This article and the advice that follows comes from G. M. Doolittle, which was printed in the January 1877 edition of the American Bee Journal.
To be successful, the apiarist must have a simple, movable; frame hive of some kind; and for box honey, the brood chamber should not contain over 1550 cubic inches inside the frames. All know that bees gather honey, and that the eggs laid by the queen produce bees, consequently the more eggs the queen lays, the more bees we get; and the more bees we have, the more honey they gather.
In fact, the queen is the producer of the honey. Therefore, if we wish good returns from our bees, we must see to it that we have good prolific queens and that they fill the combs with brood before the honey season commences, so that when the honey harvest comes, the bees will be obliged to place the honey in the boxes, as there will be nowhere else for them to store it.
But how shall we secure combs full of brood, and plenty of bees to carry on the labors of the hive by the time our honey harvest begins?
As soon as spring opens, our bees should all be examined by lifting the frames of each hive, and if the stocks are weak, the bees are shut to one side of the hive by means of a division board, so as to keep up the necessary heat for brood-rearing, on as many combs as they can cover.
As soon as the queen has filled these combs with eggs, we spread them apart, inserting an empty comb between those occupied with brood, and in a few days’ time the queen will till this one also; and so we keep on until every available cell is occupied with brood.
Thus it will be seen that instead of the queen laying her eggs on the outside of the cluster, she lays them in the center of the brood-nest, where they should be. After the hive is full of brood and bees, it does not make so much difference, as the weather is warm, and bees are plenty, so that the queen can deposit her eggs anywhere in the hive.
As soon as the strongest stocks are full, take a frame of brood just gnawing out and place it in the weaker ones, giving the strong one an empty comb for tint queen to fill again, and so keep on until all are lull.
When this is accomplished, put on boxes; and, as we said at the commencement, if any honey is gathered it must be put in the boxes. Each box should have a small piece of comb attached to the top as a “starter”, to get the bees to work more readily in the boxes; the center tier of boxes, if possible, should be full of comb, left over from the previous year.
As soon as the first few boxes are filled, they should be taken off, before being colored by the bees passing over them, and empty ones put in their places, thereby causing the bees to work with renewed vigor to fill up the vacant space left where the full ones were taken out. And thus we keep taking out full ones, and putting empty ones in their places as long as the honey season lasts.
This, in short, is the way we work our bees to secure the yields of honey.
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