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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

3. Introduction


The present condition of practical bee-keeping in this country, is known
to be deplorably low. From the great mass of agriculturists, and others
favorably situated for obtaining honey, it receives not the slightest
attention. Notwithstanding the large number of patent hives which have
been introduced, the ravages of the bee-moth have increased, and success
is becoming more and more precarious. Multitudes have abandoned the
pursuit in disgust, while many of the most experienced, are fast
settling down into the conviction that all the so-called "Improved
Hives" are delusions, and that they must return to the simple box or
hollow log, and "_take up_" their bees with sulphur, in the
old-fashioned way.

In the present state of public opinion, it requires no little courage to
venture upon the introduction of a new hive and system of management;
but I feel confident that a _new era_ in bee-keeping has arrived, and
invite the attention of all interested, to the reasons for this belief.
A perusal of this Manual, will, I trust, convince them that there is a
better way than any with which they have yet been acquainted. They will
here find many hitherto mysterious points in the physiology of the
honey-bee, clearly explained, and much valuable information never before
communicated to the public.

It is now nearly fifteen years since I first turned my attention to the
cultivation of bees. The state of my health having compelled me to live
more and more in the open air, I have devoted a large portion of my
time, of late years, to a careful investigation of their habits, and to
a series of minute and thorough experiments in the construction of
hives, and the best methods of managing them, so as to secure the
largest practical results.

Very early in my Apiarian studies, I procured an imported copy of the
work of the celebrated Huber, and constructed a hive on his plan, which
furnished me with favorable opportunities of verifying some of his most
valuable discoveries; and I soon found that the prejudices existing
against him, were entirely unfounded. Believing that his discoveries
laid the foundation for a more extended and profitable system of
bee-keeping, I began to experiment with hives of various construction.

The result of all these investigations fell far short of my
expectations. I became, however, most thoroughly convinced that no hives
were fit to be used, unless they furnished _uncommon protection_ against
_extremes_ of _heat_ and more especially of COLD. I accordingly
discarded all thin hives made of inch stuff, and constructed my hives of
_doubled_ materials, enclosing a "dead air" space all around.

These hives, although more expensive in the first cost, proved to be
much cheaper in the end, than those I had previously used. The bees
_wintered_ remarkably well in them, and swarmed _early_ and with unusual
_regularity_. My next step in advance, was, while I secured my surplus
honey in the most convenient, beautiful and salable forms, so to
facilitate the entrance of the bees into the honey receptacles, as to
secure the largest fruits from their labors.

Although I felt confident that my hive possessed some valuable
peculiarities, I still found myself unable to remedy many of the
casualties to which bee-keeping is liable. I now perceived that no hive
could be made to answer my expectations unless it gave me the _complete
control of the combs_, so that I might remove any, or all of them at
pleasure. The use of the Huber hive had convinced me that with proper
precautions, the combs might be removed without _enraging_ the bees, and
that these insects were capable of being domesticated or _tamed_, to a
most surprising degree. A knowledge of these facts was absolutely
necessary to the further progress of my invention, for without it, I
should have regarded a hive designed to allow of the removal of the
combs, as too dangerous in use, to be of any practical value. At first,
I used movable slats or bars placed on rabbets in the front and back of
the hive. The bees were induced to build their combs upon these bars,
and in carrying them down, to fasten them to the sides of the hive. By
severing the attachments to the sides, I was able, at any time, to
remove the combs suspended from the bars. There was nothing _new_ in the
use of movable _bars_; the invention being probably, at least, a hundred
years old; and I had myself used such hives on Bevan's plan, very early
in the commencement of my experiments. The chief peculiarity in my
hives, as now constructed, was the facility with which these bars could
be removed without enraging the bees, and their combination with my new
mode of obtaining the surplus honey.

With hives of this construction I commenced experimenting on a larger
scale than ever, and soon arrived at results which proved to be of the
very first importance. I found myself able, if I wished it, to _dispense
entirely_ with _natural swarming_, and yet to multiply colonies with
much greater _rapidity_ and _certainty_ than by the common methods. I
could, in a _short time, strengthen my feeble colonies_, and furnish
those which had _lost their Queen_ with the means of _obtaining
another_. If I suspected that any thing was the matter with a hive, I
could _ascertain_ its _true condition_, by making a thorough examination
of every part, and if the _worms had gained a lodgment_, I could quickly
_dispossess_ them. In short, I could perform all the operations which
will be explained in this treatise, and I now believed that bee-keeping
could be made _highly profitable_, and as much a matter of _certainty_,
as any other branch of rural economy.

I perceived, however, that one thing was _yet_ wanting. The _cutting_ of
the combs from their attachments to the _sides_ of the hive, in order to
remove them, was attended with much loss of _time_ to myself and to the
bees, and in order to _facilitate_ this operation, the construction of
my hive was necessarily _complicated_. This led me to invent a method by
which the combs were attached to MOVABLE FRAMES, and suspended in the
hives, _so as to touch neither the top, bottom, nor sides_. By this
device, I was able to remove the combs at pleasure, and if desired, I
could speedily transfer them, bees and all, _without any cutting_, to
another hive. I have experimented largely with hives of this
construction, and find that they answer most admirably, all the ends
proposed in their invention.

While experimenting in the summer of 1851, with some observing hives of
a peculiar construction, I discovered that bees could be made to work in
glass hives, _exposed to the full light of day_. The notice, in a
Philadelphia newspaper, of this discovery, procured me the pleasure of
an acquaintance with Rev. Dr. Berg, pastor of a Dutch Reformed church in
that city. From him, I first learned that a Prussian clergyman, of the
name of Dzierzon, (pronounced Tseertsone,) had attracted the attention
of crowned heads, by his important discoveries in the management of
bees. Before he communicated the particulars of these discoveries, I
explained to Dr. Berg, my system of management, and showed him my hive.
He expressed the greatest astonishment at the wonderful similarity in
our methods of management, both of us having carried on our
investigations without the slightest knowledge of each other's labors.
Our hives, he found to differ in some very important respects. In the
Dzierzon hive, the combs are not attached to _movable frames_, but to
_bars_, so that they cannot, _without cutting_, be removed from the
hive. In my hive, which is opened _from the top_, any comb may be taken
out, without at all disturbing the others; whereas, in the Dzierzon
hive, which is opened from one of the ends, it is often necessary to
_cut_ and _remove many_ combs, in order to get access to a particular
one; thus, if the _tenth_ comb from the end is to be removed, _nine_
combs must be first _cut and taken out_. All this consumes a large
amount of time. The German hive does not furnish the surplus honey in a
form which would be found most salable in our markets, or which would
admit of safe transportation in the comb. Notwithstanding these
disadvantages, it has achieved a _great triumph_ in Germany, and given a
_new impulse_ to the cultivation of bees.

The following letter from Samuel Wagner, Esq., cashier of the bank in
York, Pennsylvania, will show the results which have been obtained in
Germany, by the new system of management, and his estimate of the
superior value of my hive to those in use there.

YORK, PA., DEC. 24, 1852.

The Dzierzon theory and the system of bee-management based thereon, were
originally promulgated, _hypothetically_, in the "Eichstadt
Bienenzeitung" or Bee-journal, in 1845, and at once arrested my
attention. Subsequently, when in 1848, at the instance of the Prussian
government, the Rev. Mr. Dzierzon published his "Theory and Practice of
Bee Culture," I imported a copy, which reached me in 1849, and which I
translated prior to January 1850. Before the translation was completed,
I received a visit from my friend, the Rev. Dr. Berg, of Philadelphia,
and in the course of conversation on bee-keeping, mentioned to him the
Dzierzon theory and system, as one which I regarded as new and very
superior, though I had had no opportunity for testing it practically. In
February following, when in Philadelphia, I left with him the
translation in manuscript--up to which period, I doubt whether any other
person in this country had any knowledge of the Dzierzon theory; except
to Dr. Berg I had never mentioned it to any one, save in very general

In September, 1851, Dr. Berg again visited York, and stated to me your
investigations, discoveries and inventions. From the account Dr. Berg
gave me, I felt assured that you had devised substantially the _same
system_ as that so successfully pursued by Mr. Dzierzon; but how far
_your hive_ resembled his I was unable to judge from description alone.
I inferred, however, several points of difference. The coincidence as to
system, and the principles on which it was evidently founded, struck me
as exceedingly singular and interesting, because I felt confident that
you had no more knowledge of Mr. Dzierzon and his labors, before Dr.
Berg mentioned him and his book to you, than Mr. Dzierzon had of you.
These circumstances made me very anxious to examine your hives, and
induced me to visit your Apiary in the village of West Philadelphia,
last August. In the absence of the keeper, as I informed you, I took the
liberty to explore the premises thoroughly, opening and inspecting a
number of the hives, and noticing the internal arrangement of the parts.
The result was, that I came away convinced that though your system was
based on the same principles as Dzierzon's, yet that your hive was
almost totally different from his, in construction and arrangement; that
while the same objects _substantially_ are attained by each, your hive
is more simple, more convenient, and much better adapted for general
introduction and use, since the mode of using it can be more easily
taught. Of its ultimate and triumphant success I have no doubt. I
sincerely believe that when it comes under the notice of Mr. Dzierzon,
he will himself prefer it to his own. It in fact combines all the good
properties which a hive ought to possess, while it is free from the
complication, clumsiness, _vain whims_, and decidedly objectionable
features, which characterize most of the inventions which profess to be
at all superior to the simple box, or the common chamber hive.

You may certainly claim _equal credit_ with Dzierzon for originality in
observation and discovery in the natural history of the honey bee, and
for success in deducing principles and devising a most valuable system
of management from observed facts. But in _invention_, as far as
neatness, compactness, and adaptation of means to ends are concerned,
the sturdy German must yield the palm to you. You will find a case of
similar coincidence detailed in the Westminster Review for October,
1852, page 267, et seq.

I send you herewith some interesting statements respecting Dzierzon, and
the estimate in which his system is held in Germany.

Very truly yours,

The following are the statements to which Mr. Wagner refers.--

"As the best test of the value of Mr. Dzierzon's system, is the
_results_ which have been made to flow from it, a brief account of its
rise and progress maybe found interesting. In 1835 he commenced
bee-keeping in the common way, with 12 colonies--and after various
mishaps, which taught him the defects of the common hives and the old
mode of management, his stock was so reduced that in 1838 he had
virtually to begin anew. At this period he contrived his improved hive
in its ruder form, which gave him the command over all the combs, and he
began to experiment on the theory which observation and study had
enabled him to devise. Thenceforward his progress was as rapid as his
success was complete and triumphant. Though he met with frequent
reverses--about 70 colonies having been stolen from him, sixty destroyed
by fire, and 24 by a flood--yet in 1846 his stock had increased to 360
colonies, and he realized from them that year six thousand pounds of
honey, besides several hundred weight of wax. At the same time most of
the cultivators in his vicinity who pursued the common methods, had
fewer hives than they had when he commenced.

In the year 1848, a fatal pestilence, known by the name of "foul brood,"
prevailed among his bees, and destroyed nearly all his colonies before
it could be subdued--only about ten having escaped the malady, which
attacked alike the old stocks and his artificial swarms. He estimates
his entire loss that year at over 500 _colonies_. Nevertheless he
succeeded so well in multiplying by artificial swarms, the few that
remained healthy, that in the fall of 1851 his stock consisted of nearly
400 colonies. He must, therefore, have multiplied his stocks more than
three fold each year."

The highly prosperous condition of his colonies is attested by the
Report of the Secretary of the Annual Apiarian Convention which met in
his vicinity last spring. This Convention, the fourth which has been
held, consisted of 112 experienced and enthusiastic bee-keepers from
various districts of Germany and neighboring countries, and among them
were some who when they assembled were strong opposers of his system.

They visited and personally examined the Apiaries of Mr. Dzierzon. The
report speaks in the very highest terms of his success, and of the
manifest superiority of his system of management. He exhibited and
satisfactorily explained to his visitors his practice and principles;
and they remarked, with astonishment, the _singular docility_ of his
bees, and the thorough control to which they were subjected. After a
full detail of the proceedings, the Secretary goes on to say:--

"Now that I have seen Dzierzon's method practically demonstrated, I must
admit that it is attended with fewer difficulties than I had supposed.
With his hive and system of management it would seem that bees become at
once more docile than they are in other cases. I consider his system the
simplest and best means of elevating bee-culture to a profitable
pursuit, and of spreading it far and wide over the land--especially as
it is peculiarly adapted to districts in which the bees do not readily
and regularly swarm. His eminent success in re-establishing his stock
after suffering so heavily from the devastating pestilence--in short the
recuperative power of the system demonstrates conclusively, that it
furnishes the best, perhaps the only means of reinstating bee-culture lo
a profitable branch of rural economy.

Dzierzon modestly disclaimed the idea of having attained perfection in
his hive. He dwelt rather upon the truth and importance of his _theory_
and _system_ of _management_."

_From the Leipzig Illustrated Almanac--Report on Agriculture for 1846._

"Bee culture is no longer regarded as of any importance in rural

From the same for 1851, and 1853.

"Since Dzierzon's system has been made known an entire revolution in bee
culture has been produced. A new era has been created for it, and
bee-keepers are turning their attention to it with renewed zeal. The
merits of his discoveries are appreciated by the government, and they
recommend his system as worthy the attention of the teachers of common

Mr. Dzierzon resides in a poor sandy district of Middle Silesia, which,
according to the common notions of Apiarians, is unfavorable to
bee-culture. Yet despite of this and of various mishaps, he has
succeeded in realizing 900 dollars as the product of his bees in one

By his mode of management, his bees yield, even in the poorest years,
from 10 to 15 per cent on the capital invested, and where the colonies
are produced by the Apiarian's own skill and labor they cost him only
about one-fourth the price at which they are usually valued. In ordinary
seasons the profit amounts to from 30 to 50 per cent, and in very
favorable seasons from 80 to 100 per cent."

In communicating these facts to the public, I have several objects in
view. I freely acknowledge that I take an honest pride in establishing
my claims as an independent observer; and as having matured by my own
discoveries, the same system of bee-culture, as that which has excited
so much interest in Germany; I desire also to have the testimony of the
translator of Dzierzon to the superior merits of my hive. Mr. Wagner is
extensively known as an able German scholar. He has taken all the
numbers of the Bee Journal, a monthly periodical which has been
published for more than fifteen years in Germany, and is probably more
familiar with the state of Apiarian culture abroad, than any man in this

I am anxious further to show that the great importance which I attach to
my system of management, is amply justified by the success of those who
while pursuing the same system with inferior hives, have attained
results, which to common bee-keepers, seem almost incredible. Inventors
are very prone to form exaggerated estimates of the value of their
labors; and the American public has been so often deluded with patent
hives, devised by persons ignorant of the most important principles in
the natural history of the bee, and which have utterly failed to answer
their professed objects, that they are scarcely to be blamed for
rejecting every new hive as unworthy of confidence.

There is now a prospect that a Bee Journal will before long, be
established in this country. Such a publication has long been needed.
Properly conducted, it will have a most powerful influence in
disseminating information, awakening enthusiasm, and guarding the public
against the miserable impositions to which it has so long been

Two such journals are now published monthly in Germany, one of which has
been in existence for more than 15 years--and their wide circulation has
made thousands well acquainted with those principles, which must
constitute the foundation of any enlightened and profitable system of

The truth is that while many of the principal facts in the physiology of
the honey bee have long been familiar to scientific observers, it has
unfortunately happened that some of the most important have been widely
discredited. In themselves they are so _wonderful_, and to those who
have not witnessed them, often _so incredible_, that it is not at all
strange that they have been rejected as fanciful conceits, or bare-faced

Many persons have not the slightest idea that _every thing_ may be
_seen_ that takes place in a bee-hive. But hives have for many years,
been in use, containing only one large comb, enclosed on both sides, by
glass. These hives are darkened by shutters, and when opened, the queen
is exposed to observation, as well as all the other bees. Within the
last two years, I have discovered that with proper precautions, colonies
can be made to work in observing hives, without shutters, and exposed
continually to the _full light of day_; so that observations may be made
at all times, without in the least interrupting the ordinary operations
of the bees. By the aid of such hives, some of the most intelligent
citizens of Philadelphia have seen in my Apiary, the queen bee
depositing her eggs in the cells, and constantly surrounded by an
affectionate circle of her devoted children. They have also witnessed,
with astonishment and delight, all the steps in the mysterious process
of raising queens from eggs which with the ordinary development, would
have produced only the common bees. For more than three months, there
was not a day in which some of my colonies were not engaged in making
new queens to supply the place of those taken from them, and I had the
pleasure of exhibiting all the facts to bee-keepers who never before
felt willing to credit them. As _all_ my hives are so made that each
comb can be taken out, and examined at pleasure, those who use them, can
obtain from them all the information which they need, and, are no longer
forced to take any thing upon trust.

May I be permitted to express the hope that the time is now at hand,
when the number of practical observers will be so multiplied, that
ignorant and designing men will neither be able to impose their conceits
and falsehoods upon the public, nor be sustained in their attempts to
depreciate the valuable discoveries of those who have devoted years of
observation and experiment to promote the advancement of Apiarian

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