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The American Bee Journal. Vol. XVII. No. 14. April 6, 1881

The American Bee Journal. Vol. XVII. No. 14. April 6, 1881
Author: Various
Title: The American Bee Journal. Vol. XVII. No. 14. April 6, 1881
Release Date: 2019-02-25
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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IN 1861
Bee Journal
VOL. XVII.CHICAGO, ILL., APRIL 6, 1881.No. 14.

IN 1861

Bee Journal
Published every Wednesday, by
Editor and Proprietor,


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Entered at Chicago post office as second class matter.


Interesting Letter from Singapore.

The following letter from Mr. Benton,from Singapore, will be read with interest.That city is a great seaport nearthe Islands of Borneo and Java. Mr.Benton’s search after those large bees—Apisdorsata—is a herculean task,and his trip thither will be well wortha place in history. Here is the letter:

Friend Jones: When in Ceylon Iplunged into the jungles, first in this directionand then in that, and followedout every clue that I could obtain; yetalthough on every side I was told thereexisted “a large bee,” which the nativescall bambera, it was not until just beforeI came away that I ascertained anythingreliable regarding the habits andwhereabouts of this wonderful insect,which I feel safe in saying is the longtalked of Apis dorsata itself; thoughit was too late for me to get to theplaces where I could see this bee andstill reach this steamer. As I return toCeylon, and am likely to see Apis dorsataelsewhere also, I comforted myselfregarding the disappointment experiencedat not seeing this bambera beforemy re-embarkation.

I will speak in the order of their size,of the bees found in Ceylon, giving theCingalese names used there.

Kana Mee Meso belongs to the Trigonæ,and therefore is not a true honeybee, although it gathers pollen andsome honey, and lives in swarms with aqueen. In a jungle a few miles fromKaltura, on the southwest coast of Ceylon,I found a small bee which containeda nest of these minute, stinglessbees. A tube about ¾ of an inch in diameterand a foot long, composed ofpropolis and particles of wood, hungfrom the hole of the tree, and throughthis tube all the bees entered. It seemsthis is a means of keeping out largerinsects. The tree was cut and the nestsecured. The cells are built in irregularbunches like those made by commonbumble bees. Those cells containingbrood were about the size of a grainof rice, while the honey and pollen cellswere as large as the smaller cells madeby bumble bees. The workers aresomewhat less than 3/16 of an inchlong, (about 5/32) have large heads, andvery small abdomens, the latter seemingblunt, and abbreviated, so to speak.These bees fly swiftly, and look oddenough as they come in loaded with minutepellets of pollen, which is packedon their hind legs as with other bees.They are black.

The queen is large, her abdomen beingso great as to dwarf in appearanceall other parts of her body, and so disableher as far as flying and rapid movementsare concerned. Of course therecan be no practical value in these bees,but I tucked the nest in a box about 6inches square and 2 deep, or rather apart of the brood and honey, and broughtthe swarm along. They have been fixingup their new home quite bravely.

Daudual-Meso is a small bee which Ihave not seen, but which I do not believeis likely to prove valuable, since itis so small. Its comb is composed ofregular hexagonal wax cells, like allcomb of Apis, but there are 81 cells tothe square inch. I have in my possessiona small piece.

Mee Meso are the Cingalese wordssignifying “honey bee,” and this is thebee from which, aside from bambera,most of the honey and wax come.

Bambera, all accounts agree, existsplentifully in the jungles of Ceylon, butI found just before I came away, onlyrarely near the seashore, I failed to findit within 10 miles of the coast. I wasglad to get accounts from persons whohave seen these bees and their trees,and have measured the lengths of theircombs; observing gentlemen, too,whose word can be relied upon. Theysay these bees, which I feel sure are ofthe species Apis dorsata, attach theircombs to the branches of trees, usuallysome lofty trees of the primitive forest,and a gentleman who has often seenthem, says they build combs 8 feet long.Another once measured a comb whichhe found to be 6 feet long. The firstmentioned gentleman says he has seen30 natives with earthen pots each receivea load from one bambera bee tree,and has seen a swarm of these beesnearly a half mile long. When I visitedthe Government Museum in orderto obtain information as to whether theyknew anything of these bees and wherethey were to be found, the natives havingonly succeeded in finding deborah,(a large hornet) with its nest, for me. Iwas at once taken by one of the directorsto this gentleman, as the one fromwhom the most information could beobtained.

The Cyprian and Palestine bees I havewith me are doing finely. Those left inCeylon will serve to introduce the speciesA. melifica, and will establish inthat wonderful productive Island an industrythat I feel sure will thrive thereand be a source of revenue to the inhabitantsand the government.

Upon my return I have formed theplan of taking with me for introductionto Cyprus a lot of cocoanut palm trees,some mango and bread-fruit seeds ortrees, and a species of paw-paw foundin Ceylon. As the date-palm, the orange,the lemon, the fig, the banana andthe pomegranate are already growing inCyprus, I believe these new fruits willthrive and find favor. Financially, ofcourse, it is an experiment, yet I believeit promises well; at any rate it will notcost much to try it.

Except this paw-paw, I failed to findany fruit or grain that is likely to thrivein as cold a climate as the central partsof North America. Cinnamon, coffee,tea, betel nuts, precious stones and cocoanutsand oil are, with cinchona bark,the principal exports of Ceylon. Italked with various exporters, but allhad their agents in N. Y. and Canada,and desired no change. None of themwould sell, of course, direct to the firm,when possessing an agent in America.

Upon my return I will see whatfurther can be ascertained as to “out-of-the-wayproducts.” It is hard to getany prices, and would in most instancesbe difficult to obtain a quantity worthwhile to ship.

From Arabia, coffee, gums, perfumesand pearls come. At Aden I was toldthat the best Mocha coffee could be gotfor one shilling (or 24 cts.) per lb. Inlarge quantities I think it can be gotstill cheaper. I should think preciousstones (sapphire, jasper, &c.,) gums, coffee,cocoanut oil, cinnamon oil and pearlwould pay best, perhaps also ivory andostrich feathers. At Aden I foundsome large wheat, but kinds were mixed,or else the variety is not a fixed sort.This portion of the world produces littleor no grain besides rice.

I have obtained seeds of a number offlowering plants and trees, some ofwhich I know yield honey, and othersthat look as though they might werethere bees to gather it. We expect toreach Singapore to-morrow forenoon. Iwill take the first steamer for Batavia,which will likely leave in a day or so.

Frank Benton.

For the American Bee Journal.

Cause of Bee Cholera or Dysentery.

I have noticed in several articles astatement quite similar to this, whichis taken from Mr. James Heddon’s articlein the February number of the Bee-Keepers’Instructor: “Every bee-keeperof experience who lives in our northernlatitudes has witnessed enough to knowthat cold or confinement, or both, donot cause bee cholera or dysentery.”Now, I claim the title “bee-keeper”(whether of experience or not I dare notsay), and live in the “northern latitudes,”yet I cannot be one of the numberabove styled as “every,” for I believeconfinement does cause the so-called dysentery,and hope to so clearly show it inthis article that you will so acknowledgealso.

First. I once produced dysentery (Ido not believe this is a disease, butmerely an accumulation of the feces) inits worst form, the latter part of June,by confining a lot of bees to the hivefor 10 days. A frame of brood was takenfrom the hive with the adhering bees,and also a frame of honey with the beeswhich were on that, and placed in anempty hive to form a nucleus, the beesbeing confined to the hive for three orfour days, when the entrance was openedin the evening. Early the next morningthere came on a cold storm and badweather ensued, so the bees could notfly for six more days. On the tenth daythe sun came out, and the bees fromthese nuclei (7 in number) were so loadedthat they could scarcely fly. An examinationrevealed that they had eaten onan average about 2 lbs. of honey in eachnucleus. Nuclei made but a few daysbefore, which had flown 2 or 3 times beforethe bad weather, were not eager tofly, and showed no signs of dysentery,neither did our full colonies; nor hadthey eaten an undue amount of honey.The trouble here was evidently confinement,which caused the bees to worryand thereby consume an undue quantityof food, thus producing a necessity tovoid the excrement, or dysentery, if youplease to call it so.

Again, in the fall of 1878 our beeswere prepared for winter in the bestpossible shape, and had nothing butwhite honey in their hives, said honeybeing collected the early part of July,for we had no fall honey. Sixty colonieswere put in the cellar, and 90 left on thesummer stands, two-thirds of whichwere packed with chaff and straw.Winter set in early, and the weatherwas so cold that no bees could fly withsafety for nearly 4½ months. At theend of 4 months some of our best colonieswere dead, with the combs andhives soiled badly, while others sittingright alongside of them were in as finecondition as could be, and remainedthus, coming out strong in the spring.If it was “bacteria” in the honey, whydid not all die, as all had the samestores? We also placed 60 colonies fromthe same yard in the cellar on the 1st ofNovember, and did not set them out tillMay 1st, and 55 of the 60 came out ingood condition, while we only saved 15out of the 90 out-doors—75 dying withthe dysentery, so-called. If it was infectionof the honey, why did not thosein the cellar die also, and especially asthey stood 6 month’s confinement? Thepast winter has shown the same results,only our loss is but about 10 per cent.so far.

Now I will give my conclusion. Frompractical experience I have been forcedto the conclusion that confinement isthe cause of all wintering troubles, forsurely, bees do not die from what theyeat in July weather when they can fly.But confine them to the hive with Julyweather, and they cannot live one-thirdas long as in cool or cold weather. Thatconfinement is the result whenever themercury falls below 40° to 45° in theshade, and as surely as the mercury staysbelow this for 60 days in succession,bees not properly protected will suffertherefrom, and if properly protected,120 days will more or less hurt those onthe summer stands; that 180 days’ confinementin a good cellar can be enduredby the bees as well as 120 days in well-protectedhives, or 60 days with no protectionon the summer stands; that if60 days more of confinement is added ineither case, not 1 colony in 10 can survive,no matter what the food is nor thesurrounding conditions. Now, we

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