This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I transfer from the Popular Science Monthly the following, which is not only deeply interesting, but will be new to many : " The annual production of honey in this country is estimated at about 35,000,000 pounds, and the business of bee-keeping is being rapidly systematized. One firm of wholesale grocers in New York keeps as many as 12,000 swarms; other keepers have often from 3,500 to 5,000 swarms. Arrangements are made with farmers and owners of orchards to allow an apairy of a certain number of swarms to be placed in their grounds. At the distance of three or four miles another apiary is placed with another farmer, and so on. For this accommodation the bee-keepers pay either in money or in shares. It is estimated that on an average, an acre will support twenty-five swarms, yielding fifty pounds of honey each. The apiaries are cared for by men in the employ of the bee-owners. Many ingenious contrivances have been introduced for the purpose of saving the labor of the bees and the keepers. About ten years ago a German suggested that thin corrugated sheets of wax, which he called 'artificial tablets,' should be provided for the bees to make their comb from.
These, however, did not come into general use; but a few years ago Mr. W. M. Hoge effected an improvement by starting the side-walls of the cells. When these 'foundations,' as they are called, were presented to the bees, the intelligent little creatures at once took advantage of them, and extended the side walls so as to form the regular hexagonal cell. The machine by which the impression is made on both sides of the wax is very simple and somewhat resembles a clothes-wringer, only the iron rollers are studded with little hexagonal-headed pins just the size of the section of a cell, so that when the thin sheet of wax is pressed up between the pegs to the height of about one-sixteenth of an inch, it offers a substance for the construction of the cell-walls. Another remarkable adaptation of machinery is afforded by the use of a rotating frame, which causes the cells of the comb placed in it, to be emptied by centrifugal force. The empty uninjured comb is replaced in the hive, and again used by the bees.
As about three-fourths of the time of the bees, it has been computed, is taken up in the construction of the comb, it will be seen that by these contrivances a great saving of bee labor is effected".