CHAPTER XVII. [365]
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 [366] 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 [367] 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. [368]

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 [369] 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. [370]

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 [371] 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 [Anaphylaxis], 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. [372]

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 [373] 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, (oneat 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 [374] 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 [375] 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 [376] 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. [377] 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 [378] 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. [379] 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 [380] 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.

Bee-Dress.

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 [381] 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 [382] 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; [383]
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, [384] 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.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The author of this work regrets that his experience does not enable him to speak with such absolute confidence as to the character of all the bee keepers whom he has known.

[2] In this way she is sure to deposit the egg in the cell she has selected.

[3] If ever there lived a genuine naturalist, Swammerdam was the man. In his History of Insects, published in 1737, he has given a most beautiful drawing of the ovaries of the queen bee. The sac which he supposed secreted a fluid for sticking the eggs to the base of the cells is the seminal reservoir or spermatheca.

[4] Bevan.

[5] This work being intended chiefly for practical purposes, I have thought best to use, as little as possible, the technical terms and minute anatomical descriptions of the scientific entomologist.

[6] Bevan.

[7] Having already spoken of Swammerdam, I shall give a brief extract from the celebrated Dr. Boerhaave's memoir of this wonderful naturalist, which should put to the blush, if any thing can, the arrogance of those superficial observers who are too wise in their own conceit, to avail themselves of the knowledge of others.

"This treatise on Bees proved so fatiguing a performance, that Swammerdam never afterwards recovered even the appearance of his former health and vigor. He was almost continually engaged by day in making observations, and as constantly engaged by night in recording them by drawings and suitable explanations."

"This being summer work, his daily labor began at six in the morning, when the sun afforded him light enough to survey such minute objects; and from that hour till twelve, he continued without interruption, all the while exposed in the open air to the scorching heat of the sun, bareheaded for fear of intercepting his sight, and his head in a manner dissolving into sweat under the irresistible ardors of that powerful luminary. And if he desisted at noon, it was only because the strength of his eyes was too much weakened, by the extraordinary afflux of light and the use of microscopes, to continue any longer upon such small objects, though as discernible in the afternoon, as they had been in the forenoon."

"Our author, the better to accomplish his vast, unlimited views, often wished for a year of perpetual heat and light to perfect his inquiries, with a polar night to reap all the advantages of them by proper drawings and descriptions."

[8] The formation of swarms will be particularly described in another chapter.

[9] Suppose that we are unable to give a satisfactory answer to any of these questions, does our ignorance on these points disprove the fact of the existence of such a jelly?

[10] Bevan.

[11] Some very extraordinary instances are related of the protraction of life in snails. After they had lain in a cabinet above fifteen years, immersing them in water caused them to revive and crawl out of their shells.

[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.

[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.

[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.

[16] Dr. Scudamore, an English physician who has written a small tract on the formation of artificial swarms, says that he once knew "as many as ten swarms go forth at once, and settle and mingle together, forming literally a monster meeting!" Instances are on record of a much larger number of swarms clustering together. A venerable clergyman, in Western Massachusetts, related to me the following remarkable occurrence. In the Apiary of one of his parishioners, five swarms lit in one mass. As there was no hive which would hold them, a very large box was roughly nailed together, and the bees were hived in it. They were taken up by sulphur in the Fall, when it was perfectly evident that the five swarms had occupied the same box as independent colonies. Four of them had commenced their works, each one near a corner, and the fifth one in the middle, and there was a distinct interval separating the works of the different colonies. In Cotton's "My Bee Book," there is a cut illustrating a hive in which two colonies had built in the same manner.

[17] I have often spent more than ten minutes in opening and shutting a single frame in the Huber hive, and even then, have sometimes crushed some of the bees.

[18] The scent of the hives, during the height of the gathering season, will usually inform us from what sources the bees have gathered their supplies.

[19] If they cannot obtain it, the Apiarian must himself furnish it.

[20] The queens taken from such hives may be advantageously used in forming artificial colonies.

[21] Bevan.

[22] Bevan.

[23] A bee, a few days after it is hatched, is as fully competent for all its duties, as it ever will be, at any subsequent period of its life.

[24] Report on bees to the Essex County Agricultural Society, 1851.

[25] Instead of using sticks, I much prefer to make the drumming with the open palms of my hands.

[26] The bees in each colony had probably contracted the same smell, and could not distinguish friends from foes.

Hobby
Bee Culture: The Anger of Bees, Bee Stings, How to Treat Bee Stings
Page Updated 5:48 PM Monday 22 January 2018
Copyright 2018 by Donovan Baldwin
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