Stock-raisers select breeds that are best adapted to their needs.
Plant-growers exercise great care in their choice of plants, selecting
for each planting those best suited to the conditions under which they
are to be grown. Undoubtedly a larger yield of honey could be had each
year if similar care were exercised in the selection of the breed of
To prove this, one has only to compare the yield of two different kinds.
The common East Indian honey bee rarely produces more than ten or twelve
pounds to a hive, while the Cyprian bee, which is a most industrious
worker, has a record of one thousand pounds in one season from a single
colony. This bee, besides being industrious when honey material is
plentiful, is also very persevering when such material is hard to find.
The Cyprians have two other very desirable qualities. They stand the
cold of winter well and stoutly defend their hives against robber bees
and other enemies.
The Italian is another good bee. This variety was brought into the
United States in 1860. While the yield from the Italian is somewhat less
than from the Cyprian, the Italian bees produce a whiter comb and are a
trifle more easily managed.
The common black or brown bee is found wild and domesticated throughout
the country. When honey material is abundant, these bees equal the
Italians in honey-production, but when the season is poor, they fall far
short in the amount of honey produced.
The purchase of a good Cyprian or Italian hive will richly repay the
buyer. Such a colony will cost more at the outset than an ordinary
colony, but will soon pay for its higher cost by greater production.
A beehive in the spring contains one queen, several hundred drones, and
from thirty-five to forty thousand workers. The duty of the queen is to
lay all the eggs that are to hatch the future bees. This she does with
untiring industry, often laying as many as four thousand in twenty-four
The worker bees do all the work. Some of them visit the flowers, take up
the nectar into the honey-sac, located in their abdomens, and carry it
to the hive. They also gather pollen in basketlike cavities in their
hind legs. Pollen and nectar are needed to prepare food for the young
bees. In the hive other workers create a breeze by buzzing with their
wings and produce heat by their activity--all to cause the water to
evaporate from the nectar and to convert it into honey before it is
sealed up in the comb. After a successful day's gathering you may often
hear these tireless workers buzzing till late into the night or even all
through the night.
You know that the bees get nectar from the flowers of various plants.
Some of the chief honey plants are alfalfa, buckwheat, horsemint,
sourwood, white sage, wild pennyroyal, black gum, holly, chestnut,
magnolia, and the tulip tree. The yield of honey may often be increased
by providing special pasturage for the bees. The linden tree, for
example, besides being ornamental and valuable for timber, produces a
most bee-inviting flower. Vetch, clover, and most of the legumes and
mints are valuable plants to furnish pasture for bees. Catnip may be
cultivated for the bees and sold as an herb as well.
In spraying fruit trees to prevent disease you should always avoid
spraying when the trees are in bloom, since the poison of the spray
seriously endangers the lives of bees.
The eggs laid by the queen, if they are to produce workers, require
about twenty-one days to bring forth the perfect bee. The newly hatched
bee commences life as a nurse. When about ten days old it begins to try
its wings in short flights, and a few days later it begins active work.
The life of a worker bee in the busy season is only about six weeks. You
may distinguish young exercising bees from real workers by the fact that
they do not fly directly away on emerging from the hive, but circle
around a bit in order to make sure that they can recognize home again,
since they would receive no cordial welcome if they should attempt to
enter another hive. They hesitate upon returning from even these short
flights, to make sure that they are in front of their own door.
There are several kinds of enemies of the bee which all beekeepers
should know. One of these is the robber bee, that is, a bee from another
colony attempting to steal honey from the rightful owners, an attempt
often resulting in frightful slaughter. Much robbery can be avoided by
clean handling; that is, by leaving no honey about to cultivate a taste
for stolen sweets. The bee moth is another serious enemy. The larva of
the moth feeds on the wax. Keep the colonies of bees strong so that they
may be able to overcome this moth.
_st_, stationary piece; _s_, slide; _p_, pin, or stop]
Queenless or otherwise weak colonies should be protected by a narrow
entrance that admits only one bee at a time, for such a pass may be
easily guarded. Fig. 267 shows a good anti-robbery entrance which may be
readily provided for every weak colony. Mice may be kept out by
tin-lined entrances. The widespread fear of the kingbird seems
unfounded. He rarely eats anything but drones, and few of them. This is
also true of the swallow. Toads, lizards, and spiders are, however, true
enemies of the honeybee.
Can you recognize drones, workers, and queens? Do bees usually
limit their visits to one kind of blossom on any one trip? What
effect has the kind of flower on the flavor of the honey produced?
What kinds of flowers should the beekeeper provide for his bees? Is
the kingbird really an enemy to the bee?
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