Baits And Scents
In rambling through the woods and over the mountains I have seen
bee hunters using bait with the oil of anise in it, or perhaps a
bait containing several different scents. They did not seem to
know, nor care, that bait containing these oils was injurious to
bees; but the fact is well known that they are injurious--not to
our neighbor's bees alone, but to the ones we are trying to find.
Therefore, never combine baits with scents of any kind. The former
is intended to furnish feed for the bee, and when loaded will
always start for the home. The latter is used as a means of getting
them to come to bait.
There are many different scents used for enticing the bee to bait.
Some hunters prefer oil of anise, others use bergamont; then some
combine these or other scents. But bear in mind that what should be
used ought to conform as nearly as possible in scent to the main
source of nectar at any particular season of the year.
In preparing these scents, take an ounce of the oil you may prefer,
put it into a pint bottle and fill bottle one-fourth full of
alcohol; let it stand a few days and then fill up with water. This
would make sufficient scent to last any one for several years. A
small vial can be filled and taken along--even an ounce vial will
last several trips; or a few drops of the oil can be put into a
bottle and water added, but as water will not cut the oil, it
remains insoluble and when the bottle is turned in order that the
mixture will run out, it often happens that our scent (after using
a time or two) is no good, the oil having disappeared. But by
cutting the scent with alcohol, the last drop will be just as
strongly scented as the first.
I have used about all the different scents known to bee hunters and
oil of anise was my standby for many years. I found bergamont to be
good. Horse mint, goldenrod, and many other oils and scents were
used at some particular time of the year, but the most powerful and
lasting scent I ever used was oil of sweet clover. Having run out
of the oil and not knowing where to get it without sending to some
drug house, I bought a toilet preparation labled "essence of sweet
clover," and found it filled the bill. A few drops were spilled on
my sleeve and in going on a course this was all that was needed. If
I stopped but a moment, my arm was covered with bees.
I don't advocate the use of the hunting-box for bee hunting. I
tried them long ago and found the method slow and uncertain. In
carrying my box from one location to another and releasing the
imprisoned bees I would always see them circle around and light on
a leaf and consume from five minutes to a half hour in cleaning
themselves up and when they did depart, there was no assurance that
they would come back. However, some hunters must meet with better
success than I have had in hunting by the box method, and to those
I would say, if bringing the bees to your box is what you want,
just rub a few drops of the oil of sweet clover on the side of your
box and that part of finding the bee is done.
It is hardly necessary to say more about baits. My views have been
given in the earlier chapters on bee hunting. A few drops of pure
honey is perhaps the best that can be used in starting the bees on
bait, but as soon as several have loaded with the honey, sprinkle
your bunch of bushes which you intend to carry on the course with a
bait made by filling a bottle one-fourth full of pure granulated
sugar, then a little honey and filling the bottle up with water.
This will make the bait sweet enough and it will not become so
sticky as if more sugar or honey were used.
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