Alfred Neighbour.

The apiary; or, Bees, bee-hives, and bee culture: being a familiar account of the habits of bees, and the most improved methods of management, with full directions, adapted for the cottager, farmer, or scientific apiarian online

. (page 12 of 14)
Online LibraryAlfred NeighbourThe apiary; or, Bees, bee-hives, and bee culture: being a familiar account of the habits of bees, and the most improved methods of management, with full directions, adapted for the cottager, farmer, or scientific apiarian → online text (page 12 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And waste its fragrance on the desert air."

enhanced, especially as to the dismay of the decorous English prelate in
hearing that his poor brother in the Church had turned "manufacturer;" but
then the vraisemblance of the story, as we have it, was destroyed.

Digitized by



An apiary in the garden of every village clergyman would afford the
means of economising this unclaimed bounty of Providence.

Bees may be very inexpensively and profitably kept in the
Cottager's hive (see page 34), which will be found a very productive
one. It is true that it has not the appliances of windows and bell
glasses ; for the cottager is not supposed so much to care for his
hives as a source of amusement; his object in bee-keeping is simply
the profit it may bring. Por those of our readers who wish to have
united the facility of observing the bees with that of the plentiful
production of honey, we would especially recommend the ''Improved
Cottage '* hive, described at page 28. If inclined to go to a little
further expense, the hives numbered 1, 2, 3, and 7, all afford
constant opportunity for inspection of the bees, and allow of their
working freely in the most natural manner.

There are few hobbies which cost so little outlay as the keeping
of bees. Once the '' plant ^' of hives is purchased, there is little,
if any, additional expense, and always a probability of a fair return.
If honey be obtainable, the bees wiU find it; they work for nothing,
and provide themselves with sustenance, requiring only a very
little labour from their keepers, and that labour is of a pleasing and
instructive kind.

To the advanced and skilful apiarian we would especially
commend the use of the Bar-and-frame hives. With these, as we
have attempted to show, the bee-keeper has a full command over
his hives and bees. Many mistakes, it is true, have been made by
uninitiated bee-keepers in using the more elaborate hives. Being
struck with the remarkable facilities afforded by these superior hives
for the extraction of any one comb, and, perhaps, fascinated with their
easy sway over so highly organized a community, these new-fangled
bee-keepers have acquired a habit of perpetually and incautiously med-
dling with the bees. The inevitable results in such cases are distress
to the bees, impoverishment of the stocks, and loss and vexation to
the over zealous apiarian. All these things may be avoided, if it
be remembered that there are first steps in bee-keeping, as well as in
croquet, chemistry, or cricket. In bee-keeping, as in floriculture^
it is a great point to know when to "let well alone.^' There is no
florist, however anxious for a prize, who would be continually
pulling up his plants to see how their roots were growing. Doubt-
less, the full control which the bars and frames afford over the inmost


Digitized by


114 THE apiaey; or,

recesses of the hives, is a great temptation to the bee-keeper ; but,
if he yields too readily to it, he will imperil his chance of profit,
and deprive himself of that continuous source of interest, which a
judicious apiarian always enjoys.

Many persons who are well informed on most subjects, are
extraordinarily ignorant of the natural history of bees, and the
economy of the bee-hive. Perhaps we might venture to suggest
that, more pains should be taken at schools or by parents to inform
young persons on this, in connection with kindred subjects. As an
amusing illustration of the ignorance referred to, we transcribe an
order we received a short time since from a seminary in the north

of England. The young gentleman thus writes : — "Master

presents his compliments to Messrs. Neighbour, and begs they will
send him a swarm of bees ; he encloses six postage stamps^ and
hopes they will send him a good swarm.^' This embryo naturalist
was evidently of a mercantile turn, and had a mind to buy in
the cheapest market, for in a postscript he adds : — " Please let it
be fourpence, if you can ! *' We need scarcely say that in reply we
endeavoured to enlighten our juvenile correspondent as to what
constituted a swarm of bees, and returned the stamps, with our thanks.

The culture of bees would be greatly promoted, if a knowledge
of it were considered necessary as one of the regular qualifications
of a gardener. So little time is needed to gain the skill requisite
for the tendance of an apiary, that it seems only reasonable to
expect it of a well taught gardener, and he should feel a pleasure in
the circumstance of its forming a part of his duties. In Germany,
where a country gentleman^s table is kept constantly supplied with
fresh honey, the gardeners are expected to understand the manage-
ment of hives ; and in Bavaria, modern bee culture is taught in the
colleges to all the horticultural students. Travellers in Switzerland
will call to mind the almost invariable practice of placing new honey
on the breakfast tables at hotels in that country.

Some writers on bee-cultnre attach much importance to the
particular position in which an apiary stands, and the aspect
towards which it faces. A southern, or rather a south-eastern
aspect is the one which we have already recommended. Our reason
for this preference is, that we deem it very important for the bees
to have the first of the morning sun. Bees are early risers, and
should have every inducement given them for the maintenance

Digitized by



of SO excellent a practice. A few years since, many strong opinions
were expressed in favour of a northern aspect for hives. The chief
reason given for those opinions, though very plausible, appears to
us to be a very partial and inadequate one. It was said that, when
the hives face the south, the bees may, like the incautious
swallow in the fable, be tempted to fly abroad in the transient
winter sunshine, and then perish in the freezing atmosphere when a
passing cloud intervenes. But it is a very easy matter, if considered
needful, to screen the entrance by fixing up matting so as to inter-
cept the rays of the sun. At our own apiary we make no alteration
in winter, under the belief that the bees will take care of themselves,
and they seldom venture out when the weather is unsuitable.

With hives exposed in the open garden, it is a good practice to
wind hay-bands round them in frosty weather, as such a protection
enables the bees to resist the cold.

When a thaw occurs, everything, both in and out of doors, has
a great deal of dampness about it. The combs of a hive are not
exempt from this, so that it is advisable to have slight upward
ventilation in winter. Holes the size of a piu^s head allow of the
escape of a good deal of bad air, which is generated by the
exhalations of the bees, as well as by the dampness before referred
to. These holes being small, do not create sufficient draft through
the hives to be pernicious; if closed up by propolis, are readily
reopened with a pin. With wooden hives in winter, a bell glass is
often found to be useful ; it should be placed over the hole in the
crown-board, with a zinc trough to receive the condensed moisture.

In summer bees do much towards ventilating their own stock-
hives. The observant apiarian will not fail to remark how, on a
warm day, several of the little creatures will stand at the entrance
with their abdomens slightly raised, and their twinkling wings in
rapid motion, producing a current of air inwards ; while another
set are engaged in like manner, driving the bad air out, so that a
supply of pure oxygen is conveyed to the crowded inmates. In
this fanning operation their wings vibrate with such rapidity, that
their shape is as indistinct as are the spokes of a wheel when
revolving in rapid centrifugal motion.

This important office entails great physical exertion on the
part of the bees, and they relieve each other in detachments.

Some bee-keepers find an adapting board convenient for placing

I 2

Digitized by


116 THE apiaey; or,

nndenieatli straw supers, as it facilitates their removal. These
boards are made of mahogany half an inch thick, with a hole in the
centre corresponding with that in the stock hive. We do not
consider it necessary to fix cross sticks in the straw stock hives,
as is frequently done; but if the apiarian prefers to have his
hives so furnished, there is no serious objection to it. These
observations refer to our Cottager's hive (page 34).

There is another little matter of detail that should be named
here; that is, the necessity of the bee-keeper always having a
common hive in readiness near the bees, so as to be able to
secure any swarm which may unexpectedly start.

Here our pleasant task must close. We trust that all informa-
tion has been given that is needful to enable the practical bee-
keeper to begin business, and the scientific apiarian to commence
his observations. By way of illustrating the two characters com-
bined, we will conclude by quoting another simple idyl by the
German bee-keeper, Herr Braun, whose winter musings we have
already presented to the reader.

[From " The Journal of Horticulture**']
By Adalbert B&a.un, Translated hy "A Dbvonshirb Bee-keeper."
Hark ! what is so gaily hmmning

In the little garden there ?
Hark ! what is so briskly whizzing
Through the still and silent air?

Friend, it is our bees — the darlings—

Now enliven'd by the Spring;
Yes, the winter is departed.

And once more they're on the wing.

Happy he, who winter's perils

All his stocks brings safely through ;
Thank Him, of all good the Giver —

Faithful Watchman He, and true.

Of my own are none departed.

All as yet unhurt remain ;
Though no longer rich in honey.

Yet is Spring returned again !

Come, and let us view them nearer —

Enter by the garden gate ; —
So—stand still, and watch their doings —

Light your pipe, and patient wait.

Digitized by



See how busily they traverse

To their pasturage and back.
That they may by toil unwearied

Save the commonwealth from wrack.

Look, look ! what loads of pollen.

Bring they in with heedful care.
Nurslings, fear not ; for your cravings

Here's sufficient and to spare.

How they dart and how they hurtle

Through the genial balmy air !
To the mountains — to the meadows —

^Tis the scent attracts them there !

There they dexterously rifle

Nectar from each flow'r in bloom;
Toil they for our honey harvest.

For us fill the honey-room.

Yes, our bees, our precious darlings.

We salute you all to-day ;
For your life is our enjoyment —

Winter's sleep has pass'd away.

Grant prosperity, Heaven !

To the new-bom honey-year —
Give thy favour — give thy blessing—

To these objects of our care.

Now let each attentive guardian

In devoted service strive
For the proud, the Matron-monarch—

Sovereign of the honey-hive.

8o that we may learn by watching

Who that in the noon-tide glance.
Or in midnight's darkest moments.

Summons her to Hymen's dance.*

Ev*ry bee-hive calls for patience.

Whilst great Haller's lessons teach
Without patience Nature's secrets

None successfully can reach.

T. W. WooDBUEY, Mount Rad/ord, Exeter.

* This point cannot now be considered donbtfiil, but it mnet be remembered that Herr
Braon's verses were written eighteen years ago.

Digitized by



In conclusion, we would remind all bee-keepers who earnestly
desire success, and who hope to draw pecuniary profit from their
pursuit, of the golden rule in bee-keeping : — " Keep your stocks
strong/^ In exercising the assiduous attention and persevering
effort, which that maxim enjoins, they will not only be regarded
as bee-keepers, but, as Mr. Langstroth says, will acquire a right to
the title of bee-masters.

Digitized by





The " Working Apiary" in the Great Exhibition of 1851, will long live in
remembrance of the many thousand visitors who witnessed with much interest
the matchless industry of its busy occupants.

We extract the following from many notices that appeared in the public
journals relative thereto.

In noticing the hives exhibited in the Crystal Palace, I would say, first and
foremost in my opinion stands Mr. Taylor's Eiglit-bar Hive, and Messrs.
N BiGHBOTJR AND SoN*8 Improved Cottage Hive, both exhibited by Messrs.
NEiGHBOua. — J. H, Fayne, see Cottage Gardener, Nos. 169, 170.

I^om the " Illuftrated London News,'*

Messrs. Neighbour's Apiary consists of a large glass case, with parts of
the sides covered with perforated zinc, for the sake of ventilation. This apiary
contains three hives; first Neighbour's Ventilating Box- Hive, containing
from 15,000 to 20,000 bees, which were hived on the 30th of April of the
present year, the day before that of the opening of the Great Exhibition;
Neighbour's Observatory Glass Hive, containing about the same number as
the box-hive ; and a two storied square box-hive, with sloping roof. From
this latter, however, the bees decamped within a week after they had been
hived, owing to some disturbance, or perhaps, to the dislike taken by the bees
to their new habitation. The Ventilating Box-Hive is, in shape, square,
having windows and shutters. The entrance is at the back, enabling the bees
to go to Kensington Gardens, or other resorts, when they please. Above the
wooden box is placed a bell glass, into whicli the bees ascend to work
through circular opening in, the top of the square box. In the top of the
bell-glass is an aperture through which is inserted a tubular trunk of perforated
zinc, to take off the moisture from within. The Observatory Hive is of glass,
with a superior crystal compartment, an opening being formed between the
two ; the bees are at present forming a comb in this upper glass, which affords
a very interesting sight, as generally speakin/, the bees are in such a cluster
when at work that one can scarcely view their mathematically formed celli.

Digitized by



A straw cover is suspended over the upper compartment by a rope orer a
pulley, which cover is raised up by the attendant at pleasure. The larger or
bottom compartment rests on a wooden floor, which has a circular groove sinking
therein to receive the bell glass. A landing-place projecting, as usual, with
sunken way, to enable the bees to pass in and out of their habitation, com-
pletes this contrivance.

In addition to Mr, Neighbour's Crystal Apiary, he also exliibifs a
Cottager's Straw Hive, Ti.YLOR*s Amateur Bee-Hive, a Glass Hive, Nutt's
Patent Collateral Hive, the Ladies' Observatory Hive, Neighbgue's Improved
Cottage Hive, and Payne's Cottage Hive.

Hie Cottager's Hive is 'simply that of the form we find in use in most
parts of the country, where the industrious cotU^ers or their wives, by a little
attention to their interesting little labourers, are enabled to add something to
their usually scanty earnings. This kind of hive is usually made of straw,
resting on a circular wooden board, with part of the board or floor projecting
in front as a landing place for the bees, which enter under the edge of the
straw by means of a sinking in the floor.

Ta.tlob's Amateur's Bee-Hive consists of three small square boxes, one
above another, with a roof over the top story ; the ventilation being effected
by perforations under the eaves 5 each side of eveiry story has a window and
shutter. The landing place is in front of the bottom story, and the entrance
to the hive is a long slit about f inch high.

The Glass Hive or Ladies' Observatory Hive, is similar to that in which
the bees are at work in Mr. Neighbour's Apiary already mentioned, but
on account of the number of bees at work therein, and the extent of comb
already effected, the interior perches cannot be seen. These wooden perches
are arranged in parallel lines, leaving a space next the glass all round, the
whole being framed together with a bar at right angles, and resting on an
upright support in the middle.

The Improved Cottage Hive of the same exhibitor consists of a straw
circular lower compartment, having windows and outside shutters. A thermo-
meter is placed just inside one of the windows. The floor is of wood, with
a landing place and sunken way, as already mentioned in some of the other
hives. In the top, which is also of wood, are three circular perforations, each
of about two inches in diameter ; above which are placed as many bell-glasses.
There is a small hole in the top of each of the glasses, through which a per-
forated tubular trunk is inserted, for the sake of taking off the moisture from
the interior of the hive. Within the glass is a feeding-trough of zinc, circular
in shape, with a floating perforated floor, on which the bees alight, and in the
the winter season regale themselves with the honey which is found in the
various perforations, as it floats up to the level of the honey, contained in the
small filling-trough, through which the honey, or beer and sugar, is poured*
The glasses are covered with a straw cap, removable at pleasure.

Messrs. Neighbour's contributions are completed with, tin perforated
umigators, by the use of which the bees are stupefied for a while, when
required to be moved from one hive to another ; and specimens of honey and
honeycomb of the season 1860.

Digitized by



From the *' Baipress:*

Bees a5d Bee-Hives. — ^In the North-East Gallery directly under the
Transept are arranged by Messrs. Neighboub, of Holbom, several descrip-
tions of bee-hives, which it will be interestiing to many of our readers to
examine, as this branch of rural economy is claiming much general and
deserved attention throughout the country. The novelty of these hives con-
sists in the facilities that are afforded in taking therefrom at any time of the
gathering season the purest honey without destroying or even injuring tho
bees, thus humanely superseding the barbarous and hateful system of murder-
ing these interesting insects, to obtain the produce of their industry.

Immediately adjoining the group of untenanted bee-hives may be observed
living hives with the bees most industriously at work. These useful little
creatures have been highly honoured by the Executive Committee, for of all
the animal workers that contribute to the interest of the Exhibition they
alone are allowed therein to display their matchless ingenuity and skill. By
'a simple contrivance the bees are allowed egress and ingress without in the
least degree molesting the visitors, thus enabling the admirers of the works
of nature to view the whole process of .forming the cells and depositing the
honey therein.

Within these few days Messrs. Neighbotjb have added to the Apiary, a
bee-hive constructed entirely of glass, protected by a cover neatly made of
straw, but so contrived, that on application to the attendant can be removed
instantly, thus illustrating more particularly the curious workmanship of these
amusing iusects.

Her Majesty the Queen, and the Prince Ck)nsort, with the Royal Children,
were some time engaged in watching with deep interest the busy scene before
them, and putting many questions relating to the habits and economy of the
honey bee.


From the " Illustrated London News** August 16, 1862.

One of the most interesting and instructive objects in the Exhibition, is a
transparent hive, in which the bees may be seen at full work. Among the
collection of bee-hives exhibited by Messrs. Neighboitr and Son, is one
of glass, stocked with a colouy of Italian Alp bees. Here the queen bee
may be seen surrounded by her subjects, which pay the most deferential
attention to their sovereign. Through an aperture cut in the wall, the busy
throng of bees are continually passing and repassing. They go out at tlieir
pleasure into the open court, fly over the annexe into the grounds of the
Horticultural Society and other adjacent gardens, and return laden with

From the "Journal of Horticulture ** October 21, 1862.

Neighbotjb, G. & Sons, 149, Regent Street, and 127, Holbom, No. 2157,
have a very handsome and complete stall, on ascending the steps of which we
found a flourishing stock of Ligurians, apparently not at all ashamed of the

Digitized by


122 THB apiaey; ob,

public position which they occupied, and working vigorously in the full light
of day. The queen, one of the largest and finest-coloured we have met with,
was perambulating the combs tind receiving the homage of her subjects, stop-
ping frequently to deposit an egg in every empty ceU. The hive itself was a
"Woodbury IJnicomb,*' handsomely got up in mahogany, invented as its
name implies, by our valued correspondent. " A Devonshire BEE-KEErER,"
the construction of which will be most readily understood by an inspection of
the engraving at page 46. Its distinctive features are, the adaptation of the
raoveable-bar system to unicomb-hives, by which any colony in an apiary of
" Woodbury hives*' can be placed in the unicomb-hive in a few minutes, and the
use of "outside Venetians," or "sun blinds." as they are called, instead of
the usual impervious shutters. By this contrivance light is never excluded, so
that when the hive is open for inspection, all its inmates continue their avoca-
tion with their accustomed regularity, and a quiet and orderly scene is pre-
sented to the spectator, instead of the hubbub and confusion which ensues in
ordinary unicomb-hives. On the left hand -side of the unicomb hangs a
beautifully executed drawing of a Ligurian queen bee magnified, together with
the queen worker and drone of Apis Ligustica, of the natural size. Immedi-
ately under the drawing is placed a square glass super containing nearly ^Olbs.
of the finest honeycomb. On the right of the unicomb-hive is another super of
the same description, containing nearly 301bs. of the purest honey. These
supers are, undoubtedly, by far the finest in the Exhibition, and are the first
worked in England by Ligurian bees, being from the apiary of "A Devonshire
Bee-keeper." In addition to these the most striking objects, are shewn
Neighbour's Improved Single Box and Cottage Hives, Taylor's Bar-Hives,
Woodbury Erame and Bar-hives, the new Bottle-feeder, and bee apparatus of
every description. It wiU be apparent from the foregoing, that Messrs. Neigh-
bour's stall is well worth inspection, although the various novelties it contains
appear to have met with but scant appreciation by the Jury, who merely awarded
to them that "honourable mention" so lavishly accorded to the far less
deserving objects.

From the "Illustrated News of the World,'* September 6, 1862.

One of the most interesting and instructive objects is the honey bee at
full work in -transparent hives. In the International Exhibition, Class 9,
Eastern Annexe, Messrs. Neighbour and Son, of Holborn and Ilegenl-street,
exhibit, amongst a collection of the most approved beehives and apparatus, a
glass hive, stocked with a colony of Itali^ Alp bees ; the hive is so con-
structed as to admit of easily seeing the queen, surrounded by the working bees.
Contrary to the long established notion that the bees work only in the dark
this hive is completely open to broad daylight. The bees do not manifest the
least dislike to the exposure, and they are not discomfited when light is
occasionally admitted for inspecting them. It is obvious that a knowledge of
this new feature must tend to a more general acquaintance with the habits and
hidden mysteries of the bee than has hitherto been the case. The queen may
be seen depositing the eggs in the cells ; in this manner she goes on multiplying
the species, the working bees surrounding her, and paying the most deferential
attention, with their heads always towards her. Not the least interesting part

Digitized by



is to watch the entrance ; facility is afforded for doing so, the sunken way
communicating with the hive being covered with a flat piece of glass; the
busy throng, pass and repass through the apperture cut in the wall, so that
the bees go out at their pleasure into the open court, fly over the Annexe into
the Horticultural and other adjacent gardens, and return laden with crystal
sweets gathered from the flowers. The novelty of being able to inspect living
bees, and those of a new variety, as easily as goods in a shop window, will well

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14

Online LibraryAlfred NeighbourThe apiary; or, Bees, bee-hives, and bee culture: being a familiar account of the habits of bees, and the most improved methods of management, with full directions, adapted for the cottager, farmer, or scientific apiarian → online text (page 12 of 14)