Langstroth on the Hive and the Honey-Bee - A Bee Keeper's Manual
by L. L. Langstroth
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The bees prefer to gather fresh bee-bread, even when there are large accumulations of old stores in the cells. Hence, the great importance of being able to make the surplus of old colonies supply the deficiency of young ones. (See No. 28, in the Chapter "On the advantages which ought to be found in an Improved Hive.")

If both honey and pollen can be obtained from the same flower, then a load of each will be secured by the industrious insect. Of this, any one may convince himself, who will dissect a few pollen gatherers at the time when honey is plenty: he will generally find their honey-bags full.

The mode of gathering is very interesting. The body of the bee appears, to the naked eye, to be covered with fine hairs; to these, when the bee alights on a flower, the farina adheres. With her legs, she brushes it off from her body, and packs it in two hollows or baskets, one on each of her thighs: these baskets are surrounded by stouter hairs which hold the load in its place.

When the bee returns with pollen, she often makes a singular, dancing or vibratory motion, which attracts the attention of the other bees, who at once nibble away from her thighs what they want for immediate use; the rest she deposits in a cell for future need, where it is carefully packed down, and often sealed over with wax.

It has been observed that a bee, in gathering pollen, always confines herself to the same kind of flower on which she begins, even when that is not so abundant as some others. Thus if you examine a ball of this substance taken from her thigh, it is found to be of one uniform color throughout: the load of one will be yellow, another red, and a third brown; the color varying according to that of the plant from which it was obtained. It is probable that the pollen of different kinds of flowers would not pack so well together. It is certain that if they flew from one species to another, there would be a much greater mixture of different varieties than there now is, for they carry on their bodies the pollen or fertilizing principle, and thus aid most powerfully in the impregnation of plants.

This is one reason why it is so difficult to preserve pure, the different varieties of the same vegetables whose flowers are sought by the bee.

He must be blind indeed, who will not see, at every step in the natural history of this insect, the plainest proofs of the wisdom of its Creator.

I cannot resist the impression that the honey bee was made for the especial service and instruction of man. At first the importance of its products, when honey was the only natural sweet, served most powerfully to attract his attention to its curious habits; and now since the cultivation of the sugar cane has diminished the relative value of its luscious sweets, the superior knowledge which has been obtained of its instincts, is awakening an increasing enthusiasm in its cultivation.

Virgil in the fourth book of his Georgics, which is entirely devoted to bees, speaks of them as having received a direct emanation from the Divine Intelligence. And many modern Apiarians are almost disposed to rank the bee for sagacity, as next in the scale of creation to man.

The importance of pollen to the nourishment of the brood, has long been known, and of late, successful attempts have been made to furnish a substitute. The bees in Dzierzon's Apiary were observed by him, early in the spring before the time for procuring pollen, to bring rye meal to their hives from a neighboring mill. It is now a common practice on the continent of Europe, where bee keeping is extensively carried on, to supply the bees, in early spring, with this article. Shallow troughs are set in front of the Apiaries, which are filled, about two inches deep, with finely ground, dry, unbolted rye meal. Thousands of bees resort eagerly to them when the weather is favorable, roll themselves in the meal, and return heavily laden to their hives. In fine, mild weather, they labor at this work with astonishing industry; and seem decidedly to prefer the meal to the old pollen stored in their combs. By this means, the bees are induced to commence breeding early, and rapidly recruit their numbers. The feeding is continued till the bees cease to carry away the meal; that is, until the natural supplies furnish them with a preferable article. The average consumption of each colony is about two pounds of meal!

At the last annual Apiarian Convention in Germany, a cultivator recommended wheat flour as an excellent substitute for pollen. He says that in February, 1852, he used it with the best results. The bees forsook the honey which had been set out for them, and engaged actively in carrying in large quantities of the wheat flour, which was placed about twenty paces in front of the hives.

The construction of my hives, permits the flour to be placed, at once, where the bees can take it, without being compelled to waste their time in going out for it, or to suffer for the want of it, when the weather confines them at home.

The discovery of this substitute, removes a serious obstacle to the successful culture of bees. In many districts, there is a great abundance of honey for a few weeks in the season; and almost any number of colonies, which are strong when the honey harvest commences, will, in a good season, lay up sufficient stores for themselves, and a large surplus for their owners. In many of these districts, however, the supply of pollen is often so insufficient, that the new colonies of the previous year are found destitute of this article in the spring; and unless the season is early, and the weather unusually favorable, the production of brood is most seriously interfered with; thus the colony becomes strong too late to avail itself to the best advantage of the superabundant harvest of honey. (See remarks on the importance of having strong stocks early in the Spring.)



In this chapter, I shall enumerate certain very desirable, if not necessary, qualities of a good hive. I have neither the taste nor the time for the invidious work of disparaging other hives. I prefer inviting the attention of bee-keepers to the importance of these requisites; some of which, as I believe, are contained in no hive but my own. Let them be most carefully examined, and if they commend themselves to the enlightened judgment and good common sense of cultivators, let them be employed to test the comparative merits of the various kinds of hives in common use.

1. A good hive should give the Apiarian a perfect control over all the combs: so that any of them may be taken out at pleasure; and this, without cutting them, or enraging the bees.

This advantage is possessed by no hive in use, except my own; and it forms the very foundation of an improved and profitable system of bee-culture. Unless the combs are at the entire command of the Apiarian, he can have no effectual control over his bees. They swarm too much or too little, just as suits themselves, and their owner is almost entirely dependent upon their caprice.

2. It ought to afford suitable protection against extremes of heat and cold, sudden changes of temperature, and the injurious effects of dampness.

In winter, the interior of the hive should be dry, and not a particle of frost should ever find admission; and in summer, the bees should not be forced to work to disadvantage in a pent and almost suffocating heat. (See these points discussed in the Chapter on Protection.)

3. It should permit all necessary operations to be performed without hurting or killing a single bee.

Most hives are so constructed that it is impossible to manage them, without at times injuring or destroying some of the bees. The mere destruction of a few bees, would not, except on the score of humanity, be of much consequence, if it did not very materially increase the difficulty of managing them. Bees remember injuries done to any of their number, for some time, and generally find an opportunity to avenge them.

4. It should allow every thing to be done that is necessary in the most extensive management of bees, without incurring any serious risk of exciting their anger. (See Chapter on the Anger of Bees.)

5. Not a single unnecessary step or motion ought to be required of a single bee.

The honey harvest, in most locations, is of short continuance; and all the arrangements of the hive should facilitate, to the utmost, the work of the busy gatherers. Tall hives, therefore, and all such as compel them to travel with their heavy burdens through densely crowded combs, are very objectionable. The bees in my hive, instead of forcing their way through thick clusters, can easily pass into the surplus honey boxes, not only from any comb in the hive, but without traveling over the combs at all.

6. It should afford suitable facilities for inspecting, at all times, the condition of the bees.

When the sides of my hive are of glass, as soon as the outer cover is elevated, the Apiarian has a view of the interior, and can often at a glance, determine its condition. If the hive is of wood, or if he wishes to make a more thorough examination, in a few minutes every comb may be taken out, and separately inspected. In this way, the exact condition of every colony may always be easily ascertained, and nothing left, as in the common hives, to mere conjecture. This is an advantage, the importance of which it would be difficult to over estimate. (See Chapters on the loss of the queen, and on the Bee Moth.)

7. While the hive is of a size adapted to the natural instincts of the bee, it should be capable of being readily adjusted to the wants of small colonies.

If a small swarm is put into a large hive, they will be unable to concentrate their animal heat, so as to work to the best advantage, and will often become discouraged, and abandon their hive. If they are put into a small hive, its limited dimensions will not afford them suitable accommodations for increase. By means of my movable partition, my hive can, in a few moments, be adapted to the wants of any colony however small, and can, with equal facility, be enlarged from time to time, or at once restored to its full dimensions.

8. It should allow the combs to be removed without any jarring.

Bees manifest the utmost aversion to any sudden jar; for it is in this way, that their combs are loosened and detached. However firmly fastened the frames may be in my hive, they can all be loosened in a few moments, without injuring or exciting the bees.

9. It should allow every good piece of comb to be given to the bees, instead of being melted into wax. (See Chapter on Comb.)

10. The construction of the hive should induce the bees to build their combs with great regularity.

A hive which contains a large proportion of irregular comb, can never be expected to prosper. Such comb is only suitable for storing honey, or raising drones. This is one reason why so many colonies never flourish. A glance will often show that a hive contains so much drone comb, as to be unfit for the purposes of a stock hive.

11. It should furnish the means of procuring comb to be used as a guide to the bees, in building regular combs in empty hives; and to induce them more readily to take possession of the surplus honey receptacles.

It is well known that the presence of comb will induce bees to begin work much more readily than they otherwise Would: this is especially the case in glass vessels.

12. It should allow the removal of drone combs from the hive, to prevent the breeding of too many drones. (See remarks on Drones.)

13. It should enable the Apiarian, when the combs become too old, to remove them, and supply their place with new ones.

No hive can, in this respect, equal one in which, in a few moments, any comb can be removed, and the part which is too old, be cut off. The upper part of a comb, which is generally used for storing honey, will last without renewal for many years.

14. It ought to furnish the greatest possible security against the ravages of the Bee-Moth.

Neither before nor after it is occupied, ought there to be any cracks or crevices in the interior. All such places will be filled by the bees with propolis or bee-glue; a substance, which is always soft in the summer heat of the hive, and which forms a most congenial place of deposit for the eggs of the moth. If the sides of the hive are of glass, and the corners are run with a melted mixture, three parts rosin, and one part bees-wax, the bees will waste but little time in gathering propolis, and the bee-moth will find but little chance for laying her eggs, even if she should succeed in entering the hive.

My hives are so constructed, that if made of wood, they may be thoroughly painted inside and outside, without being so smooth as to annoy the bees; for they travel over the frames to which the combs are attached; and thus whether the inside surface is glass or wood, it is not liable to crack, or warp, or absorb moisture, after the hive is occupied by the bees. If the hives are painted inside, it should be done sometime before they are used. If the interior of the wooden hive is brushed with a very hot mixture of the rosin and bees-wax, the hives may be used immediately.

15. It should furnish some place accessible to the Apiarian, where the bee-moth can be tempted to deposit her eggs, and the worms, when full grown, to wind themselves in their cocoons. (See remarks on the Bee-Moth.)

16. It should enable the Apiarian, if the bee-moth ever gains the upper hand of the bees, to remove the combs, and expel the worms. (See Bee-Moth.)

17. The bottom board should be permanently attached to the hive; for if this is not done, it will be inconvenient to move the hive when bees are in it, and next to impossible to prevent the depredations of moths and worms.

Sooner or later, there will be crevices between the bottom board and the sides of the hive, through which the moths will gain admission, and under which the worms, when fully grown, will retreat to spin their webs, and to be changed into moths, to enter in their turn, and lay their eggs. Movable bottom hoards are a great nuisance in the Apiary, and the construction of my hive, which enables me entirely to dispense with them, will furnish a very great protection against the bee-moth. There is no place where they can get in, except at the entrance for the bees, and this may be contracted or enlarged, to suit the strength of the colony; and from its peculiar shape, the bees are enabled to defend it against intruders, with the greatest advantage.

18. The bottom-board should slant towards the entrance, to assist the bees in carrying out the dead, and other useless substances; to aid them in defending themselves against robbers; to carry off all moisture; and to prevent the rain and snow from beating into the hive. As a farther precaution against this last evil, the entrance ought to be under a covered way, which should not, at once lead into the interior.

19. The bottom-board should be so constructed that it may be readily cleared of dead bees in cold weather, when the bees are unable to attend to this business themselves.

If suffered to remain, they often become mouldy, and injure the health of the colony. If the bees drag them out, as they will do, if the weather moderates, they often fall with them on the snow, and are so chilled that they never rise again; for a bee generally retains its hold in flying away with the dead, until both fall to the ground.

20. No part of the interior of the hive should be below the level of the place of exit.

If this principle is violated, the bees must, at great disadvantage, drag their dead, and all the refuse of the hive, up hill. Such hives will often have their bottom boards covered with small pieces of comb, bee-bread, and other impurities, in which the moth delights to lay her eggs; and which furnished her progeny with a most congenial nourishment, until they are able to get access to the combs.

21. It should afford facilities for feeding the bees both in warm and cold weather.

In this respect, my hive has very unusual advantages. Sixty colonies in warm weather may, in an hour, be fed a quart each, and yet no feeder be used, and no risk incurred from robbing bees. (See Chapter on Feeding.)

22. It should allow of the easy hiving of a swarm, without injuring any of the bees, or risking the destruction of the queen. (See Chapter on Natural Swarming, and Hiving.)

23. It should admit of the safe transportation of the bees to any distance whatever.

The permanent bottom-board, the firm attachment of the combs, each to a separate frame, and the facility with which, in my hive, any amount of air can be given to the bees when shut up, most admirably adapt it to this purpose.

24. It should furnish the bees with air when the entrance is shut; and the ventilation for this purpose ought to be unobstructed, even if the hives should be buried in two or three feet of snow. (See Chapter on Protection.)

25. A good hive should furnish facilities for enlarging, contracting, and closing the entrance; so as to protect the bees against robbers, and the bee-moth; and when the entrance is altered, the bees ought not to lose valuable time in searching for it, as they must do in most hives. (See Chapters on Ventilation, and on Robbing.)

26. It should give the bees the means of ventilating their hives, without enlarging the entrance too much, so as to expose them to moths and robbers, and to the risk of losing their brood by a chill in sudden changes of weather. (See Chapter on Ventilation.)

To secure this end, the ventilators must not only be independent of the entrance, but they must owe their efficiency mainly to the co-operation of the bees themselves, who thus have a free admission of air only when they want it. To depend on the opening and shutting of the ventilators by the bee-keeper, is entirely out of the question.

27. It should furnish facilities for admitting at once, a large body of air; so that in winter, or early spring, when the weather is at any time unusually mild, the bees may be tempted to fly out and discharge their faeces. (See Chapter on Protection.)

If such a free admission of air cannot be given to hives which are thoroughly protected against the cold, the bees may lose a favorable opportunity of emptying themselves; and thus be more exposed than they otherwise would, to suffer from diseases resulting from too long confinement. A very free admission of air is also desirable when the weather is exceedingly hot.

28. It should enable the Apiarian to remove the excess of bee-bread from old stocks.

This article always accumulates in old hives, so that in the course of time, many of the combs are filled with it, thus unfitting them for the rearing of brood, and the reception of honey. Young stocks, on the other hand, will often be so deficient in this important article, that in the early part of the season, breeding will be seriously interfered with. By means of my movable frames, the excess of old colonies may be made to supply the deficiency of young ones, to the mutual benefit of both. (See Chapter on Pollen.)

29. It should enable the Apiarian, when he has removed the combs from a common hive, to place them with the bees, brood, honey and bee-bread, in the improved hive, so that the bees may be able to attach them in their natural positions. (See directions for transferring bees from an old hive.)

30. It should allow of the easy and safe dislodgement of the bees from the hive.

This requisite is especially important to secure the union of colonies, when it becomes necessary to break up some of the stocks. (See remarks on the Union of Stocks.)

31. It should allow the heat and odor of the main hive, as well as the bees themselves, to pass in the freest manner, to the surplus honey receptacles.

In this respect, all the hives with which I am acquainted, are more or less deficient: the bees are forced to work in receptacles difficult of access, and in which, especially in cool nights, they find it impossible to keep up the animal heat necessary for comb-building. Bees cannot, in such hives, work to advantage in glass tumblers, or other small vessels. One of the most important arrangements of my hive, is that by which the heat ascends into all the receptacles for storing honey, as naturally and almost as easily as the warmest air ascends to the top of a heated room.

32. It should permit the surplus honey to be taken away, in the most convenient, beautiful and salable forms, at any time, and without any risk of annoyance from the bees.

In my hives, it may be taken in tumblers, glass boxes, wooden boxes small or large, earthen jars, flower-pots; in short, in any kind of receptacle which may suit the fancy, or the convenience of the bee-keeper. Or all these may be dispensed with, and the honey may be taken from the interior of the main hive, by removing the frames with loaded combs, and supplying their place with empty ones.

33. It should admit of the easy removal of all the good honey from the main hive, that its place may be supplied with an inferior article.

Bee-Keepers who have but few colonies, and who wish to secure the largest yield, may remove the loaded combs from my hive, slice off the covers of the cells, drain out the honey, and restore the empty combs, into which, if the season of gathering is over, they can first pour the cheap foreign honey for the use of the bees.

34. It should allow, when quantity not quality is the object, the largest amount of honey to be gathered; so that the surplus of strong colonies may, in the Fall, be given to those which have not a sufficient supply.

By surmounting my hive with a box of the same dimensions, the combs may all be transferred to this box, and the bees, when they commence building, will descend and fill the lower frames, gradually using the upper box, as the brood is hatched out, for storing honey. In this way, the largest possible yield of honey may be secured, as the bees always prefer to continue their work below, rather than above the main hive, and will never swarm, when allowed in season, ample room in this direction. The combs in the upper box, containing a large amount of bee-bread and being of a size adapted to the breeding of workers, will be all the better for aiding weak colonies.

35. It should compel, when desired, the force of the colony to be mainly directed to raising young bees; so that brood may be on hand to form new colonies, and strengthen feeble stocks. (See Chapter on Artificial Swarming.)

36. It ought, while well protected from the weather, to be so constructed, that in warm, sunny days in early spring, the influence of the sun may be allowed to penetrate and warm up the hive, so as to encourage early breeding. (See Chapter on Protection.)

37. The hive should be equally well adapted to be used as a swarmer, or non-swarmer.

In my hives bees may be allowed, if their owner chooses, to swarm just as they do in common hives, and be managed in the usual way. Even on this plan, the great protection against the weather which it affords, and the command over all the combs, will be found to afford great advantages. (See Natural Swarming.)

Non-swarming hives managed in the ordinary way are liable, in spite of all precautions, to swarm very unexpectedly, and if not closely watched, the swarm is lost, and with it the profit of that season. By having the command of the combs, the queen in my hives can always be caught and deprived of her wings; thus she cannot go off with a swarm, and they will not leave without her.

38. It should enable the Apiarian, if he allows his bees to swarm, and wishes to secure surplus honey, to prevent them from throwing more than one swarm in a season.

Second and third swarms must be returned to the old stock, if the largest quantities of surplus honey are to be realized. It is troublesome to watch them, deprive them of their queens, and restore them to the parent hive. They often issue with new queens again and again; and waste, in this way, both their own time, and that of their keeper. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." In my hives, as soon as the first swarm has issued, and been hived, all the queen cells except one, in the hive from which it came, may be cut out, and thus all after-swarming will very easily and effectually be prevented. (See Chapter on Artificial Swarming, for the use to which these supernumerary queens may be put.) When the old stock is left with but one queen, she runs no risk of being killed or crippled in a contest with rivals. By such contests, a colony is often left without a queen, or in possession of one which is too much maimed to be of any service. (See Chapter on the Loss of the Queen.)

39. A good hive should enable the Apiarian, if he relies on natural swarming, and wishes to multiply his colonies as fast as possible, to make vigorous stocks of all his small after-swarms.

Such swarms contain a young queen, and if they can be judiciously strengthened, usually make the best stock hives. If hived in a common hive, and left to themselves, unless very early, or in very favorable seasons, they seldom thrive. They generally desert their hives, or perish in the winter. If they are small, they cannot be made powerful, even by the most generous feeding. There are too few bees to build comb, and take care of the eggs which a healthy queen can lay; and when fed, they are apt to fill with honey, the cells in which young bees ought to be raised; thus making the kindness of their owner serve only to hasten their destruction. My hives enable me to supply all such swarms at once with combs containing bee-bread, honey and brood almost mature. They are thus made strong, and flourish as well, nay, often better than the first swarms which have an old queen, whose fertility is generally not so great as that of a young one.

40. It should enable the Apiarian to multiply his colonies with a certainty and rapidity which are entirely out of the question, if he depends upon natural swarming. (See Chapter on Artificial Swarming.)

41. It should enable the Apiarian to supply destitute colonies with the means of obtaining a new queen.

Every Apiarian would find it, for this reason, if for no other, to his advantage to possess, at least, one such hive. (See Chapters on Physiology, and loss of Queen.)

42. It should enable him to catch the queen, for any purpose; especially to remove an old one whose fertility is impaired by age, that her place may be supplied with a young one. (See Chapter on Artificial Swarming.)

43. While a good hive is adapted to the wants of those who desire to enter upon bee-keeping on a large scale, or at least to manage their colonies on the most improved plans, it ought to be suited to the wants of those who are too timid, too ignorant, or for any reason indisposed, to manage them in any other than the common way.

44. It should enable a single individual to superintend the colonies of many different persons.

Many would like to keep bees, if they could have them taken care of, by those who would undertake their management, just as a gardener does the gardens and grounds of his employers. No person can agree to do this with the common hives. If the bees are allowed to swarm, he may be called in a dozen different directions, and if any accident, such as the loss of a queen, happens to the colonies of his customers, he can apply no remedy. If the bees are in non-swarming hives, he cannot multiply the stocks when this is desired.

On my plan, gentlemen who desire it, may have the pleasure of witnessing the industry and sagacity of this wonderful insect, and of gratifying their palates with its delicious stores, harvested on their own premises, without incurring either trouble or risk of injury.

45. All the joints of the hive should be water-tight, and there should be no doors or slides which are liable to shrink, swell, or get out of order.

The importance of this will be sufficiently obvious to any one who has had the ordinary share of vexatious experience in the use of such fixtures.

46. It should enable the bee-keeper entirely to dispense with sheds, and costly Apiaries; as each hive when properly placed, should alike defy, heat or cold, rain or snow. (See Chapter on Protection.)

47. It should allow the contents of a hive, bees, combs and all, to be taken out; so that any necessary repairs may be made.

This may be done, with my hives, in a few minutes. "A stitch in time saves nine." Hives which can be thoroughly overhauled and repaired, from time to time, if properly attended to, will last for generations.

48. The hive and fixtures should present a neat and attractive appearance, and should admit, when desired, of being made highly ornamental.

49. The hives ought not to be liable to be blown down in high winds.

My hives, being very low in proportion to their other dimensions, it would require almost a hurricane to upset them.

50. It should enable an Apiarian who lives in the neighborhood of human pilferers, to lock up the precious contents of his hives, in some cheap, simple and convenient way.

A couple of padlocks with some cheap fixtures, will suffice to secure a long range of hives.

51. A good hive should be protected against the destructive ravages of mice in winter.

It seems almost incredible that so puny an animal should dare to invade a hive of bees; and yet not unfrequently they slip in when the bees are compelled by the cold to retreat from the entrance. Having once found admission, they build themselves a nest in their comfortable abode, eat up the honey, and such bees as are too much chilled to make any resistance; and fill the premises with such an abominable stench, that on the approach of warm weather, the bees often in a body abandon their desecrated home. As soon as the cold weather approaches, all my hives may have their entrances either entirely closed, or so contracted that a mouse cannot gain admission.

52. A good hive should have its alighting board constructed so as to shelter the bees against wind and wet, and thus to facilitate to the utmost their entrance when they come home with their heavy burdens.

If this precaution is neglected, much valuable time and many lives will be sacrificed, as the colony cannot be encouraged to use to the best advantage the unpromising days which so often occur in the working season.

I have succeeded in arranging my alighting board in such a manner that the bees are sheltered against wind and wet, and are able to enter the hive with the least possible loss of time.

53. A well constructed hive ought to admit of being shut up in winter, so as to consign the bees to darkness and repose.

Nothing can be more hazardous than to shut up closely an ill protected hive. Even if the bees have an abundance of air, it will not answer to prevent them from flying out, if they are so disposed. As soon as the warmth penetrating their thin hives tempts them to fly, they crowd to the entrance, and if it is shut, multitudes worry themselves to death in trying to get out, and the whole colony is liable to become diseased.

In my hives as soon as the bees are shut up for Winter, they are most effectually protected against all atmospheric changes, and never desire to leave their hives until the entrances are again opened, on the return of suitable weather. Thus they pass the Winter in a state of almost absolute repose; they eat much less honey[12] than when wintered on the ordinary plan; a much smaller number die in the hives; none are lost upon the snow, and they are more healthy, and commence breeding much earlier than they do in the common hives. As some of the holes into the Protector are left open in Winter, any bee that is diseased and wishes to leave the hive can do so. Bees when diseased have a strange propensity to leave their hives, just as animals when sick seek to retreat from their companions; and in Summer such bees may often be seen forsaking their home to perish on the ground. If all egress from the hive in Winter is prevented, the diseased bees will not be able to comply with an instinct which urges them "To leave their country for their country's good."

54. It should possess all these requisites without being too costly for common bee-keepers, or too complicated to be constructed by any one who can handle simple tools: and they should be so combined that the result is a simple hive, which any one can manage who has ordinary intelligence on the subject of bees.

I suppose that the very natural conclusion from reading this long list of desirables, would be that no single hive can combine them all, without being exceedingly complicated and expensive. On the contrary, the simplicity and cheapness with which my hive secures all these results, is one of its most striking peculiarities, the attainment of which has cost me more study than all the other points besides. As far as the bees are concerned, they can work in this hive with even greater facility than in the simple old-fashioned box, as the frames are left rough by the saw, and thus give an admirable support to the bees when building their combs; and they can enter the spare honey boxes, with even more ease than if they were merely continuations of the main hive.

There are a few desirables to which my hive makes not the slightest pretensions! It promises no splendid results to those who purchase it, and yet are too ignorant, or too careless to be entrusted with the management of bees. In bee-keeping, as in other things, a man must first understand his business, and then proceed on the good old maxim, that "the hand of the diligent maketh rich."

It possesses no talismanic influence by which it can convert a bad situation for honey, into a good one; or give the Apiarian an abundant harvest whether the season is productive or otherwise.

It cannot enable the cultivator rapidly to multiply his stocks, and yet to secure, the same season, surplus honey from his bees. As well might the breeder of poultry pretend that he can, in the same year, both raise the greatest number of chickens, and sell the largest number of eggs.

Worse than all, it cannot furnish the many advantages enumerated, and yet be made in as little time, or quite as cheap as a hive which proves, in the end, to be a very dear bargain.

I have not constructed my hive in accordance with crude theories, or mere conjectures, and then insisted that the bees must flourish in such a fanciful contrivance; but I have studied, for many years, most carefully, the nature of the honey-bee; and have diligently compared my observations with those of writers and practical cultivators, who have spent their lives in extending the sphere of Apiarian knowledge; and as the result, have endeavored to adapt my hive to the actual wants and habits of the bee; and to remedy the many difficulties with which I have found its successful culture to be beset. And more than this, I have actually tested by experiments long continued and on a large scale, the merits of this hive, that I might not deceive both myself and others, and add another to the many useless contrivances which have deluded and disgusted a credulous public. I would, however, most earnestly repudiate all claims to having devised a "perfect bee-hive." Perfection can belong only to the works of the great Creator, to whose Omniscient eye, all causes and effects with all their relations, were present, when he spake, and from nothing formed the universe and all its glorious wonders. For man to stamp upon any of his own works, the label of perfection, is to show both his folly and presumption.

It must be confessed that the culture of bees is at a very low ebb in our country, when thousands can be induced to purchase hives which are in most glaring opposition not only to the true principles of Apiarian knowledge, but often, to the plainest dictates of simple common sense. Such have been the losses and disappointments of deluded purchasers, that it is no wonder that they turn from everything offered in the shape of a patent bee-hive, as a miserable humbug, if not a most bare-faced cheat.

I do not hesitate to say that those old-fashioned bee-keepers, who have most steadily refused to meddle with any novelties, and who have used hives of the very simplest construction, or at least such as are only one remove from the old straw hive, or wooden box, have, as a general thing, realized by far the largest profits in the management of bees. They have lost neither time, money nor bees, in the vain hope of obtaining any unusual results from hives, which, in the very nature of the case, can secure nothing really in advance of what can be accomplished by a simple box-hive with an upper chamber.

A hive of the simplest possible construction, is only a close imitation of the abode of bees in a state of nature; being a mere hollow receptacle in which they are protected from the weather, and where they can lay up their stores.

An improved hive is one which contains, in addition, a separate apartment in which the bees can be induced to lay up the surplus portion of their stores, for the use of their owner. All the various hives in common use, are only modifications of this latter hive, and, as a general rule, they are bad, exactly in proportion as they depart from it. Not one of them offers any remedy for the loss of the queen, or indeed for most of the casualties to which bees are exposed: they form no reliable basis for any new system of management; and hence the cultivation of bees, is substantially where it was, fifty years ago, and the Apiarian as entirely dependent as ever, upon all the whims and caprices of an insect which may be made completely subject to his control.

No hive which does not furnish a thorough control over every comb, can be considered as any substantial advance on the simple improved or chamber hive. Of all such hives, the one which with the least expense, gives the greatest amount of protection, and the readiest access to the spare honey boxes, is the best.

Having thus enumerated the tests to which all hives ought to be subjected, and by which they should stand or fall, I submit them to the candid examination of practical, common sense bee-keepers, who have had the largest experience in the management of bees, and are most conversant with the evils of the present system; and who are therefore best fitted to apply them to an invention, which, if I may be pardoned for using the enthusiastic language of an experienced Apiarian on examining its practical workings, "introduces, not simply an improvement, but a revolution in bee-keeping."


[12] A writer in the New England Farmer for March, 1853, estimates that the mild winter has been worth in the saving of fodder to the farmers of New Hampshire alone, two and a half millions of dollars! By suitable arrangements, bees even in the very coldest climates can have all the advantages of a mild winter.



I specially invite a careful perusal of this chapter, as the subject, though of the very first importance in the management of bees, is one to which but little attention has been given by the majority of cultivators.

In our climate of great and sudden extremes, many colonies are annually injured or destroyed by undue exposure to heat or cold. In Summer, thin hives are often exposed to the direct heat of the sun, so that the combs melt, and the bees are drowned in their own sweets. Even if they escape utter ruin, they cannot work to advantage in the almost suffocating heat of their hives.

But in those places where the Winters are both long and severe, it is much more difficult to protect the bees from the cold than from the heat. Bees are not, as some suppose, in a dormant, or torpid condition in Winter. It must be remembered that they were intended to live in colonies, in Winter, as well as Summer. The wasp, hornet, and other insects which do not live in families in the Winter, lay up no stores for cold weather, and are so organized as to be able to endure in a torpid state, a very low temperature; so low that it would be certain death to a honey-bee, which when frozen, is as surely killed as a frozen man.

As soon as the temperature of the hives falls too low for their comfort, the bees gather themselves into a more compact body, to preserve to the utmost, their animal heat; and if the cold becomes so great that this will not suffice, they keep up an incessant, tremulous motion, accompanied by a loud humming noise; in other words, they take active exercise in order to keep warm! If a thermometer is pushed up among them, it will indicate a high temperature, even when the external atmosphere is many degrees below zero. When the bees are unable to maintain the necessary amount of animal heat, an occurrence which is very common with small colonies in badly protected hives, then, as a matter of course, they must perish.

Extreme cold, when of long continuance, very frequently destroys colonies in thin hives, even when they are strong both in bees and honey. The inside of such hives, is often filled with frost, and the bees, after eating all the food in the combs in which they are clustered, are unable to enter the frosty combs, and thus starve in the midst of plenty. The unskilfull bee-keeper who finds an abundance of honey in the hives, cannot conjecture the cause of their death.

If the cold merely destroyed feeble colonies, or strong ones only now and then, it would not be so formidable an enemy; but every year, it causes many of the most flourishing stocks to perish by starvation. The extra quantity of food which they are compelled to eat, in order to keep up their heat in their miserable hives, is often the turning point with them, between life and death. They starve, when with proper protection, they would have had food enough and to spare.

But some one may say, "What possible difference can the kind of hives in which bees are kept make in the quantity of food which they will consume?" Enough, I would reply, in some single winters, to pay the difference between a good hive and a bad one!

I cannot move my finger, or wink my eye-lids without some waste of muscle, however small; for it is a well-ascertained law in our animal economy, that all muscular exertion is attended with a corresponding waste of muscular fibre. Now this waste must be supplied by the consumption of food, and it would be as unreasonable to expect constant heat from a stove without fresh supplies of fuel, as incessant muscular activity from an insect, without a supply of food proportioned to that activity. If then we can contrive any way to keep our bees in almost perfect quiet during the Winter, we may be certain that they will need much less food than when they are constantly excited.

In the cold Winter of 1851-2, I kept two swarms in a perfectly dry and dark cellar, where the temperature was remarkably uniform, seldom varying two degrees from 50 deg. of Fahrenheit; and I found that the bees ate very little honey. The hives were of glass, and the bees, when examined from time to time, were found clustered in almost death-like repose. If these bees had been exposed in thin hives in the open air, they would, in all probability, have eaten four times as much; for whenever the sun shone upon them, or the atmosphere was unusually warm, they would have been roused to injurious activity, and the same would have been the case, when the cold was severe. Exposed to sudden changes and severe cold, they would have been in almost perpetual motion, and must have been compelled to consume a largely increased quantity of food. In this way, many colonies are annually starved to death, which if they had been better protected, would have survived to gladden their owner with an abundant harvest. This protection, as a general thing, must be given to them in the open air, for it is a very rare thing, to meet with a cellar which is dry enough to prevent the combs from moulding, and the bees from becoming diseased.

Bees never, unless diseased, discharge their faeces in the hive; and the want of suitable protection, by exciting undue activity, and compelling them to eat more freely, causes their bodies to be greatly distended with accumulated faeces. On the return of warm weather, bees in this condition being often too feeble to fly, crawl from their hives, and miserably perish.

I must notice another exceedingly injurious effect of insufficient protection, in causing the moisture to settle upon the cold top and sides of the interior of the hive, from whence it drips upon the bees. In this way, many of their number are chilled and destroyed, and often the whole colony is infected with dysentery. Not unfrequently, large portions of the comb are covered with mould, and the whole hive is rendered very offensive.

This dampness which causes what may be called a rot among the bees, is one of the worst enemies with which the Apiarian in a cold climate, has to contend, as it weakens or destroys many of his best colonies. No extreme of cold ever experienced in latitudes where bees flourish, can destroy a strong colony well supplied with honey, except indirectly, by confining them to empty combs. They will survive our coldest winters, in thin hives raised on blocks to give a freer admission of air, or even in suspended hives, without any bottom-board at all. Indeed, in cold weather, a very free admission of air is necessary in such hives, to prevent the otherwise ruinous effects of frozen moisture; and hence the common remark that bees require as much or more air in Winter than in Summer.

When bees, in unsuitable hives, are exposed to all the variations of the external atmosphere, they are frequently tempted to fly abroad if the weather becomes unseasonably warm, and multitudes are lost on the snow, at a season when no young are bred to replenish their number, and when the loss is most injurious to the colony.

From these remarks, it will be obvious to the intelligent cultivator, that protection against extremes of heat and cold, is a point of the VERY FIRST IMPORTANCE; and yet this is the very point, which, in proportion to its importance, has been most overlooked. We have discarded, and very wisely, the straw hives of our ancestors; but such hives, with all their faults, were comparatively warm in Winter, and cool in Summer. We have undertaken to keep bees, where the cold of Winter, and the heat of Summer are alike intense; and where sudden and severe changes are often fatal to the brood: and yet we blindly persist in expecting success under circumstances in which any marked success is well nigh impossible.

That our country is eminently favorable to the production of honey, cannot be doubted. Many of our forests abound With colonies which are not only able to protect themselves against all their enemies, the dreaded bee-moth not excepted, but which often amass prodigious quantities of honey. Nor are such colonies found merely in new countries. They exist frequently in the very neighborhood of cultivators whose hives are weak and impoverished, and who impute to a decay of the honey resources of the country, the inevitable consequences of their own irrational system of management. It will not be without profit, to consider briefly under what circumstances these wild colonies flourish, and how they are protected against sudden and extreme changes of temperature.

Snugly housed in the hollow of a tree whose thickness and decayed interior are such admirable materials for excluding atmospheric changes, the bees in Winter are in a state of almost absolute repose. The entrance to their abode is generally very small in proportion to the space within; and let the weather out of doors vary as it may, the inside temperature is very uniform. These natural hives are dry, because the moisture finds no cold or icy top, or sides, on which to condense, and from which it must drip upon the bees, destroying their lives, or enfeebling their health, by filling the interior of their dwelling with mould and dampness. As they are very quiet, they eat but little, and hence their bodies are not distended and diseased by accumulated faeces. Often they do not stir from their hollows, from November until March or April; and yet they come forth in the Spring, strong in numbers, and vigorous in health. If at any time in the winter season, the warmth is so great as to penetrate their comfortable abodes, and to tempt them to fly, when they venture out, they find a balmy atmosphere in which they may disport with impunity. In the Summer, they are protected from the heat, not merely by the thickness of the hollow tree, but by the leafy shade of overarching branches, and the refreshing coolness of a forest home.

The Russian and Polish bee-keepers, living in a climate whose winters are much more severe than our own, are among the largest and most successful cultivators of bees, many of them numbering their colonies by hundreds, and some even by thousands!

They have, with great practical sagacity, imitated as closely as possible, the conditions under which bees are found to flourish so admirably in a state of nature. We are informed by Mr. Dohiogost, a Polish writer, that his countrymen make their hives of the best plank, and never less than an inch and a half in thickness. The shape is that of an old-fashioned churn, and the hive is covered on the outside, halfway down, with twisted rope cordage, to give it greater protection against extremes of heat and cold. The hives are placed in a dry situation, directly upon the hard earth, which is first covered with an inch or two of clean, dry sand. Chips are then heaped up all around them, and covered with earth banked up in a sloping direction to carry off the rain. The entrance is at some distance above the bottom, and is a triangle, whose sides are only one inch long. In the winter season, this entrance is contracted so that only one bee can pass at a time. Such a hive, with us, as it does not furnish the honey in convenient, beautiful and salable forms, would not meet the demands of our cultivators. Still, there are some very important lessons to be learned from it, by all who keep bees in regions of cold winters, and hot summers. It shows the importance which some of the largest Apiarians in the world, attach to protection; practical, common sense men, whose heads have not been turned, as some would express it, by modern theories and fanciful inventions. They cultivate their bees almost in a state of nature, and their experience on what we would term a gigantic scale, ought to convince even the most incredulous, of the folly of pretending to keep bees, in the miserably thin and unprotected hives to which we have been accustomed.

But how, it will be asked, can bees live in Winter, in a hive so closely shut up as the Polish hive? They do live in such hives, and prosper, just as they do in hollow trees, with only one small entrance. It is well known that bees have flourished when their hives were buried in Winter, and under circumstances in which but a very small amount of air could possibly gain admission to them. Bees, when kept in a dry place, in properly protected hives and in a state of almost perfect repose, need only a small supply of air; and the objection that those cultivators among us, who shut up their colonies very closely in Winter, are almost sure to lose them, is of no weight; because the majority of our hives are so deficient in protection, that if they are too closely shut up, "the breath of the bees," condensing and freezing upon the inside, and afterwards thawing, causes the combs to mould, and the bees to become diseased; just as many substances mould and perish when kept in a close, damp cellar.

We are now prepared to discuss the question of protection in its relations to the construction of hives. We have seen how it is furnished to the bees in the Polish hives, and in the decayed hollows of trees. If the Apiarian chooses, he can imitate this plan by constructing his hives of very thick plank: but such hives would be clumsy, and with us, expensive. Or he may much more effectually reach the same end, by making his hives double, so as to enclose an air space all around, which in Winter may be filled with charcoal, plaster of Paris, straw, or any good non-conductor, to enable the bees to preserve with the least waste, their animal heat. I prefer to pack the air-space with plaster of Paris, as it is one of the very best non-conductors of heat, being used in the manufacture of the celebrated Salamander fire-proof safes. Hives may be constructed in this way, which without great expense, may be much better protected than if they were made of six-inch plank. As the price of glass is very low, I prefer to construct the inside of my doubled hives of this material. When a number of hives are to be made, as the lowest price glass will answer every purpose, I can furnish a given amount of protection cheaper with glass than wood, while the glass possesses some most decided advantages over any other material. The hives are lighter and more compact, than when made of doubled wood, and can be more easily moved, while the Apiarian can gratify his rational curiosity, and inspect at all times, the condition of his stocks. The very interest inspired by being able to see what they are doing, will go far to protect them from that indifference and neglect, which is so often fatal to their prosperity. The way in which I make my hives, not only protects the bees against extremes of heat and cold, but it guards them very effectually, against the injurious and often fatal effects of condensed moisture. By means of my movable frames, the combs are prevented from being attached to the sides, top or bottom of the hive; they are in fact, suspended in the air. If now the dampness can be prevented from condensing any where, over the bees, so that it may not drip upon their combs, and if it can be easily discharged from the hive wherever it may collect, it cannot, under any circumstances, seriously annoy them. Such are the arrangements in my hives, that but very little moisture forms in them, and all that does, is deposited on the sides in preference to any other part of the interior; just as it is upon the colder walls or windows, rather than the ceiling of a room. But as the combs are kept away from the sides, this moisture cannot annoy the bees; nor can it penetrate the glass as it does unpainted wood or straw, thus causing a more protracted dampness; it must run down their smooth surfaces, and fall upon the bottom-board, from whence it can be easily discharged from the hive. By packing in winter, the necessary amount of protection is secured for the top and sides of the hive, and the very worst property of glass, (its parting so rapidly with heat,) is changed into one of the very best for the purposes of a bee-hive. I prefer not only to make the sides of my hive of glass, but of double glass, with an air space of about an inch between the two panes of glass. The extra cost[13] of this construction will be amply repaid by the additional protection given to the bees. It will be absolutely impossible for any frost ever to penetrate through this air space, and the packing between the outside case and the main hive. The combs in such a hive cannot be melted down, even if the hive is exposed to the reflected and concentrated heat of a blazing sun: the same construction which secures them against the cold of Winter, equally protecting them from the heat of Summer. There is one disadvantage to which all well protected hives of the ordinary construction, are exposed. In the Spring of the year, it is exceedingly desirable that the warmth of the sun should penetrate the hives, to encourage the bees in early breeding; but the very arrangement which protects them from cold, often interferes with this. A bee-hive is thus like a cellar, warm in Winter, and cool in Summer; but often unpleasantly cool in the early Spring, when the atmosphere out of doors is warm and delightful. In my hive, this difficulty is easily remedied. In the Spring, as soon as the bees begin to fly, on warm, sun-shiny days, the upper part of the outside case is removed, so that the genial heat of the sun can penetrate to every part of the hive. The cover must be replaced while the sun is still shining, so that the hives may be shut up while they are warm. The labor of doing this, need occupy only a few minutes daily, and as soon as warm weather fairly sets in, it may be dispensed with. It may be performed without any risk, by a woman or a boy.

If the hive is of glass, it will warm up all the better, and as the combs are on frames, they cannot be melted or injured by the heat. It is a serious objection to most covered Apiaries, that they do not permit the hives to receive the genial heat of the sun at a period of the year when instead of injuring the bees, it exerts a most powerful influence in developing their brood.

This is one among many reasons why I have discarded them, and why I prefer to construct my hives in such a manner that they need no extra covering, but stand exposed to the full influence of the sun. I have known strong colonies which have survived the Winter in thin hives, to increase rapidly and swarm early, because of the stimulating effect of the sun; while others, deprived of this influence, in dark bee houses and well protected hives, have sometimes disappointed the hopes of their owners. Although my glass hives are very beautiful, and most admirably protected, still hives of doubled wood may often be built to better advantage by those who construct their own hives, and they can be made to furnish any desirable amount of protection.

Enclosed Apiaries are at best but nuisances: they soon become lurking-places for spiders and moths; and after all the expense wasted on their construction, afford, but little protection against extreme cold.

I have been thus particular on the subject of protection, in order to convince every bee keeper who exercises common sense, that thin hives ought to be given up, if either pleasure or profit is sought from his bees. Such hives an enlightened Apiarian could not be persuaded to purchase, and he would consider them too expensive in their waste of honey and bees, to be worth accepting, even as a gift. Many strong colonies which are lodged in badly protected hives, often consume in extra food, in a single hard winter, more than enough to pay the difference between the first cost of a good hive over a bad one. In the severe winter of 1851-2, many cultivators lost nearly all their stocks, and a large part of those which survived, were too much weakened to be able to swarm. And yet these same miserable hives, after accomplishing the work of destruction on one generation of bees, are reserved to perform the same office for another. And this some call economy!

I am well aware of the question which many of my readers have for some time been ready to ask of me. Can you make one of your well protected hives as cheaply as we construct our common hives? I would remind such questioners, that it is hardly possible to build a well protected house as cheaply as a barn.

And yet by building my hives in solid structures, three together, I am able to make them for a very moderate price, and still to give them even better protection than when they are constructed singly. If they are not built of doubled materials they can be made for as little money as any other patent hive, and yet afford much greater protection; as the combs touch neither the top, bottom nor sides of the hive. I recommend however a construction, which although somewhat more costly at first, is yet much cheaper in the end.

Such is the passion of the American people for cheapness in the first cost of an article, even at the evident expense of dearness in the end, that many, I doubt not, will continue to lodge their bees in thin hives, in spite of their conviction of the folly of so doing; just as many of our shrewdest Yankees build thin wooden houses, in the cold climate of New England, or plaster their stone or brick ones directly on the wall, when the extra cost of fuel to warm them, far exceeds the interest on the additional expense which would be necessary to give them the requisite protection; to say nothing of the doctors' bills, and fatal diseases which can be traced often to the dreary barns or damp vaults which they build, and call houses!


I attach very great importance to the way in which I give the bees effectual protection against extremes of heat and cold, and sudden changes of temperature, without removing them from their stands, or incurring the expense and disadvantages of a covered Bee-House. This I accomplish by means of what I shall call a Protector which is constructed substantially as follows.

Select a dry and suitable location for the bees, where they will not be disturbed, or prove an annoyance to others. If possible, let it be in full sight of the sitting room, so that they may be seen in case of swarming; and let it face the South-East, and be well protected from the force of strong winds. Dig a trench, about two feet deep; its length should depend upon the number of hives to be accommodated; and its breadth should be such that when it is properly walled up, it should measure from the outside top of one wall to another, just sufficient to receive the bottom of the hive. The walls, may be built of refuse brick or stones, and should be about four feet high from the foundation; the upper six inches being built of good brick, and the back wall about two inches higher than the front one, so as to give the bottom-board of the hives, the proper slant towards the entrance. At one end of this Protector, a wooden chimney should be built, and if the number of hives is great, there should be one at each end, admitting air in Winter, and yet excluding rain and snow. The earth which is thrown out in digging, should be banked up against the walls as high as the good brick, and in a slope which, when grassed over, may be easily mowed with a common scythe. The slope on the back should be more perpendicular than in front so as not to be in the way when operating upon the hives.

The bottom may be covered with an inch or two of clean sand and in winter with straw. In Summer, the ends are left open, so that a free current of air may pass through, while in Winter, they are properly banked up; and straw, evergreen boughs, or any other material, suitable for excluding frost, may if necessary, be placed all around the outside of the Protector. Such an arrangement will be found very cheap, when compared with a Bee-House or covered Apiary, and may be made both neat and highly ornamental. It may be constructed of wood by those who desire something still cheaper, and any one who can handle a spade, hammer, plane and saw, can make for himself a structure on which a hundred hives may stand, at less expense than would be necessary to build a covered Apiary for ten. As the ventilators of the hive open into this Protector, the bees are, in Summer, supplied with a cool and refreshing atmosphere, as closely as possible resembling that which they find in a forest home; while in Winter, the external entrances of the hives may be safely closed, and they will receive a supply of air remarkably uniform and never much below the freezing point. As the hives themselves are double, no frost can penetrate through them, and thus their interior will almost always be perfectly dry. When the weather suddenly moderates, and bees in the common hives fly out, and are lost on the snow, those arranged in the manner described, will not know that any change has taken place, but will remain quiet in their winter quarters, unless the weather is so warm that their owner judges it safe to open the entrances, so that the warmth may penetrate their hives, and tempt them to fly, and discharge their faeces. Let it be remembered that the object of this arrangement is not to warm up the hives by artificial heat; but merely to enable the bees to retain to the utmost their own animal heat, to secure the advantages set forth in this Chapter on Protection. Once or twice during the Winter, the blocks which regulate the entrances to my hives should be removed, and as the frames are kept about half an inch from the bottom-board, by means of a stick or wire, all the dead bees and filth may, in a few moments, be removed: or as the entrance of the hives by removing the blocks, may be so enlarged as to offer no obstruction to its introduction or removal, an old newspaper can be kept on the bottom-board, and drawn out from time to time, with all its contents.

A movable board of the same thickness and length with the bottom-boards of the hive and about six inches wide, separates the hives from each other, as they stand upon the Protector.

I have made numerous observations upon the temperature of a Protector made substantially on the plan described, and find that it is wonderfully uniform. The lowest range of the thermometer during the months of January and February, 1853, in the Protector, was 28 deg.; in the open air, 14 deg. below zero; the highest in the Protector 32 deg.; in the open air 56 deg.. It will thus be seen that while the thermometer out of doors had a range of 70 deg., in the Protector it had a range of only 4 deg.. While bees in common hives during some warm days flew out and perished in large numbers on the snow; the bees over the Protector were perfectly quiet. To this arrangement I attach an importance second only to my movable frames, and believe that combined with doubled hives, it removes the chief obstacle to the successful cultivation of bees in cold latitudes.[14] In the coldest regions where bees can find supplies in Summer, they may during a Winter that lasts from November to May, and during which the mercury congeals, be kept as comfortable as in climates which seem much more propitious for their cultivation. The more snow the better, as it serves more the effectually to exclude the cold from the Protector. However long and dreary the Winter, the bees in their comfortable quarters feel none of its injurious influences; and actually consume less, than those which are kept where the winters are short, and so mild that the bees are often tempted to fly, and are in a state of almost continual excitement. It is in precisely such latitudes, in Poland and Russia, that bees are kept in the largest numbers, and with the most extraordinary success. In the chapter on Pasturage, I shall show that some of the coldest places in New England, and the Middle States, are among the most favored spots for obtaining the largest supplies of the very purest honey.

Having thoroughly tested the practicability of affording the bees by my Protector, complete protection against heat and cold, at a very small expense, and in a way which may be made highly ornamental, the proper steps will be taken to secure a patent right for the same; although no extra charge will be made for this, or for any other subsequent improvement, to those who purchase the right to use my hive.


[13] The cost of the glass for one hive so as to give the air space all around, if purchased at the wholesale prices will not exceed 25 cts. Where three hives are made in one structure, the glass for the three will cost less than 50 cents; if double glass is not used, the expense would be less by one half.

[14] The observations to test the temperature of the Protector were made in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in latitude 42 deg. 36 min.



If a populous hive is examined on a warm Summer day, a considerable number of bees will be found standing on the alighting board, with their heads turned towards the entrance, the extremity of their bodies slightly elevated, and their wings in such rapid motion that they are almost as indistinct as the spokes of a wheel, in swift rotation on its axis. A brisk current of air may be felt proceeding from the hive, and if a small piece of down be suspended by a thread, it will be blown out from one part of the entrance, and drawn in at another. What are these bees expecting to accomplish, that they appear so deeply absorbed in their fanning occupation, while busy numbers are constantly crowding in and out of the hive? and what is the meaning of this double current of air? To Huber, we owe the first satisfactory explanation of these curious phenomena. These bees plying their rapid wings in such a singular attitude, are performing the important business of ventilating the hive; and this double current is composed of pure air rushing in at one part, to supply the place of the foul air forced out at another. By a series of the most careful and beautiful experiments, Huber ascertained that the air of a crowded hive is almost, if not quite, as pure as the atmosphere by which it is surrounded. Now, as the entrance to such a hive, is often, (more especially in a state of nature,) very small, the interior air cannot be renewed without resort to some artificial means. If a lamp is put into a close vessel with only one small orifice, it will soon exhaust all the oxygen, and go out. If another small orifice is made, the same result will follow; but if by some device a current of air is drawn out from one, an equal current will force its way into the other, and the lamp will burn until the oil is exhausted.

It is precisely on this principle, of maintaining a double current by artificial means, that the bees ventilate their crowded habitations. A body of active ventilators stands inside of the hive, as well as outside, all with their heads turned towards the entrance, and by the rapid fanning of their wings, a current of air is blown briskly out of the hive, and an equal current drawn in. This important office is one which requires great physical exertion on the part of those to whom it is entrusted; and if their proceedings are carefully watched, it will be found that the exhausted ventilators, are, from time to time, relieved by fresh detachments. If the interior of the hive will admit of inspection, in very hot weather, large numbers of these ventilators will be found in regular files, in various parts of the hive, all busily engaged in their laborious employment. If the entrance at any time is contracted, a speedy accession will be made to the numbers, both inside and outside; and if it is closed entirely, the heat of the hive will quickly increase, the whole colony will commence a rapid vibration of their wings, and in a few moments will drop lifeless from the combs, for want of air.

It has been proved by careful experiments that pure air is necessary not only for the respiration of the mature bees, but that without it, neither the eggs can be hatched, nor the larvae developed. A fine netting of air-vessels covers the eggs; and the cells of the larvae are sealed over with a covering which is full of air holes. In Winter, as has been stated in the Chapter on Protection, bees, if kept in the dark, and neither too warm nor too cold, are almost dormant, and seem to require but a small allowance of air; but even under such circumstances, they cannot live entirely without air; and if they are excited by being exposed to atmospheric changes, or by being disturbed, a very loud humming may be heard in the interior of their hives, and they need quite as much air as in warm weather.

If at any time, by moving their hives, or in any other way, bees are greatly disturbed, it will be unsafe to confine them, especially in warm weather, unless a very free admission of air is given to them, and even then, the air ought to be admitted above, as well as below the mass of bees, or the ventilators may become clogged with dead bees, and the swarm may perish. Under close confinement, the bees become excessively heated, and the combs are often melted down. When bees are confined to a close atmosphere, especially if dampness is added to its injurious influences, they are sure to become diseased; and large numbers, if not the whole colony, perish from dysentery. Is it not under circumstances precisely similar, that cholera and dysentery prove most fatal to human beings? How often do the filthy, damp and unventilated abodes of the abject poor, become perfect lazar-houses to their wretched inmates?

I examined, last Summer, the bees of a new swarm which had been suffocated for want of air, and found their bodies distended with a yellow and noisome substance, just as though they had perished from dysentery. A few were still alive, and instead of honey, their bodies were filled with this same disgusting fluid; though the bees had not been shut up, more than two hours.

In a medical point of view, I consider these facts as highly interesting; showing as they do, under what circumstances, and how speedily, disease may be produced.

In very hot weather, if thin hives are exposed to the sun's rays, the bees are excessively annoyed by the intense heat, and have recourse to the most powerful ventilation, not merely to keep the air of the hive pure, but to carry off, as much as possible, its internal warmth. They often leave the interior of the hive, almost in a body, and in thick masses, cluster on the outside, not simply to escape the close heat within, but to guard their combs against the danger of being dissolved. At such times they are particularly careful not to cluster on the combs containing sealed honey; for as most of these combs have not been lined with the cocoons of the larvae, they are, for this reason, as well as on account of the extra amount of wax used for their covers, much more liable to be melted, than the breeding cells.

Apiarians have often noticed the fact, that as a general thing, the bees leave the honey cells almost entirely bare, as soon as they have sealed them over; but it seems to have escaped their observation, that in hot weather, there is often an absolute necessity for such a course. In cool weather, on the contrary, the bees may often be found clustered among the sealed honey-combs, because there is then no danger of their melting down.

Few things in the range of their wonderful instincts, are so well fitted to impress the mind with their admirable sagacity, as the truly scientific device, by which these wise little insects ventilate their dwellings. I was on the point of saying that it was almost like human-reason, when the painful and mortifying reflection presented itself to my mind that in respect to ventilation, the bee is immensely in advance of the great mass of those who consider themselves as rational beings. It has, to be sure, no ability to make an elaborate analysis of the chemical constituents of the atmosphere, and to decide how large a proportion of oxygen is essential to the support of life, and how rapidly the process of breathing converts this important element into a deadly poison. It has not, like Leibig, been able to demonstrate that God has set the animal and vegetable world, the one over against the other; so that the carbonic acid produced by the breathing of the one, furnishes the aliment of the other; which, in turn, gives out its oxygen for the support of animal life; and that, in this wonderful manner, God has provided that the atmosphere shall, through all ages, be as pure as when it first came from His creating hand. But shame upon us! that with all our intelligence, the most of us live as though pure air was of little or no importance; while the bee ventilates with a scientific precision and thoroughness, that puts to the blush our criminal neglect.

To this it may be replied that ventilation in our case, cannot be had, without considerable expense. Can it be had for nothing, by the industrious bees? Those busy insects, which are so indefatigably plying their wings, are not engaged in idle amusement; nor might they, as some would-be utilitarian may imagine, be better employed in gathering honey, or in superintending some other department in the economy of the hive. They are at great expense of time and labor, supplying the rest of the colony with pure air, so conducive in every way, to their health and prosperity.

I trust that I shall be permitted to digress, for a short time, from bees to men, and that the remarks which I shall offer on the subject of ventilation in human dwellings, may make a deeper impression, in connection with the wise arrangements of the bee, than they would, if presented in the shape of a mere scientific discussion; and that some who have been in the habit of considering all air, except in the particular of temperature, as about alike, may be thoroughly convinced of their mistake.

Recent statistics prove that consumption and its kindred diseases are most fearfully on the increase, in the Northern, and more especially in the New England States; and that the general mortality of Massachusetts exceeds that of almost every other state in the Union. In these States, the tendency of increasing attention to manufacturing and mechanical pursuits, is to compel a larger and larger proportion of the population to lead an in-door life, and to breathe an atmosphere more or less vitiated, and thus unfit for the full development of vigorous health. The importance of pure air can hardly be over-estimated; indeed, the quality of the air we breath, seems to exert an influence much more powerful, and hardly less direct, than the mere quality of our food. Those who, by active exercise in the open air, keep their lungs saturated as it were, with the pure element, can eat almost anything with impunity; while those who breath the sorry apology for air which is to be found in so many habitations, although they may live upon the most nutritious diet, and avoid the least excess, are incessantly troubled with head-ache, dyspepsia, and various mental as well as physical sufferings. Well may such persons, as they witness the healthy forms and happy faces of so many of the hardy sons of toil, exclaim with the old Latin poet,

"Oh dura messorum illia!"

It is with the human family very much as it is with the vegetable kingdom. Take a plant or tree, and shut it out from the pure air, and the invigorating light, and though you may supply it with an abundance of water and the very soil, which by the strictest chemical analysis, is found to contain all the elements that are essential to its vigorous growth, it will still be a puny thing, ready to droop, if exposed to a summer's sun, or to be prostrated by the first visitation of a winter's blast. Compare now, this wretched abortion, with an oak or maple which has grown upon the comparatively sterile mountain pasture, and whose branches, in Summer are the pleasant resort of the happy songsters, while, under its mighty shade, the panting herds drink in a refreshing coolness. In Winter it laughs at the mighty storms, which wildly toss its giant branches in the air, and which serve only to exercise the limbs of the sturdy tree, whose roots deep intertwined among its native rocks, enable it to bid defiance to anything short of a whirlwind or tornado.

To a population, who, for more than two-thirds of the year, are compelled to breathe an atmosphere heated by artificial means, the question how can this air be made, at a moderate expense, to resemble, as far as possible, the purest ether of the skies is, (or as I should rather say ought to be,) a question of the utmost interest. When open fires were used, there was no lack of pure air, whatever else might have been deficient. A capacious chimney carried up through its insatiable throat, immense volumes of air, to be replaced by the pure element, whistling in glee, through every crack, crevice and keyhole. Now the house-builder and stove-maker with but few exceptions[15] seem to have joined hands in waging a most effectual warfare against the unwelcome intruder. By labor-saving machinery, they contrive to make the one, the joints of his wood-work, and the other, those of his iron-work, tighter and tighter, and if it were possible for them to accomplish fully their manifest design, they would be able to furnish rooms almost as fatal to life as "the black hole of Calcutta." But in spite of all that they can do, the materials will shrink, and no fuel has yet been found, which will burn without any air, so that sufficient ventilation is kept up, to prevent such deadly occurrences. Still they are tolerably successful in keeping out the unfriendly element; and by the use of huge cooking-stoves with towering ovens, and other salamander contrivances, the little air that can find its way in, is almost as thoroughly cooked, as are the various delicacies destined for the table.

On reading an account of a run-away slave, who was for a considerable time, closely boxed up, a gentleman remarked that if the poor fellow had only known that a renewal of the air was necessary to the support of life, he could not have lived there an hour without suffocation: I have frequently thought that if the occupants of the rooms I have been describing, could only know as much, they would be in almost similar danger.

Bad air, one would think, is bad enough: but when it is heated and dried to an excessive degree, all its original vileness is stimulated to greater activity, and thus made doubly injurious by this new element of evil. Not only our private houses, but our churches and school-rooms, our railroad cars, and all our places of public assemblage, are, to a most lamentable degree, either unprovided with any means of ventilation, or, to a great extent, supplied with those which are so wretchedly deficient that they

"Keep the word of promise to our ear, And break it to our hope."

That ultimate degeneracy must surely follow such entire disregard of the laws of health, cannot be doubted; and those who imagine that the physical stamina of a people can be undermined, and yet that their intellectual, moral and religious health will suffer no eclipse or decay, know very little of the intimate connection between body and mind, which the Creator has seen fit to establish.

The men may, to a certain extent, resist the injurious influences of foul air; as their employments usually compel them to live much more out of doors: but alas, alas! for the poor women! In the very land where women are treated with more universal deference and respect than in any other, and where they so well deserve it, there often, no provision is made to furnish them with that great element of health, cheerfulness and beauty, heaven's pure, fresh air.

In Southern climes, where doors and windows may be safely kept open for a large part of the year, pure air is cheap enough, and can be obtained without any special effort: but in Northern latitudes, where heated air must be used for nearly three-quarters of the year, the neglect of ventilation is fast causing the health and beauty of our women to disappear. The pallid cheek, or the hectic flush, the angular form and distorted spine, the debilitated appearance of a large portion of our females, which to a stranger, would seem to indicate that they were just recovering from a long illness, all these indications of the lamentable absence of physical health, to say nothing of the anxious, care-worn faces and premature wrinkles, proclaim in sorrowful voices, our violation of God's physical laws, and the dreadful penalty with which He visits our transgressions.

Our people must, and I have no doubt that eventually they will be most thoroughly aroused to the necessity of a vital reform on this important subject. Open stoves, and cheerful grates and fire-places will again be in vogue with the mass of the people, unless some better mode of warming shall be devised, which, at less expense, shall make still more ample provision for the constant introduction of fresh air. Houses will be constructed, which, although more expensive in the first cost, will be far cheaper in the end, and by requiring a much smaller quantity of fuel to warm the air, will enable us to enjoy the luxury of breathing air which may be duly tempered, and yet be pure and invigorating. Air-tight and all other lung-tight stoves will be exploded, as economizing in fuel only when they allow the smallest possible change of air, and thus squandering health and endangering life.

The laws very wisely forbid the erection of wooden buildings in large cities, and in various ways, prescribe such regulations for the construction of edifices as are deemed to be essential to the public welfare; and the time cannot, I trust, be very far distant, when all public buildings erected for the accommodation of large numbers, will be required by law, to furnish a supply of fresh air, in some reasonable degree adequate to the necessities of those who are to occupy them.

I shall ask no excuse for the honest warmth of language which will appear extravagant only to those who cannot, or rather will not, see the immense importance of pure air to the highest enjoyment, not only of physical, but of mental and moral health. The man who shall succeed in convincing the mass of the people, of the truth of the views thus imperfectly presented, and whose inventive mind shall devise a cheap and efficacious way of furnishing a copious supply of pure air for our dwellings and public buildings, our steamboats and railroad cars, will be even more of a benefactor than a Jenner, or a Watt, a Fulton, or a Morse.

To return from this lengthy and yet I trust not unprofitable digression.

In the ventilation of my hive, I have endeavored, as far as possible, to meet all the necessities of the bees, under the varying circumstances to which they are exposed, in our uncertain climate, whose severe extremes of temperature impress most forcibly upon the bee-keeper, the maxim of the Mantuan Bard,

"Utraque vis pariter apibus metuenda."

"Extremes of heat or cold, alike are hurtful to the bees." In order to make artificial ventilation of any use to the great majority of bee-keepers, it must be simple, and not as in Nutt's hive, and many other labored contrivances, so complicated as to require almost as constant supervision as a hot-bed or a green-house. The very foundation of any system of ventilation should be such a construction of the hive that the bees shall need a change of air only for breathing.

In the Chapter on Protection, I have explained the construction of my hives, and of the Protector by which the bees being kept warm in Winter, and cool in Summer, do not require, as in thin hives, a very free introduction of air, in hot weather, to keep the combs from softening; or a still larger supply in Winter, to prevent them from moulding, and to dry up the moisture which runs from their icy tops and sides; and which, if suffered to remain, will often affect the bees with dysentery, or as it is sometimes called, "the rot." The intelligent Apiarian will perceive that I thus imitate the natural habitation of the bees in the recesses of a hollow tree in the forest, where they feel neither the extremes of heat nor cold, and where through the efficacy of their ventilating powers, a very small opening admits all the air which is necessary for respiration.

In the Chapter on the Requisites of a good hive, I have spoken of the importance of furnishing ventilation, independently of the entrance. By such an arrangement, I am able to improve upon the method which the bees are compelled to adopt in a state of nature. As they have no means of admitting air by wire-cloth, and at the same time, of effectually excluding all intruders, they are obliged in very hot weather, and in a very crowded state of their dwellings, to employ a larger force in the laborious business of ventilation, than would otherwise be necessary; while in Winter, they have no means of admitting air which is only moderately cool. I can keep the entrance so small, that only a single bee can go in at once, or I can, if circumstances require, entirely close it, and yet the bees need not suffer for the want of air. In all ordinary cases, the ventilators will admit a sufficient supply of duly tempered air from the Protector, and the bees can, at any time, increase their efficiency by their own direct agency, while yet they will, at no time, admit a strong current of chilly air, so as to endanger the life of the brood. As bees are, at all times, prone to close the ventilators with propolis, they must be placed where they can easily be removed, and cleansed, by soaking them in boiling water.

As respects ventilation from above, as well as from below, so as to allow a free current of air to pass through the hive, I am decidedly opposed to it, as in cool and windy weather, such a current often compels the bees to retire from the brood, which in this way is destroyed by a fatal chill. In thin hives, ventilation from above may be desirable in Winter, to carry off the superfluous moisture, but in properly constructed hives, standing over a Protector, there is, as has already been remarked, little or no dampness to be carried off. The construction of my hives will allow, if at all desirable, of ventilation from above; and I always make use of it, when the bees are to be shut up for any length of time, in order to be moved; as in this case, there is always a risk that the ventilators on the bottom-board may be clogged by dead bees, and the colony suffocated. As the entrance of the hive, may in a moment, be enlarged to any desirable extent, without in the least perplexing the bees, any quantity of air may be admitted, which the necessities of the bees, under any possible circumstances, may require. It may be made full 18 inches in length, but as a general rule, in Summer, in a large colony, it need not exceed six inches: while in Spring and Fall, two or three inches will suffice. In Winter, it should be entirely closed; unless in latitudes so warm, that even with the Protector, the bees cannot be kept quiet. The bee-keeper should never forget that it is almost certain destruction to a colony, to confine them when they wish to fly out. The precautions requisite to prevent robbing, will be subsequently described. In Northern latitudes, in the months of April and May, I prefer to keep the ventilators entirely closed; as the air of the Protector, at such times, like the air of a cellar in Spring, is uncomfortably cool, and has a tendency to interfere with breeding.

NOTE.—Since the remarks on the neglect of ventilation were put in type, my attention has been called by Hon. M. P. Wilder, of Dorchester, to an article on the same subject, in the Nov. number of the Horticulturist, for 1850, from the pen of the lamented Downing. It seems to have been written shortly after his return from Europe, and when he must have been most deeply impressed by the woful contrast, in point of physical health between the women of America and Europe. While he speaks in just and therefore glowing terms of the virtues of our countrywomen, he says: "But in the signs of physical health and all that constitutes the outward aspect of the men and women of the United States, our countrymen and especially countrywomen, compare most unfavorably with all but the absolutely starving classes on the other side of the Atlantic." Close stoves he has most appropriately styled "little demons," and impure air "The favorite poison of America." His article concludes as follows:

"Pale countrymen and countrywomen rouse yourselves! Consider that God has given us an atmosphere of pure health-giving air 45 miles high, and ventilate your houses."


[15] The beautiful open or Franklin stoves, manufactured by Messrs. Jagger, Treadwell and Perry, of Albany, deserve the highest commendation: they economize fuel as well as life and health.



The swarming of bees has been justly regarded as one of the most beautiful sights in the whole compass of rural economy. Although, for reasons which will hereafter be assigned, I prefer to rely chiefly on artificial means for the multiplication of colonies, I should be very unwilling to pass a season without participating, to some extent, in the pleasing excitement of natural swarming.

"Up mounts the chief, and to the cheated eye Ten thousand shuttles dart along the sky; As swift through aether rise the rushing swarms, Gay dancing to the beam their sun-bright forms; And each thin form, still ling'ring on the sight, Trails, as it shoots, a line of silver light. High pois'd on buoyant wing, the thoughtful queen, In gaze attentive, views the varied scene, And soon her far-fetch'd ken discerns below The light laburnum lift her polish'd brow, Wave her green leafy ringlets o'er the glade, And seem to beckon to her friendly shade. Swift as the falcon's sweep, the monarch bends Her flight abrupt; the following host descends. Round the fine twig, like cluster'd grapes, they close In thickening wreaths, and court a short repose." Evans.

The swarming of bees, by making provision for the constant multiplication of colonies, was undoubtedly intended both to guard the insect against the possibility of extinction, and to make its labors in the highest degree useful to man. The laws of reproduction in those insects which do not live in regular colonies, are such as to secure an ample increase of numbers. The same is true in the case of hornets, wasps and humble-bees which live in colonies only during the warm weather. In the Fall of the year, all the males perish, while the impregnated females retreat into winter quarters and remain dormant, until the warm weather restores them to activity, and each one becomes the mother of a new family.

The honey bee differs from all these insects, in being compelled, by the laws of its physical organization, to live in communities, during the entire year. The balmy breezes of Spring will quickly thaw out the frozen veins of a torpid Wasp; but the bee is incapable of enduring even a moderate degree of cold: a temperature as low as 50 deg. speedily chills it, and it would be quite as easy to recall to life the stiffened corpses in the charnel house of the Convent of the Great St. Bernard, as to restore to animation, a frozen bee. In cool weather, they must therefore associate in large numbers, in order to maintain the animal heat which is necessary to their preservation; and the formation of new colonies, after the manner of wasps and hornets, is clearly impossible. If the young queens left the parent stock in Summer, and were able, like the mother-wasps, to lay the foundations of a new colony, they could not maintain the warmth requisite for the development of their young, even if they were able, without any baskets on their thighs, to gather bee-bread for their support. If all these difficulties were surmounted, they would still be unable to amass any treasures for our use, or even to lay up the stores requisite for their own preservation.

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