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Photograpn by Ralph. W. Curtis


How to Keep Bees

A Handbook for the Use of Beginners

By Anna Botsford Comstock, B. S.

With Illustrations



Copyright, 1905, by

Doubleday, Page & Company

Published April, 1905

All rights reserved, including that of translation also right of translation into the Scandinavian languages


THIS book has been prepared especially to meet the needs of the beginner in bee-keeping. It is not intended to be a complete treatise for the pro- fessional apiarist, but rather a handbook for those who would keep bees for happiness and honey, and incidentally for money. It is hoped, too, that it will serve as an introduction to the more extended manuals already in the field.

When we began bee-keeping we found the wide range of information and varying methods given in the manuals confusing; but a little experience taught us that bee-keeping is a simple and delightful business which can be carried on in a modest way without a great amount of special training. After a beginning has been made, skill in managing the bees is gained naturally and inevitably, and interest is then stimu- lated by the wider outlook which bewilders the novice 1 .

For the sake of simplicity this volume is restricted to knowledge gained in practical experience in a small apiary; and the writer has sought to exclude from it those discussions which, however enlightening to the experienced, are after all but devious digres- sions from the simple and straight path which the feet of the inexperienced must tread to success in the apiary.



PLATE I. Bass wood blossom . . Frontispiece Observation hives . . . Page 2

PLATE II. (a) Two flat section boxes FACING PAGK (6) Corneil smoker .... 14

PLATE III. (a) Dixie bee-brush, spur wire- embedder and Van Deusen wax-tube fastener. (6) A super with fences, (c) The Porter bee-escape in a honey-board 15

PLATE IV. Hives well shaded by a tree . 26

PLATE V. (a) Queen; drone; worker.

(6) Queen cell, (c) Miller's queen in- troducing cage ..... 27

PLATE VI. Head of drone; head of queen; head of worker; ventral surface of worker showing plates of wax . . 30

PLATE VII. Legs and antennae of the honey- bee 31

PLATE VIII. Drone cells in a comb of honey. 50

PLATE IX. Side of hive removed showing the bees at work . . . .51

PLATE X. Bees hanging in a curtain secreting wax ...... 62

PLATE XI. Hiving bees; cutting down a swarm . . 63

PLATE XII. (a) Two self-spacing frames. (6) An empty super, (c) The Doolittle division-board feeder ... .90

PLATE XIII. Examining the brood-frames . 91

PLATE XIV. (a) Alley's queen and drone trap. (6) A well-filled section, (c) One empty section holder, and one filled with section boxes . . .106

PLATE XV. One and a half story hive for comb honey . . . . .107

PLATE XVI. Drone and Queen trap; queen mailing and introducing cage; queen- protector and queen-cage used in queen- rearing, and bee-escape . . .110

PLATE XVII. "In apple-blossom time" . Ill

PLATE XVIII. (a) Taking off upper story of hive containing combs for extracting. (6) Extracting-room showing apparatus for extracting honey . . . 122

PLATE XIX. (a) Uncapping comb before extracting the honey. (6) Placing un- capped comb in one of the pockets of the extractor 123

PLATE XX. (a) Drawing honey from ex- tractor. (6) Pouring extracted honey into keg for shipping in bulk . . 126

PLATE XXI. (a) Extracted honey in pails, candied. (6) Extracted honey in glass jars ready for market . . . .127

PLATE XXII. Winter quarters in chaff-hives . 154

PLATE XXIII. Plum blossoms . . .155 PLATE XXIV. Sumac in blossom. Blossom

of mountain maple . . . .184 PLATE XXV. Fig. 1. Vertical longitudinal section of the body of a larva of an insect. Fig. 2. Section of the body-wall of insect. Fig. 3. Head of a bee and its appendages. Fig. 4. Glands of a honey-bee. Fig. 5. The wax plates . 185 PLATE XXVI. (a) The reproductive organs of the honey-bee. (6) Fig. 1. The internal anatomy of the honey-bee. Fig. 2. The respiratory system of the honey-bee . 192

PLATE XXVII. An old-fashioned apiary . 193 PLATE XXVIII. (a) Thorn-apple blossoms.

(&) Wild crab-apple blossoms . .198 PLATE XXIX. Buckwheat in blossom . .199 PLATE XXX. Box-elder, staminate and pis- tillate flowers . . . . .210 PLATE XXXI. Blossoms of black locust , 211

An ordinary beehive made into an observation-hive by inserting glass panes in sides and putting a glass sheet under the wooden cover. (From V. L. Kellogg.)

An observation-hive holding only two frames, with the two sides wholly of glass, so that any single bee can be continuously watched. (From V. L. Kellogg.)