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BEE

mankind in a greater degree than any other creature of the insect world. We are told that some of these ancient scientists passed years of their lives studying the wonders of bee-life, and left accurate records of their observations, which on many points agree with the investigations of later observers. As a forcible illustration of the manner in which a colony of bees was recognized as the embodiment of government by a chief or ruler, in the earliest times of which there is any existing record, it may be mentioned that on the sarcophagus containing the mummified remains of Mykerinos (now in the British Museum and dating back 3633 years B.C.) will be found a hieroglyphic bee, (fig. 8) representing the king of Lower Egypt.

In dealing with the practical side of bee-keeping as now understood, it may be said that, compared with the methods in vogue during the first decade of the 19th century, or even within the memory of men still living at the beginning of the 20th, it is as the modern locomotive to the stagecoach of a previous generation. Almost everything connected with bee-craft has been revolutionized, and apiculture, instead of being classed with such homely rural occupations as that of the country housewife who carries a few eggs weekly to the market-town in her basket, is to-day regarded in many countries as a pursuit of considerable importance. Queen-rearing. Remarkable progress has also been made in the art of queen-rearing, and in improving the common or native bee by judicious crossing with the best foreign races, selected mainly for hardiness, working qualities and the prolific capacity of their queens. American bee-breeders are conspicuous in this respect, extensive apiaries being exclusively devoted to the business of rearing queens by the thousand for sale and export.

On the European continent queen-rearing apiaries are plentiful, but less attention is paid there to hybridizing than to keeping the respective races pure. In England also, some bee-keepers include queen-rearing as part of their business, while one large apiary on the south coast is exclusively devoted to the rearing of queen bees on the latest scientific system, and to breeding by selection from such races as are most suited to the exceptional climatic conditions of the country.

Extensive apiaries have been established on the American continent, some containing from 2000 to 3500 colonies of bees, and in these honey is harvested in hundreds of tons yearly. The magnitude of the bee industry in the United States may be judged from the fact of a single bee-farmer located in California having harvested from 150,000 ℔ of honey in one year from 2000 stocks of bees, and, as an instance of the enormous weight of honey obtainable from good hives in that favoured region, the same farmer secured 60,000 ℔ of comb-honey in one season from his best 300 colonies. This is probably the maximum, and the hives were necessarily located in separate apiaries some few miles apart in order to avoid the evils of overstocking, but all in the midst of thousands of acres of honey-yielding flowers. Results like the above compared with those of the skeppist bee-keeper of former days, who was well pleased with an average of 20 to 25 ℔ per hive, may be regarded as wonderful, but Honey as food. they are matters of fact. The consumption of honey as an article of food has also largely increased of late years; a recent computation shows that from 100 to 125 million ℔ of honey, representing a money value of from eight to ten million dollars, is consumed annually in the United States alone. Many of the larger bee-farmers of the United States of America and Canada harvest from 50,000 to 60,000 ℔ of honey in a single season, and some of them sell the whole crop direct to consumers.

It is a notable fact that in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and indeed all English-speaking countries outside the United Kingdom, honey is far more extensively used than it is there as an article of daily food. The natural result of this is that the trade in honey is conducted, in those countries, on entirely different lines from those followed in the British Isles, where honey production as an occupation has, until quite recent years, been regarded as too insignificant for official notice in any State aid for bee-keeping. form. The value of the bee industry is now recognized, however, by the British government as worthy of state aid, in the promotion of technical instruction connected with agriculture. On the American continent apiculture is officially recognized by the respective states’ governments; and by the federal government at Washington it is taken into account as a section of the Agricultural Department, with fully equipped experimental apiaries and qualified professors engaged therein for educational work. In several Canadian provinces also, the public funds are used in promoting the bee industry in various ways, mainly in combating the bee-disease known as “foul brood.” In New Zealand the government of the colony has displayed the most praiseworthy earnestness and vigour in promoting apiculture. State-aided apiaries have been established under the supervision of a skilled bee-keeper, who travels over the colony giving instruction in practical bee-work at the public schools, and forming classes at various centres where pupils are taught bee-keeping in all its branches.

In Europe similar progress is observable; technical schools, with well-equipped apiaries attached, are supported by the state, and in them the science and practice of modern bee-keeping is taught free by scientists and practical experts. Institutions of this kind have been established in Germany, Russia, Switzerland and elsewhere, all tending in the same direction, viz. the cultivation of the honey-bee as an appreciable source of income to the farmer, the peasant cultivator, and dwellers in districts where bee-forage is abundant and, if unvisited by the bee, lies wasting its sweetness on the desert air. It may be safely said that the value of the bee to the fruit-grower and the market-gardener has been proved beyond dispute; and the technical instruction now afforded by county councils in the rural Value of bees as fertilizers. districts of England has an appreciable effect. In proof thereof, we may quote the case of an extensive grower in the midland counties—sending fruit to the London market in tons—whose crop of gooseberries increased nearly fourfold after establishing a number of stocks of bees in close proximity to the gooseberry bushes. The fruit orchards and raspberry fields of Kent are also known to be greatly benefited by the numerous colonies of bees owned by more than 3000 bee-keepers in the county. The important part played by the bee in the economy of nature as a fertilizer is shown in fig. 9.


1911 Britannica - Bee - fertilizers.png
Fig. 9.—A, Raspberry (Rubus idaeus, order Rosaceae), being fertilized. B, Cross
section.
A, Flower. B, Section through core, or torus (C)
p, p, Petals. and drupels (D).
a, a, Anthers. ud, Unfertilized drupel.
s, Stigma. ws, Withered stigma.
no, Nectary openings.
nc, Nectar cells.
D, Drupels.

(From Cheshire’s Bees and Bee-keeping, Scientific and Practical.)


In the United Kingdom the prevailing conditions, climatic and otherwise, with regard to apiculture—as well as the lack of sufficient natural bee-forage for large apiaries—are such as to preclude the possibility of establishing apiaries on a scale comparable with those located in less confined lands. On the other