Steele & Brodie Hints
Hints and instructions to beginners in bee culture. (Which still hold good today.)
As published in “Beekeepers’ Supplies 1939” R. Steele & Brodie
1. To winter bees successfully, make sure in September or October that stores are plentiful, that the stock has a young queen, is sheltered from north winds, and above all, see that the hive is damp proof.
2. Thirty to forty pounds are required to safely carry a colony through the winter, also add a cake of candy.
3. Do not keep the bees confined to the hive on sunny winter days, but when snow lies on the ground it is safer to shade the entrance.
4. Prepare your hives, when possible, long before you expect to require them, and see that they have a good-fitting movable “dummy”, and that all hives have frames of uniform size.
5. Spring is the season when bees are in most danger of starvation and dwindling. Watch your colonies, and feed the destitute right on till the honey crop opens. Lessen the room in autumn by means of the dummy, and increase the space as required in spring.
6. Do not feed at the entrance or out of doors, as it causes the bees to rob, but always on the top over the brood nest.
7. When you see many bees hunting around and trying to get into other hives, be sure robbing is going on some where, or that loose honey as been left within their reach. Where stocks are weak, close up hive entrances to just sufficient to let a bee out, and sprinkle a weak solution of carbolic acid about the front of the attacked hives or where bees are crowding.
8. One bee, in March, is worth many in June, so do everything possible to forward breeding. Keep the bees warm – feed, if necessary – supply them with water and pea flour where pollen is scarce.
9. In early spring remove drone comb, and replace it with worker or full sheets of comb foundation as much as in your power. You will always leave more drone brood comb than needed. Too many drones mean a reduced crop of honey.
10. The bees require ten to fourteen pounds of honey to make one pound of comb, so it will always pay you to use full sheets of foundation even if foundation cost three times the price charged for it. In addition to saving the bees’ time and honey you can only secure straight, easy-handled combs by using it freely.
11. The honey harvest lasts but a few days, or at best a few weeks, so you must have the hives full of bees, and always ready to take advantage of it when it comes.
12. Improved methods and foreign competition have increased the supply of honey so much so that, to ensure a ready sale, it should be put on the market in as attractive a form as possible.
13. For home consumption, it pays to produce it in larger sections or shallow frames as the bees will store more honey in these.
14. By using wrought-out combs and the help of an extractor, 30 to 50% more honey can be produced than in sections. If you have three or four hives it will pay you to invest in an extractor, and a good one is cheapest in the end.
15. Honey, unless a Ripener be also used, should not be extracted until sealed over, as it is watery, unripe, and will become unfit for using. Give the bees time to ripen it, and keep them at work with sufficient room; supply them with empty comb if possible.
16. When bees are hanging out in front of the hive it shows that they are uncomfortable in it, and have no room. They should be given more air or more room according to circumstances. Shading the hive from the sun in very warm weather is beneficial.
17. If you give your bees plenty of room before the honey flow, and keep them comb building, they will rarely swarm. If once they find themselves crowded and get the swarming fever, nothing will prevent them from swarming.
18. Raise queens and drones only from the best colonies in your apiary.
19. A queenless stock will raise queens at once if it has eggs or larvae under 3 days old. The queens will hatch within a fortnight.
20. The old queen always goes with the first swarm.
21. By taking only one swarm, and with good management, you may secure surplus honey, but large harvests can only be taken from hives which have not swarmed at all.
22. To hive a swarm, first skep it, then place hive in position, frames being level across. Wedge up front of hive to form a large entrance, and place a large board or sheet, one edge resting on alighting board, the other sloping down slightly from it. Now shake the swarm out in front of the entrance, when, with very little guidance, they will quickly run under cover. If done towards evening very few bees will fly.
23. When you open a hive of bees, if you see any robber bees flying about, you may be sure that there is no honey in the fields and you must avoid leaving the hive open, or exposing the honey within their reach. A robber bee is easily recognised by its quick motions, and buzzing around the hive doors, and occasionally trying to settle on the floorboard near the entrance.
24. All bees will become robbers if tempted with exposed sweets in time of scarcity.
25. Decrease the size of the entrance after the honey crop is past, but be sure to have it very large during the honey harvest.
26. In seasons of scarcity your bees should be fed, and they will probably repay you tenfold the following one.
27. If bees have to be fed after cold weather sets in, soft candy should be given them.
28. Keep your colonies strong. That is the best safeguard against robbers and other evils.
29. A good bee smoker and veil are indispensable. They give a beginner confidence. The bees won’t tolerate nervous, jerky handling. Handle gently, with an occasional puff of smoke you can do anything you please with them. Smoke the bees a little at the entrance before opening the hive.
30. The middle of the day is the best time to handle your bees, as the old bees are then in the field.
31. When you get stung do not lose any time, but scrape the sting off. Do not pull it out, as you are likely to drive more poison into the wound.
32. There are about 5000 bees in a pound.
33. Before melting old comb into wax, it is better to keep it under rain-water for twenty-four hours. By doing so you get more and better wax.
Over manipulation will only disorganise the bees.
Never open the hive unless you have a good reason for doing so.