CHAPTER XV. [315]
DIRECTIONS FOR FEEDING BEES.

Few things in the practical department of the Apiary, are more important and yet more shamefully neglected, or grossly mismanaged, than the feeding of bees.

In order to make this subject as clear as possible, I shall begin with the Spring examination of the hives, and furnish suitable directions for feeding during the whole season in which it ought to be attempted. In the movable comb hives, the exact condition of the bees with regard to stores, may be easily ascertained as soon as the weather is warm enough to lift out the frames. In the common hives, this can sometimes be ascertained from the glass sides; but often no reliable information can be obtained.

Even if the weight of the hive is known, this will be no sure criterion of the quantity of honey it contains. The comb in old hives, is often very thick, and of course, unusually heavy; while vast stores of useless bee-bread have frequently been accumulated, which entirely deceive the Apiarian, who attempts to judge of the resources of a hive from its weight alone. On my system of bee-culture, such an injurious surplus of bee-bread, is easily prevented; (See p.102.)

If the bee-keeper ascertains or even suspects, in the Spring, that his bees have not sufficient food, he must at once supply them with what they need. Bees, at this season of the year, consume a very large quantity of honey: [316] they are stimulated to great activity by the returning warmth, and are therefore compelled to eat much more than when they were almost dormant among their combs. In addition to this extra demand, they are now engaged in rearing thousands of young, and all these require a liberal supply of food. Owing to the inexcusable neglect of many bee-keepers, thousands of swarms perish annually after the Spring has opened, and when they might have been saved, with but little trouble or expense. Such abominable neglect is incomparably more cruel than the old method of taking up the bees with sulphur; and those who are guilty of it, are either too ignorant or too careless, to have any thing to do with the management of bees. What would be thought of a farmer's skill in his business, who should neglect to provide for the wants of his cattle, and allow them to drop down lifeless in their stalls, or in his barn-yard, when the fields, in a few weeks, will be clothed again with the green mantle of delightful Spring! If any farmer should do this, when food might easily be purchased, and should then, while engaged in the work of skinning the skeleton carcasses of his neglected herd, pretend that he could not afford to furnish, for a few weeks, the food which would have kept them alive, he would not be a whit more stupid than the bee-keeper attempting to justify himself on the score of economy, while engaged in melting down the combs of a hive, starved to death, after the Spring has fairly opened! Let such a person blush at the pretence that he could not afford to feed his bees, the few pounds of sugar or honey, which would have saved their lives, and enabled them to repay him tenfold for his prudent care.

I always feed my bees a little, even if I know that they have enough and to spare. There seems to be an intimate connection between the getting of honey, and the rapid increase [317] of breeding, in a hive; and the taste of something sweet, however small, to be added to their hoards, exerts a very stimulating effect upon the bees; a few spoonsfull a day, will be gratefully received, and will be worth much more to a stock of bees in the Spring, than at any other time.

By judicious early feeding, a whole Apiary may be not only encouraged to breed much faster than they otherwise would have done; but they will be inspired with unusual vigor and enterprise, and will afterwards increase their stores with unusual rapidity. Great caution must be exercised in supplying bees at this time with food, both to prevent them from being tempted to rob each other, or to fill up with honey, the cells which ought to be supplied with brood. Only a small allowance should be given to them, and this from time to time, unless they are destitute of supplies; and as soon as they begin to gather from the fields, the feeding should be discontinued. Feeding, intended merely to encourage the bees, and to promote early breeding, may be done in the open air. No greater mistake can be made than to feed largely at this season of the year. The bees take, to be sure, all that they can, and stow it up in their cells, but what is the consequence? The honey which has been fed to them, fills up their brood combs, and the increase of population is most seriously interfered with; so that often when stocks which have not been over-fed, are prepared not only to fill all the store combs in their main hive, but to take speedy possession of the spare honey boxes, a colony imprudently fed, is too small in numbers, to gather even as much as the one which was not fed at all! The inexperienced Apiarian has thus often made a worse use of his honey than he would have done, if he had actually thrown it away! while all the time, he is deluding himself with the [318] vain expectation of reaping some wonderful profits, from what he considers an improved mode of managing bees.

Such conduct in its results, appears to me very much like the noxious influences under which too many of the children of the rich are so fatally reared. With every want gratified, pampered and fed to the very full, how often do we see them disappoint all the fond expectations of parents and friends, their money proving only a curse, while not unfrequently beggared in purse, and bankrupt in character, they prematurely sink to an ignoble or dishonored grave. Think of it, ye who are slaving in the service of Mammon, that ye may leave to your sons, the overgrown wealth which usually proves a legacy of withering curses, while you neglect to train them up in those habits of stern morality and steady industry, and noble self-reliance, without which the wealth of Crœsus would be but a despicable portion! Think of it, as you contrast its results in the bitter experience of thousands, with the happier influences under which so many of our noblest men in Church and State, have been nurtured and developed, and then pursue your sordid policy, if you can. "There is that withholdeth" from good objects, "more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty:" yes, to poverty of Christian virtue and manliness, and of those "treasures" which we are all entreated by God himself, to "lay up" in the store-house of Heaven. Call your narrow-mindedness and gross deficiencies in Christian liberality, nothing more than a natural love of your children, and an earnest desire to provide for your own household. Little fear there may be that you will ever incur the charge of being "worse than an infidel" on this point; but lay not on this account, any flattering unction to your souls; look within, and see if the base idolatry of gold has not more to do with your whole [319] course of thinking and acting, than any love of wife or children, relatives or friends!

Another sermon! does some one exclaim? Would then that it might be to some of my readers a sermon indeed; "a word fitly spoken," "like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

The prudent Apiarian will always regard the feeding of bees, except the little, given to them by way of encouragement, as an evil to be submitted to, only when absolutely necessary; and will very much prefer to obtain his supplies from what Shakspeare has so beautifully termed the "merry pillage" of the blooming fields, than from the more costly stores of the neighboring grocery. If not engaged in the rapid increase of stocks, he will seldom see a season so unfavorable as to be obliged to purchase any food for his bees, unless he chooses to buy a cheaper article, to replace the choice honey of which he has deprived them. Just as soon as the Apiarian begins to multiply his stocks with very great rapidity, he must calculate upon feeding great quantities of honey to his bees. Before he attempts this on a large scale, let me once more give him a friendly caution, and if possible, persuade him to try very rapid multiplication with only a few of his stocks. In this way, he may experiment to his heart's content, without running the risk of seriously injuring his whole Apiary, and he may not only gain the skill and experience which will enable him subsequently to conduct a rapid increase, on a large scale, but may learn whether he is so situated that he can profitably devote to it the time and money which it will inevitably require.

Before giving directions for feeding bees when a rapid increase of colonies is aimed at, I shall first show in what manner the bee-keeper may feed his weak swarms in the Spring. If they are in the common hives, a small quantity [320] of liquid honey may, at once be poured among the combs in which the bees are clustered: this may be done by pouring it into the holes leading to the spare honey boxes, but a much better way is to invert the hives, and pour in about a tea-cup full at once. The Apiarian can then see just where to pour it; he need not fear that the bees will be hurt by it; any more than a child will be either hurt or displeased by the sweets which adhere to its hands and face, as it feasts upon a generous allowance of the best sugar candy! When the bees have taken up all that has been poured upon them, the hive may be replaced, and the operation repeated in a few days: the oftener it is done, the better it will suit them.

If the weather is sufficiently warm to allow the bees to fly without being chilled, the food may be put in some old combs, or in a feeder, and set in a sunny place, a rod or more from their hives. If placed too near, the bees may be tempted to rob each other. With my hives, I can pour the honey into some empty comb, and then put the frame containing it, directly into the hive; or I can set the feeder or honey in the comb, in the hive near the frames which contain the bees. I have already stated, (see p. 225,) that unless a colony can be supplied with a sufficient number of bees, it cannot be aided by giving it food. If the bees are not numerous enough to take charge of the eggs which the queen can lay, or at least, of a large number of them, they can seldom, unless they have a tropical season before them, increase rapidly enough to be of any value. If they are numerous enough to raise a great many young bees, but too few to build new comb, they must be fed very moderately, or they will be sure to fill up their brood comb with honey, instead of devoting themselves to the rapid increase of their numbers. If the Apiarian has plenty of empty worker comb which he can give them, he ought to supply them quite sparingly [321] with honey, even when they are considerably numerous, in order to have them breed as fast as possible; not so sparingly however, as to prevent them from storing up any honey in sealed cells; or they will not be encouraged to breed as fast as they otherwise would. If he has no spare comb, and the hive is populous enough to build new comb, it must be supplied moderately, and by all means, regularly with the means of doing this; the object being to have comb building and breeding go together, so as mutually to aid each other. If the feeding is not regular, so as to resemble the natural supplies when honey is obtained from the blossoms, the bees will not use the food given to them, in building new comb, but chiefly in filling up all the cells previously built. If honey can be obtained regularly, and in sufficient quantities from the blossoms, the small colonies or nuclei will need no feeding until the failure of the natural supplies.

In all these operations, the main object should be to make every thing bend to the most rapid production of brood; give me the bees, and I can easily show how they may be fed, so as to make strong and prosperous stocks; whereas if the bees are wanting, every thing else will be in vain: just as a land where there are many stout hands and courageous hearts, although comparatively barren, will in due time, be made to "bud and blossom as the rose," while a second Eden, if inhabited by a scanty and discouraged population, must speedily be overgrown with briars and thorns.

If strong stocks are deprived of a portion of their combs, so that they cannot from natural sources, at once begin to refill all vacancies, they too must be fed.

I have probably said enough to show the inexperienced that the rapid multiplication of colonies is not a very simple matter, and that they will do well not to attempt it on a large scale. By the time the honey harvest ordinarily closes, all [322] the colonies in the Apiaries of all except the skillful, ought to be both strong in numbers and in stores; at least the aggregate resources of the colonies should be such that when an equal division is made among them, there will be enough for them all. This may ordinarily be effected, and yet the number of the colonies be tripled in one season; and in situations where buckwheat is extensively cultivated, a considerable quantity of surplus honey may even then be frequently obtained from the bees. Early in the month of September, or better still, by the middle of August, if the colonies are sufficiently strong in numbers, I advise that if feeding is necessary to winter the bees, it should be thoroughly attended to. If delayed later than this, in the latitude of our Northern States, the bees may not have sufficient time to seal over the honey fed to them, and will be almost sure to suffer from dysentery, during the ensuing Winter. Unsealed honey, almost always, in cool weather, attracts moisture, and sours in the combs, and if the bees are compelled to feed upon it, they are very liable to become diseased. This is the reason why bees when fed with liquid honey, late in the Fall, or during the Winter, are almost sure to suffer from disease. A very interesting fact confirming these views as to the danger resulting from the use of sour food, has come under my notice this Spring. A colony of bees were fed for some time with suitable food, and appeared to be in perfect health, flying in and out with great animation. Their owner, on one occasion, before leaving for the day, gave them some molasses which was so sour, that it could not be used in the family. On returning, at evening, he was informed that the bees had been dropping their filth over every thing in the vicinity of the hive. On examining them, next day, they were all found dead on the bottom-board and among the combs! The acid food had acted upon them as a violent [323] cathartic, and had brought on a complaint of which they all died in less than 24 hours: the hive was found to contain an ample allowance of honey and bee-bread.

If the Apiarian, on examining the condition of his stocks, finds that some have more than they need, and others not enough, his most prudent course will be to make an equitable division of the honey, among his different stocks. This may seem to be a very Agrarian sort of procedure, and yet it will answer perfectly well in the management of bees. Those that were helped, will not spend the next season in idleness, relying upon the same sort of aid; nor will those that were relieved of their surplus stores, remember the deprivation, and limit the extent of their gatherings to a bare competency. With men, most unquestionably, such an annual division, unless they were perfect, would derange the whole course of affairs, and speedily impoverish any community in which it might be attempted. I always prefer to take away a considerable quantity of honey from my stocks, which have too generous a supply, and to replace it with empty combs suitable for the rearing of workers; as I find that when bees have too much honey in the Fall, they do not ordinarily breed as fast in the ensuing Spring, as they otherwise would. A portion of this honey should be carefully put away in the frames, and kept in a close box, safe against all intruders, and where it will not be exposed to frost; so that if any colonies in the Spring, are found to be in want of food, they may easily be supplied.

In the Spring examination, if any colonies have too much honey, a portion of it ought by all means to be taken away. Such a deprivation, if judiciously performed, will always stimulate them to increased activity. Every strong stock, as soon as it can gather enough honey to construct comb, ought to have one or two combs which contain no brood [324] removed, and their places supplied with empty frames, in order that they may be induced to exert themselves to the utmost. An empty frame inserted between full ones, will be replenished with comb very speedily, and often the combs removed will be so much clear gain. If at any time there is a sudden supply of honey, and the bees are reluctant to enter the boxes, or it is not probable that the supply will continue long enough to enable them to fill them, the removal of some of the combs from the main hive so as to have empty ones filled, will often be highly advantageous.

If in the Fall of the year, the bee-keeper finds that some of his colonies need feeding, and if they are not populous enough to make good stock hives in the ensuing Spring, then instead of wasting time and money on them, he should at once, break them up; (See p. 322.) They will seldom pay for the labor bestowed on them, and the bees will be much more serviceable, if added to other stocks. The Apiarian cannot be too deeply impressed with the important truth, that his profits in bee-keeping will all come from his strong stocks, and that if he cannot manage so as to have such colonies early, he had better let bee-keeping alone.

If liquid honey is fed to bees, it should always, (see p. 322,) be given to them seasonably, so that they may seal it over before the approach of cold weather. West India honey has for many years, been used to very good advantage, as a bee-feed. It should never be used in its raw state, as it is often filled with impurities, and is very liable to sour or candy in the cells, but should be mixed with about two parts of good white sugar, to three of honey and one of water, and brought to the boiling point; as soon as it begins to boil, it should be set to cool, and all the impurities will rise to the top, and may be skimmed off. If it is found to be too thick, a little more water may be added to it; it [325] ought however, never to be made thinner than the natural consistence of good honey. Such a mixture will cost for a small quantity, about seven cents a pound, and will probably be found the cheapest liquid food, which can be given to bees. Brown sugar may be used with the honey, but the food will not be so good.

If one of my hives is used, the bee-keeper may feed his bees at the proper season, without using any feeder at all, or rather he may use the bottom-board of the hive as a feeder. On this plan, the bees should be fed at evening; so as to run no risk of their robbing each other. The hive which is to be fed, should have the front edge of its bottom-board elevated on a block, so as to slant backwards, and the honey should be poured into a small tin gutter inserted at the entrance; one such will answer for a whole Apiary, and may be made by bending up the edges of any old piece of tin. As the frames in my hive are kept about half an inch above the bottom-board, which is water-tight, the honey runs under them, and is as safe as in a dish, while the bees stand on the bottom of the frames, and help themselves. The quantity poured in, should of course, depend upon the size and necessities of the colony; no more ought to be given at one time than the bees can take up during the night, and the entrance to the hive ought always to be kept very small during the process of feeding, to prevent robber bees from getting in; a good colony will easily take up a quart.

It is desirable to get through the feeding as rapidly as possible, as the bees are excited during the whole process, and consume more than they otherwise would; to say nothing of the demand made upon the time of the Apiarian, by feeding in small quantities. If the bees cannot, in favorable weather, dispose of at least a pint at one time, the colony must be too small to make it worth while to feed [326] them, if they are in hives by which they can be readily united to stronger stocks.

If the bees have not a good allowance of comb, it will not, as a general rule, pay to feed them. This will be obvious to any one who reflects that at least 20 pounds of honey are required to elaborate one pound of wax. I know that this estimate may to some, appear enormous; but it is given as the result of very accurate experiments, instituted on a large scale, to determine this very point. The Country Curate says, "Having driven the population of four stocks, on the 5th of August, and united them together, I fed them with about 50 pounds of a mixture of sugar, honey, salt and beer, for about five weeks. At that time, the box was only 16 pounds heavier than when the bees were put into it." He then makes an estimate that at least 25 pounds of the mixture were consumed in making about half a pound of wax!! No one who has ever tried it, will undertake to feed bees for profit, when they are destitute of both comb and honey.

If the weather is cool when bees are fed, it will generally be necessary to resort to top feeding. For this, my hive is admirably adapted: a feeder may be put over one of the holes in the honey-board directly over the mass of the bees, into which the heat of the hive naturally arises, and where the bees can get at their food without any risk of being chilled. This is always the best place for a feeder, as the smell of the food is not so likely to attract the notice of robbing bees.

I shall here describe the way in which a feeder can at small expense, be made to answer admirably every purpose. Take any wooden box which will hold, say, at least one quart; make it honey-tight, by pouring into the joints the melted mixture, (see p. 99,) and brush the whole interior [327] with the mixture, so that the honey may not soak into the wood. Make a float of thin wood, filled with quarter inch holes, with clamps nailed on the lower sides to prevent warping, and to keep the float from settling to the bottom of the box, so as to stick fast: it should have ample play, so that it may settle, as fast as the bees consume the honey. Tacks on the clamps will always be sure to prevent sticking. Before you waste any time in making small holes, for fear the bees will be drowned in the large ones, try a float made as directed. In one corner of the box, fasten with the melted mixture, a thin strip of wood, about one inch wide; let it project above the top of the box about an inch, and be kept about half an inch from the bottom; this answers as a spout for pouring the honey into the feeder, and when not in use, it should be stopped up. Have for the lid of the box, a piece of glass with the corner cut off next the spout, so as to cover the feeder and keep the bees in, and at the same time allow the bee-keeper to see when they have consumed all their food.

The feeder is now complete, with one important exception; it has, as yet no way of admitting the bees. On the outside corners of one of the ends, glue or tack two strips, inch and a half wide, extending down to the bottom of the box, and half an inch from the top; fasten over them a piece of thin board, (paste-board will answer.) You have now a shallow passage without top or bottom, outside of your feeder; give it a top of any kind; cut out just below the level of this top, a passage into the feeder for the bees. It is now complete, and when properly placed over any hole on the top of the hive, will admit the bees from the hive, into the shallow passage which has no bottom, and through this into the feeder. Such a feeder will not only be cheap, but it might almost be made by a child, and yet it will answer every purpose [328] most admirably. If you have no wooden box that will answer, a feeder may be made of pasteboard, and if brushed with the melted mixture it will be honey-tight. By packing cotton or wool around it, it might be used in most hives, even in the dead of Winter. Bees however, ought never to need feeding in Winter, and if they do, it will always be unsafe at this season to feed them with liquid honey.

I ought here to speak of the importance of water to the bees. It is absolutely indispensable when they are building comb, or raising brood. In the early Spring, they take advantage of the first warm weather, to bring it to their hives, and they may be seen busily drinking around pumps, drains, and other moist places. As they are not noticed frequenting such spots much, except in the early part of the season, many suppose that they need water only at this period. This is a great mistake, for they need it, and must have it, during the whole breeding season. But as soon as the grass starts, and the trees are covered with leaves, they prefer to sip the dew from them. If a few cold days come on, after the bees have commenced breeding, so as to prevent them from going abroad for water, a very serious check will be given to their operations. Even when it is not so cold as to prevent their leaving the hive, many become so chilled in their search for water, that they are not able to return.

Every wise bee-keeper will see that his bees have an abundant supply of water. If he has not some warm and sunny spot where they can safely obtain it, he will furnish them with shallow wooden troughs or vessels filled with pebbles, from which they can drink, without any risk of drowning, and where they will be sheltered from cold winds, and warmed by the genial rays of the sun. I believe that the reason why bees very much prefer the impure water of [329] barn-yards and drains, is not because they find any medicinal quality in it, but because as it is near their hives and warm, they can fill themselves without being fatally chilled.

I have used water feeders of the same construction with my honey feeders, with great success. The bees are able to enter them at all times, as they are filled with the warm air of the hive, and thusbreeding goes on, without interruption, and the lives of many bees are saved.

The same end may be obtained, by pouring daily, a few table spoonsfull of water into the hive, through one of the holes leading to the spare honey boxes. As soon as the weather becomes warm, and the bees can supply themselves from the dew on the grass and leaves, it will not be worth while to give them water in their hives.

When supplied with water in their hives, I advise that enough honey or sugar be added to it, to make it tolerably sweet. They will take it with greater relish, and it will stimulate them more powerfully to the raising of brood.

I come now to mention a substitute for liquid honey, the value of which has been extensively and thoroughly tested in Germany, and which I have used with great advantage. It was not discovered by Dzierzon, although he speaks of its excellence, in the most decided terms. The article to which I refer, is plain sugar candy, or as it is often called, barley candy. It has been ascertained that about four pounds of this, will sustain a colony during the Winter, when they have scarcely any honey in their hive! If it is placed where they can get access to it without being chilled, they will cluster upon it, and gradually eat it up. It not only goes further than double the quantity of liquid honey which could be bought for the same money, but is found to agree with the bees perfectly; while the liquid honey is almost sure to sour in the unsealed cells, and expose them [330] to dangerous, and often fatal attacks of dysentery. I have sometimes, in the old-fashioned box hives, pushed sticks of candy between the ranges of comb, and have found it even then to answer a good purpose. In any hive which has surplus honey boxes, the candy may be put into a small box, which after being covered thoroughly with cotton or wool, may have another box put over it, the outside of which may be also covered. Unless great precautions are used, the boxes will be so cold, that the bees will not be able to enter them in Winter, and may thus perish in close proximity to abundant stores.

In my hives, the candy may be laid on the top of the frames, in the shallow chamber between the frames and the honey-board; it will here, if the honey-board is covered with straw, be always accessible to the bees, even in the coldest weather. I sometimes put it directly into a frame, and confine it with a piece of twine, or fine wire.

I have made a very convenient use of sugar candy, as a bee-feed in the Summer, when I wished to give small colonies a little food, and yet not to be at the trouble to use a feeder, or incur the risk of their being robbed by putting it where strange bees might be attracted by the scent. A small stick of candy, slid in on the bottom-board, under the frames, answers admirably for such a purpose. If a little liquid food must be used in warm weather, I advise that it be the best white sugar, dissolved in water; this makes an admirable food; costs but little more than brown sugar, and has no smell to tempt robbers to try to gain an entrance into the hive.

If the Apiarian is skillful, and attends to his bees, at the proper time, they will rarely need much feeding; if he manages them in such a manner that this is frequently and extensively needed, I can assure him, if he has not already [331] found it out to his sorrow, that his bees will be nothing but a bill of cost and vexation.

The question how much honey a colony of bees needs, in order to carry them safely through the perils of Winter, is one to which it is impossible to give an answer which will be definite, under all circumstances. Very much will depend upon the hive in which they are kept, and the forwardness of the ensuing Spring; (see Chapter on Protection.) It is often absolutely impossible in the common hives, to form any reliable estimate, as to the quantity of honey which they contain, for the combs are often so heavy with bee-bread, as entirely to deceive even the most experienced bee-keeper.

I should always wish to leave at least 20 lbs. of honey in a hive; and as I can examine each comb, I am never at a loss to know how much a colony has. If I have the least apprehension that their supplies may fail, I prefer to put a few pounds of sugar candy where they can easily get access to it, in case of need. In my hive, the careful bee-keeper may not only know the exact extent of the resources of each hive, in the Fall, but he may, very early in the Spring, ascertain precisely how much honey is still on hand, and whether his bees need feeding, in order to preserve their lives. It is a shameful fact that a large number of colonies perish after they have begun to fly out, and when, they might easily have been saved, in any kind of hive.

Feeding, to make a profit by selling the Honey stored up by the Bees.

For many years, Apiarians have attempted to make the feeding of bees on a large scale, profitable to their owners. All such attempts however, must, from the very nature [332] of the case, meet with very limited success. If large quantities of cheap West India honey are fed to the bees in the Fall, they are induced to fill their hives to such an extent, that in the Spring, the queen does not find the necessary accommodations for breeding. If they are largely fed in the Spring, the case is still worse; (See p. 320.) It must therefore be obvious that the feeding of cheap honey can only be made profitable where it serves as a substitute for an equal quantity of choice honey taken from the bees. In the latter part of Summer, the Apiarian may take away from the main hive, some of the combs which contain the best honey, and replace them with combs into which he has poured the cheaper article; or if he has no spare combs on hand, he may slice off the covers of the cells, drain out the honey, fill the empty combs with West India honey, and return them to the bees: giving them at the same time, the additional food which they need to elaborate wax to seal them over. If he attempts to take away their full combs, and gives them honey in order to enable them, first to replace their combs, and then to fill them, the operation, (see p. 326,) will result in a loss, instead of a gain.

I am aware that for a number of years, persons have attempted to derive a profit from supplying the markets of some of our large cities, with an article professing to be the best of honey, but which has been nothing more than the cheap West India honey fed to the bees, and stored up by them in new comb. In the City of Philadelphia, large quantities of such honey have been sold at the highest prices, and perhaps at some profit to the persons who have fed it to their bees. Within the last two years, however, the article has become so well known that it can hardly be sold at any price; as those who purchase honey, instead of paying 25 cents per pound for West India honey in the [333] comb, much prefer to buy it, (if they want it at all,) for 6 or 7 cents, in a liquid state! It must be perfectly obvious that to sell a cheap and ill-flavored article at a high price, under the pretence that it is a superior article, is nothing less than downright cheating.

I am perfectly well aware that many persons imagine that if any thing sweet is fed to bees, they will quickly transmute it into the purest nectar. There is, however, no more truth in such a conceit, than there would be in that of a man who supposed that he had found the veritable philosopher's stone; and that he was able to change all our copper and silver coins into the purest gold! Bees to be sure, can make white and beautiful comb, from almost any kind of sweet; and why? because wax is a natural secretion of the bee, (see p. 76,) and can be made from any sweet; just as fat can be put upon the ribs of an ox, by any kind of nourishing food.

"But," some of my readers may ask, "do you mean to assert that bees do not secrete honey out of the raw material which they gather, or which is furnished to them, just as cows secrete milk from grass and hay?" I certainly do mean to assert that they can do nothing of the kind, and no intelligent man who has carefully studied their habits, will for a moment, venture to affirm that they can, unless for the sake of "filthy lucre," he is attempting to deceive an unwary community. What bee-keeper does not know, or rather ought not to know that the quality of honey depends entirely upon the sources from whence it is gathered; and that the different kinds of honey can easily be distinguished by any one who is a judge of the article.

Apple-blossom honey, white clover honey, buckwheat honey, and all the different kinds of honey, each has its own peculiar flavor, and it is utterly amazing how any sensible [334] man, acquainted with bees, can be so deluded as to imagine any thing to the contrary. But as this is a matter of great practical importance, let us examine it more closely.

When bees are engaged in rapidly storing up honey in their combs, they may be seen, as soon as they return from the fields, or from the feeding boxes, putting their heads at once into the cells, and disgorging the contents of their "honey-bags." Now that the contents of their sacs undergo no change at all, during the short time that they remain in them, I will not absolutely affirm, because I have endeavored, through this whole treatise, never to assert positively when I had not positive evidence for so doing: but that they can undergo but a very slight change, must be evident from the fact that when thus stored up, the different kinds of honey or sugar can be almost if not quite as readily distinguished as before they were fed to the bees. The only perceptible change which they appear to undergo in the cells, is to have the large quantity of water evaporated from them, which is added from thoughtlessness, or from the vain expectation that it will be just so much water sold for honey, to the defrauded purchaser! This evaporation of the water from the honey by the heat of the hive, is about the only marked change that it appears to undergo, from its natural state in the nectaries of the blossoms; and it is exceedingly interesting to see how unwilling bees are to seal up honey, until it is reduced to such a consistency that there is no danger of its souring in the cells. They are as careful as to the quality of their nectar, as the good lady of the house is, to have the syrup of her preserves boiled down to a suitable thickness to keep them sweet.

Let all who for any purpose whatever, feed bees, keep this fact in mind, and never add to the food which they give them, more water than is absolutely necessary. To do [335] so, is a piece of as great stupidity as to pour a barrel of water into the sugar pans, for every barrel of sap from the maples, or juice from the canes! If a strong colony is set upon a platform scale, it will be found on a pleasant day, during the height of the honey harvest, to gain a number of pounds; if examined again, early next morning, it will be found to have lost considerably, during the night. This is owing to the evaporation of the water from the freshly gathered honey, and it may often be seen running down in quite a stream from the bottom-board.

Those who feed cheap honey to sell it in the market at a high advance over its first cost, are either deceivers or deceived; if any of my readers have been deceived by the plausible representations of ignorant or unprincipled men, I trust they will be able from these remarks, to see exactly how they have been deceived, and they will no longer persist in an adulteration, the profits of which can never be great, and the morality of which can never be defended. A man who offers for sale, inferior honey, or sugar which he calls honey, and which he is able to sell because it is stored in white comb, to those who would never purchase it if they knew what it was, or once had a taste of it, is not a whit more honest, if he understands the nature of the article in which he deals, than a person engaged in counterfeiting the current coin of the realm: for poor honey in white comb, is no less a fraud than eagles or dollars, golden to be sure, on their honest exteriors, but containing a baser metal within! "The Golden Age" of bee-keeping, in which inferior honey can be quickly transmuted into such balmy spoils as are gathered by the bees of Hybla, has not yet dawned upon us; or at least only in the fairy visions of the poet who saw

"A golden hive, on a Golden Bank,
Where golden bees, by alchemical prank,
Gathered Gold instead of Honey."
[336]

If a pound of West India honey costs about 6 cents, and the bees use, as they will, about one pound to make the comb in which it is stored, it costs the producer at least 12 cents a pound, and if to this, he adds, say 5 cents more, for extra time and labor in feeding, then his inferior honey costs him at least as much as the market price of the very best honey on the spot where it is produced! If the bee-keeper allows his bees to make what they will, from the blossoms, and then begins to feed, after he has harvested the produce from the natural supplies, the advance over the first cost will hardly pay for the trouble, even if it were fair to palm off such inferior honey as a first-rate article. If, however, bees are fed on this food very largely in the latter part of Summer, they will fill up their hive with it, before they put it into the spare honey boxes, and the production of brood will often be most seriously interfered with, at a season of the year when it is important to have the hives well stocked with bees, that they may winter to the best advantage.

If Apiarians are anxious to have large quantities of choice honey, let them manage their bees so as to have powerful stocks in the early Spring, and they will then be able to have heavy purses and light consciences into the bargain. I shall now show how liquid honey, exceedingly beautiful to the eye, and tempting to the taste, may be made to great advantage.

Dissolve two pounds of the purest white sugar, in as much hot water as will be just necessary to reduce it to a syrup; take one pound of the nicest white clover honey, (any other light colored honey of good flavor will answer,) and after warming it, add it to the sugar syrup, and stir the contents. When cool, this compound will be pronounced, even by the best judges of honey, to be one of the most luscious articles which they ever tasted; and will be, by almost every [337] one, preferred to the unmixed honey. Refined loaf sugar is a perfectly pure and inodorous sweet, and one pound of honey will communicate the honey flavor, in high perfection, to twice that quantity of sugar: while the new article will be destitute of that smarting taste which honey alone, so often has, and will be often found to agree perfectly with those who cannot eat the clear honey with impunity. If those engaged in the artificial manufacture of honey, never brought any thing worse than this, to the market, the purchasers would have no reason to complain. As however, the compound can be furnished much cheaper than the pure honey, many may prefer to purchase the materials, and mix them themselves. If desired, any kind of flavor may be given to the manufactured article; thus it may be made to resemble in fragrance, the classic honey of Mount Hymettus, by adding to it the fine aroma of the lemon balm, or wild thyme; or it may have the flavor of the orange groves, or the delicate fragrance of beds of roses washed with dew.

I have recently ascertained that if two pounds of the best refined sugar be added to one of common maple sugar, the compound will be a light colored article, retaining perfectly the maple taste, and yet far superior to the common maple sugar. After making this discovery, I learned that a large part of the very nicest maple sugar is made in this way!

Attempts have been made to feed to bees, to be stored in the honey boxes, a mixture of the whitest honey and loaf sugar; but the result shows a loss rather than a gain. The mixture, before it is fed, will cost about 10 cents per pound. At the very furthest, not more than one half of what is fed, can be secured in the comb, for it requires about one pound of honey, to manufacture comb enough to hold a pound of honey. The actual cost of the honey in the comb, will therefore be, at least 20 cents per pound; and the pure [338] white clover honey can be bought for less than that. Those who desire to have something exceedingly beautiful to the eye, and delicate to the taste, at a season when the bees are not storing up honey from the blossoms, and in situations where the natural supply is of an inferior quality, if they do not regard expense, can place upon their tables, something which will be pronounced by the best judges, a little superior to any thing they ever tasted before.

I have repeatedly spoken of the great care which is necessary to prevent bees from getting a taste of forbidden sweets, so as to be tempted to engage in dishonest courses. The experienced Apiarian will fully appreciate the necessity of these cautions, and the inexperienced, if they neglect them, will be taught a lesson that they will not soon forget. Let it be remembered that the bee was intended to gather its sweets from the nectaries of flowers: to use the exquisitely beautiful language of him whose wonderful writings supply us on almost every subject, with the richest thoughts and happiest illustrations, they were created to

"Make boot upon the Summer's velvet buds,
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent royal of their emperor:
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons, building roofs of gold."—Shakspeare.

When thus engaged, the bees work in perfect accordance with their natural instincts, and seem to have little or no disposition to meddle with property that does not belong to them. If however, their incautious owner tempts them with liquid food, especially at times when they can obtain nothing from the blossoms, they seem to be so infatuated with such easy gatherings, as to lose all discretion, and they will perish by thousands, if the vessels which contain the food are not furnished with floats, on which they can stand and help themselves in safety.

The fly was intended to feed, not upon the blossoms, but [339] upon food in which, without care, it could easily be drowned; and hence it alights most cautiously, on the edge of any vessel containing liquid food, and warily helps itself: while the poor bee, without any caution, plunges right in and speedily perishes. The sad fate of their unfortunate companions, does not in the least, deter others who approach the tempting lure: but they madly alight on the bodies of the dying and the dead, to share the same miserable end! No one can understand the full extent of their infatuation, until after seeing a confectioner's shop, assailed by thousands and tens of thousands of hungry bees. I have seen thousands strained out from the syrups in which they had perished; thousands more alighting even upon the boiling sweets; the floors covered, and windows darkened with bees, some crawling, others flying, and others still, so completely daubed as to be able neither to crawl nor fly; not one bee in ten able to carry home its ill-gotten spoils, and yet the air filled with new hosts of thoughtless comers.

It will be for the interest of all engaged in the manufacture of candy and syrups, to fit gauze wire windows and doors to their premises, and thus save themselves from constant loss and annoyance: for if only one bee in a hundred escapes with his load, the confectioner will be subjected in the course of the season to serious loss. I once furnished such an establishment, after the bees had commenced their depredations, with such protection; and when they found themselves excluded, they lit on the wire by thousands, and fairly squealed with vexation and disappointment, as they tried to force a passage through the meshes. At last as they were daring enough to descend the chimney, reeking with sweet odors, even although the most who attempted it, fell with scorched wings into the fire, it became necessary to put wire gauze over the top of the chimney also! [340]

How often, as I have seen thousands of bees, in such places destroyed, and thousands more deprived of all ability to fly, and hopelessly struggling in the deluding sweets, and yet thousands more blindly hovering over them, all unmindful of their danger, and apparently eager to share the same destruction, how often has the spectacle of their infatuation seemed to me, to be an exact picture of the woful delusion of those who surrender themselves to the fatal influences of the intoxicating cup. Even although they see the miserable victims of this degrading vice, falling all around them, into premature and dishonored graves, they still press on, madly trampling as it were, over their dead and dying bodies, that they too may sink into the same abyss of agonies, and that their sun may also go down in darkness and hopeless gloom. Even although they know that the next cup may send them, with all their sins upon their heads, to the dread tribunal of their God, that cup of bitter sorrows and untold degradation, they will drain even to its most loathsome dregs.

The avaricious bee that despised the slow process of extracting nectar from "every opening flower," and plunged recklessly into the tempting sweets, has ample time to bewail its folly. Even if it has not paid the forfeit of its life, but has been able to obtain its fill, it returns home with all its beautiful plumage sullied and besmeared, and with a woe-begone look, and sorrowful note, in marked contrast with the bright hues and merry sounds with which the industrious bee returns from its happy rovings amid "the budding honey flowers, and sweetly breathing fields."

Just so, has many a pilgrim from the golden shores of California and Australia, returned; enfeebled in body and mind, bankrupt often in character and happiness, if not in purse, and unfitted in every way, for the calm and sober pursuits of common industry; while thousands, yes, and [341] tens of thousands too, shall never more behold their once happy homes. Bibles and Sabbaths, altars and firesides, parents and friends, wife and children, how often have all these been wantonly abandoned, in the accursed greed for gain, by those who might have been happy and prosperous at home, and who wandered from its sacred precincts only because they were determined to make the possession of wealth, the chief object of life, but whose bones now lie amid the coral reefs of the ocean, or moulder in the howling wastes of the "overland passage;" just as the bones of the unbelieving Israelites whitened the sands of the desert. Of those who have reached the "land of" golden "promise," how many have died in despair, or worse still, are living so besotted by vice, so lost to all power of virtuous resolutions, that they shall never more see the happy homes from which they so thoughtlessly wandered, never more hear the soft accents of loving friends; never more worship God, in a peaceful Sanctuary, or ever again behold an opened Bible!

"Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Bright and yellow, hard and cold,
Molten, graven, hammer'd, and roll'd;
Heavy to get, and light to hold;
Hoarded, barter'd, bought, and sold,
Stolen, borrow'd, squander'd, doled:
Spurn'd by the young, but hugg'd by the old
To the very verge of the churchyard mould;
Price of many a crime untold;
Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Good or bad a thousand-fold!
How widely its agencies vary—
To save - to ruin - to curse - to bless -
As even its minted coins express,
Now stamp'd with the image of Good Queen Bess,
And now of a Bloody Mary!"
Hood.

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