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Of Swarms That Lose Their Queen


Swarms that lose their queen the first few hours after being hived,
generally return to the parent stock; with the exception that they
sometimes unite with some other. If much time has elapsed before the
loss, they remain, unless standing on the same bench with another. On a
separate stand they continue their labor, but a large swarm diminishes
rapidly, and seldom fills an ordinary-sized hive. One singular
circumstance attends a swarm that is constructing combs without a
queen. I have never seen it noticed by any one, and may not always be
the case, but _every_ instance that has come under my notice, I have so
found it. That is, four-fifths of the combs are drone-cells; why they
thus construct them is another subject for speculation, from which I
will endeavor in this instance to refrain.


It has been suggested as a profitable speculation, "to hive a large
swarm without a queen, and give them a piece of brood-comb containing
eggs, to rear one, and then as soon as it is matured, deprive them of
it, giving them another piece of comb, and continue it throughout the
summer, putting on boxes for surplus honey. The bees having no young
brood to consume any honey, no time will be lost, or taken to nurse
them, and as a consequence they will be enabled to store large
quantities of surplus honey."

This appears very plausible, and to a person without experience
somewhat conclusive. If success depended on some animal whose lease of
life was a little longer, it would answer better to calculate in this
way. But as a bee seldom sees the anniversary of its birthday, and most
of them perish the first few months of their existence, it is bad
economy. It will be found that the largest amount of our surplus honey
is obtained from our prolific stocks. Therefore it is all-important
that every swarm and stock has a queen to repair this constant loss.

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