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Principles Should Be Understood


Artificial swarms can be made with safety at the proper season. To the
bee-keeper who wishes to increase his stocks, it will be an advantage
to understand some of the principles. I have had some little experience
that has led to different conclusions from those of some others. I have
seen it stated, and found the assertion repeated by nearly every
writer, that "whenever bees were deprived of their queen, if they only
possessed eggs or young larvae, they would not fail to rear another,"
&c. There are numerous instances of their doing this, but it is not to
be depended upon, especially when left in a hive full of combs, as the
following experiments tend to prove.


Several years since I had a few stocks well supplied with bees, and
every indication of swarming present, such as clustering out, &c., but
they pertinaciously adhered to the old stock, through the whole
swarming season! Others apparently not as well supplied with bees threw
off swarms. I had but few stocks, and was very anxious to increase the
number; but these were provokingly indifferent to my wishes. Taking the
assertions of these authors for facts, I reasoned thus: In all
probability there are eggs enough in each of those stocks. Why not
drive out a portion of the bees, with the old queen, and leave about as
many as if a swarm had issued? Those left will then raise a queen, and
continue the old stock, and I shall have six instead of the three, that
have been so obstinate. Accordingly, I divided each, examined and found
eggs and larvae. Of course all _must be right_. Now, thought I, my
stocks can be doubled at least annually. If they do not swarm, I can
drive them.


My swarms prospered, the old stocks seemed industrious, bringing in
pollen in abundance, which to me at _that_ time, was conclusive that
they had a queen, or soon would have. I continued to watch them with
much interest, but somehow, after a few weeks, there did not seem to be
quite as many bees; a few days later, I was quite _sure_ there was not.
I examined the combs, and behold there was not a cell containing a
young bee of any age, not even an egg in any one of these old stocks.
My visionary anticipations of future success speedily retrograded about
this time.

I had, it is true, my new swarms in condition to winter, although not
quite full; but the old ones were not, and nothing was gained. I had
some honey, a great deal of bee-bread and old black comb. Had I let
them alone, and put on boxes, I should have probably obtained
twenty-five or thirty pounds of pure honey from each, worth five times
as much as what I did get; besides, the old stocks, even with the old
comb, would have been better supplied with both honey and bees;
altogether much better, as stocks for wintering. Here was a
considerable loss, merely by not understanding the matter.

I carefully looked the bees over, and ascertained to a certainty that
neither of them had a queen. I smothered what few there was left in the
fall. I then knew of no better way. I had been told that the barbarous
use of fire and brimstone was part of the "luck;" that a more
benevolent system would cause the bees "to run out," &c.


Subsequent to these experiments, I thought perhaps the jarring of the
hives in driving might have some effect on the bees, and prevent their
rearing a queen. This idea suggested the dividing hive, when the
division could be made quietly; but success was yet uncertain. I was
told to confine the bees in the old stock twenty-four hours or more,
after driving out a swarm; this I tried, with no better results. Again,
I drove out the swarm, looked out the queen, and returned her to the
old stock, compelling the new swarm to raise one. To be certain they
did so, I constructed a small box about four inches square, by two in
thickness; the sides glass. In this I put the piece of brood-comb
containing eggs and larvae, and then put it on the hive containing the
swarm, having holes for communication, a cover to keep it dark, &c.
They were very sure to rear queens, but from some cause were lost after
they were matured.

Now, if others have been more successful in these experiments than
myself, it indicates that some favorable circumstances attended them
that did not me. I have not the least doubt but the result will be
favorable sometimes. Yet from the foregoing, I became satisfied that
not one of these methods could be relied upon. Instead of constructing
a queen's cell, and then removing the egg or larva to it from another
cell, I always found that the cell containing such egg or larva was
changed from the horizontal to the perpendicular; such cells as were in
the way below were cut off, probably using the material in forming one
for royalty, which, when finished, contains as much material as fifty
or a hundred others.

My experiments did not end here. I can now make artificial swarms, and
succeed nine times in ten with the first effort, and the reader can as
easily do the same. It must be in the swarming season, or as soon as
the first regular swarm issues. You want some finished royal cells that
any stock having cast a swarm will furnish, (unless in rare instances,
where they are too far up among the combs to be seen.)

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