Amos Ives Root.

The A B C and X Y Z of bee culture; online

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but even if they did, they certainly followed
the queen in going back to her old home.
We also know that bees sometimes follow
a young queen when she goes out to take
her wedding-flight.

It is my opinion that it is neither the queen
nor the workers alone that make the first
start, but that all hands join together and
act in concert.


If we attempt to contract the size of the
hive when honey is coming in boimtifuUy,
the bees will be very apt to take measures
toward swarming, about as soon as the
combs are full of brood, eggs, pollen, and
honey. They will often wait several days
after the hive is seemingly full, and this
course may not cause them to swarm at
all, but it is very likely to. As soon as it
has been decided that the hive is too small,
and that there is no feasible place for stor-
ing an extra supply of honey where it can
be procured in the winter, when needed,
they generally commence queen-cells. Be-
fore doing this I have known them to go
so far as to store their honey outside on the
portico, or even underneath the hive, thus
indicating most clearly their wants in the
shape of extra space for their stores where
they could protect them.

I believe want of room is the most gen-
eral cause of swarming, although it is not
the only cause ; for bees often swarm in-

cessantly when they have a hive only partly
filled with comb. First swarms usually
come about from the cause I have men-
tioned; but After-swarming (which see)
often gets to be a sort of mania with the
bees, and they swarm, apparently, wtthout a


The old adage runs,—

" A Bwarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees In June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees In July
Is not worth a fly."

There is much truth in this, especially if
managed on the old plan ; but with modem
improvements, a swarm in July may be
worth a silver spoon, or even a load of hay ;
possibly, both together. See After-swarm-
ing. A colony that was very populous in
the fall, and has wintered finely, may cast
the first swarm in May, in this latitude ; but
such events were very unusual before the
advent of Italians. The latter often swarm
during fruit-bloom, and in some cases even
earlier. In our locality, swarms do not usu-
ally issue until the middle or last of June.
If the season is a little late, sometimes the
greater part of them will come in July, and
we almost always have more or less swarm-
ing going on during our national holiday.
At this time, basswood is generally at its
height, and we frequently have quite a yield
from clover, after basswood is gone. On
this accoimt, swarms that come out during
the first week in July usually get enough to
winter, and are therefore worth the price of
a swarm of bees any way. I presume the old
adage referred, principally, to the amount of
honey they would store ; if the July swarms
did not secure enough^ to winter over, and
were allowed to starve, they would not be
worth the trouble of hiving them, and so
they might be rated as of less value than a
fly. Swarms that come out in June would
fill their hives, and perhaps make a surplus
that, on an average, would bring at least a
dollar, the old price of a silver spoon ; while
those that were so thrifty as to be able to
start in May would have the whole season
before them; and if they did not get set
back before white clover came out, would
very likely make a surplus worth $5.00, the
market price of a load of hay. In some lo-
calities bees seem to swarm in the latter part
of July and August, and reports seem to
show that they do it when little or no honey
is to be had, and when the bees are disposed

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to rob ; but such is certainly not the case
here, for our bees give up all preparations
for swarming, some little time before the
honey flow has ceased. I do not remember
ever to have seen a natural swarm issue here
later than July; but in some localities, buck-
wheat swarms are a very common thing.

Where the apiarist has plenty of extra combs
filled with stores, it is an easy matter to care
for and make valuable stocks of swarms that
issue at any time.


Although we can sometimes tell when bees
are going to swarm, I do not think it will be


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safe, by any means, to assume we can always
do so. It has been said, that all the bees
which have been clustering on the outside
will, the morning of the day they are in-
tending to swarm, go inside the hive ; but
this can not always be so, for I have seen a
swarm issue while the loafers were hanging
on the outside as usual ; and at the sound of
the swarming-note, they took wing and join-
ed in. Where a colony is intending to swarm ,
they will not be working like the rest, as a


general thing ; and quite likely, on the day
they are intending to swarm, vei7 few bees,
comparatively, will be seen going out and in
at the hive. With movable combs we. can
generally give a very good guess of the dis-
position to swarm, by opening the hive.
Bees do not, as a rule, swarm until they have
got their hive pretty well filled up, and have

multitudes of young bees hatching out daily
The presence of queen-cells is generally con-
sidered an indication of the swarming fever.
Many think that the clustering of the bees
on the outside of the hives is an indication
that they are going to swarm. To a certain
extent this may be the case, but it is by no
means an indication that they are going to
swarm very soon. I knew a colony, belong-
ing to a neighbor, that hung out in great
masses nearly a month before the bees came
out. His new hive was in read-
iness, and he stayed at home
and watched day after day, un-
til clover and basswood both
were almost gone, and finally
they cast a large fine swarm.


This swarm had hung outside
, the hive during the great honey-
harvest of the season; and as it
is no unusual thing for a colony
to store 10 lbs. a day, during the
height of the season, they may
have lost 100 lbs. of honey, for
the swarm was an unusually fine
and strong one. I think they
could easily have secured this
amount if they had worked, but
it is by no means certain that
they could have been made to go
to work as they did after they
swarmed and were put into a
new hive. Within two or three
weeks after they swarmed, if I
remember, they filled their hive,
and gave about 25 lbs. of sur-
plus. How shall we deal with
such boes?

This clustering-out may be
caused by the fact that the bees
need room. In that case, obvi-
ou ly, an extracting or comb-
honey super should be placed on
top ; for if the bees get into the
habit of loafing it may be a little
hard to get them to go up into
the supers. In such case I would
advise giving the bees a section
or two of honey partly drawn
out, as previously explained under Comb
Honey. I would at the same time also
enlarge the entrance. If you do not use a
Danzenbaker bottom-board, as described
under Entrances, set the hive up on four
blocks i inch thick. This wiU leave an open
space a.l around the hive, but that will do
no harm. If the primary cause of the beea

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Every apiarist, even if he have but a cou-
ple of hives, should make preparations for
swarming, to some extent ; for, even though
dividing (see Nucleus, also Increase) is
practiced, and utmost care used to prevent
swarms, there will always be a chance that
one may come out unexpectedly. First
of all, and before the swarming season, the
wings of all queens should be clipped, and
hives should be in readiness. Extra combs
should be placed in the honey-house where
you can put your hand on them at any
minute. I would also have some hives
where I could get a comb of unsealed lar-
vae without very much trouble ; that is,
make up your mind what hive you are to go

clustering out in the first place is lack of ; preparations for swarming, to be made
ventilation, or too great heat, this raising-up ; ^^ the bee-keeper.

of the hive will cause the bees to go in, and
possibly prevent swarming. See under head
of Entrances, also CJomb Honey, for fur-
ther particulars.

swarming modified by locality.

The commencement of the swarming sea-
son varies, of course, according to its local-
ity, and it may be said that the swarming
propensity itself is modified very materially
also by the locality. In places where the
honey-flow is very heavy, and continues
so for some time, swarming seems to be
checked, for the bees are all intent on get-
ting honey. Indeed, they have no time to
waste on such foolishness. In such local-
ities the swarming season comes on when
the first or light honey-
flow begins, and contin-
ues so long as it is light;
but just as soon as the
secretion of nectar be-
comes heavy, then just
that soon swarming

It sometimes happens
that a bee-keeper resid-
ing in one of these local-
ities wonders why his
brethren in the craft
make so much fuss in
the bee journals about
swarm control when he
has no trouble from
that source at all. The
other fellow, on the
other hand, can not un-
derstand how the first-
mentioned bee - keeper
can perform certain
manipulations with his
bees, and not have ex-
cessive swarming. In
reading the following
pages treating on this
general subject one
must bear in mind this question of locality.
It should, therefore, be said that much of
the matter that follows relates to conditions
as we generally find them in the Northern
States, and not as they are found in parts of
Texas, California, and some portions of the
tropics. In these localities there may or may
not be any swarming problem. On the
other hand, the bee-keeper encourages it to a
certain extent; and when he wishes it to
cease by reason of the heavy honey-flow it
stops naturally.

A fine symmetrical swarm within easy reach.

to, in case you should want such a comb in
a hurry. Bees will often swarm on Sunday;
and as we would not wish to work with our
bees on the Sabbath more than is absolutely
necessary, it behooves us to be at all times
prepared to take care bf a swarm, should it
come, with very little trouble. I can re-
member having swarms on Sunday, when it
became necessary to hunt up a hive, decide
on its location, hunt up some empty combs,
and then look over my hives to see where
there was one with no surplus boxes on, that

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I might get at a brood - comb with as little
trouble as possible, to put in the new hive,
to prevent them from decamping. All these
things take time, and more than one swarm
have departed while a hive was being made
ready to receive them. If you keep the
wings of your queens clipped as I have ad-
vised, you will need some queen-cages where
you can lay your hands on them at a min-
ute's notice, for there are times when you

by her silken wings, can take a cage of this
kind and place the mouth directly over her.
In a moment, finding herself confined, she
will ascend into the cage. The little wood-
en plug is now inserted, and your captive
queen can be placed among the fiying bees,
and the swarm hived as described next.
The cage is also used for introducing. See



need to step about as lively as you would if
a house were on fire, and you do not want to
be bothered by hunting for things.


The best queen-catcher, or, rather, a cage
for confining the queen, during the swarm-
ing season, is the Miller intvoducing-cage, a
cut of which will be found under Introduc-
ing. We will suppose that a swarm has
just issued, and that your clipped queen is
hopping around the entrance of your hive.
Your wife or attendant, feieling some hesi-
tancy about picking up so delicate an object

how to hive a
queen; the

Under the general head of Queens, sub-
head Clipping, I have already given inti-
mation how swarming may be controlled to
a certain extent by clipping. Where the plan
of forcing the swarm ahead of time by brush-
ing or shaking* is not practiced, clipping
has come to be almost universal among
comb-honey producers; for where queens'
wings are clipped, or they are prevented
from leaving the hive by the use qt Alley
traps or entrancVguards (see Drones), a
great amount of labor may be saved.

We will assume that all queens in the api-
ary have their wings clipped. A swarm
comes forth. Go' to the hive from which it
is issuing ; and, while they are coming out,
find the queen, which will be found, in all
probability, hopping around in the grass
near the entrance, vainly endeavoring to fly
with the rest of the bees. Cage her, and
then slip the cage into a pocket or some cool
place, temporarily. Remove the super or
supers into which the bees have already
started to work, and set them on the ground
near the hive. The brood-chamber should
now be removed just as it is, to an entirely
new location. Put in its place on the old
stand a hive containing frames of founda-
tion or empty comb, and on top of this a
queen-excluding honey-board. Some prefer
having only starters of foundation. Next
put the supers, placed on the ground tem-
porarily, on the new hive containing the
frames of foundation or comb. Now lay
the caged queen in front of the entrance.

All of this may be done while the bees are
in the air, and it will not be long before they
discover that the queen is not with them,
and return pellmell to their old location, and
rush into the new hive. After they are well
started to going in, the queen may be releas-
ed, when she will go with them.

The work already begun in the supers will
be pushed on and completed with more vim
and energy than before, because a new
swarm always works with new energy. If

* This plan is described under Prevention of
Swarming a few paffes further on.

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only frames containing starters are given
them, what honey does come in is forced
right into the supers, for the bees have ab-
solutely no place to store it, or at least
not until foundation below has been drawn
out; and as soon as this takes place it is oc-
cupied immediately by the queen.

The old hive containing frames of brood
and queen-cells now in another location
may cast forth a second or a third swarm ;
but if queen-cells are cut out, even second
swarming may, to a very great extent, be

This method of handling swarms where
natural swarming is allowed commends it-

old brood-nest over to another location.
This can be done any time within a day ; or,
when preferred, the old stand can be left
alongside of the new one, providing the en-
trance is reversed.

If two or more swarms come out at the
same time, and one of them has a virgin
queen, all the bees will be likely to unite
with the one having the queen ; then, of
course, this plan of bees returning will come
to naught. But in a well-regulated apiary
there will be few such occurrences as this,
and ninety-nine out of a hundred swarms
may be hived as easily as this, without any


self especially to the women-folks, who are
generally at home. All they have to do is
to hunt up the clipped queen, cage her,
and then put an empty hive containing
frames of foundation in place of the old one.
As it might not be practical for the women
to carry the old hive to another location,
they can simply drag it over to one side,
and change the entrance so that it will face
to the rear. When the " man of the house "
returns, he. can lift the supers off from the
old 9tand on to tlie new one, then take' the


Under Drones, an incident is given in
regard to the matter of entrapping the
queen when slie issues with the swarm. The
employment of perforated zinc will not pre-
vent swarming, but it prevents the bees
from accomplishing their purpose ; that is,
swarming out and taking their queen with
them. In other words, the perforated zinc
simply takes the place of clipping the queen's
wings. In some cases it may be desirable
to use the zinc instead of clipping. Usually,

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from what experience I have had, I should
say it is preferable to clip the queen-s wings
rather than to cause the bees the inconven-
ience of crawling, during the continuance of
the honey-flow, through narrow perforations
of zinc, simply for the purpose of preventing
the issue of the queen should the swarm
come forth.

While I recommend clipping in place of
using perforated zinc, yet in the case of very

the queens should be clipped early in the
season when it is easy to find them.


When a swarm issues (see cut imder
Drones), the bees will pass the guard ; but
the queen, on finding herself shut in, will pass
" up stairs " in the same way as the drones.
Sometimes, however, instead of going above
she will return into the hive. In five or ten
minutes, the bees, on discovering the ab-


strong colonies in the height of the honey-
flow, especially if such colonies are in two-
story hives, it is more practical to put on
entrance-guards or Alley traps. In the first
place, the attaching of the traps can be done
in a tenth of the time it takes to find the
queen ; and in the second place, pulling the
hive all apart to find her majesty causes
more or less interruption ; but, of course,

sence of their queen, will go back to the
I hive. The bees should not be allowed to
, make more than one attempt to swarm in
I this way, for, failing to swarm again with the

queen, they will be likely to kill her. The
j bees may, however, cluster without the

queen, and remain clustered a short time.
^ If the queen enters the upper apartment,
. the entire trap cro be detached, fastened to

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a rake or some other object, and placed
among the flying bees. Of course, they will
readily cluster about the cage, when they can
be hived; but keeping an Alley trap at-
tached to all hives that are likely to send

nearly the same result can be attained by
clipping the queen's wing, at no expense
whatever; and at the same time the bees
have, up to the time of swarming, a free and
imobstructed entrance. See Dronfs.


out a swarm during the ensuing ten or twen-
ty days would be rather expensive, both be-
cause of the cost of the trap itself, and be-
cause of the inconvenience to the laden
workers coming home. The same or very


Every apiarist engaged in the production
of honey should by all means have the wings
of all his queens clipped. He can not afford

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not to^ unless he uses perforated zinc (see
Drones). It is much more diflacult to take
care of swarms when queens are allowed to
go with the swarm. But as there are some
who dislike to " disfigure " or " mutilate "
their queens ; and as some swarms in any
case will get out with a virgin queen, I
have thought best to describe the various
devices for capturing swarms with undip-
ped queens. See Queens, subhead Clip-

Almost every apiarist has his own peculiar
notion as to how a swarraing-device should
be constructed. Some of these implements
are very ingenious, and valuable assistants
during the swarming season. Their partic-
ular use is to remove a swarm after it has
clustered, and place it in the hive where it is
desired that the new swarm shall take up
its new abode. The first one to which I call
attention, not because it is the best, but be-
cause it is the simplest, is a sort of butterfly-

The hoop is made of stout wire, and is
about 20 inches in diameter. The ends are
soldered into a tin socket that will receive a
rake-handle, or, for tall trees, something still
longer. The bag is to be put up under the
swarm, and the hoop is then made to cut off
gently the cluster so that the bees will fall
into the bag. It is then turned edgewise, so
as to confine them while it is taken down
and carried to the hive. As the bag is made
of cheese-cloth, they have plenty of air. To
get the bees out, turn it inside out. The
bag has the same diameter as the hoop, and
is about four feet long.

A. E. manum's swarming-device.

This consists of a wire-cloth basket made
in the shape of an inverted pyramid, and
pivoted at the two opposite corners so as to
hang always in an upright position. Wlien
a swarm is captured the basket may be
grasped by the ring in the smallest end, and
inverted, dumping the bees into the hive
prepared for them.

Fig. 1 represents the wire-cloth cage or
basket; Fig. 2, the device in position, re-
ceiving the bees as they cluster on the out-
side of the cage. Fig. 3 shows the cage open.

As soon as the cluster beginning to form is
half or wholly completed, run the basket
up to and around the cone of bees. An assist-
ant, if present, gives the limb a jar, so as to
disengage the bees into the basket. In case
no one is ready to assist, a sliding move-
ment will precipitate the cluster into the
wire-doth cage, when it is quickly lowered.
This operation, in passing down through the
limbs, will usually catch the wire-cloth lid,
and close it with a slam. In case it is not

manum's swarm-catching device.

closed, the apiarist st€ps forward and does
it himself. Half or two-thirds, of the bees
are generally confined. In all probability
the queen is there also. As the bees can not
get out, those still flying in the air will very
readily duster on the wire cloth, surround-
ing the majority of their companions inside.
To make this more expeditious, the tripod
is adjusted, and the cage is suspended in the
air, as shown in Fig. 2, right where the bees
are flying thickest. In two or three min-
utes the remainder of the bees will be clus-
tered on the outside. At this stage of the
proceeding the apiarist comes forward, folds
the two short legs against the pole, grasps it
at its center of gravity (see Fig. 1 ), and walks
off to the hive, which he has previously pre-
pared. The wire fork is made of steel, and
is light and springy. The walking of the
apiarist has no tendency then to jar the bees
off from the basket.

One of the special features of the Manum
arrangement is, that the basket can be ad-
justed to almost any position, all the way
from 2 to 10 feet from the ground. All that
is necessary is to spread the tripod legs,

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catch them into the ^ouDd, and leave them
standing. In the mean time, if the hive is
not prepared, the apiarist has ample time to
get it ready. After this he can return to
the swarm just now clustered. Most of the
devices require to be held until the cluster
has settled. It is a tedious job to hold a
pole at arms' length, with face upturned. If
the swarm clusters very high, some other
arrangement, perhaps, would be better than
the Manum ; but for low shrubbery it is just
the thing. The other special feature of the
device is, that, after you have gotten about
half or two-thirds of the bees into the bas-
ket, they can not escape and seek their orig-
inal point of attachment.


With most of the hiving-devices I have
illustrated, what might be called a hiving-
hook can be used to considerable advan-
tage at times. It is simply an iron hook,
large enough to compass an ordinary limb
on which swarms cluster, mounted on the
end of a long pole, therefore resembling,
somewhat, a shepherd's crook. One of
the hiving-devices is passed beneath the
swarm. This hook can reach over, grasp
the limb on which the swarm is clustered,
and one or two smart jerks will jar the bees
into the basket, bag, or box, as the case
may be.

strimpl's sw arming-ladder.

Swarms usually alight low, so that the
ordinary hiving - implements previously
described will reach them from the ground.
But there are times when they will settle on
pretty high limbs. It is then that a ladder

is called into requisition . If it will not reach

Online LibraryAmos Ives RootThe A B C and X Y Z of bee culture; → online text (page 64 of 80)