This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
A communication, relative to the preservation of bees during winter, has Just been made at the Royal Central Horticultural Society, by Mr. saillet, Jr. The principal foots contained in it are as follows: - "The experience of M. Forstner, Instructor at Havengan, reported by the Society at Munich, seems to prove it possible to preserve bees under ground during winter.
In a part of his garden, quite sheltered from dampness, M. Forstner dug a deep well of eight feet, four feet long, and three wide. The bottom wis filled with pebbles to the depth of a foot. To protect the bees from any water that would trickle through, this first bed was coveted with another one, composed of pine leaves, which received in its turn a bed of beaten flax of a foot in thickness.
The 30th of October, he lowered into.this pit two hives, containing two vigorous swarms. At the extremity of each hive, he had adapted several pipes of quill pens, open at each end, intended to allow the air to enter; the one weighed about sixty-three pounds, and the other thirty-two* The spaces between the hives were filled lightly with pea haulm; the whole covered again with about half a foot of pine leaves; at last, the excavation was hermetically closed by an old broken door, which was covered over with a little earth, trampled upon.
The temperature being warm, the 21st of March, of the year following, Mr. Forstner withdrew his hives, and discovered they had lost nothing in weight. In the smallest, in closing a young swarm, which had as yet constructed only the half of its house, he found only four dead bees; he moved into it two handsfal from the other hire, where the swarm was completely established, sad which was too contracted for the great number of bees in it.
The hires were carried back to the places they usually occupied, and were found to be of fall weight.
Then an astonishing difference was proved in the account of the loss among the hires which had passed, the winter in the ground, and those preserved in the usual way.
In short, the hire of sixty-three pounds still weighed fifty-nine pounds; the second, of thirty-two pounds, had only lost fifteen ounces, while one of the other hires, which, in autumn, had weighed fifty-two pounds, now weighed but thirty-nine, and another, which previously weighed forty-two pounds ten ounces, was now but twenty-eight pounds ten ounces.
M. Forstner has not been able to discover whether the bees consume less under ground, or if, as is probable, they fall into a sort of torpid sleep, from which they rouse sooner than other insects, on account of the hatching of the young bees. Howerer that may be, the swarms on which this experience rests were full of rigor, indefatigable after sweet riches, and furnished, earlier than is common, very pretty swarms; their honey was perfect.
The author of this experience adds, that to preserve field mice and moles from the hires thus kept under ground, it is necessary to take precautionary measures, such as protecting the walls of the pit by an iron trellis." - Flore des Serres.