site logo

Their Progress Described

Bee Keeping: Mysteries Of Bee-keeping Explained

In a few days, I could see at first a little white dust, like flour, on

the side of the combs, and on the bottom of the jar. As the worms grew

larger, this dust was coarser. By looking closely at the combs, a small

white thread-like line was first perceptible, enlarging as the worm


When combs are filled with honey, they go only on the surface, eating

nothing but the sealing of the cells; seldo
penetrating to the centre,

without an empty cell to give the chance. Disgusting as they seem to

be, they dislike being daubed with honey. _Wax, and not honey, is their


The reader would like to know how these worms came in the jars, when,

to all appearance, it _was a physical impossibility_. I would like to

tell positively, but cannot. But I will guess, if you will allow it. I

will first premise, that I do not suppose they are generated

spontaneously! Their being found there, then, would indicate some agent

or means not readily perceived.


The hypothesis that I offer is original and new, and therefore open for

criticism; if there is a better way to account for the mystery, I would

be glad to know it.

From the first of June till late in the fall, the moth may be found

around our hives, active at night, but still in the day. The only

object probably is to find a suitable place to deposit its eggs, that

the young may have food; if no proper and convenient place is found,

why, I suppose it will take up with such as it _can_ find; their eggs

_must_ be deposited somewhere, it may be in the cracks in the hive, in

the dust at the bottom, or outside, as near the entrance as they dare

approach. The bees running over them may get one or more of these eggs

attached to their feet or bodies, and carry it among the combs, where

it may be left to hatch. It is not at all probable that the moth ever

passed through the hive among the bees, to deposit her eggs in the jars

before mentioned. Had these jars been left on the hive, not a worm

would have ever defaced a comb; because, when the bees are numerous,

each worm as soon as it commences its work of destruction will be

removed, that is, when it works on the surface, as in the boxes of

honey--in breeding combs, they get in the centre and are more difficult

to remove. By taking off these jars and removing the bees, it gave all

the eggs that happened to be there a fair chance. Many writers finding

the combs undisturbed when left on the hive till cold weather,

recommend that as the only safe way, preferring to have the combs a

little darker, than the risk of being destroyed by the worms. But I

object to dark combs, and leaving the boxes will effectually prevent

empty ones taking their places, which are necessary to get all the

profits. I will offer a few more remarks in favor of my theory, and

then give my remedy for the worms. I have found in all hives where the

bees have been removed in warm weather, say between the middle of June

and September, (and it has been a great many,) moth eggs enough among

the combs to destroy them in a very short time, unless kept in a very

cool place; this result has been uniform. Any person doubting this, may

remove the bees from a hive that is full of combs in July or August;

and close it to prevent the _possibility_ of a moth entering, set it

away in a temperature ranging from sixty to ninety, and if there are

not worms enough to satisfy him that this is correct, he will have

better success than I ever did. Yet, no such result will follow, when

the bees are left among the combs, unless the swarm be very small; then

the injury done will be in proportion. A strong stock may have as many

moth eggs among the combs as a weak one, yet one will be scarcely

injured, while the other may be nearly or quite destroyed.

Now, if this theory be correct, and the bees do actually carry these

eggs among the combs, is there not a great deal of lost labor in trying

to construct a moth-proof hive? The moth, or rather the worms, are ever

present to devour the combs, whenever the bees have left them in this