How To Get A Stock Of Bees
Source: The Book Of Sports
They must be purchased, and the purchaser must take care and procure
them of some one upon whom he may depend. This will save a great deal of
trouble. The hive should be weighed before and after a swarm is placed
in it, and a note kept of its weight, a judgment may then be formed of
the quantity of honey it contains in the autumn.
The hives should be sheltered by a wall, a hedge, or a tuft of trees, in
order that the bees may get to the door of the hives with ease. This
they cannot do if there are gusts of air sweeping round it, in which
case, numbers of them will fall to the ground about the hive, from
which, perhaps, they will not be able to rise before the chill and damp
of the evening comes on and destroys them.
There must be water near the hives, as the working bees drink a great
deal in the spring, and they are very fond of walking along straws which
float in the water and sipping as much as they want. The door of the
hive should look towards the forenoon sun, and the hive should not be
raised above eighteen inches from the ground.
We will now suppose that your bees have laid up their winter store, and
that you wish to share it with them. We say share it, because we do not
suppose you are so cruel and foolish as to wish to kill your bees. You
might as well kill a cow for the purpose of getting milk. The more bees
you have, the more honey,--that is certain.
About the latter end of September, the flowering season is over, and few
flowers remain for the bees to get honey from. This is the best time to
ascertain what honey they can spare; therefore, weigh every hive, and
deduct from it the weight of the hive and the bees, as ascertained when
the swarm entered it at first, as above directed.
To live through the winter, a hive must have at least sixteen pounds of
honey, and if you wish it to swarm early, it ought to have twenty-five
or even thirty pounds.
When you determine on taking away the honey from a hive, either for your
own use or for distributing it to other hives, proceed as follows:--
The first fine calm morning after the honey season is over, go to your
hive provided with a tobacco-pipe in your mouth, a large dish for the
honey in one hand, and a long knife with the point bent, and a goose or
turkey feather in your other. Blow two or three full puffs of smoke in
at the door, then turn the hive upside down on the ground, so as to
stand steadily, and immediately give the bees, who will collect on the
edge of the comb to see what is going on, a little more smoke. This will
stupify them so completely, that not above one or two will be able to
fly out, and they will be so sick, that they will not dream of stinging
you. Begin at one side of the hive, and cut out a comb, having first
sent down a puff of smoke to make the bees go away to the middle and the
other side. Proceed thus,--sweeping the bees off every comb back into
the hive with the feather, till you come to the centre comb. The only
nicety consists in blowing away the bees to prevent any of them being
crushed. If the operation be neatly done, scarcely any bees will be
killed. Take the hive now and replace it on its stand as before.
The next thing to be done is to join the bees, from which the honey has
been so taken, to another hive in which you wish them to be
accommodated, which may be done as follows:--In the evening, if you look
into the hive which has been deprived of its honey, you will find all
the bees hanging in the centre, just like a new swarm. Bring the hive
near the one to which they are to be joined,--get about a table spoonful
of raw honey or syrup, so thin as to pour easily, and have it in a jug
beside the hive which is to receive the strangers,--blow a few whiffs of
tobacco smoke in the door of the hive, then turn it up and give them an
additional puff or two, and pour the honey or syrup from the jug all
over the bees between the combs, so that they may be quite smeared over.
Then spread a clean linen cloth on the ground in front of the hive, with
one edge of it placed on the floor of the hive and secured there by two
stones, to prevent its falling, and which will also serve to keep the
hive a little raised from its floor on that side; now replace the hive
so that the edge of the cloth may be under it while the two stones keep
it raised about an inch; next take the hive containing the bees, hold it
steadily over the cloth, and by one sudden blow, knock out all the bees
upon the cloth in a lump. They will immediately begin to climb up and
enter the new hive. If they were to be united without previously
smearing one of them with honey or syrup, the chance is, that half of
both hives would be killed by fighting.
Hives may be either of straw or wood. Bees thrive equally well in
either. In winter the hives should be placed in a northern exposure, or,
at any rate, the sun should not be allowed to shine too much on them, as
it entices the bees out, who often perish by sudden cold.
You ought to keep at least three hives: Nos. 1, 2 & 3. No. 1 is the
first or old one, say, of last year; Nos. 2 & 3 of this year's swarming,
and these must be so managed as to supply you with honey and the bees
with food. This is well explained in a little book called the "Farmer,"
which those who wish to keep bees ought to study.
Such are the most important facts regarding the bee and its management.
There are many little works on the subject to be obtained, but the few
directions in the work above named will be ample information for the
young bee-breeder, and ensuring him lots of honey, lots of lessons of
economy, and lots of amusement.
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