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A Successful Method

Bee Keeping: Mysteries Of Bee-keeping Explained

When you are all ready, take a stock that can spare a swarm; if bees

are on the outside, raise the hive on wedges, and drive them in with a

little water, and disturb them gently with a stick. Now smoke and

invert it, setting the empty hive over. If the two hives are of one

size, and have been made by a workman, there will be no chance for the

bees to escape, except the holes in the side; these you will stop; (no

about a sheet tied around it.) With a light hammer or stick,

strike the hive a few times lightly, and then let it remain five

minutes. This is very essential, because most of the bees, if allowed

the opportunity, will fill themselves with honey after such


All regular swarms go forth so laden. A supply is necessary when bad

weather follows soon after. It is also used in forming wax, a very

necessary article in a new hive. The amount of honey carried out of a

stock by a good swarm, together with the weight of the bees (which is

not much), will vary from five to eight pounds.

This, allowing time for the bees to fill their sacks, and supplying the

old stock with a royal cell, I believe is entirely original: the

importance of which the reader can judge.


It is very plain that a queen from such finished cell must be ready to

deposit eggs several days sooner than by any other method that we can

adopt. It is also clear that if we have a dozen queens depositing eggs

by the 10th of June, that our bees are increasing faster, on the whole,

than if but half that number are engaged in it for a month later. There

is yet another advantage. The sooner a young queen can take the place

of the old one in maternal duties, the less time will be lost in

breeding, the more bees there will be to defend the combs from the

moth, and the surest guaranty for surplus honey.

When the bees have filled their sacks, proceed to drive them into the

upper hive by striking the lower one rapidly from five to ten minutes.

A loud humming will mark their first movement. When you think half or

two-thirds are out, raise the hive and inspect progress. They are not

at all disposed to sting in this stage of proceeding, even when they

escape outside. If full of honey, they are seldom provoked to

resentment. The only care will be not to crush too many that get

between the edges of the hives. The loud buzzing is no sign of anger.

If your swarm is not large enough, continue to drive till it is. When

done, the new hive should be set on the stand of the old one. A few

minutes will decide whether you have the queen with the swarm, as they

remain quiet: otherwise uneasy, and run about, when it will be

necessary to drive again.

If both hives are one color, set the old one two feet in front; but if

of different colors, a little more. I prefer this position to setting

the old stock on one side, even when there is room; yet it can make but

little difference. Should you set it on one side, let the distance be

less. When the old stock is taken much farther than this rule, all the

bees that have marked the location (and all the old ones will have done

so) will go back to the old stand, and none but young bees that have

never left home will remain. The same will be the case with the new

swarm if moved off. It will not do to depend on the old queen keeping

them, as she does when they swarm out naturally. This has been my

experience. Try it, reader, and be satisfied, by putting either of the

hives fifteen or twenty feet distant.

Before you turn over the old stock, look among the combs as far as

possible for queens' cells; if any contain eggs or larvae, you may

safely risk their rearing a queen; but otherwise wait till next

morning, or at least twenty-four hours, then go to a stock that has

cast a swarm, and obtain a finished royal cell, as before directed, and

introduce it. You will have a queen here as soon as if it had been left

in the original hive, and no risk of an after swarm, because there is

but one. But when there are young queens in the cells at the time of

driving, after swarms may issue. Should a queen-cell be introduced

immediately, it is more liable to be destroyed than after waiting

twenty-four hours; and then is not always safe. After it has had time

to hatch, (which is about eight days after being sealed), cut it out,

and examine it: if the lower end is open, it indicates that a perfect

queen has left it, and all is safe; but if it is mutilated or open at

the side, it is probable that the queen was destroyed before maturity,

in which case, another cell will have to be given them.