When one thinks of honey one instinctively closes the eyes and a mental picture of fruit trees laden with snowy bloom, of beautiful clover fields, of green forests in a setting quiet and peaceful, comes before the mind so realistic that the delicate perfume of the fragrant blossoms is almost perceptible and the memory of the musical hum of the little honeybee as she industriously flits from blossom to blossom, or wings her homeward way heavily laden with the delicious nectar, rests one's jaded nerves. Into this picture fits closely the old bee master among his old-fashioned skeps, with the atmosphere of mystery that has so long been associated with the master and his bees that one is almost reluctant to think of the production of honey as a great commercial industry, employing great factories in the manufacture of beehives and other equipment necessary for the modern beekeeper that he may take full advantage of the wonderful and almost inconceivable industry of the honeybee in storing the golden nectar of the blossoms.
The development of the industry has been very slow; only during the past fifty years has real progress been made, although honey formed one of the principal foods of the ancients, which was secured by robbing the wild bees. During the early history of the United. States, beekeeping was engaged in only as a farmer's side line, a few bees being kept in any kind of a box sitting out in the backyard, boarding themselves and working for nothing. Even under such conditions amazing results were often obtained. Lovers of nature and the out-of-doors were attracted by the study of bee life, and early beekeepers were invariably bee lovers. The mysteries of the hive as revealed in the story of the family life of the bee - typical in many ways of our modern city life - is as fascinating as a fairy tale.
The average population of the modern beehive varies from forty to sixty thousand, with a well organized system of government. Intense loyalty to the queen mother is apparent in all their activities and arrangements. The close observer will discover a well-defined division of labor, different groups of bees performing certain operations. The housekeeping operations seem to be delegated to the young bees under sixteen days old, while the policemen are the older ones whose dispositions are not so mild and who would be more likely to detect a stealthy robber. It was this intensely interesting side of bee life that attracted the attention of a clergyman in failing health, forced to seek out-of-door occupation, in the early.forties. He began to investigate bee life from a commercial standpoint, and about 1852 devised the movable hanging frame, which entirely revolutionized the bee business, making modern commercial beekeeping possible. Up to this time the box hive and straw skep were the only ones known, the combs being fastened to sticks, or the roof of the box, making it impossible to have any control over the activities of the hive. The new device or frame to which the bees fastened their combs in which broad was
Fertilizing a Pumpkin Flower.
*Illustrations by courtesy of the A. I. Root Co.
An Italian Army of Bees.
(All are enlarged to about three times their size.) reared could be removed, one or all, at any time desired. This opened up undreamedof possibilities in the bee business, which up to this time could hardly be called an industry.
The man who has been most active in developing practical bee culture and who has contributed more to the growth of the industry in the United States than any other person, lives in Medina, Ohio. In 1865 this man was a successful manufacturer to engage in the bee business and manufacture of beehives. In this new move he encountered the opposition of his family and friends, for the general impression was that any man who would spend money or time on bees was either lazy or a fool. Knowing that this particular man wasn't lazy he was called a fool to risk so much on an uncertain enterprise. In his defense he remarked that he expected to live to see the time when honey would be sold in every corner grocery; but we doubt if he expected to see his prophecy fulfilled to the extent it has been, for not only is honey sold over every grocer's counter his own private brand is sold in all the principal markets of the United States.
A Strange Home - but the Bees are Making Honey.
of jewelry in the village of Medina. One day his attention was attracted to a swarm of bees flying over. One of his clerks noticing his interest asked what he would give for the bees. He replied that he would give a dollar, not expecting that by any means the bees could be brought down. Shortly after, he was much astonished to have the workman bring the bees safely stored inside a box and demand his dollar, which he promptly received, while his employer had the bees and soon developed a lot of bee enthusiasm. The returns from that swarm of bees convinced him that there were possibilities in the bee business, and very soon he gave up the jewelry business
A Happy Home of the Honey Bees.
Shortly after securing his first swarm of bees he commenced the manufacture of beehives in the same room where he had his jewelry business, using a large windmill for power. Soon the business outgrew the small quarters and was moved to the present location of the plant. Hardly a year has passed that additions or new buildings have not been added, and the mammoth plant as it stands today covers sixteen acres of floor space, giving steady employment to several hundred people, and for many years modern agricultural appliances have gone from this factory to all parts of the world.