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13. Swarming Artificial



The numerous efforts which have been made for the last fifty years or
more, to dispense with natural swarming, plainly indicate the anxiety of
Apiarians to find some better mode of increasing their colonies.

Although I am able to propagate bees by natural swarming, with a
rapidity and certainty unattainable except by the complete control of
all the combs in the hive, still there are difficulties in this mode of
increase, inherent to the system itself, and therefore entirely
incapable of being removed by any kind of hive. Before describing the
various methods which I employ to increase colonies by artificial means,
I shall first enumerate these difficulties, in order that each
individual bee-keeper may decide for himself, in which way he can most
advantageously propagate his bees.

1. The large number of swarms lost every year, is a powerful argument
against natural swarming.

An eminent Apiarian has estimated that one fourth of the best swarms are
lost every season! This estimate can hardly be considered too high, if
all who keep bees are taken into account. While some bee-keepers are so
careful that they seldom lose a swarm, the majority, either from the
grossest negligence, or from necessary hindrances during the swarming
season, are constantly incurring serious losses, by the flight of their
bees to the woods. It is next to impossible, entirely to prevent such
occurrences, if bees are allowed to swarm at all.

2. The great amount of time and labor required by natural swarming, has
always been regarded as a decided objection to this mode of increase.

As soon as the swarming season begins, the Apiary must be closely
watched almost every day, or some of the new swarms will be lost. If
this business is entrusted to thoughtless children, or careless adults,
many swarms will be lost by their neglect. It is very evident that but
few persons who keep bees, can always be on hand to watch them and to
hive the new swarms. But, in the height of the swarming season, if any
considerable number of colonies is kept, the Apiarian, to guard against
serious losses, should either be always on the spot himself, or have
some one who can be entrusted with the care of his bees. Even the
Sabbath cannot be observed as a day of rest; and often, instead of being
able to go to the House of God, the bee-keeper is compelled to labor
among his bees, as hard as on other days, or even harder. That he is as
justifiable in hiving his bees on the Sabbath, as in taking care of his
stock, can admit of no serious doubt; but the very liability of being
called to do so, is with many, a sufficient objection against Apiarian

The merchant, mechanic and professional man, are often so situated that
they would take great interest in bees, if they were not deterred from
their cultivation by inability to take care of them, during the swarming
season; and they are thus debarred from a pursuit, which is intensely
fascinating, not merely to the lover of Nature, but to every one
possessed of an inquiring mind. No man who spends some of his leisure
hours in studying the wonderful habits and instincts of bees, will ever
complain that he can find nothing to fill up his time out of the range
of his business, or the gratification of his appetites. Bees may be kept
with great advantage, even in large cities, and those who are debarred
from every other rural pursuit, may still listen to the soothing hum of
the industrious bee, and harvest annually its delicious nectar.

If the Apiarian could always be on hand during the swarming season, it
would still, in many instances, be exceedingly inconvenient for him to
attend to his bees. How often is the farmer interrupted in the business
of hay-making, by the cry that his bees are swarming; and by the time he
has hived them, perhaps a shower comes up, and his hay is injured more
than his swarm is worth. In this way, the keeping of a few bees, instead
of a source of profit, often becomes rather an expensive luxury; and if
a very large stock is kept, the difficulties and embarrassments are
often most seriously increased. If the weather becomes pleasant after a
succession of days unfavorable for swarming, it often happens that
several swarms rise at once, and cluster together, to the great
annoyance of the Apiarian; and not unfrequently, in the noise and
confusion, other swarms fly off, and are entirely lost. I have seen the
Apiarian so perplexed and exhausted under such circumstances, as to be
almost ready to wish that he had never seen a bee.

3. The managing of bees by natural swarming, must, in our country,
almost entirely prevent the establishment of large Apiaries.

Even if it were possible, in this way, to multiply bees with certainty
and rapidity, and without any of the perplexities which I have just
described, how few persons are so situated as to be able to give almost
the whole of their time in the busiest part of the year, to the
management of their bees. The swarming season is with the farmer, the
very busiest part of the whole year, and if he purposes to keep a large
number of swarming hives, he must not only devote nearly the whole of
his time, for a number of weeks, to their supervision, but at a season
when labor commands the highest price, he will often be compelled to
hire additional assistance.

I have long been convinced that, as a general rule, the keeping of a few
colonies in swarming hives, costs more than they are worth, and that the
keeping of a very large number is entirely out of the question, unless
with those who are so situated that they can afford to devote their
time, for about two months every year, almost entirely to their bees.
The number of persons who can afford to do this must be very small; and
I have seldom heard of a bee-keeper, in our country, who has an Apiary
on a scale extensive enough to make bee-keeping anything more than a
subordinate pursuit. Multitudes have tried to make it a large and
remunerating business, but hitherto, I believe that they have nearly all
been disappointed in their expectations. In such countries as Poland and
Russia where labor is deplorably cheap, it may be done to great
advantage; but never to any considerable extent in our own.

4. A serious objection to natural swarming, is the discouraging fact
that the bees often refuse to swarm at all, and the Apiarian finds it
impossible to multiply his colonies with any certainty or rapidity, even
although he may find himself in all respects favorably situated for the
cultivation of bees, and may be exceedingly anxious to engage in the
business on a much more extensive scale.

I am acquainted with many careful bee-keepers who have managed their
bees according to the most reliable information they could obtain,
never destroying any of their colonies, and endeavoring to multiply them
to the best of their ability, who yet have not as many stocks as they
had ten years ago. Most of them would abandon the pursuit, if they
looked upon bee-keeping simply in the light of dollars and cents, rather
than as a source of pleasant recreation; and some do not hesitate to say
that much more money has been spent, by the mass of those who have used
patent hives, than they have ever realized from their bees.

It is a very simple matter to make calculations on paper, which shall
seem to point out a road to wealth, almost as flattering, as a tour to
the gold mines of Australia or California. Only purchase a patent
bee-hive, and if it fulfills all or even a part of the promises of its
sanguine inventor, a fortune must, in the course of a few years, be
certainly realized; but such are the disappointments resulting from the
bees refusing often to swarm at all, that if the hive could remedy all
the other difficulties in the way of bee-keeping, it would still fail to
answer the reasonable wishes of the experienced Apiarian. If every swarm
of bees could be made to yield a profit of 20 dollars a year, and if the
Apiarian could be sure of selling his new swarms at the most extravagant
prices, he could not, like the growers of mulberry trees, or the
breeders of fancy fowls, multiply his stocks so as to meet the demand,
however extensive; but would be entirely dependent upon the whims and
caprices of his bees; or rather, upon the natural laws which control
their swarming.

Every practical bee-keeper is well aware of the utter uncertainty of
natural swarming. Under no circumstances, can its occurrence be
confidently relied on. While some stocks swarm regularly and repeatedly,
others, strong in numbers and rich in stores, although the season may,
in all respects, be propitious, refuse to swarm at all. Such colonies,
on examination, will often be found to have taken no steps for raising
young queens. In some cases, the wings of the old mother will be found
defective, while in others, she is abundantly able to fly, but seems to
prefer the riches of the old hive, to the risks attending the formation
of a new colony. It frequently happens, in our uncertain climate, that
when all the necessary preparations have been made for swarming, the
weather proves unpropitious for so long a time, that the young queens
coming to maturity before the old one can leave, are all destroyed. This
is a very frequent occurrence, and under such circumstances, swarming is
almost certain to be prevented, for that season. The young queens are
frequently destroyed, even although the weather is pleasant, in
consequence of some sudden and perhaps only temporary suspension of the
honey-harvest; for bees seldom colonize even if all their preparations
are completed, unless the flowers are yielding an abundant supply of

From these and other causes which my limits will not permit me to
notice, it has hitherto been found impossible, in the uncertain climate
of our Northern States, to multiply colonies very rapidly, by natural
swarming; and bee-keeping, on this plan, offers very poor inducements to
those who are aware how little has been accomplished, even by the most
enthusiastic, experienced and energetic Apiarians.

The numerous perplexities which have ever attended natural swarming,
have for ages, directed the attention of practical cultivators, to the
importance of devising some more reliable method of increasing their
colonies. Columella, who lived about the middle of the first century of
the Christian Era, and who wrote twelve books on husbandry (De re
rustica,) has given directions for making artificial colonies. He says,
"you must examine the hive, and view what honey-combs it has; then
afterwards from the wax which contains the seeds of the young bees, you
must cut away that part wherein the offspring of the royal brood is
animated: for this is easy to be seen; because at the very end of the
wax-works there appears, as it were, a thimble-like process (somewhat
similar to an acorn,) rising higher, and having a wider cavity, than the
rest of the holes, wherein the young bees of vulgar note are contained."

Hyginus, who flourished before Columella, had evidently noticed the
royal jelly; for he speaks of cells larger than those of the common
bees, "filled as it were with a solid substance of a _red color_, out of
which the winged king is at first formed." This ancient observer must
undoubtedly have seen the quince-like jelly, a portion of which is
always found at the base of the royal cells, after the queens have
emerged. The ancients generally called the queen a king, although
Aristotle says that some in his time called her the mother. Swammerdam
was the first to prove by dissection that the queen is a perfect female,
and the only one in the hive, and that the drone is the male.

For reasons which I shall shortly mention, the ancient methods of
artificial increase appear to have met with but small success. Towards
the close of the last century, a new impulse was given to the artificial
production of swarms, by the discovery of Schirach, a German clergyman,
that bees are able to rear a queen from worker-brood. For want, however,
of a more thorough knowledge of some important principles in the economy
of the bee, these efforts met with slender encouragement.

Huber, after his splendid discoveries in the physiology of the bee,
perceived at once, the importance of multiplying colonies by some method
more reliable than that of natural swarming. His leaf or book hive
consisted of 12 frames, each an inch and a half in width; any one of
which could be opened at pleasure. He recommends forming artificial
swarms, by dividing one of these hives into two parts; adding to each
part six empty frames. After using a Huber hive for a number of years, I
became perfectly convinced that it could only be made servicable, by an
adroit, experienced and fearless Apiarian. The bees fasten the frames in
such a manner, with their propolis, that they cannot, except with
extreme care, be opened without jarring the bees, and exciting their
anger; nor can they be shut without constant danger of crushing them.
Huber nowhere speaks of having multiplied colonies extensively by such
hives, and although they have been in use more than sixty years, they
have never been successfully employed for such a purpose. If Huber had
only contrived a plan for suspending his frames, instead of folding them
together like the leaves of a book, I believe that the cause of Apiarian
science would have been fifty years in advance of what it now is.

Dividing hives of various kinds have been used in this country. After
giving some of the best of them a thorough trial, and inventing others
which somewhat resembled the Huber hive, I found that they could not
possibly be made to answer any valuable end in securing artificial
swarms. For a long time I felt that the plan _ought_ to succeed, and it
was not until I had made numerous experiments with my hive substantially
as now constructed, that I ascertained the precise causes of failure.

It may be regarded as one of the laws of the bee-hive, that bees, when
not in possession of a mature queen, seldom build any comb except such
as being designed merely for storing honey, is _too coarse for the
rearing of workers_. Until I became acquainted with the discoveries of
Dzierzon, I supposed myself to be the only observer who had noticed
this remarkable fact, and who had been led by it, to modify the whole
system of artificial swarming. The perusal of Mr. Wagner's manuscript
translation of that author, showed me that he had arrived at precisely
similar results.

It may seem at first, very unaccountable that bees should go on to fill
their hives with comb unfit for breeding, when the young queen will so
soon require worker-cells for her eggs; but it must be borne in mind,
that bees, under such circumstances, are always in an _unnatural_ state.
They are attempting to rear a new queen in a hive which is only
partially filled with comb; whereas, if left to follow their own
instincts, they never construct royal cells except in hives which are
well filled with comb, for it is only in such hives that they make any
preparations for swarming. It must be confessed that they do not show
their ordinary sagacity in filling a hive with unsuitable comb; but if
it were not for a few instances of this kind of bad management, we
should perhaps, form too exalted an idea of their intelligence, and
should almost fail to notice the marked distinction between reason in
man, and even the most refined instincts of some of the animals by which
he is surrounded.

The determination of bees, when they have no mature queen, if they build
any comb at all, to build such as is suited only for storing honey, and
unfit for breeding, will show at once, the folly of attempting to
multiply colonies by the dividing-hives. Even if the Apiarian has been
perfectly successful in dividing a colony, and the part without a queen
takes the necessary steps to supply her loss, if the bees are
sufficiently numerous to build a large quantity of new comb, (and they
ought to be in order to make the artificial colony of any value,) they
will build this comb in such a manner that it will answer only for
storing honey, while they will use the half of the hive with the old
comb, for the purposes of breeding. The next year, if an attempt is made
to divide this hive, one half will contain nearly all the brood and
mature bees, while the other, having most of the honey, in combs unfit
for breeding, the new colony formed from it will be a complete failure.

Even with a Huber hive, the plan of multiplying colonies by dividing a
full hive into two parts, and adding an empty half to each, will be
attended with serious difficulties; although some of them may be
remedied in consequence of the hive being constructed so as to divide
into many parts; the very attempt to remedy them, however, will be found
to require a degree of skill and knowledge far in advance of what can be
expected of the great mass of bee-keepers.

The common dividing hives, separating into two parts, can never, under
any circumstances, be made of the least practical value; and the
business of multiplying colonies by them, will be found far more
laborious, uncertain and vexatious, than to rely on natural swarming. I
do not know of a solitary practical Apiarian, who, on trial of this
system, has not been compelled to abandon it, and allow the bees to
swarm from his dividing hives in the old-fashioned way.

Some Apiarians have attempted to multiply their colonies by putting a
piece of brood comb containing the materials for raising a new queen,
into an empty hive, set in the place of a strong stock which has been
removed to a new stand when thousands of its inmates were abroad in the
fields. This method is still worse than the one which has just been
described. In the dividing hive, the bees already had a large amount of
suitable comb for breeding, while in this having next to none, they
build all their combs until the queen is hatched, of a size unsuitable
for rearing workers. In the first case, the queenless part of the
dividing hive may have had a young queen almost mature, so that the
process of building large combs would be of short continuance; for as
soon as the young queen begins to lay, the bees at once commence
building combs adapted to the reception of worker eggs. In some of my
attempts to rear artificial swarms by moving a full stock, as described
above, I have had combs built of enormous size, nearly four inches
through! and these monster combs have afterwards been pieced out on
their lower edge, with worker cells for the accommodation of the young
queen! So uniformly do the bees with an unhatched queen, build in the
way described, that I can often tell at a single glance, by seeing what
kind of comb they are building, that a hive is queenless, or that having
been so, they have now a fertile young queen. When a new colony is
formed, by dividing the old hive, the queenless part has thousands of
cells filled with brood and eggs, and young bees will be hourly
hatching, for at least three weeks: and by this time, the young queen
will be laying eggs, so that there will be an interval of not more than
three weeks, during which no accessions will be made to the numbers of
the colony. But when a new swarm is formed by moving, not an egg will be
deposited for nearly three weeks; and not a bee will be hatched for
nearly six weeks; and during all this time, the colony will rapidly
decrease, until by the time that the progeny of the young queen begins
to emerge from their cells, the number of bees in the new hive will be
so small, that it would be of no value, even if its combs were of the
best construction.

Every observing bee-keeper must have noticed how rapidly even a powerful
swarm diminishes in number, for the first three weeks after it has been
hived. In many cases, before the young begin to hatch, it does not
contain one half its original number; so very great is the mortality of
bees during the height of the working season.

I have most thoroughly tested, in the only way in which it can be
practiced in the ordinary hives, this last plan of artificial swarming,
and do not hesitate to say that it does not possess the very slightest
practical value; and as this is the method which Apiarians have usually
tried, it is not strange that they have almost unanimously pronounced
Artificial swarming to be utterly worthless. The experience of Dzierzon
on this point has been the same with my own.

Another method of artificial swarming has been zealously advocated,
which, if it could only be made to answer, would be, of all conceivable
plans the most effectual, and as it would require the smallest amount of
labor, experience, or skill, would be everywhere practiced. A number of
hives must be put in connection with each other, so as to communicate by
holes which allow the bees to travel from any one apartment to the
others. The bees, on this plan, are to _colonize themselves_, and in
time, a single swarm will, of its own accord, multiply so as to form a
large number of independent families, each one possessing its own queen,
and all living in perfect harmony.

This method so beautiful and fascinating in theory, has been repeatedly
tried with various ingenious modifications, but in every instance, as
far as I know, it has proved an entire failure. It will always be found
if bees are allowed to pass from one hive to another, that they will
still, for the most part, confine their breeding operations to a single
apartment, if it is of the ordinary size, while the others will be used,
chiefly for the storing of honey. This is almost invariably the case, if
the additional room is given by collateral or side boxes, as the queen
seldom enters such apartments for the purpose of breeding. If the new
hive is directly _below_ that in which the swarm is first lodged, then
if the connections are suitable, the queen will be almost certain to
descend and lay her eggs in the new combs, as soon as they are commenced
by the bees; in this case, the upper hive is almost entirely abandoned
by her, and the bees store the cells with honey, as fast as the brood is
hatched, as their instinct impels them always, if they can, to keep
their stores of honey _above_ the breeding cells. So long as bees have
an abundance of room below their main hive, they will never swarm, but
will use it in the way that I have described; if the room is on the
sides of their hive, and very accessible, they seldom swarm, but if it
is above them, they frequently prefer to swarm rather than to take
possession of it. But in none of these cases, do they ever, _if left to
themselves_, form separate and independent colonies.

I am aware that the Apiarian, by separating from the main hive with a
slide, an apartment that contains brood, and directing to it by some
artificial contrivance a considerable number of bees, may succeed in
rearing an artificial colony; but unless all his hives admit of the most
thorough inspection, as he can never know their exact condition, he must
always work in the dark, and will be much more likely to fail than
succeed. Success indeed can only be possible when a skillful Apiarian
devotes a large portion of his time to watching and managing his bees,
so as to _compel_ them to colonize, and even then it will be very
uncertain; so that this plausible theory to be reduced to even a most
precarious practice, requires more skill, care, labor and time, than are
necessary to manage the ordinary swarming hives.

The failure of so many attempts to increase colonies by artificial
means, as well in the hands of scientific and experienced Apiarians, as
under the direction of those who are almost totally ignorant of the
physiology of the bee, has led many to prefer to use non-swarming hives.
In this way, very large harvests of honey are often obtained from a
powerful stock of bees; but it is very evident that if the increase of
new colonies were entirely discouraged, the insect would soon be
exterminated. To prevent this, the advocates of the non-swarming plan,
must either have their bees swarm, to some extent, or rely upon those
who do.

My hive may be used as a non-swarmer, and may be made more effectually
to prevent swarming, than any with which I am acquainted: as in the
Spring, (See No. 34. p. 104,) ample accommodations may be given to the
bees, below their main works, and when this is seasonably done, swarming
will _never_ take place.

There are certain objections however, which must always prevent the
non-swarming plan from being the most successful mode of managing bees.
To say nothing of the loss to the bee-keeper, who has, after some years,
only one stock, when if the natural mode of increase had been allowed,
he ought to have a number, it is usually found that after bees have been
kept in a non-swarming hive for several seasons, they seem to work with
much less vigor than usual. Of this, any one may convince himself, who
will compare the industrious working of a new swarm, with that of a much
more powerful stock in a non-swarming hive. The former will work with
such astonishing zeal, that to one unacquainted with the facts, it would
be taken to be by far the more powerful stock.

As the fertility of the queen decreases by age, the disadvantage of
using non-swarming hives of the ordinary construction, will be obvious.
This objection to the system can be remedied in my hive, as the old
queen can be easily caught and removed; but when hives are used in which
this cannot be done, the Apiary, instead of containing a race of young
queens in the full vigor of their reproductive powers, will contain many
that have passed their prime, and these old queens may die when there
are no eggs in the hive to enable the bees to replace them, and thus the
whole colony will perish.

If the bee-keeper wishes to winter only a certain number of stocks, I
will, in another place, show him a way in which this can be done, so as
to obtain more honey from them, than from an equal number kept on the
non-swarming plan, while at the same time, they may all be maintained in
a state of the highest health and vigor.

I shall now describe a method of artificial swarming, which may be
successfully practiced with almost any hive, by those who have
sufficient experience in the management of bees.

About the time that natural swarming may be expected, a populous hive,
rich in stores is selected, and what I shall call a _forced swarm_ is
obtained from it, by the following process. Choose that part of a
pleasant day, say from 10 A. M. to 2 P. M., when the largest number of
bees are abroad in the fields; if any bees are clustered in front of the
hive, or on the bottom-board, puff among them a few whiffs of smoke from
burning rags or paper, so as to force them to go up among the combs.
This can be done with greater ease, if the hive is elevated, by small
wedges, about one quarter of an inch above the bottom-board. Have an
empty hive or box in readiness, the diameter of which is as nearly as
possible, the same with that of the hive from which you intend to drive
the swarm. Lift the hive very gently, and without the slightest jar,
from its bottom-board; invert it and carry it in the same careful
manner, about a rod from its old stand, as bees are always much more
inclined to be peaceable, when removed a short distance, than when any
operation is performed on the familiar spot. If the hive is carefully
placed on the ground, upside down, scarcely a single bee will fly out,
and there will be little danger of being stung. Timid and inexperienced
Apiarians will, of course, protect themselves with a bee-dress, and they
may have an assistant to sprinkle the hive gently with sugar-water, as
soon as it is inverted. After placing the hive in an inverted position
on the ground, the empty hive must be put over it, and every crack from
which a bee might escape, must be carefully closed with paper or any
convenient material. The upper hive ought to be furnished with two or
three slats, about an inch and a half wide, and fastened one third of
the distance from the top, so as to give the bees every opportunity to

As soon as the Apiarian is perfectly sure that the bees cannot escape,
he should place an empty hive upon the stand from which they were
removed, so that the multitudes which return from the fields may enter
it, instead of dispersing to other hives, where some of them may meet
with a very unkind reception; although as a general rule, a bee with a
load of freshly gathered honey, after the extent of his resources is
ascertained, is almost always, welcomed by any hive to which he may
carry his treasures; while a poor unfortunate that ventures to present
itself empty and poverty stricken, is generally at once destroyed! The
one meets with as friendly a reception as a wealthy gentleman who
proposes to take up his abode in a country village, while the other is
as much an object of dislike as a pauper who is suspected of wishing to
become a parish charge!

To return to our imprisoned bees. Beginning at the top, or what is now,
(as the hive is upside down,) the bottom, their hive should be beaten
smartly with two small rods on the front and back, or on the sides to
which the combs are attached, so as to run no risk of loosening them.
If the hive when removed from its stand was put upon a stool or table,
or something not so solid as the ground, the drumming will cause more
motion, and yet be less apt to start any of the combs. These "rappings"
which certainly are not of a very "spiritual" character, produce
nevertheless, a most decided effect upon the bees: their first impulse
is to sally out and wreak their vengeance upon those who have thus
rudely assailed their honied dome; but as soon as they find that they
are shut in, a sudden fear that they are to be driven from their
treasures, seems to take possession of them. If the two hives have glass
windows, so that all the operations can be witnessed, the bees, in a few
moments, will be seen most busily engaged in gorging themselves with
honey. During all this time, the rapping must be continued, and in about
five minutes, nearly every bee will have filled itself to its utmost
capacity, and they are now prepared for their forced emigration; a
prodigious hum is heard, and the bees begin to mount into the upper box.
In about ten minutes from the time the rapping began, the mass of the
bees with their queen will have ascended, and will hang clustered, just
like a natural swarm. The box with the expelled bees must now be gently
lifted off, and should be placed upon a bottom-board with a gauze wire
ventilator, so that the bees may be confined, and yet have plenty of
air. A shallow vessel or a piece of old comb containing water, ought to
be first placed on the bottom-board. If no gauze wire bottom-board is at
hand, the hive must be wedged up, so as to admit an abundance of air,
and be set in a shady place.

The hive from which the bees were driven, must now be set, without
crushing any of the bees, on its old spot, in the place of the decoy
hive, that all the bees which have returned from abroad, may enter.
Before this change is made, these bees will be running in and out of
the empty hive, (See p. 72,) but as soon as the opportunity is given
them, they will crowd into their well-known home, and if there are no
royal cells started, will proceed, almost at once, to construct them,
and the next day they will act as though the forced swarm had left of
its own accord. When the operation is delayed until about the season for
natural swarming, the hive will contain immature queens, if the bees
were intending to swarm, and a new queen will soon take the place of the
old one, just as in natural swarming. If it is performed too early, and
before the drones have made their appearance, the young queen may not be
seasonably impregnated, and the parent stock will perish.

It will be obvious that this whole process, in order to be successfully
performed, requires a knowledge of the most important points in the
economy of the bee-hive; indeed the same remark may be made of almost
any operation, and those who are willing to remain ignorant of the laws
which regulate the breeding of bees, ought not to depart in the least,
from the old-fashioned mode of management. All such deviations will only
be attended with a wanton sacrifice of bees. A man may use the common
swarming hives a whole life-time, and yet remain ignorant of the very
first principles in the physiology of the bee, unless he gains his
information from other sources; while, by the use of my hives, any
intelligent cultivator may, in a single season, verify for himself, the
discoveries which have only been made by the accumulated toil of many
observers, for more than two thousand years. The ease with which
Apiarians may now, by the sight of their own eyes, gain a knowledge of
all the important facts in the economy of the hive, will stimulate them
most powerfully, to study the nature of the bee and thus to prepare
themselves for an enlightened system of management.

In giving directions for the creation of forced swarms, I advised that
it should be done during the pleasantest part of the day, when the
largest number of bees are foraging abroad. If the operation is
performed when all the bees are at home, and they are all driven into
the empty hive, the old hive will be so depopulated that many of the
young will perish for want of suitable attention, and the parent stock
will be greatly deteriorated in value. If only a part of the bees are
expelled, the queen may be left behind, and the whole operation will be
a failure, and at best it will be difficult to make a suitable division
of the bees between the two hives. Indeed, under any circumstances, this
is the most difficult part of the process, and it often requires no
little judgment to equalize the two colonies.

Some recommend placing the forced swarm on the old stand, and removing
the parent hive with the bees that are deemed sufficient, to a new
place. If this is done, and the bees have their liberty, so many of them
will leave for the familiar spot, that the hive will be almost deserted,
and a very large proportion of its brood will perish. The bees in this
hive, if it is to be set in a new place, must have water given to them,
and be so shut up as to have an abundance of air, until late in the
afternoon of the third day, when the hive may be opened, and they will
take wing, almost as though they were intending to swarm. Some will even
then, return to the place where they originally stood, and join the
forced swarm, but the most of them, after hovering in the air for a
short time, will re-enter the hive. During the time that they have been
shut up, thousands of young bees will have emerged from their cells, and
these, knowing no other home, will aid in taking care of the larvŠ, and
in carrying on the work of the hive.

Instead of trying to make an equitable division at the time of driving
out the bees, I prefer to expel all that I can, and to rely upon the
bees returning from their gatherings, to replenish the old stock. If the
number appears to be too small, I open temporarily the entrance of the
hive containing the forced swarm, and permit as many as I judge best, to
come out and enter their old abode. It must here be borne in mind, that
bees which are thus ejected from a hive, do not, in all respects, act
like a natural swarm, which having left the parent stock, of its own
accord, never seeks, unless it has lost its queen, to return; whereas,
many of the forced swarm, as soon as they leave the hive into which they
have been driven, will return to their former abode. The same is true of
bees which are moved to any distance not far enough to be beyond the
limits of their previous excursions in search of food. If we could only
make our bees when moved, or forced to swarm, adhere to their hives as
faithfully as a natural swarm, many difficulties which now perplex us,
would be at once removed.

Having ascertained that the parent hive contains a sufficient number of
bees to carry on operations, about sun-set, after the bees are all at
home, it may be removed to a new stand, and the bees, after being
supplied with water, must be shut up, according to the directions
previously given. If the hive is so constructed that water cannot be
conveniently given them, the following plan I have found to answer most
admirably. Bore a small hole towards the top on the front side, and with
a straw, water may be injected with scarcely any trouble. A mouthful
once or twice a day, will be sufficient. If the bees are confined
without water, they will not be able to prepare the food for the larvŠ,
and multitudes of them must necessarily perish.

The expelled colony must be placed, on the same evening, precisely where
the hive from which they were driven stood, and have their liberty
given to them. The next morning, they will work with as much vigor as
though they had swarmed in the natural way.

The directions which have here been given for creating forced swarms,
will be found to differ in some important respects from any which other
Apiarians have previously furnished. I have already shown that it is
difficult to secure the right number of bees for the parent stock,
unless it is set temporarily on its old stand, so as to catch up the
returning bees. The common plan has been to try to leave in it, as many
bees as are needed, and then to shut it up for a few days, having placed
it in a new spot, while the forced swarm is immediately replaced so that
all the stragglers may be added to it. If we could always be sure of
driving out the queen, and with her, as many bees as we want and _no
more_, this would undoubtedly be the simplest plan; but for the reasons
already assigned, it will be found a very precarious operation.

Some Apiarians recommend putting the forced swarm in a new place in the
Apiary; but as large numbers of the bees will be sure, when they go out
to work, to return to the familiar spot, the new colony will often be so
seriously depopulated as to be of but little value. If the Apiarian can
remove his forced swarms, some two or three miles off, he may give them
their liberty at once, and in the course of a few weeks, he can, without
risk, bring them back to his Apiary.

If he chooses, he may allow the parent stock to remain on the old stand,
and confine the forced swarm, until about an hour before sun set of the
third day. They must in the mean time be supplied with both honey and
water, and if they cannot be kept cool and quiet, they should be removed
into the cellar until they are placed in their new position. Many will
even then return to the old spot, but not enough to interfere seriously
with their prosperity. If the bees cannot, as in my hives, be kept cool
and dark, they will be excessively uneasy, and may suffer very seriously
from so long confinement: hence the very great importance of setting
them in the cellar.

It may seem strange, that bees, when their hive is moved, or when they
are forcibly expelled from it, should not adhere to the new spot, just
as when they have swarmed of their own accord. In each case, as soon as
a bee leaves its new place, it flies with its head turned towards the
hive, in order to mark the surrounding objects, that it may be able to
return to the same spot; but when they have not emigrated of their own
accord, many of them seem, when they rise in the air, or return from
work, entirely to forget that their location has been changed; and they
return to the place where they have lived so long, and if no hive is
there, they often die on the deserted and desolate, yet home-like spot.
If, on the contrary, they swarmed of their own accord, they seldom, if
ever, make such a mistake. It may truly be said that

"A 'bee removed' against its will
Is of the same opinion still."

I have been thus minute in describing the whole process of creating
forced swarms, not merely on account of the importance of the plan in
multiplying colonies, but because the driving or drumming out of bees
from a common hive, is employed with great success in a variety of ways
which will be hereafter specified. I doubt not that many bee-keepers, on
reading this mode of creating colonies, are ready to object that it not
only requires more skill, but more time and labor, than to allow them to
swarm, and then to hive them in the old-fashioned way.

As practiced with ordinary hives, it is undoubtedly liable to this
serious objection, and I would easily with my basket hiver, undertake to
hive four natural swarms, in the time that it would require to create
one forced swarm; to say nothing of the care which must be bestowed upon
the artificial swarms, with their parent stocks, after the driving
process has been completed. For this reason, I do not advise the
bee-keeper to force his swarms from the common hives, until he has first
ascertained that they are not likely to swarm in tolerably good season,
of their own accord, unless he is afraid that they will come out during
his absence, and decamp to the woods.

By the aid of my hives, this process may be most expeditiously
performed. An empty hive, with its frames furnished with guide combs,
must be in readiness. The cover of the full hive should be removed, and
the bees gently sprinkled with sugar-water from a watering pot that
discharges a fine stream. In about two minutes, the frames may be taken
out, and the bees, by a quick motion, shaken on a sheet directly in
front of their hive. As fast as a comb is deprived of its bees, it
should be set in a proper position in the new hive, and an empty frame
put in its place. Two or three of the combs containing brood, eggs, &c.,
should be left in the old hive, as well to give them greater
encouragement, as to prevent them from being dissatisfied if their queen
should, by any possibility, be taken from them. In removing the frames
with the bees, I always look for the queen, and if I see her, as I
generally do, I return to the hive the frame which contains her, without
shaking off the bees. In that case, I put several of the necessary combs
into the new hive, with all the bees upon them.

In dislodging the bees upon the sheet, I do not shake them all off from
the frames; but leave about one quarter of them on, and put them with
the combs into the new hive. I never knew the queen to be left on a
frame after it was shaken so that the larger portion of the bees would
fall off. As soon as the operation is completed, and the necessary
number of bees have been transferred with their comb to the new hive, it
should be managed according to the directions previously given, in the
case of the old hive from which a swarm was drummed out.

If in the operation the Apiarian does not see the queen, he must, in the
course of the third day, examine the hive having the larger portion of
bees, and if they have commenced building royal cells among the combs
given to them, he may be certain that she is in the other hive. The comb
containing the royal cells may then be transferred to that hive, and the
queen searched for, and returned with the combs on which she is found,
to her proper place. A little experience, however, will enable the
operator to be sure from the first, that the queen is with the right

To most persons, it would seem to be of little consequence, in which
hive the queen is placed: but if the bees which have only a few frames
of comb, are compelled to rear another, they will be sure to fill their
hive with comb unfit for breeding purposes, and will also be so long
before they can have additions to their number, as to be of but little

If many swarms are to be created in this manner, and the operation is
delayed until near swarming time, in some of them, numerous royal cells
will be found, so that each stock which has no queen, may have one
nearly mature, given to it, and thus much valuable time may be saved.

By making a few forced swarms, about a week or ten days before the time
in which the most will be made, the Apiarian may be sure of having an
abundance of sealed queens almost mature, so that every swarm may have
one. If he can give each hive that needs it, an unhatched queen, without
removing her from her frame, so much the better; but if he has not
enough frames with sealed queens, while some of them contain two or more
queens, he must proceed as follows:

With a very sharp knife, carefully cut out a queen cell, on a piece of
comb an inch or more square; cut a place in one of the combs of the hive
to which this cell is to be given, just about large enough to receive it
in a natural position, and if it is not secure, put a little melted wax
with a feather, where the edges meet. The bees will soon fasten it, so
as to make all right. Unless very great care is used in transferring
these royal cells, the enclosed queens will be destroyed; as their
bodies, until they are nearly mature, are so exceedingly soft, that a
very slight compression of their cell often kills them. For this reason,
I prefer not to remove them, until they are within three or four days of
hatching. As the forcing of a swarm may always be conducted, with my
hives, in such a manner that the Apiarian can be sure to effect a
suitable division of the bees, the process may be performed at any time
when the sun is above the horizon, and the weather is not too
unpleasant. It ought not to be attempted when the weather is so cool as
to endanger the destruction of the brood, by a chill; and never unless
when there is not only sufficient light to enable the Apiarian to see
distinctly, but enough for the bees that take wing, to see the hive, and
direct their flight to its entrance. If hives are meddled with, when it
is dark, the bees are always more irascible, and as they cannot see
where to fly, they will constantly be alighting upon the person of the
bee-keeper, who will be almost sure to receive some stings. I have
seldom attempted night-work upon my bees, without having occasion most
thoroughly to rue my folly. If the weather is not too cool, early in the
morning, before the bees are stirring, will be the best time, as there
will be less danger of annoyance from robber-bees.

If honey-water is used instead of sugar-water in sprinkling the bees
when the hive is first opened, the smell will be almost certain to
entice marauders from other hives to attempt to take possession of
treasures which do not belong to them, and when they once commence such
a pilfering course of life, they will be very loth to lay it aside. When
the honey harvest is abundant, (and this is the very time for forcing
swarms,) bees, with proper precautions, are seldom inclined to rob. I
have sometimes found it difficult to induce them to notice honey-combs
which I wished them to empty, even when they were placed in an exposed
situation. This subject, however, will be more fully treated in the
remarks on Robbing.

Perhaps some of my readers will hardly be able to convince themselves
that bees may be dealt with after the fashion I have been describing,
without becoming greatly enraged; so far is this from being the case,
that in my operations, I often use neither sugar-water nor bee-dress,
although I do not recommend the neglect of such precautions.

The artificial swarm may be created with perfect safety, even at
mid-day, when thousands of bees are returning to the hive: for these
bees being laden with honey, never venture upon making an attack, while
those at home may be easily pacified.

I find a very great advantage in the peculiar shape of my hive, which
allows the top to be easily removed, and the sugar-water to be sprinkled
upon the bees, before they attempt to take wing. If like the Dzierzon
hive, it opened on the end, it would be impossible for me to use the
sweetened water, so as to make it run down between all the ranges of
comb, and I should be forced, as he does, to employ smoke, in all my
operations. Huber thus speaks of the pacific effect produced upon the
bees by the use of his leaf hive. "On opening the hive, no stings are to
be dreaded, for one of the most singular and valuable properties
attending my construction, is its rendering the bees tractable. I
ascribe their tranquility to the manner in which they are affected by
the sudden admission of light, they appear rather to testify fear than
anger. Many retire, and entering the cells, seem to conceal themselves."
I will admit that Huber has here fallen into an error which he would not
have made, had he used his own eyes. The bees do indeed enter the cells
when the frames are exposed, but not "to conceal themselves;" they
imagine that their sweets, thus unceremoniously exposed to the light of
day, are to be taken from them, and they fill themselves to their utmost
capacity, in order to save all that they can. I always expect them to
appropriate the contents of the open cells, as soon as I remove their
frames from the hive. It is not merely the _sudden_ admission of light,
but its introduction from an _unexpected quarter_, that seems for the
time to disarm the hostility of the bees. They appear for a few moments,
almost as much confounded as we should be, if without any warning the
roof and ceiling of a house should suddenly fly off into the air. Before
they recover from their amazement, the sweet libation is poured out upon
them, and surprize is quickly converted into pleasure rather than anger.
I believe that in the working season, almost all the bees near the top
are gorged with honey, and that this is the reason why opening the hive
from ABOVE is so easily effected. The bees below that are disposed to
resent any intrusions, are met in their threatening ascent, with an
avalanche of nectar which "like a soft answer," most effectually
"turneth away wrath." Who would ever be willing to use the sickening
fumes of the disgusting weed, when so much pleasure instead of pain may
be given to his bees. That bees never seem to be prepared to make an
instant assault from the top of their hive, but only near the entrance,
any one may be convinced of, who will put my frames into a suspended
hive with a movable bottom which may be made to drop at pleasure. If
now, for any purpose, he attempts to meddle with the combs from below,
he will find that unless he uses smoke, the bees will be almost, if not
quite unmanageable.

I shall now give some directions, which will greatly assist the Apiarian
in his operations. He must bear in mind that nothing irritates bees more
than a sudden jar, and that this must, in all cases, be most carefully
avoided. The inside cover of the hive, or as I shall term it, the
_honey-board_, because the surplus honey receptacles stand upon it, can
never be very firmly attached by the bees: it may always be readily
loosened with a thin knife, or better still, with an apothecary's
spatula, which will be very useful for many purposes in the Apiary. When
the honey-board is removed, its lower surface will be usually covered
with bees, and it should be carefully set on end, so as not to crush
them. There is not the least danger that one of them will offer to
sting, as they are completely bewildered by the sudden introduction of
light, and their removal from the hive. As soon as the cover is disposed
of, the Apiarian should sprinkle the bees with the sweet solution. This
should descend from the watering-pot in a fine stream, so as not to
_drench_ the bees, and should fall upon the tops of the frames, as well
as between the ranges of comb. The bees will at once, accept the
proffered treat, and will begin lapping it up, as peaceably as so many
chickens helping themselves to corn. While they are thus engaged, the
frames must be very gently pried by a stick, from their attachments to
the rabbets on which they rest; this may be done without any jar and
without wounding or enraging a single bee. They may all be loosened
preparatory to removing them, in less than a minute.[17] By this time,
the sprinkled bees will have filled themselves, or if all have not done
so, the grateful intelligence that sweets have been furnished them, will
diffuse an unusual good nature through all the honied realm. The
Apiarian should now remove one of the outside frames, taking hold of its
two ends which rest upon the rabbets, and carefully lifting it out
without inclining it from its perpendicular position, so as not to
injure a single bee. The removal of the next comb, and of all the
succeeding ones, will be more easily effected, as there will be more
room to operate to advantage. If bees were disposed to fly away at once
from their combs, as soon as they were taken out, it would be very
difficult to manage them, but so far are they from doing this, that they
adhere to them with most wonderful tenacity. I have sometimes removed
all the combs, and arranged them in a continued line, and the bees have
not only refused to leave them, but have stoutly defended them against
the thieving propensities of other bees. By shaking off the bees from
the combs upon a sheet, and securing the queen, I can, on any pleasant
day, exhibit nearly all the appearances of natural swarming. The bees,
as soon as they miss their queen, will rise into the air, and by
placing her on the twig of a tree, they will soon cluster around her in
the manner already described.

A word as to the manner of catching the queen. I seize her very gently,
as I espy her among the bees, and by taking care to crush none of them,
run not the least risk of being stung. The queen herself never stings,
even if handled ever so roughly.

In removing the frames from the hive, it will be found very convenient
to have a box with suitable rabbets in which they may be temporarily
put, and covered over with a piece of cotton cloth. They may thus be
very easily protected from the cold, and from robbing bees, if they are
to be kept out of the hive for some time; and such a box will be very
convenient to receive frames that are lifted out for examination. In
returning the frames to a hive, care must be taken not to crush the bees
where their ends rest upon the rabbets; they must be put in slowly, so
that a bee, when he feels the slightest pressure may have a chance to
creep from under them, before he is hurt.

The honey-cover, for convenience, is generally in two pieces: these
cannot be laid down on the hive, without danger of killing many bees;
they are therefore very carefully _slid_ on, so that any bees which may
be in the way, are pushed before them, instead of being crushed. If any
bees are upon such parts of the hive as to be imprisoned if the outside
cover is closed, it should be left a little open, until they have flown
to the entrance of the hive. It cannot be too deeply impressed upon the
bee-keeper, that all his motions must be slow and gentle, and that the
bees must not be injured or breathed upon. If he will carefully follow
the directions I have given, he may soon open a hundred hives and
perform any necessary operation upon them, without any bee-dress, and
yet with very little risk of being stung, but I almost despair of being
able to convince even the most experienced Apiarians, of the ease and
safety with which bees may be managed on my plan, until they have
actually been eye-witnesses of its successful operation.

I can make an artificial colony in the way above described in ten
minutes from the time that I open the hive, and if I see the queen as
quickly as I often do, in not more than five minutes. Fifteen minutes
will be a very liberal allowance of time to complete the whole work. If
I had an Apiary of a hundred colonies, in less than a week, if the
weather was pleasant, I could without any assistance easily finish the
business of swarming for the whole season.

But how can the Apiarian, if he delays the formation of artificial
swarms until nearly the season for natural swarming, be sure that his
bees will not swarm in the usual way? Must he not still be constantly on
hand, or run the risk of losing many of his best swarms? I come now to
the entirely novel plan by which such objections are completely
obviated. If the Apiarian decides that he can most advantageously
multiply his colonies by artificial swarming, he must see that all his
fertile queens are deprived of their wings, so as to be unable to lead
off new swarms. As an old queen never leaves the hive except to
accompany a new swarm, the loss of her wings does not, in the least
interfere with her usefulness, or with the attachment of the bees.
Occasionally, a wingless queen is so bent on emigrating, that in spite
of her inability to fly, she tries to go off with a swarm; she has "a
will," but contrary to the old maxim she can find "no way," but
helplessly falls upon the ground instead of gaily mounting into the air.
If the bees succeed in finding her, they will never desert her, but
cluster directly around her, and may thus be easily secured by the
Apiarian. If she is not found, the bees will return to the parent stock
to await the maturity of the young queens. The Apiarian will ordinarily
be prepared to form his artificial colonies before any of these young
queens are hatched.

The following is the best plan for removing the wings from the queens.
Every hive which contains a young queen, ought to be examined about a
week after she has hatched, (see Chapter on Loss of the Queen,) in order
to ascertain that she has been impregnated, and has begun to lay eggs.
Some of the central combs or those on which the bees are most thickly
clustered, should be first lifted out, for she will almost always be
found on one of them; the Apiarian when he has caught her, should remove
the wings on one side with a pair of scissors taking care not to hurt
her. On examining his hives next season, let him remove one of the two
remaining wings from the queen. The third season, he may deprive her of
her last wing. Bees always have four wings, a pair on each side. This
plan saves him the trouble of marking his hives so as to know the age of
the queens they contain.

As the fertility of the queen generally decreases after the second year,
I prefer, just before the drones are destroyed, to kill all the old
queens that have entered their third year. In this way, I guard against
some of my stocks becoming queenless, in consequence of the queen dying
of old age, when there is no worker-brood in the hive, from which they
can rear another: or of having a worthless, drone-laying queen whose
impregnation has been retarded. These old queens are removed at that
period of the year when their colony is strong in numbers; and as the
honey-harvest is by this time, nearly over, their removal is often a
positive benefit, instead of a loss. The population is prevented from
being over crowded at a time when the bees are consumers and not
producers, and when the young queen, reared in the place of the old one
matures, she will rapidly fill the cells with eggs, and raise a large
number of bees to take advantage of the late honey-harvest, and to
prepare the hive to winter most advantageously.

The certainty, rapidity and ease of making artificial swarms with my
hives, will be such as to amaze those most who have had the greatest
experience and success in the management of bees. Instead of weeks
wasted in watching the Apiary, in addition to all the other vexations
and embarrassments which are so often found to attend reliance on
natural swarming, the Apiarian will find not only that he can create all
his new colonies in a very short time, but that he can, if he chooses,
entirely prevent the issue of all after-swarms. In order to do this, he
ought to examine the stocks which are raising young queens, in season to
cut out all the queen cells but one, before the larvŠ come to maturity.
If he gave them a sealed queen nearly mature, they will raise no others,
and no swarming, for that season, will take place. If the Apiarian
wishes to do more than to double his stocks in one season, and is
favorably situated for practicing natural swarming, he can allow the
stocks that raise young queens to swarm if they will, and he can
strengthen the small swarms by giving to them comb with honey and
maturing brood from other hives. Or he can, after an interval of about
three weeks, make one swarm from every two good ones in his Apiary, in a
way that will soon be described.

I do not know that I can find a better place in which to impress certain
highly important principles upon the attention of the bee-keeper. I am
afraid, that in spite of all that I can say, many persons as soon as
they find themselves able to multiply colonies at pleasure, will so
overdo the matter, as to run the risk of losing all their bees. If the
Apiarian aims at obtaining a large quantity of honey in any one season,
he cannot at the furthest, more than double the number of his stocks:
nor can he do this, unless they are all strong, and the season
favorable. The moment that he aims, in any one season, at a more rapid
increase, he must not only renounce the idea of having any surplus
honey, but must expect to purchase food for the support of his colonies,
unless he is willing to see them all perish by starvation. The time,
food, care and skill required to multiply stocks with very great
rapidity, in our short and uncertain climate, are so great that not one
Apiarian in a hundred can expect to make it profitable; while the great
mass of those who attempt it, will be almost sure, at the close of the
season, to find themselves in possession of stocks which have been so
managed as to be of very little value.

Before explaining some other methods of artificial swarming, which I
have employed to great advantage, I shall endeavor to impress upon the
mind of the bee-keeper, the great importance of thoroughly understanding
each season, the precise object at which he is aiming, before he enters
on the work of increasing his colonies. If his object is, in any one
season, to get the largest yield of surplus honey, he must at once make
up his mind to be content with a very moderate increase of stocks. If,
on the contrary, he desires to multiply his colonies, say, three or four
fold, he must be prepared, not only to relinquish the expectation of
obtaining any surplus honey, if the season should prove unfavorable, but
to purchase food for the support of his bees. Rapid multiplication of
colonies, and large harvests of surplus honey cannot, in the very nature
of things, be secure in our climate, in any one season.

If the number of colonies is to be increased to a large extent, then the
bees in the Apiary will be tasked to the utmost in building new comb,
as well as in rearing brood. For these purposes, they must consume the
supply of honey which, under other circumstances, they would have stored
up, a part for their own use in the main hive, and the balance for their
owner, in the spare honey-boxes.

To make this matter perfectly plain, let us suppose a colony to swarm.
If the new hive, into which the swarm is put, holds, as it ought, about
a bushel, it will require about two pounds of wax to fill it with comb,
and at least forty pounds of honey will be used in its manufacture! If
the season is favorable, and the swarm was large and early, they may
gather, not only enough to build this comb and to store it with honey
sufficient for their own use, but a number of pounds in addition, for
the benefit of their owner. If the old stock does not swarm again, it
will rapidly replenish its numbers, and as it has no new comb to build
in the main hive which already contains much honey, it will be able to
store up a generous allowance in the upper boxes. These favorable
results are all on the supposition that the season was ordinarily
productive in honey, and that the hive was so powerful in numbers as to
be able to swarm early. If the season should prove to be very
unfavorable, the first swarm cannot be expected to gather more than
enough for its own use, while the parent stock will yield only a small
return. The profits of the bee-keeper, in such an unfortunate season,
will be mainly in the increase of his stocks. If the swarm was late, in
consequence of the stock being weak in Spring, the early part of the
honey-harvest will pass away, and the bees will be able to obtain from
it, but a small share of honey. During all this time of comparative
inactivity, the orchards may present

"One boundless blush, one white empurpled shower
Of mingled blossoms,"

and tens of thousands of bees from stronger stocks, may be engaged all
day, in sipping the fragrant sweets, so that every gale which "fans its
odoriferous wings" about their dwellings, dispenses

"Native perfumes, and whispers whence they stole[18]
Those balmy spoils."

By the time that the feeble stock is prepared to swarm, if it swarm at
all that season, the honey-harvest is almost over, and the new colony
will seldom be able to gather enough for its own use, so that unless
fed, it must perish the succeeding Winter. Bee-keeping with colonies
feeble in the Spring, is most emphatically nothing but "folly and
vexation of spirit."

I have shown how the bee-keeper, with a strong stock-hive which has
swarmed early and but once, may in a favorable season realize handsome
profits from his bees. If the parent stock throws a second swarm, then,
as a general rule, unless this swarm was very early, and the honey
season good, if managed on the ordinary plan, it will seldom prove of
any value. It will almost always perish in the Winter, if it does not
desert its hive in the Fall, and the family from which it issued, will
not only gather no surplus honey, (unless it was secured before the
first swarm issued,) but will very often perish likewise. Thus the
inexperienced owner who was so delighted with the rapid increase of his
colonies, begins the next season with no more colonies than he had the
year before, and has very often lost all the time he has bestowed upon
his bees. I can, to be sure, on my plan, prevent the death of the bees,
and can build up all the feeble colonies, so as to make them strong and
powerful: but only by giving up all idea of obtaining a single pound of
honey. From the first swarm, I must take combs containing maturing
brood, to strengthen my weak swarms, and this first swarm however
powerful or early, instead of being able to store its combs with honey,
will be constantly tasked in building new combs to replace those taken
away, so that when the honey harvest closes, it will have scarcely any
honey, and must be fed to prevent it from starving. Any man who has
sense enough to be entrusted with bees, can, from these remarks,
understand exactly why it is impossible to multiply colonies rapidly in
any one season, and yet obtain from them large supplies of honey. Even
the doubling of stocks in one season, will very often be too rapid an
increase, if the greatest quantity of spare honey is to be obtained from
them; and when the largest yield of honey is desired, I much prefer to
form, in a way soon to be described, only one new stock from two old
ones; this will give even more from the three, than could have been
obtained from the two, on the ordinary non-swarming plan.

I would very strongly dissuade any but experienced Apiarians, from
attempting at the furthest, to do more than to triple their stocks in
one year. In order to furnish directions for very rapid multiplication,
sufficiently full and explicit to be of any value to the inexperienced,
I should have to write a book on this one topic; and even then, the most
of those who should undertake it, would be sure at first to fail.

I have no doubt that with ten strong stocks of bees in a good location,
in one favorable season, I could so increase them as to have, on the
approach of Winter, one hundred good colonies: but I should expect to
feed hundreds of pounds of honey, to devote nearly all my time to their
management, and to bring to the work, the experience of many years, and
the wisdom acquired by numerous failures. After all, what we most need,
in order to be successful in the cultivation of bees, is a _certain_,
rather than a _rapid_ multiplication of stocks. It would require but a
very few years to stock our whole country with bees, if colonies could
only be doubled annually; and an increase of even one third, would
before long, give us bees enough. This rate of increase I should always
encourage in the swarming season, even if, in the Fall, I reduced my
stocks (see Union of Stocks) to the Spring number. In the long run, it
will keep the colonies in a much more prosperous condition, and secure
from them the largest yield of honey.

I have never myself hesitated to sacrifice one or more colonies, in
order to ascertain a single fact, and it would require a separate volume
quite as large as this, to detail the various experiments which I have
made on the subject of Artificial Swarming. The practical bee-keeper,
however, should never, for a moment, lose sight of the important
distinction between an Apiary managed principally for the purposes of
experiment and discovery, and one conducted almost exclusively with
reference to pecuniary profit. Any bee-keeper can easily experiment with
my hives: but I would recommend him to do so, at first, on a small
scale, and if profit is his object, to follow the directions furnished
in this treatise, until he is _sure_ that he has discovered others which
are preferable. These cautions are given to prevent persons from
incurring serious losses and disappointments, if they use hives which,
if they are not on their guard, may tempt them into rash and
unprofitable courses, by allowing so easily of all manner of
experiments. Let the practical Apiarian remember that the less he
disturbs the stocks on which he relies for surplus honey, the better.
After they are properly lodged in their new hive, they ought by all
means to be allowed to carry on their labors without any interruption.
The object of giving the control over every comb in the hive, is not to
enable him to be incessantly taking them in and out, and subjecting the
bees to all sorts of annoyances. Unless he is conducting a course of
experiments, such interference will be almost as silly as the conduct of
children who pull up the seeds which they have planted, to see whether
they have sprouted, or how much they have grown. If after these
cautions, any still choose to disregard them, the blame of their losses
will fall, not upon the hive, but upon their own mismanagement.

Let me not, for a moment, be understood as wishing to discourage
investigation, or to intimate that perfection has been so nearly
attained that no more important discoveries remain to be made. On the
contrary, I should be glad to learn that many who have the time and
means, are disposed to use the facilities furnished by hives which give
the control of each comb, to experiment on a large scale; and I hope
that every intelligent bee-keeper who follows my plans, will experiment
at least on a small scale. In this way, we may soon expect to see, more
satisfactorily elucidated, some points in the Natural History of the
bee, which are still involved in doubt.

Having described the way in which forced swarms are made, both in common
hives and in my own, when the Apiarian wishes in one season merely to
double his colonies, I shall now show in what way he can secure the
largest yield of honey, by forming only one new colony from two old

Early in the season, before the bees fly out, or better still, after
they ceased to fly in the previous Fall, the two hives from which the
new colony is to be formed, should be placed near each other, unless
they are already, not more than a foot apart. When the time for forming
the artificial colony has arrived, these hives should be removed from
their stand, and the bees driven from them, precisely in the manner
already described. If all the bees are at home, I sometimes shut up the
hives on their stand, and drum long enough to cause the bees to fill
themselves before the hive is removed. Timid Apiarians may find some
advantage in this course, as the bees will all be quiet after they are
well drummed, and the hive may then be removed with greater safety. In
five minutes I can in this way reduce any swarm to a peaceable
condition. After the forced swarms are secured, the removed hives are
replaced, in order to catch up all the returning bees, and the forced
swarms must be shut up, until towards sunset; unless it is judged best
to keep the entrances temporarily open, so as to secure the return of a
sufficient number of bees to the parent stocks. The old stocks are now
moved to a new place, and managed according to the previous directions.
If neither of the expelled swarms was driven into the hive intended for
the new colony, then the proper hive must be placed, as near as
possible, in the center of the space previously occupied by the original
colonies. One of the swarms must now be shaken out upon a sheet, in
front of this hive which should be elevated, so as to enable the bees to
enter it readily. As soon as they are shaken out, they should be gently
sprinkled with sugar-water scented with peppermint, or any other
fragrant odor. Diligent search must now be made for the Queen, and if
found, she should be carefully removed, and given to the hive to which
she belongs. If the queen of the first swarm has been found, the second
colony may be shaken out, and sprinkled in the same way, and allowed to
enter without any further trouble. If the queen of the first colony was
not found, then that of the second one must be sought for; if neither
can be found, (though this, after a little experience, will very seldom
happen,) one of the Queens will soon kill the other, and reign over the
united family. The next day, the doubled colony will be found working
with amazing vigor, and it will not only fill its main hive, but will,
in any ordinary season, gather large quantities of surplus honey

The Apiarian who relies upon natural swarming, can double his new
colonies if they issue at the same time, by hiving them together, or if
this cannot be done, he may hive them in separate hives, and then,
towards evening, set one hive on a sheet, and shake down the bees from
the other, so that they can enter and join the first. It may be safely
done, even if several days have elapsed before the second colony swarms;
although in this case, I prefer after turning up their hive to sprinkle
the oldest swarm with scented sugar-water, and then to give the new
swarm the same treatment. I have doubled natural swarms in this way,
repeatedly, and have never, when they were early, failed to secure from
them a large quantity of honey. In sprinkling bees, let the operator
remember that they are not to be _drenched_, or almost drowned, as in
this case, they will require a long time to enter the hive. Bees seem to
recognize each other by the sense of smell; and when they are made to
have the same odor, they will always mingle peaceably. This is the
reason why I use a few drops of peppermint in the sugar-water.

If one of the queens of the forced swarms can be returned to her own
colony, it will of course, save them the time which would otherwise be
lost in raising another. I do not know that I can better illustrate the
importance of the inexperienced Apiarian following carefully my
directions, than by supposing him to return the queen to the colony to
which she does not belong. Now I can easily imagine that some bee-keeper
may do so, conceiving that I am foolishly precise in my directions, and
that the queen might be just as well given to one hive as to the other.
But if this is done before at least 24 hours have elapsed since they
were deprived of their own, she will almost certainly be destroyed. The
bees do not _sting_ a queen to death, but have a curious mode of
crowding or knotting around her, so that she is soon smothered; and
while thus imprisoned, she will often make the same piping note which
has already been described. In all this treatise, I have constantly
aimed to give no directions which are not important; and while I utterly
repudiate the notion that these directions may not be modified and
improved, I am quite certain that this cannot be done by any but those
who have considerable experience in the management of bees.

The formation of one new swarm from two old colonies, may, of course, be
very much simplified by the use of my hives. The two old hives are first
opened and sprinkled, and the bees taken from them and put into the new
hive in the same way in which the process was conducted when only one
colony was expelled, some brood comb being given to the united family.
There will be no difficulty in rightly proportioning the bees; one queen
may always be caught and preserved, and the operation may be performed
at any time when the sun is above the horizon. I have no doubt that
those who have a strong stock of bees, and who are anxious to realize
the largest profits in honey, will find this mode of increase, by far
the simplest and best. If judiciously practiced, they will find that
their colonies may always be kept powerful, and that they may be managed
with very great economy in time and labor. As Apiarians may be so
situated as to wish to increase their bees quite rapidly, I shall give
such methods as from numerous experiments, many of them conducted on a
large scale, I have found to be the best. I wish it however to be most
distinctly understood, that I do not consider _very_ rapid
multiplication as likely to succeed, except in the hands of skillful
Apiarians; and under ordinary circumstances it requires too much time,
care and honey, to be of very great practical value. Its chief merit
consists in the short time which it requires to build up an Apiary.
After trying my mode of management for a few seasons, a bee-keeper may
find out, that he is in all respects, favorably situated for taking care
of a large stock of bees. Suppose him to have acquired both skill and
confidence, and that he has ten powerful colonies. If he is willing to
do without surplus honey for one season, and the honey-harvest should be
very productive, he may without feeding, and without very much labor,
safely increase his ten colonies to thirty. If he chooses to feed
largely, he may _possibly_ end the season with fifty or sixty, or even
more; but he will _probably_ end it in such a manner as most thoroughly
to disgust him with his folly, and to teach him that in bee-keeping, as
well as in other things, "Haste makes waste."

On the supposition that by the time the fruit-trees are in blossom, the
Apiarian has, in hives of my construction, ten powerful colonies, let
him select four of the strongest, and make from each a forced swarm. He
will now have four queenless colonies, which will at once, proceed to
supply themselves with a young queen. In about ten days, he may make
from his other six stocks, six more forced swarms. He will probably find
in making these, many sealed queens, if he has delayed the operation
until about swarming time; so that he may give to each of the six stocks
from which he has expelled a swarm, the means of soon obtaining
another. If he has not enough for this purpose, he must take the
required number from the four stocks which are raising young queens, the
exact condition of which ought to have been previously ascertained. Some
of these stocks will be found to contain a large number of queen cells.
Huber, in one of his experiments, found twenty-four in one hive, and
even a larger number has sometimes been reared by a single colony. As
the Apiarian will always have many more queens than are wanted, he ought
to select those combs which contain a sealed queen, so as to secure say,
about fifteen combs, each of which has one or more queens. If necessary,
he can cut out some of the cells, and adjust them in the manner
previously described. Each comb containing a sealed queen must be put
with all the bees adhering to it, into an empty hive; and by a divider,
or movable partition, they must be confined to about one quarter of the
hive; water should be given to them, and honey, if none is contained in
the comb. I always prefer to select a comb which contains a large number
of workers almost mature, and some of which are just beginning to hatch,
so that even if a considerable number of the bees should return to the
parent stock, after their liberty is given them, there will still be a
sufficient number hatched, to attend to the young, and especially to
watch over the maturing queens. If the comb contains a large number of
bees just emerging from their cells, I prefer to confine them only one
day, otherwise I keep them shut up until about an hour before sunset of
the third day. The hives containing the small colonies, ought, if they
are not well protected by being made double, to be set where they are
thoroughly sheltered from the intense heat of the sun; and the
ventilators should give them an abundance of air. They should also be
closed in such a manner, as to keep the interior in entire darkness, so
that the bees may not become too uneasy during their confinement. I
accomplish this by shutting up their entrance, and replacing their front
board, just as though I were intending to put them into winter quarters.

These small colonies I shall call _nuclei_, and the system of forming
stocks from them, my nucleus system; and before I describe this system
more particularly, I shall show other ways in which the nuclei can be
formed. If the Apiarian chooses, he can take a frame containing bees
just ready to mature, and eggs and young worms, all of the worker kind,
together with the old bees which cluster on it, and shut them up in the
manner previously described; even if he has no sealed queen to give
them. If all things are favorable, they will set about raising a queen
in a few hours. I once took not more than a tea-cup full of bees and
confined them with a small piece of brood comb in a dark place, and
found that in about an hour's time, they had begun to enlarge some of
the cells, to raise a new queen! If the Apiarian has sealed queens on
hand, they ought, by all means, to be given to the nuclei, in order to
save all the time possible.

I sometimes make these nuclei as follows. The suitable comb with bees
&c., is taken from a stock-hive, and set in an empty one, made to stand
partly in the place of the old hive, which, of course, must previously
be moved a little on one side. In this way, I am able to direct a
considerable number of the bees from the old stock to my nucleus, and
the necessity of shutting it up, is done away with. If the bees from the
old stock do not enter the small one, in sufficient numbers, I sometimes
close their hive, so that the returning bees can find no other place to
enter. My object is not to catch up a _large_ number of bees. For
reasons previously assigned, I do not want enough to build new comb, but
only enough to adhere to the removed comb, and raise a new queen from
the brood, or develop the sealed one which has been given them. A short
time after one nucleus has in this way, been formed, another may be made
by moving the old hive again, and so a third or fourth, if so many are
wanted. This plan requires considerable skill and experience, to secure
the right number of bees, without getting too many.

If bees are to be made to enter a new hive, by removing the old one from
its stand, it will always be very desirable not only to have the new one
contain a piece of comb, but a considerable number of bees _clustered_
on that comb. I repeatedly found my bees, after entering the hive,
refuse to have anything to do with the brood comb, and for a long time,
I was unable to conjecture the cause; until I ascertained that they were
dissatisfied with its deserted appearance, and that, by taking the
precaution to have it well covered with bees, I seldom failed to
reconcile them to my system of forced colonization. I can usually tell,
in less than two minutes, whether the operation will succeed or not. If
the returning bees are content, they will, however much agitated at
first, soon begin to join the cluster on the comb; while if they are
dissatisfied, they will abandon the hive, and nearly all the bees that
were originally on the comb, will leave with them. They seem capricious
in this matter, and are sometimes so very self-willed, that they refuse
to have anything to do with the brood comb, when I can see no good
reason why they should be so rebellious.

I shall here state some _conjectures_ which have occurred to me on this
subject. Is it absolutely certain that bees can raise a queen from _any_
egg or young larva which would produce a worker? Or if this is possible,
is it certain that _any kind of workers_ can accomplish this? Huber
ascertained to his own satisfaction that there were two kinds of workers
in a hive. He thus describes them.

"One of these is, in general, destined for the elaboration of wax, and
its size is considerably enlarged when full of honey; the other
immediately imparts what it has collected to its companions, its abdomen
undergoes no sensible change, or it retains only the honey necessary for
its own subsistence. The particular function of the bees of this kind is
to take care of the young, for they are not charged with provisioning
the hive. In opposition to the wax workers, we shall call them small
bees or nurses."

"Although the external difference be inconsiderable, this is not an
imaginary distinction. Anatomical observations prove that the capacity
of the stomach is not the same--experiments have ascertained that one of
the species cannot fulfil all the functions shared among the workers of
a hive. We painted those of each class with different colors, in order
to study their proceedings; and these were not interchanged. In another
experiment, after supplying a hive deprived of a queen with brood and
pollen, we saw the small bees quickly occupied in nutrition of the
larvŠ, while those of the wax working class neglected them. Small bees
also produce wax, but in a very inferior quantity to what is elaborated
by the real wax workers."

Now if these statements can be relied on, and thus far I have nearly
always found Huber's statements, where-ever I had an opportunity to test
them, to be most wonderfully reliable, then it may be that when bees
refuse to cluster on the brood comb and to proceed at once to rear a new
queen, it is because they find that some of the conditions necessary for
success are wanting. Either there may not be a sufficient number of
wax-workers, to enlarge the cells, or a sufficient number of nurses to
take charge of the larvŠ; or it may be that the cells contain only young
wax-workers which cannot be developed into queens, or only young
nurses, which may be in the same predicament.

If any of my readers imagine that the work of carefully experimenting,
in order to establish facts upon the solid basis of complete
demonstration, is an easy work, let them attempt now to prove or
disprove the truth of any or all of my conjectures upon this single
topic. They will probably find the task more difficult than to blot over
whole quires and reams of paper with careless assertions.

All operations of any kind which interfere in the very least, with the
natural mode of forming colonies, are best performed in the swarming
season: or at least, at a time when the bees are breeding freely, and
are able to bring in large stores of honey from the fields. At other
times, they are very precarious, and unless under the management of
persons who have great experience, they will in most cases, end in
nothing but vexatious losses and disappointments.

It is quite amusing to see how bees act, when they find, on their return
from foraging abroad, that their hive has been moved, and another put in
its place. If the new hive is precisely similar to their own, in size
and outward appearance, they enter it as though all was right; but in a
few moments, they rush out in violent agitation, imagining that they
have made a prodigious mistake and have entered the wrong place. They
now take wing again in order to correct their blunder, but find to their
increasing surprise, that they had previously directed their flight to
the familiar spot; again they enter, and again they tumble out, in
bewildered crowds, until, at length, if they can find the means of
raising a new queen, or one is already there, they seem to make up their
minds that if this is not home, it not only looks like it, but stands
just where their home ought to be, and is at all events the only home
they are likely to get. No doubt they often feel that a very hard
bargain has been imposed upon them, but they seem generally determined
to make the best of it.

There is one trait in the character of bees, for which I feel, not
merely admiration, but the most profound respect. Such is their
indomitable energy and perseverance, that under circumstances apparently
the most despairing, they will still labor to the utmost, to retrieve
their losses, and sustain the sinking state. So long as they have a
queen, or any prospect of raising one, they struggle most vigorously
against impending ruin, and never give up, unless their condition is
absolutely desperate. In one of my observing hives, I once had a colony
of bees, the whole of which might have been spread out on my two hands,
busy at work in raising a new queen, from a small piece of brood comb.
For two long weeks, they adhered with unfailing perseverance and
industry, to their forlorn hope: until at last, one of the two queens
which they raised, came forth, and destroyed the other while still in
her cell. The bees had now dwindled away to less than half their
original number, and the new queen had wings so imperfect that she was
unable to fly. I watched their proceedings with great interest; they
actually paid very unusual attention to this crippled queen, and treated
her more as they are wont to treat a fertile one. In the course of a
week, there were not more than a dozen left in the hive, and in a few
days more, I missed the queen, and saw only a few disconsolate wretches
crawling over the deserted comb! Shame upon the faint-hearted and
cowardly of our own race, who, if overtaken by calamity, instead of
nobly breasting the dark waters of affliction, and manfully buffetting
with their tumultuous waves, meanly resign themselves to their ignoble
fate, and sink and perish where they might have lived and triumphed; and
double shame upon those who thus "faint in the day of adversity," when
living in a Christian land, they might, if they would only receive the
word of God, and open the eye of faith, behold a bow of promise spanning
the still stormy clouds, and hear a voice bidding them, like the great
apostle of the Gentiles, learn not merely to "rejoice in hope of the
glory of God," but to "glory in tribulations also."

I have been informed by Mr. Wagner, that Dzierzon has recently devised a
plan of _forming nuclei_, substantially the same with my own. His book,
however, contemplates having two Apiaries, three or four miles apart,
and his plans for multiplying colonies, as there described, were based
upon the supposition that the Apiarian will have two such
establishments. Such an arrangement would no doubt very greatly
facilitate many operations. Our forced swarms might all be removed from
the Apiary where they were formed, to the other, and our nuclei treated
in the same way, and there would be no necessity for confining the bees
after their removal. There are however, weighty objections to such an
arrangement, which will prevent it, at least for some time, from being
extensively adopted. The labor of removing the bees backwards and
forwards, is a serious objection to the whole plan; and in addition to
this, the necessity of having a skillful Apiarian at each establishment,
puts its adoption out of the question, with most persons who keep bees.
It might answer, however, if two bee-keepers, sufficiently far apart,
would enter into partnership, and manage their bees as a joint concern.
Dzierzon's new plan of creating nuclei, is as follows. Towards evening,
remove a piece of brood comb, with eggs and bees just hatching, and put
it, with a sufficient number of mature bees, into an empty hive; there
must be enough to keep the brood from being chilled over night. If the
operation is performed so late that the bees are not disposed to take
wing and leave the hive, by morning a sufficient number will have
hatched, to supply the place of those which may abandon the nucleus. In
my numerous experiments last Summer, in the formation of artificial
swarms, I tried this plan and found that it answered a good purpose; the
chief objection to it, is the difficulty often of selecting the suitable
kind of comb, if the operation is delayed until late in the afternoon. I
prefer, therefore, to perform it, when the sun is an hour or two high,
and to confine the bees until dark. If there are not a sufficient number
of bees on the comb, I shake off some from another frame, directly into
the hive, and shut them all up, giving them a supply of water. Sealed
queens if possible, should be used in all these operations.

I shall now give a novel mode of creating nuclei, which I have devised,
and which I find to be attended with great success. Hive a new swarm in
the usual manner, in an old box, and as soon as the bees have entered
it, shut them up and carry them down into the cellar. About an hour
before sunset, take combs suitable to form as many nuclei as you judge
best, say five or six, or even eight or ten if the swarm was large, and
you need as many. Bring up the new swarm and shake it out upon a sheet,
sprinkling it gently with sugar-water. With a large tumbler or saucer,
scoop up without hurting any of the bees, a pint or more of them, and
place them before the mouth of one of the hives containing a brood comb;
repeat the process, until each nucleus has, say, a quart of bees. If you
see the queen, you may give the hive in which you put her, three or four
times as many bees as any other; and the next day it may be strengthened
with a few combs containing brood, just ready to mature. If you did not
find her, at the time of forming the nuclei, when you afterwards examine
them, the one which contains her may be properly reinforced with bees
and comb, so as to enable it to work to the best advantage.

If this plan of forming nuclei, were attempted earlier in the afternoon
it would be difficult to prevent the bees from communicating on the
wing, and all going to the hive which contained their queen. If however,
the bees when first shaken out of the temporary hive, are so thoroughly
sprinkled, as not to be able to take wing and unite together, this mode
of forming colonies may be practiced at any hour of the day; and an
experienced Apiarian may prefer to do it, as soon as he has fairly hived
the new swarm. When the bees are shaken out in front of a hive which has
a sealed queen, or eggs from which they can raise one, having a whole
night in which to accustom themselves to their new situation, they will
be found, the next day, to adhere to the place where they were put, with
as much tenacity as a natural swarm does to their new hive. How
wonderful that the act of swarming should so thoroughly impress upon the
bees, an absolute indisposition to return to the parent stock. If this
were a fixed and invariable unwillingness, a sort of blind, unreasoning
instinct, it would not be so surprising, but we have already seen that
in case the bees lose their queen, they return in a very short time to
the stock from which they issued! If the nuclei formed in the manner
just described, found in their new hive, no means of obtaining a queen,
they would all return, next morning, to the parent stock.

When the Apiarian can obtain a natural swarm from any other Apiary, it
may be divided into nuclei in the same way, and even a forced swarm, if
brought from a distance, will answer equally well. If the Apiarian
wishes to form colonies earlier than the season of natural swarming, and
cannot conveniently obtain a forced swarm from an Apiary, at least a
mile distant, he may, before the bees begin to fly out in the Spring,
transport one of his stocks to a neighbor's, and force from it a swarm
at the desired time. Even if it is moved not more than half a mile off,
the operation will be almost sure to succeed. Of all modes of forming
the nuclei, this I believe will be found to be the neatest, simplest and

Having thus described the various ways in which I have successfully
formed my nuclei, I shall now show how they may be all built up into
powerful stocks. It will be very obvious that on the ordinary plan of
management, they would be absolutely worthless, even if it were possible
to form them with the common hives. If they were not fed, they would be
unable to collect the means of building new comb, and would gradually
dwindle away, just as third or fourth swarms which issue late in the
season; nor could they be saved even by the most generous feeding, as
they would only use their supplies to fill up the little comb they had;
so that when the queen was ready to lay, there would be no empty cells
to receive her eggs, and too few bees to build any, even if they had all
the honey that they required. Such small colonies must gradually waste
away, unless they can be speedily and effectually supplied with the
requisite number of bees, and this can be done only by hives which give
the control of all the combs. With such hives, I can speedily build up
my nuclei, (provided I have not formed too many,) to the strength
necessary to make them powerful stocks. The hives containing them, ought
if possible, to stand at some distance from other hives, say two or
three feet: and if this cannot conveniently be done, they should in some
way, be so distinguished from the adjoining hives, that the young queens
when they are hatched and go out to seek the drones, will not be liable
to lose their lives by entering a wrong hive on their return. A small
leafy twig fastened on the alighting board of such hives, when they
stand near to others, will be almost sure to prevent such a
catastrophe: if they stand near to each other, some may be marked in
this way, and others with a piece of colored cloth. (See Page 159.) To
guard them against robbers, &c., the entrances to these nuclei should be
contracted, so that only a few bees can enter at once. Those which were
confined, should be examined, the day after their liberty is given to
them; the others, the day after they were formed, when, if they were not
supplied with a sealed queen, they will be found actively engaged in
constructing royal cells. A new range of comb should now be given to
each one, and it should contain no old bees, but brood rapidly maturing,
and if possible, eggs and worms only a few days old.

This new addition of strength will greatly encourage the nuclei, and
give them the means of starting young queens, if they have not succeeded
in doing so with the first comb. I have very frequently found that for
some cause which I have not yet ascertained, they often start a large
number of queen cells, which in a few days, are all discontinued and
untenanted. The second attempt seldom fails. Does practice in this thing
make them more expert? But I will simply state the fact, referring to my
conjectures on page 218; and remarking that when they make a second
attempt, they seem frequently disposed to start a much larger number
than they otherwise would have done. In two or three days after giving
them the first piece of comb, I give them another, if their queen is
nearly mature, and I now let them alone until she ought to be depositing
eggs in the hive. I then give them, at intervals of a few days, two or
three combs more, and they will now be sufficiently powerful in bees, to
gather large quantities of honey, and fill the empty part of their hive.
The young queen is supplying with thousands of worker-eggs, the cells
from which the brood has emerged, and also the new ones built by the
bees, and the new colony will soon be one of the best stock hives in
the Apiary. If some of the full frames are moved, and empty ones placed
between them, as soon as the bees begin to build powerfully, there need
be no guide combs on the empty frames, and still the work will be
executed with the most beautiful regularity.

But what, in the mean time, is the condition of the hives from which we
are taking so many brood combs for the proper development of our nuclei;
are they not weakened so much as to become quite enfeebled? I come now
to the very turning point of the whole nucleus system. If due judgment
has not been used, and the sanguine bee-keeper has endeavored to
multiply his colonies too rapidly, a most grievous disappointment awaits
him. Either his nuclei cannot be strengthened at the right time, or this
can be done, only by impoverishing the old stocks, and the result of the
whole operation will be a most decided failure, and if he is in the
vicinity of sugar-houses, confectionaries, or other tempting places of
bee resort, he will find the population of his colonies very seriously
diminished, and will have to break up the most of the nuclei which he
had formed, and incur the danger of losing nearly the whole of his
stock. I lay it down as a fundamental principle in my nucleus system,
that the old stocks must never be so much weakened by the removal of
brood-comb and bees that they are not able to keep their numbers
sufficiently strong to refill rapidly all the vacancies among their
combs. If the Apiarian attempts to multiply his stocks so rapidly that
this cannot be done, I will ensure him ample cause to repent at leisure
of his folly. If however, the attempt at very rapid multiplication is
made only by those who are favorably situated, and who have skill in the
management of bees, a very large gain may be made in the number of
stocks, and they may all be strong and flourishing.

If a strong stock of bees in a hive of moderate size, which admits of
thorough inspection, is examined at the height of the honey harvest,
nearly all the cells will often be found filled with brood, honey or
bee-bread. The great laying of the queen, according to some writers, is
now over, not however as they erroneously imagine, because her fertility
has decreased, but merely because there is not _room_ in the hive for
all her eggs. She may often be seen restlessly traversing the combs,
seeking in vain for empty cells, until finding none, she is compelled to
extrude her eggs only to be devoured by the bees. (See p. 52.) If some
of the full combs are removed, and empty ones substituted in their
place, she will speedily fill them, laying at the rate of two or three
thousand a day! When my strong stocks are from time to time deprived of
one or two combs, if honey can easily be procured,[19] the bees proceed
at once to replace them, and the queen commences laying in the new combs
as soon as the cells are fairly started. If the combs are not removed
_too fast_, and care is taken not to deprive the stock of so much brood
that the bees cannot keep up a vigorous population, a queen in a hive so
managed, will lay her eggs in cells to be nurtured by the bees, instead
of being eaten up; and thus, in the course of the season, she may become
the mother of three or four times as many bees, as are reared in a hive
under other circumstances. By careful management, brood enough may, in
this way, be taken from a single hive, to build up a large number of
nuclei. Towards the close of the season however, as such a hive has been
constantly tasked in building comb and feeding young bees, almost all
its honey will have been used for these purposes, and although it may be
very populous, unless it is liberally fed, it will be sure to perish.
Since the discovery that unbolted rye flour will answer so admirably as
a substitute for pollen, we can supply the bees not only with honey,
when none can be obtained from the blossoms, but with an abundance of
bee-bread, when pollen is scarce. As I am writing this chapter, (March
29, 1853,) my bees are zealously engaged in taking the flour from some
old combs in front of their hives, and they can be seen most beautifully
moulding the little pellets on their thighs. By my movable combs, I can
give them the flour at once in their hives, as it can easily be rubbed
into an empty comb. The importance of Dzierzon's discovers of a
substitute for pollen, can hardly be over-estimated. If he had done
nothing more for the cause of Apiarian science, no true-hearted
bee-keeper would ever allow his name to be forgotten.

In the Chapter on Feeding, I shall give more specific directions as to
the way in which the cultivator must feed his bees, when he aims at
increasing, as rapidly as possible, the number of his stocks. Unless
this work is done with great judgment, he will find often that the more
he feeds, the less bees he has in his hives, the cells being all
occupied with honey instead of brood. Such is the passion of bees for
storing away honey, that large supplies of it will always most seriously
interfere with breeding, unless the bees are sufficiently numerous to
build new comb in which the queen can find room for her eggs.

I have no doubt that some who have but little experience in the
management of bees, are ready to imagine that they could easily strike
out a simpler and better way of increasing the number of colonies. For
instance: let a full hive have half its comb and bees put into an empty
hive, and the work of doubling, is without further trouble, effectually
accomplished. But what will the queenless hive do, under such
circumstances? Why, build of course, queen cells, and rear another. But
what kind of comb will they fill their hives with, before the young
queen begins to breed? Of that, perhaps, you had never thought. Let me
now lay down the only safe rule for all who engage in the multiplication
of artificial swarms. Never, under _any_ circumstances, take so much
comb and brood from your stock hives, as seriously to reduce their
numbers. This should be to the Apiarian, as "the law of the Medes and
Persians, which altereth not."

Suppose that I divide a populous stock, about swarming season, into four
or five colonies; the strong probability is, that not one of them, if
left to themselves, will be strong enough to survive the Winter. If fed
in the ordinary way, and yet not supplied with combs and bees, their
ruin will often be only accelerated. If, on the contrary, I had taken,
from time to time, combs sufficient to form three or four nuclei, and
had strengthened the new colonies, in such a way as not to draw too
severely upon the resources of the parent stock, I might expect to see
them all, in due time, strong and flourishing.

In the Spring of the year, if I desire to determine the strength of a
colony principally to raising young bees, I can easily effect it by the
following plan. A box is made, of the same inside dimensions with the
lower hive, into which the combs and bees of a full hive can all be
transferred, as soon as the bees are gathering honey enough to build new
combs. This box is now set over the old hive, which contains its
complement of frames with guide combs, or better still, with empty
combs. As soon as the bees begin to build, they take possession of the
lower hive, through which they go in and out, and the queen descends
with them, in order to lay her eggs in the lower combs. As soon as the
old apartment becomes pretty well filled, a large number of combs with
maturing bees, may be taken from the upper one, and when the hive below
is full, they may all be safely removed. If none of the upper combs are
removed, they will be filled with honey, as soon as the brood is
hatched; and as they will contain large stores of bee-bread, they will
answer admirably for replenishing stocks which have an insufficient
supply. In no other way, so far as I know, can so much honey be secured,
and if quantity, not quality, is aimed at, or if the test of quality is
its fitness for the use of the bees, I would recommend this mode as
superior to any other. If two swarms are hived together, or a very
powerful stock is lodged in a hive, so that at once they can have access
to the upper apartment, an extraordinary quantity of honey can be
secured, and of a very excellent quality. As soon as the bees have
raised one generation of young, in the combs of the upper box, or rather
in a part of them, they will use it chiefly for storing honey, and all
that it contains may be taken from them. In flavor, it will be found to
be nearly as good as honey stored in what is called "virgin comb."

In the Chapter on the Requisites of a good hive, I have said that in
size it should be adapted to the natural instincts of the bee, and yet
admit of enlarging or contracting, according to the wants of the colony
placed in it. I never use a hive, the main apartment of which, holds
less than a Winchester bushel. If small colonies are placed in such a
hive, it must be temporarily partitioned off, to suit the size of its
inmates; for if bees have too much room given to them, they cannot
concentrate their animal heat, and are so much discouraged that they
often abandon their hive. I am aware that many judicious Apiarians
recommend hives of much smaller dimensions, and I shall now give my
reasons for using one so large. If a hive is too small, then in the
Spring, the combs are soon filled with honey, bee-bread and brood, and
the surprising fertility of the queen bee, can be turned to no efficient
account. If the honey-harvest in any year, is deficient, such a colony
is very apt to perish in the succeeding Winter; whereas in a large hive,
the honey stored up in a fruitful season, is a reserve supply, in time
of need. In very large hives, I have seen large accumulations of honey
which have been untouched for years, while on the same stand, stocks of
about the same age, in small hives have perished by starvation. A good
early swarm in any situation at all favorable, will fill, the first
season, a hive that holds a bushel: and if there is any location in
which they cannot do this, a doubled swarm should be put into the hive,
or bee-keeping may, as far as profit is concerned, be abandoned. But it
may be objected that if the swarm was not sufficiently strong to fill
their hive, the bees often suffer from the cold in Winter, and become
too much reduced in numbers, to build early and rapidly in the ensuing
Spring. This is undoubtedly true, and hence the great importance of
putting a generous allowance of bees into a hive at the first start,
unless, as on my plan, the requisite strength can be given to them, at a
subsequent period. The hive, if large, should be all the more carefully
protected from extremes of cold, in order to give the bees an
opportunity of developing their natural powers of re-production, to the
best advantage.

In such a hive, the queen will be able to breed almost every month in
the year, even in the coldest climates where bees flourish, and on the
return of Spring, thousands of young bees will be found in it, which
could not have been bred in a small, or badly protected hive. The Polish
hives described by Mr. Dohiogost, have already been referred to. Some of
these hold about three bushels, and yet the bees swarm from them with
great regularity, and the swarms are often of immense size. These hives
are admirably protected, and at the time of hiving at least _four_ times
the number of bees are lodged in them, that are ordinarily put into one
of our hives. The queen bee, in such a hive, has ample room to lay her
three thousand eggs, or more, daily: and a prodigious colony is raised,
which often stores enormous supplies of honey. As all the frames in my
hives are of the same dimensions, the size of the hive may be
conveniently varied, to suit the views of different bee-keepers; for
they may be large or small, according to the number of frames designed
to be used. I hope, before long, to experiment with hives as large
again, as those that I now use; or rather, with such, as by containing
an upper box, may be made to accommodate twice as many bees. This whole
subject of the proper size of hives, certainly needs to be taken
entirely out of the region of conjecture, and to be put upon the basis
of careful observations. Unquestionably the size will require, in some
respects, to be modified by the more or less favorable character of the
country for bee-keeping; but I am satisfied that small hives will be
found of but little profit, and that large ones, unless well stocked
with bees, from the first, and thoroughly protected, will often fail to
answer any good end. If I should find on further experiment, that the
very large hives of which I have spoken, are better, my hives are at
present so constructed that without any alteration of existing parts,
they can easily be supplied with the required additions. I have already
mentioned that I sometimes build my hives, three in one structure, in
order to save expense in their construction. I do not however, wish to
be considered as recommending such hives as the best for general use.
For some purposes a single hive is unquestionably the best, as it can be
easily moved by one person; and this, will many times be found to be a
point of great importance. The double hives, or two in one, are for most
purposes, decidedly the best, as well as the cheapest. I have quite
recently contrived a plan of constructing my wooden hives in such a
manner as to give them very great protection against extremes of heat
and cold, while at the same time they can be easily and cheaply made, by
any one who can handle the simplest mechanical tools.

It has been previously stated that the queen bee cannot be induced to
sting, by any kind of treatment however severe. The reason of this
strange unwillingness to use her natural and powerful weapon, will be
obvious, when we consider how indispensable the preservation of her life
is to the very existence of the colony, and that her single sting, the
loss of which would be her death, could avail but little for their
defence, in case of an attack. She never uses her weapon, except when
engaged in mortal combat with another queen. As soon as the two rivals
come together, they clinch, at once, with every demonstration of the
most vindictive hatred. Why then, are not both of them often destroyed?
and why are not hives, in the swarming season, almost certain to become
queenless? We can never sufficiently admire the provision so simple and
yet so effectual, by which such a calamity is prevented. The queen bee
never stings unless she has such an advantage in the combat, that she
can curve her body under that of her rival, in such a manner as to
inflict a deadly wound, without any risk of being stung herself! The
moment that the position of the two combatants is such that neither has
the advantage, and that both are liable to perish, they not only refuse
to sting, but disengage themselves, and suspend their conflict for a
short time! If it were not for this peculiarity of instinct, such
combats would very often terminate in the death of both the parties,
and the race of bees would be in danger of becoming extinct.

The unwillingness of a swarm of bees, which has been deprived of its
queen, to receive another, until after some time has elapsed, must
always be borne in mind, by those who have anything to do with making
artificial swarms. About 24 hours must elapse before it will be safe to
introduce a strange mother into a queenless hive; and even then, if she
is not fertile, she will run a great risk of being destroyed. To prevent
such losses, I adopt the German plan of confining the queen, in what
they call, "a queen cage." A small hole, about as large as a thimble,
may be gouged out of a block, and covered over with wire gauze, or any
other kind of perforated cover, so that when the queen is put in, the
bees cannot enter to destroy her. Before long, they will cultivate an
acquaintance, by thrusting their antennŠ through to her; so that, when
she is liberated the next day, they will gladly adopt her in place of
the one they have lost. If a hole large enough for her to creep out, is
closed with wax, they will gnaw the wax away, and liberate her
themselves, from her confinement. Queens that seem bent on departing to
the woods, may be confined in the same way, until the colony has given
up all thoughts of forsaking its hive. A small paste-board box with
suitable holes, or a wooden match-box thoroughly scalded, I have found
to answer a very good purpose.

I shall here describe what may be called a _Queen Nursery_ which I have
contrived to aid those who are engaged in the rapid multiplication of
colonies by artificial means. A solid block about an inch and a quarter
thick, is substituted for one of my frames; holes, about one and a half
inches in diameter, are bored through it, and covered on both sides,
with gauze wire slides; the wire ought to be such as will allow a
common bee to pass through, but should be too small to permit a queen to
do the same. Any kind of perforated cover may be made to answer the same
purpose as the gauze wire. If a number of sealed queens are on hand, and
there is danger that some may hatch, and destroy the others, before the
Apiarian can make use of them in forming artificial swarms, he may very
carefully cut out the combs containing them, and place them each in a
separate cradle! The bees having access to them, will give them proper
attention, and as soon as they are hatched, will supply them with food,
and thus they will always be on hand for use when they are needed. This
Nursery must of course, be established in a hive which has no mature
queen, or it will quickly be transformed into a slaughter house by the
bees. I have not yet tested this plan so thoroughly as to be _certain_
that it will succeed; and I know so well the immense difference between
theoretical conjectures and practical results, that I consider nothing
in the bee line, or indeed in any other line, as established, until it
has been submitted to the most rigorous demonstrations, and has
triumphantly passed from the mere regions of the brain to those of
actual fact. A theory on any subject may seem so plausible as almost to
amount to a positive demonstration, and yet when put to the working
test, it is often found to be encumbered by some unforeseen difficulty,
which speedily convinces even its sanguine projector, that it has no
practical value. Nine things out of ten may work to a charm, and yet the
tenth may be so connected with the other nine, that its failure renders
their success of no account. When I first used this Nursery, I did not
give the bees access to it, and I found that the queens were not
properly developed, and died in their cells. Perhaps they did not
receive sufficient warmth, or were not treated in some other important
respects, as they would have been if left under the care of the bees.
In the multiplicity of my experiments, I did not repeat this one under a
sufficient variety of circumstances, to ascertain the precise cause of
failure; nor have I as yet, tried whether it will answer perfectly, by
admitting the bees to the queen cells.

Last Spring, I made one queen supply several hives with eggs, so as to
keep them strong in numbers while they were constantly engaged in
rearing a large number of spare queens. Two hives which I shall call A
and B, were deprived at intervals of a week, each of its queen,[20] in
order to induce them to raise a number of young sealed queens for the
use of the Apiary. As soon as the queens in A, were of an age suitable
to be removed, I took them away and gave the colony a fertile queen from
another hive, C; as soon as she had laid a large number of eggs in the
empty cells, I removed the queen cells now sealed over, from B, and gave
them the loan of this fertile mother, until she had performed the same
necessary office for them. By this time, the queen cells in C, were
sealed over; these were now removed, and the queen restored; she had
thus made one circuit, and laid a very large number of eggs in the two
hives which were first deprived of their queens. After allowing her to
replenish her own hive with eggs, I sent her out again on her
perambulating mission, and by this new device was able to get an
extraordinary number of young queens from the three hives, and at the
same time to preserve their numbers from seriously diminishing. Two
queens may in this way, be made in six hives to furnish all the
supernumerary queens which will be wanted in quite a large Apiary.

It will be perfectly obvious to every intelligent and ingenious
Apiarian, that the perfect control of the comb, is the _soul_ of an
entirely new system of practical management, and that it may be modified
to suit the wants of all who wish to cultivate bees. Even the advocate
of the old fashioned plan of killing the bees, can with one of my hives,
destroy his faithful laborers, by shaking them into a tub of water,
almost, if not quite as speedily as by setting them over a sulphur pit;
while after the work of death is accomplished, his honey will be free
from disgusting fumes, and all the labor of cutting it out of the hive,
may be dispensed with.

I am now prepared to answer an objection which doubtless has been
present in the minds of many, all the time that they have been reading
the various processes on which I rely for the multiplication of
colonies. A very large number of persons who keep bees, or who wish to
keep them, are so much afraid of them that they object entirely even to
natural swarming, because they are in danger of being stung in the
process of hiving the bees. How are such persons to manage bees on my
plan, which seems like bearding a lion in its very den! The truth is
that some persons are so very timid, or suffer so dreadfully from the
sting of a bee, that they are every way disqualified from having
anything to do with them, and ought either to have no bees upon their
premises, or to entrust the care of them to some suitable person. By
managing bees according to the directions furnished in this treatise,
almost any one can learn, by using a bee-dress, to superintend them,
with very little risk; while those who are favorites with them, may
dispense entirely with any protection. I find in short, that the risk of
being stung is really diminished by the use of my hives; although it
will be hard to convince those who have not seen them in use, that this
can be so.

There is still another class who either keep bees or can be induced to
keep them, and who are anxiously inquiring for some new hive or new plan
by which, with little or no trouble, they may reap copious harvests of
the precious nectar. This is emphatically _the_ class to seize hold of
every new device, and waste their time and money to fill the coffers of
the ignorant or unprincipled. There never will be a "royal road" to
profitable bee-keeping. If there is any branch of rural economy which
more than all others demands care and experience, for its profitable
management, it is the keeping of bees; and those who have a painful
consciousness that the disposition to put off and neglect, was, so to
speak, born in them, and has never been got out of them, will do well to
let bees alone, unless they hope, by the study of their systematic
industry, to reform evil habits which are well nigh incurable.

While I feel very sanguine that my system of management will be used
extensively and very advantageously, by careful and skillful Apiarians,
I know too much of the world to expect that it will, with the masses,
very speedily supercede other methods, even if it were so absolutely
perfect, as to admit of no possible improvement. I hope, however, that I
may, without being charged with presumption, be permitted to put on
record the prediction, that _movable frames_ will in due season, be
almost universally employed; and this, whether bees are allowed to swarm
naturally, or are increased by artificial means, or are kept in hives in
which they are not expected to swarm at all.

NOTE.--The very day on which I first contrived the plan, so
perfectly simple, and yet so efficacious, of gaining the control of
the combs by these frames, I not only foresaw all the consequences
which would follow their adoption, but wrote as follows, in my
Bee-Journal. "The use of these frames will, I am persuaded, give a
new impulse to the easy and profitable management of bees; and will
render the making of artificial swarms an easy operation."


[17] I have often spent more than ten minutes in opening and shutting a
single frame in the Huber hive, and even then, have sometimes crushed
some of the bees.

[18] The scent of the hives, during the height of the gathering season,
will usually inform us from what sources the bees have gathered their

[19] If they cannot obtain it, the Apiarian must himself furnish it.

[20] The queens taken from such hives may be advantageously used in
forming artificial colonies.

Does the flower make the honeybee or the honeybee the flower?