A Living From Bees
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This fascinating book contains a complete treatise on beekeeping as a profitable enterprise. It is the result of a lifetime of the author's association with bees. Written in clear, concise language and including all the information one could want to know about beekeeping, this text constitutes a must-read for novice keepers, and makes for a worthy addition to collections of beekeeping literature. The chapters of this book include: 'Beekeeping', 'Business or Sideline', 'Keeping Bees in Town', 'The Honeybee Family', 'Activities Within the Hive', 'The Honey Harvest', 'Bee Pasture', 'Regional Differences', 'Need of Bees in Agriculture', 'About Beehives', 'When Bees must be Fed', 'Use of Comb Foundation', etcetera. We are proud to republish this text now complete with a new introduction on beekeeping



Publié par
Date de parution 01 décembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781528763646
Langue English

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Field Editor American Bee Journal Former State Apiarist of Iowa Author American Honey Plants, History of American Beekeeping etc .
Copyright 2013 Read Books Ltd.
This book is copyright and may not be reproduced or copied in any way without the express permission of the publisher in writing
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Bee Keeping
Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin: apis bee ) is quite simply, the maintenance of honey bee colonies. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect their honey and other products that the hive produces (including beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly), to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary or bee yard. Depictions of humans collecting honey from wild bees date to 15,000 years ago, and efforts to domesticate them are shown in Egyptian art around 4,500 years ago. Simple hives and smoke were used and honey was stored in jars, some of which were found in the tombs of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun.
The beginnings of bee domestication are uncertain, however early evidence points to the use of hives made of hollow logs, wooden boxes, pottery vessels and woven straw baskets. On the walls of the sun temple of Nyuserre Ini (an ancient Egyptian Pharo) from the Fifth Dynasty, 2422 BCE, workers are depicted blowing smoke into hives as they are removing honeycombs. Inscriptions detailing the production of honey have also been found on the tomb of Pabasa (an Egyptian nobleman) from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (c. 650 BCE), depicting pouring honey in jars and cylindrical hives. Amazingly though, archaeological finds relating to beekeeping have been discovered at Rehov, a Bronze and Iron Age archaeological site in the Jordan Valley, Israel. Thirty intact hives, made of straw and unbaked clay, were discovered in the ruins of the city, dating from about 900 BCE. The hives were found in orderly rows, three high, in a manner that could have accommodated around 100 hives, held more than 1 million bees and had a potential annual yield of 500 kilograms of honey and 70 kilograms of beeswax!
It wasn t until the eighteenth century that European understanding of the colonies and biology of bees allowed the construction of the moveable comb hive so that honey could be harvested without destroying the entire colony. In this Enlightenment period, natural philosophers undertook the scientific study of bee colonies and began to understand the complex and hidden world of bee biology. Preeminent among these scientific pioneers were Swammerdam, Ren Antoine Ferchault de R aumur, Charles Bonnet and the Swiss scientist Francois Huber. Huber was the most prolific however, regarded as the father of modern bee science , and was the first man to prove by observation and experiment that queens are physically inseminated by drones outside the confines of hives, usually a great distance away. Huber built improved glass-walled observation hives and sectional hives that could be opened like the leaves of a book. This allowed inspecting individual wax combs and greatly improved direct observation of hive activity. Although he went blind before he was twenty, Huber employed a secretary, Francois Burnens, to make daily observations, conduct careful experiments, and keep accurate notes for more than twenty years.
Early forms of honey collecting entailed the destruction of the entire colony when the honey was harvested. The wild hive was crudely broken into, using smoke to suppress the bees, the honeycombs were torn out and smashed up - along with the eggs, larvae and honey they contained. The liquid honey from the destroyed brood nest was strained through a sieve or basket. This was destructive and unhygienic, but for hunter-gatherer societies this did not matter, since the honey was generally consumed immediately and there were always more wild colonies to exploit. It took until the nineteenth century to revolutionise this aspect of beekeeping practice - when the American, Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth made practical use of Huber s earlier discovery that there was a specific spatial measurement between the wax combs, later called the bee space , which bees do not block with wax, but keep as a free passage. Having determined this bee space (between 5 and 8 mm, or 1/4 to 3/8 ), Langstroth then designed a series of wooden frames within a rectangular hive box, carefully maintaining the correct space between successive frames, and found that the bees would build parallel honeycombs in the box without bonding them to each other or to the hive walls.
Modern day beekeeping has remained relatively unchanged. In terms of keeping practice, the first line of protection and care - is always sound knowledge. Beekeepers are usually well versed in the relevant information; biology, behaviour, nutrition - and also wear protective clothing. Novice beekeepers commonly wear gloves and a hooded suit or hat and veil, but some experienced beekeepers elect not to use gloves because they inhibit delicate manipulations. The face and neck are the most important areas to protect (as a sting here will lead to much more pain and swelling than a sting elsewhere), so most beekeepers wear at least a veil. As an interesting note, protective clothing is generally white, and of a smooth material. This is because it provides the maximum differentiation from the colony s natural predators (bears, skunks, etc.), which tend to be dark-coloured and furry. Most beekeepers also use a smoker -a device designed to generate smoke from the incomplete combustion of various fuels. Smoke calms bees; it initiates a feeding response in anticipation of possible hive abandonment due to fire. Smoke also masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees or when bees are squashed in an inspection. The ensuing confusion creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction.
Such practices are generally associated with rural locations, and traditional farming endeavours. However, more recently, urban beekeeping has emerged; an attempt to revert to a less industrialized way of obtaining honey by utilizing small-scale colonies that pollinate urban gardens. Urban apiculture has undergone a renaissance in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and urban beekeeping is seen by many as a growing trend; it has recently been legalized in cities where it was previously banned. Paris, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Melbourne and Washington DC are among beekeeping cities. Some have found that city bees are actually healthier than rural bees because there are fewer pesticides and greater biodiversity. Urban bees may fail to find forage, however, and homeowners can use their landscapes to help feed local bee populations by planting flowers that provide nectar and pollen. As is evident from this short introduction, Bee-Keeping is an incredibly ancient practice. We hope the current reader is inspired by this book to be more bee aware , whether that s via planting appropriate flowers, keeping bees or merely appreciating! Enjoy.

A modern apiary and honey house in Minnesota.
T HE end of World War II brought American Agriculture serious new problems in reconverting to peace time conditions. The shortage of seed of such legumes as alfalfa and the clovers served to fix attention on the part played by the honeybee in seed production. Accordingly a new chapter has been added, Need of Bees in Agriculture.
Another new chapter Manipulation Simplified is designed to serve the needs of those who wish to keep bees primarily for pollination of legumes or orchards with a minimum of attention. It is believed, however, that such simplified methods will increase the profits of the commercial honey producer who is looking for ways to decrease his cost of operation.
The How Chapter is designed to provide information concerning a number of manipulations not previously covered and which sometimes are a puzzle to the beginner.
There is every indication that beekeeping is entering a new era of greater importance than ever before. It is likewise apparent that a far greater number of farms will include bees as insurance against crop failure because of poor pollination.
T HIS book is the result of a lifetime association with the bees. First there was a childhood when an indulgent beekeeping grandfather lived close by the author s home, thus permitting an early acquaintance with the ways of the honey producer. Later there was a period during which a living came from the bees after a trial of office work and attempt at the practice of law proved unsatisfactory. Following this came service as the first State Apiarist of Iowa and then association with the American Bee Journal as managing editor. In recent years as Field Editor of that magazine the author has had opportunity to visit most of the important honey producing areas on this continent and to form personal acquaintance with hundreds of the most successful beekeepers.
In answering many hundreds of letters from beekeepers of varying experience one comes to know the problems of different localities. Portions of this book have been written in answer to enquiries which have come to the author. Some of it appeared in the author s previous books, Beginner s Bee Book and Romance of the Hive both of which are out of print. Parts of some chapters appeared in discussions in such publications as American Bee Journal, Flower Grower, Rural New Yorker and Report of Iowa State Apiarist .
Since available space in a book to be sold at a popular price will not permit detailed instructions in all the various phases of the business of beekeeping, it has seemed wise to discuss the fundamental practice and the reason for important manipulations rather than to attempt detailed instruction.

Modern Apiary and Honey House
Apiary in mountains of Colorado
Live bees in package
Jager honey house
Flight activity of strong colony
Bees clustering outside for lack of ventilation
Apiary in city of Nashville
Lily pool for watering bees
Worker bee
Drone brood of laying workers in queenless colony
Queen bee
Queen cells
Swarm clustered
Bees fanning at entrance of hive
Swarm entering hive
Newly started honeycomb
Bees building comb
Sting torn from body of the bee
Large yield of surplus honey
Comb Honey in one pound section
Willow blossoms
Apiary in Montana
Apiary on Apalachicola River in Florida
Soft Maple Blossoms
Purple Loosestrife
Orange Blossoms
Large orchards need bees
Clover Field in Bloom
Heavy Crop of Fruit
Langstroth and Dadant hives compared in size
Bees building outside for lack of room
Bee Smoker
Bee Veil
Uncapping combs
Hand Extractor
Radial Extractor
Storage Tanks at Littlefield Apiary
Outdoor Storage Tanks
Fruit jar feeder
Friction Top Pail Feeder
Feeder in place in super
Comb Foundation
Empty Extracting Comb
Comb of Sealed Honey
Comb of Worker Brood
Natural Built Queencells
Queencells built on prepared base
Queencells in special frames
Cage for shipping queen
Apiary in Tupelo Region
When swarm leaves the hive
Honey House Built in Sections
Strong Colonies Yield Big Crops
Super placed below when used by queen
Colony on Scales
Case for sixty pound cans
Popular jars for honey
Roadside sales room
Friction top pail for honey
Fancy comb honey
Appearance of healthy brood
American foulbrood
European foulbrood
Waxmouth tunnels in comb
Jager bee cellar
Hive packed for winter
Observation Hive
Uniting Bees with Newspaper
Straw Skep
Rev. L. L. Langstroth
Moses Quinby
Charles Dadant
A Living from Bees
I N MOST localities the returns from the bees vary greatly from year to year. The uninformed, unfortunately, too often measure the probable returns from fat years rather than the lean ones. What counts with the beekeeper is the average return over a long period of time. If the average return is sufficient to provide the necessities of life with a reasonable amount of the luxuries also, then his location will justify making beekeeping a business rather than a sideline.
A friend of the author, a salaried man, kept bees quite successfully as a sideline for many years. His location was a rather uncertain one. Some years his crops were good and some years they were poor, but the ten year average was hardly sufficient to justify following honey production as an exclusive business. As a sideline, the bees paid him very well, indeed, for he sold as high as $1200 to $1500 worth of honey in a good year. This provided many luxuries and substantial savings not otherwise within reach of the family. He was a good beekeeper and his enthusiasm for the business led him to resign his position and depend entirely upon the bees. When a series of poor years came, he found it necessary to forego many comforts which he had previously regarded as necessary.
Another friend in a somewhat better location profited by the change when he decided to depend entirely upon his bees. By giving his attention to more bees, he was able to make up for the loss of income from outside labor. The bees paid for a comfortable home, provided for his family and educated his children.
There are large areas where a few hives of bees furnish a profitable sideline, which would offer scant return for a man who wished to make honey production an exclusive business. A few men have succeeded on a commercial scale in poor locations by means of careful management and widely scattered apiaries. It would seem wiser, however, in such a situation to combine honey production with some other enterprise or to move to a more favorable locality.
Under conditions when business is depressed and prices are low, large production is necessary, at low cost, to provide a satisfactory income. The beekeeper who can keep several hundred hives in one location, has a big advantage over the man who is so situated that he cannot keep more than fifty hives in one spot. The saving in travel, cost of rental of apiary sites and other running expenses necessary to operation of scattered apiaries, provides a substantial item of income.
A few men are making substantial incomes from bees, incomes that provide good homes, fine cars, send the children to college and give the family an opportunity to travel, Such beekeepers are nearly all situated where some major honey producing plant is generally grown in large acreage as a farm crop. Many of them live in the alfalfa and sweet clover regions of the west.

One of several apiaries owned by a beekeeper in the mountains of Colorado.
To maintain a high standard of living requires either a large volume of production or a high price. There are few places now where the beekeeper can get a high price for his honey in normal times and it therefore becomes necessary for him to increase his output.
The business beekeeper is looking for means of reducing his cost of operation and thus increasing the net return. Better bees, better combs, labor saving equipment are all important. More honey at less cost is the object sought. The coming of sweet clover has saved the day for many a bee man in recent years since it has made possible a great increase in the output of the outfit he already had without increasing his investment or overhead. In many cases sweet clover has made possible the production of several pounds of honey where only one was produced before.
One who is so situated that he cannot keep at least one hundred hives of bees in one apiary and secure an average of at least fifty pounds of surplus honey one year with another will probably do better to make beekeeping a sideline with his principal dependence upon some other source of income. If his location will support one hundred or more colonies in one spot with an average return of 100 pounds or more of honey per year, he may very well expand the business to the point where it requires his entire attention.
Not many years ago there was little to beekeeping practice except to hive the swarms and put on the supers. Management as we follow it now was unknown. Under such conditions the crops harvested were usually small, but since there was little labor and less expense in the care of the bees, the owners were easily satisfied.
If left to themselves the bees would usually swarm soon after the honeyflow started and a single colony would often make such a natural division several times during the season. Boxes or hollow logs served as hives.
In later years the observing beekeeper learned that it takes double the number of house bees to carry on colony activities in two hives than it does in one. When the bees swarm during the harvest, the number of field bees is thus correspondingly reduced by the demands of the extra household. The beeman now endeavors to make his increase at a time when it will not reduce his honey crop and he bends every energy toward getting all his colonies as strong as possible for the honeyflow.
The fact that a large number of field bees can harvest more honey than a small number is so plain that it is surprising that it took mankind so many centuries to recognize the fact. Modern beekeeping practice all centers in an attempt to build the bees up to maximum strength at the beginning of the harvest and to avoid division of the colonies until the harvest is over. The larger the number of bees in a hive, the larger the proportion of field bees among them. The old time beekeeper permitted the bees to follow their natural inclination which was to increase as fast as possible when conditions were favorable. At the end of the season, he found himself with a large number of bees and but a small crop of honey.
In the North, every natural process is speeded up because of the short season and nature concentrates into the summer period the same activities which farther south are accomplished in a longer time. Days are longer, plants grow faster, nectar is secreted more abundantly all to the end that the annual cycle may be completed within the time available from frost to frost. The farther north we go, the faster must be the pace to accomplish this result.
The large development of honey production in the Dakotas and on the western Canada prairies has been one of the surprises of recent years. In a region formerly thought to be too far north for successful beekeeping, we now find the largest annual crops of honey produced.
Along the Gulf Coast and our southern border states, we have a mild climate and a long growing season. The bees are active throughout the greater part of the year. As a result one cycle of brood succeeds another and the bees consume the principal part of the honey harvested in continuous brood rearing. Under such conditions the beekeeper rarely harvests such crops of surplus as are gathered in the shorter and more intense season in the northern states.
Within recent years, there has grown up a business of considerable extent of selling live bees in combless packages to beekeepers in the north. The Texas beekeeper whose bees have reached swarming strength by April is in position to take away as many bees as would issue with a swarm and sell them for cash to the beekeeper up north.

Many beekeepers in the south sell live bees in packages.
The buyer of these packages of live bees in effect buys swarms. The bees are shaken from the combs into cages made of wire screen and with each cage is shipped a young queen, but recently mated. On arrival at the northern apiary, the package is hived. The newly hived bees behave much as a swarm would do. They begin building combs and carrying in nectar and pollen at once. The queen begins laying and a new colony is soon at work.
In all our southern states the climate is much better adapted to the rearing of bees than the production of large crops of surplus honey. Accordingly the business of rearing bees and queens has developed into a specialty of large extent. More than ten thousand packages of live bees enter Canada through Winnipeg alone each year. In becoming thus specialized, beekeeping is following the trend of other industries where a single product is turned out in large volume. There are a number of dealers in the South who now ship several thousand packages of live bees and many thousand queens to buyers in the North in a single season. Because of his more favorable situation for honey production, the northern beeman often finds it to his advantage to buy his bees and queens rather than to raise them.
There is, perhaps, no agricultural activity where a thorough understanding of the peculiarities of the locality where one operates, is more important than with beekeeping. In one location twenty colonies may be the limit that can be kept profitably in one apiary. In another because of better natural forage available, two hundred or more may be kept together. In one place the honey may all be of inferior quality, bringing but a low price in the market. In another the honey may be of the best and command top prices. As already stated, the yield in one spot may be small while it may be high in another. Yields of 200 or more pounds per hive are not uncommon in places, while an average yield of more than fifty pounds per hive is rare in many localities. One s location will thus determine whether it will be more profitable for him to specialize in the production of bees or of honey.
Many folks want to know whether it is possible to make a living from bees and how they can go about getting started. If one has a good outfit in a suitable location and understands the business there is no trouble about making a living from bees, but how to get into such a situation is not so easy to tell. Lack of suitable equipment, lack of capital and experience offer a serious handicap. Like any other business, it requires some time to master the essentials of honey production. The best way to start is to get a few bees wherever one happens to be, and proceed to learn the details of their care. One who is so situated that he can secure employment with a commercial beekeeper for a season or two will find that the most direct route to an understanding of the business.
There is always much encouragement in the story of one who has succeeded under similar conditions. There comes to the author s mind, the story of one after another who have taken up beekeeping under a serious handicap and yet succeeded to the extent of acquiring independence thereby. So many come to mind, teachers who had found too great a nervous strain in their work and needed change and rest, men with incomes insufficient and whose jobs were uncongenial, housewives who wanted a means of earning money for themselves with something to furnish a means of self expression outside the home, and others who preferred to follow beekeeping to any other work they knew. Speaking only of those who have succeeded and whose dreams have come true, there are many such in widely separated localities.
One of the most successful was a housewife who became interested in bees as a means of finding something alive and productive for her small son. The mother found far greater interest in the project than did the son. Beginning with an initial investment of ten dollars, it finally grew into a large scale business needing the assistance of hired men and required the rental of several apiary sites within driving distance of the city in which she lived.
She is by no means the only housewife who has become a successful honey producer. Another with her daughter and the assistance of a hired man had apiaries aggregating 500 colonies of bees and produced honey by the carload. Like the first, her home was in a small city and her bees kept on rented sites in the country.
Again there is inspiration in the case of a cultured lady who was a teacher in a woman s college. With the bees, she found work in the open, a liberal financial return for her work and the opportunity to spend her winters in a mild climate. All these things the bees gave to her and certainly the open air work and winter travel would not have been available through her former occupation.
The success of these women is mentioned because there are not so many of them engaged in out of door occupations and there is always interest in the unusual. There are so many men engaged in honey production as a business that it is hard to single out any particular individuals as offering inspiration to those who would do likewise. Many of those who write for information are in the position of meeting heavy responsibilities with no reserve which will enable them to undertake a change of occupation that involves any risk. With dependent families, they must meet the bills of the butcher, the baker and the grocer every month from current earnings. The only way out for them is a gradual building up of something which can be done without impairing their present earning capacity until the new venture will provide for their needs.
A man of this kind was a carpenter, a friend of the author. He started with bees as so many do with a small outlay and gave his spare time to them. His little apiary grew slowly for several years while he was learning the how and why of beekeeping. Finally he felt that he knew enough about bees to enable him to risk his all with them. Except for a short period of a few months when he was temporarily thrown back upon his trade, he spent the rest of his life with his bees. They paid for his home, provided for his family and educated his children. He had a wonderful time in the shade of his own apple trees and seemed to be one of the happiest of men.
A bookkeeper built up his business in much the same way and later came to depend entirely upon the bees. Of course, not all have succeeded, but no more do all succeed with any other line of business. One great attraction of beekeeping lies in the fact that it can be built up from a small beginning and the novice can learn whether or not he is adapted to the business without endangering the security of his present position.
One can start with a few bees almost anywhere, even in a large city. When it comes to making a living from bees, however, one must have a suitable location for good harvests can only be secured where there is plenty of good bee pasture within reach. If one happens to be in a good beekeeping region, it is possible to grow up gradually and safely like those mentioned here have done and finally arrive at the place of independence without risk or great sacrifice. If the local bee pasture is poor, the time will come when one must decide whether to move or combine beekeeping with some other occupation better suited to the locality. Bees go very well with flowers, poultry, small fruit, etc.. and many have found a way out through some such combination.
Yesterday we had a caller, a young man who told an interesting story. A few years ago he was a shipping clerk in an eastern city. He became interested in the stories he heard of beekeeping in the sweet clover regions of the West. When he saw the honey that came from there, light in color and mild in flavor, and of uniform quality, so different from the amber colored and strong flavored product of his vicinity, he became enthusiastic.
With little money, he secured an old Ford car and with the daring and enthusiasm of youth, set out on the long journey of more than a thousand miles to become a beekeeper in the sweet clover fields of the Northern Plains. He could not foresee all the obstacles which he would be called upon to meet, a stranger in a new country, in a new line of business, and far from all his friends. The remarkable thing is that he overcame them all and the past season harvested with his own bees five carloads of honey.

Honey house at Jager apiary in Minnesota.
This story is not told with the thought of pointing to him as an example of what can easily be done with bees, for even in these highly specialized days, there are few men who are able to secure five carloads of honey in one season. The significant fact is that the bees furnished their own capital and built up a substantial business from a very modest beginning. Nearly every successful beekeeper started with a small outlay and built up with the earnings of the bees. Not every one is adapted to beekeeping and there are many failures among those who fail to grasp the fact that beekeeping requires careful attention to details. That one can begin with a very small outlay and build up slowly gives a special opportunity to determine one s fitness and interest in the business with little risk.
It would seem that an enterprise which can furnish its own capital as it builds up slowly should very promptly repay borrowed capital which would permit of much more rapid growth. Strange as it may seem, it seldom has worked out that way. Those who have been content with the small start and the slow growth have learned their lessons as they progressed. Mistakes have not been serious because there was little at stake. Those who have plunged into beekeeping on borrowed capital without previous experience have nearly always met some disaster which proved their undoing.
Another very important reason appears to be the fact that when a business grows up naturally, it stops its expansion when it reaches the limit of its owner s capacity for management. Not long since a large scale honey producer remarked that many beekeepers are successful with small apiaries and yet fail dismally when they expand to the point where they must depend upon hired help and divided responsibility. Large scale honey production is a business in which comparatively few can succeed, yet uncounted thousands find pleasure and profit with small apiaries kept as a hobby or as a sideline source of income.
The man who manages a small apiary in his spare time finds a net addition to his income. The one who has a large scale business and depends upon hired help, has many expenses and the overhead cost of operation gets him into the same difficulties felt by nearly every other line of business.
There are many indications that the day of high specialization is passing and that we will return to something of the simplification and diversification of other days.
There are many who are finding compensation in circumstances which compelled them to find relaxation in simple things. A physician tells of a prominent society matron who has found so much interest in her garden that he credits it with saving her life. The change to active outdoor life has brought relief from a very serious disorder.
Forty years ago beekeeping was a hobby with a large number of business and professional people. The bee magazines were filled with animated discussions written by men and women of this type. Of late the industry has suffered for the lack of enthusiasm offered by the hobbyist. It has tended more and more to become a commercial enterprise followed by those whose only interest was in the big crops of honey which could be converted into substantial showing at the bank. Now we see signs of returning interest on the part of the class who find as much interest in the bees as in their honey. This is a healthful sign, for the individual, for the industry and for the nation. It is to be hoped that those who see signs of another boom ahead are mistaken. For every action there is a corresponding reaction and booms are followed by depressions. It is far more comfortable to move along slowly and sanely with time for our gardens, our bees and our neighbors.
I T IS one thing to get enthusiastic about bees from reading about them, but quite another to learn how to secure them and care for them. Many practical questions arise at once. Where shall one find the bees, what equipment will one need, what shall be done with them, and how much attention will they require?
April, in most localities, is a favorable time to start with such a venture. The fruit trees will be blooming and dandelions will follow so that forage should be plentiful. With the winter past, a colony of bees in good condition should provide its owner with some honey and natural increase before the next critical period. Yes, spring is the best time to start.
The next question is where to find the bees. While there are numerous dealers in the South who make a business of selling live bees in cages, it is better for the novice to buy full colonies near at hand. One without previous experience with bees will find numerous perplexing situations in dealing with a cage of live bees. The hive must be provided and the bees must be fed until they can build their combs and store some honey for food. If the weather happens to be warm and flowers are blooming, it all works out very nicely. Too often, however, the weather is cold or rainy and the bees must be given special attention until they become established.
The one who buys a hive of bees already established and with a sufficient reserve of honey need not worry if there are a few days of bad weather.
Many of the states have a man connected with the College of Agriculture or the State Department of Agriculture whose business it is to assist beekeepers with their problems. If there is no dealer in bees and bee supplies near at hand, it is best to write to the Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural College of the state in which one lives and ask where the nearest bees may be secured. There are so many dealers in bee supplies that it is quite probable that one may be located within a few miles.
The beginner may ask a dozen persons for advice as to what to buy and get a dozen answers. Such things are always more or less matters of personal opinion. No two gardeners, for instance, would give the same list if asked to name the best plants for a beginner to buy, yet each list might be good and serve as a very satisfactory start. With this in mind, my readers may not be surprised to receive different advice from the dealer and his advice may be as good as mine.
If possible, secure gentle bees. The Italians are often preferred for the novice because of their bright yellow color which is pleasing to the eye and mismatings can be detected much more readily. If the beginner buys cross bees, he will soon lose interest in them unless he is of heroic mould.
Most authorities will advise the ten frame Langstroth hive which is perhaps more widely used than any other. This equipment is very good and one need have no fear of going wrong with it. My personal preference is for a large hive like the Modified Dadant or Jumbo which provides more room for a reserve supply of stores. The big hives require less attention and furnish greater safety for the bees which are not carefully watched.
The novice should buy from one who can be trusted to meet the following requirements. First, that the bees are free from disease. Diseased bees are difficult for the most expert to manage and the common practice among extensive beekeepers is to burn diseased colonies rather than to bother with treatment which is tedious and expensive as well as likely to spread the contagion farther.
It is also important to be sure that there is a vigorous queen which is laying and that there is plenty of brood in the hive with enough bees to insure a harvest when the honeyflow comes. Straight combs are essential and they should be built on foundation. Unless the combs are straight, the hive cannot be opened to determine the condition of the colony at any time.
A colony of gentle Italian bees, with vigorous young queen, in a good hive with straight combs and enough honey to insure safety to the colony, is a better purchase at ten dollars than cross bees on crooked combs at a dollar. The novice will have to depend upon the one from whom the bees are purchased since only experience can enable one to judge the value of the outfit by looking at it. The price of bees varies greatly, but values vary even more and the novice will find a good outfit to be cheapest.
The most common mistake of the beginner is to skimp on supers. The surplus honey is the source of our income and the bees cannot provide surplus without a place to store it. I would suggest about three supers for each hive of bees. Extra hives should be in readiness for hiving swarms also.
When the bees are received, select a place where they are sheltered from winds and where the hives are not near to paths or walks where people pass frequently. The location of the hives will make much difference in the number of stings which result. When the bees sting the neighbors, it leads to annoyance which is unpleasant.
Several letters have come to me from those who state that they wish to make a start at beekeeping, but are doubtful as to just how to go about it. They want specific directions as to the proper things to do in order to avoid expensive mistakes.
In the hope of being helpful to such persons, it may be wise to repeat some of the things which have already been said. One who has no knowledge of bees will find many puzzling things in the discussions.
Nothing is equal to a personal visit with someone who is engaged in honey production. An hour with such a person who will explain the various items of equipment and their use will make it much easier to make further advance by reading. It is particularly important to understand the terms used. On one occasion I had a great deal of difficulty with a new stenographer who had no understanding of what she was writing about when taking my dictation about bees. She made so many ludicrous mistakes because the words were strange to her that we decided that she must see for herself the various objects. After spending an hour examining hives, supers, smokers, comb foundation and the various other items common to beekeeping, her difficulties largely disappeared. Once she understood, her work was much easier.
The one who is strange to any field thus is greatly handicapped when trying to become familiar with it through reading. If no friendly beekeeper is within reach, the next best thing is to send for catalogs of the bee supply manufacturers, the bulletins of the agricultural colleges and buy or borrow the bee books from the public library. Before trying to read them consecutively, study the pictures and try to understand what they represent. Few writers realize the difficulties of the reader who is a stranger to the subject under discussion.
No matter how much one reads, he will still be under the necessity of learning most of the lessons after he has bought the bees. The bees have done so much for me that I am very enthusiastic about them. When I took my family to the farm many years ago, one of the first purchases was several hives of bees. Those bees did well from the start and at the end of the first season, there were several hundred pounds of honey to sell. In spite of the fact that they were not very intelligently cared for at the start, they returned the entire purchase price with something left over.
The following spring an old beekeeper who was leaving the state offered more hives with extra equipment for less than the cost of the hives. That proved to be about the best investment which I ever made, for those bees and their increase very nearly supported the family for many years. Of course, we had our house and garden, as well as hens and cows to provide the greater part of the food supply. The bees were increased in numbers and more and better equipment was secured, but they paid their own way and paid for clothes and music and magazines and many other things which go to make life comfortable. Always after that first season, when something was needed, there was honey to be sold to buy it.
I read endlessly in those first years of beekeeping. There were so many different opinions, so many ways of doing things and so many different kinds of equipment, that it was hard to understand the best way for me. Some of my experiments proved expensive because I did not learn the best way first. I built up a good outfit in eight frame Langstroth hives and later decided that the ten frame hive would be better. It cost a good deal to dispose of the first outfit and replace it with the other. After a few years of experience, I became convinced that a still larger hive was preferable and established an out yard in Dadant equipment.
If all beekeepers could agree as to what is the best hive, there need be no such experience for the beginner would follow the current trend. What was best for my particular condition might not be the best for another and the beginner has not sufficient understanding of his problems to know. It is for that reason that the beginner will find it to his advantage to go slowly at the start.
So much has been written about swarm control that the beginner is befuddled to know what it is all about. The novice should not bother his head about swarm control. Simply keep the bees in the best way he knows and if they swarm, why let them swarm and give them a new hive. Nature s way of increase is the best for the beginner.
Artificial increase may do very well for the experienced beeman who knows when and why it is safe to undertake it. It too often happens that the novice makes too many divisions, makes them at the wrong time or fails to build them up properly and loses the greater part of them. Natural swarming is the most interesting thing about beekeeping.

Flight activity of a strong colony.
The less the beginner tampers with his bees by trying to make artificial manipulations, the more honey he is likely to secure. In the millions of years that the bees have lived upon the earth, they have learned how to look out for themselves pretty successfully. If the beginner will give them a good hive and put on supers as needed, he is likely to get some honey while he is learning the how and why of modern management. If they have plenty of room, they are likely to provide stores sufficient for their needs and if they have honey on hand, they will rear brood in season and harvest the crop when the time comes.
Of course, there will be an occasional failing queen, or disease may be present, or there may be a season of dearth, which will be disastrous. The beginner with only one colony may find himself with an empty hive as I did when I paid ten dollars for my first colony many years ago. If there had been several hives, the chances are that the others would have prospered and that I might have replaced the dead colony in the empty hive with a swarm and not felt the loss.
One fatal mistake which many beginners make is to remove too much honey and leave the bees short of stores. It is difficult to appreciate how much honey a normal colony of bees will consume in the entire season. While the bees gather much of this honey as used during the harvest season, they must have ample reserves for use in the months when no honey is to be had in the field. Old time writers greatly under-estimated the amount of honey which might properly be left with the bees. I soon learned to know that it was not safe to leave the bees with less than fifty pounds at the close of summer.
The worst fault of the small hive is the temptation to leave the bees with insufficient supplies. With the large hive a greater portion can be stored in the brood chamber where it is readily available and not so easily taken by the owner. With ample stores, the bees will usually carry on quite successfully with little attention during most of the year.
While the fundamentals of beekeeping are not difficult to understand, the common experience is for the beginner to make expensive blunders. With sufficient care, these are not necessary, for some people of my acquaintance have taken up beekeeping without previous knowledge or experience and have attained outstanding success.
My first caution is not to buy too many bees at the start. In their anxiety to secure immediate returns, beginners too often plunge recklessly into the purchase of more bees than they can manage. It is true that it is occasionally possible to buy an outfit at a mere fraction of the cost of the equipment. In such a case, under the advice of an experienced guide, one might do well to take advantage of a special opportunity, even though he was not yet capable of its proper management.
No general rule can be laid down as to the proper number of colonies to begin the new venture. So much depends upon the capacity of the individual to learn new things, the situation in which he lives and the availability of friendly advisers of experience. The common advice has long been to buy only one or two hives, but this is hardly enough as a rule. If one can afford the outlay, I would prefer about five. This will allow for the accidents which are likely to happen with the probability that some colonies will do well the first season and give the new owner a real return on his investment.

Effect of heat. Bees cluster outside for lack of ventilation.
If they do well, five colonies of bees will produce enough honey to supply the table of a large family for an entire year with some left over to sell. If they do poorly, there are few who would care to make the necessary investment for a larger number.
Next, don t pay much for old or obsolete equipment or for bees in nail kegs, hollow logs or boxes. It is hard enough for the experienced beekeeper to do anything with bees in such condition and often disastrous to the beginner. If one can buy them for a trifle, he can get some interesting experience in transferring them into good hives, but the queen is often killed in the process and the colony lost as a result.
If possible, visit an apiary or dealer in supplies before you buy anything. If the beekeeper will explain the different parts of the hive and the use of each and show you his honey house and other equipment you can then make further progress by reading.
Perhaps the most important caution of all is not to buy bees with disease in the hive. American foul-brood is a disease of the young bees in the larval stage. It offers such a serious problem to the experienced beekeeper that it is generally advised to burn the affected colony and be done with it. The novice who gets this disease in his outfit at the start is doomed to failure from the beginning unless he is a person of unusual determination and persistence. There is no way that the novice can tell for himself whether or not the bees are free from disease. He must deal with persons of known integrity and experience. There are plenty of folks who have kept bees for years and are unfamiliar with it. They may sell bees which have recently contracted the malady and yet be entirely innocent of any wrong intention. The safest way is to buy where the apiary has recently been examined by an inspector from the state. This leads to repeat the suggestion that one wishing to buy bees should write to the Department of Agriculture or the College of Agriculture of his own state and ask for information where bees may be had near to his own home.
When you get your bees be careful to place them where they will not annoy members of the family or the neighbors. Where homes are near together serious trouble sometimes develops because the bees are constantly annoying those who fear them. Bees are often kept in town with hundreds of persons passing constantly and yet unaware of their presence. Face the hives away from roads or foot paths and, if possible, place them behind bushes or buildings which will cause them to rise high into the air when going afield.
Finally after the bees have been brought home and the apiary site selected, don t disturb them too often. The beginner with bees often has an insatiable curiosity about what is going on in the hives and must open them and remove the frames with disastrous frequency. Gentle bees will not usually resent the attention, but until one acquires some skill in handling the frames, there is always the danger of killing the queen or disabling some of the field bees. Every disturbance of this kind breaks up the orderly business within the hive and requires some readjustment of the housekeeping enterprise. An occasional visit does no harm but, if carried to extremes, annoys the bees and reduces the harvest.
H APPY is the man with a bit of land. To work with living and growing things is to work in partnership with the creator and have a part in shaping the forces that move the world. Millions who live in large cities are deprived of the greatest of privileges and are hard put to make any contact with mother earth. In the congested districts where hundreds are crowded together in large apartments with no provision for lawn in front or garden behind, a canary and a geranium offer about the only outlet for this God given instinct.
Once when passing through St. Louis the author had occasion to call at a store in the down town district. Quite naturally the conversation turned to bees and the host enquired what bees could find for pasture in that neighborhood. Not dreaming that there could be any bees there, the reply was that as far as could be seen there was no place for a flower to grow within a considerable distance. He then took the author to the rear of the store where he had fifteen hives placed against the wall of the building. It was a mild winter day and the bees were flying out and apparently enjoying the sunshine. They were gentle Italian bees and did not in the least resent the visit although we walked close to the hives and even lifted them a bit in an effort to estimate the probable amount of honey which they might still contain.
Here was evidence that bees will go some distance in search of pasture when it becomes necessary. It is probable that the flight must be at least two miles to reach any worth while source of nectar. White Dutch clover on the lawns and maples, linden and other shade trees which yield nectar freely are of course to be found in the residence districts. These bees in the heart of a big city had harvested a very good crop of honey, one hive having filled four supers.
One thus finds bees in the most unexpected places. Sometimes a few hives are kept on the roof of a business building and sheltered from the wind by the fire wall. Again one finds them in an attic with an entrance through a window or an auger hole conveniently placed. Now and then they are even kept in a bedroom or living room with an opening which permits the bees to fly outside. Such hives are usually constructed with glass walls to permit the owner to observe their activities while preventing them escaping into the room.
Many a tired individual has found rest and relaxation at the end of a hard day with his bees. Not long ago the sales manager of a large manufacturing concern said that he could find more complete relaxation with his bees than with anything else in the world. Within a few minutes he could be completely oblivious to the existence of factories and machinery and sales quotas. He could forget every worry of the day and find as complete repose as a child in its mother s arms.
There is a fascination about a beehive that is to be found nowhere else. Merely to observe the activities of the busy insects furnishes a never failing interest to the nature lover. With a colony in a glass hive there is always something to see. Once a letter came from an invalid who had long been confined to his cot. With such a hive by his side he was able to pass pleasantly what would otherwise have been very tedious hours.
The field bees bring in nectar and pollen from the fields. The hive bees build combs, feed the young, attend the queen and carry out refuse. Even when the bees are unable to leave the hive on stormy days or during the cold of winter there is sufficient movement to hold one s interest and make one wonder just what is going on among them.
One of the most popular exhibits in the United States National Museum at Washington, was a colony of bees in a glass hive. The entrance to the hive was by means of a long pipe leading in from the back of the building. The bees thus went about their normal business unmindful of the fact that they were on display in an exhibition case. Probably but few persons who were amused by the show have an idea that the bees had a private entrance to the building.
Such an outfit can be set up in almost any situation at moderate expense. It is necessary of course to place the entrance where the flying bees are not likely to be disturbed by passing persons or animals. Some point at the back of a dwelling or business building is usually available where the bees can come and go at will without annoyance to anybody.
In the suburbs of a city or in the smaller towns where more room is available it is possible to keep a sufficient number of bees to provide some income as well as pleasure.

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