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Beekeeping For Profit

It is not generally known that beekeeping is quite an industry in

the United States and that this country maintains a lead over all

other lands both as to the quantity and quality of the honey it

produces. This is the case, however, and America is recognized by

other countries as the honey-land par excellence, where beekeepers

turn out honey by the carload and this is so, for California, in

one lone year, produced 800
arloads, and of this 500 were shipped

out of the state. Texas is also a heavy producer and year in and

year out will actually outrank California.

Although produced in such vast quantities it must not be inferred

that quality is neglected; on the contrary we cannot be excelled

when merit is considered. Our apiarists are scientific to a very

high degree and possibly no branch of American farming has been

worked up to so great a pitch of excellence, only dairying and

horsebreeding can be compared with it, but American apiculturists

lead the world, whereas, our horsemen or dairymen do not.

This proud position is owing to the splendid discoveries and

inventions of the Rev. L. L. Langstroth of Oxford, Ohio, who has

been dead for some years, but whose spirit still lives. Previous to

his time beekeeping was only an amusement or pastime, or more

accurately speaking, a hobby.

Now, the industry is founded on a sound scientific basis and bids

fair to grow at a lively rate in the years that are to come. At

present, the amount of money invested in bees and bee appliances is

not less than one hundred million dollars. The annual income from

this source cannot be much less than $20,000,000, and in a good

year all over the country, it would approximate $50,000,000 though

it is very seldom that there is a good season for bees all over

this vast country. Beekeeping is a branch of agriculture and like

other pursuits belonging to that science there are fat years and

lean years. It is not an uncommon event for a beekeeper to clean up

a sum of money for his crop which will more than equal the value of

his bees and all the appliances he uses. Other years may be total

failures, but year in and year out no industry pays larger returns

on the labor and money expended. The wise beekeeper is not deterred

by a bad season but simply bides his chance. He knows that in

course of time the bees will make good all losses and give in

addition a handsome profit to the owner for his kind attention and

thoughtful consideration.

There are still many opportunities for bee-keepers in this country.

This is particularly true of West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky,

where the conditions for beekeeping are almost ideal and where, as

a usual thing, the market for honey is good. All through the South

there are openings for beekeepers and it will be a long time yet

before all openings are filled. Southwest Texas is a sort of

beekeeper's paradise and only a part of it has been occupied as

yet. Arkansas is a particularly good state for bees, but it has

only been partially developed by up-to-date beekeepers. Parts of

Pennsylvania are open to good beekeepers and so are portions of

Michigan, one of the leading states of the Union. Ontario and

Quebec are excellent for bees--none better. Nearly all the western

states are good for bees and some of them rank high as honey

producers. This is true of Colorado and Utah. Idaho, Montana,

Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington and Oregon offer

excellent openings for first-class beekeepers. In the West,

beekeepers, usually select an irrigated region where alfalfa and

sweet clover are common, so that during the long dry summers the

bees are kept busy storing honey of a very high quality.

Successful beekeepers are found in every state, and it would be

hazardous for anyone to say just what state is best for bees. Ohio,

Indiana and Illinois produce large quantities of fine honey, but

this is nearly all consumed within their own borders at fair prices

so that beekeepers do fairly well.

What hinders beekeeping more than any other fault is the neglect of

the beekeepers in not providing adequate shelter for the bees

during cold weather, and also from the heat of summer. In the

Northern and Central states good protection must be provided

against zero weather. Our bees originally came from the tropics,

and for that reason they require ample protection. The ordinary

hives must have an outer case placed around them and then leaves,

straw or sawdust well packed around them. Fixed in this way they

will withstand the rigors of an arctic winter. Lack of adequate

winter protection is the weakest point in American bee culture, and

yet is easily provided. This accounts for the saying of many who

have tried it, "Beekeeping doesn't pay." Perhaps at no time is

protection more necessary than in early spring when the hives are

full of young and tender brood. The hives may also be covered with

layers of thick paper or asbestos board. A small hole will allow

all of the fresh air necessary for bees in a state of sleep. These

points are first mentioned because neglect of them accounts for

most of the failures we often hear of.

No success can be anticipated unless one uses the best hives made

on the Langstroth principle. We have no space here in which to give

a complete account of the hives now made on that plan. The better

way would be for anyone interested to write for a sample of

"Gleanings in Bee Culture" Medina, Ohio, or to American Bee

Journal, Hamilton, Illinois, so as to get in touch with the

publishers, who issue books adapted to the wants of beginners.

These magazines also issue supply catalogues and in other ways are

quite helpful. Splendid books can be purchased at a low price

giving complete information with regard to the bee industry. Many

persons have learned the whole art of beekeeping by a careful study

of a good book on bee culture supplemented of course by


Nothing very important, however, can be learned about bees unless

one possesses a colony of bees in a movable comb hive. In fact it

is useless to attempt to obtain a knowledge of bees without a hive

to work with. I, therefore, earnestly recommend any beginner to

obtain a colony at the earliest opportunity. Very often an ordinary

box hive can be secured for a "song." This will do to begin with.

Next send for two complete standard Langstroth hives, a smoker, a

veil and a bee book; also a swarm-catcher.

If the box hive is of a medium size it will probably east two

swarms in spring about fruit-bloom time or a little later. When the

swarms emerge they may be quickly taken down by means of the

swarm-catcher, if they happen to lodge in a branch of a tree, as

they usually do. If the hives are in readiness it is no great feat

to safely place the swarms in their new homes and all will go well.

The parent colony may be disposed of in a week or ten days (not

later) after the second swarm issues, by drumming the bees out of

the box into the hive which holds the second swarm. This is done by

giving them smoke from the smoker and then battering on the hive

with a stick, which so alarms the inmates that they rush over the

side of the upturned hive into the new one. What is left is simply

a lot of dirty combs fit only for the melting pot. This is

probably, the neatest, cleanest and cheapest method of making a

start in beekeeping. It is well within the ability of most men and

the cost is comparatively small. If the bees are native blacks,

later on they may be changed to Italians simply by purchasing young

pure bred queens for about a dollar each. The old queens are killed

and new ones introduced in a cage till the bees make her

acquaintance, when she is automatically released. In two months'

time very few of the original bees will be found, all having died

from hard work and old age, and their places taken by rich golden

yellow Italian bees. It may be well to add this caution, "Do not

experiment with any other race of bees."