MOST authors have expressed the opinion that the honey bee is capable o being taught submission, thus intimating that it is necessary to tame them before they are of use to man. This opinion obtains so generally, that a usual remark of persons visiting apiaries is: "I suppose your bees know you;" or, " They know you from strangers."
I have never been able to discover any signs of recognition from my bees, they being just as apt to sting as those of a hive that I have never before seen. If I am less frequently attacked by them than others, it is because I understand their habits, and treat them accordingly. That some persons are more liable to be stung than others, is owing to one or more of the three following causes.
FIRST. Color and texture of dress ; dark clothes or those of a hairy texture particularly a fur hat form a prominent mark, and hence the wearer is liable to receive an occasional dart.
SECOND. Any quick motions made in the vicinity of the hives attract their notice, and cause them to attack the person making such motions.
THIRD. The odor from some perfumes and from the insensible perspiration of some persons, and the breath of persons in bad health, are all offensive to bees, and tend to excite their anger and their propensity to sting.
Bees retain the same unchangeable habits whether they are domiciled in the forest or in the finest flower garden, being even more docile and less liable to sting, when handled for the first time, than at any subsequent time.
When a hive has been once opened and their combs disturbed, on returning to repeat the same operation a few hours or days afterwards., they remember it and resent the injury. This proves that they are naturally vindictive, and but few, if any, can ever be taught submission. The latter can only be done by force or bribery, or the two combined. The season of greatest irritability is when there is least pasturage ; for while rapidly accumulating stores, they are less careful and more easily and safely handled.
HOW DONE. Smoke is the principal agent to be used. Various things are used for producing it, such as tobacco and rotten wood ; but the most convenient, as well as the least hurtful to the bees, is dry cotten or linen rags rolled in the shape of a large candle (the size of which can be varied according to the volume of smoke desired) and tightly wrapped with twine ; by setting one end of this on fire, it continues to burn slowly without flame, the smoke of which, if blown on the bees, is effective in subduing and driving them wherever wanted.
Cold water sprinkled on them is also an efficient agent to effect the same purpose. And another way is to suddenly close up the entrance and rap on the hive for a space of five minutes, on opening it they are generally found to be subdued, this excites their fears and causes them to fill their sacs with honey, when they will have no disposition to seek revenge. Sweetened water or diluted honey is recommended to be given by sprinkling it over the bees and comb, and is intended as a peace offering to keep them quiet while their works are being overhauled. This plan succeeds well where there is no danger of robber bees. But it requires more time than can well be afforded, if time is valuable ; hence I much prefer any of the plans previously named.
MEANS OF PROTECTION. Protection is sometimes necessary to guard against being stung, while tending the bees or working in the immediate vicinity of those that have been disturbed. A protection for the face and neck should be made of material such as is used for ladies' veils, of a size to go over a hat, the brim keeping it expanded, and of a length to be tucked under the coat or vest collar, to prevent the bees from getting underneath it. A pair of gloves for the hands are sometimes necessary. The clothing should be sufficiently thick to prevent the sting of a bee from penetrating through it.
Thus protected, any person can go amongst the bees and perform any operation that may be required without being stung. Most persons will, as soon as they become accustomed to working amongst bees, prefer to do so without any protection. A bee must alight before it can sting: consequently, if the person attacked has either hand at liberty, he can kill or remove it before being stung ; to do so a little patience and judgment is required, for if struck at before alighting they dodge the blow, and then return and sting before a second one can be made.
When attacked while performing any operation with them, use some one of the means heretofore recommended to subdue them. But if not performing any operation, the best plan is to quietly retire, either amongst shrubbery or within some building. Whenever the anger of any hive becomes so aroused as to attack any person or thing that may chance to come near them, they should be immediately treated to a very liberal smoking, or application of cold water, enough to make them desist from wreaking their vengeance.
REMEDY FOR STINGS. As the sting of a bee has a different effect on different persons, there can be no universal remedy for their cure. The best, however, is to remove the sting as quickly as possible, which will prevent its penetrating deeper, and injecting all the poison it may contain. If a portion of the poison can be squeezed or otherwise extracted from the wound, it will help to prevent pain or swelling.
Bathe the wound either with warm or cold water, then apply either spirits of hartshorn, dissolved borax, soda or other alkaline substances. Alcohol, spirits of turpentine, or camphor will, in some cases, afford relief.
HORSES LIABLE TO BE ATTACKED. Horses are liable to be attacked, and instances have occurred where they have been stung to death. Consequently they should never be hitched or allowed to stand in the vicinity, where bees are kept. Some horses, if stung, will rear and plunge, and either throw themselves or take to flight, while others become sullen and lay down, so that no effort can induce them to move.
HOW TO PROCEED IN CASE HORSES ARE ATTACKED. If attacked, at once get them in motion and keep them going until the bees give up the chase. But