come
on, after the bees have commenced breeding, so as to prevent them from
going abroad for water, a very serious check will be given to their
operations. Even when it is not so cold as to prevent their leaving the
hive, many become so chilled in their search for water, that they are
not able to return.

Every wise bee-keeper will see that his bees have an abundant supply of
water. If he has not some warm and sunny spot where they can safely
obtain it, he will furnish them with shallow wooden troughs or vessels
filled with pebbles, from which they can drink, without any risk of
drowning, and where they will be sheltered from cold winds, and warmed
by the genial rays of the sun. I believe that the reason why bees very
much prefer the impure water of barn-yards and drains, is not because
they find any medicinal quality in it, but because as it is _near_ their
hives and _warm_, they can fill themselves without being fatally

I have used water feeders of the same construction with my honey
feeders, with great success. The bees are able to enter them at all
times, as they are filled with the warm air of the hive, and thus
breeding goes on, without interruption, and the lives of many bees are

The same end may be obtained, by pouring daily, a few table spoonsfull
of water into the hive, through one of the holes leading to the spare
honey boxes. As soon as the weather becomes warm, and the bees can
supply themselves from the dew on the grass and leaves, it will not be
worth while to give them water in their hives.

When supplied with water in their hives, I advise that enough honey or
sugar be added to it, to make it tolerably sweet. They will take it with
greater relish, and it will stimulate them more powerfully to the
raising of brood.

I come now to mention a substitute for liquid honey, the value of which
has been extensively and thoroughly tested in Germany, and which I have
used with great advantage. It was not discovered by Dzierzon, although
he speaks of its excellence, in the most decided terms. The article to
which I refer, is _plain sugar candy_, or as it is often called, barley
candy. It has been ascertained that about four pounds of this, will
sustain a colony during the Winter, when they have scarcely any honey in
their hive! If it is placed where they can get access to it without
being chilled, they will cluster upon it, and gradually eat it up. It
not only goes further than double the quantity of liquid honey which
could be bought for the same money, but is found to agree with the bees
perfectly; while the liquid honey is almost sure to sour in the unsealed
cells, and expose them to dangerous, and often fatal attacks of
dysentery. I have sometimes, in the old-fashioned box hives, pushed
sticks of candy between the ranges of comb, and have found it even then
to answer a good purpose. In any hive which has surplus honey boxes, the
candy may be put into a small box, which after being covered thoroughly
with cotton or wool, may have another box put over it, the outside of
which may be also covered. Unless great precautions are used, the boxes
will be so cold, that the bees will not be able to enter them in Winter,
and may thus perish in close proximity to abundant stores.

In my hives, the candy may be laid on the top of the frames, in the
shallow chamber between the frames and the honey-board; it will here, if
the honey-board is covered with straw, be always accessible to the bees,
even in the coldest weather. I sometimes put it directly into a frame,
and confine it with a piece of twine, or fine wire.

I have made a very convenient use of sugar candy, as a bee-feed in the
Summer, when I wished to give small colonies a little food, and yet not
to be at the trouble to use a feeder, or incur the risk of their being
robbed by putting it where strange bees might be attracted by the scent.
A small stick of candy, slid in on the bottom-board, under the frames,
answers admirably for such a purpose. If a little liquid food must be
used in warm weather, I advise that it be the best white sugar,
dissolved in water; this makes an admirable food; costs but little more
than brown sugar, and has no smell to tempt robbers to try to gain an
entrance into the hive.

If the Apiarian is skillful, and attends to his bees, at the proper
time, they will rarely need much feeding; if he manages them in such a
manner that this is frequently and extensively needed, I can assure him,
if he has not already found it out to his sorrow, that his bees will be
nothing but a bill of cost and vexation.

The question how much honey a colony of bees needs, in order to carry
them safely through the perils of Winter, is one to which it is
impossible to give an answer which will be definite, under all
circumstances. Very much will depend upon the hive in which they are
kept, and the forwardness of the ensuing Spring; (see Chapter on
Protection.) It is often absolutely impossible in the common hives, to
form any reliable estimate, as to the quantity of honey which they
contain, for the combs are often so heavy with bee-bread, as entirely to
deceive even the most experienced bee-keeper.

I should always wish to leave at least 20 lbs. of honey in a hive; and
as I can examine each comb, I am never at a loss to know how much a
colony has. If I have the least apprehension that their supplies may
fail, I prefer to put a few pounds of sugar candy where they can easily
get access to it, in case of need. In my hive, the careful bee-keeper
may not only know the exact extent of the resources of each hive, in the
Fall, but he may, very early in the Spring, ascertain precisely how much
honey is still on hand, and whether his bees need feeding, in order to
preserve their lives. It is a shameful fact that a large number of
colonies perish after they have begun to fly out, and when, they might
easily have been saved, in any kind of hive.


For many years, Apiarians have attempted to make the feeding of bees on
a large scale, profitable to their owners. All such attempts however,
must, from the very nature of the case, meet with very limited success.
If large quantities of cheap West India honey are fed to the bees in the
Fall, they are induced to fill their hives to such an extent, that in
the Spring, the queen does not find the necessary accommodations for
breeding. If they are largely fed in the Spring, the case is still
worse; (See p. 320.) It must therefore be obvious that the feeding of
cheap honey can only be made profitable where it serves as a substitute
for an equal quantity of choice honey taken from the bees. In the latter
part of Summer, the Apiarian may take away from the main hive, some of
the combs which contain the best honey, and replace them with combs into
which he has poured the cheaper article; or if he has no spare combs on
hand, he may slice off the covers of the cells, drain out the honey,
fill the empty combs with West India honey, and return them to the bees:
giving them at the same time, the additional food which they need to
elaborate wax to seal them over. If he attempts to take away their full
combs, and gives them honey in order to enable them, first to replace
their combs, and then to fill them, the operation, (see p. 326,) will
result in a loss, instead of a gain.

I am aware that for a number of years, persons have attempted to derive
a profit from supplying the markets of some of our large cities, with an
article professing to be the best of honey, but which has been nothing
more than the cheap West India honey fed to the bees, and stored up by
them in new comb. In the City of Philadelphia, large quantities of such
honey have been sold at the highest prices, and _perhaps_ at some profit
to the persons who have fed it to their bees. Within the last two years,
however, the article has become so well known that it can hardly be sold
at any price; as those who purchase honey, instead of paying 25 cents
per pound for West India honey in the comb, much prefer to buy it, (if
they want it at all,) for 6 or 7 cents, in a liquid state! It must be
perfectly obvious that to sell a cheap and ill-flavored article at a
high price, under the pretence that it is a superior article, is nothing
less than downright cheating.

I am perfectly well aware that many persons imagine that if any thing
_sweet_ is fed to bees, they will quickly transmute it into the purest
nectar. There is, however, no more truth in such a conceit, than there
would be in that of a man who supposed that he had found the veritable
philosopher's stone; and that he was able to change all our copper and
silver coins into the purest gold! Bees to be sure, can make white and
beautiful _comb_, from almost any kind of sweet; and why? because wax is
a natural secretion of the bee, (see p. 76,) and can be made from any
sweet; just as fat can be put upon the ribs of an ox, by any kind of
nourishing food.

"But," some of my readers may ask, "do you mean to assert that bees do
not secrete honey out of the raw material which they gather, or which is
furnished to them, just as cows secrete milk from grass and hay?" I
certainly do mean to assert that they can do nothing of the kind, and no
intelligent man who has carefully _studied their habits_, will for a
moment, venture to affirm that they can, unless for the sake of "filthy
lucre," he is attempting to deceive an unwary community. What bee-keeper
does not know, or rather ought not to know that the quality of honey
depends entirely upon the sources from whence it is gathered; and that
the different kinds of honey can easily be distinguished by any one who
is a judge of the article.

Apple-blossom honey, white clover honey, buckwheat honey, and all the
different kinds of honey, each has its own peculiar flavor, and it is
utterly amazing how any sensible man, acquainted with bees, can be so
deluded as to imagine any thing to the contrary. But as this is a matter
of great practical importance, let us examine it more closely.

When bees are engaged in rapidly storing up honey in their combs, they
may be seen, as _soon_ as they return from the fields, or from the
feeding boxes, putting their heads at once into the cells, and
disgorging the contents of their "honey-bags." Now that the contents of
their sacs undergo no change at all, during the short time that they
remain in them, I will not absolutely affirm, because I have endeavored,
through this whole treatise, never to assert positively when I had not
positive evidence for so doing: but that they can undergo but a _very
slight_ change, must be evident from the fact that when thus stored up,
the different kinds of honey or sugar can be almost if not quite as
readily distinguished as before they were fed to the bees. The only
perceptible change which they appear to undergo in the cells, is to have
the large quantity of water evaporated from them, which is added from
thoughtlessness, or from the vain expectation that it will be just so
much water sold for honey, to the defrauded purchaser! This evaporation
of the water from the honey by the heat of the hive, is about the only
marked change that it appears to undergo, from its natural state in the
nectaries of the blossoms; and it is exceedingly interesting to see how
unwilling bees are to seal up honey, until it is reduced to such a
consistency that there is no danger of its souring in the cells. They
are as careful as to the quality of their nectar, as the good lady of
the house is, to have the syrup of her preserves boiled down to a
suitable thickness to keep them sweet.

Let all who for any purpose whatever, feed bees, keep this fact in mind,
and never add to the food which they give them, more water than is
absolutely necessary. To do so, is a piece of as great stupidity as to
pour a barrel of water into the sugar pans, for every barrel of sap from
the maples, or juice from the canes! If a strong colony is set upon a
platform scale, it will be found on a pleasant day, during the height of
the honey harvest, to gain a number of pounds; if examined again, early
next morning, it will be found to have lost considerably, during the
night. This is owing to the evaporation of the water from the freshly
gathered honey, and it may often be seen running down in quite a stream
from the bottom-board.

Those who feed cheap honey to sell it in the market at a high advance
over its first cost, are either deceivers or deceived; if any of my
readers have been deceived by the plausible representations of ignorant
or unprincipled men, I trust they will be able from these remarks, to
see exactly _how_ they have been deceived, and they will no longer
persist in an adulteration, the profits of which can never be great, and
the morality of which can never be defended. A man who offers for sale,
inferior honey, or sugar which he calls honey, and which he is able to
sell because it is stored in white comb, to those who would never
purchase it if they knew what it was, or once had a taste of it, is not
a whit more honest, if he understands the nature of the article in which
he deals, than a person engaged in counterfeiting the current coin of
the realm: for poor honey in white comb, is no less a fraud than eagles
or dollars, golden to be sure, on their honest exteriors, but containing
a baser metal within! "The Golden Age" of bee-keeping, in which inferior
honey can be quickly transmuted into such balmy spoils as are gathered
by the bees of Hybla, has not yet dawned upon us; or at least only in
the fairy visions of the poet who saw

    "A golden hive, on a Golden Bank,
    Where golden bees, by alchemical prank,
    Gathered Gold instead of Honey."

If a pound of West India honey costs about 6 cents, and the bees use, as
they will, about one pound to make the comb in which it is stored, it
costs the producer at least 12 cents a pound, and if to this, he adds,
say 5 cents more, for extra time and labor in feeding, then his inferior
honey costs him at least as much as the market price of the very best
honey on the spot where it is produced! If the bee-keeper allows his
bees to make what they will, from the blossoms, and then begins to feed,
after he has harvested the produce from the natural supplies, the
advance over the first cost will hardly pay for the trouble, even if it
were fair to palm off such inferior honey as a first-rate article. If,
however, bees are fed on this food very largely in the latter part of
Summer, they will fill up their hive with it, before they put it into
the spare honey boxes, and the production of brood will often be most
seriously interfered with, at a season of the year when it is important
to have the hives well stocked with bees, that they may winter to the
best advantage.

If Apiarians are anxious to have large quantities of choice honey, let
them manage their bees so as to have powerful stocks in the early
Spring, and they will then be able to have heavy purses and light
consciences into the bargain. I shall now show how liquid honey,
exceedingly beautiful to the eye, and tempting to the taste, may be made
to great advantage.

Dissolve two pounds of the purest white sugar, in as much hot water as
will be just necessary to reduce it to a syrup; take one pound of the
nicest white clover honey, (any other light colored honey of good flavor
will answer,) and after warming it, add it to the sugar syrup, and stir
the contents. When cool, this compound will be pronounced, even by the
best judges of honey, to be one of the most luscious articles which they
ever tasted; and will be, by almost every one, preferred to the unmixed
honey. Refined loaf sugar is a perfectly pure and inodorous sweet, and
one pound of honey will communicate the honey flavor, in high
perfection, to twice that quantity of sugar: while the new article will
be destitute of that smarting taste which honey alone, so often has, and
will be often found to agree perfectly with those who cannot eat the
clear honey with impunity. If those engaged in the artificial
manufacture of honey, never brought any thing worse than this, to the
market, the purchasers would have no reason to complain. As however, the
compound can be furnished much cheaper than the pure honey, many may
prefer to purchase the materials, and mix them themselves. If desired,
any kind of flavor may be given to the manufactured article; thus it may
be made to resemble in fragrance, the classic honey of Mount Hymettus,
by adding to it the fine aroma of the lemon balm, or wild thyme; or it
may have the flavor of the orange groves, or the delicate fragrance of
beds of roses washed with dew.

I have recently ascertained that if two pounds of the best refined sugar
be added to one of common maple sugar, the compound will be a light
colored article, retaining perfectly the maple taste, and yet far
superior to the common maple sugar. After making this discovery, I
learned that a large part of the very nicest maple sugar is made in this

Attempts have been made to feed to bees, to be stored in the honey
boxes, a mixture of the whitest honey and loaf sugar; but the result
shows a loss rather than a gain. The mixture, before it is fed, will
cost about 10 cents per pound. At the very furthest, not more than one
half of what is fed, can be secured in the comb, for it requires about
one pound of honey, to manufacture comb enough to hold a pound of honey.
The actual cost of the honey in the comb, will therefore be, at least 20
cents per pound; and the pure white clover honey can be bought for less
than that. Those who desire to have something exceedingly beautiful to
the eye, and delicate to the taste, at a season when the bees are not
storing up honey from the blossoms, and in situations where the natural
supply is of an inferior quality, if they do not regard expense, can
place upon their tables, something which will be pronounced by the best
judges, a little superior to any thing they ever tasted before.

I have repeatedly spoken of the great care which is necessary to prevent
bees from getting a taste of forbidden sweets, so as to be tempted to
engage in dishonest courses. The experienced Apiarian will fully
appreciate the necessity of these cautions, and the inexperienced, if
they neglect them, will be taught a lesson that they will not soon
forget. Let it be remembered that the bee was intended to gather its
sweets from the nectaries of flowers: to use the exquisitely beautiful
language of him whose wonderful writings supply us on almost every
subject, with the richest thoughts and happiest illustrations, they were
created to

    "Make boot upon the Summer's velvet buds,
    Which pillage they with merry march bring home
    To the tent royal of their emperor:
    Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
    The singing masons, building roofs of gold."--_Shakspeare._

When thus engaged, the bees work in perfect accordance with their
natural instincts, and seem to have little or no disposition to meddle
with property that does not belong to them. If however, their incautious
owner tempts them with liquid food, especially at times when they can
obtain nothing from the blossoms, they seem to be so infatuated with
such easy gatherings, as to lose all discretion, and they will perish by
thousands, if the vessels which contain the food are not furnished with
floats, on which they can stand and help themselves in safety.

The fly was intended to feed, not upon the blossoms, but upon food in
which, without care, it could easily be drowned; and hence it alights
most cautiously, on the edge of any vessel containing liquid food, and
warily helps itself: while the poor bee, without any caution, plunges
right in and speedily perishes. The sad fate of their unfortunate
companions, does not in the least, deter others who approach the
tempting lure: but they madly alight on the bodies of the dying and the
dead, to share the same miserable end! No one can understand the full
extent of their infatuation, until after seeing a confectioner's shop,
assailed by thousands and tens of thousands of hungry bees. I have seen
thousands strained out from the syrups in which they had perished;
thousands more alighting even upon the boiling sweets; the floors
covered, and windows darkened with bees, some crawling, others flying,
and others still, so completely daubed as to be able neither to crawl
nor fly; not one bee in ten able to carry home its ill-gotten spoils,
and yet the air filled with new hosts of thoughtless comers.

It will be for the interest of all engaged in the manufacture of candy
and syrups, to fit gauze wire windows and doors to their premises, and
thus save themselves from constant loss and annoyance: for if only one
bee in a hundred escapes with his load, the confectioner will be
subjected in the course of the season to serious loss. I once furnished
such an establishment, after the bees had commenced their depredations,
with such protection; and when they found themselves excluded, they lit
on the wire by thousands, and fairly squealed with vexation and
disappointment, as they tried to force a passage through the meshes. At
last as they were daring enough to descend the chimney, reeking with
sweet odors, even although the most who attempted it, fell with scorched
wings into the fire, it became necessary to put wire gauze over the top
of the chimney also!

How often, as I have seen thousands of bees, in such places destroyed,
and thousands more deprived of all ability to fly, and hopelessly
struggling in the deluding sweets, and yet thousands more blindly
hovering over them, all unmindful of their danger, and apparently eager
to share the same destruction, how often has the spectacle of their
infatuation seemed to me, to be an exact picture of the woful delusion
of those who surrender themselves to the fatal influences of the
intoxicating cup. Even although they see the miserable victims of this
degrading vice, falling all around them, into premature and dishonored
graves, they still press on, madly trampling as it were, over their dead
and dying bodies, that they too may sink into the same abyss of agonies,
and that their sun may also go down in darkness and hopeless gloom. Even
although they know that the next cup may send them, with all their sins
upon their heads, to the dread tribunal of their God, that cup of bitter
sorrows and untold degradation, they will drain even to its most
loathsome dregs.

The avaricious bee that despised the slow process of extracting nectar
from "every opening flower," and plunged recklessly into the tempting
sweets, has ample time to bewail its folly. Even if it has not paid the
forfeit of its life, but has been able to obtain its fill, it returns
home with all its beautiful plumage sullied and besmeared, and with a
woe-begone look, and sorrowful note, in marked contrast with the bright
hues and merry sounds with which the industrious bee returns from its
happy rovings amid "the budding honey flowers, and sweetly breathing

Just so, has many a pilgrim from the golden shores of California and
Australia, returned; enfeebled in body and mind, bankrupt often in
character and happiness, if not in purse, and unfitted in every way, for
the calm and sober pursuits of common industry; while thousands, yes,
and tens of thousands too, shall never more behold their once happy
homes. Bibles and Sabbaths, altars and firesides, parents and friends,
wife and children, how often have all these been wantonly abandoned, in
the accursed greed for gain, by those who might have been happy and
prosperous at home, and who wandered from its sacred precincts only
because they were determined to make the possession of wealth, the chief
object of life, but whose bones now lie amid the coral reefs of the
ocean, or moulder in the howling wastes of the "overland passage;" just
as the bones of the unbelieving Israelites whitened the sands of the
desert. Of those who have reached the "land of" golden "promise," how
many have died in despair, or worse still, are living so besotted by
vice, so lost to all power of virtuous resolutions, that they shall
never more see the happy homes from which they so thoughtlessly
wandered, never more hear the soft accents of loving friends; never more
worship God, in a peaceful Sanctuary, or ever again behold an opened

    "Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
    Bright and yellow, hard and cold,
    Molten, graven, hammer'd, and roll'd;
    Heavy to get, and light to hold;
    Hoarded, barter'd, bought, and sold,
    Stolen, borrow'd, squander'd, doled:
    Spurn'd by the young, but hugg'd by the old
    To the very verge of the churchyard mould;
    Price of many a crime untold;
    Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
    Good or bad a thousand-fold!
      How widely its agencies vary--
    To save--to ruin--to curse--to bless--
    As even its minted coins express,
    Now stamp'd with the image of Good Queen Bess,
      And now of a Bloody Mary!"



In the chapter on Feeding, it has already been stated that honey is not
a natural secretion of the bee, but a substance obtained from the
nectaries of the blossoms; it is not therefore, made, but merely
gathered by the bees. The truth is well expressed in the lines so
familiar to most of us from our childhood,

    "How doth the little busy bee
      Improve each shining hour,
    And _gather_ honey all the day
      From every opening flower."

Bees not only gather honey from the blossoms, but often obtain it in
large quantities from what have been called honey dews; "a term applied
to those sweet, clammy drops that glitter on the foliage of many trees
in hot weather." Two different opinions have been zealously advocated as
to the origin of honey-dews. By some, they are considered a natural
exudation from the leaves of trees, a perspiration as it were,
occasioned often by ill health, though sometimes a provision to enable
the plants to resist the fervent heats to which they are exposed. Others
insist that this sweet substance is discharged from the bodies of those
aphides or small lice which infest the leaves of so many plants.
Unquestionably they are produced in both ways.

Messrs. Kirby and Spence, in their interesting work on Entomology, have
given a description of the kind of honey-dew furnished by the aphides.

"The loves of the ants and the aphides have long been celebrated; and
that there is a connection between them, you may, at any time in the
proper season, convince yourself; for you will always find the former
very busy on those trees and plants on which the latter abound; and if
you examine more closely, you will discover that the object of the ants,
in thus attending upon the aphides, is to obtain the saccharine fluid
secreted by them, which may well be denominated their milk. This fluid,
which is scarcely inferior to honey in sweetness, issues in limpid drops
from the abdomen of these insects, not only by the ordinary passage, but
also by two setiform tubes placed, one on each side, just above it.
Their sucker being inserted in the tender bark, is without intermission
employed in absorbing the sap, which, after it has passed through their
system, they keep continually discharging by these organs. When no ants
attend them, by a certain jerk of the body, which takes place at regular
intervals, they ejaculate it to a distance."

"Mr. Knight once observed," says Bevan, "a shower of honey-dew
descending in innumerable small globules, near one of his oak-trees, _on
the 1st of September_; he cut off one of the branches, took it into the
house, and holding it in a stream of light, which was purposely admitted
through a small opening, distinctly saw the aphides ejecting the fluid
from their bodies with considerable force, and this accounts for its
being frequently found in situations where it could not have arrived by
the mere influence of gravitation. The drops that are thus spurted out,
unless interrupted by the surrounding foliage, or some other interposing
body, fall upon the ground; and the spots may often be observed, for
some time, beneath and around the trees affected with honey-dew, till
washed away by the rain. The power which these insects possess of
ejecting the fluid from their bodies, seems to have been wisely
instituted to preserve cleanliness in each individual fly, and indeed
for the preservation of the whole family; for pressing as they do upon
one another, they would otherwise soon be glued together, and rendered
incapable of stirring. On looking steadfastly at a group of these
insects (_Aphides Salicis_) while feeding on the bark of the willow,
their superior size enables us to perceive some of them elevating their
bodies and emitting a transparent substance in the form of a small

    "Nor scorn ye now, fond elves, the foliage sear,
    When the light aphids, arm'd with puny spear,
    Probe each emulgent vein, till bright below,
    Like falling stars, clear drops of nectar glow."

"The _willow_ accommodates the bees in a kind of threefold succession;
from the flowers they obtain both honey and farina;--from the bark
propolis;--and the leaves frequently afford them honey-dew at a time
when other resources are beginning to fail."

"Honey-dew usually appears upon the leaves as a viscid, transparent
substance, as sweet as honey itself, sometimes in the form of globules,
at others resembling a syrup; it is generally most abundant from the
middle of June to the middle of July, sometimes as late as September."

"It is found chiefly upon the _oak_, the _elm_, the _maple_, the
_plane_, the _sycamore_, the _lime_, the _hazel_, and the _blackberry_;
occasionally also on the _cherry_, _currant_, and other fruit trees.
Sometimes only one species of trees is affected at a time. The oak
generally affords the largest quantity. At the season of its greatest
abundance, the happy humming noise of the bees may be heard at a
considerable distance from the trees, sometimes nearly equalling in
loudness the united hum of swarming."

In some seasons, extraordinary quantities of honey are furnished by the
honey-dews, and bees will often, in a few days, fill their hives with
it. If at such times, they can be furnished with empty combs, the amount
stored up by them, will be truly wonderful. No certain reliance,
however, can be placed upon this article of bee-food, as in some years,
there is scarcely any to be found, and it is only once in three or four
years, that it is very abundant. The honey obtained from this source, is
generally of a very good quality, though seldom as clear as that
gathered from the choicest blossoms.

The quality of honey is exceedingly various, some being dark, and often
bitter and disagreeable to the taste, while occasionally it is gathered
from poisonous flowers, and is very noxious to the human system.

An intelligent Mandingo African informed a lady of my acquaintance, that
they do not in his country, dare to eat _unsealed_ honey, until it is
first _boiled_. In some of the Southern States, all unsealed honey is
generally rejected. It appears to me highly probable that the noxious
qualities of the honey gathered from some flowers, is, for the most
part, evaporated, before it is sealed over by the bees, while the honey
is thickening in the cells. Boiling the honey, would, of course, expel
it much more effectually, and it is a well ascertained fact that some
persons are not able to eat even the best honey with impunity, until
after it has been boiled! I believe that if persons who are injured by
honey would subject it to this operation, they would usually find it to
exert no injurious influence on the system. Honey is improved by age,
and many are able to use with impunity, that which has been for a long
time, in the hive, and which seems to be much milder than any freshly
gathered by the bees.

Honey, when taken from the bees, should be carefully put where it will
be safe from all intruders, and where it will not be exposed to so low a
temperature as to candy in the cells. The little red ant, and the large
black ant are extravagantly fond of it, and unless placed where they
cannot reach it, they will soon carry off large quantities. I paste
paper over all my boxes, glasses, &c., so as to make them air-tight, and
carefully store them away for future use. If it is drained from the
combs, it may be kept in tight vessels, although in this state it will
be almost sure to candy. By putting the vessels in water, and bringing
it to the boiling point, it will be as nice as when first strained from
the comb. In this way, I prefer to keep the larger portion of my honey.
The appearance of white honey in the comb, is however, so beautiful,
that many will prefer to keep it in this form, especially, if intended
for sale.

In my hives, it may be taken from the bees, in a great variety of ways.
Some may prefer to construct the main hive in such a form, that the
surplus honey can be taken from it, on the frames. Others will prefer to
take it on frames put in an upper box; (see p. 231.) Glass vessels of
almost any size or form will make beautiful receptacles for the spare
honey. They ought always, however, to have a piece of comb fastened in
them, before they are given to the bees; (see p. 161) and if the weather
is cool, they must be carefully covered with something warm, or they
will part with their heat so quickly, as to discourage the bees from
building in them. Unless warmly covered, glass vessels will often be so
lined with moisture, as to annoy the bees. This is occasioned by the
rapid evaporation of the water from the newly gathered honey, (see
p. 335.) All hives during the height of the gathering season, abound in
moisture, and this no doubt furnishes the bees, for the most part, with
the water they then need.

Honey, when stored in a pint tumbler, just large enough to receive one
comb, has a most beautiful appearance, and may be easily taken out
whole, and placed in an elegant shape upon the table. The expense of
such glass vessels is one objection to their use; the ease with which
they part with their heat, another, and a more serious objection still,
is the fact that the shallow cells, so many of which must be made in a
round vessel, require as large a consumption of honey for their wax
covers, as those which hold more than twice their quantity of honey.

I prefer rectangular boxes made of pasteboard, to any other: they are
neat, warm and cheap; and if a small piece of glass is pasted in one of
their ends, the Apiarian can always see when they are full. When the
honey is taken from the bees, the box has its cover put on, and is
pasted tight, so as to exclude air and insects. In this form, honey may
be packed, and sent to market very conveniently: and when the boxes are
opened, the purchaser can always see the quality of the article which he
buys. The box in which these small boxes of honey are packed in order to
be sent to market, should be furnished with rope handles, so that it can
be easily lifted, without the least jarring. Honey should be handled
with just as much care as glass. A box, four inches wide, will admit of
two combs, and if small pieces of comb are put in the top, the bees will
build them, of the proper dimensions, and will thus make them too large
for brood combs, and of the best size to contain their surplus honey.
The use of my hives enables the Apiarian to get access to all the comb
which he needs for such purposes, and he will find it to his interest,
never to give the bees a box which does not contain some comb, as well
for encouragement as for a pattern. I have never seen the use of
pasteboard boxes suggested, but after experimenting with a great many
materials, I believe they will be found, all things considered,
preferable to any others. Wooden boxes, with a piece of glass, are very
good for storing honey: but they are much more expensive than those made
of pasteboard, and the covers cannot be removed so conveniently.

Honey may be safely removed from the surplus honey boxes of my hives,
even by the most timid. When the outside case which covers the boxes, is
elevated, a shield is thrown between the Apiarian and the bees which are
entering and leaving the hive. Before removing a vessel or box, a thin
knife should be carefully passed under it, so as to loosen the
attachments of the comb to the honey-board, without injuring the bees;
then a small piece of tin or zinc may be pushed under to prevent the
bees that are below, from coming up, when the honey is removed. The
Apiarian should now tap gently on the box, and the bees in it,
perceiving that they are separated from the main hive, will at once
proceed to fill themselves, so as to save as much as possible, of their
precious sweets. In about five minutes, or as soon as they are full, and
run over the combs, trying to get out, the glass or box may at once be
removed, and they will fly directly to the hive with what they have been
able to secure. Bees under such circumstances, _never_ attempt to sting,
and a child of ten years, may remove, with ease and safety, all their
surplus stores. If a person is too timid to approach a hive when any
bees are flying, the honey may be removed towards evening, or early in
the morning, before the bees are flying, in any considerable numbers. In
performing this operation, it should always be borne in mind, that
large quantities of honey should never be taken from them at once,
unless when the honey-harvest is over. Bees are exceedingly discouraged
by such wholesale appropriations, and often refuse entirely, to work in
the empty boxes, even although honey abounds in the fields. Not
unfrequently when large boxes are removed, and being found only
partially filled, are returned, the bees will carry every particle of
honey down into the main hive! If, however, the honey is removed in
small boxes, one at a time, and an empty box with guide comb is put
instantly in its place, the bees, so far from being discouraged, work
with more than their wonted energy, and usually begin in a few hours, to
enlarge the comb.

I would here repeat the caution already given, against needlessly
opening and shutting the hives, or in any way meddling with the bees so
as to make them feel insecure in their possessions. Such a course tends
to discourage them, and may seriously diminish the yield of honey.

If the Apiarian wishes to remove honey from the interior of the hive, he
must remove the combs, as directed on page 195, and shake the bees off,
on the alighting board, or directly into the hive.


Some blossoms yield only pollen, and others only honey; but by far the
largest number, both honey and pollen. Since the discovery that rye
flour will answer so admirably as a substitute, before the bees are able
to gather the pollen from the flowers, early blossoms producing pollen
alone, are not so important in the vicinity of an Apiary. Willows are
among the most desirable trees to have within reach of the bees: some
kinds of willow put out their catkins very early, and yield an
abundance of both bee-bread and honey. All the willows furnish an
abundance of food for the bees; and as there is considerable difference
in the time of their blossoming, it is desirable to have such varieties
as will furnish the bees with food, as long as possible.

The Sugar Maple furnishes a large supply of very delicious honey, and
its blossoms hanging in drooping fringes, will be all alive with bees.
The Apricot, Peach, Plum and Cherry are much frequented by the bees;
Pears and Apples furnish very copious supplies of the richest honey. The
Tulip tree, _Liriodendron_, is probably one of the greatest
honey-producing trees in the world. In rich lands this magnificent tree
will grow over one hundred feet high, and when covered with its large
bell-shaped blossoms of mingled green and golden yellow, it is one of
the most beautiful trees in the world. The blossoms are expanding in
succession, often for more than two weeks, and a new swarm will
frequently fill its hive from these trees alone. The honey though dark
in color, is of a rich flavor. This tree has been successfully
cultivated as a shade tree, even as far North as Southern Vermont, and
for the extraordinary beauty of its foliage and blossoms, deserves to be
introduced wherever it can be made to grow. The Winter of 1851-2, was
exceedingly cold, the thermometer in Greenfield, Mass. sinking as low as
30° below zero, and yet a tulip tree not only survived the Winter
uninjured, but was covered the following season with blossoms.

The American Linden or Bass Wood, is another tree which yields large
supplies of very pure and white honey. It is one of our most beautiful
native trees, and ought to be planted much more extensively than it is,
in our villages and country seats. The English Linden is worthless for
bees, and in many places, has been so infested by worms, as to make it
necessary to cut it down.

The Linden blossoms soon after the white clover begins to fail, and a
majestic tree covered with its yellow clusters, at a season when very
few blossoms are to be seen, is a sight most beautiful and refreshing.

    "Here their delicious task, the fervent bees
    In swarming millions tend: around, athwart,
    Through the soft air the busy nations fly,
    Cling to the bud, and with inserted tube,
    Suck its pure essence, its etherial soul."

Our villages would be much more attractive, if instead of being filled
as they often are, almost exclusively with maples and elms, they were
adorned with a greater variety of our native trees. The remark has often
been made, that these trees are much more highly valued abroad than at
home, and that to see them in perfection, we must either visit their
native forests, or the pleasure grounds of some wealthy English or
European gentleman.

Of all the various sources from which the bees derive their supplies,
white clover is the most important. It yields large quantities of very
white honey, and of the purest quality, and wherever it flourishes in
abundance, the honey-bee will always gather a rich harvest. In this
country at least, it seems to be the most certain reliance of the
Apiary. It blossoms at a season of the year when the weather is usually
both dry and hot, and the bees gather the honey from it, after the sun
has dried off the dew: so that its juices are very thick, and almost
ready to be sealed over at once in the cells.

Every observant bee-keeper must have noticed, that in some seasons, the
blossoms of various kinds yield much less honey than in others. Perhaps
no plant varies so little in this respect, as the white clover. This
clover ought to be much more extensively cultivated than it now is, and
I consider myself as conferring a benefit not only on bee-keepers, but
on the agricultural community at large, in being able to state on the
authority of one of New England's ablest practical farmers, and writers
on agricultural subjects, Hon. Frederick Holbrook, of Brattleboro',
Vermont, that the common white clover may be cultivated on some soils to
very great profit, as a hay crop. In an article for the New England
Farmer, for May, 1853, he speaks as follows:--

"The more general sowing of white clover-seed is confidently
recommended. If land is in good heart at the time of stocking it to
grass, white clover sown with the other grass-seeds will thicken up the
bottom of mowings, growing some eight or ten inches high and in a thick
mat, and the burden of hay will prove much heavier than it seemed likely
to be before mowing. Soon after the practice of sowing white clover on
the tillage-fields commences, the plant will begin to show itself in
various places on the farm, and ultimately gets pretty well scattered
over the pastures, as it seeds very profusely, and the seeds are carried
from place to place in the manure and otherwise. The price of the seed
per pound in market is high; but then one pound of it will seed more
land, than two pounds of red clover seed; so that in fact the former is
the cheaper seed of the two, for an acre."

"Red-top, red clover and white clover seeds, sown together, produce a
quality of hay universally relished by stock. My practice is, to seed
all dry, sandy and gravelly lands with this mixture. The red and white
clover pretty much make the crop the first year; the second year, the
red clover begins to disappear, and the red-top to take its place; and
after that, the red-top and white clover have full possession and make
the very best hay for horses or oxen, milch cows or young stock, that I
have been able to produce. The crop per acre, as compared with
herds-grass, is not so bulky; but tested by weight and by spending
quality in the Winter, it is much the most valuable."

"Herds-grass hay grown on moist uplands or reclaimed meadows, and swamps
of a mucky soil, or lands not overcharged with silica, is of good
quality; but when grown on sandy and gravelly soils abounding in silex,
the stalks are hard, wiry, coated with silicates as with glass, and
neither horses nor cattle will eat it as well, or thrive as well on it
as on hay made of red-top and clover; and as for milch cows, they winter
badly on it, and do not give out the milk as when fed on softer and more
succulent hay."

By managing white clover, according to Mr. Holbrook's plan, it might be
made to blossom abundantly in the second crop, and thus lengthen out, to
very great advantage, the pasture for the bees. For fear that any of my
readers might suspect Mr. Holbrook of looking at the white clover,
through a pair of _bee-spectacles_, I would add that although he has ten
acres of it in mowing, he has no bees, and has never particularly
interested himself in this branch of rural economy. When we can succeed
in directing the attention of such men to bee-culture, we may hope to
see as rapid an advance in this as in some other important branches of

Sweet-scented clover, (_Mellilotus Leucantha_,) affords a rich
bee-pasturage. It blossoms the second year from the seed, and grows to a
great height, and is always swarming with bees until quite late in the
Fall. Attempts have been made to cultivate it for the sake of its value
as a hay crop, but it has been found too coarse in its texture, to be
very profitable. Where many bees are kept, it might however, be so
valuable for them as to justify its extensive cultivation. During the
early part of the season, it might be mowed and fed to the cattle, in a
green and tender state, and allowed to blossom later in the season,
when the bees can find but few sources to gather from.

For years, I have attempted to procure, through botanists, a hybrid or
cross between the red and white clover, in order to get something with
the rich honey-producing properties of the red, and yet with a short
blossom into which the honey-bee might insert its proboscis. The red
clover produces a vast amount of food for the bumble-bee, but is of no
use at all to the honey-bee. I had hoped to procure a variety which
might answer all the purposes of our farmers as a field crop. Quite
recently I have ascertained that such a hybrid has been originated in
Sweden, and has been imported into this country, by Mr. B. C. Rogers, of
Philadelphia. It grows even taller than the red clover, bears many
blossoms on a stalk which are small, resembling the white, and is said
to be preferred by cattle, to any other kind of grass, while it answers
admirably for bees.

Buckwheat furnishes a most excellent Fall feed for bees; the honey is
not so well-flavored as some other kinds, but it comes at a season when
it is highly important to the bees, and they are often able to fill
their hives with a generous supply against Winter. Buckwheat honey is
gathered when the dew is upon the blossoms, and instead of being thick,
like white clover honey, is often quite thin; the bees sweat out a large
portion of its moisture, but still they do not exhaust the whole of it,
and in wet seasons especially, it is liable to sour in the cells. Honey
gathered in a dry season, is always thicker, and of course more valuable
than that gathered in a wet one, as it contains much less water.
Buckwheat is uncertain in its honey-bearing qualities; in some seasons,
it yields next to none, and hardly a bee will be seen upon a large
field, while in others, it furnishes an extraordinary supply. The most
practical and scientific agriculturists agree that so far from being an
impoverishing crop, it is on many soils, one of the most profitable that
can be raised. Every bee-keeper should have some in the vicinity of his

The raspberry, it is well known, is a great favorite with the bees; and
the honey supplied by it, is very delicious. Those parts of New England,
which are hilly and rough, are often covered with the wild raspberry,
and would furnish food for numerous colonies of bees.

It will be observed that thus far, I have said nothing about cultivating
flowers in the garden, to supply the bees with food. What can be done in
this way, is of scarcely any account; and it would be almost as
reasonable to expect to furnish food for a stock of cattle, from a small
grass plat, as honey for bees, from garden plants. The cultivation of
bee-flowers is more a matter of pleasure than profit, to those who like
to hear the happy hum of the busy bees, as they walk in their gardens.
It hardly seems expedient, at least for the present, to cultivate any
field crops except such as are profitable in themselves, without any
reference to the bees.

Mignonnette is excellent for bees, but of all flowers, none seems to
equal the Borage. It blossoms in June, and continues in bloom until
severe frost, and is always covered with bees, even in dull weather, as
its pendant blossoms keep the honey from the moisture; the honey yielded
by it, is of a very superior quality. If any plant which does not in
itself make a valuable crop, would justify cultivation, there is no
doubt that borage would. An acre of it would support a large number of
stocks. If in a village those who keep bees would unite together and
secure the sowing of an acre, in their immediate vicinity, each person
paying in proportion to the number of stocks kept, it might be found
profitable. The plants should have about two feet of space every way,
and after they covered the ground, would need no further attention. They
would come into full blossom, cultivated in this manner, about the time
that the white clover begins to fail, and would not only furnish rich
pasture for the bees, but would keep them from the groceries and shops
in which so many perish.

If those who are engaged in adorning our villages and country residences
with shade trees, would be careful to set out a liberal allowance of
such kinds as are not only beautiful to us, but attractive to the bees,
in process of time the honey resources of the country might be very
greatly increased.


I come now to a point of the very first importance to all interested in
the cultivation of bees. If the opinions which the great majority of
American bee-keepers entertain, are correct, then the keeping of bees
must, in our country, be always an insignificant pursuit. I confess that
I find it difficult to repress a smile, when the owner of a few hives,
in a district where as many hundreds might be made to prosper, gravely
imputes his ill success, to the fact that too many bees are kept in his
vicinity! The truth is, that as bees are frequently managed, they are of
but little value, even though in "a land flowing with milk and honey."
If in the Spring, a colony of bees is prosperous and healthy, (see p.
207) it will gather abundant stores, even if hundreds equally strong,
are in its immediate vicinity, while if it is feeble, it will be of
little or no value, even if there is not another swarm within a dozen
miles of it.

Success in bee-keeping requires that a man should be in some things, a
very close imitator of Napoleon, who always aimed to have an
overwhelming force, at the right time and in the right place; so the
bee-keeper must be sure that his colonies are numerous, just at the time
when their numbers can be turned to the best account. If the bees cannot
get up their numbers until the honey-harvest is well nigh gone, numbers
will then be of as little service as many of the famous armies against
which "the soldier of Europe" contended; which, after the fortunes of
the campaign were decided, only served to swell the triumphant spoils of
the mighty conqueror. A bee-keeper with feeble stocks in the Spring,
which become strong only when there is nothing to get, is like a farmer
who contrives to hire no hands to reap his harvests, but suffers the
crops to rot upon the ground, and then at great expense, hires a number
of stalworth laborers to idle about his premises and eat him out of
house and home!

I do not believe that there is a _single square mile_ in this whole
country, which is overstocked with bees, unless it is one so unsuitable
for bee-keeping as to make it unprofitable to attempt it at all. Such an
assertion will doubtless, appear to many, very unguarded; and yet it is
made advisedly, and I am happy to be able to confirm it, by reference to
the experience of the largest cultivators in Europe. The following
letter from Mr. Wagner, will I trust, do more than I can possibly do in
any other way, to show our bee-keepers how mistaken they are in their
opinion as to the danger of overstocking their districts, and also what
large results might be obtained from a more extensive cultivation of

                                        YORK, March 16, 1853.

In reply to your enquiry respecting the _overstocking_ of a district, I
would say that the present opinion of the correspondents of the
Bienenzeitung, appears to be that it _cannot readily be done_. Dzierzon
says, in practice at least, "_it never is done_;" and Dr. Radlkofer, of
Munich, the President of the second Apiarian Convention, declares that
his apprehensions on that score were dissipated by observations which he
had opportunity and occasion to make, when on his way home from the
Convention. I have numerous accounts of Apiaries in pretty close
proximity, containing from 200 to 300 colonies each. Ehrenfels had a
thousand hives, at three separate establishments indeed, but so close to
each other that he could visit them all in half an hour's ride; and he
says that in 1801, the average net yield of his Apiaries was $2 per
hive. In Russia and Hungary, Apiaries numbering from 2000 to 5000
colonies are said not to be unfrequent; and we know that as many as 4000
hives are oftentimes congregated, in Autumn, at one point on the heaths
of Germany. Hence I think we need not fear that any district of this
country, so distinguished for abundant natural vegetation and
diversified culture, will very speedily be overstocked, particularly
after the importance of having stocks populous early in the Spring,
comes to be duly appreciated. A week or ten days of favorable weather,
at that season, when pasturage abounds, will enable a _strong_ colony to
lay up an ample supply for the year, if its labor be properly directed.

Mr. Kaden, one of the ablest contributors to the Bienenzeitung, in the
number for December, 1852, noticing the communication from Dr.
Radlkofer, says: "I also concur in the opinion that a district of
country cannot be overstocked with bees; and that, however numerous the
colonies, all can procure sufficient sustenance if the surrounding
country contain honey-yielding plants and vegetables, in the usual
degree. Where utter barrenness prevails, the case is different, of
course, as well as rare."

The Fifteenth Annual Meeting of German Agriculturists was held in the
City of Hanover, on the 10th of September, 1852, and in compliance with
the suggestions of the Apiarian Convention, a distinct section devoted
to bee-culture was instituted. The programme propounded sixteen
questions for discussion, the fourth of which was as follows:--

"Can a district of country embracing meadows, arable land, orchards, and
woodlands or forests, be so overstocked with bees, that these may no
longer find adequate sustenance and yield a remunerating surplus of
their products?"

This question was debated with considerable animation. The Rev. Mr.
Kleine, (nine-tenths of the correspondents of the Bee-Journal are
clergyman,) President of the section, gave it as his opinion that "it
was hardly conceivable that such a country could be overstocked with
bees." Counsellor Herwig, and the Rev. Mr. Wilkens, on the contrary,
maintained that "it might be overstocked." In reply, Assessor Heyne
remarked that "whatever might be supposed possible as an extreme case,
it was certain that as regards the kingdom of Hanover, it could not be
even remotely apprehended that too many Apiaries would ever be
established; and that consequently the greatest possible multiplication
of colonies might safely be aimed at and encouraged." At the same time,
he advised a proper distribution of Apiaries.

I might easily furnish you with more matter of this sort, and designate
a considerable number of Apiaries in various parts of Germany,
containing from 25 to 500 colonies. But the question would still recur,
do not these Apiaries occupy comparatively isolated positions? and at
this distance from the scene, it would obviously be impossible to give a
perfectly satisfactory answer.

According to the statistical tables of the kingdom of Hannover, the
annual production of bees-wax in the province of Lunenburg, is 300,000
lbs., about one half of which is exported; and assuming one pound of wax
as the yield of each hive, we must suppose that 300,000 hives are
annually "_brimstoned_" in the province; and assuming further, in view
of casualties, local influences, unfavorable seasons, &c., that only
one-half of the whole number of colonies maintained, produce a swarm
each, every year, it would require a total of at least 600,000 colonies,
(141, to each square mile,) to secure the result given in the tables.

The number of square miles stocked even to this extent, in this country,
are, I suspect, "few and far between." The Shakers at Lebanon, have
about 600 colonies; but I doubt whether a dozen Apiaries equally large
can be found in the Union. It is very evident, that this country is far
from being overstocked; nor it is likely that it ever will be.

A German writer alleges that "the bees of Lunenburg, pay all the taxes
assessed on their proprietors, and leave a surplus besides." The
importance attached to bee-culture accounts in part for the remarkable
fact that the people of a district so barren that it has been called
"the Arabia of Germany," are almost without exception in easy and
comfortable circumstances. Could not still more favorable results be
obtained in this country under a rational system of management, availing
itself of the aid of science, art and skill?

But, I am digressing. My design was to furnish you with an account of
bee-culture as it exists _in an entire district of country_, in the
hands of _the common peasantry_. This I thought would be more
satisfactory, and convey a better idea of what may be done on a large
scale, than any number of instances which might be selected of splendid
success in isolated cases.

                        Very truly yours,
                                   SAMUEL WAGNER.

The question how far bees will fly in search of honey, has been very
differently answered by different Apiarians. I am satisfied that they
will fly over three miles in search of food, but I believe as a general
rule, that if their food is not within a circle of about two miles in
every direction from the Apiary, they will be able to store up but
little surplus honey. The nearer, the better. In all my arrangements,
(see p. 96.) I have made it a constant study to save _every step_ for
the bees that I possibly can, economizing to the very utmost, their
time, which will all be transmuted into honey; an inspection of the
Frontispiece of this treatise will exhibit the general aspect of the
alighting board of my hives, and will show the intelligent Apiarian,
with what ease bees will enter such a hive, even in very windy weather.
By such arrangements, they will be able to store up more honey, even if
they have to go a considerable distance in search of it, than they would
in many other hives, when the honey abounded in their more immediate
vicinity. Such considerations are entirely overlooked, by most
bee-keepers, and they seem to imagine that they are matters of no
importance. By the utter neglect of any kind of precautions to
facilitate the labors of their bees, you might suppose that they
imagined these delicate insects to be possessed of nerves of steel and
sinews of iron or adamant; or else that they took them for miniature
locomotives, always fired up and capable of an indefinite amount of
exertion. A bee _cannot_ put forth more than a certain amount of
physical exertion, and if a large portion of this is spent in absolutely
fighting against difficulties, from which it might easily be guarded, it
must be very obvious to any one who thinks on the subject at all, that a
great loss must be sustained by its owner.

If some of these thoughtless owners returning home with a heavy burden,
were compelled to fall down stairs half a dozen times before they could
get into the house, they might perhaps think it best to guard their
industrious workers against such discouraging accidents. If bees are
tossed violently about by the winds, as they attempt to enter their
hives, they are often fatally injured, and the whole colony so
_discouraged_, to say nothing more, that they do not gather near so much
as they otherwise would.

The arrangement of my Protector is such that the bees, if blown down,
fall upon a sloping bank of soft grass, and are able to enter the hives
without much inconvenience.

Just as soon as our cultivators can be convinced, by practical results,
that bee-keeping, for the capital invested, may be made a most
profitable branch of rural economy, they will see the importance of
putting their bees into suitable hives, and of doing all that they can,
to give them a fair chance; until then, the mass of them will follow the
beaten track, and attribute their ill success, not to their own
ignorance, carelessness or stupidity, but to their want of "luck," or to
the overstocking of the country with bees. I hope, before many years, to
see the price of good honey so reduced that the poor man can place it on
his table and feast upon it, as one of the cheapest luxuries within his

On page 20, a statement was given of Dzierzon's experience as to the
profits of bee-keeping. The section of country in which he resides, is
regarded by him as unfavorable to Apiarian pursuits. I shall now give
what I consider a safe estimate for almost any section in our country;
while in unusually favorable locations it will fall far below the
results which may be attained. It is based upon the supposition that the
bees are kept in properly constructed hives so as to be strong early in
the season, and that the increase of stocks is limited to one new one
from two old ones. Under proper management, one year with another,
about ten dollars worth of honey may be obtained for every two stocks
wintered over. The worth of the new colonies, I set off as an equivalent
for labor of superintendence, and interest on the money invested in
bees, hives, fixtures, &c.

A careful, prudent man who will enter into bee-keeping moderately at
first, and extend his operations only as his skill and experience
increase, will, by the use of my hives, find that the preceding estimate
is not too large. Even on the ordinary mode of bee-keeping, there are
many who will consider it rather below than above the mark. If
thoroughly careless persons are determined to "try their luck," as they
call it, with bees, I advise them by all means, in mercy to the bees, to
adopt the non-swarming plan. Improved methods of management with such
persons will be of little or no use, unless you could improve their
habits first, and very often their brains too! Every dollar that such
persons spend upon bees, unless with the slightest possible departure
from the old-fashioned plans, is a dollar worse than thrown away. In
those parts of Europe where bee-keeping is carried on upon the largest
scale, the mass adhere to the old system; this they understand, and by
this they secure a certainty, whereas in our country, thousands have
been induced to enter upon the wildest schemes, or at least to use hives
which could not furnish them the very information needed for their
successful management. A simple box furnished with my frames, will
enable the masses, without departing materially from the common system,
to increase largely the yield from their bees.

In addition to the information given in the Introduction, respecting the
success of Dzierzon's system of management, I have recently ascertained
that one of its ablest opponents in Germany, has become thoroughly
convinced of its superior value. The Government of Norway has
appropriated $300, per annum, for the ensuing three years, towards
diffusing a knowledge of Dzierzon's method, in that country; having
previously despatched Mr. Hanser, Collector of Customs, to Silesia to
visit Mr. Dzierzon, and acquire a practical knowledge of his system of
management. He is now employed in distributing model hives, in the
provinces, and imparting information on improved bee-culture.

    NOTE.--The time has hardly come when the attention of any of our
    State authorities can be attracted to the importance of bee-culture.
    It is only of late that they have seemed to manifest any peculiar
    interest in promoting the advancement of agricultural pursuits. A
    Department of Agriculture ought to have been established, years ago,
    by the National Government at Washington. Let us hope that the
    Administration now in power, will establish a lasting claim to the
    gratitude of posterity, by taking wise and efficient steps to
    advance the agricultural interests of the country. A National
    Society to promote these interests has recently been established,
    and much may be hoped from its wisdom and energy. Until some
    disinterested tribunal can be established, before which all
    inventions and discoveries can be fairly tested, honest men will
    suffer, and ignorance and imposture will continue to flourish. Lying
    advertisements and the plausible misrepresentations of brazen-faced
    impostors, will still drain the purses of the credulous, while
    thousands, disgusted with the horde of impositions which are palmed
    off upon the community, will settle down into a dogged determination
    to try nothing new. A society before which every thing, claiming to
    be an improvement in rural economy, could be fairly tested, would
    undoubtedly be shunned by ignorant and unprincipled men, who now find
    it an easy task to procure any number of certificates, but who dread
    nothing so much as honest and intelligent investigation. The reports
    of such a society after the most thorough trials and examinations,
    would inspire confidence, save the community from severe losses, and
    encourage the ablest minds to devote their best energies to the
    improvement of agricultural implements.



If the bee was disposed to use, without any provocation, the effective
weapon with which it has been provided, its domestication would be
entirely out of the question. The same remark however, is equally true
of the ox, the horse or the dog. If these faithful servants of man were
respectively determined to use, to the very utmost their horns, their
heels and their teeth, to his injury, he would never have been able to
subject them to his peaceful authority. The gentleness of the honey-bee,
when kindly treated, and managed by those who properly understand its
instincts, has in this treatise been frequently spoken of, and is truly
astonishing. They will, especially in swarming time, or whenever they
are gorged with honey, allow any amount of handling which does not hurt
them, without the slightest show of anger. For the gratification of
others, I have frequently taken them up, by handfuls, suffered them to
run over my face, and even smoothed down their glossy backs as they
rested on my person! Standing before the hives, I have, by a rapid sweep
of my hands, caught numbers of them at once, just as though they were so
many harmless flies, and allowed them, one by one, to crawl out, by the
smallest opening, to the light of day; and I have even gone so far as to
imitate many of the feats which the celebrated English Apiarian,
Wildman, was accustomed to perform; who having once secured the queen of
a hive, could make the bees cluster on his head, or hang, like a flowing
beard, in large festoons, from his chin. Wildman, for a long time, made
as great a mystery of his wonderful performances, as the spirit-rappers
of the present day, do of theirs; but at last, he was induced to explain
his whole mode of procedure; and the magic control which he possessed
over the bees, and which was, by the ignorant, ascribed to his having
bewitched them, was found to be owing entirely to his superior
acquaintance with their instincts, and his uncommon dexterity and

    "Such was the spell, which round a Wildman's arm
    Twin'd in dark wreaths the fascinated swarm;
    Bright o'er his breast the glittering legions led,
    Or with a living garland bound his head.
    His dextrous hand, with firm yet hurtless hold,
    Could seize the chief, known by her scales of gold,
    Prune 'mid the wondering train her filmy wing,
    Or o'er her folds the silken fetter fling."

M. Lombard, a skillful French Apiarian narrates the following
interesting occurrence, which shows how peaceable bees are in swarming
time, and how easily managed by those who have both skill and

"A young girl of my acquaintance," he says, "was greatly afraid of bees,
but was completely cured of her fear by the following incident. A swarm
having come off, I observed the queen alight by herself at a little
distance from the Apiary. I immediately called my little friend that I
might show her the queen; she wished to see her more nearly, so after
having caused her to put on her gloves, I gave the queen into her hand.
We were in an instant surrounded by the whole bees of the swarm. In this
emergency I encouraged the girl to be steady, bidding her be silent and
fear nothing, and remaining myself close by her; I then made her stretch
out her right hand, which held the queen, and covered her head and
shoulders with a very thin handkerchief. The swarm soon fixed on her
hand and hung from it, as from the branch of a tree. The little girl was
delighted above measure at the novel sight, and so entirely freed from
all fear, that she bade me uncover her face. The spectators were charmed
with the interesting spectacle. At length I brought a hive, and shaking
the swarm from the child's hand, it was lodged in safety, and without
inflicting a single wound."

The indisposition of bees to sting, when swarming, is a fact familiar to
every practical bee-keeper: but I have not in all my reading or
acquaintance with Apiarians, ever met with a single observation which
has convinced me that the philosophy of this strange fact was thoroughly
understood. As far as I know, I am the only person who has ever
ascertained that when bees are filled with honey, they lose all
disposition to volunteer an assault, and who has made this curious law
the foundation of an extensive and valuable system of practical
management. It was only after I had thoroughly tested its universality
and importance, that I began to feel the desirableness of obtaining a
perfect control over each comb in the hive; for it was only then that I
saw that such control might be made available, in the hands of any one
who could manage bees in the ordinary way. The result of my whole
system, is to make the bees unusually gentle, so that they are not only
peaceable when any necessary operation is being performed, but at all
other times. Even if I could open hives and safely manage at pleasure,
still if the result of such proceedings was to leave the bees in an
excited state, so as to make them unusually irritable, it would all
avail but very little.

There is, however, one difficulty in managing bees so as not to incur
the risk of being stung at all, which attaches to every system of
bee-culture. If an Apiary is approached when the bees are out in great
numbers, thousands and tens of thousands will continue their busy
pursuits without at all interfering with those who do not molest them.
Frequently, however, there will be a few cross bees which come buzzing
around our ears, and seem determined to sting without the very slightest
provocation. From such lawless bees no person without a bee-dress is
absolutely safe. By repeated examinations I have ascertained that
_disease_ is the cause of such unreasonable irritability. I am never
afraid that a healthy bee will attack me unless unusually provoked; and
am always sure as soon as I hear one singing about my ears that it is
incurably diseased. If such a bee is dissected it will be found to
exhibit the unmistakable evidence that a peculiar kind of dysentery has
already fastened upon its system. In the first stages of this complaint
the insect is very irritable, refuses to labor, and seems unable or
unwilling to distinguish friend from foe. As the disease progresses, it
becomes stupid, its body swells up, and is filled with a great mass of
yellow matter, and being unable to fly, it crawls on the ground, in
front of the hive, and speedily perishes. I have never been able to
ascertain the cause of this singular malady, nor can I suggest any
remedy for it. I hope that some scientific Apiarians will investigate it
closely, for if it could only be remedied, we might have hundreds of
colonies on our premises and in our gardens, and yet be perfectly safe.

A person thoroughly acquainted with the leading principles of
bee-culture as they are set forth in this Manual, will _never under any
circumstances_ find it necessary to provoke to fury a colony of bees.
Let it be remembered that nothing can be more terribly vindictive than
a family of bees when thoroughly aroused by gross abuse or unskillful
treatment. Let their hive be suddenly overthrown or violently jarred, or
let them be provoked by the presence of a sweaty horse, or any animal
offensive to them, so that the anger at first manifested by a few, is
extended to the whole community, and the most severe and sometimes
dangerous consequences may ensue. In the same way in the management of
the animals most useful to man, by ignorance or abuse, they may be
roused to a state of frantic desperation, and limbs may be broken, and
often lives destroyed; and yet no one possessed of common sense,
attributes such calamities, except in very rare instances, to any thing
else than carelessness or want of skill. Let it be remembered that even
the most peaceable stock of bees can, in a very few days, by abusive
treatment be taught to look on every living thing as an enemy, and to
sally forth with the most spiteful intentions, as soon as any one
approaches their domicile. How often does it happen that the vicious
beast, which its owner so passionately belabors, is far less to blame
for its obstinacy, than the equally vicious brute who so unmercifully
beats it!

A word now to those timid females who are almost ready to faint, or to
go into hysterics if a bee enters the house, or approaches them in the
garden or fields. Such alarm is entirely uncalled for. It is only in the
vicinity of their homes, and in resistance to what they consider an evil
design upon their very altars and firesides that these insects ever
volunteer an attack. Away from home, they are as peaceably inclined as
you could desire. If you attack them, they are much more eager to escape
than to offer you any annoyance, and they can be induced to sting, only
when they are compressed, either by accident or design.

Let not any of my readers think that they have even a slight
encouragement, from this conduct of the bee, to reserve all their sweet
smiles and honied words for the world abroad, while they give free vent,
in the sacred precincts of home, to ill-natured looks and ill-tempered
language; for towards the occupants of its honied dome, the bee is all
kindness and affection. In the experience of many years I never saw an
instance in which two bees, members of the same family, ever seemed to
be actuated by any but the very kindest feelings toward each other. In
their busy haste they often jostle against each other, but where every
thing is well meant, every thing is well received: tens of thousands all
live together in the sweetest harmony and peace, when very often if
there are only two or three children in a family, the whole household is
tormented by their constant bickerings and contention. Among the bees
the good mother is the honored queen of her happy family; they all wait
upon her steps with unbounded reverence and affection, make way for her
as she moves over the combs, smooth and brush her beautiful plumes,
offer her food from time to time, and in short do all that they possibly
can to make her perfectly happy; while too often children treat their
mothers with irreverence or neglect, and instead of striving with loving
zeal to lighten their labors and save their steps, they treat them more
as though they were servants hired only to wait upon every whim and to
humor every caprice.

Let us pause for a moment, and contemplate further the admirable
arrangement by which the instinct of the bee which disposes it to defend
its treasures, is made so perfectly compatible with the safety both of
man and the domestic animals under his care. Suppose that away from
home, bees were as easily provoked, as they are in the immediate
vicinity of their hives, what would become of our domestic animals among
the clover fields in the pastures? A tithe of the merry gambols they now
so safely indulge in, would speedily bring about them a swarm of these
infuriated insects. In all our rambles among the green fields, we should
constantly be in peril; and no jocund mower would ever whet his
glittering scythe, or swing his peaceful weapon, unless first clad in a
dress impervious to their stings. In short, the bee, instead of being
the friend of man, would be one of his most vexatious enemies, and as
has been the case with the wolves and the bears, every effort would be
made for their utter extermination.

The sting of a bee often produces very painful, and upon some persons,
very dangerous effects. I am persuaded, from the result of my own
observation, that the bee seldom stings those whose systems are not
sensitive to its venom, while it seems to take a special and malicious
pleasure in attacking those upon whom it produces the most painful
effects! It may be that something in the secretions of such persons both
provokes the attack, and causes its consequences to be more severe.

I should not advise persons upon whose system the sting of a bee
produces the most agonizing pain, and violent, if not dangerous
symptoms, to devote any attention to the practical part of an Apiary;
although I am acquainted with a lady who is thus severely affected, and
who yet, strange to say, is a great enthusiast in Apiarian pursuits! I
have met with individuals, upon whom a sting produced the singular
effect of causing their breath to smell like the venom of the enraged
insect! The smell of the poison resembles almost perfectly that of a
ripe banana. It produces a very irritating effect upon the bees
themselves; for if a minute drop of it is extended to them, on a stick,
they at once manifest the most decided anger.

It is well known that the bee is a lover of sweet odors, and that
unpleasant ones are very apt to excite its anger. And here I may as well
speak plainly, and say that bees have a special dislike to persons whose
habits are not cleanly, and particularly to those who bear about them, a
perfume not in the very least resembling those

                              "Sabean odors
    From the spicy shores of Araby the blest,"

of which the poet so beautifully discourses. Those who belong to the
family of the "great unwashed," will find to their cost that bees are
decided foes to all of their tribe. The peculiar odor of some persons,
however cleanly, may account for the fact that the bees have such a
decided antipathy to their presence, in the vicinity of their hives. It
is related of an enthusiastic Apiarian, that after a long and severe
attack of fever, he was never able to take any more pleasure in his
bees; his secretions seem to have undergone some change, so that the
bees assailed him as soon as he ventured to approach their hives.

Nothing is more offensive to bees than the impure breath exhaled from
human lungs; it excites them at once to fury. Would that in their hatred
for impure air, human beings had only a tithe of the sagacity exercised
by bees! It would not be long before the thought of breathing air loaded
with all manner of impurities from human lungs, to say nothing of its
loss of oxygen, would excite unutterable loathing and disgust.

As the smell of a sweaty horse is very offensive to the bees, it is
never safe to allow these animals to go near a hive, as they are
sometimes attacked and killed by the furious insects. Those engaged in
bee-culture on a large scale, will do well to enclose their Apiaries
with a strong fence, so as to prevent cattle from molesting the hives.
If the Apiary is enclosed by a high fence, with sharp and strong
pickets, and the door is furnished with a strong lock, it will prevent
the losses which in some localities are so common from human pilferers.
Such losses may be guarded against, by fastening a wrought iron ring
into the top of each hive, well clinched on the inside; an iron rod may
run through these rings, and thus with two padlocks and fixtures, (one
at each end,) a dozen or more hives may be secured. I am happy to say
that in most localities such precautions are entirely unnecessary. A
place in which the stealing of honey and fruit is practiced by any
except those who are candidates for State's Prison, is in a fair way of
being soon considered as a very undesirable place of residence. If
owners of Apiaries, gardens and orchards, could be induced to pursue a
more liberal policy, and not be so meanly penurious as they often are, I
am persuaded that they would find it conduce very highly to their
interests. The honey and fruit expended with a cheerful, hearty
liberality, would be more than repaid to them in the good will secured,
and in the end would cost much less than bars and bolts. Reader! do not
imagine that I have the least idea that a thoroughly selfish man, can
ever be made to practice this or any other doctrine of benevolence.
Demonstrate it again and again, until even to his narrow and contracted
view it seems almost as clear as light, still he will never find the
heart to reduce it to practice. You might almost as well expect to
transform an incarnate fiend into an angel of light, by demonstrating
that "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness," while "the path of the
transgressor is hard," as to attempt to stamp upon a heart encrusted
with the adamant of selfishness, the noble impress of a liberal spirit.

Of all the senses, that of smell in the bee, seems to be the most
perfect. Huber has demonstrated its exceeding acuteness, by numerous
interesting experiments. If honey is placed in vessels from which the
odor can escape, but in which it cannot be seen, the bees will soon
alight upon them and eagerly attempt to find an entrance. It is by this
sense, unquestionably, that they recognize the members of their own
community, although it seems to us very singular that each colony should
have its own peculiar scent. Not only can two colonies be safely united
by giving them the same odor, but in the same way any number of colonies
may be made to live in perfect peace. If hundreds of hives are all
connected by gauze wire ventilators, so that the air passes freely from
one to another, the bees will all live in absolute harmony, and if any
bee attempts to enter the wrong hive, he will not be molested. The same
result can often be attained by feeding colonies from a common vessel. I
have seen literally hundreds of thousands of bees that after being
treated in this way so as to acquire the same odor, were always gentle
towards each other, while if a single bee from a strange Apiary, lit
upon the feeder, it was sure to be killed.

I have described, (p. 213,) the use which I make of peppermint, in order
to prevent bees from quarreling when they are united. The Rev. Mr.
Kleine, (see p. 359,) in a recent number of the Bienenzeitung, has
recommended the use of another article, which he finds to be very useful
in preventing robbing. His statement would have come in more
appropriately in the Chapter on Robbing, but was not received until too
late. He says that the most convenient and effectual mode of arresting
and repelling the attacks of robbers, is, to impart to the attacked hive
some intensely powerful and unaccustomed odor. He effects this most
readily, by placing a small portion of _musk_ in the attacked hive, late
in the evening, when all the robbers have retreated. On the following
morning, the bees, (provided they have a healthy queen,) will promptly
and boldly meet their assailants, and these in turn are non-plussed by
the unwonted odor, and if any of them enter the hive and carry off some
of the coveted booty, they will not be recognized nor received at home
on their return, on account of their strange smell, but will be at once
seized as strangers, and killed by their own household. Thus the robbing
is speedily brought to a close.

In combination with my blocks, this device might be made very effectual.
When the Apiarian perceives that a hive is being robbed, let him shut up
the entrance: before dusk he can open it and allow the robbers to go
home, and then: put in a small piece of musk: the entrance next day may
be kept so contracted that only a single bee can enter at once. In the
union of stocks the same substance might be used advantageously. A short
time before the process is attempted, each colony might have a small
dose of musk (a piece of musk tied up in a little bag,) and they would
then be sure to agree. I prefer, however, in most cases, the use of
scented sugar-water.

By using my double hives, and putting a small piece of gauze-wire on an
opening made in the partition, the two colonies having the same scent
will always agree; this will be very convenient where they are compelled
to live as such near neighbors, and enables the Apiarian at any time to
unite them and appropriate their surplus stores. These double hives are
admirably adapted to the wants of those who wish to make the smallest
possible departure from the old system, as they need make no change,
except to unite the stocks instead of killing the bees.

I have already remarked that no operation should ever be attempted upon
bees, by which a whole colony is liable to be excited to an ungovernable
pitch of fury. Such operations are _never_ necessary; and a skillful
Apiarian will, by availing himself of the principles laid down in this
Treatise, both easily and safely do everything that is at all desirable,
even to the driving of a powerful colony from an old box hive. When bees
are improperly dealt with, they will "compass" their assailant "about,"
with the most savage ferocity, and woe be to him if they can creep up
his clothes, or find on his person a single unprotected spot! On the
contrary, when not provoked by foolish management or wanton abuse, the
few who are bent on mischief, appear to retain still some touch of
grace, amid all their desperation. Like the thorough bred scold, who by
the elevated pitch of her voice, often gives timely warning to those who
would escape from the sharp sword of her tongue, a bee bent upon
mischief raises its note almost an octave above the peaceable pitch, and
usually gives us timely warning, that it means to sting, if it can. Even
then, it will seldom proceed to extremities, unless it can leave its
sting somewhere upon the face of its victim, and usually as near as
possible to the eye; for bees and all other members of the stinging
tribe, seem to have, as it were, an intuitive perception that this is
the most vulnerable spot upon the "human face divine." If the head is
quietly lowered, and the face covered with the hands, they will often
follow a person for some rods, all the time sounding their war note in
his ears, taunting him for his sneaking conduct, and daring him, just
for one single moment, to look up and allow them to catch but a glimpse
of his coward face!

If a person is suddenly attacked by angry bees, no matter how numerous
or vindictive they may be, not the slightest attempt should ever be made
to act on the offensive. If a single bee is violently struck at, a dozen
will soon be on hand to avenge the insult, and if the resistance is
still continued, hundreds and at last thousands will join in the
attack. The assailed party should quickly retreat from the vicinity of
the hives, to the protection of a building, or if none is near, he
should hide himself in a clump of bushes, and lie perfectly still, with
his head covered, until the bees leave him.


If only a few of the host of remedies, so zealously advocated, could be
made effectual, few persons would have much reason to dread being stung.
Most of them, however, are of no manner of use whatever. Like the
prescriptions of the quack, they are absolutely worse than doing nothing
at all.

The first thing to be done after being stung, is to pull the sting out
of the wound _as quickly as possible_. Even after it is torn from the
body of the bee, (see p. 60,) the muscles which control it, are in
active operation, and it penetrates deeper and deeper into the flesh,
injecting continually more and more of its poison into the wound. Every
Apiarian should have about his person, or close at hand, a small piece
of looking-glass, so that he may be able with the least possible delay
to find and remove a sting. In most cases if it is at once removed, it
will produce no serious consequences; whereas if suffered to empty all
its vials of wrath, it may cause great inflammation and severe
suffering. After the sting is removed, the utmost possible care should
be taken, not to irritate the wound by the very _slightest rubbing_.
However intense the smarting, and of course the disposition to apply
friction to the wound, it should never be done, as the poison will at
once be carried through the circulating system, and severe consequences
may ensue. As most of the popular remedies are rubbed in, they are of
course worse than nothing. Be careful not to _suck_ the wound as so many
persons do; this produces irritation in the same way with rubbing. Who
does not know that a musquito bite, even after the lapse of several
days, may be brought to life again, by violent rubbing or sucking? The
moment that the blood is put into a violent and unnatural circulation,
the poison is quickly diffused over a considerable part of the system.
If the mouth is applied to the wound, other unpleasant consequences may
ensue. While the poison of most snakes and many other noxious animals
affects only the circulating system, and may therefore be swallowed with
impunity, the poison of the bee acts powerfully, not only upon the
circulating system, but upon the organs of digestion. The most
distressing head-aches are often produced by it.

From my own experience, I recommend _cold water_ as the very best remedy
with which I am acquainted, for the sting of a bee. It is often applied
in the shape of a plaster of mud, but may be better used by wetting
cloths and holding them gently to the wound. Cold water seems to act in
two ways. The poison of the bee being very volatile, is quickly
dissolved in water; and the coldness of the water has also a powerful
tendency to check inflammation and to prevent the virus from being taken
up by the absorbents and carried through the system. The leaves of the
plantain, crushed and applied to the wound, will answer as a very good
substitute when water cannot at once be procured. The broad-leafed
plantain, or as some call it, "the toad plantain," is regarded by many
as possessing a very great efficacy. Bevan recommends the use of spirits
of hartshorn, applied to the wound, and says that in cases of severe
stinging its internal use is beneficial. Whatever remedy is applied,
should be used if possible, without a moment's delay. The immediate
extraction of the sting, will be found, even if nothing more is done,
much more efficacious than any remedy that can be applied, after it has
been allowed to remain and discharge all its venom into the wound.

It may be some comfort to those who are anxious to cultivate bees, to
know that after a while the poison will produce less and less effect
upon their system. When I first became interested in bees, a sting was
quite a formidable thing, the pain often being very intense, and the
wound swelling so as sometimes to obstruct my sight. At present, the
pain is usually slight, and if I can only succeed in quickly extracting
the sting, no unpleasant consequences ensue, even if no remedies are
used. Huish speaks of seeing the bald head of Bonner, a celebrated
practical Apiarian, lined with bee stings which seemed to produce upon
him no unpleasant effects. Like Mithridates, king of Pontus, he seemed
almost to thrive upon poison itself!

I have met with a highly amusing remedy very gravely propounded by an
old English Apiarian. I mention it more as a matter of curiosity, than
because I imagine that any of my readers will be likely to make trial of
it. He says, let the person who has been stung, catch as speedily as
possible, another bee, and make it sting on the same spot! It requires
some courage even in an enthusiastic disciple of Huber, to venture upon
such a singular homeopathic remedy; but as this old writer had
previously stated that the oftener a person was stung, the less he
suffered from the venom, and as I had proved, in my own experience, the
truth of this assertion, I determined to make trial of his remedy. I
allowed a bee to sting me upon the finger and suffered the sting to
remain until it had discharged all its venom. I then compelled another
bee to insert its sting as near as possible in the same spot. I used no
remedies of any kind, and had the satisfaction, in my zeal for new
discoveries, of suffering more from the pain and swelling, than I had
previously experienced for years.

An old writer recommends a powder of dried bees, for distressing cases
of stoppages; and some of the highest medical authorities have recently
recommended a tea made by pouring boiling water upon bees, for the same
complaint, while the homeopathic physicians employ the poison of the
bee, which they call _apis_, for a great variety of maladies. That it is
capable of producing intense head-aches any one who has been stung, or
who has tasted the poison, very well knows.


Timid Apiarians, and all who are liable to suffer severely from the
sting of a bee, should by all means furnish themselves with the
protection of a bee-dress. The great objection to gauze-wire veils or
other materials of which such a dress has been usually made, is that
they obstruct clear vision, so highly important in all operations,
besides producing such excessive heat and perspiration, as to make the
Apiarian peculiarly offensive to the bees. I prefer to use what I shall
call a _bee-hat_, of entirely novel construction. It is made of wire
cloth, the meshes of which are too fine to admit a bee, and yet coarse
enough to allow a free circulation of air, and to permit distinct sight.
The wire cloth should first be fastened together in a circular shape,
like a hat, and large enough to go very easily over the head; its top
may be of cotton cloth, and it should have the same material fastened
around its lower edge, and furnished with strings to draw it so closely
around the neck and shoulders that a bee cannot creep under it. Woolen
stockings may then be drawn over the hands, or better still, India
Rubber gloves, such as are now in very common use, may be worn; these
gloves are impenetrable to the sting of a bee, and yet are so soft and
pliant as scarcely in the least to interfere with the operations of the

If it were not for the diseased bees of which I have several times
spoken, such precautions would be entirely unnecessary. The best
Apiarians as it is, dispense with them, even at the cost of a sting now
and then.


This treatise has already grown to such a length, that I must be
exceedingly brief on a point peculiarly interesting to all who delight
in investigating the wonders of the insect world. In the preceding parts
of the work, numerous proofs have been given of the refined instincts of
the bee. It is impossible always to draw the line between instinct and
reason, and very often some of the actions of animals and insects appear
to be the result of a process of reasoning apparently almost the same
with the exercise of the reasoning faculty in man. "There is this
difference" says Mr. Spence, "between intellect in man, and the rest of
the animal creation. Their intellect teaches them to follow the lead of
their senses, and to make such use of the external world as their
appetites or instincts incline them to,--and _this is their wisdom_:
while the intellect of man, being associated with an immortal principle,
and connected with a world above that which his senses reveal to him,
can, by aid derived from Heaven, control those senses, and render them
obedient to the governing power of his nature; and _this is his

This subject has seldom been more happily expressed than by Mr. Spence.
The line of distinction between man and the lower orders of creation, is
not the mere fact that he reasons and they do not, but that he has a
moral and accountable nature, while they have nothing of the kind.

"It will be evident," says Bevan, "that though I make a distinction
between the instinct and the reason of bees, I do not confound their
reason with the reason of man. But to obviate all possibility of
misconception, I will at once define my meaning, when I use the terms
insect reason and instinct."

"By _reason_, I mean the power of making deductions from previous
experience or observation, and thereby of adapting means to ends.
_Instinct_ I regard as a disposition and power to perform certain
actions in the same uniform manner, depending upon nice mechanism and
having no reference either to observation or experience; operating on
the means, without anticipation of the end, incited by no hope,
controlled by no foreboding. Those who have attended to this subject,
will be aware that _insect reason_, as above defined, is more restricted
in its functions than _the reason of man_; to which is superadded the
power of distinguishing between the true and the false, and, according
to some metaphysicians, between right and wrong. Reason, in man, has a
regular growth and a slow progression; all the arts he practices evince
skill and dexterity, proportioned to the pains which have been taken in
acquiring them. In the lower links of creation, but little of this
gradual improvement is observable; their powers carry them almost
directly to their object. They are perfect, as Bacon says, in all their
members and organs from the very beginning."

    "Far different Man, to higher fates assign'd,
    Unfolds with tardier step his Proteus mind,
    With numerous Instincts fraught, that lose their force
    Like shallow streams, divided in their course;
    Long weak, and helpless, on the fostering breast,
    In fond dependence leans the infant guest,
    Till reason ripens what young impulse taught,
    And builds, on sense, the lofty pile of thought;
    From earth, sea, air, the quick perceptions rise,
    And swell the mental fabric to the skies."

I shall here narrate a very remarkable instance of sagacity which seems
to approach as near to human reason, as any thing in the bee which has
ever fallen under my notice. In the year 1851, I had a small model hive
constructed, into which I temporarily placed a swarm of bees. The
particular object which I had in view, was to test the feasibility of
some plans which I had recently devised, for facilitating the storing of
honey in small tumblers. The bees, in a short time, filled the hive and
stored about a dozen glasses with honey. I was called away from them,
for a few days, and was much surprised, on my return, to find that the
honey which had been stored up in the hive and sealed over for Winter
use, was all gone, and the cells filled with eggs and young worms! The
hive stood in a covered bee house, and the bees had built a large
quantity of comb on the _outside_ of the hive, into which they had
transferred the honey taken from the interior. The object of this
unusual procedure was, beyond all question, to give the poor queen a
place within the hive for laying her eggs: for this purpose they
uncapped and emptied all the cells so carefully sealed over, instead of
using the new comb on the outside for the brood.

Those who wish to study the Natural History of the honey-bee, to the
best advantage, will derive great aid in their investigations, from the
use of my _Observing Hives_. Each comb in these hives is attached to a
movable frame, and they all admit of easy removal. In this respect the
construction of the hive is entirely new, and while it greatly
facilitates the business of observation, it enables the Apiarian, on
the approach of cool weather, to transfer his bees from a hive in which
they cannot winter, to one of the common construction. As soon as the
weather in the Spring is sufficiently warm, they may again be placed in
the observing hive, in which, (as both sides of every comb admit of
inspection,) every bee can be seen, and all the wonders of the hive are
exposed to the full light of day; (see p. 24.) In the common observing
hives experiments are often conducted with great difficulty, by cutting
away parts of the comb, whereas in mine, they can all be performed by
the simple removal of one of the frames, and if the colony becomes
reduced in numbers, it may, in a few moments, be strengthened by helping
it to maturing brood from one of the other hives. A very intelligent
writer in a description of the different hives exhibited at the World's
Fair, in London, lamented that no method had yet been devised of
enabling bees to cluster, in cool weather, in an observing hive, and
that it was found next to impossible to preserve them in such hives over
Winter. By the use of the movable frames, this difficulty is entirely

I cannot allow this work to come to a close, without acknowledging my
great obligations to Mr. Samuel Wagner, of York, Pennsylvania. To him I
am indebted for a knowledge of Dzierzon's discoveries, and for many
valuable suggestions scattered throughout the Treatise.

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