PRECAUTION IN SUPPLYING QUEENS Edit
IT is often necessary to supply queens, either to queenless hives or those made so by division, and exchanging Italian for common ones. And as the bees, in most cases, will attack and kill a stranger queen when first introduced, or when she first attempts to enter the hive, precaution must be taken to prevent it.
This is effectually done by imprisoning the queen to be supplied in a cage (plate xxix, fig. 52) made of wire cloth, and the ends closed with corks. It is well to put a small amount of honey, or a few wellfed workers, in the cage with her ; the honey should be given by saturating a small piece of sponge with it so as to prevent the queen from getting bedaubed. Then open the hive to which she is to be given and remove their queen, if in possession of one ; this may be done with advantage a few hours previous to supplying the queen, Then place the cage containing the queen within the cluster of bees, in order that they may become acquainted and acquire a sameness of scent before she is allowed her liberty.
This is best done by removing a frame (if the hive is full) of comb from adjoining the brood and substituting an empty one in its place : the cage is then laid on the center bar of the frame so that the bees will be sure to cluster around her. The door and lid of the hive are then to be closed and kept so for ten or twelve hours. If the bees are fed liberally during this time, it hastens a reconciliation. At the end of the above time open the hive again and set the queen at liberty, and at the same time observe if any bees are disposed to molest her as she mingles among them. If she moves off without being immediately attacked it is a sign that she is received, and the hive may be properly arranged without fear of failure. But if attacked, immediately return her to her cage and keep her confined for some time longer, which, however, need never exceed from eighteen to twenty-four hours from the time she is first imprisoned to ensure a safe reception.
UNITING BEES OF DIFFERENT FAMILIES Edit
Bees of different families may frequently be united with advantage. If done during the season of rapid breeding and gathering of honey, they will generally unite peaceably. But if not gathering honey, they are liable to kill one another ; particularly the queen or queens, as the case may be, are liable to be killed by the bees of the opposite swarms. I have had queens of weak swarms killed in this way by uniting bees from other hives with them.
A safe plan for uniting bees, is to feed the different swarms with all the food they will take, for at least one day ; then select the queen to be given to them (all others are to be destroyed) and confine her in a cage. The bees to be united are then brushed or shaken on a sheet or table in a promiscuous mass ; the hive intended to receive them being provided with comb and suitable stores, they are allowed to enter the same as an ordinary swarm. The imprisoned queen is to be placed in a position so that the bees are sure to cluster around her, and after being confined for about ten hours, to be set at liberty. If the bees to be united have occupied the same apiary, it is necessary to either keep them confined for four or five days ; or, what is better, remove them after being united to the distance of about one mile, which will prevent them returning to the familiar spot. A very good way to unite bees would be to confine one part in a box, having one side of wire cloth, and place it in the hive with the ones to which they are to be united, on the same principle that queens are supplied.
Plate XLVII, fig. 79, represents a machine for producing and using smoke to conquer bees with, in an easy and efficient manner, and also to guard against the danger offire. a is a common hand bellows, to which is attached tube b. The tube is made of sheet iron, ten inches long and two inches in diameter ; fine wire screen is securely fastened within the tube at the dotted line <?, being within three-fourths of an inch of the end where attached. This wire is to prevent fire being communicated to or being drawn into the bellows. d is a cap made to slip over the lower end of tube 5, with a fastening to hold it in place ; wire screen is also fastened inside of the cap, as indicated by the dotted line e ; holes are made in the cap as represented at/. Fig. 80 is a hollow cylinder made of coarse wire screen, around which cotton stuff is to be rolled, as represented in fig. 81. This roll is then inserted into tube b (fig. 79) and after it is set on fire, the cap is adjusted ; then, by working the bellows, air is drawn through the tube, and the smoke is blown out and among the bees as wanted.
Accidents, (so called) such as having a hive thrown over or the comb broken down while being transported, sometimes occur. The best way to proceed in such cases is to open the hive, transfer the combs, or so much of them as are fit, to frames, in the same manner as directed in Chapter xix, which, together with the bees, are to be placed in an empty hive as there directed. The remaining honey should be fed to them as fast as they can store it away, being1 always careful to guard against robbery.
NEW COMBS SHOULD BE SAVED Edit
New combs, or such as have not been used for rearing brood, may frequently be procured, as in case of uniting small swarms, or from honey boxes partly full. At the close of the season, any combs containing unsealed honey should be given to the bees for the purpose, both of augmenting their stores, and having the combs cleaned out. All such combs are valuable and should be carefully saved till the following season, at which time they are to be used for attaching in surplus honey boxes.
ATTACHING COMBS IN HONEY BOXES Edit
Combs may be attached in the honey box with great advantage and profit. The boxes are first to be completed, except attaching the bottom ; the combs are then cut into pieces of a size ranging from an inch square up to six inches, according to the amount on hand, and the number of boxes required by the stock. Now take the boxes into a room, or expose them to the sun till they become quite warm ; the combs to be inserted are to be kept cool, to prevent their being injured in handling. Having the boxes and combs all in readiness either by the blaze of a candle or bright coals of fire, melt the edge of the comb to be attached, so that on being stuck to the wood where wanted, it will adhere.
Another way is to have melted wax and dip the edge of the comb into it, and then suddenly stick it where wanted. The wax should be barely liquid ; otherwise, a sufficient quantity will not adhere to the comb to make it stick. A little practice will be required to determine the right temperature. All the combs put into a box should be of the same size, and placed parallel with each other, with the centers an inch and a half apart. In putting combs into section honey boxes, the sections should first be made ready to be coupled together. Combs about one inch square are then to be attached to the center of each frame, so as to be square with it when extended.
The advantages gained by thus using combs are : First: an amount of wax, and labor of the bee equal to the quantity of comb so supplied, is saved. Second : the bees are induced . to commence work in boxes so supplied sooner than they otherwise would. TJiird : the combs are built straight and even, and in the desired direction. The above advantages, either separately or combined, are of great importance, and should receive the careful attention of every bee-keeper.
FURTHER ON FEEDING Edit
At the close of the year, there are always honey boxes that are but partially filled ; the honey being mostly uncapped is unfit for market, and is not profitable for table use. Such boxes should be put away in a dry place, and excluded from the air as much as possible, until the opening of the following spring ; at which time they should be distributed to such hives as are most in need of food. The bees will consume the honey and leave the combs to be refilled when the honey season arrives. This is a safe and easy way of feeding, and less likely to excite robbery than any other plan that can be practiced. It also economizes in the item of combs.
SUGGESTIONS TO HONEY-CONSUMERS Edit
Honey, like butter, is frequently very untidily handled. It is mainly owing to this cause that honey in the comb is more sought for than that which is strained. Owing to the filthy habit of some people in smoking and using it to drive the bees from the honey, the latter is frequently so tainted with the fumes of tobacco as to be perceptible both to the scent and taste, although the honey may be perfectly sealed within the comb. In straining honey, it is frequently subjected to heat, whereby the pollen and the impurities of the old combs used a part of each season for rearing brood are set at liberty, and become incorporated with the honey, rendering it both impure and of bad flavor.
On the other hand, honey that is separated from the combs while at a low temperature, and without pressure or use of water, and with all the appliances used in the process, kept clean as well as SWEET, will retain the fine aroma peculiar to all good honey. Air should be excluded as much as possible from honey, as it, together with cold, causes it to candy. Honey will keep good for many years. As an illustration of this fact, my brother (A. Harbison) had a small box filled with honey during the month of August, 1845 ; in November, 1859, it still remained perfectly good. There are large quantities of honey produced in the West India Islands, and imported into the United States, as well as to Europe, where it is known as Cuba honey. It is generally impure, owing mainly to bad handling and adulterations. Being had at a low price, it is, after being clarified, canned up and labelled " pure honey" and thrown into market. There has been considerable honey imported from Mexico to California within the past year or two, and sold at a low price. It appears to be of a better quality than the Cuba honey, but will never compete successfully with that made in California, Oregon, and Washington Territory.
TERMS OF LETTING BEES ON SHARES Edit
As it frequently happens that persons wish, either to let or take bees on shares, the enquiry is often made as to what the terms should be. I therefore propose to state the terms usually made in such cases.
FIRST. The party letting bees takes the risk of their dying, unless it results from inattention or carelessness, during the period for which they are let. The party taking the bees to transport them to the place where they are to be kept, furnish the necessary enclosure, shades, hives for swarms, and attend to keeping the stocks in good order ; watch for and hive the swarms as they issue ; in short, perform all the labor required during the period of two years.
At the end of that time (unless otherwise agreed by the parties) the original stock, together with half their increase and products to revert to their original owner ; who, in turn, bears the expense of their removal. The other half of the increase and products to belong to the party having them in charge. The above terms have been most common, and properly apply where bees are managed on the old system, viz : keeping them in ordinary straw or box hives, letting them swarm as the means of increase, and killing the bees to get their honey. If the bees are in good condition at the time of letting, the first year will be in favor of the party taking them, the second year the advantages would be about equal, and the third year in favor of the party letting them. Consequently, two years would be fair for both parties. If extended to a third, each party should be at an equal expense for the hives needed during said year.
SECOND. Where bees are kept in chamber or other hives, in which honey boxes are used for obtaining the honey, the terms are as follows : If let for one year, the party letting the bees to find the honey boxes for the hives let, to remove and to have all the honey made in said boxes, together with the original hives at the end of the year. The party taking the bees to furnish and to do all the things named in terms No. 1, the parties to share equally in the swarms and their products during or at the end of the year. If let for two years, then the party taking the bees to furnish and to do all the things named in terms No. 1, together with honey boxes for the original stock during the first year ; but during the second year, to find all the hives for the swarms and half the honey boxes for the whole stock, the party letting the bees furnishing the other half. The parties to share equally all the honey made by the bees, both of the old stock and the swarms during said period. At the end of the two years, the swarms to be divided equally between the parties, and the original stock to revert as before. And if let for a third year, then the terms to be the same as named for two years, except that during the third year each party shall furnish their respective share of the hives.
THIRD. Where bees are kept and managed by a skillful bee-keeper, competent to manage them on scientific principles, the terms for the first year should be as follows : The party letting the bees to furnish in addition half of the hives and boxes, and the party taking them the other half, together with sheds, and to give all necessary attention. At the close of the season, a hive of bees for each original one, and equally full, to belong exclusively to the person letting said bees, and the increase to be divided equally between the parties. The above terms would also apply if extended to two years. There are but few practical bee-keepers, however, who, having the means to purchase, will take bees on shares, as the labor of such devoted to the business can be made to yield a return equal in value to the stock, such as can be attended during a season, is worth at its commencement.
Where bees are let to an inexperienced person, and the necessary oversight furnished to secure their proper care and increase, then the terms should be varied accordingly, or other recompense be made by the party having the bees on shares, equal to the amount of assistance rendered.
PREPARING BEES FOR TRANSPORTATION Edit
In preparing bees for transportation two things are essential.
FIRST. To confine them within the hive so as to prevent their escape, while being transported, otherwise there is great danger of their attacking the team used in their removal.
SECOND. To give the bees sufficient air to prevent their smothering during confinement. The quantity of air required depends on the number of bees and brood in a hive, and also on the temperature of the atmosphere. If the ordinary chamber or box hive is used, it should be inverted and wire cloth tacked over the mouth, the hive to remain in the same position until it arrives at its destination; it is then to be turned right side up and set on the stand, and the bees allowed their liberty.
But if the Langstroth hive is used, it is to be kept in the usual position ; after fastening the frames to keep them from rubbing together, wire cloth is to be tacked over the apertures in the honey-board, and also over the entrance passage in front. To prepare the California hive for transportation, all that is ordinarily wanted is to turn the ventilating blocks so as to admit air, and fasten them to prevent their turning out of their places, and close the entrance passage to confine the bees.
But should the hive be crowded with bees, together with a large quantity of brood, and the weather warm, then the front slide (H) should be removed and wire cloth tacked over the opening, which not only affords ample air, but additional room for the bees. The passages leading to the honey boxes should be left open to allow the bees to ascend. The hive must be kept in an upright position at all times. In addition to ventilation, hives of every description should be kept well shaded from the sun, and a free circulation of air allowed around them during the confinement of the bees. With the above precautions, together with careful handling, bees may be transported long distances, at all seasons of the year, with perfect safety.
The reader who has had the patience to follow me thus far, and who has either commenced the business of bee-keeping or intends to do so, may here be reminded that all who commence are riot successsful ; neither are all successful in any other pursuit. " It has been said that three out of five who commence an apiary, must fail." Why is it so ? In most cases, it is owing to a lack of knowledge of the business. It is useless to incur expense in the purchase of stock arid the preparation of fixtures, unless sufficient knowledge is obtained to enable one to properly manage the apiary, and sufficient energy and perseverance exercised to continue the management with efficiency. Notwithstanding the cause of such failures is selfevident, people are frequently heard to say : " I have no luck with bees." " It is no use for me to try to keep bees, for I have tried them ONCE, and they did no good."
There should be no such words as either luck or fail in the bee-keeper's vocabulary ; there is none such practically.
" Good luck " (so called) either results from the possession and application of knowledge of the business, or the inherent vigor of the bees, favored by a genial season : while " bad luck" is always traceable either to ignorance, sloth, an ungenial season, or a combination of those causes. Superstitious notions concerning the honey bee exist in the minds of some people, which have served to retard the business of bee-keeping. Namely : that it is wrong to sell bees that luck will be lost thereby; that if a member of a family dies, the bees will do no good, unless they are informed of the fact, the hives turned upside down, or some other equally absurd performance gone through with. There are many others, but the above are sufficient to illustrate the idea.
The light of science is rapidly removing the incubus from everything pertaining to the welfare of man ; leaving reason to rule in its stead, and pointing out clearly the road to success ; so that it need no longer happen that three persons out of five, nor one out of ten, who commence an apiary, must fail. The business of bee-keeping, perhaps more than any other branch of agriculture, requires a knowledge of Nature and her laws, in order to make it successful in a pecuniary point of view. The pursuit of such knowledge always affords one of the most pleasing studies, and serves to ennoble and better the condition of mankind.