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Full text of "The American bee keeper's manual : being a practical treatise on the history and domestic economy of the honey-bee, embracing a full illustration of the whole subject, with the most approved methods of managing this insect through every branch of its culture, the result of many years' experience"

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Darlington JNd.emorial L/ibrary 

rELTE^ ^f 







OF MANY years' EXPE- 

By T. B. miner. 







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, by 

T. B. MI NER, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 

District of New York. 



C. W. BENEDICT, Stereotyper, 

201 William street, cor. of Frankfort. 


The following treatise has been written to fill a 
vacuum in this country, that has long existed. How it 
has happened that the management of the honey-bee 
should have been so neglected by writers in the United 
States, I am at a loss to comprehend ; but so it is, and 
we cannot boast, up to the present time, a single volume 
on this subject, worthy of being called a full, practical 
treatise on the culture of this insect. 

Such small essays as have appeared from the pens of 
American authors, have given little, or no information 
of practical utility ; the most of them, not even present- 
ing a single engraving, as an illustration. In this work, 
the expense of the embellishments alone, will equal the 
entire cost of publishing any of the works of American 
origin, that have preceded it ; and it has been my pride 
and aim, to render it a production, that will not only com- 
pare with, but even exceed the most popular European 
treatises on the same subject, especially in all matters of 
a practical nature. 

The great difficulty in the way of producing a truly 
popular work on the honey-bee, has hitherto been, the 
imaginary dryness of the subject, operating as a great 
discouragement to practical apiarians to write thereon ; 


but in this work, I have divested the subject of its dry- 
ness, and have placed it before the reader in a new and 
more attractive form, than has ever appeared before. I 
have endeavored to discuss the various questions in a 
clear, ample, and comprehensive manner, divested of 
the superstition of the ignorant, and the errors of those 
who profess to be learned in the science. I have also 
shown the true position that Huher should occupy as an 
apiarian ; believing, (and I have good reasons for my 
opinion,) that the almost universal credence given to his 
alleged discoveries, is based upon a fictitious platform, 
to a very great extent. 

What I have written in the following pages, is most- 
ly the result of my own practical experience, during 
many years of close application to the management, and 
the study of the honey-bee. On some points I have 
taken an entirely new course, in my own management 
of bees. For instance, I treat them differently in the 
winter season especially, from the ordinary custom, 
keeping them much cooler, &c. ; and my general course 
of management is peculiar to myself, with a full know- 
ledge of all systems, yet based upon the true principles 
of the nature and economy of the bee. My success in 
the culture of this insect, has been beyond precedent, 
and having the test of a long series of years to support 
me, I offer this work as one worthy of the confidence 
of the public. 




Every association of bees is composed of three classes, 
viz : a queen, drones and workers, and when separated 
from their natural connections, they loose all their attri- 
butes of industry and soon perish in inaction. 

The queen is the mother of the entire increase of 
every family of bees, unless in rare cases of the exist- 
ance of a few fertile workers, that produce drone eggs 
only, of which I shall speak hereafter. The queen is 
longer than either drones or workers, and much larger in 
every respect than a worker, but not so large as a drone. 
Her trunk or body is shorter than that of the other two 
classes, and her abdomen tapers to a point, in the form 
of a sugar-loaf. Her legs are longer than those of drones 
and workers, but have no cavities or baskets for holding 
gathered stores. The most remarkable feature pertain- 
ing to her majesty, is the shortness of her wings, reach- 
ing only to about two-thirds of the length of her abdo- 
men. Her color is much darker than workers, and 
sometimes approaching to a jet black ; that is, upon her 


upper surface, but her belly is of a dark orange color. 
It is this latter hue that enables one to easily distinguish 
her in a cluster, even without seeing any other part of 
her body. 


It is only in particular instances that the queen is to 
be seen, such as during swarming, or on her serial excur- 
sions, which takes place on the second or third day after 
being hived, or upon some occasion of her being found in 
a cluster of bees upon the alighting board. In this latter 
case, which occurs with recent swarms only, as a gene- 
ral rule, and very seldom, a close cluster of bees is seen 
about the size of a hen's egg, remaining quiet, and when 
the feather end of a quill, or a stick is used to separate 
them, and they instantly re-form into a cluster again, it 
is almost certain that the queen is in the centre. The 
kind of cluster that I allude to, is very different from 
ordinary clustering upon the side of the hive, or on the 
bottom board, when the bees are driven out by heat ; 
then the bees cluster with their heads upward ; but in 
clusters where the queen is to be found, nothing of such 
a regularity is to be seen. 


The queen is armed with a sting which is curved, but 
she seldom uses it, except against rival queens. Indeed, 
she may be taken with the bare fingers, at any time, 
with perfect impunity ; but a worker taken in that man- 
ner, would be dropped as a piece of hot iron. 



The fecundation of the queen has ever been a subject 
of deep interest to naturaUsts, and it is not at the pre- 
sent day so fully decided, in what manner, or by what 
agency it is effected, as to put the question entirely to 
rest ; and I may safely add, that the day will never come, 
when this long disputed point will be so fully cleared up 
as to silence all opposition to the now generally received 
opinion of the case. 

Some naturalists and apiarians have supposed that the 
queen is 5eZf-impregnated ; that is, that the fecundating 
germ of the ovary is inherent in her, and when her eggs 
are laid, that the drones fertilize them, and generate the 
principle of animal life by incubation, or sitting upon 
them. Others have supposed that a vivifying seminal 
aura exhaled from the drone, penetrates the body of the 
queen, and that produces impregnation. This opinion 
ai'ose from the fact, that a strong odor is sometimes ex- 
haled from them. 

Naturalists rightly supposed, that a sexual union did 
take place between the queen and drones in some man- 
ner, but how, or when, was beyond the scope of their 
knowledge, since such an union had never been beheld 
by mortal eyes. However, during the latter part of the 
eighteenth century, light seemed to dawn upon this long 
hidden mystery, which had lain shrouded in darkness 
for thousands of years. The fact that the sexual union of 
many species of winged insects takes place in the air, 
while on the wing, did at last, after centuries upon cen- 


turies had past in wild speculation, cause the films to fall 
from the eyes of the naturalists of the day, and they 
came to the conclusion that the impregnation of the 
queen bee must be effected in the like manner. 

That eighteen hundred years should have past away, 
before this simple fact should have become developed, is 
truly a matter of surprise ! Yet it is a matter of still 
greater surprise, that many apiarians of the present day 
pertinaciously adhere to ancient notions in regard to 
the agency of the drones in the impregnation of the 
queen, and . utterly refuse to divest themselves of tradi- 
tions founded in error and superstition. 

That such is the natural use and purpose for which 
drones were created, viz : to effect impregnation on the 
wing, I presume the reader will readily believe, on 
hearing what I have to say on the subject hereafter, in 
Chap. iii. devoted to ^'drones'' 


Huber, a German naturalist of distinction, who flour- 
ished at the close of the eighteenth century, has placed 
this question beyond a doubt ; provided that we may 
place confidence in his statements, which I consider 
somewhat questionable. 

Since Huber is cited as orthodox authority by almost 
every writer on the honey bee, or at least by a very 
large portion of them, and inasmuch as many emi- 
nent naturalists and apiarians consider the greater por- 
tion of his writings as an ingenious fabrication of expe- 

bee-keeper's manual. 9 

riments, that never occurred save in the imagination of 
this naturalist, or of his assistant, I deem it necessary to 
place the position of this author fairly before my readers, 
that they may be able to judge for themselves, in some 
measure, whether he is, or is not, entitled to full cre- 
dence. I do this, partly for the reason that some authors 
on this subject, within the reach of an American public, 
servilely tread in the footsteps of Huber, without ever 
having read his writings from his own pen, which is 
perfectly apparent, from the limited knowledge of his 
work, possessed by the writers, as their essays plainly 

At the time that Huber wrote, about the year 1790, 
the natural history of the honey bee, as well as its do- 
mestic economy and management, was in a state of ob- 
scurity. Very few men of talent had given the subject 
a profound attention, and the traditions and absurd fan- 
cies of olden times, in regard to this insect, were believed 
and acted upon, by the majority of bee-keepers. At 
this epoch, Huber professed to have made a series of 
experiments, during a period of some five or six years, 
illustrating the physiology and economy of the honey 
bee to an extent that had never been reached before. 
But his writings throw no light whatever upon the do- 
mestic management of bees ; therefore, they are of no 
value to the apiarian who studies the economy of bees, 
merely for the profit derived from them. The natural- 
ist alone considered his discoveries as highly important 
and valuable, and being a novelty, the world at once 
took the truth of his theories and experiments for grant- 

10 miner's AMERICAN 

ed, and Huber was forthwith placed upon the pinnacle of 
apiarian science. 

Many apiarians who subsequently wrote upon the bee, 
servilely followed him through both truth and fallacy, 
without being able, from their own experience, to either 
refute or corroborate his theories and hypotheses. En- 
cyclopoedias and other publications cited him as unex- 
ceptionable authority, and he was styled the " Prince of 
Apiarians;" hence we find American authors taking 
their cue from some foreign proselyte to his theories, 
and blindly re-echoing many of his discoveries as facts, 
which may be as far from the truth, as the east is from 
the west ! 

The reader may here inquire, if the natural history 
and domestic economy of the honey bee, is so involved 
in mystery and obscurity, as not to be fully understood 
at this late day, and susceptible of being clearly ex- 
pounded and laid down, without the possibility of error ? 
Yes sir, it is thus involved ; and the day will never 
come, when the veil of obscurity that now shrouds much 
pertaining to this interesting little insect will be wholly 

Man may experiment — he may send forth theory and 
hypothesis to the end of time ; yet the natural instinct 
and wisdom of the bee, in many of her acts, and the 
modus operandi of her internal domestic labors, to a 
great extent, will forever be terra incognita to all hu- 
man knowledge! 

Let not the reader suppose from the above remarks, 
that we are doomed to remain ignorant of important 


facts, to enable us to meet with perfect success in our 
management of bees — the curtain has been raised, and 
man has beheld — enough for man to know. 

As the wisdom of God is past finding out, so is the 
instinctive wisdom of the little bee, a direct attribute of 
the Architect and Creator of all animate and inanimate 
nature, beyond the pale of human knowledge. 

huber's authority doubted. 

As it will be necessary for me in the following work, 
to frequently allude to Huber and his writings, since the 
history of the bee is based, to a great extent, upon the 
foundation laid by him, the reader will excuse a continu- 
ation of remarks touching the confidence due to his 
statements. His writings comprise simply a series of 
letters to his friend and patron. Bonnet, of Geneva. 
Bonnet's reputation as a naturalist stands high, and 
those letters were written at his suggestion of various 
things pertaining to bees, then in obscurity, and which, 
for the benefit of science, it was necessary to unfold. 
Huber being in affluent circumstances, and unable to 
attend to any ordinary pursuits, in consequence of his 
blindness, he being unable to discover the difference be- 
tween a white person and a colored one, he, with the 
aid of a servant, instituted his experiments in the econ- 
omy of bees, to avoid that tedium vitcB that ever accom- 
panies the unemployed. 

Now, had Huber had personal ocular demonstration 
of what he has written, as being verified by him, 
through his assistant, we misjht consider him entitled to 

12 miner's AMERICAN 

credence ; but he trusted entirely to his servant, in all 
those alleged discoveries that have astonished and 
amazed the world. 

I can give but a faint credence to discoveries thus 
verified, so far as the autJiority is concerned ; but where 
Ruber's statements tally with well known principles, we 
should give him the benefit of our confidence in his as- 

The reader may be interested to know what wonder- 
ful discoveries this man has made ? They consist in 
discoveries relative to the impregnation of the queen, — 
retarded impregnation and its effects — verification of 
the existence of fertile workers — the power of the bees 
in raising a queen from any ordinary worker's egg at 
pleasure — combats of rival queens — massacre of drones, 
&c., &c., interwoven, as many apiarians presume, with 
considerable fiction, since many things which he alleges 
to have seen, or rather that his servant saw, have never 
been beheld by any one else. 

huish's opinion of huber. 

Huish, a writer of some celebrity on bees, whose 
work was published in London, in 1844, says, " Huber, 
from a natural infirmity of the eyes, was wholly disabled 
from prosecuting his researches into the natural economy 
of the bee, and consequently that he relied solely on the 
skill and information of his servant, Franpois Reurnen's, 
for the veracity of those singular discoveries, which. 

bee-keeper's manual. 13 

under the sanction of his name, have been sent forth 
into the world, but which will never stand the test of a 
rigid and scientific examination. 

Now, this same Francois Beurnens was a rude, un- 
educated Swiss peasant, with a mind immersed in all 
the prejudices of his country, and who pertinaciously 
adhered to many of the Swiss customs in the manage- 
ment of bees, which have for their basis the grossest 
ignorance and superstition. Thus, for instance, when 
any of the family died in which Beurnens was a domes- 
tic, he turned all the hives in the garden topsy turvy, in 
which condition they were obliged to remain until after 
the funeral, as it was most proper and becoming that the 
bees should be made to sympathize with the loss which 
the family had sustained." 

Notwithstanding that the lash of ridicule has been 
well applied to Huber, by those apiarians whose expe- 
rience has proved a portion, at least, of his writings as 
fallacious, yet some of his discoveries are undoubtedly 
true, inasmuch as they accord with the observations of 
apiarians in general ; and of this kind is the discovery 
of the manner in which the impregnation of the queen 
takes place in the air, by the drones, the subject on 
which I was speaking, that gave rise to the introduction 
of this author; and I think I cannot more profitably 
occupy the attention of the curious reader for a few 
moments, than to give his account of this discovery in 
his own words. Here it is : — 




" Aware that the males usually leave the hive in the 
v^armest part of the day, in summer, it was natural to 
suppose that if the queens were obliged to go out for 
fecundation, instinct would induce them to do so at the 
same time as the others. 

" At eleven in the forenoon, we placed ourselves 
{Beiirnens was the one to watch for the queen, directed 
by Huber, the reader ivill understand ; yet Huber al- 
ways wrote as if he could see) opposite to a hive con- 
taining an unimpregnated queen, five days old. The 
sun had shone from his rising, the air was very warm, 
and the males began to leave the hives. We then en- 
larged the entrance {Huber had contracted the entrances 
of several hives to prevent the egress of the queens,) of 
that selected for observation, and paid great attention to 
the bees entering and departing. The males appeared 
and immediately took flight. Soon afterwards the 
young queen came to the entrance ; at first she did not, 
but during a little time traversed the board, brushing 
her belly with her hind legs, neither workers nor males 
bestowing any notice on her. At last she took flight. 
When several feet from the hive she returned and ap- 
proached it, as if to examine the place of her departure, 
perhaps judging this precaution necessary to recognize 
it; she then flew away, describing horizontal circles 
twelve or fifteen feet above the earth. We contracted 
the entrance of the hive that she might not return un- 
observed, and placing ourselves in the centre of the cir- 


cles described in her flight, the more easily to follow 
her, and witness all her motions. But she did not re- 
main long in a situation favorable for our observations, 
and rapidly rose out of sight. We resumed our place 
before the hive ; and in seven minutes the young queen 
returned to the entrance of a habitation which she had 
left for the first time. Having found no external evi- 
dence of fecundation, we allowed her to enter. In a 
quarter of an hour she reappeared, and after brushing 
herself as before, took flight, then returning to examine 
the hive, she rose so high that we soon lost sight of her. 
This second absence was much longer than the first, it 
occupied twenty-seven minutes. We now found her in 
a state very different from that in which she was after 
the former excursion ; the organs distended by a sub- 
stance, thick and hard, very much resembling the mat- 
ter in the vessels of males, completely similar to it in 
color and consistence." 

Huber afterwards says, that from subsequent discove- 
ries, he found that what he took for the generative mat- 
ter, was the male organs left in the body of the female. 

queen's flight to meet the males. 

That queens do thus sally forth on the second or third 
day after entering a new habitation with a swarm, is a 
fact that has come under the observation of many apia- 
rians, yet it is doubtful whether the change in the ap- 
pearance of them on their return, as spoken of by Hu- 
ber is generally, if ever visible. If the young queens 
are to be seen at all, it is at this period, and it is not 



unfrequent, that queens of all swarms, after the firsts 
during the first few days of their inhabiting their new 
tenement, are found in a cluster of bees at the entrance 
of the hive or near it. The reason of this is, that on 
the return of the queens from their excursions in search 
of drones, they are immediately surrounded by their 
subjects and held prisoners for a brief period. The 
reason why the queens of first swarms are not thus 
found is, that such swarms are accompanied by old 
queens, whose impregnation is already effected. •. 


It is a well known fact that the sexual union of the 
humble bee takes place on the wing. I have frequently 
witnessed it ; and it is the same with the most of insects 
of the winged tribe ; hence analogy is strongly in favor 
of the theory of the impregnation of the queen honey 
bee as aforesaid. % ^.^ . 



Huber states that he confined the queen with a large 
number of males, and also confined her with the males 
excluded from the hives ; at the same time admitting the 
ingress and egress of the workers as usual, and in every 
case, which were numerous, the queens remained sterile. 
He confined them over a month, which was enough to 
test the question whether a queen can be fertile and not 
leave the hive. 



Huber also states, that when a queen is retarded 
twenty-one days from her birth in her impregnation, she 
then, and ever thereafter, lays drone eggs only. 

As no one has ever experimented on queens in the 
manner of the above two cases, — at least, no one having 
yet given publicity to any observation, refuting or cor- 
roborating Ruber's discovery, it is not easy to say, 
whether the last case be true or false. 

In regard to the sterility of queens that have not been 
allowed to leave their hives, there is no doubt. Their 
impregnation being effected on the wing, it follows, of 
course, that confinement with, or without males, must 
render them barren. 

That retarded impregnation does cause queens to lay 
drone eggs, is quite possible, yet the fact might not come 
under the observation of an ordinary bee-keeper in a 
century, in most cases, since nature has so amply pro- 
vided for the effectual impregnation of queens, that to 
be retarded by any natural event, is out of the question, 
except in cases of the death of a queen, at a period 
when the drones are exterminated, or so few of them 
existing as to jeopardize the impregnation of the suc- 
cessor to royalty. 

I, myself, have had a case in which drones only were 
produced, but whether it was owing to a retarded im- 
pregnation of the queen, or whether it was the produc- 
tion of fertile workers, I am unable to say positively, 



owing, unfortunately, to the destruction of the stock, by 
my own act, before the question could be decided. 

I shall' give the full details of this singular case in my 
remarks on " workers,'' as it more properly belongs to 
that class of bees. 



The workers are the smallest bees of the family. A 
worker's head is of a triangular shape, as well as that of 
the other classes, — the abdomen is connected with the 
trunk or thorax, by a small ligament, of a thread-like 
nature, and it is composed of six scaly rings, at the apex 
of which, is the sting, which is full of barbed points like 
an arrow, which can only be seen by the aid of a strong 
magnifier, and which prevents the extraction of the 
sting when darted into one's flesh, causing a portion of 
the entrails of the bee to be drawn out with it, and thus 
causing death to the insect. 

Every bee has four wings ; and on queens the num- 
ber of wings is more preceptible than on workers or 
drones. They have six feet. — The eyes are situated upon 
the upper surface of the head. — Every bee has a pair of 
antenncB, of a fine wiry flexible nature, protruding dia- 
gonally from the head, which are used as organs o^ feel- 
ing, or perhaps of smell, since a stranger-hee is known 
at once, on applying the antennae to it. 

20 miner's AMERICAN - '*' 

The antennae of the queen generally are turned or 
curved downward. — This is their natural position, and 
the inexperienced bee-keeper may know her majesty 
from this circumstance, when he is in doubt as to her 

Workers have spoon-like cavities or baskets upon 
their posterior legs, that hold the pollen or farina gath- 
ered by them. No other bee has these cavities. Work- 
ers also have a honey bag, or stomach, expressly to hold 
the gatherings of the day. It will hold about half a drop 
of honey. The bodies of bees are covered with a hairy 
down, which, through a microscope, appears like a de- 
fence o^ palisades. ; 

Wonderful are the labors of this class, and truly may 
they be called " workers," for never did industry show a 
brighter example of indefatigable perseverance, than in 
the labors of this little insect. 

The following little stanza often recurs to one's mind 
as he surveys these ever industrious workers, hurrying 
to and fro, on a bright sunny day. 

"How doth the little busy bee, . . , 

^y Improve each shining hourj 

Gathering honey all the day, 
From every opening flower." 

The workers are the architects of the association. 
They construct the cells, arrange their size and distan- 
ces, repair damages, &c., &c. They are the laborers 
of the family ; they gather the honey and farina, and 
compound the food for the young bees, and upon their 
skill and labors depend the prosperity of the colony. 

bee-keeper's manual. 21 

Who that has witnessed this class of bees, during the 
height of their harvest, has not been forcibly impressed 
with their indefatigable industry ! They sally forth be- 
fore the rising of the sun, and return when evening twi- 
light has cast her sombre mantle over the face of nature, 
laden with sweets, which but for this industrious insect, 
would be lost on the desert air. Neither the scorching 
rays of a vertical sun, nor the peltings of the storm, can 
restrain their zeal in securing to themselves life and 
prosperity, by availing themselves of every moment that 
can possibly be employed, when the fields are decked 
with the flowers that most invite them. 

They do, indeed, afford a theme worthy the attention 
of the philosopher and moralist. Man is here taught a 
lesson that should never be forgotten ; but ever be in- 
delibly impressed on his mind. The improvident and 
lazy may here learn, from the book of nature, truths that 
would lead them to fortune and prosperity, were not 
their consciences seared and callous to all lessons of 

The little bee, aware that the days of her harvest are 
few, "makes hay while the sun shines," and that Divine 
injunction, "Whatsoever thy hands find to do, do with 
all thy might," is here acted upon, and carried out to 
the letter, to the shame of man, for whose especial bene- 
fit it was given. 

To the bee, no written law can be given by their Cre- 
ator ; consequently, an instinct is given them to guide 
them in their labors ; and when the flowers are faded 
and gone, and the bleak blasts of winter flit around, she 


looks upon her loaded combs, as the reward of her toils, 
and laughs at the raging winds and pitiless storms. 

But how stands the case with man — the being who 
is made but a grade inferior to Angels ? Does he show 
himself worthy of his vocation — does he even show him- 
self equal to the little puny honey bee, in foresight of 
those evils that delay, neglect, procrastination, inaction, 
or dow^nright laziness produce ? 

For an answer, just cast your eye around. — In yon- 
der hovel is a human being clothed in rags, surrounded 
by a large family of children, who are crying for bread. 
The emaciated mother, the unwilling victim of the fa- 
ther's improvidence, is fast approaching the grave. Her 
leaky tenement has, year after year, caused the seeds of 
disease to germinate, and now friends call to console — 
to alleviate; it is too late. Ah! how is this? has this 
man had his health — has he had the use of his limbs, in 
this land of prosperity, where poverty need be known 
only in name, to be thus impoverished, and to have his 
house falling around his head ? Indeed, he has been 
as hale and hearty as the most robust among us. He 
is also an excellent workman, but he has never heeded 
the old adage, " make hay while the sun shines ;" and 
when winter comes, it finds him naked and penniless — 
his children cold and hungry, and his wife without the 
ordinary comforts of life. Would he but follow the ex- 
ample of the little bee, and from her learn wisdom, pov- 
erty would be banished from his door, and the bleak 
winds of winter would bring no terrors, and their howl 
would be music in the ears of the little fire-side group, 

bee-keeper's manual. 23 

as they sing their merry songs of contentment and hap- 


I have often seen these workers returning so late in 
the evening, in warm sultry weather, that they were 
barely able to find their respective hives ; and so eager 
are they to devote eveiy moment to their labors, that 
many of them, suffer themselves to be overtaken by the 
tempest and storm, before they take their homeward 

It may be supposed, that under such circumstances, 
storms and winds arise so suddenly, that the bees are 
taken by them unawares ; but such is not the case. 

Wishing to note particularly the return of bees from 
the fields, in the height of their harvest, and to what ex- 
tent they would remain out, on the approach of a heavy 
thunder storm, I, in the month of June last, took a sta- 
tion among my hives, on the approach of a shower, and 
minutely watched their course. It was about the mid- 
dle of the day, or noon ; the sun had been shining all 
the morning, and the bees were out in their greatest 

On the appearance of dark clouds, in the west, and 
accompanied with thunder, the bees commenced return- 
ing more than is usual in fair weather. In about a 
half an hour, the heavens were darkened by clouds, with 
a slight sprinkling of rain, and the roar of thunder shook 
the earth. At this crisis, the bees came in with a rush. 

24 miner's AMERICAN 

and a few, in the face of the approaching storm, darted 
forth to the fields again. 

This state of things lasted forty minutes, with suffi- 
cient rain to have given every bee full warning, even 
were they both blind and deaf 

Even the most distant bees, I considered within the 
reach of the rain, and I supposed, that in fifteen minutes 
from the commencement of the shower, every bee would 
have been in ; but such was not the fact. They con- 
tinued to pour in during the whole of the forty minutes ; 
then the winds commenced blowing furiously, and the 
rain fell fast ; I took an umbrella, and standing in the 
midst of the apiary, beheld the bees beating in against 
winds and rain, until the water came in such torrents, 
that a perfect sheet encompassed me ; and at this junc- 
ture, several bees on their return, finding it impossible 
to gain their hives, came under my umbrella for protec- 
tion. Ever}^ bee that was out at that crisis, must have 
been dashed to the ground, unless they sought refuge on 
the nearest thing that came in their way. 

This observation proved that bees can fly a conside- 
rable distance to their homes, while the rain literally 
pours down. Before the last heavy dash to which I re- 
fer above, 1 noticed the bees coming in very slowly in- 
deed, for the rain came down in torrents ; yet they did 
slowly make headway through it. Their speed, as they 
approached the apiary, was much slower than a man 
usually walks ; and I presume, that it would have been 
impossible for them to have proceeded much farther. 

This observation also shows how indefatigable they 

bee-keeper's manual. 25 

are, in the pursuit of their natural avocation. The 
sturdy iron-bound frames of the laborers of the adjacent 
field had taken flight, long before the bees considered it 
necessary to vacate the flowery hills and vales, as if 
those iron frames were made of salt, while the little frail 
bee, with her fragile silken wings, braved the tempest, 
and bid defiance to the driving storm ! 


Much diversity of opinion has been expressed, in re- 
gard to the sex of workers, by naturalists and apiarians ; 
and this is not the only question in dispute among them. 
The natural history, physiology, and economy of the 
honey bee, has perplexed and baffled more scientific 
men in their attempts to unveil the secrets of their na- 
ture, than any other subject whatever. As I before 
stated, much that pertains to the bee, is beyond the pale 
of man's knowledge ; and a thousand years hence, dark- 
ness and mystery will hang over this subject, and man 
will behold and wonder ; — but to fathom the secrets of 
their intuitive wisdom, he never will be able. 

The reader may possibly ask, " what benefit is it to 
know, whether the workers are males, females or neu- 
ters, so long as w^e know sufficient to enable us to man- 
age our bees with perfect success ?" 

Why, sir, so far as pecuniary advantage is concerned, 
it is of no consequence to know many things concerning 
the bee, that will occupy much of my attention in these 
pages ; but there is a curiosity extant, that is not satis- 
fied with any thing short of all the knowledge, touching 

26 miner's AMERICAN 

the nature and habits of this insect, that is attainable by 
man ; and while many will pass these pages, with a hur- 
ried glance, for those that reveal a knowledge, that 
comes home to the pocket of the reader ; saying, " why 
is this long useless expenditure of words upon queens, 
workers, drones, fecundation, sex of workers, S^c, ^c," 
others will wish for a more lengthy and elaborate trea- 
tise, on the same subject. 

The sex of workers is neither male nor female. They 
appear to be strictly a phenomenon in nature, and by 
many, are termed neuters. 


The workers approximate very nearly in their internal 
organization, to the queens, having ovaries like them, 
but not so fully developed. In their natural capacity, 
they never produce eggs ; yet it is contended, that under 
peculiar circumstances workers exist, partaking of the 
nature of queens, to a much greater extent, than in their 
ordinary state ; and that such workers lay drone eggs 
only. The most positive proof of this assertion, ever 
given to the public, so far as I have been able to learn, 
is adduced by Huber. He states, that having a hive in 
which drone eggs only were produced, and believing its 
legitimate queen to be lost, his servant caught every bee 
in the hive, examined them carefully, made them show 
their stings, in order to test their gender, as small males 
are sometimes found that very nearly resemble workers, 
which males have no sting; and he then put them into 
a glass cylinder; and so on, to the very last, and not a 

bee-keeper's manual. 27 

bee was found, except workers. Indeed, he experi- 
mented on two hives in this way, as he says ; and so 
tedious was the job, of catching and examining the bees, 
that it took thirteen days to perform the operation. 

From this experiment, he says, that he was certain 
that workers do sometimes produce drone eggs, as be- 
fore stated — in short, his servant, Beurnens, actually 
took one in the very act of laying. 

How far we can credit Ruber's statements in regard 
to this transaction, I cannot say. His hives were of the 
kind termed leaf hives, which he was enabled to open, 
hke the folds of a book ; and it is possible, that the ope- 
ration of catching the bees, may have been performed ; 
but I doubt whether it will ever be done again. 


The manner and cause of the production of workers 
that lay drone eggs, is as follows : — provided that such 
do ever exist, though I came within an ace of verifying 
the fact myself, as I shall relate. 

It is necessary here to inform the reader of the power 
of workers in forming, or producing a queen, in order 
that he may rightly understand the question. 


The queen lays but two kinds of eggs, viz : drone 
and worker eggs ; and when queens are wanted, ordi- 
nary worker eggs are laid by the queen, in cells made 
expressly for royal use, termed q^ieen cells. Here is a 



cut of a royal cell, precisely as taken from one of my 
hives : 


The queen cell is of the exact natural size and shape 
as it here appears ; but the worker cells are on rather 
too small a scale to give the tout ensemble in its regular 
proportions, but that is of little account, since the only 
object of the cut is, to illustrate the position and natural 
shape of royal cells alone. 

It will be perceived, that this cell hangs vertically; 
that is, with the mouth downward. These cells are 
generally built upon the edges of the combs ; and for 
this purpose, the bees leave one side of their combs, 
without much support along the edges, except an occa- 
sional bar, or brace, while the opposite edges are lirmly 
cemented to the hive, through their whole length. The 
distance between the combs that are intended for royal 
cells, and the side of the hive, is from a quarter to a 
half an inch ; giving just room enough for these cells, 

bee-keeper's manual. 29 

which are about the size of a peanut, and look, in shape 
and outward appearance, very much like this nut, with 
one end cut off, and the nut extracted. The bases of 
these cells, however, are broader than a peanut ; and the 
shape is somewhat like a sugar loaf, placed upon its small 
end. Royal cells are also constructed in the centres of 
combs, on the edges of passages through them. They 
who have been in the habit of cutting out combs, have 
undoubtedly perceived small orifices, about the size of a 
half dollar, through which the bees pass from one comb 
to another, and on the edges of these apertures, royal 
cells are as frequently built, as on the edges of the combs. 
Why such a large, cumbrous cell is necessary for the 
raising of queens, that are of less size than a drone, is 
very singular ! There is more material put into one of 
these royal tenements, than would be required to build a 
dozen drone cells ; and then, they must hang downward ! 
Here is one of the mysteries pertaining to bees, that 
man can never unfold. A drone cell, lengthened a little, 
would be just the thing for these young queens ; yet 
these stubborn bees will not be taught improvement ; 
they seem so attached to the customs of their fore- 



When the young queens are wanted, several of these 
cells are constructed ; say from five to twenty-five ; and 
the queen deposits worker eggs therein at intervals, so 
as to mature, at about the period that they will be wanted 

^0 miner's AMERICAN 

to go off with swarms. I have noticed some difference 
of opinion in regard to the largest number of royal cells, 
ever found in a single hive. Huber is denounced by 
Huish, for asserting that he discovered twenty-seven in 
a single hive ; and he (Huish) contends, that no hive 
ever contained at once, more than seven ; but I have 
myself, the present season, taken twenty-two from one 
hive, and seventeen from another, but they were not all 
perfect cells. There are always more or less royal cells 
that are not completed, in every case ; for, as soon as a 
certain number are so far advanced, that the young 
sovereigns are sure of being perfectly developed, the re- 
maining cells are discontinued. 

It should be borne in mind, that these royal cells 
are not completed, and then made the receptacles of the 
eggs ; but when about half constructed, they receive the 
egg ; and as the larvae* progress, the cells are completed. 
These half-constructed cells, resemble an acorn, devoid 
of the nut. , 


When the royal cells have received the eggs, and 
they become hatched out, the workers provide different 
food for the larvae from that which is fed to workers 
and drones. This food, which has been termed royal 

*Larv(E is the term given to the worms or grubs until the cells 
are sealed. From the sealing of the cells, to full development, a 
nymph, pupa or cr//5a/M ; yet the term larva, is properly applied, 
by some naturalists, during the whole period of the embryo state. 

bee-keeper's manual. 31 

jelly^ immediately changes the nature of its recipient, 
and the properties of a queen begin to be unfolded. The 
size of the cell, and its vertical position, perhaps has 
some influence and agency, in producing a royal scion ; 
but the grand elixer, is the royal jelly, as is universally 
supposed, that effects the change. 

The only man that ever pretended to have actually 
discovered this royal pap, is Huber ; for there was no- 
thing under heaven that he could not discover, through 
his assistant, Beurnens, who used " to upset the bee hives 
on the death of a member of the family /" He not only 
saw it, but tasted it, as he states. 

Huber gave it the name of royal jelly, and on giving 
his discoveries to the world, naturalists promulgated his 
theory, and many apiarians have become re-echoers of 
it. Some, indeed, do contend, that it takes a queen egg 
to produce a queen, but they are behind the age. This 
assumption will not stand a moment. I have time and 
again, proved that a worker egg will produce a queen f 
as I shall relate, at the proper time. And in regard to 
the theory of " royal jelly,'' it is quite plausible, for, if it 
be not a different food, that produces queens, ivhat can 
it be ? No man, in my opinion, knows anything more 
about this royal jelly, or whether it does or does not 
exist, than perhaps the reader, who perchance does not 
know a queen bee from a worker or d?^one ; yet the great 
and wonderful truth stands impregnable, that a different 
treatment does produce queens, and that positively, there 
is no difference in the egg used for this purpose, and 
that, from which a worker emerges ! 

dS miner's AMERICAN 

We must, then, come to the conclusion, that it is the 
food that makes the change; and we will continue to 
affirm, that it is the royal jelly, that effects the change, 
not at all fearing, that any one will ever be able to prove 
us to be in error, as it is not in the power of man, ever 
to go beyond simple conjecture on this point. 


The bees having the power to make queens at will, 
from worker eggs, it follows as a natural consequence, 
that in the case of the death of a queen, or of her loss when 
absent from the hive, which does sometimes happen', 
they can at once supply her place, provided that she left 
any eggs, or larvae less than four days old. Here we find 
one of the most wonderful provisions of nature, pertain- 
ing to the natural economy of the bee ; for, w^ere they 
not able to thus replace the loss of a queen, this insect 
would soon become extinct. 

There are seasons, however, in which the queen may 
die and leave no eggs, or larvae behind her under four 
days old; and in such cases, the family must perish, 
unless supplied with a new queen by their proprietor, 
or a piece of comb, containing eggs, or larvae of a suit- 
able age ; and in such a case, the proffered comb, if pro- 
perly attached in the hive, in a natural position, answers 
every purpose of larvae left by the queen. But such 
seasons or instances are not frequent with well peopled 
hives, for larvae may be found in such hives, to a greater 
or less extent, almost every month in the year. Even 


in the dead of winter, larvae have frequently been found 
in the centres of very strong stocks* or swarms ; and it 
appears to be thus ordained by nature, in erder to always 
admit of the bees being able to provide against the loss 
of their sovereign. In their natural state in the forest 
with an abundance of room, perhaps they never expe- 
rience the loss of a queen, without being able to replace 
her, except in cases of small swarms issuing, in which 
case, they would be liable to the same casualties of do- 
mestic swarms, until they have existed a season or two, 
and have become numerous. 


The reader now having a little insight into the man- 
ner in which queens are made, I will proceed to state 
in what manner these semi-fertile workers are supposed 
to be produced ; for, I must inform the reader, that all 
the insight that has ever yet been obtained on this sub- 
ject, is nothing more than simple conjecture and hypo- 
thesis. This is, as I have observed, " terra incognita" 
or unknown land, to the apiarian explorer, and may be 
set down as one of the unfathomable mysteries of the 
nature of the bee. 

The royal cells being constructed, or in progress of 
construction, and containing the larvae to be transformed 
into queens, and being fed on the royal jelly, as afore- 

* Every family of bees is termed a stock, after the first year of 
their existence, and a swarm during the first year or season. 



said, it is supposed that on some occasions, that the 
worker larvae, situated immediately adjoining the royal 
cells, may, either by accident, or otherwise, be fed a 
little of the royal pap, which, not being sufficient to pro- 
duce queens, and only enough to so far develop their 
ovaries, as to enable them to lay drone-eggs only. 

It is not probable, even if the above hypothesis be 
true, that workers would become sufficiently fertile to 
be able to lay both drone and worker-eggs, by being 
wholly fed on royal food, since the shape and position 
of a royal cell, has its peculiar effect upon its tenant, 
otherwise such cells would not be constructed, as bees 
do nothing without a good reason. 


I will now relate what took place under my own im- 
mediate observation, iu regard to the laying of drone- 
eggs in one of my hives. 

On examining one of my hives early the present sea- 
son, (1848) I found a swarm of last year in a very weak 
condition, not having above two or three hundred bees 
in it. How this diminution in numbers happened, or 
what the cause was, I could not imagine ; since the 
swarm was large, and in good condition apparently, last 
fall ; having filled the hive with comb, and having laid 
in an abundance of honey for winter consumption. I 
closely watched this hive, to ascertain whether any of 
the few bees it contained gathered farina ; as that fact 


would throw some light on then* condition, since where 
the queen is lost, the bees never gather this food of the 
larvee, because they have no necessity for it, while in 
that condition. I did perceive an occasional bee enter 
with pellets of farina, and I at once took it for granted, 
that the queen was among them, and that she would 
prove fertile ; but owing to the very small number of 
bees composing her family, I was aware that it would 
be very late in the season, before she would be able to 
replenish the hive in numbers, owing to the difficulty in 
generating the necessary animal heat. After watching 
during the month of May, in vain, for any apparent in- 
crease, I concluded that if the hive remained much 
longer in that condition, the moths would take posses- 
sion, and give the handful of bees therein " notice to 
quit ;" and if they should manifest any disposition to 
refuse to comply with so reasonable a requisition, a 
" writ of ejectment" would speedily follow ; and not 
wishing to have any controversies arise between my 
bees and so stubborn a creature as the moth, touching 
the right of possession, I immediately commenced cut- 
ting out a portion of the combs, in order to give the 
bees a better chance to defend themselves, in case of 
being intruded upon. 

In cutting out these combs, I discovered in one of the 
centre combs, near to the top of the hive, a piece of 
brood, about two or three inches square, which was en- 
tirely drone-hrood, I searched in vain for any trace of 
worker-brood, nor did I find a solitary worker larva, up 
to about the 20th of June, when the family was destroy^ 


ed ; but I found a small increase of drone-larvae, and the 
most of what I originally discovered, regularly matured. 
On making the discovery of drone-brood, I searched 
in vain for the queen, and being able, with the feather 
end of a quill, to almost bring every bee in sight, and 
after many attempts at her discovery, not seeing any 
signs of royalty, save the brood as before stated, I came 
to the conclusion, that I had a veritable instance of the 
fecundity of workers ! I was forced to become a dis- 
ciple of Huber, on the fertility of workers in certain 
cases, and that they lay drone-eggs only, that is, for the 
time being, until a new feature was thrown over the 
subject. About the 20th of June, I had several swarms 
issue on the same day, and unexpectedly finding myself 
without hives, I concluded that I might as well take the 
hive in question, and use it ; since it w^as out of the 
question, for it to be re-peopled by its present occupants, 
and I accordingly took it, and used it in a case where 
two swarms had clustered together. I took it just as it 
was, with its bees, honey and combs, and having put 
about half of the two swarms into another hive, I im- 
mediately put the other half into this hive, and placed 
the two about a foot apart, so that in case I missed get- 
ting a queen in either of them, the bees in the hive in 
which no queen should chance to be, would find the 
other hive easily and enter it. How great was my sur- 
prise to find that a war of extermination was immedi- 
ately waged against the few bees in the hive containing 
the drone-brood, and in half an hour, every bee that 
originally inhabited it, lay dead upon the hlanhet, upon 


which the hive was placed, and among the slain was a 
queen, perfect in size and form ! The question then 
arose, where did this dead queen come from ? If there 
had been a queen with that portion of the two swarms, 
that I had forced into this hive, such queen would then 
not have been killed by them. Had there been more 
than one queen in this portion of the swarm, then it 
would have been very natural for one to have been im- 
mediately killed by the other ; and in such case the bees 
would have remained contented with the remaining 
queen ; but in a few hours the whole of the bees left this 
hive in which the queen had lost her life, and joined the 
other half of the swarms, thus giving conclusive evidence 
that both queens of the two swarms were in the first 
hive, and consequently, the small family of bees, that I 
had considered to be without a queen, did actually pos- 
sess one, and it was her majesty that had perished with 
her subjects. 

In all cases of my experience, I had found that differ- 
ent families of bees, or swarms mix peaceably together, 
while being hived ; hence my surprise at the fight in this 
instance ; but it must have been the existence of a queen 
among them, and the treasure of honey that engendered 
so deadly a strife. 

When the bees departed from this hive, in which the 
battle had taken place, not a drop of honey remained. 
It had all been taken in their honey bags, to deposit 
wherever a permanent abode should be found. 

Huber has stated that queens are never slain by 
workers in combat, but here is an instance to the con- 


trary, of such a nature, as not to admit of a question, of 
the queen being killed in the general melee, and by the 
workers, too. 

I recently met with another instance of an attempt 
on the life of a queen by workers. During a remarka- 
able season of cold, wet and drizzly weather, that lasted 
about two weeks, some of my bees commenced robbing 
their weaker neighbors, and one day, while standing in 
front of one of these invaded hives, watching the de- 
structive strife, I beheld a queen on the ground directly 
in front of the combatants, struggling with a worker. 
The worker embraced her, with curved abdomen, en- 
deavoring to find a penetrable point, in which to plant 
its deadly sting. I seized the queen, but in my anxiety 
to save her from harm, she escaped and flew away. At 
evening, I found her in a cluster, near the entrance of 
the hive, in front of which I first discovered her. 

I mention this fact to show that workers pay no re- 
spect to royalty, when engaged in a general warfare. 
In this case, it is probable, that the queen was forced 
out of the hive, in the conflict that was raging within, 
and was passively the object of one of the robbers' ven- 
geance when discovered. I say passively, for whatever 
may be the attack upon a queen by a worker, she never 
retaliates. She never lowers her dignity sufliciently to 
return a thrust made by a subject, but, as it were, bares 
her breast and says, " slay me, if you have a heart to do 
it. I choose death rather than defence." But let queen 
be pitted against queen, and how changed the scene ! 
The modest non-resisting queen, that tamely suffers 

bee-keeper's manual. 39 

death from an unfeeling subject, now rises in her ma- 
jesty, and with eager and deadly aim, rushes to the com- 
bat — the struggle is short, one of the two soon lies in 
the last pangs of death ! 

To return to our little family, that met so untimely an 
end — the dead queen changed the aspect of the case 
materially, and I was forced to conclude, that instead of 
the drone-brood being the production of fertile workers, 
it must have been the work of a queen ; and here comes 
up the question of retarded impregnation. 

The reader will recollect, that I have stated, that 
Huber experimented on retarded impregnation, and 
that he states, that when a queen is retarded beyond 
the twenty -first day of her age, in her impregnation, 
she lays only drone-Qgg^ thereafter, during her whole 

In the foregoing case, I examined the premises thor- 
oughly, to see what ground I had for taking this latter 
assumption of Huber, as being applicable to the case be- 
fore me, and I found much to strengthen me in the be- 
lief, and in fact to render it almost certain, that it was 
an instance of retarded impregnation, beyond a reason- 
able doubt. In the first place, I found some six or eight 
royal cells in this hive, that had been constructed the 
season previous ; and since a swarm never constructs 
any royal cells the first season, unless it be in very rare 
instances of large early swarms, that throw off a swarm 
the same season, and this swarm not being an early 
one, and to my certain knowledge, not being in a con- 
dition to throw off a swarm at any time during the sea- 

40 miner's AMERICAN 

son, the question arises, why were these royal cells con- 
structed ? 

The probable solution to this query is, that sometime 
in August or September, the queen belonging to this 
hive, from some cause, was lost, and the workers avail- 
ing themselves of their power to replace her, or create 
another in her stead, constructed the royal cells as above, 
and reared a queen. This queen coming into existence, 
at a period when very few drones exist, if any at all, 
must, from that cause, have found great difficulty in 
encountering them on the wing, and hence, a retarded 
impregnation is almost certain to result to every queen, 
under such circumstances. In large apiaries, say of fif- 
teen or twenty hives, there is generally some one or two 
hives that allow a portion of the drones to survive much 
later than usual, and where such drones do exist, a 
young queen may, after many flights, succeed in her 


Huber states, that on the occasion of a young queen 
coming forth at a season of the year, after the usual 
massacre of drones, he witnessed her ineffectual flights 
in search of them, for many days ; at last she returned 
bearing evidence of success. This accords with my own 
experience in similar cases, and I must, therefore, come 
to the conclusion, that mine was a case of retarded im- 
pregnation of the queen, since every fact pertaining to 
the case, goes strongly to prove it. We account for the 


great decrease of bees thus: — the fall months of the 
season were a perfect blank in the increase of this family ; 
hence, when spring came, as a matter of course, we find 
but a very few bees alive, for the majority of all bees 
existing in the spring of the year, are brought into being 
during the fall months previous. 


Another circumstance attending the existence of fer- 
tile workers is, that they never do exist, only in cases in 
which the bees have been unsuccessful in rearing a 

When a queen comes into existence, her natural aver- 
sion, and unrelenting animosity towards any thing like 
rivalry, cause her to rush on all other queens yet in 
embryo, and such workers as have had the misfortune 
to take a sip of royal jelly, are scented out for immedi- 
ate slaughter. But when a failure in raising a queen 
takes place, these poor royal pap workers are allowed 
to exist so long as no queen is present to immolate them. 
Thus it will be seen, that the chances of such fertile 
workers coming under the observation of apiarians, is 
quite limited. 

There is much interesting information concerning 
the habits and economy of this class of bees, that can- 
not well be embraced in an especial chapter devoted to 
workers ; but such matter will be unfolded, through the 
various subjects that I shall consider essential to dis- 
cuss hereafter, in succeeding chapters. The same 


may be said of both queens and drones; yet I have 
thought it best to confine as much matter as possible, 
in separate chapters, devoted to each respective class — 
the better to guide the reader in his researches, for 
any particular information that he may wish to refer 



The drones are the largest class of bees in the family. 
Their bodies are thick, short and clumsy, and obtuse at 
each extremity. There are two descriptions of males — 
one not larger than a worker. This class of drones is 
but seldom seen. How they are produced, is a subject 
for speculation. It is probable, however, that they only 
exist, when the queen has deposited a portion of drone- 
eggs in wo7^ker-ce\\s ; the size of which will not admit 
of a full development. The common drones are as large 
as two workers. The head and trunk are covered with 
dense hairs — much more dense than on workers, or on 
the queen. Their wings are large, and extend to the 
full length of the abdomen. Drones have no sting, and 
may be handled with perfect impunity. They make a 
loud, buzzing noise when on the wing. 


The natural uses of drones have hitherto been a sub- 
iect on which the greatest contrariety of opinion has 
existed; especially in Europe. In our own country, 

44 miner's AMERICAN ^' 

those few authors who have written on the bee, have, 
as I before stated., servilely copied the endorsement of 
Huber's theory, from foreign works circulated here ; that 
is, in such treatises as have made any attempt to eluci- 
date the natural history of the bee ; consequently the 
question has not been subject to that dispute here, that 
it has been in England and on the continent. 

Huber's theory of the impregnation of the queen, has 
met with a very strong opposition in Europe, even to 
ridicule ; yet I consider him right — yes, not admitting 
of a doubt in the mind of any man, who will look into 
the subject, with a mind untrammelled by prejudice. 

The drones appear to be a superfluous legion, of no 
use at all, but rather a disadvantage. This class of the 
honey-bee, derive their name from their general lazy 
habits, spending their time in luxury, and feeding upon 
the stores gathered by the ever industrious workers. 
They collect no honey at all, for the reason, that nature 
has not provided them with honey bags, such as the 
workers possess, to contain collected sweets; neither 
have they any cavities, or baskets upon their legs, as 
workers have, to hold pollen or farina. This insect is 
the only thing known to exist in the animate creation, 
unprovided with the means of supplying itself with food 
from the boundless store-house of nature. A drone could 
not exist a day, were it deprived of the privilege of feed- 
ing on the stores of the hive already gathered. They 
are never seen to alight on any flower, or doing any 
thing to aid the prosperity of the colony. In one re-* 
spect they diflTer entirely from the workers, having the 


liberty of entering different hives with perfect impunity, 
while a worker enters any hive but its own, at the peril 
of its life. 

Now, the question is, what are these apparently use- 
less bees for? Would not our apiaries be generally 
benefitted, could we banish these lazy drones from our 
hives ? This may reasonably seem to be the case, to 
one not acquainted with the natural history of the bee ; 
but should we banish these bees from our hives, depopu- 
lation would speedily follow. 

CAUSE Of the existence of so many drones. 

However mysterious the ways of animate nature may 
appear, nothing is created in vain. Nature, in order to 
ensure her legitimate objects of fructification, is ever 
profuse, often far exceeding the positive requirements of 
the case, as we may view it; but after all, nature is 
right and we are wrong. Look, for instance, to the 
fructifying farina of the tassel of maize, that contains a 
thousand times the quantity that is necessary to give 
birth to the ears that brace each stalk around. The 
captious and precarious winds, that are commissioned 
to waft this farina to its destiny, are not to be relied 
upon ; hence the vast superabundance that nature has 
provided to render fertility sure. 

Not unlike this is the legion of drones that lazily hang 
around our hives ; and where a thousand exist, nine hun- 
dred and ninety-nine are perfectly useless, save upon the 
same principle of superabundance, as shown above. 

A 46 miner's AMERICAN 

The only object for which drones are brought into 
existence is the impregnation of the queen, and if a less 
number existed, her fecundity would be jeopardized, in 
the ratio of the decrease. 


Coition is always effected high on the wing, and when 
once effected, it is operative for an entire season — even 
during the entire life of the queen. The cavillers at 
this theory, attempt to cast ridicule on the hypothesis, 
of a single impregnation being sufficient for the natural 
life of the queen ; and, say they, " w^e admit that if your 
theory has any ground to stand upon, it is reasonable to 
suppose, that a single impregnation would suffice for one 
season, since analogy teaches that ; but how do you sup- 
pose that an impregnation this spring, effects the queen 
at her next spring laying ; since the winter months are 
a season of barrenness with her, and certainly no man 
in his senses would suppose that the coition of the year 
before, could possibly have any influence on her at that 
period ! You may as well say, that the dung-hill fowl 
has no need of the male after the first impregnation, to 
render her eggs productive during her whole life !'' 

All this is reasonable logic, but it avails nothing in 
the case before us, since there is so much in the history 
of the bee, that has no analogous bearing with any other 
similar matter in animate nature, that we cannot rest 
any theory solely upon such a basis. 

We must, and do confess, that if any positive proof 
can be adduced, showing that impregnation is not ef- 


fectualj even during the natural life of the queen, then 
the theory of impregnation with the drones on the wing 
is untenable. But such proof cannot be adduced — on 
the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable, that the queen 
should never lose the virtue of a primary coition, be- 
cause there is seldom, or never, a total cessation of lay- 
ing in the strongest families. I contend that in every 
strong and healthy family of bees, brood may be found 
every month in the year, and that the ovary of the 
queen is never wholly void of the fecundating principle, 
after once being fully impregnated. I do not say that 
brood may be found in every hive, because half of the 
hives in existence at the present time, are not in that 
condition that nature intended a family of bees to be in. 

There have been so many tinkers at work, of late 
years, in forcing bees out of their natural habits, that it 
would not be surprising if the whole race of bees should 
become extinct, before the beginning of the next cen- 
tury. Nature so intended a family of bees, that a suf- 
ficient body of them should always be together, to be 
able to generate a natural animal heat even in the dead 
of winter ; and such families, having a healthy queen, will 
seldom or never be wholly void of brood in their tene- 
ments. I do not suppose or contend, that in the winter 
season, the bees are breeding so as to make any mate- 
rial accession to their numbers, even in a state of the 
greatest prosperity, but a very few larvae may be found 
in the coldest weather, in many strong families. 

But what are we to do with those families that are 
weak, and in which the queens discontinue laying in 

48 miner's AMERICAN 

the fall, and do not commence again until the following 
spring? Such queens have no possible opportunity to 
have commerce with the drones, and yet they are fer- 
tile. Here is undoubtedly a cessation of ovi-positing, 
for some four months. Does the impregnation of the 
spring previous, operate in this case ? It unquestion- 
ably does, however strange it may appear. I look upon 
the question in this light : — that the germ of the ovary, 
after having been fructified, never wholly loses the effi- 
cacy of coition, and though there be a cessation of lay- 
ing, yet the germinating principle is never lost, but 
rather lies dormant, until the genial warmth of spring 
arouses it to action. 

If the foregoing premises be fallacious, let us have 
a proof of its fallacy. They who deny this theory, 
do not pretend to adduce any theory at all, but rather 
suffer the case to go by default. 


Some apiarians, however, contend that the drones fruc- 
tify the eggs as fast as laid, by some means that they can- 
not well explain, and this is their sole use ; but when 
asked how the eggs that are laid in the spring, before 
any drones exist, become fructified, they acknowledge 
their inability to answer. Thus is this question beset 
with difficulties that will probably remain as long as 
time lasts. 

The time when drones appear, as well as the time 
when they disappear, strongly shows that their use can 
be no other than the fructification of queens. If their 


use were for the various purposes that have been ascribed 
to them, such as fructifying the eggs — feeding the lar- 
vae — sitting on the eggs — producing the necessary heat 
in the hive, for maturing the brood in due season, &c., 
how is it, that the brood is regularly perfected, when not 
a solitary drone exists ? In the spring and fall, we find 
the brood going through the different stages, to perfect 
development ; but no drones exist at that • time ; hence 
it is time lost to argue this question, with those who ad- 
vance so unreasonable positions. 

I consider the above uses ascribed to drones perfectly 
chimerical ; rather exciting a smile of contempt, that so 
palpable errors should be promulgated at this late day, 
by men professing a scientific knowledge of the nature 
and economy of the bee. 

Another gross error is promulgated, and confidently 
believed, in many parts of Europe, and especially Poland, 
in regard to the uses of drones, which is, that they are 
especially and solely the " water carriers'' of the family ! 
I have a Polish work on bees before me, making this as- 
sertion, as gravely as if the author were promulgating a 
well known truth, that admits of no refutation, or even 
question of its accuracy. This, as well as the foregoing 
uses of drones, are the visionary fallacies of bee-keepers 
of old times — many centuries ago ; and which, with 
numerous others, as wild and ridiculous as the ignorance 
and superstition of the times could engender, still exist 
to a great extent, among the bee-keepers of every coun- 
try. It were a Herculerian task to eradicate these su- 
perstitious traditions — sooner would I attempt to civilize 

60 miner's AMERICAN 

and educate the Hottentot of Africa, than to attempt to 
unlearn the unread bee-keepers of our country, of all 
their whims and traditionary notions, respecting the 
honey-bee. Their knowledge of this insect is rated by 
the length of time that bees have been kept in the family ; 
and that man who dates a family possession through 
several generations, would be a dangerous person to ex- 
postulate with on the impropriety of his management, 
for, it were ten chances to one, that we should receive 
a forcible illustration of the strength of his arguments^ 
in the way of ejectment from his premises. 


Huish relates an instance of his being introduced 
to a genus of this species, who had kept bees a long 
time, and who supposed that he was the veritable 
" Prince of apiarians ;" and on some improvement being 
suggested by him, followed and backed by argument, he 
was politely shown the way to the street, in so signifi- 
cant a manner, that it would have been rashness to have 
delayed the parley. • .. ' '■' - 

Nothing will excite the ire of these gentry so much 
as to question their knowledge of the true science of 
bee-management. In consequence of this fact, I have 
ever avoided any controversy with people of this de- 
scription ; and on a recent tour through the State of 
New York, I made it a point to call on every bee-keeper 
in my route, that I could visit conveniently, merely to 
gratify a curiosity that I felt, to see how they generally 
managed bees. I elicited their management by simple 

bee-keeper's manual. 51 

questions, and they generally took great pains to give 
me all the information in their power ; for I never ven- 
tured to play the teacher, but humbly and civilly re- 
ceived instruction from them, such as they were able to 
impart, being a stereotype of the management that was 
in vogue centuries ago, to a great extent. 

I had the pleasure of meeting with many apiarians, 
who have not despised to read and learn. One gentle- 
man opened the chamber of one of his hives, and to my 
surprise, drew forth several volumes on the management 
of bees, which he was accustomed to study, under the 
balmy shade of the surrounding trees. I found, on the 
whole, a spirit of inquiry abroad on the subject, and 
many had been the willing victims in the purchase of a 
variety of patent hives — not one of which answers the 
purpose, as recommended ! 

One gentleman said that he would give a large sum 
of money, if his bees were out of a lot of patent hives, 
and back in his old-fashioned boxes ; and I found the 
same desire prevalent among almost every one, who had 
embarked in patents, to any great extent of time. 


Dr. Bevan says, " the drones make their appearance 
about the end of April, and are never to be seen after 
the middle of August, except under very peculiar cir- 

In my experience, I have found that the drones do 
not appear, to any great extent, until the latter part of 
May ; and the general massacre takes place in July, and 

62 miner's AMERICAN 

is continued through August. 1 have this day (August 
23d, 1848) seen many drones about my hives, and still 
under no "peculiar circumstances." 

The great slaughter has generally been consummated 
among the tenants of my apiary ; yet scattering drones 
are found here and there that have escaped an unnatu- 
ral death. I am fully aware of the " peculiar circum- 
stances," to which Dr. Bevan refers, but I think that 
author is in error, when he says, that drones are never 
to be seen after the middle of August, unless under pe- 
culiar circumstances. He should have put it one month 

It will be seen that the appearance of the great body 
of the drones is coeval with swarming, and their disap- 
pearance as a body, when the swarming season is ter- 
minated. Now, admitting that their sole use, is the im- 
pregnation of the young queens, that issue with the 
swarms, — is it possible for them to appear at a more 
appropriate period, or leave at a season that would be 
better for the prosperity of the colony? Since they 
must live on the stores gathered by the workers, they 
should not appear before the time of actual requirement; 
and when their services can be dispensed with, they 
should not remain a day to consume the food that is 
gathered with so much toil and industry. Man, with 
all his wisdon, could not better this wonderful operation 
of nature ! Had I the direction of the production of 
drones, I should say, " let them appear in force from the 
20th of May to the 1st of June" — precisely the time 
that they do appear. On the first week in July, I should 


say ' depart" — ^just the time that the massacre is com- 
menced. On the 6th of July, I discovered the first at- 
tempt to expel the drones, this season. Thus, nature 
has ordained this matter ; and blind indeed, must he be, 
who can resist the almost self-evident truth, of the legi- 
timate uses of drones. 

" But," say the cavillers, " why should a thousand or 
more drones be brought into existence, when one is suf- 
ficient, according to this theory." — It is a true adage, 
that " none are so blind as those who won't see." Thus 
it is, in the present case. Now, the queen cannot pos- 
sibly become fertile, without meeting a drone on the 
wing, in the air. This is her nature, and she may be 
confined with thousands, yet it is utterly impossible for 
her, to be fructified by their presence. Then, since she 
must go forth, and that too, in the regions above, far 
out of the sight of man, to effect her object ; she must 
not go in vain. 

The life of a queen is too valuable to be jeopardized 
in fruitless sally in gs, subject to be caught by the fowls 
of the air, or to mistake her domicil, on her return, and 
enter another and perish. A young swarm is solely de- 
pendent on the safety of their queen ; and if she perish, 
teri thousand subjects die with her. 

The great Creator of animate nature foresaw all this, 
in his infinite wisdom, and wisely created so many 
drones, that the queen could not well fail, to come with- 
in the circle of their flight, soon after leaving her hive, 
and thus render her fertility sure, on her first exit. 


, t ' 


The drones have received a command from the mouth of 
Him who created them, to " go forth to meet their royal 
mistress;" and for five thousand years, this mandate has 
been implicitly complied with. Time may roll on, yet 
these drones, faithful to the Omnipotent hand that gave 
them instinct, will continue to take their serial flights, 
as regularly as the sun rises and sets. ,•: - r'r 

Perhaps the reader may not have been impressed with 
the circumstance of the drones, at a certain hour of 
the day, coming forth from their hives, and taking their 
flight heavenward ! This is a singular truth. Gene- 
rally from one to three o'clock, P. M., on every fair day, 
a loud buzzing noise may be heard among the bees. A 
great commotion ensues, and one is often mistaken, sup- 
posing that a swarm is about to issue. This is the gen- 
eral egress of the drones. They ascend in horizontal 
circles, in an oblique direction ; and after being absent 
an hour or more, return to their hives. This flight 
takes place daily; and since the drones have no possible 
cause for leaving the apiary, to gather food, does not 
their periodical flights, in this manner, show conclusively ^ 
that nature has bidden them to go forth to meet the 
queen? Now mark the harmony of the arrangement! 
The queens, by the same power of instinct, leave their 
hives about the same time that the drones take their 
exit ; or generally, a short period before, and seldom re- 
turn unimpregnated. 

Huber says, that at eleven o'clock, A. M., he witness- 

bee-keeper's manual. 55 

ed a queen go forth ; but I have never yet seen one 
sally out at that hour. 


That all these things should be thus made to harmon- 
ize, for the well-being of the bee, is apparent. How 
easy a thing it would be, for a queen to lose her way, 
on her return to her hive, if she had to go forth many 

In her flight, every object that presents itself is new, 
save what may have been noticed by her on the day of 
swarming. She sees many hives of the same color and 
size, and it is only by the most astonishing sagacity, that 
she is enabled to escape the vicissitudes of a single flight ; 
and were she compelled to go out daily, for any consi- 
derable time, not one family in ten would escape de- 
struction ; for to be without a queen, is certain ruin, 
when no eggs or larvae exist in the hive. 


Huish is a great advocate of the drones being for the 
purpose of fecundating the eggs, instead of the queens. 
Hear him : — " If by any accident or untoward event, a 
hive be deficient in drones, the fecundation of the eggs 
of the queen does not take place, and consequently, no 
swarms are produced." 

Whether to impute the foregoing delusion to igno- 
rance, or to a disordered brain, I am at a loss. Who 
does not know, that the eggs are fecundated in March 

56 miner's AMERICAN 

and April, long before a drone exists ? It makes no dif- 
ference at all with swarming, whether drones exist or 
not, as every ordinary bee-keeper knows. 

Huish also says, — " When a hive swarms, a number 
of drones follow the emigrants, in the proportion of the 
number of working bees." 

In regard to this point, it is true, that a portion of the 
drones in the hive go out with the swarm ; the numbers 
varying, according to the number of drones in it — a 
mere matter of chance. They go with the swarms 
from instinct, so as to divide their maintenance more 
equally among the colony. 


I should only be adding mystery to the subject, were 
I to fill my pages with the conflicting theories and decla- 
rations of Huish, Huher, Bevan, Shirach, De Reaumer, 
Riems, De Braw, Swammerdam, Hunter, Dunbar, But- 
ler, Thorley, Wildman, Keys, Bonner, and a score of 
other foreign writers on the bee ; and I think I study 
the interest of the bee-community, for whom I write, by 
thus doing. 

Dr. Bevan's work is almost entirely made up of the 
conflicting views and theories of difl?erent authors ; and 
when one has perused it, he is about as much in the 
dark, on many important points, as before reading it. 

It is my aim to give a straightforward treatise, with- 
out vacillating to the right or to the left, to follow this 
or that author ; but to unfold the truth as it is, and 


which I have demonstrated, from personal observations. 
I cannot, however, suffer the fallacies of some of the 
above authors to go without comment, but I shall be as 
brief with them as possible. 


Huish further says, — " Huber says, that he has seen 
drones in a hive in January, and Mr. Duncan supposes, 
that they were allowed to remain in the hive, on account 
of the additional heat which they would generate in 
winter, or perhaps, they may be preserved for the pur- 
pose of pairing a new queen. Those suppositions, how- 
ever, of Mr. Duncan have not a tittle of truth to stand 
upon ; not a drone was ever seen in a hive in Janum^y." 

In this case, Huber is right, and Huish shows himself 
very ignorant on the subject that he discusses. 

It does not admit of a question, that occasionally a 
few drones are allowed to winter over, in some hives. 
What these drones are thus allowed to live for, is a 
question that will never be answered, so as to cover the 
whole ground. It is not for the additional heat that Mr. 
Duncan speaks of, because their numbers are so small, 
that such a thing is out of the question. A hive is 
never seen with d^full complement of drones in the win- 
ter. A dozen or so, is the most that I ever heard of, 
and four is the most that I ever found myself. 

Last spring, in the month of March, I saw four drones 
issue from one of my hives. — It is true, I never saw any 
in January ; but those that I saw in March, were in ex- 


istence in January, and if I had driven out the bees, I 
should have seen them, of course. .,,'> I 

The reason why drones are sometimes left is, that the 
family is without a queen, or that the condition of the 
family is such, as to possibly require them to impregnate 
a new sovereign. If the queen is not in a healthy and 
sound condition, the drones, or a few of them, are al- 
ways allowed to exist. This is right — who could order 
better? tx-C:/^:^ h^^ ^■:';u:f.;;r .^i ,^.: .- c- .y/v?,-. 

In case of the death of the queen, how important are 
these drones ! In case of the absence of a queen at the 
time of the general massacre, and no larvae are left to 
replace her, the drones are reserved as being needful, in 
case of the bees being put in possession of a new queen, 
on which they can make no calculation by any natural 
means ; yet instinct teaches them to preserve the drones, 
and trust in Providence for a queen. 

It may be set down as a fact, that when drones are 
found long after the general extermination, something 
is wrong, and needs the attention of the apiarian ; but 
in some cases, it defies the knowledge of man, to con- 
ceive why they are left. In the case in which I saw 
the four drones, mentioned above, the family was in the 
most perfect prosperity. The queen was very fertile, 
and I cannot say why the drones were permitted to 
winter over, unless something was amiss with the queen 
in the fall, of which she recovered before spring. 

For the purpose of impregnating a new queen, a few 
drones would render the act somewhat precarious, but 
I presume that instinct teaches them in every emergen- 

bee-keeper's manual. 59 

cy, to so act that the end will be effected, for which 
nature designed them. 


It is not necessary, that the drones should appear in 
force, until the second swarms issue ; for the reason, 
that the old queen goes off with the first swarm. This 
is another point, that has also been disputed ; yet it is a 
fact, that can never be subverted. This is a circum- 
stance, that may well excite our admiration. 

Nature is ever careful of the perpetuity of her species 
of the animate creation ; and in the case of the bee, she 
is not lacking in that w^onderful chain of circumstances 
that produces one harmonious result. 

In order to effect this object, viz : the sallying forth 
of the old queens with the first swarms, nature implanted 
an implacable enmity between all queens, from the mo- 
ment of their existence ; and even so far, as to force the 
mother to destroy her own progeny, before it emerges 
from the cells. 

A young queen, that has not been out of her cell, 
more than five minutes, rushes upon her sisters in roy- 
alty, and wrests them from their tenements, while yet 
in the pupa state, but for the restraint held over her by 
the workers, who stand in the defence of their young 
sovereigns, and when a queen approaches, with deadly 
aim, they seize her, and hold her a prisoner. This nat- 
ural instinctive hatred of rivalry in queens, is the basis 
upon which the rationale of swarming rests. 

60 miner's AMERICAN 

In order to arrive at the point, that I had in view, viz : 
to illustrate the fact of the old queen going off with the 
first swarm, as briefly as possible, and not run into a 
chapter on swai^ming at this place, I will simply state, 
why the old queen does thus leave the hive with a pri- 
mary swarm. 

As soon as the young queens* cells are sealed, or a 
few days thereafter, say about eight or nine days before 
the development of the oldest among them, the natural 
hatred of the rivals, that she has produced, or at least, 
deposited the eggs in the royal cells for their production, 
is so great, that sooner than remain to encounter them, 
she quits the hive, and in her exit, takes a portion of the 
family with her. If she were to remain in the hive un- 
til one or more of the young queens should emerge from 
the cells, she would, from her superior strength an^ com- 
mand over the workers, fall upon such queens, in despite 
of the efforts of the workers to prevent it, and slay them, 
without the least compunction or mercy. Nor would 
she stop there — if any queens yet remained in the em- 
bryo state, she would, in her rage, tear off the seals of 
their cells, and drag them out, as if they were the dead- 
liest enemies to her race. Thus would there be no 
swarming, since the old queen would not go off, and 
leave the family without a sovereign, and she will spare 
none, when once her appetite for slaughter has been 
whetted. There is much of interest that may be said 
on the general circumstances of swarming, which I shall 
endeavor to lay before my readers hereafter. 

bee-keeper's manual. 61 

drones said to die immediately after coition. 

A remarkable circumstance is said to occur to drones, 
in their amours with the queen ; which is, that death 
ensues immediately after coition ! Since it is impossible 
that man should ever witness the act of connection be- 
tween the drones and queens, it is a very difficult question 
to determine, whether the drone dies immediately or not. 
However, we have analogy, it is said, in some of the 
insect tribes, to corroborate this alleged fact. 


The general or usual time that the massacre of the 
drones takes place is, as I have already observed, in the 
month of July. There may, however, be instances of 
their being expelled in June, say the last of the month ; 
and there may also be instances of their being allowed 
to exist until August, before any expulsion takes place. 
The time of massacre or expulsion is earlier or later, 
according to the latitude of the location of the apiary. 
For instance, the expulsion may take place in the lati- 
tude of the city of New York, two weeks sooner than 
in the latitude of Buffalo or Boston. 

Strange as it may appear, the manner in which the 
extermination of drones is effected by the workers, is a 
matter of contention among the apiarians and naturalists 
of Europe. Some assert that the bees use their stings, 
while othei's contend that the drones are simply disabled, 
and then cast out of the hives. 

Huish says, — " It is the opinion of some naturalists, 

6^ miner's AMERICAN 

that the bee kills the drone by means of its sting, but in 
the many hundred times that we have witnessed the 
destruction of drones, we never yet observed that the 
bee made use of its sting." 

Huber is an advocate of their being stung to death ; 
he says : — " On the 4th of July, we saw the workers 
actually massacre the males in six swarms, at the same 
hour, and with the same peculiarities. The glass table was 
covered with bees full of animation, rushing upon the 
drones as they came from the bottom of the hive ; they 
seized them by the antennae, the limbs, and the wings, 
and after having dragged them about, or, so to speak, 
after quartering them, they killed them by repeated sting- 
ings directed between the rings of the belly." 

The truth is, that both the way of Huish and also that 
of Huber, is practised by the bees. In some instances, 
I have noticed that scarcely any were stung, but the 
bees cut the cords of their wings, and then expelled them 
from the hives. Drones that have been treated in this 
manner, may be seen running to and fro upon the 
ground, every now and then making a fruitless attempt 
to rise on the wing. On other occasions, when the pa- 
tience of the workers has become exhausted, they seize 
the drones, and curving their abdomen in close contact 
with their bellies, continue to make their deadly thrusts, 
between the wings, until successful. In this case, the 
drones may be seen running around the hive, upon the 
stand, carrying the workers along with them, which never 
give up their hold until their object is effected. The 
workers do seem to have some mercy at times, for long 

bee-keeper's manual. 63 

and enduring is their patience on most occasions, in en- 
deavoring to drive the drones away, without doing them 
any bodily harm. In such cases, the drones quit their 
usual abode and take refuge in other hives, where, in 
turn, they meet with the same treatment ; finding every 
hive too hot for them,' they return to their original 
homes, w^hen the workers say, if I may be allowed the 
term, as the old man did to the boy who was in one of 
his trees stealing apples. — The old man did not wish to 
injure the lad, if he could get him out of the tree by the 
use of moderate means, so he threw a few small tufts of 
grass at him, and told him that it was wrong to steal 
apples, and desired him to come down, but this, as the 
story reads, " only made the young sauce-box laugh." — 
" Well, well," said the old man, " if neither gentle words 
nor tufts of grass will do, I'll try what virtue there is in 
stones, 4^c." Now the position of these drone-bees is 
not wholly dissimilar to the above case. The workers 
wish to get rid of them, indeed, ?nust get rid of them. 
They at first push or drive them off* the floor-board by 
gentle means ; finding gentle means ineffectual, they say, 
" let us try what virtue there is in stings." 

The drones, in rushing for shelter from hive to hive, 
find the best accommodation in those hives in which 
recent swarms have been placed, and which have not yet 
been filled with combs. In such hives, they can enter at 
evening when the bees are clustered above, and congre- 
gate on the floor, or bottom-board, huddled together like 
a flock of sheep, not daring to venture up into the hive. 
In this manner many nights are passed during the heat 

64 miner's AMERICAN 

of the conflict, and as soon as day dawns, they are again 
driven out to wander about from hive to hive. In cases 
of artificial swarms being; made, in which the queen is 
not developed, the bees in such hives give the drones a 
welcome reception ; for the reason that they are abso- 
lutely necessary to their prosperity. I had a number of 
swarms of this kind this season, when the persecution 
of the drones took place, and on raising the hives in the 
evening, several hundred drones were found on the bot- 
tom-board, as before stated ; and it is not unfrequent, 
that the drones perish from hunger while in this situa- 
tion. I found two hundred drones dead one morning, 
in one of my hives, in which an artificial swarm had 
been placed, all lying precisely as they were the previous 
evening, with their heads towards the centre. In other 
hives I found many dead drones in the same manner, on 
different occasions. It is very singular, that every drone 
in this hive should perish at the same time, but such is 
the fact ; yet not a hair of their bodies had been dis- 
turbed by the workers. When I saw this circumstance 
at first, I was led to believe that some unnatural agency 
had caused their death ; but subsequently finding them 
dead in the same way in several hives, I attributed the 
cause to starvation. It was natural to suppose, that this 
was the cause, since the unremitting warfare made on 
them generally, gave them no opportunity to partake of 
any food ; for no sooner did one enter a hive, than he 
was instantly ejected ; and the hives in which I found 
them dead, had not a drop of surplus honey, owing to 
the unfavorable weather at, and before the period of 


their persecutions. Had a part of their number been 
dead, — some dying, and others Uvely, I should not con- 
sider it as a singular case ; but every bee was dead, and 
in precisely the upright sitting posture, in which they 
had arranged themselves at evening ! 

There is, in the circumstances attending the destruction 
of drones, much to excite our curiosity and surprise-much 
to reflect on pertaining to the instinctive agency that is 
brought into action with the workers, at the period when 
further swarming is known to them not to take place ; 
and the intuition that produces a concert of action, and 
steels their consciences to all feelings of kindred affec- 
tion in their merciless ejectment of ifellow bees, whose 
agency has been no less important to the welfare of the 
community, than that of the executioners themselves, — 
all of which conspires to elicit the admiration of man, 
and causes him to exclaim, " verily the wisdom of nature 
is past finding out !" 

One or two points more, and I have done with drones. 
It has been frequently asserted, that drones have been 
seen to effect their amours with the queens in the hive, 
or in tumblers where they had been placed for the pur- 
pose of experimenting with them ; but the evidence has 
never been adduced, in so strong a shape, as to be en- 
titled to credence. One thing is certain, which is, that 
no person ever confined a queen /7'o??2 hirth, either with 
or without drones, that proved fertile. This has often 
been tried, but no queen has ever been productive, until 
she was at liberty to leave the hive, consequently, I con- 
sider that the question ought to be forever set at rest, 

66 ' - mixer's AMERICAN 

that tlie imjjregnation of the queens is exterior to the 
hive, and of course while on the wing. 

There are two kinds of drones that may sometimes 
be seen. I refer to a small black drone that occasion- 
ally appears, differing from the ordinary drone, only in 
color and size. The difference in color niay not, in 
every case, be very perceptible ; yet they are generally 
of a darker hue than the larger drones. This kind of 
drone is supposed to be bred in those cells that immedi- 
ately connect the full-sized drone with the worker-cells. 
On inspection, it will generally be found, that a tier or 
two of cells exist between the drone and w^orker- cells, 
of an intermediate size ; and the queen would very na- 
turally be liable to deposit drone eggs in them ; and in 
consequence of the size of the cell, the drone has not 
room for the natural expansions of his body, and conse- 
quently is of less size. :; ■..>....., 

This is undoubtedly the true solution of the question ; 
for it is a well-known fact, that a drone-egg may be put 
into a worker-cell, by any apiarian, having an observa- 
tory hive for experimental purposes, and that it will be 
nursed by the bees precisely as a worker is treated, and 
a small drone will be the issue. On the other hand, a 
worker-egg or larva, being placed in a drone-cell, comes 
forth an ordinary worker, not a whit the larger for the 
capaciousness of its tenement. 

It has been said, that drones caress and treat the 
queen of the hive with great attention and fondness; 
but those who have made this assertion, are generally 
the advocates of the impregnation of the queen by the 

bee-keeper's manual. 67 

drones within the hive, and consequently find it con- 
venient to make out as plausible a story as the case will 
admit of; but they state, what is not a fact. If the 
thousand or more drones of a hive, each felt a natural 
affection for the queen, she would be so harrassed, that 
she would not be able to attend to her natural duties. 
The drones pay not the least regard to a queen, any 
more than to a worker. They remain almost motion- 
less in the centre of the hive, until the middle of the day, 
when instinct teaches them to depart, as I have already 
related. This is a wise enactment of nature, in order 
to preserve harmony within the hive. But no sooner 
does the drone ascend in his serial flight, than the in- 
stinct of his nature is developed, and he then manifests 
a desire to meet his royal mistress. 

It is with reluctance that I feel myself compelled to 
draw my remarks to a close, on this subject, which I 
consider one of the deepest interest in the history of the 
bee, to make room for other matter of importance ; and 
if at any time in the progress of this work, 1 shall fail 
to meet the reader's wishes, in the description of any 
branch of my subject, on the score of general details, I 
trust I shall be excused, since the subject, in all its vari- 
ous phases and bearings, is too vast for an ordinary 
volume like this. 



The queen commences laying as soon as tne genial 
warmth of spring opens. If the weather be very mild, 
she may commence as early as February, but generally 
in March and April. She does not, however, com- 
mence her " great laying," as it has been termed, until 
about the first of May. At this period, she deposits 
from 100 to 200 eggs per day, and as it takes just twenty 
days for a worker to emerge from its cell, fully devel- 
oped, reckoning the time from the day of laying the egg, 
it follows that all eggs laid on the 1st of May, will pro- 
duce perfect bees on the 21st of May. 

For a period of about ten years, my bees have not 
generally swarmed before the first week in June ; and 
the second swarms have issued about the I2th or 15th 
of June ; consequently, those bees that went off with 
second swarms, must have been produced from eggs de- 
posited about the 20th of May, since a bee is able to 
leave the hive on the first or second day of its leaving 
the cell. 



Dr. Bevan says, " the laying of drone-eggs, which is 
called the great laying, usually commences at the end 
of April, or the beginning of May." 

The great laying of drone-eggs is always after the 
laying of worker-eggs, consequently, I think Dr. Bevan 
has put the laying of drone-eggs too early, but different 
climates affect the laying in some measure, and perhaps 
in England the great laying takes place somewhat ear- 
lier than in this country. The bees, of course, have in 
most cases of swarming, been in existence several days, 
yet in cases of first swarms, not over a week, and less 
time in after swarms, and some bees go off" the day of 
their leaving the cells. The appearance of drones takes 
place in the latter part of May, and in some instances, 
a few appear by the 15th of May; but I have never 
found them in large numbers, before about the general 
swarming season, viz : the first week in June, and since 
it requires twenty-four days for drones to mature from 
the egg, the great laying of drone-eggs must take place 
about the 10th of May, in the latitude of New York. 

I observed that the laying of drone-eggs always takes 
place after the laying of worker-eggs, which is a fact ; 
yet when the laying of drone-eggs is over, the queen 
immediately resumes the laying of worker-eggs, and at 
the time of her going off* with a first swarm, she is ready 
to proceed with the laying of worker-eggs for some days, 
when she again commences the laying of drone-eggs ; 
but not so extensively as at first. 

70 " miner's AMERICAN 


There is a relation existing between the commence- 
ment of laying drone-eggs and the construction of royal 
cells, worthy of notice. 

When the queen has discharged her ovary of its bur- 
den of worker-eggs, then she is aware that she will com- 
mence the laying of drone-eggs ; for, be it known, that 
the two kinds of eggs are germinated in perfectly dis- 
tinct and separate bodies, though no organic separation 
exists in the formation of the ovary, as has ever yet been 
discovered. How she knows the fact, that her worker- 
eggs are exhausted, and that for a few days, she can pro- 
duce drone-eggs only, is not for me to say ; yet she does 
know that fact, and the workers know it also ; for no 
sooner does this crisis arise, than they at once set them- 
selves to constructing drone-cells ; provided, that they 
be not already constructed, and they build them as fast 
as the queen requires them, and stop with her termina- 
tion of laying this kind of egg. ' r- 

The secret relation between the laying of drone-eggs, 
and building royal cells is this. The royal cells are al- 
ways commenced on the occasion of drone laying, when 
they are commenced at all. It seems to be a signal for 
the workers to commence this work ; yet, if the hive 
be large, and only partly filled with combs, not a royal 
cell will be fabricated. The reason of this is evident, 
because the bees well know, that they will not have a 
bee to spare in swarming ; for all their increase will be 

bee-keeper's manual. 71 

wanted at home to complete the labors of then' own do- 
micile. The bees fully understand their business in all 
its various branches. No hive ever yet threw off a 
swarm that was not full of bees. 

I say, that my bees generally swarm during the first 
week in June ; yet I have had numerous swarms issue 
in May; and on one occasion, a swarm in the early 
part of April, which I considered a very remarkable 

My general remarks on the subject of swarming, with 
its attendant circumstances, must be reserved for an 
especial chapter. 


After impregnation, the queen begins to lay, in about 
forty-eight hours. Huber says forty-six, but I have 
found it to be full forty-eight in most cases, in which 
I have tested the question. There is no use in being so 
very particular as to the hour and minute. No man 
will care a fig whether it be two hours sooner or later. 
A description of the operation of laying is correctly 
given by Mr. Duncan, an English apiarian. 

Mr. D. says ; — " In the operation of laying, which we 
have a thousand times witnessed, the queen puts her 
head into a cell, and remains in that position a second 
or two, as if to ascertain whether it is in a fit state to 
receive the deposit. She then withdraws her head, 
curves her body downwards, inserts her abdomen into 
the cell, and turns half round on herself; having kept 
this position for a few seconds, she withdraws her body, 

•72 miner's AMERICAN - 

having in the meantime laid an egg, The egg itself, 
which is attached to the bottom of the cell, by a gluti- 
nous matter, with which it is imbued, is of a slender, 
oval shape, slightly curved, rather more pointed in the 
lower end than in the other." 


The egg remains three days before it bursts its integu- 
ment, and becomes a worm, or larva ; that is, in natural 
heat of from 60 to 70 degrees of Fahrenheit, and in 
colder circumstances the time may be prolonged, even 
to a perfect suspension of vitality for a long period ; and 
then, on being subjected to the usual heat, the develop- 
ment takes place in the natural way. 


After the hatching of the eggs, which is effected solely 
by the natural heat of the bees in the hive, generated 
by the workers, the larvae are fed from four to six days, 
according to the heat within the hive, and the cells are 
then sealed over by the workers, by making numerous 
rings of wax, commencing at the outside, and finishing 
at the centre. When the larvae are sealed over, they 
commence weaving around themselves a cocoon, or 
shroud, which requires about thirty-six hours, and from 
this period until their perfect development, they are called 
pupcB, nyjnphs, or chrysalis. The covering, or seals of 
drone-cells are quite convex, resembling a half pea in 
rotundity. The convexity of worker-cells is much less, 
— almost fiat ; and the seals of honey-cells are concave ; 
curving inwardly. 

bee-keeper's manual, 7S 

period of development, etc. 

The period of development of the different classes of 
bees is as follows, viz : — 

Queens from the egg, 16 days. 
Drones " " " 24 " 
Workers " " " 20 " 

The formation of queen-cells, as 1 have stated, takes 
place on the occasion of the great laying of drone-eggs 
in May ; the manner of the construction of which is 
pretty well defined at page 28, The construction of 
these cells takes place about the 20th of May, and con- 
sequently the young queens are ready to go off with 
swarms in the early part of June. 


Various are the statements in regard to the ordinary 

number of bees in a hive, and the number of bees that 

a single queen usually produces in a single season. As 

regards the number of bees in a hive, it depends much upon 

whether it be a large or small hive, and whether any 

swarms have issued from it. Some queens are much 

more fertile than others, as is the case with the female 

portion of all animated nature. I suppose the following 

statement of what an ordinary queen annually produces, 

to be as near the truth, as we can well get at : 

Bees in a first swarm, .... 6,500. 

" in a second " .... 4,500. 

" remaining in the parent hive, 8,000. 

" produced in the first swarm, 6,000. 



In the foregoing calculation, I have made an allowance 
of 2,000 bees, as being in the parent hive, on the opening 
of spring ; and consequently, 10,000 is the number I 
compute, as belonging to the parent hive, after the issue 
of the second swarm. The above aggregate of 25,000 
bees from one queen in a single season is moderate. 
If we take into consideration the number of bees pro- 
duced by the queen in the second swarm, and also that 
of the queen left in the parent hive, both of which are 
the indirect production of the parent queen, through her 
own progeny, we should then swell the grand total to 
about 40,000 ; allowing the said two queens to produce 

The above estimate is made on the supposition that 
two swarms are sent off, and the old queen goes with 
the first, as she ever does. 

If the family had been in a large hive in which no 
swarming had taken place, the result would have been 
the same as in the first case ; for the reason, that the 
number of bees sent off in both swarms, viz; — 11,000, 
and the 6,000 that the queen produces with the first 
swarm, would all have been residents of the original 
hive, together with the 8,000 produced, and left in the 
parent hive, according to the foregoing estimate, 
making in all, as before stated, 25,000. If no swarms 
are sent off, we lose the 15,000 bees produced by the 
two queens in charge of them. A queen possesses the 
power of producing a certain number of eggs in a 
season ; and whether she remain in the parent hive, or 
sally out with a swarm, it does not affect the aggi'egate 

bee-keeper's manual. 76 

of her laying ; provided, that she has room in which to 
deposit her eggs. 


The relative proportion of drones and workers is 
about one to twenty, that is, for a family of workers 
amounting to 8,000 the ordinary number of drones is 
about 400. Some writers state the number of drones 
in a hive to be from 1,000 to 2,000 ; but they are beyond 
the mark, as a general rule. There is no law that 
governs the production of drones, so as to enable the 
apiarian to make any calculation, in regard to their 
relative proportion, when compared with the number of 
workers, that may be relied on in all cases. Some fami- 
lies may have a thousand, while another, equally strong, 
may have but 500. 

Nature does not, in all cases, operate without a loss, 
or waste of the animal functions ; for, in the case of the 
laying of drone-eggs by the old queens, after they have 
left the parent hive with a swarm, we find that brood 
entirely useless, coming as it does after the swarming 
season is past. 

The old queens are aware of the uselessness of this 
drone-brood, and consequently, the larvae are drawn out 
of the cells and cast on the ground. Why queens are 
thus compelled by nature, to lay a brood of eggs, that 
are worse than useless, some one must answer, more 
deeply versed in the nature of the bee than I am. 

It may be said, in the case of the drone-brood pro- 
duced by queens with swarms, that since a swarm some- 

76 miner's AMERICAN 

times sends off a swarm, that in such a case, drones are 
necessary ; consequently, nature has ordained, that a 
thousand queens shall continue to produce drones, and 
then cast them out half developed, in order to ensure 
safety to one family that throws off a swarm ; for, not 
more than one swarm in a thousand does cast a swarm 
the same season. On the whole, this feature of the case 
appears reasonable ; because it is the same principle of 
nature, that is manifested in the production of 500 or 
1000 drones, to render the fertility of a queen sure, 
when a single drone would be sufficient, if that drone 
could be made, through the instinct of his nature, to be 
on hand, when occasions should demand his services. 


In the case of a swarm sending off a swarm the same 
season, it is always a first issue that contains the old 
queen; and it is she that produces drone-brood; since 
drones in such a case, would be absolutely necessary to 
impregnate the virgin queen. But with young queens, the 
case is very different, and they produce few or no drones 
during the first season of their existence ; but after the 
first season, they produce the regular number. 

.-■/ ,• i vr , 


The position of eggs and larvae in weak families, 
where every degree of heat must be economically hus- 
banded, is worthy of remark. In well-peopled hives, 
the queen deposits her eggs in such locations as may 
be free from honey and pollen, without any regard to 

bee-keeper's manual. 77 

the locality, since the numbers of bees will always admit 
of generating the proper degree of heat ; but when a 
few workers exist, comparatively speaking, the case is 
widely different. I have often noticed this circum- 
stance ; but a particular instance of this nature has 
very recently come under my observation. In driving 
a very small swarm into another hive, for the reason, 
that there were not bees enough to winter over safely, 
I found in cutting out the combs, a laying in the middle 
of the centre comb, about as large as the top of a tea- 
cup, and about as circular. In the centre were the 
nymphs or crysalis sealed over ; and on the outside of 
these, were larvae three or four days old ; and exterior 
to these were larvae just bursting their shrouds from the 
egg ; and exterior to these were the eggs that had just 
been deposited. If a needle had been run through the 
cells of the aforesaid nymphs, larvae and eggs, it would 
have passed through cells on the opposite side, contain- 
ing nymphs, larvae and eggs of precisely the same age ! 
This is only another evidence of the remarkable instinct 
of the bee ! The nymphs requiring more heat than 
larvae three or four days old ; and the larvae of this age, 
requiring more heat than eggs, how wisely does the bee 
arrange her broods to the best advantage ! In this hive, in 
which the combs were built, there were not bees enough 
to allow the least heat to be wasted ; and when a cluster 
of bees is huddled together on one side of a comb, the 
heat produced is much greater, by having a corres- 
ponding number of bees clustered directly opposite. 
Could human ingenuity devise a better way of economy, 


in the expenditure of animal heat, in the development 
of the young of this insect ? 



Huber's theory in regard to the division of labor is, 
that the workers are divided into wax-workers, or those 
that build the combs, nursing bees, and honey -gatherers ; 
and he contended, that there is a difference in the or- 
ganic structure of these different classes, so as to render 
them incapable of dohig anything except the particular 
labor, that nature designed for them ; though such dif- 
ference in the organic structure is not visible to the 
naked eye. Huber went a little too far in this assump- 
tion, since it would puzzle all his adherents to explain, 
how such a difference in structure is produced, when 
they all come from the same kind of egg, and receive 
precisely the same treatment, throughout their whole 

But it is true, that labor in a family of bees has its 
divisions ; — there are ivax-ivorkers, nursing bees, and 
gatherers ; but there is not the slightest difference in 


their organic structure. Man has found, that in exten- 
sive laboratories, a division of labor is highly essential : 
thus, in the manufacture of the pin, a single pin passes 
through many hands before completion. 

The builder does not cause his layers of brick to bring 
them to the place of use, nor to compound the mortar 
in which they are laid. He finds that each branch of 
labor, performed by persons for that especial business, best 
tends to harmony and to a rapid completion of the edifice. 
The bee, in this respect, is not behind man, in its know- 
ledge of the most effectual application of labor, since it 
receives its wisdom from a source that knows no error. 
Man has studied, and found this truth out by experience — 
the bee has this instinct implanted in its censorium from 
the day of its birth. 

When man attempts to properly define the beauty 
and harmony of the domestic labors of the bee, and its 
wonderful instinctive powers, he is lost in a labyrinth 
of amazement ! 

1 have, more than once, been inclined to throw down 
my pen, overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task 
before me ; yet I trudge along slowly, doing but faint 
justice to the subject, trusting in the charity of my 
readers, for an exoneration of having failed to meet the 
case as it merits. 


When a swarm of bees commence the fabrication of 
combs in a new hive, a certain number of bees com- 
mence the buildinff of them : and another portion qo 


forth to the fields to gather lioney and farina ; and as 
soon as the young brood require being fed, a certain 
number take charge of that duty. This fact, so far as 
it relates to wax-workers, and honey-gatherers, may be 
proved in this manner, viz ; — remove a hive containing 
a swarm vigorously at work making combs, to a short 
distance, beyond the reach of its tenants on returning 
from the fields, and mark the result. In a few minutes 
not a single bee will be seen to leave the hive, after such 
discharging bees have left, that were in it at the time of 
its removal. Scarcely a bee will be seen to leave the 
hive during the first day or two after its removal, for the 
wax-workers are patiently awaiting the return of their 
comrades that bring in the materials. When it has be- 
come evident to the bees that their comrades are lost, 
(they have no idea of the removal of their tenement,) 
then a new division of labor takes place, and the gather- 
ing is resumed with lessened numbers. I have wit- 
nessed the above case often, in the formation of artificial 
swarms from a swarm of such magnitude, that half of 
its members could be safely spared. The same disor- 
ganization of labor is found in the new hive that receives 
the honey-gatherers only, as they return from the fields ; 
and after a day has past, a portion of the bees that were 
gatherers to the original hive, now become wax-workers 
to the new hive that is placed in the position of the ori- 
ginal one, thus proving that all workers are alike, and 
equally able to lend a hand, at gathering, nursing, or 
wax-working. The particulars of making artificial 
swarms, will be given in a future chapter. 

bee-keeper's manual. 81 

pollen and propolis gatherers, etc. 

There is also another division of labor in gathering ; 
for a certain number of bees gather pollen, or farina, 
which is the same thing, for the food of the larvae ; 
while others gather honey to store in the cells, and to be 
used in the fabrication of combs ; and, if need be, 
others gsiiher propolis, the wax that is used in stopping 
up crevices and holes in the hive. 


Again, a division of labor takes place in gathering 
honey from different kinds of flowers. A bee that com- 
mences on the blossoms of the cherry-tree, never leaves 
that kind of tree for any other, or for any flower, but 
continues gathering the same kind of honey. So it is 
with the bee that commences her labors on the apple or 
pear-tree, &c. In the fields, also, the same flowers are 
adhered to ; and the bee that gathers from the white 
clover, does not alight on any other flower during that 
particular excursion ! I have witnessed this singular 
fact, when bees gathering from different flowers came 
under immediate observation, and almost in contact with 
each other ; yet there was no promiscuous gathering by 


The duty of guarding the hive against the intrusion of 
enemies, is another feature in the division of labor. 

82 miner's AMERICAN 

Come when you will to examine a family of bees, you 
will ever find, at least, one or more sentinels on duty ; 
unless it be in cold weather. If the entrance to the 
hive be small, but a few bees act as guards ; but there 
they stand, thrusting out their antennae towards any bee 
that is suspicious ; and let a stranger approach, and 
there is always some bee on the qui vive to arrest its 
progress. These sentinels are as regularly relieved as 
those of an army on duty. 


Last, not least, is the duty of those bees, that in close 
sultry weather, ventilate the hive, by causing a current 
of air to be put in motion, by the vibration of their 
wings. It has often been a matter of surprise with some 
people how bees can exist in hives densely populated, 
and having but a very small entrance, that often appears 
to be entirely closed by the numerous bees around it, 
when man finds it difficult to find air for free respiration, 
during the sultry weather of summer ; and such per- 
sons have supposed that the bee requires little or no air 
to successfully prosecute its labors within the hive. If 
such people could witness the indefatigable labors of a 
large portion of such families of bees, that night and day 
toil without cessation, to renovate and purify the air 
within their hives, their minds would soon be changed, 
and if they were bee-keepers, measures would at once be 
taken, to admit a little of the pure air of heaven, that is 
so very essential to their welfare. I cannot better illus- 
trate this subject than to give my observations, in asin- 


bee-keeper's manual. SB 

gle case, of the ventilation of a hive by the bees, in my 
own apiary. 

Having a swarm lodged in a hive that I felt particu- 
larly anxious should prosecute their labors speedily, in 
consequence of its being an ornamental domicil, and it 
being quite late in the season when the swarm was put 
therein, (22d June,) contrary to my custom, the 
weather being cold, or rather not warm, for the season, 
I let the hive down in close contact with the stand, only 
allowing a few small holes for the egress and ingress of 
the bees, in order to facilitate the internal heat of the 
hive. The weather suddenly changing from moderate 
to extremely hot, the bees clustered in large numbers on 
the outside of the hive, and their labors seemed almost 
suspended. On opening the door to the hive, that ad- 
mitted a full view of ail the inside, through a pane of 
glass, the bees having but partially filled it with combs, I 
there had a fair and full opportunity to witness the 
manner in which the bees renew the air of their hives 
by the vibration of their wings. On the bottom-board 
of the hive were arrayed files of bees in platoons, as 
regularly arranged as an army on parade, all with their 
heads the same way, and keeping up a constant motion 
of the wings. They were stationed in rows from front 
to rear, thus giving the laboring bees, that went forth to 
the fields, an opportunity to pass in and out with the 
least possible inconvenience ; since the avenues between 
the rows of ventilating bees converged to a focus at 
the rear of the hive, at which point the bees had built 
down their combs near to the bottom ; and hung there 

84 miner's AMERICAN 

in a cluster around their works, and resting on the bot- 
tom-board ; and at this point, the bees took their depar- 
ture, when leaving for the fields, first running along the 
lanes, or avenues aforesaid, to the point of egress ; and 
those entering, pursuing the same pathway. Being 
anxious to know what result the letting in of a plenty 
of pure air, would have on the bees engaged in venti- 
lating, I raised the hive on all sides, three-eighths of an 
inch, and supported it by small blocks at each corner. 
I then looked into the hive, through the glass door, and 
saw after a minute or two, the bees commence leaving 
their stations by degrees, until every column of bees, 
engaged in renewing the air, disappeared ! 



There is a class of bees denominated " black bees," 
that occasionally appear, and which have caused much 
speculation among apiarians — some even denying that 
such a class do ever exist. That such black bees do 
sometimes appear, is beyond all question ; yet many 
years may pass with the apiarian, without appearing in 


sufficient numbers to be observed. They are of the 
same size as the ordinary workers, differing in nothing 
relative to their organic structure, that can be perceived, 
the only difference being the color, which is a jet black. 
Huber states that a war of extermination is waged 
against them, and that they meet a violent death in the 
same manner that drones are expelled and slain ; but 
this does not coincide with my observations, nor with 
the observations of any other apiarian, as far as my 
knowledge extends. 

These black bees, when they do appear, which is sel- 
dom, are only seen in the summer season, and then in 
very small numbers. They do not appear to take so 
active a part, in the labors of the family, as the ordinary 
workers, and sometimes they seem to do little or nothing. 
"Where they come from, or by what cause they become 
black, has never been shown. Huber thought that they 
came forth from the cells black, but it is far more rea- 
sonable, to suppose them to become black from age. 
We know that the very young bee, is of a light grey 
color ; and a few days exposure to the atmosphere turns 
its color to a darker hue, and old age may cause some 
bees to become entirely black, at the season of the year 
when such bees appear. Man's locks turn white with 
age — some much more than others ; and why may we 
not suppose that age will also change some bees to a jet 
black, since we positively know, that time does gene- 
rally give them, in all cases, a darker hue ? 



Every bee-keeper knows what bee-bread is ; yet every 
bee-keeper does not know all in regard to this substance, 
that ought to be known. Bee-bread is the pollen, farina, 
or dust of flowers, that is gathered by the workers in 
the baskets, or cavities of their legs — the yellow sub- 
stance that is carried into the hives so abundantly, in 
the spring of the year. Bee-bread is the food of the 
larvae, or young brood ; and the most abundant gather- 
ing of it takes place in the spring, when the breeding 
season is at its height. But this commodity is stored 
up at all seasons, it being a substance that is not in- 
jured by age. In the morning, when the dew is on the 
flowers, the bees are engaged at this labor, because the 
dampness of the farina packs better upon the cavities of 
of their legs, and also that at this period of the day, no 
honey can be gathered. Here is wisdom ! — Man plans 
his work no better. The bee gathers farina, also when 
the honey season is past, and when it is not wanted for 
immediate use. The wants of the following season are 

bee-keeper's manual. 87 

cared for, even when the gatherers are extinct, for few 
live to use the following season, that which is gathered 
the season preceding. 


The gathering of bee-bread at all seasons, though 
showing forth the indefatigable industry of the bee, is 
attended sometimes, with serious consequences to the 
general prosperity of the family. It is in this way : — 
Bees being ever prone to labor, will sometimes gather 
a large surplus of bee-bread, taking up the room of the 
hive for years, when there is no possible necessity for its 
use. The cells that ought to be used for honey and 
brood, being filled with this substance, lessen the gene- 
ral prosperity of the bees, as a matter of course ; and in 
consequence of this superabundance of farina, the bees 
require changing from old to new hives, about every 
four or five years, even if no other cause existed for a 
removal, which is not the case. 


Bee-bread is generally yellow, but it may often be 
seen of a pale reddish hue, and at other times of a slate 
color. The colors of this substance, as generally gath- 
ered, appear to be about the same throughout the world. 
No change takes place in its hue after being gathered, 
but it is found of these colors in the nectaries of flowers. 
A singular circumstance in the packing of this substance 
in the cells, is worthy of notice. No two colors are ever 


found in the same cell! How the bees are enabled to 
keep each color separate and distinct, is beyond our pale 
of knowledge ; yet it is but in keeping with their gene- 
ral habits, and regulations in labor. 


How this farina or bee-bread is fed to the larvae is 
another mystery — that is, whether it be given dry, and 
in its original state, or whether it be compounded with 
other substances ? No man can ever say of his own 
knowledge, from ocular demonstration, that a combina- 
tion of different substances does actually take place ; 
yet collateral evidence does exist, showing plainly that 
icater is used in preparing it for use, if nothing more. 
Water and honey are the only things that apiarians have 
imagined were compounded with it. 


Another singular circumstance attends the packing 
of bee-bread ; it is this : — The cells are never filled be- 
yond about two-thirds of their depth ! The remaining 
space is either left unoccupied, or it is filled with honey. 
When there is a lack of room to store honey, these bee- 
bread cells are filled with that substance. Some apia- 
rians have supposed, that the cells are but partially filled 
with farina, because a covering of honey is necessary to 
protect it and keep it in good condition. This does not 
appear to be the case, since a great proportion of the 
combs containing farina, are generally found to have no 
such covering of honey. 

bee-keeper's manual. 89 

The cause is probably this :— the bees in traversing 
the combs, require a foothold convenient, and perhaps 
quite necessary. In filling the cells two-thirds, or per- 
haps, three-quarters full, the bees leave a footing; 
whereas, if every cell were filled to its fullest capacity, 
of farina and honey — the honey-cells being sealed over, 
the bees would undoubtedly find difficulty in passing 
over the combs with the requisite facility. 



Writers on the management of bees have hitherto 
given no elucidation of the necessity of bees having 
water within their convenient reach, beyond the simple 
assertion, that they either should have water placed 
daily in pans near the apiary, or that they should be 
situated near to some stream, lake or river of fresh wa- 
ter. What the eflfect would be to have no water within 
the ordinary range of their flight, has never been shown ; 
perhaps for the reason, that an apiary cannot be placed 
where the bees cannot find fresh water in some place, 
within the range of their flight, unless it be in a desert. 

90 miner's AMERICAN , - -^* 

Even the wells of the neighborhood frequently afford all 
the water that is required, from the drippings of the 
bucket, or from the troughs that often stand beside 

I have often seen bees around my own well, in great 
numbers, extracting the moisture from the outside of the 
bucket, or arranged along the gently-sloping sides of a 
trough, that I had placed there expressly for them. Bees 
do not Hke to descend the vertical sides of a bucket, or 
of any other vessel to obtain water ; because there is 
danger of falling in ; but a sloping, shallow trough, the 
sides of which form an angle of from 30 to 45 degrees 
with the horizon, suits them much better. 


Every bee-keeper should either afford his bees a sup- 
ply of water at his pump, or well, or place a shallow 
vessel near the apiary, filled with small stones about 
the size of a pigeon's egg, in order to give a resting 
place for the bees, and the vessel then to be filled with 
fresh water every morning, unless there be a stream of 
fresh water near, in which case, both modes might be 
dispensed with. A tin baking pan, about an inch or 
more deep, is very suitable. Should no stones be put 
into the pan, many bees would be drowned. I have even 
known many to be drowned, in cool spring weather, when 
the stones in the pan were so large, as to admit of spaces 
or surfaces of water only two inches across ! One 
would suppose that so small a space as this, would be 
overcome by the bees at once ; and when losing a foot- 


hold, and falling into the water, they would paddle across 
to the stones, and soon take wing again ; but such is not 
the case in cool weather, such as we generally have from 
March to June. In very warm weather, fewer bees 
under the same circumstances would perish ; yet water 
is so benumbing to them, at almost any season, that 
when once immersed they seldom recover, unless as- 
sisted by man, in placing them in some warm, sunny 
place to dry. 


I will now relate what came under my observa- 
tion, at my own apiary last spring, (1848,) relative to 
the use and necessity of water in the labors of the 

Early in April I placed a tin-pan, filled with small 
stones, on a bench near my hives. This pan held 
about a pint and a half of water, when filled with stones. 
Every morning I filled it with fresh water — sometimes 
with rain water, and at other times with well water, as 
it happened to be. I then noted the daily use made of 
this water by the bees. I had, at that time, but fifteen 
hives ; yet I found that the pan did not hold enough for 
them, by once filling every morning. Some days it 
would be emptied before evening, and on other occa- 
sions, the quantity was sufficient for them. 


I particularly noticed a very singular circumstance 

92 miner's AMERICAN 

in regard to the quantity of water taken on very windy 
days, and also on wet, drizzly days, when the bees could 
not go to the fields. During such days as the winds 
were so high, that the bees could not safely go abroad — 
and we had a few such — the bees crowded around, and 
into the water pan, in three-fold the number they did in 
ordinary mild, pleasant weather. My apiary had recently 
been removed to a high and exposed situation, where the 
winds had a fair sweep ; and on one or two days during 
the month of April, the winds blew so hard, that the 
hair on a man's head, almost, I think I may say, re- 
quired to be held on. I had erected a board fence on 
the most exposed sides of my hives, to be let down, 
when the high spring winds had subsided ; and the 
water-pan being within this enclosure, the bees could 
approach that without feeling the effects of the blast that 
swept past them without the yard. 

It was on the occasion of the prevalence of such high 
winds, as before stated, that the bees finding it impossi- 
ble to go forth to the fields, without being in danger of 
being dashed to the ground, that they turned their atten- 
tion to the use of water, to an extent far beyond what 
they were ordinarily accustomed to use. 


Here is a question to be solved, viz : — what use did 
the bees make of this large quantity of water on those 
windy days ? One would suppose, that when the gene- 
ral labors of the bees were suspended, that no water at 
all would be required. 


The solution of this question, in my opinion, is this : 
Bees are wise insects, with a natural instinct that goes 
far ahead of the brains of man, in many cases. I mean 
to say, that a large portion of mankind do not possess 
the genius to adapt means to ends, so well as the little 
puny honey-bee, so far as its ramifications of domestic 
economy extend. This being the case, as I presume 
will be admitted, by all persons acquainted with their 
general labors, it follows, that the bee studies economy 
of labor ; and when the fields cannot be explored, such 
labor as can be performed, to advance the general pros- 
perity of the family, is undoubtedly attended to. 

The agriculturist, when driven from the fields by the 
storm, says : — " come boys, let us see what is to be done 
within doors — our potatoes are to be cut, and prepared 
for planting ; or fodder for the cattle and horses should 
be got ready ; the stra\v cut," &c. 

Now, the bee acts on precisely the same principle. 
Water is used in compounding the bee-bread, and fitting 
it for the young bees. In the spring, when the w^eather 
is cool, a few days' consumption can safely be made in 
advance, and it is thus that I account for the more 
abundant use of water on such occasions, as do not ad- 
mit of the usual labors of the family being performed. 


Not only in windy weather, but also in rainy weather, 
do bees make use of a more abundant supply of water 
than usual. I have noticed almost the same rush to the 
water-pan, on a damp day, when it did not rain enough 

0# miner's AMERICAN 

to keep the bees confined to their hives, that took place 
on a windy day ; even when every plant and leaf was 
studded with rain-drops. I was somewhat surprised, 
that the bees should take the water from the pan, when 
it could be obtained in a thousand other places with the 
same facility. The same reason that caused the greater 
use of water in windy weather, led to the use of it more 
abundantly in wet weather ; and the reason why the 
bees preferred the pan to other places, in obtaining it in 
wet weather, I presume is, that the liability to get wet 
is more when alighting in promiscuous places, when 
everything is wet, than when alighting on the stones in 
the pan. ■ •*'.:. 

' . . WATER. • ■ 

The use of the water from the pan continued through 
the months of April, May, and a part of June, when a 
great decrease took place in the use of it ; and this de- 
crease in the use of water was coeval with the decrease 
in the production of larvce. Finally, in July the bees 
frequented the water-pan so little, that I considered it 
useless to fill it daily, and omitted to pay any further 
attention to it. 

That the bees use water in preparing the food, (fa- 
rina, or bee-bread,) for their young, is apparent, from 
the fact, that when breeding declines, the use of water 

Now, from the foregoing remarks, it appears that 
water is a much more important article in the economy 


of the bee, than it has hitherto been considered to be ; 
and how far the bees are benefitted in their general 
prosperity, when they have an easy access to it in the 
spring, is impossible to truly define ; yet there is no 
doubt that they are greatly benefitted thereby. The 
case that came under my observation, as above stated, 
shows that the time was not lost when too windy or too 
wet to go forth to the fields ; but it would have been 
lost, had there been no water placed, especially for the 
use of the bees, in close proximity to the apiary. 


It is clearly shown in the foregoing remarks, that 
where the apiary is placed in a high situation, where the 
winds meet with nothing to break their force, a board 
fence around it is indispensable — not too near, but suf- 
ficiently so to break the force of the winds. Had I not 
had such a protection, the bees could not have come out 
for water, on the aforesaid windy days ; therefore, let 
every bee-keeper, having a large apiary, afford his bees 
a pan of water in April, May, and June ; and those 
having fewer hives should do the same ; unless the bees 
can get water in the immediate vicinity. 


2f.Vi Hi 


..;,:; SALT— HOW TO BE USED. , ; . 

Various are the benefits ascribed to the use of salt, 
by the bee-keepers of our country, who profess to have 
no further knowledge of bees, than that which has been 
taught them from tradition, or from such experience as 
they have had in the management of bees, which 
amounts to letting them take care of themselves, and if 
they live — well — if they die — it is the same. This is 
about all the knowledge, that the majority of the bee- 
keepers of the world over possess. 


Salt, say these sapient bee-keepers, should be placed 
under the edges, and perhaps under the whole hive, as I 
have seen many instances, to prevent the moths enter- 
ing ! This is a perfect fallacy. No quantity of salt 
ever yet kept a moth out of the hive. The moth is a 
winged insect, and enters the hive, without coming 
in contact with this salt, even if there were a peck of it 
there. The moth alights on the outside of the hive, — 
runs in through the entrance, on the upper side gene- 


rally, and turns directly upward; without touching the 
bottom-board at all. When the worms are produced 
from this winged moth, they creep down the side of 
the hive, and search for a hole or crevice in which to 
wind up in a cocoon, from which a winged moth is- 
sues in a few days, to take its turn at entering the hive, 
if it can. The salt placed under the corners, or edges 
of hives, as tradition recommends, from time immemo- 
rial, will keep the worms from winding up in a cocoon, 
under the edges of the hive, where this salt is placed, 
but the worms have only to crawl entirely out of the 
hive, and in most cases, they will find a convenient crack 
or nook to suit their purpose, close at hand. Hence, it 
follows, that so long as these worms can find any place 
about the hive, to wind up in, the salt placed under the 
hives is of little or no use, since a moth leaving its 
cocoon a rod from the hive, is just as able to gain ad- 
mission, as one emerging from a cocoon directly under 
the hive ; for, if the bees are not strong enough in num- 
bers, to protect themselves in the one, they are not 
in the other case. Even if a place cannot be found to 
wind up in above ground, these worms will go below the 
surface of the earth for this purpose ; but it is a last resort, 
or forlorn hope for them, in such cases, and few winged 
insects are produced by them in such instances. The true 
policy of bee-keepers is, to keep everything so snug and 
close around their hives, as to preclude the possibility ol 
the worms finding any winding-up place ; then place 
salt under the hives, and a good result will follow. It 
is a very difficult thing to place hives in such a position, 


that no winding-up place shall be afforded to moth- 
worms ; yet it can be effected, and I will hereafter show 
how it can be done. This chapter is on the use of salt, 
and I cannot inform you at this place, but I will do so, 
when I come to a subject to which the construction of 
bee-stands, &c., legitimately belongs. ,' •' 


The question, " is salt necessary for bees ?" is asked 
a thousand times annually, in every State in the 
Union. That is, is it of any benefit to place a lump of 
salt within their reach ? 

I answer it is. My reasons are simply these : Every 
thing in animate nature, that seems to desire the taste of 
salt, it is beneficial to. The cow and the sheep can 
hardly do without it, as well as many other animals ; 
and it seems to be necessary, in a gi'eater or less degree, 
to all animated nature. The dung-hill fowl craves it to 
such an extent, as to jeopardize its life by partaking of 
too much, when an opportunity occurs. I once lost 
about twenty young fowls, in consequence of emptying 
into the barn-yard a pork barrel which contained a few 
quarts of salt ; and I also lost a favorite pet canary 
bird, by allowing it to come out of its cage, and peck 
the salt standing on the dinner-table. But bees will not 
hurt themselves by the use of salt. A lump placed near 
the hives, under cover, will do no harm, and since the 
bees will occasionally partake of it, we should judge, 
that it is best to give it to them. 

I do not consider it of much consequence, whether 

bee-keeper's manual. 99 

salt is given to bees or not. I have stated my own 
views on the subject, and leave the matter to the option 
of the reader, or bee-keeper, to use it, if he pleases. 



Here again, we broach a disputed subject, viz ; — 
whether propolis is a natural or a manufactured sub- 
stance ? It makes no difference to us, in the prosperity 
of our bees, to know whether it is the one or the other ; 
yet we all have an inkling of Yankee inquisitiveness to 
know more than is absolutely necessary of every sub- 
ject in which we feel an interest ; and methinks I hear 
some curious "Jonathan^' exclaim — "I wish I knew 
what it's made of!" Well, perhaps you can guess. If 
you can, you can do what has never yet been done. 

But it may be well to inform the reader, what sub- 
stance is meant by the term propolis. Propolis is the 
glutinous substance, that is used by bees to fill all cracks 
and crevices about the hive. It is much darker than 
wax, the substance that the combs are constructed of, 
and it is of a more adhesive, tenacious nature. The 
quantity that a family of bees sometimes produce is 

100 miner's AMERICAN 

I have some singular and interesting remarks to make, 
on the use of this substance in particular cases, that 
came under my own observation, which wn'll come in 
under the head of the "instinct" or "sagacity" of bees. 

ruber's opinion on propolis. 

Huber considered propohs to be a positive genuine 
production of nature, and not manufactured, but col- 
lected by the bees from the leaves and branches of cer- 
tain shrubs and trees, the principal one of w^hich, some 
apiarians consider to be the tacamahac. 

Ruber's opinion on this subject does not, by any 
means, set the question at rest. Neither he nor any 
other person, it is probable, ever saw the bees in the act 
of gathering this substance; nor even when gathered by 
them, on their return to the hives to deposit their bur- 
dens. The first appearance of this substance is at the 
places where it is used, and since we never see the sub- 
stance gathered, and know of no shrub, plant or tree, 
that exudes any precisely such adhesive material, we 
have no positive proof that it is a natural substance ; 
still, it seems that it ought to be gathered from shrubs 
or trees, since so many trees do send out an exudation 
of analogous features ; but if obtained from trees, why 
do we not witness the bees returning loaded with it, as 
they do with pollen ? The fact that w^e do not see the 
bees thus returning loaded with it, almost sets the ques- 
tion at rest, on the score of its being a natural sub- 

According to Huber, the bees have been observed to 

bee-keeper's manual. 101 

draw out loner threads of this viscous substance from the 
exudations of trees, and to lodge them in the cavities of 
their legs, and as soon as one bee had completed its load, 
another bee was very conveniently at hand to continue 
the same process, until a sufficient quantity had been 
obtained. They then began to knead and work it like 
an Irish laborer compounding a heap of mortar, and 
when in a proper state of attenuation, they proceeded 
to line and solder their cells. By the way — lining and 
soldering cells with propolis, is not a branch of labor be- 
longing to the architecture of the bee at all. Cells are 
made perfect with wax alone, and Huber has here made 
an assertion that proves him not to be entitled to what 
has been awarded to him, viz : the reputation of being 
an accurate apiarian. 


It is probable, however, that propolis is an elaborated 
substance — to say that it is positively so, would be pre- 
sumption ; for it is barely a possible thing, to discover 
the bees in the act of producing it, even admitting that 
they do make it ; so impenetrable to the eyes of man is 
much of their labors, when clustered in darkness. 

Some apiarians consider it an elaborated substance, 
of the same nature as wax — even wax itself, but a little 
more colored; yet this hypothesis cannot be correct, 
since wax and propolis are so different in tenacity and 
color, that they cannot be one and the same thing. 
If it be elaborated, and of a separate and distinct 
nature, then arise difficulties as to the modus ope- 

102 miner's AMERICAN 

randi by which it is produced; and here the ques- 
tion must forever rest. The bees produce it when it is 
required, but where they obtain it, or liow they make it, 
must be a secret not for man to unfold, Huber's asser- 
tion to the contrary, notwithstanding. 

It has been asserted by apiarians of considerable dis- 
tinction, that propolis is used in laying the foundation 
of combs ; but this assertion is at variance with my ex- 
perience. The first rudiments of new-made combs 
have come under my observation so many times — even 
the very first beginning of constructing combs, up to 
every stage of their prosecution, that what my own eyes 
have so often beheld, cannot be controverted by the 
statements of all the apiarians of Eui'ope, should they 
declare that propolis is used to lay the foundation of 
cells. I have ever found the first rudiments of cells, to 
be composed of wax, the same substance that the entire 
combs and cells are composed of — not the slightest dif- 
ference in construction and color, could I ever discover. 


■J •f 



Wax is the substance of which the bees construct 
their combs. This is not an elementary or natural sub- 
stance ; but it is produced by elaboration. The most 
universally-acknowledged theory of the production of 
wax is, that it is an exudation from the abdomen of the 
bee, through the openings of the scaly rings which com- 
pose that portion of the honey-bee, and that honey is 
the only original substance from which it emanates. 
This is truly a wonderful theory, and without a perfect 
knowledge of the economy of the bee, relative to comb- 
making in particular, one might be justified in casting 
ridicule upon it ; but when we take into consideration 
all the circumstances attending their labors, in this de- 
partment of their duties, we find abundant evidence that 
honey is the original substance from which wax is pro- 
duced, and that its elaboration takes place within the 
bee, coming forth in strings of pearly whiteness. 


The only material that bees are known to gather is 

104 ^ miner's AMERICAN 

honey and pollen. No other substance was ever seen 
to be brought in by them ; and the consequence is, that 
wax is either made of one or the other of these two sub- 
stances. There is no mistake on this point. Now, let 
us consider what ground we have for supposing that 
wax is formed from pollen or bee-bread. Firstly : pol- 
len is only known to be placed in the cavities of bees' 
legs — not taken into the stomach of the bee, in its ori- 
ginal state at all. Secondly : pollen is known to be the 
food of the larvae, and the manner of gathering this arti- 
cle shows conclusively to most apiarians, that this is 
its sole use. 


There are a few apiarians who contend that wax is 
elaborated from pollen, but I consider, from the perusal 
of their arguments, that a desire to contend with higher 
authorities, has influenced them in the promulgation of 
their theories. 

Pollen is gathered in the months of April, May and 
June, in the largest quantities. At this season breeding 
is at its height, and consequently more of this substance 
is required. In some hives, during these months, comb- 
making is carried on extensively; for instance, when 
the bees commence labors in the supers or chambers of 
their hives, or in cases in which the whole interior of 
their permanent domicil is not yet filled with combs ; but 
in no instance did I ever know of a family of bees gath- 
ering a particle more pollen on account of such comb- 

bee-keeper's manual. 105 

building, or working in wax being carried on, and I 
have given the subject my most faithful attention. 

I now affirm, that a hive well filled with combs and 
bees, having no extra room for wax-working, may be 
placed along side of a hive, having the same number of 
bees, but the hive only half filled with combs, and the 
pollen gathered by the bees of the hive that is filled with 
combs, shall even exceed the quantity that is gathered by 
the bees of the other hive, which shall be vigorously 
working in wax in filling their domicil with the usual 
combs. Now, if pollen were the constituent principle 
of wax, the case would be reversed, and more pollen 
would be gathered in the hive but partially filled with 
combs, than in the full one. 


Again, pollen being a dryer substance than wax, and 
containing but few adhesive properties as it is brought 
into the hive ; and the color of wax always being white, 
while pollen is of various hues, seems to put the question 
at rest, proving that wax must be made from some 
other substance. It is true, however, that pollen forms 
a part of wax ; when the combs are immersed in boiling 
water for the purpose of extracting it, the pollen then 
gives it its yellow hue ; but ordinary bees-wax is quite 
a different substance from that which is used to build 
combs, and the difference arises from the fact that pol- 
len composes a large proportion of this latter substance, 
when prepared for market ; whereas, the original sub- 

106 miner's AMERICAN 

stance used in comb building, is wax in its purity ; and 
this original wax is much superior to ordinary bees-wax, 
for the purposes for which this latter substance is used. 
Combs, when first built, will melt down to pure wax, 
without any waste from impure substances, and it is 
much whiter and better in every respect, than ordinary 
wax sold in the market. 


When a swarm of bees issue from a hive, it is a well- 
known fact, that they carry with them as much honey 
as their honey vesicles or bags will contain. I have 
often known the boxes in the chambers of my hives to 
be emptied of their contents, during the night previous 
to the issuing of swarms from the same hives. When 
this circumstance is noticed in the morning, viz : the 
emptying of the cells of the supers or boxes in the cham- 
bers suddenly, it is a sure sign that a swarm will go off 
on that day, if the weather continues favorable ; yet it 
is not an easy matter to make such a discovery, since 
the bees remain closely packed in the chambers, up to 
the very moment of sallying forth. 

The object of the bees in thus going forth laden with 
honey is, to have wherewith to sustain life for several 
days, and thus be prepared to withstand any unfavorable 
change of weather that might intervene before a supply 
of provisions could be secured. Like the traveller who 
starts on a journey across some desert waste, not only 
taking provisions for the journey, but also taking a sup- 
ply to provide against any reasonable contingency that 


may retard his progress to the land of plenty whither he 
is bound. 


When the swarms thus issuing from their tenements 
are hived, perhaps a dozen or more bees may be among 
each emigrating family that carry with them from the 
old hives, pellets of farina. That there are any bees 
among them with such pellets, is a matter of chance 
merely ; for it often does happen, that not a solitary bee 
thus laden goes off with the swarm. 


Now, the bees, in most cases, commence comb-build- 
ing within an hour after being settled in their new home, 
and during the first day, at least, no pollen is brought 
in ; still, if the bees be dislodged after twenty- four hours, 
large sheets of new combs will be found constructed. 
The question then is, what do the bees make these new 
combs of? It cannot be pollen, for the quantity of that 
substance carried along with the issue of the swarm, 
would not construct a half-dozen cells at most, and 
more likely not a single cell. Nothing except honey is 
brought into the hive during the first day or two ; still, 
the comb-making goes on the most rapidly from the be- 
ginning. It follows, of course, that honey is the elemen- 
tary principle of wax. 


The chemical change that honey undergoes in the 

108 miner's AMERICAN 

Stomach of the bee produces it in its proper state for 
working. I say chemical change, for the reason that the 
honey being probably combined with some other fluid 
natural to the body of the bee, and both substances ex- 
posed to a gentle heat, produce virtually and truly a 
chemical change. Nor is it in the power of the bee to 
stop this chemical change, if the honey remain in the 
vesicle over a certain length of time, sa}^ over four or 
six hours. No person, to my knowledge, has ever be- 
fore ventured to make this declaration ; yet, if we look 
properly into this subject, we are forced to this conclusion. 
How often have bees commenced the construction of 
combs upon the branch of the tree where they clustered 
on swarming, on occasions when they have been neg- 
lected by their owner, or have not been discovered by 
him ! The bees certainly must know that they could 
not exist in such situations long, and it would be con- 
trary to their well-known habits in the economy of labor, 
and their wonderful instinctive wisdom, to build combs 
where they could be of no use, if they could avoid so 

I do not say that the bees cannot possibly avoid build- 
ing combs under such circumstances ; yet I say this ; 
that if the honey-bee fills its honey-bag with honey, and 
finds no place in which to store it within a certain time, 
under twelve hours at most, the honey thus placed in the 
vesicle of the bee, undergoes a chemical change, over 
which the bee has no control ; — that the new chemical 
substance, which is wax, exudes through the scales of 
fhe abdomen, that lap over each other like the scales of 

bee-keeper's manual. 109 

a fish, and is taken therefrom by the bee, in threads or 
strings, and at once made into combs, or it is cast away. 
That such exudation is ever cast away by the bees, we 
have no evidence ; yet they can cast it away if they 
please, consequently, I cannot say that the bees cannot 
avoid making combs when their honey-vesicles have 
been filled. There are instances in which bees are 
known to remain twenty-four hours in a new hive, with- 
out w^orking at all in wax ; but in such cases, it is pro- 
bable that they w^ere not provided with any more honey 
than just enough to sustain life. 


In order to show more conclusively that wax-working 
is carried on, without the use of pollen, or of any sub- 
stance except honey. I will narrate an experiment that 
took place last October. 

I had a couple of weak swarms that had gathered no 
honey beyond their daily supply, and had built but a 
few short combs. Their numbers were so small that I 
had no hopes of their being able to survive through the 
winter. On going to the apiary on a pleasant day, 
about the 20th of October, I was surprised to see a 
swarm of bees in the air. They soon clustered and 
formed a bunch about the size of a quart measure. I 
found this to be one of the weak swarms before men- 
tioned, that had left its original tenement for some un- 
certain destiny. 

I took a new clean hive, and having, with the aid of 

110 miner's AMERICAN 

melted bees-wax, fastened a few pieces of clean, new 
combs in the hive, and saturated them with honey, I then 
hived the bees, and set the hive in a new location, and 
fed them plentifully with pure honey. The next day, 
another swarm deserted, of the same character ; leaving 
a little brood and no honey. I hived them also, pre- 
cisely in the same way, and fed both swarms with as 
much pure honey as they could consume, or carry 
away. I found that both swarms began to build combs 
rapidly, it. being very warm weather for the season ; but 
not a solitary pellet of farina was brought into the hives, 
as I could discover ; and none being in the combs that 
I fastened in myself, how can it be possible that wax is 
formed from any other substance than honey ? I think 
my own experiments have settled the question, in con- 
nection with the general economy of the bee in wax- 
working, that has come under my own observation — 
that is, so far as my own opinion on the subject is con- 
cerned, but lest some of my readers should still require 
further proof, I will now give the experiments of the 
" Prince of apiarians" on this subject, as a quietus. 


He says : " The existence of the organs before de- 
scribed, and the scales seen under different gradations, 
induce us to believe them appropriated for the secretion 
of wax. But in common with other animal and vege- 

bee-keeper's manual. Ill 

table secretions, the means by which this is accom- 
pHshed appears to be carefully veiled in nature. 

Our researches, by simple observation, thus being ob- 
structed, we felt it essential to adopt other methods for 
ascertaining whether wax actually is a secretion, or 
collection of a particular substance. 

Providing it were the former, we had first to verify 
the opinion of Reaumer, who conjectured that it came 
from an elaboration of pollen in the stomach, though we 
did not coincide with him in the opinion that bees then 
disgorged it by the mouth. Neither were we disposed 
to adopt his sentiments regarding its origin ; for, like 
Hunter, it had struck us that swarms, newly settled in 
empty hives, do not bring home pollen, notwithstanding 
they construct combs, while the bees of old hives, 
having no combs to build, gather it abundantly. 

We had, therefore, to learn whether bees, deprived of 
pollen for a series of time would make wax, and all that 
is required is confinement. 

On the 24th of May, we lodged a swarm which had 
just left the parent stock, in a straw hive, with as much 
honey and water as necessary for the consumption of the 
bees, and closed the entrance so as to prevent all possi- 
bility of escape, leaving access for renewal of the air. 

At first, the bees were greatly agitated ; but we suc- 
ceeded in calming them by carrying the hive to a coal- 
dark place, where their captivity lasted five days. They 
were then allowed to take flight in an apartment, the 
windows of which were carefully shut, and where the 
hive could be examined convenientlv. The bees had 

112 - miner's AMERICAN , , 

consumed their whole provision of honey ; but their 
dwelling, which did not contain an atom of wax when 
we established them in it, had now acquired five combs of 
the most beautiful wax suspended from its arch, of a 
pure white, and very brittle. 

We did not expect so speedy a solution of the pro- 
blem ; but before concluding that the bees had derived 
the faculty of producing wax from honey on which they 
fed, a second experiment, susceptible of no other expla- 
nation, was necessary. 

The workers, though in captivity, had been able to 
collect farina ; while they were at liberty, they might 
have obtained provisions on the eve, or on the day 
itself of their imprisonment, and enough might have 
been in the stomach or on the limbs to enable them to 
extract the wax from it that we found in the hive. But 
if it actually came from the farina previously collected, 
this source was not inexhaustible ; and the bees being 
unable to obtain more, would cease to construct combs, 
and would fall into absolute inaction. 

Before proceeding to the second experiment, which 
was to consist in prolonging their captivity, we took 
care to remove all the combs they had formed in that 
preceeding. Buernens made them return to their hive, 
and confined them again with a new portion of honey. 

The experiment was not tedious. From the evening 
of the subsequent day we observed them working in 
wax anew ; and on examining the hive on the third day, 
we actually found five combs, as regular as those they 
had mnde during their first imprisonment. 

bee-keeper's manual. 113 

The combs were removed five times successively, but 
always under the precaution of the escape of the bees 
from the apartment being prevented ; and during this 
long interval, the same insects were preserved and fed 
with honey exclusively. Undoubtedly, the experiment, 
had we deemed it necessary, might have been prolonged 
^with equal success. On each occasion that we supplied 
them with honey, they produced new combs, which puts 
it beyond doubt that this substance effected the secre- 
tion of wax in their bodies, without the aid of pollen. 
As the reverse of the preceding experiment would prove 
whether the pollen itself had the same property, instead 
of supplying our bees with honey, we fed them on no- 
thing except fruit and farina. They were kept eight 
days in captivity, under a glass bell with a comb, having 
only farina in the cells ; yet they neither made wax, nor 
were scales seen under the rings. Could any doubt 
exist as to the real origin of wax ? We entertained 

Huber also tried the result of feeding on sugar, in- 
stead of honey, while the bees were confined. The 
bees produced wax sooner, and in greater abundance, 
than when fed on honey. 

A pound of refined sugar, reduced to a syrup, and 
clarified with eggs, produced 10 drams, 52 grains of 
wax, darker than that extracted by the bees from honey. 
An equal weight of dark brown sugar produced 22 
drams of very white wax — the like came from maple 
sugar ; that is, two ounces and three-quarters was the 

114 * bee-keeper's manual. 

greatest quantity of wax obtained from a pound of 
sugar. ■ . - ' ^ . ^ 

Having now given the reader a brief view of the pre- 
Hminary features of my subject, I think he is enabled 
to advance to the more interesting part of the work, and 
to fully understand the merits of the case. I say " to 
advance to the ^ more interesting part, &c. — I mean to 
the practical apiarian, whose sole object is not amuse- 




A CONSIDERABLE portioH of this work will now be de- 
voted especially to the practical management of bees. 
Every person who is at all acquainted with the writ- 
ings of the present day on the honey-bee, will bear me 
out in the assertion, that there is a perfect vacuum in 
this, the most important branch of bee-culture. 

Where can the apiarian put his hand on a work that 
throws aside the shroud, that like a dark pall, hangs over 
the practical management of bees ? It is true, that the 
world is well supplied with works professing to dis- 
cuss this subject in all its ramifications; but we look 
and look in vain for aught save the stereotype opinions 
and thoughts of a few master-spirits, who have given us 
large volumes illustrating the physiology and natural 
history of the bee, but when we ask, " where are the 
rules laid down for the practical management of bees?" 
echo answers, "where ?" " How is this," exclaims one. 

416 miner's AMERICAN 

" There are Thacher, Weeks and Townly, who have 
published works on the management of bees, in our own 
country ; and there are Dr. Bevan, Bagster and Huish, 
whose works have circulated here, to some extent — 
what are these ? I thought everything that the bee- 
keeper could desire to know, could be found in these 
works ?" My dear sir, have you read these works ? If 
you have not, go and read them. You will find nothing 
to satisfy — nothing to fill the void, on the true practical 
management of bees, that seems to be so much desired. 

Almost the whole vast schedule of works on the 
honey-bee extant, in the English language, seem to be 
a stereotype re-echo of each other's sentiments and theo- 
ries. Huber, the blind apiarian, bears off* the palm, and 
he is indeed original. He could affirm his discoveries, 
and his servant could swear to them. Here is one ad- 
vantage in being blind ; therefore, if any one hereafter 
wishes to raise his name to the pinnacle of fame, let him 
become blind, and then employ a servant to verify his 
theories, and his name will be immortalized. 

The art of managing bees in this country is probably 
as little understood as any other branch of rural econo- 
my ; that is, so far as profit, health and productiveness 
are concerned. 

It is generally supposed, that bees require little or no 
care, and if they prove unproductive, or are destroyed 
from the ravages of the bee-moth, it is a mere matter of 
chance, wholly beyond the control of the owner. 

This is a gross error. The same care and expense 
that a farmer bestows on his pigs or his poultry, would 

bee-keeper's manual. 117 

produce much larger profits if bestowed on the culture 
of his bees. But bees are not to be looked after or 
cared for. When their owner passes the hives, he barely 
condescends to look at them, as if they were crying out, 
" noli me tangere !" — Stand off! — Keep your distance, 
sir!" This is not right. Every bee-keeper should cul- 
tivate a better familiarity with his bees, and know at all 
times their condition and their wants. The time neces- 
sary for doing this is comparatively trifling. 

Indeed, the cultivation of bees may not only be made 
a source of moderate profit in all cases, but when pro- 
perly attended to, a fortune might be accumulated from 
the labors of this insect alone ! 



During the last twenty years, many new and useless 
bee-hives have been palmed oflf on the ignorant and too 
confiding bee-keepers of our country. Men who have 
had sufficient brains to devise some new plan and style 
of hive that did not before exist — who never understood 
a single principle of the management of bees correctly, 
have, by dint of unblushing falsehood and impudence, 

118 miner's AMERICAN 

bled the bee-keeping community pretty freely. There 
seems to be a greater cloud of darkness hanging over 
the management of bees, than over any other branch of 
rural economy. Every new-fangled ''patent" hive that 
is brought along, is represented as the ne plus ultra of 
improvement, and the very acme of perfection ; and the 
lesson that is so glibly recited by their venders, of the 
wonderful and astonishing merits of their inventions, 
often causes one to become duped again and again, 
until he gives up in despair, and returns to his first love 
— the simple box and brimstone management of ages 

I have an instance of the deplorable effects of confid- 
ing too freely in the pretentions of a patent hive vender, 
in the case of a neighbor, who went to a great expense 
in building bee-houses, which he filled with hives from 
an apiarian of the city of New York, at an enormous 
cost, and now where are they ? From six hives pro- 
cured several years ago, he has only one now remaining, 
and when I last saw that one, " solitary and alone," 
throwing out an occasional pale, sickly bee, in quest of 
food, while the air of my premises was literally " vocal 
with music," and the furious dashing whiz that resound- 
ed about my ears as I approached them, giving indica- 
tions of power, vigor and prosperity : — I say, when I 
saw this great difference, in positions only a few rods 
distant, I was grieved that darkness should yet hover 
over the apiaries of thousands who seem indifferent to 
their success, or rather consider success as a matter of 
chance rather than of science. 

bee-keeper's manual. 119 

size of hives. 

The first desideratum with the apiarian is, the proper 
dimensions of hives. As the builder in rearing his edi- 
fice, sees that its foundation is firmly laid, that the super- 
structure may not be impaired; so does the apiarian 
look to the correct size of his bee-hives, that his subse- 
quent labors may not prove in vain, in the management 
and culture of his bees. 

Notwithstanding the enquiry has been abroad through- 
out all Christendom during centuries, in regard to the 
true shape and size of bee-hives ; yet we stand in the 
same position that we did a hundred years ago, relative 
to this important question. Every bee-keeper has his 
size and shape, and no one is able to set the question at 
rest. We find hives from the little box of six inches 
square, made expressly for very small swarms, up to 
almost any dimensions, even to the size of a barrel. 
There seems to be a perfect chaos existing in the minds 
of men on this subject, or rather, that every man's views 
on this subject, are so vague and undefined, that a cha- 
otic confusion is the general state of public sentiment 
on this very important branch of bee-culture. 

Now, can any one reasonably suppose that there is 
no solution to this query ? Does any one presume, that 
a small hive or a large hive ; a short hive or a long hive, 
is all the same ; making no difference at all in the gene- 
ral prosperity of the apiary 1 No one can thus think, for 
it is contrary to the general principles of common sense ; 
yet bee-keepers, to a great extent, act on this principle, 

120 miner's AMERICAN 

and fill their bee-gardens with every manner of hive, 
throwing all system to the winds. ■ ' 

As I look upon this subject, there must be a right 
size, and a wrong size — a right shape, and a wro7ig 
shape. But the grand question is, what is the right size 
and shape ? There's the rub ! Who can answer ? In 
my opinion, every bee-hive in the United States should 
be of a certain size and shape. 


The queen is able to produce a certain number of 
larvae, or brood, in a season. She requires a certain 
area of space in which to deposit her eggs, and more 
than enough is worse than useless. Like the coat upon 
one's back, a close fit is required ; beyond, or short of 
this, is either ruinous, or highly disadvantageous. 

It is true, that some queens are more fertile than others 
— even the same queens produce more larvae some sea- 
sons than in others. This is quite natural, since a bee 
is liable to be affected by various vicissitudes of life, as 
well as any other animate being. But admitting this, 
we then wish to know what space is necessary to af- 
ford an average area for a queen's use, giving, as a 
general rule, as much room as can be used, and at the 
same time leave no waste space ? 


Again, how many workers can "be employed in the 
same hive to advantage? There is an answer to this 
— a definite answer ; yet I never beheld the subject 

bee-keeper's manual. 121 

mooted, as well as many other important questions, 
touching the management of bees, in any work pub- 
lished in either Europe or America. 

The case lies simply here : — you may put a queen 
into a hive suited to her requirements, and you may then 
give her just as many workers as she ought to have ; 
that is, the number that will readily construct the re- 
quired complement of combs, and have the various 
branches of labor pertaining to the family all progress- 
ing harmoniously, without any branch being retarded, to 
the detriment of other branches. You may then add to 
this specific number of bees that constitute just enough, 
a few more thousand, and you derange all their labors, 
by an excess of laborers. Every one knows, that when 
a body of mechanics are at work on any kind of employ- 
ment, and as many are thus eaiployed, as can conveni- 
ently find room to labor in, that if another body of men 
be thrust in to aid them, that instead of being an aid to 
them, they would actually retard the work. So it is 
with a family of bees. When once a family have 
enough laborers, more are worse than useless, and they 
retard the labors of the family, by crowding among the 
combs, and also farther injury is done, in consuming the 
elores in a greater ratio to their increase, than when the 
proper number of bees only occupy the hive. 


The same, or rather equally disastrous effects follow 
the lack of a sufficient number of bees to perform the 
necessary labors of the family. The queen requires 

122 miner's AMERICAN ^, * 

some five or six combs, about twelve inches square, in 
which to deposit her eggs ; and on taking possession of 
a new hive, on swarming, she requires these combs as 
soon as they can be constructed. If the swarm be 
small, these combs are not built until the season is so far 
past that they are of little use, and the chances are, that 
they are not built at all. Some four or five segments of 
combs, of about half the usual size, are all that are built 
generally. In tiiese combs the queen finds but a small 
portion of the space, that she would use, as a receptacle 
of her eggs, if she had the necessary room ; and even 
what space she has, under such circumstances, cannot 
be devoted to the young brood, since the sparseness of 
the laborers of her family calls for so many to be con- 
stantly abroad, that but a very few remain at home ; 
consequently, the necessary heat to develope the brood 
cannot be generated, and the queen knowing this, will 
only deposit a few eggs in the centres of such few combs 
as she has, and do the best she can. In such cases, the 
queen may confine her laying to two or three places, 
where the most warmth can be generated, of about the 
size of a tea-cup, when, if she had a hive full of combs, 
and workers enough, she would cover some five or six, 
or more combs, twelve inches square ; and produce more 
bees in one month in this way, than in a year, as before 

The only way for such families, short in immbers, to 
make up their complement, is to await another season, 
when, taking time by the forelock, they will have the 
usual numbers by midsummer. 

bee-keeper's manual. 123 

In the foregoing case of a superfluous number of bees, 
it is not advisable to give more room, for the reason, that 
when we determine what is the exact size of a bee-hive, 
we should adhere to that size in all cases. 


Various are the reasons for making all hives of the 
same size. If we make them too small, the bees are 
more liable to perish from the effects of an unfavorable 
winter, and from the ravages of the bee-moth, in conse- 
quence of the weak condition of the family. The queen, 
in such cases, as before stated, is curtailed of her neces- 
sary room, and not as many bees will be produced ; and 
and whatever operates as a check to the production of 
larvae, is di fatal error in the management of bees. 

If we construct our hives too large, the bees will re- 
quire two years to fill them ; and the natural increase 
by swarming is much lessened, and, in some cases, en- 
tirely prevented for a series of years. Hives of this 
character are those made about fourteen inches in diam- 
eter, by about fifteen or eighteen inches in length. Such 
a size I consider to be entirely at variance with the na- 
tural requirements of the bee. 

On the other hand, hives made about a foot in diame- 
ter, by six or eight inches deep, or eight or ten inches in 
diameter, by a foot in length, I consider equally fatal 
to the prosperity of the bees. Such hives do not aflford 
the area of combs that a queen requires ; and hence, 
she is debarred the opportunity of giving that increase, 
that she otherwise would. Such small families do not 


winter as well ; as it has been thoroughly tested, that 
strong stocks winter better, and consume less honey 
than weaker ones ! This may appear strange to those 
who are unacquainted with this subject ; yet it is true, 
for the reason, that the bees are less exposed in 
strong stocks, to the various winter changes of weather, 
to which our climate is subject. 

A few warm days in winter will put the whole of a 
small stock in motion ; whereas, a strong one is much 
less affected ; and when a family of bees is once aroused 
from their lethargy, they consume double the quantity of 
honey that they do when in a state of quietude. But 
setting this matter entirely out of the question, there are 
yet good reasons for having larger hives. When bees 
are placed in hives adapted to their natural wants, 
giving no excess of room, nor curtailing the use of such 
space, as they actually require, they then cast off their 
first swarms of such numbers as nature teaches them 
are best adapted to prove prosperous ; and it matters not 
how large your hive may be, if a swarm be cast, which 
is seldom with families in large hives, it will not be in 
proportion to the size of the hive, but in accordance 
with the laws of nature, governing the bee. 

Now, to come to the point, with as few words as pos- 
sible, and do justice to my subject, I will say, that I have 
found, from many years of close application to the na- 
ture, economy, and general management of bees, that 
hives about one foot square in the clear ; that is, in the 
inside, conform more to the natural habits and acquire- 
ments of bees, than any other size. 

bee-keeper's manual. 125 

the instinct and nature of the bee unchangeable. 

There is not a solitary feature pertaining to the do- 
mestic honey-bee of the United States, that is not found 
just as fully developed in Siberia, Russia, China, Africa, 
Greenland, or in any other part of the world. Kingdoms 
may perish, and the giant oak may thrive amid the ruins 
of cities now teeming with Hfe and gaiety, but the in- 
stinct and wisdom, and natural habits of the Kttle bee, 
implanted in her censorium from the beginning of the 
world, will stand as immutable as the great Creator of 
all. Not all the art and genius of man can teach the 
bee one jot or tittle of knowledge beyond what God has 
given the impress of! Nor does she need man's wis- 
dom. Perfect in every work, she stands forth an exam- 
ple for man, at least in her habits of industry. In her 
architecture, no man can imitate her. From her un- 
changeable course, that has marked her career since the 
creation of the world, no power on earth can cause her 
to deviate. The folly of man is now busy in prescribing 
limits, in forcing her to act contrary to her wonted na- 
ture, or rather surrounding her with useless contri- 
vances, to force from her what nature has not bestowed 
upon her, in great and extraordinary labors and products 
of the mellifluous juices ; but it is all time spent in vain. 
The honey-bee is capable of doing just so much, when 
she has wherewithal to do with ; and it requires no 
stimulus from man to bring her to her task. All that 
man can do, is to give her a tenement suited to her 
wants, and if the fields afford honey, she will gather it. 

126 miner's AMERICAN 

There is no such thing as laziness with the bee. Far 
more depends upon the bee-pasturage and season than 
upon anything that man can do ; yet we have our part 
to do also, and it is only by a proper attention to our 
duties, that the bee is protected in her labors, that result 
in her own prosperity, and to our own advantage. 


• In 1842 I had a few hives made 12 by 18 inches in 
the clear; that is, 12 inches wide, and 18 inches long. 
In speaking of the size of hives, I refer to the body of 
the hive for the dwelling of the bees, without any regard 
to what are termed supej^s* for storifying. I found that 
it took the bees two seasons to fill my large hives ; and 
when filled, they did not swarm at all some seasons ; for 
the reason, that however great the quantity of bees may 
be in a hive, in the summer and fall, they dwindle away 
before spring, to a certain quantity ; and thus leave a 
vacant space at the bottom of the hive, of some six 
inches or more, to be filled up w^ith the increase of 
spring ; while smaller hives are full, and are throwing 
oflf swarms in profusion. Here lies the philosophy of 
adapting the hive to the natural wants of the bee. I 
will illustrate this point by a supposable case. - 

An apiarian places a swarm of bees in a hive, say 14 
inches in diameter, by two feet in length ; the bees might 
possibly fill the hive with combs, the second year, but 

* Supers are such hives, or boxes, as are placed above the regu- 
lar hive, and receive the surplus gatherings of the bees, and may 
be removed at pleasure. 

bee-keeper's manual. 127 

swarming is entirely out of the question with a family of 
bees in such a hive. The increase of every succeed- 
ing year would disappear before the following spring, or 
rather numbers equaling the increase ; since all the 
bees existing in hives in the spring of the year, save the 
queen, were the young of the preceding summer and fall. 
Now, ten years have past, and this hive is in precisely 
the same condition that it was in nine years ago. Not 
a solitary swarm has ever issued therefrom. Ten gene- 
rations of bees have existed, nine of which are past 

We now pass to what would have been the result, if 
said swarm had originally been put into a hive about 12 
inches square. 

The second year, a swarm would have issued, without 
doubt, and perhaps two ; but v/e'll say one, in order to 
be on the safe side, as it is not my intention to give an 
over- wrought picture in anything I that may discuss. We 
will now take the very reasonable, and low estimate, of 
one swarm from every stock, every season, and count 
up how many would be the result at the end of ten years. 
The second year, 2, in all ; the third year, 4 ; the fourth 
year, 8; the fifth year, 16; the sixth year, 82; and so 
on — the tenth year showing five hundred and twelve 
families from a single swarm! !*! In this calculation, we 
allow no drawbacks to the prosperity of the bees, such 
as destruction by the bee-moth, &c. ; yet the usual cas- 
ualities attending the culture of bees, I contend, can be 
almost, if not wholly prevented by proper management. 
So confident am I, that 512 families of bees can, in ten 

128 mixer's AMERICAN 

years be produced from a single swarm, that I should not 
hesitate to enter into heavy bonds, (the uncertainty of 
life considered,) to produce that number, or forfeit the 
whole actually produced. 

512 stocks of bees are worth, at least, five dollars per 
stock, amounting to the enormous sum of 82,560, while 
the same swarm, from which so vast a profit arises, if 
placed in too large a hive, at the end of ten years, is 
v^orth but the paltry sum of 85, with no increase ! I 
leave the reader to his own reflections, on the wretched 
management of bees, as too generally practiced in every 
part of the country. 


In regard to my large hives, I saw the fallacy of such 
dimensions, and concluded to try the experiment of 
cutting them off, nearly filled with bees as they w^ere, 
w^hich I performed with a common hand-saw^ ; the man- 
ner of doing which, was as follows : — 

It was in the month of April, that I performed the 
operation. I ought to have done it in February or 
March, but the idea did not occur to me, until those 
months had past. On a cool morning, I examined my 
hives, and found a vacant space of about six inches at 
the bottom of each hive, unoccupied by bees. I then 
set them, one at a time, on a table with the bottom- 
board up, in close contact with the hive, giving the bees 
no opportunity to escape. Having my saw put in prime 
order, and having secured the table against a sup- 
port, to render it firm, I was then ready to operate. 


Here allow me to say, that a man's success in almost 
any undertaking, depends upon his calmly surveying the 
whole ground, and foreseeing this or that result before 
he gets through; and being/wZ/y prepared and commen- 
cing aright. Had I taken a dull saw, and commenced 
this operation without securing my tMe firmly, I should 
have probably failed in my attempt ; besides, by some 
mishap, perhaps I might have been mortally stung. 
These are small matters, it is true, yet in all of our ope- 
rations with bees, it requires a nicety of calculation and 
philosophic view of the case ; that we may coolly per- 
form our task, and know what effect every move we 
make will have upon that insect, so tenacious of her 

Having marked off the part of the hive to be cut 
asunder, and having made niches on the corners of the 
same in order to set in the saw the more easily, I cut 
gently on one side, until I felt the saw perforate the combs. 
I then placed small wedges in the seam at the corners, 
and commenced on another side ; when this side was 
also sawed through, I inserted wedges as before, and so 
on until I had completely cut the hives in two. The 
bees did not seem to be molested much, if any. I then 
took a small wire, about a yard long, and having wound 
the ends around sticks, to serve as handles, I then drew 
it gently and carefully across the combs, through the 
aperture made by the saw, taking especial care to 
have the wire sever them across the edges, rather than 
the sides ; since that course would displace the position 
of them less, and much less disturb the bees. Having 

130 miner's AMERICAN 

cut the combs entirely off, nothing remained to be done 
but to place the hive in its proper position in the apiary. 
I allowed it to remain fifteen minutes, to quiet the 
bees, and then went out and placed it in its position ; 
and not a bee seemed to know that a change had taken 
place in the size of the hive, so tranquil and peaceable 
were they. 

The time had now arrived for the bees to sally out, 
and I deferred the operation of another hive until the 
following morning. I thus continued cutting one off 
every morning, until all were finished. 

Thus, it will be seen, that if any of my readers should 
have hives of a size that a portion of their length w^ould 
be desirable to cut off, the manner of accomplishing it 
is easy. 

After cutting off my large hives, I found that they 
contained no more bees than hives one foot square, that 
I possessed; and those of that size actually swarmed 
first, and had also swarmed the preceding season, while 
my large hives had not cast a swarm for a period of two 
or three years ! 

This result renders it conclusive to my mind, that it 
is folly for the apiarian to pay no regard to the proper 
size of hives, or rather suppose that the size has but a 
secondary bearing upon the prosperity of his bees. The 
size, sir, is eveiYthing ; and until you learn this fact, 
and act upon it, your time is spent in vain. 


Some apiarians consider that the hive should conform 

bee-keeper's manual. 131 

to the size of the swarm ; rather than place small swarms 
in ordinary hives, and allow the bees to remain therein 
until they are filled by the natural increase of the family. 

This is a great error ; but, say they who defend this 
principle : — " A large family requires a large house, and 
a small family, a small house." This is true of people, 
but it has no bearing at all on the room suitable for a 
swarm of bees, if future prosperity and gain are to be 
taken into the account. 

Let us take a rational view of this question. So far 
as the mere comfort and convenience of the swarm is 
concerned, during the first season, I admit that hives 
of such size as the bees can just fill with combs, during 
the first summer of their existence are best; but we 
must look beyond the first year, if we expect the greatest 
prosperity that is attainable. 

In the first place, we must entirely discard the idea, 
that if a swarm be very large or very small, at the time 
of issuing from the hive, its existence and prosperity in 
succeeding years is thereby effected. I say its existence 
in succeeding years ; but I mean the existence of suc- 
ceeding generations of the same original family; because, 
no swarm of bees ever lived through two seasons. 

In order to more fully illustrate this point, we will 
suppose that A has a very large swarm issue from 
one of his hives, say about double the usual numbers ; 
and B has a very small swarm also issue, about half the 
usual size. A obtains a hive of double the usual size, 
for his swarm, and B looks about for a very small hive 
for his swarm, to suit the bulk of it. 

132 miner's AMERICA!? 

The bees are hived and they go to work freely. At 
the end of the season, A finds that he has a fine hive of 
bees, with a good supply of honey for winter use, and 
on raising his hive, he finds that it is about three-quarters 
filled with combs. (If you give a large swarm double 
the usual room, it is not generally all occupied the first 
year.) B examines his little family and finds his little 
hive full of combs, but from the weight of it, he con- 
cludes that he'll have to feed the bees, in order to carry 
them through the winter, and he begins to wish that he 
had not been to the trouble of hiving them at all, and 
almost wishes that he had found them all dead ; since 
the prospect before him, of feeding his little famil}^ so 
as to enable it to safely pass the winter looks cheerless 
and forbidding. Well, the v/inter is past, and the genial 
warmth of the sunny month of May, arouses the bees 
to great activity. The medium-sized hives are throw- 
ing off swarms in profusion, and A w^onders why his 
family in the la7^ge hive does not swarm ! " I '11 get a 
rouser out of that hive when it does come," said A, one 
day to a neighbor. He might well say, " when it does 
come ;" for, if he had known anything about the science 
of bee-management, he might have known that a swarm 
would never be thrown off* from a hive of such unnatu- 
ral dimensions. 

A watched in vain for a swarm : — none came off, and 
on turning up the hive on the 10th of June, lo ! he dis- 
covered that the bees had not added any new combs 
to those built the season before, and there was yet a 
large space of spare room unfilled by them. The 


second, third and fourth seasons passed away, and A's 
" rouser' had not made its appearance, and not a bee 
more could be discovered in the hive, at the end of that 
period, than he had at the commencement. 

Now for B and his famil}', B expected one or two 
good swarms from his Httle 5 by 7 box, but he found the 
young bees produced in this hive were few, compara- 
tively, in numbers, and when every other family on his 
pi'emises had thrown off very large swarms, and some 
ten days beyond this period had past, a httle weak, 
sickly-looking swarm did issue from this small hive, and 
B was sent for in great haste. After he had surveyed 
it for a moment, said he ; " You can go. Tm not going 
to fuss with another goose-egg swarm, and feed it, to 
get it through the winter." He suffered the bees to 
perish on the branch where they clustered. 

Year after year past, and B derived no manner of 
advantage from his little hive. It seldom swarmed, and 
when it did throw one off, it was very late in the season, 
and the swarms were so small, that they were seldom 

The result of the foregoing imaginary cases, is pre- 
cisely what would be the consequences, of such a course 
of actual management. The swarm in A's hive could 
not, with all its natural increase, so fill the hive in the 
spring, as to be able to spare a single bee, since it is an 
invariable principle of the bee, to never suffer emigra- 
tion, while an inch of their domicil remains unfilled with 
combs, and unfilled with bees. Let this remark be 
deeply impressed on your minds, ye who know it not, 

134 * miner's AMERICAN 

and much time and anxiety in regard to the swarming 
of your bees may be averted. ' 

Had I been present when the aforesaid two swarms 
of A and B issued, I should have advised them as fol- 
lows : — 

Gentlemen, by all means, put your bees into the regu- 
lar-sized hives. Yours, Mr. A, is now large, and perhaps 
3^ou may, during this very warm weather, think that a 
common hive cannot possibly afford room for them ; but 
you may depend upon it, that they will all find acccomo- 
dation therein. They appear to be more numerous than 
they really are, in consequence of the heat of the weather 
causing them to extend in clustering, in order to allow 
a current of air to pass through them. When hived, if 
you find a large portion to cluster outside the hive, do 
not be alarmed ; the first few cool days we have, will 
drive every bee in, and next September you will ac- 
knowledge that what I say is right. 

And you, Mr. B, do throw that 5 by 7 box into the 
fire, I entreat you. It always gives me a fit of the ague, 
to see the management of bees thus butchered, if I may 
be allowed the use of that term. Do get one of your 
foot-square boxes, and let them fill such a portion of it 
as they can. They will not more than quarter fill it 
this season, but, sir, next year, you will have as good a 
stock of bees as any in your apiary. You may have to 
feed this swarm a little in the fall ; for, small swarms 
never do lay up much honey, but when the time comes 
for feeding,! will inform you how you can, for twenty-five 
cents, feed them enough in o?ieday, to carry them safely 

bee-keeper's manual. 135 

through the winter, and then you will have a stock that 
will be worth something. 



When a bee-keeper is accustomed to use very large 
hives, or the hollow trunks of trees, called gums in some 
parts of the country, and in Virginia, in particular, the 
swarms are sometimes somewhat larger than those issu- 
ing from the proper-sized hives ; but, as I before stated, 
if they pass certain dimensions in their hives, they sel- 
dom get any swarms at all ; and when such large 
swarms do issue, if the weather be very warm, the bees 
extend so 'much, in order to allow the air to circulate 
among them, when in a cluster, that it is thought impos- 
sible to hive them in boxes 12 inches square. I have 
been written to on this subject, from various parts of the 
country, by those who have made use of hives that I 
have recommended, and the complaint was, that their 
swarms were so large that hives of my size could not 
afford the bees room ; and in some instances, the bees 
deserted them. To persons thus circumstanced, I 
answer, that appearances are very deceptive sometimes 
in hiving a swarm of bees. A moderate-sized swarm, 
in a very warm day, appears much larger than it would 
on a cool day ; and when a swarm enters a hive during 
very warm weather the bees find the atmosphere within 
insupportable, and a large portion of them are compelled 
to cluster on the outside of the hive, until the combs are 
so far advanced as to protect the interior of the hive to 

136 miner's AMERICAN 

some extent. On such occasions, should the hive be 
raised, it might appear to be filled with a solid mass of 
bees, when, in reahty, not half of an ordinary swarm 
are there. The deception is produced by the bees 
clustering on each side, within the hive, and then throw^- 
ing a sheet of bees across the bottom, connected with 
festoons of bees from the top of the hive. In such 
cases, almost the whole of the interior of the hive is an 
open, unoccupied space. I have often witnessed this 
delusion, and in nine cases out of ten, bee-keepers would 
suppose that the hive was filled to a perfect jam. This 
case often occurs w^ien a large body of bees cluster 
outside ; and one would say that it was utterly im- 
possible that the hive could afford sufficient room for the 
whole family ; but let the weather change — let the wind 
veer around to the north, and let the sun be shut out by 
cold, damp clouds, and -presto ! what a change ! Why, 
a person not in the secret, would say positively, that 
half of his bees had deserted their tenement ! Instead 
of a hive full to overflowing, a snug, compact, moderate- 
sized swarm, is closely formed in. the top of the hive, 
through which the white tips of a row of beautiful 
pearly combs appear. 

Bee-keepers should, in very warm weather, be particu- 
lar in shading the hives of new swarms fully and effec- 
tually, and in case of having swarms that appear to be 
hard pressed for room, an abundance of fresh air should 
be admitted at the bottom of the hive — even raise 
it on blocks, at each corner, one inch high. This 
proceeding will prevent the bees from clustering on the 

bee-keeper's manual. 137 

outside of the hive, and when the bees have been at 
work about a week, the blocks at the corners may be 
removed, and the hive lowered down to its proper po- 

I cannot, however, say that cases may not happen 
in which all of my prescribed rules will avail nothing. 
I refer to cases where two, and even three different 
swarms issue at the same time, and cluster together on 
the same branch. In such cases, if the apiarian be not 
present when the bees swarm, he very reasonably con- 
cludes, that the whole mass is but one large swarm. 
Hives 12 inches square are of no use in such cases ; 
that is, for the whole of them together, neither is any 
hive suitable for the whole of them. They should be 
divided, and the way to do that will be developed, when 
I come to a chapter on " swarming.'* 


That no portion of my readers may think that I am 
decidedly wrong in recommending hives so small as one 
foot square, in the clear, I here quote a few remarks 
of Dr. Bevan, an English writer on the honey-bee, whose 
work was re-published in this country some years ago, 
and circulated to a considerable extent. 

He says : " In a former edition of this work, a prefer- 
ence was given to those of Keys, but subsequent infor- 
mation and experience induce me to recommend their 
diameter to be three-eighths of an inch less than his, 
viz : elei^en and five-eighths' inches square, hy nine 
inches deep in the clear." 



Here we have hives recommended more than one- 
quarter less in size than those that I recommend. 

I have had several of Dr. Bevan's hives, or such as 
appear in his v^ork, engraved, and I shall lay them be- 
fore the reader ; not that I approve of them at all, but 
being the nearest approximation to hives in use in the 
United States, and, perhaps, identical with many in use 
in this country, I think it expedient to comment on their 
qualities, in order to cover the whole area of my subject, 
or so much of it as is practicable. . .' 


The above engraving represents what is termed a 
cross-har hive. The object of this kind of hive is to 
guide the bees in their comb-building ; that combs may 
be more regularly constnicted, thus affording more 
brood-combs than are generally built, when the bees are 
left to themselves, and less irregularities in their archi- 
tecture. It is intended, that the bees shall construct 
their combs on the bars. The centre bars are placed 
suitably for brood- comb, and the outside bars are wider 
apart, and adapted to store-combs. This is all very 
well, provided the bees will follow these bars ; but they 
will not. They must have one or two guide-comhs 

bee-keeper's manual. 139 

attached, before they will follow the bars at all ; and 
with this trouble on the part of the bee-keeper, not half 
of the time, will the bees pay the least regard to the 
bars, but will build combs directly across or transversely, 
and every other way that can be imagined. 

This kind of hive is entirely too complicated for gene- 
ral use in this country, as well as scores of other kinds 
that I shall not condescend to notice. It is entirely 
useless to attempt to introduce into general use, 
any kind of hive, but such as is easily and cheaply 
made, and that does not require an engineer to put in 
order and oversee, as many of the gim-cracks of the 
present day do. But a wise Providence has so ordered, 
that the bee requires merely the simplest tenement. 
Screens, ventilators, valves, &c., are but hindrances to 
their natural prosperity, and the thousand and one com- 
plicated inventions of the day are but so many decep- 
tive tricks of the astute and keen, to filch our pockets of 
a few spare dollars. 

I will let Dr. Bevan tell his own story relative to ad- 
justing the bars, &c., of his hive. 

He says : " The sides of the boxes should be an inch 
thick, and have the upper edges of the fronts and backs 
rabbeted out half their thickness, and half an inch deep, 
to receive a set of loose bars upon their tops, which 
should be half an inch thick, one and one-eighth of an 
inch wide, and seven in number. If the distances of the 
bars from each other be nicely adjusted, there will be 
inter-spaces between them of about half an inch. The 
precise width of the bars should be particularly attended 

140 miner's AMERICAN 

to, and also their distances from each other ; as any de- 
viations in this respect, would throw the combs wrong, 
particularly if that deviation gave an excess of room. 
It would be better, therefore, for them to be somewhat 
within the rule, than to exceed it by ever so little, for 
whenever the bees evince a disposition to depart from 
the prescribed dimensions, its tendency is generally to 
make the combs approximate. This has induced me to 
have ray boxes surmounted by bars varying a little in 
their relative distance, thus : the three centre bars are 
placed at the distance of only seven-sixteenths of an 
inch from each other, while the rest gradually recede 
from that distance, so that the two last inter-spaces on 
either side of the box, are nine-sixteenths of an inch in 
width. The same precision must be observed in the 
length of the bars, as it is of great importance to have 
them indiscriminately applicable to every box ; and in 
case the joiner should exceed the specified dimensions 
of a box, the extra space must be thrown to its sides." 

After these bars are adjusted, a cover is placed on the 
hive, of the usual thickness, and screwed down, so as to 
admit of being taken off at any time. Through this 
cover, a hole may be made some three inches square, and 
a super placed thereon, as in other cases. 

He claims this advantage in this hive over ordinary 
ones ; that at any time a leaf of comb may be withdrawn, 
and in this manner the surplus honey is obtained, or 
from the supers as may be desirable. Let those try this 
hive who choose, it is not very expensive ; but I must 
say, that I can see nothing valuable about it. 



In regard to causing the bees to build their combs 
with regulariUj, it is truly important to devise some 
method to produce such a result, and the only effectual 
method that can be practiced without trouble, will be 
given when I come to speak of my own hives, or such 
as were planned by me. 

I condemn Dr. Bevan's hive, on account of its bars, 
and also on account of its size. Put three inches more 
on its depth and take out the bars, and it would then 
answer the purpose very well. 


Here is a cut of a kind of hive that is in use to some 
extent in this country. This is also from Bevan's work ; 
and the size of each box is presumed to be the same as 
the bar-hive, viz : eleven and five-eighths inches deep, 
by nine inches wide. Through the two lower boxes, 
holes about four inches square are cut, with a slide to 


shut off the opening when the supers are not placed in 
position. The doors in front open to admit the apia- 
rian to observe, through a pane of glass, the operations 
of the bees. These glass windows may be dispensed 
•with, if one choose to do so. The opening or entrance 
for the bees, as seen in front, was not in the original 
drawing of this hive, in Bevan's work, but I have placed 
it there as essential, as the reader will hereafter observe. 
The glass windows may be in front or in the rear of the 
hives, according to the desire of the apiarian. If the 
hives be placed against a fence or wall, they should be 
in front ; but should there be a passage-way between 
the hives and such fence or wall, then the doors should 
be on the backs of the hives, in order to observe the 
labors of the bees, without the least disturbance of them. 
There is a hive on this principle now in use in some 
part of New Jersey, and perhaps in other States also, 
with which some savan is deluding the good people, by 
causing them to believe that it is original, and the very 
best hive in existence, of course. 


The hobby of a portion of the itinerant bee-hive ven 
ders of the United States is, " an easy method of renew 
ing the combs every third year." The idea has struck a 
few of those geniuses, that in consequence of the difhculty 
to the inexperienced bee-keeper attending the transfer 
or change of families of bees, from old to new hives, 
when the combs have become blackened and vitiated 

bee-keeper's manual. 143 

from several years' use, that if anything could be "got 
up" that would obviate the necessity of such a change, 
even if it ruined every other principle of correct man- 
agement, money could be made by the operation, before 
the bauble would burst. This, of course, is a gratuitous 
assertion ; yet I may, perhaps, be able to " look as far 
into a mill-stone," as any man. 


There are two kinds of these " subtended " humbugs 
now offered to bee-keepers in the vicinity of New York, 
and to what extent they are used, I cannot say. 
One kind is on the principle of the foregoing cut, as I 
before stated, and the other only varies from the first, 
in substituting drawers, that slide in and out in a frame. 
The size of these drawers is somewhat smaller, I think, 
than the boxes that are placed over each other ; yet the 
pi'inciple is the same. 


The rules for management in the foregoing hives, as 
I have it from those bee-keepers who have purchased 
them is, that the bees are hived in the lower box, and 
when this is filled, add a second, and if that be also 
filled, then add a third box. If all be filled with 
combs and honey, then at the proper season, the two 
upper boxes may be removed, and the bees expelled 
therefrom to return to the lower one, where the whole 
family should pass the winter. This is all very well in 
tlieory, and even in practice, the first and second years ; 


but we shall meet with this damper to our fond hopes,-— 
an ordinary swarm will not in one case in ten, go be- 
yond the first box, during the first season, if they mea- 
sure about nine inches by twelve. If they be smaller 
than this, they will ascend to upper ones ; but there is 
ruin in hives under the above-named size, in the sequel, 
as I think I shall fully show. 

In speaking of swarms entering supers or boxes above 
the one in which they are hived during the first season, 
and working therein, I would observe, that in different 
parts of the country, the labors of bees vary accord- 
ing to the hee-pasturage about them. In a location 
where the white clover {Trifolium repens) abounds pro- 
fusely, as in Herkimer county, State of New York, and 
some other great grazing counties, a swarm will produce 
much more honey and wax, than on Long Island, where 
the honey harvest is not so abundant. -, - 

We now return to our " subtended " hive ; and we 
will suppose that three years have past, and we now 
wish to change our stock or family, into a new tene- 
ment, the old combs having existed long enough ; an- 
other year, however, would not affect the prosperity of 
the bees, according to my experience. 

Well, how is this change or transfer to be made ? In 
the first place, you remove the box containing the bees 
far enough to admit of an empty one to occupy its posi- 
tion. You then remove the slide of the empty one, and 
set ihefidl one over it. We will suppose that this ope- 
ration is performed sometime during the month of April. 
The bees soon begin to increase rapidly, and when the 

bee-keeper's manual. 146 

original box becomes crowded, they descend and com- 
mence their labors in the lower one, having from the 
beginning, to pass through the lower box, to and from 
the hive. During the season, the lower one is filled 
with combs and bees, and if the hives be quite small, 
perhaps a third may also be filled, which may be 
placed on the top, or the top one may be raised, when 
two boxes only are in use, and the third placed in the 

October arrives, and the two upper hives may be 
removed, and the bees driven out, which will return to 
the bottom box, where they are to winter as before 
stated. The honey in the two supers removed, is the 
owner's gain. These supers may be removed before 
October, even as early as the first of August, at which 
time, the combs v/ill be much whiter, and the honey 
better. An empty box may then be placed on the first, 
provided that the bees are crowded, and if any farther 
harvest may be expected. In the vicinity of New York, 
the honey-harvest is entirely past at this period, save 
what little the bees may gather for their daily supply. 

Now we come to the grand " hobby," — the great dis- 
covery ! The bees are now in a hive with new combs ! — 
just what is desired, and no trouble at all! No smoking 
out ! No driving or whipping out ! The bee-keeper is 
in extacies ! Presently comes along the great inventor 
himself — " Mr. Genius, why, how do you do ? Let me 
put your horse in the stable, and you come in and stay 
with me, to-night. You must come. — John, put Mr. 

146 miner's AMERICAN 

Genius' horse in the stable — brush him down — water 
and feed him. 

Mr. Genius passes the night with our extatic friend, 
talks over the astonishing merits of his invention, and 
w^hen they part in the morning, Mr. Bee-keeper bids 
him farewell, adding, "you're a lucky man, your for- 
tune's made !" 

A few days subsequent to this occurrence, a gentle- 
man passing that way, called at Mr. Bee-keeper's door 
to ask the favor of a glass of cool water. Mr. Bee- 
keeper was standing at his well, and had just raised a 
bucket of water. " Certainly," replied he, " water is as 
free as air." 

" You have a fine apiary, sir, — some patent hives, I 

" Yes, sir, and they can't be beat." 

" Pray, sir allow me to examine them ; I have spent 
much time in studying the history and economy of the 
bee, and there is nothing that attracts my attention so 
quickly as a bee-garden." 

" With pleasure, come in, and I'll show you my ' sub- 
tended' hive; — one of the greatest inventions of the 
age ! 

" 1 think I have seen the same kind before. If I mis- 
take not, every third year you can change your bees 
from old to new combs." 

" Exactly so, sir ; and here's a hive changed in that 
manner. Last spring the old combs of this hive were 
as black as your hat, and now see, (turning up the hive,) 
what beautiful white combs they have !" 


"Just so, sir, but pardon my familiarity — there are 
some things connected with this change, that will sooner 
or later ruin your bees !" 

" Ah ! (looking serious,) indeed ! Ruin the bees, do 
you say ?" 

" Yes, ruin them — destroy them — annihilate them !" 

"Mercy on me ! are you sure." 

" Aye ! positive." 

" Pray, sir, what is it ?" 

" Look here ! (turning up the hive,) do you see these 
thick, irregular combs." 

" I do." 

" You are aware that such combs are unfit for breed- 
ing ?" 

" For breeding ? — why, yes — no, don't know as I am." 

" Well, sir, not a solitary bee will ever be produced 
in these combs.. There are one, two, three, yes, three, 
and perhaps four combs in this hive, that the eggs of the 
queen may be deposited in. They are these thin, regu- 
lar combs that you perceive in the centre of the hive, 
which are called brood-combs. The others are stojr.- 
combs, and are only made for the reception of honey. 
Next spring, the queen will do what she can to increase 
her family ; but she must be restricted to three or four 
combs, or parts of combs, for none of them appear to be 
of a regular shape, as they should be ; and her increase 
will not equal one half the number that she would pro- 
duce, if she had a hive filled with the proper combs. 
Where is the hive that they were in last season ?" 

" Here it is, with the combs undisturbed." 


" Now, do you perceive how regular each comb is 
constructed, — just so far apart, and every comb about 
one inch thick. Every comb here would be used by 
the queen, and three times as many bees would be 
brought into existence in this hive as in that. Here are 
the drone-combs on one side, a little thicker than the 
worker-combs. Let us examine the other hive. — Not 
a single drone-comb !" 

" Well, now, I will give up. I thought that I had got 
a kind of hive that would be just the thing. Ah ! well, 
it's of no use to try any of the new inventions, now- 
a-days. I see, sir, what you say must be so — I see — I 

" Well, that is not all, sir, I'll lay a wager there is no 
queen in this hive." 

" No queen ?" ' 

"Aye! no queen." ^' 

" What next ! — John ! John ! (calling at the top of 
his lungs,) if you see old ' Genius' go past to day, tell 
him I w^ant to see him. Don't let him go past, anyhow. 
Now, sir, be so good as to tell me — what was it ? Oh ! 
the — the queen, that's it — the queen — No queen, did you 
say V 

"Exactly so. You see that these bees are not at 
work bringing in pellets of farina, or what you call hee- 
hread. That hive is not so. See how busy they are ! 
There come half a dozen with farina at once ; but 
you see nothing of that here. The fact is, sir, that 
when you took off the two upper boxes, the queen was 
in one of them, and on being driven out of the box with 

bee-keeper's manual. 149 

the rest of the bees, she was lost, not being accustomed 
to going out like workers, she did not know the position 
of the hive where she ..ought to have entered. Queens 
are liable to be lost in this way, since they go out but 
once during life-time, and then they mark carefully the 
appearance and position of their hive. She probably 
entered the wrong hive and was killed by the queen be- 
longing to it." 

" Astonishing ! What a fool I am ! Are the queens 
always in the upper boxes ?" 

" Not by any means. The queen passes from one 
box to another, and always makes it her home where 
the greatest portion of brood-combs exist ; consequently, 
she draws the most of the bees after her, if there be 
room for them. The hive that you just showed me 
filled with brood-combs, she was in undoubtedly." 

" But they say, that if a queen is lost, it makes no 
difference ; that the bees will make another queen." 

" That is true, if the bees have anything in the hive to 
make a queen from. They want eggs or larvae under 
four days old. There were both eggs and larvae in the 
hive where she made her residence, without doubt ; but 
it is very doubtful whether any were in either of the 
other boxes, so late as October, when you drove out the 
bees, and there would be no positive safety in perform- 
ing that operation, even in August or September, for 
the reason, that there would ever be the uncertainty of 
having eggs or larvae as before stated ; and if they 
should happen to be left in the lower box, and a queen 
should be made, then she is to be impregnated by the 

150 miner's AMERICAN 

drones, and if no drones exist, how is that to be ef- 

" I see ! I. see ! You talk like a book. I've been 
humhugged, and no mistake /" 

The reader will excuse the foregoing digression from the 
regular train of my remarks on "subtended" hives, since 
an illustration of this kind is often more forcible than 
can be given in any other manner. 

The " subtended" hive that I was speaking of, having 
di^awers, operates in all its ramifications like the hive 
just described. / 


I have no objections to the use of two or three boxes 
together, provided that the lower one be about one foot 
square in the clear ; in which case, as many boxes above 
as you please may be used ; but one is as many as will 
be filled generally, and not even that in many parts of 
the country, if it contain over twenty or twenty-five 
pounds of honey. I hear of two hives, or boxes, each 
one foot square, being used in the western part of the 
state of New York, near Buffalo, with success. The 
family winters in one, and in the spring it is supered by 
the empty one which is generally filled full during the 
season, affording from forty to sixty pounds of honey. 

I disapprove of transferring the family by a change of 
boxes, in order to place the stock in hives with new 
combs, as before illustrated. This course, I contend, is 
absolutely ruinous to the prosperity of the bees, in 
placing them in hives filled with combs, not at all 

nEE-KEJiPEu's MANUAL. 151 

adapted to breeding ; and where the natural increase of 
the bees is prevented, the prosperity of the family is at 
an end. My method of effecting this change is by 
driving out, and it is attended by no difficulty whatever, 
and I consider it the only way that it can be done safely. 


The reason why the combs built in a box placed un- 
(ler or ahove the main hive, are not fit for a permanent 
residence of the bees, is, that the bees in ascending into 
a super, look upon such space in the light of a store- 
room, and the combs built in such places are almost 
alv/ays thick, and especially adapted to the storage of 
honey ; being constructed in all manner of thickness and 
shapes. The same may be said of hives placed under 
the family to a certain extent. There is not so great a 
deviation from regular brood-combs, in hives placed un- 
der, as in those placed over the family ; yet the devia- 
tion is enough to render such hives unfit for a permanent 
abode. The bees, when originally hived, are actuated 
by certain fixed principles in the construction of their 
combs, — the production of hrood-comhs always being the 
most prominent, since their prosperity lies wholly in the 
certainty of a rapid and extensive increase. But when 
bees are driven from their usual habitation into hives 
immediately connected therewith, or rather, when such 
extra room is afforded them, they take possession of it, 
and if there be a surplus population in the main hive, a 
portion of the bees will commence comb-building in 
* A hive placed under Ihe stock. 

152 miner's AMERICAN 

such extra space tendered them ; and, as I before stated, 
they will regard such room as a space for laying up their 
winter stores; paying but little regard to the form and 
thickness of their combs, and disregarding the building 
of brood-combs, in some instances entirely. This is 
perfectly natural, and proper that they should do so ; 
since the idea that their home, or main tenement, is to 
be taken away, and they driven out, never enters their 
craniums. Having already constructed all the brood- 
combs that the queen can use, what necessity have they 
for more ? The regular drone-cells, so important to the 
welfare of every family, or of its descendants, in supers 
and nadirs are disregarded. It is true that their store- 
combs are built in cells of the ordinary size of drone- 
cells ; but they are not suited to the raising of drones 
by any means. Some of said combs measuring three 
inches in diameter, while a regular drone-comb is not far 
from one inch thick. There may be instances in which 
the combs in a nadir may be built with considerable re- 
gularity ;yet to trust to such for the purpose of giving 
bees a change of combs, once in three or four years, is a 
mistaken fallacy. 

Again, we are subjected to the loss of the queen, as I 
have already shown ; and I was recently informed by a 
gentleman, who had practiced this method of change, on 
his being made acquainted with my objections to the 
plan, that he had no doubt that he had destroyed the 
queens to his hives, in the aforesaid manner, several 
times ; but that he should never have known what the 



difl&culty was with them, had not my remarks opened 
his eyes to the true state of the case. 


Above I give a cut of a hive well suited for general 
use ; and especially for the use of those bee-keepers who 
have not the means to construct hives, that do not come 
within the most economical prices. This hive is made 
of pine boards, one inch thick. The lower section is 
entirely separate from the upper one. Its dimensions 
are twelve inches square, in the clear. The top board, 
or cover, projects a little to render it easier to carry, 
when filled. A couple of sticks, about a half an inch 
thick, are crossed in the hive, running from the corners 
to each opposite corner, and put in the centre of the 
hive, or as near it as may be. The same may be said 
of every other hive here described. 

Nothing remains to be done now but to make the ap- 

154 miner's AMERICAN 

pertures in the top for the bees to pass through into the 
box above, when the upper box is on. I use an inch 
and a quarter bit, and msikejive holes; one in the cen- 
tre, and one about half way from the centre to each 
corner, always being sure that all the holes will come 
within the diameter of the super, and have some space 
to spare. These holes I stop with plugs made to nicely 
fit, and leave the ends out far enough to take hold of, 
and with a slight tap of the hammer, be able to remove 
them at pleasure. I allow them to reach through the 
thickness of the cover, or top of the hive, but no farther. 
They should be made to fit so close, that water will not 
pass into the hive, through the holes when plugged. 

The super, or upper box, I construct of the same di- 
ameter as the lower one, but only eight inches deep, in- 
stead of twelve, the depth of the lower box. I allow the 
top board of this also to project a little, say an inch. 
The looks of the hive is much improved by this projec- 
tion, and the boxes are removed from place to place, 
when necessary, much more easily. When I put a 
swarm into the lower box, I generally leave off' the upper 
one during the first season, because here on Long Island, 
the bees generally have as much as they can do the first 
season to fill the lower one ; but in many places, both 
boxes would be easily filled. The spring following, I 
unstop the holes and put on the super. As the bees in- 
crease they enter it, and by swarming time I generally 
find it half filled with combs, and sometimes quite filled, 
and the bees densely packed within it. When a swarm 
goes off*, the super is emptied of its bees, and sometimes 

bee-keeper's manual. 155 

of its honey, as I alluded to previously. I do not find 
these supers to prevent swarming, unless it be second 
and third swarms. I generally get one good swarm, 
and sometimes two. I consider that one good swarm is 
enough, and better than more. 

The foregoing hive, it will be seen, stands on a stool 
about 18 inches from the ground. This stool will be 
fully described when I speak of " bee-stands," in an es- 
pecial chapter on that subject. 

The reader may observe, that this hive rests on small 
pins or legs at the corners ; giving the bees an oppor- 
tunity of entering, and sallying forth on every side of 
the hive. This is one of the fundamental principles of 
my management, which I discussed in the American 
Agriculturist, during the years 1846, '47 and '48; to- 
gether with much other matter, as some of my readers 
may recollect. The way in which these hives may 
be raised is, by driving pieces of stout wire as thick 
as a pipe-stem, into the corners of the hives, so as to 
leave just three-eighths .o^ an inch of the pin projecting 
from the wood. The ends of the pins should be filed oflT 
smooth, or nearly so, that the weight of the hive may 
bear alike on all corners, and not sink any one part into 
the wood beyond another. These pins will support ten 
times the weight of the hive, without sinking into the 
bottom-board, if the ends be flattened. 

The reason why such iron pins are recommended 
is, that the smaller the pin, the less liability there is 
of the moth- worm, that leaves the combs in the spring 
of the year, to find a convenient place to wind 


up in a cocoon, or return back to the combs, when 
once precipitated upon the floor-board. If wooden 
blocks should be used at the corners, these worms would 
be more apt to run up into the hive again, by the way 
of these blocks, than by the way of the iron pins ; and 
I have often found the moth- worm wound up in its co- 
coon, in the corners made by such small blocks of wood, 
say half an inch long and three-eighths of an inch thick, 
being inserted under hives ; yet such blocks may be 
used when it is not convenient to get the pins. Even 
nails or screws would do ; yet I can recommend nothing 
that makes an imperfect job. 

The reader perceives a small orifice about two inches 
long, and half an inch wide, in the centre of the bottom 
of the lower section of the hive. This opening is ex- 
pressly for use in cold weather, and in the spring and 
summer, when the hive stands on its iron pins, or 
wooden blocks, this opening is closed with a tin or zinc 
slide, perforated with holes to admit the air into the hive, 
at certain seasons during the winter, when the bees are 
to be shut in. This opening has a greater bearing on 
the prosperity of the bees, than any one would imagine. 
I would not do without it, or a substitute, for any con- 
sideration ; since, from a misapplication of the uses of 
this orifice, all other measures might fail to produce a 
prosperous state of our apiaries. The value of this open- 
ing will appear in the " winter management" of bees. 

The reader may be at a loss to conceive how the bees 
are to be shut in, with an opening all around the hive, 
besides the aforesaid orifice, . It is done as follows : four 


small holes are made in the floor-board to suit the size 
of the pins at the corners, in such positions that the 
whole four pins can at any time be lowered therein. 
When this is done, the only place of ingress and egress 
for the bees, is the small door- way, as seen in the cut, 
and run the slide over this, through the wire staples 
placed to receive it, and you have the bees imprisoned. 
It is important to have an opening, with a slide per- 
forated with holes, on both sides, that is, in the front 
and in the rear of the hive ; to admit a free circulation 
of air under the bees in the winter. This is another 
important principle of my management ; but I must not 
digress too far ; you shall hear the whole in due time. 

When small blocks are used instead of pins, the bee- 
keeper has only to pull them out, let down his hive, close 
the opening in front and rear, and the bees are shut in 
as before. 

We now come to the upper structure or super, and it 
will be perceived, that a glass window is placed on one 
side. This is placed in that position to save expense. 
It would, perhaps, be a little better to place it in the 
centre ; yet the joiner who made hives for me, informed 
me, that a considerable time could be saved in placing the 
windows in this position, with a sliding door to run in a 
groove. The sliding door may be seen in the cut drawn 
out. They who have but a few hives to make, would 
not save much in this way ; and I should recommend 
the door to be placed in the centre, and hung with very 
small butts. Indeed, this door may be altogether dis- 
pensed with, by those who may so choose ; yet these 



windows are important for other purposes besides look- 
ing in to see the operations of the bees. 

The foregoing remarks on the pins or supports of the 
hive, as well as those on the glass-windows, are appli- 
cable to every hive that I shall illustrate, except such as 
are suspended, and which do not rest upon floor-boards. 



I here give a cut of a chamber-hive adapted to the 
natural requirements of bees. The design and principle 
are not new ; but I have improved on the shape and di- 
mensions. The main body is one foot square, in the 


clear; the same size as the preceding box-hive. The 
chamber is eight inches -deep, with a door hung on butts, 
and shutting with a small hook and staple. A glass 
window is shown in front, which may be omitted, if you 
please, as before stated. Two boxes are made of very 
thin boards, each with a pane of glass covering the 
whole front, and let into a groove in the sides cut for 
that purpose. There should be no bottoms to these 
boxes, but they should rest on the floor of the chamber, 
through which three inch and a quarter holes should be 
made under each box. When filled with honey, a long 
slender knife run under them, will easily detach such 
portions of the combs, as may be built down in close 
contact with the chamber floor or division board ; and 
when the boxes are taken out, the bees are much easier 
driven out of them, than they could be, if they were 
enclosed on every side. If the apiarian does not sell 
any of his honey, it is preferable to have but one box to 
fill the whole space, because bees will work better in a 
single box, and lay up more honey, as a general rule, 
than in two small ones. 

The door to the chamber, and the glass window ap- 
pear in this cut to be in front, yet you can have either 
side to be the front, that you please. Both sides are 
adapted to be the front, or the back of the hive. 

This hive is made twenty-two inches high, and four- 
teen inches broad. These dimensions allow one infch 
for the top, one inch for the division-board or chamher- 
floor, and two inches for the thickness of two sides — 
that is, one inch for each. The two sides o^ full length 

160 miner's AMERICAN 

on either side of the chamber, are rabbeted out half an 
inch, so as to admit the door of the chamber to shut 
against the rabbet, making a better job. 

The top of the hive should project all round, about 
an inch or more. 

This hive is made to be suspended, or to set down 
upon a stand. There are a couple of bars, about an inch 
thick, placed on each side of the hive, near where the 
division-board separates the lower from the upper sec- 
tion, as may be seen in the engraving. These bars 
should be screwed on ; yet, for a common hive, nailing 
may do very well. The use of these bars is to support 
the hive, when the apiarian wishes to suspend it, rather 
than rest it on a floor-board, as the preceding cut repre- 

This, as well as every other kind of hive that I shall 
illustrate, when resting on a floor-board, should rest on 
pins in the summer season ; and in the winter season, 
the bees should enter the small openings, in the front 
and rear only, as directed in the case of the box-hive, in 
the preceding cut ; and be subject to the same manage- 
ment in every particular. 




The above engraving represents a couple of chamber- 
hives, suspended on arms nailed across joists, (timber, 3 
by 4 in.) This mode of suspending hives is original ; 
no one but myself ever adopting it, that I know of I 
have also shown in the next engraving, another mode of 
suspending hives, of my own invention ; that, for some 
reasons, is superior to this method. 

The manner of suspending, on the above plan, is as 

162 miner's AMERICAN 

follows : — Take any timber, about three or four inches 
thick, say 3 by 3, 3 by 4, or 4 by 4, and cut off pieces 
six feet long ; such timber generally being about twelve 
feet long, one strip makes two pieces. Then sink one 
end in the ground, at least two feet, leaving the other 
end four feet above the ground. Then nail a strip of an 
inch board across the top of the post, as seen in the cut, 
on the side of the post towards the hives, and even with 
the top of it. Said cross-bar should be as small 
as it can be, and be strong enough to support one-half 
of a loaded hive, with a roof above, as will be shown. 
It should be broader in the centre, and taper towards the 
ends, as represented in the cut, in order to give greater 
strength. The length of this cross-bar should be about 
four inches longer than the width of two hives and the 
post ; in order to allow the hives to stand off some two 
inches from the post. When a post is thus set, and the 
cross-bar adjusted, taking care to have the bar rest hori- 
zontally, and also to have it face the exact direction that 
the hive should front ; then you have only to set a cor- 
responding post directly in the rear of the front one, 
supposing that to be the one first set into the ground, 
and place your cross-bar thereon, as before directed, and 
your stand is complete. You have, however this calcu- 
lation to make, viz ; the exact distance that the posts 
should be set from each other, so that in sliding in the 
hives, a close fit may be secured. Let us suppose that 
our hives measure fourteen inches wide, then allowing 
two inches for the two bars, it follows that the posts 
should be sixteen inches apart. As the foregoing cut 

bee-keeper's manual. 163 

only shows the front view of the stand, only one post 
appears ; the other must be imagined to stand directly 
behind it. 


xs ^ 


This cut represents a convenient roof for hives sus- 
pended on the foregoing plan. That every bee-stand 
should have protection from the scorching rays of the 
sun, is evident to every apiarian. I will not discuss this 
subject here ; but will simply show how to construct a 
roof on the above plan, which I consider all that is ne- 
cessary ; or rather that this answers the purpose, with a 
little more attention on the part of the bee-keeper, of 
more costly roofing. My object is to show how these 
things may be done economically, as well as expensively. 

According to the above cut, we take pine boards, one 
inch thick, and fifteen or eighteen inches wide, cut them 
in lengths oi four feet, then strap two of them together, 
as seen in the cut ; first, securing them from warping, 
by cleats nailed across them, on the under side, with 
wrought nails, and clinched. The ends of such cleats 
may be seen in the cut. The straps that hold the boards 
together at the top, may be stout leather, or butts, as the 
apiarian may choose. When the roof is finished, some 
blocks of wood may be placed on the top of each hive, 
in order to give a slight inclination to the sides of the 
roof; otherwise the two boards would rest horizontally 

164 * miner's AMERICAN 

on the hives. If the hives front the south, this roof 
should be drawn forward past the centre of them, 
and thus shade the side that needs protection, while the 
north side requires no shading. In the spring, when 
all the heat that the sun produces is beneficial, the roof 
may be moved back, so as to allow the sun to strike the 
hives, with the full force of his rays. 

This kind of roof will, perhaps, require some fasten- 
ing as security against very high winds, when fences and 
trees are prostrated. A strap, or strong cord secured to 
each side, directly over the posts, and then brought down 
and secured to the posts would be effectual. I would 
recommend, that an auger-hole be made both through 
the posts and the roof, when constructed for that pur- 

I recommend the roof to be in portions o^ four feet, 
for the reason, that such lengths are just sufficient for a 
single stand of two hives ; and such are removed with 
more facility than longer portions. If there are only 
two hives suspended, then, no longer roof can be conve- 
niently used, nor is a longer one necessary ; but in case 
that a half dozen stands are existing, then longer roofs 
might be used, but not to advantage. 

On this plan, a single hive cannot be suspended, since 
it requires two to effect an equilibrium. When more 
than one stand is erected, the adjoining ones should be 
placed at such distance, that the hives can be easily put 
in, and taken out, without coming in contact with the 
hives in the neighboring stands. If, for instance, our hives 
are fourteen inches wide, we should allow about sixteen 

bee-keeper's manual. 165 

inches space between the ends of the cross-bars of the 
different stands ; thus affording facility for placing a hive 
in position, or removing it to another location, at pleasure. 
The timber used in the posts should be equal in dura- 
bility to chestnut, and chestnut joists 3 by 4, are the very 
best that can be used. It is necessary to have body to 
the timber below the ground ; but ahove it is not neces- 
sary to be so strong. There is a way to economize, and 
at the same time beautify these posts, as follows, viz : — 
take a piece of 3 by 4 joist, eight feet long, and at a dis- 
tance of two feet from the end, set in your saw obliquely 
till you come to the centre of the stick ; then running 
the saw along through the centre four feet, you stop, and 
on the opposite side to that, on which you commenced 
sawing, you cut off the stick, thus giving two posts, six 
feet long, each with a shoulder two feet in length oi full 
size, to be set into the ground, while the diminished por- 
tions, four feet long, above the ground, are quite strong 
enough, and much improved in beauty by the operation. 
The end of one piece will have to be squared at the top, 
in consequence of the necessity of cutting obliquely, to 
get the saw into the centre of the stick. If the joists are 
just twelve feet long, and by this operation the extra 
four feet become useless, nothing is gained on the score 
of economy ; yet something is gained in the looks of the . 
posts when erected. If joists can be obtained sixteen 
feet long, then a saving may be made, or if the apiarian 
chooses to lessen the height of his hives, perhaps three 
feet above, and eighteen inches below the ground, would 
answer; and in such a case posts only four feet six 

166 miner's AMERICAN 

inches, are required, and an ordinary joist, thirteen feet 
long, would suffice for four posts. 

It must not be supposed that this kind of bee-stand 
is the most beautiful that can be devised. I am now- 
talking to the man of moderate views, who wishes a 
snug, plain bee-stand, at a moderate cost ; yet as good 
as the best in practical utihty. 

When I come to the gentleman of leisure, with a 
purse ready to burst for the want of an exit-valve, I 
shall then unfold a magnificent diorama to his view; 
but here, among the plain every-day hives, I must stifle 
the utterance of these sublime views, which are re- 
served for those who enjoy their otium cum dignitate. 

It may be thought by some apiarians, that stands or 
posts, on the foregoing plan, bring the hives too close 
This is not the case. The distance will be about eight 
inches for the two hives occupying the same stand ; and 
the hives of the adjoining stands will be much farther off. 

It is true, that bees do not thrive so well when placed in 
hives on a stand close together, resting on a floor-board, 
for the reason, that they are apt to run to and fro to 
each other's hives ; but when the hives are suspended, 
this difficulty is avoided, and a bee is no more likely to 
enter the adjoining hive in this case, than if it were ten 
feet off". 

There is a feature pertaining to hives suspended, not 
belonging to those resting on floor-boards, it is this : the 
alighting-boards for the bees to rest on, as they enter the 
hives, are in the position of an inclined plane. 

Here is a side view of a suspended hive, with tlie 



floor-board suspended under the hive by little wire 
hooks and staples. See the bees entering at the side. 
They enter at every side, but much more in front than 
elsewhere, because that part of the floor-board projects 
two inches beyond the hive. 

It is not absolutely necessary that the bottom-board 
should have an inclination from back to front in this 
manner; yet it is better than to have it hanging hori- 
zontally, for various reasons ; one is, that it allows the 
water that may beat in under the hives, in storms, to 
easily run ofl* ; also any moisture from the interior of the 
hive that may drip down, readily finds its way to the 
ground. Again, any substances or insects that the bees 
have to thrust from the hive, can be expelled with much 
greater facility, since any one knows, that a great stone 


may be rolled down hill, that cannot be moved on level 
ground. The moth-worm, in the spring of the year, is 
dragged out of the hive much easier, with floor-boards 
on this plan. This incHnation may be about an inch ; 
that is, take half an inch from the hack of the hive, and 
add it to the front. It is not best to have any projec- 
tion except in front, as the suspension would thereby be 
attended with more trouble. The sides and back of the 
floor-board coming even or flush with the outer surface 
of the hive, the wire hooks secure it in its proper posi- 
tion much better than if it projected an inch or two all 

The winter management of such hives is precisely the 
same, as I stated for hives resting on stationary floor- 
boards ; so far as closing up the entrance on all sides, 
and compelling the bees to enter the narrow apperture 
in front is concerned. The method of closing the whole 
general entrance around the hive must be different, of 
course ; yet the same narrow passage-way for use in 
cold weather, is reserved in hives suspended, as well as 
those not suspended. The manner of raising up the 
bottom-boards in the fall, when cold windy weather sets 
in, say in November, is by having two sets of staples, 
one for lowering down and the other for raising up the 
floor-board ; or a projection of the floor-board in the 
i^ear, may be left, so that by sliding it forward, it will 
close itself; when a wooden button placed at the back 
of the hive, near the centre of the bottom, may be turn- 
ed on its pivot and hold the floor-board firm in its closed 


position. The distance that a floor-board is hung from 
the hive is three-eighths of an inch, in all cases. 

It will be observed, that in the foregoing cut of the sus- 
pended hives, no door or w^indow appears in front. In 
this case, the door of the chamber is supposed to be on 
the back of the hive, and that of the glass window below, 
on the same side. If there be a passage-way back of 
suspended hives, it is best to have these things in the 
rear. For the use of the thorough, practical apiarian, 
the glass windows in the body, or lower section of the 
hive, are of little value ; but for the amateur apiarian, 
let them be inserted, if he is willing to pay for the extra 
expense that it will incur, of about fifty cents each, or 
perhaps less. 

Every hive, whether suspended or otherwise, would 
be benefitted by having a floor-board on the inclined- 
plane principle; yet it is attended with some trouble 
to have such, when the hives rest on a bench or stool. 
I have, however, obviated that difficulty, in a new hive 
that I have recently constructed, denominated the 
*' Equilateral Bee-Hive," the engraving of which ap- 
pears in this work. It is effected by beveling off" the 
floor-board on every side, forming a slight cone in the 
centre, with the inclined sides diverging therefrom. 





' I now introduce a second method of suspending hives, 
which I consider preferable to the first, on some ac- 
counts. On this plan, only three posts are used for sus- 
pending two hives ; whereas, on the other plan, four 
are necessary. In this case, the bars that are attached 
to the hives to support them, are placed on the sides, 
instead of on the fronts and backs. Then correspond- 
ing bars are nailed across the ends of the posts, even 
with the tops of them, and of the same length and size 
of the bars on the hives. The ends of these bars are 
seen in the cut, as they appear when correctly adjusted. 
The posts, on this plan, stand opposite the centres of the 
hives; and the cross-bars on the posts being so placed that 
an equal length projects on each side. The weight of 
the hive, bears on the bars where they are nailed to the 
posts ; or rather, the weight is equal on each side of the 

bee-keeper's manual. 171 

fulcrum or centre, and the bars arc able to sustain a 
very great weight. 

The remarks relative to posts, the hanging of the bot- 
tom-boards on an inclined plane, the construction of a 
roof, &c., are all applicable to these hives, as well as those 
hung on the first-mentioned plan. 

The door to the chamber, and the glass window in 
the lower section of the hive, here appear in front. 
They can, as I before observed, be on either side ; yet 
I think hives have a better appearance to have them in 

It is desirable in erecting a bee-stand, to have as little 
shelter for insects as possible, and here lies the advan- 
tage of this stand, to some little extent, over the one first 
named. Everything fits very closely in the above 
method, affording less crevices for moth-millers, spiders, 
&c., than the other mode. The difficulty in the first 
case, merely lies in the necessity of the cross-bars being 
much wider than those of the second case ; and as the 
posts will gradually work out of position, in a small de- 
gree, openings between the said bars and the hives will 
appear ; and unless the apiarian uses a brush to clean 
out these crevices quite often, they become filled with 
spiders' webs, and various insects that do no good to 
the apiary ; yet with care on the part of the attentive 
bee-keeper, there is nothing to fear. If a channel ap- 
pears between the bars and the hives on the above plan 
a brush-broom will clear out any insects that may get a 
lodgment there very easily ; but in the first case, there 


is more difficulty in effecting a dislodgment in conse- 
quence of the greater depth of the opening. 

There is another method of suspending hives, quite 
common. It consists in setting two parallel tiers of 
posts in the ground, three in number, of such height as 
may be desired ; and then nailing long strips of boards, 
three or four inches wide, and in length, say twelve feet, 
if such length is desired. The posts are so arranged, 
that when the boards are attached, the hives may be 
slid in at the ends, and rest on the bars, as in the two 
cases that I have adduced. The difficulty in this case 
is, that when half a dozen hives are thus suspended, and 
it becomes necessary to remove any but the two occu- 
pying the ends of the stand, it cannot be easily done, 
unless the bottom-boards are taken off, and the hives 
raised up perpendicularly, which is not convenient. 
Some persons may suppose that hives need not be re- 
moved at all, at any time ; yet such is not the case. 
Hives should never be removed in the spring or sum- 
mer season, unless an artificial swarm is to be made, or 
some operation performed that is necessary ; and every 
thorough, practical bee-keeper will often see the neces- 
sity of removing his hives for such purposes occasion- 

townly's hive. 

Mr. Edward Townly, of the city of New York, has, 
during the last ten years, disposed of many hundreds of 
his " patent premium hives," as I have been informed. 
I have not thought it expedient to furnish an engraving 

bee-keeper's manual. 173 

of his hive ; for the reason, that they who have them in 
use would not be benefitted thereby; and they who 
have not used them, had better not see them. I under- 
stand that Mr. Townly has recently removed to the 
west, since the merits of his hives have become generally 
understood in this vicinity. This is, indeed, strange! 
Many a tyro in apiarian science will now seek to throw 
away a V on a hive worse than useless, and will find no 
one to accommodate him. But not so with our western 
apiarians ; they will see hives paraded on the walks of 
some western city, with tumblers nicely adjusted in the 
chambers, a part filled with beautiful combs, and a part 
unfilled, containing these words written thereon, *'' Not 
to he filled,'' as if to show some mystic charm that keeps 
the bees in abeyance ; filling such only as contain no 
spell-bound mandate ! But, alas ! " Othello's occupa- 
tion's gone." The schoolmaster is abroad. Men's 
eyes are now open, and no longer can humbug stalk 
among us without being denuded of its assumed qual- 

In sober reality, I do not think Mr. Townl-y's hives 
of any value, except for kindling-wood. This language 
may appear too severe ; yet I but "speak the words of 
truth with soberness." If any gentleman would make me 
a present of a dozen of these hives, and a ten dollar 
hank hill with each, and bind me to use them in my 
apiary, I would not accept of the donation. 

After this exordium, I presume that the reader will 
expect to hear my objections to these hives ; and I will 
state them as briefly as possible. 

174 miner's AMERICAN 

The dimensions of Townly's hive are, for the lower 
section, where the bees have their permanent abode, about 
ten hj fourteen inches ; and since I discussed the size of 
hives in the Am. Agrt., in 1846-7, I learn that he has 
constructed some of his hives nearer my size, about one 
foot square. The chamber, or super, projects over the 
main body of the hive, on every side, some three inches, 
being raised to admit the boxes. It turns on hinges 
placed on one side. The communication from the body 
of the hive to the boxes in the super is by holes some- 
what similar to my own method. At the botttomof the 
hive is a screen made of wire, which is represented as 
affording fresh air, and at the same time, protecting the 
hive against the bee-moth. About an inch from the 
bottom of the hive a tube is inserted, about six inches 
long, with a bore about an inch and a half in diameter, 
through which the bees enter and depart. Near the 
top of the hive, in front, another similar tube is placed, 
for the ingress and egress of the family. 

Now, in the first place, if he still makes his hives 10 
by 14 inches, as at first, I consider that size as entirely 
too small. The solid contents of such a hive is much 
less than a hive 12 by 12 in., because the /owr^eeTi inches 
is the dejHh, not the breadth of the hive. In the next 
place, I condemn his wire screen as ruinous, rather than 
beneficial, to the bees ; at least, doing no good at all. 
The only way to ventilate hives is by giving ingress and 
egress on every side of the hive, as I have shown in the 
suspended hives, before illustrated. 

Again, the upper tube is downright ruin to any 

bee-keefer's manual. 175 

family of bees. On this principle, a current of air 
is constantly passing up through the brood-combs, 
where the bees are doing all that lies in their power 
to get up a high degree of heat, in order to de- 
velop the larvae. If a man were to try his best to 
invent something that would prove the most destructive to 
bees, and he should produce a hive with a large tube, or 
opening near the top of it, I should award him a pre- 
mium for the best article offered, or that could be offered. 
I could state many things pertaining to Townly's hive 
that I disapprove of, but it would be a waste of space 
and time. There is nothing but the novelty of it that 
enables the patentee to sell them, and it only requires, to 
have the merits of this invention fully understood, from 
a few years actual use, to cause the proprietor to 
vend them in parts unknown. 


Mr. Weeks, of Vermont, has invented several hives in 
his day, and he has also published a small work on the 
honey-bee, and so, indeed, has Townly. Both of these 
little works are of sterling merit, so far as they go ; but 
they are but introductions to the subject, and I am as- 
tonished, that gentlemen having the means of unfolding 
the interesting habits, economy, and management of 
bees, should have stopped on the very threshhold of their 
subject ; but so it is, and they stand not alone. Others 
have done the same, and perhaps I am following them ; 
but I think the reader will, on wading through these 



pages, when he comes to ''finis," exclaim, "enough — 
enough — / want no rnore.'' 

- Mr. Weeks' hive, properly denominated the " Ver- 
mont Hive," is on the same principle of my suspended 
hives, as illustrated at page 167. The size and shape 
of his hive is different, how^ever, from mine. His bot- 
tom-board is suspended by wire hooks and staples in the 
same manner as I have described. He also has a cham- 
ber to his hive, in which two boxes are placed with 
glass fronts, on my plan ; but in order to obtain a greater 
surface for these supers, or boxes, and not destroy the 
symmetry of the hive, he has {as I presume) given an in- 
clination to the back of it. Here is a side view of one 
of them, . : ; 

Now, this shape is not necessary at all ; but if a man 
expects to have his hives " take" with the public, there 
must be a mystery about them, — a grand secret, and a 
novelty pertaining to them. Thus reason men of the 
present day, in a great measure ; yet, after all, " honesty 
is the best policy." . , 

Mr. Weeks gives as a reason for having the back of 

bee-keeper's manual. 177 

his hive incline in the above manner, that it is 
expressly to hold the combs up, and also to carry off the 
sweatings, or drippings from the interior of the hive, 
which sometimes occm*. This inclination is of about 
the same relative value as o- fifth wheel to a wagon, — of 
no use whatever. If Mr. Weeks' hive has merits, it is 
independent of this inclination ; yet anything for nov- 
elty ! I disapprove of the shape of Mr. Weeks' hive, 
and think the size of the lower section too large ; beyond 
these objections, it is very near what a hive ought to 
be ; and it is far preferable to Townly's hive ; indeed, if 
no worse hives than Weeks' " Vermont Hive," is palmed 
off on the public, we ought to think ourselves well off. 

Mr. Weeks has also constructed another hive termed 
the " Non-Swarmer," which is entirely too unwieldly, 
and too costly for general use. We cannot afford to 
employ engineers to work our hives ; and I do hope, that 
hive inventors will hereafter bear this in mind. Let us 
have something plain, simple, original, compact, and 
economical, and then you'll go it. 

The principle on which Mr. Weeks' " Non-Swarmer" 
is based, is upon the principle of collateral hiving, or in 
other words, the placing of boxes at the sides of the 
main hive, instead of under, or on the top of it. He 
also supers this hive, at the same time, and thus prevents 

I shall discuss the relative merits, of collateral hiving, 
nadiring, and supering, in a chapter devoted to that sub- 

It is hardly worth my while to comment on the merits 

178 miner's AMERICAN 

of every hive that has had its brief existence, since I 
know of none, that is of any particular value. 

--^- I ■ colton's hivb. 

A Mr. Coltofi has invented a hive, that I saw repre- 
sented in the Albany Cultivator. How far this hive has 
been introduced, I am unable to say ; but it cannot be 
of any real, practical utility. The principle on which it 
is constructed is something like this : — 

The main body of the hive is of a triangular form ; 
with one of its sides horizontal with the ground. On 
each side of the angle, are placed three boxes, in posi- 
tions somewhat like the steps of stairs, each with its com- 
munication with the main hive. These boxes, which must, 
of course, be small, constitute the supers of the Jiive, 
and if the bees would fill all of them annually, it would 
be a very profitable hive ; but this they will not do. I 
speak from a knowledge of what a family of bees ordi- 
narily can perform, and if I should be shown a hive with 
double the room in the chamber, that a stock of bees can 
generally fill, I should condemn it as impracticable, how- 
ever much to the contrary the inventor might assert. 


This is a hive invented by a gentleman residing at 
Poughkeepsie, or somewhere up the North River, if I 
mistake not. It is on the " subtended" principle, of 
placing boxes over each other. I have only to remark, 
in regard to this, as well as all other hives on this prin- 
ciple, that if it be intcndod to transfer the bees from old 

bee-keeper's manual. 179 

to new combs, m the manner as shown at page 142, then 
they will prove a failure, if the most of them have not 
" blown up" already. 

There is another style of hive in use, to a considera- 
ble extent, that has no principle that is particularly at 
variance with my chamber-hive, represented at page 158, 
except the floor-board has a double inclination. It is 
done thus : the bottom of the hive is level ; that is, hav- 
ing no inclination from back to front. 

The bottom-board, or boards, are then placed with an 
inclination from the centre of the hive, about two or 
three inches from the bottom, towards each side ; so 
that when the hive is viewed with the floor-boards in 
their places, two of them appear; one projecting in 
front some two inches, and slanting up into the hive to 
near its centre, from front to rear, and as I before 
stated, about three inches from the bottom of the hive ; 
then, another projecting in the rear, or on the back of 
the hive, having the same inclination upward as the 
other. This description is given from a hasty exami- 
nation, and I may possibly not be correct, as regard dis- 
tances ; but the general features of the alighting-board, 
I think, are as above represented. This hive is termed 
a " patent hive," in the section of country where I saw 
it in use. I infer, that some one, desirous of " raising 
the wind," by introducing a hive with some new " gim- 
crack" about it, that would look mysterious and novel, 
has taken the common chamber-hive, that is public pro- 
perty, and open for any man's use, and attached this 

180 miner's AMERICAN ^ 

humbug of a bottom-board, to make it " take" with the 
public ! .. 


Straw hives are not much used in this country ; and 
they never would have been made in any country, but 
for their cheapness. The peasantry of Europe, who are 
not able to furnish their apiaries with wooden hives, still 
continue in the use of those made of straw. I consider 
this kind of hive as wholly unfit for the use of people 
who live in a land of plenty, and who are able to make 
wooden ones at a rate but a little dearer than those made 
of straw. Straw hives are only worthy of a state of 
abject poverty, and I hope that I shall never see one in 
use in this land of milk and honey, where every man 
can sit down to his " roast beef and plum pudding," and 
go to bed with his pockets jingling with " mint drops."' 


Every one, I presume, has seen hives made from hol- 
low trees, by cutting off the log of a suitable length, and 
then nailing a board on the opening at the top. This is 
a much better hive than those made of straw. These 
log-hives, are called "gums," in some parts of the coun- 
try. I recommend this kind of hive to those who wish 
to keep bees without any expense whatever. There is no 
principle of the habits and economy of the bee, that 
conflicts with log-hives ; yet when boards are as cheap 
a.s they are, in those sections of the country that abound 



in logs, I think that boards should be used, even by the 
poor man, who studies economy in all his labors. 

The log-hive is preferable to many patent hives now 
in use ; and I can name several of them that I would 
not as soon use as the hollow log, if I were compelled 
to use either. 


The above cut represents a hive that I have con- 
structed, with the view to combine beauty with utility. 
During ninny years of experimentinc: on the correct 

182 miner's AMERICAN 

size of hives, I have demonstrated certain requisites, that 
every hive should possess. 

Firstly, hives should be of such a size as nature will 
admit the bees to keep full, and yet have room enough 
to perform every ramification of their labors to the best 

Secondly, facility to be afforded the bees in ascending 
to the supers. If we have long and narrow hives, the 
bees find much more difficulty in forcing their way 
loaded, through a long space crowded with bees, than 
they would through a less space. This is so reasonable, 
that the mere avowal of it is convincing ; consequently, 
we must give a more compact form to our hives, and 
shorten the distance to the supers as much possible, and 
not interfere with any other principle of management. 

Thirdly, the supers should be so arranged, that the 
honey stored therein, may be taken with the greatest 
possible facility. Every apiarian is aware, that most of 
the hives now in use, do not offer the facility of perform- 
ing this operation, that is desirable. It is true, that with 
a bee-dress, the removal of the boxes is not attended 
with any particular trouble, unless it be in the chamber- 
hives, where the boxes are a tight fit, and are hard to 
loosen from their positions ; but everything should be so 
arranged, that the bees will receive little or no disturb- 
ance. It is not the mere operation of removing supers, 
at the time that it is being performed, that we should look 
to. If we irritate the bees, they will not forget it for 
several days ; and when we do not expect it, one may 
plant its sting in our face : saying, as it were, " there, 

bee-keeper's manual. 183 

take tliat, for the way you jammed and knocked us about 
the other day." 

In my EauiLATERAL hive, I have effected all that I 
think can be done, in the way of improvement in respect 
to the foregoing considerations. The easy manner in 
which the boxes in the upper section may be removed, 
when filled with bees, and the communication shut off 
with the family below, by a simple and beautiful contri- 
vance, are very prominent features of its merits. I 
offer no novelty ! — no grand discovery ! — no wonder- 
ful invention, that allows the bees to produce great and 
unprecedented harvests of surplus honey ! But I claim 
to have simplified, and divested the management of bees 
of its complexity, and rendered the business easy to the 
inexperienced apiarian. 

Connected with the foregoing important results, I have 
beautified the general appearance of my hive, so as to 
render it an ornament, at the same time that its utility 
is admitted, and not increase the expense of making it 
to any amount worth taking into consideration. 

The foregoing cut gives a tolerably correct view of 
one style of ornamenting; but I have another hive that 
I think surpasses this in beauty ; that is, the ornamental 
portion, but the size and shape are the same as that re- 
presented by the cut. On either of these two hives, a 
handsome wooden urn may be placed, if desired, which 
will greatly improve their appearance. 

This kind of hive may be made without any glass 
windows, and thereby lessen the expense somewhat, but 
gentlemen wishing but a few hives, should not stand for 

184 ' miner's AMERICAN 

the extra trifle that it will cost to have the windows 

The cost of making my ornamental hives is no more 
than the common chamber hive ; and the difference in 
appearance is very great. Nothing could exceed the 
beauty of a row of these hives handsomely arranged 
on a well-made platform, or on stools suitably con- 
structed, and with a tasty roof to protect them from the 
heat of the sun at noonday, which is all that hives re- 
quire. I am strongly opposed to close bee-houses, as 
the reader will learn by my remarks on that point here- 
after. , • ' -/.T' ."- 

My equilateral hive is intended to rest on a floor- 
board, beveled on its sides as before alluded to, and pro- 
jecting two or three inches all round the hive. The 
small entrance for the bees seen in front, is for use in 
winter, and during cold spring weather. In the sum- 
mer, the hive rests on four small pinions or legs, three- 
eighths of an inch high, as represented in describing the 
box-hive at page 153. When it is necessary to lower 
down the hive, the legs are let into small holes in the 
floor-board made expressly to receive them, and very 
near to the position of them, when the hive is raised up 
as it stands during the summer. 

The full particulars of every part of this hive cannot 
be given here, and do justice to myself It is a true 
saying, that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." The 
production of this hive has caused me much mental 
labor, and I think that I am justly entitled to reap the 


benefit, to a trifling extent, that will result to the public 
from its adoption. 

I intend to offer this hive for sale at a very moderate 
rate : and also to furnish full and complete drawings of 
every part thereof, to gentlemen residing at a distance, 
or otherwise, accompanied by a neat pamphlet, giving 
the most ample details in regard to every thing con- 
nected with it, or pertaining to its construction ; as well 
as the proper management of bees in this kind of hive — 
all for the reasonable sum of two dollars, which will 
entitle the applicant to make as many hives as he may 
require for his own use. As this book will exist, when 
the author has past to " that bourne whence no traveller 
returns," the above remarks apply no longer than it may 
please God to spare his life. An advertisement wiK 
probably accompany each edition of this work, rela- 
tive to furnishing the before-named hive, or the engra- 
vings, &c., which may be found at the sequel of the 


Besides supering and nadiring, there is yet another 
method of obtaining the surplus honey gathered, termed 
collateral hiving. This system consists in placing boxes 
at the sides of the hives, instead of over or under them. 
The following cut represents a couple of boxes on this 



In one of the above boxes the family of bees is sup- 
posed to be permanent residents ; and if success is to 
crown the efforts of the owner, as I view the subject, 
the box where the bees pass the winter, should be a 
foot square, or near it. Some apiarians think, that a 
certain number of inches in width will cause the bees 
to construct a certain number of combs ; that is, a box 
twelve and a half inches square will admit of nine combs 
being made, whereas, one twelve inches square will only 
afford room for eight leaves. According to the width 
of brood-combs, and the interstices between, there is an 
abundance of space in a box one foot square, to con- 
struct nine combs ; but the bees will only make eight, 
because the outside leaves are generally store-combs, 
and thicker than those built expressly to rear the larvae 
in. No more than eight combs, as a general rule, would 
be built if the other half inch were added. I have a 
remedy for this difficulty, which will appear hereafter. 

The English method of collateral hiving on the above 
plan, is to have two boxes about ten inches square, and 
to be put together with hinges on one side ; and when 
closed, secure them by a hook and staple. The com- 

bee-keeper's manual. 187 

munication from one box to the other, is by two or three 
such horizontal openings as appear in the cut, besides 
that at the bottom. The sides of the hives that come in 
contact, are but half an inch thick, instead of one inch, 
the thickness of the other portions of them. The covers 
or tops, are screwed on, and the loose bars are used as 
represented in the cross-bar hive at page 138. When 
the honey is taken from the collateral box, the lid is 
taken off, and the leaves of combs extracted, when the 
bees return to the original box. 


The foregoing plan of obtaining the surplus honey 
bears no comparison to supering or placing the box over 
that occupied by the family. There is not a solitary 
feature pertaining to it, that recommends its adoption. 
The hives take up double the usual room ; and the 
quality of the honey is inferior to that stored in supers, 
being subject to much more bee-bread and larvae, and 
besides this, the bees will not produce as much honey 
and wax on this plan, as when supered or nadired. 

There is no plan equal to supering, when we take 
everything into consideration. The queen seldom as- 
cends ; but she will go into collateral hives, and into 
those placed under her domicil, and absolutely destroy 
the honey with her brood, so far as a ready sale or the 
beauty of its appearance is concerned. 

There are instances in which the bees seem to dis- 
relish ascending into supers, even when there is no lack 
of numbers ; and the same is the case with collateral 



boxes and hives placed under the family ; but there is 
generally a good reason for their not entering and work- 
ing in wax. that our eyes are closed to. In all cases of 
supering, one or two guide-combs should be secured to 
the top of the boxes, at the sides, and in the natural po- 
sition. By this course, the bees are attracted to the 
boxes sooner than if no guide-combs were inserted. I 
do not wish to be understood, that guide-combs are ab- 
solutely necessary ; because the bees will work in the 
supers, whether there be any such combs or not; pro- 
vided there be a supernumerary portion of workers 
existing ; yet they are inclined to commence their labors 
as I before observed, somewhat earlier with them. 


When the two boxes are closed, they present the 
above appearance, with the exception, that no hook in 
front is here shown to hold them together. 

If any of my readers should feel inclined to try this sys- 
tem, since there is nothing like learning by experience, 
I would recommend that the boxes be secured together 
wholly by hooks and staples ; say, one on top, and one 
on each side, at the centre. Have nothing to do with 


cross-bars ; but when you take away the honey, separate 
the boxes a few inches, during 24 hours, and the most of 
the bees will return to the old combs ; unless there be a 
large quantity of larvae among the new ones. 

If it be found that the bees do not desert the new 
combs at all, perhaps the queen may be among them, in 
which case, she would draw a portion, if not all of the 
bees in the other box after her, as soon as they might 
become aware of their isolation. A very good way is 
to cause a commotion among the tenants of both boxes, 
by shaking or beating the hives, when the separation 
takes place ; and the bees will at once, from instinct, 
endeavor to ascertain whether the queen be safe, and 
among them, and the box that does not contain her will 
be certain to be evacuated in a great degree; and 
wholly, if there be no larvae therein. 



When a few hundred bees remain among the combs 
of a collateral box, they may be so frightened, as to be 
rendered perfectly harmless. All you have to do, is to 
beat the box well with a rod ; and every comb may be 
cut out with the greatest facility ; and as each comb is 
withdrawn, brush off the bees with some soft brush, 
which should be kept for the use of the apiary. An or- 
dinary window brush, with a handle a foot or eighteen 
inches long, is what is wanted. 

190 miner's AMERICAN 


If it should happen, that the new combs in a collateral 
box, or even in any other, whether placed above or be- 
low, should be regularly constructed ; that is, such as are 
used for brood-combs only, and devoid of those ill- 
shapen, thick store-combs, that generally occupy all 
extra room afforded the bees, in such a case, it would be 
safe to effect a transfer from old to new combs, on the 
" subtended" plan, which I so emphatically condemn. 
There is no general rule without its exceptions ; and 
cases may occur in which a transfer may be safely made, 
if it be done in a manner that will not endanger the 
safety of the queen. The regular drone-cells would be 
lacking, but the bees would change, or cut down a por- 
tion of the store-cells, for the production of drones in the 
following spring. I do not wish to be understood as fa- 
voring this system at all, except in cases where we know 
that no injurious consequences can arise, which are not 
likely to occur. . 


In placing hives over each other, it is best to place 
but one super at a time, and when that is filled, place 
another box in its position, and raise the first one over 
it. The bees, in this case, having filled the upper one, 
and that box probably containing some larvae, they will 
still adhere to it to some extent ; and the spare room, 
being afforded between two bodies of bees, is sooner oc- 

bee-keeper's manual. 191 

cupied than when placed over all, or when the first box 
is removed away, and the second occupying its position, 
with nothing above it. 


I would also observe, that in placing boxes in the 
chambers of hives of a small size, it is not advisable to 
place any dependence on having them filled twice or 
three times the same season, as some apiarians assert ; 
because the bees manifest a dislike to commence labors 
anew, when they are robbed of their treasure. The 
safest way is to give them all the space that they can 
probably fill at first, and not disturb them at all, until the 
season of general deprivation. Bees will, however' 
often fill two sets of small boxes in a good season ; but 
it is bad policy to trust to their doing so. 


The question may here arise, at what time should the 
supers be taken off? It depends, to some extent, upon 
the nature of the bee-pasturage in the vicinity of the 
apiary ; that is, the main reliance of the bees for their 
gatherings. If it be white clover mainly, the first of 
August is the proper time ; or perhaps at any time du- 
ring that month. If the supers be left until September 
or October, the combs are apt to become blackened, in 
consequence of the bees constantly passing over them. 
There are instances often, when the boxes in chambers 
may be removed in June ; and where the boxes are 
found perfectly filled, and the cells sealed over, it 

192 ^ miner's AMERICAN 

is as well to remove them at once, and substitute 
others with a guide-comb, and if you get another har- 
vest, very well ; if not, no harm is done. 

The honey, if left in boxes, should be covered with 
paper, or cloths, perfectly tight, in order to keep out in- 
sects. If the boxes be intended for market, bottoms 
should be made for them, and laid aside, and put on 
when the supers are withdrawn from the chambers, after 
driving out the bees. 


You would, perhaps, like to know how to get the bees 
out of the boxes with the least trouble. In order to dis- 
turb the family as little as possible, carry your boxes to 
any dark place, where the bees can find their way out, 
by a little light being admitted near them, and in the 
course of the day the most of the bees will have depart- 
ed, and returned home. Care must be taken not to 
leave the boxes where other bees will scent them out, 
and be attracted to themj unless you wish to divide 
pretty freely with them. You can, if you please, drive 
out the bees at once, with a rod which should be applied 
pretty freely to the sides of the boxes, with the open bot- 
toms upwards. This way requires a person to be well 
protected by a bee-dress ; but it makes the bees more 
irritable than the other method. In taking out the 
boxes, the greatest care should be observed to not crush 
many bees, as this arouses their anger to its greatest 

bee-keeper's manual. 193 


Every apiarian who has leisure to study the habits 
and economy of the bee, should have one observatory 
hive ; that is, a hive with only a single comb, of suffi- 
cient magnitude to afford space for the entire operations 
of a moderate-sized family. This hive, of course, must 
be very narrow, merely affording the necessary room to 
build one comb, and that must be 6roo^-comb; and 
allow space on each side for the bees to labor, but not 
to cluster thickly. 

The ordinary width of a brood-comb is about an inch, 
and the bees require at least three-eighths of an inch 
space on each side ; consequently, the distance between 
the glass sides should be, say, one inch and three quar- 
ters. One and five-eighths inch wide will do very well, 
and perhaps just as well as to add the other eighth of an 
inch ; yet I think the safest way would be, to make the 
width as I first stated ; because, if the bees should be 
pressed into too close quarters, it would, perhaps, affect 
their regular labors materially. 

The area of the sides of such a hive should be, at 
least, two feet long, and eighteen inches high ; but a 
single comb of such large dimensions, would require a 
support in the centre of the hive. Here is a cut show- 
ing the form of such a hive, with cross-bars through the 
centre both ways, as a support to the combs. 



These bars should be about one inch wide and half 
an inch thick, supporting each other in the middle, at 
the junction. This size would simply occupy the same 
space in width that the combs will ; consequently, the 
bees will have perfect freedom in passing over any part 
of the interior of the hive. 

The above cut represents the comb in progress of 

construction in each division of the hive. The bees 

will often do this in this manner, when unable to work 

to advantage at a single point. They will even work 

upwards, when no other means affords labor to the 

whole of the family. Here is a cut showing the manner 

in which they work upwards and downwards at the same 

The cross-bars in these two cases afford them an op- 
})ortunity of working upwards and downwards ; when, 
if no bars were inserted, the bees would be compelled 
to work from the top only, since the distance from the 
roof to the floor, would deter them from commenciiiir at 



the bottom. So perfect is the skill and architecture of 
this insect, that the parts of combs are united at the 
apex of each, with such astonishing workmanship, that 
it is impossible to perceive where the union takes place, 
or any difference from a comb worked down entirely in 
the usual way. 

In fitting in the cross-bars, care should be taken to 
have, at least, three-eighths of an inch space between 
the edges of them and the glass sides of the hive ; since 
a less space than that would, not give the bees a pas- 
sage-way of sufficient diameter. 

From this kind of hive, pieces of brood-comb may be 
easily taken, when larvae are wanted to form artificial 
swarms, or for the purpose of replacing a lost queen. 
In order to obtain easy access to the combs, the glass 
sides should be hung on hinges, so as to be opened at 
any time, and admit the apiarian to perform any opera- 
tion within, that he may choose. The glass sides or 
windows should be divided in the centre, and open each 
way, or right and left. Here is an engraving of one side 
of the hive, with the two class doors closed. 

The doors should be hung with small butt-hinges on 
each side, being secured in their places when closed, by 


a wooden or brass button in the centre of the upright 
standard, against which, in a rabbet made for that pur- 
pose, they close. The glass doors will each contain a 
pane of glass about one foot wide and 18 inches long, 
allowing that the inside of the hive measures two feet 
by 18 inches, as it should measure. The frames for the 
doors may sink into a rabbet, planed out of the main 
frame of the hive, and thus admit of glass being used in 
them, of such size as to cover almost the entire surface 
of the hive. The frames for these doors should be as 
light as possible, and be durable and firm. 

Outside of the glass doors, are to be a couple of close 
shutters ; since the bees will not carry on their labors 
when exposed to the light, for any considerable length 
of time. The outer doors are to be hung with butts, 
also, and they should sink into a rabbet in the frame, 
exterior to that made for the inner doors. The frame 
for the body of the hive should be made of inch and a 
quarter plank, pine if you please ; and every joiner can 
make his own calculation, relative to the proper width 
and thickness, to render the whole substantial, when 
finished. The diameter between the two glass doors, is 
to he one inch and three-quarters. This is a "fixed 
fact," we will suppose. The frames for said doors need 
not be over half an inch thick, and the glass can be 
secured in the frame, and be flush, or even with the in- 
side thereof. The outside doors need not be over half 
an inch thick also, with clamps nailed across the ends, 
to keep them from warping. Now we have one and 
three-quarters inches to begin with, for the diameter of 

bee-keeper's manual. 197 

the inside, half an inch for each door, and being two on 
each side, make three and three-quarters inches, as the 
whole diameter of the frame, allowing that all the doors 
are sunk into rabbets equal to their several thicknesses. 
A joiner must be dull indeed, who cannot now make the 
frame-work of an observatory hive, from the foregoing 

The outside doors, when closed, may be secured in 
their places by a button at the top, on the frame of the 

In the foregoing cut, the outside doors are shown as 
being thrown open. 

After this observatory hive is made as already de- 
fined, the question arises, how is it to be supported in 
its upright position? This is very easy to perform. 
Take a board, say two and a half feet long and eighteen 
inches wide ; plane and smooth it nicely ; nail, if you 
please clamps across each end, to prevent its warping ; 
then attach it to the under side of the frame of the hive 
with screws, having the frame in the centre of the board, 
lengthwise. The board may be narrower or wider than 
the before-named diameter; but it should be of such 
width as to prevent the hive from falling over. This 
kind of hive should be placed entirely under cover, be- 
yond the reach of rains and the rays of the sun, during 
the heat of the day. 

There is yet another important consideration before 
we finish with this hive. We have it finished except 
the entrance for the bees, and that is quite necessary. 
The places of ingress and egress may be made by cut- 

198 miner's american 

ting out an apperture from the lower section of the 
frame, under the two doors. This passage may be six 
inches long and half an inch deep, on each side of the 
hive ; thus affording the bees the facility of passing out 
in two directions. 

The object of a hive of this character is, to witness 
the operations of the different classes of bees, — to see 
how the workers discharge their burdens — how the lar- 
vae are fed, if you can — how the queen is treated by 
drones and workers — how she deposits her eggs — her 
treatment of young princesses, when sacrificed by her — 
her power to excite the bees to swarm, and many other 
interesting developments of deep interest to the scien- 
tific apiarian. 

ruber's observatory hive. 

Huber constructed an observatory hive, consisting of 
eight frames, hung on butt-hinges, and secured by hooks 
and eyes when closed. There were glass windows in 
the outside frames only. When he wished to witness 
the labors of the bees in the interior of the hive, he 
opened the leaves as we would those of a book. The 
bees having become accustomed to have their hive 
opened in this manner, were not annoyed by the opera- 
tion. In opening the leaves of such a hive, the opera- 
tor must be very steady in all his movements, as sudden 
jars tend more to arouse a family of bees, than any other 
interference with them. A hive full of bees to its great- 
est capacity, may, at any time, be turned over carefully 
and set down on its top, without any protection to the 


operator ; provided, that the hive receives no jar in the 
operation. The setting down of the hive on its top, 
must be done in so careful a manner, that the bees will 
not feel the force of it. Let but a slight mishap occur 
from inattention on the part of the apiarian, and a hun- 
dred bees will dart at his face and show him no mercy. 
The success of all operations with bees rests on the use 
of a steady hand. Not the least attention should be 
paid to their attacks upon you, when you are perfectly 
protected ; and you should never attempt to do any act 
pertaining to them, involving the least liability of being 
stung, without full protection to every exposed part of 
your person. Running and dodging to get out of the 
w^ay of bees, is but an incentive to still further attacks 
from them. 

I have not considered it expedient to give a cut of 
Ruber's leaf hive, for the reason, that I do not believe 
that any of my readers would ever attempt to construct 
one of the kind. It is expensive, cumbrous and useless ; 
since all that we desire to see may be v/itnessed by the 
use of the single leaf hive, that I have described. 

In the use of my leaf hive as before described, there 
may be some difficulty in getting a swarm to enter, pro- 
vided the bee-keeper has had no experience in this busi- 
ness. A large swarm should never be selected for a 
leaf hive. The opening for the bees to enter on each 
side, should be much larger than those that I have dis- 
cribed for other hives, to be used in winter, in order to 
afford the greater facility to the swarm in entering the 
hive. These openings may be cut on a bevel, sloping 


down to the board upon which the frame stands. If the 
apiarian choose, he may make any openings for the 
swarm to enter, that his own judgment may suggest ; 
for instance, holes may be bored an inch in diameter in 
the end pieces of the frame, and near the floor of the 
hive, and when the bees are hived, they can be plugged 
up or left open. I should leave them open in very warm 
weather. If it be found that the bees will not readily 
enter, one door may be opened a few inches, and a cloth 
thrown over the hive, to extend down to within an inch 
or two of the bottom ; then the bees will enter, and at 
evening when they are fully clustered within, the door 
may be closed. Perhaps the door may have to be closed 
by degrees, say partly at evening and fully in the morn- 
ing, in consequence of a portion of the bees clustering 
along the rabbet, into which the door closes. 

There are many things pertaining to the management 
of bees, that must ever be treated according to the best 
of the apiarian's judgment. Every case that may come 
within the scope of his experience, cannot be anticipated 
in any work on this subject; therefore, if any one 
should, at any time, find himself in a dilemma in his 
management of this insect, and find no especial rule in 
this Manual for his guidance, let him use the best of 
his judgment, according to the general principles here 
laid down. I do not think that anything of a serious 
nature will ever occur to any one engaged in the cul- 
ture of the bee, from which I shall be accused of with- 
holding information, that I ought to have given to the 
public. That I shall omit some things that would be 

bee-keeper's manual. 201 

well to insert, I have no doubt. Indeed, to write a work 
of this character, and not do so, would be beyond the 
power of man. 

Here is something in point. I came very near for- 
getting to inform you, that before you place a swarm in 
your observatory hive, you should attach two or three 
pieces of guide-comb to the roof of the hive. Take the 
tips or edges of any new comb that you can obtain ; 
say pieces two or three inches long, by an inch or more 
wide ; cut them off evenly and smoothly, with a sharp 
carving-knife ; and then, with the aid of a little melted 
bees- wax, attach them in the centre of the upper section 
of the frame or roof of the hive. Perhaps I may as well 
inform you at this place, how to melt the bees-wax in 
the best manner, and how to attach the comb. 

In the first place, you want a little tin pan about six 
inches long, and three or four inches wide, and one inch 
deep. Place your bees- wax into this pan and melt it ; 
then take a small brush, about as large around as a pipe- 
bowl and lay some of the melted wax, as quickly as pos- 
sible, upon the place where your piece of comb is to be 
attached ; and before the wax thus laid on has time 
to cool, you should dip that edge of the piece of comb 
to be secured in position, into the pan as quickly as 
possible, taking it out quickly to prevent its melting, and 
as soon as a coating of wax is obtained, then join it to 
that laid on the roof of the hive, taking particular care 
not to move the comb in the least, after its first adjust- 
ment. This whole operation must be done with a dex- 
trous hand, while the wax is yet pliable, on the roof, as 

202 miner's AMERICAN 

well as on the comb to be attached. The first trial will 
prove a failure with the amateur apiarian, I have no 
doubt. With old combs, the difficulty of attaching is 
not so great as with new combs, that are tender and 
brittle. New combs will melt, when put into the hot 
wax, very easily ; and it requires considerable skill to 
perform the operation successfully. When the piece of 
comb is attached in its position, which must be in pre- 
cisely the same place that the bees require it, always 
giving about half an inch space on either side for the 
bees to pass over, then it may be necessary to give it 
further security, since the weight of the cluster of bees 
will often disconnect it, when we think it perfectly firm 
in its attachment. The further security may be given 
by dipping the brush into the melted wax, and rubbing 
a little on at the ends of the combs, which being pressed 
firmly by the thumb in connection with a few of the 
end cells, the whole, when cooled, will afford perfect 

The brush that I use, is a small paint-brush, but any 
one can make a brush with bristles or hair, to answer 
the purpose. When no brush is at hand, a swab made 
by tying a rag on the end of a stick will do in the place 
of something better ; but here I am doing wrong to ini- 
tiate the apiarian into habits of carelessness, in not hav- 
ing such things at hand, as he should have, in order to 
operate with facility and success. I condemn half-way 
work ; and a man that feels interest enough in bees to 
purchase a swarm, should feel interest enough in their 
proper management, to have such things as are neces- 


sary, to carry that management into successful opera- 
tion, when the cost and trouble of obtaining them is not 
of the least account. 


The majority of bee-keepers of the old world still use 
the common straw hive, in consequence of its cheap- 
ness, or from prejudice. I say the majority — this in- 
cludes the cottagers, who compose a majority of those 
who keep bees in the old world. The hives used by 
the many scientific apiarians of England, France and 
Germany, are mostly of wood, and of every shape and 
size that can be imagined. The box-hives, as repre- 
sented at page 141, are in use to a considerable exent — 
that is, the same principle ; but no two bee-keepers unite 
on the same dimensions ! Huish adheres to straw hives 
still, with a cover on top to be raised, and having cross- 
bars to his hives, as represented at page 138; he cuts 
out one or two leaves or combs when the bees can spare 
them, and in this manner takes all the surplus honey 
that the bees can afford. I consider this method unwor- 
thy of notice, except to show the folly of men at this late 
day, in thus adhering to a custom that is founded in 
ignorance and prejudice. 

Of all the various styles of hives used in England, and 
on the continent, I find none that I can recommend to 
the bee-keeping community. There is the same de- 
sire for experiment and novelty exhibited there, that 
is manifested here. Occasionally a hive is brought 
forth as doing wonders; but a few years* experience 

204 miner's AMERICAN 

consigns it to oblivion. The same spirit is extant there, 
that in our own country cries " vive le bagatelle ;" and 
inventors are never at a loss to find a public to fleece of 
their loose cash, in exchange for hives, not v^^orth the 
nails that hold them together. 

POLISH HIVES. , • -.' ■ 

As a matter of curiosity, I v^^ill give a brief descrip- 
tion of the kind of hive used in Russia, Poland, and 
other adjacent countries. It is made of staves like a 
churn, being largest at the base. Its length is about two 
feet, and its breadth at the base about 15 inches. The 
staves are thick and clumsy, and the dimensions inside 
are not much over ordinary box-hives. The upper half 
of the hive is wound closely with rope ; in order to pro- 
tect it from the heat of the sun and from dampness. A 
board closes the opening at the top. In the fall of the 
year, the cutting out of a portion of combs takes place, 
according to the productiveness of the season. A stave 
is removed which does not extend beyond the lower 
coil of rope, and the cottager, with knife in hand, and 
smoke apparatus convenient, commences operations. 
When the bees come out rather furiously, a whiff of 
smoke drives them in again, and in this manner he takes 
away as much honey as he thinks can be safely spared, 
and have enough for winter use ; and this method is 
considered the acme of perfection. 


Good, sound inch, pinp boards, thoroughly seasoned, 

bee-keeper's manual. 205 

are suitable for bee-hives. Some recommend inch and 
a quarter plank ; but such are not necessary. In south- 
ern latitudes, the hives will require being better secured 
from the heat of the sun, than at the north ; but no dif- 
ference in the material for their manufacture is required. 
It is true, that plank will make a better hive than boards ; 
yet, as a general rule, boards must be used, since plank 
do not come of a proper width in all cases ; and, besides 
that objection, they are dearer than boards. Plank 
makes a heavy, clumsy hive, and they are objectionable 
on that point. Nothing less than boards full one inch 
thick, will answer ; or rather, boards of a less thickness 
should never be used, because the different changes of 
heat and cold would affect the bees much more in hives 
made of thiner ones. 

There has been some controversy in regard to the 
best material for the construction of hives. Some apia- 
rians have recommended one kind and some another 
kind of boards for their manufacture ; but after all, the 
grand secret of success in bee-culture lies not in the 
wood of which the hives are made. Dr. Smith, of Bos- 
ton, an apiarian of considerable celebrity, strongly 
recommends red cedar for the especial purpose of keep- 
ing out the bee-moth. I have no doubt of red cedar 
being an excellent material to make hives of; and were 
it as plenty and as cheap as white pine lumber, I should 
say, use it by all means. In regard to its keeping out 
the moths, I do not believe any such thing. I believe, 
that if any wood possess an odor so offensive as to pre- 

206 miner's AMERICAN 

vent a bee-moth from entering a hive, the same odor 
will drive away every bee also. 


The joiner, in constructing the hives, should be very 
particular to have close joints ; as every open joint will 
be filled by the bees with propolis, at a great expense of 
their valuable time. The nailing of the hives should be 
particularly attended to, as they are liable to spring open 
after being exposed to the weather a few months. No- 
thing less than tenpenny nails will answer the purpose ; 
and then, some of them should be driven obliquely, or 
v/hat the joiner calls toed, which will prevent the joints 
opening. The safest way, however, is to halve out, or 
rabbet the edges of the boards, so that when put together, 
they may be nailed both ways. 

The doors to the windows should be beveled on every 
side, except where they are hung ; and the door- way of 
the hive should have a corresponding bevel. This pre- 
vents open joints, and the doors not closing in damp 
weather. Every door should be clamped at each end, 
to prevent warping, and so should the floor-boards also. 

Where hives are exposed to the sun a portion of the 
day, it requires the greatest care to keep many parts of 
them from warping out of their proper shape. 

A thin strip may be run around the inside of the 
window, with a rabbet, to receive the glass. Let this 
strip be as tliin as possible. When the glass is in its 
place, a brad driven in against it will keep it in its posi- 
tion. Don't forget the cross sticks to be placed in the 


hives, to run from corner to corner diagonally, and in 
the centre. A brad in each end will hold them fast. 
These sticks should be half an inch square, or more. 

In making the box-hive, as shown at page 153, the 
super or upper section will require dowelling ; that is, a 
couple of wooden pins at two of the corners, to sink into 
holes made in the roof of the lower section, in order to 
hold the super in its proper position. The pins should 
not be sunk into the roof over half an inch, and they 
should be placed at the diagonal corners. 

The boxes for the chambers of hives represented at 
page 158, should be made of the thinest materials that 
can be obtained. Whitewood will do very well, but 
any material of the thickness of segar boxes is much 
better. A groove is plowed out near the front end, to 
receive the glass. No bottoms are required for these 
boxes, as I have already explained, in the description of 
chamber-hives. There is a difficulty arising, when the 
boxes are withdrawn from the chambers filled with 
honey, in the manner of cutting out the combs with fa- 
cility. What we then wish is, to be able to sever the 
combs from the top of the box. It is quite easy to cut 
the ends and sides, but unless we have a knife made with 
a right angle, we cannot separate the attachments on 
the upper side, without taking an end or a side off. 
Now, it is necessary that every apiarian should have 
such a knife, with an angle, as I shall give a cut of here- 
after ; but not one in ten will probably ever provide one ; 
consequently, I must give such directions in making 

208 miner's AMERICAN 

these boxes, as to obviate, in a measure, the necessity of 
such an instrument. 

The way to construct the boxes, is simply as follows, 
viz : let the back ends of them be covered by the end 
pieces over the ends of sides and bottoms ; that is, in 
such a manner that they can be taken off with the great- 
est facility. If no directions be given on this point, the 
joiner will slide the ends down between the sides ; but 
this is wrong ; they should be on the outside of all, so 
that they can be removed easily. Every part of the 
boxes, except the ends, should be fastened with inch 
brads, but the ends should be secured with the smallest 
brads that will hold them in their place, and as few to 
be used as possible. When the honey is to be taken 
out of a box thus arranged, a knife is to be run down at 
the end and sever the combs ; then take off the end, and 
run the knife along the top of the box horizontally, and 
the work is done at once : then replace the end of the 
box, and it is ready for use again. 


When your hives are made, you will wish to know 
what color they should be painted. Some apiarians 
recommend white as the proper color, since that color 
does not draw the rays of the sun ; but others object to 
white, because it attracts the moth-miller in the night, 
more than darker colors. I do not think it makes a 
whit of difference, whether your hives are white, red, 
black or grey, so far as the general prosperity of the bees 
is concerned. We should have a durable color; one 

bee-keeper's manual. 209 

that will stand the weather well. I have used a choco- 
late color with good results. I make it thus : — take 
white lead and raw oil, with which mix Venitian red 
and lamp-black, to produce the color desired. The rela- 
tive quantities of each can be ascertained by any per- 
son, when the same is mixed. The white lead and oil 
should be mixed first, then add the lamp-black to pro- 
duce a lead color ; then the Venitian red, and you have 
the shade desired. Raw oil stands exposure to the 
weather much better than boiled oil ; yet if you wish to 
have your hives dry speedily, and if the weather be not 
very favorable for such a result, you can use a little 
litharge, or, if you please, a little boiled with the raw oil. 

-V, ' 




The above engraving represents an ornamental bee- 
house, from an original design, executed expressly for 
this work. It is not intended for general use, but as an 
ornament to gentlemen's grounds or flower gardens. 

bee-keeper's manual. 211 

This is the first design of this nature, that has been laid 
before the public, to the best of my knowledge. In all 
the various works on the honey-bee, published in the old 
w^orld, I find nothing but the ordinary bee- stands of ages 
past, or simple sheds of no more beauty than a pig-sty 
or a hen-roost. That such a structure would truly be 
an ornament to the flower garden, every one will admit. 
Why, then, should such bee-houses not be erected ? 
The cost will not be much. Fifty dollars will suffice to 
cover it. 


It will be perceived, that the foregoing cut represents 
an octangular building ; that is, one having eight angles 
or sides. This affords accommodation for eight hives, 
or one to each angle. The height should be sufficient 
to allow a person to walk under the lower extremity of 
the roof with facility, and no higher ; consequently, the 
posts should be about seven feet long. The roof should 
project over beyond the posts two feet, at least, in order 
to shade the hives during the heat of the day. The 
style of architecture may vary according to the taste of 
the owner ; yet the style of the foregoing cut is not un- 
becoming, by any means. Instead of having a floor, as 
is here represented, the posts may be inserted in the 
ground about two and a half feet ; and the area within 
the posts, may be graveled, so as to have a neat and tidy 
appearance. The portion of the posts placed in the 
ground, should be left untouched, and as large as possi- 
ble. These posts may either be turned, as they appear 

gl-^ miner's AMERICAN 

in the cut, or they may be boxed in, and made with 
suitable mouldings, to look very well. If they be set 
into the ground, they should be of some kind of durable 
wood ; and the ends to be put below the surface, ought 
to be charred with fire, to prevent decay. With box- 
columns or posts, the style of architecture should be 
changed. A cornice should be run around the struc- 
ture ; a dental cornice, perhaps, would look well. Every 
builder, however, will know how to give the best effect 
to the general appearance of the structure. If the posts 
be not inserted in the ground, let the floor be laid, and 
ordinary joists measuring three by four inches, will do 
for the columns, if boxed in. In this case, it will, per- 
haps, require some support to prevent the structure from 
being blown over in a gale. Three or four posts sunk 
into the ground even with the floor, and made fast 
thereto, would be all that is necessary. . .,v , 


The roof of this structure should be of tin, and painted 
a brown or stone color, or any shade that may be de- 
sired. If, however, it can be covered with shingles, let 
it be done. Shingles will look as well as tin, if neatly 
put on. 

There may or may not be, a ceiling under the roof. 
It will look better with one, and the cost will be but a 


The size of the house should be about twenty feet in 


circumference, so as to allow full two feet between the 
columns. This is the smallest space that hives can oc- 
cupy to advantage. The circumference of the base of 
the roof is much more than the foregoing dimensions, 
in consequence of its projection. 


The hives may be set from two to three and a half 
feet from the ground. The higher they are placed, the 
more they will be protected from the rays of the sun 
and from storms. The stand upon which they are to rest 
should be made of a single board in width, if possible, 
and bracketed on the under side, to prevent warping. 
In joining the floor-boards of hives, there is danger of 
affording cracks for the use of the moth- worm to wind 
up in. 

The width of hives is, say about fourteen inches on 
the outside ; and the bees require, at least, two inches 
space in front to alight on ; and the whole width of the 
stand would be, according to this calculation, 16 inches, 
which would be its least possible diameter. There may 
be separate floor-boards for each hive to rest on, if the 
owner choose, on the bevel plan, that I have described 
at page 169. This would be better than to have the 
hives rest on a level floor, when rains beat in under 
them ; because a level floor is apt to warp some, at best. 
I dislike to multiply the fixtures of a bee-stand ; for the 
reason, that every addition furnishes some crevice, 
sooner or later, for insects to breed in. If separate floor- 
boards are furnished, let them be two inches, at least. 


wider on every side, than the hive, and clamped at the 
ends to prevent warping; then, I recommend in the 
place of the level floor-boards stationary in the structure, 
as above alluded to, to simply have a couple of string- 
pieces, say two inches wide, by one inch thick, placed 
about a foot apart, and upon these lay your bevel floor- 
board, strewing salt where they come in contact, plen- 
tifully. If the level floor be used, a division between 
each hive is necessary ; that is, a board six inches broad, 
to be set on its edge vertically, half way between the 
hives. This prevents the bees running over to gossip 
with their neighbors, where the only welcome they get, 
is certain death, if they enter their neighbors' domicil ! 

The stand for the hives should be constructed wholly 
inside of the columns, resting against them. This 
throws the hives back, and more out of the reach of the 
sun. It will do the hives no harm to have the rays of 
the sun strike them in the morning, until about 10 
o'clock ; and from 3 to 7, P. M. Indeed, it is quite 
necessary, that the sun should shine on, or near the hives 
in the morning. 



The two hives represented in the foregoing cut, are 
intended to represent my EauiLATERAL hive, as shown 
at page 181. These hives have a beautiful appearance, 
and if surmounted by a wooden urn, handsomely turned, 
the decoration would be complete. They rest on pins 
or legs, as before described, during the spring and sum- 

bee-keeper's manual. 215 

iner, and in the winter they are let down, and the open- 
ings in the front and rear are used. The general rules 
for the management of bees i% other hives, apply to 
these with the same force. One great advantage in an 
open apiary of this nature is, that it affords the least 
possible facilities for insect breeding. Every part is 
exposed, and the broom or the brush applied once a 
week, thoroughly, will root out every vestige of moths, 
spiders, wasps, &c. 

I am aware that I take new ground in advocating 
open bee-houses ; yet I hope to be able to convince my 
readers, that the ordinary close houses, fronting the 
south, as they generally do, are downright ruin to the 
prosperity of bees. It is a mistaken idea, that bees 
should be kept in a warm, sunny place. There is but 
one season of the year, that this principle will apply with 
benefit to them ; and that is in the spring, during the 
months of April and May. From June to October, they 
want the same temperature around their hives, that ex- 
ists in the open fields — no exposure to the scorching 
rays of the sun, beside a close fence, that keeps oflf the 
current of air that elsewhere exists, nor to be penned up 
in a close bee-house, fronting the south, where the heat 
is sufficient to broil a steak ! My remarks on the labors 
of bees, to ventilate their hives, when thus exposed, as 
given at page 83, may here be read with profit. 

I will simply ask the reader, if he does not prefer 
laboring in the shade, when the thermometer ranges at 
90® ? Well, so does the bee. Watch them on an after- 
noon, while clustering on their tenement, when the rays 

216 miner's AMERICAN 

of the sun are most oppressive. Do you see them re- 
maining exposed to the sun, or do you perceive them 
changing their positio# to the shady parts ? They re- 
move to the shady sides of the hive, of course, and why 
is it ? Because the rays of the sun are too powerful ; 
and many bees that cluster on the outside of the hive 
would be at work within, but for the insupportable heat 
there. From these considerations, we should infer, that 
hives should not be exposed to the full force of the sun's 
rays in the summer ; nor be so situated, that the air will 
have no circulation around them. 


Perhaps of all the innovations upon the established 
rules of bee-keepers, that I shall make in this work, none 
will be more repugnant to their views than the asser- 
tion, that bees should not be exposed to the rays of the 
sun in the winter. Nothing in the whole management 
of bees is susceptible of being more clearly established, 
than this fact ; and though I shall not at this place dis- 
cuss the question in all its bearings, yet it is necessary, 
that I ishould state, that close bee-houses with a southern 
exposure, should never be constructed. Where is the 
bee-keeper who has not witnessed the loss of his bees, 
when coming forth from the hives when the ground was 
covered with snow ? Now, what is it that allures them 
from their tenements ? It is the warm rays of a 
winter's sun falling on the hives, where, perhaps, the 
northerly winds find no entrance. The poor bees see 
the light penetrating their domicil, and come down to 

bee-keeper's manual. 217 

snufF the balmy breeze. They look out, and a warm sun 
greets them, saying, as it were, "come forth and meet 
me ; no chill pervades the air. All is bright and glit- 
tering; and old boreas is chained to northern icy shores." 
They come forth. All is calm and serene around their 
tenement. They rise on the wing, and sweep the fields 
while yet warm from their abode, and suddenly the cold 
winds that they imagined were hushed, come whistling 
past. They feel a chill that benumbs them, and they 
endeavor to return. The glittering snow blinds their 
vision, and they fall to rise no more. How great the 
destruction of life is, in an apiary thus situated, from the 
above cause, every person is well aware, who has kept 
bees in a northern climate. If there be instances in 
which large numbers of bees have perished in the above 
manner, and yet it has made no apparent difference in 
the prosperity of the apiary the following season, it was 
because the hives were well tenanted, and could, with- 
out destruction, spare a portion of their numbers ; yet 
every bee that thus perishes, is a loss. A hive contain- 
ing two thousand bees, that loses two hundred in the 
above way, decreases in value 10 per cent., and in the 
same ratio for the loss of any number or proportion of 
the family. 

I will now introduce the reader to a bee-house that 
may be enclosed when necessary, and avoid all the fatali- 
ties of close houses, as they are usually constructed. 




The above cut represents a house twelve feet long, six 
feet high, and five feet wide. The ends and back are 
enclosed, except a space one foot wide, directly oppo- 
site the lower section of the hives. This space is pro- 
vided with a shutter, hung on hinges, and during the 
months of March, April and May, it should be closed. 
The remainder of the year, it should be open, unless in 
certain circumstances of very heavy winds existing, 
when it would be proper to close it again for brief 
periods. The shutter here alluded to, is made from any 
board measuring 12 feet long by one foot wide, and 
bracketed to prevent warping. During the heat of sum- 
mer, a breeze will constantly be playing around the 
hives, when arranged on this plan, giving the bees health 
and activity ; and during the winter, they will stay at 
home, where they belong. 

It may be perceived in the preceding cut, that a por- 

bee-keeper's manual. 219 

tion of the structure is closed below the roof in front. 
This portion of the front thus covered, is about two feet 
wide. It is not intended to be permanently fast, but 
one foot of it, at least, in width, should swing on hinges 
and be susceptible of being raised and lowered at plea- 
sure. In the spring of the year, it may be raised, and 
the sun let in, as the heat of this orb, at that period, is 
beneficial in aiding the bees to raise the temperature of 
the interior of the hives sufficiently to develop the brood. 


A very good way to bring the hives within the rays 
of the sun during the spring months is, to so construct 
the floor-board, as to admit of its being brought forward 
or moved back at pleasure. For instance, in March, 
April, and May, bring it forward parallel with the front 
of the house, where the sun will shine with full force 
upon the hives. When swarming is over and the heat 
becomes oppressive, let it be moved back, so far as to 
be beyond the reach of the rays of the sun ; and in the 
winter, the farther back it is moved the better, for the 
reason, that no inducement should then be afforded to 
cause the bees to leave their homes, and at this season the 
front should be closed partially ; that is, the board that 
hangs on hinges should be let down. The rear being 
open in winter, causes a cool current of air to pass 
around the hives, and if at any time the bees leave their 
domicils, they do it with their eyes open, or in other 
words, they are not deceived in regard to the actual 

220 miner's AMERICAN 

temperature without, unless it be, that they find it much 
warmer than they anticipated, from which no evil can 
arise. ' 

The removal of the floor-boards from front to rear, 
and vice versd, will not involve the necessity of disturb- 
ing the hives. It can be effected by shoving along the 
whole together. , - 


It will be perceived, that in the cut a division ap- 
pears between each hive. This is necessary, as before 
spoken of. A board a few inches wide, placed on its 
edge, is all that is requisite. 

They who prefer it, may have their hives set on stools 
in structures of the foregoing character; and in this 
way, have better access to them, and facility in passing 
around them, &c. I am inclined to think, that setting 
them on stools would be the better way. ^ 

The suspended hives, before illustrated, may be en- 
closed in a house of this description. There is no hin- 
drance in the least. Every apiarian must consult his 
own convenience and taste in many things, and not fol- 
low any written rules; or rather, he will have to do so, 
in the absence of instructions, since to state every thing 
pertaining to this subject, is out of the question. 


A bee-house on the foregoing plan, can be built for 
$30, and in good style, too. A handsome cornice around 
the roof, to suit the size of the structure, should be in- 

bee-keeper's manual. 221 

eluded in that sum. The posts should be about 4 by 4 
inches, with the corners taken off an inch, except six or 
eight inches of the tops and bottoms. If the posts should 
be boxed in, they would appear much better ; but for an 
economical house, it is not at all necessary. 


A floor may, or may not be laid. If it is to give 
shelter to all manner of insects below, it had better be 
dispensed with ; but if made perfectly tight, and no pas- 
sage beneath be afforded, it will be an improvement. 
A stone or brick floor is far best, which would afford no 
protection to insects. 


Of all the bee-houses that have ever been used, none 
are better adapted for wintering bees, than those con- 
structed of bricks. The great object is, to keep the 
bees during the winter season, in such a manner, that 
they will feel the sudden changes of weather as little as 
possible. A brick house on the plan of the foregoing 
wooden one, would be very convenient. An open space 
one foot wide on the back, would be desirable, and very 
important, to let a current of air pass around the hives 
in the summer season, at least, if not in the winter. 
The front may be walled up even with the floor-board 
of the hives ; and then, a space left open eighteen inches 
wide ; when the brick- work may commence again, sup- 
ported by a cross-timber. A door- way should be left in 
front, to enter the building. The openings in front and 


rear, should be provided with shutters, that fit very 
closely; the one in front in particular. During the 
summer, the front is left open, and the hives are set 
back far enough, to be out of the sun the most of the 
day. In cold weather, the front is shut as tight as pos- 
sible, door and all ; and if a current of air can be made 
to circulate within, without the rear shutter being par- 
tially open, that may also be closed. The bees will then 
be in darkness, but it is so much the better for them ; 
provided, that any means can be adopted to ventilate 
the apiary. A small air-hole at the bottom, at each end 
of the house, with an escape at the top of the roof, some 
six inches square, boxed in, and perforated with holes, 
would keep the atmosphere wuthin perfectly pure. 

On this plan, the bees will not desire to leave their 
hives, and the usual casualties of the winter season are 
entirely avoided ; provided the bees have sufficient honey, 
to carry them through the season. They will not con- 
sume over one half as much honey in this way, as they 
would, if exposed to the full force of the sun during the 

I would not wish the reader to infer, that this last 
method of wintering bees, is the only way that is recom- 
mendable. The preceding plan of a wooden house is 
similar to it, and perhaps some may think, just as good, 
or even preferable. The ornamental bee-house first 
given, is not, witii all its openness, lacking qualities to 
enable the apiarian to winter his bees with perfect safety. 
A few boards so placed in front, as to exclude the sun, 
say a couple of posts set down temporarily, some four 

bee-keeper's manual. 223 

ieet from the hives, and then boarded up six feet or 
more, would be all that would be necessary ; then close 
the slides when the bees show any disposition to come 
out, if the ground be covered with snow, if not, let them 
come out as much as they please. 

In case of using the brick tenement, it will be neces- 
sary to open the front occasionally, when the weather 
is mild and no snow exists, to allow the bees to clear 
their hives of dead bees, and also to their void foeces. It 
is very bad policy to keep bees confined a whol^ winter, 
or even a month, without giving them an airing. 

The bee-houses here introduced, are original; or 
rather the first is entirely original in design, and the 
second engraving, with the plan of a brick structure, are 
great improvements of apologies for bee-houses hereto- 
fore existing. No apiarian has ever taken the same 
ground that I pursue, in regard to winter management 
of bees, and none have, as I believe, ever met with so 
successful results. I make mention of these points, not 
in an egotistical spirit, but rather to show that my plans 
are not re-vamped from any of the exploded theories of 
apiarians that have already existed, and been weighed 
in the balance and found wanting. 

Had I room to spare, I would illustrate one or two 
more bee-houses, that might be constructed, partly orna- 
mental, and partly otherwise ; but there are none that 
excel those already given. Every apiarian can suggest 
his own plans, when the fundamental requisites are laid 
down, as I think I have done. The dimensions that I 


have given in the preceding cuts, need not be followed ; 
but merely the principles there elucidated. 

♦ " 




It may be necessary for me to state my views upon 
the relative merits of different kinds of stands, upon 
which to rest hives. 

There is the suspending stand ; — the shelf, or horizon- 
tal floor-board ; and the stool-stand. 

The suspended stand is a very good one, and for the 
purpose of giving an inclination to the alighting-board 
is preferable to any other ; but it may be asked, how far 
the prosperity of the bees is affected by giving an incli- 
nation to the alighting-board ? 

It is not absolutely necessary to have such an inclina- 
tion, yet it is an advantage in keeping the floor of the 
hive dry, and giving any water that may beat in faciUty 
to run off. It also aids the bees as before observed, in 
keeping their tenement free from worms, dead bees, &c. 

The horizontal shelf has no particular fault. If it can 
be kept level, by the use of cleats, to prevent warping, it 


bee-keeper's manual. 235 

will do very well. The principal objection that can be 
brought against this kind of floor-board, is the liability 
of the bees to communicate with each other, when they 
cluster out in great numbers. When hives are set a 
foot or eighteen inches apart, which is the usual dis- 
tance, the bees, during very warm weather, will vacate 
their hives, and spread out to the right and left, so as to 
meet the members of the adjoining families, and they 
frequently get so mixed, that they enter the wrong hive 
and perish. A bee seems to lose all knowledge of the 
position of its own home, except when on the wing. If 
they happen to cross the dividing line, between their 
own and a neighboring hive, they lose all recollection 
of having thus passed the boundary, and the nearest 
hive receives them ; but their mistake is found out in- 
stantly, yet it is often too late to retreat. It is curious 
to perceive how the truant bees suffer themselves to be 
encircled and held prisoners. A half dozen bees will 
surround a single one, showing no deadly hostility, un- 
less the stranger attempt to fly away, when it is dis- 
patched forthwith. On an occasion of witnessing an 
occurrence of this nature, I stood watching the move- 
ments of a couple of workers, that held another worker 
prisoner. They offered no violence until the stranger 
attempted to rise on the wing, when it was suddenly 
seized by one of its captors, and stung between the rings 
of the abdomen. The next moment it lay quivering in 

On refering to page 218, the reader will perceive 
small divisions between the hives in the cut. These 

226 miner's AMERICAN 

strips effectually prevent bees from passing from one 
hive to another, as here represented. They never run 
up a vertical barrier, to cross over to adjoining hives, 
even if it be but two inches high. This being the case, 
a great objection is overcome to horizontal shelf-stands. 

The stool-stand, as seen at page 153, is about as good 
as anything that can be used. It affords as few facili- 
ties for the breeding of insects as any other, and it has 
some features that render it preferable to either sus- 
pended or shelf-stands. It is easily removed, when 
necessary, and with an inclination given to each side, 
there can be no reasonable objection to its use. If these 
stools can be made in one board, they would be much 
better; as the groove where the joint is made, when in 
two pieces, will open, in time, so far as to admit the 
moth-worm to wind up therein. When cracks do ex- 
ist, they should be filled with putty in the spring. 

The size of stools should be at least two inches larger 
on each side, than the dimension of the hive. The 
clamps, to prevent warping, should not be omitted. The 
height may be from one to two feet. The height of 
hives from the ground is a matter of some importance. 
I have generally recommended three feet for suspended 
hives, and it would be better, perhaps, to have all hives 
as high as that, but it is not always convenient. All 
we want is, to get the hives out of the reach of the damp 
exhalations that arise from the earth during warm 
weather. If the hives are placed near the earth, a thick 
coat of gravel around them would be beneficial, in pre- 
venting exhalations of dampness. In case of using the 


shelf-stand, the hives can be raised three feet without 

I do not recommend the practice of having a double 
tier of hives, one above the other, at all. It is bad man- 
agement. The apiarian has not the facility to attend to 
them, that he has when but one tier exists; and besides 
that, it brings the bees too close. 

In regard to the distance that hives should be set 
apart, I would say, that they cannot be placed too 
far, unless it be beyond the bee-keeper's premises ; but 
it is necessary to set them near to each other, in order 
to afford the bees protection from the sun, &c. I think 
that a single row or tier of hives will not suffer injury 
by being placed where the space between each hive is 
about one foot ; provided, that the divisions are put up, 
before alluded to. Two feet would be better, and four 
feet better still ; but it is not always convenient to have 
hives that distance from each other. 

The stool-stand has one advantage on this point. It 
can be used in an out-door apiary, and the hives sta- 
tioned a rod apart, if desirable. All that is wanting, in 
this case, is a flat portable roof lor each stool ; say three 
boards one foot wide, and three feet long, secured to- 
gether with brackets or cleats. Set one of these pro- 
tectors on each hive, drawn a little forward of the cen- 
tre, to produce the more shade. If they will not keep 
in their position, place a stone on each; but if you 
would be a little more tasty, you can get iron or lead 
weights, if any at all are necessary ; which I think quite 



The position of the apiary is a matter of importance. 
In most cases, it is seen to front the south, according to 
the usual practice of the present day ; and especially 
when enclosed, somewhat on the plan of bee-houses 
illustrated at page 218. This position is considered 
necessary by bee-keepers generally, in order to afford 
the bees all the warmth, both in summer and winter, 
that it is possible to give, and which I consider so ruin- 
ous to their prosperity. 


It will not, in all cases, be found convenient to have 
the apiary front any point of the compass ; in conse- 
quence of the situation of the ground where it is to be 
erected, since it is often necessary to build parallel to 
some fence already constructed ; but the best possible 
way it can point is south-east. Directly to the south 
or to the east, is not particularly objectionable, when 
the back of the building has an opening to admit a cur- 
rent of air among the hives, as I have directed ; but 


when it is convenient, I recommend a preference to be 
given to the aforesaid direction. 


Every husbandman knows full well how much more 
labor his hired men can perform, when they get to work 
at the rising of the sun, than when they lie in bed until 
that luminary peers in at the windows of their bed-rooms 
at an angle of 20° or 30°. To the above may be likened 
the sallying forth of the honey-bee. It is not often that 
bees sally forth to the fields in the morning, until the rays 
of the sun strike their hives. For example, two hives may 
be placed in the months of June, July and August, in 
different situations ; the one where the sun cannot shine 
upon it, until 7 o'clock, A. M., and the other, where his 
rays will fall upon it, at half-past 5. Now mark the 
result. The bees in the hive where the warmth of the 
sun reaches them at half-past 5, will be seen leaving 
their hives at that hour, while those of the other hive, 
remain within until 7 o'clock, one hour and a half later. 
Thus it may be seen, that it is important to so place our 
hives, that they will receive the morning sun. If the 
bee-house front the south, it would be well to have a 
movable shutter at the east end, to be raised during the 
summer ; say two feet space opposite the end hive, to be 
thus open, and closed at pleasure. 


It is advisable to place the apiary out of the reach of 

230 miner's AMERICAN ' 

nauseous and offensive smells; and not immediately in 
the vicinity of the barn-yard, where flies congregate. A 
yard-house being near, will not, in ordinary cases, be 
injurious, unless it be offensive, which should never be 
the case, on account of the apiarian's family. A barrel 
of lime or plaster thrown into the sink, when offensive, 
will thoroughly purify it. 


It is not advisable to place an apiary under trees of 
magnitude ; since the drippings therefrom, during wet 
weather, continue long after the sun appears, and thus 
retard the labors of the bees. Hives that are set in an 
out-door apiary, without any protection, are much more 
affected by the drippings of trees than those placed in a 
bee-house. It is a custom with many people, to thus 
place their hives in the shade, in order to screen them 
from the heat of the sun during the summer; but it is 
bad management. A cover, three or four feet square, 
that may be made at a cost of one shilling, is much bet- 
ter than the protection of trees, and such cover may be 
removed in April and May, and the sun left to shine 
upon the hives with his full force, to aid in developing 
the brood. In case of removing the cover thus de- 
scribed, it would be well to use a small cover the size of 
the top of the hive, merely to prevent any warping or 
cracking of the top. I never expose the tops of my hives 
to the sun, as it is almost impossible to prevent such a 
result, sooner or later, to some extent. 


bee-keeper's manual. 231 

danger of hives blowing over. 

In out-door apiaries, there is some danger of hives 
being blown over, during the prevalence of very high 
winds, unless secured in some manner. If the hives are 
set against a close fence, there is no danger from winds, 
unless it be a hurricane ; yet I do not approve of placing 
them against fences or buildings at all, for reasons be- 
fore given, in regard to allowing the air to circulate 
freely around them, and keeping them free from insects. 
It is always best, in cases of out-door apiaries, to fully 
secure the hives in some way, against any possible con- 
tingency. A thunder-storm in summer often brings 
winds that level trees, fences, and even houses with the 
ground. On that account, the lower the hives are 
placed the better ; but nearer than one foot to the ground 
will not answer at all, and the higher the better, so far 
as the bees are concerned ; but no height will prevent 
the moth-miller from entering. What fastening or se- 
curity for hives is best to prevent them from being 
blown over, I hardly know, but a stake driven firmly 
into the ground, against the back of each, and a leather 
strap or cord running around the lower section, and 
secured to the stake would be effectual. The super, if 
the hive be on the plan of that shown at page 153, will 
not be blown off, if doweled in; and even if it were not 
doweled, it would not blow off, as the bees always ce- 
ment down supers with propolis, so as to require a con- 
siderable force to separate them from the main hives. 

The cheapest way of holding down hives, is to place 

232 miner's AMERICAN 

a large stone upon each ; so let no bee-keeper suffer his 
hives to be blown over for the want of means to secure 


When bees arrive within a few feet of their hives, it 
is very important that the force of the winds should be 
checked in some manner, as the greatest difficulty a bee 
encounters when on the wing, is to alight safely at her 
own door. Like a ship at sea in a gale, all goes on 
merrily so long as she has sea room ; but let her ap- 
proach land, and then comes the real danger. Just so 
it is with the little bee, when the high wands sweep over 
the hills and valleys. vShe beats up against the breeze 
fearing nothing while she has space to dart over the 
forest ; but when she comes to her door — when she 
slackens her speed, she is at the mercy of every fitful 
gust that plays around the hives ; and often when just 
reaching her own domicil, as she hovers slowly before 
the entrance, loaded with treasures from nature's store- 
house, she is forced to the ground, or perchance against 
some neighboring hive. The vision of the bee is obscured 
when she approaches within a few feet of her hive, and 
her motion is necessarily quite slow on such occasions, 
and if she be driven out of her course to the least extent, 
she has to rise again on the wing, and describe a circle 
in her flight, some ten or twenty feet above the apiary, 
before she can venture to return again. Even should 
she be driven but a single foot from the point she aimed 
at in alighting, she would rise again, and make a second 


attempt in finding her home. Bees seem to know no- 
thing at all of the position of their hive, unless when de- 
scending on a return from the fields, or in cases when 
their flight is merely sporting immediately around it. 

For the purpose of affording a check to the force of 
the winds in out-door apiaries, immediately around the 
hives, in unsheltered situations, I would recommend a 
close fence to be placed some short distance from them, 
on the north and west sides. If any fence be placed on 
the east side, it should not obstruct the rays of the sun 
to the most easterly hives. It is advisable to have an 
open length one foot wide opposite the hives, that may 
be opened and closed at pleasure. In the spring the 
whole fence may be closed, and as the heat of summer 
approaches, the doors or shutters may be thrown open. 
When a quiet nook already exists, where the force of 
the wind is partially broken, the hives may be placed 
there without further trouble. When the hives are 
placed in a bee-house, no protection from winds is re- 
quired, except to keep the back closed when the winds 
are very high, and it is evident that it would be bene- 
ficial to do so. In case of having an open house, like 
that described at page 210, some little screen afforded 
as protection against the winds, such as adjoining high 
shrubbery, or some fence within ten or fifteen feet, on 
the north or west side, would be sufficient ; yet without 
any protection at all, in any case, the bees will thrive 
and do well ; but it is better to thus afford a little pro- 
tection from the force of the winds when convenient 
to do so. 

234 miner's AMERICAN 


If the apiarian reside on the banks of a large river, 
lake, or very near the ocean, he should place his apiary 
as far from the v^^ater as possible ; as the bees are liable 
to be forced down and drowned when returning heavily 
laden. Such results occur when the bees cross the 
water. If the bee-pasturage be abundant back of such 
river or lake, they will seldom venture across, where the 
distance is half a mile and over ; yet there are instances 
where bees have been know^n to pass several miles over 
water to obtain honey. I should not suffer a close 
proximity to the water, in any case, to deter me from 
keeping bees ; yet what I would inculcate most deeply 
is, that an apiary immediately on the banks of a river, 
or of any other body of water, where but a few feet 
intervene between the hives and the water, is objec- 
tionable. Two hundred feet from the bank is a safe 


It is an important consideration to so place the apiary, 
that during the swarming season, the swarms will be 
readily observed, as the bees will not always await their 
owner's motion to hive them. If it be convenient to 
place it where the servants about the kitchen, in their 
running in and out, would be likely to observe the bees 
in such instances, it would be the best position, perhaps. 
When bees swarm, the noise created by them may be 
heard many rods, where but few hives exist ; but when 

bee-keeper's manual. 235 

a dozen or more strong families are in a single apiary, 
the usual hum drowns the extra noise of swarming. 
Any gentleman keeping this insect, should for the space 
of about three weeks, charge his gardener to be on the 
look out. The season when swarms are to be most ex 
pec ted, is from the 20 th of May to the 10th of June, and 
during this period, if the apiary be not near the kitclien 
door where the servants will notice swarms, a little at- 
tention on the part of the gardener is quite sufficient. 


When bees sally out to the fields, they depart at an 
angle of about forty degrees with the plane of the 
horizen ; and no wall, or other obstruction, should im- 
pede their free passage at such an angle. It matters not 
what obstruction may be in the rear of the hives, pro- 
vided, that no barrier exist in front. 


If one were to have his choice of just such a location 
as he might elect, he should select a broad valley, with 
gently-sloping sides, extending a mile or more. The 
sides of such valley should be composed of rich mead- 
ows and pasture lands ; and as little as may be under the 
plow. Here and there should a tract of woodland inter- 
vene, and ample orchards dot the landscape ; and above 
all, the white clover should be seen spreading its snow- 
white mantle in wild exuberance and profusion, beneath 
the feet of the herds that rove over the fertile fields, 
this would be a paradise for bees ; yet such a paradise 

236 miner's AMERICAN 

exists in thousands and thousands of places, where bar- 
rels of honey might be gathered, for the pounds that are 
now produced. 

In valleys, bees have less high winds to encounter; 
and when loaded and returning home, it is easier for 
them to descend than to ascend. This requires no 
proof. Let the reader, w^hen fatigued, have a mile to 
walk, would you prefer to have it up hill or down ? 


It is customary with many bee-keepers to place their 
hives where the grass grows in the greatest profusion. 
This is not good policy ; yet, perhaps, it is full as well, 
to place hives over a green sward, where the grass can 
be cut at intervals, as to place them where the sod has 
been turned over, and then allow a profusion of weeds 
to spring up around them. Both cases are bad man- 
agement for the thorough apiarian. I now allude to 
out-door apiaries only, of course. 

The better way is, to first throw aside the top soil, 
where an out-door apiary is to be situated, then throw 
out a foot or two in depth of the yellow barren sub-soil. 
In the pit thus excavated, place the top soil first re- 
moved, and let the barren sub-soil remain on the sur- 
face of the ground. Over this spread a few inches of 
gravel, and you will soon have a hard foundation for 
your hives, where but few, if any, weeds will spring up, 
and where every unfortunate bee that falls to the ground 
exhausted with fatigue, as does often happen, may rest 

bee-keeper's manual. 237 

her weary limbs in ease and safety, and finally rise on 
the wing, and regain her tenement. 

It may not be generally known, even among bee- 
keepers, that when a bee falls through fatigue, that it is 
difficult for her to rise from a levef surface. Some little 
headway must be secured : and for this purpose, a nar- 
row strip of board laid on the ground, in front of the 
hives, will afford the requisite facility. The bees will 
ascend the sides of such piece of board, and from thence 
take a flight, that could not possibly be effected from a 
level surface. 

Besides the above considerations, we lose a large 
number out of every family of bees, where weeds and 
grass grow spontaneously around the hives, that would 
not be lost in other circumstances. How many spiders 
lay in ambush among the weeds and grass, to weave 
their silken webs around every fallen bee, no one can 
tell, who has not carefully investigated this subject. A 
few bees ensnared every day is of no account, perhaps 
the careless apiarian would say ; but let us see what 
figures say, that cannot lie. Suppose ten bees are thus 
lost daily on an average, from the 1st of May to the 1st 
of November. We have 184 days, and the number of 
bees lost, that might, with good management, have been 
saved, is 1840 ! This number would make a very re- 
spectable swarm. Is it any wonder that people do not 
succeed, in many cases, in the culture of bees, when 
they thus let them take care of themselves ? 




It is a practice with some people, to have their hives 
placed in an upper room of their dwelling, with tubes or 
other channels for the bees to obtain egress and ingress. 
This plan may answer very w^ell in large towns, where 
no yard-room exists ; or in cases of having a hive or 
two, kept more as a source of amusement than of profit ; 
but in no case can bees be brought into one's dwelling, 
or any out- house not built expressly for them, and prove 
prosperous in the long run. They will thrive a short 
period, in spite of all the disadvantages under which 
they labor, and finally, they are " non est inventus," as 
the constable says, when he returns his writ unexecuted. 
As for preventing the ravages of the bee-moth, by at- 
tempting to get up out of her reach, you might as well 
attempt to get out of the reach of the fowls of the air, 
by ascending heavenward. The practice of thus con- 
fining bees in the rooms of dwellings, is highly injurious 
on account of not affording a plenteous infusion of pure 
air in, and around the hives, which is so vitally essential 
to all animate nature. Think not, reader, because a bee 
is but a small insect, that she needs not the necessity of 
breathing heaven's pure ether, like unto man. Though 
" man is fearfully and wonderfully made ;" yet the same 
Architect that formed man, also formed the bee, and 
with the same master-hand. Let not frail mortals usurp 
a high distinction in the wonderful mechanism of their 
frame, over that of a little bee ; for, we find no less to 
excite our amazement in the one, than we do in the 

bee-keeper's manual. 239 

other. The air that man breathes, was not made for 
him alone, and if we place the bee where it is not found 
in its purity, we do her wrong, since nature never thus 
destined her to be. 

There is another method of placing bees in rooms. I 
allude to allowing them to occupy a small room at large, 
without being subject to hives at all ; I do not approve 
of this method. In the first place, we get no increase 
from our bees. They will not multiply and fill a whole 
room, as some persons may imagine. The natural in- 
herent hostility of queens towards rivals, prevents such 
a result. Two queens cannot exist in the same family. 
One must be mistress of " all she surveys." It matters 
not how far you " extend the area of freedom," if a 
second queen exist, she will be found by the legitimate 
sovereign, and one of the two must perish, and that 
quickly. Should bees form detached settlements in dif- 
ferent parts of the same room, perhaps several families 
might exist for a few years ; but it is folly to manage 
bees in this way. The surplus honey is not as easily 
taken away on this plan, as it is when stored in supers ; 
and all the casualties attending the prosperity of bees, 
from the ravages of the moth, are subject to result from 
this mode of management, as well as from any other 


Bees will thrive in a large town with a fertile sur- 
rounding country, as well as in any other place, unless 
it be in a situation of peculiar merit, such as in a rich 

240 miner's AMERICAN 

valley, with bee-pasturage in its greatest profusion ex- 
isting in every direction. 

In every town with a population of from 5,000 to 
10,000 inhabitants ; and even in cities with from 15,000 
to 50,000 people, bees may be kept with the best results. 

Bees fly from one to two miles with the greatest fa- 
cility, to obtain honey, when it cannot be obtained 
within that space; consequently, an apiary situated in 
the centre of a town, with a radius of half or three- 
quarters of a mile each way, before reaching the open 
country, would be prosperous. In the spring of the 
year, the blossoming trees of every country town 
whether large or small, afford a rich harvest of honey. 

In the city of New York, hemmed in as it is, by two 
large rivers, I cannot say that I think bees would thrive 
unless they be fed. I am aware that Mr. Townly has 
endeavored to inculcate a different belief, and it was his 
interest to do so ; but I shall not transcend the limits 
of truth, for any gain that might accrue to me by so 

In the city of Brooklyn, bees would do very well. 
There they would have a range in the interior, without 
crossing the river. In almost any other city in the 
United States, except New York, bees may be kept with 
profit ; but not as profitably as in locations out of town. 
In any situation where the most of the ground is under 
a state of cultivation, that is, plowed up yearly, bees 
do not thrive, as they do where there are extensive 
grazing lands ; but they do well in almost any place. I 
know of no location in the United States where they 


would not prosper, except in the heart of the city of 
New York. 



The success attending the keeping of bees depends, 
in a great measure, upon the character of the pasturage 
in the vicinity of the apiary. 

Of all the resources of bees, nothing can equal the 
white, or Dutch clover, that abounds to a greater or less 
extent, throughout the whole country ; I may almost 
say, that without the existence of this flower, it would 
be useless to attempt to establish an apiary ; yet there is 
no section of the country where it does not exist; con- 
sequently, there is nothing to fear on that point. In 
any place where this clover is found growing in spon- 
taneous profusion, there will bees thrive beyond a doubt. 
It blooms in the latter part of May, and continues in 
blossom to some extent, all summer; but the height of 
the honey-harvest from it, is during the month of June. 
It is from white clover that the purest and most deli- 
cious honey is procured. No other pasturage can com- 
pare with this, so far as the purity and flavor of the 
honey is concerned. 

%!^ miner's AMERICAN 

Next to the above clover, stands the various blossom- 
ing trees of orchards and gardens, that are spread over 
every fertile landscape. In the spring, the cherry, peach 
and nectarine trees, first invite the bee ; then the apple 
and pear trees spread their flowery canopies over the 
green fields, and afford a short but rich harvest of honey. 

But first of all in the catalogue of sources, whence 
the bee derives a spring supply of honey, is the willow. 
When all nature wears a sombre hue, with scarcely a 
flower upon her bosom, the willow sends forth its tiny 
shoots, from which the bee obtains her first gatherings. 
Let one but pass beneath some stately willow at this 
period, and his ears will be greeted as with the music of 
some sweet-toned «olian harp, that seems hid among 
its branches ; but let him cast his eye above, and there 
a cloud of bees may be seen flying to and fro, chanting 
a merry song, as they lightly dance from shoot to shoot, 

Primeval bliss, without alloy, ; 

Where cares can ne'er their peace destroy. 

Among the earliest resources of the bee, besides the 
willow, are the osier, the poplar, the sycamore, the plane, 
the snow-drop, the crocus, white alyssum, laurustinus, 
&c. To these may be added, the gooseberry, raspberry, 
and currant bushes, with sweet marjoram, winter savory 
and peppermint. 

Alder buds and flowers aftbrd honey during several 
months. The flowers of the bean, cucumbers, squashes, 
pumpkins and melons of all kinds, afford a large supply 
of pollen. 


To the above may be added the sunflower, the dandy- 
lion, the hollyhock, and Spanish broom; but above all, 
as a source of pollen, is the sunflower. In its golden 
heads, may constantly be seen the industrious workers, 
covered with the yellow farina of this flower, and busily 
engaged in kneading it upon the cavities of their legs. 
Every bee-keeper should plant a few dozen seeds of this 
flower around the border of his garden, or among his po- 
tatoes. Should an occasional seed be dropped in the 
potato fleld, when planting that vegetable, say at every 
sixth hill, the crop of sunflowers would be valuable for 
the seed to feed poultry, and be of great advantage to 
the bees, and not lessen the potato crop in the least. 

The blossoms of miUstard, turnips, and cabbage, the 
privet, the holly, phillyrea, bramble, sweet fennel, nas- 
turtiums, asparagus, crowfoot, dead nettle, vegetable 
marrow, white lily, coltsfoot, borage, viper's bugloss, 
mignonette, lemon thyme,^teasel, furze, heath, sainfoin, 
&c., are much frequented by bees. 

Among the forest resources of the bee in this country, 
the most conspicuous are the hasswood and maple. 
From the basswood in particular, a great supply of 
honey is obtained ; and where this tree abounds, in con- 
nection with a profusion of white clover, there is the 
apiarian's true El Dorado. 

Common red clover, that seems so very inviting, is 
perfectly useless to the honey-bee, as so many thistle 
heads ; for the reason, that the probosis of the bee 
cannot penetrate the nectaries of this flower, owing 
to their orreat length 

244 bee-keeper's manual. 

As a fall source of honey, nothing can equal buck- 
wheat ; the honey, however, is not of so fine a flavor, 
as that made from white clover, let who will assert to 
the contrary. It is much darker than that gathered in 
June or July, from other sources, and it will not com- 
mand so high a price, as that obtained from other 
flowers. Buckwheat affords a supply of honey for 
about four weeks, and every bee-keeper who is a farmer, 
should sow plentifully of this article, for the twofold pur- 
pose of the grain, and its advantage to his bees. 

Some people imagine that the vicinity of extensive 
flower gardens, is highly beneficial to bees ; such as the 
gardens of gentlemen residing in the immediate vicinity 
of large cities, where almost every flowering plant and 
shrub that adorns both hemispheres may be seen. This 
is a mistake. Bees do not frequent such places at all, 
unless it be to visit a few of the common order of 
flowers. Roses, pinks, tulips, carnations, dahlias, <^c., 
have no attractions for this insect ; but where these 
things exist, may generally be found, a rich harvest for 
them. As I have already said, the blossoms of cherry, 
nectarine, peach, apple, and pear trees, are their first re- 
source ; then comes the mantle of white clover, from 
which a speedy harvest is reapt. 

I recommend no especial crop to be sown for bees, as 
a source of honey, except buckwheat ; and this is pro- 
fitable of itself, to say nothing of the honey that it 



This is a substance that is supposed by some to be an 
exudation from the leaves of trees ; such as the oak, 
laurel, bramble, poplar, willow, &c. Other naturalists 
have considered it a substance that falls from the 

Mr. Ducarne, a foreign naturalist of distinction thus 
speaks : — " You know what honey is, which the bees 
collect with so much ardor from flowers, but you do not, 
perhaps, know that there are two kinds ; one, which is 
real honey, being a juice of the earth, which proceeding 
/rom the plants by transpiration, collects at the bottom 
of the calyx of the flowers, and thickens afterwards ; it 
is, in other words, a digested and refined sap in the tubes 
of plants ; the other, which is called the honey dew, is 
an eflect of air, or a species of glue}^ dew, which falls 
earlier or later, but in general a little before and during 
the dog days. The dew alights on the flowers, and the 
leaves of the plants and trees, but the heat operating 
on it, coagulates and thickens it, whilst, on the other, 

246 miner's AMERICAN 

the honey which falls on the flowers is preserved a 
much longer time. 

" Those persons who have not viewed the honey dew 
fall, like myself, have asserted, that it is nothing more 
than the sap or juice of the plants, which, in hot 
weather, experience, perhaps, a greater fermentation, 
and by which it is forced through the leaves. In con- 
tradiction to this, I assert that it is perceived much 
better in the morning before the sun has been able to 
dry and harden it. These persons are, however, de- 
ceived. / have not only seen this honey dew fall a hun- 
dred times in the form of fine rain on the leaves of an 
ash, but I have also showed it to others, and the 
globules were most distinctly perceived." Whether 
this substance be an atmospheric phenomenon, or an exu- 
dation, or secretion of certain trees and shrubs, is of 
little consequence to the apiarian, beyond merely satis- 
fying his curiosity. 

I will now give a little testimony on the other side of 
the case. 

"I have long adhered to the opinion," says Mr. 
Knight, " that the honey dew deposed on the leaves of 
the trees, was only an exudation, although the form of 
the globules scarcely bore any resemblance to each 
otherj but were rather an imitation of a species of rain. 
On examining more minutely different trees, on which 
the honey dew was apparent, chance led me to the dis- 
covery of a holm-oak, on which the honey dew had re- 
cently appeared, and in its primitive form, which is that 
of a transfused humor. The leaves were covered with 

bee-keeper's manual. 247 

several thousands of globules, or small, round and com- 
pact drops, which, however, seem to be either touching 
or intermixing, similar to those which are seen on the 
plants after a thick fog. The position of each globule 
appeared to indicate, not only the point from w^hich it 
exuded, but also the number of the pores, or the glands 
of the leaf in which this mellifluous juice had been 
pressed. I assured myself that the honey dew possessed 
the real color of honey, which alone was sufficient to 
decide its origin, and our surprise need not be great that 
exudation is not suspected as the cause." 

Thus it will be seen that this subject is but another 
question of the disputed catalogue that pertains to the 
history and economy of the honey-bee. Some natu- 
ralists contend that there are two sorts of honey dew, 
neither of which falls from the atmosphere, " one a se- 
cretion from the surface of the leaf, and the other a 
■deposition from the body of the aphis," Thus speaks 
Dr. Bevan. The aphis is an insect that abounds on 
the leaves of certain trees, at certain seasons, and they 
are said to eject a saccharine fluid from their bodies, 
in very small limpid drops, of the consistence and flavor 
of honey. 

It is my opinion that no honey dew ever existed, that 
was not an exudation from the leaves of the tree. It 
appears to be so inconsistent, that nature should shower 
down a sweet mist that can only be perceived on the 
leaves of shrubs or trees. Why do we not perceive the 
bees gathering it from stones, and other substances, as 

248 miner's AMERICAN 

well as from the leaves of trees, if it were an atmos- 
pheric mist or dew ? 

There is no doubt of such a substance existing, and 
on this account, the proximity of diversified forests to 
the apiary is beneficial. , 



The above cut represents a bee-dress or head cover- 
ing, made by inserting a piece of wire-cloth in a muslin 
cowl, that reaches down over the shoulders, securing 
the neck by buttoning the coat over it, as high up as 

There are various ways of protecting one's self in 
operations with bees, but there is nothing superior to 

bee-keeper's manual. 249 

that shown in the cut. A veil is often used, or a 
piece of musquito netting is thrown over the head ; but 
such things are but temporary and imperfect security. 
If the bee-keeper is accustomed to hiving swarms, and 
if he be one that is favored by bees generally, and has 
but an occasional use for protection, he may be as care- 
less of exposing his person to their stings as he chooses ; 
but every apiarian who has frequent use of a protection, 
and especially if bee stings produce much pain and 
swelling, should have perfect security against their at- 

There is a class of persons who are seldom stung by 
bees, when other people, placed in precisely the same 
situation, would not escape without paying dearly for 
their temerity. The reason of bees showing this par- 
tiality, is merely owing to the odor of different people's 
breath. Bees are very quick to take offence when ap- 
proached by a person whose breath is unpleasant to 

In consequence of the breath being offensive, it is 
best to suppress respiration as much as possible, when 
holding the head immediately over them, or when the 
breath would be likely to be scented by them. 

The principle advantages in a bee-dress on the fore- 
going plan are, that the vision is not obstructed ; a per- 
son being able to look through the wire cloth almost as 
plainly as if no such thing intervened ; and the facility 
that is offered for free respiration. The wire-cloth need 
not be so large as to cover the whole face, but simply 
over the eyes, if you please. It is sewed in with ordi- 

250 miner's AMERICAN 

nary linen thread. Wire-cloth of the kind used for this 
purpose, may be obtained in cities and large towns, at 
the agricultural stores, or at bird-cage makers. It should 
be quite fine and pliable, and the suitable size may at 
once be known by ascertaining whether you can see 
distinctly through it when held close to the eyes. ' - 

When this dress is put on over the head, the coat 
should be thrown off sufficiently to allow the lower folds 
to fall down around the neck and shoulders, when it is 
to be raised and buttoned up under the chin. Over this 
head-covering a hat is to be worn, of a little larger di- 
mensions than usual, and one that is kept especially for 
such occasions. 

The length of the dress may be diminished some, from 
that appearing in the cut ; say six inches below the neck 
does very well ; and it may be made without contract- 
ing it around the neck as the engraving represents, if 
you choose to do so. It is the most simple thing to 
make imaginable. All you have to do is, to get a little 
black or dark-colored muslin, cut and make it in the 
form necessary, sew in the wire- cloth, and it is done, 
costing about one shilling and sixpence. 

When the head-dress is made, you then want a stout 
pair of woollen mittens or gloves, with an old stocking 
leg, five or six inches long, sewed on to the opening of 
each ; and with these on, and drawn up well under or 
over your coat sleeves, and with 3^our eyes peeping 
tlu'ough the wire-cloth and coat buttoned up to the chin, 
you will feel like encountering the whole of the bees in 
your apiary, as if they were so many flies. 


It sometimes happens, that when the bees find the 
head and hands invulnerable, they will descend and 
crawl up the legs of your pantaloons. It is best to wear 
boots, and in some cases, when many bees are placed in 
a situation where they might chance to get into the legs 
of your nether garments, it will be requisite to tie strings 
around to prevent such a result. 

Woollen gloves or mittens should always be used, as 
the stings of the bees can be easily withdrawn from 
such ; whereas, they cannot from buckskin or leather, 
which causes the death of every bee that perforates 


The venom or poison of the honey-bee, is very active, 
rather more so than that of the wasp. The fluid is of a 
transparent nature, and when applied to the tongue im- 
parts a sweet taste. It is not necessary that the fluid 
should be imparted from the sting of a bee, to produce 
pain and swelling ; the puncture of a needle, with the 
fluid on its point, would produce precisely the same 

The activity of the poison depends somewhat on the 
temperature of the weather. During the heat of sum- 
mer it causes much greater inflammation, than in the 
winter season. 

Some persons are much more aflfected by stings than 
others ; this is owing to a peculiar state of the system 
or blood, as it exists in different people. 

The only positive and immediate cure for a bee-sting, 


that I have ever heard of, that may be depended on in 
all cases, is tobacco. This remedy was recommended 
to me as an infaUible cure ; yet I had but Uttle faith in 
it, still I tried it, and as I supposed, properly, and found 
little or no benefit from its use. I reported its failure 
to cure in my own case, to my informant, and he stated 
that I had not applied it thoroughly, as 1 ought to have 
done ; — that he w^as certain that it would be an effectual 
cure, never having known it to fail in a single instance, 
when correctly applied. The next time I got stung, I 
applied the tobacco as directed, and found it to cure like 
a charm ! The manner of applying it, is as follows : — 
Take ordinary fine-cut smoking or chewing tobacco, 
and lay a pinch of it in tne hollow of your hand and 
moisten it, and work it over until the juice appears quite 
dark colored ; then apply it to the part stung, rubbing 
in the juice, with the tobacco between your thumb and 
fingers, as with a sponge. As fast as the tobacco be- 
comes dry, add a little moisture and continue to rub, 
and press out the juice upon the inflamed spot, during 
five or ten minutes, and if applied soon after being stung, 
it will cure in every case. Before I tried it, I was fre- 
quently laid up with swollen eyes and limbs for days ; 
now it is amusement to get stung. r V , 

There are various other reputed remedies, such as 
ammonia, (spirits of hartshorn,) salceratus diluted in 
water, cold water alone, and earth mixed with water, 
and applied to the puncture, and various other alleged 
cures, all of which I have tried, and found partially in- 

BEE- keeper's manual. 253 

Ammonia is excellent to allay swelling, and if a cloth 
be saturated with it, and applied to the wound, it will 
extract the most of the poison, and at the same time 
take off the skin. I had the entire skin of my forehead 
taken off by it on a certain occasion, when stung over 
one of my eyes. I felt a most powerful burning, but 
being determined to effect a cure, I bore the pain with 
patience for several hours, when I found that the swell- 
ing had abated ; but I had lost the skin of my forehead, 
which was far worse than the sting. It will do very 
well to apply it in this way, if not left on too long. Oc- 
casional bathing with ammonia, is a good way to ap- 
ply it. 

Another remedy is an onion sliced in two, and well 
covered with fine salt, and bound on the part affected. 
This is a very good antidote. 

Some apiarians insist that nothing is better than cold 
water, quickly and freely applied. This is a remedy 
that is always at hand. 

The tobacco, however, is the great panacea, and I 
hope that none of my readers will refuse to try it from 
prejudice. Let every bee-keeper have a small paper of 
this weed handy, where, in case of being stung, or any 
of his family, he can apply it without delay. I can cure 
any sting, no matter how bad, in five minutes, with to- 
bacco, so that one would not know that he had been 
stung, from any sensation of pain that would be felt 
after its application. 

It is always best, as soon as stung, to search for the 
sting, and extract it, as it is generally left in the flesh by 

254 '• bee-keeper's manual. 

the bee, it being .barbed like the shaft of an arrow, and 
it meets with so much resistance, when the bee attempts 
to withdraw it, that she is forced to leave it behind. -. 

I \\^ould observe in regard to exciting bees to the use 
of their stings, that the apiarian should never repulse an 
attack ; no matter how many nor how furious they may 
dash at you, when performing some operation that ex- 
cites them, always keep calm, and pay not the least re- 
gard to their anger. If you find that they are coming 
rather too hot, discretion may dictate a retreat, even 
when fully protected with a bee-dress and gloves ; and 
let your retreat be slow and cautious ; and if any dense 
shrubbery be at hand, run your head into it for a minute 
or two. I have been exposed to their attacks, when 
their excitement was so great, that they would dash 
against the wire-cloth with the violence and sound of 
hail against the windows, in a storm ; at which time the 
odor from their venom-bags was very strong. It is best 
to retreat, when such a crisis exists, for a few minutes, 
and let them cool down a little. 

When you have a pair of thick woollen mittens or 
gloves on, you need not fear in the least, that you will 
be stung. Let as many bees attempt it as may please, 
do not withdraw your hand suddenly from any position, 
when covered with them, even if they try their best to 
sting you ; as I have already observed, that any sudden 
motion tends to arouse their anger. 



The primary causes of swarming may be said to be 
an instinct, natural to the bee, which teaches her to ex- 
tend and propagate her species. This is a wise and 
universal influence of nature, that pervades all animate 

In order to insure this desired result, nature has had 
recourse to harmonious causes and effects, that produce 
the ends desired. The only way in which the honey- 
bee can increase and propagate her species by multiply- 
ing families or colonies, is by sending off families as pio- 
neers, to find shelter and protection for themselves ; and 
to insure this, there must be certain causes that operate 
to force out swarms, even against their wishes. 

In order that the reader may arrive at a proper in- 
sight of this subject, I will make a few remarks on the 
general features of breeding, and the particular influ- 
ences brought to bear on the queen of every family, in 
the spring of the year, when all measures tending to 
produce emigration arc put in operation. 

In the first place the queen commences her great laying 

256 * miner's AMERICAN 

in March or April, according to the state of the weather. 
If the weather be very mild, she may sometimes com- 
mence as early as February ; but subsequent cold 
weather generally intervenes and puts a stop to further 
laying for a while. She continues to lay eggs in mode- 
rate numbers, until about the first of May, when she 
produces from 100 to 200 eggs per day, for a few weeks. 
It is at this period that she decides, or, perhaps, her 
workers decide, whether any emigrant families shall be 
sent off. They reason thus ; — can all the tenants of 
this hive that now exist, or those to exist hereafter, find 
room to labor here to advantage ? Whether it be the 
queen that decides this important question, or her sub- 
jects, we can never know ; but this we do know, that 
if the space within the hive be such as to afford room 
for all the family to labor to advantage, it is decided 
positively and irrevocably, not to send forth any swarms, 
and no royal cells are constructed! If, on the other 
hand, the increase of the family will be such as to be 
unable to find suitable accommodation at home, it is as 
positively decided, that one or more swarms shall emi- 
grate ; and the royal cells are constructed, in which to 
rear the queens that are to go forth with them, or with 
all except the first. Thus it will be seen, that the size 
of the hive settles this question entirely. 

If it be decided that a family or two can be safely 
spared, and still leave a populous stock behind, it be- 
comes necessary to create a large number of drones, to 
ensure the impregnation of the young queens, as has 
already been fully illustrated. Coeval with the laying 

bee-keeper's manual. 257 

of drone-eggs, which generally takes place from the 1st 
to the 10th of May, is the construction of queen-cells. 
From fire to ten royal cells are usually commenced, and 
the same kind of eggs that produce ordinary workei^, 
are laid in these royal cells, from which queens are pro- 
duced, by a different treatment and food, as I before 
illustrated. The eggs are not all deposited in the royal 
cells at once, but on different occasions, so as to mature 
about the time that they will be wanted to go off with 
swarms. There is generally a superabundance of young 
queens matured, so as to be on the safe side, and guard 
against any casualties that may ensue. This is exactly 
according to human reasoning and human judgaient, to 
provide a few over the exact number of any particular 
thing desired, where the least risk of loss may appear. 

A young queen is never suffered to leave the cell 
until the first swarm has departed with the old queen at 
their head. If any of these young scions of royalty 
should be ready to emerge from the cells before the 
swarm is ready to issue, they are kept prisoners therein 
by the workers until the swarm has departed ! Here is 
one of the most wonderful features of the economy of 
the bee. Nature has implanted so deadly a hatred of 
rivalry in the queen bee, that she seizes her own off- 
spring, as soon as a young queen emerges from her cell, 
and thrusts a deadly sting into her, without the least 
compunction. Again, nature has ordained that the old 
queen should go off with the first emigrating family. 
This is just as it should be. The old queen's impregna- 
tion being effectual from the season previous, she is 

^%% miner's AMERICAN 

ready at once to go on with the increase of her family ; 
whereas, a young one would suffer the casualties of de- 
lay in her impregnation, and thus endanger the existence 
•f the colony ; and the issue of more than one swarm 
being a precarious matter, it is a wise dispensation in the 
nature of this insect, that the old queen is compelled to 
leave the hive with the first swarm. I say compelled, 
yes, actually compelled to go forth ! Never was there 
an instance known, where she remained behind, and a 
young queen took her place. The reason lies here ; — 
the moment a young queen is matured and commences 
piping, that is, says peep, peep, which may often be 
heard, it is because she is in duress, or in other words, 
she is held in confinement, and fed by the workers. 
When this takes place, the old queen is aroused, and in 
her anger, she attempts to get at the royal cells to de- 
stroy the young queens that are ready to emerge, and 
she is restrained by the workers. In her desperation and 
agitation that seems to dementate her, finding that she 
is not permitted to immolate her young, she rushes out 
of the hive, calling in her train a portion of the family, 
being resolved to remain no longer, where her authority 
is rendered nugatory. It is not wholly the loss of her 
absolute authority that causes her to depart, but it is 
also a fear and dread of encountering her rivals to the 
throne, that also has an influence in causing her to rush 
from her tenement. When the time arrives for her de- 
parture, she commences a sudden vibration of the wings, 
and rushes over every part of the combs with the ut- 
most speed, and her subjects, in her trail, catch the 


impulse, and a commotion ensues within, that beggars 
all description. When the notice is fairly given to the 
whole family, the queen rushes towards the outlet, and 
if in her passage she happen to pass near the royal cells, 
the workers mistaking her intention to leave the hive, 
for a rush at a young queen, seize and hold her a pris- 
oner. In the meantime the word has been given out 
to swarm, and away go the workers, as if ten thousand 
of their deadliest enemies were on the chase. They 
cluster as usual, but in a few mmutes they miss their 
queen, and all is confusion again. They return to the 
hive. This is the reason of swarms sometimes issuing 
without a queen. 

L( the queen pass near no royal cells, containing 
young queens ready to emerge, she goes off, and then 
all is peaceable again. 

Now, we will follow the condition of things in the 
hive after the old queen is departed. The workers at 
once go to the oldest of the young queens that is kepi 
in durance, if there be more than one, and say " madam, 
you are at liberty to come out." She comes forth, 
strong and full of fire and energy, and at once assumes 
the helm. She, in turn, also scents out her sisters in 
royalty, and if permitted by the workers, she would fall 
upon them and slay them while yet in their cells. 

We now come to a crisis where all future swarming 
rests upon the decision of the workers at this juncture. 
If no more swarms can be spared, the workers immedi- 
ately give up the guarding of any more royal cells, and 
the queen that has just assumed the reins of govern- 


ment, being the oldest and strongest, rushes upon all the 
young queens that may be ready to emerge, as well as 
upon those in the embryo state, and destroys them also ; 
consequently^ no more swarms can possibly take place 
that season. 

If, on the other hand, it be decided that other swarms 
shall issue, then all other young queens are kept con- 
fined as long as possible ; and the same causes that drove 
off the old queen, may also force her successor to de- 
part ; but it sometimes happens, that half a dozen young 
queens will mature about the same time, which are dif- 
ficult to be kept in confinement, in which case, they 
are guarded by the workers, and at the proper time, 
some one of them gives the notice to swarm, and seve- 
ral queens rush out in the general melee. This ac- 
counts for more than one queer, being sometimes found 
in a swarm. 

A permanent stop to swarming may be occasioned by 
a few days of rainy weather, occurring just at the time 
when a family ought to issue. It happens thus ; — as the 
young sovereigns increase in age and strength, the work- 
ers find the greatest difficulty to restrain them in their 
attempts to destroy each other, and they often become 
wearied out by the delay in issuing, when the weather 
is long unfavorable, and giving up their royal charge to 
their own wrath and hatred, it is not long before all are 
killed save one. Here I would remark, that nature has 
so wonderfully ordered the attacks that queens make on 
each other, that in no case are both killed in the same 

bee-keeper's manual. 26) 

combat ; if it were not so, many families of bees would 
be liable to perish. 

The season of swarming is a season of peculiar inte- 
rest to the apiarian. It is at this season, that he looks 
for a reward of his labors, in the increase of his families 
of bees. Aside from the profit accruing from an in- 
crease of families, there is an interest — I may, perhaps, 
say a charm, attending the issue of a large swarm of 
bees, to the apiarian who takes a deep interest in the 
domestic economy of this insect. 

When the cry of " hees swarming," reaches one's ear, 
he drops all and runs to the scene. If he be at the well 
with a bucket of water half way to the top, perhaps, 
down it goes, with many a hard thump against the stony 
sides, and away he goes. If he be in the field at the 
plow, he stops his team \vhen the sound strikes his ear, 
throws down his whip and is off. When he arrives at 
the scene, he beholds the heavens darkened with a re- 
volving mass of bees, and thousands still rushing from 
the hive ! Mark the slow and beautifully-undulating 
circles described, as the bees hover around the apiary, 
in order to give time for all to join the swarm ! Now, 
a portion of the living cloud quickly and thickly revolve 
around yon slender branch, where a few bees are al- 
ready clustered ! Now the whole mass, as by magic, 
draw closely around, and settle thick and fast. The far- 
extended cloud that but a moment before seemed to 
cover the area of an acre, now, by some mysterious 
command, whirl in the space of a few feet, preparatory 
to clusterinii in a solid mass! Now all are clustered 

262 miner's AMERICAN 

save a few straggling bees, that seeem to be undecided 
whether to join the emigrants or return home. There 
they hang in the form of an inverted cone, with their 
heads up, enough to fill a peck measure. 

"What are they hanging there for?" says a bystander, 
who has never seen a swarm issue before. 

" They always cluster in this way, sir, preparatory to 
taking their flight to the forest, or such places as they 
would seek for a home ; provided, that we should not 
tender them one." 

" Is the king-hee among 'em ?" 

" There is no king-bee, but a queen-hee is among 
them, without doubt. If she were not, they would not 
remain so quiet as you perceive them to be, but would 
be seen running to and fro, in wild consternation ; 
and when satisfied of her not being present, they would 
quickly return to the hive whence they issued." 

" But how can they know whether she be with them 
or not, since she is but one among so many thousands." 

" They have the power of communicating this know- 
ledge, which is almost instantaneous. When on the 
'■ .. . 

^ W wing, a certain noise produced by the wings, will imme- 
diately bring a swarm, extended over many rods of space, 
to a focus, where the queen may be. When in a clus- 
ter, or in the hive, her presence is quickly communi- 
cated from one to another. As the General-in-chief 
gives the word of command to his aids, from whom it 
rapidly passes down the lines, until the whole army 
knows the orders of their commander, so is a knowledge 

bee-keeper's manual. 263 

of the presence of a queen-bee imparted to the legions 
under her control." 

" Why, sir, the history and economy of the bee must 
be quite interesting. I always supposed it was a dry 
subject. Really, I should like to hear a little more about 
the wonderful instinct of this insect, unless you fear this 
swarm will depart if not soon hived." 

"With pleasure, sir. I'll just put up this canvas 
screen to keep the rays of the sun from them, since they 
cannot bear an intense heat in such a situation, and 
then I'll try and see if I can find the queen, and we will 
see what effect her removal will have upon them, if I 
be "so fortunate as to find her." 

" I'm delighted, sir, at the prospect of seeing her." 

" I think I'll find her with the feather end of this quill 
— don't be alarmed, they don't sting during swarming- 
time, unless fretted a great deal. There she is ! I have 
her now, — I'll throw this handkerchief over her to hide 
her from the swarm, or they will follow her at once." 

" Let me have one look at her, if you please. — How 
long and slender she is, — black back, and yellow under 
her belly, and — " 

" There, sir, now look at the commotion ! Do you 
see how they run up and down the branch in every di- 
rection, as if in search of something. Now they begin 
to leave it, and if I don't return the queen, they will all 
leave soon. — I've returned her. Now mark the effect." 

" They keep up the commotion, and the buzz of their 
wings yet." 

"They will be calmed soon. Now see how they be- 



gin to re-form ! They are aware of her presence now, 
sir.- A few minutes more, and tranquillity will be re- 
stored. Now all is perfectly quiet again." 

" Tm astonished ! I had some important business in 
town to-day, but I'll put it off until to-morrow, since I 
should like to see you hive this swarm. I'm determined 
to purchase the first swarm of bees I can find, and I 
should like to see how you perform the operation of 

" John, bring a clean hive, a table, blanket, chair and 
brush. Nothing can give me greater pleasure, sir, than^ 
to entertain my friends in this way." 

" You are very obliging, sir." -^ . . . .• v . 


" In the first place, I take a perfectly clean hive, and 
rub a very little honey around the inside, with a small 
sponge that I keep for that purpose. I am not positive 
as it does anv ,wod, vet I am sure that it does no harm, 

bee-keeper's manual. 265 

and since it is reasonable to suppose, that the bees will 
like it, I continue in the practice. Various other things 
are recommended to dress hives with, but I pay no at- 
tention to them, since I never lost a swarm on my plan, 
and I could not have done better if I had pursued other 
people's plans. The great object is to have clean, sweet 
hives. Dressing them with the leaves of certain trees, 
or of herbs, is entirely useless. If the swarm be clus- 
tered within six or eight feet from the ground, which is 
generally the case, where many low trees and shrubs 
exist, I place my table under them and spread a blanket 
over it. I then place my hive in such position, that the 
bees may be made to fall directly before it, and within 
a few inches of it. I then raise the front of the hive 
with a block of wood, as you perceive, so as to give the 
greatest facility for the bees to enter rapidly. Having 
done this, and being protected by my bee-dress, I take a 
chair to stand on, and with a brush, such as this, I am 
prepared for the operation. I will now show you how 
I do it. With one hand hold of the branch, and the 
brush in the other, I give a sudden jar to the limb, and 
down they fall before the hive ; and the small portion 
that adhere to the branch after jarring it, I brush off, and 
all that take wing again, follow their companions below. 
There, they are all on the table now, except a few hun- 
dred, that will soon settle with them in front of the 

"That was done very dextrously. Now they are 
running into the hive, I perceive, except on this side, 

266 miner's AMERICAN 

where a portion are clustering on the outside of it. 
That is not right, is it, sir ?" 

" I'll brush them off, and with the feather end of this 
quill, I'll soon make them disappear." 

" Ha ! ha ! now they scamper — now they go in. Do 
you leave the hive here, or remove it at once to the 
stand ?" 

" It is not a matter of importance, whether it be re- 
moved as soon as the bees become quiet, or left here 
until evening. As a general rule, all swarms that come 
off in the morning should be removed to the stand as 
soon as they become quietly hived, and swarms that 
issue in the afternoon, may be left until evening before 
removing them. The reason for this course is, that a 
swarm issuing in the morning, will become so accus- 
tomed to the locality when the hive is left unremoved, 
that more bees are lost the next day, when its situation 
is changed, than would be, if the removal took place im- 
mediately. I do not wish you to understand me, that 
any bees are actually lost in either case, since they re- 
turn to the parent hive, when they cannot find their 
new tenement." 

" I understand you, sir, perfectly well, and I feel under 
obligations to you for thus explaining the manner of 
hiving, &c. Good morning, sir." 

So much of the features pertaining to swarming, I 
have put into the words of others, in the form of a social 

The foregoing cut, as the reader perceives, represents 
the actual operation of hiving a swarm of bees, as I am 

bee-keeper's manual. 267 

accustomed to perform it, when the swarm does not 
cluster too high. 

A blanket is necessary to spread over the table to 
ease the fall of the bees upon it. When they cluster so 
high as to require a fall of five or six feet, I put the 
blanket on doubled, or throw a bag over the table, and 
then put the blanket or table cover over it. 

Some apiarians first brush or shake the bees off the 
branch into the hive, which is held under them bottom 
upwards, and then set it down upon a table with one or 
more of its sides raised on blocks to admit such bees as 
are out. This is a good way where the bees do not 
cluster conveniently for shaking or brushing off before 
the hive. There is no difficulty in making the bees 
enter when made to fall on a table before it. They will 
run towards a hive when several feet from it, on their 
seeing an opening for them. 


When bees cluster upon the branches of trees, too 
high to admit of being hived in the foregoing way, a 
temporary hiver may be used to advantage. It is made 
by taking three light, thin boards about ten inches wide, 
and 18 inches long, and nailing them together in the 
form of a triangle, with both ends left open, and sundry 
auger holes bored through the sides, near the centre. 
An iron strip is then secured to it, with arms extending 
along two of its sides, and a short shank projecting, 
which is made fast to a pole. This hiver may be raised 
by the means of the pole to any usual height that bees 


cluster, and by the use of additional joints to the handle, 
secured with ferrules, it may be raised to any reasonable 
height. It will be necessary to make the hiver as light 
as possible, in order to handle it conveniently. All that 
is to be done when bees cluster beyond the reach of 
ordinary means, is to place the hiver over them, with 
some of the holes in contact with them, and in a few 
minutes they will enter it, when it may be taken down, 
and the bees shaken out on a table in front of a hive 
intended as a permanent residence, with one side raised 
about an inch, and they will enter speedily. 


It often happens that a swarm is inclined to cluster 
on the outside of the hive, rather than enter immedi- 
ately. This is caused by the heat being insupportable 
within, or from the queen being outside. In the latter 
case, nothing will cause the family to remain quietly 
inside until the queen is made to enter. The remedy 
is to brush the bees off gently, either with a soft brush 
or the feather end of a quill, and give them every faci- 
lity for entering, and also as great a circulation of air 
under the hive as possible, by raising it on blocks. 
Every precaution should be taken to keep the hive in 
the shade. "~ 


When a swarm issues, no jingling of bells, or the 
rattling of tin pans should be indulged in, in the least. 
This custom originated from the cottagers of Europe, 

bee-keeper's manual. 269 

residing in communities making a practice of ringing 
bells, or thumping on tin pans when a swarm of bees 
issued, so as to know who the owner was ; since swarms 
issuing from the premises of one cottager would fre- 
quently cluster on the grounds of another. 


The apiarian may at any time prevent swarming, by 
affording the bees extra room below them. For in- 
stance, take a hive filled with bees, and nearly ready to 
throw off a swarm, and place it over another hive of the 
same diameter, with a passage-way through it, and the 
bees will soon destroy their young sovereigns in the 
embryo state, and no swarming will take place. 

It is sometimes advantageous to thus prevent the issue 
of swarms, when the owner does not wish any further 
increase in the number of his families, as the larger the 
body of bees together, the greater is the quantity of 
surplus honey produced; yet this argument does not 
apply to increasing the size of hives, except temporally 
by nadiring or supering. 

Boxes may be constructed of half the usual depth of 
hives, with both ends open ; and in the month of May, 
before swarming, one of them may be placed under the 
hive, where swarming is to be prevented. These boxes 
should be made of the same dimensions of the hive, so 
as to make a close joint where they come in contact. 
In the fall, a wire may be drawn through between the 
connection and sever the combs, and the bees in the 
lower section will return, and the family will be very 

270 miner's AMERICAN 

populous, and probably highly prosperous ; yet but few 
more bees will exist in February, and March following, 
than would exist, if a swarm were suffered to issue ; but 
the labors of the extra number of bees existing during 
the summer, are not lost, as the honey and wax in the 
nadir will testify. "^' 

It is very important to know how far supering, or 
placing boxes over the hives, will prevent swarming. I 
have never found supers eight inches deep to prevent 
swarming with me ; neither have I found the boxes in 
chamber-hives, to prevent it in the least. I always let 
the bees into the supers in April, and 1 get my regular 
swarms. If supers should be placed on of the full size 
of the hive, swarming would be likely to be prevented ; 
but there is nothing certain to prevent an issue but na- 
diring, or collateral hiving, in such a manner as to throw 
two hives into one, or nearly so, from the capacity of 
the openings between them. , .■. 


I cannot too deeply impress on the bee-keeper's mind, 
the necessity of keeping very strong families in all 
cases, if possible. I will illustrate this point, as follows : 
a family of 15,000 bees is supposed to occupy a hive 
one foot square in the clear, or inside. That family 
will, if left undivided, lay up sufficient honey in one 
season, to carry them safely through the winter, and 
have forty pounds surplus that goes as profit to their 
owner. Now, what would be the result if they should 
be divided into four families; each with a queen at its 

bee-keeper's manual. 271 

head, and placed in hives of the same size of the orig- 
inal one ? There would not be a drop of surplus honey- 
stored up by either family, and in all probability, they 
would not be able to exist through the month of Novem- 
ber, unless fed, much less through the winter. It is on 
the principle that " in unity there is strength." Four 
rods when together may not be broken, but take each 
separately, and the whole are easily rent asunder. The 
philosophy of the failure of four families of 3,750 bees 
each, to gather as much honey as one family of 15,000, 
lies here : — it requires nearly as many bees to remain 
constantly at home, in each of the four hives, for the 
purpose of keeping up that degree of heat that is neces- 
sary within, that it does in the hive where the whole 
15,000 reside ; consequently, it follows, that in one case, 
perhaps, 10,000 bees would be constantly on the wing, 
and in the other case of the four separate families, not 
over 1,250 could be spared from each, making only 5,000 
bees as the actual number of gatherers employed by the 
whole of them. 

In consequence of this state of things, more bees are 
lost, by a desire to increase our families too rapidly, than 
from any other particular cause. It is truly said, " that 
experience is the best schoolmaster ;" and I have paid 
pretty dearly for my knowledge. Feeling anxious, one 
season, to increase the number of my families, to the 
greatest possible extent, I divided my largest swarms, 
and some families that did not swarm but once, I drove 
out, and made two families, where but one existed before. 
This course well-nigh ruined my whole apiary ; and I 

272 miner's AMERICAN 

would briefly say, always be on the safe side in regard 
to the strength of your swarms, and never grieve when 
but one issues in a season. I assure you, that one large 
swarm is enough. Never think of dividing them, unless 
you are positive that they contain two or more issues. 
There is not much danger of your dividing swarms or 
families, unless you have had experience in such mat- 
ters. I will illustrate this point soon. 


When different swarms issue at the-same time, they 
will almost invariably cluster on the same branch. This 
arises from an instinctive predominant principle in bees 
to congregate in as large families as possible. It is not 
necessary that each family should issue at the same in- 
stant; since a swarm already clustered, will be followed 
by a swarm sallying forth half an hour later ; and another 
coming forth before the previous two are hived, will be 
sure to mix with them. In extensive apiaries, there is 
much difficulty attending the union of swarms in this 
way. In such cases, it is best to have everything at 
hand ready, and hive each swarm as quickly as possible. 
When the weather becomes fine after a rain, and it is 
probable that several swarms will issue at once, it is ad- 
visable, when a swarm commences issuing, to sprinkle 
the rest of the hives with water, from a watering-pot. 
This will keep them back a few minutes, until you can 
hive the one already clustered. I now speak of very 
large apiaries, where from 25 to 100 hives exist. Every 
precaution should be taken, to keep the hives that have 


just received the swarms, as much out of sight as pos- 
sible, as it frequently happens, that a swarm will follow 
another, after being hived, if a portion of the bees clus- 
ter outside, where they may be seen. 

When several swarms do get together, making, as I 
have known, a barrel full of bees ; and perhaps a dozen 
different swarms, then the apiarian is in no very envia- 
ble predicament. I heard of a gentleman whe had 200 
hives or families, and when they came out and clustered 
together in this way, he hived them in a barrel, and in 
one season the barrel would be filled with combs, and 
contain several hundred pounds of honey. 


The length of time that swarms will quietly remain 
upon the bough where they cluster, if not hived, is a 
matter of importance to every bee-keeper. There is not 
that necessity for hurrying, as if one's life were at stake, 
as some people imagine. If the weather be unusually 
hot and sultry, and the swarm cluster where it is fully- 
exposed to the rays of the sun, and it be between the 
hours of eleven and two, you cannot be too quick in se- 
curing them ; but if they issue in the morning or in the 
afternoon, when the air is cool, or if they are fully 
shaded, let the time be when it may, you can hive them 
at your leisure. I had two swarms issue, some few 
years ago, when the weather was not oppressively hot, 
under the following circumstances : — I had occasion to 
be absent from home at a period when no one was on 
my premises who could hive bees. One swarm came 

274 miner's AMERICAN 

out about 10 o'clock, and the other about 11 o'clock. 
They remained quietly clustered until half-past 3, when 
a most violent thunder-storm arose. The wind blew a 
gale, and the rain came down in torrents, for the space 
of an hour. At 5 o'clock, I returned, and found both 
swarms clustered as at first, and not a bee had been lost 
by the force of the wind and rain. This case is a fail 
criterion of what may generally be expected, when 
swarms are left unhived. They will often remain 24 
hours, and sometimes they will adhere to the branch 
where they cluster, until every bee perishes, or returns 
to the parent hive. From my own experience, I am led 
to believe, that the length of time that swarms will re- 
main where they cluster, depends, in a measure, upon 
the fact, whether a general supervision be extended over 
them by the owner ; that is, whether he is constant in 
attending to the little duties pertaining to the apiary ; 
such as brushing away the webs of insects, keeping 
everything in order, feeding a weak swarm here, and 
attending to the wants of a family there, and by his daily 
presence, manifesting to the bees, that they are not left 
to provide wholly for themselves. As " the ox knoweth 
his owner and the ass his master's crib," so is the little 
bee sensible of the fact, that a hand is ever ready to pro- 
vide for her necessities. Though you cannot change 
one iota of her natural economy, that she has brought 
down through thousands of generations since the crea- 
tion of the world ; yet if you but extend kindness to her 
— if you feed her when famishing — if you remove im- 
pediments to her prosperity, that she cannot perform, 

bee-keeper's manual. 275 

she remembers 3'our attention, and learns to place her 
trust in you. This is a prominent feature of every being 
that depends on man for protection. It is an attribute 
of Him who created all. 

The mandate went forth at the creation of the world, 
"that as man looketh to me, and I extend an outstretched 
arm over him ; so shall every living thing be subjected 
unto man, knowing that he provideth for them in the 
day of their necessity." Taking this view of the case, 
it is not unreasonable to suppose, that if one seldom goes 
to his apiary, and pays little or no regard to the wants 
of his bees, they will, in swarming, have no idea of be- 
ing provided with a tenement ; and consequently will, 
perhaps, take to the forest much sooner than under 
other circumstances. I have been led to this conclusion, 
from hearing of many swarms departing to the woods, 
in cases where I knew that no attention was paid to the 
wants of the bees generally ; and from the fact, that 
during the many years that I have kept this insect, I 
never had an instance of a swarm departing, except one 
that clustered on the sunny side of a tree, where the 
thermometer was about 140*^ in the sun, hot enough to 
roast them ; and I should not have lost this one, but I 
was not present until half an hour after clustering, and 
they took flight just as I arrived. I say that I have had 
but one instance, I have had two ; the other was a case 
where the person hiving them, used salt too freely in 
dressing the hive, as I shall narrate hereafter. 



^. . P y^^^^ «^?i-^- 'fe-s- > _'^^-%'-,;- ■.••..•. « -■ 


The above cut represents the commencement of clus- 
tering. The queen generally selects the branch to clus- 
ter on, and wherever she goes, the family are sure to 
follow ; sometimes, however, the bees cluster while she 
is on the wing, and she follows the swarm, but such 
cases do not often occur. If it so happen, that the 
queen becomes fatigued, and alights on the ground or in 
some place, where the bees cannot readily observe her, 
they will cluster without her, and remain a few minutes 
only, when every bee will return home to the parent 
family. Queens are often forced to alight before a 
suitable branch is selected to cluster on, in consequence 
of the shortness of their wings, not enabling them to fly 
N»^ with the same ease as their subjects. 


The above engraving shov/s how the apiarian should 

bee-keeper's manual. 277 

be prepared to hive his bees without delay, when he can 
do so; because they cannot be hived too soon, and you 
may be too late. Always have a common table handy, 
and a blanket or an old table cover, where you can lay 
your hand on it, at a moment's notice. A brush as ap- 
pears in the apiarian's hand, in the cut, should also be 
at hand. Your hives should be in order, and perfectly 
clean, and always a few more of them than you may 
actually require, perhaps, should be constructed. Hives 
that have been previously used, are as good as any, if 
perfectly clean. Boiling hot water should be freely used 
in cleaning old hives, and the joints well drenched to 
kill the ova of insects. 

Bees, when swarming, are quite docile, seldom using 
their stings, unless in windy weather, when fretted a 
great deal by the branches or leaves of the trees flapping 
against them. - The person on the right hand of the cut, 
who is defending himself from their attacks, foolishly 
commenced parrying and striking at a stray bee, that 
came around his ears in rather a menacing attitude, and 
by so doing, he brought a dozen around his head, breath- 
ing vengeance for the affront. He will know better 
next time. 

Bees are very particular about the weather when they 
swarm ; and the first swarm more particularly, as the 
old queen goes off then, and she has more experience 
than young queens in such things. A calm, sunny day 
is chosen for migrating generally. If a storm arise at 
the time swarms are expected, and continue one or two 
days, or longer, the first fair day will bring them out ; 

278 miner's AMERICAN 

provided they be ready, and the storm has not continued 
so long as to break up their arrangements, as before 
illustrated. Some writers assert, that bees never swarm 
when high winds prevail. This is a mistake. They 
will wait for pleasant, mild weather, as long as they can, 
and then let it be windy or not windy, they come forth 
on some occasions. During the month of June last, 
(1848,) I had a swarm issue when the bees were almost 
blown to the ground, before they could cluster. There 
had been four days of the most windy weather that I 
ever knew at that season, and on the fifth day, while the 
wind was still rushing past like a gale, this swarm issued. 

The time intervening between the first and second 
swarm, is from nine to fourteen days, but generally 
about the ninth day; between the second and third, 
seven days ; and if still another issue, on the second or 
^HrtZ day thereafter. .. ^ ... 

If a storm arise immediately after hiving a swarm, 
and continue long, the bees must be fed. A piece of 
empty honey-comb placed under the hive, and filled daily 
with liquid honey, or syrup made of sugar will answer 
the purpose. The bees, in such a case, must be con- 
fined, so as to exclude their neighbors, as honey is 
quickly scented ; much sooner than sugar made into a 
syrup. . ' ■ ^ , ' 


No positive symptoms showing when a swarm will 
actually issue, can be given. Huber has had a great 
deal to say in regard to what he terms ''piping'' as 

bee-keeper's manual. 279 

being a symptom showing when a family will sally out ; 
but this indication is not to be depended on, from the 
fact, that not one bee-keeper in ten, will ever be able to 
distinguish this sound, amid the hum of a populous 
family in warm weather. 

Piping, as it is called, is simply the notes of the young 
queens, that are held prisoners by the workers, as before 
described, manifesting their desire to obtain their free- 
dom, and the noise emitted sounds somewhat like peep, 
peep ; and when such a sound is heard on a calm even- 
ing by applying the ear close to the hive, and in actual 
contact therewith, it signifies that a swarm will issue 
soon, if the weather be favorable. 

The only general criterion by which we can judge 
whether a swarm will soon issue, is from the following 
circumstances, viz : — 

If the hive be full of combs, and the bees find diffi- 
culty in getting into it at evening, a swarm may be soon 
expected, any time after the 15th of May. If large 
clusters of bees hang out at evening, then the symptom 
of swarming is still stronger. If no swarms have come 
out on the 1st of June, and the aforesaid symptoms ex- 
ist, it is almost morally certain that one will depart very 
soon, unless the weather be cold, damp or windy. When 
a swarm has issued, clustering out indicates that another 
family will take their exit, but not much dependence is 
to be placed upon the apparent populous state of the 
stock, for any issue except the first. If the weather be 
very warm, the apiarian will be liable to be greatly de- 
ceived in regard to the actual population of his parent 

280 miner's AMERICAN 

hives, and he will think it a pity, perhaps, that more 
swarms are not sent out, when, if such a result were to 
take place, it would be the ruin of his apiary, to a great 

There are instances, when all signs in regard to 
swarming, may fail. Every bee-keeper, or at least, 
many, have watched their hives with a deep interest, 
during the swarming season, wondering what keeps their 
bees, as it were, spell-bound to their tenements. Large 
clusters will hang out, night and day, and the swarming 
season will pass away, and still there they hang, appa- 
rently without doing any labor, save an occasional de- 
parture to the fields to supply the wants of nature. 
These things will often occur, and the reason why no 
swarms issue is, that a failure has taken place in the 
production of young queens, or when produced, they 
have been slain from some cause, as I have already ex- 
plained. The only alternative with such over-populous 
families, is to form an artificial swarm, or suffer them 
to remain as they are. When bees cluster in large in- 
verted cones on the under side of the bottom-board, it 
is well to place a few handfuls of grass directly under 
them, as they often fall to the ground in the night, or 
during the prevalence of a storm. 


In the latitude of New York, the usual season of 
swarming is from the 15th of May, to the 10th of June, 
in higher latitudes, for instance, that of Boston, it is a 
few days later, perhaps ; and in moi'e southern districts. 

bee-keeper's manual. 281 

it is somewhat earlier. Occasional swarms may issue 
in April, and also as late as July, and even in October, 
instances are found of such a result. When a swarm 
issues in October, it embraces the whole family ; and it 
may, perhaps, be more properly a desertion. The two 
instances of this nature, that occurred in my own apiary, 
and before alluded to, came out in the month of October, 
leaving both honey and larvae behind. Powerful, indeed, 
must be the cause that forces a family of bees to leave 
their domicil at such a period, and depart on the wing 
to an uncertain destiny. The bee has the same natural 
attachment for its young that pervades all animate 
nature. When a piece of brood-comb is extracted con- 
taining larvae, the bees adhere to it with the utmost te- 
nacity ; and the cause of such an unfeeling, and appa- 
rently uncalled-for desertion, may appear strange to one 
not having a tangible idea of the true reason. My opin- 
ion on this question is, that the hives being but partially 
filled with combs, not over one -quarter part, and there 
not being over one-tenth the number of bees that con- 
stitute a populous family, the idea of wintering in a place 
where no warmth could be generated by them, and hav- 
ing had a foretaste of what was to come, in a few 
cold days previous to their departure, with the en- 
trance all around the hives open as in summer, they fore- 
saw that death must ensue if they thus remained, and 
having, probably, sent out an embassy to find some hol- 
low tree in which they would be less exposed to the 
rigors of the weather, they departed. The reader may 
recollect, that I stated, in a previous allusion to this 



singular desertion, that I succeeded in hiving both 
swarms ; and in a few days they rushed out again, and 
I was unable to stop them. Here is a cut representing 
a swarm taking a flight to the forest, high above the 

When bees are determined to seek a home for them- 
selves, they revolve in a mass, gradually getting higher 
and higher, until the coast is clear, and then their flight 
is rapid ; yet sometimes they may be followed for half a 
mile. The best remedy for bringing them down is, to 
throw fine sand or water among them. When one of 
the swarms issued, before spoken of, I seized a pail of 
water and a dipper, and I made the water fly among 
them like a real shower. Before I had used the first 
pail of water, they had got some twenty rods from the 
apiary. In the mean time I sent for more water, and I 
at last succeeded in bringing them to cluster on the 
branch of a cherry tree, about twenty feet from the 


ground. Being called away for a short time, I suffered 
them to remain, and when I returned they were gone, 
and to my satisfaction ; since my only motive in stopping 
them was, to experiment on the application of water in 
such cases. 

In regard to the actual danger of the aforesaid two 
swarms perishing, had they remained in the original 
hive, I would observe, that they were the smallest 
swarms that I ever had; consequently, I am not able 
to say positively, whether they would have survived 
through the winter or not. I have wintered swarms 
that did not contain over a quart of bees in December, 
with perfect security, and I am inclined to believe, that 
had I lowered down the hives, and allowed but a single 
place of entrance, and had fed them freely, they would 
have lived through the winter. The two swarms alluded 
to, would not probably have made more than about a pint 
in bulk, if left until December or January. There was 
about a quart in each when they departed. 


The question has often been asked me, if swarms are 
not composed entirely of young bees ? My answer is, 
that they contain beesof every age, from the old bee of the 
season previous, coming into existence through the sum- 
mer and fall months, down to the young bee that nevei 
before ventured a rod from the hive. There appears to 
be no discrimination on the point of age. A promiscu- 
ous sally takes place, and the majority are young bees, 

284 miner's AMERICAN 

as a matter of course, since four fold the number of old 
ones existing, are produced every spring. 


Much has been said in regard to bees selecting a habi- 
tation before issuing from the hive. It is supposed by 
many persons, that previous to a swarm issuing, an em- 
bassy is sent to the forest to select some hollow tree or 
other tenement in which to reside. That such cases 
sometimes do take place, I have no doubt, but that a 
selection is made in every case, is not a fact. I think 
that the attention paid to the wants of the bees by their 
owner, as before alluded to, has something to do with 
this matter ; since it appears that they who pay no re- 
gard to their bees, at any season, lose swarms very fre- 
quently, while they who are constantly paying the little 
attentions to them that good management demands, 
seldom lose any. 

I have often observed single bees, during the season 
of swarming, entering the knot holes of my stable, sing- 
ing a merry song, and carefully examining them for no 
other purpose, I presume, than to find a domicil for some 
swarm soon to issue. It appears natural in the bee to 
send out scouts in this manner, and where a forest is 
very near, filled with hollow, decayed trees, the securing 
of swarms is attended with much more trouble than in 
other situations. It often happens, that a hole in some 
old building is secured by them for a tenement. A lady 
of my acquaintance, who is very fond of attending to 
bees, informs me that on a certain occasion, a swarm 


issued from her apiary, and without clustering, pro- 
ceeded slowly across the fields to the house of a neigh- 
bor, about half a mile off. Their progress was so slow, 
that she was able to follow them all the distance, with- 
out losing sight of them. They entered the house at 
an aperture under the roof She returned home, and 
in a few minutes another swarm issued, and took the 
same course without clustering ; and she again followed 
after them, and just as she arrived, the last of the latter 
truant swarm were entering the same aperture where 
the first swarm entered. This is rather a singular case, 
since it is very rare to have swarms issue and depart 
without clustering. Clustering seems to be necessary, 
in order to congregate the whole family prior to the 
journey, when a flight is contemplated. Some apiarians 
have recommended decoy hives ; that is, empty hives 
placed about the apiary, in which it is supposed swarms 
may enter. I have tried this experiment, but have 
never found it to succeed. 


While bees are swarming, they have a peculiar power 
of imparting information from one to another, while on 
the wing. It is this power that calls, at a moment's 
notice, the bees that cover many rods area to a focus, 
when it is decided to cluster. I had a singular circum- 
stance occur, the last season, of this nature. I had seve- 
ral swarms issue and cluster on the same branch, at the 
same time. I divided them in three parts, and hived 
them separately, thinking that if I should happen to get 

286 miner's AMERICAN 

a queen in each, it would save all further trouble. I 
placed the hives in different situations, and in the course 
of a few hours I found the whole together again. I then 
took a small swarm that issued the day previous, and 
placed it where the hive stood that contained the three 
swarms, which was filled inside and covered outside 
with a perfect sheet of bees, and as quickly as possible, 
I shook out about half of its contents alongside of that 
containing the small swarm, and then I ran with the 
hive thus emptied of half its contents, and set it in the 
place where I took the other from. My object was to 
force a division in some manner, if possible. I remained 
a few minutes watching the result. Presently the bees 
that had been shaken down at the side of the hive, 
commenced rising on the wing, and mixing with a small 
part of the other portion of the joint families, that hov- 
ered in the air, and soon a trail was formed from one 
hive to the other, and in fifteen minutes, every bee was 
at the hive in the new situation, some rods off; the 
knowledge of its position having been communicated 
from one to another, on the wing. It is only in cases 
of large numbers of bees being on the wing at the same 
time, that a communication can be effected by them. 


The foregoing experiment was out of the regular order 
of my usual course, in effecting a division of swarms ; 
yet such a separation, or rather an equalization of fami- 
lies may be made. Two swarms, the one very large 
and the other very small, may be managed thus ; — at 

bee-keeper's manual. 287 

evening, when the bees are all in, and quiet, take the 
large family from its position, and supply its place by 
the small one, at the same time, causing a portion of the 
large one to fall alongside of the hive containing the 
small swarm. The bees will readily enter, and join the 
family within. The hive containing the large swarm 
should be placed in the position that the other family 
occupied. To effect such results, it may sometimes be 
necessary to perform the operation of mixing the bees 
on a blanket, spread on the ground. One hive may be 
be set down, with one side raised half an inch, and the 
bees from the other falling near it, will enter at once. 
The time to effect this equalization should be soon after 
sunset, and neither swarm should have issued beyond a 
day or two previous. 

During the next two days, still larger numbers from 
the large family, will gather to the small one ; since they 
go out to the fields from the new situation, and return 
to the old one. The object of forcing out a portion at 
once, is to mix with the other family, and partially de- 
stroy the peculiar scent by which bees from one swarm 
recognize those of another. It is not advisable to force 
out many, as a very large portion entering so as to 
outnumber those already there, might cause trouble 
with the queen, as a strange queen coming suddenly 
into the midst of a great number of bees, not of her own 
family, is at once seized by them, and held so close a 
prisoner, that suffocation is liable to ensue. I do not 
recommend this way of separation of swarms, unless it 
be in cases where one can well spare a large portion of 

288 . .V miner's AMERICAN 

its numbers, and the other cannot possibly thrive with- 
out an accession to its strength. 

The true and proper way is by adopting the princi- 
ples of artificial swarming, as I shall soon explain. It 
simply consists in attaching a piece of brood-comb con- 
taining larvae, in two or more hives, according to the 
number of families that may be desired to make, and 
then dividing the bees, placing them in the hives with 
the brood-combs, and if no queens happen to be among 
them, they can make them, as I have before stated. If 
the division take place on the da}^ of swarming, brood- 
combs should be placed in each hive ; but if left until 
three or four days after being hived, they should be 
placed in the empty hive only, since the full one would 
probably, already contain combs and eggs ; and there 
would be no necessity of disturbing the queen pertain- 
ing to it. The manner of division in this latter case is 
thus : — at any time of day, a small portion of bees should 
be gently shook out of the hive containing a double 
family, in such a position, that they will enter the empty 
hive, which is to be placed in the full one's position ; 
then carry the full one to a new situation, not less than 
ten feet off, and during the two succeeding days, the 
empty hive will gain strength as before described, until 
a respectable family accumulates. 


A union of two or more small swarms may be effected 
on the day of swarming, without any trouble. All that 
is to be done is, to miikc one mass of them, and the 



extra queens will soon be slain, and the bees will work 
as one family. A union may be effected in this man- 
ner, at any time within a week after hiving the bees, but 
there is this difference attending it ; one of the hives is 
to be removed, of course, and during the next two or 
three days, a large portion of the swarm that had be- 
come accustomed to the place where the removed or 
emptied hive stood, will return to that place, as they 
sally forth to the fields from their new domicil, and will 
be lost. 


The above cut represents a servant of mine, with a 
swarm of bees clustering on his neck and back. Per- 
haps the reader may think that this comical scene is but 
visionary ; yet I would assure you, dear reader, that 
such things do actually occur ; and every bee-keeper is 

290 miner's AMERICAN 

liable to be placed in the same unenviable predica- 

The queen, as I before stated, is sometimes quite 
heavy and unable to fly, and it may happen that in case 
of not meeting a proper shrub or branch to alight on, 
she will perch on the first thing that may come in her 
way ; and if she alight on any part of the person in at- 
tendance, the whole swarm will follow so speedily, that 
there is no help — no evading it. All that one has to do 
is, to stand still, and bear it like a philosopher, not at- 
tempt to run away, as poor Sambo did. There is not 
the least danger in such a case, if one will only be quiet. 
It will call forth all the presence of mind that he is pos- 
sessed of, without doubt. In such a case, another per- 
son should bring a hive and hold it over the bees, resting 
it in some manner that will give facility for them to 
enter, and in a few minutes, they will all take to the 

sambo's first trial at hiving. 
When I commenced keeping bees, I was as green in 
the business as the most ignorant. I gave directions to 
my servant to dress the hive with salt and water, having 
heard that this was good. When I returned at evening, 
(I resided on Long Island, and came to New York 
daily,) he informed me that a large swarm had issued, 
and he hived it, and in a few minutes they rushed out, 
and that was the last he saw of them. I turned up the 
hive, and behold! he had rubbed salt enough on the 
sides of it, to pickle a pig. There was no wonder why 

bee-keeper's manual. 291 

the bees departed. The next day, when I returned, he 
came up grinning, "I've got 'em, sir, this time, and a 
mighty large swarm it is, too," said he. What, another 
swarm out, inquired I ? " Yes, sir, here it is, and to 
make sure of 'em, I cut off the branch, and put it into 
the hive, and then tied a cloth over it tight, leaving one 
little air hole for 'em to breathe, sir." Sure enough, 
there was the hive tied up like a band-box on a journey. 
I flew around and made the necessary preparations to 
remove them, and called my wife out to witness the 
first swarm, as I should remove the covering, and turn 
up the hive to our admiring eyes. I got the whole 
family around me, as assistants in the operation, all as 
eager to witness the bees as myself I gently raised the 
cloth. The end of the branch protruded under the hive. 
I raised the hive on one side very slowly, with my heart 
in a flutter of excitement and anxiety ; I expected soon 
to hear exclamations of delight on all sides. Higher 
and higher the hive was raised, expecting every instant 
to catch a view of the swarm clustered at the top. Pre- 
sently it gained a point where the eye reached the sum- 
mit, and such a sight ! Reader, what do you think it 
was ? Not a single bee was there ! If ever the mer- 
cury went down suddenly in my blood, it was then. I 
was nigh breaking the hive over Sambo's head, but the 
old fellow was useful, and I let him off with a good 
scolding for having duped me. The bees had escaped 
one by one, through his air-hole, and had returned to 
the parent family. 

292 miner's AMERICAN 



A grape-vine seems to be a particular favorite for 
bees to cluster on. I had several large vines near my 
apiary, on Long Island, and I have frequently had every 
swarm during a season, cluster on them. When the 
leaves are large enough to afford shade, they are inclined 
to cluster on them more, than when the vines are par- 
tially bare. They often cluster in peach, apricot, cherry 
and apple trees ; and not unfrequently on currant bushes. 
Where no small trees exist of the size of ordinary peach 
trees, some kind of small tree should be set out, and I 
know of none better than the peach. I have tried arti- 
ficial clustering shrubs or bushes with the most perfect 
success. In the spring of 1848, I removed my apiary 
to a place where not a tree or shrub existed of a suitable 
size. I took a dozen of the poles used for sustaining 
dahlias, about six feet long, and to the end of each I 
fastened a green cedar bush about one foot in diameter, 
and eighteen inches long; being the tops of small cedar 
trees and shrubs found in any quantity, in the woods. 
I drove down these poles in different places around the 
apiary, some two rods apart ; making the bushes stand 
from four to six feet high. When the swarms issued, 
they selected one of these bushes. I had twenty-six 
issues, and every one clustered in the same way ; and 
seemed to like them better than trees, as they afford the 
best security against the bees falling. They generally 
clustered around the centre of the bush, and when they 

bee-keeper's manual. 293 

became dry and faded, it made no difference in regard 
to the bees clustering on them. 


Perhaps some of my readers would Hke to know how 
a family of bees is affected at the first movements in 
swarming, since very few bee-keepers witness the first 
outward excitement among them. I stood looking at a 
hive last June, and presently a mass of bees came surg- 
ing over and over, out of the hive on every side, like 
the froth of a pot slowly boiling over. The bees ran up 
the sides a few inches, making a complete mass all 
around it, and then for a moment, the most phrenzied 
excitement took place, running in every direction, with 
a speed unnatural to them. Then they commenced 
rising on the wing, and in one minute, the air was dark- 
ened by the mass that issued. 


From 7 o'clock in the morning to 6 o'clock in the 
afternoon, they may issue, but generally from 10 to 3. 
In very warm weather swarms frequently issue as early 
as 7. This is about all the specific guide any one can 

;>'K-.'.r ; ! 



The art of forming artificial swarms has been known 
for many years. Shirach is reputed as the original dis- 
coverer of it. It is simply based on the power that the 
workers possess, to convert any worker-egg or larvae 
under four days old, into a queen, as I discussed in Chap- 
ter II. This being an established fact, it follows, that 
if a queen belonging to any family be removed, and leave 
behind eggs or larvas, of a suitable age, the bees will 
rear another queen, and proceed in their labors, as if 
nothing had occurred to them. 

I will now illustrate precisely what would take place 
within a hive, if a queen were suddenly removed. We 
will suppose that the whole interior of the hive is fully 
exposed to our view. We now remove the queen sud- 
denly, and without molesting the workers in the least. 
All is perfectly quiet, and perhaps may remain so seve- 
ral hours, since no alarm has been sounded. The work- 
ers take it for granted, that the queen is still there ; and 
although they do not see or feel her, yet it is presumed 
that she is somewhere about the hive. We will arouse 

bee-keeper's manual. 295 

them, and on the approach of danger, their first impulse 
is to be assured of the safety of their sovereign. We 
take a rod and rap smartly on the hive. — The bees now 
begin to run speedily over the combs — the excitement 
increases, and they are now fully aware of the queen's 
absence. Hark ! what a tumult and roar within ! How 
eagerly they traverse the combs, as if in search of some- 
thing. Six hours have now past, and the excitement is 
dying away. Here in this cluster of bees, the rudiments 
of a queen-cell are already laid, and within twenty-four 
hours one of the larva of the unsealed cells will be re- 
moved to it, and in about 12 days a queen will issue. 

If a strange queen should now be offered to them, they 
would not receive her kindly ; but would cluster around 
her in such numbers as to suffocate her, in all proba- 
bility. But if we wait 24 hours, and then offer a new 
sovereign, she would be welcome, and would be treated 
with the respect due to royalty, since it requires 24 
hours to cause a family of workers to forget their queen. 

On an occasion of endeavoring to unite two small 
artificial swarms, where I was apprehensive that one of 
them was without a queen, I attempted driving them out 
by the aid of smoke? and the family that I supposed to 
be without a queen, did possess one, and she rushed out 
of the hive and alighted on the under side of the brim 
of my hat ; I seized her, and placed her under a tumbler 
until the next day, when I turned up a hive that con- 
tained another artificial swarm, which, to all appear- 
ances, had no queen ; and having laid the hive on its 
side, I placed her majesty close up to the bees as they 


clustered on the combs, and stood awhile to watch the 
result. At first they did not seem to notice her, but 
presently, two or three workers extended their antennae 
tow^ards her, and at once appeared excited ; and in a 
few minutes, a dozen or more gathered around, holding 
her a close prisoner. She endeavored to extricate her- 
self from them, and very plainly articulated the sound of 
peep, peep. I heard it as distinctly as I could hear a 
chicken's call. She soon disappeared in the mass of 
bees, and I saw nothing more of her. 

This was a queen that had been reared from the 
worker larvae, that I had introduced into her hive, some 
three months before. 

The benefit to be derived from artificial swarming, is 
in cases where families send off no sw^arms, as often oc- 
curs, from causes already narrated. 

The method of performing the operation is as follows : 
take a clean empty hive, and attach at the top, in one 
corner, a small piece of brood-comb, containing both 
eggs and larvae ; at least larvae in cells not sealed over. 
The younger they are the better, and even eggs alone 
are sufficient, since an egg of to-day, will become larva 
to-morrow or next day. The manner of attaching the 
comb is as described at page 201, and the utmost care 
is requisite, in order to cement it firmly. When that is 
done, on a fine day about 11 or 12 o'clock, as the great- 
est number of bees are out at those hours, you then 
remove the stock with surplus numbers, to a new situa- 
tion, as far ofTas convenient, and not less than ten feet; 
and if you can brush off a portion of bees, that cluster 

bee-keeper's manual. 297 

on its sides before it be removed, j-ou should not fail to 
do so, at the same time, having the empty hive in the 
full one's place to receive them. By such means, a 
nucleus is at once formed around the brood-comb. If 
there be no clustering outside, you should manage in 
some way, to get about a quart of bees to enter the 
empty hive at once, as your success depends upon it. 
If no other way offer, you must turn the full hive bot- 
tom upwards, and set the empty one over it, and with 
a rod strike the lower hive for a few minutes, when a 
portion of its inmates will have entered the empty one, 
and clustered on the comb above. The two following 
days will add large numbers to the artificial swarm, be- 
sides all the bees that are out in the fields when the 
operation is performed. If the full hive be removed 
without leaving bees enough behind to form a nucleus 
around the brood-comb, the bees returning from the fields 
finding an empty hive, will run around in distraction, 
and perhaps depart entirely ; but if they see a cluster 
already in the Hive, however small it may be, they will 
join it ; and after the first six hours, they will go to work 
and rear a new queen, and in the fall there will be no 
difference between this swarm and one that has issued 
in the natural way. Artificial swarms must be large, 
or there is a Hability of their not rearing a queen, for 
the want of sufficient animal heat within the hive to de- 
velop her ; and also on account of the delay attending 
their own natural increase, from having to wait two 
weeks, at least, before a queen will be ready to com- 
mence laying. 


298 miner's AMERICAN # 


Artificial swarms may be made as soon as the 15th 
of May, and as late as the 15th of June, with safety. 
Later than this period, would be attended with some 
risk of success ; not only an account of the lateness of 
the season for gathering honey ; but also for the reason, 
that there would be no certainty of a sufficient number 
of drones existing when the queens mature, to effect her 
impregnation as speedily as the case demands. 


In certain cases it may be best to drive bees enough 
out at once, to form the swarm desired ; and if the 
queen of the old family be driven out, there is no neces- 
sity for attaching a piece of brood-comb in the empty 
hive. The best method of performing the operation in 
this way is, to drive out about two-thirds of the bees of 
the stock, and the queen is almost sure to go out with 
them, before so large a portion of the family departs. 
When this is effected, place the empty hive now con- 
taining the queen and two-thirds of the family, in a new 
situation ; and the old hive where it has always rested. 
The bees in the new hive, with the queen, will be con- 
tent, of course, and they will commence comb-building 
in a few hours. A small portion of them will return to 
the old stand, enough to equalize the families, which is 
just what is desired. The bees in the old hive will miss 
their queen, and make a great uproar about it for a few 
hours, but will finally go to work and rear a new queen 

bee-keeper's manual. 399 

from the larvae that was left when the old one vacated, 
and the larvae left will mature at the proper season, if the 
weather be warm, and thus increase the family, and at 
the end of three months, both families will have filled 
their respective hives with honey, wax and bees. 


Notwithstanding that I have already stated, how bees 
should be driven from one hive to another, in brief, yet 
I am aware, that I cannot give too plain, and explicit di- 
rections for this operation, which to the inexperienced 
bee-keeper, must at first be attempted, with any feelings 
but those of pleasure. In the first place, you must be 
perfectly protected by a bee-dress and gloves. No half- 
way work in such matters. Provided the weather be 
warm and favorable, it may be done at any time of day, 
if you are to drive out a full swarm ; and if much clus- 
tering exists outside, the time when the least exists is 
best. You take the full hive and turn it over carefully, 
setting it down on the ground or table, on its upper end. 
The empty hive is now to be set over the full one, mak- 
ing a close joint, so that no bees can escape; and I 
would here observe, that all hives should be of the same 
diameter in every apiary, in order to effect such ope- 
rations with ease and facility. Having effected the 
junction, an empty hive is to be placed vv^here the full 
one stood, as a decoy, to keep the bees that return from 
the fields from entering the neighboring hives, until the 
operation is performed. A cloth is now to be tied 
around the joint, where the two hives meet, to make it 


as dark as possible within the hives. This done, the 
lower hive should be rapped smartly with a small rod on 
all sides, for the space of ten or fifteen minutes ; when, 
in all probability, half or two-thirds of the family, with 
the queen, will have ascended into the upper hive, and 
clustered there in a compact and quiet body. 


This is a job that is not coveted by the amateur apia- 
rian ; yet it must be done, where artificial swarms are 
to be made ; and when once performed, it is quite easy 
to do. All that is necessary is perfect protection, that 
does not obscure the vision, — a steady hand, with cour- 
age and perseverance, and all obstacles dwindle into 

In the first place, I will introduce to your acquaint- 
ance, a couple of very handy instruments, that every 
bee-keeper should possess. 

One is a long knife, with an edge on each side, and 
sharpened at the end, so as to admit severing combs 
from their attachments with facility. The other is a long 
steel rod, with a two-edged knife at the angle, for the 
purpose of cutting combs horizontally. One edge of 
the blade is turned directly towards the reader, and the 
other from him. The length of the rod and handle, 
should be about 18 indies, and the length of the blade 
at the angle, an inch and a half The diameter of the 

• bee-keeper's manual. 301 

blade on its flat side, should not be over a quarter of an 
inch, as it is often to be inserted between combs, where 
the space is not over three-eighths of an inch. 

These two instruments are useful in cutting out pieces 
of brood-comb, as well as for various other purposes, 
that every apiarian will see the necessity of, many times 
in a season. If you possess nothing of the kind, you 
must take the sharpest and longest knife in your kitchen. 
You have a carving-knife, of course, and if it be a little 
curved at the point, the better. Take this and put on 
your bee-dress, and I will then tell you what to do. All 
ready, I perceive. Now, take this stone, and sharpen the 
point of your knife on it. Sharpen it on a whetstone ? 
No : if you're going to learn how to cut out brood- 
combs from me, you must do as I say. I know it makes it 
as rough as a saw, but don't get into a passion, that is just 
what I want, it will cut honey-comb better in that rough 
condition, than it would if it were as sharp as a razor. 
Now, sir, turn this hive over on its top. Afraid to do 
it? There, now it is over — is any one hurt? Now 
take your knife and run it obliquely through one of 
these centre combs, cutting with the point of the knife 
only. Can't see, there are so many bees ? well, feel your 
way, then, but cut slowly, so as not to irritate or kill 
them. Now loosen the attachment at the side, and with 
your left hand, hold the comb from falling. Yes, take 
hold of bees and all, they can't sting through your glove. 
There, sir, what do you think now ? The operation is 
over, and you are alive. 

If an ordinary knife be used, a large portion of larvae 


a % 

are destroyed by cutting the comb obliquely, more than 
would be by cutting vertically, and then horizontally, 
with the knife with an angle, as shown in the cut. 


This method of making swarms at pleasure, consists 
in having hives made in two parts, to divide in the cen- 
tre, somewhat on the plan of the collateral hive at page 
186, with this difference, that where both parts are 
united, they form a square hive, of the usual size. The 
two parts should be so constructed, that they may be 
separated at any time with ease. From necessity, they 
must be like the lower section of the box-hive, as repre- 
sented at page 153, that is, when joined. 

After being connected, supers may surmount them as 
on the box-hive, with a couple of holes through each 
half. The two sides coming together should have the 
greatest possible open space between them, and not ad- 
mit of a union of the combs in each half. A narrow, 
and very thin strip of board should be placed across, at 
the top, and sunk into the hive its whole thickness ; and 
in the middle, and at the bottom, place the same strips, 
about two inches wide. This is to be done on one side 
only. The other half requires nothing. The strips 
should be very thin, not over a quarter of an inch 
thick, at most. It will be necessary to insert guide- 
combs, or the bees might build transversly, or narrow 
combs across each part, and in that case they would be 
apt to unite them through the interstices, or passage- 
way between the two parts. Tn order to unite them 

bee-keeper's manual. 303 

firmly, a hook and staple should be placed on each side, 
and one at. the top, perhaps ; and if the hive rest on 
pins, a piece of sheet iron should be secured to the bot- 
tom of one of the parts, on both sides where the union 
takes place, and made to lap over a half an inch, so that 
the bottom of the other half may catch and rest on them. 
We will suppose, that we have a hive on this princi- 
ple, full of bees, and we wish to make an artificial swarm. 
We take another hive of the same kind, and divide it. 
We then unhitch the full hive, and slowly, and carefully 
remove one of its sides a few feet, and supply its place 
with an empty one, corresponding in every particular. 
We next unite the other empty half to the half of the 
full one, that was removed, and await the result. The 
queen will be in one half, but in which, must be proved 
as follows : — take a rod and beat each hive smartly, 
arousing the bees as much as possible ; and that part 
w^hich contains the queen will be quite tranquil after a 
few minutes ; but a tremendous confusion will exist in 
the other, and the bees will run around, under, and over 
the hive in great consternation. The part where the 
bees are quiet should be removed to a new place, and 
the other should be placed in its position. In the fall, 
two prime families will exist, perhaps, equally as good 
as if no division had taken place, and no swarm had 
been thrown off. 


Sometimes it may happen, that one or two very large, 
and also a few very small artificial swarms may exist 

304 miner's AMERICAN 

in the same apiary. Such swarms may, within the first 
two weeks of their existence, and before the queens ma- 
ture, be transposed with good results ; that is, take a 
very large swarm, and place it in the position of a small 
one, and vice versa. An equalization of families can be 
effected in this way, as the bees mix with perfect peace 
at such times. No other swarms, or stocks can be 
treated in this manner, without ruinous results to both 



It is a well-known fact, that bees thrive best, during 
the first four or five years of their existence in the same 
tenement. It has been often asserted, that the lack of 
animation, and of the decay of families, is in conse- 
quence of every generation of bees, bred in the same 
tenement being smaller than their predecessors ; on ac- 
count of the yearly contraction or diminishing of the 
cells. It is said, that the silken shrouds, that enclose the 
larvae are left behind, pressed to the sides of the cells, 
when the young bees come forth, thus causing them to 
become gradually smaller and smaller, until there is not 

bee-keeper's manual. 305 

room enough for the larvae to become fully developed, in 
their natural size and vigor. This hypothesis I must 
dissent to ; notwithstanding it is heresy to do so. Who, 
among my readers, has compared the size of bees, in 
different hives, and found some a dwarf race, while the 
tenants of the other hives were of the full, natural size ? 
Perhaps some among you have imagined that you could 
discover a difference, and so have I, but on close in- 
spection, I found that I was mistaken. I have a hive, 
in w^hich the bees have resided during ten years, and 
not a particle of difference in the size of its tenants 
from those of other hives, can be perceived. An ac- 
quaintance of mine assured me, some few years ago, 
that he had a family which had inhabited the same hive, 
from generation to generation, twenty-nine years, with 
no difference in the size of its occupants from those of 
other domicils. 

It is my opinion, that the cause of deterioration, is 
not as above stated ; but in consequence of the black- 
ened and vitiated state of the combs, rendering the 
atmosphere within impure, and having more or less 
lodgments of the moth to eradicate, from year to year, 
until the effluvia of the combs operates to the injury of 
breeding, and through that cause, to the final destruc- 
tion, in some cases, of the family. Be that as it may, 
we know that on the fourth or fifth year, it is best to 
effect a change. How that is to be done is the next 
question. The " subtended" plan will not answer, for 
reasons already given ; but if we choose to take the 
lives of our bees in the old way of using brimstone, we 

306 miner's AMERICAN 

can destroy our old families every fall, and leave our 
young ones ; but this method is a cruel and a barbarous 
one; and wholly unnecessary, to say nothing of the 
loss that the owner sustains by such a course. The 
method pursued in dividing families by a division of the 
hive, affords new combs for one-half of the tenement ; 
and this mode may be pursued with tolerable success, 
and two families are made where, perhaps, but one would 
exist, in the case of driving out the bees into new hives. 
Driving them out, makes the operation perfect, and if 
not done until a swarm issues, two families are just as 
certain to result from it as on the previous plan. 

The operation of driving out should be performed as 
follows : The bees should not be disturbed before the 
fore part of June, in order to see whether any swarms 
are to issue, and to give an opportunity for as many 
larvae to develope as possible. Whether a swarm be 
sent off or not, it is not advisable to wait beyond the 20th 
of June, as the bees must have time to lay in sufficient 
honey for their winter use. At evening, or early in the 
morning, take an empty hive and surmount the full one, 
as before directed, winding a cloth around the junction. 
Then, as before stated, beat the sides of the hive, until 
all the bees have ascended into the empty one, which 
will generally be effected, in 15 or 20 minutes; if the 
old hive be full of bees. If it be but partially filled, they 
cannot be forced out at all, without the use of smoke. 

bee-keeper's manual. 307 

Here is a smoke-pan that maybe advantageously used 
at times. Tobacco smoke is most effectual in forcing 
the bees to depart speedily, but anything that will pro- 
duce smoke may be used. A little cut, smoking tobacco 
ignited in the pan, with the cover let down, would an- 
swer the purpose. If the chamber-hive be used, the 
boxes or drawers may be removed, and the pan set in 
the chamber. The smoke will ascend through the holes, 
and by this means, together with rapping the hive, the 
bees will be made to ascend ; or the pan may be placed 
under the lower, or open end of the hive, and force the 
bees up into the box in the chamber, which can be with- 
drawn, and the bees emptied down at the side of the 
hive, that is intended for their use, and they will readily 
enter. In such a case, but one box should be inserted 
in the chamber, open at the bottom, as I have directed 
that they should be made. If the box-hive be used, the 
super will receive the bees, and with more facility than 
boxes in the chambers of other hives. When the most 
of the bees are driven out with the queen, the combs of 
the old hive may be cut out, and the few bees remain- 
ing, will join the rest of the family, where new combs 


will be constructed at once, the same as if the bees had 
swarmed out in the natural way. 

The above cut represents a fumigator, as described by 
Dr. Bevan. I do not approve of it, but I give it a place, 
and they who choose can make use of it. a, is the fun- 
nel, with a hole in the end to let out the smoke ; 5, is a 
plate extending across the fumigator, perforated full of 
holes to admit the passage of the smoke only ; c, is a 
cyHndrical portion of the box, three inches in diameter, 
and three and a half long, in which the tobacco is placed , 
d, is the lid, which is received into the box when the 
tobacco has been lighted ; e, is the tube which should 
be adapted to the size of the bellows-pipe. The whole 
is made of tin, having the joinings soldered. It is used 
by inserting the bellows-pipe in the tube, and then the 
action of the bellows drives the smoke out through the 

They who are accustomed to smoking, often perform 
any operation requiring the aid of smoke, simply by di- 
recting a few whiffs from a cigar or pipe, into the hive, 
where the removal is to be effected. 

The following cut shows a much better, and less ex- 
pensive fumigator. ^ - 

bee-keeper's manual. 309 

It consists of an ordinary bellows, with a tin tube, 
about three inches long, and two in diameter, fitted over 
the air hole. The cover to this tube is perforated with 
holes; and the air hole is covered with tin, also perfo- 
rated in like manner. When this apparatus is used, open 
the tube, put in the tobacco ignited, close it, and the 
action of the bellows carries the smoke out of the bel- 
lows-pipe. This is the most simple and practical fumi- 
gator in use. 


It often happens that the apiarian finds it necessary 
to unite two of his stocks, or old. families. The cause 
that leads to such a necessity, is frequently from over- 
swarming, or sending out more colonies than can be 
safely spared ; thereby weakening the parent family so 
much, as not to be able to recover during the season. 
When two weak families exist of this character, if they 
are united, one prosperous family will be the result; 
whereas, if left separate, both would be destroyed. 

The difficulty attending the union of old families, lies 
in their unwillingness to mix peaceably. There is a 
certain peculiar scent pertaining to the bees of everv 
family, and especially to old ones. In order to obviate 
this difficulty, and cause both families to mix without 
strife, the following plan may be adopted. Take one of 

310 miner's AMERICAN 

the hives at evening, and turn it up, then spread over 
it a gauze or millinet covering, or anything that will 
allow a free circulation of air through it ; then take the 
other hive, containing the family that it is desired to 
connect with the first, and place it thereon, giving the 
bees of neither family an opportunity to escape ; but 
allowing them sufficient air for respiration. Leave them 
in this position 48 hours, and at the end of that time, 
the scent of the two families will have become so blen- 
ded and interchanged, that they may be united with 
perfect safety. The process must be by smoke applied 
to the lower hive, with the use of the rod, after with- 
drawing the cloth that divides them. 




The months of October and November are the sea- 
son when the state of the apiary will require particular 
attention. The hives should be examined, and those not 
containing honey enough for its occupants to sustain 
them during the winter, must be fed. An ordinary 
swarm or family of bees, will consume from 15 to 20 
pounds of honey, from October to May. If the winter 

bee-keeper's manual. 311 

be very mild, more than this quantity will be required ; 
but not in an ordinary season. The apiarian should be 
able from practice, to know at once on raising his hives, 
whether the above quantity exists in them or not. 
Hives that have been occupied several years, will be as 
heavy without any honey, as others that have been used 
but one season, with from five to ten pounds ; therefore, 
an allowance must be made for the weight of old combs, 
and bee-bread. 


When it is ascertained what families are short of 
honey, measures should at once be taken to supply them, 
since the cost of feeding a family, is not one-tenth of its 
value. The month of October, should be selected for 
this purpose. If but one or two families, out of ten or 
twelve, require feeding, it is best to feed those alone ; 
but if there be a general scarcity or lightness of the 
hives, I recommend feeding the whole in the apiary, at 
the same time. I am aware that feeding bees is gene- 
rally looked upon as one of the greatest difficulties at- 
tending their management ; and rather than attempt it, 
many bee-keepers suffer their bees to perish. The diffi- 
culty is just as great as it is to carry a pail of feed to the 
pig- pen, and no greater. Do not understand me, by this 
comparison, that bees will take honey from a trough, as 
a pig will take meal and water. It only requires a little 
difference in tendering it to them, however. 

f 31Sr •^ miner's AMERICAN 

Here is a feeder, with a cover to float on the surface 

of the honey, when put into it. The box may be as 

large as one chooses to make it. For an apiary of from 

two to tv/elve hives, it should be about 18 inches long, 

six inches in diameter, and four in depth. The float is 

made by slitting it with a fine saw, as many times as 

possible, to within an inch of the end ; and the board is 

half an inch thick. The other end is secured by a 

clamp or bracket nailed across it. Open the interstices 

with a knife, by trimming off' the edges of the channels 

made by the saw ; then put a couple of little knobs, or 

nails at each end, in the centre, to serve to raise and 

lower it ; and the feeder is completed. 

If honey be fed, it should be such as comes from the 
W. I. Islands, which is sold at about 62 1-2 cents per gal- 
lon, of 12 pounds ; or by the cask at 50 cents. If it be 
thick, and candied, it should be heated to the boiling 
point, with a little water added to thin it. The only 
thing except honey, that can properly be fed to bees, is 
syrup made of sugar. This answers every purpose of 
honey, and may be made to cost from four to five cents 
per pound, only. Sugar that sells for five cents per 
pound, mixed with suflicient water to make the syrup 
of the consistence of honev, will reduce the cost of a 


pound of it to about four and a half cents ; and from 
five to ten pounds, will generally be sufficient for the 
most destitute family ; which, at most, will not cost over 
45 cents. Thus it may be seen, that for this trifling 
-sum, and perhaps often for half the amount, a family of 
bees may be kept from famine. The method of prepa- 
ring syrup from sugar, is to heat it over a fire, until it 
begins to boil, when it should be taken off, and let it 
stand half an hour for the scum to settle, and harden, 
in order to skim it off with facility ; and when cool, turn 
it into the feeder, and put on the float, and set it before 
your bees. At first, they will hardly notice it, but a few 
drops should be placed about the feeder, to call their 
attention to it, and when they once get a fair scent of it, 
a gallon will be taken away in a few hours, and stored 
in the cells. This way of feeding, is when the whole 
colony are fed, rather than select here and there a fam- 
ily. Mild weather in October should be selected for 
this purpose, and all the food should be furnished that 
they may require during the winter ; and a family will 
carry enough honey, or syrup into the hive in a single 
day, if not disturbed by other families, to suffice for 
several months. If it be desired to feed a single family, 
it must be done secretly, that other families may not be 
attracted ; and for this purpose a small feeder is neces- 
sary. Take a small tin pan, six inches long, four wide, 
and one or two deep. Make a very light, wooden float, 
and perforate it full of holes, with a pointed iron heated 
red-hot. Fill the feeder with honey, or syrup, and place 
it in the chamber of the hive, scattering a little around, 

314 ^ miner's AMERICAN 

to attract the bees to it ; at the same time rapping on 
the hive to cause the bees to ascend ; or place it below, 
and shut the bees in until it is emptied. Families may 
be fed at any time during the winter when the sun 
shines, by having a temporary, or permanent glass door 
to the chamber, or super of the hive, that will admit the 
sun's rays pretty freely upon the division board, upon 
which the small feeder filled with honey should be 
placed. I once fed a very small family in this way, that 
had not a drop of honey in the fall. It was no trouble. 
Every day that the sun shone, the bees were up in the 
super in great numbers, even in the coldest weather ; and 
in the following spring they increased rapidly in num- 
bers, and soon filled the hive. 

Some people are in the habit of merely mixing a little 
water with the sugar, and not heating it at all, and in this 
condition feed it to the bees. This is downright ruin to 
them. In a few days the water evaporates, and the 
sugar hardens in the cells, so that it is of no more use 
to the bees than so much flint stone, to say nothing of 
its destroying every cell that it hardens in for any 
further use. I recommend honey to be fed in the fall, if 
convenient, and syrup in the spring. 


This is a critical season for bees, and their proper 
management is but very imperfectly understood at this 
period. The great principle that should actuate the 
apiarian, is to keep his bees as cool as possible, as I have 
before inculcated. The practice of burying hives in 

bee-keeper's manual. 315 

the ground, and immuring them in cellars, is all wrong. 
Now and then, a man will have a family pass the winter 
in this way, without actual ruin ; and it is forthwith 
heralded as a grand discovery — the very best way to 
keep bees over winter, &c. It is not so. I have neither 
time nor room to say much on this method of wintering 
bees, but any place that is not perfectly dry, is no place 
for bees in any season. In cellars, the combs will mould 
to a greater, or less extent, thereby laying the founda- 
tion for the ruin of every family thus circumstanced. 

The passages from the lower sections of the hives, to 
the chambers, or supers, should be left unclosed. This 
allows the steam or vapor, arising in hives in win- 
ter to pass off, and in cold climates, it prevents the 
accumulation of frost within them, that would other- 
wise occur. 

As I before stated, the hives should be let down in the 
fall, and the bees made to pass in and out, through the 
small passages. 

Every strong family should have a current of air 
passing under them, to prevent the bees desiring to come 
out ; and for this purpose, remove the slides to both the 
front and rear openings. Small, weak swarms, will be 
kept sufficiently cool, by opening the front entrance only. 

When the ground is covered with snow, be particular 
to confine your bees, if they come out much, by closing 
the entrances with the zink slides ; and as soon as an 
opportunity occurs to let the bees take an airing, they 
should have the priviledge of doing so. The hives may 
be occasionally raised, and the bottom -boards cleaned 


off, which will aid in keeping the hives free from impu- 


This is the season to close the rear opening, or pas- 
sage-way, perfectly tight, and stop the current of air 
that passes under the bees during the winter months. 
All the heat that can be produced from the rays of the 
sun, will be beneficial during April and May, at least, 
and if March be a mild, pleasant month, then also. If 
it be a raw, cold, snowy month, let the rear entrance be 
open, when it is not necessary to confine the bees, as 
little or no breeding will take place, if the weather be 
very chilly and cold, and the cooler the bees are kept 
the better. 

It is supposed by many persons, that the honey-bee 
passes the winter in a state of hybernation or torpidity. 
This is a great mistake. I have often seen my bees in 
populous families, quite lively on turning up the hives, 
when the thermometer stood at zero. There is a natural 
animal heat existing all winter, in strong families, even 
in the coldest weather. 

When warm weather approaches, in May, the hives 
may be raised to afford an opening all round. These 
directions are given, on the supposition, that the hives 
rest on pins, and in the fall these pins are lowered into 
holes in the floor-board made to receive them. Other 
kinds of hives should be managed as nearly on the same 
principle as possible. V 

If the hives are light, the bees should be fed freelv in 

bee-keeper's manual. 317 

the spring. A little ale or wine, and a little fine salt mixed 
with the honey or syrup, is good. A shilling spent in 
feeding, often produces a dollar before the season is over. 


After the swarming season is over, nothing can be 
done, of consequence, but to keep the apiary free of 
weeds, and protect the bees, as much as possible, from 
the inroads of insects. From the 1st of July, to the 1st of 
September, is the season of spiders and the moth. Spi- 
ders will nightly weave their webs around the hives ; 
and the apiarian should almost daily pass around the 
apiary with a brush in hand, to destroy them. The only 
enemies to bees we have to fear in this country, are spiders, 
wasps, king-birds, and the bee-moth. Wasps are of little 
account. Spiders make sad havoc, if left undisturbed. 
King-birds will destroy thousands of bees in a season, if 
no means are taken to destroy them ; but all the above 
enemies united, sink into insignificance, when compared 
with that terrible destroyer, the wax or bee-moth. 


This insect is of a whitish, or brown grey color, 
and somewhat smaller, generally, than the ordinary mil- 
lers that flit around a candle at evening. They are the 
most nimble insect known. They will dart among the 
bees, in and around the hive; and before a bee has time 
to turn her antennae towards them, they are out of reach. 
If one attempts to kill a moth when resting by day, on 
the outside of the hive, by quickly putting his finger on 


her, the act must be instantaneous, or she is far away 
before his hand touches the place where she rests. The 
best way to destroy them, when they can be found out- 
side, is to put on an old mitten or glove, and striking very 
suddenly with the flat of the hand, will generally prove 
effectual. They may often be found on the outside of 
hives during the day, as the only time that they enter 
is in the evening, or during the night. They generally 
seek some place where they can pass the day under 
some board, or any projection that affords shelter 
under it. 

At evening, as soon as twilight appears, they com- 
mence flying around the hives, and seeking out such as 
are not very populous, for their scenes of depredation. 
Having gained an entrance, they run up the sides of the 
hive, and at the upper end, or as near as may be, they 
at first make an incision in the propolis that is used to 
cement the corners and joints of hives, with their ovi- 
positer, and in the orifice made, the egg is deposited, and 
so on until they have finished. The heat of the hive 
keeps the propolis in a soft, pliable state, and it is ex- 
actly suited to their wants. In a few days the eggs are 
hatched, and small white worms emerge. These worms 
grow very rapidly, and immediately search around for 
food; and the combs adjoining are very acceptable, 
filled, as they are, with honey, larvae and pollen. The 
bees have an instinctive hatred to these worms, which 
prevents them from destroying them as soon as hatched. 

They do not seem to be aware of the danger that will 
arise from them, until they commence the destruction of 

bee-keeper's manual. 319 

the combs. Having gained a position in the combs, the 
worms commence weaving a silken shroud around them- 
selves, to protect their bodies, leaving the head only 
exposed, which is armed with a helmet impenetrable to 
the sting of a bee. Protected in this manner, they move 
from cell to cell, eating as they move, having only to 
thrust out their heads to find food in any direction. 
Their course is longitudinally through the centres of the 
combs, seldom appearing on the surface. Their shroud 
for protection, is carried along with them. Thus it will 
be seen, how very difficult it is for bees to dislodge this 
enemy, when a footing is obtained by them. 

There is but one way that they can be destroyed, 
when fully fortified among the combs ; and that is, by 
cementing them in with propolis. This ttje bees will 
sometimes do, confining them to very close quarters, 
and when all the food is consumed within their reach, 
they perish. On other occasions, whole segments of 
combs that have become infected, are destroyed by the 
bees, in order to remove the evil. When the moth gets 
the upper hand, and the worms begin to increase rapidly, 
the bees stop all further labors, and the condition of the 
family is readily known by their inactivity, and from 
the numerous particles of pollen, comb, &c., upon the 
bottom-boards of the hives, caused by the progress of 
this insect. These particles are of a dark color, and 
are most easily discovered in the morning, before the 
winds arise, and before the bees commence sallying 
out. For the purpose of detecting the ravages of this 
enemy, hives having an open entrance on all sides. 

S20 . miner's AMERICAN 

either by suspending the floor-board, or resting the hives 
thereon, with pins at the corners, are decidedly far pre- 
ferable to those on any other plan. The moth-worm, 
when having free and uninterrupted sway in a hive, 
rich in wax and honey, grows to a large size, sometimes 
being an inch long, and as large as a pipe-stem. A quart 
of such worms will often occupy a single hive, before 
all the bees will depart. 


Every apiarian should closely watch his hives during 
the months of July and August, and any that show 
signs of the existence of the moth therein, should be at- 
tended to without delay, as the whole apiary might be- 
come infested by this pest, arising from a lodgment in a 
single hive. Every worm, after a few days, must wind 
up in a cocoon ; from which, a winged moth-miller is- 
sues, able to produce a thousand eggs, each egg to pro- 
duce a worm, which, in turn, produces a miller, and so 
on until a million of worms may exist in one season, 
from a solitary insect ! If the family be weak, and the 
hive full of combs, where the moth exists, the quicker 
the combs are cut out, and the bees dispersed the better ; 
or the bees may be driven into a super, by the aid of 
smoke, and then placed in a clean hive and fed, if the 
honey season be past, and they will probably survive 
the winter, if there be a moderate family, and the next 
season they will replenish the hive in numbers, and be as 
valuable as any in the apiary. Another way, is to join 
the infected family to a weak one, that is not yet sub- 


jected to the ravages of the moth ; the operation to be 
performed as directed before, for the union of stocks. 
Do not, on any account, suffer any of your families to 
become fully destroyed, before you take measures to 
remove the evil. Who among you, would suffer an 
animal to sicken and die of a distemper that you 
know to be liable to spread to the whole herd or flock, 
and take no measures to eradicate the threatened evil ? 
It would be deemed insanity on the part of him who 
should let such a case pass unheeded ; yet the condition 
of your apiary, when the moth gets the upper hand of a 
family of bees, is a fair parallel. 


There is, however, this difference in the case, every 
very strong and populous stock or swarm of bees is not 
liable to be destroyed, being able, by mere force of num- 
bers, to prevent a lodgment being made ; and here lies 
the grand secret of success in the culture of bees ; to 
ever keep our hives full and populous. This is the 
Alpha and the Omega of bee-keeping — the sine qud non^ 
without which, all other measures fail. It is the apia- 
rian's chart — his polar star — 'the needle that never points 
but to success — the cornerstone, upon which the whole 
fabric rests. 

Reader, have you ever been importuned to pur- 
chase hives that were represented to be "proof against 
the moth ?" Well, sir, when a perpetual motion, the 
philosopher's stone, and a north-west passage to the 
Pacific are discovered, you may believe such a thing 


possible — not before ; and even then, will / be an un- 
believer. - . 

" How shall we keep our hives full and populous ?" 
says one. I answer, by attending to the correct size of 
hives to begin with, — not to allow over swarming — to 
unite weak swarms and stocks, and follow the general 
rules laid down in this Manual, and you will find suc- 
cess easy. 

Swarms are not liable to be attacked by the moth, for 
the reason, that they extend their area of combs no fur- 
ther than they have numbers to defend them ; hence 
the proof, that populous families can protect themselves. 
Sweetened water or vinegar, or milk alone, put in white 
vessels, and placed near the hives at evening, will decoy 
the moth-miller, and be the means of destroying many. 
Thus ends the duties of summer management. 



A GENTLEMAN having a field of corn adjacent to his 
premises, into which his fowls daily resorted, threatening 
serious ravages ; and to stop such a catastrophe, he 
placed a measure of corn before them, and kept it 
constantly replenished ; the consequence was, that his 

REE-keeper's manual. 823 

fowls had no occasion to visit the field. Now, the bees 
in an apiary, that commence robbing from a neighbor- 
ing hive, do so from necessity, not from an innate prin- 
ciple of disregard of right and justice ; and let the apia- 
rian but place a trough of syrup or of honey before them, 
for a few days, and all pillaging will come to an end. 
Some bee-keepers think it very unreasonable, that they 
should be required to feed their bees, but expect great 
profits from them, without any trouble or expense what- 
ever. The poor bee is not at fault when she finds her 
combs empty, and herself in a starving condition. She 
labors all that she can ; but she cannot ward off the 
storm and the cold north winds that often confine her, 
when she would gladly be in the fields. But six- weeks 
only, out of fifty-two, does this insect have to replenish 
her hive ; the rest of the summer affording but enough 
for a daily supply ; therefore, he who would let his bees 
perish for the want of food, when a cold and inclement 
season has deprived them of support, ought to be put on 
a short allowance himself 

When bees commence robbing their neighbors, the 
hive attacked should be closed up immediately, on the 
first evening after the discovery, and remain so a few 
days. When it is opened, the entrance should be so 
diminished, that but a single bee can enter at once, and 
left in this manner for a while. This course will gene- 
rally prove effectual. Changing the entrance from front 
to rear, will sometimes cause the marauders to decamp, 
and it may be necessary, in some instances, to remove 
the hives robbed, to a new and distant situation; but 


this should be the last resort. When a hive is being 
robbed, it may be known by the numerous bees that fly 
around it, uttering an entirely different sound from that 
of bees while gathering honey. They seem to act as if 
they were guilty of a misdemeanor, and show a coward- 
ice in every motion. As evening approaches, they may 
be seen to leave the hive rapidly, even after twilight sets 
in. This is the time to close the entrance. Robbers 
generally come from one family, and they may be dis- 
covered by sprinkling flour on them as they emerge, 
and then watching where they enter. 



Instead of inserting guide-combs or bars, as Dr. 
Bevan recommends, to cause the bees to build their 
combs at proper distances ; I recommend the use of an 
invention of mine, termed a guide-plate. It is made of 
tin, and is one foot square, and sheets may be purchased 
of just that size. This plate just fills my hives, that 
measure a foot in diameter. Having ascertained the 
natural distances of combs, I have interstices cut in this 
plate to correspond therewith ; and previous to my bees 

bee-keeper's manual. 325 

swarming, I melt some bees-wax, lay the plate over the 
roof of the hive on the inside, take a brush and lay on a 
coat of wax, precisely as the merchant marks his bales 
and boxes through a plate for the purpose. The bees 
being hived, follow these traces of wax, in building their 
combs. I do not suppose that every bee-keeper will 
obtain such a plate, yet it is a great advantage and 
benefit ; and it will repay its expence ten-fold. 


On measuring the combs in a hive that were regularly 
made, I found the following result, viz: five worker- 
combs occupied a space of five and a half inches, the 
space between each being three-eighths of an inch, and 
allowing for the same width on each outer side, equals 
six and a quarter inches, as the proper diameter of a box 
in which ^ue worker-combs could be built. According 
to this calculation, a hive twelve inches in diameter 
would allow of nine worker-combs being made, and have 
a little room to spare, since eleven and three-eighths 
inches is all the space that would be occupied. The di- 
ameter of worker-combs averaged four-fifths of an inch ; 
and that of drone-combs, one and one-eighth of an inch. 

The tin plate should be cut for worker-combs only ; 
the openings four-fifths of an inch wide, and the space 
between them, three-eighths of an inch, leaving the two 
outside interstices five-eighths wide, in order to fill up 
the space of twelve inches with nine combs. The extra 
space at the sides, will allow the bees to build two or 
three drone-combs, which is suflicient. 



In consequence of having extended this work much 
beyond its originally contemplated limits, I find myself 
compelled to place the following subjects under one 
head, instead of discussing each in separate chapters, as 
I would wish to do, had I the space to spare. 


The only ventilation that should, in any case, be af- 
forded to bees, should come from the bottom of the hive ; 
and in warm weather, too much air cannot be admitted. 
Here lies one of the principal advantages of raising the 
hives to allow egress and ingress, on every side of them. 
It keeps the bees healthy, and in health they are active, 
and in activity they prosper, and their owner is bene- 
fitted by their labors. The passages to the chambers or 
supers being open, also have a tendency to benefit the 
bees in the winter season, as before stated ; yet I do not 
consider these as legitimate sources of ventilation. No 
outside tubes or air-holes should ever be made in a hive 
above the bottom. 


The months of March and April is the best season to 

bee-keeper's manual. 327 

purchase bees ; yet it can be done at almost any time. 
If the purchase be made in the fall, all that it is neces- 
sary to know in regard to the family is, whether it be 
populous, and whether the hive contain honey enough 
to carry the bees safely through the winter. Turning 
up the hive, will show if it contain a strong family ; as 
it should be full of combs, and the bees should crowd 
the interstices down near to the bottom. A sudden rap 
given to it, with the ear quite near, is an index to their 
strength. A strong family make a long continued huzZy 
while that of a weak one is quick, sharp, and soon over. 
The weight of the hive will generally show whether 
there is honey enough within for the winter supply. It 
should weigh at least 20 pounds over that of an empty 


The transportation of bees in the fall, winterer spring, 
is not attended with difficulty. The bottom-boards 
should be secured firmly, with sufficient ventilation ; and 
then hives may be placed in a spring-wagon, and trans- 
ported almost to any distance. They should be turned 
bottom upwards, if the shape of the hive will admit it. 
Ordinary box-hives should have the floor-boards nailed 
on, and then pry them off just enough to admit the air, 
and the bees will go safely. I refer to common hives, 
used by those who pay little or no regard to improve- 
ment in such things ; and which contain no means of 
ventilation, when the floor-boards are nailed close. In 
the summer season, it is more difficult to transport bees, 


in consequence of the softness and weakness of the 
combs, rendering them liable to break down. Bees 
should never be removed at this season. In many parts 
of Europe, the cottagers make a practice of transporting 
bees from place to place, as the shepherd does his flock, 
from pasture to pasture, to obtain a fresh supply of food. 
The bees, in such cases, are in straw hives, which 
are more easily transported than wooden ones. If hives 
are to be removed to any distance within a mile, the 
removal should take place before the 1st of May, if pos- 
sible. If the distance be very short, they should not, 
under any circumstances, be left longer than the early 
part of April, as when their habits become once formed 
in any particular situation, many will return to the same 
place, when removed to a new situation within a mile. 


During very warm weather, if bees are fully exposed 
to the force of the rays of the sun, there is some danger 
of combs melting. I never had any melt in the lower 
sections of my hives, but I have in the supers. I gene- 
rally protect every hive ; but in this case, I left one ex- 
posed, when the sun was most intensely powerful, and 
the loaded combs fell from their attachments in conse- 
quence of the heat. . ^ 



I ought to have mentioned in the chapter on swarm- 
ing, that during the height of the breeding season, hun- 
dreds of bees may be seen running to and fro upon the 


ground, endeavoring to rise on the wing, but cannot. 
To the experienced bee-keeper, this is no news ; but I 
make mention of it for the benefit of those who are inex- 
perienced in bee-culture, and who might, perhaps, be 
led to think, that a deadly strife was going on in the 
apiary. Such bees as are seen under these circum- 
stances, are imperfect or disabled, and come into ex- 
istence with a broken wing or leg, or possess some 
imperfection, that consigns them to immediate ejection 
from the hive. 


Long epistles have been written upon this subject, and 
more, as I have thought, to fill up, and swell the pages 
of works on the bee, than to benefit the public, by 
stating interesting facts. I shall simply say, that 
we need not trouble ourselves in the least, about 
"dysentery,'' ''vertigo,'' "tumefaction of the antennce" 
"faux convain," &c. All we have to do is, to afford 
our bees a plenteous infusion of pure air, at the bottom 
of the hives during summer and winter, and see that 
famine is not at their door, and the foregoing diseases 
will all vanish from our apiaries. 


The skill and mathematical knowledge exhibited by 
the bee in her architecture has astonished philosophers 
and scientific men of every age. It has been fully demon- 
strated, that the same space occupied by their cells cannot 
possibly be filled with any shaped vessels, that will either 

330 mixer's americax 

be of greater capacity, or take less material in the construc- 
tion. There are but three ways in which cells can be 
built, and have the sides of all equal, viz : square, trian- 
gular and hexagonal ; sl fourth way is utterly impossible. 
The hexagonal form is superior to either of the other 
modes, in strength, capacity, and a saving of materials 
in building ; and this form, the bee has chosen ! The 
bee, did I say ? No : there is a greater Architect than 
the bee, who has had the guidance and the direction in 
this matter. 

The above cut represents a few rows of cells as they 
appear when constructed. These cells are not built 
horizontally, but on an angle. Here, again, is the most 
astonishing wisdom displayed. A celebrated philosopher 
and mathematician being asked of what form a series of 
vessels united, should be constructed, in order to be of 
the greatest possible capacity, and take the least possible 
material to construct them ; after a full investigation, he 
answered ; the shape, hexagonal, and on an inclination 
of some 28^, (I think,) with the plane of the horizon ! 
The cells of the honey-bee incline from 15 to 28° ; that 
is, the mouths of cells are so much higher than the bases. 
This inclination is not wholly for the purpose of saving 
material, but also for the purpose of retaining the honey 



better. Ordinary brood-combs incline the least, and 
store combs the most. 

One of the most wonderful features pertaining to the 
construction of combs is, the manner of their junction 
with opposite cells. Instead of the dividing line between 
them being a straight line, thus : 

it is of the following form, and a pyramidical cavity 

is formed at the base of each cell, composed of three tri- 
angular rhombs, or portions of wax, at the apex of which, 
the union of three opposite cells meet. 

The above cut shows the pyramidal bases of four 
cells ; the apex of one in a cavity, pointing from the 
reader, beinar the centre, and the other three towards 
him. If the cut were reversed, and the other side made 
to appear, it would show three cavities, similar to the 
centre one. and that now in the centre, would appear 
like each of the other portions of the illustration. In 
the apex of the cavity, the egg is deposited ; being ad- 
mirably adapted to receive it. 

I have often closely examined cells to ascertain if I 
could discover any variation in this rule, and I have 

332 miner's AMERICAN 

ever found the union of opposite cells, to be formed in 
the centre of the base of every cell thus examined ! 

It is said, that the hexagonal shape of cells, is not in 
consequence of any pre-determined action of the bees, 
so to form them ; but the result of the mechanical laws 
governing the natural pressure of bodies of united sphe- 
rical tubes, in a pliable and soft condition, before be- 
coming hardened by an exposure to the atmosphere, and 
that the original form and shape of cells is cylindrical. 
I must put in my veto to this assumption. I have 
shaken bees out of hives while in the very act of comb- 
building ; and have had a fair opportunity to examine 
combs, while yet warm from the internal heat generated 
by the bees, and I have always found them of the regular 
hexagonal shape. 

The first built, are brood- combs, in order to give an 
immediate opportunity to increase the family. Small 
families begin at the side, and strong ones in the centre 
of the hive. Sometimes a strong swarm will commence 
on both sides at the same time ; and it is not unfre- 
quent, that while a portion of the bees are building 
from front to rear, another portion will be constructing 
combs transversely, on the opposite side of the hive, 
and do not discover their mistake till they meet the 
other combs, when a right angle is at once formed. This 
accounts for so much irregularity in comb-building, and 
it is a strong reason for the use of the guide-plate before 
spoken of, or of inserting guide-combs on both sides, or 
in the middle of the hive for very strong swarms, as 

bee-keeper's manual. 333 

breeding is greatly retarded by the malformation of 

The outer edges of the mouths of cells are strength- 
ened and fortified by a border of wax, much thicker than 
the sides, which prevents the entrance from being a 
regular hexagon. This border seems to be of a diffe- 
rent material from the substance that the cells are com- 
posed of, and of the nature of a peculiar kind of varnish. 

The depth of ordinary worker-cells is seven-sixteenth, 
and that of drone-cells, nine-sixteenths of an inch ; and 
the depth of store-cells, from half an inch, up to three 
inches. There are but two diameters for the cells of 
the honey-bee, throughout the whole world ! One is 
for brood-combs, and the other, for drone-combs ; the 
store-cells always being of the diameter of drone-cells. 
This law is as immutable as the adamantine hills. Take 
whatever countries you please, England, Russia, China, 
Africa, Patagonia, Mexico, or the United States, and 
not one iota difference can be found, if ten thousand 
families were examined ! 

The cut on the next page represents a segment of 
worker-comb, containing eggs and larvae ; also a full- 
sized queen-cell, and one but partly constructed. The 
nature of queen-cells having been defined at page 28, it 
will not be necessary here to say much in regard to 
their construction. This cut gives a better idea of the 
natural appearance of royal cells, as they actually appear, 
than the previous illustration. 

The centre of the combs shows a row of cells, in 
which the egg first appears ; then the larvae just bursting 




its shroud from the egg ; then, as it appears one day 
older, and so on, until the cells are sealed over, being 
from the fourth to the sixth day after the deposit of the 
egg. Adjoining this tier of cells, may be seen those in 
progress of being sealed over ; which operation is effected 

bee-keeper's manual. 335 

by commencing at the outer side of each, and attaching 
numerous small rings of wax, one within the other, until 
the whole area is covered. Above this section of the 
comb, containing cells being sealed over, may be seen 
a portion of cells fully sealed, and from which the young 
brood emerge, in the course of about fifteen days after 
being thus imprisoned. On the outer skirts, may be 
seen the vacant cells, not yet appropriated to any use. 

There is no distinction made in a leaf of brood- comb, 
in regard to what cells shall be used for honey, pollen, 
or brood. The queen deposits her eggs wherever she 
finds vacant cells, provided the family be populous ; but 
if not populous, then she takes a very diflferent course, 
and confines her laying exclusively to the centre of the 
hive, and to the centres of combs, near the top of the 

In speaking of store-comhs, I refer to combs built ex- 
pressly for that purpose, of a thick, irregular form. The 
whole interior of the hive is used for storing honey, when 
the cells are not filled with bee-brood or larvae. 


The knowledge that the bee possesses, as displayed in 
her achitecture, and general economy, is not acquired 
by habit, or taught her by those older than herself She 
comes into the world, as perfect as she goes out of it. 
Many are the astonishing instances of foresight and 
knowledge, of adapting means to ends, that have come 
under my personal observation ; but I can give but two 
or three of the most important cases on this occasion, 

336 miner's AMERICAN 

which will suffice to show the general features of her 
sagacity or instinctive powders. 

On a certain occasion, I attached a large sheet ot 
comb in a hive, for the use of a family, that I was about 
driving into it. Some two or three days after the bees 
had been placed therein, I discovered that a lateral 
brace had been constructed, from the side of the hive, 
to the lower end of the comb. This brace was built, 
in consequence of my getting the comb out of its per- 
pendicular position several times, while turning over 
the hive to examine the bees. The bees reasoned thus : 
" He is turning our hive over every day, and our comb 
bends, and leans over ; by and by, it will break off, so 
we'll build a brace across to hold it !" On another oc- 
casion, I laid a sheet of comb, filled with honey, on the 
fioor of the chamber of the hive, covering several of 
the holes of communication with the family below. I 
placed it there for the purpose of feeding the bees. A 
few days thereafter, I was surprised to find this sheet 
raised three-eighths of an inch, and supported on 
four pillars built of wax! This was done to give the 
bees an opportunity to pass up through the holes with 
facility. The honey had been taken away. But the 
most astonishing performance that was ever placed on 
record, as I believe, occurred as follows : Having an 
entrance to one of my hives, about two inches long, and 
half an inch wide, that was covered with a thin strip of 
wood, with a nail at one end, to hold it in its position, I 
was accustomed to turn up the door or cover, perpen- 
dicularly, as I passed the hive and found it closed. The 

bee-keeper's manual. 337 

bees had no particular use of this passage-way, as they 
had abundant egress below; yet, it being warm weather, 
I kept the cover up, as much as possible. It got so 
loose by turning it up, that it would often fall down of 
its own gravity ; and not thinking the matter of suffi- 
cient importance to secure it at once, I turned it up 
daily, for about a week, and every morning I would find 
it down again. At last I turned it up, and out rushed 
about a hundred bees, and commenced clustering around 
it in a very singular manner, and I left them and went 
to town. Not returning until evening, I could not see 
what the result was before the next morning, when I 
went out to the hive, and found the cover to the open- 
ing so deeply imbedded in propolis, that it could not he 
easily removed ! ! It appeared that the bees wished to 
have this hole open, and finding that it was down one 
day and up the next one, they thought that they would 
put a stop to it at once, and they did so. I leave the 
reader to his own reflections on these instances of sa- 
gacity manifested in this insect. I could recount many 
more astonishing operatiojis of the bee, but I am ad- 
monished to be brief. 


The age of workers is generally under one year. This 
fact is easily proved, by placing a family in a large hive, 
that does not admit of swarms issuing. It will contain 
no more bees during the succeeding years, than during 
the first season, or but a few more, at most. Numbers 
equalling the increase of each season die off before 

338 miner's AMERICAN 

another season approaches. The drones live five or six 
months, generally, when left to die a natural death ; and 
on some occasions longer, but not often. The queen 
lives the longest of any of the family, often surviving to 
sally out at the head of several swarms. Her exact 
natural age has never yet been demonstrated. 


The honey-bee will seldom use her sting against any 
one when not molested, and children, in particular, are 
exempt. When a bee is aroused to anger, she gives 
immediate notice of it, and no person was ever stung, 
unless in the midst of hundreds, excited to vengeance, 
without having timely warning given him. Every bee- 
keeper is familiar with the shrill sound emitted, when 
the bee approaches in a threatening attitude. It is quite 
unlike the soft song of contentment, that is sung as the 
bees return from the fields laden with honey. I have 
never heard of any fatal consequences arising from the 
stings of bees, except in animals. If a horse or a cow, 
or any other animal upset a hive, it is generally certain 
death. In case of being dangerously stung in many 
places, tobacco, as before stated, is worth more than all 
other remedies in the world. The duration of the anger 
of bees, is from three days to a week ; and any operation 
disturbing them much, will not be entirely forgotten, 
short of that time. Private injuries are seldom resented 
by them ; that is, when molested in the fields. 


That bees have the means of imparting information 

bee-keeper's manual. 339 

from one lo another, is beyond doubt. By what means 
it is done, has never been fully established ; yet it is 
pretty generally admitted, that it is by means of the an- 
tennae. The antennae are also the organs of smell, and 
of recognition of bees of the same, or different families. 
Besides the antennae as a medium of communication, a 
certain noise produced by the wings, is another mode 
of imparting knowledge, as I alluded to, in regard to 
families finding their hive, when dislodged, and their 
tenement, with a portion of the family, being removed 
to a distant situation. Having a swarm that lay out 
upon a sheet one night, and exposed to a drenching 
shower, I found them in the morning with only the out- 
side bees drenched, and the majority were in a condi- 
tion to be hived. There were several clusters of them, 
and having made the larger portions enter the hive, I 
aroused the small ones, within a few feet of it, and as 
quick as the hive was perceived by them, and a portioil 
of the bees entering, they commenced fluttering their 
wings, and started rapidly towards it. Other clusters 
that lay perfectly still, when the first one gave the sound, 
instantly started from their lethargy, and followed their 
companions into the hive. Here is positive proof, that 
the sound emitted or produced, was a call to enter the 
hive, or giving information of one being at hand. 

Although out of place, 1 will here give an omission 
in the chapter on swarming, which led to my having a 
swarm of bees lying out all night. It is said, that in ex- 
tensive bee-gardens in Poland, where many swarms issue 
at the same time, and preclude the possibility of hiving 

340 miner's AMERICAN 

them separately, that the bees are kept till evening in 
large boxes, and then emptied out on cloths or sheets 
in different parcels; and that during the night, the dif- 
ferent queens will have collected a cluster around each 
of them, when the different families may be hived. This 
appeared so reasonable to me, that I attempted it the 
last season, for the first time ; and a heavy shower came 
up suddenly, and frustrated my experiment. I had no 
other opportunity to try it again, but I have no doubt of 
its being practicable. 

Every person that is familiar with bees has, undoubt- 
edly, seen them of a sudden commence the vibration of 
their wings, standing perfectly still in the mean time. 
This motion is generally supposed to be an expression 
of joy, and the only manner in which they can manifest 
it. I have carefully w^atched for the cause of this mo- 
tion of their wings, and my own experience leads me to 
believe, that the above reason is a correct one. I will 
give a single proof Having greatly disturbed a family 
by turning up the hive, and removing it, by which 
means, large numbers of bees got astray, flying around 
in confusion, and on returning it to the stand, the bees 
immediately Hocked around it, and alighting on the floor- 
board, commenced the vibration of their wings, as above 
stated ; and so continued some minutes. This satisfied 
me, that it was a sensation of pleasure on again finding 
their home. This is but one, out of many instances of 
the same nature, that I have witnessed. . ^ 

bee-keeper's manual. 341 

bees-wax how made. 

The nature of wax has ah'eady been discussed. My 
object now is, to show the inexperienced bee-keeper, 
how to make the article from the combs. The combs 
are cut out of the hives, the honey secured ; and then 
they are ready for the kettle. Break them in small 
pieces, or press them into as small a compass as possible, 
and put them into a woollen bag. Put the bag into the 
kettle, or vessel of water that is to be set over the fire, 
and with a flat stone, or some other weight, sink the bag 
to the bottom. Boil the water about half an hour, then 
take out the bag, and set the water aside to cool. The 
wax will rise to the surface. The cake of wax on the 
surface, if containing impurities, may be put into a clean 
bag, and the second process over the fire, will render it 
quite clean and pure, and by melting again in some con- 
venient vessel, it may be turned into cups of any shape, 
first greasing them a little, and when cool, the cakes will 
come out without adhering in the least. 


•JVv> .-/ "■{ ■•f£*"'r^'^'*'..?^5J„;^ 

tl, J''abovf hive'nn/ h ' '"'P™™"™' in the ornamental portion of 
Tippr ir. o., ^ 7 ' ^M^^ge 181, 1 have concluded to have it an- 

the^same bu?^i\ k ' ''^^'^^''^'^^^}^- The size and shape are 
coLX thi^ hp <^^^^^'^ on a smaller scale, than the other. I 
the kin, rl Vl^^s^dtm of hives in every point. Nothin<^ of 

the kind can compare with it in beauty, or in practical value" 


do not say this because I am interested ; but I say it from a solemn 
conviction of the truth of the assertion, after having either seen or 
used almost every other style of hive in existence. 

The great value of this hive lies in its internal arrangement. 
The nine communications from the lower to the upper section, are 
opened and closed at pleasure, in an instant, by one of the most 
simple and valuable inventions imaginable. By the use of this, in 
connection with other features pertaining to no other hive, the man- 
agement of bees is divested of every difficulty. Bees in this hive 
may be fed, in case of need, with as much ease as a flock of poul- 
try. They must be fed som.etimes, when the season has proved 
unpropitious, but the expense is not as many shillings as they will 
bring in dollars., the first good season that occurs. 

This hive is intended to occupy any situation that other hives 
do ; either on a shelf or stool. It has a beveled bottom-board, thus 
doing away with the necessity of suspension. This kind of bottom- 
board is of my own invention, as well as evert/ part of the hive, 
and as the right is secured for this, as well as for that represented 
at page 181, it cannot be constructed except by virtue of a right 
from me. I have made great improvements in several hives, and 
which others, perhaps, would also have secured, but I place them 
before the public in this work, for their free use and benefit ; but 
in the hive now in question, I shall claim, and defend my title 
thereto ; even an imitation of it externally, will not pass with im- 

Besides the advantages before stated, is that of resting the hive 
on pinions during summer, and when cold weather arrives, by mov- 
ing it a quarter of an inch, the whole opening is instantly closed, 
except a space of two inches in front, and the same in the rear, 
both of which have perforated slides, so that the bees may be en- 
closed at pleasure, with a gentle current of air under them. This 
mode of arrangement is original with me, and perhaps I do myself 
great injustice to give publicity to it, as I have done heretofore in 
this work ; yet I claim it, with the foregoing hive, as a part of my 
invention, together with the beveled bottom-board, and the use of 
either would be an infringement of my rights ; yet in these two 
points, as valuable as I consider them, I shall not expect the pub- 
lic to be limited in their use of them, so long as my general rights 
in the Equilateral Hive are not invaded. 

This style of hive should be painted white, as that color has 
much the best appearance on ornamental objects. The chocolate 
color recommended for other hives, relates to cases where they are 
merely painted as a protection against the weather. 



Here is a pedestal of corresponding architecture, and who will 
say, that a hive surmounting it, and placed in the flower-garden, 
would not he a beautiful ornament 1 If I had to live on a short 
allowance of food for a year, in order to possess a hive and pedes- 
tal of this kind, I would do it, if no other means would obtain them. 
But let such as have no taste for the elegant and beautiful, have 
hives of a more common order. This work will suit every taste. 
The pedestal does not go with the hive, as a necessary appendage; 
neither does the wr??, nor the dental course. The hive may be 
made perfectly plain, if desired, at the cost of ordinary hives, and 
still possess all its practical advantages. 

The reader is referred to my advertisement for the price of this 
hive, &c., in the sequel to this work. 




When seen, and how found, 6. Sting of the queen, 6. Her fecun- 
dation, 7. Huber, the great ['?! apiarian, 8. Huber's authority doubt- 
ed, 11. Huish's opinion of Huber, 12. Queen's flight to meet the 
males, 15. Analogy proves impregnation on the wing, 16. Huber 
confines queens to prove the theory of impregnation on the wing, 16. 
Retarded impregnation, 17. 



The effects of a sudden storm on bees, 23. Sex of workers, 25. 
Workers said to be sometimes fertile, 26. Fertile workers, and the 
power of workers to produce queens from ordinary worker-eggs, 27. 
Kind of eggs laid by the queen, 27. Royal cells, how constructed, 28. 
How young queens are produced, the number of royal cells in a hive, 
etc., 29. Different food provided for the young queens, 30. The for- 
mation of a new queen in the place of one that dies, or is lost, 32. 
The supposed cause of the formation of fertile workers, 33. A case of 
retarded impregnation in the queen, or of fertile workers, coming 
under the author's own observation, 34. Difficulty of effecting the 
impregnation of queens at particular seasons, 40. Fertile workers 
never exist, except in cases of a failure to produce a queen, 41. 



Natural uses of drones, 43. Cause of the existence of so many 
drones, 45. Impregnation operative for life, 46. Visionary alleged 
uses of drones, 48. Huish encounters a savan bee-keeper, 50. When 
drones appear and disappear, 51. Drones go forth to meet the queen, 
54. Danger of the queen being lost during "her excursion, 55. Huish's 
vagaries relative to the use of drones, 55. The conflicting opinions 
and theories of other writers disregarded, 56. Particular instances of 
drones being allowed to live through the winter, 57. The old queen 
always goes off wilh the first swarm, 59. Drones said to die immedi- 
ately after coition, 61. The general massacre of drones, 61. 

346 ' INDEX. 



Drone-eggs, when laid, 69. Royal cells constructed simultaneously 
with drone-egg laying, 70. The operation of laying described, 71. 
Time that eggs remain in the cells, 72. Larvse, how long fed, when 
sealed over, etc., 72. Period of development, etc., 73. Number of 
bees in a hive, 73. Relative proportion of drones, 75. Young queens 
produce few or no drone-brood, 76. Position of eggs and larva?, 76. 



Division of labor proved, 79. Pollen and propolis gatherers, etc., 81. 
Bees gather from one kind of flower only during the same excursion, 
81. Sentinels, 81. The wonderful operations of ventilating bees ! 82. 





Bee-bread injurious when stored in surplus quantities, 87. Color of 
bee-bread, different colors kept distinct, 87. How fed to larvae, 88. 
Cells only partly filled with pollen, 88. 

CHAPTER Vm. " '' 


How furnished to bees, 90. Experimental evidence of the use of 
water, 91. Singular discovery in regard to the use of water on very 
windy and wet days, 91. The use that bees make of water, 92. Water 
used in wet weather abundantly, 93. Decrease and final termination 
of the use of water, 94. A close fence around the apiary necessary in 
certain cases, 95. 


^■" SALT HOW TO BE USED. \ ' '■' ^'' 

Salt put under the edges of hives, 96. Salt necessary for bees, 98. 



Ruber's opinion on propolis, 100. Propolis an elaborated substance, 

INDEX. 347 



Honey and pollen the only substance that bees gather, 103. Apia- 
rians contend Ihat wax is made of pollen, 10-1. Pollen admitted to be 
a component part of ordinary bees-wax, 105. Bees when swarming, 
go laden with honey, lOG. A few bees join the swarm with pellets of 
farina, 107. No pollen gathered the first day or two after swarming, 
107. Chemical change of honey to wax, 107. Experiment showing 
further proof that wax is produced from honey, 109, The experiments 
of Huber, showing that bees work in wax when confined, and fed on 
honey or sugar only, 110. 






Size of hives, 119. Space necessary for swarms, 120. Number of 
workers advantageously employed, 120. A lack of workers disastrous 
to the family, 121. Effects of too small and too large hives, 123. The 
instinct and nature of the bee unchangeable, 125. Result of the Au- 
thor's experience in large hives, 126. Hives diminished in length, 
128. Small hives not appropriate for small swarm^s, 130. Change 
from large to small hives, deceptive appearances of swarms, etc., 135. 
Dr. Bevan's opinion on the size of hives, 137. Sevan's cross-bar hive, 
138. Subtended hive, 141. Hobby of a portion of the itinerant bee- 
hive venders, 142. Two kinds of subtended hives, 143. Rules for 
management in subtended hives, 143. Case in which two or more 
boxes may be usedj 150. Remarks on super and nadir hiving, 151. 
Box-hive and super. 153. Chamber hive, 158. Suspended cham- 
ber hives, 161. Roof for suspended hives, 163. Side view of a 
chamber hive, 167. Second plan of suspended hives, 170. Tow^nly's 
hive, 172. Colton's do. 178. Gaylord & Tucker's do. 178. Week's 
Vermont do. 175. View of do. 176. Straw hives, 180. Log do. ISO. 
Miner's equilateral hive, (first style,) 181. Collateral hiving, etc. 185. 
Relative merits of supering, etc., 187. Collateral hives joined, 188. 
Bees remaining in collateral hives, how got rid of, etc. 189. Case in 
which a transfer from old to new combs may be effected, 190. Only 
one super to be put on at a time, 190. Boxes in chambers not likely 
to be filled twice, 191. Time to take away supers, 191. How to drive 
bees from the boxes, etc., 192. Observatory hive, 193. Huber's Obser- 
vatory, do. 198. European hives, 203. Polish hives, 204. Directions 

348 INDEX. 

for making hives, 204. Directions to the joiner, 206. Painting hives, 



Shape, etc., 211. Roof, bow painted, etc., 212. Size, circumfer- 
ence, etc., 212. Height of hives, floor-board, etc., 213. Hives repre- 
sented in cut, open bee-houses preferable, etc., 214. The heat of the 
sun disadvantageous in winter, 216. Hives to be brought within the 
rays of the sun at certain seasons, etc., 219. Division boards necessary 
between hives, etc., 220. Cost of building, 220. Floor not necessary, 
221. Briclc bee-houses, 221. 





South-east the best point to front, 228. Morning sun necessary, 229. 
Offensive smells detrimental, 229. The shade of large trees not bene- 
ficial, etc., 230. Danger of hives blowing over, 231. Surrounding 
protection necessary, 232. Rivers and lakes detrimental, 234. How 
situated in regard to the dwelling, 234. No walls or buildings to im- 
pede the flight of bees, 235. Valleys most suitable for apiaries, 235. 
Weeds around hives to be extirpated, 236. Apiaries in the rooms of 
dwellings, 238, Bees thrive in large towns, etc., 239. 






Bee stings, how cured, etc., 251. 



Hiving-, 264. Hiver, 267. Clustering on the outside of the hive, 

268. Ringing of bells ond other noises useless, 208. Swarming pre- 
vented by extra room, 239. Strong families always recommended, 270. 
Pifferent gwarm.s apt to cluster together, 273, time that swarms re- 

INDEX. 349 

main clustered, 273. The queen generally alights first, 276. Neces- 
sity of preparations for hiving, etc., 276. Symptoms of swarming, 278. . 
Season of swarming, 2S0. Swarms consist of bees of all ages, 283. 
Swarms issuing have no habitation selected, 284. Bees communicate 
on the wing, 285. Proper mode of separating swarms, 280. Union of 
swarms, 288. Bees liable to cluster on the apiarian, 289. Sambo's 
first trial at hiving, 290. Grape vines suitable to cluster on, artificial 
clustering bushes^ etc., 292. Appearances at the moment of issuing, 
293. Time of day to expect swarms to sally forth, 293. 



Time of year to make artificial swarms, 298. Artificial swarms 
made wholly by driving out, 298. Directions for driving and dislodg- 
ing bees, 299. How to cut out brood-combs, 300. Artificial swarms 
formed by division, 302. Artificial swarms may be transposed, 303. 



Uniting stocks, 309. 



Fall management, 310. Feeding bees, 311, Winter management, 
314. Spring management, 316. Summer management, 317. The 
bee-moth, how eradicated, 317. Indications of the moth, best course 
to pursue, 320. Populous families not liable to be undermined, 321. 




Distances and thickness of combs, 325. 



Ventilation of hives, 326. Purchase of bee*?, 327. Transportation 
of bees, 327. Combs liable to melt down, 328. Disabled bees, 329. 
Diseases of bees, 329. Architecture of bees, 330. Instinct of bees, 335. 
Longevity of Bees, 337. Anger of Bees, 338. Language of bees, 338. 
Bees-wax, how made, 341. 


Miner's improved equilateral hive, 342. Pedestal for do. 34 1, 





N. B. Particular attention given to furnishing Public and Private Libraries 

List of Books, with Retail Prices, from which a liberal discount will be made 
when a number of Works are ordered at one time :— 

Gunn's Domestic Medicine. .. $3,50 

Tlie Parents' Book 1,00 

Beaumont's Physiology 75 

Dick's Complete Works, 4 vols — 2,50 
Allen's Compend of Agriculture ... 1,00 

" History and Diseases of Do- 
mestic Animals 75 

" American Herd-Book 3,00 

" American Agriculturist, 6 

vols 7,50 

" Treatise on the Grape 50 

M'Murtrie's Scientific Lexicon .... 75 
Cleveland's Compend of English 


American Architect, 12 Nos., bd.' . . 3,75 

Cole on Diseases of Animals 50 

Treatise on Milch Cows 38 

Skinner's Farmer's Library, 4 vols.. 12,00 
Hayward's Gazetteer of Massachu- 
setts 1,50 

Beattie on Southern Agriculture. . . 1,00 
Crittenden's Book-keeping, 85 cts. & 2,00 
Holbrook's First Drawing-Book ... 10 
Mitchell's Series of Outline Maps.. 15,00 

Key to do. 25 

Mather and Brockett's Geography 
of tne State of New York 63 

Perkins' Elementary Arithmetic .$0,38 

" Higher do. 75 

" Elements of Algebra 75 

" Treatise on do. 1,50 

" Elements of Geometry, 
with practical applica- 
tions 1,00 

TTie circulation of the above is rapidly 
increasing in the best Schools. 

Winchester's Primary Writing- 

Book 6 

" Series of, 4 Nos.— each 13 
" Black-board Chart, to 
accompany the above 
— only one is needed 

for each school 1,00 

" Book-keeping, embra- 
cing Journal, Ledger 
and Teacher's Guide 

—each 25 

Large Outline Map, including the 
Geological Map, to accompany 

the above 2,00 

Taylor's Sacred Minstrel, a new 
and popular collection of Church 
Music •• 75 

Works published hy C. M. Saxlon. 


Would particularly call attention to the assortment of Works pertaining to 
Agriculture and Rural LOcononiy, a few of which are enumerated, with the 
Retail Prices, from whJcli a liberal discount will bo made when a number 
of Works are ordered at one time, viz.— 

The American Flower Garden Di- 
rectory $1,25 

Townley on the Honey Bee 50 

The American Shepherd 1 ,00 

Johnson's Agricultural Chemistry.. 1,25 
Ruschenberger's Horsemanship ... 1,00 

Stock Raiser's Manual 3,00 

American Farmer's Encyclopedia.. 4,00 

Treatise on Cattle 3,00 

Hoare on the Vine 63 

The A merican Florist 38 

Parnell's Applied Chemistry 1,00 

Ure's Dictionary of Arts, Manufac- 
tures, &c. 6,00 

Dana's Prize Essay on Manures... 12.V 
Fessenden's American Gardener . • 60 
Knowlson's Cattle or Cow Doctor.. 25 
Complete Gardener and Florist ... 37 

Buist on the Rose 75 

Downing's Fruit Trees 1,50 

" Landscape Gardening. . 3,50 
" Cottage Residences — 2,00 

Lang's Highland Cottages 1,50 

Every Lady her own Flower-Gar- 
dener 38 

Mason's Farriery 1,00 

Hind's ditto 75 

Every Man his own Gardener 25 

Horse, its Habits and Management. 25 
Boussingaull's Organic Nature — 50 
American Poulterer's Companion.. 1,00 
Clater and Youatt's Cattle Doctor.. 50 
The American Turf Register and 

Stud Book. ByP N. Edgar-. •• 2,00 
Liebig's Agricultural and Animal 

Chemistry — each 25 

Liebig's Familiar Letters on Chem- 
istry 12i 

Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Agricul- 
ture, (English) 10,00 

Loudon's Encyclopajdia of Garden- 
ing 10,00 

Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Archi- 
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The Vegetable Kingdom, or Hand- 

Bookof Plants 1,25 

Touatt on the Horse : a new edi- 
tion 1,75 

Bridgeman's Young Gardener's As- 
sistant. New edition, much en- 
larged $2,00 

Bridgeman's Fruit Cultivator's 

Manual 62 

Bridgeman's Kitchen Gardener. ... 62 

Bridgeman's Florist's Guide 62 

The Farmer's Mine 75 

Rural Economy. By Boussingault. 1,.50 
Stable Economy, by Stewart. Re- 
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Johnston's Catechism of Agricul- 
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The Complete Farmer and Rural 
Economist. By Thomas G. Fes- 

senden 75 

The New American Orchardist. By 

William Kenrick 87$ 

The Honey Bee, its Natural Histo- 
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Allen's American Herd-Book 3,00 

" Compend 1,00 

" Domestic Animals 75 

Bees, Pigeons, Rabbits, and the 
Canary Bird, famiUarly described 37 

The American Poultry Book 37 

A Treatise on Sheep. By A. Black- 
lock 50 

The Theory of Horticulture. By 

J. Lindley 1,25 

Gardening for Ladies, and Compan- 
ion to the Flower Garden. By 

Mrs. Loudon 1,50 

American Husbandry 1,00 

The Farmer's Instructor. By J. 

Buel. 2vols. 1,00 

A Muck Manual for Farmers. By 

Samuel L. Dana 50 

Chemistry applied to Agriculture. 

By M. Le Comte Chaptal 50 

Ives' New-England Fruit-Book- •• . 62 

Browne's Trees of America 5,00 

Gray's Botanical Text-Books 1,50 

Gardner'^s Farmer's Dictionary--.. 1,50 
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Treatise on Milch Cows 3S 

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First Lessons in Botany 23 

Orden promptly attended loj'nr all kinds of Books in even/ departmcni. of Literature. 




Raymond's copy, price three dollars. 

This Book points out in plain language, free from doctors' terms, the Diseases 
of Men, Women, and Children, and the latest and most improved means used in 
their cure ; and is intended expressly for the benefit of families. It also contains 
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they are to be used in the cure of diseases. It is arranged on a new and simple 
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This invaluable book has passed through many editions ; it has now been re- 
vised and improved in every respect, and enlarged to nearly double its former 
size ; and contains nine hundred octavo pages. 

It does not propose to dispense with physicians in severe cases. But it does 
propose to save thousands and tens of thousands annually, by putting the means 
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nings, before it has acquired too much strength to resist and overcome. 

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we see cheerfully recommend this book ; which has, in its ample pages, much of 
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Works published ly C. M. Saxton. 



BesfflnetJ to fmprobe tt)e Jfarmer, t1)e ^^UnXzx, tfje Stocit*3SrcctJer, 
antr ti)e ^horticulturist 

A. B. ALLEN, Editor. 

" Agriculture is the most healthy, the most useful, and the most noble employment 
of man." — Washington. 






The American Agriculturist is now in the seventh year of its publication 
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Address all subscriptions to C. M. SAXTON, 121 Fulton St., New York. 

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If the question were as to a choice between a good paper printed here or there, 
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own ; for no one will embrace all that is important to be known. 


Ten Thousand Copies printed in six Monthg ! 


Ai.i.ii.ix, AathoT of" Comjjeud of American AgricuUuTcr' ^c ' ' 

The above work contains more thnn 40 Enffrayires and Portraif<5 nf rTr,^^„^„j a • , 
illustrauve of the different breeds and various fubjJtf treated i^^^^^^^^ '^ Improved Ammalg 


Agents wanted for every county in every state. Address, postpaid, the Publisher. 

PM^Wp'jr*°'''^'*'°^P^'''"*^'' ^^'"^ °^^^^ it a favorite with agriculturists.-CAromW^ 
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r;Tf«r5r''''^^°''''^^*'' *° '^' dairy alone,, is worth the cost of the Uok.-Worcester 
DMvTNe^a^k"^'"'''"^ '" ^' serviceable in every household which has domestic animals.- 

JllfI-7:Jelf:Zt'' '"'' '"' ^'^ ''^'' ^"'^ '^^'■^^"^^ ^" ^^^ P-«^-e. care, and use ot 
Here is a work which sfeould be in the hands of every fs.rmer.-Hi'rhland Courier 

ty^.^L^^'^^V^ a practical farmer and stockbreeder, and is able to vouch for the correctness of 
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n.;r.-£,2^"i"£^^^r;c:f ^' ^"^■^^'^^^^ f-1 *° ^^ --^^ ^- ^-- that amount to any far- 
CaHisli^Pa'^ °^*^''* character we have yet seen ; no farmer should be without it.-Democrat, 

This is just such a book as every owner of stock should be possessed of— Easfon Md Star 
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h' luThor of tSw' ; and Illustrated by a great variety of cuts. The " Aliens," one oTwhom's 
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from them may be confidently credited at all events. The present book is a most iTteresS and 
instructive one, and must meet with a great ssi\(^.-Sdota Gazette mterebting and 

Ihis work, to the farmer and stock rai.^er, will be useful, instructive, and profitable enab'in<r 
Int^t^dnniU'sl-^l?!^ Ht^t^T^' ''-'^ '- '''^^-' an^d'orrmtiSS 

this work was m the hands of every farmer in the county .-iTf.rc2.7-y, Potsdam XY 

The title page of this work gives a good idea of its scope and intent. It is a comnrehensive 

nZSn'^S™ operations, and will prove very accept'able to the great mass of SarS 

population We are informed that 3,000 copies of this work have been sold since the S of 

January. It is well printed and profu.sely illustrated.-A': Y. Tribune 
It IS furnished with numerous illustrating cuts, and will form a complete "vade mecum" for 

the agriculturist, convenient for reference, and to be reUed on when consult. d-Smor« 

This is a practical book by a practical man, and will serve extensive praciieal ends. It i» 
a companion which every farmer will feel that he cannot well be without.-V Y Observer 

\\ e cheerfully recommend this work to farmers.— ^;;g-7jG/, JuUett, III 

VVe anticipate an extensive sRle for this Vfork.— Ohio" CvUivator. 

1 his work ought to be in the hands of every planter.— iV. O. Delta 
null, i^""'*"'" ^^ * gentleman of fine attainments, and who ranks as one of the most accom. 
phfihed writers on agricultural subjects in the country.— Ala. Planter. 
BramlborVn^^ animal is lost, every year, for want of tha knowledge here conveyed.— JEai?>. 

nocipH '^;!hTi''^^'"-,f "°"^' if * P'^tical man, and everything from his pen, on subjects con 
Se thIiry.SfoJ^rFar"7^c?^" breeding, is valuable to those who prefe^ matter of fact U 



A. B. ALLEN & CO., 


Farmers, Planters, and Gardeners will find in our Warehouse, the largest and 
most complete assortment of Agricultural and Horticultural Implem<ents. Field 
and Garden Seeds, Fertilizers, Fruit and Ornamental Trees. &c., &c., in New 
York. A few of the articles we enumerate below. Our implements are mostly- 
made up from NEW and highly-improved patterns, and are warranted to be of 
the best materials, put together m the strongest manner, and of superior finish. 
Plows. — Of these we have upwards of FIFTY difterent kinds, among which 

are Cotton, Rice, and Sugar Plows, at $-2 to 4.50 

Two and Four 
Horse Plows, of dif- 
ferent sizes, and for 
all kinds of soils — 
stony, sandy, loam, 
or clay ; also for 
stubble and sward 
land. Some of these 
have patent clevies 
attached to them, 
thus enabling the 
olT-horse, in plowing 
a wet meadow, to 

Subsoil Plow, with Wheel, Dial-Clevis, and Draft-Rod. 
walk on the solid ground, instead of a miry, fresh-plowed furrow. Others are 

Neiv York Agricultural Warehouse. 

adapted to trench-plowing, enabling the farmer to turn up virgin earth in a deep 
soil. These plows are strong enough to grub up roots, heavy bogs, &c. They 

likewise answer for shallow ditching $5 to $20 

One Horse Plows for the North, with single and Double ]Mold-Boards. The 
last are admirable to work between the rows of root crops and corn, when not 
over 3^2 feet a})art. as they turn the furrow both ways, thus doing double the 
work of a single mold-board $3 to$5 

Cultivator with Wheel. 

Setd Sower. 
should be without them 

Subsoil Plows for 
deep plowing $5.50 
to 16.00. 

Double Mold-Board 
or Fluke Plows for 
furrowing to plant, 
cultivate and ditch ; 
and the largest made 
expressly for plant- 
ing the sugar cane, 
$3:.50 to 9 00. 

Side-Hill Shifting- 
Muld- Board or Swiv- 
el P/ow*. for turning 
the furrow in either 
direction, $5.00 to 

Pariirg Plows, for 
shaving off the turf 
preparatory to burn- 
ing ,■$15.00. 

Harrows. — A com- 
l)lete assortment of 
square, triangle, and 
double triangle fold- 
ing, harrows, with 
wrought iron or 
steel pointed teeth. 
S6 to 16.00. 

Some of these plows are made 
expressly for light sandy soils, 
others for a loam, or stiff clay, 
which they work in the best 
manner. Being made by patent 
machinery, they are superior to 
anything of the "kind ever before 
sold in this market. 

Rice Trenching Plow. — This does 
the same work as the hands per- 
form on a rice plantation with 
trenching hoes, equally well, and 
with much greater rapidity than a 
negro can work. No Planter 
$6 to 6.50 

Square Harrow. 

New York Agricultural Warehouse, 

Stravj'Cuttcrs.— Common hand. 3.00 to 8.00 

•• Cylindrical, with spi- 

ral and straight 

blades. 8.00 to 30.00 

Corn-stalk Cutters.— MarshalVs, Sin- 
clair's, Thorn's, and 

others, ... 12.00 to 45.00 

Cotton-Oins, of various patterns,.... 25.00 to 150,00 

Ox, Road, or Dirt Scrapers, 4.50 to 5.00 

Self-acting Cheese Press— d. neat and 
very superior and 

simple article, 6.50 

Seed Sowers, various patterns 8.00 to 15.00 

Corn-Planters, will plant 10 acres per 

day, by one man, 16.00 

Horticultural Tool Chests complete, 18. 0^ 

fVheclbarrows for Gardens, 4.50 to S.OjJ 

•' Canal, Dirt, or Tray, 2.25 to 3.5" 

Tree or Bush Pullers, $4.00 to 6.00 ; Garden Syrin- 
ges. 1.00 to 5.50 ; Grain Cradles, 3.00 to 5.50 ; Sausage 
Stutters, 4,50 to 5.00 ; Lactometers. 2.50 to 5.00 ; Bee- 
'lives. 3..50 to 6..50 ; Ox- Yokes and Bows, 2.50 to 5.00 ; 
Manure-Forks, 63 cts. to 4.00 ; Hay ditto, 50 cts. to 1 00; 
Grain and Grass Scythes, 75 cents to 1.00 ; Swingle 
irees, 1.00 to 3.50 ;"Hay and Straw-Knives, 1.00 to 
■2.00 ; Axes— Collins', Hunt's, and Simons', handled, 
l.UO. to 1..50 ; Grubbing Hoes. 50 cents to 1.00 ; Picks, 
I.OO to 2.00 ; Trace Chains, 75 cents to 1.00 ; Ox 
<_ hains — American 9 to 11,^2 cents per lb. ; Shovels 
and Spades, 75 cents to 1.50 ; Tree Scrapers. 31 to 
75 cents ; Schufiling Hoes, 25 cents to I.OO ; Churns, 
various patterns, 2.00 to 4 00; Grafting Chisels and 
Saw, handled, 2.00 ; Hoes, all 
patterns, 25 cents to 100; 
Potato Hooks. 50 cents to 
1.50 ; Potato Forks, 1.00 to 
2.00 ; Garden Reels. 75 cts. ; 
Sickles, 37 to 63 cents ; Grass 
Shears, 1.25 to 1.50 ; Twig 
Cutters, 50 cent.s to 2.00 ; 
Vine Scissors, 63 cents. ; 
Pruning Shears, 2.00 ; Screw 
Wrenches, 1.50 to 3,00 ; 
Sheep Shears, 75 cents to 
1.25 ; Strawberry Forks, 37 
cents ; Scythe Rifles, Rakes, 
various patterns and various 
prices ; Peat Knives, 1.50 ; 
Ox INIuzzIes, 31 to 50 cents 
per pair ; Ox Bows, 31 to 50 
cents ; Hatchets. 50 to 75 
cents ; Horse Brushes. Ham- 
mers. Axe Handles, Grind- 
."ittjnes. Rollers, Crank and 
Shnfts, Flower Gatherers, 
I lails. K.dging Knives. Cattle 
'1 ie-chains, Bull Rings, But- 
icr Boxes. Bush Hooks, Ca- 
terpillar Brushes, Fleams, 
Scooiis, Ox Balls, Post 
Spoons, Garden Trowels. 
!■ pinning-wlieel Heads, Well 
Wheels, Oven Mouths, Budding Knives, Pruning ditto, Stc, Cattle Ties, &.c. * 
Castings of all the difterent parts of Plows, at 4 to 6 cents per lb. 
Gin Segments and Heavy Castings of all descriptions made to order. 
Harrotc Teeth and Iron Work of diflerent kinds made to order in the cheapest 
best manner. * , /. , 

Steam- Engines, '^^i gar- Boilers, Sugar- Mills ^ Kettles. Cauldrons, ire., for planta- 

New York Agricultural Warehouse. 

Rollers of various kinds — wood, stone, or iron ; single or double ; and to move 
by hand or horse-power $10 to $65. 

Field Roller. 

Cultivators, hand or horse, of various patterns $3.00 to 8.00 

Horse-Powers. — Endless chain, single horse 75.00 to 85.00 

'• " two-horse 100.00 to 120.00 

" Cast-iron, single or two-horse 50.00 to 60.00 

" ■' four-horse 90.00 

Grain Threshers 25.00 to 40.00 

" with Separators 35.00 to 50.00 

Clmer-Mills. for cleaning seed 30.00 to 65.00 

Fanning-. Jtiills. for winnowing grain 12.00. to 27.00 

Burr-stone Mills, for grinding grain 30.00 to 125.00 

Cast-iron Mills, a new and most admirable invention. They work either by 
hand or other power, and are well adapted for grinding all kinds of grain, except 

lIiM-HoRsE Power. 

flouring wheat for market 5.00 to 30.00 

Corn and Cob Crvshcrs, for grinding cob in the ear 30.00 to 50.00 

Sufrar Crushers, for pulverizing sugar 7.50 to 20.00 

Paint Mills, of various patterns 7.00 to 17.00 

Corn Shellers. — "Will shell from 50 to 200 bushels of ^ars per hour, in the best 

manner. These work by horse or other power 30.00 to 60.00 

The same worked by hand, made of wood or cast-iron 6.00 to 10.00 

Vegetahlt Cutters, for slicing potatoes, beet?, turnips, &.c 8.00 to 12.00 

New York Agricultural WareJwuse. 

Fire Engines, Forcing Pumpa of 
Large and ^mall Size, Water Hams, <$-c. 

Cast Iron Water Pipe from 1 to 12 in- 
ches diameter, both sleeve or socket, 
and flange, 3 to 4 cts. per lb. 

fVire-Clotk and Sieves.— DiSCerent 
kinds and sizes kept constantly on 

fVire of all sizes for Fences. 

Wagons, Carts, both Hand and Horse, 
and Trucks of all sizSs. 

Leavensworth''s Patent California Oold 
Washers, the best ever constructed, 
will do the work of 100 men, and go 
either by horse or hand power, $30 
to $60. 

Oold Digging Implements of all kinds, 
picks, crow-bars, hoes, shovels, &c. 

Gold Testers^ Retorts, Crucibles, Fur- 
naces, &c., &c., of all kinds. 

Blasting Tools, Drills, Chisels, &c. 

Lead Pipe of various sizes and thick- 
ness, at 6 to 7 cts. per lb. 

Leather, India Rubber and Gutta 
Percha Hose, of all sizes. 

Corn Sheller. 

Seeds for the Field and Garden.— Snch as improved Winter and Spring Wheat, 
Rye. Barley, Oats, Corn, Beans, Peas, Rutabaga, Turnip, Cabbage, Beet, Carrot, 
Parsnip, Clover, and Grass Seeds, improved varieties of Potatoes, &c,, &c., &c. 
These are warranted fresh and superior of their kind. 

Fertilizers.— Feru\ia.n and Patagonian Guano, Lime, Plaster of Paris, Bone Dust, 

&C., &c. __ „ . , ^ 

Fruit and Ornamen- 
tal Trees and Shrubs. 
— Orders taken for 
these, and executed 
from a choice of the 
best Nurseries, Gar- 
dens, and Conserva- 
tories in the United 

Horses, Cattle. Sheep 
and Swine. — Orders 
iiHuiiniililllUUliimilllUlllllUUUIIllllUttitV received for stock of 
Sausage Stuffer. all kinds, to be exe- 

cuted to the best advantage, and shipped in the most careful manner. 

Copper Stills Complete— lion Chests, Brick Machines, 
Bark Mills. 

Portable jPwrn aces— Blacksmiths' Bellows, Sledges, 
Hammers, Tongs, &c. 

Whitney^s Celebrated Buena Vista Rifles, with Molds, 
and all extras, Percussion Caps, &c., &c., &c. 

Post-hole Jivgcrs — Ornamental Fountains, Iron Garden 
Chairs, Garden Engines, Morticing Machines. 
Bullets of all sizes, and Buck Shot. 8 cts. per lb. 
Agricultural Books. — A varied and general assort- 
ment of these for sale. 

JVtw Iiiiplimcnts. Secd.t, ^'c — The subscribers request 
samples sent to them of any new or improved Imple- 
ments, Seeds, &c., which, if found valuable, extra pains 
will be taken tu bring them before the public. 

Produce on Con.signnient.—All kinds of Produce will 
be received for sale on consignment. 
j9 discount will be made from the above prices to dealers. 
A Catalogue of over 100 pages, with numerous en- 
gravings, containing a part of our implements, with 
prices, will be forwarded by mail, if requested post 
p^MP A. B ALLEN, &. Co., 

139 and 191 Water street. New Y..rk, 


• • MI N E R'S 


This valuable hive is now offered For Sale by the single hive, at 
FIVE DOLLARS, which will entitle the purchaser to an individ- 
ual right to make the same, for liis own use only, during life; or the 


of it, and all its parts, will be furnished for the sum of TWO DOL- 
LARS, and full instructions to make it will be given in pamphlet 
form, with a right as above, including information illustrating and 
explaining the whole nature of this hive. — Also, a cut will be in- 
cluded of my 


so much admired for its originality and architectural beauty. 
Monies may be remitted by mail at my risk, and as soon as re- 
ceived, the hive, or the engravings, &c., as the purchaser may 
order, will be 


to the address of the applicant. Please be particular to state the 
Town, County, and if necessary, the Post Office, where to direct. 

AGENTS wanted to sell both hives and engravings, and a very 
liberal discount allowed. 

N. B. — All persons are cautioned against the least infringement 
of the right of the above hive. 

Cc^Address T. B. MINER, No. 40 Peck Slip, New York. 
New York, March, 1849.