The American Bee Journal, Volume VI, Number 3, September 1870
AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL.
EDITED AND PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL WAGNER, WASHINGTON, D. C.
AT TWO DOLLARS PER ANNUM, PAYABLE IN ADVANCE.
Vol. VI.SEPTEMBER, 1870.No. 3.
The Foulbrood Question.
The following remarks, made by the Rev. Mr.Kleine, before a convention of bee-keepers in thetown of Meppen, province of Hanover, Prussia,present a succinct account of the present stateof this subject abroad.
“The question propounded in our programme,”said Mr. Kleine, “and which I have been requestedto consider, may properly be thus subdivided—first.Has any efficient remedy for foulbroodbeen devised? and, secondly, What arewe to think of Lambrecht’s theory?
“I wish I could answer the first interrogatorywith a positive aye. If I could, I should regardmyself entitled not only to your thanks, but tothose of the entire bee-keeping community; forfoulbrood is confessedly the direst evil that canbefall the bee-keeper, and the appearance is, atpresent, that it is likely speedily to spread everywhere,where bees are cultivated.
“Remedies in abundance have, indeed beensuggested, and recommended as efficient and infallible.But when we come to investigate them,we seek in vain for any solid reason why curativequalities should be attributed to them; andwe usually find that the alleged recovery of diseasedcolonies can fairly be ascribed to somethingelse than the application of those vauntedremedies. Possibly, too, the real disease,—thegenuine, virulent, contagious foulbrood, did notexist, and the boasted cure consisted merely inthe apparent arrest and removal of some simplemalady which, in the course of nature, wouldspeedily have run its harmless course and disappeared,and with the cure of which the medicamentsor treatment employed had, in reality, noconnection whatever. How indeed can it bepossible to devise and apply an efficient remedyfor a disease of the origin and nature of whichentire ignorance has still prevailed.
“Dr. Asmusz conceived, some years ago, thathe had discovered the cause of foulbrood in aminute winged insect—the Phora incrassata;and the Baron of Berlepsch coincided with himin opinion. The doctor supposed that the parentfly deposited her eggs in the larvæ of the bees,which, dying in consequence and putrifying,thus generated the devastating disease. It happens,however, that the Phoridæ do not deposittheir eggs in living organisms, but, under theimpulse of native instinct, in dead bodies only.Consequently it does not and cannot cause thedreaded disease.
“Again, Mr. De Molitor assigns to it a similarorigin,—but instead of the Phora, regards someichneumon-fly as the perpetrator of the evil—unless,indeed, he regards the Phora itself as anichneumon. But this notion, too, is obviouslyuntenable, for if ichneumon-flies laid their eggsin the larvæ, those eggs must surely hatch andthe insect develop there, at least in its first stages;but on placing a foulbroody comb under glass,and watching it closely, nothing of this sort isfound to take place.
“The Baroness of Berlepsch supposes thecause of foulbrood is to be found in the use ofmovable comb hives, and the various manipulations—oftimesneedless—which the facilities affordedtempt the apiarian to undertake. Werethis diagnosis correct, the remedy could readilybe found. It would only be necessary to discontinuethe use of such hives, and return to theancient fixed comb system, to be safe from theinroads of this pestilence. But alas, it is onlytoo well known that foulbrood existed extensivelylong before Dzierzon was born, and thatit prevails where the fixed comb system is mostrigidly adhered to.
“Others imagine that the disease has its originin malarious vapors, in some kind of fungus, ina diseased condition of the sexual organs of thequeen, in an imperfect fecundation of the egg,or even in a noxious state of the fluids of thebee-keeper’s body, &c., without, however, byany of these surmises or suggestions, furnishingus with an available clue to a remedy, from theapplication of which a favorable result might beexpected. Obscurity and doubt still involve theinquirer, and he quietly ‘gives it up;’ while themore practical bee-keeper, perplexed and baffled,finally resolves to resort to the radical remedyof the brimstone pit and the ‘parlor match’—thuseffectually curing his colonies.
“So matters stood in regard to this puzzlingquestion, till, in consequence of a communicationfrom the Directors of the Central Committeeof the Hanover Agricultural Society, respectingan alleged cure of foulbrood which Mr.Fisher claimed to have devised and successfullyemployed, the Hanover Centralblatt opened itscolumns for further discussion of the topic.
“I had given it as my own opinion that thedisease was probably, in most cases, produced byfeeding infected honey derived from foulbroodycolonies; but that we were still constrained tobelieve that it had also an independent origin,which would probably be found in some deleterioussubstance mixed with the nutriment of thebees.
“A reason for this assumption I found in acommunication from Mr. Hoffman to the EichstadtBienenzeitung, in which he stated that inall foulbroody colonies examined by him, he foundmost of the pollen in the cells covered by a slimy,fatty substance and the pollen itself in a state offermentation. I then said that if this discoverybe confirmed by further observation and scientificinvestigation, deteriorated pollen would probablybe found to play an important part in theproduction of the disease in question, and perhapsaccount for the well known fact that incolonies infected with foulbrood, the larvæ dieonly after being sealed up. I also expressed thehope that we should have the aid of science—especiallyof physiology and chemistry—in thefurther prosecution of the inquiry; as it is onlyby ascertaining the nature and origin of the disease,that we could hope to obtain the means ofeffectually counteracting and controlling it.
“We had to wait long for these elucidations,but they have come at last, and we may well beproud that the Hanover Centralblatt contributedso materially to the result so far.
“I now come to the second subdivision of thequestion—What is to be thought of Lambrecht’stheory?
“This theory is briefly thus: Pollen, in peculiarcircumstances, and under the influence ofheat and moisture, begins to ferment; and thefermentive process is then communicated to thehoney. If this fermenting nutriment be nowfed to the larvæ, their organism becomes therebyderanged and disorganized, they die and putrefactionfollows. Here we find the original sourceand cause of foulbrood. The detailed explanationof this so simple theory, given with the directnessof scientific demonstration, yet in popularlanguage readily understood, is contained in thepages of the Centralblatt. Its correctness is notto be doubted, for the proof of it is clearly furnishedby this simple experiment: Expose amixture of pollen and water to the heat of thesun, or otherwise to a temperature sufficientlyhigh to bring on fermentation, and feed therewiththe bees of a colony containing larvæ justhatched, and foulbrood will speedily be producedin the hive. I made this experiment myself inthe summer of 1868, and though I felt some misgivingsbefore, every doubt was dissipated bythe result obtained, for the thus infected colonymight have claimed a premium as a prime prizecase of the disease. I here submit to the convention,for inspection, a piece of foulbroodycomb thus obtained. The contagiousness of theartificially originated foulbrood is also demonstratedby the fact, that the disease has beencommunicated from it to several other coloniesin my apiary. Other bee-keepers have repeatedthis experiment with like results; so that thereis no longer room to doubt, or to suspect deception.
“The fermented or fermenting condition ofthe nutritive matter with which the larvæ ofbees are fed, is thus, according to Lambrecht’stheory, the cause of foulbrood. I doubt muchwhether this scientifically grounded doctrine willever be scientifically refuted.
“We have here, accordingly, the point atwhich the insidious foe is to be attacked, if wewould hope for success. This, Lambrecht allegesthat he does, and claims that he has devised areliable method of cure, as shown in the experimentalcase at Brunswick. To doubt the truthof the statement made by the committee superintendingthat experiment, would be to impugnthe untarnished honor of those gentlemen. Butunfortunately, we are not yet made acquaintedwith the composition of Lambrecht’s remedy.For the present, he treats it as a secret, intendingto publish it in a pamphlet and thus compensatehimself for his discovery. For this, hehas been subjected to reproach and abuse. Allowme to express my surprise at this. We findfault with Lambrecht for that which we approvein ourselves and others. The inventor strives tosecure to himself the profits of his invention bytaking out a patent; and the author indemnifieshimself for his labors by procuring a copyright,or accepting a premium from his publisher. Ihave not hesitated to accept such compensationmyself, when the opportunity was properly presented;and others, here, I presume, may findthemselves under like condemnation. Why thencast stones on Lambrecht, who, probably, hasvery valid reasons for imitating our example, forhis experiments presuppose a large sacrifice oftime and money on his part.
“I will not deny that, for one, I should havepreferred if Mr. Lambrecht had disinterestedlypublished his curative process in a communicationto the Centralblatt. For if No. 7 of thevolume for 1868 is now out of print, in consequenceof the increased demand created for it byhis first article on the subject, there is no doubta very large edition would have been required ofthe number containing his cure; and what apowerful impetus that would have given to thesuccess of the Centralblatt! But I should havebeen ashamed to approach Mr. Lambrecht witha request based on calculations so selfish, whenI understood that he intended to reserve the informationfor his own benefit. But there is thuswithin our reach a secret of great importanceand value to all bee-keepers; and since we haveno prospect of obtaining a knowledge of it inany other way than by the publication of hispamphlet, I advise you all to subscribe for itand induce others to do so likewise, so that thework may speedily be published, and the veilwithdrawn that possibly conceals a matter ofvital importance to bee-culture.
“Mr. Lambrecht was requested by the Presidentof the Nuremberg Convention to attendits meeting, and present his theory among theregular orders of the day, for discussion. I feltconfident he would comply with the request, andconsidered that the most suitable mode of bringinghis theory to the knowledge of the bee-keepersgenerally and securing the requirednumber of subscribers to his pamphlet. But,according to the report of the proceedings, the51result was just the reverse. Mr Lambrecht, weare told, failed altogether! And how? He wasrefused a hearing! How this is to be explained,I know not. Heretofore, the Convention wasever disposed to invite and allow free discussionof all questions pertaining to bee-culture, whetherof a theoretical or practical cast; and to accept,with enthusiastic applause every new inventionor device tending to advance the favorite pursuitof its members. But this I know for certain,that Mr. Lambrecht’s theory, despite of this opposition,will work its way, and finally meetwith universal acceptance. I therefore beg thisrespected assembly not to withhold due attentionto this important matter, but to contributeall they can towards a full compliance with thestipulations on which the speedy promulgationof Mr. Lambrecht’s curative process depends.”
Mr. Editor:—I would like to give the readersof the journal my experience with the RockyMountain bee plant Polanisia purpurea. In1868, I had the pleasure of receiving some of theseed from Mr. J. L. Hubbard, then of Walpole,N. H.; and from sixteen plants that grew, I gotsix quarts of seed. It comes into bloom aboutthe last of July, and continues till frost comes.The bees work on it from morning till night.
In selecting honey-producing plants, it shouldbe the aim of the bee-keeper to plant such aswould be of benefit to stock or poultry as well asbees. Now I find that my poultry will eat theseed of the Polanisia in a short time as readilyas buckwheat; and there is no plant on my farmthat stands the drouth equal to it. At present(July 25th) we are having a very severe drouthand extreme heat, yet with the temperatureranging from 90° to 108° in the shade, not a leafof the Polanisia wilts; on the contrary, it ismaking a very rapid growth. Taking everythinginto consideration, I think it is worthy theattention of bee-keepers.
Bees in Borneo and Timor.
Having recently perused Mr. Spencer St.John’s very interesting work on Borneo, publishedin 1862, under the title of “Life in theForests of