Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


Bee-keeping, or the cultivation of the honey-bee as a source of income to those who practise it, is known to have existed from the most ancient times. Poets, philosophers, historians and naturalists (among whom may be mentioned Virgil, Aristotle, Cicero and Pliny) have eulogized the bee as unique among insects, endowed by nature with wondrous gifts beneficial to mankind in a greater degree than any other creature of the insect world. We are told that some of these ancient scientists passed years of their lives studying the wonders of bee-life, and left accurate records of their observations, which on many points agree with the investigations of later observers. As a forcible illustration of the manner in which a colony of bees was recognized as the embodiment of government by a chief or ruler, in the earliest times of which there is any existing record, it may be mentioned that on the sarcophagus containing the mummified remains of Mykerinos (now in the British Museum and dating back 3633 years B.C.) will be found a hieroglyphic bee (fig. 8) representing the king of Lower Egypt.

In dealing with the practical side of beekeeping as now understood, it may be said that, compared with the methods in vogue during the first decade of the 19th century, or even within the memory of men still living at the beginning of the loth, it is as the modern locomotive to the stagecoach of a previous generation. Almost everything connected with bee-craft has been revolutionized, and apiculture, instead of being classed with such homely rural occupations as that of the country housewife who carries a few eggs weekly to the market-town in her basket, is to-day regarded in many countries as a pursuit of considerable import ance. Remarkable progress has also been made in the art of queen-rearing, and in improving the common or native bee by judicious crossing with the best foreign races, selected mainly for hardiness, working qualities and the prolific capacity of their queens. American bee-breeders are conspicuous in this respect, extensive apiaries being exclusively devoted to the business of rearing queens by the thousand for sale and export.

On the European continent queen-rearing apiaries are plentiful, but less attention is paid there to hybridizing than to keeping the respective races pure. In England also, some bee-keepers include queen-rearing as part of their business, while one large apiary on the south coast is exclusively devoted to the rearing of queen bees on the latest scientific system, and to breeding by selection from such races as are most suited to the exceptional climatic conditions of the country.

Extensive apiaries have been established on the American continent, some containing from 2000 to 3500 colonies of bees, and in these honey is harvested in hundreds of tons yearly. The magnitude of the bee industry in the United States may be judged from the fact of a single bee-farmer located in California having harvested from 150,000 lb of honey in one year from 2000 stocks of bees, and, as an instance of the enormous weight of honey obtainable from good hives in that favoured region, the same farmer secured 60,000 lb of comb-honey in one season from his best 300 colonies. This is probably the maximum, and the hives were necessarily located in separate apiaries some few miles apart in order to avoid the evils of overstocking, but all in the midst of thousands of acres of honey-yielding flowers. Results like the above compared with those of the skeppist beekeeper of former days, who was well pleased with an average of 20 to 25 lb per hive, may be regarded as wonderful, but they are matters of fact. The consumption of honey g y a s an article of food has also largely increased of late i years; a recent computation shows that from too to 125 million lb of honey, representing a money value of from eight to ten million dollars, is consumed annually in the United States alone. Many of the larger bee-farmers of the United States of America and Canada harvest from 50,000 to 60,000 lb of honey in a single season, and some of them sell the whole crop direct to consumers.

It is a notable fact that in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and indeed all English-speaking countries outside the United Kingdom, honey is far more extensively used than it is there as an article of daily food. The natural result of this is that the trade in honey is conducted, in those countries, on entirely different lines from those followed in the British Isles, where honey production as an occupation has, until quite recent years, been regarded as too insignificant for official notice in any form. The value of the bee industry is now recognized, however, by the British government as worthy of state aid, in the promotion of technical instruction connected with agriculture. On the American continent apiculture is officially recognized by the respective states' governments; and by the federal government at Washington it is taken into account as a section of the Agricultural Department, with fully equipped experimental apiaries and qualified professors engaged therein for educational work. In several Canadian provinces also, the public funds are used in promoting the bee industry in various ways, mainly in combating the bee-disease known as " foul brood." In New Zealand the government of the colony has displayed the most praiseworthy earnestness and vigour in promoting apiculture. State-aided apiaries have been established under the supervision of a skilled bee-keeper, who travels over the colony giving instruction in practical bee-work at the public schools, and forming classes at various centres where pupils are taught bee-keeping in all its branches.

In Europe similar progress is observable; technical schools, with well-equipped apiaries attached, are supported by the state, and in them the science and practice of modern bee-keeping is taught free by scientists and practical experts. Institutions of this kind have been established in Germany, Russia, Switzerland and elsewhere, all tending in the same direction, viz. the cultivation of the honey-bee as an appreciable source of income to the farmer, the peasant cultivator, and dwellers in districts where bee-forage is abundant and, if unvisited by the bee, lies wasting its sweetness on the desert air. It may be safely said that the value of the bee to the fruit-grower and the market-gardener has been proved beyond dispute; and the technical instruction now afforded by county councils in the rural districts of England has an appreciable effect. In proof thereof, we may quote the case of an extensive grower in the midland counties - sending fruit to the London market in tons - whose crop of gooseberries increased nearly fourfold after establishing a number of stocks of bees in close proximity to the gooseberry bushes. The fruit orchards and raspberry fields of Kent are also known to be greatly benefited by the numerous colonies of bees owned by more than 3000 bee-keepers in the county. The important part played by the bee in the economy of nature as a fertilizer is shown in fig. 9.

In the United Kingdom the prevailing conditions, climatic A, Flower, magnified twice. B, Sectio n - through core, or torus p, p, Petals. (C) and drupels (D).

a, a, Anthers. ud, Unfertilized drupel.

s, Stigma. ws, Withered stigma. no, Nectary openings.

nc, Nectar cells.

D, Drupels.

(From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) and otherwise, with regard to apiculture - as well as the lack of sufficient natural bee-forage for large apiaries - are such as to preclude the possibility of establishing apiaries on a scale comparable with those located in less confined lands. On the other ws A =,`t FIG. 9. - A, Raspberry ( Rukus idaeus, order Rosaceae ), being fertilized. B, Cross section.

FIG. 8. - Sign of the king of Lower Egypt; from the coffin of Mykerinos, 3 6 33 B.C. (British Museum).

hand, even in England the value of bee-keeping is worthy of recognition as a minor industry connected with such items of agriculture as fruit-growing, market-gardening or poultryraising. The fact that British honey is second to none for quality, and that the British market is eagerly sought by the bee-keepers of other nationalities, has of late impressed itself on the minds of thinking men. Moreover, their views are confirmed by the constant references to bees and the profits obtainable from bee-keeping in the leading papers on all sides. This newly-aroused interest in the subject is no doubt to a large extent fostered by the grants in aid of technical instruction afforded by county councils in rural districts. The British Bee- keepers' keepers' Association (instituted in 1874) has been associa- untiring in its efforts to raise the standard of efficiency bons. among those who are desirous of qualifying as experts and teachers of bee-keeping on modern methods. This body had for its first president the distinguished naturalist Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury). Subsequently the baroness BurdettCoutts accepted the office in the year 1878, and was re-elected annually until her death in 1906. During this time she nresided at its meetings and took an active part in its work, until advancing years prevented her attendance, but her interest in the welfare of the association was maintained to the last. Branch societies of bee-keepers were established throughout the English counties, mainly by the efforts of the parent body in London, with the object of securing co-operation in promoting the sale of honey, and showing the most modern methods of producing it in its most attractive form at exhibitions held for the purpose. Nearly the whole of these county societies affiliated with the central association, paying an affiliation fee yearly, and receiving in return the silver medal, bronze medal and certificate of the association, to be offered as prizes for competition at the annual county shows. Other advantages are given in connexion with the qualifying of experts, &c., while nearly all the county associations in the United Kingdom employ qualified men who visit members in spring and autumn for the purpose of examining hives and giving advice on bee management to those needing it. Another advantage of membership is the use of a " county label " for affixing to each section of honey in comb, a or jar of extracted honey, offered for sale by members. These labels are numbered consecutively, and thus afford a guarantee of the genuineness and quality of the honey, the label enabling purchasers to trace the producer if needed. The British Bee-keepers' Association is an entirely philanthropic body, the only object of its members being to promote all that is good in British bee-keeping, and to " teach humanity to that industrious little labourer, the honey-bee." Bee-appliance manufacturers are not eligible for membership of its council, nor are those who make bee-keeping their main business; thus no professional jealousies can possibly arise. In this respect the association appears to stand alone among the bee-keepers' societies of the world. There are many equally beneficial societies, framed on different lines, existing in Germany, France, Russia and Switzerland, but they are mainly co-operative bodies instituted for the general benefit of members, who are without exception either bee-keepers on a more or less extensive scale, or scientists interested in the study of insect life.

The bee-keepers' associations of the United States, Canada and most of the British colonies, are - like those last mentioned above - formed for the sole and laudable purpose of promoting the business interests of their members, the latter being either bee-farmers or bee-appliance manufacturers. Thus they make no pretension of any but business discussions at their conferences, and much benefit to all concerned follows as a matter of course. In fact, we find enthusiastic bee-men and women travelling several hundreds of miles and devoting time, money and labour in attending conferences of bee-keepers in America, while the proceedings usually last for several days and are largely attended. The extent of the industry compared with that of Great Britain is so great that it fully accounts for the difference in procedure of the respective associations.

As a natural consequence of this activity, the trade in beeappliance making has assumed enormous proportions in the United States, where extensive factories have been established; one firm - employing over 500 hands, - and using electric-power machinery of the most modern type - being devoted entirely to the manufacture of bee-goods and apiarian requisites. From this establishment alone the yearly output is about 25,000 bee-hives, and upwards of ioo millions of the small wooden boxes used for holding combhoney. The most generally approved form of this box is known as the "i-lb section," made from a strip of wood z in. thick, 2 in. wide, and of such length that when folded by joining the morticed and tenoned ends A B (fig. io) it forms the section or box C, measuring 1 n I n a 44 X 44 Xz when complete, and holds about i lb of comb-honey when filled by the bees and ready for table use. The V-shaped groove D (cut across and partly through the wood) shows the joint when in the flat, and E the same joint when closed for use. All the section boxes used in the United Kingdom are made in the U.S.A. or in Canada from the timber known as basswood, no native wood being suitable for the purpose.

1 Development of the Movable frame Hive

2 Management of an Apiary

3 Diseases of Bees

4 Authorities

Development of the Movable frame Hive

The dome-shaped straw skep of our forefathers may be regarded as the typical bee-hive of all time and of all civilized countries; indeed, it may with truth be said that as a healthy and convenient home for the honey-bee it has no equal.

A swarm of bees hived in a straw skep, the picturesque little domicile known the world over as the personification of industry, will furnish their home with waxen combs in form and shape so admirably adapted to their requirements as to need no improvement by man. Why the circular form was chosen for the skep need not be inquired into, beyond saying that its shape conforms to that of a swarm, as the bees usually hang clustered on the branch of a neighbouring tree or bush after issuing from the parent hive. Fig. i i shows a straw skep in section, and explains .f h sk 4,6Mtai FIG. H. - Straw skep in section, showing arrangement of Combs (scale g).

A, Vertical section. p, Pollen. B, Horizontal section.

fb, Floor board. h, Honey. sk, Skep-side.

e, Entrance. fh, Feeding hole. c, c, Combs.

br, Brood. bs, bs,Bee spaces. sc, sc, Store combs. bs, bs, Bee spaces. (From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) itself as illustrating the admirable way in which the bees furnish their dwelling. The vertical section (A) shows the lower portion of the combs devoted to brood-rearing, the higher and thicker combs being reserved for honey, and midway between the brood and food is stored the pollen required for mixing with honey in feeding the larvae. It will be seen how well the upper part of the combs are fitted for bearing the weight of stores they contain, B FIG. 10. - "' lb section " wooden holding Comb-honey.

(Redrawn from the A B C of Bee-Culture, published by the A. I. Root Co., Medina, Ohio, U. S. A.) box for The straw sleep. and how the lower portion allows the bees to cluster around the tender larvae and thus maintain the warmth necessary during its metamorphosis from the egg to the perfect insect. The horizontal section (B) with equal clearness demonstrates the bee's ingenuity in economizing space, showing how the outer combs are used exclusively for stores, and, as such, may be built of varying thickness as more or less storage room is required. The straw skep has, however, the irredeemable fault of fixed combs, and the gradual development of the movable-frame The mov- h i ve of to-day may be said to have first appeared in able-frame hive. 1789 with the leaf-hive of Huber, so called from its opening like the leaves of a book. Prior to that date wooden box-hives of various shapes had been adopted by advanced bee-masters anxious to increase their output of honey, and by enthusiastic naturalists desirous of studying and investigating the wonders of bee-life apart from the utilitarian standpoint. Foremost among the latter was the distinguished Swiss naturalist and bee-keeper, Francois Huber, who was led to construct the leaf-hive bearing his name after experimenting with a single comb observatory hive recommended by Reaumur. Huber found that although he could induce swarms to occupy the glass-sided single frame advised by Reaumur, if the frame was fitted with ready-built pieces of comb patched together before hiving the swarm, the experiment was successful, while if left to themselves the bees built small combs across the space between the sheets of glass, and the desired inspection from the outside was thus rendered impossible. He also gathered that the abnormal conditions forced upon the bees by a ready-built single comb might so turn aside their natural instincts as to render his investigations less trustworthy than if conducted under perfectly natural conditions; so, in order to remove all doubt, he decided to have a series of wooden frames made, measuring 12 in. sq., each of rather more than the ordinary width allowed for broodcombs. These frames were numbered consecutively 1 to 12, and hinged together as shown in fig. 12 ( h, A). In this way the FIG. 12. - Huber's book or leaf hive (scale $).

A, Book hive. B, Side view of frame e, e, Entrances. or leaf. C, Part of bin, cross s, s, Side leaves. tb, Top-bar. section, lettering h, Hinges. c, Comb. as before. p, p, Pegs.

(From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) frames of comb could be opened for inspection like a book, while when closed the bees clustered together as in an ordinary hive.

Ten of these frames had a small piece of comb fixed to the topbar in each, supported (temporarily) by a thin lath wedged up with pegs at side, the latter being removed when the comb had been made secure by the bees. When closed, the ten frames, together with the two outside ones (fitted with squares of glass for inspection), which represent the covers of the book, were tied together with a couple of stout strings. In a subsequent form of the same hive Huber was enabled - with the help of very long thumb-screws at each side (fig. 13) - to raise up any frame between two sheets of glass which confined the bees and allowed him to study the process of comb-building abserr's better than any hive we know of to-day. By means tory hive. of the leaf-hive and using the entrances (fig. 12, e,e, A) Huber made artificial swarms by dividing and the use of divisionboards, though not in quite the same fashion as is practised at the present day. On the other hand, it must be admitted that S FIG. 13. - Huber's bar-hive, showing how comb is built. cb, Comb bar; g, g, glass sheets; s, s, screws; e, entrance.

(From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) Huber's hive was defective in many respects; the parting of each frame, thus letting loose the whole colony, caused much trouble at times, but it remained the only movable-comb hive till 1838, when Dr Dzierzon - whose theory of parthenogenesis has made his name famous - devised a box-hive with a loose top-bar on which the bees built their combs and a movable side or door, by means of which the frames could be lifted out for inspection. This improvement was at once appreciated, and in the year 1852 Baron Berlepsch added side-bars and a bottom-bar, thus completing the movable frame.

About the same time the Rev. L. L. Langstroth was experimenting on the same lines in America, and in 1852 his important invention was made known, giving to the world of Lang.

portant details will never be excelled. We refer to the hive. bee-keepers a movable frame which in its most im- stroth's respective distances left between the side-bars and hive walls on each side, and between the lower edge of the bottom-bars and the floor-board. Langstroth, in his measurements, hit upon the happy mean which keeps bees from propolizing or fastening the frames to the hive body, as they assuredly would do if sufficient space had not been allowed for free passage round the side-bars; it is equally certain that if too much space had been provided, they would fill it with comb and thus render the frame immovable. In addition to these benefits, Langstroth's frame and hive possessed the enormous advantage over Dzierzon's of being manipulated from above, so that any single frame could be raised for inspection without disturbing the others. Langstroth's space-measurements have remained practically unaltered notwithstanding the many improvements in hive-making, and in the various sizes of movable frames, since introduced and used in different parts of the world.

In the United States of America Langstroth's frame and hive are the acknowledged " standards " among the great body of bee-keepers, although about a dozen different frames, Size of varying more or less in size, have their adherents. frames in Among these may be named the American, Adair, the U.S.A. Danzenbaker, Gallup, Heddon, Langstroth and Quinby. Three of these, the American, Adair and Gallup, may be termed square frames, the others being oblong, but the latter shape appears to possess the most all-round advantages to the modern bee-keeper. Amid the different climatic conditions of so vast a continent as America, variation in size, and in the capacity of frames used, is in some measure accounted for.

In the British Isles, though the conditions are variable enough, they are less extreme, and, fortunately for those engaged in the pursuit, only one size of frame is acknowledged by the great majority of bee-keepers, viz. the British Bee-keepers' Association " Standard " (fig. 14). This frame, the outside measurement of which is 14 by 82 in., was the outcome of deliberations extending over a considerable time on the part of a committee of well-known bee-keepers, specially appointed in 1882 to consider the matter. In this way, „ whatever type or form of t7 " hive is used, the frames are interchangeable. Differences in view may, and do, exist regarding the thickness of the wood used in frame-making, but the outside measurement never varies. Notwithstanding this fact, the advancement of apiculture and the continuous development of the modern frame-hive and methods of working have proceeded with such rapidity, both in England and in America, that hives and appliances used prior to 1885 are now obsolete.

It may, therefore, be useful to compare the progress made in the United States of America and in Great Britain in order to show that, while the industry is incomparably larger and of more importance in America and Canada than in Great Britain, British bee-keepers have been abreast of the times in all things apicultural. The original Langstroth hive was single-walled, held ten frames (size 174 by 9 in.), and had a deep roof, made to cover a case of small honey boxes like the sections now in use; but the cumbersome projecting porch and sides, made to support the roof, are now dispensed with, and the number of frames reduced to eight. Although various modifications have since been made in minor details - all tending to improvement - its main features are unaltered. The typical hive of America is the improved Langstroth (fig. 15), which has no other covering for the frame tops but a flat roof-board allowing 4 in. space between the roof and A top-bars for bees to pass from frame to frame. Consequently, on the roof being raised B the bees can take wing if not prevented from doing so. This feature C finds no favour with British bee-keepers, nevertheless the " improved Langstroth " is a useful and simple hive, moderate in price, and no doubt efficient, but not suitable for bees wintered on their summer stands, as nearly all hives are in Great Britain. American bee-keepers, therefore, find it necessary to provide underground cellars, into which the bees are carried in the fall of each year, remaining there till work begins in the following spring. Those among them who cannot, for various reasons, adopt the cellar-wintering plan are obliged to provide what are termed " chaff-covers " for protecting their bees in winter. Of late years they have also introduced, as an improvement, the plan long followed in England of using double-walled chaff-packed hives. The difference here is that packing is now dispensed with, it being found that bees winter equally well with an outer case giving 12 in. of free space on all sides of the hive proper, but with no packing in between. Thus no change is needed in winter or summer, the air-space protecting the bees from cold in winter and heat in summer. Another point of difference between the English and American hive is the roof, which being gable-shaped in the former allows warm packing to be placed directly on the frame tops, so that the bees are covered in when the roof is removed and may be examined or fed with very little disturbance. Again, the American hive is, as a general rule, set close down on the ground, while stands or short legs are invariably used in Great Britain. One of the best-known hives in England is that known as the W.B.C. hive, devised in 1890 by W. Broughton Carr.

Figs. 16 and 17 explain its construction and, as will be seen, it is equally suit able when working for comb or for extracted honey.

Various causes have contributed to the development of the modern hive, the most important of which are the improvements in methods of extracting honey from combs, and in the manufacture of combfoundation. Regarding the first of these, it cannot be said that the honey extractor, even in its latest form, differs very much from the original machine (fig. 18) invented by Major Hruschka, an officer in the Italian army, who in later life became an enthusiastic apicul turist. Hruschka's extractor, first brought to public xa cto s.X? notice in 1865, may be said to have revolutionized the bee-industry as a business. It enabled the honey producer to increase his output considerably by extracting honey from the cells in most cleanly fashion without damaging the combs, and in a fraction of the time previously occupied in the draining, heating and squeezing process. At the same time the combs were preserved for refilling by the bees, in lieu of melting them down for wax. The principle of the honey extractor (throwing the liquid honey out of the cells by centrifugal force) was discovered quite by accident. Major Hruschka's little son chanced to have in his hand a bit of unsealed comb-honey in a basket to which was attached a piece of string, and, as the boy playfully whirled the basket round in the air, his father noticed a few drops of honey, ?

l E 14" FIG. 14. - Standard Frame.

" l i ,? i, _ Ill ?;i?s mf?p `? .

I ?illl l ll q 111111, FIG. 15. - Langstroth Hive.

(Redrawn. from the published by the A. I. Root Co., Medina, Ohio, U;S. A.) FIG. 16. - Exterior, W.B.C. Hive.

--.-_. - FIG. 17. - Interior, W.B.C. Hive.

thrown out of the comb by the centrifugal force employed to keep the basket suspended. The value of the idea at once struck him; he set to work on utilizing the principle involved, and ere long had constructed a machine admirably adapted to serve its purpose. Since that time changes, of more or less value, have been introduced to meet present-day requirements. One of the first to take advantage of Hruschka's invention was Mr A. I. Root, who in 1869 perfected a machine on similar lines to the Hruschka one but embodying various improvements. This appliance, known as the " Novice Honey Extractor," became very popular in the United States of America, but it had the fault FIG. 18. - Hruschka Extractor.

of wasting time in removing (Redrawn from the A B C of Bee-Culture, published by the A. I. Root Co., Medina, the combs for reversing after Ohio, U.S.A,) one side had been emptied of its contents. A simple form of machine for extracting honey by centrifugal force was brought to notice in England in 1875, and was soon improved upon, as will be seen in fig. 19, which shows a section of one of the best English machines at that time. Various plans were tried in America to improve on the " Novice " machine, and Mr T. W. Cowan, who was experimenting in the same direction in England, invented in the year 1875 a machine called the " Rapid," in which the combs were reversed without removal of the cages (fig. 20). The frame cases - wired on both sides - are hung at the angles of a revolving ring of iron, and the reversing process is so simple and effective that the " Cowan " reversible frame has been adopted in all the best machines. both in Great Britain and in America.

The latest form of honey extractor used in America is that known as the " Four-frame A Cowan." Fig. 21 shows the working part or inside of the appliance. In this, and indeed in all extractors used in large sb apiaries, the " Cowan " or re versible frame principle is used. .9 t, Each of the four cages in which the combs are placed is swung FIG. 19. - Diagram of the Raynor on a pivot attached to the side, and when the outer faces of the combs are emptied the cages are reversed without removal from the machine for emptying the opposite sides of combs. The further development of the honey extractor has of late been limited to an increase in the size of machine used, in order to save time and manual labour, and thus meet the requirements of the largest honey producers, who extract honey by the car load. Some of the largest machines - propelled by motor power - are capable of taking eight or more frames at one time. It may also be claimed for the honey extractor that it does away with the objection entertained by many persons to the use of honey, by enabling the apiarist to remove his produce from the honey-combs in its purest form untainted by crushed brood and untouched by hand.

Next in importance, to bee-keepers, is the enormous advance made in late years through the invention of a machine for manufacturing the impressed wax sheets known as " comb foundation," aptly so named, because upon it the bees build the cells wherein they store their food. We need not dwell upon the evolution from the crude idea, which first took form in the endeavour to compel beesto build straight combs in a given direction by offering them a guiding line of wax along the under side of each top-bar of the frame in which the combs were built; but we may glance at the more important improvements which gradually developed as time went on. In 1843 a German bee-keeper, Krechner by name, conceived the idea of first dipping fine linen into molten wax, then pressing the sheets so made between rollers, and thus forming a waxen midrib on which the bees would build their combs. This experiment was partially successful, but the instinctive dislike of bees to anything of a fibrous nature caused them completely to spoil their work of comb-building in the endeavour to tear or gnaw away the linen threads whenever they got in touch with them. In 1857 Mehring (also a German) made a further advance by the use of wooden moulds for casting sheets of wax impressed with the hexagonal form of the bee-cell. These sheets were readily accepted by the bees, and afterwards plates cast from metal were employed, with so good a result as to give to the bees as perfect a midrib as that of natural comb with the deep cell walls cut away. Fig. 2 2 shows a portion of one of these metal plates with worker-cells of natural size, i.e. five cells to the inch. Thus Mehring is justly claimed as the originator of comb-foundation, though the value of his invention was less eagerly taken advantage of even in Germany than its merits deserved. Probably it was ahead of the times, for not until nearly twenty years later was any prominence given to it, when Samuel Wagner, founder and editor of the American Bee Journal, became impressed with Mehring's invention and warmly advocated it in his paper. Mr Wagner first conceived the idea of adding slightly raised side walls to the hexagonal outlines of the cells, by means of which the bees are supplied with the material for building out one-half or more of the complete cell walls or sides. The manifest advantage of this was at once realized by practical American apiarists as saving labour to the bees and money to the bee-keeper. One of the first to recognize its value was Mr A. I. Root, of Medina, Ohio, who suggested the substitution of embossed rollers in lieu of flat plates, in order to increase the output of foundation and lessen its cost to the bee-keeper. He lost no time in giving practical shape to his views, and mainly through the inventive genius of a skilled machinist (Mr A. Washburn) the A. I. Root Co. constructed a roller press (fig. 23) for producing foundation in sheets. This form of machine came .;Flti- :, oc Extractor.

A, Section of extractor. fr, Fixing rail. fff, Frame for cage. wb, Metal webbing. wn, Wire netting. co, Comb.

w, Wire bottom. p, Pivot.

c, Stiffening cone. cb, Coned bottom. gt, Gutter.

st, Syrup tap.

C, Perpendicular section of side of cage enlarged.

oc, Outer casing. wb, Metal webbing. wn, Wire netting.

(From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) I!!!II!Iiii Iiiiv ??IiIIIIIUu+ 0 FIG. 20. - Cowan's rapid Extractor.

FIG. 21. - Cowan's four-frame Extractor; interior.

(Redrawn from the A B C of Bee-Culture, published by the A. I. Root Co., Medina, Ohio, U.S.A.) into extensive use in the United States of America and afterwards in Great Britain. The first roller press was made by the A. I. Root Co. and imported by Mr William Raitt, a Scottish bee-keeper of repute in Perthshire, N.B. In all roller machines used at that time the plain sheets of wax were first made by the " dipping " process, i.e. by repeated dippings of damped boards in molten wax (kept in liquid condition in tanks immersed in hot water) until the sheet was of suitable thickness for the purpose. The prepared sheets were then passed through the rollers, and after being cut out and trimmed were ready for use.

Owing to the enormous demand for comb-foundation at that time various devices were tried with the view of securing (I) more rapid production, and (2) a foundation thin enough to be used in surplus chambers when working for comb-honey intended for table use. Foremost among the able men who experimented in this latter direction was Mr F. B. Weed, a skilful American machinist, who, after some years of strenuous effort, succeeded in devising and perfecting special rollers and dies, by the use of which foundation was produced with a midrib so thin as to compare favourably with natural comb built by the bees. " Dipping," however, proved not only a stumbling-block to speed but to the production of continuous sheets of wax; and in the end Mr Weed, acting in concert with Mr A. I. Root (who FIG. 23. - Foundation Machine (scale ,'-). (From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) placed the resources of his enormous factory at his disposal), devised and perfected machinery - driven by motor power - for manufacturing foundation by what is known as the " Weed " process. By this process " dipping " is abolished, and in its latest form sheets of wax of any length are produced, passed between engraved rollers 6 in. in diameter, cut to given lengths, trimmed, counted and paper-tissued ready for packing, at a rate of speed previously undreamt of.

Practical Management of Bees. - Among the world of insects the honey-bee stands pre-eminent as the most serviceable to mankind; from the day on which the little labourer leaves its home for the first time in search of food, its mission is undoubtedly useful. Launched upon an unknown world, and guided by unerring instinct to the very flowers it seeks, the bee fertilizes fruit and flowers while winging its happy flight among the blossoms, gathering pollen for the nurslings of its own home and honey for the use of man. Nothing seems to be lost, nor can any part of the bee's work be accounted labour in vain; the very wax from which the insect builds the store-combs for its food and the cells in which its young are hatched and reared is valuable to mankind in many ways, and is regarded to-day no less than in the past ages as an important commercial product. The hive bee is, moreover, the only insect known to be capable of domestication, so far as labouring under the direct control of the bee-master is concerned, its habits being admirably adapted for embodying human methods of working for profit in our present-day life.

In dealing with the practical side of apiculture it will not be necessary to do more than mention the salient points to be considered by those desirous of acquiring more complete knowledge of the subject. Authoritative text-books specially written for the guidance of bee-keepers are numerous and cheap, and on no account should any one engage in an attempt to manage bees on modern lines without a careful perusal of one or more of these. Bearing this in mind the reader will understand that so much of the natural history of the honey-bee as is necessary for elucidating the practical part of our subject may be comprised in (I) the life of the insect, (2) its mission in life, and (3) utilizing to the utmost the brief period during which it can labour before being worn out with toil.

A prosperous bee-colony managed on modern lines will in the height of summer consist of three kinds of bees: a queen or mother-bee, a certain number of drones, and from 80,000 to ioo,000 workers. With regard to sex, the sex queen is a fully-developed female, the drones are males and the workers may be termed neuters or partially developed females. These last possess ovaries like the queen, but shrunken and aborted so as to render the insect normally incapable of eggproduction. The relative importance of the three kinds of bees differs greatly in a b c degree and in FIG. 24. - Hive bee ( Apis mellifica ), natural size.

a, Worker; b, queen; c, drone. somewhat curious (From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and fashion. For in- Practical.) stance, the queen (or " king " of the hives as it was termed by our forefathers) is of paramount importance at certain seasons, her death or disablement during the period when the male element is absent meaning extinction of the whole colony. Fecundation would under such conditions be impossible, and without this the eggs of a resultant queen will produce nothing but drones. During the summer season, however (from May to July), when drones are abundant, the loss of a queen is of comparatively little moment, as the workers can transform eggs (or young larvae not more than three days old), which would in the ordinary course produce worker bees, into fully-developed queens, capable of fulfilling all the maternal duties of a mother-bee. The value of this wonderful provision of nature to the bee-keeper of to-day may be estimated from the fact that bees managed according to modern methods are necessarily subject to so much manipulating or handling, that fatal accidents are as likely to happen in bee-life as among human beings.

Authorities differ with regard to the age during which the queen-bee is useful to the bee-keeper who works for profit. Under normal conditions the insect will live for three, four or sometimes five years, but the stimulation given, together with I FIG. 22. - Portion of a type-metal plate - i.e. form of Comb Midrib (five cells to the inch).

(From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) the high-pressure system followed in modern bee-management, exhausts the period of her greatest fecundity in two years, so that queens are usually superseded after their second season has expired and egg-production gradually decreases. This can hardly cause wonder if it is borne in mind that for many weeks during the height of the season a prolific queen will deposit eggs at the rate of from two to three thousand every twenty-four hours.

Drones (or male bees) are more or less numerous in hives according to the skill of the bee-keeper in limiting their production. It is admitted by those best able to judge that the proportion of about a hundred drones in each hive is conducive to the prosperity of the colony, but beyond that number they are worse than useless, being nonproducers and heavy consumers. Thus in times of scarcity, which are not infrequent during the early part of the season, they become a heavy tax upon the food-supply of the colony at the critical period when brood-rearing is accelerated by an abundance of stores, while shortness of food means a fallingoff in egg-production. The modern bee-keeper, therefore, allows just so much drone comb in the hive as will produce a sufficient number of drones to ensure queen-mating, while affording to the bees the satisfaction of dwelling in a home equipped according to natural conditions, and containing all the elements necessary to bee-life. The action of the bees themselves makes this point clear, for when the season of mating is past the drone is no longer needed, the providing of winter stores taking first place in the economy of the hive. So long as honey is being gathered in plenty drones are tolerated, but no sooner does the honey harvest show signs of being over than they are mercilessly killed and cast out of the hive by the workers, after a brief idle life of about four months' duration. Thus the " lazy yawning drone," as Shakespeare puts it, has a short shrift when his usefulness to the community is ended.

Finally we have the aptly named worker-bee, on whom devolves the entire labour of the colony. The worker-bee is incapable of egg-production and can therefore take no part in the perpetuation of its species, so that individually its value to the community is infinitesimal. Yet it forms bee.  ?' an item in a commonwealth, the members of which are in all respects equally well endowed. They are in turn skilled scientists, architects, builders, artisans, labourers and even scavengers; but collectively they are the rulers on whom the colony depends for the wonderful condition of law and order which has made the bee-community a model of good government for all mankind. Then so far as regards longevity, the period of a worker-bee's existence is not measured by numbering its days but simply by wear and tear, the marvellous intricacy and wonderful perfection of its framework being so delicate in construction that after six or seven weeks of strenuous toil, such as the bee undergoes in summer time, the little creature's labour is ended by a natural death. On the other hand, worker-bees hatched in the autumn will seven months later be strong with the vigour of lusty youth; able to take their full share in the labour of the hive for six weeks or more in the early spring, which is the most critical period in the colony's existence; hence the value to the apiarist of bees hatched in the autumn.

The mission of the worker-bee is work; not so much for itself as for the younger members of the community to which it belongs. We cannot claim for it the virtue of strict honesty with regard to the stranger, but for its own " kith and kin " it is a model of socialism in an ideal form, possessing nothing of its own yet toiling unceasingly for the good of all. The increasing warmth of each recurring spring finds the bee awake, and full of eagerness to be up and doing; its sole mission being apparently to accomplish as much work as possible while life lasts. The earliest pollen is sought out from far and near, and has its immediate effect upon the mother bee of the colony. If healthy and young she begins egg-laying at once, and brood-rearing proceeds at an ever-increasing rate as each week passes, until the hive is brimming over with bees in time for the first honey flow. Then comes the almost human foresight with which the bee prevents the inevitable chaos created by an overcrowded home. There is no cell-room either for storing the abundant supply of food constantly being brought in, or for the thousands of eggs which a prolific queen will produce daily as a consequence of general prosperity; therefore unless help comes from without an exodus is prepared for, and what is known as " swarming " takes place.

It would be difficult to imagine anything more exhilarating to a beginner in bee-keeping than the sight of his first hive in the act of swarming. The little creatures are seen rushingn frantic haste from the hive like a living g stream, filling the air with ever-increasing thousands of bees on the wing. The incoming workers returning pollen-laden from the fields, carried away by the prevailing excitement, do not stop to unload their burdens in the old home, but join the enthusiastic emigrants, tumbling over each other pell-mell in the outrush; among them the queen of the colony will in due course have taken her place, bound like her children for a new home. It soon becomes apparent to the onlooker when the queen has joined the flying multitude of bees in the air, for they are seen to be closing up their ranks, and in a few moments begin to form a solid cluster, usually on the branch of a small tree or bush close to the ground. When this stage of swarming is reached the bee-keeper has but to take his hiving skep, hold it under the swarm, and shake the bees into it, preparatory to transferring them into a frame-hive already prepared for their re ception. The process of hiving a swarm is very simple D and need not occupy many moments of time under ordinary conditions, but so many unlooked-for contingencies may arise that the apiarist would do well to prepare himself beforehand by carefully reading the directions in his text-book.

The illustration given in fig. 25 will serve more readily than words to enlighten the would-be bee-keeper. It shows a portion of honeycomb (natural size) not precisely as it appears when the frame containing it is lifted out of the hive, but as would be seen on two or more combs in the same hive, namely, the various cells built for - and occupied by - queens, drones and workers; also the larvae or grubs in the various stages of transformation FIG. 25. - Honeycomb (natural size), Metamorphoses of the Honey Bee.

(From Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.) from egg to perfect insect, with the latter biting their way out of sealed cells. It also shows sealed honey and pollen in cells, &c. To familiarize himself with the various objects depicted, all of which are drawn from nature, will not only help the reader to understand the different phases of bee-life during the swarming season, but tend to increase the interest of beginners in the pursuit. " Early drones, early swarms " was the ancient bee-man's favourite adage, and the skilled apiarist of to-day Longevity bees. experiences the same pleasurable thrill as did the skeppist of old at the sight of the first drone of the year, which betokens an early swarm. As the drones increase in number queen-cells are formed, unless steps be taken to turn aside the swarming impulse by affording additional room beforehand in the hive. The above brief outline of the guiding principles of natural swarming is merely intended as introductory to the fuller information given in a good text-book.

Management of an Apiary

The main consideration in establishing an apiary is to secure a favourable location, which means a place where honey of good marketable quality may be gathered from the bee-forage growing around without any planting on the part of the bee-keeper himself. It is impossible to deal here with the varying conditions under which apiculture is carried on in all parts of the world, but, as a rule, the same principle applies everywhere. The bee industry prospers greatly in America, where amid the vast stretches of mountain and canyon in California the bee-forage extends for U.S.A. miles without a break, and the climatic conditions are so generally favourable as to reduce to a minimum the chances of the honey crop failing through adverse weather.

The bee-keeper's object is to utilize to the utmost the brief space of a worker-bee's life in summer, by adopting the best methods in vogue for building up stocks to full strength before the honey-gathering time begins, and preparing for it by the exercise of skill and intelligence in carrying out this work.

In the United Kingdom there is a difference of several weeks in the honey season between north and south. Swarming usually begins in May in the south of England, and in mid-July in the north of Scotland, the issue of swarms coinciding with the early part of the main honey flow. The weather is naturally more precarious in autumn than earlier in the year, and chances of success proportionately smaller for northern bee-men, but the disadvantage to the latter is more than compensated for by the heather season, which extends well into September. With regard to the British bee-keeper located in the south, the early fruit crop is what concerns him most, and bees will make steady progress. If pollen is scarce, a substitute in the form of either pea-meal or wheaten flour must be supplied to the bees, as brood-rearing cannot make headway without the nitrogenous element indispensable in the food on which the young are reared. But the main honey-crop of both north and south is gathered from the various trifoliums, among which the white Dutch or common clover (Trifolium repens ) is acknowledged to be the most important honey-producing plant wherever it grows.

In the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and in many other parts of the world honey of the finest quality is obtained from this " queen of bee-plants," and in lesser degree from other clovers such as sainfoin, alsike (a hybrid clover), trefoil, &c.

Before undertaking the management of a modern apiary, the bee-keeper should possess a certain amount of aptitude for the pursuit, without which it is hardly possible to succeed. He must also acquire the ability to handle bees judiciously and well under all imaginable conditions. In doing this it is needful to remember that bees resent outside interference with either their work or their hives, and will resolutely defend themselves when aroused even at the cost of life itself. Experience has also proved that, when alarmed, bees instinctively begin to fill their honey-sacs with food from the nearest store-cells as a safeguard against contingencies, and when so provided they are more amenable to interference. The bee-keeper, therefore, by the judicious application of a little smoke from smouldering fuel, blown into the hive by means of an appliance known as a beesmoker, alarms the bees and is thus able to manipulate the frames of comb with ease and almost no disturbance. The smoker (fig. 26) devised by T. F. Bingham of Farwell, Michigan, U.S.A., is the one most used in America and in the United Kingdom. No other protection is needed beyond a bee-veil of fine black net, which slipped over a wide-brimmed straw hat protects the face from stings when working among bees; as experience is gained the veil is not always used. The man who is hasty and nervous in temperament, who fears an occasional sting, and resents the same by viciously killing the bee that inflicts it will rarely make a good apiarist. The methods of handling bees vary in different countries, this being in a great measure accounted for by the number of hives kept. Very few apiaries in the United Kingdom contain more than a hundred hives; consequently the British bee-keeper has no need for employing the forceful or " hustling " methods found necessary in America, where the honey-crop is gathered in car-loads and the hives numbered by thousands. It naturally follows that bee-life is there regarded very slightly by cornparison, and the " bee-garden " in England becomes the " bee-yard " in America, where the apiarist when at work must thoroughly protect himself from being stung, and, safe in his immunity from damage, cares little for bee-life in getting through his task, the loss of a few hundred bees being considered of.

no account. There are, however, ?Ls other reasons, apart from humanity,; to account for the difference in -_ n handling bees as advocated in the United Kingdom. The great r !?' :%?, majority of apiaries owned by British bee-keepers are located in 1 1/4.

close proximity to neighbours; ' a? ?j1'; jI i consequently a serious upset among `ij:!i the bees would in many cases in volve an amount of trouble which I. i should if possible be avoided; therefore quietness and the exer cise of care when manipulating are always recommended by teachers, and practised by those who wisely take their lessons to heart.

Having made himself proficient in practical bee-work and chosen a suitable location for his apiary, the bee-keeper should carefully select the particular type of hive most suited to his means and requirements. This point settled, uniformity is q P y a location. re secured, and all loose parts of the hives being interchangeable time will be saved during the busy season when time means money. Beginning with not too many stocks he can test the capabilities of his location before investing much capital in the undertaking, so that by utilizing the information already given and adopting the wise adage " make haste slowly " he will realize in good time whether it will pay best to work for honey in comb or extracted honey in bulk; not only so, but the knowledge gained will enable him to select such appliances as are suited to his needs. As a rule, it may be said that the man content to start with an apiary of moderate size - say fifty stocks - may realize a fair profit from comb-honey only; but so limited a venture would need to be supplemented by some other means before an adequate income could be secured. On the other hand, the owner of one or two hundred colonies would find it more lucrative to work for extracted honey and send it out to wholesale buyers in that form. By so doing a far greater weight of surplus per hive may be secured, and extracted honey will keep in good condition for years, while comb-honey must be sold before granulation sets in. At the same time it is but fair to say that bee-culture in the United Kingdom, if limited to honey-production alone, is not sufficiently safe for entire reliance to be placed on it for obtaining a livelihood. The uncertain climate renders it necessary to include either other branches of the craft less dependent on warmth and sunshine, or to combine it with fruit-growing, poultry-rearing, &c. Under such conditions the bees will usually occupy a good position in the balance-sheet.

Another indispensable feature of good bee-management is " forethought," coupled with order and neatness; the rule of where pollen (the fertilizing dust of flowers) is P (g)lentiful plentifu FIG. a6. - Bee-Smoker.

(Redrawn from the A B C of BeeCulture, published by the A. I. Root Co., Medina, Ohio, U.S.A.) his hives, but to overlook nothing that tends to be of advantage to the bees at all seasons. Among the many ways of saving time nothing is more useful than a carefully-kept note-book, wherein are recorded brief memoranda regarding such items as condition of each stock when packed for winter, amount of stores, age and prolific capacity of queen, strength of colony, healthiness or otherwise, &c., all of which particulars should be noted and the hives to which they refer plainly numbered. It also enables the bee-keeper to arrange his day's work indoors while avoiding disturbance to such colonies as do not need interference. In the early spring stores must be seen to and replenished where required; breeding stimulated when pollen begins to be gathered; and appliances cleaned and prepared for use during the busy season.

The main honey-gathering time (lasting about six or seven weeks) is so brief that in no pursuit is it more important to " make hay while the sun shines," and if the bee-keeper example set by his bees. As the season advances and the flowers yield nectar more freely, visible signs of combbuilding will be observed in the whitened edges of empty cells in the brood-chambers; the thoughtful workers are lengthening out the cells for honey-storing, and the bee-master takes the hint by giving room in advance, thus lessening the chance of undesired swarms. In other words, order and method, combined with the habit of taking time by the forelock, are absolutely necessary to the bee-keeper, seeing that the enormous army of workers under his control is multiplying daily by scores of thousands. As spring merges into summer, sunny days become more frequent; the ever-increasing breadth of beeforage yields still more abundantly, and the excitement among the labourers crowding the hives increases, rendering room in advance, shade and ventilation, a sine qua non. It requires a level head to keep cool amongst a couple of hundred strong stocks of bees on a hot summer's day in a good honey season.

Moreover, it will be too late to think of giving ventila- Swarin tion at noontide, when the temperature has risen to 80° F. in the shade; the necessaryprecautions for shade; y p swarm prevention must therefore be taken in advance, for when what is known as the " swarming fever " once starts it is most difficult to overcome.

The well-read and intelligent bee-keeper, content to work on orthodox lines, will be able to manage an apiary - large or small - by guiding and controlling the countless army he commands in a way that will yield him both pleasure and profit. All he needs is good bee weather and an apiary free from disease to make him appreciate bee-craft as one of the most remunerative of rural industries; affording a wholesome open-air life conducive to good health and yielding an abundance of contentment.

Diseases of Bees

It is quite natural that bees living in colonies should be subject to diseases, and only since the introduction of movable-comb hives has it been possible to learn something about these ailments. The most serious disease with which the bee-keeper has to contend is that commonly known as " bee-pest " or " foul brood," so called because of the young brood dying and rotting in the cells. This disease has been known from the earliest ages, and is probably the same as that designated by Pliny as blapsigonia (Natural History, bk. xi. ch. xx.). Coming to later times, Della Rocca minutely describes a disease to which bees were subject in the island of Syra,

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Bee-Keeping'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

Search for…
Enter query in the box below:
Choose a letter to browse:
Prev Entry
Next Entry