In many counties of England the honey harvest has been satisfactory this year. The yield has been greater than for some years previous. Last year, bees were remarkably loath to swarm - comparatively few swarms were obtained; whereas this year they swarmed freely, often before the hives were well filled. Last year they clustered about their doors for weeks and months without swarming; this year they sent off colonies without clustering or hesitation. No explanation can be given of these things; their reasons or causes are deeper than the ken of mortals.

Some of your readers will remember that my balance-sheet last autumn left me a profit of 24s. per hive or thereabouts, and in possession of twenty-eight stock hives. These we valued at 23s. each, or 7s. less than the tip-top price. The winter being mild, they kept their bees well; that is to say, they were in good condition in February of the present year. As my garden is too near the big city of Manchester for bees to gather much honey, I took twenty hives to cottage and market gardens three or four miles in the country. Of course I pay rent, and I am glad to do so, for there my bees have richer pasture; but the expense in taking them to and from these farms is considerable. My expenses will overtop those of most bee-keepers. This year my expenses are unusually heavy, amounting to more than 10s. per hive. Two of the hives in the country, I found in May, had queens which had never been mated, and were therefore useless. Thus my number was reduced to twenty-six. Of these two never swarmed; the rest yielded thirty-three swarms, three of which were lost for want of hiving.

After swarming, the queens of two hives were lost on their marriage tour, thus adding to the list of my misfortunes.

Owing to the prevalence of easterly winds, the season, as a whole, was not a favourable one for the accumulation of honey in this locality. These easterly winds either hinder the secretion of honey in flowers or dry it up. Still honey in moderate quantity was gathered, the roar of contentment was kept up, great quantities of brood were hatched, the bees were always prepared to do more work than the weather permitted. At the close of the season my best first swarms ranged in weight from 70 lb. to 80 lb. each, the second swarms from 30 lb. to 40 lb., and the stocks or parent hives from 50 lb. to 70 lb. each. These weights indicate considerable stores of honey and large profits. But when we commenced to take the honey - to supply an order for 500 lb. - we found much of it discoloured; and the discoloured honey was so mixed with the good and pure, that we could not take the one from the other without great loss. We did not hesitate about declining to suppy the gentleman who ordered 500 lb., for we felt sure the honey would not please either him or his customers, but the difficulty was what to do with the heaviest hives. We resolved to offer them for sale at a price less than the value of honey in them. Hence we sold some, and kept far more for another year than we had intended to keep.

There are forty-two hives kept as stock for another year. Many of them are large and good, with ample stores of honey; but owing to the misfortune of having to sell some of the bees with their honey, they have not received swarms and half swarms in the usual way practised here. Still I value them at 23s. each. If I had had an extra swarm to put into each, they would have been worth 30s. each, and second to none.

How did the honey become discoloured? The Sycamore, Lime, and Oak trees in this neighbourhood were covered with a glittering substance (produced by insects), which ignorant people call honey-dew. When flowers are scarce, bees work on these shining leaves, and in this way honey becomes damaged. Two years ago much English honey was dark and unsalable.

Expenses

New hives, boards, and honey glasses,....

4

0

0

Feeding, ....

1

4

0

Kent, ....

4

0

0

Carriage, ....

4

0

0

13

4

0

Income.

Hives sold,...

12

8

0

Honey and honeycomb,...

15

0

0

Increase of stock,...

16

10

0

Total, ....

43

18

0

Deduct expenses, ... .

13

4

0

Profit,...

30

14

0

When writing the above a note came from my friends at Carluke, in Lanarkshire, where bee-keeping is a source of great profit. The writer says: -

Carluke, October 5, 1869.

My dear old Friend, - I beg to be excused for not replying to your note sooner, but I waited till I got my bees home from the moors and the honey taken from them. I jarred it all up yesterday, and find that out of ten hives we have taken upwards of 400 lb. The heaviest hive we had weighed 120 1/2 lb., two or three of them about 90 lb., the rest from 60 lb. to 70 lb. We had three boxes of honeycomb also, which realised 27s. The above is the produce of six stales or stock hives. So you see the bees have done well with us this season. One hive, 80 lb. weight, was sold for 2, 5s. - Yours truly, - R.R.

These figures indicate .22 income from six hives; the expenses are not stated. A. Pettigrew.

Brighton Grove, Manchester.