Which is the Most Profitable Race of Bees?

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From the Vintage Publication:
“The American Apiculturist.” (1885)
A Journal Devoted to Scientific and Practical Beekeeping.

By D. F. Lashier.

Which is the most profitable race of bees regarding brooding, comb-building, honey-gathering disposition and wintering qualities?

I have no desire to injure anyone’s business and wish merely to bring to notice a few facts which it seems to me to have been overlooked.

Perhaps a few notes founded upon years of experience would not be out of place, especially as my motives are entirely unselfish.

I commenced beekeeping in 1872 with one colony of gray bees in a box hive. I purchased this hive of a neighbor whose bees seemed to be very hardy and gentle. They are of uniform size and as large as any Italians that I ever have seen, even when the latter were reared in comb of their own building. I hive all my gray bees without any protection whatever and the same when looking for queens, etc. With the Italians this would be perfect madness.

Doubtless some will say “your gentle bees must suffer from being robbed.” Not so, my friends, they are good protectors of their homes.

I have purchased queens from some of the best breeders in the States hoping to get the best in the market, and I never have, as yet, seen any that will hold their own with my gray bees.

In breeding, the Italians commence a trifle earlier in spring, but they dwindle so badly that when fruit trees bloom they are not as strong as the gray bees.

For honey-gathering from the white and red clover the Italians and gray bees are about equal, but when buckwheat is in bloom the grays beat the Italians by fifty per cent.

I have wintered both races indoors and out of doors. The grays seem to become dormant not caring to move about, while the Italians are uneasy, crawling out of their hives and wasting away.

My gray bees have steadily increased by natural swarming from the one colony to 120, all in the same apiary; giving me, in an average season, a nice surplus of box honey, and in a very poor season holding their own without feeding or spring dwindling.

I think that had one-half the pains been taken to improve some of our native bees that have been devoted to rearing foreign races, beekeeping of to-day would be in a far better condition. It is the general result and the general summing up that decide which is the more profitable vocation.

Of late years I have wintered my bees in a frost-proof building, and have found it to be a great saving of honey. At some future time I will tell your readers, if they wish, how this building is constructed so as to carry bees safely through five months of as cold winter weather as ever existed in my section, together with my experience in fruit raising in connection with beekeeping and how I manage to save my natural swarms from absconding.

This having swarms decamp to parts unknown is all wrong. I have had more swarms come to me than I ever had desert, and the idea that bees injure fruit blossoms is altogether erroneous. Why! we were obliged to prop up our plum trees last season to prevent them from breaking down with the load of plums, and of cherries we had a most bountiful crop and this right in our apiary too.

I should be pleased to give your readers a paper on fruit and bees if it would be acceptable.

Hooper, N. Y.

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