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Bee-hives and their Construction.


At the request of correspondents I have omitted the continuation of the articles on the working bee for the purpose of giving a short account of artificial homes for bees and the details for the construction of the most important bee-hives, or rather those that are most sought after or are more popular with a large majority of the most practical bee-keepers of this Colony.

"Make your cage before you get your bird” is a proverb very applicable to amateur bee-keepers.* I have always advocated that spare hives should be on hand and in position to receive any stray swarm that may chance put in an appearance. No matter how small it may be, it is always more or less valuable if only to strengthen a weak colony. The object of this paper will be to give instruction as far as can be on paper, not to professional bee-keepers, but to beginners and would-be bee-keepers of the “back blocks” and other remote places where carriage and other concomitant troubles are always more or less standing in the way of newly fledged and enthusastic amateur apiarists.

Artificial homes and habitations for bees, like those of man, have had their periods and architectural developments and changes from the first primitive type to the more or less perfect movable bar-frame hives of almost universal adoption. Like man, too, bees were once “ cave dwellers," and indeed wild bees still are. Whilst man led a nomadic life he was content with the “wild honey” that was found “dripping from the rocks." In those early times there was no occasion to construct artificial homes for the domestication of the bee till man himself be. came a settler on the soil. The development of an artificial home for bees has been very slow. Some of the earliest history of civilisation is silent thereon. Nevertheless, artificial homes for bees "are as old as the hills." The artificial beehives used in Egypt at the present day 1-The old-fashioned Straw Hive are sun-dried earthen tubes, about 4 feet long,

or Skip. similar to unglazed drain-pipes. The same style of hive is said to be the one adopted by the Japanese, and also among the bill tribes of Northern India. From these sun-dried clay-pots of the ancients to the old straw hives of our great grandmothers, architectural progress was very slow.

For obtaining the honey from both the clay-pots and the straw hives, "fire and brimstone" were the persuasive arguments used to induce the little busy bee to yield up its laboriously-gathered winter stores to satisfy the cravings


* He was a sound philosopher who first shaped it and gave it utterance, and the proverb of the sweet-tooth of the bee-keepers of bygone days. How long the common straw hives were annually operated upon with fire and brimstone before some humane individual came to the conclusion that something more than a drain-pipe or straw skip was needed to save the valuable lives of the inmates I don't know. Notwithstanding that after the applications of the brimstone argument, when every onlooker smelt a little of the torments of the valuable sufferers, all the sympathy of the bee-keeper ended in, “ What a pity; only this, and nothing more!” until Nutt invented a straw super.

is now as familiar to us as household words.-A.G.


2.-Nutts Straw Super, with glass window to common Straw Hive or Skip.

This invention was improved by Neighbour's, Pettitt's, and Taylor's bell-glass supers. Nutt's super straw skip was superseded by Mr. Pettitt's “ Temple Bee-hive for the humane treatment of the honey-bee." It was got up in a tasteful and substantial manner, and when placed in a neat and ornamental flower-garden had a very picturesque appearance. “Each hive was fui nished with four bell-glasses," he tells us " from which the drones are effectually excluded, and the temperature of the interior can be so regulated by the use of the ventilators and thermometers, as to prevent the necessity of swarming," only this “necessity for swarming" came off all the same.

About 1864, The Times (London) Bee-master, strongly recommended “ Pettitt's hexagonal” as improved by himself by the introduction of six slides for the purpose of communication between the brood chamber over the super. But, later on, he discarded it for the Ayrshire box-bive. Pettitt's " Temple hive" seems to have been one of the first wooden structures for bee-keeping having any pretensions to use and ornament used in England.

In 1816, The Leipzig Illustrated Almanac in a report on agriculture said, “ Bee-culture is no longer regarded as of any importance in rural economy."

In 1848, the Rev. Mr. Dzierzon published his Theory and Practice of Beeculture, wherein he describes his method of removing the combs without the said combs being wholly destroyed. His method was by a movable top-bar to which the bees attached the comb, and also attached it to the sides of the hive from where it had to be removed by the application of the knife. This was the germ from which sprang the movable bar frames.

The Rev. L. L. Langstroth constructed a hive on the plan of the folding hives used by the celebrated Huber, for the purpose of verifying some of his (Huber's) valuable discoveries. The use of the Huber hive convinced Lang. stroth that a hive could be made that should give the bee-keeper a complete control of the combs without enraging the bees. The cutting of the combs from their attachment to the sides and bottom of the hive was the great drawback to Dzierzon's invention, and Dzierzon's movable top-bar speedily gave place to Langstroth movable frame.

Having thus given a short history of the rise and progress of artificial homes for bees, I propose to give a detail description of some of the morable bar-frame bives in general use. The various forms of hives now in use are all more or less modifications of the Langstroth.

Whatever the pattern, model, or size, hive chosen by the bee-keeper who intends to make his own hives, its construction must be simple, and the material most suitable is a soft, porous, light wood. The wood should be well-seasoned, so there may be no twisting or shrinkage with atmospheric changes. Hives should be so made that in the manipulating of them it will not be necessary to injure any of the inmates in the slightest degree.

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The hives in use in this Colony are the Langstroth or Langstroth Simplicity, although occasionally we meet with the Gallup, the Heddon, the Quinby, the Berlepch, the Long Idea, &c., or modifications thereof.

The following description is taken from Cheshire's Bees and Bee-keeping, Vol. II, “ The body-boxes (bb) are each 54 inch deep, by 193 inch, by 13

inch, outside the ends finch, and the sides inch thick. Before nailing together, the inner part of the top and bottom edges is rabbeted down is inch, leaving a rim finch wide only, so that when the boxes come together they touch only at the finch rim, while the inch rabbet in each make together a full bee-space (bs) of finch. This principle of allowing a half bee-space above and below in each horizontal section of the hive, so that the needed

inch and no more is given in any possible combination, is a salient and new feature in the Heddon hire. The bottom board carries a lath inch deep and sinch wide at its upper edge, upon which the hives rest, so that a larger, but not excessive, bee-space is made beneath. An entrance (e) is thus secured, which is regulated by the Langstroth blocks (lblb) Since the body-boxes are made invertible, Mr. Heddon has felt himself compelled to abandon the hanging Langstroth frame, and adopt a modification of the standing form of Quinby with wide ends. This frame he dove-tails together in the manner of section-boxes. The top and bottom bars are inch by 4 inch by 1816 inch, while the end pieces are finch by lf inch by 55 inch, i e. (to preserve the beforementioned bee-space) { inch shallower than the body-bor itself within which the length of the frame has i. irch play. It will be seen that the end pieces of these frames are inch wider than the top and bottom bars; hence the space between any two top bars, or bottom bars, will always be & inch by which the bees pass freely from section to section of the hive body. To prevent these frames falling through the body-box, the inside measure of which is il inch greater than their external length, strips of tin are nailed on to the lower rabbets of the end pieces. These tin strips project inch, and give a resting-place for the frames which stand upon them. As the outside width of the body-box is 13 inches, and the thickness of the sides 1 inch, 114 inches intervene between the latter. Eight of the frames, each 1 inch wide, occupy 11 inches of this, so that the } inch play provides the additional space required on the outside of the outer combs. To divide this equally, a narrow off-set, 1 inch thick, is nailed into the corner on to the side, and against this the outside frame rests. Wooden thumb-screws (88), that have been previously boiled in tallow, are row tapped into the sides, so that their ends work on the edges of the wide sides of the frames, squeezing them together until they hold their position securely when the body-bos is inverted.

The stand (st) needs little explanation. The cleats of the bottom board touch its end picces a trifle before the bottom board itself touches the side pieces, such a bearing causing the weight of the hive to assist the cleats in keeping the bottom board perfectly straight. The honey-board (hb) Mr. Heddon arranges on the “break joint" principle, its slots standing over the interspaces between the frames of the body-bos, with the object of preventing the building of brace-combs as they are termed, i.e., strips and irregular extensions of comb introduced between upper and lower frames or frames and section-boxes, filling the bee-space and attaching together, according to bee notions of security, parts that the bee-keeper desires to remain separate. The frame which holds the honey-board together extends in thickness is inch, both above and below the slots, thus keeping the half bee-space so charac. teristic of the Heddon system. The honey-board, as supplied, has no further addition, but the inventor recommends, and Mr. Jones actually places, queen-excluder zinc between the slots, which have saw-kerfs made in their edges, so that zinc, wider than their interspace, can be run in and kept in position. Zinc expands and contracts greatly by change of temperature, and would be consequently likely to seriously buckle if given in full sheet; but this is entirely prevented by the arrangement described.

The section-racks (sr) are constructed on the general plan of the broodchambers, with which they have the same length but a slightly greater breadth ; their edges, however, abut accurately upon the brood-boxes, which is accomplished by giving to the sides a small outside bevel. Since they are intended to hold frames accommodating 44 inches by 44 inches section-boxes, they are only 55 inches deep, which allows } inch for top and bottom bars of frames, and inch for two half bee-spaces. The sides of the action-racks are inch only (inch less than that of the brood-boxes), giving 1 foot full of internal width to the section-rack, which thus accommodates seven frames, each carrying four of the sections previously named. The thinning of the side necessitates battening, to give the tightening screw (s) sufficient hold, and the rack itself adequate rigidity. The tin rest and rabbet are applied to these racks as to the body-boxes."

These Heddon hives are only suitable for the most experienced bee-keeper. It requires a skilled mechanic to make them, and they are far more difficult in manipulating than the Langstroth. The wooden thumb screws are a serious drawback; notwitbstanding they are first boiled in oil, the sides of the hive in which they work always contract in damp weather, and I find it impossible to move them. I have had one in use now for two seasons, and during damp days or after a shower I find it impossible to open them until the sides are again thoroughly dry.

Every bee-keeper of note finds it to bis advantage to make certain alterations applicable to his wants and the district in which he lives ; but where one of any other name is used in this Colony there are a hundred of the Langstroth's or the Langstroth Simplicity and these terms for all practical purposes are synonymous. The Langstroth hire has stood the test of nearly


4 and 5.- Langstroth Simplicity movable-bar hive. (A) Brood chamber showing arrangement of

frames. (B) Full super over brood chamber. (c) Brood chamber in position. (D) Movable frame fitted with one-pound sections.

half a century. Professor Cook's remarks many years ago are still applicable. He (Professor Cook) said of it, “It left the hands of the great master (Langstroth) in 80 perfect a form that even the details remain unchanged by many of our first bee-keepers.”

Anyone who bas a fair amount of skill-a bush knowledge of the use of tools-can make a Langstroth hire. Winter evenings in the country often hang heavily, therefore those having spare time cannot employ it in more profitable pastime than that of hive-making.

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