Feeding Bees in The National Era

Within the last few years, an increasing interest in the public mind has been manifested, on the subject of keeping and managing bees. Nor is it a matter of surprise, in view of the pleasure and profit to be derived from this branch of labor. To examine with care the nature and habits of this industrious little insect, and to afford them those little attentions they require for their protection and comfort is a very agreeable pastime.

When judiciously managed, there is no hazard in saying that there is no branch of business that will give one equal income, in proportion to the capital invested. Bees may be managed so as to give very large profit.

But they must be managed, and not left to take care of themselves. No business can be profitable if neglected.

Feeding has been resorted to, to some extent, within a few years. When done understandingly, there is no doubt of its utility.

But it has been cracked up too highly, and in some instances carried too far.

Unsuitable feed has been given; and sometimes feeding has been commenced without regard to the season, or the condition of the colony. The result has been, the colonies have been seriously injured, and the owners have suffered loss. A colony, short for food in the winter or spring, should be fed sufficiently to give them an ample supply in the interior of the hive, but not enough to entirely fill the comb.

Many persons, experienced in the management of bees, are of the opinion that if over fed they will entirely fill the hive, not expecting the brood comb, and thereby prevent the increase of the colony; and if they do not multiply, they will soon run out. Therefore, comparatively little feeding should be done, until the swarming season is pretty well over.

The season for gathering honey from flowers, to any considerable extent, is very short; and during that short season, the practice of feeding exclusively is questionable.

But from swarming time until cold weather, feeding may be carried on with energy; and, indeed, during cold weather, it may be done with some success, by carrying them into a warm room. Yet there are doubts whether much can be done profitably, beyond filling their empty comb.

It is not mere theory, but a settled fact, that feed is of utility. It may be made profitable. A young swarm by the use of feed may be filled at once, and become a strong colony. But the precaution should be made, when full, to remove the feeder, and give them a chance to increase, and to lay in a supply of bread. Swarms that would perish in winter for want of honey, with a few shillings worth of feed may be preserved, and become strong and valuable colonies.

With the use of the feeder, at a comparatively small expense, the apiarian may fill, all his hives with a cheap and wholesome feed, late in the fall, and as a consequence the bees will commence filling the boxes with the precious honey very early the following season; and while they would be filling the empty comb in the interior of the hive, they will be at work in the boxes.

By selecting the strong, well-established colonies, and applying the feeder, larger quantities of excellent honey for domestic use may be obtained.

In view of the above facts, we say again, “Feeding bees is of utility. It may be made profitable.

Yet we would not have any one expect to make a large fortune at once, in this business. Men, in their business transactions and schemes of labor, look for a remunerating profit. We claim for this business a large remunerating profit for the amount of labor and capital invested.


Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The National Era
Date: October 21, 1852
Title: Feeding Bees
Location: Washington, D.C.

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