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CHAPTER VIII

CHOICE OF STOCK

IN order to establish an apiary successfully, much caution is necessary in the choice of stock. There is as much difference in the relative value of hives of bees as there is in that of animals from which to stock a farm. The following suggestions will be of service to new beginners in making their selections.

THE KIND OF HIVE Edit

The first question to determine is the kind of hive to adopt ; then, if possible, buy bees already in the favorite hive. By so doing, the expense of an extra hive, as well as a delicate operation to a beginner, in transferring them, is avoided. See that the hives are well made, as a small defect frequently causes the loss of a good swarm of bees.

SIZE OF HIVE Edit

The main apartment, for breeding and winter stores, shouldcontain two thousand, twohundred cubic inches, with a chamber for the reception of surplus honey,

IN order to establish an apiary successfully, much caution is necessary in the choice of stock. There is as much difference in the relative value of hives of bees as there is in that of animals from which to stock a farm. The following suggestions will be of service to new beginners in making their selections.

THE KIND OF HIVE Edit

The first question to determine is the kind of hive to adopt ; then, if possible, buy bees already in the favwite hive. By so doing, the expense of an extra hive, as well as a delicate operation to a beginner, in transferring them, is avoided. See that the hives are well made, as a small defect frequently causes the loss of a good swarm of bees.

SIZE OF HIVE Edit

The main apartment, for breeding and winter stores, should contain two thousand, two hundred cubic inches, with a chamber for the reception of surplus honey, to contain one thousand, one hundred cubic inches, in addition. This size is the most profitable, as it is found to develop the capacities of the swarm in a greater degree ; hence, more honey is obtained, and less risk is incurred from starvation ; this will hold good both in the Pacific and Atlantic States, with but slight exceptions.

CONDITION OF COMB Edit

The main apartment should be full of worker comb, except one, which should be drone cells. The combs should be straight and of even thickness. If of a yellow color, they are new, and hence, to be preferred. The combs should be carefully examined as to their condition. (See Chapter on Combs.)

HONEY AND POLLEN Edit

If in the fall or winter, most of the comb should be stored full of honey and pollen ; the former should be clear and of a yellow color, and nearly all sealed over.

PROLIFIC QUEEN Edit

A prolific queen lays her eggs in regular order, commencing at a point and distributing them in circles, each surrounding the first, and on both sides exactly alike. An old qiieen of a previous year is usually more prolific previous to July, than a young one of the current year ; but a hive with the latter is found to have more brood, after this time, and continues to breed later in the season than the former. The sealed worker brood should present a regular, smooth surface. An irregular brood denotes an unprolific queen ; a portion of raised oval cells is also objectionable, all the cells being raised. Plate II shows a drone-laying queen.

If a fertile queen is present, eggs or larvae will be found in the comb at all times from February till October. There is no certain test, after they cease breeding in the fall, till they again commence in the spring.

BROOD Edit

Breeding commences in the best hives usually in the month of January,* and constantly increases in amount till the time of swarming, when a large quantity of brood should exist.

The first indication that breeding has commenced, is the appearance of scales of new wax and eggs found on the bottom board ; mutilated remains of young, found there, or cast out of the hive at a later period, show the age to which the brood has arrived.

  • This is the case both in Pennsylvania and California, and

probably throughout the North Temperate Zone.

THE NUMBER OF BEES Edit

The combs should all be covered, and the spaces between them full of bees, which should be in CLOSE MASSES, and not spread thinly over them ; the numbers can best be determined by turning the hive up and looking at the lower ends of the combs, or removing the front slide. If worms exist, their presence will be detected at the same time. An examination at the top of a hive is NOT SUFFICIENT to determine either of these points, unless all the combs are taken out, which can only be done when movable frames are used. Late in the fall and during the winter, the bees draw together in a cluster at the lower ends of the combs, leaving the upper portion of them bare ; hence, the above examination is necessary to learn their true state.

BEWARE OF DISEASE Edit

It is not safe to purchase bees bred from stocks in which foul brood has ever existed, as it is hereditary, and reappears at intervals longer or shorter, according to the presence of exciting causes.

DIFFERENCE IN SWARMS Edit

In buying swarms, at the time of hiving, be particular to specify whether it shall be the first swarm of the season or a subsequent one, from the same hive.

A first swarm usually has twice as many bees as the second, and having a fertile queen from the first, the combs are furnished with eggs as fast as built. The first swarm is worth three after swarms, they being small in comparison, and having queens not yet fertile, no eggs are laid for a period of at least eight days after being hived ; thus losing considerable time before their numbers commence to increase. The parent hive, having a queen of nearly the same age as that of a second or last swarm departing from it, will also require a like period to become fertile. The period that intervenes between the first and second swarms departing, usually affords the best pasturage of the season ; hence, the former are enabled to accumulate a considerable amount of stores before the latter have commenced.

The assertion that " a second swarm is just as good as the first," is frequently made, but it is only true when both are put into hives seven by ten ; the latter is then sure to fill its hive, and the former (if let alone) can do no more.

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