Outside the window, bat-like, Sebastian silently watches the entire scene. Not that they'd have any desire to become settlers. Even though the fortunes of all players were shifting, no one was yet showing signs of worry. Some have stated that there is nothing really miraculous about this. Off-planet trade may amount to no more than five percent of its GDP; but when that trade is suddenly cut off, the remainder of the economy resembles a car lacking two pistons. That abomination is the wire queen cell protector. It grows as much in proportion to its size in one day as a calf does in a year.
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The first virgin out will tear down the remaining cells unless the colony decides to put out an after-swarm. In due time the virgin flies out and mates with a drone and in two days she begins to lay. Sometimes either the bees or the new queen kill the old queen. At other times it appears that the old queen is sensitive or proud and thinks she is not properly appreciated and she with a few of her close friends simply up and pull out.
This is called a supersedure swarm. Sometimes this swarm doubles up with another. I have known this to happen and the old queen was accepted and both queens carried on for some time. These old queens are readily accepted by the bees. I have dropped an old queen into a colony of laying workers where she was accepted and in time she reformed the laying workers and later the queen was superseded. The length of the life of a queen depends largely on the number of eggs she lays. In the North where the queen has a long rest period in winter she will live longer than she would here in Florida where she lays the year round.
We find that for best results here in Florida the colony must be requeened every year. In the North if the queen is doing good work the second year she might be allowed to live the third year but as a rule two years is long enough to keep any queen. Any queen not doing good work should be removed regardless of her age. In Indiana we had a queen we named Alice which lived to the ripe old age of eight years and two months and did excellent work in her seventh year.
There can be no doubt about the authenticity of this statement. We sold her to John Chapel of Oakland City, Indiana, and she was the only queen in his yard with wings clipped. This, however is a rare exception. At the time I was experimenting with artificial combs with wooden cells in which the queen laid. In case the bees are left alone and not interfered with by man, probably it is very seldom that this method is ever used. Where man interferes and opens the hive frequently the queen may be killed.
In such a case, provided there are larvae of the proper age, the bees build queen cells over some of the larvae in the worker cells, such larvae originally intended for workers. It has often been observed that many of the queens reared by this method are not the best. It has been stated by a number of beekeepers who should know better including myself that the bees are in such a hurry to rear a queen that they choose larvae too old for best results. Later observation has shown the fallacy of this statement and has convinced me that bees do the very best that can be done under existing circumstances.
The inferior queens caused by using the emergency method is because the bees cannot tear down the tough cells in the old combs lined with cocoons. The result is that the bees fill the worker cells with bee milk floating the larvae out the opening of the cells, then they build a little queen cell pointing downward. The larvae cannot eat the bee milk back in the bottom of the cells with the result that they are not well fed. However, if the colony is strong in bees, are well fed and have new combs, they can rear the best of queens.
And please note-- they will never make such a blunder as choosing larvae too old. In reviewing the past it is interesting to note how many really good beekeepers discarded the grafting method after giving it a trial. A notable example is Dr. His method will produce just as good queens as can be produced. He gave a piece of new comb to the colony containing his breeding queen.
As soon as the eggs hatched he trimmed the comb back to the larvae and gave it to a strong colony made queenless and broodless. The bees could easily tear down the new combs and build queen cells. For the person wishing to rear just a few queens his system is good. It would not do for the commercial queen breeder as too many cells are built together and it is difficult to cut out the cells without injuring them.
Another disadvantage to his system for cell building on a large scale is that the bees do not start as many cells with his method as they do with our system. After all it is little more work to mount the cells on bars as we do and we get equally good cells and more of them. Now please remember the quantity of bee milk the growing larvae receives is just as important as quality for this will be mentioned frequently in the following pages.
It is not clear who first practiced grafting, or transferring larvae from certain cells to other cells. As far back as , Francis Huber, the naturalist wrote: The same day the bees enlarged some of the worm cells and changed them into royal cells giving to them a thick bed of jelly.
We then removed five of the worms placed in these cells and Burnens substituted for them five worker worms which we had witnessed hatching from the eggs forty-eight hours previously. Our bees did not appear to be aware of the exchange. Therefore, the grafting method is more than years old. Since that day many have placed larvae from superior queens into the cells of inferior queens. The greatest impetus to the grafting method was given by G.
Doolittle sometime in the 80's when he devised the method of dipping queen cells. Before that time the queen breeder had to depend on the few cells he could find in his hives. Some took soft wax and molded it around a stick making a crude cell, and these were offered for sale at a penny apiece. Doolittle, in his excellent book Scientific queen-rearing, states it came to him, "Why not dip the cells the same as my mother used to dip candles? The object of Better Queens is to be helpful to all who rear queens and not to criticize those who use the grafting system.
After all, I am criticizing the method I taught in Queen Rearing Simplified , so it is perfectly legitimate to criticize oneself! Many who now are using the grafting system and who want to rear better queens will want the two systems compared. As most beekeepers know, by the grafting method we mean the method in which the larva from a worker cell is transferred to an artificial queen cell.
We used that system for 33 years. Not one of those years did we get the fine large cells which are necessary to produce full developed queens throughout the whole season.
We found that when there was a light honey flow with plenty of pollen coming in, and if we kept the cell builders up to great strength, we could get a very high percentage of good queens. Even at its best we had to cull cells and virgins and frequently to discard laying queens that were not fully developed. Even then a few inferior queens would get by us which we had to replace. This never happens with our present system. We never have thrown away a cell for being too small, for all are alike.
With the present system we have yet to see an undersized virgin. When using the grafting system, when there was no flow, it was well-nigh impossible to get good cells even though we fed sugar by the ton. Not one of those 33 years passed in which I did not long for a system with which I could produce those fine large cells which I had observed in colonies preparing to swarm, a system by which I could produce cells in quantities throughout the entire season.
The wish for better cells was greatly enhanced while we were having a beekeeper's picnic at our place in Vincennes. I was asked to demonstrate queen rearing while using the grafting method and naturally wanted to make as good a showing as possible.
As was our custom, I had built up several colonies to great strength by adding frames of brood and bees from other colonies. One colony of great strength swarmed just as the picnickers arrived. Our State Inspector, Yost, weighed the swarm and reported it weighed exactly 25 pounds 11kg. It looked as though as many more bees remained in the hive so they estimated that colony must contain at least two hundred and fifty thousand bees - many more of course, than could be the product of one queen.
I was proud of the cells the colony produced, and for grafted cells they were fine ones. It so happened that this colony had built some swarming cells in the brood nest below the excluder. It has been stated that "Pride cometh before the fall" and I will say that my pride took an awful rumble when I saw those enormous swarming cells. I realized I did not know the first principle about raising really good cells.
Their cells were nearly twice as long as mine and had at least three times as much dried milk in them as did mine. I realized as never before the shortcomings of the grafting system if quality of queens is desired. However with the inborn stubbornness for which I am noted, I resolved never to quit till I had a system in which I could duplicate the performance of the bees in building cells while swarming.
It took fifteen years of study and experimenting before I got the system perfected with which I can duplicate the work of bees building cells while swarming. At last we have it and we have made very few changes in it for several years, and I doubt if we ever will make any important change.
At present, most queen breeders are using the system I taught in Queen Rearing Simplified. I feel confident most of them will adopt the new system we are teaching in Better Queens, for buyers of queens and package bees are beginning to demand better queens - queens that will not be superseded almost as soon as they begin to lay, thereby losing a crop of honey.
So let me tell you. The grafting system simply will not produce the best of queens. A package shipper who uses queens reared direct from the egg reported to me that he did not have a single complaint about premature supersedure but, on the contrary, had scores of letters praising the performance of the queens and the splendid work the package bees did. Queens must be reared direct from the egg and the finishing colony must be fed honey for best results.
Let us look at a few of the experiments I have carried on, many of which now look foolish. I got the outfit and tried it. The wooden cups were corded up into a supposed comb and the queen was supposed to lay in it, and she did - about a dozen eggs then she went on a slow-down strike, then a sit-down strike, and finally a walk-out. The few cells I did get were very good but still were not flooded with the bee milk as I wished. So once again I sorrowfully returned to the grafting method.
Next I gave the bees only drone comb, as it is known the queen will lay worker eggs in drone cells if there is no worker comb present. The results were not quite so bad, still I could not get the bee milk into those cells in the quantities I knew were necessary to produce the best of queens.
Then I had some wooden cells made smaller in size and square on the outside so they would cord up more like cells in a worker comb. It looked much like a comb of worker cells to me. Evidently it did not look that way to the bees or the queen for, after laying a few eggs, she went A. The cells and the resultant queens were nothing to be proud of. I had not yet learned that quantity of bee milk was just as important as quality, and I just could not get the quantity of the bee milk into those cells.
The reason was that it takes a large number of bees to provide the milk in abundance and it was not practical to use a large number in such experiments. Once more I reverted to type and went back to grafting. Some may ask why I did not use the system used by Henry Alley in which the queen laid in the worker cells.
I had tried his system and failed with it as many others have done. Alley recommended that we use combs in which bees had been reared as they were so much easier to handle, especially in hot weather.
True, the combs are easier for us to handle but not so easy for the bees to handle, and as the bees have to do the work they should be consulted in the matter. Alley's system using old combs. The bees did not accept the cells as readily as I wished and the resultant queens were no better than the ones reared from grafted cells. I learned later that the reason for the failure was that the bees could not tear down the cells and rebuild them into queen cells on account of the cocoons in the cells.
They had to fill the worker cells with bee milk, floating the larvae out to the mouths of the cells much the same as when cells are built under the emergency system. In the year I observed a strong colony in a hive containing only new white combs. They were hybrid bees and I had removed their queen intending to introduce a better queen.
I had to ship out so many queens that I put off requeening this colony. We finally had a queen to introduce and on examining this colony I was astonished to see large well-developed queen cells such as I had seldom seen. Upon further examining this colony I found that they had torn down the comb and a number of worker cells and had built these fine cells over the very small larvae in the cells. Then the thought came to me, why not try the Alley system using all new white combs?
I went to my best breeding queen, removed all brood and placed a new white comb between two combs containing honey and pollen. The queen immediately began laying in it. After 24 hours this comb containing eggs was placed over a strong colony above a queen excluder. As soon as the eggs hatched I cut the comb in strips, mounted the strips on cell bars so when given to the bees the cells would point downward.
Huber then removed the larvae in two cells leaving a larva in one till two bars were prepared. These prepared cells were then given to well-fed bees confined in a starter hive. This was Saturday and I lay awake late in the night wondering if it would work. In fact I lay awake all through church the following Sunday pondering over this question. Would the bees accept the cells? If so, would they build them out sufficiently so the bees that were to finish them would recognize them as queen cells?
Maybe they would tear them down or just finish them as workers. I had intended leaving the cells with the bees in the starter hive for the entire 24 hours but curiosity got the best of me, so right after church I looked at them. When I examined those cells it was by far the most inspiring sight in my beekeeping life. Not only was every cell accepted and well developed but the larvae were fairly flooded with bee milk although they were so small as to be visible to only one having excellent eyes.
They were much too small, even at this age, to be used for grafting. I cornered each member of the family and exclaimed my wife says I yelled "Here is where we discontinue grafting. I realized there was yet much to be learned before I made the system practical so I could produce cells in abundance all through the season. However, I knew this could be done for the main object had been attained. I have tried many plans over a period of ten years or so now I see no chance for improvement.
The difference between a worker and a queen is brought about by the different food each receives and the size of the cell it is raised in. Both are hatched from the same kind of egg, that is, a fertile egg. The drone is hatched from a nonfertile egg. Right here is an interesting phenomenon. Just how can the queen lay fertile eggs in the worker cells and nonfertile eggs in the drone cells?
This she does with great regularity. A queen that has not mated with a drone will lay eggs but they will produce only drones. But to return to the question as to what makes a queen instead of a worker. Scientists who have done considerable work along this line tell us that the food of the worker larva and the queen larva is the same for approximately 48 hours.
This food is bee milk secreted in the glands of the worker bee, such glands being located in the head of the worker. The discovery of these glands is attributed to Meckel, who discovered them in After about 48 hours the food of the worker larva is changed and it is fed honey and pollen.
The queen larva is fed bee milk all through her larva life which is about five and one half days. Many have missed the all-important point and that is the queen larva receives more of it.
And if we wish to produce the best of queens we must bear in mind that the amount of food the queen larva receives is fully as important as the kind of food it receives. Let us see what a miraculous food this bee milk really is.
The queen larva is given this food three and one half days longer than is the worker larva. This three and one half days' diet has made an entirely different bee out of it. Some have stated that there is nothing really miraculous about this.
The queen being fed on more nourishing diet, develops into a fully developed female while the worker larva, being fed on less nourishing diet, is dwarfed in its growth. If this were true it would simplify the matter, but it is exceedingly far from the truth, for the worker bee is developed much more fully in a number of points.
I believe I am the first to assert that the worker bee is as much a perfectly developed female as the queen but is developed along different lines. Let us look into this matter and note a number of features in which the worker is more fully developed than the queen. In the first place the worker has milk glands in its head in order that it may nurse the young larvae and these glands are lacking in the queen.
If you ask most any mother I believe she will tell you that it is as much of a mother's job to nurse the baby as it is to bring it into the world. Yes, sir, when it comes to rearing bee babies the worker bees have the heavy end of it.
It would be just as logical to say that the three and one half days' diet the queen received has dwarfed her so she cannot nurse her own babies.
No, neither worker nor queen is dwarfed, but they are entirely different bees both in physical make-up and temperament. The worker is more fully developed than the queen in a number of features.
The worker has pollen baskets which are lacking in the queen. The worker has barbs on its sting while the queen has none. The sting of the queen is curved while that of the worker is straight.
In all of this one can see the wonderful work of the Creator. Probably the reason for the queen's sting being curved is that when she is full of eggs it would be difficult to bring her battery to bear on her rival if her sting were straight. The worker bee has wax glands and a honey stomach, both lacking in the queen. The head of the worker bee is larger than the head of the queen, according to Snodgrass. There are several other slight differences between the worker and queen, all brought about by a change in diet for three and one half days.
Again the nature of the queen and the worker is entirely different. The queen will never sting a human being, while if you think the workers will not, you come with me. As stated, a queen will never sting anything but a rival queen.
I might qualify that statement by saying a queen never stings anything but a queen, or what she thinks is a queen. I was stung by a queen once but I insist it was a case of mistaken identity, for she thought I was a queen.
I had been requeening some colonies and in removing the old queens I killed them by pinching them between my thumb and finger. I had wiped my thumb and finger on my trouser leg. A virgin queen circled me a few times probably to adjust her bomb sights then made a pin-point landing on the spot where I had wiped my thumb and finger, and planted her sting in my leg. Yes, she thought I was a queen.
While greatly appreciating the compliment, I would much prefer she would show her appreciation in a less militant manner. Now as the queen and worker larva receive the same kind of food for the first two days, the reasoning has been that if larvae two days old are placed in artificial queen cells, perfect queens can be reared. As the attorney would say, "Your honor, I object.
We should note that when bees are preparing to swarm or supersede their queen they fairly flood the young larvae just as soon as the eggs hatch and sometimes they put bee milk into the queen cells before the eggs hatch. This they do in such a lavish manner that after the bee has emerged there remains from a quarter to half an inch 1cm of dried milk. I suppose we now should say "dehydrated milk. If this overabundance of milk were not necessary it would not be put there. Therefore, if one does not have his cells built so there is a great abundance of dried milk left in the cells after the virgins have emerged, he is not rearing the best of queens.
Phillips was head of the bee culture laboratory in Washington, he wrote me that the word "grafting" was an improper term and that they did not graft but transferred. I wrote him it was refreshing to know there was one department in Washington that did not graft! In using the grafting method the larvae are left in the worker cells for two days where they are sparingly fed, for the bees are making workers of them.
If much younger larvae are used they will perish, for they cannot stand such rough treatment. If you will examine the larvae two days old you will see very little bee milk around them. In fact, they are being "rationed. But wait-that is not the half of it. In grafting, you take the larva away from the starvation ration it has been getting and place it into an artificial queen cell, unless you have committed hara-kiri on it in the operation.
Things are already bad enough, but putting it into that artificial queen cell!! We used to prime our cells with bee milk but, after careful examination, believe it was a detriment, for the first thing the bees do is to remove all the milk we had put in.
Grafting in bare cells is better-or rather not so bad. In order to get the cells filled with bee milk the same as they are when built during swarming, I allowed the larvae in the grafted cells to remain for two days till there was plenty of bee milk in them, then removed the larvae and put in young larvae.
I hoped to get fine cells in this manner but the bees seemed to think otherwise. They accepted but a few of the cells and in some cases the larva was pushed over to one side of the cell and the bee milk all removed. In a few cases the bees accepted the cells but placed a little thin milk on top of the milk already in the cells. The few queens reared were no better than the ones reared by grafting in the regular way. This leads me to believe the dried bee milk is not suitable for larva food but rather is the crumbs left over from the feast.
I believe the real food is the very thin milk that is fed to the larva. Then one may ask what is the advantage of having so much dried milk left in the cells. That merely indicates that the growing larva was fed in a lavish manner which is very necessary if quality of queens is desired.
One queen reared as described above performed in a manner I never knew one to perform before or since. She laid drone eggs only but none of them died in the cells as is common with drone layers but all matured into perfect drones and that queen fairly filled that hive with beautiful drones.
Scientists who have made a study of the subject tell us that bee milk is the same in all stages. I am inclined to doubt this. It may be changed in the moisture content only but I have observed that bee milk in the cell of a larva of one age will not be accepted by a larva of another age.
When given, the bees immediately remove it and proceed to give the proper nourishment. Many of our best beekeepers abandoned the grafting method after giving it a trial. I once wrote a paper, which was read at a meeting of the National Beekeepers Association, setting forth the shortcomings of the grafting method, although I was using it as the time.
Miller wrote, "I say Amen to that. Many seem to think there is a marked division between worker and queen. They seem to believe that the bee is either a perfect worker or a perfect queen.
I believe I am the first to point out that bees can be reared in all stages from a worker to a queen and these stages are brought about by the amount of bee milk the growing larva receives.
These different stages are not only brought about by the kind of food the larva receives but, don't forget, by the amount it receives. In our work we have observed bees in many stages as stated above.
Upon a number of cases we have observed a bee like a worker but with a more pointed abdomen with a yellow color like that of a virgin. Such a bee remains in the colony and acts like a worker and in no way interferes with the queen cell that is given or with the virgin when it emerges.
Whether or not such a bee goes to the fields or performs any useful work about the hive I have never been able to determine. Then there is a bee a few steps above that that is the meanest most contemptible and the most censored bee that ever existed. She is similar to the bee just described but a little larger and more like a queen but so small one might not notice her even tho she be in plain sight. She will tear down cells just as fast as you give them. What makes her such a pest is the fact that she occurs so seldom that you are not looking for her but are trying to find a regular virgin.
I do not know where such a bee ever flies out to mate, for when I finally get sight of her she never gets a chance. A bee a few steps above the one described flies out to mate but never gets back. The bee above the last-mentioned flies out and mates, comes back, lays a few eggs and is superseded. All too many of such queens are sent out by breeders using the grafting method.
A queen above the last may remain in the hive and lay sparingly, thereby losing a crop of honey and either dies in winter or is superseded early next spring.
Then there are queens from this on up to the fully-developed queen that keeps the hive packed with worker bees which produce a bumper crop of honey. The first bee mentioned is reared in a worker cell while the next may be reared in a small queen cell that may often be taken for a drone cell.
The mating flight of the queen is a very strenuous affair and it is quite evident that Nature made it that way in order to eliminate the unfit. When a dozen or a thousand drones take after the queen she flies in a zigzag manner so that only the strongest flying drones can overtake her.
Upon one occasion when the queen and a horde of drones were in the air they made such a buzzing that Mrs. Smith asked if that was a swarm. It sounded like one. In mating, quite frequently both the queen and the drone fall to the ground.
After the exhausting chase the queen will be unable to take wing again unless she be possessed with great vigor. While using the grafting method in rearing our queens we took it as a matter of course that a certain percent would be lost in mating. This loss we now know was caused by rearing weak queens.
With our present system of rearing queens direct from the egg a virgin queen in the hive invariably results in a laying queen. In mating, the drone soon dies. It affects him much as it does the worker in losing its sting. The cut shows a worker bee removing the drone organs from the queen.
This is a very rare photograph and was taken purely by accident. The honeymoon of the bee is short for no sooner does the queen become a bride than she is a widow, and no sooner does the drone become a groom than he passes away. There is one advantageous feature in this in that the bride is saved a trip to Reno.
Possibly when the groom realized he is about to become the father of half a million children, and every blasted one of them females, it is more than he can endure.
A queen that has never been to the altar will lay eggs but they will produce drones only. Hence the drone has no father but does have a grandfather on his mother's side. Neither does he have any sons but may have many thousands of grandsons. However, they never get to greet Grandpa for he has been gone months before they were born. When a yellow queen mates with a black drone all her sons will be yellow like herself while her daughters will be partly black.
Now the question arises, are these pure Italian drones and half-breed German bees full brothers and sisters? Can a drone and worker be full brother and sister? The different grades of queens we have mentioned, from the poorest to the best, are brought about by the kind of food the larvae receive and what is of equal importance the amount of such food.
If we wish to produce as good queens as the bees produce during swarming and supersedure, and don't let any one try to make you believe he can do better, we must duplicate the bees' performance as nearly as possible. When building a swarming cell, after it is well started, the queen lays an egg in it. Just as soon as the egg hatches the bees fairly flood the cell with bee milk and they keep up this abundant feeding until the cell is capped over.
From this it can easily be seen that the grafting method is entirely unsuited for rearing queens if quality queens are desired. Four or five pounds 2kg should be kept in the breeding hive. As this large force of bees have no brood to feed except the small patch in the new comb given such larva receive exactly as good feeding as do the larvae in swarming or supersedure cells.
From what has been said it is evident that in order to produce fully developed queens that will keep a large brood-nest packed with bees the larvae must have an abundance of bee milk just as soon as they come from the eggs and must have an abundant and constant feeding without interruption until the cells are sealed. Let us look at the matter of food for the young. The newly born of any specie must have an abundance of food if proper development is obtained.
Mature creatures may go on a fast for a period without injury and in many cases such a fast may be beneficial. Not so with the young. Many people grow old prematurely because they were given artificial food when infants instead of their mother's food. Many babies die because some quack doctor wants to improve on Nature and prescribes some new-fangled food rich in vitamins from A to Z.
I know from sad experience. I believe if the truth were known there are many now behind prison bars who would not be there if they could have had their mother's milk for the first six months of their lives. For lack of proper nourishment their bodies and brains were not properly developed. I have observed the effects of food on the young of animals and fowls for many years and the more I observe these things the more I believe in proper and abundant feeding of the young.
It has been proved that the worst foods for man are white flour and sugar. Therefore, if sugar is unfit for human food, how much more unfit is it for food for bees? Honey is the food God made for bees as bees produce more than they need it is evidently intended that we should have the surplus.
Honey is rich in minerals and valuable enzymes which are totally lacking in sugar. I have proved to my satisfaction that the best and most vigorous queens cannot be reared when sugar is fed to the cell-building colony. Only honey should be fed if you wish to rear those prolific long-lived queens. To prevent robbing when feeding honey a feeder should be placed on the back of the cell-building colony the same as that on the breeder hive. It is well known that improper diet makes one susceptible to disease.
Now is it not reasonable to believe that extensive feeding of sugar to bees makes them more susceptible to American Foul Brood and other bee disease? It is known that American Foul Brood is more prevalent in the north than in the south.
Is it not because more sugar is fed to bees in the north while here in the south the bees can gather nectar most of the year which makes feeding sugar syrup unnecessary? We feed sugar syrup to the bees in the mating hives in order to get them to accept the queen cells but as the virgins are yet in the cells no harm is done.
If the truth could be learned I believe it would be found that as soon as the virgin emerges from the cell it would go to the cells containing honey rather than to those containing sugar. The reason we do not feed honey in order to get cells accepted is that it would cause robbing, especially in the mating hives where the bees are few in numbers.
Even at that we feed only when no nectar is coming in from the fields. Of course if disease is present honey should not be fed unless it is heated to destroy the disease germs.
Heating would destroy the enzymes. Whether or not it would destroy the minerals I have no way of finding out. Let me give an example of the effects of an abundant feeding of the young. We bought a spotted Poland sow at a sale. She gave birth to two pigs only. We named them Theobold and Emogene. As these two pigs received a super-abundance of food they grew at such a rate as to make jack's bean stalk look like a mere sprout in comparison.
Our county agent weighed them when they were six weeks of age and found that Emogene weighed 62 pounds 28kg while Theobold weighed 65 Later Emogene went to the butcher and he told me he never saw such a large hog. He did not have room to hoist it till he cut off its head.
I sold Theobold to a farmer who said he had to butcher him as he was so big he could not be confined in any fence but would put his snout under the bottom wire, raise it up and the staples would come snapping out of the posts for many rods. We had other pigs that had the same care after they were weaned but there were seven in the litter and they did not have the food while they were young as the two mentioned had, so the 7 were just ordinary pigs.
The importance of food for the young applies especially to the queen larva as it grows at such an amazing speed. It grows as much in proportion to its size in one day as a calf does in a year. At this rate if we keep the young larva away from food while grafting for 20 minutes it is the equivalent to keeping a calf away from it's mother a week.
We keep a few registered Guernsey cattle and the calves are allowed to run with their mothers for two months. At the present price of milk each calf consumes a hundred dollars' worth of milk but the resultant animal is well worth a hundred dollars more.
Add to that the pleasure we get in rearing animals we are proud of! From the looks of these two virgins one might get the impression that one was wise and one was foolish similar to those ten mentioned in that yarn Mathew spin in which the ten stopped at a filling-station to get some oil. The five foolish ones were so busy gossiping about that bridegroom they hoped to see that they forgot all about getting oil while the wise ones said, "Fill 'er up.
The difference between these two virgins was simply a matter of diet. The small one suffered from malnutrition during infancy. You may wonder what makes me so small Why my bees got no honey at all. It is sad to relate but the truth I must state 'Twas because I was grafted, that's all. The large virgin has this to say: Why I keep my hive well filled with brood Is because I had plenty of food, Raised direct from the egg, the only right way That's why my results are so good.
Having proved that perfect queens can be produced only by proper feeding of the queen larvae, I carried out an experiment to see how small a queen could be produced using too old a larva and one that had been reared in a worker cell and had been fed as a worker larva.
This experiment astonished me beyond description. The larva used was between three and four days old. A patch of such brood of about four square inches 26 square cm , counting both sides of the comb was given to some queenless bees. Now what did these bees do about this hopeless condition? First they chose two larvae which they attempted to make into queens.
They fed them what food they had in their glands. Next, they removed every single larva in the comb. Why did they remove the larvae?
I wish I knew the answer to that but my guess is they did it for one of three reasons and possibly for all three. First, they wanted to give all their milk to those would-be queens. Second, they wanted to use all the milk in those worker cells. Third, possibly they punctured the larvae and salvaged what milk they contained. In 24 hours they removed one of the queen larvae probably to use what little milk there was in the cell.
They did their best but the cell never hatched. Therefore, when someone tells you that bees make such a mistake as using too large larvae when smaller ones are present, don't believe him.
My observations have taught me that bees do the very best that can be done under existing circumstances. I can imagine someone saying, "all right, all right, you have us convinced, so get to work and tell us how to rear those super queens that will not be prematurely superseded and will produce those bumper crops.
First, I shall take the reader with me through the method we use in rearing queens in a commercial way and then describe methods for the back-lotter who wishes to raise a dozen or maybe fifty in a season. The breeding queen hive is the crux of our system and has been developed after many years of experimenting. The difficulty has been to get the breeding queen to lay consistently in the new comb every day. At first we placed the new comb in which we wished the queen to lay between two frames containing honey and pollen.
Sometimes she would lay in our new comb but all too often she would lay in the old combs and ignore our new comb. Next we made a hive with a compartment which contained the new comb only.
It was only a partial success as the queen seemed not to like being caged in that way and often the queen would be lost, probably from worry or possibly the bees killed her for reasons they alone know.
At last I hit upon our present system in which the queen lays in our new comb every day throughout the entire season and seems to enjoy it. The cut shows the frame partly filled with wood, leaving a small comb five and one-half inches 14cm by nine and one half inches 24cm.
These frames we shall call wood frames. It takes the queen but a short time to keep these combs filled with brood so she can devote her time to laying in our new comb.
The standard size foundation will do very well but we prefer the size used in the Modified Dadant frames as it is deeper. A sheet is cut into four parts and fitted into standard frames. These frames of foundation may be drawn out in either the finishing colonies or in the front part of the breeding queen hive.
When one of these new white combs is placed between the two combs partially filled with wood the queen at once begins to lay in it as the other two combs are filled with brood and the new comb is right between.
This makes an inviting comb for the queen to lay in, which she does at once. A wooden partition separates the compartment containing the three combs from the rest of the hive. A cleat is nailed to the bottom of the hive below the partition. A space of an inch 2. A zinc queen excluder is tacked over this opening. It is best to have the excluder at the bottom for if higher up the bees insist on filling the space with comb which they will not do when the excluder is placed near the bottom.
When using the regular cover, the queen would sometimes get out of her partition due to the fact that wax or propolis would accumulate on top of the partition. To overcome this the partition is extended three-fourths of an inch 19mm above the edge of the hive. We use two covers, one for the back part and one for the front.
Then the regular telescope cover is placed on top. With this arrangement the queen never gets out of her stall. The cut will show how the hive is constructed better than a description. We use a jumbo hive cut down to fit the standard frames. One may use the standard hive but it will be necessary to nail cleats around the bottom to make room under the frames. The entrance is about midway in front of the hive. If cells are started every day the bees in the breeder hive will rapidly decrease in numbers as the only emerging brood they will have is what comes from the combs in the wood frames, therefore, some way must be provided to keep up the strength of the colony.
We open the starter hive in front of the breeder hive when we take the started cells out. Many young bees will take wing so when we remove the starter hive, these young bees will join the bees in the breeder hive.
This is a great help but shortly they will need more bees in which case we shake the bees from not more than one comb from the starter hive. In this way their strength will be kept up.
Sometimes in the past we dumped the bees from the starter hive in front of the breeder hive. This proved unsatisfactory as so many bees were apt to kill the breeder. When they did not the breeder was apt to stop laying for a time. Adding the smaller number of bees has never given us any trouble.
We prefer the perforated zinc to any other excluder. Those wood and wire excluders are an abomination.
I purchased a hundred of them years ago and now all I have to show for them is a bushel of wires and slats of wood. They cost more and are worth less. The wax worms will eat through the wood and the mice will eat holes in them. Some say the bees pass through the wire excluders better.
I put that question up to the bees and I quote, "There is no difference. One is just as bad as the other". This is an important part of the breeder hive. When no nectar is coming in the bees must be fed if we are to get that lavishly fed larvae we have pointed out is so necessary for best results. It is built on the back of the hive. A hole is bored in the back of the hive so the bees can get into the feeder.
Slats are put in as illustrated, then melted wax is poured in to make the feeder waterproof and also to wax the slats tight to the bottom in order that no syrup or honey can get under these slats to sour. A cleat is nailed to the hive just above the feeder to keep out the rain.
When feeding, the cover of the feeder is slid back and the honey or syrup poured in. As there is no bee disease within many miles of our apiary we feed off grades of honey. Honey is better food for the bees than sugar syrup but if disease is present sugar syrup should be fed. However, from years of observation I am confident the nurse bees cannot secrete milk with proper nourishment when sugar syrup is fed. I was surprised when I first put honey in the feeder.
It was during a robbing season and I wanted to test it for I had a theory feeding with it would not cause robbing. It proved better than I expected for by looking at the bees at the entrance you could not tell they were being fed. With any other feeder I ever tried we had to feed at night or the robbers would rob out the colony. What causes robbing is that the bees get daubed with honey and then go out in front to get more air. The bees from the other hives pounce upon them and then proceed to clean up the whole hive.
With our feeder few if any bees get daubed and those that do have to pass through a cluster of bees, then through the queen excluder and then another cluster of bees. By that time they are licked clean and do not have to go out for an airing. In case your breeding queen is in a fairly strong colony, the bees and brood are placed in the front compartment and one frame of brood and the queen is put in the back compartment.
The two frames fitted with wood are placed in the back compartment with the frame of brood between them. Feed is then placed in the feeder. As soon as the queen has eggs and brood in the two outside combs, the frame of brood is removed and a new white comb is placed between the two combs. In case the colony is strong, most of the brood may remain in the front compartment, but later most of this must be removed to make room for the combs containing eggs.
As stated, we should have several drawn combs ahead. When the brood in the front compartment is removed frames with sheets of foundation may be given. As the bees are being fed, they draw the foundation readily. The comb given should be left 24 hours when it will be well filled with eggs.
It is then placed in the front compartment and another frame of new comb is given. This is repeated every day until there are three frames containing eggs in the front compartment. When the fourth comb of eggs is put in the front, the first one given will now contain tiny larvae just out of the egg and as this is practically all the brood that large numbers of bees have, the tiny larvae will be found to be fairly flooded with bee milk.
In giving comb to the breeding queen, it should be trimmed back to the foundation provided the bees have built comb at the edges and bottom of the foundation. The queen prefers to lay in natural built combs rather than those built from foundation. I have used all kinds of foundation and find this to be true. The comb shown was not trimmed back so it can be seen that the queen laid in a sort of horseshoe shape.
The bees do not build cells with such regularity as the cells in foundation, therefore such comb is difficult to cut as many larvae will be destroyed. When the eggs are laid in cells drawn from foundation it is much better if the row of cells is uniform and easily cut in a straight line. Now let us examine the larvae in the cells to see if they are getting lavish feeding, the necessity of which we have so frequently stressed.
The larvae are so small they can hardly be seen with the naked eye. They are flooded with bee milk fully as much as larvae in swarming cells. In these same cells they will remain while the bees go right on feeding them. Let us now prepare to start those larvae on the road to queendom.
The hive in which we start cells we call the starter hive. In the years that have passed since I began rearing queens in I have done a vast amount of experimenting. I used a starter hive when I first tried my hand at queen rearing. Then I would think I had a better way and would abandon it. Later I would come back to it, then leave it again for something I thought better.
With some improvement in it we are now back to it to stay. Many years ago Henry Alley used what he termed "the swarming box". He did not start cells in it but confined bees in it for some hours and at night dumped them into a hive with no brood or queen. He seemed to think it necessary to keep the bees queenless for some time to get them to accept the cells.
Then the prepared cells were given to the bees in a hive containing two frames of honey and pollen. Doolittle said the bees would accept cells better if kept queenless for three days. In my experience I find the bees accept the cells just as readily after an hour or two as they do if left queenless for a longer period. We usually keep them confined in the starter hive from one to two hours which gives them plenty of time to clean up any honey that may have been spilled on them when shaking them into the starter hive.
In later years Eugene Pratt gave the cells direct to the bees confined in a box and he called it "The swarm box". We prefer to call it "The Starter Hive" as it is used for starting cells and has no relation to a swarm.
Our starter hive is made wide enough to hold five standard frames. The total depth is 17 inches 43cm. It has a wooden bottom with cleats at the sides making it suitable for feeding or watering bees. Three frames of honey and pollen are put in but no brood.
In case no nectar is coming in, the bees that are to be used in stocking the starter hive should be fed three days before using them and this feeding should be continued each day until they are shaken into the starter hive.
A matter that I believe most of us have overlooked is the necessity of food and water for the confined bees. All have observed how bees carry water in abundance when rearing brood.
Now this water is even more necessary when rearing queens for the bees require more water when producing the milk in abundance. The best way to provide this is to fill the center comb with diluted honey.
This not only provides the necessary water but the food it contains acts as a flow of nectar. In case some 50 cells are to be started from five to six pounds 2 to 3 kg of bees should be used. In case from 75 to cells are to be started from 8 to 10 pounds 3. If larger number of bees are put in the starter hive should be kept in the shade or some cool place.
The screens on the sides provide an abundance of ventilation. In getting the bees for the starter hive we used to hunt up each queen before shaking the bees. This entailed a lot of work and sometimes when it was cloudy it was well-nigh impossible to find the queens. Again when robbers were troublesome, unless we found the queen quickly, we had to close the hive and go to another. In case we used the bees from three colonies, at the best it took at least half an hour and usually longer.
With our present system the starter hive may be stocked with bees from three or four colonies in five minutes, and this too, rain or shine, robbers or no robbers. The colonies are all in two stories with queen excluders between the two hives.
The queens are confined below and the top story is kept will filled with brood. All that is necessary to do in filling the starter hive is simply to shake in the bees from the top story. The bees will be depleted somewhat, as some are used to keep up the strength of the breeder hive and the finishers, so unsealed brood should be given to these colonies from other colonies.
We use the bees from each colony once in every four days. This is less work than it would be to use a larger number. Let us now consider the larvae in the breeder hive is ready for use.
First some wax should be melted. An electric hot plate or a sterno stove with canned heat may be used. The comb from the breeder hive is now cut into strips one cell wide. With a small paint brush, wax is painted on the cell bar and the strips of cells placed on the waxed bar. Then with the brush wax is painted on the sides of the cell strips. The cells are then cooled in the wooden tank and more wax painted on till both sides of the strip of cells have enough wax to make the cells strong enough so they will not mash down when inserting the spike.
Wax should be cool for painting the cells, nearly ready to solidify. We use a wooden tank four inches 10cm wide inside measurement, and half an inch 1cm longer than the cell bars. A cleat is tacked in one end under which the end of the cell bar is placed.
At the other end of the tank is a nail driven through from the side extending about two inches 5cm into the box. As soon as the cells are waxed the bar is shoved under the wooden cleat at one end of the tank and the other end is placed under the nail at the other end.
Then cold water is poured in the tank till it covers the melted wax. It is well to put ice cubes in the water for we want the cells to be firm so the larvae in the cells can be destroyed without mashing down the comb.
While we prepare the cells as quickly as possible in order that they may be in care of the bees without delay, it has been astonishing to note what gluttons for punishment these well-fed larvae are. Frequently we have more cells than we have use for so instead of using the larvae, we set the comb aside for the larvae to die in order that we may use the comb again.
Often after four days, when we give the comb to the bees in the breeder hive, some of the larvae will be rejuvenated or resuscitated, or whatever you wish to call it. An interesting feature is that although the larvae were away from the bees four days, they had not increased in size a single bit.
This shows that larvae away from bees do not grow, so we should keep them away from the bees as short a time as possible. It will be necessary to destroy some of the larvae in the cells in order to make room for the queen cells. We have tried many methods but find the best way to destroy the larvae is to insert a spike in the cells and punch out the bottoms.
An ice pick may be used if the point is broken off. We usually destroy two cells and leave one which gives plenty of room for the fine large queen cells. Sometimes when we are short of cells we destroy every other one.