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price, thus destroying the great incentive to improvement. Owing to the inaccessible nature of these rudely constructed hives, they were generally permitted to stand without any attention, from the time the swarm was hived, until they were either killed or robbed. This left the bees to battle against the moths and other enemies as best they could.

The result has been that bees have become scarce wherever left thus severely alone. The chamber hive (or Weeks' hive as it was called) was first brought to my notice in the spring of 1844, and after using them extensively in various forms for a period of four years, I found that they answered but the one additional purpose over the common square box, viz : to furnish surplus honey in boxes in a more desirable form. Many hives with various patented devices attached were brought to my notice during this period. Some of the most promising I tried thoroughly, but found none of them to possess any considerable advantages over the common chamber hive.

The success which attended my efforts at bee-keeping previous to 1848, although good, was not such as I believed could be attained. The lack of system and uniformity of hives, as well as the impeufect arrangement of the latter, caused such an amount of labor as to render beekeeping both a small and uncertain business. Flat-bottomed hives allow the filth to accumulate, (the bees frequently being unable to remove all of it) furnishing the moth a safe deposit for her eggs, and food for her progeny.

To remedy this defect I made an inclined bottom board, not that the thing was new but an improvement. Instead of making the main incline movable, as was then the practice when used, I made it stationary, and added an inclined front slide, held in place by means of wedges, so that it could be taken out, for the purpose of examining the combs and removing the filth, and returned to its place with facility. This style of bottom enables the bees themselves to keep their hives better freed from worms than could well be done by such occasional cleanings as are given to flat-bottomed hives by most bee-keepers. After having used this improved inclined bottom for twelve years, I find that it gives, as it always has done, perfect satisfaction. No bee-keeper who has regard to his own convenience or pecuniary interest, can afford to do without it, notwithstanding it costs more at first than the old arrangement. Another want which I felt, was a hive so arranged that the bees together with their combs and contents could be transferred with safety from one hive to another, either for the purpose of renovation or the formation of artificial colonies. In other words, I wanted control of the comb.

To supply these wants I constructed a hive with a movable glass frame in the rear, and a door to cover it and the surplus honey boxes above.

Having thus obtained easy access to the interior of the hive, I next constructed a movable platform within the hive, on which the combs were adjusted, and the whole so elevated that the bees fastened the combs to the top of the hive. This plan I found to work well.

These improvements, together with the chamber for surplus honey, gave a hive well suited to the wants of the bee, and hence a greater yield of honey. The annual mortality of bees in these hives, as compared with those in common hives, I found to be enough less to amply pay the diiference in the first cost, thus making an annual profit thereafter. At the time of making the above improvements, (fall of 1848) I had become the owner of eight hives of bees, (farther additions were afterwards made to my stock by purchase) all of which I transferred into the improved hive, and increased partly by natural swarming, and partly by artificial division. My success was such that in 1853 I sold upwards of 6,300 Ibs. of honey, at an average price of eighteen cents per Ib.

But, in 1854, an unprecedented drought occurred throughout many portions of the United States, which cut short the growing crops. The bee pasture was so deficient that but few localities yielded any honey for market, and in most places the bees laid up so small a store that a large majority of them died during the following winter.

I escaped with the loss of about one-half of my stock, while most of my neighbors lost over fourfifths, and others lost all. In anticipation of such loss, I concluded to try and retrieve my fortune in California. In pursuance of this resolution, I sailed from New York October the 27th, 1854, and landed at San Francisco November the 20th of the same year. After a residence of two and a half years in California, I returned East, and arrived at my old home on the 2d of June, 1857. During my absence, Quinby's "Mysteries of Beekeeping Explained," and "Langstroth on the Honey Bee," (both valuable works) had been introduced into the libraries of some of the bee-keepers, where I saw and read them for the first time.

The Langstroth hive had also been introduced into a number of apiaries, ours among others. From the glowing accounts which I had Heard of it while in California, I expected to find the desideratum long sought for by apiarists, and as a result of its introduction into our apiaries, that they would be in a highly flourishing condition, particularly that portion of the stock contained in the new style of hive. In this I was doomed to disappointment, as most of the bees that had been put into them had died of starvation, they having eaten all the stores from the bottom to the top of the hive, in the center of a diameter equal to the size of the cluster, leaving an abundance of stores still within the hive, but owing to the severe cold, the bees were unable to reach them.

As an offset to this, I found that the bees in my old improved hive were strong and vigorous, proving most conclusively the superiority of a hive deep from top to bottom, over low flat ones. [1]

The worms were also much more troublesome and destructive in the Langstroth than any other hive, unless more frequently overhauled. From my previous experience, I was satisfied that although the Langstroth'hive did not fulfill its promise, yet that the movable comb principle possessed some important advantages over all others. With these views, I went to work and rei'ntroduced bees into a number of hives from which the previous swarms had died, and constructed others of a greater depth, but less in width and length. Into these I put a considerable number of natural swarms, also transfers and divisions. I was then prepared to test the merits of the Langstroth nive by varied and extensive use, the result of which showed the following defects to exist : First, The frames being simply suspended on rabbets, rendered it difficult to space them with the necessary precision ; for, if the space is insufficient, the bees shorten the cells on the side of one comb, thus rendering that side useless ; and if placed more than the usual width, it requires a greater amount of bees to hover the brood, as also to raise the temperature to the proper degree for building comb. Second, When the combs are too widely spaced, the bees, while refilling them with stores, lengthen the cells, and thus make the comb thick and irregular the application of the knife is then the only remedy to reduce them to the proper thickness.

Another objection to the suspended frame, is the impossibility of removing the hives containing bees to a distance, without first nailing or fastening each frame to its place ; and to get control of them, the hive has again to be opened and the frames unfastened ; all of which requires time and trouble, to say nothing about the liability of being stung while treating the bees thus rudely.

After a fair trial of the Langstroth hive and its working capabilities, compared with the hive which I had previously used, I found it inferior, and accordingly determined to abandon its use entirely.

Immediately after my arrival in California with bees, (fall of 1857) I procured lumber and other material suitable for making hives on my old plan. After cutting out the stuff for twenty, and completing a portion of them, I became satisfied that useful improvements could be made. What I wanted was a hive for the use of my own bees : one that I could adapt and use to the exclusion of all others, so long as I continued the business of bee-raising.

With this view, I went to work, and after many days and nights of close study and experimenting, the different improvements of the present hive were gradually developed. The first improvement section honey box, (applicable to any hive) was made December the 25th, 1857. The second improvement, the adjustable comb frame and manner of its adjustment, was made January the 2d, 1858. The third improvement was the manner of ventilation, made January the 4th, 1858 ; and the fourth improvement was the metallic clamps for fastening combs into frames, made January the 9th, 1858. Other improvements, as well as slight changes, have been since made, all of which have been thoroughly tested, giving entire satisfaction to all who have given them a fair trial. The large number of this style of hive now in use in this State, within so short a time as has elapsed since its invention, is good evidence of its utility.

Notes Edit

  1. The same result has, in a great measure, attended the use of the respective hives throughout that section of country since that time.

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