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Beekeeping For Profit

It is not generally known that beekeeping is quite an industry in
the United States and that this country maintains a lead over all
other lands both as to the quantity and quality of the honey it
produces. This is the case, however, and America is recognized by
other countries as the honey-land par excellence, where beekeepers
turn out honey by the carload and this is so, for California, in
one lone year, produced 800 carloads, and of this 500 were shipped
out of the state. Texas is also a heavy producer and year in and
year out will actually outrank California.

Although produced in such vast quantities it must not be inferred
that quality is neglected; on the contrary we cannot be excelled
when merit is considered. Our apiarists are scientific to a very
high degree and possibly no branch of American farming has been
worked up to so great a pitch of excellence, only dairying and
horsebreeding can be compared with it, but American apiculturists
lead the world, whereas, our horsemen or dairymen do not.

This proud position is owing to the splendid discoveries and
inventions of the Rev. L. L. Langstroth of Oxford, Ohio, who has
been dead for some years, but whose spirit still lives. Previous to
his time beekeeping was only an amusement or pastime, or more
accurately speaking, a hobby.

Now, the industry is founded on a sound scientific basis and bids
fair to grow at a lively rate in the years that are to come. At
present, the amount of money invested in bees and bee appliances is
not less than one hundred million dollars. The annual income from
this source cannot be much less than $20,000,000, and in a good
year all over the country, it would approximate $50,000,000 though
it is very seldom that there is a good season for bees all over
this vast country. Beekeeping is a branch of agriculture and like
other pursuits belonging to that science there are fat years and
lean years. It is not an uncommon event for a beekeeper to clean up
a sum of money for his crop which will more than equal the value of
his bees and all the appliances he uses. Other years may be total
failures, but year in and year out no industry pays larger returns
on the labor and money expended. The wise beekeeper is not deterred
by a bad season but simply bides his chance. He knows that in
course of time the bees will make good all losses and give in
addition a handsome profit to the owner for his kind attention and
thoughtful consideration.

There are still many opportunities for bee-keepers in this country.
This is particularly true of West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky,
where the conditions for beekeeping are almost ideal and where, as
a usual thing, the market for honey is good. All through the South
there are openings for beekeepers and it will be a long time yet
before all openings are filled. Southwest Texas is a sort of
beekeeper's paradise and only a part of it has been occupied as
yet. Arkansas is a particularly good state for bees, but it has
only been partially developed by up-to-date beekeepers. Parts of
Pennsylvania are open to good beekeepers and so are portions of
Michigan, one of the leading states of the Union. Ontario and
Quebec are excellent for bees--none better. Nearly all the western
states are good for bees and some of them rank high as honey
producers. This is true of Colorado and Utah. Idaho, Montana,
Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington and Oregon offer
excellent openings for first-class beekeepers. In the West,
beekeepers, usually select an irrigated region where alfalfa and
sweet clover are common, so that during the long dry summers the
bees are kept busy storing honey of a very high quality.

Successful beekeepers are found in every state, and it would be
hazardous for anyone to say just what state is best for bees. Ohio,
Indiana and Illinois produce large quantities of fine honey, but
this is nearly all consumed within their own borders at fair prices
so that beekeepers do fairly well.

What hinders beekeeping more than any other fault is the neglect of
the beekeepers in not providing adequate shelter for the bees
during cold weather, and also from the heat of summer. In the
Northern and Central states good protection must be provided
against zero weather. Our bees originally came from the tropics,
and for that reason they require ample protection. The ordinary
hives must have an outer case placed around them and then leaves,
straw or sawdust well packed around them. Fixed in this way they
will withstand the rigors of an arctic winter. Lack of adequate
winter protection is the weakest point in American bee culture, and
yet is easily provided. This accounts for the saying of many who
have tried it, "Beekeeping doesn't pay." Perhaps at no time is
protection more necessary than in early spring when the hives are
full of young and tender brood. The hives may also be covered with
layers of thick paper or asbestos board. A small hole will allow
all of the fresh air necessary for bees in a state of sleep. These
points are first mentioned because neglect of them accounts for
most of the failures we often hear of.

No success can be anticipated unless one uses the best hives made
on the Langstroth principle. We have no space here in which to give
a complete account of the hives now made on that plan. The better
way would be for anyone interested to write for a sample of
"Gleanings in Bee Culture" Medina, Ohio, or to American Bee
Journal, Hamilton, Illinois, so as to get in touch with the
publishers, who issue books adapted to the wants of beginners.
These magazines also issue supply catalogues and in other ways are
quite helpful. Splendid books can be purchased at a low price
giving complete information with regard to the bee industry. Many
persons have learned the whole art of beekeeping by a careful study
of a good book on bee culture supplemented of course by

Nothing very important, however, can be learned about bees unless
one possesses a colony of bees in a movable comb hive. In fact it
is useless to attempt to obtain a knowledge of bees without a hive
to work with. I, therefore, earnestly recommend any beginner to
obtain a colony at the earliest opportunity. Very often an ordinary
box hive can be secured for a "song." This will do to begin with.
Next send for two complete standard Langstroth hives, a smoker, a
veil and a bee book; also a swarm-catcher.

If the box hive is of a medium size it will probably east two
swarms in spring about fruit-bloom time or a little later. When the
swarms emerge they may be quickly taken down by means of the
swarm-catcher, if they happen to lodge in a branch of a tree, as
they usually do. If the hives are in readiness it is no great feat
to safely place the swarms in their new homes and all will go well.
The parent colony may be disposed of in a week or ten days (not
later) after the second swarm issues, by drumming the bees out of
the box into the hive which holds the second swarm. This is done by
giving them smoke from the smoker and then battering on the hive
with a stick, which so alarms the inmates that they rush over the
side of the upturned hive into the new one. What is left is simply
a lot of dirty combs fit only for the melting pot. This is
probably, the neatest, cleanest and cheapest method of making a
start in beekeeping. It is well within the ability of most men and
the cost is comparatively small. If the bees are native blacks,
later on they may be changed to Italians simply by purchasing young
pure bred queens for about a dollar each. The old queens are killed
and new ones introduced in a cage till the bees make her
acquaintance, when she is automatically released. In two months'
time very few of the original bees will be found, all having died
from hard work and old age, and their places taken by rich golden
yellow Italian bees. It may be well to add this caution, "Do not
experiment with any other race of bees."

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