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As far back as the dawn of history the honey bee was regarded as a benefactor to man, and it is not surprising, therefore, that on the ancient monuments of Egypt, in the classic writings of Rome and Greece, we find many references to the bee, which, with the exception of the silkworm, has the distinction of being the only insect kept by man in a semi-domestic state for his benefit. The interest of our forefathers in these busy little people was due to the fact that honey was practically the only sweet which they could readily obtain.

The bees were hunted in their native habitat in the cleft of the rocks, in the heart of the trees of the forest, and such other places where they were accustomed to build their combs. In securing their golden stores the hunters were compelled to smoke and destroy the bees, thus creating in them a fear of smoke that has been inbred for centuries. So deeply ingrained is this fear that the modern beekeeper has but to puff a little smoke into the entrances of their hives to render them tractable and permit of their easy handling, and that without any serious interference with their multiform labors.

We do not have to search the records of the past to find evidences of the brutal and needless destruction of bees to secure their honey; for it is still the custom of a large number of ignorant beekeepers to brimstone their faithful little workers, when the adoption of modern hives and methods, neither expensive nor intricate, would render it unnecessary.

During the last few centuries there have been naturalists of note who have given much time to the study of the habits of the honey bee, and the literature of the world has been greatly enriched by the observations of Jan Swammerdam, born at Amsterdam in 1637; Huber, the blind Swiss, who was ably assisted by a devoted wife and faithful manservant; as well as a host of others equally well known. No less great a personage than Pliny has recorded his observations of the honey bee, and Shakespeare also frequently mentions it. Of modern writers, Dzierzon in Germany, Cheshire and Cowan in England, Langstroth, Quinby, and Root in America, have added to the rich store of knowledge we have on Apis mellifera.

The Belgian Maeterlinck is not to be taken seriously in his interesting little book, " The Life of the Bee"; for however attractive it may be from a literary standpoint, it teaches the rankest heresy concerning the habits of these wonderful little people, and shows but a superficial knowledge of them.

The late Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, known as the Father of American Bee-keeping, was the inventor of the hive which bears his name, and its almost universal adoption in this country has wrought a revolution in bee keeping both from the commercial standpoint and in the ease with which the life work of the bees may be studied.

It is the purpose of this volume to give the reader an insight into the life history of the bee family, and point out the various methods by which they may be made of increased interest and profit.


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