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Spider Condemned






Category: ENEMIES OF BEES.

Spiders are a source of considerable annoyance to the apiarian, as well
as to the bees; not so much on account of the number of bees consumed,
as their habit of spinning a web about the hive, that will occasionally
take a moth, and will probably entangle fifty bees the whilst. They are
either in fear of the bees, or they are not relished as food;
particularly, as a bee caught in the morning is frequently untouched
during the day. This web is often exactly before the entrance,
entangling the bees as they go out and return; irritating and hindering
them considerably. They often escape after repeated struggles. I have
removed a web from the same place every morning, for a week, that was
renewed at night with astonishing perseverance! I can generally look
out his hiding-place, which is in some corner near by, and dispatch
him. His redeeming qualities are few, and are more than balanced by the
evil, as far as I have discovered. Their sagacity in some instances
will find a place of concealment not easily discovered. At the approach
of cold weather, the box or chamber of the hive being a little warmer
than other places, will attract a great many there to deposit their
eggs. Little piles of webbing or silk may be seen attached to the top
of the hive, or sides of boxes. These contain eggs for the next year's
brood. This is the time to destroy them and save trouble for the
future.

If we combine into one phalanx all the depredators yet named, and
compare their ability for mischief with the wax moth, we shall find
their powers of destruction but a small item! Of the moth itself we
would have nothing to fear were it not for her progeny, that consist of
a hundred or a thousand vile worms, whose food is principally wax or
comb.

As the instinct of the flesh-fly directs her to a putrid carcass to
deposit her eggs, that her offspring may have their proper food, so the
moth seeks the hive containing combs, and where its natural food is at
hand to furnish a supply. During the day a rusty brown miller, with its
wings wrapped close around the body, may be often seen lying perfectly
motionless on the side of the hive on one corner, or the under edge of
the top, where it projects over--they are more frequent at the corners
than anywhere else, one-third of their length projecting beyond it;
appearing much like a sliver on the edge of a board that is somewhat
weather-beaten. Their color so closely resembles old wood, that I have
no doubt their enemies are often deceived, and let them escape with
their lives. As soon as daylight shuts out the view, and no danger of
their movements being discovered by their enemies, they throw off their
inactivity, and commence searching for a place to deposit their eggs,
and woe to the stock that has not bees sufficient to drive them from
the comb. Although their larvae has a skin that the bee cannot pierce
with its sting, in most cases, it is not so with the moth, and of this
fact they seem to be aware, for whenever a bee approaches they dart
away with speed ten times greater than that of any bee, disposed to
follow! They enter the hive and dodge out in a moment, having either
encountered a bee, or fear they may do so. Now it needs no argument to
prove that when all our stocks are well protected, that it must be a
poor chance to deposit eggs, on the combs of such hives, where their
instinct has taught them is the proper place. But they _must_ leave
them somewhere. When driven from all the combs within, the next best
place is the cracks and flaws about the hive, that are lined with
propolis; and the dust and chips that fall on the floor-board of a
young swarm not full will be used. This last material is mostly wax,
and answers very well instead of comb. The eggs will here hatch and the
worms sometimes ascend to the combs; hence the necessity of keeping the
bottom brushed off clean. It will prevent those that are on the bottom
from going up; also the bees from taking up any eggs, if this should
happen to be the method. I can conceive of no other way by which they
get among the combs of a populous stock; where they are often detected,
having been deposited by some means. A worm lodged in the comb, makes
his way to the centre, and then eats a passage as he proceeds, lining
it with a shroud of silk, gradually enlarging it, as he increases in
size. (When combs are filled with honey, they work on the surface,
eating only the sealing.) In very weak families this silken passageway
is left untouched,--but removed by all the stronger ones. I have found
it asserted that "the worms would be all immediately destroyed by the
bees, were it not for a kind of dread in touching them until compelled
to by necessity." As the facts which led to this conclusion are not
given, and I can find none confirming it, perhaps I shall be excused if
I have no faith. On the contrary, I find to all appearance an
instinctive antipathy to all such intruders, and are removed
immediately when possessing the power.

When a worm is in a comb filled with brood, its passage being in the
centre, it is not at first discovered. The bees, to get it out, must
bite away half the thickness, removing the brood in one or two rows of
cells, sometimes for several inches. This will account for so many
immature bees found on the bottom board at morning, in the spring; as
well as in stocks and swarms but partially protected after the swarming
season.





Next: Indications Of Their Presence

Previous: Ants A Word In Their Favor



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