CHAPTER X. [173]
ARTIFICIAL SWARMING.

The numerous efforts which have been made for the last fifty years or more, to dispense with natural swarming, plainly indicate the anxiety of Apiarians to find some better mode of increasing their colonies.

Although I am able to propagate bees by natural swarming, with a rapidity and certainty unattainable except by the complete control of all the combs in the hive, still there are difficulties in this mode of increase, inherent to the system itself, and therefore entirely incapable of being removed by any kind of hive. Before describing the various methods which I employ to increase colonies by artificial means, I shall first enumerate these difficulties, in order that each individual bee-keeper may decide for himself, in which way he can most advantageously propagate his bees.

1. The large number of swarms lost every year, is a powerful argument against natural swarming.

An eminent Apiarian has estimated that one fourth of the best swarms are lost every season! This estimate can hardly be considered too high, if all who keep bees are taken into account. While some bee-keepers are so careful that they seldom lose a swarm, the majority, either from the grossest negligence, or from necessary hindrances during the swarming season, are constantly incurring serious [174] losses, by the flight of their bees to the woods. It is next to impossible, entirely to prevent such occurrences, if bees are allowed to swarm at all.

2. The great amount of time and labor required by natural swarming, has always been regarded as a decided objection to this mode of increase.

As soon as the swarming season begins, the Apiary must be closely watched almost every day, or some of the new swarms will be lost. If this business is entrusted to thoughtless children, or careless adults, many swarms will be lost by their neglect. It is very evident that but few persons who keep bees, can always be on hand to watch them and to hive the new swarms. But, in the height of the swarming season, if any considerable number of colonies is kept, the Apiarian, to guard against serious losses, should either be always on the spot himself, or have some one who can be entrusted with the care of his bees. Even the Sabbath cannot be observed as a day of rest; and often, instead of being able to go to the House of God, the bee-keeper is compelled to labor among his bees, as hard as on other days, or even harder. That he is as justifiable in hiving his bees on the Sabbath, as in taking care of his stock, can admit of no serious doubt; but the very liability of being called to do so, is with many, a sufficient objection against Apiarian pursuits.

The merchant, mechanic and professional man, are often so situated that they would take great interest in bees, if they were not deterred from their cultivation by inability to take care of them, during the swarming season; and they are thus debarred from a pursuit, which is intensely fascinating, not merely to the lover of Nature, but to every one possessed of an inquiring mind. No man who spends some of his leisure hours in studying the wonderful habits and [175] instincts of bees, will ever complain that he can find nothing to fill up his time out of the range of his business, or the gratification of his appetites. Bees may be kept with great advantage, even in large cities, and those who are debarred from every other rural pursuit, may still listen to the soothing hum of the industrious bee, and harvest annually its delicious nectar.

If the Apiarian could always be on hand during the swarming season, it would still, in many instances, be exceedingly inconvenient for him to attend to his bees. How often is the farmer interrupted in the business of hay-making, by the cry that his bees are swarming; and by the time he has hived them, perhaps a shower comes up, and his hay is injured more than his swarm is worth. In this way, the keeping of a few bees, instead of a source of profit, often becomes rather an expensive luxury; and if a very large stock is kept, the difficulties and embarrassments are often most seriously increased. If the weather becomes pleasant after a succession of days unfavorable for swarming, it often happens that several swarms rise at once, and cluster together, to the great annoyance of the Apiarian; and not unfrequently, in the noise and confusion, other swarms fly off, and are entirely lost. I have seen the Apiarian so perplexed and exhausted under such circumstances, as to be almost ready to wish that he had never seen a bee.

3. The managing of bees by natural swarming, must, in our country, almost entirely prevent the establishment of large Apiaries.

Even if it were possible, in this way, to multiply bees with certainty and rapidity, and without any of the perplexities which I have just described, how few persons are so situated as to be able to give almost the whole of their time in [176] the busiest part of the year, to the management of their bees. The swarming season is with the farmer, the very busiest part of the whole year, and if he purposes to keep a large number of swarming hives, he must not only devote nearly the whole of his time, for a number of weeks, to their supervision, but at a season when labor commands the highest price, he will often be compelled to hire additional assistance.

I have long been convinced that, as a general rule, the keeping of a few colonies in swarming hives, costs more than they are worth, and that the keeping of a very large number is entirely out of the question, unless with those who are so situated that they can afford to devote their time, for about two months every year, almost entirely to their bees. The number of persons who can afford to do this must be very small; and I have seldom heard of a bee-keeper, in our country, who has an Apiary on a scale extensive enough to make bee-keeping anything more than a subordinate pursuit. Multitudes have tried to make it a large and remunerating business, but hitherto, I believe that they have nearly all been disappointed in their expectations. In such countries as Poland and Russia where labor is deplorably cheap, it may be done to great advantage; but never to any considerable extent in our own.

4. A serious objection to natural swarming, is the discouraging fact that the bees often refuse to swarm at all, and the Apiarian finds it impossible to multiply his colonies with any certainty or rapidity, even although he may find himself in all respects favorably situated for the cultivation of bees, and may be exceedingly anxious to engage in the business on a much more extensive scale.

I am acquainted with many careful bee-keepers who have managed their bees according to the most reliable information [177] they could obtain, never destroying any of their colonies, and endeavoring to multiply them to the best of their ability, who yet have not as many stocks as they had ten years ago. Most of them would abandon the pursuit, if they looked upon bee-keeping simply in the light of dollars and cents, rather than as a source of pleasant recreation; and some do not hesitate to say that much more money has been spent, by the mass of those who have used patent hives, than they have ever realized from their bees.

It is a very simple matter to make calculations on paper, which shall seem to point out a road to wealth, almost as flattering, as a tour to the gold mines of Australia or California. Only purchase a patent bee-hive, and if it fulfills all or even a part of the promises of its sanguine inventor, a fortune must, in the course of a few years, be certainly realized; but such are the disappointments resulting from the bees refusing often to swarm at all, that if the hive could remedy all the other difficulties in the way of bee-keeping, it would still fail to answer the reasonable wishes of the experienced Apiarian. If every swarm of bees could be made to yield a profit of 20 dollars a year, and if the Apiarian could be sure of selling his new swarms at the most extravagant prices, he could not, like the growers of mulberry trees, or the breeders of fancy fowls, multiply his stocks so as to meet the demand, however extensive; but would be entirely dependent upon the whims and caprices of his bees; or rather, upon the natural laws which control their swarming.

Every practical bee-keeper is well aware of the utter uncertainty of natural swarming. Under no circumstances, can its occurrence be confidently relied on. While some stocks swarm regularly and repeatedly, others, strong in numbers and rich in stores, although the season may, in all [178] respects, be propitious, refuse to swarm at all. Such colonies, on examination, will often be found to have taken no steps for raising young queens. In some cases, the wings of the old mother will be found defective, while in others, she is abundantly able to fly, but seems to prefer the riches of the old hive, to the risks attending the formation of a new colony. It frequently happens, in our uncertain climate, that when all the necessary preparations have been made for swarming, the weather proves unpropitious for so long a time, that the young queens coming to maturity before the old one can leave, are all destroyed. This is a very frequent occurrence, and under such circumstances, swarming is almost certain to be prevented, for that season. The young queens are frequently destroyed, even although the weather is pleasant, in consequence of some sudden and perhaps only temporary suspension of the honey-harvest; for bees seldom colonize even if all their preparations are completed, unless the flowers are yielding an abundant supply of honey.

From these and other causes which my limits will not permit me to notice, it has hitherto been found impossible, in the uncertain climate of our Northern States, to multiply colonies very rapidly, by natural swarming; and bee-keeping, on this plan, offers very poor inducements to those who are aware how little has been accomplished, even by the most enthusiastic, experienced and energetic Apiarians.

The numerous perplexities which have ever attended natural swarming, have for ages, directed the attention of practical cultivators, to the importance of devising some more reliable method of increasing their colonies. Columella, who lived about the middle of the first century of the Christian Era, and who wrote twelve books on husbandry (De re rustica,) has given directions for making artificial colonies. [179] He says, "you must examine the hive, and view what honey-combs it has; then afterwards from the wax which contains the seeds of the young bees, you must cut away that part wherein the offspring of the royal brood is animated: for this is easy to be seen; because at the very end of the wax-works there appears, as it were, a thimble-like process (somewhat similar to an acorn,) rising higher, and having a wider cavity, than the rest of the holes, wherein the young bees of vulgar note are contained."

Hyginus, who flourished before Columella, had evidently noticed the royal jelly; for he speaks of cells larger than those of the common bees, "filled as it were with a solid substance of a red color, out of which the winged king is at first formed." This ancient observer must undoubtedly have seen the quince-like jelly, a portion of which is always found at the base of the royal cells, after the queens have emerged. The ancients generally called the queen a king, although Aristotle says that some in his time called her the mother. Swammerdam [Jan Swammerdam (February 12, 1637 February 17, 1680)] was the first to prove by dissection that the queen is a perfect female, and the only one in the hive, and that the drone is the male.

For reasons which I shall shortly mention, the ancient methods of artificial increase appear to have met with but small success. Towards the close of the last century, a new impulse was given to the artificial production of swarms, by the discovery of Schirach, a German clergyman, that bees are able to rear a queen from worker-brood. For want, however, of a more thorough knowledge of some important principles in the economy of the bee, these efforts met with slender encouragement.

Huber, after his splendid discoveries in the physiology of the bee, perceived at once, the importance of multiplying colonies by some method more reliable than that of natural [180] swarming. His leaf or book hive consisted of 12 frames, each an inch and a half in width; any one of which could be opened at pleasure. He recommends forming artificial swarms, by dividing one of these hives into two parts; adding to each part six empty frames. After using a Huber hive for a number of years, I became perfectly convinced that it could only be made servicable, by an adroit, experienced and fearless Apiarian. The bees fasten the frames in such a manner, with their propolis, that they cannot, except with extreme care, be opened without jarring the bees, and exciting their anger; nor can they be shut without constant danger of crushing them. Huber nowhere speaks of having multiplied colonies extensively by such hives, and although they have been in use more than sixty years, they have never been successfully employed for such a purpose. If Huber had only contrived a plan for suspending his frames, instead of folding them together like the leaves of a book, I believe that the cause of Apiarian science would have been fifty years in advance of what it now is.

Dividing hives of various kinds have been used in this country. After giving some of the best of them a thorough trial, and inventing others which somewhat resembled the Huber hive, I found that they could not possibly be made to answer any valuable end in securing artificial swarms. For a long time I felt that the plan ought to succeed, and it was not until I had made numerous experiments with my hive substantially as now constructed, that I ascertained the precise causes of failure.

It may be regarded as one of the laws of the bee-hive, that bees, when not in possession of a mature queen, seldom build any comb except such as being designed merely for storing honey, is too coarse for the rearing of workers. Until I became acquainted with the discoveries of Dzierzon, [181] I supposed myself to be the only observer who had noticed this remarkable fact, and who had been led by it, to modify the whole system of artificial swarming. The perusal of Mr. Wagner's manuscript translation of that author, showed me that he had arrived at precisely similar results.

It may seem at first, very unaccountable that bees should go on to fill their hives with comb unfit for breeding, when the young queen will so soon require worker-cells for her eggs; but it must be borne in mind, that bees, under such circumstances, are always in an unnatural state. They are attempting to rear a new queen in a hive which is only partially filled with comb; whereas, if left to follow their own instincts, they never construct royal cells except in hives which are well filled with comb, for it is only in such hives that they make any preparations for swarming. It must be confessed that they do not show their ordinary sagacity in filling a hive with unsuitable comb; but if it were not for a few instances of this kind of bad management, we should perhaps, form too exalted an idea of their intelligence, and should almost fail to notice the marked distinction between reason in man, and even the most refined instincts of some of the animals by which he is surrounded.

The determination of bees, when they have no mature queen, if they build any comb at all, to build such as is suited only for storing honey, and unfit for breeding, will show at once, the folly of attempting to multiply colonies by the dividing-hives. Even if the Apiarian has been perfectly successful in dividing a colony, and the part without a queen takes the necessary steps to supply her loss, if the bees are sufficiently numerous to build a large quantity of new comb, (and they ought to be in order to make the artificial colony of any value,) they will build this comb in such a manner that it will answer only for storing honey, while [182] they will use the half of the hive with the old comb, for the purposes of breeding. The next year, if an attempt is made to divide this hive, one half will contain nearly all the brood and mature bees, while the other, having most of the honey, in combs unfit for breeding, the new colony formed from it will be a complete failure.

Even with a Huber hive, the plan of multiplying colonies by dividing a full hive into two parts, and adding an empty half to each, will be attended with serious difficulties; although some of them may be remedied in consequence of the hive being constructed so as to divide into many parts; the very attempt to remedy them, however, will be found to require a degree of skill and knowledge far in advance of what can be expected of the great mass of bee-keepers.

The common dividing hives, separating into two parts, can never, under any circumstances, be made of the least practical value; and the business of multiplying colonies by them, will be found far more laborious, uncertain and vexatious, than to rely on natural swarming. I do not know of a solitary practical Apiarian, who, on trial of this system, has not been compelled to abandon it, and allow the bees to swarm from his dividing hives in the old-fashioned way.

Some Apiarians have attempted to multiply their colonies by putting a piece of brood comb containing the materials for raising a new queen, into an empty hive, set in the place of a strong stock which has been removed to a new stand when thousands of its inmates were abroad in the fields. This method is still worse than the one which has just been described. In the dividing hive, the bees already had a large amount of suitable comb for breeding, while in this having next to none, they build all their combs until the queen is hatched, of a size unsuitable for rearing workers. In the first case, the queenless part of the dividing hive [183] may have had a young queen almost mature, so that the process of building large combs would be of short continuance; for as soon as the young queen begins to lay, the bees at once commence building combs adapted to the reception of worker eggs. In some of my attempts to rear artificial swarms by moving a full stock, as described above, I have had combs built of enormous size, nearly four inches through! and these monster combs have afterwards been pieced out on their lower edge, with worker cells for the accommodation of the young queen! So uniformly do the bees with an unhatched queen, build in the way described, that I can often tell at a single glance, by seeing what kind of comb they are building, that a hive is queenless, or that having been so, they have now a fertile young queen. When a new colony is formed, by dividing the old hive, the queenless part has thousands of cells filled with brood and eggs, and young bees will be hourly hatching, for at least three weeks: and by this time, the young queen will be laying eggs, so that there will be an interval of not more than three weeks, during which no accessions will be made to the numbers of the colony. But when a new swarm is formed by moving, not an egg will be deposited for nearly three weeks; and not a bee will be hatched for nearly six weeks; and during all this time, the colony will rapidly decrease, until by the time that the progeny of the young queen begins to emerge from their cells, the number of bees in the new hive will be so small, that it would be of no value, even if its combs were of the best construction.

Every observing bee-keeper must have noticed how rapidly even a powerful swarm diminishes in number, for the first three weeks after it has been hived. In many cases, before the young begin to hatch, it does not contain one half its original number; so very great is the mortality of bees during the height of the working season. [184]

I have most thoroughly tested, in the only way in which it can be practiced in the ordinary hives, this last plan of artificial swarming, and do not hesitate to say that it does not possess the very slightest practical value; and as this is the method which Apiarians have usually tried, it is not strange that they have almost unanimously pronounced Artificial swarming to be utterly worthless. The experience of Dzierzon on this point has been the same with my own.

Another method of artificial swarming has been zealously advocated, which, if it could only be made to answer, would be, of all conceivable plans the most effectual, and as it would require the smallest amount of labor, experience, or skill, would be everywhere practiced. A number of hives must be put in connection with each other, so as to communicate by holes which allow the bees to travel from any one apartment to the others. The bees, on this plan, are to colonize themselves, and in time, a single swarm will, of its own accord, multiply so as to form a large number of independent families, each one possessing its own queen, and all living in perfect harmony.

This method so beautiful and fascinating in theory, has been repeatedly tried with various ingenious modifications, but in every instance, as far as I know, it has proved an entire failure. It will always be found if bees are allowed to pass from one hive to another, that they will still, for the most part, confine their breeding operations to a single apartment, if it is of the ordinary size, while the others will be used, chiefly for the storing of honey. This is almost invariably the case, if the additional room is given by collateral or side boxes, as the queen seldom enters such apartments for the purpose of breeding. If the new hive is directly below that in which the swarm is first lodged, then if the connections are suitable, the queen will be almost [185] certain to descend and lay her eggs in the new combs, as soon as they are commenced by the bees; in this case, the upper hive is almost entirely abandoned by her, and the bees store the cells with honey, as fast as the brood is hatched, as their instinct impels them always, if they can, to keep their stores of honey above the breeding cells. So long as bees have an abundance of room below their main hive, they will never swarm, but will use it in the way that I have described; if the room is on the sides of their hive, and very accessible, they seldom swarm, but if it is above them, they frequently prefer to swarm rather than to take possession of it. But in none of these cases, do they ever, if left to themselves, form separate and independent colonies.

I am aware that the Apiarian, by separating from the main hive with a slide, an apartment that contains brood, and directing to it by some artificial contrivance a considerable number of bees, may succeed in rearing an artificial colony; but unless all his hives admit of the most thorough inspection, as he can never know their exact condition, he must always work in the dark, and will be much more likely to fail than succeed. Success indeed can only be possible when a skillful Apiarian devotes a large portion of his time to watching and managing his bees, so as to compel them to colonize, and even then it will be very uncertain; so that this plausible theory to be reduced to even a most precarious practice, requires more skill, care, labor and time, than are necessary to manage the ordinary swarming hives.

The failure of so many attempts to increase colonies by artificial means, as well in the hands of scientific and experienced Apiarians, as under the direction of those who are almost totally ignorant of the physiology of the bee, has led many to prefer to use non-swarming hives. In this way, very large harvests of honey are often obtained from [186] a powerful stock of bees; but it is very evident that if the increase of new colonies were entirely discouraged, the insect would soon be exterminated. To prevent this, the advocates of the non-swarming plan, must either have their bees swarm, to some extent, or rely upon those who do.

My hive may be used as a non-swarmer, and may be made more effectually to prevent swarming, than any with which I am acquainted: as in the Spring, (See No. 34. p. 104,) ample accommodations may be given to the bees, below their main works, and when this is seasonably done, swarming will never take place.

There are certain objections however, which must always prevent the non-swarming plan from being the most successful mode of managing bees. To say nothing of the loss to the bee-keeper, who has, after some years, only one stock, when if the natural mode of increase had been allowed, he ought to have a number, it is usually found that after bees have been kept in a non-swarming hive for several seasons, they seem to work with much less vigor than usual. Of this, any one may convince himself, who will compare the industrious working of a new swarm, with that of a much more powerful stock in a non-swarming hive. The former will work with such astonishing zeal, that to one unacquainted with the facts, it would be taken to be by far the more powerful stock.

As the fertility of the queen decreases by age, the disadvantage of using non-swarming hives of the ordinary construction, will be obvious. This objection to the system can be remedied in my hive, as the old queen can be easily caught and removed; but when hives are used in which this cannot be done, the Apiary, instead of containing a race of young queens in the full vigor of their reproductive powers, will contain many that have passed their [187] prime, and these old queens may die when there are no eggs in the hive to enable the bees to replace them, and thus the whole colony will perish.

If the bee-keeper wishes to winter only a certain number of stocks, I will, in another place, show him a way in which this can be done, so as to obtain more honey from them, than from an equal number kept on the non-swarming plan, while at the same time, they may all be maintained in a state of the highest health and vigor.

I shall now describe a method of artificial swarming, which may be successfully practiced with almost any hive, by those who have sufficient experience in the management of bees.

About the time that natural swarming may be expected, a populous hive, rich in stores is selected, and what I shall call a forced swarm is obtained from it, by the following process. Choose that part of a pleasant day, say from 10 A. M. to 2 P. M., when the largest number of bees are abroad in the fields; if any bees are clustered in front of the hive, or on the bottom-board, puff among them a few whiffs of smoke from burning rags or paper, so as to force them to go up among the combs. This can be done with greater ease, if the hive is elevated, by small wedges, about one quarter of an inch above the bottom-board. Have an empty hive or box in readiness, the diameter of which is as nearly as possible, the same with that of the hive from which you intend to drive the swarm. Lift the hive very gently, and without the slightest jar, from its bottom-board; invert it and carry it in the same careful manner, about a rod from its old stand, as bees are always much more inclined to be peaceable, when removed a short distance, than when any operation is performed on the familiar spot. If the hive is carefully [188] placed on the ground, upside down, scarcely a single bee will fly out, and there will be little danger of being stung. Timid and inexperienced Apiarians will, of course, protect themselves with a bee-dress, and they may have an assistant to sprinkle the hive gently with sugar-water, as soon as it is inverted. After placing the hive in an inverted position on the ground, the empty hive must be put over it, and every crack from which a bee might escape, must be carefully closed with paper or any convenient material. The upper hive ought to be furnished with two or three slats, about an inch and a half wide, and fastened one third of the distance from the top, so as to give the bees every opportunity to cluster.

As soon as the Apiarian is perfectly sure that the bees cannot escape, he should place an empty hive upon the stand from which they were removed, so that the multitudes which return from the fields may enter it, instead of dispersing to other hives, where some of them may meet with a very unkind reception; although as a general rule, a bee with a load of freshly gathered honey, after the extent of his resources is ascertained, is almost always, welcomed by any hive to which he may carry his treasures; while a poor unfortunate that ventures to present itself empty and poverty stricken, is generally at once destroyed! The one meets with as friendly a reception as a wealthy gentleman who proposes to take up his abode in a country village, while the other is as much an object of dislike as a pauper who is suspected of wishing to become a parish charge!

To return to our imprisoned bees. Beginning at the top, or what is now, (as the hive is upside down,) the bottom, their hive should be beaten smartly with two small rods on the front and back, or on the sides to which the combs are attached, so as to run no risk of loosening [189] them. If the hive when removed from its stand was put upon a stool or table, or something not so solid as the ground, the drumming will cause more motion, and yet be less apt to start any of the combs. These "rappings" which certainly are not of a very "spiritual" character, produce nevertheless, a most decided effect upon the bees: their first impulse is to sally out and wreak their vengeance upon those who have thus rudely assailed their honied dome; but as soon as they find that they are shut in, a sudden fear that they are to be driven from their treasures, seems to take possession of them. If the two hives have glass windows, so that all the operations can be witnessed, the bees, in a few moments, will be seen most busily engaged in gorging themselves with honey. During all this time, the rapping must be continued, and in about five minutes, nearly every bee will have filled itself to its utmost capacity, and they are now prepared for their forced emigration; a prodigious hum is heard, and the bees begin to mount into the upper box. In about ten minutes from the time the rapping began, the mass of the bees with their queen will have ascended, and will hang clustered, just like a natural swarm. The box with the expelled bees must now be gently lifted off, and should be placed upon a bottom-board with a gauze wire ventilator, so that the bees may be confined, and yet have plenty of air. A shallow vessel or a piece of old comb containing water, ought to be first placed on the bottom-board. If no gauze wire bottom-board is at hand, the hive must be wedged up, so as to admit an abundance of air, and be set in a shady place.

The hive from which the bees were driven, must now be set, without crushing any of the bees, on its old spot, in the place of the decoy hive, that all the bees which have returned from abroad, may enter. Before this change is made, [190] these bees will be running in and out of the empty hive, (See p. 72,) but as soon as the opportunity is given them, they will crowd into their well-known home, and if there are no royal cells started, will proceed, almost at once, to construct them, and the next day they will act as though the forced swarm had left of its own accord. When the operation is delayed until about the season for natural swarming, the hive will contain immature queens, if the bees were intending to swarm, and a new queen will soon take the place of the old one, just as in natural swarming. If it is performed too early, and before the drones have made their appearance, the young queen may not be seasonably impregnated, and the parent stock will perish.

It will be obvious that this whole process, in order to be successfully performed, requires a knowledge of the most important points in the economy of the bee-hive; indeed the same remark may be made of almost any operation, and those who are willing to remain ignorant of the laws which regulate the breeding of bees, ought not to depart in the least, from the old-fashioned mode of management. All such deviations will only be attended with a wanton sacrifice of bees. A man may use the common swarming hives a whole life-time, and yet remain ignorant of the very first principles in the physiology of the bee, unless he gains his information from other sources; while, by the use of my hives, any intelligent cultivator may, in a single season, verify for himself, the discoveries which have only been made by the accumulated toil of many observers, for more than two thousand years. The ease with which Apiarians may now, by the sight of their own eyes, gain a knowledge of all the important facts in the economy of the hive, will stimulate them most powerfully, to study the nature of the bee and thus to prepare themselves for an enlightened system of management. [191]

In giving directions for the creation of forced swarms, I advised that it should be done during the pleasantest part of the day, when the largest number of bees are foraging abroad. If the operation is performed when all the bees are at home, and they are all driven into the empty hive, the old hive will be so depopulated that many of the young will perish for want of suitable attention, and the parent stock will be greatly deteriorated in value. If only a part of the bees are expelled, the queen may be left behind, and the whole operation will be a failure, and at best it will be difficult to make a suitable division of the bees between the two hives. Indeed, under any circumstances, this is the most difficult part of the process, and it often requires no little judgment to equalize the two colonies.

Some recommend placing the forced swarm on the old stand, and removing the parent hive with the bees that are deemed sufficient, to a new place. If this is done, and the bees have their liberty, so many of them will leave for the familiar spot, that the hive will be almost deserted, and a very large proportion of its brood will perish. The bees in this hive, if it is to be set in a new place, must have water given to them, and be so shut up as to have an abundance of air, until late in the afternoon of the third day, when the hive may be opened, and they will take wing, almost as though they were intending to swarm. Some will even then, return to the place where they originally stood, and join the forced swarm, but the most of them, after hovering in the air for a short time, will re-enter the hive. During the time that they have been shut up, thousands of young bees will have emerged from their cells, and these, knowing no other home, will aid in taking care of the larvæ, and in carrying on the work of the hive.

Instead of trying to make an equitable division at the [192] time of driving out the bees, I prefer to expel all that I can, and to rely upon the bees returning from their gatherings, to replenish the old stock. If the number appears to be too small, I open temporarily the entrance of the hive containing the forced swarm, and permit as many as I judge best, to come out and enter their old abode. It must here be borne in mind, that bees which are thus ejected from a hive, do not, in all respects, act like a natural swarm, which having left the parent stock, of its own accord, never seeks, unless it has lost its queen, to return; whereas, many of the forced swarm, as soon as they leave the hive into which they have been driven, will return to their former abode. The same is true of bees which are moved to any distance not far enough to be beyond the limits of their previous excursions in search of food. If we could only make our bees when moved, or forced to swarm, adhere to their hives as faithfully as a natural swarm, many difficulties which now perplex us, would be at once removed.

Having ascertained that the parent hive contains a sufficient number of bees to carry on operations, about sun-set, after the bees are all at home, it may be removed to a new stand, and the bees, after being supplied with water, must be shut up, according to the directions previously given. If the hive is so constructed that water cannot be conveniently given them, the following plan I have found to answer most admirably. Bore a small hole towards the top on the front side, and with a straw, water may be injected with scarcely any trouble. A mouthful once or twice a day, will be sufficient. If the bees are confined without water, they will not be able to prepare the food for the larvæ, and multitudes of them must necessarily perish.

The expelled colony must be placed, on the same evening, precisely where the hive from which they were driven [193] stood, and have their liberty given to them. The next morning, they will work with as much vigor as though they had swarmed in the natural way.

The directions which have here been given for creating forced swarms, will be found to differ in some important respects from any which other Apiarians have previously furnished. I have already shown that it is difficult to secure the right number of bees for the parent stock, unless it is set temporarily on its old stand, so as to catch up the returning bees. The common plan has been to try to leave in it, as many bees as are needed, and then to shut it up for a few days, having placed it in a new spot, while the forced swarm is immediately replaced so that all the stragglers may be added to it. If we could always be sure of driving out the queen, and with her, as many bees as we want and no more, this would undoubtedly be the simplest plan; but for the reasons already assigned, it will be found a very precarious operation.

Some Apiarians recommend putting the forced swarm in a new place in the Apiary; but as large numbers of the bees will be sure, when they go out to work, to return to the familiar spot, the new colony will often be so seriously depopulated as to be of but little value. If the Apiarian can remove his forced swarms, some two or three miles off, he may give them their liberty at once, and in the course of a few weeks, he can, without risk, bring them back to his Apiary.

If he chooses, he may allow the parent stock to remain on the old stand, and confine the forced swarm, until about an hour before sun set of the third day. They must in the mean time be supplied with both honey and water, and if they cannot be kept cool and quiet, they should be removed into the cellar until they are placed [194] in their new position. Many will even then return to the old spot, but not enough to interfere seriously with their prosperity. If the bees cannot, as in my hives, be kept cool and dark, they will be excessively uneasy, and may suffer very seriously from so long confinement: hence the very great importance of setting them in the cellar.

It may seem strange, that bees, when their hive is moved, or when they are forcibly expelled from it, should not adhere to the new spot, just as when they have swarmed of their own accord. In each case, as soon as a bee leaves its new place, it flies with its head turned towards the hive, in order to mark the surrounding objects, that it may be able to return to the same spot; but when they have not emigrated of their own accord, many of them seem, when they rise in the air, or return from work, entirely to forget that their location has been changed; and they return to the place where they have lived so long, and if no hive is there, they often die on the deserted and desolate, yet home-like spot. If, on the contrary, they swarmed of their own accord, they seldom, if ever, make such a mistake. It may truly be said that

"A 'bee removed' against its will
Is of the same opinion still."

I have been thus minute in describing the whole process of creating forced swarms, not merely on account of the importance of the plan in multiplying colonies, but because the driving or drumming out of bees from a common hive, is employed with great success in a variety of ways which will be hereafter specified. I doubt not that many bee-keepers, on reading this mode of creating colonies, are ready to object that it not only requires more skill, but more time and labor, than to allow them to swarm, and then to hive them in the old-fashioned way. [195]

As practiced with ordinary hives, it is undoubtedly liable to this serious objection, and I would easily with my basket hiver, undertake to hive four natural swarms, in the time that it would require to create one forced swarm; to say nothing of the care which must be bestowed upon the artificial swarms, with their parent stocks, after the driving process has been completed. For this reason, I do not advise the bee-keeper to force his swarms from the common hives, until he has first ascertained that they are not likely to swarm in tolerably good season, of their own accord, unless he is afraid that they will come out during his absence, and decamp to the woods.

By the aid of my hives, this process may be most expeditiously performed. An empty hive, with its frames furnished with guide combs, must be in readiness. The cover of the full hive should be removed, and the bees gently sprinkled with sugar-water from a watering pot that discharges a fine stream. In about two minutes, the frames may be taken out, and the bees, by a quick motion, shaken on a sheet directly in front of their hive. As fast as a comb is deprived of its bees, it should be set in a proper position in the new hive, and an empty frame put in its place. Two or three of the combs containing brood, eggs, &c., should be left in the old hive, as well to give them greater encouragement, as to prevent them from being dissatisfied if their queen should, by any possibility, be taken from them. In removing the frames with the bees, I always look for the queen, and if I see her, as I generally do, I return to the hive the frame which contains her, without shaking off the bees. In that case, I put several of the necessary combs into the new hive, with all the bees upon them.

In dislodging the bees upon the sheet, I do not shake [196] them all off from the frames; but leave about one quarter of them on, and put them with the combs into the new hive. I never knew the queen to be left on a frame after it was shaken so that the larger portion of the bees would fall off. As soon as the operation is completed, and the necessary number of bees have been transferred with their comb to the new hive, it should be managed according to the directions previously given, in the case of the old hive from which a swarm was drummed out.

If in the operation the Apiarian does not see the queen, he must, in the course of the third day, examine the hive having the larger portion of bees, and if they have commenced building royal cells among the combs given to them, he may be certain that she is in the other hive. The comb containing the royal cells may then be transferred to that hive, and the queen searched for, and returned with the combs on which she is found, to her proper place. A little experience, however, will enable the operator to be sure from the first, that the queen is with the right division.

To most persons, it would seem to be of little consequence, in which hive the queen is placed: but if the bees which have only a few frames of comb, are compelled to rear another, they will be sure to fill their hive with comb unfit for breeding purposes, and will also be so long before they can have additions to their number, as to be of but little value.

If many swarms are to be created in this manner, and the operation is delayed until near swarming time, in some of them, numerous royal cells will be found, so that each stock which has no queen, may have one nearly mature, given to it, and thus much valuable time may be saved.

By making a few forced swarms, about a week or ten days before the time in which the most will be made, the [197] Apiarian may be sure of having an abundance of sealed queens almost mature, so that every swarm may have one. If he can give each hive that needs it, an unhatched queen, without removing her from her frame, so much the better; but if he has not enough frames with sealed queens, while some of them contain two or more queens, he must proceed as follows:

With a very sharp knife, carefully cut out a queen cell, on a piece of comb an inch or more square; cut a place in one of the combs of the hive to which this cell is to be given, just about large enough to receive it in a natural position, and if it is not secure, put a little melted wax with a feather, where the edges meet. The bees will soon fasten it, so as to make all right. Unless very great care is used in transferring these royal cells, the enclosed queens will be destroyed; as their bodies, until they are nearly mature, are so exceedingly soft, that a very slight compression of their cell often kills them. For this reason, I prefer not to remove them, until they are within three or four days of hatching. As the forcing of a swarm may always be conducted, with my hives, in such a manner that the Apiarian can be sure to effect a suitable division of the bees, the process may be performed at any time when the sun is above the horizon, and the weather is not too unpleasant. It ought not to be attempted when the weather is so cool as to endanger the destruction of the brood, by a chill; and never unless when there is not only sufficient light to enable the Apiarian to see distinctly, but enough for the bees that take wing, to see the hive, and direct their flight to its entrance. If hives are meddled with, when it is dark, the bees are always more irascible, and as they cannot see where to fly, they will constantly be alighting upon the person of the bee-keeper, who will be almost sure to receive [198] some stings. I have seldom attempted night-work upon my bees, without having occasion most thoroughly to rue my folly. If the weather is not too cool, early in the morning, before the bees are stirring, will be the best time, as there will be less danger of annoyance from robber-bees.

If honey-water is used instead of sugar-water in sprinkling the bees when the hive is first opened, the smell will be almost certain to entice marauders from other hives to attempt to take possession of treasures which do not belong to them, and when they once commence such a pilfering course of life, they will be very loth to lay it aside. When the honey harvest is abundant, (and this is the very time for forcing swarms,) bees, with proper precautions, are seldom inclined to rob. I have sometimes found it difficult to induce them to notice honey-combs which I wished them to empty, even when they were placed in an exposed situation. This subject, however, will be more fully treated in the remarks on Robbing.

Perhaps some of my readers will hardly be able to convince themselves that bees may be dealt with after the fashion I have been describing, without becoming greatly enraged; so far is this from being the case, that in my operations, I often use neither sugar-water nor bee-dress, although I do not recommend the neglect of such precautions.

The artificial swarm may be created with perfect safety, even at mid-day, when thousands of bees are returning to the hive: for these bees being laden with honey, never venture upon making an attack, while those at home may be easily pacified.

I find a very great advantage in the peculiar shape of my hive, which allows the top to be easily removed, and the sugar-water to be sprinkled upon the bees, before they attempt to take wing. If like the Dzierzon hive, it opened [199] on the end, it would be impossible for me to use the sweetened water, so as to make it run down between all the ranges of comb, and I should be forced, as he does, to employ smoke, in all my operations. Huber thus speaks of the pacific effect produced upon the bees by the use of his leaf hive. "On opening the hive, no stings are to be dreaded, for one of the most singular and valuable properties attending my construction, is its rendering the bees tractable. I ascribe their tranquility to the manner in which they are affected by the sudden admission of light, they appear rather to testify fear than anger. Many retire, and entering the cells, seem to conceal themselves." I will admit that Huber has here fallen into an error which he would not have made, had he used his own eyes. The bees do indeed enter the cells when the frames are exposed, but not "to conceal themselves;" they imagine that their sweets, thus unceremoniously exposed to the light of day, are to be taken from them, and they fill themselves to their utmost capacity, in order to save all that they can. I always expect them to appropriate the contents of the open cells, as soon as I remove their frames from the hive. It is not merely the sudden admission of light, but its introduction from an unexpected quarter, that seems for the time to disarm the hostility of the bees. They appear for a few moments, almost as much confounded as we should be, if without any warning the roof and ceiling of a house should suddenly fly off into the air. Before they recover from their amazement, the sweet libation is poured out upon them, and surprize is quickly converted into pleasure rather than anger. I believe that in the working season, almost all the bees near the top are gorged with honey, and that this is the reason why opening the hive from ABOVE is so easily effected. The bees below that are disposed to resent [200] any intrusions, are met in their threatening ascent, with an avalanche of nectar which "like a soft answer," most effectually "turneth away wrath." Who would ever be willing to use the sickening fumes of the disgusting weed, when so much pleasure instead of pain may be given to his bees. That bees never seem to be prepared to make an instant assault from the top of their hive, but only near the entrance, any one may be convinced of, who will put my frames into a suspended hive with a movable bottom which may be made to drop at pleasure. If now, for any purpose, he attempts to meddle with the combs from below, he will find that unless he uses smoke, the bees will be almost, if not quite unmanageable.

I shall now give some directions, which will greatly assist the Apiarian in his operations. He must bear in mind that nothing irritates bees more than a sudden jar, and that this must, in all cases, be most carefully avoided. The inside cover of the hive, or as I shall term it, the honey-board, because the surplus honey receptacles stand upon it, can never be very firmly attached by the bees: it may always be readily loosened with a thin knife, or better still, with an apothecary's spatula, which will be very useful for many purposes in the Apiary. When the honey-board is removed, its lower surface will be usually covered with bees, and it should be carefully set on end, so as not to crush them. There is not the least danger that one of them will offer to sting, as they are completely bewildered by the sudden introduction of light, and their removal from the hive. As soon as the cover is disposed of, the Apiarian should sprinkle the bees with the sweet solution. This should descend from the watering-pot in a fine stream, so as not to drench the bees, and should fall upon the tops of the frames, as well as between the ranges of comb. The bees will at [201] once, accept the proffered treat, and will begin lapping it up, as peaceably as so many chickens helping themselves to corn. While they are thus engaged, the frames must be very gently pried by a stick, from their attachments to the rabbets on which they rest; this may be done without any jar and without wounding or enraging a single bee. They may all be loosened preparatory to removing them, in less than a minute.[17] By this time, the sprinkled bees will have filled themselves, or if all have not done so, the grateful intelligence that sweets have been furnished them, will diffuse an unusual good nature through all the honied realm. The Apiarian should now remove one of the outside frames, taking hold of its two ends which rest upon the rabbets, and carefully lifting it out without inclining it from its perpendicular position, so as not to injure a single bee. The removal of the next comb, and of all the succeeding ones, will be more easily effected, as there will be more room to operate to advantage. If bees were disposed to fly away at once from their combs, as soon as they were taken out, it would be very difficult to manage them, but so far are they from doing this, that they adhere to them with most wonderful tenacity. I have sometimes removed all the combs, and arranged them in a continued line, and the bees have not only refused to leave them, but have stoutly defended them against the thieving propensities of other bees. By shaking off the bees from the combs upon a sheet, and securing the queen, I can, on any pleasant day, exhibit nearly all the appearances of natural swarming. The bees, as soon as they miss their queen, will rise into the air, and [202]by placing her on the twig of a tree, they will soon cluster around her in the manner already described.

A word as to the manner of catching the queen. I seize her very gently, as I espy her among the bees, and by taking care to crush none of them, run not the least risk of being stung. The queen herself never stings, even if handled ever so roughly.

In removing the frames from the hive, it will be found very convenient to have a box with suitable rabbets in which they may be temporarily put, and covered over with a piece of cotton cloth. They may thus be very easily protected from the cold, and from robbing bees, if they are to be kept out of the hive for some time; and such a box will be very convenient to receive frames that are lifted out for examination. In returning the frames to a hive, care must be taken not to crush the bees where their ends rest upon the rabbets; they must be put in slowly, so that a bee, when he feels the slightest pressure may have a chance to creep from under them, before he is hurt.

The honey-cover, for convenience, is generally in two pieces: these cannot be laid down on the hive, without danger of killing many bees; they are therefore very carefully slid on, so that any bees which may be in the way, are pushed before them, instead of being crushed. If any bees are upon such parts of the hive as to be imprisoned if the outside cover is closed, it should be left a little open, until they have flown to the entrance of the hive. It cannot be too deeply impressed upon the bee-keeper, that all his motions must be slow and gentle, and that the bees must not be injured or breathed upon. If he will carefully follow the directions I have given, he may soon open a hundred hives and perform any necessary operation upon them, without any bee-dress, and yet with very little risk of being stung, [203] but I almost despair of being able to convince even the most experienced Apiarians, of the ease and safety with which bees may be managed on my plan, until they have actually been eye-witnesses of its successful operation.

I can make an artificial colony in the way above described in ten minutes from the time that I open the hive, and if I see the queen as quickly as I often do, in not more than five minutes. Fifteen minutes will be a very liberal allowance of time to complete the whole work. If I had an Apiary of a hundred colonies, in less than a week, if the weather was pleasant, I could without any assistance easily finish the business of swarming for the whole season.

But how can the Apiarian, if he delays the formation of artificial swarms until nearly the season for natural swarming, be sure that his bees will not swarm in the usual way? Must he not still be constantly on hand, or run the risk of losing many of his best swarms? I come now to the entirely novel plan by which such objections are completely obviated. If the Apiarian decides that he can most advantageously multiply his colonies by artificial swarming, he must see that all his fertile queens are deprived of their wings, so as to be unable to lead off new swarms. As an old queen never leaves the hive except to accompany a new swarm, the loss of her wings does not, in the least interfere with her usefulness, or with the attachment of the bees. Occasionally, a wingless queen is so bent on emigrating, that in spite of her inability to fly, she tries to go off with a swarm; she has "a will," but contrary to the old maxim she can find "no way," but helplessly falls upon the ground instead of gaily mounting into the air. If the bees succeed in finding her, they will never desert her, but cluster directly around her, and may thus be easily secured by the Apiarian. If she is not found, the bees will return to the parent [204] stock to await the maturity of the young queens. The Apiarian will ordinarily be prepared to form his artificial colonies before any of these young queens are hatched.

The following is the best plan for removing the wings from the queens. Every hive which contains a young queen, ought to be examined about a week after she has hatched, (see Chapter on Loss of the Queen,) in order to ascertain that she has been impregnated, and has begun to lay eggs. Some of the central combs or those on which the bees are most thickly clustered, should be first lifted out, for she will almost always be found on one of them; the Apiarian when he has caught her, should remove the wings on one side with a pair of scissors taking care not to hurt her. On examining his hives next season, let him remove one of the two remaining wings from the queen. The third season, he may deprive her of her last wing. Bees always have four wings, a pair on each side. This plan saves him the trouble of marking his hives so as to know the age of the queens they contain.

As the fertility of the queen generally decreases after the second year, I prefer, just before the drones are destroyed, to kill all the old queens that have entered their third year. In this way, I guard against some of my stocks becoming queenless, in consequence of the queen dying of old age, when there is no worker-brood in the hive, from which they can rear another: or of having a worthless, drone-laying queen whose impregnation has been retarded. These old queens are removed at that period of the year when their colony is strong in numbers; and as the honey-harvest is by this time, nearly over, their removal is often a positive benefit, instead of a loss. The population is prevented from being over crowded at a time when the bees are consumers and not producers, and when the young queen, [205] reared in the place of the old one matures, she will rapidly fill the cells with eggs, and raise a large number of bees to take advantage of the late honey-harvest, and to prepare the hive to winter most advantageously.

The certainty, rapidity and ease of making artificial swarms with my hives, will be such as to amaze those most who have had the greatest experience and success in the management of bees. Instead of weeks wasted in watching the Apiary, in addition to all the other vexations and embarrassments which are so often found to attend reliance on natural swarming, the Apiarian will find not only that he can create all his new colonies in a very short time, but that he can, if he chooses, entirely prevent the issue of all after-swarms. In order to do this, he ought to examine the stocks which are raising young queens, in season to cut out all the queen cells but one, before the larvæ come to maturity. If he gave them a sealed queen nearly mature, they will raise no others, and no swarming, for that season, will take place. If the Apiarian wishes to do more than to double his stocks in one season, and is favorably situated for practicing natural swarming, he can allow the stocks that raise young queens to swarm if they will, and he can strengthen the small swarms by giving to them comb with honey and maturing brood from other hives. Or he can, after an interval of about three weeks, make one swarm from every two good ones in his Apiary, in a way that will soon be described.

I do not know that I can find a better place in which to impress certain highly important principles upon the attention of the bee-keeper. I am afraid, that in spite of all that I can say, many persons as soon as they find themselves able to multiply colonies at pleasure, will so overdo the matter, as to run the risk of losing all their bees. If [206] the Apiarian aims at obtaining a large quantity of honey in any one season, he cannot at the furthest, more than double the number of his stocks: nor can he do this, unless they are all strong, and the season favorable. The moment that he aims, in any one season, at a more rapid increase, he must not only renounce the idea of having any surplus honey, but must expect to purchase food for the support of his colonies, unless he is willing to see them all perish by starvation. The time, food, care and skill required to multiply stocks with very great rapidity, in our short and uncertain climate, are so great that not one Apiarian in a hundred can expect to make it profitable; while the great mass of those who attempt it, will be almost sure, at the close of the season, to find themselves in possession of stocks which have been so managed as to be of very little value.

Before explaining some other methods of artificial swarming, which I have employed to great advantage, I shall endeavor to impress upon the mind of the bee-keeper, the great importance of thoroughly understanding each season, the precise object at which he is aiming, before he enters on the work of increasing his colonies. If his object is, in any one season, to get the largest yield of surplus honey, he must at once make up his mind to be content with a very moderate increase of stocks. If, on the contrary, he desires to multiply his colonies, say, three or four fold, he must be prepared, not only to relinquish the expectation of obtaining any surplus honey, if the season should prove unfavorable, but to purchase food for the support of his bees. Rapid multiplication of colonies, and large harvests of surplus honey cannot, in the very nature of things, be secure in our climate, in any one season.

If the number of colonies is to be increased to a large extent, then the bees in the Apiary will be tasked to the utmost [207] in building new comb, as well as in rearing brood. For these purposes, they must consume the supply of honey which, under other circumstances, they would have stored up, a part for their own use in the main hive, and the balance for their owner, in the spare honey-boxes.

To make this matter perfectly plain, let us suppose a colony to swarm. If the new hive, into which the swarm is put, holds, as it ought, about a bushel, it will require about two pounds of wax to fill it with comb, and at least forty pounds of honey will be used in its manufacture! If the season is favorable, and the swarm was large and early, they may gather, not only enough to build this comb and to store it with honey sufficient for their own use, but a number of pounds in addition, for the benefit of their owner. If the old stock does not swarm again, it will rapidly replenish its numbers, and as it has no new comb to build in the main hive which already contains much honey, it will be able to store up a generous allowance in the upper boxes. These favorable results are all on the supposition that the season was ordinarily productive in honey, and that the hive was so powerful in numbers as to be able to swarm early. If the season should prove to be very unfavorable, the first swarm cannot be expected to gather more than enough for its own use, while the parent stock will yield only a small return. The profits of the bee-keeper, in such an unfortunate season, will be mainly in the increase of his stocks. If the swarm was late, in consequence of the stock being weak in Spring, the early part of the honey-harvest will pass away, and the bees will be able to obtain from it, but a small share of honey. During all this time of comparative inactivity, the orchards may present

"One boundless blush, one white empurpled shower
Of mingled blossoms,"
[208]

and tens of thousands of bees from stronger stocks, may be engaged all day, in sipping the fragrant sweets, so that every gale which "fans its odoriferous wings" about their dwellings, dispenses

"Native perfumes, and whispers whence they stole[18]
Those balmy spoils."

By the time that the feeble stock is prepared to swarm, if it swarm at all that season, the honey-harvest is almost over, and the new colony will seldom be able to gather enough for its own use, so that unless fed, it must perish the succeeding Winter. Bee-keeping with colonies feeble in the Spring, is most emphatically nothing but "folly and vexation of spirit."

I have shown how the bee-keeper, with a strong stock-hive which has swarmed early and but once, may in a favorable season realize handsome profits from his bees. If the parent stock throws a second swarm, then, as a general rule, unless this swarm was very early, and the honey season good, if managed on the ordinary plan, it will seldom prove of any value. It will almost always perish in the Winter, if it does not desert its hive in the Fall, and the family from which it issued, will not only gather no surplus honey, (unless it was secured before the first swarm issued,) but will very often perish likewise. Thus the inexperienced owner who was so delighted with the rapid increase of his colonies, begins the next season with no more colonies than he had the year before, and has very often lost all the time he has bestowed upon his bees. I can, to be sure, on my plan, prevent the death of the bees, and can build up all the feeble colonies, so as to make them strong and powerful: [209]but only by giving up all idea of obtaining a single pound of honey. From the first swarm, I must take combs containing maturing brood, to strengthen my weak swarms, and this first swarm however powerful or early, instead of being able to store its combs with honey, will be constantly tasked in building new combs to replace those taken away, so that when the honey harvest closes, it will have scarcely any honey, and must be fed to prevent it from starving. Any man who has sense enough to be entrusted with bees, can, from these remarks, understand exactly why it is impossible to multiply colonies rapidly in any one season, and yet obtain from them large supplies of honey. Even the doubling of stocks in one season, will very often be too rapid an increase, if the greatest quantity of spare honey is to be obtained from them; and when the largest yield of honey is desired, I much prefer to form, in a way soon to be described, only one new stock from two old ones; this will give even more from the three, than could have been obtained from the two, on the ordinary non-swarming plan.

I would very strongly dissuade any but experienced Apiarians, from attempting at the furthest, to do more than to triple their stocks in one year. In order to furnish directions for very rapid multiplication, sufficiently full and explicit to be of any value to the inexperienced, I should have to write a book on this one topic; and even then, the most of those who should undertake it, would be sure at first to fail.

I have no doubt that with ten strong stocks of bees in a good location, in one favorable season, I could so increase them as to have, on the approach of Winter, one hundred good colonies: but I should expect to feed hundreds of pounds of honey, to devote nearly all my time to their management, and to bring to the work, the experience of many years, [210] and the wisdom acquired by numerous failures. After all, what we most need, in order to be successful in the cultivation of bees, is a certain, rather than a rapid multiplication of stocks. It would require but a very few years to stock our whole country with bees, if colonies could only be doubled annually; and an increase of even one third, would before long, give us bees enough. This rate of increase I should always encourage in the swarming season, even if, in the Fall, I reduced my stocks (see Union of Stocks) to the Spring number. In the long run, it will keep the colonies in a much more prosperous condition, and secure from them the largest yield of honey.

I have never myself hesitated to sacrifice one or more colonies, in order to ascertain a single fact, and it would require a separate volume quite as large as this, to detail the various experiments which I have made on the subject of Artificial Swarming. The practical bee-keeper, however, should never, for a moment, lose sight of the important distinction between an Apiary managed principally for the purposes of experiment and discovery, and one conducted almost exclusively with reference to pecuniary profit. Any bee-keeper can easily experiment with my hives: but I would recommend him to do so, at first, on a small scale, and if profit is his object, to follow the directions furnished in this treatise, until he is sure that he has discovered others which are preferable. These cautions are given to prevent persons from incurring serious losses and disappointments, if they use hives which, if they are not on their guard, may tempt them into rash and unprofitable courses, by allowing so easily of all manner of experiments. Let the practical Apiarian remember that the less he disturbs the stocks on which he relies for surplus honey, the better. After they are properly lodged in their new hive, they ought by all means to be [211] allowed to carry on their labors without any interruption. The object of giving the control over every comb in the hive, is not to enable him to be incessantly taking them in and out, and subjecting the bees to all sorts of annoyances. Unless he is conducting a course of experiments, such interference will be almost as silly as the conduct of children who pull up the seeds which they have planted, to see whether they have sprouted, or how much they have grown. If after these cautions, any still choose to disregard them, the blame of their losses will fall, not upon the hive, but upon their own mismanagement.

Let me not, for a moment, be understood as wishing to discourage investigation, or to intimate that perfection has been so nearly attained that no more important discoveries remain to be made. On the contrary, I should be glad to learn that many who have the time and means, are disposed to use the facilities furnished by hives which give the control of each comb, to experiment on a large scale; and I hope that every intelligent bee-keeper who follows my plans, will experiment at least on a small scale. In this way, we may soon expect to see, more satisfactorily elucidated, some points in the Natural History of the bee, which are still involved in doubt.

Having described the way in which forced swarms are made, both in common hives and in my own, when the Apiarian wishes in one season merely to double his colonies, I shall now show in what way he can secure the largest yield of honey, by forming only one new colony from two old ones.

Early in the season, before the bees fly out, or better still, after they ceased to fly in the previous Fall, the two hives from which the new colony is to be formed, should be placed near each other, unless they are already, not more [212] than a foot apart. When the time for forming the artificial colony has arrived, these hives should be removed from their stand, and the bees driven from them, precisely in the manner already described. If all the bees are at home, I sometimes shut up the hives on their stand, and drum long enough to cause the bees to fill themselves before the hive is removed. Timid Apiarians may find some advantage in this course, as the bees will all be quiet after they are well drummed, and the hive may then be removed with greater safety. In five minutes I can in this way reduce any swarm to a peaceable condition. After the forced swarms are secured, the removed hives are replaced, in order to catch up all the returning bees, and the forced swarms must be shut up, until towards sunset; unless it is judged best to keep the entrances temporarily open, so as to secure the return of a sufficient number of bees to the parent stocks. The old stocks are now moved to a new place, and managed according to the previous directions. If neither of the expelled swarms was driven into the hive intended for the new colony, then the proper hive must be placed, as near as possible, in the center of the space previously occupied by the original colonies. One of the swarms must now be shaken out upon a sheet, in front of this hive which should be elevated, so as to enable the bees to enter it readily. As soon as they are shaken out, they should be gently sprinkled with sugar-water scented with peppermint, or any other fragrant odor. Diligent search must now be made for the Queen, and if found, she should be carefully removed, and given to the hive to which she belongs. If the queen of the first swarm has been found, the second colony may be shaken out, and sprinkled in the same way, and allowed to enter without any further trouble. If the queen of the first colony was not found, [213] then that of the second one must be sought for; if neither can be found, (though this, after a little experience, will very seldom happen,) one of the Queens will soon kill the other, and reign over the united family. The next day, the doubled colony will be found working with amazing vigor, and it will not only fill its main hive, but will, in any ordinary season, gather large quantities of surplus honey besides.

The Apiarian who relies upon natural swarming, can double his new colonies if they issue at the same time, by hiving them together, or if this cannot be done, he may hive them in separate hives, and then, towards evening, set one hive on a sheet, and shake down the bees from the other, so that they can enter and join the first. It may be safely done, even if several days have elapsed before the second colony swarms; although in this case, I prefer after turning up their hive to sprinkle the oldest swarm with scented sugar-water, and then to give the new swarm the same treatment. I have doubled natural swarms in this way, repeatedly, and have never, when they were early, failed to secure from them a large quantity of honey. In sprinkling bees, let the operator remember that they are not to be drenched, or almost drowned, as in this case, they will require a long time to enter the hive. Bees seem to recognize each other by the sense of smell; and when they are made to have the same odor, they will always mingle peaceably. This is the reason why I use a few drops of peppermint in the sugar-water.

If one of the queens of the forced swarms can be returned to her own colony, it will of course, save them the time which would otherwise be lost in raising another. I do not know that I can better illustrate the importance of the inexperienced Apiarian following carefully my directions, than [214] by supposing him to return the queen to the colony to which she does not belong. Now I can easily imagine that some bee-keeper may do so, conceiving that I am foolishly precise in my directions, and that the queen might be just as well given to one hive as to the other. But if this is done before at least 24 hours have elapsed since they were deprived of their own, she will almost certainly be destroyed. The bees do not sting a queen to death, but have a curious mode of crowding or knotting around her, so that she is soon smothered; and while thus imprisoned, she will often make the same piping note which has already been described. In all this treatise, I have constantly aimed to give no directions which are not important; and while I utterly repudiate the notion that these directions may not be modified and improved, I am quite certain that this cannot be done by any but those who have considerable experience in the management of bees.

The formation of one new swarm from two old colonies, may, of course, be very much simplified by the use of my hives. The two old hives are first opened and sprinkled, and the bees taken from them and put into the new hive in the same way in which the process was conducted when only one colony was expelled, some brood comb being given to the united family. There will be no difficulty in rightly proportioning the bees; one queen may always be caught and preserved, and the operation may be performed at any time when the sun is above the horizon. I have no doubt that those who have a strong stock of bees, and who are anxious to realize the largest profits in honey, will find this mode of increase, by far the simplest and best. If judiciously practiced, they will find that their colonies may always be kept powerful, and that they may be managed with very great economy in time and labor. As Apiarians may be [215] so situated as to wish to increase their bees quite rapidly, I shall give such methods as from numerous experiments, many of them conducted on a large scale, I have found to be the best. I wish it however to be most distinctly understood, that I do not consider very rapid multiplication as likely to succeed, except in the hands of skillful Apiarians; and under ordinary circumstances it requires too much time, care and honey, to be of very great practical value. Its chief merit consists in the short time which it requires to build up an Apiary. After trying my mode of management for a few seasons, a bee-keeper may find out, that he is in all respects, favorably situated for taking care of a large stock of bees. Suppose him to have acquired both skill and confidence, and that he has ten powerful colonies. If he is willing to do without surplus honey for one season, and the honey-harvest should be very productive, he may without feeding, and without very much labor, safely increase his ten colonies to thirty. If he chooses to feed largely, he may possibly end the season with fifty or sixty, or even more; but he will probably end it in such a manner as most thoroughly to disgust him with his folly, and to teach him that in bee-keeping, as well as in other things, "Haste makes waste."

On the supposition that by the time the fruit-trees are in blossom, the Apiarian has, in hives of my construction, ten powerful colonies, let him select four of the strongest, and make from each a forced swarm. He will now have four queenless colonies, which will at once, proceed to supply themselves with a young queen. In about ten days, he may make from his other six stocks, six more forced swarms. He will probably find in making these, many sealed queens, if he has delayed the operation until about swarming time; so that he may give to each of the six stocks from which he has expelled a swarm, the means of soon obtaining [216] another. If he has not enough for this purpose, he must take the required number from the four stocks which are raising young queens, the exact condition of which ought to have been previously ascertained. Some of these stocks will be found to contain a large number of queen cells. Huber, in one of his experiments, found twenty-four in one hive, and even a larger number has sometimes been reared by a single colony. As the Apiarian will always have many more queens than are wanted, he ought to select those combs which contain a sealed queen, so as to secure say, about fifteen combs, each of which has one or more queens. If necessary, he can cut out some of the cells, and adjust them in the manner previously described. Each comb containing a sealed queen must be put with all the bees adhering to it, into an empty hive; and by a divider, or movable partition, they must be confined to about one quarter of the hive; water should be given to them, and honey, if none is contained in the comb. I always prefer to select a comb which contains a large number of workers almost mature, and some of which are just beginning to hatch, so that even if a considerable number of the bees should return to the parent stock, after their liberty is given them, there will still be a sufficient number hatched, to attend to the young, and especially to watch over the maturing queens. If the comb contains a large number of bees just emerging from their cells, I prefer to confine them only one day, otherwise I keep them shut up until about an hour before sunset of the third day. The hives containing the small colonies, ought, if they are not well protected by being made double, to be set where they are thoroughly sheltered from the intense heat of the sun; and the ventilators should give them an abundance of air. They should also be closed in such a manner, as to keep the interior in entire darkness, [217] so that the bees may not become too uneasy during their confinement. I accomplish this by shutting up their entrance, and replacing their front board, just as though I were intending to put them into winter quarters.

These small colonies I shall call nuclei, and the system of forming stocks from them, my nucleus system; and before I describe this system more particularly, I shall show other ways in which the nuclei can be formed. If the Apiarian chooses, he can take a frame containing bees just ready to mature, and eggs and young worms, all of the worker kind, together with the old bees which cluster on it, and shut them up in the manner previously described; even if he has no sealed queen to give them. If all things are favorable, they will set about raising a queen in a few hours. I once took not more than a tea-cup full of bees and confined them with a small piece of brood comb in a dark place, and found that in about an hour's time, they had begun to enlarge some of the cells, to raise a new queen! If the Apiarian has sealed queens on hand, they ought, by all means, to be given to the nuclei, in order to save all the time possible.

I sometimes make these nuclei as follows. The suitable comb with bees &c., is taken from a stock-hive, and set in an empty one, made to stand partly in the place of the old hive, which, of course, must previously be moved a little on one side. In this way, I am able to direct a considerable number of the bees from the old stock to my nucleus, and the necessity of shutting it up, is done away with. If the bees from the old stock do not enter the small one, in sufficient numbers, I sometimes close their hive, so that the returning bees can find no other place to enter. My object is not to catch up a large number of bees. For reasons previously assigned, I do not want enough to build new comb, but only enough to adhere to the removed comb, and raise a [218] new queen from the brood, or develop the sealed one which has been given them. A short time after one nucleus has in this way, been formed, another may be made by moving the old hive again, and so a third or fourth, if so many are wanted. This plan requires considerable skill and experience, to secure the right number of bees, without getting too many.

If bees are to be made to enter a new hive, by removing the old one from its stand, it will always be very desirable not only to have the new one contain a piece of comb, but a considerable number of bees clustered on that comb. I repeatedly found my bees, after entering the hive, refuse to have anything to do with the brood comb, and for a long time, I was unable to conjecture the cause; until I ascertained that they were dissatisfied with its deserted appearance, and that, by taking the precaution to have it well covered with bees, I seldom failed to reconcile them to my system of forced colonization. I can usually tell, in less than two minutes, whether the operation will succeed or not. If the returning bees are content, they will, however much agitated at first, soon begin to join the cluster on the comb; while if they are dissatisfied, they will abandon the hive, and nearly all the bees that were originally on the comb, will leave with them. They seem capricious in this matter, and are sometimes so very self-willed, that they refuse to have anything to do with the brood comb, when I can see no good reason why they should be so rebellious.

I shall here state some conjectures which have occurred to me on this subject. Is it absolutely certain that bees can raise a queen from any egg or young larva which would produce a worker? Or if this is possible, is it certain that any kind of workers can accomplish this? Huber ascertained to his own satisfaction that there were two kinds of workers in a hive. He thus describes them. [219]

"One of these is, in general, destined for the elaboration of wax, and its size is considerably enlarged when full of honey; the other immediately imparts what it has collected to its companions, its abdomen undergoes no sensible change, or it retains only the honey necessary for its own subsistence. The particular function of the bees of this kind is to take care of the young, for they are not charged with provisioning the hive. In opposition to the wax workers, we shall call them small bees or nurses."

"Although the external difference be inconsiderable, this is not an imaginary distinction. Anatomical observations prove that the capacity of the stomach is not the same—experiments have ascertained that one of the species cannot fulfil all the functions shared among the workers of a hive. We painted those of each class with different colors, in order to study their proceedings; and these were not interchanged. In another experiment, after supplying a hive deprived of a queen with brood and pollen, we saw the small bees quickly occupied in nutrition of the larvæ, while those of the wax working class neglected them. Small bees also produce wax, but in a very inferior quantity to what is elaborated by the real wax workers."

Now if these statements can be relied on, and thus far I have nearly always found Huber's statements, where-ever I had an opportunity to test them, to be most wonderfully reliable, then it may be that when bees refuse to cluster on the brood comb and to proceed at once to rear a new queen, it is because they find that some of the conditions necessary for success are wanting. Either there may not be a sufficient number of wax-workers, to enlarge the cells, or a sufficient number of nurses to take charge of the larvæ; or it may be that the cells contain only young wax-workers which cannot be developed into queens, [220] or only young nurses, which may be in the same predicament.

If any of my readers imagine that the work of carefully experimenting, in order to establish facts upon the solid basis of complete demonstration, is an easy work, let them attempt now to prove or disprove the truth of any or all of my conjectures upon this single topic. They will probably find the task more difficult than to blot over whole quires and reams of paper with careless assertions.

All operations of any kind which interfere in the very least, with the natural mode of forming colonies, are best performed in the swarming season: or at least, at a time when the bees are breeding freely, and are able to bring in large stores of honey from the fields. At other times, they are very precarious, and unless under the management of persons who have great experience, they will in most cases, end in nothing but vexatious losses and disappointments.

It is quite amusing to see how bees act, when they find, on their return from foraging abroad, that their hive has been moved, and another put in its place. If the new hive is precisely similar to their own, in size and outward appearance, they enter it as though all was right; but in a few moments, they rush out in violent agitation, imagining that they have made a prodigious mistake and have entered the wrong place. They now take wing again in order to correct their blunder, but find to their increasing surprise, that they had previously directed their flight to the familiar spot; again they enter, and again they tumble out, in bewildered crowds, until, at length, if they can find the means of raising a new queen, or one is already there, they seem to make up their minds that if this is not home, it not only looks like it, but stands just where their home ought to be, and is at all events the only home they are likely to get. No doubt they often feel that [221] a very hard bargain has been imposed upon them, but they seem generally determined to make the best of it.

There is one trait in the character of bees, for which I feel, not merely admiration, but the most profound respect. Such is their indomitable energy and perseverance, that under circumstances apparently the most despairing, they will still labor to the utmost, to retrieve their losses, and sustain the sinking state. So long as they have a queen, or any prospect of raising one, they struggle most vigorously against impending ruin, and never give up, unless their condition is absolutely desperate. In one of my observing hives, I once had a colony of bees, the whole of which might have been spread out on my two hands, busy at work in raising a new queen, from a small piece of brood comb. For two long weeks, they adhered with unfailing perseverance and industry, to their forlorn hope: until at last, one of the two queens which they raised, came forth, and destroyed the other while still in her cell. The bees had now dwindled away to less than half their original number, and the new queen had wings so imperfect that she was unable to fly. I watched their proceedings with great interest; they actually paid very unusual attention to this crippled queen, and treated her more as they are wont to treat a fertile one. In the course of a week, there were not more than a dozen left in the hive, and in a few days more, I missed the queen, and saw only a few disconsolate wretches crawling over the deserted comb! Shame upon the faint-hearted and cowardly of our own race, who, if overtaken by calamity, instead of nobly breasting the dark waters of affliction, and manfully buffetting with their tumultuous waves, meanly resign themselves to their ignoble fate, and sink and perish where they might have lived and triumphed; and double shame upon those who thus "faint in the day of adversity," when [222] living in a Christian land, they might, if they would only receive the word of God, and open the eye of faith, behold a bow of promise spanning the still stormy clouds, and hear a voice bidding them, like the great apostle of the Gentiles, learn not merely to "rejoice in hope of the glory of God," but to "glory in tribulations also."

I have been informed by Mr. Wagner, that Dzierzon has recently devised a plan of forming nuclei, substantially the same with my own. His book, however, contemplates having two Apiaries, three or four miles apart, and his plans for multiplying colonies, as there described, were based upon the supposition that the Apiarian will have two such establishments. Such an arrangement would no doubt very greatly facilitate many operations. Our forced swarms might all be removed from the Apiary where they were formed, to the other, and our nuclei treated in the same way, and there would be no necessity for confining the bees after their removal. There are however, weighty objections to such an arrangement, which will prevent it, at least for some time, from being extensively adopted. The labor of removing the bees backwards and forwards, is a serious objection to the whole plan; and in addition to this, the necessity of having a skillful Apiarian at each establishment, puts its adoption out of the question, with most persons who keep bees. It might answer, however, if two bee-keepers, sufficiently far apart, would enter into partnership, and manage their bees as a joint concern. Dzierzon's new plan of creating nuclei, is as follows. Towards evening, remove a piece of brood comb, with eggs and bees just hatching, and put it, with a sufficient number of mature bees, into an empty hive; there must be enough to keep the brood from being chilled over night. If the operation is performed so late that the bees are not disposed to take wing and leave the [223] hive, by morning a sufficient number will have hatched, to supply the place of those which may abandon the nucleus. In my numerous experiments last Summer, in the formation of artificial swarms, I tried this plan and found that it answered a good purpose; the chief objection to it, is the difficulty often of selecting the suitable kind of comb, if the operation is delayed until late in the afternoon. I prefer, therefore, to perform it, when the sun is an hour or two high, and to confine the bees until dark. If there are not a sufficient number of bees on the comb, I shake off some from another frame, directly into the hive, and shut them all up, giving them a supply of water. Sealed queens if possible, should be used in all these operations.

I shall now give a novel mode of creating nuclei, which I have devised, and which I find to be attended with great success. Hive a new swarm in the usual manner, in an old box, and as soon as the bees have entered it, shut them up and carry them down into the cellar. About an hour before sunset, take combs suitable to form as many nuclei as you judge best, say five or six, or even eight or ten if the swarm was large, and you need as many. Bring up the new swarm and shake it out upon a sheet, sprinkling it gently with sugar-water. With a large tumbler or saucer, scoop up without hurting any of the bees, a pint or more of them, and place them before the mouth of one of the hives containing a brood comb; repeat the process, until each nucleus has, say, a quart of bees. If you see the queen, you may give the hive in which you put her, three or four times as many bees as any other; and the next day it may be strengthened with a few combs containing brood, just ready to mature. If you did not find her, at the time of forming the nuclei, when you afterwards examine them, the one which contains her may be properly reinforced with bees and comb, so as to enable it to work to the best advantage. [224]

If this plan of forming nuclei, were attempted earlier in the afternoon it would be difficult to prevent the bees from communicating on the wing, and all going to the hive which contained their queen. If however, the bees when first shaken out of the temporary hive, are so thoroughly sprinkled, as not to be able to take wing and unite together, this mode of forming colonies may be practiced at any hour of the day; and an experienced Apiarian may prefer to do it, as soon as he has fairly hived the new swarm. When the bees are shaken out in front of a hive which has a sealed queen, or eggs from which they can raise one, having a whole night in which to accustom themselves to their new situation, they will be found, the next day, to adhere to the place where they were put, with as much tenacity as a natural swarm does to their new hive. How wonderful that the act of swarming should so thoroughly impress upon the bees, an absolute indisposition to return to the parent stock. If this were a fixed and invariable unwillingness, a sort of blind, unreasoning instinct, it would not be so surprising, but we have already seen that in case the bees lose their queen, they return in a very short time to the stock from which they issued! If the nuclei formed in the manner just described, found in their new hive, no means of obtaining a queen, they would all return, next morning, to the parent stock.

When the Apiarian can obtain a natural swarm from any other Apiary, it may be divided into nuclei in the same way, and even a forced swarm, if brought from a distance, will answer equally well. If the Apiarian wishes to form colonies earlier than the season of natural swarming, and cannot conveniently obtain a forced swarm from an Apiary, at least a mile distant, he may, before the bees begin to fly out in the Spring, transport one of his stocks to a neighbor's, and [225] force from it a swarm at the desired time. Even if it is moved not more than half a mile off, the operation will be almost sure to succeed. Of all modes of forming the nuclei, this I believe will be found to be the neatest, simplest and best.

Having thus described the various ways in which I have successfully formed my nuclei, I shall now show how they may be all built up into powerful stocks. It will be very obvious that on the ordinary plan of management, they would be absolutely worthless, even if it were possible to form them with the common hives. If they were not fed, they would be unable to collect the means of building new comb, and would gradually dwindle away, just as third or fourth swarms which issue late in the season; nor could they be saved even by the most generous feeding, as they would only use their supplies to fill up the little comb they had; so that when the queen was ready to lay, there would be no empty cells to receive her eggs, and too few bees to build any, even if they had all the honey that they required. Such small colonies must gradually waste away, unless they can be speedily and effectually supplied with the requisite number of bees, and this can be done only by hives which give the control of all the combs. With such hives, I can speedily build up my nuclei, (provided I have not formed too many,) to the strength necessary to make them powerful stocks. The hives containing them, ought if possible, to stand at some distance from other hives, say two or three feet: and if this cannot conveniently be done, they should in some way, be so distinguished from the adjoining hives, that the young queens when they are hatched and go out to seek the drones, will not be liable to lose their lives by entering a wrong hive on their return. A small leafy twig fastened on the alighting board of such hives, when they stand near to others, will be almost sure to prevent such a [226] catastrophe: if they stand near to each other, some may be marked in this way, and others with a piece of colored cloth. (See Page 159.) To guard them against robbers, etc., the entrances to these nuclei should be contracted, so that only a few bees can enter at once. Those which were confined, should be examined, the day after their liberty is given to them; the others, the day after they were formed, when, if they were not supplied with a sealed queen, they will be found actively engaged in constructing royal cells. A new range of comb should now be given to each one, and it should contain no old bees, but brood rapidly maturing, and if possible, eggs and worms only a few days old.

This new addition of strength will greatly encourage the nuclei, and give them the means of starting young queens, if they have not succeeded in doing so with the first comb. I have very frequently found that for some cause which I have not yet ascertained, they often start a large number of queen cells, which in a few days, are all discontinued and untenanted. The second attempt seldom fails. Does practice in this thing make them more expert? But I will simply state the fact, referring to my conjectures on page 218; and remarking that when they make a second attempt, they seem frequently disposed to start a much larger number than they otherwise would have done. In two or three days after giving them the first piece of comb, I give them another, if their queen is nearly mature, and I now let them alone until she ought to be depositing eggs in the hive. I then give them, at intervals of a few days, two or three combs more, and they will now be sufficiently powerful in bees, to gather large quantities of honey, and fill the empty part of their hive. The young queen is supplying with thousands of worker-eggs, the cells from which the brood has emerged, and also the new ones built by the bees, and [227] the new colony will soon be one of the best stock hives in the Apiary. If some of the full frames are moved, and empty ones placed between them, as soon as the bees begin to build powerfully, there need be no guide combs on the empty frames, and still the work will be executed with the most beautiful regularity.

But what, in the mean time, is the condition of the hives from which we are taking so many brood combs for the proper development of our nuclei; are they not weakened so much as to become quite enfeebled? I come now to the very turning point of the whole nucleus system. If due judgment has not been used, and the sanguine bee-keeper has endeavored to multiply his colonies too rapidly, a most grievous disappointment awaits him. Either his nuclei cannot be strengthened at the right time, or this can be done, only by impoverishing the old stocks, and the result of the whole operation will be a most decided failure, and if he is in the vicinity of sugar-houses, confectionaries, or other tempting places of bee resort, he will find the population of his colonies very seriously diminished, and will have to break up the most of the nuclei which he had formed, and incur the danger of losing nearly the whole of his stock. I lay it down as a fundamental principle in my nucleus system, that the old stocks must never be so much weakened by the removal of brood-comb and bees that they are not able to keep their numbers sufficiently strong to refill rapidly all the vacancies among their combs. If the Apiarian attempts to multiply his stocks so rapidly that this cannot be done, I will ensure him ample cause to repent at leisure of his folly. If however, the attempt at very rapid multiplication is made only by those who are favorably situated, and who have skill in the management of bees, a very large gain may be made in the number of stocks, and they may all be strong and flourishing. [228]

If a strong stock of bees in a hive of moderate size, which admits of thorough inspection, is examined at the height of the honey harvest, nearly all the cells will often be found filled with brood, honey or bee-bread. The great laying of the queen, according to some writers, is now over, not however as they erroneously imagine, because her fertility has decreased, but merely because there is not room in the hive for all her eggs. She may often be seen restlessly traversing the combs, seeking in vain for empty cells, until finding none, she is compelled to extrude her eggs only to be devoured by the bees. (See p. 52.) If some of the full combs are removed, and empty ones substituted in their place, she will speedily fill them, laying at the rate of two or three thousand a day! When my strong stocks are from time to time deprived of one or two combs, if honey can easily be procured,[19] the bees proceed at once to replace them, and the queen commences laying in the new combs as soon as the cells are fairly started. If the combs are not removed too fast, and care is taken not to deprive the stock of so much brood that the bees cannot keep up a vigorous population, a queen in a hive so managed, will lay her eggs in cells to be nurtured by the bees, instead of being eaten up; and thus, in the course of the season, she may become the mother of three or four times as many bees, as are reared in a hive under other circumstances. By careful management, brood enough may, in this way, be taken from a single hive, to build up a large number of nuclei. Towards the close of the season however, as such a hive has been constantly tasked in building comb and feeding young bees, almost all its honey will have been used for these purposes, and although it may be very populous, unless it is liberally fed, it will be sure to perish. Since the discovery that unbolted [229]rye flour will answer so admirably as a substitute for pollen, we can supply the bees not only with honey, when none can be obtained from the blossoms, but with an abundance of bee-bread, when pollen is scarce. As I am writing this chapter, (March 29, 1853,) my bees are zealously engaged in taking the flour from some old combs in front of their hives, and they can be seen most beautifully moulding the little pellets on their thighs. By my movable combs, I can give them the flour at once in their hives, as it can easily be rubbed into an empty comb. The importance of Dzierzon's discovers of a substitute for pollen, can hardly be over-estimated. If he had done nothing more for the cause of Apiarian science, no true-hearted bee-keeper would ever allow his name to be forgotten.

In the Chapter on Feeding, I shall give more specific directions as to the way in which the cultivator must feed his bees, when he aims at increasing, as rapidly as possible, the number of his stocks. Unless this work is done with great judgment, he will find often that the more he feeds, the less bees he has in his hives, the cells being all occupied with honey instead of brood. Such is the passion of bees for storing away honey, that large supplies of it will always most seriously interfere with breeding, unless the bees are sufficiently numerous to build new comb in which the queen can find room for her eggs.

I have no doubt that some who have but little experience in the management of bees, are ready to imagine that they could easily strike out a simpler and better way of increasing the number of colonies. For instance: let a full hive have half its comb and bees put into an empty hive, and the work of doubling, is without further trouble, effectually accomplished. But what will the queenless hive do, under [230]such circumstances? Why, build of course, queen cells, and rear another. But what kind of comb will they fill their hives with, before the young queen begins to breed? Of that, perhaps, you had never thought. Let me now lay down the only safe rule for all who engage in the multiplication of artificial swarms. Never, under any circumstances, take so much comb and brood from your stock hives, as seriously to reduce their numbers. This should be to the Apiarian, as "the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not."

Suppose that I divide a populous stock, about swarming season, into four or five colonies; the strong probability is, that not one of them, if left to themselves, will be strong enough to survive the Winter. If fed in the ordinary way, and yet not supplied with combs and bees, their ruin will often be only accelerated. If, on the contrary, I had taken, from time to time, combs sufficient to form three or four nuclei, and had strengthened the new colonies, in such a way as not to draw too severely upon the resources of the parent stock, I might expect to see them all, in due time, strong and flourishing.

In the Spring of the year, if I desire to determine the strength of a colony principally to raising young bees, I can easily effect it by the following plan. A box is made, of the same inside dimensions with the lower hive, into which the combs and bees of a full hive can all be transferred, as soon as the bees are gathering honey enough to build new combs. This box is now set over the old hive, which contains its complement of frames with guide combs, or better still, with empty combs. As soon as the bees begin to build, they take possession of the lower hive, through which they go in and out, and the queen descends with them, in order to lay her eggs in the lower combs. As soon as the old apartment becomes pretty well filled, a large number of [231] combs with maturing bees, may be taken from the upper one, and when the hive below is full, they may all be safely removed. If none of the upper combs are removed, they will be filled with honey, as soon as the brood is hatched; and as they will contain large stores of bee-bread, they will answer admirably for replenishing stocks which have an insufficient supply. In no other way, so far as I know, can so much honey be secured, and if quantity, not quality, is aimed at, or if the test of quality is its fitness for the use of the bees, I would recommend this mode as superior to any other. If two swarms are hived together, or a very powerful stock is lodged in a hive, so that at once they can have access to the upper apartment, an extraordinary quantity of honey can be secured, and of a very excellent quality. As soon as the bees have raised one generation of young, in the combs of the upper box, or rather in a part of them, they will use it chiefly for storing honey, and all that it contains may be taken from them. In flavor, it will be found to be nearly as good as honey stored in what is called "virgin comb."

In the Chapter on the Requisites of a good hive, I have said that in size it should be adapted to the natural instincts of the bee, and yet admit of enlarging or contracting, according to the wants of the colony placed in it. I never use a hive, the main apartment of which, holds less than a Winchester bushel. If small colonies are placed in such a hive, it must be temporarily partitioned off, to suit the size of its inmates; for if bees have too much room given to them, they cannot concentrate their animal heat, and are so much discouraged that they often abandon their hive. I am aware that many judicious Apiarians recommend hives of much smaller dimensions, and I shall now give my reasons for using one so large. If a hive is too small, then in the [232] Spring, the combs are soon filled with honey, bee-bread and brood, and the surprising fertility of the queen bee, can be turned to no efficient account. If the honey-harvest in any year, is deficient, such a colony is very apt to perish in the succeeding Winter; whereas in a large hive, the honey stored up in a fruitful season, is a reserve supply, in time of need. In very large hives, I have seen large accumulations of honey which have been untouched for years, while on the same stand, stocks of about the same age, in small hives have perished by starvation. A good early swarm in any situation at all favorable, will fill, the first season, a hive that holds a bushel: and if there is any location in which they cannot do this, a doubled swarm should be put into the hive, or bee-keeping may, as far as profit is concerned, be abandoned. But it may be objected that if the swarm was not sufficiently strong to fill their hive, the bees often suffer from the cold in Winter, and become too much reduced in numbers, to build early and rapidly in the ensuing Spring. This is undoubtedly true, and hence the great importance of putting a generous allowance of bees into a hive at the first start, unless, as on my plan, the requisite strength can be given to them, at a subsequent period. The hive, if large, should be all the more carefully protected from extremes of cold, in order to give the bees an opportunity of developing their natural powers of re-production, to the best advantage.

In such a hive, the queen will be able to breed almost every month in the year, even in the coldest climates where bees flourish, and on the return of Spring, thousands of young bees will be found in it, which could not have been bred in a small, or badly protected hive. The Polish hives described by Mr. Dohiogost, have already been referred to. Some of these hold about three bushels, and yet the bees swarm from them with great regularity, and the swarms [233] are often of immense size. These hives are admirably protected, and at the time of hiving at least four times the number of bees are lodged in them, that are ordinarily put into one of our hives. The queen bee, in such a hive, has ample room to lay her three thousand eggs, or more, daily: and a prodigious colony is raised, which often stores enormous supplies of honey. As all the frames in my hives are of the same dimensions, the size of the hive may be conveniently varied, to suit the views of different bee-keepers; for they may be large or small, according to the number of frames designed to be used. I hope, before long, to experiment with hives as large again, as those that I now use; or rather, with such, as by containing an upper box, may be made to accommodate twice as many bees. This whole subject of the proper size of hives, certainly needs to be taken entirely out of the region of conjecture, and to be put upon the basis of careful observations. Unquestionably the size will require, in some respects, to be modified by the more or less favorable character of the country for bee-keeping; but I am satisfied that small hives will be found of but little profit, and that large ones, unless well stocked with bees, from the first, and thoroughly protected, will often fail to answer any good end. If I should find on further experiment, that the very large hives of which I have spoken, are better, my hives are at present so constructed that without any alteration of existing parts, they can easily be supplied with the required additions. I have already mentioned that I sometimes build my hives, three in one structure, in order to save expense in their construction. I do not however, wish to be considered as recommending such hives as the best for general use. For some purposes a single hive is unquestionably the best, as it can be easily moved by one person; and this, will many times be found [234] to be a point of great importance. The double hives, or two in one, are for most purposes, decidedly the best, as well as the cheapest. I have quite recently contrived a plan of constructing my wooden hives in such a manner as to give them very great protection against extremes of heat and cold, while at the same time they can be easily and cheaply made, by any one who can handle the simplest mechanical tools.

It has been previously stated that the queen bee cannot be induced to sting, by any kind of treatment however severe. The reason of this strange unwillingness to use her natural and powerful weapon, will be obvious, when we consider how indispensable the preservation of her life is to the very existence of the colony, and that her single sting, the loss of which would be her death, could avail but little for their defence, in case of an attack. She never uses her weapon, except when engaged in mortal combat with another queen. As soon as the two rivals come together, they clinch, at once, with every demonstration of the most vindictive hatred. Why then, are not both of them often destroyed? and why are not hives, in the swarming season, almost certain to become queenless? We can never sufficiently admire the provision so simple and yet so effectual, by which such a calamity is prevented. The queen bee never stings unless she has such an advantage in the combat, that she can curve her body under that of her rival, in such a manner as to inflict a deadly wound, without any risk of being stung herself! The moment that the position of the two combatants is such that neither has the advantage, and that both are liable to perish, they not only refuse to sting, but disengage themselves, and suspend their conflict for a short time! If it were not for this peculiarity of instinct, such combats would very often terminate in the death [235] of both the parties, and the race of bees would be in danger of becoming extinct.

The unwillingness of a swarm of bees, which has been deprived of its queen, to receive another, until after some time has elapsed, must always be borne in mind, by those who have anything to do with making artificial swarms. About 24 hours must elapse before it will be safe to introduce a strange mother into a queenless hive; and even then, if she is not fertile, she will run a great risk of being destroyed. To prevent such losses, I adopt the German plan of confining the queen, in what they call, "a queen cage." A small hole, about as large as a thimble, may be gouged out of a block, and covered over with wire gauze, or any other kind of perforated cover, so that when the queen is put in, the bees cannot enter to destroy her. Before long, they will cultivate an acquaintance, by thrusting their antennæ through to her; so that, when she is liberated the next day, they will gladly adopt her in place of the one they have lost. If a hole large enough for her to creep out, is closed with wax, they will gnaw the wax away, and liberate her themselves, from her confinement. Queens that seem bent on departing to the woods, may be confined in the same way, until the colony has given up all thoughts of forsaking its hive. A small paste-board box with suitable holes, or a wooden match-box thoroughly scalded, I have found to answer a very good purpose.

I shall here describe what may be called a Queen Nursery which I have contrived to aid those who are engaged in the rapid multiplication of colonies by artificial means. A solid block about an inch and a quarter thick, is substituted for one of my frames; holes, about one and a half inches in diameter, are bored through it, and covered on both sides, with gauze wire slides; the wire ought to be such as will [236] allow a common bee to pass through, but should be too small to permit a queen to do the same. Any kind of perforated cover may be made to answer the same purpose as the gauze wire. If a number of sealed queens are on hand, and there is danger that some may hatch, and destroy the others, before the Apiarian can make use of them in forming artificial swarms, he may very carefully cut out the combs containing them, and place them each in a separate cradle! The bees having access to them, will give them proper attention, and as soon as they are hatched, will supply them with food, and thus they will always be on hand for use when they are needed. This Nursery must of course, be established in a hive which has no mature queen, or it will quickly be transformed into a slaughter house by the bees. I have not yet tested this plan so thoroughly as to be certain that it will succeed; and I know so well the immense difference between theoretical conjectures and practical results, that I consider nothing in the bee line, or indeed in any other line, as established, until it has been submitted to the most rigorous demonstrations, and has triumphantly passed from the mere regions of the brain to those of actual fact. A theory on any subject may seem so plausible as almost to amount to a positive demonstration, and yet when put to the working test, it is often found to be encumbered by some unforeseen difficulty, which speedily convinces even its sanguine projector, that it has no practical value. Nine things out of ten may work to a charm, and yet the tenth may be so connected with the other nine, that its failure renders their success of no account. When I first used this Nursery, I did not give the bees access to it, and I found that the queens were not properly developed, and died in their cells. Perhaps they did not receive sufficient warmth, or were not treated in some other important respects, as they would [237] have been if left under the care of the bees. In the multiplicity of my experiments, I did not repeat this one under a sufficient variety of circumstances, to ascertain the precise cause of failure; nor have I as yet, tried whether it will answer perfectly, by admitting the bees to the queen cells.

Last Spring, I made one queen supply several hives with eggs, so as to keep them strong in numbers while they were constantly engaged in rearing a large number of spare queens. Two hives which I shall call A and B, were deprived at intervals of a week, each of its queen,[20] in order to induce them to raise a number of young sealed queens for the use of the Apiary. As soon as the queens in A, were of an age suitable to be removed, I took them away and gave the colony a fertile queen from another hive, C; as soon as she had laid a large number of eggs in the empty cells, I removed the queen cells now sealed over, from B, and gave them the loan of this fertile mother, until she had performed the same necessary office for them. By this time, the queen cells in C, were sealed over; these were now removed, and the queen restored; she had thus made one circuit, and laid a very large number of eggs in the two hives which were first deprived of their queens. After allowing her to replenish her own hive with eggs, I sent her out again on her perambulating mission, and by this new device was able to get an extraordinary number of young queens from the three hives, and at the same time to preserve their numbers from seriously diminishing. Two queens may in this way, be made in six hives to furnish all the supernumerary queens which will be wanted in quite a large Apiary.

[238]

It will be perfectly obvious to every intelligent and ingenious Apiarian, that the perfect control of the comb, is the soul of an entirely new system of practical management, and that it may be modified to suit the wants of all who wish to cultivate bees. Even the advocate of the old fashioned plan of killing the bees, can with one of my hives, destroy his faithful laborers, by shaking them into a tub of water, almost, if not quite as speedily as by setting them over a sulphur pit; while after the work of death is accomplished, his honey will be free from disgusting fumes, and all the labor of cutting it out of the hive, may be dispensed with.

I am now prepared to answer an objection which doubtless has been present in the minds of many, all the time that they have been reading the various processes on which I rely for the multiplication of colonies. A very large number of persons who keep bees, or who wish to keep them, are so much afraid of them that they object entirely even to natural swarming, because they are in danger of being stung in the process of hiving the bees. How are such persons to manage bees on my plan, which seems like bearding a lion in its very den! The truth is that some persons are so very timid, or suffer so dreadfully from the sting of a bee, that they are every way disqualified from having anything to do with them, and ought either to have no bees upon their premises, or to entrust the care of them to some suitable person. By managing bees according to the directions furnished in this treatise, almost any one can learn, by using a bee-dress, to superintend them, with very little risk; while those who are favorites with them, may dispense entirely with any protection. I find in short, that the risk of being stung is really diminished by the use of my hives; although it will be hard to convince those who have not seen them in use, that this can be so. [239]

There is still another class who either keep bees or can be induced to keep them, and who are anxiously inquiring for some new hive or new plan by which, with little or no trouble, they may reap copious harvests of the precious nectar. This is emphatically the class to seize hold of every new device, and waste their time and money to fill the coffers of the ignorant or unprincipled. There never will be a "royal road" to profitable bee-keeping. If there is any branch of rural economy which more than all others demands care and experience, for its profitable management, it is the keeping of bees; and those who have a painful consciousness that the disposition to put off and neglect, was, so to speak, born in them, and has never been got out of them, will do well to let bees alone, unless they hope, by the study of their systematic industry, to reform evil habits which are well nigh incurable.

While I feel very sanguine that my system of management will be used extensively and very advantageously, by careful and skillful Apiarians, I know too much of the world to expect that it will, with the masses, very speedily supercede other methods, even if it were so absolutely perfect, as to admit of no possible improvement. I hope, however, that I may, without being charged with presumption, be permitted to put on record the prediction, that movable frames will in due season, be almost universally employed; and this, whether bees are allowed to swarm naturally, or are increased by artificial means, or are kept in hives in which they are not expected to swarm at all.

Note.—The very day on which I first contrived the plan, so perfectly simple, and yet so efficacious, of gaining the control of the combs by these frames, I not only foresaw all the consequences which would follow their adoption, but wrote as follows, in my Bee-Journal. "The use of these frames will, I am persuaded, give a new impulse to the easy and profitable management of bees; and will render the making of artificial swarms an easy operation."

Hobby
Bee Culture: Artificial Swarming
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