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Cutting The Tree And Transferring








I hope those who read this book may find something in its pages
that will be beneficial. In your excursions through the forests you
are unconsciously getting the benefit of the greatest source in the
world of physical perfection--God's pure air--and, at the same time
there are no reasons why one with reasonable tact cannot be
benefited financially.

When should a bee tree be cut and transferred to the hive? There is
a difference of opinion in regard to the time of the year and also
to the manner in which it should be done. I respect the opinions of
those who have expressed themselves on the subject, but after
trying nearly all the methods described I found nothing in them
that came up to my ideal of a perfect plan of transferring the bee
from the tree to the hive.

My first plan was to cut the tree and, if not too large, saw it off
both above and below the bees, keep them in with smoke, and tack
screen over the place of entrance. Then hire someone to help carry
it home. It was set up on end and left to take care of itself and
if a swarm would issue from it and we were successful in hiving it
in the old box hive (the kind mostly in use in my boyhood days), we
thought the last chapter of bee-keeping had been learned. Then,
after the movable frame hive came into use the tree would be cut,
the bees drove into a box, the honey taken from the tree and with a
few pieces of brood all was taken home. The small bits of comb were
tied in the central frames for the bees to cluster on and the bees
shaken from the box in front of the hive. This plan was certainly
superior to the first mentioned but had one serious drawback--the
brood that was in the tree was left to perish.

After seeing the serious defects in the described methods, my next
move was to take a hive with me on going to cut the tree. All comb
containing brood was placed in the frames, the bees run into the
hive, which was left at the tree for a week or more in order that
the bees might have all the combs joined to the frames, and then
brought home. This was another advance in the method of
transferring, for the thousands of young bees about to emerge from
their cells were saved, and the colony having its brood and
strength undiminished should be able to fill at least one super of
honey besides all stores needed for themselves. Taking it for
granted that we cut the bee in the early part of the summer, one
super would be a low estimate, but even this would pay all expenses
connected with the cutting, buying a hive and fixtures, and as the
bee is now in an ideal hive we can hopefully look forward to the
next year when our profits are coming in.

There could be other plans given, some of them having virtue, but I
will now lay a plan before the reader which if followed will prove
more remunerative, and with less expense, than the former methods.
To carry a hive and tools necessary to cut a bee tree will require
the service of an assistant and when, after a week or so, we return
to bring the bee home, more help is needed. A man is worthy of his
hire and of course is paid. Carrying a hive over rough and uneven
ground is hard work. So by the time we have the bee home and sum
the matter up, the financial part of bee hunting don't impress us
very strongly.

I have been in the habit of hunting bees during the fall months,
but if I need a day's outing, no month from early spring, until
late fall fails to find me on my tramps through the forest in
search of a bee tree. No difference what time of the year I find my
bee nor how many may be found in any particular season, they are
always left stand over winter and cut the following spring, but not
before May, for I want the bee to be strong in bee with abundance
of brood. About this time of year I take a box eight inches square
at the end and two feet in length. Over the one end some wire
screen is nailed and a lid, the center being cut out and replaced
with wire screen, serves as a covering for the other end.

With bucket, ax, and this box we will go to the tree, cut it, being
careful to fell it as easy as possible. When it falls the bees
should be smoked at once to prevent them rising in the air. For
good reasons I prefer to cut the tree about nine or ten o'clock in
the forenoon. After blowing a little smoke in at the entrance,
proceed to chop a hole in the tree low down on the side, then
another hole farther up or down the tree, depending on whether the
bee works up or down from the place of entrance. After this is
done, split the piece out, blow more smoke on the bees and take the
combs out. Brush the bees off, lay them on the log some distance
from the bees, place the forcing box over the main body of the bees
and by brushing and smoking drive them into it. The box should be
in an elevated position, say forty-five degrees or more, as bees
will go on the upper end much more readily when the box is in this
position. Be sure the queen is in, which can generally be
determined by the manner in which the bees enter the box. If they
are inclined to run back out after being forced in, it is a pretty
sure sign the queen is not with them. When you are sure the queen
is with them, and there is a sufficient number of bees with her,
lift the box gently off, turn it upside down and place the lid on
and fasten with a couple of tacks taken along. Now place the brood
combs back in the tree. First a comb then a couple of small sticks
crosswise to form a bee space. Continue this until all the combs
are back in the tree, and as the top part of the log was not split
off, the piece split from the side can be fit in, bark and flat
stones can be used to form a covering that will keep the rain from
getting in. By cutting the tree at this time of day thousands of
bees are out in search of nectar and when they come home and find
their home gone, will fly around in the air until becoming
exhausted, and will then settle on the leaves and bushes in bunches
and knots by the hundreds. If there was any nice white honey we
have it in the bucket and picking up the box start on the homeward
journey. Presuming we have a movable frame hive at home with an
inch of starter in the frames or, what would be better, a hive
filled with comb from the year previous, we place the hive on its
permanent stand and take the lid from the box and shake the bees
down at the entrance. For fear the queen has been left in the tree
it would be well to have an entrance guard placed on the hive, as
this would exclude the queen and as soon as the queen is seen the
guard can be removed. In a short time we can tell whether they take
kindly to their new home. The queen is a laying one and some pollen
should be taken in the following day. I always made sure I had the
queen and never had a bee so treated to swarm out after being
hived.

Now what about the bee in the tree? When we left it there were
thousands flying around and settling on the leaves and bushes,
other thousands in all stages of development in the combs. The ones
that are hanging on the bushes begin to make further investigation
and finding their brood soon cover it and with the bees hatching
out every hour soon make the colony almost as populous as it was
before the tree was cut. In taking the combs out we may have seen
some queen cells started. If so, so much the better. If not, there
certainly were eggs in some of the combs and in sixteen days at the
most they can rear a queen from these eggs. When this time has
elapsed, take your box and smoker. Take the combs out as before;
drive the bees into the box, and as the brood is nearly all hatched
out by this time you will have nearly as many bees as you got the
first time. These are brought home and treated as the first swarm
and the combs can be placed in the log again for the few remaining
bees that may have been left, to cluster on and these can be
brought home later and joined to the second swarm. By this method
you get two strong colonies from one tree. There is no help needed;
no heavy lifting and carrying of hives to and from the tree. By
following this plan you can soon have quite an apiary and be on
your way to enjoy the profits as well as the pleasures of bee
hunting. This plan is original with me and I believe it to be the
very best plan given so far, and I expect to follow it until
someone gives us something superior.

The profits of bee hunting will depend on the ability of the man to
manipulate the bees after taking them from the tree. You must agree
with me that in cutting the tree, there is nearly always some of
the combs containing honey broken up and covered with dirt, and
this honey can never be classed as salable. Therefore, if we hunt
bees merely for what honey may be in the tree and leave the bees to
perish from starvation and cold, it were far better, from a moral
and financial point of view, to let the tree stand.





Next: Customs And Ownership Of Wild Bees

Previous: Baits And Scents



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