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^DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE^
BULLETIN No. 30.
GUIDE TO BEE-KEEPING
F. DUNDAS TODD.
THE GOVERNMENT OF
THL province: or British columbU
PRINTED BY A UTHORITY OF
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
VICTORIA. B. C. :
Printed by Richard Wolfendex, I.S.O., V.D., Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
BULLETIN No. 30.
GUIDE TO BEE-KEEPING
F. DUNDAS TODD.
THE GOVERNMENT or
THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
PRINTED BY A UTHOBITY OF
THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
VICTORIA, B. C. :
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, I.S.O., V.D., Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
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•••••• ! •« • • « •
••• •••«.• •« ••••
Honourable Price Ellison,
Minister oj Agriculture,
Victoria, B. C. :
Sir, — I have the honour to transmit herewith Bulletin No. 30, entitled
"Guide to Bee-keeping."
This Bulletin has been issued in order to meet the large demand for
practical information concerning this most important branch of farming.
The introductions contained therein are concise and practical, and adapted
to the conditions prevailing in British Columbia, and will, it is hoped,
prove of benefit to those starting or at present engaged in this industry.
I have the honour to be.
Your obedient servant,
WM. E. SCOTT,
Defiuty Minister oJ Ariculture.
GUIDE rO BEE-KEEPING.
Apiarian Possibilities of British Columbia.
S the Department of Agriculture is very frequently asked about the possibilities
of bee-keeping in British Columbia, an effort has been made to get definite
information from those engaged in the industry. There was one great difficulty, the
absence of a list of bee-keepers to whom appeals could be sent. However, there were
gathered together from various sources the names of fully 200 apiarists on Vancouver
Island, along the Fraser River, and in the Districts of East and West Kootenay. To
these was sent a series of questions covering thoroughly the climatic conditions,
sources of nectar and pollen, the duration of the honey-flow, its average yield, and the
nature of the winter protection of the hives.
The replies received cover these regions fairly well, sufficient to at least give an
indication of the possibilities in diflferent localities.
In the Eastern Provinces of Canada, especially in Ontario, there are many men who
depend on bee-keeping entirely as a means of livelihood, but, so far as is known, there
is no such development of the industry in British Columbia. Thus far the largest
number of hives reported as being operated by one individual is fifty, but any one
confining his energies to bee-keeping alone generally considers 300 hives as the minimum
number on which to spend his efforts, these being usually scattered over a considerable
territory. On the other hand, it has been learned that bee-keeping as a side issue is
much more common than was anticipated ; in fact, in the dairying and fruit-raising
districts a small apiary would seem to be a necessary feature of almost every ranch.
In some localities from which the information is rather complete there is seemingly one
keeper of bees to every twenty people. This fact is rather valuable, because it shows
that it is unnecessary for the home-seeker to bring with him to British Columbia his
colonies of bees from the Eastern Provinces. Indeed, the Department of Agriculture
earnestly advises that neither bees, empty used hives, nor used bee appliances of any
kind be brought in, so as to prevent, if possible, the introduction of bee diseases, from
which the Province is at present apparently free. Of course, there is no objection to
the importation of queens from reputable breeders.
In sixty cases there was learned the number of colonies owned, the total being 667,
suggesting an average of eleven hives to each apiary. This is a much higher figure than
Source of Honey-flow.
To those not familiar with bee-keeping terms, it is perhaps advisable to explain
that the phrase "honey-flow " means that season of the year when the bees gather more
nectar than is necessary for the daily need of the hive, and they are thus able to store
up surplus honey for winter consumption. As from 25 to 30 pounds are usually
sufficient to carry a colony over the winter, all above that amount may be taken by the
bee-keeper. Since his returns are immediately concerned with the honey-flow, it is
important for him to know its source, its real source, for not infrequently he assumes
that it comes from a well-known honey-plant, when, as a matter of fact, it may be
actually obtained from one he never suspected. For instance, white clover is a famous
honey-plant that in most regions can be depended upon for a good average yield in a
series of years, and so even experienced bee-keepers are tempted to assume that the
presence of clover in quantity should indicate a good honey region. This does not
necessarily follow, for both summer and fall droughts or cool summer evenings may
retard the secretion of nectar ; yet there may be a good honey -flow in such a region
from a very different source. The sourthern end of Vancouver Island would appear to
be a good example. Clover is ]ilentiful in many portions, but is sparingly visited by
the bees. Some years the snowberry bush is generally covered with blossoms at the
time clover is in bloom, and a good supply of very delicious honey is secured. There-
fore, any one contemplating an extensive investment in bee-culture should not venture
on a very large scale until he knows for a certainty the actual source of the honey-flow
and how extensively it is to be found within a radius of a mile and a half of the apiary.
White Clover the Chief Source of Nectar.
In every report that has reached the Department white clover is given the credit
as the main source of surplus honey. One from the south end of Vancouver Island also
includes snowberry. Fireweed or willow-herb (Epilohium anqusti folium) is reported
from New Westminster and Rossland ; at the latter place it is s lid to always yield well.
The fruit-blooms of the Okanagan Valley, as will be seen later on, are credited with
yielding good returns. Summerland reports sage and Vernon alfalfa as honey sources.
Ccanbrook is favoured with clover, alfalfa, fireweed, and sweet clover. In West
Kootenay generally clover is the only source credited, but one region includes raspberry.
In Yale District alfalfa and wild mustard add to the honey-crop.
Form in which the Crop is produced.
As the nights in British Columbia are cool even in summer, it is not a favourable
region for the production of section honey — that is, honey in the comb — and all the
reports confirm this. A comparison of the selling price of the two forms in the grocery
stores shows also that extracted honey is the more profitable to produce.
Quantity of Honey got from each Hive.
It is not alone the character of the region that influences the size of the crop ; the
skill of the bee-keeper plays no unimportant part. It is a truism in bee-keeping that
i iiy one can get a good harvest in a good year, but it requires skill to get a fair crop in
a poor season. Notwithstanding all this, there is surprising agreement when one groups
tie data from the different regions. On striking an average from all reports from each
locality, the Okanagan Valley is first with an average maximum of 105 sections a hive,
and an average minimum of 38. The highest return is 150, the lowest 24 sections.
When run for extracted honey, the average maximum is 141 pounds ; the average
minimum, 52 pounds, (ireatest yield for a hive, 200 pounds ; smallest, 30 pounds.
Vernon and Summerland show the best figures.
Around New Westminster the average yield in section honey is given as 42 ; the
highest ((uoted is <}() ; the lowest is 20. In the extracted form the average maximum is
82 pounds ; highest, 200 pounds ; lowest, 12 pounds. The average minimum is 28 pounds.
In several instances attention is drawn to the fact that the character of the ground in
the immediate vicinity is very important, as bottom lands that are sometimes under
water usually give the best yields. The region above the Delta would appear more
favourable. Building up in the spring is slow, on accimnt cf cool weather. One
rancher in Chilliwack who has kept bees for fourteen years says : " We keep bees now-
only to make certain tlie pollination of the fruit. Do not advise any one to try to make
a living in this region from bees, as they rarely do more than get sufficient stores to
winter on, and often not that murh. Our nights are too cool for the secretion of
In the Kootenays, bee-keeping would appear to be in its infancy. Only one report
has been received from East Kootenay, the writer being a resident of Cranbrook. He
has secured as high as 100 pounds of extracted honey a hive in a good season, and
altogether seems satisfied with the returns.
In West Kootenay, Revelstoke reports 40 to 56 sections per hive ; Proctor a little
more ; while a Kaslo bee-keeper with ten years' experience gets 50 sections, adding that
his source is entirely from the clover in the town, there being no nectar-bearing plants
in the vicinity. One apiarist in Revelstoke believes there is sufficient pasturage for 200
colonies in the neighbourhood.
On Vancouver Island, bee-keeping has been carried on for about thirty years, and at
present there is an almost continuous chain of hives from Victoria to Comox. The
general climatic conditions are rather similar throughout the entire line, but the advent
of the spring blossoms is much later by a few weeks in Nanaimo than in the south end
of the Island. There is, however, great unanimity in the statement of returns, which,
briefly put, is 25 sections per hive, or 40 pounds of extracted honey. There is also
general agreement that a few hives make an interesting side-line that yields a moderate
profit, but there is no present possibility of bee-keeping on an extensive scale with any
hope of financial success. The climatic conditions are very similar to those described
as existing in the New Westminster region : cool weather in spring, and cool nights in
June, this month being the season of the honey -flow.
From the Fraser River, in Yale District, two reports were received. At Lytto^^
the principal source is alfalfa, the yield being 50 pounds extracted a hive. At Agassiz
the source is clover and fruit-blossoms, giving 25 pounds surplus in a good season.
Speaking broadly, the dry-belt region of the Province is far ahead of the coast
districts for the purposes of bee-keeping.
In the southern part of Vancouver Island the bees have occasional flights in
January and February, but it is not until about the 20th of the latter month that they
fly freely, and by that time the willow is in bloom, so that pollen is often carried in
during the last week. Nanaimo reports free flight early in March, but Comox is later
by a few weeks. Willow is plentiful in all regions.
From the Delta up to Mission free flight is usual in the first week of March. At
Revelstoke it is after the middle of the month. All along the Fraser River willow is
reported as plentiful.
In the Okanagan and other dry-belt regions the date of free flight varies from the
1st to the 15th of March. At Vernon the first pollen is carried in about March 12th.
However, from several districts of the arid region there comes a complaint of the lack
of pollen in the spring, so that it will be probably advisable to provide a substitute in
the form of pea-flour, according to the methods described in a later chapter on feeding.
In contrast, Rossland reports a plentiful supply of pollen.
In most regions dandelions and fruit-blooms follow the willow ; in fact, one
rancher wants to know how to get rid of the first named, a rather unusual request from
a bee-keeper. The writer would like to oblige with a remedy, but though he wrestled
with the problem for several years and consulted many experts, the only conclusion he
arrived at was this : the more thoroughly he mowed the lawn, the quicker it developed
into a dandelion paradise. Therefore, like a child, he learned to love the glorious
display of yellow ; as a bee-keeper, he welcomed the blossoms.
Clover and snowberry bloom round about Victoria about June 1st, but it is not
until about the 20th of the month that the bees begin to get surplus honey. As fruit-
blooms are over about the last week in May, there is frequently quite a dearth of nectar
for several weeks, but pollen is more than plentiful. It is at this time that many a
honey-flow is lost unless sugar syrup is fed to keep up brood-raising in the hives, so
that the colonies may be strong when the flow of nectar does start. Similar conditions
would seem to obtain along the lower part of the Fraser River. In the irrigated fruit
regions there is apparently no break in the flow of nectar, so that brood-raising is
continuous after it once starts.
On Vancouver Island the honey-flow is over by the middle of July. Like conditions
prevail in the New Westminster District.
In the Okanagan and similar regions it would appear that surplus honey is got
from the fruit-blooms. The flow from clover ends with July.
No fall honey-flow is reported excepting from the Okanagan, the source being
sage-brush in August and September.
Honey-dew, which is usually considered to be an excretion from aphis and certain
scale insects, is in some years very plentiful on Vancouver Island, and is freely gathered
by the bees in the absence of nectar. It is considered very poor winter stores unless the
bees are fortunate enough to have an occasional flight in December and January. It is
very dark in colour, and when mixed with the honey in the supers impairs both its
colour and flavour. It occurs also some years along the lower part of the Fraser River,
but in the dry belt it is practically unknown. It would appear to be most plentiful in
the fir-tree regions.
It is generally necessary to feed sugar syrup in autumn on the south part of
Vancouver Island, but from Nanaimo to Comox feeding is generally unnecessary, and
the same is true of all points on the Mainland.
The general custom appears to be to winter the hives on the summer stands all over
the Province. On Vancouver Island and the lower part of the Fraser River cellar
wintering is impossible, as there are occasional warm days throughout the winter when
l)ees fly freely. Many bee-keepers in these regions make no difterence between summer
and winter coverings, but others endeavour to keep the hives dry by wrapping wilh
tar-paper or by placing in an open-fronted shed. In the dry belt a few favour cellar
wintering, but the majority consider the average cellar as too damp, and so pack the
hives with shavings, leaves, or similar material held in position by a water-tight cashig,
such as a box. Those with double-walled hives make no special preparations at all.
The Langstroth hive is practically the only one in use. There is equal favour
shown between the eight-frame and ten-frame hive ; in fact, where both sizes are tried,
any comment is to the effect that there is practically no difference in the results.
Races of Bees.
A few have blacks, all others Italians. There is a little warmth occasionally shown
on this rather interesting and controversial subject. The blacks have their defenders,
but many of those who favour the otliers want to see the dark bees wiped out, one
enthusiast going so far as to wish the Provincial Parliament to pass an Act ordering
the decapit*ition of every black ([ueen witliin its jurisdiction, in order to keep the
Italian stock pure. Hybrids seemingly have no friends, on account of their vicious
Market Prices of Honey.
No attempt was made to get quotations of the market prices of honey, but one
may safely presume that those ruling in Victoria and Vancouver are at least indicative
of the rest of the Province. Here, as elsewhere, the stores prefer a package of such
bulk that the price charged will be represented by a coin such as 25c., $1, or even two
coins in the higher values. Such prices as 20c., 65c., and $1.15 are not popular, either
with the trade or the customers. On the other hand, one must of necessity pack the
honey in some vessel that is a staple commodity on the market ; so it calls for quite a
little consideration on the part of the producer to harmonize as far as possible the con-
ditions. In Victoria we find the containers in common use are half-pint, quart, and
two-quart fruit-jars, United States measures. When filled with water, the contents
weigh respectively ^ lb. , 1 lb. , and 2 lbs. But honey is nearly one-half heavier than an
equal quantity of water ; therefore, the jars will hold almost f lb., 1^ lbs., and 3 lt)s. of
the product of the hive. Larger quantities are sold in tins, the usual sizes being 5 lbs.
and 10 lbs.
The retail prices for the three smaller sizes are 25c., 85c., and $1.50. The grocer
usually pays for them 20c., 67c., and $1.22 ; that is to say, he gets a discount of 20 per
cent, on the retiil price. Probably two-thirds of the sales will be of the 2oc. size.
The half -pint jars in gross lots cost 5.2c. each; the quarts in dozen lots cost 12.5c.;
the two-quart jars in dozen lots cost 17c. A little figuring will show that when the
bee-keeper sells to the grocer he will get at the rate of 19.7c. a pound for the honey in
the smallest jar, 18.5c. for that in the quart jar, and 17c. in the two-quart jar. When
the apiarist is located near a city he will generally have no difficulty in selling all his
product direct to the consumer at the full retail price, thus getting 5c. a pound more.
Comb honey usually retails at 25c. a section ; price to the grocer, 20c. The
average section contains 14 ounces of honey, so the bee-keeper is getting at the rate
of almost 23c. a pound. This looks better returns than is got from extra'^ted honey,
but we must deduct cost of section and foundation starter, and then the two will come
rather close together. Then when we consider that it is generally estimated that a
colony of bees will produce in comb honey only two-thirds what it will yield in
extracted, we see at once that in British Columbia extracted honey is the more profit-
able form of honey production. We have already learned that on account of the
cool nights the bees make a rather poor showing when working for comb honey.
From Dominion statistics we learn that during the year 1909 there was imported
through the ports of Vancouver and Victoria a grand total of 81,431 lbs. of honey.
These figures indicate a demand in the Province it will take a long time for the bee-
keepers to supply. When we remember that there is a protective tariff of 3c, a pound
on honey from foreign countries, and that freight rates from most points of large
production are almost 2c. a pound, we readily see that there is little likelihood of a sag
in prices of this most delectable of ranch products.
Bees and Fruit-raising.
Not so very many years ago it was no uncommon thing for a farmer to believe that
the honey-bee stole a valuable essence from the clover and fruit blossoms, but now he
knows that without bees his crop of seed and fruit would probably be scant. Cross-
pollination of most fruits is the work of insects, it being estimated that sixty-eight
difiierent kinds visit apple-blossoms alone. But the problem is to get a sufficient
number when there are hundreds of thousands of blossoms all open at one time as in a
bearing orchard or strawberry- field. The honey-bee is the only insect under human
control, so by keeping a sufficient number of hives we can generally have enough bees
on hand when they are most needed. Further, experience shows it is essential to
scatter the hives throughout the territory to be worked. In 1910, in the Wenatchee
Valley, Wash., a careful investigation showed that on apple- trees not over 100 yards
from l)ee-hives onl} 7 per cent, of the fruit-spurs failed to set, while of those farther
away 49 per cent, failed. The professor in charge of the investigation says : " Our
conclusion is that, in order to prevent crop failure from lack of pollination in the
future, we must get bees. The common honey-bees are the best insect pollinators on
earth. Tht-y come out earlier in the spring, stay out later in the fall, begin earlier in
the morning, and work later in the evening, and they will work under more unfavour-
able conditions than any other insect. From my work with bees 1 hive calculated that
a single honey-bee is capable of cross-pollinating over 16,000 apple-blossoms in a day
(this maybe a misprint, but the number visited is certainly large); but during the
blossoming period there are so many blossoms that the bees do not go far from the
hives, so we netd hives all over the orchard."
Another authority says he considers that in every orchard there should be at least
one colony of bees for every twenty-five trees, in order to secure thorough pollination
of the fruit-blossoms.
Partial List of Honey and Pollen Plants in British Columbia.
When Dr. Watts, the eminent hymn- writer, said of bees that they
Gather honey all the day
From every opening flower.
His statement was not altogether in accordance with fact, for they patronise but a small
proportion of flowering plants. For weeks at a time bees need very little attention ;
on the other hand, there are occasions when they need care at once, and these are
usually dependent on the floral conditions ; hence it is very important that every
bee-keeper should be familiar with all the bee-plants of his locality. He should know
the dates of blooming, and above all what time in the spring there is a likelihood of a
dearth of nectar, so that, if necessary, he can tide over the period by feeding with
sugar. The writer advises the keeping of a diary, which in his own case is a rather
simple aflair, consisting of a sheet of paper 8 x 10 inches in size, on which he records
the first appearance of the bfossom of each variety of plant, occasionally adding a little
note for guidance in future years.
The list given beUjw contains all plants in the reports ; the dates show when they
blo(mi in Victoria. The remarks arise out of the writer's experience in the same city.
Doubtless the list can be considerably extended, and so every bee-keeper is invited to
send additions to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, so that they may
be added in future editions :--
Feb. 21. — Willow. I'ollen carried in.
Mar. 17. — Much willow. A few dandelions.
// 25. — Oregon grape.
" 2.'), — Hr(M>d in four frames.
Apr. 7. — Dandelions plentiful.
'I 11. — Wild strawberry.
/' 12. — Karly ])ears.
// 15— Pollen becomes plentiful.
" 18. — Karly plums, apjiles.
May 1. — BnM)m; a very fine poUeji-plant.
// 12. Cultivated strawberry.
Wild sunflowers. WVwnw May 15th at Cianbrook.
// 20. — Itees often nee<l feeding about this date.
n 24.— Chestnut.
May 24. — Vetch. Bees work on stems.
II 28. — White clover and hawthorn.
Jiine 7. — Snowberry, chokeberry, mustard, stonecrop.
II 22. — Bees rushing on snowberry. Goldenrod, buckwheat, fireweed, sage, sweet
clover, and alfalfa are reported from various parts of the Province, but
dates of blooming are not given.
To learn the art of bee-keeping, one must keep bees. It is not enough to buy a
colony and trust to luck for the outcome ; the owner must learn to keep bees, that is to
say, have them at the end of some definite period, sa}^ twelve months or five years, or
longer. The beginner in bee-keeping must realise that bees are just a varieiy of stock,
like cattle, hogs, or chickens, and, like them, must be taken care of ; therefore, he must
learn about bee needs and bee habits, so that in times of necessity he can give the little
aid that is required to ti<ie them over the period of trouble. Too many beginners assume
that bees need no care, that they will work for nothing and board themselves, yielding
profit in the form of honey, and multiplying their kind several times in the course of a
single season, so that by the investment of a few dollars in one hive there will in a very
few years resvilt a good-sized apiary that has easily paid its way out of surplus honey.
The actual facts do not correspond with so rosy a picture. Without doubt, bees
will pay better returns for the capital, time, and labour invested than any form of farm
enterprise; but the big returns are got, one year with another, as the result of
knowledge and skill judiciously applied. It is undoubtedly true that in most years bees
reproduce themselves prolificly by means of swarms ; but this is Nature's way of
compensating for a high death-rate in normal conditions, so that there will generally be
in an average of years just about the same number of colonies in a certain locality.
Any permanent increase must be brought about by the skill of the bee-keeper.
Again, the production of surplus honey is not the reason for the existence of the
colony ; this result is due to the manipulations of the apiarist. In a state of nature,
A\ hat would be surplus honey is transformed into more bees, until the hive is overflowing
M'hen it divides, often several times, into duplicates of itself. Bees, We thus see, make
honey, and then out of the honey make more bees. 8o the colony that sends off swarms
is not always a honey-producer that season ; hence the bee-keeper who is working for
surplus honey is generally endeavouring to find a sure method for the prevention of
The purpose of this book is to set the beginner in bee-keeping in British Columbia
on the right track, but he is advised to see, if possible, an experienced apiarist open
and examine a hive, if for no other reason than to gain confidence in himself, so that he
may do slowly and methodically what he is tempted to rush rather hastily.
How TO START BeE-KEEPING.
In most regions the beat time to begin bee-keeping is in the end of April or the
beginning of May. Not (»nly is it near the commencement of the honey-flow, which in
this Province is mostly from white clover in June, but the risk of loss through the
death of the colony is at the nnnimum. Of course, the novice is ignorant of what
constitutes a good colony ; but if he buys a hive in which the bees are clustering in six
spaces between frames on May 1st, he will get one in first-class condition. He should
buy only one hive, for he will learn as much in the first year from one colony as from
twenty, while if he lets them run themselves his financial loss will be at a minimum.
The man who cannot take care of one colony and its increase in one season is lucky to
learn his inability at small cost. After the first season, only such money as the bees
have actually earned should be invested in increase. A little experience will soon show
that every colony on the stand at the beginning of winter will represent an actual cash
outlay from $8 to $10.
The novice should not be tempted to buj^ a colony housed in a soap-box or similar
makeshift ; in fact, such a combination means endless annoyance to any one not an
expert ; but he should see that he gets a modern hive in good physical condition, free
from cracks and loose joints.
The Hive to choose.
There have been fashions in hives, but the bee-keepers in British Columbia are
almost unanimous in preferring what is known as the Langstroth hive, with eight
frames. There are other hives in use ; a few men on the Mainland use the British
standard, while on Vancouver Island there still linger examples of the Gallup hive,
which is about 14 inches square and deep. There are also in use a few hives about half
an inch longer than the regular Langstroth. Modern bee-keeping demands that al|
frames be interchangeable, hence the beginner will be wise to start with a standard size
and so avoid future annoyance. A factory-made eight-frame Langstroth hive is usually
of l-iach lumber, and is 20 inches long, 13| inches wide, and 9^ inches deep, outside
measurements. If home-made, it will probably be of |-inch lumber ; hence the lengtli
and width will be a quarter of an inch less than the sizes given above. It is, however,
the inside dimensions that count. These are : Length, 18J inches ; width, 12| inches ;
depth, 9| inches.
When possible, it is wisdom to have the bargain include the delivery of the hive
and placing it in position, as this foresight will in all likelihood evade many stings, and
insure the colony being placed in a suitable location — that is, one sheltered from cold
Cost of First Season.
The cost of a venture in bee-keeping should not be much over $20, made up thus : —
Colonv $10 00
New hive for swarms, complete $ 3 50
Supers, say 5 00
Total $20 65
The above prices are not the lowest possible, but a fair average. If uncontrolled
swarming be permitted, more new hives may have to be bought, running up the total
cost to not more than $30.
The location of the bees in the yard is important. The hive should be sheltered
from cold winds in the spring months ; hence, in most regions it should be shielded
on the north by a fence, clump of shrubs, house, or barn. On the other hand, in the
summer months there must be free circulation of air all round ; therefore, the hive must
be at least feet from the fence or building. The position of the entrance is not really
important, but it generally faces the south, so that the sun's rays in spring will send
warm air into it, while as the end of the hive warms up the heat will circulate between
the frames. When the doorway faces east or west the noonday sun heats up a side,
warming up a comb next to it, but not affecting in any way the middle frames, on which
the bees are apt to be clustered.
The hive must not rest on the ground, as the moisture will rot the bottom board.
So far as utility is concerned, a couple of pieces of rough 2 by 4 lumber are as good as
anything. If the ground is uneven, it must be made perfectly level, for perfect combs
cannot be secured if the frames are off the plumb. During the rainy season the back
end of the hives should be raised an inch or two, so that water may run freely off the
Tools and Dress.
The tools essential for the practice of bee-keeping in a small way are neither
numerous nor expensive, consisting practically of a smoker and a hive tool. The latter
may be disposed of in a few sentences, so will be dealt with at once. Its principal use
is to force apart the frames, which are generally glued together by an adhesive known
as propolis. As any piece of flat and light metal is fit for this simple work, we find the
majority of bee-keepers are content to use a screwdriver or a wood-chisel an inch wide
in their ordinary work. But once in a while one must scrape away the accumulations
of wax and propolis from the frames, or the deposit of dead bees and other waste matter
from the bottom boards, so that a tool with a scraping-edge is a great convenience.
Many hive-tools have been invented, but after trying about a dozen the writer pins his
faith to the Root tool, which is illustrated in Fig, 1. The bent end is used for scraping,
the straight one for separating frames and hive bodies.
Fig. 1. Root Hive-tool.
Bees have an instinctive dread of smoke, probably due to the fact that their
natural home is in the hollow trunk of some forest tree, where the greatest danger that
can threaten is fire. Safety lies in flight, and so when fire threatens thp bees gorge
themselves with honey and endeavour to reach some legion outside of the danger zone.
This we know, that if we drive smoke into a hive the inaiates proceed to lap up the
honey in the cells and ignore the bee-keeper when he proceeds to break up their home
by removing the frames.
The smoker of to-day consists essentially of two parts, the bellows and the stove.
Figs. 2 and 2a illustrate types on the market. In the first the grate is below the fuel,
in the second it is above. The latter works nicely for a while, but soon the grate
becomes clogged and the smoker is out of business. The writer, therefore, recommends
the one with the grate below the fuel, which is shown in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2. Smokers. Fig. 2a.
The stove is fed with any substance that will burn slowly and give off pungent
smoke. Cotton or linen rags— never woollen — are very good, so are pieces of old
sacking, especially if weather-worn. The writer has found an old tent, so rotten that
it tore easily, a very suitable form of fuel. Greasy cotton-waste is excellent, and can
usually be had for the asking at any factory or printing plant. Many bee-keepers use
the prunings from fruit-trees once they are thoroughly dry, but as they give off a great
deal of a tarry substance the writer does not recommend their use.
The smoker is started by placing a small piece of burning rag on the grate at the
Iwttoin, then this is fanned into flame by working the bellows gently. At intervals
more is a(lde<l, until the stove is too hot to touch, and then the full loading is done.
A g(MKl smoker should keep alive for several hours without attention, when not in
actual use, and be ready for business after a few puffs with the bellows. When in
steady demand it should always be stood on end, so that a slow draft is passing through
the stove all the time ; if not wanted for some time, it should be laid on its side so as
to secure very slow combustion.
The sweet stores of the honey-bee are exceedingly tempting to many forms of
animal life ; therefore Nature provides her with a very efficient M'eapon of defence, not
offence, in the shajie of a sting, so whoever desires to rob the hive of its toothsome
treasures must U' protected against the little javelins. Ordinary clothing is a sufficient
covering, so far as it goes, but in addition the head must be shielded, while with most
people the hands are all the better of being protected. Many experts rarely use gloves,
having attained a stage at which a sting gives little annoyance ; but, as a matter of
fact, the writer finds that much of the poor bee-keeping he has come across is largely
due to the dread of stings. When a man has to lay off work for a couple of days
because of a sting in his wrist, and at the same time does not know how to get perfect
protection, he can scarcely be blamed for leaving his bees alone as much as possible,
even if neglect means the loss of half the crop. The beginner will, therefore, be wi>e if
he provides himself at the very outset with a really sting-proof cobtume. Such a one
is shown in Fig. 3, and is the invention of one of the biggest bee-keepers on this
Essentially the dress consists of a blouse, to which is attached an upper part of
white n» tting, this being faced with a square of black mosquito wire gauze. The
simplest way to make this sut is to buy a cotton nightshirt two or three sizes larger
than is ordinarily worn, cut off a part above the shoulders and mother below the waist.
From the latter portion muke extensions of the sleeves so that they will reach down a
little bflow the knuckles, then cut a hole in the side for the thumb. The lower part of
the blouse is taken up with a string hemmed in the edge, so that the blouse can be tied
round the wearer's waist.
The black wire netting in front of the face is about 8 inches square, preft rt nee,
being given to a mesh of eight wires to the inch as permitting clearer vision. To
prevent the wire from cutting the white netting, it is edged with strips of oil-cloth
1 inch wide. These are doubled over the edges, then sewn very slowly on a sewing-
Netting such as is used for window-curtains is the best material for the upper part
of the suit, as it permits of the free ciiculation of air round the neck and head. It
should be quite loose at the back, but not in front, for the closer the wire netting is to
the face the better one sees. The upper edge of the wire should reach the brim of the
hat, for if it does not the sun's rays will strike the white netting and irritate the eyes.
The black netting is sewn into place with the sewing-machine run slowly, before the
white netting in front of it is cut away. The upper edge of the cloth netting has, of
course, a piece of elastic hemmed in so that it can be fastened to the broad-brimmed
The extension pieces that protect the hands are made sting-proof by being coated
with a thin layer of paraffin -M'ax, such as is used for covering home-made preserves
which is easily applied M'hile hot by means of a teaspoon.
Fig. 8 shows the suit in use ; Fig. 4, how the face protection can be lowered,
so that the wearer can take a drink or mop his brow.
With this suit a pair of gloves can be slipped on when \\ anted. In some regions
there are on the market thin gloves of sheepskin that hav^e a glossy surface which is a safe
protection from stings. When these are not available one must buy what is on the
market, preference being given to a pair with glossy surface, but, of course, any
glove may be made sting-proof by coating with paraffin-wax or the least possible
quantity of linseed-oil.
Most bee-keepers use the ordinary veil, extending from the hat to the shoulders.
This style can be bought in any store that carries bee supplies. It is very tender,
easily torn, and not to be recommended where one has to work under low-branched
trees. The lower edge in front should be drawn down tight and fastened to vest or a
suspender with a safety-pin. When this veil is worn the gloves used must be long-
sleeved, HO as to protect the wrists. These are shown in Fig. 6. They are generally
too thin to ward otf atings, but a very thin coaling of linseed-oil will make them sting-
proof, though rather stitf.
The lower openings of the trousers must be closed either by bicycle-clips, pieces of
string, or by tucking them into the socks. Boots are, of course, preferable to shoes.
Pig. 6. Bee Glove.
Ladies should wear either a divided skirt fitting tightly to the ankles, or trousers
under an ordinary short dress.
The beginner in bee-keeping ought at once to get aquainted with the parts of a
hive, also the principles that are involved in its construction. On seeing one for the
first time, he might be tempted to assume that the structure in which the bees are
housed is a solid piece of carpentry, but examination will show it consists of at least a
dozen movable pieces, and even this number is increased in the active months of the
year — June, July, and August.
Let us suppose that the reader and the writer are going to examine a hive together,
and that the latter is going to explain things a little as the inspection proceeds. We
will, therefore, start with a modern hive on the stand, and since we are not side by
side in reality, the writer will bring photography into play, and, as far as possible,
illustrate each feature that is deemed worthy of notice.
First, we get the smoker agoing, then put on our bee suits. All being ready, we
stand alongside the hive, which will appear as in Fig. 7 — that is, if it is an eight-frame
Langstroth. Looking at it even casually, we observe that like a dwelling-house it has
a roof, side-walls, and a foundation. These three are definite and distinct parts ;
furthermore, they are essential features of every modern hive. If you take hold of the
roof you will find it to be removable, sometimes with a little difficulty, as the bees have
a habit of fastening it down tight to the walls with propolis, so as to prevent the escape
of heat from the interior. Just keep this little fact in mind, for as we proceed with
our investigations we will learn the reasons for the bpes' desire to keep warm the inside
of their home. Fig. 8 shows the hive-cover removed. So far we have not seen the
inside of the hive, because on lifting the cover we find a cloth quilt just underneath.
This may be made of any kind of fabric that will retain heat, but ordinary table
oil-cloth is generally preferred, with the glossy side turned down, because the bees will
attack fibres of ordinary cloth and carry them outside. It is, however, a good plan to
put a piece of ordinary cloth, such as a double layer of sacking, above the oil-cloth
Fig. 7. 8-Frame Hive.
Our next step is to remove the quilt. The interior of the hive is now presented to
our gaze ; at least, we see the tops of the frames from between which, if it be in late
spring or summer, thousands of bees are appearing and covering the upper part.
Fig. 9 shows the frames.
We will now have a chance to learn something about the temper of the insects in
this particular hive, for if they are good they will not offer to fly, but if they are bad
they will run round and fly off, some at us, some at the hive entrance. Now is the time
to use smoke to keep them in subjection ; how much will depend upon circumstances,
but never any more than is necessary. In the case of a colony known to be irritable,
it is usually necessary to give a puff or two into the hive entrance before removing the
cover, but with gentle bees a few puffs across the frames, never down through them,
will be sutiicient. In spring and autumn when the colonies are weak in numbers it is
often unnecessary to use smoke.
Before touching anything we will examine the arrangements a little. The frames
are eight in number, jammed tightly together and against one side of the hive. If we
measure them we will find that they are spaced 1| inches from centre to centre, and since
there are eight of them, they will occupy exactly 11 inches, thus leaving a clear space of
1^ inches on one side of the hive. Part of this is filled by a piece of plain board about
half an inch thick, with a top bar like a frame, and is known as a follower, though
occasionally it is called a division-board. In use it is pushed tight against the last
frame. We are now ready to proceed with the examination of the internal arrange-
ments of the hive, and while doing so we will adhere to a few simple rules.
First — We will never stand in front of the hive, for there is the bees' roadway, and
they will resent our presence, even to the point of stinging.
Second — We will never put any frame or other part of a hive in front, for the same
Third — We will not have more than one frame at rest outside of the hive at one
time, but this rule will not forbid us having another one in our hands.
Fourth — We will take care that we leave all frames in the same order that we
found them and turned the same way.
Fifth — We will be very slow in all our movements, never dropping a frame into
position, but placing it exactly where it belongs, because bees are very nervous
creatures and the slightest jar will cause them to fly off the frames and show fight.
Sixth — We will avoid killing a single bee, not only for humane reasons, but because
in a bee-hive an injury to one is an injury to all, therefore the death must be avenged.
Our first work is to remove the follower that occupies the space between the frames
and the side of the hive. Very probably it will be glued to the frames with propolis,
so we insert the hive-tool between frame and follower, pushing aside the bees gently if
in the way, then with easy pressure we pry the board apart from the frame, first at one
end and then at the other. The follower is now removed from the hive and set to one
side, or at the end of the hive. We can now reach the first frame, which is apt to be
clear of bees, excepting from May to September. As before, we break the glue adhesion
with the hive-tool, then lift the frame with both hands, one at each end bar. Should
bees be clustered where the fingers will grasp the top bar, then gently pufi" a little
smoke on them and they will quickly scurry away. Remember it is such little tricks
as these that make hive manipulation easy and prevent the bees becoming ill-tempered.
Lift the frame straight up, with your back to the sun, and proceed to examine it.
Fig 10 shows the operatioii.
The frame we find is matle of four pieces of wood, known as top bar, bottom bar,
an<l end l)arH. The first is 18§ iru^hes long, the second is 17§ inches, while the other
two will be alxmt 8^ inches, dej)ending on the thickness of the top bar. The full depth
of the frame is 9^^ inches. The projecting ends of the top bar rest upon rabbets
cut into the end pieces of the hive. The frame proper, it should be specially
noted, is g inch shorter than the inside length of the hive body, so that between
the ends of the frame and the hive there is a space of a little over J inch.
Modern bee-keeping is based on this vacancy, for until the Rev. L. L. Langatroth
discovered that the bees will fill np a space less than J inch wide with propolis,
and build comb in one larger than § inch, a movable frame was impossible. A
bee-space then is one that is not less than | inch, nor more than § inch. It is
important that this fact be remembered, for it has much to do with practical bee-
keeping, and is the reason why it is better for the bee-keeper to buy factory-made goods
than to attempt makeshifts of his own construction.
The inside of our frame is filled with wax comb, which is made up of an innumer-
able number of cells, at least 3,000 on each side. In these cells is stored the food
Fig. 10. Examining a Frame,
supply of the colony ; in them are laid the eggs from which develop the young bees, the
whole time from infancy to maturity being spent in such narrow confines. Then in the
cold days of winter, when all activity in the hive practically ceases, when the individual
members huddle close together to keep each other warm, each empty cell may be filled
with an insect so that no space shall be unoccupied. The interior of a bee-hive is a
wonderful utilisation of a limited area, down to the minutest detail, and it is hard for
most people to realise that in a capacity of about 2 cubic feet as many as 50,000 bees
will carry on all the activities of their life, for here is at once a pantry, kitchen,
incubator, nursery, living-room and bedroom for them all.
But let us investigate our comb a little more, and first we will probably notice that
there are at least two diflFerent sizes of cells, one series in the upper part of the frame,
running about five to the inch ; another kind, generally in the lower half of the comb,
that are a little larger, running about four to the inch. In the smaller cells the worker-
bees are raised ; in the larger the drones, who are the males, spend their days of
infancy. Both kinds of cells are used when necessary as storehouses for food. In a
well-managed hive the worker-cells vastly predominate ; in fact, all good bee-keepers
strive to keep the drone-cells to the lowest possible number. Drones are essential to
the welfare of the apiary, but an unlimited quantity of them means a waste of valuable
space and food, for they are consumers only. Fig. 11 shows the two kinds of cells side
We will now proceed to examine the next frame, but first we will dispose of this
one by setting it on the ground, leaning it against the side of the hive. As before, we
will break the gluing between the frames. Since it is May it is probable the colony is
strong enough to cover six frames, so that this one may have thousands of bees on
both sides, while the weight suggests that the cells contain something. They do, for
the centre of the comb is filled with young bees in all stages — eggs, larvae and sealed
brood ; these surrounded by a band about an inch or two wide of pollen, while outside
of that, especially at the top and ends, is honey. Quite a neat arrangement, you see,
so as to have everything handy ; nursery in the centre with the food all round about.
But stop a minute; all the other frames are arranged exactly the same way; so think
a little and you will realise that the brood-nest is a ball, with, of course, the most
brood in the centre frame, the least at the sides. Now you will understand why you
should not disturb the order of the frames when you examine a hive, as changing the
arrangement will upset the brood-nest. This is why you are advised never to set more
than the first frame outside of the hive, just to prevent yourself getting mixed up as
to their order. The bee-keeper's business is to help the bees, never to hinder them.
Shaking Bees off the Combs.
Maybe the comb is so thickly covered with bees that careful inspection is
impossible, in which case hold the frame above the hive, raise it slowly about a foot,
then lower it quickly, finisliing up with a sudden jerk, when practically every insect
will drop on the frames.
Fig, 12 shows the position of the frame at the end of the operation. It is not
considered wise to shako the (lueen ott' the combs at the season when she is laying
heavily. Another way, which the writer prefers, is to hold the frame perpendicularly
by the end of the top bar with the left hand, then with the right hand clenched hit
the left a smart blow from above (Fig. 13). The comb being free from bees, turn your
back to the sun so that its rays shine into the cells. Along the upper part of the frame
and at the ends the cells will probably be all sealed, the cappings, as the coverings of
the cells are called, being flat, often sunk and wrinkled. Such sealing indicates the
presence of honey. On the edge of this region there will likely be a narrow belt of
unsealed cells showing the honey, indicating that the bees are using up their stores
to feed the young. When we reach the bottom board in our investigations we shall
11'. Shaking Bees off Frame.
Knocking Bees off Frame.
find lying there a brownish-looking deposit, like coarse dust, but which is really the
fragments of comb-capping torn from the cells.
Next to the open cells with honey comes a narrow band of cells, filled with a
brilliant-coloured solid substance. This is pollen, the bee-bread of our forefathers,
which is the male principle of plants, and forms part of the food of the young of the
bee while in the larva or maggot stage.
In the centre of the frame we find the brood in all stages— egg, larva, and cocoon.
The last is sealed over, just as is the honey, with this difl'erence, however, that the
cappings are slightly raised in the case of worker-brood, decidedly so with drone-cells.
The larvae or maggots are easily seen, coiled up in the bottom of the cell, especially
after they are three days old, but the eggs are harder to distinguish on account of
their small size ; in fact, they look like very short bits of white thread attached to the
far end— that is, the bottom of the cell. It is just as well for the beginner to learn to
detect the presence of eggs in the comb, for an evenly arranged patch is pretty good
proof that the queen was busy at least three days ago.
How TO Reverse a Comb.
A frame has two sides, so you had better look at the other one too. Your most
natural impulse will be to cant the frame over, but don't do, for as you tilt it up to
the level the weight of the comb is apt to break it away. Tr}'^ it thus: lower one hand,
say the right, until the top bar is perpendicular (Fig. 14) ; turn the frame half-way
round, using the top bar as a pivot (Fig. 15) ; then raise the hand that was lowered
(Fig, 16). Your frame is now upside down with the second side towards you. Here
is another method that can be carried out without a pause : Let the lugs of the frame
rest on the middle fingers of each hand, these being bent towards the chest. Turn the
comb end for end by swinging the left hand to the right of the right hand, then swing
the comb up to the position shown in Fig. 16. To get to the original position, reverse
When through with this frame, replace it in the hive, pushing it tight against the
vacant side. There is no excuse for placing it on the ground. If you have changed it
so that you have forgotten which is the front end, just look at the brood, for the bees
prefer to have their young towards the entrance of the hive, but the honey at the rear.
When you have examined as many frames as you want, push them over to their original
position by putting the hive-tool between the side of the hive and the end bar of the
frame and using it as a lever. Now insert the frame first taken out, pushing it into
place, then the follower. Many bee-keepers insert a wedge between the latter and the
wall of the hive, but this is not necessary, excepting when the hive is to be moved in a
vehicle of some kind.
The Bottom Board,
The foundation of the bee-home remains to be examined, and to do this we must
lift off the hive-body. Where shall we place it in the meantime? Certainly not on the
ground or any other flat surface, as there we might mash bees, A good support is a
shallow empty box without a cover, so we place one handy and set our hive across it.
Should the bottom board be glued tight to the body, insert the hive-tool between the
two at a rear corner, then with a slight twist force them apart.
We now find that the bottom board — so the foundation of this bee-house is called — is
of the same width as the hive, but a few inches longer, the projection being in front so as
to form a landing-place for the bees. Cleats are nailed to the sides and end, forming a
resting-place for the body, at the same time securing a clear run for the bees underneath
the frames, thus facilitating free communication in all parts. Just how high these cleats
shall be depends on the judgment of the bee-keeper. At one time g inch was usual — a
bee-space, in fact — but in recent years the pure-air agitation has influenced bee-men,
and 8o we find most of them preferring cleats at least an inch high, while some have
gone as far as 2 inches. Here is the point : bees breathe, so they must get fre^h air,
and this enters only through the doorway, the foul air being expelled through the same
channel. A fixed shallow entrance leaves no room for extension, whereas a deep one
can Ih) readily contracted at any time. But the big space under the frames is a great
temptation to comb-building, especially during the honey-flow season. Bee-keepers
differ (m many details ; this is one of them ; but in the meantime the tendency is
towards giving plenty of room for the admission of pure air. On the surface of the
bottom \h)hu\ there will likely l)e lots of waste matter, such as comb-cappings, maybe
dead bees, and all of it should be scraped away.
The Hive Stand.
Lift the bottom lM)ard and see what it rests on. Its life is dependent on the
absence of two enemies, water and ants ; therefore, the bearing surfaces of the supports
should be as small as possible. Contact with bare earth is very, very bad. Four bricks,
one at each corner, are good, so are a couple of pieces of unplaned 2x4 lumber a little
longer than the width of the hive, one placed under each end of the bottom board. As
has already been said, the bottom board must be perfectly level across the frames, but
a little higher at the back. No vegetation of any kind should be permitted to grow
above its level ; better still, destroy it entirely, as all growth interferes with the flight
of the bees.
Our first excursion through a bee-hive has been quite a long one and has disturbed
the arrangements of the inmates not only to a considerable extent, but possibly to the
injury of the young, for in May it is a rather extensive incubator where as many as
10,000 eggs are being hatched, while 50,000 young bees are being brooded. An open
hive means the loss of heat ; therefore, we resolve that in future we will do the necessary
examinations as speedily as possible, and never lift the cover unless the shade tempera-
ture is about 65°, or warmer.
The Bee People.
From the dawn of histor}' the greatest intellects have found a fascination in the
study of the inmates of the liive, for here is a form of society which closely resembles
that of human beings. Only in recent times has its actual organization been understood
with all the marvellous activities that are carried on night and day. The subject is an
entrancing one, but this is not the occasion to enlarge upon it ; our business at present
is to become familiar with such facts as will lead to success in our aim, which is the
production of surplus honey.
The inmates of the hive are of three kinds — queen, worker, and drone. The queen
is not the ruler of the colony, as was for centuries supposed, but is the mother of a big
family. Her sole function is to lay eggs, her capacity being literally thousands every
twenty-four hours. From October to February she lays very few, but with the advent
of the first pollen from the willow in spring she resumes her activity, laying eggs as fast
as the worker-bees can take care of thenj. About May Ist the colony becomes strong
enf)ugh to permit her to develop her full gait, and this she will keep until the honey-flow
in June deprives her of the use of the cells. In the fall, as tlie cells are emptied, she
resumes her laying for a few weeks to provide bees for the winter, then enters upon her
period of rest.
The worker-bees are undeveloped females. They are hatched from a fertilised egg
just like a queen, but at the end of the third day of the larval stage they are put upon
a less nutritious diet which retards the development of the sex organs, hence they are
unfit to become mothers. Their business is to carry in nectar, pollen and water,
incubate the eggs, feed the larvaa, do the scavenger-work of the community, ventilate
the apartment ; in fact, do anything useful that happens to be necessary at the time.
In the period of flight they live about six weeks, their short career being due to their
intense industry, but those hatched in September and October generally last until
April, when their successors appear on the scene. Broadly speaking, the main efibrt of
the community is to have as many producers as possible during the honey-flow, and as
few consumers as will keep the community going during the period of dearth.
The drones are the male members of the colon3\ They are called into existence in
late spring in preparation for the mating season, and are mercilessly exterminated at
the end of the honey-flow. From their structure they are unfit to gather nectar or
pollen from blossoms, so the bee-keeper considers them as merely consumers, and rather
costly ones at that ; therefore, he limits their number as closely as possible to the
actual needs of his apiary. By the use of wax foundation in the brood-frames he
prevents the building of drone-cells ; should the bees outwit him, he cuts the drone-
comb out of the frames.
The mating of a queen with a drone occurs usually only once, when she is but a few
days old, the event taking place in the air. When she makes her marriage flight, she
flies swiftly away from the hive pursued by thousands of drones, the swiftest of them
being the winner of the race ; but he pays for his success with his life, for she deprives
him of the sex organs, rupturing his abdomen so completely that he expires almost
immediately. As the result of the intercourse, she is able to fertilise the hundreds of
thousands of eggs she may lay in the course of her life, which may endure from a few
weeks to several years.
Worker-bees are produced fron) eggs that have been fertilised, but drones are
raised from eggs that have not been impregnated. These, therefore, have no father ;
consequently, any queen that has failed to mate, and this is not very unusual, will be
the mother of drones only. Such an one is known as a drone-laying queen.
The following table shows the duration in days of the various stages of develop-
ment of queen, worker, and drone : —
Egg. Larva. Pupa. Total Time.
Queen 3 5^ 7 151
Worker 3 5 13 21
Drone 3 6 15 24
From the start the novice will know the workers, as in suitable weather they are
continually moving in and out of the hive. Drones appear about the 1st of May.
They are bigger than the workers, fly generally in the heat of the day, making a loud
hum, from which their name is derived. The queen never leaves the hive excepting to
mate or with a swarm ; therefore, to be seen she must be looked for on the frames.
She is easily found in the spring months when the colony is weak in numbers, but
rather difficult to find in the height of the summer. Once seen she will be readily
recognised, as her abdomen is very much longer than that of the bees that surround her.
Also, she moves very slowly, especially when she is laying freely, as she is then heavy
with eggs. There is but one queen to a hive.
For the first two weeks of her life the worker does inside work only, her recreation
being a short flight along with thousands of her kind round the hive entrance in the
heat of the day. These play-spells are sometimes mistaken for swarms coming off, so
numerous become the young workers in midsummer. At the end of two weeks the
worker becomes a fielder— that is, a provider. It is worth while to note, for it is of
practical value in hive management, that fiv^e weeks elapse from the laying of the egg
to the day when the young worker carries in her first load of nectar.
The Cycle of the Bee-year in British Columbia.
Since bees pass the cold days of winter in a semi-dormant condition, flying freely
only on fine sunny days when the thermometer is at least 48° in the shade, one is
tempted to consider that the bee-year will start with the carrying in of the first pollen,
which occurs in the coast regions of the Province towards the end of February — in
Victoria as early as the 22nd, and in the dry belt a few weeks later ; March 12th in
the Okanagan. As the probable date draws nigh, even the oldest bee-keepers kindle
with enthusiasm and watch for the first bee that is carrying the brilliant-hued pellets
on her hind legs. Not only does he rejoice over the prospect of once more being active
with a pleasant part of his life, but when he sees bee after bee alighting with her load
he knows almost to a certainty that brood-raising has been started and all is well with
the queen. If, however, he observes a hive where no pollen is being carried in, while
others are busy, he is suspicious that the queen has died in the course of the winter.
He makes note of all such colonies and at the first favourable opportunity, that is
a day when the sun shines brightly, the air is quiet, and the temperature is
comfortably warm, rapidly learns whether the colony is queen right or not. Opening
the hive, he chooses a frame in the middle of the cluster, looks into the cells to discover
the presence or absence of eggs or larvae. When these are found he investigates no
further, but if they are wanting he will inspect the balance of the frames. Failing to
find signs of brood, he will then look for the queen, an easy task at this time of the
year. If she be located all is satisfactory ; if not the case is very suspicious, but it
does not do to assume she is actually missing. But if on examination a week later the
same conditions exist, then the colony should be combined with one that has a queen.
(See chapter 13.)
Essentials in Spring.
The most essential features of a hive when pollen begins to be carried in are : the
sure presence of a ([ueen, lots of bees, and plenty of stores — that is, honey or its substi-
tute, sugar syrup. The lack of a queen means certain death to the colony in a few
weeks. A hive weak in bees will develop strength very slowly, or dwindle out of
existence, while one without stores may die of starvation or do little more than hold
its own during the spring montlis.
The food supply is largely under the control of the bee-keeper, and at one time
spring feeding with sugar syrup was strongly advocated, but in recent years it is
considered that the best time to feed for spring consumption is in the autumn of the
previous year. So the nHwlern bee-keeper, in September or October, begins to put liis
bees in shape for the honey-flow in June, by making certain that there are at least 25
pounds of honey, or the e<iuiralent in sugar syrup, in every colony.
A Simple Diary.
The bee-year from the apiarist's point of view begins, therefore, in September.
But since we have made a little progress with the spring conditions we may as well
continue. Every beginner in bee-keeping should keep a diary for the first year, at
least as a guide for the future. It need not be in any way elaborate, just a sheet of
note-paper lying convenient on which to make brief jottings like these : —
February 22 — Willow blooms ; pollen carried in.
March 13 — A few dandelions ; plentiful April 7.
March 15 — First examination of hives ; temperature, 65°.
April 12 — Early pears.
April 18 — Early plums ; pollen plentiful.
May 3 — Nectar and pollen above immediate needs.
May 19 — Dearth of nectar ; feeding.
June 1 — First clover-blossom.
June 19 — Honey-flow starts.
These items are simply suggestive, as the apiarist should make it his business and
pleasure to know every plant visited by bees in his locality, also their date of blooming.
In most regions there are breaks in the flow of nectar and these should be anticipated,
as during a dearth brood-raising will be stopped, with serious loss at the time of the
honey-flow unless feeding be done. The end of fruit-bloom often marks the beginning
of one of these periods.
Early this month, sooner if possible, lift the hive off the bottom board and clean
off the dead bees and other waste matter. The simplest way is to take a spare board,
remove the complete hive, place the new board on the stand, then swing back the hive
to its place. The operation takes but a minute, so there ought to be no disturbance to
the inmates. The old board is now cleaned off and used for the next hive. While
lifting the colony one learns roughly its condition as to stores. If light, it must, of
course, be fed with as little disturbance as possible, because during this month and
next the bees may cluster in a compact ball round the queen — ball her — when the
frames are disturbed, and a balled queen is apt to disappear at an early date. Smoke
is rarely necessary at this time, provided the bee-keeper is gentle and avoids jarring
the frames when returning them to the hive. In the south end of Vancouver Island
there ought to be brood in three or four frames about the middle of the month, but, of
course, the space occupied by the young in the outside of the nest will be very small.
In the coast regions, during the latter half of March and the first week of this
month, there is apt to be a cool spell, with cloudy or wet weather which prevents bee-
flight. Brood-raising frequently comes to a stop, so that when the warm weather
returns there may not be a single egg in the frames. However, as soon as pollen again
comes in freely, the queen resumes her duties, laying so freely that by the 20th
there is generally brood in as many as five frames. The young bees begin to hatch out
about the end of the month, when they are very much needed, as the old ones that
carried the colony through the winter are dying off very rapidly. In fact, for a few days
at the end of April the low-water mark of population is apt to be reached ; then the
tide turns, the working force is rapidly added to, and almost as if by magic the frames
become covered with bees. During this month the great source of nectar and pollen in
most regions of the Province is the dandelion, but in some parts of the dry belt there is
complaint of great scarcity of pollen at this time. In such localities a substitute, in the
form of some kind of flour, should be provided, as described in the chapter on feeding.
Fruit-blooms are a great help in the latter part of the month.
The end of April is a most important period in the development of the hive in most
regions, because the bees that will work on the honey-flow will be hatched from eggs
that are being laid now. They will become field- workers aboiit June 4th, at which date
white clover, snowberry, and rhamnus (cascara plant) are in blossom, the nectar in a
favourable season secreting freely about ten days later.
Brood-raising at the end of April must therefore be encouraged. Should nectar
fail, feeding may be necessary ; on the other hand, it may have come in so freely that
the combs become honey-clogged, thus preventing the queen from laying. When this
occurs it is a good plan to take from such a hive a frame of honey and exchange it for an
empty one from another colony. The full comb should be placed next the side of the
hive, but the empty frame right in the centre of the brood-nest, so that the queen can
proceed to fill it at once. Drone-brood will probably be started this month.
Scrape accumulations of wax and propolis from the top and end bars of the
Colonies that are in good condition boom along this month at a great pace. Any
hive that on the 1st of May shows bees occupying six spaces between frames is in fine
condition. Early in the month one must attend to weak colonies if possible. If the
lack of numbers is due to a failing queen, the bees may endeavour to supersede her
during fruit-bloom, or she may disappear from the hive. Queens raised in a weak colony
at this time are of very little value, and are almost sure to be supplanted again in June
or July, provided they live that long. There is also great risk that they will fail to
mate on account of the cool weather. The writer has had queens hatched out in the
end of April and do all right, but the instance is rather unusual. Most bee-keepers
have little use for a queen that is not raised during the normal swarming season, or in
the time of the honey -flow.
As fruit-blossoms cease there is often a dearth of nectar the last week of the month ;
in fact, up until the honey-flow starts, and unless feeding be resorted to, the colonies
will dwindle rather than increase. Where broom grows there is no lack of pollen. The
dry belt seems to be fortunate enough to have no break once nectar begins to come in.
By the end of the third week of the month a good queen will have brood in every
frame, and is anxiou.-ily looking for more room. Many, on seeing the hive full of bees,
expect surplus honey right away and put on a super ; if it be of the extracting variety
it will have a (|ueen-excluder below it. Now, as a matter of fact, the honey-flow is not
due for several weeks, so the real aim at this date should be to get more bees. The
extracting super should go on, but the queen must not be kept out. W^hen given free
range she will occupy the new frames at once. The eggs she lays now will provide a
magnificent army of workers that will be ready for field-work right in the middle of
Swarming often starts at the end of May, but this subject deserves a chapter all
This is the great swarming month. Very strong colonies may send out a swarm in
the early part of the month, but most will start near the commencement of the honej'-
flow. 'J'he new colony has to build a set of combs, raise thousands of bees and provide
•ttjres for the winter; hence the best time to start housekeeping in a new locality is
when nectar is coming in freely.
June is also the month of the honey-flow, so its start should be watched for. The
first few days the bees will deposit the nectar in the brood-chamber, filling every vacant
cell just as fast as they become empty through the hatching of brood. Then comes the
capping of the honey. This is the time to put on supers, and is indicated by the
whitening of the wax on the top of the frames. If comb-honey supers are put on before
this, the bees often remove the foundation to use in the brood-chamber. Where an upper
division of empty extracting combs was given earlier, and the intention is to run for
extracted honey, nothing need be done excepting to make sure that the bees have
In the south end of Vancouver Island the honey-flow comes to an end from the 10th
to the 15th of this month. The writer has not got very definite data about other regions
of the Province, so each beginner must learn the conditions for himself. On the Island
there is no fall flow, but in some parts of the dry belt the bees get a second opportunity
to gather surplus in August and September.
Ordinarily there is very little swarming in the coast regions after the beginning
of the month, and it is well that this is so, as late swarms will simply starve to death
unless fed regularly for several weeks.
All sealed comb-honey should be removed from the hive at the close of the flow,
to prevent its delicate whiteness becoming soiled by the travel of the bees. Extracted
honey should be left on longer, to insure its being thoroughly ripened. When there is
a second flow the crops should be kept apart by extracting the first before the other
In most regions there is but little forage for bees in August, this being especially
true of the coast regions ; in fact, were it not for fall dandelions and thistles, there
would be practically nothing coming in. Towards the end of the month the second
flow starts in the dry belt.
In the coast districts there is no nectar. Early in the month the hives should be
gone through to see how the bees are off for stores. Some bee-keepers feed for the
winter before the month closes ; others prefer to give half the necessary amount now,
the balance a month hence. Any weak or queenless colony should be combined with
Before the end of the month make certain that every colony has at least 25 pounds
of honey or sugar syrup to carry it through the winter. Feeding over, the colonies
should be prepared for the cold months if they are to remain on the summer stand.
In the coast region very little protection is necessary ; in fact, most people are content
to make sure that no moisture can get into the hive. In the dry belt packing is
necessary when the hives are wintered in the open air, as is done in the majority of
cases on account of the difficulty of securing a cellar that is dry enough. Only a few
report wintering bees in this \\-ay.
When cellar wintering is to be followed, the hives should be transferred to their
winter quarters towards the end of the month.
Living creatures reproduce their kind to insure the perpetuation of the race,
(xenerally speaking, the interest is centred in the direct descent from individual to
individual, as each one in turn becomes the fountain source of a new generation. But
with bees it is different, for here we have a social organism in which the factor of
parentage is subordinate. There is continuity from queen to queen, but this is less
important than the reproduction of colonies ; that is, the fact of perpetuation is more
centred in the community than in any individual. Furthermore, a queen may die and
be succeeded by her daughter, without any increase in the population of the bee-world
at large ; whereas, when new colonies are formed, there is an increase both in com-
munities and in the total number of bees.
The bees' method of reproduction, then, is by the formation of new colonies.
When the proper season has arrived, generally in June, the hives become very strong
with a superabundance of inhabitants, and some fine day thousands of them rush
pell-mell out of doors, circling in the air in an ever-darkening cloud for several minutes;
then, as if of one mind, they settle in a cluster on a convenient object, which is generally
the branch of a near-by tree. Here they cling for quite a while, frequently hours, as
if awaiting important news from somewhere ; then, if unmolested, they will suddenl}'
decamp to parts unknown, locating in a hole in the trunk of some decaying tree, and
there start up the routine of the colony afresh. But in a well-conducted apiary the
flight to distant regions is summarily prevented by the bee-keeper, who secures the
cluster and houses it in a regular hive. Ordinarily, they accept the domicile, just as
pleased as if it were of their own selection. The whole procedure is technically known
In a hive in summer-time there are to be found bees of all ages and occupations.
The very youngest are nursing the larvae, making wax, building combs, curing the
honey and capping it over ; the older ones are field-workers, their business being to
carry in nectar, pollen, water, and propolis. An interesting point at once arises, what
is the age of the bees that form the swarm ? The old queen undoubtedly leaves the
hive ; that is beyond all dispute ; and it is believed that the greater part of the swarm
consists of fielders, but there is also a fair proportion of younger ones whose duty is
concerned with the inside labour. This should be so, for the best welfare of the new
Each bee fills her honey-sac to its utmost capacity before starting out, so that the
new colony is provisioned for several days ahead, should inclement weather prevent the
gathering of nectar. On arrival at the new abode, part of the swarm starts at once to
clean it out ; another gathers into festoons and proceeds to secrete wax ; while still
others collect the wax and build combs. Just as fast as cells are built the queen lays
eggs in them, or the workers store honey, so that in a few days the usual routine of a
bee community is established.
In the hive from which the swarm emerged there has been left quite a strong force
of bees, thousands of young brood in all stages, from egg to those about to hatch, and
several queen-cells, from each of which tliere may come out a queen. If the conditions
seem propitious, the workers may decide to send off several swarms, each accompanied
by a virgin queen. Since the liive has been decidedly weakened by the loss of the first
swarm, the second will be much smaller, the third weaker still, and so on with the
others, until the last may consist of a mere handful of bees. Such weak colonies are
almost certain to die of starvation during the winter, as they are rarely strong enough
to build up a numerous force and lay in sufficient stores before the cold weather sets in,
excepting in very highly favoured localities.
Retrieving a Swarm.
The handling of a swarm is not a serious proposition, provided it does not settle in
a rather inaecesible place. Until it does cluster nothing can be done with it ; therefore
it is utterly viseless, so far as the bees are concerned, to beat tin pans, ring bells, or
otherwise make a hideous noise. Such strenuosity may provide occupation for the bee-
keeper at a time when he feels he ought to be doing something to show he is in control
of the situation, but he will display more wisdom if he sedately waits until they settle,
in the meantime providing himself with a bushel or clothes basket and a large apron or
similar covering. When the cluster is at the end of a low branch the basket is held
close under it, then the branch is given a sudden downward jerk that tumbles the bees
Fig. 18. Retrieving a Swarm.
into the basket, which is then quickly covered with the apron. For a higher branch a
stepladder is almost a necessity ; sometimes one must climb the tree to reach the bees.
In windy weather they may gather on a thick branch, or even on the trunk, in which
case they must be brushed off with the hands. When the branch happens to be a small
one the speediest way is often to cut it off. In any case, it is always as well to have a
small saw handy when gathering in a swarm, to cut away twigs and sprays that
Once the swarm has been secured it is carried to the new hive, in front of which a
sheet has been spread or boards laid to form a runway. A small lot of the bees is
dumped out close to the entrance, the rest farther away, or they may be left in the
basket, which is stood on edge leaning against the hive-front. In a few minutes some
daring spirit will venture into the entrance and soon all will follow. In warm weather
it is always wise to have the cover a little raised at the back, to provide plenty of
ventilation ; otherwise the lack of air may tempt the bees to make a second flight. Do
not use smoke while hiving a swarm.
Prevention of Swarming.
The prevention of swarming is to the bee-keeper a regular will-o'-the-wisp. He
wants surplus honey, but he knows by experience that he will get far more from a
colony that does not swarm than he will get from one that does, even with the aid of
all its offshoots. Therefore, he tries hard to get rousing strong hives by the beginning
of the honey-flow, and to hold the forces intact all through the season.
Thousands are wrestling seriously with the swarming problem every summer,
striving to understand the immediate cause. It is not enough to say it is the bees'
method of reproducing the species, for all strong colonies in an apiary do not throw off
swarms in the season ; often the majority do not. Again, it is not a problem of sex
instincit, for the queen has no desires but to lay ; in fact, the decision whether to divide
or not to divide the colony is determined by the workers, who are free of the sex
Uneasiness, discomfort, practically sums up the conditions that develop the
swarming impulse. It is caused : —
1. By the want of room in the combs, and this is the most important cause of all.
There must be readily accessible cells for the queen in early June if the bees are to be
coatented, hence the importance of giving the colony a second chamber as soon as the
bees are crowding the first. To put an extracting super over a brood-chamber, but with
a queen-excluder between, is no preventive, for this is giving more room for honey when
there is none, while it gives no additional room for egg-laying, which is what is wanted.
Once the swarming fever has developed, the only cure is swarming, so that giving
additional space at this stage is too late.
2. By the heat of the summer sun. This is not enough in itself, but it encourages
3. By the presence of an army of drones in the hive, who crowd it and make it
uncomfortable. Therefore, keep down the amount of drone-comb.
4. By poor ventilation. It is simply impossible during hot weather for a small
entrance to give sufficient circulation of air to satisfy the needs of say 50,000 bees and
about as many in the baby stage. Therefore, let the entrance after the 1st of May be
at least an inch high and as wide as that part of the combs on which the bees are
clustered. In most cases this will be the full width of the hive. In the hot weather
periotl the brood-chamber may be pulled back or pushed forward a couple of inches to
clear the end of the bottom board and thus give a free current of air under the frames.
In extreme cases a through draught in the brood-chamber can be given by pushing
forward the super enough to make a crack about a quarter of an inch wide.
5. Colonies run for extracted are very much less liable to swarm than those run for
comb honey. Since extracted honey is more profitable in this Province and is produced
with less labour, the beginner is advised to devote his energy to securing his crop in
To Prevent Second Swarms.
The principle involved in the prevention of second swarms is to weaken the parent
hive, strengthen the swarm, and secure as much surplus honey as possible. Remove
the old hive from the stand and set it in a new location, the sooner the better, as we
want to catch all the Ihjcs that are coming in from the fields with nectar. Set the new
hive in its place, using only starters or full foundation in the frames. Then secure the
swarm and hive it in the new hive on the old stand. The bees will at once proceed to
draw out the foundation into comb. If there be a super on the old colony, next day
transfer it to the new one, bees and all ; but if the combs be for extracted honey, place
a queen-excluder between the bodies.
The old hive has been so thoroughly weakened that it will have very little ambition
to again swarm. The new colony is in possession of practically all the field bees, so will
rush in the nectar. There is no room for it in the brood-chamber, since there is no
comb ready, so it is stored in the super. Just as fast as the new combs are built below,
the queen is ready to take possession and fill the cells with eggs. In the meantime, in
the old hive, the bees will probably permit one queen to hatch out and destroy the
rest. As young bees are hatching all the time, the colony will get quite strong and
possibly lay up enough stores to carry it over the winter.
At one time it was thought that cutting out all queen-cells was a sure preventive
of swarming, but it merely delays it. If near the end of the flow, the delay may carry
it past the crisis, when the desire will vanish ; but if not, then the result is rather
Frames, Sections, and Foundation.
A honey-comb is about 1 inch in thickness in ordinary conditions, with a space of
about f inch between each pair. In a state of nature the bees do not build them in the
symmetrical form we like to get in the modern hive ; the perfect comb is very largely
the work of the bee-keeper. He provides a frame not the least bit like anything the
bees would naturally use ; he compels them to build straight, and to start at a certain
part of the top bar ; furthermore, he limits their activity principally to the construction
of worker-cells, permitting the luxury of a few drone-cells where the bees would make
Uniform thickness of comb is secured by a self-spacing device on the upper part of
the end bars of the frames, which are there If inches wide. Now, the bees naturally
glue together the end bars where they are in contact ; therefore, the smaller the touching
surfaces the better. If you look at an end bar you will see that the narrow side of one
is flat, while that of the other is brought to an edge. In the hive a sharp edge is
intended to touch a flat edge. Since frames may be turned round we must, in putting
the parts of them together, point the sharp edges in opposite directions ; furthermore,
we must have a uniform way. The writer, for instance, when he holds up a frame for
inspection, as in Fig. 10, has the sharp edge against the fingers of his right hand, but
against the thumb of the left.
If a swarm be hived on perfectly empty frames, there is no reason, from the stand-
point of the bees, why they should build a comb from the top bar of each and that truly
in the centre. The bee-keeper forces them by fastening artificial foundation along the
centre of the bar, and once they have begun they will naturally carry the comb straight
down to near the bottom bar, sometimes all the way. Through motives of economy
many bee-keepers use merely a strip of foundation, say an inch wide, but the present-
day tendency is to use full sheets in each frame : first, to be sure of getting evenly-built
combs ; second, to prevent the building of drone-cells. There are many conflicting
theories as to how the bees decide when they shall build drone-comb, but this much
seems to be true : a swarm provides worker-cells at first so that the queen may start
laying, and will build no other kind for twenty-one days if she can use each cell as fast
as it is made ; but at the end of that time the cells first occupied are again empty, hence
she may be unable to keep the new ones full, and then the comb-builders may turn their
attention to drone-comb. When there is too much of this — a patch as big as the palm
of one's hand is enough for any hive — it should be cut out, in the hope that it will be
replaced by worker-cells. The best way, however, is to start right by using full sheets
of foundation in each frame. The cost is about 10 cents a sheet, which is soon saved,
since there will be no army of drones eating up much more than that value in honey,
besides helping to arouse the swarming fever in the minds of the workers.
The sheet of foundation is inserted into a narrow groove cut in the under-side of the
top bar, then held in position by a wedge alongside of it. This wedge must be driven
in very tight.
In a fine specimen of a finished frame the comb is attached to the bottom bar and
the two end bars ; but, unfortunately, such fine examples are not as common as they
might be. Now, a comb filled with honey and brood weighs several pounds, so that
Fig. 11). Embedding Wire in Foundation.
there is quite a strain on the upper part; furthermore, if it be tilted from the perpen-
dicular it is apt to break and drop out of the frame. To hold it securely in position, the
frame is usually wired. For this purpose the end bars are pierced with three or four
holes, through which the thin M'ire ia strung. Of course, the wiring is done before the
foundation is put in. An unwired frame should never be run through the extractor.
The operation of wiring is a very simple one. Where three wires are to be used,
begin by driving in half-way a couple of tacks, one beside a hole next the top bar, the
other alongside the hole nearest the bottom bar at the other end of the frame. These
tacks mark the posititm of the two ends of the wire when it is in place. We want the
wires to be so tightly strung that when the job is finished, if we pluck them as if playing
a harp, they will "siug." Tlie easiest way to secure the proper tightness is to nail a
couple of cleats on the bench, whose distance apart shall be a little less than the length
of the bottom Iwir, then spring the end bars between these two. Wiring drawn tight
with the frame in this position will be more so when the frame is released. As the wire
is rather inclined to kink, it is better to pass it first through the centre holes, then
through the top ones, finishing off this part of the work by winding the end round the
tack next the top bar. Now pass the other end of the wire through the bottom holes,
draw every strand tight, then twist the end round the second tack. Remove the frame
from the cleats and finish the job by driving home the tacks.
Once the foundation is in place the wires should be embedded in it, by means of a
wire embedder, which is a small wheel on whose rim are spurs set alternately. These
straddle the wire, which is forced into the foundation as the wheel is passed along.
To secure a firm support for the foundation, lay it on a piece of |-inch board, a little
smaller than the inside dimensions of the frame.
Most beginners in bee-keeping choose comb-honey as the preferable form of the
crop, probably because they hesitate to invest in an extractor until they learn what
prospects there are in the venture. The production of a fine article of section-honey
in paying quantities is the acme of expert bee-keeping, and that too in favourable
regions, but this Province is not one of them, on account of the cool nights. The
making of a section is accompanied by much comb-building, which calls for a high
temper iture in the super at night, a difficult matter when the outside atmosphere is
cool. The production for other reasons is difficult in some parts of the Province, so
that, all in all, the results from this form of honey production cannot be considered as
a guide as to the possibilities of the locality or the suitability of one for the industry.
The section in general use is 4^ inches square, the width is 1| inches, with bee-way
at top and bottom to give the bees free access to the comb. Of course, there are many
other styles, but the one described is the one most likely to be carried in stock by local
houses. A special body called a super, because it is placed above the brood-chamber,
is used to hold these sections. It is 4f inches deep, otherwise it is the same size as an
ordinary hive. A beginner is apt to be puzzled with the descriptive names given to
a super, but he must remember they are got from the hive. Thus, an eight-frame super
is intended to go on top of an eight-frame hive. In this surplus chamber the sections are
carried in holders, a kind of frame, in fact, with separators between, whose purpose it
is to secure uniform thickness and evenness of comb. A couple of springs between the
last separator and the side of the super hold everything tight.
Though devices exist for folding sections — in fact, are a necessity where many
thousands are used — in a small way the folding is usually done by hand. Since the
joints are very thin and brittle, it is necessary to wet them a little while before they
As with frames, foundation must be used, starters at least, say an inch wide, and
very thin. Brood foundation is much thicker, but the proper kind for either purpose
is carried by all dealers in bee supplies. When several thousand sections are needed,
a machine will be found a great convenience, such an one as a Root's Daisy Foundation
Fastener, which costs about a dollar. But wheie only a few are wanted the starters
can be readily fastened in with melted wax. One way is to attach the starter to the
top part of the section — that is, one of the sides in which is the bee-way — before the
wood is folded. First, with an ordinary jack-knife cut the wax foundation into strips
3J inches long and 1 inch wide ; then melt some wax in a shallow dish set on boiling
water ; lay the sections in a pile, face up, on the bench in front of the melted wax.
Now take a starter, dip a long edge in the wax for a second, then set in position on the
section. Some who can work swiftly find this plan all right, but the writer is not
quick enough, for by the time he gets the starter in position the wax is set. A surer
plan is to run a line of melted wax along the edge of the starter while it is in contact
with the wood. Hold the starter with the fingers of the left hand, run the wax with
a teaspoon held in the right hand. The most certain way is to make a special jig for
the job. First, out of |-inch wood cut pieces 3| inches square ; about a dozen will be
enough. Then nail these an inch apart on a board. Now you can hang the folded
sections on these, upside down, place the starters in position, then run the wax along
the edge. A slight backward tilt to the board is an advantage. The wax will set
very quickly, but it takes a little while for it to harden, so handle each section carefully
while setting it aside.
Extracted honey is produced in ordinary combs, just the kind used in the brood-
chamber. While new they are rather tender, therefore many will not use a comb for
extracting purposes until it has been bred in at least one season. The colour of the
comb in no way affects the colour of the honey. To get first-class combs they must be
built during the honey-flow. The frame filled with foundation is placed between two
old combs, either in the brood-chamber or super. We have already seen that spare
sets of empty comb are of great value in May, when they come in very handy to give
the queen more room.
Securing the Harvest.
Everything needed for the honey-flow in June should be got ready in May, at the
latest. When a swarm is clustering on the limb of a tree is not the time to rush to
town for the needed hive, yet such has happened many times in the history of bee-
keeping. It is just as bad to put off the making ready of supers until the honey-flow
is on. One cannot turn the mill with the water that has gone, neither can the bees
gather the nectar that was in the blossoms yesterday, but which they could not store
away on account of the lack of room in the hive. Besides, they have learned to loaf
and to think of swarming, both bad habits from the bee-keeper's point of view.
So be prepared for whatever may come, whether a flood or a failure. If you are
running for section-honey, have for each hive at least two supers ready, filled with
sections, and, in addition, have at least fifty more sections in the house. One famous
bee-keeper in an ordinary region says he has five section supers for each hive ready
every season, even if he finds them necessary only once in half a dozen years. Once he
found that number not nearly enough.
When the flow starts the problem is to get the bees to work in the section supers,
for they do not take to it kindly on account of the restricted passages to which they
are unaccustomed ; often they will rather swarm than take possession. When a hive
has been so strong that the bees occupied two brood-chambers, they have learned to
carry the nectar above ; so if we remove the upper one — of course, making sure that
the queen is left behind— then put on the comb super, it is probable the honey will be
stored in the sections. The upper division may be placed above a weak colony to
strengthen it, or the frames of brood distributed where wanted. The flying bees will
return to the old hive.
Bait sections are often used to decoy the bees above. The unfinished sections from
last season are kept over the winter, and at least one is placed in the centre of each
super ; more is even better. But if tlie honey-flow is not started when the bait sections
are given to the colony, the ht)noy will be removed and used below to feed the brood.
The sections in the centre are the first to be filled. It does no harm to remove
them as soon as they are finished, filling up with empty ones. If you leave them alone
until all are done, watch their progress just the same, and as soon as you see that the
super is more than half-full, put a second on top of the first. Further actions will
depend on conditions. Should the first super be completed before the end of the flow
is in sight, then empty it, fill in new sections, and set above the second. If the end is
near, go slow, for you want finished sections, not a lot in various stages of development.
The removal of a super full of sections in the midst of the honey-flow is a simple
afiair ; just take it off the hive and set it on end on top of the cover. In an hour or
two the bees will have vacated it, returning to the hive, nor will other bees bother, as
they are too busy carrying in nectar. But when the honey -flow is over it is a very
different afiair, for then the worker-bees are looking for a chance to rob each other's
Queen JOxcluder, or Honey Board.
hives. The super must be at once cleared of bees by jarring it, also by the use of
smoke, but the less of this the better, so as to avoid tainting the honey.
Section honey should be sold as speedily as possible, before it has time to granulate.
When stored in a hot, dry place it will probably remain liquid until Christmas, some-
times much longer, but, all in all, the early market is the safest.
Sections intended for sale should be scraped clean of all propolis and wax. A
jack-knife with a straight blade is a good tool for the purpose. The agricultural world
cannot learn too soon what is well known in the industrial sphere, that more money is
spent to gratify the eye than on all other sense organs combined ; therefore, it pays to
have clean and neat every article that is to be placed on the market.
When the queen has the run of a couple of hive-bodies there is nothing to be done
at the commencement of the honej^-flow, unless the bee-keeper wants to confine her to
the lower chamber. In this case he gets her below, then places a queen-excluder
between the two parts of the hive. The bee-keeping world is very much divided on
this question ; some men use the excluder, just as many do not. It is the nature of
the bee to store the honey above the brood ; therefore, when they have been occupying
two divisions, it is natural for them to start storing in the upper one, occupying the
brood -cells as quickly as they are vacated. At the end of a good flow the upper division
will be entirely free of young. When the super is half-full, a second one should be
inserted between it and the brood-chamber. It is well to leave the honey on the hive
for several weeks after the flow is over, so that it may thoroughly ripen, for green honey
is very apt to turn sour.
The honey is removed from the comb in a machine called an extractor. After the
cappings have been cut from the cells the frames are set in the baskets of the machine,
which are then made to revolve at a high rate of speed, quick enough to throw the
honey out of the combs against the sides of the can. An extractor suitable for Langs-
troth frames and big enough for a small apiary will probably cost, delivered, about
$16 or $17.
Taking the Combs from the Hive.
The actual work of extracting is best done on a warm day, as the honey is most
liquid then, and in a room from which bees are excluded by a screen-door. Removing
Fig. 21. Uncapping Comb.
the frames from the hive is to most beginners a rather serious problem, on account of
the multitude of bees on them. Go about the task in this fashion : Smoke the bees
down among the frames. Take out the first frame and shake the bees off it at the
entrance of the hive, then place it in an empty hive, which should be standing on a
wheelbarnjw close by. Draw the second frame towards the side, so as to make a gap
between it and the next frame. Into this pass a whisp of long green grass, or a switch
brush, and so wipe most of the bees off the comb. Lift the frame and shake off the
remaining bees into the vacant space, then set it beside the first frame in the hive on
the barrow. Treat the balance of the frames in the same way. The empty body is
now removed — of course, supposing that the honey-flow is past ; if not, it must be
refilled with empty frames. Now wheel the load of combs to the extracting-room and
do not worry about the few bees you may carry in, for they will soon try to get out by
door or window, and not bother you at all.
Uncapping is done by a long, very sharp knife ; a butcher knife is good, but one
can buy a style sjiecially designed for the purpose. Old combs are rather tough, so it
is often necessary to heat the blade of the knife, M'liich is best done by placing it in hot
water when not in actual use. In uncapping, tlie idea is to cut a slice from each side
of the comb, starting at one end of the frame and working to the other, vising a kind of
saw motion, as in cutting bread. The frame is stood endways on a support, the upper
end of the top-bar being grasped by the left hand. Some workers cut upwards, tilting
the frame away from their body, so that the slice will hang clear of the comb as it is
cut. Others prefer cutting downwards and appear to have no trouble with the
cappings ; these are caught in a vessel below. The uncapped combs go into the baskets
of the extractor, one to each ; the handle is turned swiftly for a few minutes, thuB
emptying the outside cells ; the frames are reversed, then the other side is freed of
honey. The faster the baskets travel the more efficient will be the work of the
machine. Just a word of warning to a beginner. Do not worry if you cannot see lots
of honey after you have run through the first pair of combs, for remember it is spread
very thinly over a large surface, but in a little while it will gather in the bottom of the
can. The set of empty combs should be returned to their former position on the hive
for a night, to be cleaned up by the bees, then stored away until wanted next season.
The uncapping device should be so made that it will give the cappings a chance to
drain. In a small way one can use a large pail in which is set a cheap barrel, in the
bottom of which a number of inch holes have been bored. Next take a piece of
1 X 4-inch wood a little longer than the barrel is wide, and through the middle of it
drive a strong nail that will project an inch at least. Sharpen this point with a file.
Fasten this board across the mouth of the barrel, nail point up. During uncapping
rest the end bar on the point of the nail. The cappings will drop into the barrel and
drain into the pail below. What to do with the wax will be told later.
The impurities present in extracted honey consist of fragments of wax, pollen,
parts of bees, such as wing or leg, also occasionally a few larvae. The first mentioned
are all lighter than honey, so will in time rise to the surface ; so in the case of a small
run the honey may be allowed to stand in the machine for a day before it is drawn off.
A piece of clean, strong muslin tied over the faucet makes a good strainer.
Bulk-extracted honey is generally stored in cans. The chief point to remember is,
seal the can tight to keep the aroma in and moisture out. Honey absorbs moisture
from the atmosphere, becomes thin as a consequence, then ferments and turns sour.
In air-tight vessels well-ripened extracted honey will keep for many years.
Most honeys granulate — that is, candy — in a little while. To liquify, set the can in
a dish of water on the stove, but with pieces of wood between the can and the bottom
of the vessel. Melting is slow, but if there be no hurry it is a good plan to leave the
can of honey above the water-tank that is found in most stoves. Of course, the can-
cover should be loosened.
Honey that has been melted does not granulate so quickly as at first. The higher
the temperature to which it is raised the longer will it remain liquid, but if made too
hot the colour will change to amber. The average buyer of honey in small quantities
does not like to be bothered with the melting of it ; therefore, it is a good plan, before
putting the honey into jars, to bring it to a temperature of 150° to 160°, never more
than the latter.
We have seen that in the spring months the bees build up a huge army of producers
to secure the benefit of the heavy flow of honey in June. All during the breeding
season every drop of nectar is converted into more bees about as fast as it is brought
in ; then in June and July every cell in the comb is plugged full of honey, on which
they will have to subsist until dandelions bloom in spring. But the bee-keeper finds a
ready market for the toothsome honey, and therefore robs the hives of the stores, not
infrequently leaving too little for the bees to winter on, with the natural result that,
unless other provision is made, the colony will starve to death. Again, for some reason
the bees may have consumed stores in the winter much more rapidly than was
anticipated, so that they must get help in the spring. We have also seen that at the
end of fruit-blossom there is often a dearth for a few weeks which would put an end to
brood-raising unless the bee-keeper lent his aid. In each instance the necessary
assistance is given in the form of sugar syrup, made from the best granulated sugar ;
any other kind is risky.
The feeding in the fall for winter and spring consumption is the most important.
About the beginning of September an estimate should be made of the amount of stores
in each hive, this being done by examining each frame and sizing up how many sections
of honey it is equal to. Roughly speaking, an ordinary frame will hold eight sections
of honey, each weighing about 14 ounces, let us say a pound. To be in safe condition,
each hive should contain about 25 pounds of stores. For every pound short of that
amount, feed 1 pound of sugar dissolved in water.
Fall feeding is usually done quickly— that is, large quantities of syrup, often as
much as 25 pounds, are given at one time. Some men give the full amount needed
about the middle of September ; others give half then, the other half about the end of
The syrup fed in the fall is made rather thick. The thinnest ever used is got by
taking equal quantities, by measure, of sugar and hot water, boiling, if possible. It is
important to dissolve the sugar thoroughly, so stir well. Some bee-keepers, for fall
feeding, use as much as two parts of sugar to one of water, but this strength should not
In the spring months a very much thinner syrup is better, one composed of two
parts of hot water and one of sugar. This is given slowly, say from half a pint to a
pint a day, according to the needs of the colony.
There are four methods of feeding — namely, open-air, above the brood-chamber,
in the hive, and below the brood-chamber. Open-air feeding has several limitations.
One is apt to feed other bees if there be any within a couple of miles ; then there is a
temperature limit, for the writer finds bees will not take up syrup from below unless
the thermometer is above 5(f , so that the same conditions will probably apply to the
open air. Feeding below the hive has much to recommend it with suitable dishes, but
on the coast regions it is unfortunately impracticable in the spring months, as there are
often weeks of cool weatlier. For fall feeding this system is all right. For giving
syrup in spring, preference should be given to a feeder that fits into the brood-chamber,
where the syrup will retain the heat and be readil}' got at by the bees. In the fall it is
usually most convenient to feed from above.
There are many devices by which syrup can be given from above the brood-chamber.
Perhaps the simplest is the ordiiuiry friction-top can, such as is used as a container for
syrup, jam, etc. Prepare it by punching the lid fairly full of small holes with the point
of a nail. Fill the can with the syrup, put in the top, set the can upside down on the
top of the frames. As many cans as the frames will hold can be used at once. The
bees will carry the syrup as fast as it leaks out. Of course, an empty hive must be on
top of the hive to hold in the heat and to prevent bees from other hives getting at the
supply. A Mason jar will do just as M^ell. An excellent top-feeder on the market is
known as the Miller. With it 25 pounds of syrup can be fed at one time.
For spring feeding the writer recommends the Doolittle division -board feeder,
which is placed in the hive alongside the brood-nest like an ordinary frame. The
illustration will show its construction. The sides are made of ^-incli wood, 5 x 17§
inches, rough on the inside to give foothold to the bees. The bottom and end bars are
of |-inch wood, 1 J inches wide. The end bars are 5 inches in length ; the bottom bar
is 16^ inches. Each joint is coated with thick paint before nailing. For the lugs cut
two pieces of |-inch wood, 1^x3^ inches. From one end of each piece cut a check
f X 1 inch. This feeder will drown bees unless a slat is put inside of it to float on the
top of the syrup. To fill the feeder, turn back the quilt sufficiently far, pour in the
syrup, then replace the quilt.
Feeding a Pollen Substitute.
In some parts of the dry belt there is a lack of pollen in the early spring months, so
that in the ordinary course brood- raising is seriously hindered. The bee-keeper in such
a region can provide a substitute in the form of finely ground, dry, unbolted rye meal,
or even ordinary flour, which is set out in shallow troughs or boxes. The layer must
be quite thin, otherwise the bees will drown in it. To attract the bees, smear a little
honey on the edge of the tray. The boxes must be placed in a warm spot, sheltered
from the wind. Continue feeding until the bees cease to use it, which will be when the
blossoms provide the real article.
Various methods have been devised for feeding artificial pollen inside the hive, but
in practice they are found to be injurious to the welfare of the colony.
Preparing for Winter.
Since bees fly at 48°, the ideal temperature for wintering is one a few degrees less,
say 45°, for in this they would consume the minimum of stores, since honey is to them,
of course, the source of heat. In regions where the temperature falls below zero it is a
common practice to winter the colonies in a cellar, most of which is underground, but
with careful packing the bees do all right out of doors in the same localities. lu the
dry belt of this Province, hives that are to be left on their summer stand must be packed
for the winter. The easiest way is to construct a bottomless box out of cheap material
large enough to give a free space of 6 inches all round the hive when it is in position, say
24 X H2 inches, 20 inches high. Cut out enough from what will be the front to give free
access to the entrance.
Now get a suflicient quantity of dry leaves, straw, excelsior, or shavings. First
pack tight underneath the hive, then place the box in position, fitting in a piece of
wood to prevent the packing coming down over the entrance. Now fill up all round the
hive, ramming the material in tight ; next over the top. The latter is the most important
part of all, because heat travels upward, so be sure to get enough protection on top.
When full, nail on a cover, which must be watertight. Use paint, tar-paper, or canvas
to keep out the wet.
The size of the entrance for winter is one of these points on which bee-keepers
differ very decidedly, some advocating one the whole width of the hive, while others
prefer one about 3 inches long by g inch high. The tendency is apparently towards
giving plenty' of air but without draughts.
In the coast regions many bee-keepers content themselves with no special protection
at all, simply leaving the hives as they happen to be at the beginning of winter. Others
place two or three strips of lathing across the frames to make easy travel from one
part of the hive to another in the warmest part ; on these a quilt of sacking ; then an
empty super, which is packed with anything that will hold in the heat. The cover
must be fastened securely, so that it cannot be blown off in the winter gales.
Still another method is to wrap thin tar building-paper round the hive. Take off
the cover, put on a few layers of sacking above the frames, then put the paper round
the hive, leaving the surplus sticking up above it. Strings are worthless for protecting
the paper ; strips of wood are much more satisfactory. Place one along the edge of the
overlap, fastening with a couple of nails. Fold the projecting pieces of the paper over
the sacking and replace the cover. Finish off by nailing strips of wood, such as lathing,
on the paper at the lower edges of the hive. This covering need not be removed until
well along in May, when the bees are strong.
The average beginner naturally makes no effort to control his bees in their natural
impulse to increase hy swarming, but one season's experience of retrieving swarms, and
of investing money in new hives, with not infreciuently very little returns in the shape
of honey, will H(K)n arouse a desire within liim to become master of the situation, so that
increase shall be when ho wants it and to the extent tliat will suit him. To attain this
desirable end he nuist learn a few simple facts about the life history of the queen, from
the egg to the time when she begins to lay.
We have already learned that the egg from which a queen is to be raised differs in
no way from that from which the ordinary worker develops. Furthermore, it hatches
out the same, and for three days the young larva is fed like a worker-larva, but on the
fourth day the latter is put on a less nutritious diet that prevents the development of
the sex organs. The food of the royal larva remains unchanged ; its quantity is lavish ;
with the result that the full development of the insect is secvired, not only organically
but in actual size. Since she is to be larger than either worker or drone, the ordinary
cells of the hive are not big enough, hence the bees must build a special cell for each
young queen, which is known as a queen-cell. Fig. 23 will show how they look. In
ordinary course, a populous hive will make preparations for swarming by starting a
number of royal cells, usually placing them on the edges of the comb that are not
Fig. 23. Queen Cells,
attached to the bars of the frame. When complete they somewhat resemble a small
peanut, and are about an inch in length. When first started they rather suggest an
acorn-cup ; in fact, after their usefulness is past they are usually trimmed down to about
the same size. While all other cells are horizontal, queen-cells always hang perpen-
dicularly, with the mouth downward. The number in a hive varies greatly ; sometimes
there are only a couple, generally about six, occasionally as many as a dozen.
In due course an egg will appear in each cell, but not all at the same time, as two
queens cannot be free in the same hive together. One will certainly kill the other.
When the first cell has been capped over the first swarm will come forth, accom-
panied by the old queen. A week later the second swarm is due, this being headed by
the first of the young queens. Others may follow at intervals of a day or two. As
eaeh virgin hatches out she tries to get at her rivals in the cells, and if successful stings
them to death. Whether she reaches the others or not depends upon the bees, who
hinder her progress or give free access as suits them. In any case she issues a challenge,
in the form of a shrill peep-peep-peep, which is responded to by the most advanced of
the others, but since they are confined in a close chamber the sound is more like qua-
qua-qua. When a second swarm is due one can hear both soiinds by placing one's ear
in contact with the side of the hive. The second swarm having departed, another queen
is released. Should both sounds be again heard, a third swarm is likely. But if the
bees feel there has been enough of swarming, the other queens will be killed. Many
bee-keepers, after the first swarm has issued, open the hive and destroy all cells except
the largest one, and so prevent any more.
Should a hive in the breeding season become queenless, either through the death of
the queen or through her removal by the bee-keeper, the bees at once proceed to develop
a successor from the young larvae and eggs on hand, building the cells on the faces of
the combs. Should they send out a swarm it vi^ill be headed by a virgin, and, of course,
the second one will come forth a day or two later.
The facts in the last paragraph give us the key to making increase under the control
of the bee-keeper. A simple method, but rather wasteful, is to divide a very strong
hive into two parts, leaving one-half on the old stand and setting the other on a new
one. The half without a queen will at once start queen-cells. The drawbacks to this
plan consists in the probable loss of young brood through neglect in the part that was
moved, and in the slowing down of egg-laying by the queen.
Here is a much more efficient way : Remove the hive from the stand and in its
place put one containing only empty combs or foundation. Take out the centre comb,
then turn to the old hive and look for the queen. When she has been found, set the
frame she is on in the centre of the empty hive. Put a queen-excluder above, then on
top place the old hive, into which now put the empty comb from the lower one ; replace
the co\er. Leave the combination alone for five days, then look carefully over the
combs in the upper body to see whether or not queen-cells have been started. If such
are found, carry the upper story to anew stand. We have gained much in the five days.
The queen has been stopped but little ; much of the brood above has hatched, lessening
the cares of the workers there, and there is an army of young bees in the upper division
that will stay where they are put. When no cells are started, leave the hives together
for five days more. After moving the upper story to a new stand it must be provided
with a frame containing larvae and eggs, for, of course, all its own larvae are too old.
This frame may be taken from any hive, preferably from one that is noted for good
workers. Shake all the bees oflf the frame, to make certain you do not carry the queen
As many queens get lost in the mating flight, it is always advisable to examine a
hive about twelve days after the queen hatches out. if eggs are found, things are
probably all right ; but if no eggs are present, then give a frame of brood with eggs from
another hive, so that, if necessary, another queen may be raised.
Bee diseases are divided into two kinds, those that attack the mature bees and
those that afiFect the brood.
The adults are liable to diarrha^a, paralysis, and a vague one in the early part of
the season that is generally called " spring dwindling." Diarrhd^a fre(iuently occurs
when the bees have been compelled for several weeks to s^^ay in the hives, especially on
poor stores, such as f mil -juices and honey-dew — the latter being an excretion from
aphida and scale insects which is sometimes plentiful in the autumn in the coast
regions. Honey-dew is usually very dark, often granulates quickl}', and has an
unpleasant taste. When in health, bees empty their bowels only when on the wing,
but when flight is hindered for some weeks the evacuation may occur in the hive.
This is the reason why bottom boards should be cleaned off early in spring, so as to
get rid of the germs.
Bee paralysis is not a common disease in cool climates, but there are a few reports
of its occurrence in the Province. The sick bees look black and greasy, and have a very
swollen abdomen. They generallj^ stagger around as if paralysed. The disease is
supposed to be constitutional, so the usual remedy is to destroy the old queen and
introduce another from a healthy stock.
Spring dwindling is a term that may cover a multitude of troubles. There is
undoubtedly a germ disease affecting the intestines that sometimes develops in the
spring months, but not much is definitely known about it. Dwindling may, however,
be due to lack of bees — that is, not a sufficient number to keep the hive warm enough
for brood-raising, or from want of stores — either honey or pollen.
The diseases that attack the larvse are American foul brood, European foul brood,
and pickled brood. Both of the forma of foul brood are very deadly, and once they
get a foothold in a district they will, if unchecked, wipe out every colony. The bees
themselves are unable to cope with them ; hence it is utterly futile for a bee-keeper to
conceal the fact that there is something wrong with his bees, in the hope that the
trouble may disappear. If left alone, a slight case of infection, once it gets headway,
will spread, not only over every colony in that apiary, but in the district. Tlie writer
cannot speak too strongly on this subject, especially since at the time of writing, the
Province is probably free of these diseases. But continued immunity will be got by
vigilance only, for in the older settled regions of the Dominion and in some parts to
the south of us a fierce fight is being carried on with foul brood. This Province is free
because it is young. To keep it free, the introduction of contagion must be prevented
as far as possible. Every bee-keeper can help by following two simple rviles : First,
not to bring into the Province any hives of bees, empty hives, or used appliances of
any kind ; second, never to feed honey to his bees unless he knows for certain that
it was produced in an apiary free of disease. The germs of foul brood are present in
the combs and honey, so that the reasons of the above recommendations are very
apparent. Furthermore, at the slightest hint of diseased larvae being found in his own
hives or those of another, every bee-keeper is earnestly urged to at once notify the
Department of Agriculture, so that steps may be taken for its eradication.
American Foul Brood.
American foul brood has been so named because the germs that cause it were
first isolated on this continent. The symptoms of the disease are thus described by an
authority : —
" Some of the brood fails to hatch. Cappings here and there are sunken and
perforated at the centre. On opening one of these cells there will be found a dead
larva lying on one side of the cell, somewhat shrunken, and of a brownish colour,
varying all the way from a light pale brown to a dark brown. In the more advanced
stages the brown is of the colour of a coffee-berry after being roasted. In the incipient
stages the brown is of the colour of the coffee we drink, when greatly diluted with
milk. But so far all these symptoms may be present as the result of chilled, over,
heated, or pickled brood. But to determine whether it is the real ropy foul brood,
run a toothpick into the dead larva and then draw it slowly out. If the maturated
mass adheres to the end of the pick like spittle, stretches out from one-half to one
inch, and finally the fine thread breaks when the pick is drawn back, it is probably a
case of foul brood. With all other forms of diseased brood, with perhaps the exception
of European foul brood, where the roping is never more than slight, this ropiness does
not appear ; but with foul brood it is invariably present. There is another symptom
and that is the odour, while not exactly foul, resembles greatly that from a cabinet-
maker's glue-pot ; and when the disease is pretty well advanced in the hive, the odour
will make itself manifest upon lifting the cover or quilt, even before exposing the
brood. If other colonies are affected, and the disease spreads, it is probably American
or ropy foul brood."
European Foul Brood.
The germs of this disease were first discovered in Europe, hence the name. The
appearance of this form of foul brood is thus described : —
"Adult bees in affected colonies are not very active, but do succeed in cleaning
out some of the dried scales. This disease attacks larvae earlier than does American
foul brood, and a comparatively small percentage of the diseased brood is ever capped ;
the diseased larvae which are capped over have sunken and perforated cappings. The
larvaj when first attacked show a small yellow spot near the head and move uneasily
in the cell ; when death occurs they turn yellow, then brown, and finally almost black.
Decaying larvae which have died of this disease do not usually stretch out in a long
thread when a small stick is inserted and slowly removed ; occasionally there is a very
slight 'ropiness,' but this never very marked. The thoroughly dried larvae form
irregular scales, which are not strongly adherent to the lower side-wall of the cell.
There is very little odour from decaying larvae which have died from this disease, and
when an odour is noticeable it is not the * glue-pot ' odour of American foul brood, but
more resembles that of soured dead brood. This disease attacks drone and queen
larvae very soon after the colony is infected. It is, as a rule, much more infectious
than American foul brood and spreads more rapidly. European foul brood is most
destructive during the spring and early summer, often almost disappearing in late
summer and autumn."
This is the name given to a disease of the brood about which very little is at
present known. Many of the symptoms are very like those of European foul brood,
but the cause of death is supposed to be starvation, excess of heat or cold, or poison in
the food. We have seen that there may be a sudden stoppage of nectar at certain
seasons ; consequently, in a hive that is short of stores at such a time, thousands of the
young must literally starve to death. In extremely hot weather, when ventilation is
deficient, the inside temperature of the hive may become so hot as to cook the young
larvai ; on the other hand, a sudden drop in temperature will cause tlie bees to contract
their cluster, exposing many of the young so that they freeze to death. Then in the
fruit-bloom season some ranchers spray before the blossoms fall with a poisonous
solution, and, of course, the bees that visit such an orchard not only die of the poison,
but frequently are able to empty their load into the cells before succumbing. The
poisoned honey kills any brood to which it is fed.
We see, therefore, that the presence of dead brood in a hive demands instant
consideration. The first question to be asked is, what is the likelihood of starvation ?
The condition of the stores should answer that. Next, has any one in the neighbourhood
been spraying blossoms with a poisonous mixture ? The bee-keeper should know by the
season, the number of dying bees round the hive, and the habits of his neighbours. In
the same way he will probably know the facts about recent temperatures. When the
disease is due to any of these causes the bees in due course clean out the cells, and
there is no trouble with subseciuent brood. Should, however, neither starvation, heat,
c»)ld, nor poison account for the condition, or should the diseased brood continue or
increase, then help should be solicited from tlie Department of Agriculture. As a
diseased hive weakens, bees from other hives rob it of its stores, thus conveying the
germs to all the hives in the vicinity.
Complaint is made from certain regions that in some years wasps become so
numerous in the autumn that by sheer numbers they can overcome the inmates of a
hive and rob the stores. In all cases of robbing, whether by wasps or bees, narrow the
entrance down to a space just wide enough to permit only one bee to pass at a time, so
that defence will be very easy. A small bit of wood makes a good entrance block.
The wasps that fly round in May are queens, so that every one killed then means a
colony exterminated. A death at this time prevents thousands of lives in the fall.
In an eight-frame hive the combs contain about 2 pounds of pure wax, but after
several years' use they may weigh as much as four times the original weight. The
increase is due to dirt in various forms. The cappings that are removed during
extracting are almost pure wax, there being usually about 1 pound of wax to every 50
pounds of honey. Pure wax is always a marketable commodity in a fruit district and
in every drug-store. In Victoria the latter pay 45 cents a pound for it. We therefore
see that every scrap of comb is worth saving, so that it may be rendered at the end of
the season. After making dozens of experiments, the writer believes that for the small
apiarist the oven method is the best, and although it produces a little less than half of
the available wax in old comb, it is as efi"ective as any other process short of a regular
wax-press. To pay the cost of the latter, one would have to work over about 100
pounds of old comb.
Take a bread-pan or similar dish and in one end at the bottom punch a hole a
quarter of an inch wide, any length. Fill it with comb and set it on the upper shelf of
the oven, with a small stone under the unpunched end to tilt it up. On the lower
shelf, so as to catch the drip, place another dish containing water. When the oven
gets hot enough the wax will run from the old comb into the pan below. To make a
nice cake of the wax, melt all the bits in a dish of water, then set aside to cool. A
vessel with sloping sides like a lard-pail is good.
Aiding a Weak Hive with more Bees.
A hive that is strong in bees in early spring will attain great strength early in the
season, while one that is weak will make very little headway, possibly may have a hard
struggle to live. The laying capacity of the queen is limited by the number of larvai
the workers are able to care for ; therefore, if we can add more bees to the colony the .
(juicker will it develop. The skilful apiarist in che spring often does quite a business
in transferring bees from one hive to another, but to be successful he must understand
the limitations. In the first place it never pays to rob a medium strong colony to aid
one that is weak. A hive that has every frame covered may be drawn upon, but never
one that is weaker. Second, it it useless to give a frame of brood without nurse-bees
to a weak colony, as the workers there are doing all they possibly can ; but, on the
other hand, it is risky to give old bees with a frame of brood, as these strangers may
attack the queen, at least early in the season. Young bees are less liable to interfere.
To give young bees to a weak colony, go to a strong hive, select a frame containing
brood, but be sure the queen is not on it — the only way to be certain is to see her — and
shake the bees on to a large board in front of the hive. The old bees will fly home in a
few minutes, then shake those that remain on the alighting-board of the hive to be
strengthened. They will crawl inside and be made welcome.
Some give aid by exchanging sealed brood, preferably hatching, for eggs. To do
this, take a frame of sealed brood from the strong hive and shake off the bees, then
carry it to the weak one and exchange it for a frame of eggs, as before shaking off the
bees. In each case place the new frame in the centre of the cluster.
When the weak hive is fairly strong, say with bees on five or six frames, one need
not hesitate to give it a frame of brood with adhering bees, provided it is not put next
the frame on which the queen happens to be at the time.
To combine a queenless colony with another hive, in the evening, when flying has
stopped, go tc the latter and remove the cover and quilts and spread a sheet of news-
paper above the frames, punching a hole with a pencil in the centre of it, so as to give
communication. Then lift the queenless hive and set it on top. The bees will gradually
remove the paper and intermingle without lighting. In about a week remove the
frames that are unoccupied, so as to make a compact brood-nest.
As a general rule, when nectar is coming in freely, the bees of a hive will welcome
additions to their strength, but in times of dearth they will eject or kill the intruders.
LIST OF BEE-KEEPERS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA.
Agassiz— Jos. Whelpton, F. Sinclair, J. C. McRae, Thos. Hicks, Albert Greyl,
Wm. Mackie, E. Lambert.
Alberni — A. G. Service.
Armstrong — A. W. Hunter (Box 275), — Burnett, Alloyne Buckley, J. Simmington,
Arrow Park — Chas. L. Childe, A. Hemingway, Alf. Heffler.
Balcomo — R. H. Agur, A. Doherty.
Beaver Creek P. 0. — Alex. Shaw, Donald McKenzie, R. W. Thompson.
Burnaby Lake — H. Ledger, C. F. Sprott.
Burton City — Mrs. Robson, Edw. Schram.
Cedar Cottage P. 0. — Edward P. Flynn, John Benson, Wm. John Brewer.
Central Park — Mrs. M. J. Coburn (Park Avenue).
Chilliwack — H. L. Johnson, J. Brannick, Mrs. M. S. Davies (P. O. Box 229), Isaac
Kipp, Hy. Kipp.
Coburn — ^Parker Williams.
Colquitz — Ernest Etheridge, H. D. Van Decar.
Comox — H, Bourne, — Smith (Little River).
Courtney — James McKenzie, Richard Creech.
Cranbrook— T. S. Gill, Wm. Hamilton (Box 93), Chas. Potvin, W. L. Whitney.
Creston — Walter V. Jackson.
Cumberland — Thomas Pierce.
Denman Island — Jas. Ormiston.
Dewdney — Alister Thompson, S. Smith, R. Gourlay, Fred. Newton.
Duncan — Mrs. Hy. Smith, — Duncan, — Price.
East Burnaby — Mrs. E. C. Morley, W^. H. Lewis (Box 317).
East Sooke— T. Oldershaw.
p]l)urne — Henry Kacer.
pjuderby — James Emery.
Epworth— Edward Flynn, W. G. Sutton.
Esquimau — Jos. Robinson (Eraser Street), — Lea (Lampson Street) ,W. F. Corlield
Ganges Harbour — J. T, Collins, H. Caldwell.
Glen Valley — Geo. R. Arthur.
Glenwood — G. Shelbj^-Hele.
Gordon Head Gray.
Grantham — Alex. Salmond.
Hall's Prairie — Wm. Brown, H. G. Lawrence, D. Brown & Sons.
Harrison Mills — Anton Lambery.
Hazelmere — F. J. Hardwick, P. 0. Green, H. Hamel.
Howser — H. R. Board, H. Hincks, Messrs. Matthews.
Hatzic— J. H. Lawrence, E. McTaggart, A. McTaggart, Slack Bros., Hodson Bros.,
J. Edmons, T. Cattewood.
Kamloops — Smith Bros.
Kaslo— Archdeacon Beer, G. S. Ehle (Box 34).
Keating Young, Xavier Rey.
Kelowna — W. S. Fuller (Box 155), H. B. D, Lyons, James Harvey, Geo. Thompson,
Keremeos — J. J. Armstrong.
Ladner— R. C. Abbott, J. Reagh,
Ladysmith — John Irvine.
Langley — Alex. Holding, Frank Baxter, — Briges.
Langley Prairie — Mrs, John Wilson, Geo. Blair, Geo. Trigg, — Savage.
Lytton — Alex. Lochore, Alf. Ruddock.
Malakwa — J. H. Johnson.
Maywood P. 0., Victoria — G. F. Dunn, R. R. Watson, J. H. Hughes.
Mayne Island — James Bennett, — Padden, Miss Padden.
Metchosin— W. Fisher, J. Parker, J. D. Reid, C. Field, Stanley Clark, A. T. M.
Inverarity (Box 407, Victoria).
Millstream — G. M. Bernard.
Milner— John Maxwell.
Mission City— J. A. Catherwood, J. Mitchell, T. R. Smith.
Mount Tolniie— Robert Rusfell, James Townsend.
Nanaimo — Charles G. Stevens, Joseph Decon< r, John Skinner, F. H. Jones.
Nelson — Charles Gansner (Box 187), D. La Bau, A. J. Laviolette.
New Denver — J. C. Harris.
Now Westminster — VVm. Anderson (Box 408), E. Stude, Frank Davies.
Okanagan Centre — H. N. Caesar.
Okanagan Landing — Miss Peters, Mrs. Leslie.
Peachland — W. E. Morsch.
Pender Island — A. H. Menzies.
Port (xuichon — Felix Guichon.
Proctor — William Harg-Smellie.
Renata — E. L. Redhead.
Revelstoke — Rev. C. A. Procunier, Thos. W. Bradshaw (C. P. R.), Geo. G.
StaflFner, H. E. R. Smith, H. Cameron, B. A. Lawson, Geo. Laforme, W. Haner, G.
Rocky Point — Tom Parker.
Roseberry — S. Z. Brockmann.
Rossland— Edgar Charles (Box 114), James S. Gow (Box 74), Archie McMillan.
Rutland — Thos. Barber, — McDonald.
Salmo — James F. Westby.
Sandwick — Rev. Thomas Menzies, Hugh Clark, W. H. Grieve, John Shopland, L.
Cliffe, T. Bridges, W. Duncan, S. J. Perry, Rev. Willimar.
Sardis — Jas. Higginson.
Seymour Arm — b\ N. Daniels.
Sidney — Chas. Armstrong.
Sooke — John A. Murray, John A. French.
South Vancouver — Mr. Pacey (Wilson Road and Pacey Avenue).
Strawberry Vale — Rob. Clark.
Summerland— F. J. Nixon (P. O. Box 3), Miss V. Cartwright, R. Pollock, M. Tait,
B. H. Sherk, A. Eraser, W. H. Hayes, P. Thornber, A. Stewart, J. Gartell, Alf.
Aveson (Box 38), F. W. Bentley (Box 108), B. H. Sharp, H. Briston, T. Niven, J.
Dunsdon, Dr. Sawyer, Rev. J. White, Geo. Sinclair.
Trail— Thos. Heath.
Union Bay — Geo. H. Roe.
Vancouver — J. B. Lee (2644 Manitoba Street), Norman N. Reid (1019 Davie Street),
Geo. Schofield (1641 8th Avenue), Wm. Jefferson (1555 Westminster Avenue), M. J.
Henry (3010 Westminster Road), Mrs. R. J. Fisher (1037 Denman Street), Wm. Rennie
Seed Co., Herman M. Alpine (1550 7th Avenue).
Vernon — Rev. R. J. Vaus, Arthur T. Kirkpatrick, E. Leonard Harris, C. M.
Watson (Box 447), John Freeman, Rev. G. Kunke, Lloyd Quick, R. E. Tennant, John
Kidston, J. Webster, T. A. Norris, — Watson.
Victoria — G. A. Borthwick (Drawer 664), — BriTikman (Washington Avenue), E.
Fleming ((iovernment Street), T. J. Evans (William Street, V. W.), D. J. Griffin (1121
Langley Street), W. H. Nelson (Brunswick Hotel), E. F. Robinson (417 Young Street),
S. M. A. Savory (13 Broad Street), F. D. Todd (743 Market Street), J. R. Grice (4S
Second Street), W. R. Palmer (Box 534), Miss E. C. Saunders (Victoria West), Arthur
C. C. Stratford, A. J. Woodward (Ross Bay), Thos. Shotbolt (Druggist), W. Hardy
(Catherine Street, V. W.).
Wellington — A. Willey, Jos. Carr.
Yale — Mrs. J. M. McQuarrie.
VICTORIA, B. C:
Printed by Richard Woi,kkndk.x, I.S.O., V.D., Printer to the Kinjj's Most Excellent Majesty.
' A 1 1'.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CAUFORNIA UBRARY