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Some Facts About Line Of Flight

You have all heard the term "bee line" used, and naturally infer
that it means a straight line. This was what I believed it to be in
my earlier days, but from numerous observations I am led to believe
that the terms "bee line" and "straight line" are in some cases
incompatible. If the line of flight is over ground unbroken by
hills and hollows, a bee will fly as straight home after loading up
as anything having wings can. But in following a course through a
wooded country, along the side of hills or mountains containing
ridges and deep hollows, the line of flight deviates far from a
straight line.

To illustrate and prove the above assertion, I will here give an
incident in connection with bee hunting that occurred not many
years ago, and which goes to prove that bees do not always fly in a
perfectly straight line. East of my home about one mile there is a
mountain extending north and south. Along the foot of this
mountain, a stream, known as Sideling Hill creek, runs the entire
length of the valley. The mountain extending up from this creek is
made up of ridges and hollows. A friend of mine, one day in July,
found bees watering along the creek and nearly east of my home. The
bees flew south with the creek along the foot of the mountain.
After trying to find them, (consuming two days' time in the
attempt), he came for me to help him out, telling me that he had
looked at every tree near the course for a distance of a mile. It
was a very finely marked Italian bee, and being anxious to find and
hive it, offered to pay me for my time whether we found the bee or
not. I asked him if he had baited them at the water. He said he had
tried but not a bee could be induced to take bait. My time being
limited just then, I told him I would get them to bait for him and
after this he certainly could find it himself. "Oh, yes, that's all
I ask," he replied. Going with him, I used the method described in
an early chapter entitled "Hunting the Bee from Water." In a short
space of time I had lots of them loading up and flying south along
the creek. About a half mile on the course an old clearing ran up
some distance on a ridge, and the course seemed to go about midway
through it. My instructions were to put the bait on this place, as
it was clear of all bushes that might bother him from getting a
direct course, and after giving all necessary instruction I went
home and awaited results. The next evening he told me he had gone
into the old field and, as the bees were a little slow in coming to
the bait, he built a fire and proceeded to burn and got bees in
abundance, still flying on the same course; then moving the bait
much farther on the course to another old field, found that they
continued on the same line of flight; and from this last location
followed them in sight of a house, the owner having thirty stands
of bees, thus convincing him that the bees all had come from this

But I was convinced he had overlooked the bees started with, for
these reasons: This apiary was two miles from where the bees
watered; the same stream flowed near by the apiary--there were many
springs near and water in abundance all along the course. Then the
clearing first mentioned had lots of sumac growing in it; many bees
from the apiary were working on this and other flowers, and by
burning, these bees were enticed to the bait in such numbers that
the few that may have been on bait from the tree were not noticed
by an inexperienced hunter. After telling him of my suspicions, he
was the more anxious that I should go along with him again and see
for myself that there was no wild bee on the course.

I was equally anxious to prove to him that there was. So the
following morning found us in the old field where he had first
placed the bait. Taking my bottle containing bait. I sprinkled some
on a bunch of bushes left there the day previous. This was all that
was required and the bees that had been having a feast at this
location the day before soon found it out and eagerly settled down
for another feast. It seemed that the whole apiary had swarmed out
and come to the bait--hundreds were soon flying towards this
apiary. Here my friend ventured to ask if I was not convinced that
they went to the apiary. I had been watching very close and knew
very well that the majority of the bees did go there, but I had
also seen a few bees fly a short distance on the course and bear
off to the left. I said nothing about this at the time, thinking it
best to be positive before giving a final opinion. There was a deep
hollow running up from the opposite side of the clearing and
getting in a more favorable position I could see many bees bear off
from the main course and go up to the hollow. Now I was ready to
tell him he had been outwitted by the bees.

Calling him to me, I showed him the bees flying up the hollow. We
then moved the bait about one hundred yards farther up and found
that they still went on up. We left the bait and proceeded to look
at the timber. Finally one hundred yards above this last place
there was a large white pine standing on the left side of the
hollow and not over ten feet from the ground they were pouring in,
in a steady stream, pure golden Italians. Was he convinced this was
the bee we had started with from the watering place? No, not at
all. It was too far from the course. I told him we would cut it and
take it home, and if bees still continued to water at the same
location I would give in. The bee was cut next day and taken home
and all watering ceased at that place. This was evidence enough for
him and proved to him, as it must to every one, that under certain
conditions bees will vary very much from a straight line of flight.

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