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Advanced bee-culture, its methods and management online

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promises well at a time when we knozv nothing will be gathered if the bees
are kept at home, is a far different thing. For instance, only forty miles
from here, on a direct line of railroad, is a locality where it is nothing
unusual for loo pounds of comb honey per colony to be secured, yet
nothing is in bloom here at that time. The expense of moving to and
from a locality no further away than this need not be so very great. From
thirty to forty colonies can be moved on a hay-rack; or a special rack
might be made which would accommodate fifty colonies. An apiarist who
is going to practice moving his bees to secure better pasturage must have
hives, fixtures, and other arrangements suitable for that purpose. The
arrangements ought to be such that three or four minutes would be
sufficient for preparing a hive for moving. One of the greatest advan-
tages of fixed or self-spaced frames is that they need no fastening when
the apiary is to be moved. Of course, bees moved in hot weather must
have abundant ventilation ; but this alone will not save the brood if they
are long confined. To save the brood the bees must have plenty of water.

Some localities are blessed with an almost continuous flow — spring
flowers, white clover, basswood, and fall flowers ; and, by the way, a man
who is to make a specialty of bee-keeping ought to seek such a locality;
but many who are already engaged in bee-keeping are permanently located,
have friends and relatives living near, and prefer not to seek a new
. location, even if the profits would be thereby increased. Then, again, it
is difficult to find a first-class locality for clover and basswood that is
equally good for fall flowers ; and the better the locality the greater . the
danger of its being overstocked by its very attractiveness bringing together
so many bee-keepers.

There is no question but that many bee-keepers can secure a bounti-
ful crop of fall honey by moving their bees at the right time ; but a word
of caution may not be out of place right here. Some fall honey, that from
aster, for instance, is sadly unfit for winter stores. So disastrous has fall
honey proved for winter stores, in some localities, that the bee-keepers
there have given up trying to winter their bees unless they substituted
early gathered stores, or fed sugar. I know of one bee-keeper in such
a locality who secured bountiful crops of fall honey from the surrounding
swamps, but was utterly unable to winter his bees, prepare them as he



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124 Advanced Bee Culture

might, and he finally fell to shaking them off the combs at the close of
the season (thus saving the honey), and restocking his apiary in the
spring with bees from the South. So I say, beware when you move your
bees to fall pastures of asters and swamp flowers.

There is another form of migratory bee-keeping that has long been
the dream of apiarists — that of starting with an apiary in the South at
the opening of the honey season, and moving northward with the season,
keeping pace with the advancing bloom, thus keeping the bees **in clover"
the entire summer. The difficulties to be overcome are largely those of
transportation. There is no single line of railroad running north and south



On the Road.

for a sufficiently long distance to make a success of migratory bee-keeping.
When shipping bees by freight, on the migratory plan, the delays at
junction points are not only vexatious but disastrous. It is for this reason
that longing eyes have been cast at the Mississippi River and her steam-
boats, and once Mr. C. O. Perrine tried moving several hundred colonies
up the Mississippi on a barge towed by a tug. The plan was to run up the
river nights, and "tie up" during the day to allow the bees to work.
There are several reasons why the plan was a failure. The start was
made too late in the season, and accidents to the machinery of the tug
caused delays. In order to overtake the bloom it became necessary to
confine the bees and run day and night. The confinement for so long was



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Migratory Bee-keeping 125

very disastrous to the bees. Those who aided in the enterprise believe
that, rightly managed, the plan might be made a success. Mr. Byron
Walker, who has had much experience in moving bees from the South,
greatly favors the Mississippi plan of migratory bee-keeping. He would
not put the bees on a barge and tow them with a tug, but would load
them upon a regular steamer running up the river, setting them off at
some desirable point, and then shipping them by another boat to another
point further up the river, as the flow begins to wane. In the fall he
would take the bees back south for the winter.

Right here a hypothetical question comes to mind. Suppose an apiary
moving up the Mississippi secures as much as six ordinary crops of
honey — six times as much as a stationary apiary — would this be more
profitable than six stationary apiaries ? In other words, which is the more
promising field for enterprise — following up the season, or establishing
out-apiaries? Upon this point there are many things to be considered,
and varying circumstances would lead to different decisions. To establish
six apiaries would require considerable capital, and the labor of caring
for the honey crop would all come at one time, while there would be only
one chance of securing a crop. With the migratory plan, only one apiary
would be needed, and the work of caring for the surplus would not come
all at the same time. With the stationary apiaries there would be no
expense for transportation, which is a big item.



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Out- Apiaries

When a man starts an out-apiary it is because he thinks his home
yard overstocked; that he will get enough more honey for the division
to pay for the extra labor incurred. Overstocking is one of the most
puzzling questions connected with bee culture. We all know that a
locality can be overstocked; but localities, seasons, and bee-pasture are
so variable that it is impossible to lay down any set rules in regard to
the number of colonies needed to overstock a locality. It must not be for-
gotten that the yield per colony, yes, and in the aggregate, may be dimin-
ished to a considerable extent by overstocking ere the establishment of
an out-apiary would be a profitable move. At times, of great honey-
flows it is probably practically impossible to overstock a locality. The
overstocking occurs during the lighter yields. There is occasionally a
man, notably Mr. E. W. Alexander, of New York, who made a success
of keeping a very large number of colonies in one apiary by feeding
during times of scarcity. Mr. Alexander secured as high as 75 pounds
of extracted honey per colony from 700 colonies in one yard. This ques-
tion of how many colonies will justify the starting of an out-apiary is
one that must be settled according to the circumstances of each individual
case, and can never be decided with more than approximate correctness.

I have had no experience with out-apiaries; but I believe that the
majority of the inexperienced have erroneous ideas as to the difficulties
and expenses attending the establishing and management of out-apiaries.
Land must be bought or hired ; some sort of building or shelter secured ;
and a conveyance of some kind will be needed for carrying bees, tools, and
supplies. Then in the Northern States there is the preparation of a cellar
for wintering the bees, or they must be carted home in the fall and back
in the spring, or else protected upon their summer stands. But when a
man begins to number his colonies by the hundreds he knows that some-
thing must be done. Even if out-apiaries are not so profitable as home
apiaries, they are not usually run at a loss, while the removal of the
surplus bees at the home yard allows that to make better returns.

When it is finally decided to start an out-apiary, how far away shall
it be located? We have been repeatedly told that, ordinarily, three miles
mark the limits of a bee's foraging-grounds ; hence if apiaries were placed
six miles apart there should be no encroachment. But it must be remem-



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Out-apiaries 129

bered that the pasture ground of each apiary is somewhat circular in form,
hence they might be moved toward each other to a considerable extent
without one encroaching very much upon the other. Dr. Miller has given
a very happly illustration : Lay two silver dollars side by side. Lift the
edge of one and slide it over the edge of the other. Notice how far it
may be pushed over without covering a very large portion of the other.
Notwithstanding all this, those who have had experience in the matter
are not inclined to place out-apiaries nearer together than four miles, and
prefer to have them five or six miles apart. When the team is hitched
up and on the road, a mile or two more travel does not take so very
much time, and the increased yield may more than make it up. We can
not always secure the exact spot desired for the location of an out-apiary,
and it would probably be well to go a little further than really necessary,
rather than to crowd some other apiary.

The mode of travel to and from out-apiaries will depend upon cir-
cumstances. Some men have a honey-house, with extractor and kit of
tools at each apiary, and ride a bicycle to and from the work, storing the
honey at or near the apiary, and hauling it home at their leisure. A few
men have been fortunate enough to be able to locate out-apiaries near
some trolley line by means of which they can go and come any hour of
the day. Probably the majority find horses the most desirable means of
travel, in which case one set of tools will answer for several apiaries.
It is 'even possible to dispense with honey-houses at the apiaries, a tent
being carried, and slipped over a light framework kept standing at each
yard. A covered wagon is sometimes made to answer as an extracting-
room.

x\fter locating an out-apiary, and deciding upon the mode of travel
to and from it, the matter of management brings up several questions.
Shall comb honey be produced, or shall the honey be taken in the extracted
form ? Shall it be managed upon the visiting plan, or shall a man be kept
there during swarming time? I believe that, in the majority of
cases, extracted honey is produced in out-apiaries, as by this plan swarm-
ing can be nearly controlled, and the apiaries visited only at intervals.
Mr. E. D. Townsend, of Michigan, has successfully managed an apiary
for extracted honey by visiting it only four times a year. The bees were
in ten-frame Langstroth hives. At the approach of the white-clover flow
he visited them to remove the packing and put on two upper stories of
combs. He visited them twice to extract and again to pack them up for
winter. His profits averaged $150 for each visit. He approves of visiting
an apiary oftener than this, but his experience shows what can be done.
The reason for not visiting this apiary oftener was that it was fifty
miles from home. And this brings up another point in connection with
out-apiaries: If they are widely scattered, with varying kinds of pas-



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130 Advanced Bee Culture

turage, there is almost a certainty of securing a crop each year from some
of them.

The difficulty in the past in managing out-apiarias for comb honey
has been that of controlling swarming; but the discovery of "shook
swarming" changed all this, and gave a wonderful impetus to the estab-
lishment of out-apiaries. By visiting an apiary 'once a week, and "shak-
ing" every colony that has started queen-cells, there will be little if any
swarming. A few bee-keepers succeed in preventing swarming by re-
moving the queens at the beginning of the swarming season, but the
practice has never been generally adopted.

As many colonies ought to be placed in an out-apiary as the location
will bear — certainly enough to make a day's work at each visit during the
busy season, as it would be unprofitable to drive oflf five or six miles to do
only part of a day's work.

In those parts of the country where outdoor wintering is uniformly
successful there need be no question as to how bees shall be wintered at
an out-apiary; but where cellar wintering must be depended upon, a
choice must be made between building a cellar at each apiary and that of
carting the bees home in the fall and out again in the spring. If the
bee-keeper knows positively that an apiary is permanently located it may
be worth while to consider the construction of a cellar on the ground;
but usually there is more or less shifting about of out-apiaries, and, unless
too far from home, I should be inclined to follow Mr. P. H. Elwood, of
New York, in bringing them home in the fall and carrying them out in
the spring. Mr. Elwood sometimes has as many of 1,000 colonies in one
cellar. Mr. E. D. Townsend, whose out-apiaries are widely scattered,
buries his bees or puts them in "clamps," as it is called; and where the
soil and location are suitable this is an excellent method of wintering bees.



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House- Apiaries

A house-apiary, as indicated by its name, is an apiary kept in a house,
the bees passing out through openings in the walls. Formerly the hives
were built permanently in the house, the shelf upon which they set form-
ing the bottoms, the walls of the building forming one side, and each
division-board between any two colonies forming one wall for both col-
onies. Eventually it was discovered that building the hives into the build-
ing in this stationary manner curtailed or complicated many of the manip-
ulations. For instance, if a colony swarmed and it was desirable to hive
the swarm upon the old stand, moving the parent colony to a new stand, it
could be accomplished only by removing the combs one by one and carry-
ing them to a new location. When the ordinary hives are used, any colony
can be picked up and carried to any location. A swarm can be hived out
of doors, then the hive picked up and carried into the house. Still another
point: Some bee-keepers like a house-apiary for summer, but find it a
very poor place in which to winter bees, hence they build a cellar under
the house and winter the bees in the latter, this course being possible
only when the hives are movable.

It will be seen that, although we have a house-apiary, we also need
the regular hives, just the same as though they were to be kept out of
doors, with this exception, that, if they are to be used exclusively in the
house, they may be made of cheap lumber and left unpainted. The same
may be said of the supers or upper stories. If we must have regular
hives, why have a house-apiary ? Well, here are some of the advantages :
The house can be locked against thieves; the colonies, apiarist, and his
tools are brought close together, and under shelter; and this latter point
is very important, especially in the management of a series of out-apiaries
that are to be visited periodically. Rain puts an end to bee-work in the
open air, and three or four days of rainy weather sadly demoralizes the
plan of visiting an apiary once a week when there is an apiary for each
day in the week. In a house-apiary the work can be continued regardless
of the rain. Of course, there would be the traveling to and fro in
the rain, but rubber coats and blankets overcome that difficulty. Shelter
from the hot sun is often a great comfort. In taking off honey there is
never any trouble from robber bees. Bees are more peaceable, that is,
less inclined to sting, when handled in a house. In short, the advantages,



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Hoiisc-apiarics 133

with one exception, are nearly all with the house-apiary, and this ex-
ception is the cost of the building. Formerly there was the objection that
the removal of the surplus liberated many bees inside the building, where
they were a great annoyance upon the windows and under foot. The
introduction of the honey-house bee-escape has removed this most serious
objection. By means of the escapes surplus can be removed with scarcely
a bee entering the building, and these few find their way out through the
escapes with which the doors and windows are provided at the top.



General View of Mr. Ludington's House Apiaries.
(Honey-House in the Center — Shop in the Background)

Probably the only really serious objection to the house-apiary, aside
from its cost, is the great likelihood of queens being lost while on their
wedding flight; that is, of their entering the wrong hive upon their
return. The trouble arises from the greater number, similarity, and reg-
ularity of the entrances. To help to overcome this difficulty, different por-
tions of the house are often painted different colors, and different designs
are placed about the entrances. Some bee-keepers have found it desir-
able to rear their queens outside of the house and introduce them when
needed.

Mr. A. A. Ludington, of Verona Mills, Michigan, uses small house-
apiaries made of cheap lumber, and winters his bees in a cellar. Instead
of setting his hives upon shelves he hangs them up against the walls bv
means of heavy wire loops. The bottoms to his hives are hinged so that
they can be let down. This allows of an easy examination of the lower
edges of the brood-combs where the bees are almost certain to build
queen-cells if preparing for swarming ; thus he is able to foretell swarm-



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House -apiaries 135

ing very quickly without so much as opening a hive. The bees can easily
be driven up among the combs by the means of smoke, when, by using
a hand mirror, if necessary, a view can be obtained that extends up quite
a distance between the combs. If the light is insufficient, some one can
stand out of doors with another mirror and throw a flood of sunshine
under the hive that is being examined.



Lake of the Woods, in the Raspberry Region of Northern Michigan.

Perhaps few can understand the longing there is in the heart of the author of this
book to build himself a real log cabin, with stone fireplace and chimney, on the shore
of some one of the beautiful little inland lakes of Northern Michigan, establish an
apiary hard by, right in the woods, and pass at least a portion of each summer in that
sylvan retreat. What a place to take bee-keeping friends in the autumn, when t>.e
evenings could be spent around a fire of blazing pine knots in the fireplace!



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Foul Brood

Foul brood is a bacterial disease of the larvae or brood of bees.
Once a single spore of the disease comes in contact with a larva, or is
fed to it, it begins to increase with wonderful rapidity, the bacteria feed-
ing upon the larva as maggots feed upon the carcass of a dead animal.
The larva soon dies and turns a dull brown, something about the color
of coffee after milk has been added and it is ready for drinking. The
dead larvae soon lose their shape, and settle down into ropy, gluey
masses having an odor somewhat similar to a poor quality of glue when it
is warming on the stove, being made ready for use. In the earlier stages
this odor is seldom noticeable; but as the disease increases this odor be-
comes quite pronounced. If a match or a wooden toothpick, or some-
thing of this nature, be thrust into a dead larva, and then withdrawn, the
dead matter will adhere to the stick, and draw out in a ropy string,
perhaps an inch in length, when it will break and fly back. The dead larva
finally dries down into a thin brown scale upon the lower side of the cell.
A large share of the larvae reach that stage where the bees seal it over,
but, for some reason, the cappings often become sunken, and sometimes
contain holes. Of course, the healthy brood hatches while the diseased
brood does not, and soon the combs present a peculiar speckled appear-
ance from part of the cells being empty, while others are sealed with dark
ragged cappings. When the bees attempt to rear another larva in a cell
where a larva has died of foul brood, it is certain to be a failure. This
larva, too, dies of the disease. If honey is stored in the cell it becomes
contaminated with the germs of the disease ; and if fed to larvae, ill infects
them with the disease. The combs finally become so contaminated with
the disease that scarcely any brood can be reared. The old bees rie off
from natural causes, and, there being no young bees reared to takeVl^^ir
places, the colony dwindles away until it becomes a prey to robber pees
who carry home the honey, and thus start the infection in their own hiyes.
In this way the disease is spread from hive to hive and from apriar\ to
apiary. '^

Such, in brief, is foul brood; and as there is no apiary in wl Sch
there is not a possibility that it may appear, every bee-keeper ought to* be
able to distinguish it and to know what to do when he is so unforturkte
xis to find it in his apiary. From reading the published descriptions, m.^ny



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Foul Brood 137

bee-keepers have formed exaggerated ideas regarding the appearance of
foul brood, especially of its appearance in its first stages. They are look-
ing for combs black with sUme and rottenness, a stench strong enough to
knock a man down, and colonies dwindled away to mere handfuls. The
possession of these exaggerated ideas by bee-keepers has allowed foul
brood to gain a strong foothold in many an apiary long before the unfor-
tunate owner ever dreamed of its presence. At first, only a few diseased
cells will be found. Of course, it is not advisable that a bee-keeper be con-
tinually opening brood-nests, and critically examining combs for foul
brood, but there are certain danger-signals that it is well to bear in
mind. If a colony shows signs of listlessness ; or many dead bees are
found in front of the hive; of if a peculiar, unpleasant odor is noticed,
it would be wise to make an examination. Whenever handling combs of
brood it is well to glance under standingly at the brood. Notice if the
"pearly field" of unsealed larvae is unbroken. If there are desolate
patches, and the sealed brood is scattering and in patches instead of in
solid sheets, examine more critically. If some of the larvae are discolored,
shapeless, ropy, ill-smelling, some of the cappings sunken, perhaps per-
forated, foul brood is present. The one sure symptom of foul brood is
the ropiness of the larvae. If a splinter be thrust into a dead larva, and
withdrawn, the matter will adhere to the splinter, and "string out," per-
haps an inch or more, then break, and the two ends fly back to the points
of attachment. Without this viscidity there is no foul brood — with it
there is always foul brood.

RightJiere it might be well to say that all dead brood found in the
combs is not foul brood. There is chilled brood, starved or neglected
brood, "pickled" brood that comes and goes, from what cause no one
yet knows ; but in all of these the ropiness is lacking. In the majority of
cases the outer skin of the larva does not seem to decay, and enables the
operator to draw the whole larva from the cell. Then there is black
brood, that has caused so much havoc in New York. In this the dead
larva is more of a gelatinous nature than anthing else. It may some-
times string out a quarter of an inch, but never more than that, while
foul brood will string out at least an inch, and sometimes much further.
Black brood, also called European foul brood, turns slightly yellow, then
a dark brown, and finally becomes black, hence the name. It does not
emit that gluey or "old" smell that comes from foul brood. There is
scarcely any odor, and what little there is might be called a sour or fer-
menting smell, like that from decaying fruit. Black brood is very similar
to foul brood. It spreads in the same manner, and treatment is the same
as that for foul brood. I shall have more to say about this disease later on.

To come back to old foul brood once more. The symptoms enumer-
ated above will be seen only during the breeding season. In a strong



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Foul Brood 139

colony, after the breeding season is over, the cappings are all cleared


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Online LibraryWilliam Z. HutchinsonAdvanced bee-culture, its methods and management → online text (page 11 of 18)