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.)

Principle Of Swarming Not Understood Profit The Object facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail