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


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.

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