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Contents
1. Preface | 2. Advertisement | 3. Introduction | 4. Tamed or Domesticated | 5. Queen Drones Workers | 6. Comb | 7. Propolis | 8. Pollen | 9. Advantages improved hive | 10. Protection Temperature | 11. Ventilation | 12. Swarming Natural | 13. Swarming Artificial | 14. Enemies and Diseases | 15. Loss of the Queen | 16. Union Transferring Starting up | 17. Robbing | 18. Feeding | 19. Pasturage | 20. Anger Sting Dress Instincts | 21. Pictures | Online Books Home | Admin

16. Union Transferring Starting up

CHAPTER XIII.

UNION OF STOCKS. TRANSFERRING BEES FROM THE COMMON HIVE. STARTING AN
APIARY.

Frequent allusions have been made to the importance, for various
reasons, of breaking up stocks and uniting them to other families in the
Apiary. Colonies which in the early Spring, are found to be queenless,
ought at once to be managed in this way, for even if not speedily
destroyed by their enemies, they are only consumers of the stores which
they gathered in their happier days. The same treatment should also be
extended to all that in the Fall, are found to be in a similar
condition.

As small colonies, even though possessed of a healthy queen, are never
able to winter as advantageously as large ones, the bees from several
such colonies ought to be put together, to enable them by keeping up the
necessary supply of heat, to survive the Winter on a smaller supply of
food. A certain quantity of animal heat must be maintained by bees, in
order to live at all, and if their numbers are too small, they can only
keep it up, by eating more than they would otherwise require. A small
swarm will thus not unfrequently, consume as much honey as one
containing two or three times as many bees. These are facts which have
been most thoroughly tested on a very large scale. If a hundred persons
are required to occupy, with comfort, a church that is capable of
accommodating a thousand, as much fuel or even more will be required,
to warm the small number as the large one.

If the stocks which are to be wintered, are in the common hives, the
condemned ones must be drummed out of their old encampment, sprinkled
with sugar-water scented with peppermint, or some other pleasant odor,
and added to the others, (see p. 212.) The colonies which are to be
united ought if possible, to stand side by side, some time before this
process is attempted. This can almost always be effected by a little
management, for while it would not be safe to move a colony all at once,
even a few yards to the right or left of the line of flight in which
the bees sally out to the fields, (especially if other hives are near,)
they may be moved a slight distance one day, and a little more the next,
and so on, until we have them at last in the desired place.

As persons may sometimes be obliged to move their Apiaries, during the
working season, I will here describe the way by which I was able to
accomplish such a removal, so as to benefit, instead of injuring my
bees. Selecting a pleasant day, I moved, early in the morning, a portion
of my very best stocks. A considerable number of bees from these
colonies, returned in the course of the day to the familiar spot; after
flying about for some time, in search of their hives, (if the weather
had been chilly many of them would have perished,) they at length
entered those standing next to their old homes. More of the strongest
were removed, on the next pleasant day: and this process was repeated,
until at last only one hive was left in the old Apiary. This was then
removed, and only a few bees returned to the old spot. I thus lost no
more bees, in moving a number of hives, than I should have lost in
moving one: and I conducted the process in such a way, as to strengthen
some of my feeble stocks, instead of very seriously diminishing their
scanty numbers. I have known the most serious losses to result from the
removal of an Apiary, conducted in the manner in which a change of
location is usually made.

The process of uniting colonies in my hive, is exceedingly simple. The
combs may, after the two colonies are sprinkled, be at once lifted out
from the one which is to be broken up, and put with all the bees upon
them, directly into the other hive. If the Apiarian judges it best to
save any of his very small colonies, he can confine them to one half or
one third of the central part of the hive, and fill the two empty ends
with straw, shavings, or any good non-conductor. Any one of my frames,
can, in a few minutes, by having tacked to it a thin piece of board or
paste-board, or even an old newspaper, be fashioned into a divider,
which will answer all practical purposes, and if it is stuffed with
cotton waste, &c., it will keep the bees uncommonly warm. If a _very_
small colony is to be preserved over Winter, the queen must be confined,
in the Fall, in a queen cage, to prevent the colony from deserting the
hive.

I shall now show how the bee-keeper who wishes only to keep a given
number of stocks, may do so, and yet secure from that number the largest
quantity of surplus honey.

If his bees are kept in non-swarming hives, he may undoubtedly, reap a
bounteous harvest from the avails of their industry. I do not however,
recommend this mode of bee-keeping as the best: still there are many so
situated that it may be much the best for them. Such persons, by using
my hives, can pursue the non-swarming plan to the best advantage. They
can by taking off the wings of their queens, be sure that their colonies
will not suddenly leave them; a casualty to which all other non-swarming
hives are sometimes liable; and by taking away the honey in small
quantities, they will always give the bees plenty of spare room for
storage, and yet avoid discouraging them, as is so often done when large
boxes are taken from them. (See Chapter on Honey.)

By removing from time to time, the old queens, the colonies can all be
kept in possession of queens, at the height of their fertility, and in
this way a very serious objection to the non-swarming, or as it is
frequently called, the storifying system, may be avoided. If at any
time, new colonies are wanted, they may be made in the manner already
described. In districts where the honey harvest is of very short
continuance, the non-swarming plan may be found to yield the largest
quantity of honey, and in case the season should prove unfavorable for
the gathering of honey, it will usually secure the largest returns from
a given number of stocks. I therefore prefer to keep a considerable
number of my colonies, on the storifying plan, and am confident of
securing from them, a good yield of honey, even in the most unfavorable
seasons. If bee-keepers will pursue the same system, they will not only
be on the safe side, but will be able to determine which method it will
be best for them to adopt, in order to make the most from their bees. As
a general rule, the Apiarian who increases the number of his colonies,
one third in a season, making one very powerful swarm from two, (See p.
211,) will have more surplus honey from the three, than he could have
obtained from the two, to say nothing of the value of his new swarms.
If, at the approach of Winter, he wishes to reduce his stocks down to
the Spring number, he may unite them in the manner described,
appropriating all the good honey of those which he breaks up, and saving
all their empty comb for the new colonies of the next season. The bees
in the doubled stock will winter most admirably; will consume but
little honey, in proportion to their numbers, and will be in most
excellent condition when the Spring opens. It must not, however, be
forgotten, that although they eat comparatively little in the Winter,
they must be well supplied in the Spring; as they will then have a very
large number of mouths to feed, to say nothing of the thousands of young
bees bred in the hive. If any old-fashioned bee-keeper wishes, he can
thus pursue the old plan, with only this modification; that he preserves
the lives of the bees in the hives which he wishes to take up; secures
his honey without any fumes of sulphur, and saves the empty comb to make
it worth nearly ten times as much to himself, as it would be, if melted
into wax. Let no humane bee-keeper ever feel that there is the slightest
necessity for so managing his bees as to make the comparison of
Shakespeare always apposite:

"When like the Bee, tolling from every flower
The virtuous sweets;
Our thighs packed with wax, our mouths, with honey,
We bring it to the hive; and like the bees,
Are murdered for our pains."

While I am an advocate for breaking up all stocks which cannot be
wintered advantageously, I never advise that a single bee should be
killed. Self interest and Christianity alike forbid the unnecessary
sacrifice.


TRANSFERRING BEES FROM THE COMMON HIVE TO THE MOVABLE COMB HIVE.

The construction of my hive is such, as to permit me to transfer bees
from the common hives, during all the season that the weather is warm
enough to permit them to fly; and yet to be able to guarantee that they
will receive no serious damage by the change.

On the 10th of November, 1852, in the latitude of Northern
Massachusetts, I transferred a colony which wintered in good health, and
which now, May, 1853, promises to make an excellent stock. The day was
warm, but after the operation was completed, the weather suddenly became
cold, and as the bees were not able to leave the hive in order to obtain
the water necessary for repairing their comb, they were supplied with
that indispensable article. They went to work _very_ busily, and in a
short time mended up their combs and attached them firmly to the frames.

The transfer may be made of any healthy colony, and if they are strong
in numbers, and the hive is well provisioned, and the weather is not too
cool when the operation is attempted, they will scarcely feel the
change. If the weather should be too chilly, it will be found almost
impossible to make a colony leave its old hive, and if the combs are cut
out, and the bees removed upon them, large numbers of them will take
wing, and becoming chilled, will be unable to join their companions, and
so will perish.

The process of transferring bees to my hives, is performed as follows.
Let the old hive be shut up and well drummed[25] and the bees, if
possible, be driven into an upper box. If they will not leave the hive
of their own accord, they will fill themselves, and when it is
ascertained that they are determined, if they can help it, not to be
tenants at will, the upper box must be removed, and the bees gently
sprinkled, so that they may all be sure to have nothing done to them on
an empty stomach. If possible, an end of the old box parallel with the
combs, must be pried off, so that they may be easily cut out. An old
hive or box should stand upon a sheet, in place of the removed stock,
and as fast as a comb is cut out, the bees should be shaken from it,
upon the sheet; a wing or anything soft, will often be of service in
brushing off the bees. Remember that they must not be hurt. If the
weather is so pleasant that many bees from other hives, are on the wing,
great care must be taken to prevent them from robbing. As fast therefore
as the bees are shaken from the combs, these should be put into an empty
hive or box, and covered with a cloth, or set in some place where they
will not be disturbed. As soon as all the combs have been removed, the
Apiarian should proceed to select and arrange them for his new hive. If
the transfer is made late in the season, care must be taken, of course,
to give the bees combs containing a generous allowance of honey for
their winter supplies; together with such combs as have brood, or are
best fitted for the rearing of workers. All coarse combs except such as
contain the honey which they need, should be rejected. Lay a frame upon
a piece of comb, and mark it so as to be able to cut it a trifle larger,
so that it will just _crowd_ into the frame, to remain in its place
until the bees have time to attach it. If the size of the combs is such,
that some of them cannot be cut so as to fit, then cut them to the best
advantage, and after putting them into the frames, wind some thread
around the upper and lower slats of the frame, so as to hold the combs
in their place, until the bees can fasten them. If however, any of the
combs which do not fit, have no honey in them, they may be fastened very
easily, by dipping their upper edges into melted rosin. When the
requisite number of combs are put into the frames, they should be placed
in the new hive, and slightly fastened on the rabbets with a mere touch
of paste, so as to hold them firmly in their places; this will be the
more necessary if the transfer is made so late in the season that the
bees cannot obtain the propolis necessary to fasten them, themselves.

As soon as the hive is thus prepared, let the temporary box into which
the bees have been driven, be removed, and their new home put in its
place. Shake out now the bees from the box, upon a sheet in front of
this hive, and the work is done; bees, brood, honey, bee-bread, empty
combs and all, have been nicely moved, and without any more serious loss
than is often incurred by any other moving family, which has to mourn
over some broken crockery, or other damage done in the necessary work of
establishing themselves in a new home! If this operation is performed at
a season of the year when there is much brood in the hive, and when the
weather is cool, care must be taken not to expose the brood, so that it
may become fatally chilled.

The best time for performing it, is late in the Fall, when there is but
little brood in the hive; or about ten days after the voluntary or
forced departure of a first swarm from the old stock. By this time, the
brood left by the old queen, will all be sealed over, and old enough to
bear exposure, especially as the weather, at swarming time, is usually
quite warm. A temperature, not lower than 70, will do them no harm, for
if exposed to such a temperature, they will hatch, even if taken from
the bees.

I have spoken of the _best_ time for performing this operation. It may
be done at any season of the year, when the bees can fly without any
danger of being chilled, and I should not be afraid to attempt it, in
mid-winter, if the weather was as warm as it sometimes is. Let me here
earnestly caution all who keep bees, against meddling with them when the
weather is cool. Irreparable mischief is often done to them at such
times; they are tempted to fly, and thus perish from the cold, and
frequently they become so much excited, that they cannot retain their
fces, but void them among the combs. If nothing worse ensues, they are
disturbed when they ought to be in almost death-like repose, and are
thus tempted to eat a much larger quantity of food than they would
otherwise have needed. Let the Apiarian remember that not a single
unnecessary motion should be required of a single bee: for all this, to
say nothing else, involves a foolish waste of food. (See p. 116.)

In all operations involving the transferring of bees, it is exceedingly
desirable that the new hives to which they are transferred should be
put, as near as possible, where the old ones stood. If other colonies
are in close proximity, the bees may be tempted to enter the wrong
hives, if their position is changed only a little; they are almost sure
to do this if the others resemble more closely than the new one, their
former habitation. If will be often advisable, to transport to the
distance of one or two miles, the stocks which are to be transferred; so
that the operation may be performed to the best advantage. In a few
weeks they may be brought back to the Apiary. In hiving swarms, and
transferring stocks, care must be taken to prevent the bees from getting
mixed with those of other colonies. If this precaution is neglected many
bees will be lost by joining other stocks, where they may be kindly
welcomed, or may at once be put to death. It is exceedingly difficult,
to tell before hand, what kind of a reception strange bees will meet
with, from a colony which they attempt to join. In the working season
they are much more likely to be well received, than at any other time,
especially if they come loaded with honey: still new swarms full of
honey, that attempt to enter other hives, are often killed at once. If a
colony which has an unimpregnated queen seeks to unite with another
which has a fertile one, then almost as a matter of course they are
destroyed! If by moving their hive, or in any other way, bees are made
to enter a hive containing an unimpregnated queen, they will often
destroy her, if they came from a family which was in possession of a
fertile one! If any thing of this kind is ever attempted, the queen
ought first to be confined in a queen cage. If while attempting a
transfer of the bees to a new hive, I am apprehensive of robbers
attacking the combs, or am pressed for want of time, I put only such
combs as contain brood into the frames, and set the others in a safe
place. The bees are now at once allowed to enter their new hive, and the
other combs are given to them at a more convenient time. The whole
process of transferal need not occupy more than an hour, and in some
cases it can be done in fifteen minutes. If the weather is hot, the
combs must not be exposed at all to the heat of the sun.

Until I had tested the feasibility of transferring bees from the old
hives, by means of my frames, I felt strongly opposed to any attempt to
dislodge them from their previous habitation. If they are transferred in
the usual way, it must be done when the combs are filled with brood; for
if delayed until late in the season, they will have no time to lay in a
store of provision against the Winter. Who can look without disgust,
upon the wanton destruction of thousands of their young, and the silly
waste of comb, which can be replaced only by the consumption of large
quantities of honey? In the great majority of such cases, the transfer,
unless made about the swarming season, and _previous_ to the issue of
the first swarm, will be an entire failure, and if made before, at best
only one colony is obtained, instead of the two, which are secured on my
plan. I never advise the transfer of a colony into _any_ hive, unless
their combs can be transferred with them, nor do I advise any except
practical Apiarians, to attempt to transfer them even to my hives. But
what if a colony is so old that its combs can only breed dwarfs? When I
find such a colony, I shall think it worth while to give specific
directions as to how it should be managed. The truth is, that of all the
many mistakes and impositions which have disgusted multitudes with the
very sound of "patent hive," none has been more fatal than the notion
that an old colony of bees could not be expected to prosper. Thousands
of the very best stocks have been wantonly sacrificed to this Chimera;
and so long as bee-keepers instead of studying the habits of the bee,
prefer to listen to the interested statements of ignorant, or
enthusiastic, or fraudulent persons, thousands more will suffer the same
fate. As to old stocks, the prejudice against them is just as foolish as
the silly notions of some who imagine that a woman is growing old, long
before she has reached her prime. Many a man of mature years who has
married a girl or a child, instead of a woman, has often had both time
enough, and cause enough to lament his folly.

It cannot be too strongly urged upon all who keep bees, either for love
or for money, to be exceedingly cautious in trying any new hive, or new
system of management. If you are ever so well satisfied that it will
answer all your expectations, enter upon it, at first, only on a small
scale; then, if it fulfills all its promises, or if _you_ can make it do
so, you may safely adopt it: at all events, you will not have to mourn
over large sums of money spent for nothing, and numerous powerful
colonies entirely destroyed. "Let well enough alone," should, to a great
extent, be the motto of every prudent bee-keeper. There is, however, a
golden mean between that obstinate and stupid conservatism which tries
nothing new, and, of course, learns nothing new, and that craving after
mere novelty, and that rash experimenting on an extravagant scale, which
is so characteristic of a large portion of our American people. It would
be difficult to find a better maxim than that which is ascribed to
David Crockett; "_Be sure you're right, then go ahead._"

What old bee-keeper has not had abundant proof that stocks eight or ten
years old, or even older, are often among the very best, in his whole
Apiary, always healthy and swarming with almost unfailing regularity! I
have seen such hives, which for more than fifteen years, have scarcely
failed, a single season, to throw a powerful swarm. I have one now ten
years old, in admirable condition, which a few years ago, swarmed three
times, and the first swarm sent off a colony the same season. All these
swarms were so early that they gathered ample supplies of honey, and
wintered without any assistance!

I have already spoken of old stocks flourishing for a long term of years
in hives of the roughest possible construction; and I shall now in
addition to my previous remarks assign a new reason for such unusual
prosperity. Without a single exception, I have found one or both of two
things to be true, of every such hive. Either it was a very large hive,
or else if not of unusual size, it contained a large quantity of
worker-comb. No hive which does not contain a good allowance of regular
comb of a size adapted to the rearing of workers, can ever in the nature
of things, prove a valuable stock hive. Many hives are so full of drone
combs that they breed a cloud of useless consumers, instead of the
thousands of industrious bees which ought to have occupied their places
in the combs. It frequently happens that when bees are put into a new
hive, the honey-harvest is at its height, and the bees finding it
difficult to build worker comb fast enough to hold their gatherings, are
tempted to construct long ranges of drone comb to receive their stores.
In this way, a hive often contains so small an allowance of
worker-comb, that it can never flourish, as the bees refuse to pull
down, and build over any of their old combs. All this can be easily
remedied by the use of the movable comb hive.


PROCURING BEES TO START AN APIARY.

A person ignorant of bees, must depend in a very great measure, on the
honesty of those from whom he purchases them. Many stocks are not worth
accepting as a gift: like a horse or cow, incurably diseased, they will
only prove a bill of vexatious expense. If an inexperienced person
wishes to commence bee-keeping, I advise him, by all means, to purchase
a new swarm of bees. It ought to be a large and early one. Second swarms
and all late and small first swarms, ought never to be purchased by one
who has no experience in Apiarian pursuits. They are very apt, in such
hands, to prove a failure. If all bee-keepers were of that exemplary
class of whom the Country Curate speaks, (see p. 33,) it would be
perfectly safe to order a swarm of any one keeping a stock of bees. This
however, is so far from being true, that some offer for sale, old stocks
which are worthless, or impose on the ignorant, small first swarms, and
second and even third swarms, as prime swarms worth the very highest
market price. If the novice purchases an old stock, he will have the
perplexities of swarming, &c., the first season, and before he has
obtained any experience. As it may, however, be sometimes advisable that
this should be done, unless he makes his purchase of a man known to be
honest, he should select his stock himself, at a period of the day when
the bees, in early Spring, are busily engaged in plying their labors. He
should purchase a colony which is very actively engaged in carrying in
bee-bread, and which, from the large number going in and out,
undoubtedly contains a vigorous population. The hive should be removed
at an hour when the bees are all at home. It may be gently inverted, and
a coarse towel placed over it, and then tacked fast, when the bees are
shut in. Have a steady horse, and before you start, be very sure that it
is _impossible_ for any bees to get out. Place the hive on some straw,
in a wagon that has easy springs, and the bees will have plenty of air,
and the combs, from the inverted position of the hive, will not be so
liable to be jarred loose. Never purchase a hive which contains much
comb just built; for it will be next to impossible to move it, in warm
weather, without loosening the new combs. If a new swarm is purchased,
it may be brought home as follows. Furnish the person on whose premises
it is to be hived, with a box holding at the very least, a cubic foot of
clear contents. Let the bottom-board of this temporary hive be clamped
on both ends, the clamps being about two inches wider than the thickness
of the board, so that when the hive is set on the bottom-board, it will
slip in between the upper projections of the clamps, and be kept an inch
from the ground, by the lower ones, so that air may pass under it. There
should be a hole in the bottom-board, about four inches in diameter, and
two of the same size in the opposite sides of the box, covered with wire
gauze, so that the bees may have an abundance of air, when they are shut
up. Three parallel strips, an inch and a half wide, should be nailed,
about one third of the way from the top of the temporary hive, at equal
distances apart, so that the bees may have every opportunity to cluster;
a few pieces of old comb, fastened strongly in the top with melted
rosin, will make the bees like it all the better. A handle made of a
strip of leather, should be nailed on the top. Let the bees be hived in
this box, and kept well shaded; at evening, or very early next morning,
the temporary hive which was propped up, when the bees were put into
it, may be shut close to its bottom-board, and a few screws put into the
upper projection of the clamps, so as to run through into the ends of
the box. In such a box, bees may be safely transported, almost any
reasonable distance: care being taken not to handle them roughly, and
never to keep them in the sun, or in any place where they have not
sufficient air. If the box is too small, or sufficient ventilators are
not put in, or if the bees are exposed to too much heat, they will be
sure to suffocate. If the swarm is unusually large, and the weather
excessively warm, they ought to be moved at night. Unless great care is
taken in moving bees, in very hot weather, they will be almost sure to
perish; therefore always be _certain_ that they have an abundance of
air. If they appear to be suffering for want of it, especially if they
begin to fall down from the cluster, and to lie in heaps on the
bottom-board, they should immediately be carried into a field or any
convenient place, and at once be allowed to fly: in such a case they
cannot be safely moved again, until towards night. This will never be
necessary if the box is large enough, and suitably ventilated.

I have frequently made a box for transporting new swarms, out of an old
tea-chest. When a new swarm is brought in this way to its intended home,
the bottom-board may be unscrewed, and the bees transferred at once, to
the new hive; (See p. 168.) In some cases, it may be advisable to send
away the new hive. In this case, if one of my hives is used, the spare
honey-board should be screwed down, and all the holes carefully stopped,
except two or three which ought to have some ventilators tacked over
them: the frames should be fastened with a little paste, so that they
will not start from their place, and after the bees are hived, the
blocks which close the entrance should be screwed down to their place,
keeping them however, a trifle less than an eighth of an inch from the
entrance, so as to give the bees all the air which they need. I very
much prefer sending a box for the bees: one person can easily carry two
such boxes, each with a swarm of bees; and if he chooses to fasten them
to two poles, or to a very large hoop, he may carry four, or even more.

If the Apiarian wishes, to be sure the first season, of getting some
honey from his bees, he will do well to procure two good swarms, and put
them both into one hive. (See p. 213.) To those who do not object to the
extra expense, I strongly recommend this course. Not unfrequently, they
will in a good season, obtain in spare honey from their doubled swarm,
an ample equivalent for its increased cost: at all events, such a
powerful swarm lays the foundations of a flourishing stock, which seldom
fails to answer all the reasonable expectations of its owner. If the
Apiary is commenced with swarms of the current season, and they have an
abundance of spare room in the upper boxes, there will be no swarming,
that season, and the beginner will have ample time to make himself
familiar with his bees, before being called to hive new swarms, or to
multiply colonies by artificial means.

Let no inexperienced person commence bee-keeping on a large scale; very
few who do so, find it to their advantage, and the most of them not only
meet with heavy losses, but abandon the pursuit in disgust. By the use
of my hives, the bee-keeper can easily multiply very rapidly, the number
of his colonies, as soon as he finds, not merely that money can be made
by keeping bees, but _that he can make it_. While I am certain that more
money can be made by a careful and experienced bee-keeper in a good
situation, from a given sum invested in an Apiary, than from the same
money invested in any other branch of rural economy, I am equally
certain that there is none in which a careless or inexperienced person
would be more sure to find his outlay result in an almost entire loss.
An Apiary neglected or mismanaged, is far worse than a farm overgrown
with weeds, or exhausted by ignorant tillage: for the land is still
there, and may, by prudent management, soon be made again to blossom
like the rose; but the bees, when once destroyed, can never be brought
back to life, unless the poetic fables of the Mantuan Bard, can be
accepted as the legitimate results of actual experience, and swarms of
bees, instead of clouds of filthy flies, can once more be obtained from
the carcases of decaying animals! I have seen an old medical work in
which Virgil's method of obtaining colonies of bees from the putrid body
of a cow slain for this special purpose, is not only credited, but
minutely described.

A large book would hardly suffice to set forth all the superstitions
connected with bees. I will refer to one which is very common and which
has often made a deep impression upon many minds. When any member of a
family dies, the bees are believed to be aware of what has happened, and
the hives are by some dressed in mourning, to pacify their sorrowing
occupants! Some persons imagine that if this is not done, the bees will
never afterwards prosper, while others assert, that the bees often take
their loss so much to heart, as to alight upon the coffin whenever it is
exposed! An intelligent clergyman on reading the sheets of this work,
stated to me that he had always refused to credit this latter fact,
until present at a funeral where the bees gathered in such large numbers
upon the coffin, as soon as it was brought out from the house, as to
excite considerable alarm. Some years after this occurrence, being
engaged in varnishing a table, and finding that the bees came and lit
upon it, he was convinced that the love of varnish, (see p. 85,) instead
of sorrow or respect for the dead, was the occasion of their gathering
round the coffin! How many superstitions in which often intelligent
persons most firmly confide, might if all the facts were known, be as
easily explained.

Before closing this Chapter, I must again strongly caution all
inexperienced bee-keepers, against attempting to transfer colonies from
an old hive. I am determined that if any find that they have made a
wanton sacrifice of their bees, they shall not impute their loss to my
directions. If they persist in making the attempt, let them, by all
means, either do it at break of day, before the bees of other hives will
be induced to commence robbing; or better still, let them do it not only
early in the morning, but let them carry the hive on which they intend
to operate, to a very considerable distance from the vicinity of the
other hives, and entirely out of sight of the Apiary. I prefer myself
this last plan, as I then run no risk of attracting other bees to steal
the honey, and acquire mischievous habits.

The bee-keeper is very often reminded by the actions of his bees of some
of the worst traits in poor human nature. When a man begins to sink
under misfortunes, how many are ready not simply to abandon him, but to
pounce upon him like greedy harpies, dragging, if they can, the very bed
from under his wife and helpless children, and appropriating all which
by any kind of maneuvering, they can possibly transfer to their already
overgrown coffers! With much the same spirit, more pardonable to be sure
in an insect, the bees from other hives, will gather round the one which
is being broken up, and while the disconsolate owners are lamenting over
their ruined prospects, will, with all imaginable rapacity and glee,
bear off every drop which they can possibly seize.

FOOTNOTES:

[25] Instead of using sticks, I much prefer to make the drumming with
the open palms of my hands.

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