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62

FRENCHMEN, SWISS, AND GERMANS.

good profit of them too, was asked by a brother Bee-master why he had got rid of his stock. “Oh,” said he, “I am an old man, (he was above seventy,) and like to die soon, and I know I shall then have to give account of the least thing I now do; and so I cannot bear to murder my poor Bees by thousands !” A copy of this Letter was then given to him. He was much pleased with it, and took kindly to his Bees again in his old age; and I hope they will not only help to keep him, but cheer him too, all the days he has to live. But to pass over the cruelty ;-if I can show that you may get much more honey without killing your Bees, the least you can do (if you will not take a friend's word for what he himself has done, and seen many others do in England and in foreign parts, the least you can do is to try the plan with half your stock. Keep an account of what you get from each, and use that plan with all, which after five years gives you most honey.

In France, Germany, Switzerland, indeed everywhere, except in° England, they never kill their Bees. Whenever I asked if they did so, they smiled at my question, and said, “Oh, that would never do; we should never keep up our stock!” “How, then, do you get the honey?" “ Oh, nothing is easier!” Even in hard things, the proverb holds,

Where there's a will, there's a way;

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and these very poor cottagers, without half the means we have, never burn their bees; and surely an Englishman is as clever and as little fond of cruelty as a Frenchman or Swiss.

I remember but one place abroad, where they kill their Bees—Chamouni in Switzerland, close under Mont Blanc. The winter there is very long and tedious, and the honey season very short. The honey also is very good, and so fetches a very high price. All these verys combine against the poor

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Bees. The peasants wish to get every ounce of honey they can to sell to John Bull; so they take up all their stocks directly they begin to wax

64

OUTLANDISH HONEY TAKING.

lighter, and trust to their friends and partners in the low country to supply them with swarms in the following spring. Then the same system of murder goes on as before. But even here, where the cold makes the case an unusual one,

I think a different plan would be found more profitable, as certainly it would be more humane. I do not know whether the plan of keeping the stocks through the winter has ever been fairly tried at Chamouni, but think it would succeed; for a winter cannot be too cold for Bees if they are kept dry. The spring there comes on with a jump, unlike " the spring that comes slowly up this way,”unpleasant both to English Bees and Englishmen; but there the snow melts, and the flowers are out, as if by magic, in a week or so; and my belief is, that the Bees would come out in full force, all the better for their long sleep, as soon as the flowers are ready for them; but, even if it is found a bad plan to keep stocks all through the winter, they might, by smoking their Bees, instead of burning them, take all the honey which they do at present. They should then send their Bees in a bag or box to Salenche and other places, whence they look for swarms in the spring, and they would get both earlier and better swarms from these united Hives than they have on their present plan; but this one exception rather proves my rule. I know

BEE-KEEPER IN THE MURG THAL.

65

no other place where Bee-murder goes on abroad as it does amongst us. Let us try to do the same; for what you now think hard, they find easy, though they do it in a rough sort of way. Some of them make their straw Hives with the top to take off, and fasten it down with wooden pegs: in

: July, they pull out the pegs, and with a large knife cut away the top of the Hive from the combs which are fixed to it, like the top of a pumpkin :*

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they then cut out what honey the Bees can spare, never caring for those which are flying about their heads : for they will not touch them if they have a

* See the second volume of this work, being extracts from some books in the author's possession.

66

FROGS' CHEESE-PUFF BALLS.

pipe in their mouth. When they have helped themselves, they peg the top down again, and leave the Bees to make all straight, and gather honey enough for the winter in August and September, which they can easily do in heath countries. Others put another large Hive on the top of a strong stock in May, as is done in some parts of England, which prevents their swarming. This Hive they take off when full. Others turn up their Hives in July or August, and cut out some of the combs. Others, who know more about it, place square wooden boxes one on another, putting empty boxes below, and taking away full ones from the top. I saw a doctor in Switzerland take honey from twelve Hives; he got 15lbs. from each; but this gives coarse honey, as I shall soon show. Some who know more about it, put an empty wooden box in front, and take it when full. These ways are clumsy, much worse than those I am going to teach you, but all better than burning the Bees. Well then, let this be your first rule, , NEVER KILL ONE. That you may be able so to do, every thing must be got ready beforehand. You may find in damp meadows a fungus, which children call “Frogs'Cheese,” and “Puff Balls.” When quite ripe, if you pinch them, a dirty powder, like smoke, will come out. Pick them when half ripe. The largest are the best, and they often grow to the

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