I have repeatedly spoken of the great care which is necessary to prevent bees from getting a taste of forbidden sweets, so as to be tempted to engage in dishonest courses. The experienced Apiarian will fully appreciate the necessity of these cautions, and the inexperienced, if they neglect them, will be taught a lesson that they will not soon forget. Let it be remembered that the bee was intended to gather its sweets from the nectaries of flowers: to use the exquisitely beautiful language of him whose wonderful writings supply us on almost every subject, with the richest thoughts and happiest illustrations, they were created to
"Make boot upon the Summer's velvet buds, Which pillage they with merry march bring home To the tent royal of their emperor: Who, busied in his majesty, surveys The singing masons, building roofs of gold."—Shakspeare.
When thus engaged, the bees work in perfect accordance with their natural instincts, and seem to have little or no disposition to meddle with property that does not belong to them. If however, their incautious owner tempts them with liquid food, especially at times when they can obtain nothing from the blossoms, they seem to be so infatuated with such easy gatherings, as to lose all discretion, and they will perish by thousands, if the vessels which contain the food are not furnished with floats, on which they can stand and help themselves in safety.
The fly was intended to feed, not upon the blossoms, but upon food in which, without care, it could easily be drowned; and hence it alights most cautiously, on the edge of any vessel containing liquid food, and warily helps itself: while the poor bee, without any caution, plunges right in and speedily perishes. The sad fate of their unfortunate companions, does not in the least, deter others who approach the tempting lure: but they madly alight on the bodies of the dying and the dead, to share the same miserable end! No one can understand the full extent of their infatuation, until after seeing a confectioner's shop, assailed by thousands and tens of thousands of hungry bees. I have seen thousands strained out from the syrups in which they had perished; thousands more alighting even upon the boiling sweets; the floors covered, and windows darkened with bees, some crawling, others flying, and others still, so completely daubed as to be able neither to crawl nor fly; not one bee in ten able to carry home its ill-gotten spoils, and yet the air filled with new hosts of thoughtless comers.
It will be for the interest of all engaged in the manufacture of candy and syrups, to fit gauze wire windows and doors to their premises, and thus save themselves from constant loss and annoyance: for if only one bee in a hundred escapes with his load, the confectioner will be subjected in the course of the season to serious loss. I once furnished such an establishment, after the bees had commenced their depredations, with such protection; and when they found themselves excluded, they lit on the wire by thousands, and fairly squealed with vexation and disappointment, as they tried to force a passage through the meshes. At last as they were daring enough to descend the chimney, reeking with sweet odors, even although the most who attempted it, fell with scorched wings into the fire, it became necessary to put wire gauze over the top of the chimney also!
How often, as I have seen thousands of bees, in such places destroyed, and thousands more deprived of all ability to fly, and hopelessly struggling in the deluding sweets, and yet thousands more blindly hovering over them, all unmindful of their danger, and apparently eager to share the same destruction, how often has the spectacle of their infatuation seemed to me, to be an exact picture of the woful delusion of those who surrender themselves to the fatal influences of the intoxicating cup. Even although they see the miserable victims of this degrading vice, falling all around them, into premature and dishonored graves, they still press on, madly trampling as it were, over their dead and dying bodies, that they too may sink into the same abyss of agonies, and that their sun may also go down in darkness and hopeless gloom. Even although they know that the next cup may send them, with all their sins upon their heads, to the dread tribunal of their God, that cup of bitter sorrows and untold degradation, they will drain even to its most loathsome dregs.
The avaricious bee that despised the slow process of extracting nectar from "every opening flower," and plunged recklessly into the tempting sweets, has ample time to bewail its folly. Even if it has not paid the forfeit of its life, but has been able to obtain its fill, it returns home with all its beautiful plumage sullied and besmeared, and with a woe-begone look, and sorrowful note, in marked contrast with the bright hues and merry sounds with which the industrious bee returns from its happy rovings amid "the budding honey flowers, and sweetly breathing fields."
Just so, has many a pilgrim from the golden shores of California and Australia, returned; enfeebled in body and mind, bankrupt often in character and happiness, if not in purse, and unfitted in every way, for the calm and sober pursuits of common industry; while thousands, yes, and tens of thousands too, shall never more behold their once happy homes. Bibles and Sabbaths, altars and firesides, parents and friends, wife and children, how often have all these been wantonly abandoned, in the accursed greed for gain, by those who might have been happy and prosperous at home, and who wandered from its sacred precincts only because they were determined to make the possession of wealth, the chief object of life, but whose bones now lie amid the coral reefs of the ocean, or moulder in the howling wastes of the "overland passage;" just as the bones of the unbelieving Israelites whitened the sands of the desert. Of those who have reached the "land of" golden "promise," how many have died in despair, or worse still, are living so besotted by vice, so lost to all power of virtuous resolutions, that they shall never more see the happy homes from which they so thoughtlessly wandered, never more hear the soft accents of loving friends; never more worship God, in a peaceful Sanctuary, or ever again behold an opened Bible!
"Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Bright and yellow, hard and cold, Molten, graven, hammer'd, and roll'd; Heavy to get, and light to hold; Hoarded, barter'd, bought, and sold, Stolen, borrow'd, squander'd, doled: Spurn'd by the young, but hugg'd by the old To the very verge of the churchyard mould; Price of many a crime untold; Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! Good or bad a thousand-fold! How widely its agencies vary— To save—to ruin—to curse—to bless— As even its minted coins express, Now stamp'd with the image of Good Queen Bess, And now of a Bloody Mary!" Hood.
HONEY. PASTURAGE. OVERSTOCKING.
In the chapter on Feeding, it has already been stated that honey is not a natural secretion of the bee, but a substance obtained from the nectaries of the blossoms; it is not therefore, made, but merely gathered by the bees. The truth is well expressed in the lines so familiar to most of us from our childhood,
"How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour, And gather honey all the day From every opening flower."
Bees not only gather honey from the blossoms, but often obtain it in large quantities from what have been called honey dews; "a term applied to those sweet, clammy drops that glitter on the foliage of many trees in hot weather." Two different opinions have been zealously advocated as to the origin of honey-dews. By some, they are considered a natural exudation from the leaves of trees, a perspiration as it were, occasioned often by ill health, though sometimes a provision to enable the plants to resist the fervent heats to which they are exposed. Others insist that this sweet substance is discharged from the bodies of those aphides or small lice which infest the leaves of so many plants. Unquestionably they are produced in both ways.
Messrs. Kirby and Spence, in their interesting work on Entomology, have given a description of the kind of honey-dew furnished by the aphides.
"The loves of the ants and the aphides have long been celebrated; and that there is a connection between them, you may, at any time in the proper season, convince yourself; for you will always find the former very busy on those trees and plants on which the latter abound; and if you examine more closely, you will discover that the object of the ants, in thus attending upon the aphides, is to obtain the saccharine fluid secreted by them, which may well be denominated their milk. This fluid, which is scarcely inferior to honey in sweetness, issues in limpid drops from the abdomen of these insects, not only by the ordinary passage, but also by two setiform tubes placed, one on each side, just above it. Their sucker being inserted in the tender bark, is without intermission employed in absorbing the sap, which, after it has passed through their system, they keep continually discharging by these organs. When no ants attend them, by a certain jerk of the body, which takes place at regular intervals, they ejaculate it to a distance."
"Mr. Knight once observed," says Bevan, "a shower of honey-dew descending in innumerable small globules, near one of his oak-trees, on the 1st of September; he cut off one of the branches, took it into the house, and holding it in a stream of light, which was purposely admitted through a small opening, distinctly saw the aphides ejecting the fluid from their bodies with considerable force, and this accounts for its being frequently found in situations where it could not have arrived by the mere influence of gravitation. The drops that are thus spurted out, unless interrupted by the surrounding foliage, or some other interposing body, fall upon the ground; and the spots may often be observed, for some time, beneath and around the trees affected with honey-dew, till washed away by the rain. The power which these insects possess of ejecting the fluid from their bodies, seems to have been wisely instituted to preserve cleanliness in each individual fly, and indeed for the preservation of the whole family; for pressing as they do upon one another, they would otherwise soon be glued together, and rendered incapable of stirring. On looking steadfastly at a group of these insects (Aphides Salicis) while feeding on the bark of the willow, their superior size enables us to perceive some of them elevating their bodies and emitting a transparent substance in the form of a small shower."
"Nor scorn ye now, fond elves, the foliage sear, When the light aphids, arm'd with puny spear, Probe each emulgent vein, till bright below, Like falling stars, clear drops of nectar glow." Evans.
"The willow accommodates the bees in a kind of threefold succession; from the flowers they obtain both honey and farina;—from the bark propolis;—and the leaves frequently afford them honey-dew at a time when other resources are beginning to fail."
"Honey-dew usually appears upon the leaves as a viscid, transparent substance, as sweet as honey itself, sometimes in the form of globules, at others resembling a syrup; it is generally most abundant from the middle of June to the middle of July, sometimes as late as September."
"It is found chiefly upon the oak, the elm, the maple, the plane, the sycamore, the lime, the hazel, and the blackberry; occasionally also on the cherry, currant, and other fruit trees. Sometimes only one species of trees is affected at a time. The oak generally affords the largest quantity. At the season of its greatest abundance, the happy humming noise of the bees may be heard at a considerable distance from the trees, sometimes nearly equalling in loudness the united hum of swarming."
In some seasons, extraordinary quantities of honey are furnished by the honey-dews, and bees will often, in a few days, fill their hives with it. If at such times, they can be furnished with empty combs, the amount stored up by them, will be truly wonderful. No certain reliance, however, can be placed upon this article of bee-food, as in some years, there is scarcely any to be found, and it is only once in three or four years, that it is very abundant. The honey obtained from this source, is generally of a very good quality, though seldom as clear as that gathered from the choicest blossoms.
The quality of honey is exceedingly various, some being dark, and often bitter and disagreeable to the taste, while occasionally it is gathered from poisonous flowers, and is very noxious to the human system.
An intelligent Mandingo African informed a lady of my acquaintance, that they do not in his country, dare to eat unsealed honey, until it is first boiled. In some of the Southern States, all unsealed honey is generally rejected. It appears to me highly probable that the noxious qualities of the honey gathered from some flowers, is, for the most part, evaporated, before it is sealed over by the bees, while the honey is thickening in the cells. Boiling the honey, would, of course, expel it much more effectually, and it is a well ascertained fact that some persons are not able to eat even the best honey with impunity, until after it has been boiled! I believe that if persons who are injured by honey would subject it to this operation, they would usually find it to exert no injurious influence on the system. Honey is improved by age, and many are able to use with impunity, that which has been for a long time, in the hive, and which seems to be much milder than any freshly gathered by the bees.
Honey, when taken from the bees, should be carefully put where it will be safe from all intruders, and where it will not be exposed to so low a temperature as to candy in the cells. The little red ant, and the large black ant are extravagantly fond of it, and unless placed where they cannot reach it, they will soon carry off large quantities. I paste paper over all my boxes, glasses, &c., so as to make them air-tight, and carefully store them away for future use. If it is drained from the combs, it may be kept in tight vessels, although in this state it will be almost sure to candy. By putting the vessels in water, and bringing it to the boiling point, it will be as nice as when first strained from the comb. In this way, I prefer to keep the larger portion of my honey. The appearance of white honey in the comb, is however, so beautiful, that many will prefer to keep it in this form, especially, if intended for sale.
In my hives, it may be taken from the bees, in a great variety of ways. Some may prefer to construct the main hive in such a form, that the surplus honey can be taken from it, on the frames. Others will prefer to take it on frames put in an upper box; (see p. 231.) Glass vessels of almost any size or form will make beautiful receptacles for the spare honey. They ought always, however, to have a piece of comb fastened in them, before they are given to the bees; (see p. 161) and if the weather is cool, they must be carefully covered with something warm, or they will part with their heat so quickly, as to discourage the bees from building in them. Unless warmly covered, glass vessels will often be so lined with moisture, as to annoy the bees. This is occasioned by the rapid evaporation of the water from the newly gathered honey, (see p. 335.) All hives during the height of the gathering season, abound in moisture, and this no doubt furnishes the bees, for the most part, with the water they then need.
Honey, when stored in a pint tumbler, just large enough to receive one comb, has a most beautiful appearance, and may be easily taken out whole, and placed in an elegant shape upon the table. The expense of such glass vessels is one objection to their use; the ease with which they part with their heat, another, and a more serious objection still, is the fact that the shallow cells, so many of which must be made in a round vessel, require as large a consumption of honey for their wax covers, as those which hold more than twice their quantity of honey.
I prefer rectangular boxes made of pasteboard, to any other: they are neat, warm and cheap; and if a small piece of glass is pasted in one of their ends, the Apiarian can always see when they are full. When the honey is taken from the bees, the box has its cover put on, and is pasted tight, so as to exclude air and insects. In this form, honey may be packed, and sent to market very conveniently: and when the boxes are opened, the purchaser can always see the quality of the article which he buys. The box in which these small boxes of honey are packed in order to be sent to market, should be furnished with rope handles, so that it can be easily lifted, without the least jarring. Honey should be handled with just as much care as glass. A box, four inches wide, will admit of two combs, and if small pieces of comb are put in the top, the bees will build them, of the proper dimensions, and will thus make them too large for brood combs, and of the best size to contain their surplus honey. The use of my hives enables the Apiarian to get access to all the comb which he needs for such purposes, and he will find it to his interest, never to give the bees a box which does not contain some comb, as well for encouragement as for a pattern. I have never seen the use of pasteboard boxes suggested, but after experimenting with a great many materials, I believe they will be found, all things considered, preferable to any others. Wooden boxes, with a piece of glass, are very good for storing honey: but they are much more expensive than those made of pasteboard, and the covers cannot be removed so conveniently.
Honey may be safely removed from the surplus honey boxes of my hives, even by the most timid. When the outside case which covers the boxes, is elevated, a shield is thrown between the Apiarian and the bees which are entering and leaving the hive. Before removing a vessel or box, a thin knife should be carefully passed under it, so as to loosen the attachments of the comb to the honey-board, without injuring the bees; then a small piece of tin or zinc may be pushed under to prevent the bees that are below, from coming up, when the honey is removed. The Apiarian should now tap gently on the box, and the bees in it, perceiving that they are separated from the main hive, will at once proceed to fill themselves, so as to save as much as possible, of their precious sweets. In about five minutes, or as soon as they are full, and run over the combs, trying to get out, the glass or box may at once be removed, and they will fly directly to the hive with what they have been able to secure. Bees under such circumstances, never attempt to sting, and a child of ten years, may remove, with ease and safety, all their surplus stores. If a person is too timid to approach a hive when any bees are flying, the honey may be removed towards evening, or early in the morning, before the bees are flying, in any considerable numbers. In performing this operation, it should always be borne in mind, that large quantities of honey should never be taken from them at once, unless when the honey-harvest is over. Bees are exceedingly discouraged by such wholesale appropriations, and often refuse entirely, to work in the empty boxes, even although honey abounds in the fields. Not unfrequently when large boxes are removed, and being found only partially filled, are returned, the bees will carry every particle of honey down into the main hive! If, however, the honey is removed in small boxes, one at a time, and an empty box with guide comb is put instantly in its place, the bees, so far from being discouraged, work with more than their wonted energy, and usually begin in a few hours, to enlarge the comb.
I would here repeat the caution already given, against needlessly opening and shutting the hives, or in any way meddling with the bees so as to make them feel insecure in their possessions. Such a course tends to discourage them, and may seriously diminish the yield of honey.
If the Apiarian wishes to remove honey from the interior of the hive, he must remove the combs, as directed on page 195, and shake the bees off, on the alighting board, or directly into the hive.
Some blossoms yield only pollen, and others only honey; but by far the largest number, both honey and pollen. Since the discovery that rye flour will answer so admirably as a substitute, before the bees are able to gather the pollen from the flowers, early blossoms producing pollen alone, are not so important in the vicinity of an Apiary. Willows are among the most desirable trees to have within reach of the bees: some kinds of willow put out their catkins very early, and yield an abundance of both bee-bread and honey. All the willows furnish an abundance of food for the bees; and as there is considerable difference in the time of their blossoming, it is desirable to have such varieties as will furnish the bees with food, as long as possible.
The Sugar Maple furnishes a large supply of very delicious honey, and its blossoms hanging in drooping fringes, will be all alive with bees. The Apricot, Peach, Plum and Cherry are much frequented by the bees; Pears and Apples furnish very copious supplies of the richest honey. The Tulip tree, Liriodendron, is probably one of the greatest honey-producing trees in the world. In rich lands this magnificent tree will grow over one hundred feet high, and when covered with its large bell-shaped blossoms of mingled green and golden yellow, it is one of the most beautiful trees in the world. The blossoms are expanding in succession, often for more than two weeks, and a new swarm will frequently fill its hive from these trees alone. The honey though dark in color, is of a rich flavor. This tree has been successfully cultivated as a shade tree, even as far North as Southern Vermont, and for the extraordinary beauty of its foliage and blossoms, deserves to be introduced wherever it can be made to grow. The Winter of 1851-2, was exceedingly cold, the thermometer in Greenfield, Mass. sinking as low as 30 deg. below zero, and yet a tulip tree not only survived the Winter uninjured, but was covered the following season with blossoms.
The American Linden or Bass Wood, is another tree which yields large supplies of very pure and white honey. It is one of our most beautiful native trees, and ought to be planted much more extensively than it is, in our villages and country seats. The English Linden is worthless for bees, and in many places, has been so infested by worms, as to make it necessary to cut it down.
The Linden blossoms soon after the white clover begins to fail, and a majestic tree covered with its yellow clusters, at a season when very few blossoms are to be seen, is a sight most beautiful and refreshing.
"Here their delicious task, the fervent bees In swarming millions tend: around, athwart, Through the soft air the busy nations fly, Cling to the bud, and with inserted tube, Suck its pure essence, its etherial soul." Thomson.
Our villages would be much more attractive, if instead of being filled as they often are, almost exclusively with maples and elms, they were adorned with a greater variety of our native trees. The remark has often been made, that these trees are much more highly valued abroad than at home, and that to see them in perfection, we must either visit their native forests, or the pleasure grounds of some wealthy English or European gentleman.
Of all the various sources from which the bees derive their supplies, white clover is the most important. It yields large quantities of very white honey, and of the purest quality, and wherever it flourishes in abundance, the honey-bee will always gather a rich harvest. In this country at least, it seems to be the most certain reliance of the Apiary. It blossoms at a season of the year when the weather is usually both dry and hot, and the bees gather the honey from it, after the sun has dried off the dew: so that its juices are very thick, and almost ready to be sealed over at once in the cells.
Every observant bee-keeper must have noticed, that in some seasons, the blossoms of various kinds yield much less honey than in others. Perhaps no plant varies so little in this respect, as the white clover. This clover ought to be much more extensively cultivated than it now is, and I consider myself as conferring a benefit not only on bee-keepers, but on the agricultural community at large, in being able to state on the authority of one of New England's ablest practical farmers, and writers on agricultural subjects, Hon. Frederick Holbrook, of Brattleboro', Vermont, that the common white clover may be cultivated on some soils to very great profit, as a hay crop. In an article for the New England Farmer, for May, 1853, he speaks as follows:—
"The more general sowing of white clover-seed is confidently recommended. If land is in good heart at the time of stocking it to grass, white clover sown with the other grass-seeds will thicken up the bottom of mowings, growing some eight or ten inches high and in a thick mat, and the burden of hay will prove much heavier than it seemed likely to be before mowing. Soon after the practice of sowing white clover on the tillage-fields commences, the plant will begin to show itself in various places on the farm, and ultimately gets pretty well scattered over the pastures, as it seeds very profusely, and the seeds are carried from place to place in the manure and otherwise. The price of the seed per pound in market is high; but then one pound of it will seed more land, than two pounds of red clover seed; so that in fact the former is the cheaper seed of the two, for an acre."
"Red-top, red clover and white clover seeds, sown together, produce a quality of hay universally relished by stock. My practice is, to seed all dry, sandy and gravelly lands with this mixture. The red and white clover pretty much make the crop the first year; the second year, the red clover begins to disappear, and the red-top to take its place; and after that, the red-top and white clover have full possession and make the very best hay for horses or oxen, milch cows or young stock, that I have been able to produce. The crop per acre, as compared with herds-grass, is not so bulky; but tested by weight and by spending quality in the Winter, it is much the most valuable."
"Herds-grass hay grown on moist uplands or reclaimed meadows, and swamps of a mucky soil, or lands not overcharged with silica, is of good quality; but when grown on sandy and gravelly soils abounding in silex, the stalks are hard, wiry, coated with silicates as with glass, and neither horses nor cattle will eat it as well, or thrive as well on it as on hay made of red-top and clover; and as for milch cows, they winter badly on it, and do not give out the milk as when fed on softer and more succulent hay."
By managing white clover, according to Mr. Holbrook's plan, it might be made to blossom abundantly in the second crop, and thus lengthen out, to very great advantage, the pasture for the bees. For fear that any of my readers might suspect Mr. Holbrook of looking at the white clover, through a pair of bee-spectacles, I would add that although he has ten acres of it in mowing, he has no bees, and has never particularly interested himself in this branch of rural economy. When we can succeed in directing the attention of such men to bee-culture, we may hope to see as rapid an advance in this as in some other important branches of agriculture.
Sweet-scented clover, (Mellilotus Leucantha,) affords a rich bee-pasturage. It blossoms the second year from the seed, and grows to a great height, and is always swarming with bees until quite late in the Fall. Attempts have been made to cultivate it for the sake of its value as a hay crop, but it has been found too coarse in its texture, to be very profitable. Where many bees are kept, it might however, be so valuable for them as to justify its extensive cultivation. During the early part of the season, it might be mowed and fed to the cattle, in a green and tender state, and allowed to blossom later in the season, when the bees can find but few sources to gather from.
For years, I have attempted to procure, through botanists, a hybrid or cross between the red and white clover, in order to get something with the rich honey-producing properties of the red, and yet with a short blossom into which the honey-bee might insert its proboscis. The red clover produces a vast amount of food for the bumble-bee, but is of no use at all to the honey-bee. I had hoped to procure a variety which might answer all the purposes of our farmers as a field crop. Quite recently I have ascertained that such a hybrid has been originated in Sweden, and has been imported into this country, by Mr. B. C. Rogers, of Philadelphia. It grows even taller than the red clover, bears many blossoms on a stalk which are small, resembling the white, and is said to be preferred by cattle, to any other kind of grass, while it answers admirably for bees.
Buckwheat furnishes a most excellent Fall feed for bees; the honey is not so well-flavored as some other kinds, but it comes at a season when it is highly important to the bees, and they are often able to fill their hives with a generous supply against Winter. Buckwheat honey is gathered when the dew is upon the blossoms, and instead of being thick, like white clover honey, is often quite thin; the bees sweat out a large portion of its moisture, but still they do not exhaust the whole of it, and in wet seasons especially, it is liable to sour in the cells. Honey gathered in a dry season, is always thicker, and of course more valuable than that gathered in a wet one, as it contains much less water. Buckwheat is uncertain in its honey-bearing qualities; in some seasons, it yields next to none, and hardly a bee will be seen upon a large field, while in others, it furnishes an extraordinary supply. The most practical and scientific agriculturists agree that so far from being an impoverishing crop, it is on many soils, one of the most profitable that can be raised. Every bee-keeper should have some in the vicinity of his hives.
The raspberry, it is well known, is a great favorite with the bees; and the honey supplied by it, is very delicious. Those parts of New England, which are hilly and rough, are often covered with the wild raspberry, and would furnish food for numerous colonies of bees.
It will be observed that thus far, I have said nothing about cultivating flowers in the garden, to supply the bees with food. What can be done in this way, is of scarcely any account; and it would be almost as reasonable to expect to furnish food for a stock of cattle, from a small grass plat, as honey for bees, from garden plants. The cultivation of bee-flowers is more a matter of pleasure than profit, to those who like to hear the happy hum of the busy bees, as they walk in their gardens. It hardly seems expedient, at least for the present, to cultivate any field crops except such as are profitable in themselves, without any reference to the bees.
Mignonnette is excellent for bees, but of all flowers, none seems to equal the Borage. It blossoms in June, and continues in bloom until severe frost, and is always covered with bees, even in dull weather, as its pendant blossoms keep the honey from the moisture; the honey yielded by it, is of a very superior quality. If any plant which does not in itself make a valuable crop, would justify cultivation, there is no doubt that borage would. An acre of it would support a large number of stocks. If in a village those who keep bees would unite together and secure the sowing of an acre, in their immediate vicinity, each person paying in proportion to the number of stocks kept, it might be found profitable. The plants should have about two feet of space every way, and after they covered the ground, would need no further attention. They would come into full blossom, cultivated in this manner, about the time that the white clover begins to fail, and would not only furnish rich pasture for the bees, but would keep them from the groceries and shops in which so many perish.
If those who are engaged in adorning our villages and country residences with shade trees, would be careful to set out a liberal allowance of such kinds as are not only beautiful to us, but attractive to the bees, in process of time the honey resources of the country might be very greatly increased.
OVERSTOCKING A DISTRICT WITH BEES.
I come now to a point of the very first importance to all interested in the cultivation of bees. If the opinions which the great majority of American bee-keepers entertain, are correct, then the keeping of bees must, in our country, be always an insignificant pursuit. I confess that I find it difficult to repress a smile, when the owner of a few hives, in a district where as many hundreds might be made to prosper, gravely imputes his ill success, to the fact that too many bees are kept in his vicinity! The truth is, that as bees are frequently managed, they are of but little value, even though in "a land flowing with milk and honey." If in the Spring, a colony of bees is prosperous and healthy, (see p. 207) it will gather abundant stores, even if hundreds equally strong, are in its immediate vicinity, while if it is feeble, it will be of little or no value, even if there is not another swarm within a dozen miles of it.
Success in bee-keeping requires that a man should be in some things, a very close imitator of Napoleon, who always aimed to have an overwhelming force, at the right time and in the right place; so the bee-keeper must be sure that his colonies are numerous, just at the time when their numbers can be turned to the best account. If the bees cannot get up their numbers until the honey-harvest is well nigh gone, numbers will then be of as little service as many of the famous armies against which "the soldier of Europe" contended; which, after the fortunes of the campaign were decided, only served to swell the triumphant spoils of the mighty conqueror. A bee-keeper with feeble stocks in the Spring, which become strong only when there is nothing to get, is like a farmer who contrives to hire no hands to reap his harvests, but suffers the crops to rot upon the ground, and then at great expense, hires a number of stalworth laborers to idle about his premises and eat him out of house and home!
I do not believe that there is a single square mile in this whole country, which is overstocked with bees, unless it is one so unsuitable for bee-keeping as to make it unprofitable to attempt it at all. Such an assertion will doubtless, appear to many, very unguarded; and yet it is made advisedly, and I am happy to be able to confirm it, by reference to the experience of the largest cultivators in Europe. The following letter from Mr. Wagner, will I trust, do more than I can possibly do in any other way, to show our bee-keepers how mistaken they are in their opinion as to the danger of overstocking their districts, and also what large results might be obtained from a more extensive cultivation of bees.
YORK, March 16, 1853. DEAR SIR:
In reply to your enquiry respecting the overstocking of a district, I would say that the present opinion of the correspondents of the Bienenzeitung, appears to be that it cannot readily be done. Dzierzon says, in practice at least, "it never is done;" and Dr. Radlkofer, of Munich, the President of the second Apiarian Convention, declares that his apprehensions on that score were dissipated by observations which he had opportunity and occasion to make, when on his way home from the Convention. I have numerous accounts of Apiaries in pretty close proximity, containing from 200 to 300 colonies each. Ehrenfels had a thousand hives, at three separate establishments indeed, but so close to each other that he could visit them all in half an hour's ride; and he says that in 1801, the average net yield of his Apiaries was $2 per hive. In Russia and Hungary, Apiaries numbering from 2000 to 5000 colonies are said not to be unfrequent; and we know that as many as 4000 hives are oftentimes congregated, in Autumn, at one point on the heaths of Germany. Hence I think we need not fear that any district of this country, so distinguished for abundant natural vegetation and diversified culture, will very speedily be overstocked, particularly after the importance of having stocks populous early in the Spring, comes to be duly appreciated. A week or ten days of favorable weather, at that season, when pasturage abounds, will enable a strong colony to lay up an ample supply for the year, if its labor be properly directed.
Mr. Kaden, one of the ablest contributors to the Bienenzeitung, in the number for December, 1852, noticing the communication from Dr. Radlkofer, says: "I also concur in the opinion that a district of country cannot be overstocked with bees; and that, however numerous the colonies, all can procure sufficient sustenance if the surrounding country contain honey-yielding plants and vegetables, in the usual degree. Where utter barrenness prevails, the case is different, of course, as well as rare."
The Fifteenth Annual Meeting of German Agriculturists was held in the City of Hanover, on the 10th of September, 1852, and in compliance with the suggestions of the Apiarian Convention, a distinct section devoted to bee-culture was instituted. The programme propounded sixteen questions for discussion, the fourth of which was as follows:—
"Can a district of country embracing meadows, arable land, orchards, and woodlands or forests, be so overstocked with bees, that these may no longer find adequate sustenance and yield a remunerating surplus of their products?"
This question was debated with considerable animation. The Rev. Mr. Kleine, (nine-tenths of the correspondents of the Bee-Journal are clergyman,) President of the section, gave it as his opinion that "it was hardly conceivable that such a country could be overstocked with bees." Counsellor Herwig, and the Rev. Mr. Wilkens, on the contrary, maintained that "it might be overstocked." In reply, Assessor Heyne remarked that "whatever might be supposed possible as an extreme case, it was certain that as regards the kingdom of Hanover, it could not be even remotely apprehended that too many Apiaries would ever be established; and that consequently the greatest possible multiplication of colonies might safely be aimed at and encouraged." At the same time, he advised a proper distribution of Apiaries.
I might easily furnish you with more matter of this sort, and designate a considerable number of Apiaries in various parts of Germany, containing from 25 to 500 colonies. But the question would still recur, do not these Apiaries occupy comparatively isolated positions? and at this distance from the scene, it would obviously be impossible to give a perfectly satisfactory answer.
According to the statistical tables of the kingdom of Hannover, the annual production of bees-wax in the province of Lunenburg, is 300,000 lbs., about one half of which is exported; and assuming one pound of wax as the yield of each hive, we must suppose that 300,000 hives are annually "brimstoned" in the province; and assuming further, in view of casualties, local influences, unfavorable seasons, &c., that only one-half of the whole number of colonies maintained, produce a swarm each, every year, it would require a total of at least 600,000 colonies, (141, to each square mile,) to secure the result given in the tables.
The number of square miles stocked even to this extent, in this country, are, I suspect, "few and far between." The Shakers at Lebanon, have about 600 colonies; but I doubt whether a dozen Apiaries equally large can be found in the Union. It is very evident, that this country is far from being overstocked; nor it is likely that it ever will be.
A German writer alleges that "the bees of Lunenburg, pay all the taxes assessed on their proprietors, and leave a surplus besides." The importance attached to bee-culture accounts in part for the remarkable fact that the people of a district so barren that it has been called "the Arabia of Germany," are almost without exception in easy and comfortable circumstances. Could not still more favorable results be obtained in this country under a rational system of management, availing itself of the aid of science, art and skill?
But, I am digressing. My design was to furnish you with an account of bee-culture as it exists in an entire district of country, in the hands of the common peasantry. This I thought would be more satisfactory, and convey a better idea of what may be done on a large scale, than any number of instances which might be selected of splendid success in isolated cases.
Very truly yours, SAMUEL WAGNER. REV. L. L. LANGSTROTH.
The question how far bees will fly in search of honey, has been very differently answered by different Apiarians. I am satisfied that they will fly over three miles in search of food, but I believe as a general rule, that if their food is not within a circle of about two miles in every direction from the Apiary, they will be able to store up but little surplus honey. The nearer, the better. In all my arrangements, (see p. 96.) I have made it a constant study to save every step for the bees that I possibly can, economizing to the very utmost, their time, which will all be transmuted into honey; an inspection of the Frontispiece of this treatise will exhibit the general aspect of the alighting board of my hives, and will show the intelligent Apiarian, with what ease bees will enter such a hive, even in very windy weather. By such arrangements, they will be able to store up more honey, even if they have to go a considerable distance in search of it, than they would in many other hives, when the honey abounded in their more immediate vicinity. Such considerations are entirely overlooked, by most bee-keepers, and they seem to imagine that they are matters of no importance. By the utter neglect of any kind of precautions to facilitate the labors of their bees, you might suppose that they imagined these delicate insects to be possessed of nerves of steel and sinews of iron or adamant; or else that they took them for miniature locomotives, always fired up and capable of an indefinite amount of exertion. A bee cannot put forth more than a certain amount of physical exertion, and if a large portion of this is spent in absolutely fighting against difficulties, from which it might easily be guarded, it must be very obvious to any one who thinks on the subject at all, that a great loss must be sustained by its owner.
If some of these thoughtless owners returning home with a heavy burden, were compelled to fall down stairs half a dozen times before they could get into the house, they might perhaps think it best to guard their industrious workers against such discouraging accidents. If bees are tossed violently about by the winds, as they attempt to enter their hives, they are often fatally injured, and the whole colony so discouraged, to say nothing more, that they do not gather near so much as they otherwise would.
The arrangement of my Protector is such that the bees, if blown down, fall upon a sloping bank of soft grass, and are able to enter the hives without much inconvenience.
Just as soon as our cultivators can be convinced, by practical results, that bee-keeping, for the capital invested, may be made a most profitable branch of rural economy, they will see the importance of putting their bees into suitable hives, and of doing all that they can, to give them a fair chance; until then, the mass of them will follow the beaten track, and attribute their ill success, not to their own ignorance, carelessness or stupidity, but to their want of "luck," or to the overstocking of the country with bees. I hope, before many years, to see the price of good honey so reduced that the poor man can place it on his table and feast upon it, as one of the cheapest luxuries within his reach.
On page 20, a statement was given of Dzierzon's experience as to the profits of bee-keeping. The section of country in which he resides, is regarded by him as unfavorable to Apiarian pursuits. I shall now give what I consider a safe estimate for almost any section in our country; while in unusually favorable locations it will fall far below the results which may be attained. It is based upon the supposition that the bees are kept in properly constructed hives so as to be strong early in the season, and that the increase of stocks is limited to one new one from two old ones. Under proper management, one year with another, about ten dollars worth of honey may be obtained for every two stocks wintered over. The worth of the new colonies, I set off as an equivalent for labor of superintendence, and interest on the money invested in bees, hives, fixtures, &c.
A careful, prudent man who will enter into bee-keeping moderately at first, and extend his operations only as his skill and experience increase, will, by the use of my hives, find that the preceding estimate is not too large. Even on the ordinary mode of bee-keeping, there are many who will consider it rather below than above the mark. If thoroughly careless persons are determined to "try their luck," as they call it, with bees, I advise them by all means, in mercy to the bees, to adopt the non-swarming plan. Improved methods of management with such persons will be of little or no use, unless you could improve their habits first, and very often their brains too! Every dollar that such persons spend upon bees, unless with the slightest possible departure from the old-fashioned plans, is a dollar worse than thrown away. In those parts of Europe where bee-keeping is carried on upon the largest scale, the mass adhere to the old system; this they understand, and by this they secure a certainty, whereas in our country, thousands have been induced to enter upon the wildest schemes, or at least to use hives which could not furnish them the very information needed for their successful management. A simple box furnished with my frames, will enable the masses, without departing materially from the common system, to increase largely the yield from their bees.
In addition to the information given in the Introduction, respecting the success of Dzierzon's system of management, I have recently ascertained that one of its ablest opponents in Germany, has become thoroughly convinced of its superior value. The Government of Norway has appropriated $300, per annum, for the ensuing three years, towards diffusing a knowledge of Dzierzon's method, in that country; having previously despatched Mr. Hanser, Collector of Customs, to Silesia to visit Mr. Dzierzon, and acquire a practical knowledge of his system of management. He is now employed in distributing model hives, in the provinces, and imparting information on improved bee-culture.
NOTE.—The time has hardly come when the attention of any of our State authorities can be attracted to the importance of bee-culture. It is only of late that they have seemed to manifest any peculiar interest in promoting the advancement of agricultural pursuits. A Department of Agriculture ought to have been established, years ago, by the National Government at Washington. Let us hope that the Administration now in power, will establish a lasting claim to the gratitude of posterity, by taking wise and efficient steps to advance the agricultural interests of the country. A National Society to promote these interests has recently been established, and much may be hoped from its wisdom and energy. Until some disinterested tribunal can be established, before which all inventions and discoveries can be fairly tested, honest men will suffer, and ignorance and imposture will continue to flourish. Lying advertisements and the plausible misrepresentations of brazen-faced impostors, will still drain the purses of the credulous, while thousands, disgusted with the horde of impositions which are palmed off upon the community, will settle down into a dogged determination to try nothing new. A society before which every thing, claiming to be an improvement in rural economy, could be fairly tested, would undoubtedly be shunned by ignorant and unprincipled men, who now find it an easy task to procure any number of certificates, but who dread nothing so much as honest and intelligent investigation. The reports of such a society after the most thorough trials and examinations, would inspire confidence, save the community from severe losses, and encourage the ablest minds to devote their best energies to the improvement of agricultural implements.
THE ANGER OF BEES. REMEDY FOR THEIR STING. BEE-DRESS. INSTINCTS OF BEES.
If the bee was disposed to use, without any provocation, the effective weapon with which it has been provided, its domestication would be entirely out of the question. The same remark however, is equally true of the ox, the horse or the dog. If these faithful servants of man were respectively determined to use, to the very utmost their horns, their heels and their teeth, to his injury, he would never have been able to subject them to his peaceful authority. The gentleness of the honey-bee, when kindly treated, and managed by those who properly understand its instincts, has in this treatise been frequently spoken of, and is truly astonishing. They will, especially in swarming time, or whenever they are gorged with honey, allow any amount of handling which does not hurt them, without the slightest show of anger. For the gratification of others, I have frequently taken them up, by handfuls, suffered them to run over my face, and even smoothed down their glossy backs as they rested on my person! Standing before the hives, I have, by a rapid sweep of my hands, caught numbers of them at once, just as though they were so many harmless flies, and allowed them, one by one, to crawl out, by the smallest opening, to the light of day; and I have even gone so far as to imitate many of the feats which the celebrated English Apiarian, Wildman, was accustomed to perform; who having once secured the queen of a hive, could make the bees cluster on his head, or hang, like a flowing beard, in large festoons, from his chin. Wildman, for a long time, made as great a mystery of his wonderful performances, as the spirit-rappers of the present day, do of theirs; but at last, he was induced to explain his whole mode of procedure; and the magic control which he possessed over the bees, and which was, by the ignorant, ascribed to his having bewitched them, was found to be owing entirely to his superior acquaintance with their instincts, and his uncommon dexterity and boldness.
"Such was the spell, which round a Wildman's arm Twin'd in dark wreaths the fascinated swarm; Bright o'er his breast the glittering legions led, Or with a living garland bound his head. His dextrous hand, with firm yet hurtless hold, Could seize the chief, known by her scales of gold, Prune 'mid the wondering train her filmy wing, Or o'er her folds the silken fetter fling." Evans.
M. Lombard, a skillful French Apiarian narrates the following interesting occurrence, which shows how peaceable bees are in swarming time, and how easily managed by those who have both skill and confidence.
"A young girl of my acquaintance," he says, "was greatly afraid of bees, but was completely cured of her fear by the following incident. A swarm having come off, I observed the queen alight by herself at a little distance from the Apiary. I immediately called my little friend that I might show her the queen; she wished to see her more nearly, so after having caused her to put on her gloves, I gave the queen into her hand. We were in an instant surrounded by the whole bees of the swarm. In this emergency I encouraged the girl to be steady, bidding her be silent and fear nothing, and remaining myself close by her; I then made her stretch out her right hand, which held the queen, and covered her head and shoulders with a very thin handkerchief. The swarm soon fixed on her hand and hung from it, as from the branch of a tree. The little girl was delighted above measure at the novel sight, and so entirely freed from all fear, that she bade me uncover her face. The spectators were charmed with the interesting spectacle. At length I brought a hive, and shaking the swarm from the child's hand, it was lodged in safety, and without inflicting a single wound."
The indisposition of bees to sting, when swarming, is a fact familiar to every practical bee-keeper: but I have not in all my reading or acquaintance with Apiarians, ever met with a single observation which has convinced me that the philosophy of this strange fact was thoroughly understood. As far as I know, I am the only person who has ever ascertained that when bees are filled with honey, they lose all disposition to volunteer an assault, and who has made this curious law the foundation of an extensive and valuable system of practical management. It was only after I had thoroughly tested its universality and importance, that I began to feel the desirableness of obtaining a perfect control over each comb in the hive; for it was only then that I saw that such control might be made available, in the hands of any one who could manage bees in the ordinary way. The result of my whole system, is to make the bees unusually gentle, so that they are not only peaceable when any necessary operation is being performed, but at all other times. Even if I could open hives and safely manage at pleasure, still if the result of such proceedings was to leave the bees in an excited state, so as to make them unusually irritable, it would all avail but very little.
There is, however, one difficulty in managing bees so as not to incur the risk of being stung at all, which attaches to every system of bee-culture. If an Apiary is approached when the bees are out in great numbers, thousands and tens of thousands will continue their busy pursuits without at all interfering with those who do not molest them. Frequently, however, there will be a few cross bees which come buzzing around our ears, and seem determined to sting without the very slightest provocation. From such lawless bees no person without a bee-dress is absolutely safe. By repeated examinations I have ascertained that disease is the cause of such unreasonable irritability. I am never afraid that a healthy bee will attack me unless unusually provoked; and am always sure as soon as I hear one singing about my ears that it is incurably diseased. If such a bee is dissected it will be found to exhibit the unmistakable evidence that a peculiar kind of dysentery has already fastened upon its system. In the first stages of this complaint the insect is very irritable, refuses to labor, and seems unable or unwilling to distinguish friend from foe. As the disease progresses, it becomes stupid, its body swells up, and is filled with a great mass of yellow matter, and being unable to fly, it crawls on the ground, in front of the hive, and speedily perishes. I have never been able to ascertain the cause of this singular malady, nor can I suggest any remedy for it. I hope that some scientific Apiarians will investigate it closely, for if it could only be remedied, we might have hundreds of colonies on our premises and in our gardens, and yet be perfectly safe.
A person thoroughly acquainted with the leading principles of bee-culture as they are set forth in this Manual, will never under any circumstances find it necessary to provoke to fury a colony of bees. Let it be remembered that nothing can be more terribly vindictive than a family of bees when thoroughly aroused by gross abuse or unskillful treatment. Let their hive be suddenly overthrown or violently jarred, or let them be provoked by the presence of a sweaty horse, or any animal offensive to them, so that the anger at first manifested by a few, is extended to the whole community, and the most severe and sometimes dangerous consequences may ensue. In the same way in the management of the animals most useful to man, by ignorance or abuse, they may be roused to a state of frantic desperation, and limbs may be broken, and often lives destroyed; and yet no one possessed of common sense, attributes such calamities, except in very rare instances, to any thing else than carelessness or want of skill. Let it be remembered that even the most peaceable stock of bees can, in a very few days, by abusive treatment be taught to look on every living thing as an enemy, and to sally forth with the most spiteful intentions, as soon as any one approaches their domicile. How often does it happen that the vicious beast, which its owner so passionately belabors, is far less to blame for its obstinacy, than the equally vicious brute who so unmercifully beats it!
A word now to those timid females who are almost ready to faint, or to go into hysterics if a bee enters the house, or approaches them in the garden or fields. Such alarm is entirely uncalled for. It is only in the vicinity of their homes, and in resistance to what they consider an evil design upon their very altars and firesides that these insects ever volunteer an attack. Away from home, they are as peaceably inclined as you could desire. If you attack them, they are much more eager to escape than to offer you any annoyance, and they can be induced to sting, only when they are compressed, either by accident or design.
Let not any of my readers think that they have even a slight encouragement, from this conduct of the bee, to reserve all their sweet smiles and honied words for the world abroad, while they give free vent, in the sacred precincts of home, to ill-natured looks and ill-tempered language; for towards the occupants of its honied dome, the bee is all kindness and affection. In the experience of many years I never saw an instance in which two bees, members of the same family, ever seemed to be actuated by any but the very kindest feelings toward each other. In their busy haste they often jostle against each other, but where every thing is well meant, every thing is well received: tens of thousands all live together in the sweetest harmony and peace, when very often if there are only two or three children in a family, the whole household is tormented by their constant bickerings and contention. Among the bees the good mother is the honored queen of her happy family; they all wait upon her steps with unbounded reverence and affection, make way for her as she moves over the combs, smooth and brush her beautiful plumes, offer her food from time to time, and in short do all that they possibly can to make her perfectly happy; while too often children treat their mothers with irreverence or neglect, and instead of striving with loving zeal to lighten their labors and save their steps, they treat them more as though they were servants hired only to wait upon every whim and to humor every caprice.
Let us pause for a moment, and contemplate further the admirable arrangement by which the instinct of the bee which disposes it to defend its treasures, is made so perfectly compatible with the safety both of man and the domestic animals under his care. Suppose that away from home, bees were as easily provoked, as they are in the immediate vicinity of their hives, what would become of our domestic animals among the clover fields in the pastures? A tithe of the merry gambols they now so safely indulge in, would speedily bring about them a swarm of these infuriated insects. In all our rambles among the green fields, we should constantly be in peril; and no jocund mower would ever whet his glittering scythe, or swing his peaceful weapon, unless first clad in a dress impervious to their stings. In short, the bee, instead of being the friend of man, would be one of his most vexatious enemies, and as has been the case with the wolves and the bears, every effort would be made for their utter extermination.
The sting of a bee often produces very painful, and upon some persons, very dangerous effects. I am persuaded, from the result of my own observation, that the bee seldom stings those whose systems are not sensitive to its venom, while it seems to take a special and malicious pleasure in attacking those upon whom it produces the most painful effects! It may be that something in the secretions of such persons both provokes the attack, and causes its consequences to be more severe.
I should not advise persons upon whose system the sting of a bee produces the most agonizing pain, and violent, if not dangerous symptoms, to devote any attention to the practical part of an Apiary; although I am acquainted with a lady who is thus severely affected, and who yet, strange to say, is a great enthusiast in Apiarian pursuits! I have met with individuals, upon whom a sting produced the singular effect of causing their breath to smell like the venom of the enraged insect! The smell of the poison resembles almost perfectly that of a ripe banana. It produces a very irritating effect upon the bees themselves; for if a minute drop of it is extended to them, on a stick, they at once manifest the most decided anger.
It is well known that the bee is a lover of sweet odors, and that unpleasant ones are very apt to excite its anger. And here I may as well speak plainly, and say that bees have a special dislike to persons whose habits are not cleanly, and particularly to those who bear about them, a perfume not in the very least resembling those
"Sabean odors From the spicy shores of Araby the blest,"
of which the poet so beautifully discourses. Those who belong to the family of the "great unwashed," will find to their cost that bees are decided foes to all of their tribe. The peculiar odor of some persons, however cleanly, may account for the fact that the bees have such a decided antipathy to their presence, in the vicinity of their hives. It is related of an enthusiastic Apiarian, that after a long and severe attack of fever, he was never able to take any more pleasure in his bees; his secretions seem to have undergone some change, so that the bees assailed him as soon as he ventured to approach their hives.
Nothing is more offensive to bees than the impure breath exhaled from human lungs; it excites them at once to fury. Would that in their hatred for impure air, human beings had only a tithe of the sagacity exercised by bees! It would not be long before the thought of breathing air loaded with all manner of impurities from human lungs, to say nothing of its loss of oxygen, would excite unutterable loathing and disgust.
As the smell of a sweaty horse is very offensive to the bees, it is never safe to allow these animals to go near a hive, as they are sometimes attacked and killed by the furious insects. Those engaged in bee-culture on a large scale, will do well to enclose their Apiaries with a strong fence, so as to prevent cattle from molesting the hives. If the Apiary is enclosed by a high fence, with sharp and strong pickets, and the door is furnished with a strong lock, it will prevent the losses which in some localities are so common from human pilferers. Such losses may be guarded against, by fastening a wrought iron ring into the top of each hive, well clinched on the inside; an iron rod may run through these rings, and thus with two padlocks and fixtures, (one at each end,) a dozen or more hives may be secured. I am happy to say that in most localities such precautions are entirely unnecessary. A place in which the stealing of honey and fruit is practiced by any except those who are candidates for State's Prison, is in a fair way of being soon considered as a very undesirable place of residence. If owners of Apiaries, gardens and orchards, could be induced to pursue a more liberal policy, and not be so meanly penurious as they often are, I am persuaded that they would find it conduce very highly to their interests. The honey and fruit expended with a cheerful, hearty liberality, would be more than repaid to them in the good will secured, and in the end would cost much less than bars and bolts. Reader! do not imagine that I have the least idea that a thoroughly selfish man, can ever be made to practice this or any other doctrine of benevolence. Demonstrate it again and again, until even to his narrow and contracted view it seems almost as clear as light, still he will never find the heart to reduce it to practice. You might almost as well expect to transform an incarnate fiend into an angel of light, by demonstrating that "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness," while "the path of the transgressor is hard," as to attempt to stamp upon a heart encrusted with the adamant of selfishness, the noble impress of a liberal spirit.
Of all the senses, that of smell in the bee, seems to be the most perfect. Huber has demonstrated its exceeding acuteness, by numerous interesting experiments. If honey is placed in vessels from which the odor can escape, but in which it cannot be seen, the bees will soon alight upon them and eagerly attempt to find an entrance. It is by this sense, unquestionably, that they recognize the members of their own community, although it seems to us very singular that each colony should have its own peculiar scent. Not only can two colonies be safely united by giving them the same odor, but in the same way any number of colonies may be made to live in perfect peace. If hundreds of hives are all connected by gauze wire ventilators, so that the air passes freely from one to another, the bees will all live in absolute harmony, and if any bee attempts to enter the wrong hive, he will not be molested. The same result can often be attained by feeding colonies from a common vessel. I have seen literally hundreds of thousands of bees that after being treated in this way so as to acquire the same odor, were always gentle towards each other, while if a single bee from a strange Apiary, lit upon the feeder, it was sure to be killed.
I have described, (p. 213,) the use which I make of peppermint, in order to prevent bees from quarreling when they are united. The Rev. Mr. Kleine, (see p. 359,) in a recent number of the Bienenzeitung, has recommended the use of another article, which he finds to be very useful in preventing robbing. His statement would have come in more appropriately in the Chapter on Robbing, but was not received until too late. He says that the most convenient and effectual mode of arresting and repelling the attacks of robbers, is, to impart to the attacked hive some intensely powerful and unaccustomed odor. He effects this most readily, by placing a small portion of musk in the attacked hive, late in the evening, when all the robbers have retreated. On the following morning, the bees, (provided they have a healthy queen,) will promptly and boldly meet their assailants, and these in turn are non-plussed by the unwonted odor, and if any of them enter the hive and carry off some of the coveted booty, they will not be recognized nor received at home on their return, on account of their strange smell, but will be at once seized as strangers, and killed by their own household. Thus the robbing is speedily brought to a close.
In combination with my blocks, this device might be made very effectual. When the Apiarian perceives that a hive is being robbed, let him shut up the entrance: before dusk he can open it and allow the robbers to go home, and then: put in a small piece of musk: the entrance next day may be kept so contracted that only a single bee can enter at once. In the union of stocks the same substance might be used advantageously. A short time before the process is attempted, each colony might have a small dose of musk (a piece of musk tied up in a little bag,) and they would then be sure to agree. I prefer, however, in most cases, the use of scented sugar-water.
By using my double hives, and putting a small piece of gauze-wire on an opening made in the partition, the two colonies having the same scent will always agree; this will be very convenient where they are compelled to live as such near neighbors, and enables the Apiarian at any time to unite them and appropriate their surplus stores. These double hives are admirably adapted to the wants of those who wish to make the smallest possible departure from the old system, as they need make no change, except to unite the stocks instead of killing the bees.
I have already remarked that no operation should ever be attempted upon bees, by which a whole colony is liable to be excited to an ungovernable pitch of fury. Such operations are never necessary; and a skillful Apiarian will, by availing himself of the principles laid down in this Treatise, both easily and safely do everything that is at all desirable, even to the driving of a powerful colony from an old box hive. When bees are improperly dealt with, they will "compass" their assailant "about," with the most savage ferocity, and woe be to him if they can creep up his clothes, or find on his person a single unprotected spot! On the contrary, when not provoked by foolish management or wanton abuse, the few who are bent on mischief, appear to retain still some touch of grace, amid all their desperation. Like the thorough bred scold, who by the elevated pitch of her voice, often gives timely warning to those who would escape from the sharp sword of her tongue, a bee bent upon mischief raises its note almost an octave above the peaceable pitch, and usually gives us timely warning, that it means to sting, if it can. Even then, it will seldom proceed to extremities, unless it can leave its sting somewhere upon the face of its victim, and usually as near as possible to the eye; for bees and all other members of the stinging tribe, seem to have, as it were, an intuitive perception that this is the most vulnerable spot upon the "human face divine." If the head is quietly lowered, and the face covered with the hands, they will often follow a person for some rods, all the time sounding their war note in his ears, taunting him for his sneaking conduct, and daring him, just for one single moment, to look up and allow them to catch but a glimpse of his coward face!
If a person is suddenly attacked by angry bees, no matter how numerous or vindictive they may be, not the slightest attempt should ever be made to act on the offensive. If a single bee is violently struck at, a dozen will soon be on hand to avenge the insult, and if the resistance is still continued, hundreds and at last thousands will join in the attack. The assailed party should quickly retreat from the vicinity of the hives, to the protection of a building, or if none is near, he should hide himself in a clump of bushes, and lie perfectly still, with his head covered, until the bees leave him.
REMEDIES FOR THE STING OF A BEE.
If only a few of the host of remedies, so zealously advocated, could be made effectual, few persons would have much reason to dread being stung. Most of them, however, are of no manner of use whatever. Like the prescriptions of the quack, they are absolutely worse than doing nothing at all.
The first thing to be done after being stung, is to pull the sting out of the wound as quickly as possible. Even after it is torn from the body of the bee, (see p. 60,) the muscles which control it, are in active operation, and it penetrates deeper and deeper into the flesh, injecting continually more and more of its poison into the wound. Every Apiarian should have about his person, or close at hand, a small piece of looking-glass, so that he may be able with the least possible delay to find and remove a sting. In most cases if it is at once removed, it will produce no serious consequences; whereas if suffered to empty all its vials of wrath, it may cause great inflammation and severe suffering. After the sting is removed, the utmost possible care should be taken, not to irritate the wound by the very slightest rubbing. However intense the smarting, and of course the disposition to apply friction to the wound, it should never be done, as the poison will at once be carried through the circulating system, and severe consequences may ensue. As most of the popular remedies are rubbed in, they are of course worse than nothing. Be careful not to suck the wound as so many persons do; this produces irritation in the same way with rubbing. Who does not know that a musquito bite, even after the lapse of several days, may be brought to life again, by violent rubbing or sucking? The moment that the blood is put into a violent and unnatural circulation, the poison is quickly diffused over a considerable part of the system. If the mouth is applied to the wound, other unpleasant consequences may ensue. While the poison of most snakes and many other noxious animals affects only the circulating system, and may therefore be swallowed with impunity, the poison of the bee acts powerfully, not only upon the circulating system, but upon the organs of digestion. The most distressing head-aches are often produced by it.
From my own experience, I recommend cold water as the very best remedy with which I am acquainted, for the sting of a bee. It is often applied in the shape of a plaster of mud, but may be better used by wetting cloths and holding them gently to the wound. Cold water seems to act in two ways. The poison of the bee being very volatile, is quickly dissolved in water; and the coldness of the water has also a powerful tendency to check inflammation and to prevent the virus from being taken up by the absorbents and carried through the system. The leaves of the plantain, crushed and applied to the wound, will answer as a very good substitute when water cannot at once be procured. The broad-leafed plantain, or as some call it, "the toad plantain," is regarded by many as possessing a very great efficacy. Bevan recommends the use of spirits of hartshorn, applied to the wound, and says that in cases of severe stinging its internal use is beneficial. Whatever remedy is applied, should be used if possible, without a moment's delay. The immediate extraction of the sting, will be found, even if nothing more is done, much more efficacious than any remedy that can be applied, after it has been allowed to remain and discharge all its venom into the wound.
It may be some comfort to those who are anxious to cultivate bees, to know that after a while the poison will produce less and less effect upon their system. When I first became interested in bees, a sting was quite a formidable thing, the pain often being very intense, and the wound swelling so as sometimes to obstruct my sight. At present, the pain is usually slight, and if I can only succeed in quickly extracting the sting, no unpleasant consequences ensue, even if no remedies are used. Huish speaks of seeing the bald head of Bonner, a celebrated practical Apiarian, lined with bee stings which seemed to produce upon him no unpleasant effects. Like Mithridates, king of Pontus, he seemed almost to thrive upon poison itself!
I have met with a highly amusing remedy very gravely propounded by an old English Apiarian. I mention it more as a matter of curiosity, than because I imagine that any of my readers will be likely to make trial of it. He says, let the person who has been stung, catch as speedily as possible, another bee, and make it sting on the same spot! It requires some courage even in an enthusiastic disciple of Huber, to venture upon such a singular homeopathic remedy; but as this old writer had previously stated that the oftener a person was stung, the less he suffered from the venom, and as I had proved, in my own experience, the truth of this assertion, I determined to make trial of his remedy. I allowed a bee to sting me upon the finger and suffered the sting to remain until it had discharged all its venom. I then compelled another bee to insert its sting as near as possible in the same spot. I used no remedies of any kind, and had the satisfaction, in my zeal for new discoveries, of suffering more from the pain and swelling, than I had previously experienced for years.
An old writer recommends a powder of dried bees, for distressing cases of stoppages; and some of the highest medical authorities have recently recommended a tea made by pouring boiling water upon bees, for the same complaint, while the homeopathic physicians employ the poison of the bee, which they call apis, for a great variety of maladies. That it is capable of producing intense head-aches any one who has been stung, or who has tasted the poison, very well knows.
Timid Apiarians, and all who are liable to suffer severely from the sting of a bee, should by all means furnish themselves with the protection of a bee-dress. The great objection to gauze-wire veils or other materials of which such a dress has been usually made, is that they obstruct clear vision, so highly important in all operations, besides producing such excessive heat and perspiration, as to make the Apiarian peculiarly offensive to the bees. I prefer to use what I shall call a bee-hat, of entirely novel construction. It is made of wire cloth, the meshes of which are too fine to admit a bee, and yet coarse enough to allow a free circulation of air, and to permit distinct sight. The wire cloth should first be fastened together in a circular shape, like a hat, and large enough to go very easily over the head; its top may be of cotton cloth, and it should have the same material fastened around its lower edge, and furnished with strings to draw it so closely around the neck and shoulders that a bee cannot creep under it. Woolen stockings may then be drawn over the hands, or better still, India Rubber gloves, such as are now in very common use, may be worn; these gloves are impenetrable to the sting of a bee, and yet are so soft and pliant as scarcely in the least to interfere with the operations of the Apiarian.
If it were not for the diseased bees of which I have several times spoken, such precautions would be entirely unnecessary. The best Apiarians as it is, dispense with them, even at the cost of a sting now and then.
INSTINCTS OF BEES.
This treatise has already grown to such a length, that I must be exceedingly brief on a point peculiarly interesting to all who delight in investigating the wonders of the insect world. In the preceding parts of the work, numerous proofs have been given of the refined instincts of the bee. It is impossible always to draw the line between instinct and reason, and very often some of the actions of animals and insects appear to be the result of a process of reasoning apparently almost the same with the exercise of the reasoning faculty in man. "There is this difference" says Mr. Spence, "between intellect in man, and the rest of the animal creation. Their intellect teaches them to follow the lead of their senses, and to make such use of the external world as their appetites or instincts incline them to,—and this is their wisdom: while the intellect of man, being associated with an immortal principle, and connected with a world above that which his senses reveal to him, can, by aid derived from Heaven, control those senses, and render them obedient to the governing power of his nature; and this is his wisdom."
This subject has seldom been more happily expressed than by Mr. Spence. The line of distinction between man and the lower orders of creation, is not the mere fact that he reasons and they do not, but that he has a moral and accountable nature, while they have nothing of the kind.
"It will be evident," says Bevan, "that though I make a distinction between the instinct and the reason of bees, I do not confound their reason with the reason of man. But to obviate all possibility of misconception, I will at once define my meaning, when I use the terms insect reason and instinct."
"By reason, I mean the power of making deductions from previous experience or observation, and thereby of adapting means to ends. Instinct I regard as a disposition and power to perform certain actions in the same uniform manner, depending upon nice mechanism and having no reference either to observation or experience; operating on the means, without anticipation of the end, incited by no hope, controlled by no foreboding. Those who have attended to this subject, will be aware that insect reason, as above defined, is more restricted in its functions than the reason of man; to which is superadded the power of distinguishing between the true and the false, and, according to some metaphysicians, between right and wrong. Reason, in man, has a regular growth and a slow progression; all the arts he practices evince skill and dexterity, proportioned to the pains which have been taken in acquiring them. In the lower links of creation, but little of this gradual improvement is observable; their powers carry them almost directly to their object. They are perfect, as Bacon says, in all their members and organs from the very beginning."
"Far different Man, to higher fates assign'd, Unfolds with tardier step his Proteus mind, With numerous Instincts fraught, that lose their force Like shallow streams, divided in their course; Long weak, and helpless, on the fostering breast, In fond dependence leans the infant guest, Till reason ripens what young impulse taught, And builds, on sense, the lofty pile of thought; From earth, sea, air, the quick perceptions rise, And swell the mental fabric to the skies." Evans.
I shall here narrate a very remarkable instance of sagacity which seems to approach as near to human reason, as any thing in the bee which has ever fallen under my notice. In the year 1851, I had a small model hive constructed, into which I temporarily placed a swarm of bees. The particular object which I had in view, was to test the feasibility of some plans which I had recently devised, for facilitating the storing of honey in small tumblers. The bees, in a short time, filled the hive and stored about a dozen glasses with honey. I was called away from them, for a few days, and was much surprised, on my return, to find that the honey which had been stored up in the hive and sealed over for Winter use, was all gone, and the cells filled with eggs and young worms! The hive stood in a covered bee house, and the bees had built a large quantity of comb on the outside of the hive, into which they had transferred the honey taken from the interior. The object of this unusual procedure was, beyond all question, to give the poor queen a place within the hive for laying her eggs: for this purpose they uncapped and emptied all the cells so carefully sealed over, instead of using the new comb on the outside for the brood.
Those who wish to study the Natural History of the honey-bee, to the best advantage, will derive great aid in their investigations, from the use of my Observing Hives. Each comb in these hives is attached to a movable frame, and they all admit of easy removal. In this respect the construction of the hive is entirely new, and while it greatly facilitates the business of observation, it enables the Apiarian, on the approach of cool weather, to transfer his bees from a hive in which they cannot winter, to one of the common construction. As soon as the weather in the Spring is sufficiently warm, they may again be placed in the observing hive, in which, (as both sides of every comb admit of inspection,) every bee can be seen, and all the wonders of the hive are exposed to the full light of day; (see p. 24.) In the common observing hives experiments are often conducted with great difficulty, by cutting away parts of the comb, whereas in mine, they can all be performed by the simple removal of one of the frames, and if the colony becomes reduced in numbers, it may, in a few moments, be strengthened by helping it to maturing brood from one of the other hives. A very intelligent writer in a description of the different hives exhibited at the World's Fair, in London, lamented that no method had yet been devised of enabling bees to cluster, in cool weather, in an observing hive, and that it was found next to impossible to preserve them in such hives over Winter. By the use of the movable frames, this difficulty is entirely obviated.
I cannot allow this work to come to a close, without acknowledging my great obligations to Mr. Samuel Wagner, of York, Pennsylvania. To him I am indebted for a knowledge of Dzierzon's discoveries, and for many valuable suggestions scattered throughout the Treatise.