Helen Campbell.

The American girl's home book of work and play online

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dead bees, they drag from the hive. Always active, their
energy and industry quicken with the increase of flowers,
until they seem fairly wild with the excess of sweets, and
tumble over each other in their hurry to go and come laden
with their stores. In fact, they are masters of the situa-
tion, and govern the hive.

During the first two months of spring they are incessantly
at work, gathering pollen and honey in order to stimulate
breeding, and increase the number of workers. When they
get full to overflowing, they start queen-cells, .which they
prevent the old queen from destroying, and force her to
leave the hive with a lot of followers. This is called "swarm-
ing." Some bee-keepers have a method of dividing bees
when the hive is full, styled "artificial swarming." They put
part of the bees in a new hive, and give them a queen-cell,
or a young queen. Others allow them to swarm at least
once, keeping back further swarming by cutting out queen -
cells when formed, and by extracting their honey. This is
one of many reasons why the old box-hives are no longer
used, but hives with movable frames adopted. These enable
the apiarist to handle his bees as he pleases, to examine their
work, and judge of their condition. A wonderful impetus has
also been made in the invention of a machine which takes
a cake of wax, stamps it out thin, and marks its surface with
just the shape and size of a honeycomb. This "foundation "
is then fastened into frames hung in the hives ; and the insects
draw out from it, and build it up into perfect cells. By this
means they are saved much labor, as they can make twenty-
five pounds of honey in the time it would require to make
one pound of wax.


In June, the swarming-season, our maiden is prepared with
empty hives, each containing six frames of comb-foundation,
into which is put the new swarm.

In two or three days, on examination, these frames will be
found built up full of comb, when the hive must be filled with
others. It will then go on its peaceful way during the rest
of the summer.

But our young amateur will first need some experienced
person to assist at the critical period of swarming. The
seceders issue forth with a great roar and commotion, and
soon alight on some shrub or tree, where they hang like a
great wasp-nest. The queen is always carefully cherished
and protected, and they never leave the parent hive without
her. Having filled themselves with honey before leaving,
they are good-natured, and can be handled without fear.
Generally the new hive can be placed under the clustered
bees, which are to be gently brushed into it, and the hive
carried to its permanent stand.

In a short time the parent hive rapidly increases its occu-
pants, after which the apiarist puts on a second story, filled
with small boxes called "section-boxes," each having fas-
tened within a piece of foundation termed "the starter."
This induces the bees to go readily to work. As these are
filled and sealed up, they are taken out, and replaced by
others. In this way comb-honey is produced.

Honey contained in the broad chamber (the main part of
the hive) is taken from the comb by a machine called the
"extractor," at the pleasure of the apiarist, and the comb,
undisturbed in its frame, returned to the hive.

Early in October preparations should be made for winter-
ing. Each hive ought to contain at least twenty-five pounds
of honey for food during the cold months, and a good stock
of September-hatched bees. Hives constructed as described


need more protection than those made by the old method.
The experience of the most skilful apiarists has decided, that,
in the latitude of Philadelphia and New York, the best way
is to enclose them on their summer stands with outside boxes,
and fill in the two-inch spaces on all sides with sawdust or
chaff. The tops, also, have chaff-cushions for covers ; and
water-tight wooden roofs crown the whole, while the entrances
are kept open, but reduced in size.

This protection is not removed until settled warm weather.
Heat is necessary to the rearing of the brood, and working
of the comb : indeed, these tropical little creatures are true
sun-worshippers, and very sensitive to cold.

Their first spring-work is gathering pollen, from the soft
maple and willow, for their young, which, in a strong hive,
are hatched every month, more or less ; a good queen some-
times laying the extraordinary number of three thousand
eggs per day. Small as these interesting little insects are,
in spite of their numbers, it is wonderful how much of the
distilled juices of flowers they are able to secure. The yield
of honey from each hive, under the care of able bee-keepers,
is estimated to average one hundred pounds : more than five
times that amount is sometimes recorded. The beautiful
Italian bee, with its dress of gold and brown, and its quiet
habits, is of all others most easily managed.

After all, the success of the apiarist consists in doing the
right things at the right time as well as in season, in being
tranquil, and working with the utmost gentleness. Under
this care, bees rarely sting.

A hive of Italian bees can be bought for ten dollars. The
implements necessary can be obtained at numerous manufac-
tories, prices varying according to the extent of outfit : to
begin with, they will equal the cost of the hive. During the
last few years the greatest improvements have been made


in every thing connected with the apiary, as increased knowl-
edge of the habits of this exquisitely endowed insect has been

It is a great and growing industry, which depends upon
the bee as a storer of sweets ; and no brief chapters can do
more than indicate its fascination, by glancing at its more
important features. It has already a vast literature and a
wide following, among whom, it is pleasant to record, are
many women.

Average profits of bee-keeping.


To one hive of Italian bees $10.00


By 100 Ibs. of extracted and comb honey, averaging .20 per Ib. . $20.00
Profit on one hive $10.00

From this must be taken a proportion of the expenses
advanced at the beginning. These are implements, such as
a bee-veil, gloves, smoker, honey-knife, etc., in all, about five
dollars ; also a honey-extractor, a most curious and conven-
ient invention, by which the comb is returned to the hive to
be used again. This can be procured for eight dollars. Then
there is a house or shed in which these tools are stored, and
work done far and with frames and hives.




SINCE two thousand years before Christ, when the empress
of China discovered the mode of rearing silkworms, reeling
silk, and weaving it into a soft and beautiful fabric, these
industries have given occupation to multitudes of women
and girls. Over two hundred years ago King James the
First of England sent over to Virginia the first silkworm-
eggs which America ever contained, together with the mul-
berry-tree, the natural food of the worm ; but after the year
1760 little attention was paid to them until about fifty years
ago. Interest then declined, until within a very few years.
But it is not likely to decrease so long as silk is used for a
variety of purposes ; and that made in America proves to be
superior, in many respects, to the imported fabric.

The first step toward silk-culture is the planting of the
mulberry-tree for the food of the worm. The osage orange
can be used, but the white mulberry is the best where food
must be planted. These are raised from seeds and cuttings,
as well as from roots, which can be set out either in spring
or autumn.

When the leaf -buds of the mulberry begin to unfold in the
spring, we are ready for the eggs, which can be procured at
the office of any silk association in the country. The mother-
moth laid them late in winter ; and they have been kept dry,
hung up in woollen cloths. The room devoted to them is
warm and dry, and filled on the sides with long frames,


holding racks four feet wide, and bordered, to keep the worms
from falling to the floor. These are lined with paper, on
which the eggs rest. On the fifth day these tiny things,
about the size of a mustard-seed, hatch ; and the larvae go
hungrily to work on chopped mulberry-leaves. They stop to
rest only four times, during their moulting-seasons, which
divide life into five distinct periods, on the fifth, eighth,
thirteenth, and twenty-first day after making their appear-
ance. During this time they are yellowish-white, naked
caterpillars, and, when fully mature, three inches long. They
eat from six to eight times daily, devouring in their brief
existence one hundred times their weight of food. During
the last ten days of larvae life, the gum gathers in the bag
in the under jaw, they grow quiet, eat less, and make ready
to wind themselves in silken robes, and go to sleep to await
resurrection in another form.

This period of apparent death, but real pause, while the
insect gathers up its forces to undergo a change to a higher
existence, is only about thirty-five days after the worm
first appeared ; and it takes about fifteen more before we
behold the result of transformation, if we do not arrest
the process. But how does it go to work to spin its winding-
sheet ?

We strew the rack with twigs, or bits of rolled paper, and
wait to see. Out of an opening in the under lip the silk-
bag sends forth its liquid gum, from which two delicate
threads are drawn, and attached to convenient supports.
Bending the neck up and down and from side to side, they
first weave an outer covering of floss-silk, and back and
forth, within that, finer, stronger strands, till every part is
covered. Within these layers is still another and finer,
firmly glued each to each. One thousand yards of silk of
hairlike fineness are spun by the curious creature, out of the


little gland which secreted its juices from the green leaves
that gave no evidence of any such substance.

The yellow cocoon is then about the size of a peanut,
over an inch long, and so light that two hundred and fifty
of them weigh only a pound. If kept warm, the chrysalis
bursts its prison-cells in sixteen days, grown into a perfect
moth, ready to lay its eggs, and live its singular round of

But the watchful guardian cannot allow this destruction of
the cocoon. She throws it into hot water with its fellows,
by which means the worm is killed. They are now ready to
ship to dealers or manufactories, where they are reeled by
experts, and the silk prepared for dyeing and weaving

While silk-culture is yet in its infancy in this country,
there is little doubt of its importance, as a source of income
on a small scale, to girls at home. Attention is needed only
during warm weather, and even little children can feed the
silkworms. The cost and profit of rearing them depend on
so many things, that it is difficult to give any general esti-
mate. The Woman's Silk-Culture Association of the United
States, with an office on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, under-
takes to furnish all supplies, and buy cocoons or reeled silk
from producers. Here is their scale of prices :

To 100 mulberry-trees (from two to four feet high), sufficient to

plant an acre of ground $8.00

Twenty-six ounces of eggs, at $5 per ounce .... 130.00

Total . $138.00

These ought to yield about 937 pounds of cocoons, at
#i per pound, amounting to $937.

But the $798 remaining is by no means clear profit, The
simple cost of eggs and trees is vastly increased by the care


of the trees, and the cultivation of the land, which they
greatly exhaust, to say nothing of picking the leaves, and
feeding the tender larvae before the cocoons are spun. There
is also a large room or shed to prepare and heat, and the
expenses of racks and frames. Taking all things into con-
sideration, we can readily conclude that none of our girls
will be able to grow rich from the culture of the silkworm,
although a fair renumeration may be expected.




FLORICULTURE is the most charming of all those out-of-
door amusements to which American girls are more and
more devoted. Here, as well as in the drawing-room, is
opportunity for artistic culture ; and this has direct stimulus
from the inspiration of Nature herself. No well-balanced
young woman will consent to forego having her own little
plot of ground in summer, and window-garden in winter, on
which to essay her skill. She will dress suitably for her
work, in stout material, made with loosely belted waist, and
plain skirt not falling below the ankles, thick-soled boots,
old gloves, and a garden-hat. She is then fitted to take her
light garden spade, hoe, and trowel, and wield them as easily
as dumb-bells, though with the hope of a more tangible

It is in April, and the ground has been well spaded and
manured, whether it be a small plot under the windows of a
village or city house, or on the lawn of a larger country home.
The soil has been mingled with leaf-mould and old manure,
and thoroughly pulverized. She is about to sow a few seeds
of the hardier flowers in the open air, or to arrange her
grounds for early planting. Happily, the old, stiff, formal
geometrical beds of our grandmothers are things of the past ;
and as much greater latitude is permissible in the fashion of
flower-arrangement as in dress. Our maiden, therefore, will
display the refinement of her eye in the selection of plants


that are to grow side by side. For instance, she will not
plant her crimson-purple petunias beside her scarlet gera-

Of course she has some of last year's plants in the cellar,
such as geraniums, roses, carnations, fuchsias, and arbutilons,
to bring out to the light. They had been planted thickly in
shallow boxes in the fall, closely trimmed, and kept on the
piazza till near frost. Having slept through the long night
of winter, they are ready to open their eyes in the spring
sunshine. Her window-garden, too, is ready to empty its
contents out of doors. But we must not haste, for only the
hardiest plants are safe before the middle of May. And we
will beware of having too many varieties. A few kinds well
planted and tended, in masses, are much more satisfactory
to the eye than mixed beds, making blotches of color. Then,
again, delicate shades of blue or yellow may be grouped in
contrast with deep, rich tones of scarlet or crimson ; but they
must be judiciously managed.

So, also, must be the size and shape of the beds themselves,
depending on the size of the lawn or garden, and their dis-
tance from the house. Flowers near the windows may rea-
sonably be smaller and finer than those to be seen from a
distance. The mignonette and alyssum would be useless
two hundred feet away ; while even old-fashioned hollyhocks,
grouped in masses, are very decorative in effect if planted
against a background of evergreen at a sufficient distance.
The harmonies of form and color must be studied to give
effective richness to the scene.

It is not best for our young amateur to begin the ribbon
or carpet style of flower-bed, which requires a perfect knowl-
edge of tint, habit of growth, and mode of treatment. She
will, instead of this, make a few beds of annuals and peren-
nials, and set some herbaceous plants, which require less
attention still.


Here is a list of some of the most desirable plants for
bedding (the first thirteen are low, and may be near the
house), pansy, alyssum, aster, verbena, phlox Drummondii,
portulaca, balsam, petunia, heliotrope, ageratum, coreopsis,
gilly-flower, dianthus, nasturtium, escholtzia, and salvia.
Many of these are to be found double, but they are not so
interesting as the single blossoms. By procuring the seeds
at any reliable store, we can learn, from the printed direc-
tions on the paper, just when to sow them, though much
depends on an early or a late spring ; and some of them, like
the various pinks and the pansy, may be sown in the open
ground the preceding September, and, when large enough,
transplanted to beds prepared for them, and made very rich.
It is not generally known ; but the exquisite pansy can be
kept in beautiful bloom for six years by gradually cutting off
the old stalks, after the flowers begin to fade, leaving only
about two inches above the ground. These will send out
new shoots, so as to make almost constant blossoms. Like
all other perennials, they should be covered lightly with leaves
or straw kept in place by brush during the winter.

If seed are to be sown in open ground, after the surface
is prepared smooth and very fine by the rake following the
spade, scatter the germs with a light and even motion of
the hand. Follow with a delicate sprinkling of earth, when
the seeds are small, increasing the thickness with their size,
to an inch for the largest. But, if you can, start them in
shallow boxes in a half-warmed room, perhaps in a corner of
the kitchen, where they can get light and air. These boxes
jire filled with the finest earth or leaf-mould mixed with sand,
ind there are crevices at the bottom for the surplus water to
escape. Here the tiniest seeds will quickly germinate, and,
as they are sown very thickly, must be transplanted into pots
or the open ground in a month : afterward the weak ones are


to be remorselessly thinned, leaving only one c talk in a place.
This is a nice operation, suiting dainty fingers.

In planting out, we must remember that certain flowers
flourish best in the sba^e, though all require a little sun-
shine. These delicate plants are pansies, fuchsias, lilies-of-
the-valley, violets, lobelia^, phlox. The hardier herbaceous
blooms may be set without reference to shade , and foliage-
plants, like the coleus, fairly revel in the sunshine.

As our experience increases, we shall find that annuals
make a great deal of work, though many are very beautiful.
Here is a list of the most desirable, aster, balsam, carna-
tion, clarkia, marigold, mignonette, nasturtium, petunia, por-
tulaca, zinnia, poppy, larkspur, and phlox. These are all
propagated by seed.

Herbaceous perennials, which are renewed by either seeds,
divisions of the roots, or cuttings, though growing less ra-
pidly, with care will last for years. Such are the monkshood,
columbine, harebell, the tribe of pinks, dicentra or bleeding-
heart, the wonderful varieties of lilies (numbering about one
hundred), the iris, the narcissus (including jonquil and daffo-
dil), the cardinal-flower, evening-primrose, lilac, and various
spireas. These all require occasional replanting in fresh
soil, and the ground frequently stirred about the roots, and

Of hardy shrubs there are a legion, and many lovely climb-
ers. Among those frequently employed are the Virginia
creeper, bignonia or trumpet-vine, virgin's-bower, the honey-
suckles, the woodbines, wistarias, and many roses. We
have not spoken of the rose before : that glorious family
procession, to recognize which requires a liberal floral edu-
cation, deserves and repays especial study. Indeed, we have
only touched upon floriculture, the most invigorating and
enticing of all pursuits. Our maiden, with her spade and


hoe, her rake and trowel, will soon acquire a genuine enthu-
siasm for her pastime, learning therefrom more than books
can teach.

Where the question of profit comes in, a greenhouse is
involved if any elaborate work be undertaken. Here, how-
ever, as in every thing else, one thing perfectly done will
insure a larger return than miscellaneous work. Violets are
always salable ; and their cultivation, when the special beds
and frames they require are once made, is one of the easiest
and most profitable forms of floriculture.

There are books which have proved themselves faithful
guides to such work, and the titles of several are given on
p. 427. The work being so practicable, enjoyable, and re-
munerative, it is a constant surprise that there are so few
women florists. A few months of special training under a
good gardener would be a great gain ; and this is afforded at
one or two of the agricultural colleges, the Iowa one doing
especially valuable work in such directions




WITH the coming of the long winter months, our inter-
est gradually recedes in outdoor vegetation ; and the falling
petals of flowers warn us to prepare them homes within our
walls, where their loveliness may be a joy or solace. Ac-
cordingly we take up our favorites, selecting those which are
free winter-bloomers, and are tender, like heliotropes, be-
gonias, salvias, and other natives of the tropics, to keep
on the piazza, or some sheltered spot, till they have become
accustomed to the change.

The best compost for house-plants is made from garden
or leaf mould, decomposed manure, and river-sand thor-
oughly mixed (the greater quantity being of the first-named)
and very finely powdered. If the pot is too large, the plant
will run to leaf, and not flower so well. It is better, to take
one that seems a little small, even, as the branches must be
cut back nearly one-half their length. Many florists do not
now follow the old method of putting in broken earthenware
to secure drainage, but fill in the earth firmly about the
pruned stem, and water very sparingly, with the pots in the
shade until they have put out new growth and new roots.
They are to be kept as long as possible in a cool place, since
most of them are more injured by heat than by moderate

But it is much better to have begun our preparation for
winter as early as June, by taking cuttings, or fresh young


plants, potting, an.d burying them so that the pot is even
with the surface of the ground. They can then be taken up
in the fall without retarding their growth. They are removed
to the sitting-room, and placed on the south or east side, in
the sunshine ; and a little ingenuity will drape your windows
with nature's own growths. On brackets at each side are
ivies, which creep around and above the panes ; on others
may sit drooping begonias, the sedums, oxalis (either red,
white, or yellow), the smilax, or any graceful growers. On
the stand beneath, either of wire or wood, you may have a
succession of blossoms, beginning with the chrysanthemum
in December, continuing through the bulbs, hyacinths, calla-
lily, and narcissus, and ending with all you can find room to
store. Here is a list of some of the hardier, such as can
bear an average temperature of fifty degrees, pelargoni-
ums, jessamines, roses, azalias, abutilons, primulas, verbenas,
daphnes, hoyas, camellias, oleanders, geraniums, and stevias.
If the room is very warm and dry, the various families of
the cacti will flourish : if warm and with more moisture, the
following will be successful bloomers, heliotropes, tube-
roses, bouvardias, fuchsias, and, of foliage-plants, the coleus,
Poinsettia, and caladium. In very cold nights, unless the
windows are double, these plants may need the protection
of a paper thrown over them to prevent getting chilled.

If there is a bay-window in the sitting-room, that is the
very place for a rustic stand, or even an oblong wooden box,
with a painted or tiled front, and lining of zinc, perforated at
the bottom. Very handsome ones are now made of terra-
cotta and iron. In the centre nothing is prettier than two
or three varieties of begonia, the dracena, maranta, rose-
geranium, petunia, echeveria, and a few ferns ; some, though,
requiring a high temperature to flourish well. Over the
edge, the ivy, moneywort, tradescantia, smilax, and nastur-


tium will make a graceful trailing fringe. Then, with a shelf
of some hard, unpainted wood, like black walnut, running
about the bottom of the window to furnish support for flower-
pots, a bit of summer may be imprisoned to cheer with
ever-varying beauty the sombre days of winter.

Our amateur will do well to beware of watering her flowers
too frequently, or of watering them in the saucers, which are
merely to save the floor or carpet beneath, but should never
contain standing water. In the open air the surface be-
comes dry, and is then refreshed by showers : so should
the soil in our pots. But when they are watered, it should
be thoroughly done. A little ammonia or a diluted fertilizer
twice a week will be very acceptable to their roots.

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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 25 of 28)