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The Beekeeper's Manual.



THE natural history of the common hive-bee (Apis mellifica) is so very remarkable, that it need not excite our surprise that the ancients were but imperfectly acquainted with it. It is evident, however, from the frequent mention made of this insect in the Scriptures, and in heathen authors, that it had attracted the attention of man from the earliest times. The author of the book of Ecclesiasticus describes it as being "little among such as fly, but her fruits the chief of sweet things;" and Virgil, in his fourth Georgic, describes the nature of bees with so much gravity, as not only to ascribe to them the passions, wisdom, and magnanimity of man, but


even affirms that some attributed to them "a divine energy and part of the celestial mind”

"His quidam signis atque hæc exempla secuti,
Esse apibus partem divinæ mentis, &c."

And Aristotle, who also makes mention of several species of the bee genus, speaks in so unsatisfactory a manner, that nothing decisive can be determined regarding them. When speaking of wasps and hornets he says, that they do not possess the "divine energy" that bees do.

Of late years, however, a vast number of interesting facts relating to this industrious insect have been collected and published by some of the most inquisitive and laborious inquirers into nature, wherein its form, propagation, economy, and remarkable instinct have been investigated with much industry; but as the object of the present essay is simply an attempt to furnish a more systematic management of the bee, we think it unnecessary to recapitulate here what have been the results of those investigations, to which men, eminent for their knowledge in natural history, have devoted their attention.

In treating of this subject, it seems to me as if nothing had escaped the penetration of preceding writers; as if they had omitted nothing in their statement of facts in relation to the economy of the species, for the detail of whose history volumes

would be required. The treatise of Huber may almost be considered as the ne plus ultra of its kind.

In the last and present century, when the spirit of universal improvements was extending itself to almost every branch of speculative and practical knowledge connected with the improvement of the external condition of the human race, the attention of the apiarians began to be directed to a more systematic and profitable management of apiaries. Essays, pamphlets of various size and tendency, all having this object in view, successively made their appearance, containing very minute accounts of all the valuable or useless discoveries, all the real or fancied improvements which have been the result of indefatigable researches and ingenious speculations in this very important branch of husbandry. Maraldi, Swammerdam, Schirah, Huber, Cuvier, Thorley, Wildman, Huish, Riem, Delrall, Hattford, Payne, Degelieu, Dr. Bevan, Sir W. Jardine Taylor, Nutt, J. Bagster, John Anderson, Keys, W. Kirby, W. Spence, White, and the Rev. Cotton, have unquestionably thrown much light on the natural history of the bee, and described with great accuracy the artificial and peculiar management of apiaries, as practised by the apiarians of Britain, France, Germany, Greece, America, Egypt, and other parts of Africa, while some of them


have extended their inquiries and observations to all the species of the bee genus.

Nothing indeed appears to remain for me, except what it is now my humble endeavour to accomplish: namely, to give to the public a hitherto unpublished, but highly practical method, which may serve to establish a simple or natural management of the honey-bee as practised in Poland, and to turn the attention of the agriculturists of Great Britain to this most important branch of rural economy; a branch which in these islands, I am sorry to say, is at present in a very improgressive and discouraging state.

All foreign authors seem to agree, that bees live and thrive best in shady places of moderate and uniform temperature; and hence their partiality for forests. But how is it, that in a country like Great Britain, whose well cultivated hills, plains, and valleys are intermingled everywhere with small woodlands, wild heaths, and flowery meadows, and on which white clover, Trifolium; buck wheat; Saintfoin, Hedysarum onobrychis; mustards, wild and white, Sinapis alba et arvensis; coleworts, Brassica; are or may be produced in abundance; whose numerous mansions are surrounded with beautiful shady parks and orchards; whose farms and cottages have their fruit and flower-gardens, in which the plants considered most nutritious for bees may so easily be grown,

such as the following, viz., the common crocus; single blue hepatica; black hellebore, Christmas rose, Helleborus niger; various kinds of thyme, Thymus vulgaris et serpyllum; all sorts of mignonette, Reseda; Salvia nemorosa; snowberry, Chiococca; honeysuckle, Lonicera; lavender, common, Lavandula spica; rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis; ivy flowers, Hedera; and other early flowering and summer plants; whose field-boundaries might be planted, instead of the quickset hedges and stony walls, with all sorts of fruit-trees, as well as sallow or willow; * hazeltree, Corylus avellana; lime-tree, Tilia; and horse-chesnut, Esculus; which would yield a triple advantage; how is it, I repeat, that in such a country, one, too, whose climate is peculiarly

* Salix, a very useful tree, growing everywhere. 1. On hills and dry soil thrive, the black willow (Salix caprea), which is used greatly for gunpowder charcoal: the common white willow (Salix alba), whose bark contains much tannin : the bag-leaved willow (Salix pentandra), whose shoots are used for crates, hampers, and large baskets; and the networkleaved willow Salix reticulata), a dwarf plant. 2. In plantations; the yellow or golden willow (Salix vitellina), and the basket osier (Salix Forbiana excele), for finer sorts of basketwork. 3. On banks of rivers and marshes; the bitter purple willow (Salix purpurea), and the triandrous-flowered willow (Salix triandra), both excellent for basket-work. 4. In moist soils; the rose willow (Salix helix); the shining willow (Salix lucida); and the crack willow (Salix fragilis); also good for basket-work.

The hazel-nut and the filbert merit extensive culture in a large portion, because their returns are very profitable for sale.

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