Forty-Two Years of Bee-Keeping in New Zealand, 1874-1916
Excerpt from Forty-Two Years of Bee-Keeping in New Zealand, 1874-1916: Some Reminiscences He also published about the year 1844, A Few Simple Rules For New Zealand Beekeepers. (1) Be anxious to increase your stock at first rather than to take a large quantity of honey. (2) Get well acquainted with your bees, and make them acquainted with you. Handle them gently, and do not blow on them. Leave them alone when they are cross. (3) Always in swarming time have a spare hive at hand. (4) If you have boxes to pile one on top of the other, never disturb the lower box, except when, after two or three years, the combs have grown old and want renewing; then, late in the autumn, when the breeding season is over, take the combs away from the lower box instead of the second. To Take Honey. (5) Take off the cover, blow some smoke into the upper box between the bars to drive the bees into the lower box. Have a table ready, with a cloth upon it; lift the box on to this, and carefully cut out the outside combs, stopping directly you come to those which have brood in them. Return the box with the brood-combs undisturbed. This may be repeated as often as you see through the window (of the hive) that the honeycombs are sealed over. (6) After the breeding season is over all the boxes except the lower one may be entirely emptied in situations where, as at Paihia, the bees work through the winter. (7) Keep a stock book regularly, and write down immediately anything curious which is observed. "(Signed) William Chas. Cotton." The above rules were no doubt the best that could be adopted by New Zealand beekeepers at that time, and the system advocated was at least a great advance on that of the sulphur pit method, though quite out of date now. Rule 7, however, concerning an apiary register or note book, will always hold good. The First New Zealand Bee Manual. Somewhere in the early part of the second half of the last century a useful little manual, with the title "How to Manage the Honey Bees in New Zealand," compiled by an Old Beekeeper, and revised by H. J. Hawkins, Belvedere Nursery, and David Hay, Montpellier Nursery, was published by Geo. T. Chapman, Auckland. The practical part of this little work covers some 45 pages, and was fully up to date at the time it was published. The bar - hive not the bar-frame hive - was the most advanced form of hive then in use, from which the honeycombs had to be separated from the sides with a long knife when taking honey; barframes as we know them now had not then been invented. Notwithstanding, however, all that the Rev. W. Cotton and a few others had done to awaken an interest in the most humane system of beekeeping in New Zealand, the old, cruel and wasteful sulphur pit method was generally practised down to the year 1880, when things took a turn for the better, although the sulphur pit was still largely in evidence until some eight or nine years ago. Primitive Beekeeping. As I have already intimated, beekeeping in New Zealand for very many years after the introduction of the hive-bee, speaking generally, followed the primitive methods in vogue among the cottager class in Britain and other parts of Europe at that time. Common boxes with crossed sticks running through them to support the combs were the common form of hives, though a few settlers who had been familiar with and made straw skeps in the "Old Country," adopted that style of hive here. During the first years of my travelling among our beekeepers as Government Apiarist, I came across several lots of well-constructed skeps. They were made of twisted straw laced with split supple-jack cane, and were very neat and cosy-looking. It grieved the owners very much when they were compelled to do away with them and adopt the more serviceable frame hive. A prominent feature of this primitive hive system was the sulphuring of the bees at th.