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Some Facts About Line Of Flight

You have all heard the term "bee line" used, and naturally infer

that it means a straight line. This was what I believed it to be in

my earlier days, but from numerous observations I am led to believe

that the terms "bee line" and "straight line" are in some cases

incompatible. If the line of flight is over ground unbroken by

hills and hollows, a bee will fly as straight home after loading up

as anything having wings c
n. But in following a course through a

wooded country, along the side of hills or mountains containing

ridges and deep hollows, the line of flight deviates far from a

straight line.

To illustrate and prove the above assertion, I will here give an

incident in connection with bee hunting that occurred not many

years ago, and which goes to prove that bees do not always fly in a

perfectly straight line. East of my home about one mile there is a

mountain extending north and south. Along the foot of this

mountain, a stream, known as Sideling Hill creek, runs the entire

length of the valley. The mountain extending up from this creek is

made up of ridges and hollows. A friend of mine, one day in July,

found bees watering along the creek and nearly east of my home. The

bees flew south with the creek along the foot of the mountain.

After trying to find them, (consuming two days' time in the

attempt), he came for me to help him out, telling me that he had

looked at every tree near the course for a distance of a mile. It

was a very finely marked Italian bee, and being anxious to find and

hive it, offered to pay me for my time whether we found the bee or

not. I asked him if he had baited them at the water. He said he had

tried but not a bee could be induced to take bait. My time being

limited just then, I told him I would get them to bait for him and

after this he certainly could find it himself. "Oh, yes, that's all

I ask," he replied. Going with him, I used the method described in

an early chapter entitled "Hunting the Bee from Water." In a short

space of time I had lots of them loading up and flying south along

the creek. About a half mile on the course an old clearing ran up

some distance on a ridge, and the course seemed to go about midway

through it. My instructions were to put the bait on this place, as

it was clear of all bushes that might bother him from getting a

direct course, and after giving all necessary instruction I went

home and awaited results. The next evening he told me he had gone

into the old field and, as the bees were a little slow in coming to

the bait, he built a fire and proceeded to burn and got bees in

abundance, still flying on the same course; then moving the bait

much farther on the course to another old field, found that they

continued on the same line of flight; and from this last location

followed them in sight of a house, the owner having thirty stands

of bees, thus convincing him that the bees all had come from this


But I was convinced he had overlooked the bees started with, for

these reasons: This apiary was two miles from where the bees

watered; the same stream flowed near by the apiary--there were many

springs near and water in abundance all along the course. Then the

clearing first mentioned had lots of sumac growing in it; many bees

from the apiary were working on this and other flowers, and by

burning, these bees were enticed to the bait in such numbers that

the few that may have been on bait from the tree were not noticed

by an inexperienced hunter. After telling him of my suspicions, he

was the more anxious that I should go along with him again and see

for myself that there was no wild bee on the course.

I was equally anxious to prove to him that there was. So the

following morning found us in the old field where he had first

placed the bait. Taking my bottle containing bait. I sprinkled some

on a bunch of bushes left there the day previous. This was all that

was required and the bees that had been having a feast at this

location the day before soon found it out and eagerly settled down

for another feast. It seemed that the whole apiary had swarmed out

and come to the bait--hundreds were soon flying towards this

apiary. Here my friend ventured to ask if I was not convinced that

they went to the apiary. I had been watching very close and knew

very well that the majority of the bees did go there, but I had

also seen a few bees fly a short distance on the course and bear

off to the left. I said nothing about this at the time, thinking it

best to be positive before giving a final opinion. There was a deep

hollow running up from the opposite side of the clearing and

getting in a more favorable position I could see many bees bear off

from the main course and go up to the hollow. Now I was ready to

tell him he had been outwitted by the bees.

Calling him to me, I showed him the bees flying up the hollow. We

then moved the bait about one hundred yards farther up and found

that they still went on up. We left the bait and proceeded to look

at the timber. Finally one hundred yards above this last place

there was a large white pine standing on the left side of the

hollow and not over ten feet from the ground they were pouring in,

in a steady stream, pure golden Italians. Was he convinced this was

the bee we had started with from the watering place? No, not at

all. It was too far from the course. I told him we would cut it and

take it home, and if bees still continued to water at the same

location I would give in. The bee was cut next day and taken home

and all watering ceased at that place. This was evidence enough for

him and proved to him, as it must to every one, that under certain

conditions bees will vary very much from a straight line of flight.