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elegant a form; but by a very simple alteration in the common straw hive this
be effected, as a reference to Mr. Payne's “Improved Cottage-hive' will show. His book is a very useful one, from its practical and concise directions, and perfectly free from anything like being “ got up.”
The only fault of his hive seems to be its flat top.
Mr. Bagster's book chiefly recommends itself to us by the promise of a new “Ladies' Safety Hive.” We are always a little shy of these schemes for
Shaving made Easy,” and “Every Man his own Tooth-drawer,” which go to do away with the division of labour, and bring everything “within the level of the meanest capacity ;” and though nothing certainly can be more in character than that the lady-gardener should have her bee-house, where she may observe the workings and habits of this “ Feminine Monarchy,” yet, for aught we see, it is just as reasonable for her to clean her own shoes as to take her own honey. And yet this is the only object or new feature about Mr. Bagster's plan. Practically, we should consider his centre box to be as much too large as the side ones are too small.
The fact is, that safety from bees is not to be gained by any modification of hive or bee-dress whatever. If a man means to keep bees, he must make them his friends; and the same qualities which will ensure him golden opinions in any other walk of life are those which make a good bee-master, Firmness of mind with kindness of manner will enable you to do with them what you will. Like
horses, they know if you are afraid of them, and will kick and plunge accordingly. Like children and dogs, they find out in a moment if you are fond of them, and so meet you half way. But, like the best-tempered people in the world, there are times and seasons when the least interruption will put them out
ut fortè legentem Aut tacitum impeliat quovis sermone molestus." A sharp answer or a sharp sting on such occasions will only be a caution that we must watch our opportunity better for the future. He who rushes between contending armies must not complain of the flying darts; therefore in a bee-battle, unless you are sure you can assist the weaker party, it is best to keep out of the way. In very hot weather and very high winds, especially if one has much to do or to say, who does not feel a little testy? Bees are the same. There is one other case where interference is proverbially ill-taken—in domestic quarrels ; and herein Mr. Cotton assures us that the female spirit is as much alive in the bee as in the human kind. When the time comes in autumn for turning the drones out of the hive (of which we shall speak more fully presently), many think they can assist their bees in getting rid of these unprofitable
spouses, and so destroy them as fast as they are turned out: this uncalled-for meddling is often very fiercely resented, and the bee-keeper finds to his cost, like the good-natured neighbour who proffered his mediation on the “ toast and bread-and-butter"
question of Mr. and Mrs. Bond, that volunteer peacemakers in matrimonial strife
“ Are sure to get a sting for their pains.” At all other times they are most tractable creatures, especially when, as at swarming time, they are in some measure dependent on man's aid. They are, as a villager once told us, “ quite humble bees then.” They undoubtedly recognise their own master; and even a stranger, if a bee-keeper, soon finds himself at home with them. What they cannot bear is to be breathed upon; and as people ignorant of their ways are very apt to begin buffeting and blowing when bees seem disposed to attack them, it will be serviceable for them to keep this hint in mind. The Rev. John Thorley, who wrote in 1744, gives a frightful account of a swarm of bees settling upon his maid's head—the fear being not that they would sting her to death, as stories have been told,* but that they would stifle the poor girl, for they covered her whole face. Presence of mind failed neitherhe bade her remain quite still, and searched for the queen, whom her loyal people followed with delight as he conducted her safe to her hive. Sometimes, however, where presence of mind is wanting, or where they have been accidentally disturbed, very serious consequences ensue.
* For fatal cases, one of which is related by Mr. Lawrence, in his Surgical Lectures, see Dr. Bevan, p. 333. Animals have been frequently fatally attacked by them. Butler tells of “ a horse in the heat of the day looking over a hedge, on the other side of which was a stall of bees: while he stood nodding with his head, as his manner is, because of the flies, the bees fell upon him and killed him.” This exemplifies the proverb of the danger to some folk in “ looking over a hedge."
The inhabitants of the Isles of Greece transport their hives by sea, in order to procure change of pasture for their bees. Huish relates (p. 287) that “ Not long ago a hive on one of these vessels was overturned, and the bees spread themselves over the whole vessel. They attacked the sailors with great fury, who, to save themselves, swam ashore. They could not return to their boat until the bees were in a state of tranquillity, having previously provided themselves with proper ingredients for creating a smoke, to suffocate the bees in case of a renewal of their hostility.”
The Bee-volume of the Naturalist's Library' supplies us with an anecdote, in which the anger of the bees was turned to a more profitable purpose
“ A small privateer with forty or fifty men, having on board some hives made of earthenware full of bees, was pursued by a Turkish galley manned by 500 seamen and soldiers. As soon as the latter came alongside, the crew of the privateer mounted the rigging with their hives, and hurled them down on the deck of the galley. The Turks, astonished at this novel mode of warfare, and unable to defend themselves from the stings of the enraged bees, became so terrified that they thought of nothing but how to escape their fury; while the crew of the small vessel, defended by masks and gloves, flew upon their enemies sword in hand, and captured the vessel almost without resistance.”—p. 194.
It must strike the reader how well furnished this vessel must have been to afford on the moment “masks and gloves” for forty or fifty men.
In these disturbed times the following receipt to dis
perse a mob may perhaps be found useful. We have heard of a water-engine being effectively employed in the same service.
During the confusion occasioned by a time of war in 1525, a mob of peasants, assembling in Hohnstein, in Thuringia, attempted to pillage the house of the minister of Eleude, who, having in vain employed all his eloquence to dissuade them from their design, ordered his domestics. to fetch his bee-hives and throw them in the middle of this furious mob. The effect was what might be expected ; they were immediately put to flight, and happy to escape unstung.”—Nat. Lib., p.
As we should be sorry to arouse the fears of our readers, our object being rather to enamour them of bees, we will console them—too much perhaps in the fashion of Job's friends with an anecdote which appeared lately in a Scotch newspaper, of an elderly gentleman upon whose face a swarm of bees alighted. With great presence of mind he lifted up his hat, hive-like, over his head, when the bees, by their natural instinct, at once recognizing so convenient a home, betook themselves to his head-gear-it surely must have been a wide-awake-which he then quietly conveyed into his garden. Had he fidgeted and flustered, as most old gentlemen and young ones too-would have done in his situation, he would doubtless have presented the same pitiable object that our readers must remember in Hood's ludicrous sketch of“ an unfortunate Bee-ing.”
One of the most dangerous services, as may well be imagined, is that of taking their honey, when