Natural history of the bee

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ALBERT R. MANN LIBRARY New York

State Colleges OF

Agriculture and

Home Economics

AT

Cornell University

EVERETT FRANKLIN PHILLIPS BEEKEEPING LIBRARY

Cornell University Library

The tine

original of

tiiis

book

is in

Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright

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the United States on the use of the

text.

http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924003070871

XLbc

IRoitb of Scotlanb Collcae of agriculture.

Bulletin No. 26.

The Natural History of the bee. BY

JOHN ANDERSON, LECTURER

M.A., B.Sc, E.B:S.B.A.,

IN BEE-KEEPING.

ABERDEEN: MILNE & HUTCHISON 1920

NOTE. I

am

indebted to the Proprietors of

and Mart for

their

keeping."

"

"

The Bazaar, Exchange

for the facsimile illustrations originally prepared

publication,

entitled,

"

Chesliire's

Bees and J.

BeeA.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE BEE. By

JOHN ANDERSON,

M.A., B.Sc, E.BtS.B.A.,

Lecturer in Bee-keeping.

INTRODUCTION. This slight sketch

is

intended to be merely a simple intro-

.duction to the study of the bee

student

is

and

its

The

ways.

eai'nest

advised to refer to some larger work, such as

"

Bees

and Bee-keeping," vol. i., by the late Frank R. Cheshire, or to "Langstroth on the Honey Bee," as revised and enlarged, first by the late Charles Dadant, and later by his son, Mr. C. P. Dadant.

Members

of

the Scottish Bee-keepers' Association

(Secretary, Rev. J. Beveridge, B.D., Gartmore, Stirling)

may

borrow these manuals from the excellent library of the Association, and this course is recommended in the first instance because the books are somewhat expensive. After perusing volumes borrowed from the library, the serious bee-keeper will decide which and how many of them must find a place in his

own

private collection.

Classification

The bee

of the

Honey Bee,

without the internal bony skeleton so characterand is provided instead with a It is hard outer crust to which its muscles are attached. classed, therefore, among the Invertebrates or animals without istic

is

of the higher animals,

a backbone.

All invertebrate animals

limbs are grouped together in the great

which

is

that possess jointed

Phylum

of Arthropods,

subdivided into Crustaceans (almost

all

aquatic),

— Arachnids (spider-like creatures), and Insects.

The Arthropods

are predominantly active, and very successful in the struggle half of all the animals in the world alone are more numerous than Insects and the are Arthropods, together. all the other animals put

for existence.

More than

Insects,

Thoughtless people are in the

way

of calling

any small

and perhaps most people would be quite sure that a spider should be so described. But a spider has eight legs, while an insect has never more nor less than six, and the insect has three well-marked divisions of the body head, thorax and abdomen while the spider has apparently only two divisions. All insects have antennse or feelers on their heads, very few are without wings, and all the higher types display in development a remarkable transformation or animal an

insect,



metamorphosis. Insect types are so extraordinarily

numerous that we must

divide the Class into smaller groups or Orders, each consisting

more or less resembling each other. The ButterMoths (Lepidoptera) constitute one such Order, characterised by the possession of four wings covered with beautiful scales. The four wings of the bee are gauzy and of creatures

flies

and

it is grouped with the Wasps, the Ants, the Saw-Flies, and the Ichneumon-Flies to form the Order of the Hymenoptera or membrane-winged insects.

transparent, so

Bees.

The Family which

of the Apidaa or

collect honej-

and

Bees includes

all

Hymenoptera

and perhaps even bee-keepers will be surprised to learn that, in addition to the honey bee (Apis), and the very familiar humble bee (Bombus), there are in Britain more than 200 species, ^^'hich belong to the group of Solitary or non-social bees. Of these the burrowers are pollen,

perhaps easiest to discover, for we can find them at work on sandy banks on any fine day in summer. Inside their burrows they make cells of a transparent material, like oiled-ailk or

honey and and then attach their eggs to the insides of the cells. There is no worker caste, and the larval bees have to feed themselves on the store provided. More akin to the hive bees are the Bombi, or humble bees, so well desci'ibed and so beautifully figured in Mr. F. W. L. Sladen's " Humble Bee." These are familiar to all dwellers in the country, but are not so nearly related to the hive bees

gold-beater's skin, provision these with a paste of pollen,

commonly supposed.

They are social indeed, but the autumn, and only the young queens survive the winter, which they pass in holes in the ground. These queens start new colonies next season, and undertake as

is

colonies break

up

in the

every duty involved in the rearing of the

The drone

of the

humble bee

is

leaves the nest as soon as he can

fly,

drones, as

shown by the absence

batch of brood.

henceforth supporting

himself on nectar obtained from flowers. bees working on flowers in late

first

smaller than the queen, and

autumn

Most of the humble will be

found to be

of a sting.

The Genus

Apis.

All Apidae, which form colonies

more or

less

permanent

(perennial rather than annual) are grouped together to form

the Genus ^^jis, which includes such species as A. inellifica

common hive bee), A. fasciata (the Egyptian bee), A. dorsata (the giant bee of India), and A. florea (the tiny East Indian bee). (the

Having now defined the

position of the

honey bee in the

relation to other types,

animal world, and indicated in a position to study Apis niellifiva in more its

detail.

we

are

The Head

of the Bee.

The head of the bee bears five eyes, three simple and two The simple eyes are arranged in a triangle on compound. of the head, and are sometimes called "opelli." crown the eyes are larger, and situated on the sides compound The two consist of many thousands of simple eyes, They of the head. hexagonal in shape. The eyelashes are not arranged in two fringes on moveable lids as in the case of the higher animals,

but grow, so to speak,

all

over the eye-ball, being attached really

Dust that would tend

at the coi'ners of the simple eyes.

obscure the sight of the bee

is

caught on these

hairs,

to

but as this

cannot be winked away, since the bee has no eyelids, a special for cleaning the eyelashes is attached to the first leg of

comb

the bee.

The head also bears the

characteristic antennae (a),

two

very slender jointed rods, which are attached to the face of the bee by ball-and-socket joints.

They

are extremely flexible, and

are the seat probably of several senses.

The bees feel with them,

smell with them, possibly hear with them, and they certainly talk

by means

of

their

antennte.

Worker bees are

all

female, and

apparently talk a good deal, but they do so without making a sound, simply by touching each other's

antennae.

The outside

almost shell-like

of

material,

the bee consists of wliich

is

dead,

" chitin,"

insensitive,

an and

which cannot be repaired when injured. In order that the bee, surrounded by this unfeeling envelope, may be able to come in contact with the outside world, it has to develop to an extraordinary extent the sensitive hairs that we see exemplified in the whiskers of the cat. For example, the sensitiveness of the antennae depends on the fine hairs with which they are provided. Dust on these organs would render them less efficient, so the bee has an apparatus on the forelegs for combing the dust otf the hairs of its antennae. Both the comb for the eyelashes and the comb for the antennae have been beautifully figured by Cheshire, who was the best worker on the bee that Britain has produced. The mandibles or jaws ()?i) of the bee work sideways, like typical insect jaws, and are used for making comb, fighting,

HEAD AND TONGUE OF BEE. From

(Magnified 16 times. a,

Cheshire).

Autenna, or Feeler m, Mandible, or Outer Jaw g, Gum Flap, or Epipharynx ; mxp. Maxillary Palpus pg, Paraglossa mx, Maxilla, or Inner Jaw Ip, Labial Palpus I, Ligula, or Tongue b, Bouton, or Spoon of the same. ;

;

;

;

;

;

;

9 seizing robbers

from the

hive.

by the leg, and removing dead bees and debris They also bear tactile hairs, and these

probably ensure the delicacy of touch necessary in fashioning the wonderful comb. The so-called tongue or proboscis (I) is not really a tongue, but a prolongation of the lower is

the organ which

is

unfolded and thrust

heart of the flower to reach the nectar.

It

lip.

down is

This

into the

many-jointed

and covered thickly with hairs, so that it is rather a brush than a tube. The bee does not so much suck up the nectar as mop it up with this brushlike organ.

The Thorax.

A

very narrow white neck connects the head witli the This bears the six legs and the four wings, and the cavity of the thorax is filled mainly with the muscles thorax, or chest.

The thorax is the meaty jart of uway by a wasp, which The w.i ^uts off the head, the has killed a bee for food. abdomen, and Hies away to its nest wings and the legs, the of red meat constituting the tliorax carrying only the lump which work these

the bee, and

is

limbs.

the only part carrii^

[>

of the bee.

The Abdomen.

A second narrow isthmus, the petiole, connects the thorax with the abdomen, which is the largest division of the body. This is in sections, and the sections move in and out a little way

like the joints of a telescope.

the creature breathes.

The abdomen

It is is

by

this

means that

enlarged or reduced by

a telescopic action, and air passes in and out, not by the mouth or nose as in the higher animals, but through a series of holes situated along each side of the bee. spiracles, are

Some

of these holes, or

found on the abdomen and some on the thorax,

but none on the head. It is not possible, therefore, to drown a bee by holding its head under water, since the breathing of the bee would go on as usual with the head submerged.

At the extreme

tip of

the

abdomen

is

situated the

which is a very important organ, for without the bee would long since have become extinct.

its

sting,

presence

10

The

Legs.

It has already been mentioned that the first pair of legs bear combs (C.ei) for the eyelashes, and a very elaborate pair of combs (E.a) for cleaning the antennae. The use of these can be most readily observed on drones. When these issue from the hive on a fine sunny day they pause on the alighting board and put up their forelegs alternately to their heads. The old bee-keepers said they were wiping their eyes. Rather they were combing the dust out of their eyelashes, and securing also that the sensitive hairs of the antennae were leady for use. If one touches the antenna of a bee with a moist finger the bee will immediately put up its foreleg and wipe the contaminated organ. The second pair of legs bear prominent spurs, which are said to be used in removing the pollen pellets from the baskets on the last pair of legs. On the hind legs of the worker bee are the wonderful structures for collecting and carrying home the pollen. These have also been beautifully figured by Cheshire, wlio shows both the outside and inside aspects of the hind leg. The last broad joint which Cheshire has called the planta, or metatarsus, bears on its inside a set of beautiful combs (B.p). On the joint above this, called by Cheshire the tibia, is found the corbicula or pollen basket. The tibia on the outer side is bare of hair, hollow and polished, but along the edges are arranged numerous bristles. These correspond to the framework put on a cart when the load is light and

bulky, as

when

leading

The If

we

home the

corn.

Collection of Pollen.

we shake a full-blown flower over a sheet of paper on the paper. The micro-

obser\'e a fine dust falling out

scope shows that

it

is

not dust at

particle has a definite shape

and

all,

but that each

little

depending on the particular flower. In fact, the pollen grains always found in honey as an accidental admixture are the final test for the source of honey. Eucalyptus pollen found in a sample of so-called British honey would be held as a conclusive proof of

colour,

adulteration with Australian or other foreign honey.

;;

LEGS OF WORKER-BEE. (Magnified 10 times.

A,

third

right

side

leg,

From

from the body.

Cheshire.)

ti,

tibia,

showing pollen basket

p, plauta or metatarsus i, tarsus. B, third right leg, side next the body, c, coxa ; v^ velum; 6, brush tr, trochanter wp, pincers. C, front right leg. ci, eye-brush. ;

;

;

D, second right a,

antenna comb

leg. ;

6,

&,

brush.

brush.

F, teeth of

crosa-section of tibia through pollen -basket,

H, antenna in process of cleaning, seotion of leg c, antenna comb.

or pollen. I,

;

more enlarged,

v, velum antenna comb, magnified 200 times. G,

E, joint of first leg,

n,

v,

nerve;

velum

;

li,

s,

holding hairs; fa, farina

scraping edge

;

a,

antenna

13

The

bee.

engaged in gathering pollen alights in the heart and moves around, bringing its hairy body in

of the flower

contact with the anthers. The sticky pollen grains adhere to the webbed hairs of the bee, and, when it has got enough to be worth dealing with, the bee rises from the flower and apparently flies aimlessly about. In reality it has taken to its

wings

in

order to have the use of

Close observation will

combs are being passed combing out the pollen grains by a motion too quick for the combs are rubbed together and pollen

to the pollen baskets. pellets of

all its legs at once.

show that the hind

When

legs bearing the

over the under side of the bee, adhering to the hairs. Then,

eye to follow, the two sets of the collected pollen transferred the load

pollen are bean-shaped, of

is

complete the two

size, and almost one kind of pollen throughout. The beekeeper, standing in front of his hives, sees bee after bee alighting on the boai-d with pollen baskets heavily laden, the burdens being of different colours according to the flowers

equal

invariably of

visited. They are light yellow from wall-flower; a sober brown from the clover; golden red from the whin, and

blue-black from the poppy.

When

the bee enters the hive

comb, shaking

it

goes fussing over the

body in a very typical way, apparently looking for a cell in which to deposit the pollen. When this is found it hangs on to the upper wall with its fore legs, inserts its hind legs into the coll, and then pushes off" the pollen with the middle pair of legs. The two pellets fall on the lower walls of the cell, and the pollen carrier pays no more attention to them. Another and younger bee presently comes along, inserts its head into the cell, and moves around for about two minutes. When it comes out of the cell it will be found that the pollen has been packed down firmly and neatly. Honey is mainly a carbo-hydrate, providing energy and heat, but does not contain sufiicient nitrogen to be used in forming tissue. The proteid or nitrogenous element essential for body-building, and specially necessary when brood is being reared, is supplied chiefly by the pollen. In Britain, pollen is so abundant that old combs its

.

14 Australia it, but in many parts of a deficiency of pollen-bearing plants, and in such bees rapidly die out from what the Australian Bee-

tend to be clogged with there

is

districts

keeper

calls the

"Disappearing Sickness." Propolis,

The

pollen baskets are also used for the carrying

home

a resinous material that the bees gather mainly off trees.

of

In

a treeless country various substitutes, such as tar, wet paint, and varnish, are used for the same purpose. This material is called "propolis,'' of the hive, to

down air.

and is used by the bees to varnish the inside up any cracks in the walls, and to fasten

fill

the quilt so as to prevent the escape

When

collected in quantity

honey-comb, marring

its

it

may

upward

of

beautiful appearance.

Bees vary

greatly as regards tendency to collect and use propolis.

black bees of Austria,

known

warm

be used to daub the

The

as Carniolans, use very little

and consequently produce section honey which is The Caucasian bees are the worst beautifully white. offenders, fastening everything firmly together with propolis so that the whole hive may be lifted by the top crate. The word " propolis " in Greek means " in front of the city," and implies that certain bees build ramparts at the hive door to exclude robbers, and specially to exclude the death's-head moth. Such ramparts are beautifully seen in a nucleus stock of Punic bees which has been provided with too large a door. The whole of such a door will be closed by a curtain of propolis, leaving only two small round holes at the two lower corners, just large enough to admit one bee at a time. The bee-keeper who usee plenty of quilts, and takes care that there are no openings near the top of the hive to permit propolis,

the escape of

warm

usually have little trouble with frequently used to prevent propolisation. It may be smeared on the runners carrjang the lugs of the frames, and on the bearing surfaces of section crates. propolis.

Vaseline

air, will

is

Feet.

Each of the six feet of the bee is furnished with sharp curved hooks, two large and two small, and with these the bee

15

can cling securely to any ordinarily rough surface, such as the

On. polished wood or glass there

face of the comb.

is

hold for the hooks, so the bee folds them out of the

no

foot-

way and

brings into action a soft, white, moist and sticky pad situated

between the hooks. So also the fly walks on the window-pane, and with a lens it is actually possible to see on the glass the footprints of a

fly.

The ignorant

or thoughtless bee-keeper

sometimes worries his bees by placing right over their combs a piece of blanket or other rough material. This entangles the hooked feet of the bees, with the result that they rapidly The quilt lose their tempers and sometimes even their lives. placed on the top of the combs should be light and smooth, of

such material as window-blind, bed-ticking, or plain

The bees are

readily slip from under such a quilt, and,

down among

added

till

calico.

when they

the combs, other and heavier quilts can be

upward

the loss of heat

is

reduced to a minimum.

Wings.

The wings of the bee are four in number, two large wings and two smaller hind wings. A single pair of

front large

wings, as in the blue-bottle, would be very effective for flight,

but very much in the way inside the hive, where the bee has to walk about amid the thronging multitude, and even to Before entering the hive the enter the very narrow cells. smaller hind wings of the bee are tucked away underneath the larger front wings, enabling the bee to

In

in small space.

flight,

move more

readily

however, the advantage pertaining

to a single pair of large wings

is

obtained for the bee by a

device consisting of a set of hooks on the anterior border of

the small hind wing, which engage in a kind of curved ledge

on the posterior border of the larger front wing. Thus the flying bee is apparently provided with a single pair of large wings.

Breathing.

As already mentioned, the bee breathes through a of

apertures on each side of

spiracles

ramify

lead

to

through

its

an

intricate

every

part

of

series

These apertures or system of tubes, which body. the

body

of

the'

bee

16

In the higher conveying oxygen directly to the tissues. animals the blood is a carrier of oxygen, but the colourless blood of the insect is not a gas carrier, the oxygen being distributed directly through the tubes or " tracheae " to every part of the

To ensure the

insect's body.

free passage of air, each of the

provided with a spiral thread of " chitin," which like acts a coiled spring and prevents the tube from collapsing. One result of having such a multitude of airtubes within its body is that the insect is extremely light tiny tubes

is

and buoyant, so

facilitating flight.

This lightness

well

is

exemplitied in the Pond-skaters, which can be seen on a summer day actually walking on the surface of the water in any clear pool.

Wax.

Wax

is

a secretion produced by eight glands situated on

the under surface of the abdomen.

wax consume

Bees about to produce

a quantity of honey and then hang in clusters

motionless within the hive.

After several hours the newly

wax oozes like oil from little wax pockets. The

secreted

the glands and solidifies in

eight

little

bits of

wax

pro-

so

duced are not unlike fish scales, and are frequently found

numbers among the debris on the floor of the hive. The leaves of a bush on which a swarm has remained overnight are sometimes found glittering with newly made wax in large

When

scales.

the bee

is

about to make comb

it

picks off the

them to its mouth, and works The comb so produced is them up with its mandibles. white or almost white —although the wax scales are transparent. So snow is white while ice is transparent, and the explanation is the same in both cases. The snow and the honeycomb are full of little caves which reflect the light and scales

with

its

feet,

carries



produce the be

filled

effect of whiteness.

If the caves in a

snowball

with water the whiteness disappears.

Honeycomb. Honeycomb

is

one of the wonders of the world.

extraordinary delicacy and beauty, and

is

It

has

so fragile that

can hardly be touched without danger of breaking the

it

cells.

17

The

comb

sheets of

That

plane.

is

if

both

is

a central mid-rib with sets of

The

sides.

upvrard

tilt

cells are

in order

view, because each cell

which

tends

make

to

is

cells is

not evident from an outside

finished off with a thickened rim, it

round

look

and

clumsy.

warm

to understand.

may

is

is

able to thin

How

If

sharp blade

will be seen that the cells are perfectly hexagonal,

the walls are thinner than tissue paper.

horny mandibles

The

retain thin unripened honey.

these outside rims be shaved off with a

admirable precision

In each

arranged on

cells

not quite horizontal, having a slight

to

shape and delicacy of the

its

not be

there should be convexities in one there

be corresponding concavities in the adjacent comb.

will

sheet there

it

may

are vertical and parallel, but

to say,

and that

the bee with

them down with such

one of the things that

we

find difficult

Possibly the hairs displayed on the mandibles

be the sensitive mechanism which gives to those horny

tools the necessary delicacy of touch.

The Worker

Bee.

In a hive in the summer time there are three well marked There i.s the worker bee, of which we have been It does all the spectacular work of the writing hitherto.

types.

the

hive,

and

gathering

of

the

nectar,

of

collection

propolis

pollen, the carrying of water, the tending of brood, the

building of the comb, the fighting and the stinging.

But

there is one very important bit of work which it cannot perform. Although the workers are all female and developed from an egg identical with that which produced the queen, yet the essential organs of sex are comparatively undeveloped,

and the worker bee as a rule

Under

stress

queenless

may

of

is

incapable of laying eggs.

circumstances a stock that

develop laying workers, that

is,

is

a

hopelessly

number

of

workers (not one as is generally stated) will start laying eggs in the cells, but these eggs produce only drone bees, and it is not generally believed that a laying worker can ever

become the mother consisting,

therefore,

of

a worker bee or queen.

solely

of

workers

A

stock

would ultimately

18

come to an end, because the old bees would die out, and there would be no young worker bees to replace them.

The Queen Bee. The queen or mother bee is

is

the specialised egg layer.

the state mother whose sole function

it is

to lay eggs.

She

Her

other activities are limited as far as possible in order that

her energies

all is

may

Her tongue any flower, so that she a garden of plenty. She has no apparatus carrying home pollen. The wax glands are be directed to this one end.

too short to reach the nectary of

would starve

in

for collecting or

entirely wanting, so she could not produce the smallest bit of

comb.

But

Dzierzon

—the

her

ovaries

greatest

of

actual count, that a queen

thousand eggs in a day.

are

enormously

developed,

German Beemasters

—showed,

and

by

capable of laying at least three

is

She does not maintain that rate

throughout the year, her egg-laying being appropriate to the season. She can as a rule continue laying for about three years, so that a stock provided with a young fertile

queen

On

may remain

in a prosperous condition for that period.

the other hand, a stock consisting only of workers would

become extinct in a few months. But the queen will ultimately become exhausted, and will fail in the business of laying eggs. So she must be replaced by a daughter, reared by the workers for this purpose. The young ([ueen, however, is not perfectly fertile unless mated This occurs once in her lifetime in the open air to a drone. on a fine day, and this is why hundreds of drones are produced by every prosperous stock during the summer The drone dies in the act of mating and the queen season. She will not lay any eggs that day, returns to the hive. nor the next, but will start laying on the second day after mating, and will continue to lay eggs, producing either male or female oflspring, for a period of two or three years.

The Drone or Male Bee. The

drone's activities are even

the queen.

He

has no

wax

glands

more ;

restricted than those of no apparatus for collecting

19 his tongue is even shorter than that of the queen; and he has no sting. An examination of his structure will show that he is specialised for rapid, powerful, and long-

pollen;

continued

flight.

He

has a great spread of wing, a highly

developed thorax to accommodate the great muscles that

work the wings, a spacious abdomen

to ensure the supply of

oxygen necessary for rapid motion, a magnificent pair of eyes so that he may detect from afar that small dark object, which is the queen in flight. His legs are relatively weak, because they are never in use except inside the hive, and for a few steps on the alighting board on entering and departing. The function of the drone is to be on the wing every fine day during the sunny hours when young queens are likely This is the only duty to come forth for mating purposes. for which drones are fitted, and this they perform with the utmost diligence, their whole time outside the hive being Their

spent in active flight. the drone has been

called

life is

indeed strenuous, although

lazy by those

who

apparently

expect him to do what he cannot possibly do, namely, gather

To compare a lazy man an injustice to the drone. At the end of the honey harvest, every "queen-right" stock of bees drives forth its drones to perish of cold and want. But the drones may be destroyed at any time if the honey and pollen

like the worker.



to a drone is therefore

stock comes within sight of

drones are

expelled,

next the

starvation.

drone brood

First is

the adult pulled

out

of the cells, then the worker brood is sacrificed, and finally The beethe old worker bees begin to die of starvation.

keeper

who

sees

the

drones being

killed

out

of

season

should take prompt measures to supply food to the stock. When the hive does not contain a fertile queen, the drones

even and the presence of drones in a particular stock at a time when most drones have been killed ofi" indicates that there must be something wrong with will be allowed to live until very late in the season, or until the following spring,

the queen.

20

The Laying

of the Queen.

noticeable thing about the queen

The most

the great

is

development of the abdomen, which projects beyond wings. It accommodates the huge ovaries, which, in laying season, are extremely active, producing in one more than twice the weight of the queen in eggs. The of life

the the

day legs

the queen are highly developed, because she spends her

The

in walking.

first

man

to describe the laying of the

queen was a Scotch clergyman, the Rev. William Dunbar, Minister of Applegarth, who, in 1840, wrote a beautiful book on the bee, and was so modest that he did not put his name on the title page. When Langstroth, the father of American bee-keeping, published his book in 1851, he was content to quote, with acknowledgment, the Scotch parson's description

During the laying season she

of the laying of the (]ueen.

walks over the surface cell

she

until

of

one

finds

situated well within the

the comb, examining

empty,

warm

freshly

cell

after

and She bends

varnished,

part of the hive.

her body sharply, inserts her abdomen into the

cell, turns looking downwards and deposits an egg At this period she is waited upon by a number

round until she in the of

cell.

workers,

is

who keep

their heads towards the queen at all

times and supply her with anything that she requires. It is their duty to see that she does not waste her time looking

making her

for food, or in for the queen,

They perform

toilet.

and thus enable her

to set her

all offices

whole mind to

the business of laying eggs.

The queen bee

mating only once in her life, sperm sac in which she can store the sperm received from the drone at her mating. The sperm cells remain alive and ready to become active for Very old queens, however, begin to produce what years. because she has a

might be

called

requires

little

reservoir or

accidental

or inadvertent drones



drones has been suggested that the sperm has become exhausted, but it is more likely that the

produced in worker

queen has fertilisation.

lost

the

cells

—and

power

of

it

working the mechanism of

21

Sometimes a queen

fails

to

or entire absence of

mate, possibly through the

In such cases she weather permit, she makes frequent flights in search of a drone. At last she seems to give up hope, and commences laying without being mated at all. The eggs develop in the normal way, but produce only drones, whether laid in drone or in worker cells.

scarcity

remains a virgin queen, and,

drones.

if

Brood Rearing. The egg

is quite unlike a fowl's egg in wider at one end than the other, It is attached slightly curved, and both ends are rounded. by the smaller end to the bottom of the cell, and is just In large enough to be easily detected by the naked eye. the bottom of the cell it looks like a bit of bluish white

shape.

laid

by the queen

It is elongated,

Under and is clearly visible to a close observer. normal circumstances the egg hatches in about three days, and the creature that emerges is a tiny white grub It is fed by the with no legs, no wings, and no sting. worker bees on a kind of thin white jelly, which has an acid pungent taste. Its origin is undecided, but there is Royal Jelly " is the that this reason to suppose good in the head of the situated secretion of two glands found in the drone, are worker bee. These glands are not undeveloped in the queen, are shrunken and apparently But they are large and functionless in the old forager bees. apparently active in the younger worker bees, which are thread,

''

known

to feed the brood.

raw honey and

At a

later stage it is said that

pollen are added to the ration of the worker

bee and the drone, but queens are fed throughout on " Royal Whatever its origin it must be very nourishing, Jelly." because the little grub grows apace, and in six days has increased more than a thousand times.

On

its

weight

day from the hatching of the egg the worker-grub is fully fed, and the bees cover it over with a porous cap composed of pollen and wax, so as to allow the The rest of the development goes young bee to breathe. the sixth

Missing Page

Missing Page

24

Supersedure of Queens.

Some bee-keepers imagine

that an old queen cannot be

thought will suggest that since the old queen normally accompanies the first swarm, there will come a time when the old queen must be

replaced except by swarming, but a

In such circumstances the

superseded without swarming.

make

bees

a few queen

little

usually not more than three,

cells,

and generally at the close of the honey harvest. The queen is allowed to emerge, and she may live for weeks in the hive along with the old mother. Sometimes, indeed, both mother and daughter may be laying in the same hive. The supersedure of the queen occurs so quietly that it may be missed even by an observant bee-keeper, and we thus get stories of queens that have been supposed to live to phenomenal ages, the fact being that the old worn-out queen had been quietly replaced by the bees without the knowledge selected

of the bee-keeper.

Swarming. Swarming

a natural function which must occur

is

are not to become extinct lost

by

disease,

The

for

it is

inside

make

if

bees

by swarming that stocks

by queenlessness, and

Bees about to swarm hive.

;

so forth, are replaced.

preparation inside and outside the

preparation

from

floor to ceiling as it were.

bee

filling

consists in storing

the hive

There must be abundance of bees, brood, honey, and pollen, and, as a rule, the whole available space must be filled with comb. The old home is never left destitute, while those that have helped to gather the stores leave all behind and go out to start the world over again with only as much honej? as can be carried by each

made

to

its

replace

honey-sac.

Preparations

the queen that

is

to

have

also

been

go forth with the

swarm. A number of queen cells are started on successive days so as to provide queens that mature on different dates. The normal time for the leaving of a first or top swarm is fixed hive.

by the sealing of the most advanced queen cell in the As a queen takes only seven days to develop after

25

means that the old hive may have a new queen about seven days after the leaving of the top swarm. In

sealing, this in

about two days more this

new queen will be swarm on

that bee-keepers expect the second

able to

fly,

so

the ninth day

During those two days of waiting one or two of the other queens may be so far developed as to be ready to come out of the cell, but the worker bees will see to it that they are retained in the cell until the first hatched queen has left with the swarm. During the period of detention those imprisoned queens will be fed through a tiny after the first.

hole in the

cell.

It is just at this

time that piping can be

most noticeable at dusk when all around is quiet, and thei'e are two distinct sounds. There is the clear note like "peep peep,'' emanating from the queen which is loose on the comb, and a deeper note, like "waa waa," produced by the other queens inside the cells. The hearing of those two sounds means two things to the bee-keeper; (1) that a swarm will issue in a day or two, and (2) that it will be accompanied by a virgin queen. The outside preparation for swarming consists in searching the country round about for a new home. The scouts travel far farther than foragers, and may be observed round hollow trees, going into cracks in roofs, or carefully examining empty hives. They are looking for a new home for the prospective swarm, but, if the owner of the heard.

It is

swarm knows his business, and is able to attend to it, his swarm will never be allowed to take up residence. The actual swarming occurs near the middle of a fine day. fill

Bees pour out of the hive in a continuous stream, and At first they dart a cloud of midges.

the air like

but they soon begin to cluster on a selected spot, very frequently within the garden in which the hive is located, at any rate very rarely more than a short distance away When fully clustered there is a mass of bees about in

all directions,

clinging closely together.

If

on a small branch

bends with their weight right

down

it

to the ground.

sometimes As soon

begun to form, the scouts go off once more whether the new home is still available, and in due The course they will return to take away the swarm. as the cluster has to see

26 interval of absence

may

be short or long, but

is

usually long

enough to enable the bee-keeper to secure his swarin and \vhich to remove it from the neighbourhood of the bush on scouts. the by marked duly was which and clustered, is it If it is inconvenient to hive the

swarm

other receptacle used to contain

it

at once, the skep, or

temporarily, ought to be

from the neighbourhood of the bush, so that the scouts not be able to find it on their return.

shifted

may

How It is

known

Bees find their Hives.

that the bees

(jf

a stock range the country

about 2^ miles, s(j that How then do the

in every direction for a distance of

the area covered exceeds 12,000 acres. bees

manage

to find their

way back

to their

own

hive

It

?

has been suggested that bees and homing pigeons and certain other animals possess a special sense sense of direction

— which

human

is



"

homing

instinct

represented N'ery poorly,

"

— or

if

at

The practical bee-keeper is awaie, all, bi.'es not need any special extraordinary sense liowever, that do The behaviour of a stock of bees for locating their home. liberated in a new situation is \ery characteristic. They issue in the

species.

cautiously from the hive, fly in front of

towards

it,

their hive,

it

with

heads

tiieir

obviously observing minutely the appearance of

and the objects

The

in its iauncdiate neighbourhood.

area of their flight gradually increases until finally tliey are

high up in the air describing great the greater landmarks

— a big

building, a stretch of

water.

tree,

circles,

evidently observing

a cliurch spire, a prominent

The cloud

of

bees which has

been darting about in every direction over a wide area seen to gradually condense and again to enter the hive.

observations have

been made,

their

new

is

now

Their

situation located,

and they are now ready to proceed on a foraging expedition. A stock of bees sent by steamer on a journey, which took three days to complete, was liberated on arrival. Within 4.5 minutes bees with full loads of pollen were seen entering It had taken the strangers just three quarters of the hive. an hour to locate the position of their home, and to find the

27 treasures of

the

The foraging bee may waiidor

field.

far

from the hive and find itself in surroundings more or less unfamiliar, but it only requires to rise high in the air to perceive the great landmarks for its home the church spire, big tree, or prominent house, as the case may be. Queens also in preparing for their mating flight carefully locate the



the hive, and, at the final stage, rise by great

position of circles

high in the

air.

It is the observation of this

which

has given rise to the quite erroneous idea that the mating of the queen takes place in the " blue empyrean, remote

from the haunts of

who might

birds,

otherwise

profane

the ceremony." It is evident that the shifting of a stock of bees without due precaution may lead to groat confusion and the loss of a number of bees. If the hive, for instance, be lifted at

night to another part of the apiary, bees going forth in the

morning

will be

unaware

of

any change, and, returning

to

the spot where the hive formerly stood, will become greatly perturbed, will either perish on the old stance, or attempt to

enter neighbouring hives.

two

of

stance

has been changed

and

move a stock

take steps

to

relocate

when a bee-keeper

requires

will

Difficulty then arises

themselves. to

If the stock be shifted a distance

or three miles the issuing bees will observe that the

of bees within the area of twelve thousand

which they are acquainted, but it can be readily accomplished if steps are taken to inform the bees that they have been moved. The Americans claim that closing the hive and wheeling it round on a barrow for a certain time

acres with

is

The bees will then take care to mark the which they have been placed.. Another method to transfer the stock towards evening to a temporary box, which the bees can be closed up, when all have entered sufiicient.

position in is

in

for the night.

of the next day,

the

new

They

are kept confined until the afternoon

and then transferred

situation.

This

enforced

to their

sojourn

makes the bees very cautious

own in

hive at

a strange

in

coming

and they proceed to mark carefully the new

position.

receptacle

forth,

28

Conclusion.

We know

a great deal about the natural history' of the

authors have got into the way of copying, without verification, statements that have appeared in the publications of earlier writers, and we are undoubtedly still bee,

but

many

many facts about the bee which would be interesting and profitable for us to know. It is noteworthy, also, that most discoveries of first class importance concerning bees have not been made by trained scientific men but by earnest beekeepers, who had no thought of systematic research, but followed knowledge for its own sake, and with a patience which is becoming rare in these days of hustle and haste to be rich. This Bulletin may be concluded, therefore, with the suggestion that the thoughtful and intelligent bee-keeper majr do much to advance our knowledge of the bee, if he will only observe carefully, record methodically, and in due course ignorant of

publish the result of his observations.

Ube IRortb of Scotlanb College of agriculture.

Bulletin No. 27.

How Handle

JOHN ANDERSON, LECTURER

TO Bees.

M.A., B.Sc, E.B:S.B.A. IN BEE-KEEPING.

ABERDEEN: MILNE & HUTCHISON 1920

NOTE. The

blocks for Figs.

Bulletin,

Exeter

;

I.,

II.,

and

IV.,

were kindly lent by Messrs.

which appear J.

T.

Burgess

in this

&

Son,

and for the use of the other four^'blocks I

indebted to Messrs. Steele

&

Brodie, Wormit, Fife.

J.

A.

am

HOW TO HANDLE

BEES.

By

JOHN ANDERSON,

M.A., B.Sc, E.B:S.B.A.,

Lecturer in Bee-keeping.

INTEODUCTION. Many

people are afraid to keep bees because they have the

impression that a bee

is

a creature going about seeking for

somebody to stiug. In reality, a bee is a very inoffensive insect, which never volunteers an attack unless the intruder is quite near the hive and likely to interfere with the private property of the colony. A bee inside a room is anxious only to get out, and a bee at work in the garden attends strictly to the business of the moment. The thoughtful bee-keeper actually grateful that bees have stings, because, if they had not been possessed of some moans of defence the species would long since have become extinct their product is so delectable, and they have so many enemies. is



The handling of

qf live bees

seems to the novice a matter

who

such extreme difficulty that the expert bee-master

handles bees without veil or gloves

is

regarded as a kind of

wizard, and receives a great deal of credit to which he entitled.

who

We

are frequently told of

is

not

man know

such and such a

worked among the bees, and the bees seemed to him, and he never got stung." The suggestion is that the management of bees cannot be acquired, that a bee-master, like a poet, has to be born, and cannot be made. On the contrary, any person of average intelligence, and possessed of an ordinary amount of patience, can easily and quickly "

learn to handle bees.

It is true, also, that all the experts

began by being But there are a few simple principles which must be kept in view by those who would handle bees and receive, in the process, a minimum of stings. will admit,

when

closely questioned, that they

dreadfully afraid of the bees.

Situation of the Hive. It is a frequent practice to set the bee-hives in a

back

garden, behind a hedge, or in some other out-of-the-way place,

where the bees are usually out of view. In such a situation, the bees have unpleasant associations connected with the visits of the bee-keeper, and they are likely to attack him on sight. If placed near a dwelling-house, where people are frequently passing, the bees soon get used to the appearance of

human

beings,

and come

them

to regard

as harmless animals.

This proximity to dwellings has the additional advantage that swarms are not so likely to be

about the house

The hives must be

may

be out of the

bees coming from and going to the

a

hi\'e

someone in or

so placed that the bee-keeper can get in

behind them, in order that he



for

lost,

almost sure to hear or see them.

is

should not be set with

fields.

back

its

On

way

of the

this account,

close to a wall, or be

placed in one of those low sheds built originally to shelter

straw skeps.

-gj»he

shed provided excellent shelter for the

straw hives, and did not interfere with manipulation of these, since a skep has to be turned right over in any case. On

moved

the other hand, a modern hive mu.st be possible,

and the bees should be able

while the bee-keeper

is

to use

as little as freely,

it

even

handling the combs.

Protection for the Bee-keeper. Beginners are frequently so nervous at

first

that they are

glad to wear both veil and gloves. of

material that

is

quite

The latter can be obtained sting-proof, and with long sleeves

attached to the gloves (Figure

the bee-keeper

I.),

is

quite safe

from stings on the hands. He will soon discover, how-

hamper movements very much, and deprive him of that

ever, that the gloves

his ^'^"'^

^-

touch and deftness in manipulation that is so important in handling bees. His mere clumsiness will irritate delicacy

of

the bees, and difficulty,

make them

and to help

less

in

easy to control.

eliminating

the

To meet gloves,

this

Messrs.

T. Burgess & Son, of Exeter, provide bee gloves which leave the points of the fingers bare, as shown in Figure II. On certain special occasions the experienced bee-keeper J.

may find gloves useful. He may have to take bees out of a hole in a wall, or

from Figure II. some odd corner of a roof or floor, where the use of his bare hands would lead to the receiving of a needless number of stings. Then, during transit, one or more combs might be jerked out of their frames and be found lying on the bottom of the travelling box. With gloves, these could easily be lifted, and, perhaps, most of the brood in them saved. In general, however, it will be found that the gloves are soon thrown aside, never to be used again, except on the very rarest occasions.

The

veil

(Figure III.)

and the

in a different category,

is

writer has no hesitation in affirming that

would make for the comfort of the and for an increase in the honey crop, if expert bee-masters would use the veil more and the smoker less. The moat convenient veil is made of fine black it

bees,

net, of a shape that can be readily slipped over the hat or cap, and tucked under

the collar of the coat. netting,

or

of

black, interfere of Figure

III.

vision,

and

Veils of

coarse

any other colour except seriously

with clearness

wire-fronted

veils

are

inconvenient to carry.

In carrying out any operation which involves shaking the bees off their combs, one

young

to fly,

may

find that several bees,

are crawling over the ground.

such as are used by

cyclists,

may

Trouser

too

clips,

be found convenient to

prevent those young bees from crawling up the

When

still

legs.

the bee-keeper has his hands on the combs within

the hive any bees flying upwards are likely to be caught

within the outstanding cuffs of his coat.

These are brought

6

and are too surprised

to a dead stop very suddenly,

Presently, they

immediately.

which they are in contact the

warmth

reflect

to fly out

that the fabric with

like the quilt of the hive,

is

and

also suggests the proximity of the cluster of bees.

So those bewildered soon getting in

insects proceed

among

upward

in the

By and by

their fellows.

hope of the bee-

keeper, while bending his arm, will pinch the exploring bee,

and

To obviate shown

will be stung.

this danger, gauntlets, as in

Figure

may or

it

an

worn.

be

elastic

band

be slipped over the sleeve,

the

cuff

turned back Figure IV.

may

IV.,

Alternatively,

round the

may so

as

be

merely

to

tighten

wrist.

The Smoker. The smoker is the most useful implement available for modern bee-keeper. It consists essentially of a fire-box to contain some fuel, with an attached bellows for pufling the smoke on to the bees. The Clark Cold Blast (Figure V.) the

though very largely used because

it

is

very efficient. through the

in this country, is not

difiicult to light

and keep

recommended, and is not

lighted,

In this type the blast of air does not pass The popular Bingham Smoker

fire-box.

(Figure VI.)

is

of the hot

likist

Figme

type,

is less

liable

to "

go

VI.

out" when in use, and has a shield to keep the hands from getting burnt by coming in contact with the fire-box. The Root Standard is a very fine implement indeed, with the one defect, that it

see

has no shield for the fire-box.

from Figure

VII.,

As one can

every detail has been well thought

Figure VII

even to the provision of a hook with which to hang the The Root Junior is a smoker on to the side of the hive. smaller smoker of the same type, but without the front hinge out,

to the nozzle.

For fuel many employ corrugated paper, such as is used It lights very readily, but burns for packing glass-ware.

away very

quickly, generating

great heat in proportion to

the smoke produced.

Ordinary brown paper goes out very

has been treated with saltpetre. rotten wood lights easily, and rarely goes out

readily unless

it

Punk

or

all

is

till

and corduroy are excellent, but not Very convenient, and usually always readily obtainable. very plentiful, is sacking or burlap. New material may be used, but, frequently, there is more old sacking lying about than the bee-keeper will use in a season. This fuel is not so easy to light as corrugated paper, but it produces abundance consumed.

of

"

Moleskin

smoke that

The

is

"

not too

liot,

and

it is

not easily extinguished.

fuel should be rolled loosely in the

of a size to

fit

form of a

cj'linder

and it The beginner may find

easily inside the barrel of the smoker,

should be lighted at the lower end.

smoker at the fireside, but he will soon acquire the art of lighting up outside, even in windy weather, by holding the lighted match within the barrel of Then, by working the smoker until the fuel has caught fire. the bellows, a powerful cloud of smoke will be produced. it

easier at first to light the

Subduing Effect of Smoke. The question is frequently asked why it is that bees which have been lightly smoked are disinclined to sting. Langstroth, the great American bee-keeper, suggested that it induced the bees to fill their honey-sacs with honey, and made it physicallj? difficult for them to curve the abdomen sharply so as to apply the sting. Another view is that the bee full of honey is like most well-fed animals, full of good humour, In any case, it is a fact and at peace with all the world. that bees brought in contact with smoke seem very rapidly to forget that they ha\'e stings at all.

We

shall

probably get a more correct view of the efi'ect if we try to imagine what it would have

smoke upon bees meant for them in

of

their natural habitat, when they dwelt mainly in hollow trees in great forests. There they would be attacked by animal enemies who desired to rob them of their honey. In their effort to burgle the home of the bees, such marauders would necessarily shake the tree and attract

9

the attention of the bees on the conabs.

The most

effective

behaviour in such circumstances would be to rush out of doors and attack the intruding animal with all the might of thousands of stings. By such prompt action the home and property

of

the

colony

Assuming that this inherited by modern it is

might

instinct

be

we can

bees,

preserved.

eflBciently

self-preservation

of

that the clumsy manipulator

is

has been

readily understand so

why

promptly and severely

punished for any jarring or banging of the hive.

But another enemy of quite a different type might menace home and property of the bees. There might be a forest fire, sweeping all before it, and reducing the great trees to blackened stumps. The bees which survived such a fire, and transmitted the instinct which made for self-preservation, the

behaved exactly as human beings do in similar circumstances. As soon as the clouds of smoke blowing in at their doors indicated the proximity of an enemy against which stings were of no avail, the provident insects rushed to their stores, while there was yet time, and began to fill their honey-sacs with honey. If the worst came to the worst, and the fire spread to their own tree, they could abandon their combs stored full of honey, pollen and brood, and go out with their Every honey-sac being filled queen to find a new home. with honey, the homeless bees would be in the position of a swarm, having enough stores with which to begin the world over again in some hollow tree that the fire had not reached.

When we know what smoke means use

it

them.

with much greater

effect

It is not necessary

erroneously suppose

— so

to

to the bees

and with

less

stupefy the bees

long as one uses a

we can

discomfort to

—as

many

smoke now one must avoid,

little

and again to keep up the suggestion of fire meanwhile, any shaking or jarring of the hive that might suggest an animal robber. The smoker, therefore, when not in actual use, should be set with the nozzle upward, in which position it will draw like a chimney, and be always ready for the moment when the bees show signs of recovering from ;

the notion that they are threatened with

tire.

10

Use of the Smoker. In the case of a stock of

unknown

temper, the bee-keeper

be well advised to start by blowing a little smoke in at the door of the hive. This startles the bees stationed near the entrance, who will pass into the interior of the hive, and spread the alarm among the other bees. The operator then will

passes to the back of the hive, and quietly removes the roof. This, when placed upside down beside the hive, provides a

convenient receptacle in which to place the

removed entirely from the

quilt next the bees

now

is

which,

quilts, all of

except the lowest, are

hive.

The

rolled gently back, while a little

blown over the tops of the frames, and sometimes between them also. In most cases not a single angry bee will be seen, since all are obsessed with the idea that it is a fire with which they have to deal, and they will be too busy filling up with honey to think of using their stings. In such a frame of mind they will crawl over the bee-keeper's hands and face without making the slightest attempt to sting, unless he is clumsy enough to pinch or otherwise injure them.

smoke

is

Some entrance,

smoke in at the With a goodthe honey harvest, this

experts do not approve of blowing

and begin by

lifting off the roof.

tempered stock, or in the height of may be all right, but there is always the chance that the removal of the roof may jar the hive to such an extent that a few bees may rush out of doors in search of the disturber of These have not encountered any smoke, and the their peace. sight of a bee-keeper so close at hand confirms first

notion that

it

is

them

in their

a robber they ha^'e to deal with.

They

menacing him with their stings, and will go with him from hive to hive, annoying him all the time he is in the apiary. If such angry bees are numerous, and it is essential that the bee-keeper should proceed with his work, he will have to apply more smoke to the bees in the hive. These will become so alarmed that in time the panic will be communicated to the bees on the wing. The necessity for such extreme measures should be avoided. will fly at the intruder,

11

Manipulation of the Combs. It is not advisable to

have a hive completely filled with There should be room for at least one dummy, by the removal of which extra space can be obtained at one side.

frames.



The adjacent comb is then gently loosened if propolised— and moved to the centre of the available space. It can then be lifted clear of the hive, without the necessity of brushing the bees against their fellows on the next comb. When fully

examined, this comb

is

replaced against the side of the hive,

and the next is handled in the same way. When all the combs have been duly examined, the dummy is replaced at the other side of the hive. If at any time during the process the bees are observed to be recovering from the alarm of fire, and to be assembling in a threatening manner on the tops of the combs, a little more smoke should be applied. In accordance with the theory advanced, it will be evident that ease and comfort in handling the bees will depend largely

upon correct construction of the hive. If roofs or lifts fit they will have to be wrenched off, and volumes of smoke may not then suffice to convince the bees that stings are not the best means with which to preserve their property. The dimensions of the inside of the hive must be just right if the combs are to be really movable. If the bee space of a quarter of an inch at the ends of the frames has been exceeded, the bees may build combs joining the frames to the sides of the

tightly,

On

if these end-spaces are less than a an inch, the frames may be fastened in with propolis. In either case the combs cannot be removed without some degree of violence, which is sure to arouse anger in the bees. If the half-inch space at the bottom has become reduced through shrinkage of the wood to such an extent that the bees can no longer pass, this narrowed space may be filled with moth-cocoons, which often fasten the bottom bar so firmly to the floor that it is left behind when the frame is

hive.

the other hand,

quarter of

forcibly removed.

frames have not been nailed through the dovetails at the upper corners, these joints frequently give way, the comb sinks down, and the bottom bar will be found propolised If the

12

one attempts to remove such a frame in the ordinary way, it often happens that only the top bar is There is no excuse for such unwisdom when bee lifted out.

When

to the floor.

firms supply special f-in. nails for

making

those joints secure.

the frames have not been properly wired, or inferior foundation has been used, the consequent irregularity of the combs will make it difficult to remove and replace them Similarly,

if

without crushing bees and producing undue vibration.

Gentleness and

Too much

stress

slow movements

Deliberation.

can hardly be laid on the necessity for Under favourable conbees.

when handling

especially with pure Italian go right through the combs of a hive without any smoke if the bee-keeper has plenty of patience, and time The bee, like most other insects, moves normally is no object. ditions, it is perfectly possible,

bees, to



speed, and is scarcely conscious The experienced bee-keeper, as if by

at a high rate of

of slow

movements.

instinct,

does everything slowly, so as to avoid attracting the attention This explains why a visitor to the apiary is of the bees.

more

liable to be

stung than

is

the bee-keeper himself.

The

visitor is alarmed when bees fly past his face, and indulges in rapid gestures which irritate the bees, and increase the number flying about his head. This induces further movements of the visitor's hands, and these provoke further The result is that the hostility on the part of the bees. novice arrives at two conclusions, both of which are erroneous, (1) that he is peculiarly obnoxious to the bees, and (2) that the bees know the bee-master, and consciously refrain from The fact is that they would sting anybody' stinging him. who was nervous enough to indulge in rapid movements.

Suitable

There

is

Time

sometimes real

for

Manipulation.

danger

may manipulate his first stock may lose them, and it should be

that

beginner that he

needless handling of. the bees, or

the

enthusiastic

of bees so excessively

impressed on him that

opening of

unseasonable times, can only do harm.

If

no

the hive at veil is

worn,

13

and stings are

to be avoided, a

good deal

to be used, so as to demoralise the bees.

of smoke may have Under these circum-

an examination in the middle of the day, when the fields, might result in great disturbance, and consequent loss of honey. At such a time the bee-

stances,

bees are very busy in the

keeper

is

wear a

veil, in

advised to use as

little

^moke

as possible, and to

order to frustrate the attack of the one or two

bees that might become dangerous during the handling process. '

Many

advise opening the hives only in the late afternoon,

when the work

of the bees will be less interfered with, since foraging has largely ceased by that time. Others recommend the very middle of the day, holding that at this time the

older

and more

irritable

fields,

leaving at

home

worker bees

will be

mostly in the

the younger and more docile.

The weather and the season have great effect on the temper of the bees. Cold and wet days, and especially showery weather, make the bees very irritable, because it inteiferes with their work in the fields. In the late autumn, when the natural flow of nectar has largely ceased, and robbers are prowling round, the bees appear to have their nerves on edge, and may attack anyone who approaches their hives. At such unfavourable seasons they are much more difiicult to handle,

and more smoke

Influence of

will

Race and

have to be used.

Strain.

" black " bees are nervous and irritable, but subdued and reduced to a state of panic. If too much smoke is used, they "boil over" the sides of the hive, pour out at the door, and produce much disturbance and inconvenience. They can be readily shaken off their combs, and will run into a new hive without trouble. This characteristic makes it easy to " drive " or " drum " a skep of black bees. Pure-bred Italians are much more docile, and can frequently be handled without any smoke at all. If a comb of Italians be gently lifted out of the hive, the bees will remain at their work, and the queen will frequently go on laying while the

So-called

easily

comb

is

held in the sunshine.

In similar circumstances, black

workers would be running up and down over the comb, and

14

She then usually where she can readily pass over to the dark side, through the slot generally found between the edge of the comb and the bottom bar of the frame. Italians are not readily shaken off their combs, are difficult to drive, and, when fully roused by unskilful handling, are more vicious and difficult to subdue than are blacks. the black queen would cease laying at once. retreats to the bottom of the comb,

When

the Italian bee

is

crossed with the black, a mongrel

most crosses, is an and resistant to Thej' are also very prolific, but are sometimes disease. Experienced uncertain in temper and difficult to handle. (jv

so-called hj^brid is produced, which, like

excellent worker, very vigorous

bee-keepers

find

hybrids

and

excellent

extracted honey, but their

active,

for

comb honey

is

the

production

of

not so white as that

produced by blacks.

Manipulation of Bees

still

in use.

Skeps.

and many thousands knowledge of the going on inside his skeps is very

Bee-keepers are a conservative of skeps are

in

In

many

class,

cases the

what is meagre indeed, but the expert should be able to handle bees in skeps as readily as those in frame hives. The first step, as with the modern hive, is to create an alarm of fire by blowing smoke in at the door, and more is required than with a frame hive, because tlae interference is bound to be greater. The skep is then lifted bodily from its board, and turned, mouth up\vard, at a little distance from its stance. By this maiiieuvre the operator is less likely to be stung by returning f
comb. It is "

tops,"

not easy to handle a skep furnished with ekes or it can be done with a little more trouble. The

but

15

combs are usually fastened to the eke only to a slight extent, and it is frequently not difficult to lift the straw skep off the eke without breaking any of the combs. In other cases it

may be advisable to keep the eke attached to the skep. A may also be left in position, or it may be more convenient

top to

remove

temporarily.

it

With an

old skep filled with combs, toughened by the cocoons of several generations of larvss, there is little danger of combs breaking, especially in skeps furnished with cross-

but a skep filled with new combs pretty well filled with honey, even when these are built round sticks, must be

sticks,

handled with very great care.

The danger

greatly

be

increased

the

if

skep

held

disaster

of

with

the

is

combs

horizontal.

While the skep

being examined the

is

returned in large numbers, and

These should be jerked

board.

the board against the ground. clean,

the skep replaced on

it,

field

bees will have

be crawling over the

will

by striking the edge of The board is then scraped and the whole placed back off

on the old stance.

Other Methods of Subduing Bees,

who

Bee-keepers a

pipe

instead

special

admitted that tobacco smoke

among

and must be

are smokers frequently use tobacco

a

of

bee-smoker, and is

it

very effectual in creating

But one cannot wear a veil while smoking, and the result is that too much smoke is frequently

panic

bees.

used-

More generally

useful than the pipe

is

the subduing cloth,

frequently used alone or in conjunction with a smoker. consists of

a cloth large enough

frames and sprinkled with diluted with water.

it is

of

It

the

some strong-smelling chemical

Carbolic acid

the disadvantage that

to cover the tops

is

frequently used, but has

not soluble in water.

Jeyes' Fluid,

being non-corrosive and readily mixible with water, has been convenient to use two

used with success.

It is frequently

cloths, unrolling the

one and rolling up the other, so that only

one or two combs are uncovered at one time.

During the

16

robbing season this affords considerable protection to a stock that would be very liable to attack

combs were

its

if

fully

exposed while the defenders were demoralized by smoke. In making use of the cloth it is necessarj', as with the smoker, to intimidate the bees just inside the door of the hive. Placing the cloth in front of the entrance for half a

minute or so will be sufficient. The quilt next the bees is peeled off and replaced in the same action by the subduing cloth, and this may be accomplished so deftly that not a bee will fly up. The bees set up a great humming, and retreat from the "poison gas." In about a minute one edge of the cloth ma}' be

When

back and the bees handled as usual.

rolled

not in use the cloth should be kept in a canister or in

a sponge bag in order to keep Effects

A joints

moist as long as possible.

it

Produced by Stings.

bee can kill another bee only by stinging of

usually

it

between the

chitinous armour, and a sting so deli\ered

its

A

rapidly fatal.

wound crawls out

of

fore-legs,

its

an early

stage.

of such a bee has a typically twisted look,

which

since the others are frequently paralysed at

The abdomen

a mortal

bee that has received

the hive, using mainly

is

persists after death,

and enables the bee-keeper to

tell

by

examination of the dead bees when fighting has been going

on at a

hive.

Applied to the

human

skin a sting produces a sharp pain,

followed later by characteristic swelling.

We

that the bee-keeper will never be stung, but

him that

in

most cases he

receiving a certain at the

moment

persist for s^\'elling

number

will

"

acquire

of stings.

l''he

of infliction will still be felt,

cannot promise

we can

immunity

other after

but this will not will be

This immunity

effect.

after

pain of the sting

more than a second or two, and there

or

assure "

certainly due to the development in the blood of

is

no

almost

the bee-

keeper of an antitoxin which neutralizes the sting-poison.

As

indicated in the Bulletin for Prospecti\'e Bee-keepers,

there are a very few people to

whom

continues to be a serious matter.

even a single sting

In such cases, a sting

17

any part

received on

of the body produces swelling of the a choking sensation in the throat, and frequently blisters or red spots all over the skin. Those who are affected

lips

and

in this

face,

way

should not try to keep bees.

avoid getting their

first

Beginners should

stings on the face, because such stings

give considerable pain and sometimes cause quite remarkable

Both eyes may be completely closed by a single the hands bee stings are much less serious and quite as effective so far as acquiring immunity is concerned.

swelling.

On

sting.

Structure and Action of the Sting.

The

the worker bee working inside a

sting of

barbed

darts

consists essentially of

brown

sheath,

two

which

is

frequently, but erroneously, believed to be the sting proper.

These darts get so firmly fixed in the human skin that the bee as a rule is unable to free itself except by tearing the sting and its appurtenances away from its body. An examination of the sting thus detached will show the brown sheath with

its

hollow point embedded in the skin, the white

work

muscles which a crystal-clear

This

the

fluid

and a

dai'ts,

bladder containing

with a characteristic aromatic odour.

the sting-poison which

is

little

is

pumped

into the

the alternate action of the darts, and which

The

the pain and the swelling.

bee-venom

diffusion of

incites other bees to sting.

should avoid killing a bee

the odour of

this reason

one

at all possible, for the bee in

if

extremis always thrusts forth characteristic odour.

For

wound by

responsible for

is

its

Apart from

sting,

thus producing the

this effect, the killing of a

bee causes no concern to her companions.

If

any honey

is

exposed in the crushed body of the slain bee the others near at

hand

nothing this

or

be

lost.

On

odour a bee-keeper,

veil,

wait

will calmly insert their trunks

may

may

till

and lap

it

up

account of the irritating

who

so that

effect of

has received stings in his coat

find it advisable to

exchange these for others or to

the sting-poison has dried up and become odourless.

For some minutes at

least after the bee has freed itself,

the white muscles of the detached sting will be observed to

twitch rythmically, and close observation will prove that the

18 sting

is

visibly

digging

more and more poison

is

deeper into the skin, while being poured into the wound. This itself

removed with all speed, and it must not be simply plucked out by finger and thumb, for this would squeeze the poison-sac and drive more venom The finger-nail or the blade of a knife into the wound, should be placed against the point of the brown sheath just where it enters the skin, and the sting should be scraped out In without any pressure being applied to the poison-sac. order- that stings near the eyes should be quickly removed indicates that the sting should be

it is

advisable that the bee-keeper should carry a tiny pocket

mirror.

A

whole host of specifics have been recommended for each being guaranteed to allay the pain Alkalis, such as immediately and to prevent all swelling. ammonia, are frequently recommended, on the ground that bee-stings,

bee venom

is

a

that sting-poison

weak is

completely neutralized, and, in any small aperture

made by the

efficient

fact is

case, the

microscopically

sting has completely closed long

before anything can be applied.

poison

The

formic acid.

solution of

just as effectual after its acidity has been

The

active principle in the

probably a very subtle substance, and the only

is

antidote

laboratory,

that

is

situated

in this

prepared case

in

Nature's

within the

body

secret

of

the

bee-keeper that has been frequently stung.

Conclusion.

An attempt has been made to explain to the beginner the methods used by the expert in handling bees. In most cases the principles underlying the practice have been discussed at some length so that the bee-keeper may use the various methods with intelligence. perusal of a bulletin

is

It

is

the quickest or best

to handle bees, but a study of the

an occasional revisal as experience

not claimed that

way

of learning

problem beforehand, with is

acquired, should be of

considerable service. It is essential,

opportunity

of

however, that the novice should have an bees handled by a competent bee-

seeing

19

Every summer the Lecturer in Bee-keeping conduets number of public demonstrations at various centres throughout the College area, and bee-keepers are always

master.

a

welcome

to

visit

the

College

iVpiaries

Craibstone and in Aberdeen City.

unable to

avail

themselves

of

maintained

Beginners,

such

at

who may be

opportunities,

should

apply to a competent bee-keeper for a lesson or two.

In

the selection of such a demonstrator the U(jvice should not

who has kept bees for some time must necessarily know how to manage them. Many who have "kept" bees for years are unite unable to handle them, and may be almost entirely ignorant of what is contained On the other in the brood chambers of their own hives. hand, we have in the north of Scotland a large number of bee-keepers who have little to learn in the art of handling bees, and any one of these would be delighted to give a Once the initial diffiprivate demonstration to a beginner. expert will make veiy over, the budding culties have been got

too hastily assume that one

rapid progress

advanced.

He

if

he

is

willing to

will thus profit

assist

by the

others not so

far

uiistakes of others as

own, and will crowd into one season the experience that might otherwise have been spread over several well as

years.

by

his

SF 523.A547^" ""'""="'""'"'•>' How to handle bees

...

3 1924 003 070 871

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