For the present (the month of December), if stocks of bees are sufficiently numerous to keep up the temperature inside the hives, and are in dry winter-quarters, sheltered from rain, wind, and snow, with sufficient food, that is all they require. If comparatively few in numbers, and light in weight, it would be quite safe to give a stock 2 or 3 pounds of syrup. The syrup should be made of 5 pounds of loaf-sugar, boiled in 2 quarts of water, which will produce about 7 pounds of syrup, costing about 4d. per pound. The bees should only be fed on mild nights. The syrup should be put into bottles, each of which should have tied over the mouth a piece of canvas, and inserted over a piece of perforated zinc or tin, fixed horizontally on the openings in the top of each hive. The bottles containing the syrup should be removed during the daytime, otherwise the bees might be tempted to think summer had come, and in their excitement they would fly abroad and perish. Bee-keepers had much better believe this as a theory, and not attempt to reduce it to practice, especially in the case of weak stocks.

An excellent protection to bees in a straw skep is a hayband bound round it, or a bottomless sack that will go over it loosely, and make a tidy covering when stuffed all round with hay or sawdust, and will effectually keep out the cold, besides affording access to the top of the hive when it is requisite to feed the bees.

I have only dealt with black bees in straw skeps, because they are in a majority in this neighbourhood at present, and are better known, if not better understood, than Italian, Alpine, or Ligurian bees; but in a few years it is to be hoped a better state of things will be brought about. The Ligurian bees are hardier, fiercer, more robust, and more fertile than the English honey-bees, and they both work earlier and later in the season, and live longer; and what is of more importance, they are furnished with a longer tongue or proboscis, by which they can reach farther into the nectaries of flowers and blossoms, and so can get honey from sources which the English bees cannot reach; this would be particularly exemplified in a bad season, when the Ligurians would absorb the honey before any came within reach of ordinary English bees, and often before they left their hives in the morning, and the latter must slowly starve and dwindle away. My own opinion on the question of breed in bees is, that neither race in its purity is so good as the offspring from an Italian queen which has been fertilised by a black or English drone bee. Pure Italian bees are very beautiful creatures, and perhaps are, on that account, thought more of than they otherwise would be.

But it appears to my judgment, from long experience, that the half-breeds, being a mixed race, are more to be desired for their working powers and fecundity. I recommend the introduction of the Italian element in the queen by means of a queen-cell, because, when hatched, her drones in the swarming season are certain to be pure Italians; and if her working offspring should be pure, it would enable her owner to Ligurianise all his stock with pure queen-cells of his own raising from her brood. The purity of the offspring will, of course, depend on the source of fertilisation; if by means of a black drone, the workers will be of a hybrid character, but the drones will be pure, as the drone-eggs are not influenced by the fluid in the spermatheca.

The manipulation of bees on movable framed hives should be made a subject of itself, but could be much better understood from actual observation; and in that respect I can assure those who take an interest in bees and their management, that during the ensuing spring and summer I shall be most happy to show them the whole matter, with perfect safety to themselves, and, I trust, to their entire satisfaction.

The past year (18G9) was a very bad one for bees, particularly during the month of June. At that period swarms were very busy filling their hives with combs, and feeding the young larvae as they were developed; and this, as is natural with them, to such an extent as to leave no more stores in the hives than would be required for immediate consumption. They were instinctively trusting to the morrow to provide for itself; and surely in the middle of June it was not unreasonable to suppose that they would be able to gather food at some times during the days; but the weather was so cold, and it rained so incessantly for nearly three weeks, that the poor things could not work at all, and were literally starved to death. In the case of old stocks, instances occurred where the queens did not hatch, or were lost on their wedding-journeys, and they of course dwindled away. Hundreds of stocks have perished already from the above causes, and many more will perish during the present winter if left to themselves.

I have seen many stocks and swarms, but I have not seen one natural swarm of 1869 which has filled its hive with combs, or with sufficient bees to stand the winter without aid, so great was the shock received in the month referred to.