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CHAPTER XXIII

TRANSPORTATION.

" THIS is a practice which many apiarians have re course to, for the purpose of removing their bees to fresh pasture, to districts where buckwheat is cultivated, or to the neighborhood of heaths, or to any other place where such late-blossoming flowers as afford honey abound.

" Mr. Isaac assures us that he once had a poor swarm of a month's standing, which only weighed five pounds, four ounces, and that on the thirtieth of July, he had it removed to Dartmoor Heath, from whence it was brought home, two months afterwards, increased in weight twenty-four pounds and a half. He moreover states that the increase of others that were sent there was nearly proportional, and he is of opinion that the whole addition was made during the month of August.

"In Lower Egypt, where the flower harvest is not so early by several weeks as in the upper districts of that country, this practice of transportation is carried on to a considerable extent. About the end of October, the hives, after being collected together from the different villages and conveyed up the Nile, marked and numbered by the individuals to whom they belong, are heaped pyramidally upon the boats prepared to receive them, which, floating gradually down the river, and stopping at certain stages of their passage, remain there a longer or shorter time, according to the produce which is afforded by the surrounding country. After traveling three months in this manner, the bees having culled the perfumes of the orange flowers of the Saio, and essence of roses of the Faicum, the treasures of the Arabian jessamines, and a variety of flowers, are brought back about the beginning of February to the places from which they had been carried."

The productiveness of the flowers at each respective stage, is ascertained by the gradual descent of the boats in the water, and is probably noted by a scale of measurement.

" This industry procures for the Egyptians delicious honey and abundance of beeswax. The proprietors, in return, pay the boatmen a recompense proportionate to the number of hives which have thus been carried about from one extremity of Egypt to the other. Latreille states that between Cairo and Damietta, a convoy of four thousand hives was seen upon the Nile, by Niebuhr, on their transit from the upper to the lower districts of that country."

Floating bee-hives were formerly common also in France. One barge was capable of containing from sixty to a hundred hives ; which, floating gently down their rivers, enabled the bees to gather the honey which is afforded by the flowers on their banks."

Reaumur likewise states that it has been the practice, in some districts, to transport them with similar views by land, in vehicles contrived for the purpose. Feburier tells us that it is still continued, and that the environs of the forest of Orleans are, at certain seasons, covered with bee-hives. Mr. Oliver, a member of the Institute, also states that in Provence there are honey merchants, who purchase bees for the purpose of transportation. These dealers take all the honey that the bees can spare prior to setting out, and when the plains can no longer afford a supply, ^convey them to the foot of the mountains and sacrifice them, after they have collected their second harvest. In Savoy, Piedmont, and other parts of Italy, this practice is also common. It is, indeed, of very ancient origin. Columella speaks of it as a very general custom among the Greeks, who used annually to send their bee-hives from Achia into Attica.

" The practice prevails to a considerable extent in Scotland. About six miles from Edinburgh, at the foot of one of the Pentland Hills, stands Logan House, supposed to have been the residence of Sir William Worthy, celebrated by Allen Ramsay in his c Gentle Shepherd.' This house is at present occupied by a shepherd, who, about the beginning of August, receives above a hundred bee-hives from his neighbors resident beyond the hills, that the bees may gather honey from the luxuriant blossoms of the mountain heather. The present proprietor of Logan House, W. Robertson, Esq., informs me that he has counted nearly two hundred hives in a season, and that other shepherds, in the neighborhood, undertake similar charges ; among the rest, his own game-keeper, who has accommodation for fifty or sixty families. They remain as long as the heather continues in bloom usually rather more than two months. 'A lover's plaid and a bed of heath,' says the poetical Allen Cunningham, fc are favorite topics with the northern muse. When the heather is in bloom, it is worthy of becoming, the couch of beauty. A sea of brown blossoms, undulating as far as the eye can reach, and swarming with wild bees, is a fine sight.' Sir Walter Scott, in his 'Pirate,' makes an Orkney husbandman speak of having imported nine skeps of bees, for the improvement of the country and for turning the heather bloom into wax and honey.

"These, however, are. advantages which very few situations can afford ; probably but few of my readers may reside in the neighborhood of heaths, and still fewer may be disposed to incur the trouble and expense of removal. If, therefore, incorporation be desirable in any particular case, I can only recommend that attention be paid to supplying the bees with proper food, in a feeding trough, by the assistance of which indeed, I should not be afraid of carrying even a weak stock very safely through the winter and early spring.

'Give your bees,' says Mr. Isaac, ' two harvests in one summer, (alluding to the practice of transportation) and you may make almost any swarm rich enough to live through the following winter.' This second harvest may be very efficiently supplied by an attention to feeding. " I ought here to state, upon the authority of Mr. Dunbar, that if the weather prove wet and unfavorable, as it did in the autumns of 1829 and 1836, the transported hives are sometimes found to diminish in weight during their sojourn on the moors. " In Scotland, prior to the bees being sent to col lect their second harvest, recourse is had to the practice of drumming, or driving, and the bees being thereby expelled from their stores, and secured in a new habitation, are sent on the morrow to their station on the moors, sometimes to a distance of fifteen or twenty miles. There they remain for a month or six weeks; a shilling a hive being the usual compensation to the shepherd who superintends them. " For the above information, I am indebted to Sir J. G. Dalyell, of Edinburgh, the translator of Huber." Sevan.

The foregoing account possesses much interest to bee-keepers in this country, showing as it does the practices of those of other countries. The great diversity of soil and climate found within short distances on the Pacific slope, furnishes inducements and abundance and ease of communication by both land and water, afford facilities for the safe and speedy transportation of bees to sources of fresh and luxuriant pasturage, whenever a location becomes.

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