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For the American Bee Journal. Comb vs. Extracted Honey.
MR. EDITOR:-I believe that the successful business man of any calling must watch “the signs of the times, change his base of operations as the "times " indicate.
So far, I have produced mostly extracted honey, but as that article has become a drug at ten cents per pound, and combhoney in small glass boxes commands a price still, that is better, considering cost of production, I have determined to remove the greater portion if not all of my apiary northward and turn all my working force (130 colonies) to the production of comb-honey in small boxes.
We have been told by some of the in. structors in apiculture, that extracted honey at ten cents per pound could be produced as profitably as could comb honey at twenty-five or thirty cents. When I see such assertions as this, I know that the one who honestly makes them is ignorant of the principles of the manipulation of small boxes. So are the persons who tell us that we can secure more surplus in large than in small boxes. I can
more surplus comb-honey in small bores than any live man can do in large ones, in such a locality as mine at least. Perhaps better honey locations and different climates might prove differently, but, on the whole, I believe the extractor has kept us in ignorance of the true principles of comb surplus production. A word in regard to
ter set me to reasoning upon the subject in this way:
Of course the adulteration of honey in. creases the supply, but not so much as the proseliting of "everybody" to the bee business; besides if the honey dealers do adulterate, they work up a demand for their production and ours too, and, fur. thermore, their honey is far superior to the nectar that the raw recruit will invariably sling out; besides the latter creates no demand in proportion to the honey he raises. Honey is now being bought by the barrel quite below the cost of sugar syrup; and if the city dealers do adulterate, they do it no doubt to improve the miserable sour nectar that they receive from bee-keepers.
So consummate is their process that it is very difficult for any of us to tell their honey from the "simon pure." I am pretty well persuaded that their honey is pure now-a-days, at least, and, whether it is or no, the less we have to say about it the better it is for us.
If Perrine's honey is in every way equal to ours, and we call it adulterated, we admit that honey is no better than sugar syrup. If, on the other hand, our honey is superior to his, the people will find it out for themselves. Let us not insult the consumer by shouting: “City honey is adulterated,"
"“ We tell you, so you may know it,” “You never would know the difference if we did not tell you.” How many of us have talked as above only to be accused of our melting up sugar for our trouble. Take “Warranted PURE Honey” off your labels, and simply put
HONEY from A. B.'s apiary, Pordunk, Pa.”
When anybody talks of “ artificial honey," laugh at them, and tell them to try it; that you think them capable of judging for themselves. This hits their weak spot. Put on the back of a ten dol. lar greenback, “ warranted genuine," and no inexperienced person would take it without due examination. Without the above they would fold it up and soon want more. This is the way it seems to me. My bees now seem to be quite free of the Winter epidemic, though I have heard of some losses quite severe.
JAMES HEDDON Dowagiac, Mich., Feb. 7th, 1876.
THE DISPOSAL OF HONEY.
As regard to comb-honey in small glass boxes, it sells itself, in large or small quantities, no matter what the quality
I dispose of my extracted honey by retailing it out (at barrel prices) to my neighbors. In this way I produce demand at the same rate I do honey. If all apiarists would do this, the price of honey might be advanced slightly after a few years. I find that a great demand for any kind of well-ripened honey may be worked up in almost any localiiy. My greatest drawhack has been, that the first two years I used the extractor I did not leave the honey in the combs until it was capped oter, and, as a consequence, it would take several years yet to convince all the people that they would get good, sweet, rich honey, instead of nectar. This brings me to the matter of
ADULTERATED HONEY. A short time ago I received a sharp little letter from C. 0. Perrine. Notwith. standing it did not flatter quite a number of us very much, it glittered with sound logic and good sense. Being always open to conviction, and feeling conscious of having a great deal yet to learn, this let
For the American Bee Journal. Six Months among the Bees in Cal.
ED. AM. BEE JOURNAL:-You have had in your JOURNAL from time to time, dur. ing the past year, many rose-colored reports from this county, which are in. clined to mislead your army of readers at the East, who have felt an interest in this land of honey. A few items of other facts may also be of interest to your read.
ers, from one who has had pretty good facilities for learning the ropes,' though I do not profess" to know it all,” yet.
The first thing an apiarist does after his arrival here, is usually to hunt up a "ranch," or location, on which to establish his apiary. This is usually located on government land, after many weeks' search, and may then turn out not to be a good one. The main point is to get within the granite or bee range-a strip of mountainous country 8 or 10 miles wide, extending from Lower California up into Los Angeles county, over 100 miles long.
To select a location here intelligently, one needs to be somewhat of a botanist. or at least to know by sight all the dif. ferent kinds of honey-plants, their order of blooming, and the relative quantities of each required. Of course one cannot find everything just as he would order it; but take as near a perfect pasture as he can find. In the early days of bee-keeping as a business in San Diego county, the ranches were established on the Sweetwater, “ California stream," which runs out east from just south of the town of San Diego, among the moun. tains. It is only within the past two years, or since the great excitement began, that other localities were sought for further north. At this writing, nearly every location, good, bad or indifferent, has been settled on as far as Temecula, 75 miles north of San Diego, to which point all the products of the apiary have to be carried in wagons, and all supplies brought out, making it very expensive to carry on the business. The roads gener. ally are good, but as all the mountain ranges tend from the seashore toward the southeast, it is easily seen that there are some heavy grades. All or nearly all the teams we meet in traveling are four or six-horse-two to draw the wagon, and the balance the load. There are few “old settlers"
except greasers," or Indians and Mexicans. The former are half-civilized, dress like whites, live in adobe huts, and either herd their own flocks of cattle, sheep or horses, or else are herders for the Mexican stock
Since the great rush and settlement in Los Angeles county, which lies next north of this, the larger portion of the sheep men have had to search other and less populated sections for their flocks.
Many thousands of sheep were driven into this county, where they are now overstocked, many herds decreasing in numbers from insufficient food or water. The price, too, this fall for the wool29 cents or 10 cents-has disgusted many with the business.
Cattle and horses will not feed after sheep.
The stock men dislike to see new settlers come in, as the laws here require herding of stock or suits for damages. The“ bee men,” too, dislike to see stock around them, particularly sheep; for although they eat but sparingly of the white sage and other honey-producing plants, they break down the brittle stems, and soon wear out a fine field.
California is famed for its freedom from insect pests injurious to fruit. While that may be true, it nevertheless is quite true that a worm was found in nearly every white sage flower last spring, which will account for the rarity of pure white sage honey in market this year. This worm, with the April frost and extreme dryness of the season, cut off the crop of honey to an average of not over 25 lbs. per hive, and an increase of not over 25 per cent. Indeed, I know of one apiary of 250 stocks which gave but two swarms this whole year, and when 1 was there last-at the end of the busy season—the owners had taken but 99 cases of honey. One other apiary of 150 stands came out equally bad, and both did remarkably well last year. One api. ary of 500 hives did not give a single pound of surplus. I have heard of but half a dozen or less in this whole county who have made enough to pay exyenses, counting the time and attention required as anything. One gentleman had 150 stands, hired an experienced apiarist at $45 per month and board. In return he got seven cases, or 400 lbs. of box-honey, and an increase by dividing of some 10 or twelve stands. There are many long faces among the bee men, and many a poor fellow would like to sell out and quit. I sincerely believe that for a man who understands the business, and whose heart is in the wo bee-keeping here will pay in the long run; still, I think some changes in the prevailing methods of gathering and marketing the products are necessary.
It seems that there has never been any effort made to save the large surplus of honey from the manzinita and blue sage, which bloom in January and April, because they do not produce quite so white a honey as the white sage, and yet many a hive at these times becomes too full of stores for the good of the colony.
At the time (May 20th to July 20th) when the white sage is in bloom, the sumac and grease-wood also yield fully as well. The color of the sumac honey is several shades darker than either of the others, so that it is rare to find sections filled exclusively of either sort.
Possibly the extractor will be reverted to, at least to give it a fair trial to know whether or not it will pay.
Those who are engaged in bee-keeping rarely do anything else, consequently each one has to watch carefully for the
best reward for his labor.
There are few cultivated farms in the county, which are as large as a good-sized State—the habitable portion being about 60 miles east and west, and 100 miles north and south. Take either of the two roads leading up north from San Diego, you may travel twenty miles and not see a cultivated field. It is a constant war. fare tu get and keep things growing. The gophers, ground squirrels (grey and but little smaller than the grey squirrel at the East) and kangaroo rats are omnipresent, eating the seeds or young plants as they appear. Dozens give up in despair of raising even their own vegetables on this account. Some of the land is moist, on which, if properly guarded, nearly everything will grow, and with marvelous rapidity. "Bnt such land is the exception, and wherever found in any considerable quantity, it is pretty sure to be covered by a grant, and consequently not to be settled on.
Very little rain falls from April to November-in fact but one shower has fallen since May 1st, and that wet the parched soil but from two to four inches, and was speedily dissipated under the succeeding days of sunshine.
I have not seen any estimate of the relative proportions of cultivable lands too worthless, but my judgment is that not one acre in fifty is good for any purpose of cultivation. The mountains and in fact almost the entire country is bare of trees. The extreme dryness of the climate producing only bushes of a stunted growth averaging five feet high, over tens of thousands of acres in one body.
The principal bush and at the same time, the most worthless for bees, is the chemise or chemisel—a harsh, rough bush from 4 to 6 feet high, through which it is impossible to go either on foot or horseback. The little forays occasionally made upon it only result in torn clothes, bleeding hands and bad tempers. Of course in such a country, from the great scarcity of timber, wood is high and not of good quality.
Such as is taken to market being either small limbs of an inch in diameter, or short, crooked, intractable sticks, which successfully resist the axe, but bring a good price in money. Of churches, there are several in San Diego-not one, to my knowledge, in the country outside the city, except Catholic, and the service in these is usually carried on in Spanish.
There are a few school-houses, but the people live so far apart that the children cannot attend. It is twelve miles from where I am located to the nearest schoolhouse, or any other public building.
As a consequence, the children must be taught by their parents, or allowed to grow up in ignorance.
The idea seems to prevail that all are
here temporarily—that as soon as enough is made to live on elsewhere to pick up and leave.
Physicians are rare outside the town of San Diego—and when called upon to go out 20 to 50 miles to attend a case, their charges are simply extortionate. I recall one case of a charge of $1,000 for going 50 miles.
It is all very well for people at the East to keep bees, where they are surrounded by the comforts and amenities of lifethey ought to have some drawbacks, for on coming here, one abjures comfort, society-everything.
To place a man alone on a bee-ranch for a year, he is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum—the solitude is terrible. The oppressive silence of these canyons and mountains with no trees through which the light winds can sigh; the nearly en. tire absence of birds of song to gladden the heart; the distance to neighbors, all contribute towards the feelings one might have in solitary confinement.
Coming to California, you give up for. ever all your old associations and enter & new world. The trees, the flowers, the birds, the climate, the soil, the sky—all differ from what one has been accustomed to from childhood.
It is true they call many trees, bushes and birds here by the same names they do at the East, but you fail to recognize them, and soon come to the wise con. clusion to accept everything as strange.
While the farmer has so many diffi. culties in the way of getting crops to grow, all is not plain sailing for the api. arist. The moth miller has twelve months in a year here to work. Skunks and ants abound.
A skunk will get up in front of a hive and tap on the front of it until enough bees come out and get entangled in his hair for a meal, when he will roll over and over until the poor bees are crushed or stunned, and then he will eat them. Poison, or traps, have to be regularly inserted to keep them from despoiling an apiary.
Of ants there are many kinds; from the wee red one of one-sixteenth of an inch in length to those of an inch or
On account of these legions of ants, they have to make stands for their hives to set on, and kecp the legs greased with coal-oil or axle-grease, or nauseous thing to repel them. Houses intended for honey have to be set" on stilts,” which are kept greased to keep out the pests. This is really the plague of the country; and any man who will invent an “Ant Destroyer," sure to kill or drive them away, can come here and make a small fortune selling it.
The water is generally good, though hard, and is usually found at less than 30
For the American Bee Journal. Undesired Experience.
feet in depth. I do not know of any artesian well in the county, but would suppose they would be tried, to avoid the great loss of crops during the long seasons of drouth.
In the town of San Diego, the water is not good, but such as it is, is sold at the rate of three cents a bucketfull.
The Water Company is now trying to remedy this by pumping water from the bed of the river of the same name. Nearly all the water we get from wells is warmer than the outside air, when first drawn, so that you have to let it stand and cool. Ice is out of the question. A little is brought down from somewhere up towards the North Pole, and sold at 5 cents a pound.
Those of us wbo keep horses, usualiy have to buy hay for them or submit to their getting too poor to do any work during the long dry seasons.
Hay in this country is not the hay of the Eastern States. It is wheat, barley, or oat straw, cut while yet green.
This is often hauled 15 to 30 miles, as it is only at rare intervals that any is grown.
The seasons here are two—the wet and the dry. The former extending from December to March, during which time, rain usually falls in sufficient quantities to overfiow the sand in the beds of the streams, and even create a torrent through which, over the treacherous quicksands of the streams it is dangerous to cross. Some of the streams are bridged, and few have steep banks where the roads cross them. At this season of the year, the real summer in California, the countiy gets green and is beautified with flowers.
With the advent of March, the ground dries up, vegetation dies, and by the first of May, the country looks parched and brown. From this time on to December, the same state exists, with nearly the same temperature.
The climate, meantime, is superb. Nothing any of us have ever been accustomed to will equal it. And this one thing, climate, is the great charm of the country. I have not heard it thunder but once in six months, and that was a weak roll. Neither have I felt any strong wind during the same time.
The nights are invariably calm, or with the gentlest of low breezes wafting the deliciously soft air across the sea. The early mornings are often foggy and nearly calm until 9 or 10 A. M., during which time, if it chance to be clear, is the hottest part of the day. Then the sea breeze springs up, gently at first, increasing to a fair breeze by 1 or 2 P. M., and then dies down again-and thus will go the rounds—the same thing day after day, weeek after week, and month after month.
G. F. MERRIAM. San Diego, Cal.
All that may be known of bee-culture we have aspired to know; but we have by no means aspired to obtain all our knowi. edge experimentally. To verify in our own little apiary what we learned from Langstroth or Quinby, or from the experienced brethren who teach in our BEE JOURNAL, might, indeed, be delightful; but only within certain well-defined limits. For there are heights-or rather depths—of experience concerning which we listened, sometimes with sympathetic interest sometimes with shuddering won. der and awe—but with never the slightest desire to tread such slippery paths for ourselves. Afflictions like these, we said, belong to apiarists who count their stocks by fifties and hundreds; not to bee-keepers so small as we-bee-keepers who are able to cultivate an intimate acquaintance with each of their queens, and cherish a particular affection for every colony in their possession.
But alas! one by one, all the trials we thought to escape have come upon us; the elopement of swarms; the death of queens beloved; the loss of quarts of bees (though not, as yet, a whole colony) by disease in winter, with all, the heartsickening alternations of hope and despair attendant thereupon; and, finally, most dreaded calamity of all — foul brood! It is of this last misfortune we write.
Early in the summer of 1874, a pair of wrens with whom we were on friendly and intimate terms, became the prey of our cat, Zebulon. This event concerned us more deeply than the reader may sup. pose. It was not only that we mourned the sad fate of our little tenants and friends, but there was thrown upon us the grave responsibility of caring for a nestfull of orphaned brood. Six little clamor. ous mouths called imperatively, and al. most incessantly, for food. We had watched the old birds closely enough to learn that crickets were at this time their chief dependence. So, morning, noon and night—or, rather, every hour in the day-we went forth in quest of crickets.
We learned to seek them in their lurk. ing places, beneath the dead bark of the old stumps, and — after a time - we learned how to catch them when found. But, with our utmost endeavors, we could not capture crickets so fast as our proteges could dispose of them.
What with our neglected household duties, our neglected work in the apiary, and the constant pitiful pleadings of our little birds for “more crickets," we were fast becoming fit inmates for a lunatic asylum when a bright thought occurred to us—why not feed them on drone larvæ?
The experiment was tried, and suc. ing nothing wrong, we gave the bees the ceeded admirably. Hive after hive was benefit of our doubt, and allowed brood. deprived of all drone larvæ of proper rearing to continue. Repeated examinaage, for our purpose. (Though, beyond tions disclosed only healthy brood, here this point, the history of our wrens has no and elsewhere, during the remainder of relation to my subject, I will briefly fur. the season. nish their story. We succeeded in rais- We concluded, Nellie and I, that dead ing three of the six. As they grew in brood might not, of necessity, imply foul size and strength they grew shy and wild, brood. We congratulated ourselves that and when, at last, we ventured to set them we had dared to disregard the advice of free, to care for themselves, they seemed Mr. Quinby — “should a dozen or two most ungratefully willing to leave us, such " viz., dead larve, “be found, the while we, it must be confessed, were only stock should be condemned at once, and too glad to see them go.)
all the bees driven into an empty hive." While foraging for supplies in behalf (See Mysteries of Bee-keeping, page 219.) of our wrens, and solely in consequence For by thus doing had we not saved nine of this search, we discovered what first beautiful straight worker combs? We awakened our apprehensions with regard were very cautious, however, not to ex. to foul brood. It was only a few cells of change combs from this hive with others dead larvæ in a single comb-which comb -a caution which we remembered to obwe promptly destroyed. This idea of serve at the beginning of the next season foul brood was at once suggested, and -last spring. though we refused to entertain it, we did But for the past season's experiences not delay to carefully examine the brood we shall need another chapter. in each of our seven colonies, while, , f
In response to a call issued some time
ago from the State Board of Agriculture, quently succeeded in discovering the dis. ease before it had made much progress.
a number of gentlemen interested in the A cell of suspicious aspect always at
culture of bees assembled yesterday after. tracted, and always received attention.
noon in the room of the Board, to effect a From my Bee-Record, for the same
permanent organization. The following summer, I quote as follows:
gentlemen were present: Hon. Norman
J. Colman, Hon. John Monteith, E. A. Aug. 12.-Noticed, to-day, in a comb at
Riehl, of Alton; J. T. Colman, L. C. No. 7, a cell with a somewhat discolored
Waite, Esq., T. W. Guy, of Kimmswick, and depressed cap. Removing it, found,
W. G. Smith, Prof. Riley, Hon. Josiah to my dismay, a dead larvæ in quite an
Tilden, of Jasper county, and Mr. J. R. advanced stage of decomposition. Pro- Cordell. ceeding to uncap other cells, found,
Upon motion of Col. Colman, Mr. E. A. scattered among healthy brood, thirty or Riehl, of Alton, Ill., was elected chair. forty dead drone larve. In the worst man, and Hon. John Monteith, secretary. cases they were of a lead color, soft, and Col. Colman stated that he had been slightly offensive to the smell—the odor
spoken to by several gentlemen, not pres. being sour rather than putrid. Noticed
ent, with reference to calling this meetno perforations in the caps. They were
ing. Had seconded their efforts. Bee. usually slightly depressed. On another
keeping is a very important industry and comb, found two dead worker larvæ.
ought to be fostered as much as any other Could find nothing more, but as the hive
industry of the nation. Here in the contains a large amount of brood, and is
heart of the Mississippi Valley an organ. overflowing with bees, examination was
ization of bee-culturists ought to exist. unsatisfactory. I carefully cut out the
In other parts of the country such ortwo dead larve from one comb, and de
ganizations have long existed. Iu the stroyed the comb containing thirty or West old fogy ideas still prevailed, and more. Removed the queen and con- people seemed to think that the best hive tracted the hive entrance. Fortunately, in the world was still the beegum or bolthere is little or no robbing these days. ** low log. The speaker thought a perma
now seriously alarmed, - nent organization should be effected. though by no means ready to conclude Mr. Waite said that a State Bee Keepthat this was foul brood. We attached ers' Association had already been organ. great weight to the fact that we had found ized, but for the past three or four years no perforations in the caps. A second ex- nothing had been done. There were peramination was made at the time the haps twenty-five or thirty members. This young queen began to lay—the combs association had been in the habit of being then nearly empty of brood. Find. meeting in this city during Fair week.