Bee-Master of Warrilow | Tickner Edwardes | Nature | Book | English | 2/4

chapter 9 of the be master of war ello bye Tecna Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the bee hunters in that bit of forest said the bee master indicating a long stretch of neighboring woodland with one comprehensive sweep of his thumb there are tons of honey waiting for any man who knows how to find it I had met and stopped the old beekeeper and his men then some what seemed a rather singular undertaking they carried none of the usual implements of their craft but were laden up with the paraphernalia of Woodman rip saws and hatchets and climbing irons and a mysterious box or two the use of which I could not even guess at but the bee master soon made his errand plain tons of honey he went on and we are going to look for some of it there have been wild bees I suppose in the forest country from the beginning of things then see how the land lies there are villagers or round and for ages past swarms have continually got away from the bee gardens and hive themselves in the hollow trunks of the trees then every year these stray colonies have sent out their own swarms again until today the woods are full of bees wild as wolves and often as savage guarding stores that have been accumulating perhaps for years and years he shifted his heavy kids from one shoulder to the other overhead the Sun burned in a cloudless August sky and the willow-herb by the roadside was full of singing bees and the flicker of white butterflies in the hedgerows there were more bees plundering the blackberry blossom or sounding they're vagrant notes in the white con volvulus bowels which hung embroider wreaths at every turn of the way beyond the hedgerow the yellow corn lands float away over Hill and dial under the torrid lights and each scarlet poppy that hid in the rustling gold brown wheat had its winged musician chanting at its portal as I turned and went along with the expedition the bee master gave me more details of the coming enterprise mind you he said this is not good Beeman ship as the moderns under standards it is nothing but be murder of the old-fashioned kind but even if the bees could be easily taken alive we should not want them in the IPA blood counts in bay life as in everything else and these forest bees have been too long under the old natural conditions to be of any use among the domestic strain however the honey is worth the getting and if we can land only one big stock or two it will be a profitable day's work we had left the hot dusty Lane and taken to the field path leading up through a sea of white clover to the woods above this is the after crop said the bee master as he strode on ahead with his jingling burden the second cut of Dutch clover always gives the most honey listen to the bees everywhere it is just like the roar of London heard from the top of sand paws and most of it here is going into the woods more's the pity well well we must try to get some of it back today between the verge of the clover field and the shadowy depths of the forest ran a broad grain wagon way and here we came to a halt in the field we had lately traverse the deep note of the bees had sounded mainly underfoot but now it was all above us as the honey mic has sped to and fro between the sunlit plain of blossom and their hidden storehouses in the wood the upper air was full of their music but straining the sight to its utmost not a bee could be seen and you will never see them said the bee master watching me as he unpacked his kit they fly too fast and too high and if you can't see them go by out here in the broad sunshine how will you track them to their lair through the dim lights under the trees and yet he went on that is the only way to do it it is useless to search the wood for their nests you might travel the whole day through and find nothing the only plan is to follow the laden bees returning to the hive and now watch how we do that in Sussex from one of the boxers he produced a contrivance like a flat tin saucer mounted on top of a pointed stick he stuck this in the ground near the edge of the clover field so that the saucer stood on a level with the highest blossoms now he took a small bottle of honey from his pockets emptied it into the tin receptacle and beckoned me to come near already three or four bees had discovered this on a white advaced and settled on it a minute more and the saucer was black with crowding bees now the bee master took a wide boars cover and softly inverted it over the saucer then plucking his ingenious trap up by the roots he set off towards the forest with his prisoners followed by his men these said hey are our guides to the secret treasure chamber without them we might look for a week and never find it but now it is all plain sailing as you'll see he pulled up on the edge of the wood by this time every Bay in the trap had forsaken the honey and was clambering about in the top of the dome-shaped lid eager for flight they are all full of honey said the bee master and the first thing a fully laden bee thinks of is home and now we will set the first one on the wing he opened a small valve in the trap cover and allowed one of the bees to escape she rose into the air made a short circle then sped away into the gloom of the wood in a moment she was lost to sight but the main direction of her course was clear and we all followed helter-skelter until our leader called another holt now watch this one he said pressing the valve again this time the guide rose high into the dim air and was at once lost to my view but the keen eyes of the old bee man had challenged her there she goes he said pointing down a long shadowy Glade somewhat to his left watch that bit of sunlight away yonder I followed this indication through the dense wood canopy a hundred feet away the Sun had thrust one long golden tentacle and I saw a tiny spark of light flashed through into the gloom beyond we all stampede at afterwards another and another of the guides were set free each one taking us deeper into the heart of the forest until at last the bee master suddenly stopped and held up his hand listen he said under his breath above the rustling of the leaves above the quiet stir of the undergrowth and the crooning of the stock doves a shrill insistent note came over to us on the gentle wind the Beeman led the way silently into the darkest depths of the wood halting listening going swiftly forward in turn at last he stopped at the foot of an old decayed elm stump the shrill note we had heard was much louder now and right overhead following his pointing forefinger I saw a dark cleft in the old trunk about twenty feet above and round this a cloud of Bay's were circling filling the air with their rich deep labor song at the same instant with a note like the twang of a harp string a bee came at me and fastened a red-hot fishhook into my cheek the old beekeeper laughed get this on as soon as you can he said producing a pocketful of B vials and handing me one from the bunch these are wild bees thirty thousand of them maybe and we shall need all our armor today only wait till they find us out but now rub your hands all over with this every man scrambled into his vial and anointed his hands with the oil of wintergreen the one abiding terror of vindictive bees and then the real business of the day commenced the bee master had strapped on his climbing irons now he struck his wife slowly up the tree tapping the wood with the butt-end of a hatchet inch by inch as he went at last he found what he wanted the trunk rang hollow about a dozen feet from the ground immediately he began to cut it away the noise of the hatchet woke all the echoes of the forest the chips came fluttering to the earth the rich murmur overhead changed to an angry buzzing in a moment the bees were on the worker in a vortex of humming fury covering his vile his clothes his hands but he worked on unconcernedly until he had driven a large hole through the crust of the tree and laid bare the glistening honeycomb within now I saw him take from a sling bag at his side handful after handful of some yellow substance and heap it into the cavity he had made then he struck a match lighted the stuff and came sliding swiftly to earth again we all drew off and waited that explained the bee master as he leaned on his Woodman's axe out of breath his cotton waste soaked in creosote and then smothered in powdered brimstone say it is burning famously the fumes will soon fill the hollow of the tree and settle the whole company then we shall cut away enough of the rotten wood above to get all the best of the combs out there are 80 pounds of good honey up there or I am no bee man and then it's back to the clover field for more guide bees and away on a new scent end of chapter 9 you chapter 10 of the be master of Warlow by Ticknor Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the physician in the hive it was a strange procession coming up the red tiled path of the bee garden the bee master led the way in his sunday clothes followed by a gorgeous footman helded and cockaded who carried an armful of wraps and cushions behind him walked two more supporting between them a kind of carrying chair in which sat a florid old gentleman in a scotch played shawl and behind these again strode a silk hat 'red black frock man carefully regulating the progress of the cavalcade through the rain of autumn leaves on the brisk October morning I could see afar off a carriage waiting by the lane side a big old-fashioned family vehicle with cockaded servants a pair of champing grays and the glitter of gold and scarlet on the panel where the sunbeams struck on an elaborate coat of arms the whole procession made for the extracting house and all work stopped at its approach the great centrifugal machine ceased its humming the doors of the packing room were closed shutting off the din of sore and hammer over the stone floor in front of the furnace where a big cauldron of meth Eglin was simmering a carpet was hastily unrolled and a comfortable couch brought out and set close to the cheery blaze and now the strangest part of the proceedings commenced the old gentleman was brought in partially disrobed and transferred to the couch by the fireside he seemed in great trepidation about something he kept his gold eyeglasses turned on the bee master watching him with a sort of terrified wonder as the old bee man produced a mysterious box with a lid of perforated zinc and laid it on the table close by from my corner the whole scene was strongly reminiscent of the ogres kitchen in the fairy tale and the muffled sounds from the packing room might have been the voice of the ogre himself complaining at the lateness of his dinner now at a word from the black-coated man the bee master opened his box a loud angry buzzing up rose and about a dozen bees escaped into the air and flew straight for the window glass the bee master followed them took one carefully by the wings and brought it over to the old gentleman his apprehensions visibly redoubled the doctor seized him in an iron professional grip just here I think close under the shoulder blade now your lordship viciously the infuriated be struck home for eight or ten seconds she worked her wicked will on the patient then turning round and round she at last throughout her sting and darted back to the window but the bee master was ready with another of his living stilettos half a dozen times the operation was repeated on various parts of the suffering patient's body then the old gentleman who by this time had passed from whimpering through the various stages of growing indignation to sheer undisguised profanity was restored to his apparel the procession was reformed and the bee master conducted it to the waiting carriage with the same ceremony as before as we stood looking after the retreating vehicle the old bee man entered into explanations that said he his lord age and he has been a martyr to rheumatism these 10 years back I could have cured him long ago if he had only come to me before as I have done many a poor soul in these parts but he and those like him are the last to hear of the physician in the hive he will begin to get better now as you will see he is to be brought here every fortnight but in a month or two he will not need the chair and before the winter is out he will walk again as well as the best of us we went slowly back through the bee farm the working song of the bees seemed as loud as ever in the keen October sunshine but the steady deep note of summer was gone and the peculiar be voice of autumn shrill anxious almost vindictive rang out on every side of course continued the bay master there is nothing new in this treatment of rheumatism by bee stings it is literally as old as the hills every beekeeper for the last two thousand years has known of it but it is as much as I preventative as a cure that the acid in a bee sting is valuable the rarest thing in the world is to find a beekeeper suffering from rheumatism and if everyone kept bees and got stung occasionally the doctors would soon have one I almond the less to trouble about but he went on there is something much pleasanter and more valuable to humanity ill or well to be got from the hives and that is the honey itself honey is good for old and young if mothers were wise they would never give their children any other sweet food pure ripe honey is sugar with the most difficult and most important part of digestion already accomplished by the bees moreover it is a safe and very gentle laxative and probably before each cone cell is sailed up the bee injects a drop of acid from her sting anyway honey has a distinct aseptic property that is why it is so good for sore throats or chafed skins we had got back to the extracting house where the great cauldron of methacholine was still bubbling over the fire the old beekeeper relieved himself of his stiff Sun decodes donned his white linen overalls and fell to skimming the pots there is another use said he after a ruminants had pause to which honey might be put if only doctors could be induced to seek curative power in ancient homely things as they do with the latest new poisons from Germany that is in the treatment of obesity fat people who were ordered to give up sugar or to use honey instead in my time I have persuaded many a one to try it and the result has always been the same a steady reduction in weight and better health or round then again dyspeptic folk would find most of their troubles vanish if they substituted the already half digested honey where ever ordinary sugar forms part of their diets and did you ever try honey to sweeten tea or coffee of course it must be pure and without any strongly marked flavour but no one would ever return to sugar if once good honey had been tried in this way or in any kind of cookery where sugar is used the bee master ran his fingers through his hair of which he had a magnificent iron gray crop the fingers were undeniably sticky but it was an old habit of his when in thoughtful mood and the action seemed to remind him of something his eyes twinkled merrily now said he you are a writer for the papers and you may therefore want to go into the hair restoring business someday well here is a recipe for you it is nothing but honey and water in equal parts but it is highly recommended by all the ancient writers on Beaman ship have I tried it well no at least not intentionally but in extracting honey it gets into most places the hair not accepted at any rate honey as a hair restorer was one of the most famous nostrums of the Middle Ages and may return to popular favour even now however here is something there can be no question about he went to a cupboard and brought out a jar full of the viscid yellow substance this he said is an imprecation and it is the finest thing I know for sprains and bruises it is made from the wax from old combs dissolved in turpentine and if we got nothing else from the hives beekeeping would yet be justified as a humanitarian calling his virtues maybe in the wax or they may be due to the turpentine but probably they lie in another direction altogether these collect a peculiar resinous matter from pine trees and elsewhere with which they varnished the whole surface of their combs and this may be the real curative element in the stuff now with a glance at the clock the bee master went to the open door and hailed his foreman in from his work about the garden between them they lifted away the heavy cauldron from the fire and tilted its steaming contents into a barrel close at hand the whole building filled at once with a sweet penetrating odor which might well have been the concentrated fragrance of every summer flower on the countryside but of all the good things given us by the wise physician of the hive quoth the old beekeeper enthusiastically there is nothing so good as well brewed metha : this is just as I have made it for 40 years and as my father made it long before that between us we have been brewing mead for more than a century it is almost a lost art now but here in Sussex there are still a few antiquated folk who make it and some even who remember the old methods the ancient cups it used to be quaffed from as an everyday drink for working men wholesome nourishing cheering there is nothing like it in or out of the empire end of chapter 10 chapter 11 of the be master of Warlow by Ticknor Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain winter work on the bee farm the light snow covered the path through the bee farm and whitened the roof of every hive in the red winter Twilight it looked more like a human City than ever with its long double rows of miniature houses stretching away into the dusk on either hand and its broad central thoroughfare where the larger hives crowded shoulder-to-shoulder casting their black shadows over the glimmering snow the bee master led the way towards the extracting house at the end of the garden as full of his work seemingly as ever he had been in the press of summer days there was noise enough going on in the long light at building ahead of us but I missed the droning song of the great extractor itself no we have done with honey work for this year said the old bee man it is all bottled and cased long ago and most of it gone to London but there's work enough still as you'll see the bees get their long rest in the winter but on a big honey farm the humans must work all the year round as we drew into the zone of light from the windows many sounds that from afar had seemed incongruous enough on the silent frost band evening began to explain themselves the whole building was full of busy life a furnace roared under a great cauldron of smoking syrup which the foreman was vigorously stirring in the far corner an oil engine planked and splattered a circular saw was screaming through a bulk of timber slicing it up into thin planks as a man would turn over the leaves of a book planing machines and hammers and hand saws innumerable added their voices to the general chorus and out of the shining steel jaws of an implement that looks half printing-press and half closed ringer there flowed sheet after sheet of some glistening golden material the use of which I could only dimly guess at but I had time only for one swift glance at this mysterious monster the bee master gripped me by the arm and drew me towards the furnace this is bee candy he explained winter food for the hives we make a lot of it and send it all over the country but it's ticklish work when the syrup comes to the galloping point it must boil for one minute no more and no less if we boil it too little it won't set and if too much it goes hard and the bees can't take it he took up his station now watch in hand close to the man who was stirring while two or three others looked anxiously on time sheltered the bee master the great cauldron swung off the stove on its suspending chain near the fire stood a water tank and into this the big vessel of boiling syrup was suddenly doused right up to the brim the stirrer laboring all the time at the seething gray mass more furiously than ever the quicker we can cool it the better it is explained the old beekeeper through the steam he was peering into the cauldron as he spoke watching the syrup changed from dark clear gray to a dirty white like half thawed snow now he gave a sudden signal a strong rod was instantly passed through the handles of the cauldron the vessel was whisked out of its icy bath and born rapidly away following hard upon its heels we saw the bearers halt near some long low trestle tables where hundreds of little wooden boxes were ranged side by side into these the thick sludgy syrup was poured as rapidly as possible until all were filled each box said the bay master as we watch the candy gradually setting snow-white in its wooden frames each box holds about a pound the box is put into the hive upside down on the top of the comb frames just over the cluster of Bay's and the bottom is glazed because then you can see when the candy is exhausted and the time has come to put on another case what is it made of well every maker has his own private formula and mine is a secret like the rest but it is sugar mostly cane sugar beet sugar will not do it is injurious to the bees but candy making he went on as we move slowly through the populous building is by no means the only winter work on a bee farm there are the hives to make for next season all those we shall need for ourselves and hundreds more we sell in the spring either empty or stocked with bees then here is the foundation mill he turned to the contrivance I had noticed on my entry the thin amber sheets of material like crinkled glass was still flowing out between the rollers he took a sheet of it as it fell and held it up to the light a fine hexagonal pattern covered it completely from edge to edge this he said we call super foundation it is pure refined wax rolled into sheets as thin as paper and milled on both sides with the shapes of the cells all combs now are built by the bees on this artificial foundation and there is enough wax here thin as it is to make the entire honeycomb the bees had nothing to it but simply knead it and draw it out into a comb two inches wide and so all the time needed for wax making by the bees is saved just when time is most precious during the short season of the honey flow he took down a sheet from another pile close at hand all that thin foundation he explained his full section honey and will be eaten but this you could not eat this is brood foundation made extra strong to bear the great heat of the lower hive it is put into the brood nest and the cells reared on it are the cradles for the young bees see how dense and brown it is and how thick it is six or seven times as heavy as the other but it is all pure wax though not so refined and is made in the same way serving the same useful time-saving purpose we moved on towards the storerooms out of the clatter of the machinery it was a great day he said reflectively a great day for beekeeping when foundation was invented the bee man who lets his hives work on the old obsolete natural system nowadays makes a hopeless handicap of things yet the saving of time and bee labor is not the only and is hardly the most important outcome of the use of foundation it has done a great deal more of that or it has solved the very weighty problem of how to keep the number of drones in a hive within reasonable limits he opened the door of a small side room from ceiling to floor the walls were covered with deep rags loaded with frames of empty comb already for next season taking down a couple of the frames he brought them out into the light these will explain to you what I mean said he this first one is a natural built comb made without the milled foundation the center and upper part you see is covered on both sides with the small cells of the worker brood but all the rest of the frame is filled with larger cells and in these only drones are bred bees if left to themselves will always rear our great many more drones than are needed and as the drones gather no stores but only consume them in large quantities a super abundance of the male bees in a hive must mean a diminished honey yield but the use of foundation has changed all that now look at this other frame by filling all brood frames with worker foundation as has been done here we compel the bees to make only small cells in which the rearing of drones is almost impossible and so we keep the whole brood space in the hive available for the generation of the working be alone but I asked him are not drones absolutely necessary in a hive the population cannot increase without the male bees good drones are just as important in the bee garden as high-mettled prolific queens he said and drone breeding on a small scale must form part of the work on every modern bee farm any size but my own practice is to confine the drones to two or three hives only these are stationed in different parts of the farm they are always selected stocks of the finest and most vigorous strain and in them I encourage drone breeding in every possible way but the male bees in all honey producing hives are limited to a few hundreds at most coming out into the darkness from the brilliantly lighted building we had gone some way on our homeward road through the crowded bee farm before we marked the change that had come over the sky heavy vaporous clouds were slowly driving up from the west and blotting the stars out one by one all their frosty Sparkle was gone and the night air had no longer the Keen tooth of winter in its the bee master held up his hand listen he said don't you hear anything I strained my ears to their utmost pitch a dog barked forlornly in the distant village some night bird went past overhead with a faint jangling cry but the slumbering beast City around us was as silent and still as death when you have lived among bees for 40 years said the bee master plodding on again you may get ears as long as mine just reckon it out the wind has changed that curl you knows the warm weather is coming but the bees huddled together in the midst of a double-walled hive found it out long ago now there are between three and four hundred hives here that's a very modest computation there must be as many bees crowded together on these few acres of land as there are people in the whole of London and and combined and they are all awake and talking and telling each other that the cold spell is past that is what I can hear now and she'll hear down in the house yonder all night long end of chapter 11 chapter 12 of the be master of Warlow by Ticknor Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the queen bee in romance and reality queens said the bee master of war allo as he filled his pipe with the blackest and strongest tobacco I had ever set eyes on Queens there are hundreds of hives here as you can see and there isn't a queen in any one of them he drew at the pipe until he had coaxed it into full blast and the smoke went drifting idly away through the still April sunshine we were in the very midst of the bee garden sitting side by side on the honey Barrow after a long morning's work among the hives and the old bee man had lapsed into his usual contemplative mood tis a pretty idea he went on this of royalty and a realm of dutiful subjects and all the rest of it in bay life but experience in AP culture as with most things of this world does away with a good many fine and fanciful notions now the mother bee in a hive whatever else she might call her is certainly not a queen in the sense of ruling over the other bees in the colony the truth is she has little or nothing to do with the direction of affairs all the thinking and contriving is done by the worker bees they have the whole management of the hive and simply look upon the queen as a much prized and carefully guarded piece of egg-laying machinery to be made the most of as long as her usefulness lasts but to be thrown over and replaced by another the moment her powers begin to flag no there are no Queens properly so-called be life he continued all that belongs to the good old times when there were nothing but straw escapes and twas well nigh impossible to get at the rights of anything so the beekeeper went on believing that honey was made out of star shine and young bees were bred from the juice of white honeysuckle which was all pretty enough in its way even though it weren't true but nowadays when they make hives with comb frames that can be lifted out and looked at in the broad light of day folk are beginning to understand a power of things about bees that were dark mysteries only a while ago he puffed at his pipe for a little in silence far away over the great province of hives the clock on the extracting house pointed to half-past twelve and true to their usual time the home staying bees the house keepers and nurses and lately hatched young ones were out for their midday exercise the foragers were going to and fro as thickly as ever with their loads of pollen and water for the still cradled larvae within but now round every hive a little cloud of bees Hovind filling the sunshine with the drowsy music of their wings the old bee man took up his theme again presently at the point he had broken it off if said hey you keep a fairly close watch on the progress of any one particular hive from the time the first eggs appear in the combs early in January it is very easy to see how the old false ideas got into general use at first glance a bee colony looks very much like a kingdom and the single large be that all the others play court to and attend so carefully seems very like a queen the when you look a little deeper and begin to understand more appearances are still all in favor of the old view of things the mother bee seems on the face of it a miracle of intelligence and four sights while as far as you know all other creatures in the world bring forth their young of both sexes haphazard this one can lay mile or female eggs apparently at will you watch her going from comb to comb and the egg she drops in the small cells hatch out females and though she puts in the larger ones are always miles or drones more than that she seems always to know the exact condition of the hive and to be able to limit her egg-laying according to its need or otherwise of population for either you see her filling only a few cells each day in a little patch of comb that can be covered with the palm of your hand or she goes to work on a gigantic scale and in 24 hours produces eggs that why more than twice as much as her whole body he got up now and began pacing to and fro as was his custom when much in earnest over his bee talk then he went on to cap all as the honey season draws on to its hides you are forced presently to realize that the queen has conceived and is carrying through a scheme for the good of her subjects that would do credit to the wisest ruler ever born in human purple every day of summer sunshine has brought thousands of young bees to life the hive is getting overcrowded sooner or later one of two things must happen either the increase of population must be checked or a great party must be formed to leave the old home and go out to establish another one then it is that the mother B seems to prove beyond the doubt her wisdom and Queen leanness she decides for the emigration but as a leader must be found for the party and none is at hand she forms the resolve to head it herself from that moment a change comes over the whole hive preparation for the coming event goes on fast and furiously and excitement increases day by day but the Queen seems to forget nothing a new ruler for the old realm must be provided to take her place when she is gone forever and now you see a party of bees set to work on something that fairly beggars curiosity at first it looks exactly like an acorn cup in wax hanging from the under edge of the comb perhaps the next time you look the cup has grown to twice its original size and now you see it is half-full of a glistening white jelly the next time maybe you open the hive the Acorn has been added to the cup the Queen cell is sealed over and finished and the belt a wheat lighter that comes out a full-grown Queen be twice the size of the ordinary worker and quite different in shape and often in color too but days before the new ruler is ready the excitement in the hive has grown to a fever pitch if you come out then in the quiet of the night and put your ear close to the hive you will hear a shrill piping noise which the ancients kepis tell you is the old queen calling her subjects together for the swarm on the morrow and sure enough out she goes with half the population of the hive in her train to look for a new home and dial so the new queen comes out of her cell to take charge of the colony he paused to fill the old briar pipe again lighting it with slow deliberate puffs and I could not help marking how nearly alike in color with the bowl and his rugged sunburnt clever face but now look you said hey suddenly leveling the pipestem like a pistol at me to emphasize his words if the mother be really brought all this about Queen would not be a good enough name for her but the truth is throughout all the wonder workings of the hive the queen is little more than an instrument a kind of automaton merely doing what the workers compel her to do they are the real queens in the hive and the mother bee is the one and only subject did you ever think what a queen bee actually is and how she comes to be there at all the fact is that the workers have made her for their own wise purposes just as I make the comb and the honey to store in it the egg she is hatched from is in no way different from any worker egg if you take one from a queen cell and put it in the ordinary comb it will hatch out a common female worker bee and an egg transferred from worker comb to a queen cell becomes a full-grown queen thousands and thousands of workers are laid in a hive during the season and each of those could be made into a queen if the workers chose but the worker egg is laid into a small cell and the larva is bred on a bare minimum of food at the least possible cost in time trouble and space to the hive while when a new queen is wanted they sell as big as your finger top is built and the larva is staff like a pro is pig through all its five days of active life until with unlimited food and time and room to grow in it comes out at last a perfect mother bee but I asked him how was the population in the hive regulated and how can the apportionment of the sexes be brought about if as you say the Queen does only what she is made to do by the workers and that unthinkingly and mechanically you only increase the difficulty of the problem as for increasing or restricting the number of eggs laid he said that is only a question of food and here you see how the workers control the mother be entirely and through her the whole condition of the hive when she is egg-laying they feed her from their own mouths with special predigested food and the more she gets of this the more eggs are laid but when the season is done and the need for a large population over this rich stimulating diet is kept from her she then must go to the honey cells like the rest or starve and at once her Reglan pars begin to fall off and it is in exactly the same way by their management of the queen that the workers controlled the proportion of the sexes in a hive it is more difficult to explain but here is about the rights of its directly the new hatch queen bee is ready for work she flies out to meet the drones and one impregnation lasts her whole life through but the eggs themselves are not fertilized until the very moment of laying and then only in the case of those laid in worker comb drone eggs are never impregnated at all now in all likelihood as the Queen as being driven over the comb it is the size of the cell that determines whether the egg blade shall be male or female when the Queen thrusts her long pointed body into the narrow worker cell her position is a straight upright one and the egg cannot be laid without passing over the impregnation gland but with the larger drone cell the queen has room to curve herself which is the means I think of the egg escaping without being fertilized and so you see it is only the female bee that has two parents the drone has no father at all end of chapter 12 chapter 13 of the be master of Warlow by Tecna Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the song of the hives from Mullane where it dipped down between its Rose man's wood hedges nothing of the bee garden could be seen the dense barricade of briar and Hawthorne hid all but the like and roof of the ancient dwelling house and strangers going by on their way to the village saw nothing of the crowded hives and marked little else than the usual busy murmur of insect life common to any sunny day in June but when they came out of the green tunnel of hedgerows into the open fields beyond Chance Wayfarers always stopped and looked about them wonderingly at length fixing a puzzle glanced intently on the blue sky itself at this corner and nowhere else seemingly the air was full of a deep reverberant music a steady torrent of rich sounds streamed by overhead and yet to the untutored observer the most diligent scrutiny failed to reveal its origin a few gnats harped in the sunbeams now and again a bumblebee struck a deep chord or two in the wayside herbage underfoot but this clear strong voice from the skies was altogether unexplainable to human sight at least the blue air and sunshine held nothing to account for its and the stranger Unversed in honeybee law after taking his fill of this melodious mystery generally ended by giving up the problem as insoluble and passing on to his business or pleasure in the little green garland that Hamlet under the hill that the bees of a fairly large apiary should produce a considerable volume of sound in their passage to and fro between the hives and the honey pastures is in no way remarkable in the heyday of the year the brief six weeks honey flow of the English summer probably each normal colony of bees would send out an army of foragers at least 20,000 strong what really seems to matter for wonder is the way in which bees appear to concentrate their movements to certain well-defined tracks in the atmosphere they do not distribute themselves broadcast over the intervening space as they might be expected to do but wonderfully keep to certain definite restricted thoroughfares no matter how near or how remote their foraging grounds may be and this particular gap in the chain of hedgerows really marked the great main highway for the bees between the hives and the clover fields silvering the whole wide stretch of Hill and Dale beyond every moment had its winged thousands going and returning at any time if a fine net could have been cast suddenly a few fathoms upwards it would have fallen to earth black and heavy with bees but the singing multitude went by at so fast and furious a pace that to the keener sight not one of the eager crew was visible only the sound of their going was plain to all a might eternal notes abroad in the sunshine a thronging sustained melody that never ceased all through the heat and burthen of the glittering summer's day when shelley heard the yellow bees in the ivy bloom and he of ivan side wrote of singing Mason's building roofs of gold probably neither thought of the humming of the hive be as anything more than an ingredient in general delightful country chorus as distinct from the less inspiring labour note of busy humanity in a town with the single exception perhaps of Wordsworth poets thinking most of their line commonly missed the sutler phases of wildlife such as the continually changing emphasis and capricious variation in birdsong the real sound made by growth or the unceasing movement of things conventionally held to be inert and in the same way the endlessly varied song of the bees has been epitomized by imaginative writers generally into a sound pleasantly Arcadian enough but little more suggestive of life and meaning than the hum of telegraph wires in a breeze yet there are few sounds in nature more bewilderingly complex than this for every season in the year the song of the hives has its own distinct appropriate quality and this again is constantly influenced by the time of day and even by the momentary aspect of the weather a beekeeper of the old school and he is sure to be their character the quaint original of a village manages his hives as much by ear as by sides the general note of each hive reveals to him intuitively its progress and condition he seems to know what to expect on almost any day of the year so that if Rip Van Winkle had been an a purist the nearest bee garden would have been as sure a guide to him in respect of the time of year at least as the sun's declining arc in the heaven is to the tired reapers in respect of the are of day most people and with these must be included even lifelong country dwellers I want to regard the humming of the hive be as a simple monotone produced entirely by the rapid movement of the wings but this conception holds very far short of the actual truth in reality the sound made by a honeybee is threefold it can consist either of a single tone a combination of two notes or even a grand triple chord heard principally in moments of excitement such as when a swarming party is on the wing or in late autumn and early spring when civil war will often break out in an ill managed apiary the actual buzzing sound is produced by the wings the deeper musical tones by the air alternately sucked in and driven out through the spiracles which are breathing tubes ranged along each side of a bee's body while the shrill clarinet like note comes from the true voice apparatus itself in ordinary flight it is the wings and the respiration tubes conjointly which produce the steady volume of sound heard as the honey makers stream over the hedge top towards the distant clover fields and this is the note also that pervades the bee garden through every sunny hour of the Working Day the rich soft murmur coming from the spiracles is probably never heard except when the bee is flying but both the true voice and the whirring wing melody are familiar as separate sounds to every beekeeper who studies his hives when the summer night has shut down warm and still over the red dusk of evening and the last area Laura is safely home from the fields a curious change comes to the bee garden the old analogy between a concourse of hives and the human city is at this season utterly at fault silence and rest after the day's work maybe the portion of the larger community but in the time of the great honey flow there is neither rest nor slumber for the bees a fury of labor possesses them one and all and darkness does not remit but merely transposes the scene of their activity coming out into the garden at this hour for a quiet pipe among the hives an old and favorite habit with most beekeeping veterans the new spirit abroad is at once manifest the soul ki fragrant darkness is silent quiet with the influence of the star shine overhead but the very earth of the footway seems to by bright with the imprisoned energy of the hives this is the time when the low rustling roar of winged music can best be heard and one of the most wonderful phases of bee life studied the problem of the ventilation of human hives is attacked commonly on one main principle unstinted ingress for fresh air and the like abundant means of outward passage for the bad but if the bees are to be credited modern sanitary scientists are trimming altogether on the wrong tack a colony of bees will allow one aperture and one alone in the hive to serve all and every purpose if the enterprising novice in bee Manship gimlets a row of ventilation holes in the back of his hive an idea that occurs to most Tyros in AP culture the bees will infallibly seal them all up again before morning they work on entirely different principles impelled by their our special needs the economy of the hive requires the temperature to be absolutely and immediately within the control of the bees and this is only possible when the ventilatory system is entirely mechanical the evaporation of moisture from the new gathered nectar and the hatching of the young brood necessitate an amount of heat much less than that required for wax generating as soon as the wax makers begin to cluster the temperature of the hive is at once increased but if a current of air were continually passing through the hive these necessary heat variations would be difficult to manage even supposing them possible at all so the bees have invented their unique system of a single passageway combined with an ingenious and complicated process of Fanning by which the fresh air is sucked in at one side of the entrance and the foul air drawn out at the other the atmosphere of the hive being thus maintained in a constant state of circulation fast or slow according to the temperature needed in the hot summer weather these Fanning parties are at work continuously being relieved by others at intervals of a few minutes throughout the day but at night when the whole population of the hive is at home the need for ventilation is greatly augmented and then the open lines of fanners often stretch out over the alighting board six or seven ranks deep making and harmonious uproar that on a still night will travel incredible distances this tense forceful labor song of the bee Garden heard unremittingly throughout the hours of darkness is always pleasant often indescribably soothing in its effect but it is essentially a communal nodes Express if only of the well or ill-being of the hive at large the individuality even personal idiosyncrasy which undoubtably exists among these finds its utterance mainly through the true voice organ you cannot stand for long here in the quiet of the summer night listening to one particular hive without sooner or later becoming aware of other sounds in addition to the general musical hubbub of the Fanning army it is evident that a nervous hoye strong spirit pervades the colony especially during the season of the great honey flow their common agreement on all main issues does not prevent these virgin daughters of toil from engaging in sundry sharp altercations a mutual hustlin z' in the course of their business and at times of threatening weather a tendency towards snappish nurse and a whimsical perversity characteristically feminine seemed to make up the prevailing tone it is during these chants for raise that the true voice of the honeybee apart from the sounds made by winged and spherical can best be differentiated end of chapter 13 14 of the be master of Warlow by Ticknor Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain concerning honey the beekeepers in English villagers today are all familiar to familiar at times with the holiday making stranger at the garden gate inquiring for honey somehow or other the demand for this old natural sweet food appears to have greatly increased of recent years among wandering towns folk in the country a competent be master dealing with a large number of combs will not mingle them indiscriminately but will unknowingly assault them so that he will have perhaps at the end of the season almost as many kinds of honey in store as there are fields on his countryside I speak of course not of the large bee farmer who employing of necessity wholesale methods can aim only at a good all-round commercial sample have no finely distinctive color or flavor but at the connoisseur in Becraft the gourmet among the hives who knows that there are as many varieties in honey as there are in wine and wood as little dream of confusing them honey lovers who have been eating wax all their days will be as hardly dissuaded from the practice as he whose custom it may be to consume the paper in which his butter is wrapped or take a proportion of the blue sugar bag with the lumps in his tea yet the last and no more absurdities than the former except in degree pure beeswax has neither savour nor nutrient properties and passes wholly unassimilated through the human system even the bees themselves cannot feed upon it's when it died extremes the whole hive might die of starvation in the midst of wax and plenty of all creatures mice and the larvae of two species of moth alone will make away with it and even in their case it is doubtful whether the comb be not destroyed for the sake of the odd grains of pollen and the pupae skins it contains broadly speaking unless you can trust a dipped fingertip to reveal to you on the moment the qualities of this village garden honey it is always safer to buy in the comb but the wax should never be eaten the proper way to deal with honeycomb at table is to cut it to the width of the knife blade and laying it upon the plate with the cells vertical press the blade flat upon it when the honey will flow out right and left in this way if Julie carried out the honey is scientifically separated no more than 1% remaining in the slab of wax the bee as a chemist it is not strange because it is so common to find people who have eaten honeycomb regularly or their lives yet are unknowingly ignorant of the first rudimentary fact in its nature and Composition to know that you do not know is an intelligible state the initial true step towards knowledge but to be full of erroneous information and that complacently is to be ignorant indeed of such are the old lady who dwelt in the moorland road and believe that coconuts were monkeys eggs and the man who will tell you without expectancy of contradiction that honey is the food of bees now this is no si in cheap arid or but a sober attempt to reinstate in the public mind the unsophisticated truth the natural foods of the Beehive are the nectar and the pollen the love ferment of the flowers on these the bee subsists entirely so long as she can obtain them and will go to her honey stores only when nature's fresh supplies have failed one speaks by poetic license or looseness of bees gathering honey from blossoming plants the fact is they do nothing of the kind and never did the sweet juices of clover Heather and the like differ fundamentally both in appearance and in chemical properties from honey though the main ingredient in honey is nectar the two are totally different things and honey far from being the normal food of bees is only a standby for hard times a sort of emergency ration put up in as little compass and with as greater concentration as such things can be the story of how honey is made and why it is made at all forms one of the most interesting items in the history of the hive be in a land where nectar yielding plants flourish all the year through if such a spot exists at all there would be no honey because the necessity for it would not occur hive bees in such a land would go all their lives and assuredly never dream of honey making but wherever there is winter or a season when the supply of nectar and pollen temporarily fails the bee who does not hibernate in the common sense of the term must devise a means of supporting life through the famine periods many creatures can and do accomplish this by merely going up in a comatose condition until such time as their natural food is plentiful again and they may safely resume their old activities but this will not do for the Delta honeybee a curious aspect of her life is the way in which she appears to recognize the competitive spirit in all the higher forms of earthly existence and deliberately sets herself in the for rank of affairs with that principle in view it would be easy for a few hundred worker bees to get together in some warm look underground with that carefully tendered piece of egg laying mechanism their queen in their midst and in a semi dormant condition to pass the dark winter months through gradually rousing their own fires of life as the Year warmed up again in the spring but such a system would mean that the colony would have to start afresh from the bottom of the ladder of progress with every year the hive bee has conceived a better plan and the basis the essential factor of it all is this thing of mystery which we call honey the true purpose of the hive the ancient Roman name for a beehive was Alvis which translated into its blunt anglo-saxon equivalent means belly and this gives us in a word the whole secret about honey making as a matter of fact the hive in summer acts as a digestive chamber where in the winter elements of the stop is prepared the bees during their ordinary worker day life subsist on the nectar and pollen which they are continually bringing into the hive much pollen is laid by in the cells in its raw condition but pollen is almost exclusively a tissue former and it is not used by the worker bees during the winter for their own sustenance but preserved until early spring when it forms the principal components in the bee milk on which the larvae are mainly fed the nectar however is necessary at all times to support life in the mature bees and it must therefore be stored for use during the long months when there are no flowers to secrete it it is here that we get a glimpse into the ways of the honeybee that may well give spur to the most wonder satiated amongst us if a sample of fresh nectar is examined it will be found to consist of about 70% of water the small remainder of its bulk being made up of what is chemically known as cane sugar together with a trace of certain essential oils and aromatic principles it is practically nothing but sweetened and flavoured water but ripe honey shows a very different composition the oils and essences are there with some added acids but of water there is no more than seven to ten percent practically the entire bulk of good honey consists of sugar but it is grape sugar with scarce a trace of the cane sugar which nectar exclusively contains to put the thing in plainest words the economic honeybee finding herself with three or four months to get through at the least possible cost in energy and nutriment has scientifically reasoned out the matter and among other ingenious provisions has arranged to subject her winter food to a process of pre-digestion during the summer so that when she consumes it there shall be neither force expended in assimilation nor waste products taken with it needing to be after Ward's expelled honey in fact is the nectar digested and then regurgitated just when it is ready to be absorbed into the system it is almost certain that every drop goes through this process twice and possibly three times in each case by different bees and the heat of the hive still further contributes to the object in view by driving off the superfluous moisture from the nectar so treated and thus concentrating it into an almost perfect food end of chapter 14 chapter 15 of the be master of Warlow by Tecna Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain in the abbot's B garden standing in the lane without and looking up at the grave forbidding walls of the old Abbey he wondered how anything human could exist on the other side but once passed the heavy iron studded gates your thoughts doubled like hares in the opposite direction it seemed good to be a monk if life could be all sunshine and quietude and beauty like bats as you waited in the shadow of the great stone flag portico while your coming was announced this feeling grew deeper with every moments the gardens sloped down to the river's edge winding footway and green lawn and kitchen plots all alike good autumn barricaded with rich huge autumn flowers through the mass of crimson fuchsia and many colored Dahlia and hollyhock Bowers of pink and white geranium with stems as thick as your wrists ancient apple trees drooping under their burden of scarlet fruits crowding jungles of roses you could see the bright waters sweeping by and here they're busy sound as they one away amidst the rocky boulders strewing the bed of the tortuous devon stream here and there in the sunny failed of view visible through the arched doorway black robed figures were quietly at work some digging others gathering apples in the orchard one sturdy brother was mowing the abbot's lon the bright blade coming perilously near his fluttering skirts at every stroke another went by trundling a wheelbarrow full of green vegetables for the refectory table there was a distant cackle of poultry blending oddly with the solemn chant that came from the chapel hard boy Robin sang everywhere and starlings clucked and whistled in the valerian that topped the great encircling wall but wherever you looked whatever drew away your attention for the moment you were sure to come back to the consideration of one preponderant yet inexplicable thing a steady deep note was upon the air rich and resonant it seemed to come from all directions at once the dim gray vault of entrance porch was full of it looking up into the dusk of oaken beams overhead there it seemed at its strangest and loudest queerest fact of all it appeared to have some mysterious affinity with the sunshine for when a stray white Argosy of cloud came drifting over the azure and obscured for a minute the glad lights this full sonorous note died suddenly away rising as swiftly again to its old power and volume when the sunbeams glowed back once more over the spacious garden and over the riverside willows that shed their gold of dying leaf edged with every breath of the softest elf wind it was not until you stepped outside and looked upward over the face of the old building that you realized what it all meant from its foundation to the highest stone of the ancient bell turrets the whole front of the place was thickly mantled with ivy in full flower and every yellow tuft of blossom was besieged with bees there seemed tens of thousands of them hovering and humming everywhere and thousands more arriving with every moment out of the blue air or darting off again fully laden and away to some invisible borne over the ruddy roof of orchard trees intent on this vociferous wonder you do not catch the footfall on the gravel path in your rear or see the sombre figure at the abbot as he comes towards you the sweep of his black frock setting all the marigolds nodding behind him as though from a sudden flaw of wind and now you have another pleasurable disillusionment as to monkish conditions of being trudging along the deep cut Devonshire lanes on your way to the Abbey through the rain of falling autumn leaves you pictured the place to yourself as a kind of sacred sink of desolation inhabited by a crew of sour visita anchorites who found only godlessness in sunshine and in cakes and ale nothing but assured perdition but here coming towards you smiling and with outstretched hand is the last kind of human being you expected to see cleared from head to foot in sober black with four ornament but the one plain Silver Cross swinging at his breast the air but shows unmistakeably for a gentleman of cultured and enlightened main a fine swarthy face kind calm eyes behind gold spectacles a voice like an old violin and a grip of the hand that makes you wince with its abounding welcome all combined to set you there and then at your ease and talk begins at once on the old familiar plane among beekeepers the quick enthusiastic interchange each participant is ready a listener as learner common all the world over wherever flowers grow and men love bees the brothers of the old Benedictine monastery so the abbot tells you as he leads the way towards the hives through the Sun riddled labyrinths have kept bees probably for more than a thousand years there is no doubt that the original abbey building stood there in the wooded cleft of devon Valley so long ago as a sixth-century nor little question that its founder was a bee man for he was contemporary and friend of the great Saint mo de NOC who himself first taught Irishman to keep these monks in the very earliest times were almost invariably ap culture as' argues the abbot he stops in the orchard the more impressively to quote Latin the glib leaf shadows playing the while over his tonsil head Lac Atmel panis Pina Rudess milk and honey and coarse oat and bread at least we know from our chronicles that these were the common daily fare of our order more than 800 years ago and honey remains a part of our food to this day thus overwrought with the centuries you begin to form a mental picture of the bee garden you are about to visit voyage incent Li through winding paths and shady thickets with the bell-like sound of the water growing clearer and clearer at every step with all that hoary tradition of the ages behind them you promise yourself these monks will have clung to their beekeeping medievalism as to some sacred inviolable thing there will be no moveable comb frames nor American sections nor weird foreign races of bees they will never have heard even a foul brood or naphthyl beta or the host of things that bless or curse modern AP culture that's every turn of the way but instead there will be a tangled wilderness oblate blossom such as only Devonshire can show in november dome-shaped hives of straw each with its singing company about it perhaps a superannuated brother or two quietly making straw hackles to shield the hives against coming winter weather even perchance the smell of burning brimstone on the air as the last remnants of the honey harvest is gathered in the ancient way by taking up the strongest and the weakest colonies of bees and then a wicket date in the old war determines the path and your ruminations together a sudden burst of sunshine the rich medley of sound from fourscore hives lifting high above the song of the purling stream and you are out on the broad green riverbanks looking on at a scene very different from the one you have expected there are no old-fashioned hives they are all at the latest most scientific pattern ranged under the shelter of the wall in two wide terraces of close shave and turf looking southward over the stream there are outhouses of the most approved design where all the business of a modern a puri is going on here and there you see black frock figures at work dexterously examining the colonies there is the deep whirring notes of honey extractors the clamor of carpenters tools the faint sickly smell from the wax boilers all the familiar evidences of bee farming carried on in the most modern twentieth century way as she looked down the long trim avenue of we painted hives your companion has acquired sight glance upon you obviously noting your disappointment what would you says he and his deep voice rings like a passing Bell for all your dreams everything must move with the times or must inevitably perish modernism rightly understood his God's fairest most priceless gift to the universe it is a crucible through which all things of true metal must pass to lose the accumulated dross of the ages keeping their original pure substance but taking the new shape required of them by latter-day needs it is so with the old dim windows of man's faith daily the glass is being taken out smelted down purified replaced we can see abroad in two distances now never before visible and so it must prove even with beekeeping which is one of the oldest human occupations in the world he waves his hand towards the sunny prospect before you beyond the river the burning Applewood saw steadily upwards and high above these stretching a way to meet the blue sky lie the Devon Moreland's once all rose red with blossoming Heather but now parched and Brown except where a gray crag or rock puts forth its jagged head it is a fine thing perhaps says the abbot thoughtfully swinging his silver cross in the sunbeams to love old ignorant customs old benighted useless errors for their picturesqueness and beauty alone but don't you think it is a still finer thing to teach poor people how they may win from common hillside plenty of rich nourishing food at almost no cost at all and that is what we are doing here modern be science it is true gives us only an ugly utilitarian hive it sweeps away or the bright iridescent cobwebs in the path of beekeeping and substitutes hard fact for pretty fairy tale but the sum of it all is that the poor cottager gains not twenty or thirty pounds at most of course unsaleable sweet food from his hives but perhaps hundred weights of pure choice section honey which sold in the proper markets will clothe his children comfortably and make it possible for them to lead decent human lives end of chapter 15 chapter 16 of the be master of Warlow by Tecna Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain bees and their masters there are three great tokens of the coming of spring in the country the elm blossom the cry of the young lands and the first rich song of the awakening bees all three come together about the end of February or beginning of March and break into the winter dearth and silence in much the same southern unpremeditated why you look at the woodlands cowering under the lash of the shrill north wind and all seems bare and black and lifeless but the wind dies down in a fairy sunsets with the darkness comes a warm breath out at the west on the morrow the spring sunshine runs high through all the valleys like liquid gold the Elm tops are ablaze with purple from the lambing pens far and near a new cry lifts into the still warm air and in the bee gardens there is the unwanted old remembered symphony prophetic of the coming summer days the Shepherd the bee man the woodland ER these three live in the focus of the seasons and fail their changes long before any other class of country folk but the bee man if he would prosper must take the son as his veritable daily guide from year's end to year's end those whose conception of a beekeeper is mainly of one who looks on from his cottage door while his winged thousands work for him and who has but to stretch out his hand once a year to gather the hoard he has had no part in winning no little at modern Beeman ship this would be almost literally true of the old skipper days when bees were left mark to their own devices and 30 pounds of indifferent honey was reckoned a good take from a populist hive but the modern movable comb frame has altered all that now ninety or a hundred pounds weight of honey per hive is expected with ordinarily good seasons on a well-managed bee farm and in exceptional honey flows very strong stocks of bees have been known to double and even treble that amount the movable comb frame has three prime uses the hives can be opened at any time and their condition ascertained without having to wait for outside indications bru combs with the young bees all ready to hatch out can be taken from strong colonies and given to weak ones and thus the population of all stocks may be equalized the filled honey combs can be removed emptied by the centrifugal extractor and the combs returned to the hive ready for another charge and so the most onerous and exacting labor of the hive comb building is largely obviated the modern beehive has another great advantage over the old straw scalp in that its size can be regulated according to the needs of each colony more combs can be added as the stock grows and thus no limit is set to its capacity with the ancient form of hive 15 or 20,000 bees meant a crowded citadel and there was nothing for it but to relieve the congestion by swarming but the swarming habit has always been the principal obstacle to large honey takes and the problem which the modern beekeeper has to solve is how to prevent his stocks from thus breaking themselves up into several hopelessly weak detachments it is all a war of wits between the bees and then masters in nature the honeybee is possessed of an inveterate caution famine is especially dreaded and the number of mouths to fill in a hive is always kept strictly to the limits of the incoming food supply thus a natural bay colony is seldom ready for the honey flow when it begins in early April because it is only then that the raising of the young brood is allowed it's full of scope this however is of no importance as far as the bees themselves are concerned for a balance of stores of about 20 pounds white at the end of a season will safely carry the most populous colony through any ordinary winter but from the be masters points of view it means practically a lost harvest all the arts and devices of the modern beekeeper therefore are set to work to overcome this timid conservatism of the hives and to induce the creation of immense colonies of worker bees as early as possible in the season so that there may be no lack of laborers when the harvest is ready these first warm days of March that bring the owl blossom and the cry of the lands and the old sweet music of the bee gardens together really form the most critical time of all for the a purist who depends on his honey for his bread and butter it is the natural beginning of the bee year and on his skill as a craftsman from now onward all chance of a prosperous season will rest it is true that within the hive the bees have been awakened stirring for a long time past ever since the turn of the days just before Christmas the Queen Mother has been busy and now there are young bees this will grow fluffy creatures everywhere in the throng and the area of sealed brood cells is steadily growing but it is only now that the world two doors becomes of any interest to the bees this is the time when the scientific Beeman must get to work his whole policy is one of benevolent fraud he knows that the population in his hives will not be allowed to increase until there is a steady assured income of nectar and pollen he cannot create an early flower crop but he does almost the same thing every hive is supplied with a feeding stage where cane sugar syrup of nearly the same consistency as the natural flower secretion is administered constantly and he places trays full of pea flour at different stations amongst his hives as a substitute for pollen there is a special art in the administration of this sugar syrup one might think that if the bees required feeding at all the more they were given the better they would thrive but experiences or will against this notion the artificial food is given not to replenish an exhausted lada but to simulate a natural new supply this in the ordinary state of things would begin in about a month's time coming up first scantily and gradually increasing by syrup feeding early in March the bee master sets the clock of the year forward by many weeks he imitates nature by arranging his feeding stages so that the supply of syrup can be limited to the actual day-to-day wants of the colony allowing the bees freer access to the syrup bottles from time to time as their numbers augment if this is adroitly done the effect on the colony is remarkable the little company of bees whose part it is to direct the actions of the Queen Mother seeing what is apparently the natural fresh supply of food coming in in daily increasing quantities at length cast their hereditary reserve aside and allow the Queen full a scope for egg-laying the result is that by the time the real honey flow commences the population of each hive is double what it would be if it had been left to its own resources and the honey yield is more than proportionately great it is well known among bee men that a hive containing say 40 thousand workers will produce very much more honey than two hives together numbering twenty thousand each there is another vital consideration in this work of early stimulation of the hives which the capable bee Master will never neglect when the natural honey blot is on the whole hive reaps with the odors given off from the evaporating nectar the raw material has gathered from the flowers must be reduced by the heat of the hive and other agencies to about one-quarter of its original bulk before it is changed into mature honey the artificial food given to the bees will of course have none of this scent and the old honey stores in the hive are hermetically sealed under their wax and cappings to complete the deception which has been so elaborately contrived the bee master must furnish his hives with a new atmosphere this he does by slicing off the cappings from some of the old store combs thus letting out their imprisoned fragrance and filling the hive at once with the very essence of the clover fields where the bees worked in the bygone summer days the smell of the honey at this time combined with the regular and increasing supply of syrup acts like a powerful stimulant on the whole stalk and the work of brood raising goes rapidly forward in intensive culture of all kinds there are risks to be run peculiar to the artificial state of things engendered and modern be breeding is no exception to the rule when once this fictel prosperity is installed by the bee master no lapse or variation in the jus amount of food must occur even a single day's remission of supplies may undo all that a month's careful manipulation has brought about English bees understand their native climate only too well and the bitter experience of former years has taught them to be prepared for a return of hard weather at any moment under natural conditions if a few weeks warmth has induced them to raise population and a sudden return of cold ensues the bees will take very prompt and stern measures to meet the threatening calamity of starvation the queen will cease laying at once all unhitch brood will be ruthlessly torn from its cradle cells and destroyed old useless bees will be expelled from the colony and this is exactly what will happen if the artificial food supply is allowed to fail even for the shortest period end of chapter 16 chapter 17 of the be master of Warlow by Ticknor Edwards this LibriVox recording is in the public domain the honey thieves where the bee garden lay under his sheltering crest of Pinewood the April sunbeams seem to gather as water gathers in the lap of enclosing hills out in the lion the sweet hot wind sang in the hedgerows and the white dust lifted under every footfall and went bowling merrily away on the breeze but once among the crowding hives you were launched on a still calm lake of sunshine where the daffodils hardly swayed on their slender stems and the smoke from the be masters pipe as he came down the red tiled path hung in the air behind him like blue gossamer spread to catch the flying bees as usual the old Beeman had an unexpected answer ready to the most obvious question when will a new honey begin to come in he said repeating my inquiry well the truth is honey never comes into the hives at all it only goes out that's the old mistake people are always falling into good bees never gather honey they leave that to the wicked ones if I had a hive of bees that took two honey gathering I should have to stop them or end them altogether it would have to be either kill or cure he took a quite wiffle to enjoying the effect of this seeming paradox then went on to explain what the bees gather from the flowers said he is no more honey than barley and hops are beer honey has to be manufactured first in the body of the bee and then in the cone cells it must stand to brew in the heat of the hive as the war stance in the gall tongue and when it is ready to be bum down before the bee adds the last little plate of wax to the cell capping she turns herself about and as I believe injects a drop of the poison from her sting or seems to do so then it is real honey but not before now about these bad bees the honey gatherers he stopped putting his hand suddenly to his face a bay had unexpectedly fastened her sting into his cheek at the same moment another came at me like a spent shot from a gun and struck home on my own face the old bay man took a hurried survey of his hives why said hey there's luck or ill luck we'll have it I think I can show you the honey gatherers at work now there's only one thing that would make my bees wild on such a morning as this and we must find out where the trouble is and stop it he was looking about him in every direction as he spoke and at last on the farther side of the bay garden seemed to make out something amiss as we pass between the long rows of B dwellings every hive was the center of its own thronging busy life from each there was a steady stream of foragers setting outward into the brilliant sunshine and as constant to current homeward as the bees returned heavily weighed down under loads of golden pollen from the Willows by the neighboring Riverside but round the hive near which the bee master presently came to a halt there was a very different scene enacting the deep rich note of Labor was replaced by an angry hubbub of war the alighting board of the hive was covered with fighting bees company launched against company single combat to the death writhing masses of bees locked together and tumbling furiously to the ground in every direction the soil about the hive was already thickly strewn with the dead and dying and the air for yards around was filled with the piercing note of the fray it seemed as hopeless to attempt to stop the carnage as it was manifestly perilous to go near but the bee master had his own short way with this as with most other difficulties he took up a big watering can and filled it hastily from the butts close by this hive is a week's talk he explained and it is being robbed by one of the stronger ones that is always the danger in spring we must try to drive the robbers home and only one thing will do it that is a heavy rainstorm and as there is no chance of getting the real thing we must make one for ourselves he strode into the thick of the flying bees and raising the can above his head sent a steady cascade of water over the whole hive the effect was instantaneous the fighting ceased at once the marauding bees rose on the wing and streamed away homeward those belonging to the attacked hive scrambled into its friendly shelter a bedraggled sodden crew when at length all was quiet the old bee man fetched an armful of hay and heaped it up before the hive completely covering its entire fronts if the robbers come back said hey that will stop them going in while the bees inside can crawl to and fro if they wish but at sunset we must do away with the stock altogether or uniting it to another colony and so put temptation out of the robbers way and now we must go and look for the robbers he refilled his pipe and led the way down the long thoroughfare of the B city examining every hive in turn as he passed it is trouble of this kind he said that does more than anything else to upset the instinct theory of the old fashioned naturalist at least as far as the honeybee is concerned why should a whole houseful of them suddenly break away from their old orderly industrious habits and take to thieving and violence but so it often happens there is character or the wants of it among bees just as there is in the human race some are gentle and others vicious some are hard workers early and light and others seem to take things easily or to be subject to unaccountable moods and caprices then the weather has an extraordinary influence on the temper of most hives on sunny calm days when the glass is set fair and the clover in full bloom the bees will take no notice of any interference the hives can be opened and manipulated without the slightest fear of a sting but if the glass is falling or the wind rising and backing the bees will be often as spiteful as cats and as timid as squirrels and there are times just before a storm when to touch some hives would mean bringing the whole population out upon you like a nest of Hornets he stopped by one of the hives and laid his great sunburned hand down flats on the entrance board the bees took no account of the obstacle but ran to and fro over his fingers with perfect unconcern and yet said he there are bees that follow none of these general rules here is a stock which is almost impossible to ruffle you may turn there home inside out and they will go on working just as if nothing had happened they are famous honey makers while they keep to it but like all mild-tempered bees they are too fond of swarming and have to be put back into the hive two or three times before they settle down to the seasons work as he talked he was looking about him carefully and at last made a shortcut towards a hive standing a little apart from the rest the bees of this hive were behaving in a very different fashion from those we had just inspected they were running about the flight board in an agitated way and the whole hive gave out a note of deep unrest the old bee man puffed his smoker up into full draught and set to work to open the hive these are the honey thieves he said as he pulled off the coverings of the hive and laid bare its rumbling seething interior to the searching sunlight and when once bees have taken to robbing their neighbours there was only one way to cure them you must exterminate the whole brood in the old days a stock of bees with confirmed bad habits would be taken to the sulfur pits and settled at once for good and all but modern beekeepers have a better and less wasteful way now look out for the queen he was lifting out the comb frames one by one and subjecting them to a close examination at last on one of the most crowded frames he spied the huge full bodied Queen and lifted her off by the wings then he closed the hive up again as expeditiously as possible now said he as he ground the discredited monarch under his heel we have stopped the mischief at the fountainhead of course if we left the bees to raise another queen for themselves she would be of the same blood as the first one and her children would inherit the same undesirable traits but tomorrow when the bees are thoroughly sobered and frightened at the loss of their ruler we will give them another full-grown fertile queen of the best blood in the apiary in three weeks time the new population will begin to take over the Citadel and in a month or two all the old bees will have died off and with them the last of the robber taint end of chapter 17

Michael Martin

1 Response

  1. Bee-Master of Warrilow | Tickner Edwardes | Nature | Book | English | 2/4
    9: [00:00:00] – The Bee-Hunters
    10: [00:12:40] – The Physician In The Hive
    11: [00:25:07] – Winter Work On The Bee-Farm
    12: [00:38:48] – The Queen Bee – In Romance And Reality ….
    13: [00:53:00] – The Song Of The Hives
    14: [01:07:55] – Concerning Honey
    15: [01:19:53] – In The Abbot's Bee-Garden
    16: [01:34:17] – Bees And Their Masters
    17: [01:46:56] – The Honey Thieves

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