Information about bee culture


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Information about bee culture
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United States -- Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Administration, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine ( Beltsville, MD )
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oclc - 778667894
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E-276, Revised / July 1946


Agricultural Research Administration
Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine
Peltsville, Maryland


Most persons appreciate that the only source of honey and beeswax is the
honeybee. Few realize, however, that, although this insect in the United
States produces in excess of 200 million pounds of honey and 4 million
pounds of beeswax annually, these are merely by-products, and that its
principal role is in the pollination of some 50 agricultural crops for
the production of seed and fruit. While many other insects are of value
as pollinators, their numbers have been so depleted in the course of
agricultural development that they can no longer be relied upon. In
practically all agricultural areas honeybees are now the most numerous
flower-visiting insects. The transfer of pollen from flower to flower
is so essential that beekeeping must be carried on to maintain a profit-
able agriculture.

Many persons own bees, but not enough keep bees efficiently or make bee-
keeping a specialty. Efficiency in beekeeping is based upon a thorough
knowledge of the life and behavior of bees, the proper use of equipment#
and careful attention to marketing problems.

This circular presents in brief form certain information not included in
current Government bulletins. If your beekeeping questions are not
answered in this and other Department publications, the Pureau of Ento-
mology and Plant Quarantine will be glad to render further assistance.
ADRESS ALL INQUIRIES TO: Division of Bee Culturei Agricultural Research
Center, Beltsville, Maryland.



GOVERNMET PUBLICATIONS. A limited supply of most of the following
publications is available for free distribution; however, all are
obtainable by purchase from the SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS, GOVERNMENT
PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON 25, D. C., by postal money order, express
order, or New York draft. If currency is sent it will be at sender's
risk. Postage stamps, defaced or worn coins, foreign coins, and
uncertified checks will not be accepted.

Farmers' Bulletin





Technical Bulletin

Leaflet No.

961 Transferring Bees to Modern Hives...... 5
1713 Treatment of American Foulbrood........ 5
386 The Wax Moth and Its Control........... 5
392 Diagnosing Bee Diseases in the Apiary.. 5
554 Honey and Pollen Plants in the
United States....***.....*...... 10
650 Factors Affecting Usefulness of
Honeybees in Pollination....*.......O10
702 Productive Management of Honeybee
Colonies in the Northern States......10
656 Cost of Producing Extracted Honey
in California........................10
716 Investigations on the Physical and
Chemical Properties of Beeswax....... 5
113 Honey and Some of Its Uses.............5


Costs and Practices in Producing Honey in Oregon, by A. S.
Burrier, Frank E. Todd, H. A. Scullen, and William W. Gorton.

The Distribution of California Buckeye in the Sierra Nevada
in Relation to Honey Production, by George H. Vansell,
William G. Watkins, and L. F. Hosbrook.

A discussion of the Natural History, Management and Diseases
of the Honeybee The Beginner Beekeeper in Louisiana, by
E. Oertel.

Nectar and Pollen Plants of Oregon, by H. A. Scullen and
0. H. Vansell.







E-SERIES CIRCULARS. Obtainable without cost from the Division of Bee Cul-
tuPe, Arricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland.

E-297 I.,t of Dealers in Beekeeping Supplies, Package Bees, and
&-427 New Reconmmendations for the Installation of Package Bees,
Using a Spray and Direct-Release Method.
E-495 Brief Presentation of the Characteristics, Contaminants,
Processing, and Uses of Beeswax.
E-529 Some Effect of Temperature, Relative Humidity, Confinement,
and Type of Food on Queen Bees in Mailing Cages.
E-531 The Use of Pollen Traps and Pollen Supplements in Develop-
ing Honeybee Colonies.
E-536 The Role of Pollen in the Economy of the Hive.
E-545 A Report of Investigations of the Extent and Causes of
Heavy Losses of Adult Honeybees in Utah.
E-584 The Dependence of Agriculture on the Beekeeping Industry.
E-693 Two-Queen Colony Management.

SEMI-MONTHLY HONEY REPORT. This report, issued monthly on the 1st and
15th, gives quotations on honey and beeswax, the condition of
bees and honey plants, data on imports and exports of honey,
and other pertinent economic information relating to beekeeping.
Copies are available without cost through the Production and
Marketing Administration, Washington 25, n. C.

PRODUCTION STATISTICS. Honey and Beeswax Production; Foneybees: Number
of Colonies and Production of Honey and Beeswax, 1945 -
January 25, 1946, Bureau of Agricultural Economics,
Washington 25, D. C.

1943. (These standards supersede the United States Grades recom-
mended by the United States Department of Agriculture in Circular
No. 24, issued December 1927 and revised August 1933). Copies
are available without cost through the Production and Marketing
Administration, WAshington 25, D. C.

Farm Credit Administration. For copies write to the Director
of Information and Extension, Farm Credit Adainiitration,
6ashington 2t, D. C.


MOTICN PICTURE FILM. Copies of the motion picture, The Realm of the
Honeybee," may be purchased (in either 35 or 16 millimeter
width) through the Motion Picture Section, Extension Service,
U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington 25, D. C. Applica-
tion for purchase should be sent to that section.

This is a four-reel film showing interesting phases of the life
history and behavior of the honeybee. It is replete with close-
ups of bees gathering nectar and pollen, performing the "food
dance" and driving out drones and robber bees. It shows hew bees
sting and also records a fatal encounter between rival queens.
The film closes showing howr honey is removed from the hives and
prepared for market, and a few of the ways in which honey can be

SLIMEFILMS AND FILM STRIPS. The following series of slidefilus and film
strips are available at nominal cost. A price list and instruc-
tions for ordering may be obtained from the Visual Instruction
Section, Extension Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture,
Washington 25, D. C.

The Anatomy of the Honeybee................*Series 151
Diagnosis of Bee Diseases in the Apiary,... 171
First Lessons in Beekeeping................ 346
Transferring Bees to Movable-Frame Hives... 616


C. W. Aeppler Company.....................Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Dadant and Sons...........................Hamilton, Illinois
Diamond Match Company....................Chico, California
Walter T. Kelley Company..................Paducah, Kentucky
Leahy Manufacturing Company...............Higginsville, Missouri
G. B. Lewis Company.****............****......Watertown, Wisconsin
August Lotz Company.......................Boyd, Wisconsin
A. I. Root Company........................Medina, Ohio
Williams Bros. Manufacturing Co...........Portland, Oregon
A. G. Woodman Company.....................Grand Rapids, Michigan
Superior Honey Company....................Ogden, Utahand
Los Angeles, California
Fred W. Muth Company......................Pearl and Walnut Streets,
Cincinnati, Ohio

Also see Circular E-297, "LIST OF DEALERS IN


BOOKS ON BEEKEEPING Books for sale by bee supply houses and book
dealers. Prices are approximate. For list of supply dealers
see page 4. Some of these books may be in your public library.

ABC and XTZ of Bee Culture (1945)............A.I. and E. R. Root..$2.50
American Honey Plants (1930).......... .......Frank C. Pellett...... 3.00
Anatomy and Physiology of the Honeybee (1925)R. E. Snodgrass****....... 3.50
Bee Venom Therapy (1935).....................Bodog F. Beck, M.D.... 5.00
Beekeeping (1928)............................E. F. Phillips........ 4.00
Beekeeping as a Hobby (1941).................Kyle Onstott.......... 2.00
Beekeeping in the South (1920)...............Kennith Hawkins....... 1.00
Dadant System of Beekeeping..(1932)..........C. P. Dadant.......... 1.00
First Lessons in Beekeeping (1938)...........C. P. 1adant......... 1.00
Five Hundred Answers to Bee Questions (1942).Geo. S. Demuth......** .50
Golden Throng (1940).........................EdwinWay Teale....... 3.00
Honey and Your Health (1944)................ Bodog F. Beck, M.D. &
Dor6e Smedley......... 3.00
Honey Getting (1944).........................E. L. Sechrist........ 1.50
Honey Plants of North America (1926).........John H. Lovell........ 1.50
How to Succeedwith Bees (1930)..............Atkins and Hawkins.... .55
Langstroth on the Hive and Honeybee (1927)...C. P. Dadant.......... 2.00
Life of the Bee (1904).......................MauriceMaeterlinck... 2.50
Living from Bees (1946)......................Frank C. Pellett...... 2.00
Outapiaries and Their Management (1919)......M.G. Dadant.......... 1.00
The Mystery of the Hive (1923)...............Eugene Evrard......... 2.50
Practical Queen Rearing (1945)...............Frank C. Pellett...... 1.00
Productive Beekeeping (1923) .... ...... ....,,Frank C. Pellett...... 3.00
Queen Rearing Simplified (1923)..............Jay Smith............. 1.25
Scientific Queen Rearing (1899)..............C. U. Doolittle....... .50
Starting Right with Bees (1945)..............H. G. Rowe............ .50
(Revised by E. R. Root)

BEE JOURNALS. The following are issued monthly at $1.0041.50 per year:

American Bee Journal, Hamilton, Illinois
Beekeeper's Item, Paducah, Kentucky
Gleanings in Bee Culture, Medina, Ohio
The Beekeepers' Magazine, 3110 Piper Road,
Route 5, Lansing, Michigan



American Honey Institute Mrs. Harriet M. Grace, Director, Commercial
State Bank Building, Madison, Wisconsin. An organization
sponsored and supported by the bee supply companies, beekeepers'
organizations and individuals. Its purpose is to give publicity
to honey through demonstrations., lectures, radio talks, honey
recipes and other literature.

Southern States Beekeepers' Federation An organization of honey pro-
ducers, shippers of package bees and queen breeders devoted to
the interest of beekeeping in the Southern States.

State Beekeepers' Organizations A beekeepers* association exists in
practically every State. Information about such associations
can usually be obtained through your State Department of
Agriculture or your Agricultural C6llege or Experiment Station.

Apiary Inspectors of America.

National Federation of State Beekeepers' Associations A national
organization of beekeepers comprised of State and County bee-
keepers' organizations and individual beekeepers. Annual dues
$5.00; Glenn 0. Jones, Secretary, Atlantic, Iowa.

The Bee Industries Association Supply manufacturers.

National Beekeeping War Council Representing all branches of the

National Honey Association Commercial bottlers of honey.


U. S. D. A. BEEKEEPING ACTIVITIES. All work on beekeeping by the
U. S. Department of Agriculture is centered in the Division of
Bee Culture Investigations of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant
Quarantine. This Division has its headquarters at the Agricultural
Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, and maintains the following
field laboratories:

California -

Louisiana -

Wisconsin -

Wyoming -

Pacific States Bee Culture Laboratory, Davis, California.
Oeo. H. Vansell, In Charge. Cooperating with the
California Agricultural Experiment Station and University
of California, Berkeley, California. In cooperation with
the Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station, a sub-labora-
tory is maintained at Tucson, Arizona, with S. E. McGregor
in charge.

Southern States Bee Culture Laboratory, University Stationr,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Warren Whitcomb, Jr., In Charge.
Cooperating with the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment
Station and University of Louisiana.

North Central States Pee Culture Laboratory, King Hall,
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. C. L. Farrar,
In Charge. Cooperating with the Wisconsin Agricultural
Experiment Station and University of Wisconsin.

Intermountain States Bee Culture Laboratory, Engineering
Shops, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming.
A. P. Sturtevant, In Charge. Cooperating with the Wyoming
Agricultural Experiment Station and University of Wyoming.




Beekeeping is a specialized industry requiring fundamental knowledge of
bee behavior and a genuine liking for handling bees. Locating colonies
close toavailable sources of nectar is important, since to insure good
crops the bees should be within flying range, that is, 1 or 2 miles of
an abundance of nectar-secreting plants. Good beekeeping locations are
found in practically every State, so that the selection of apiary sites
resolves itself into choosing locations where nectar-secreting plants
occur in profusion and where living conditions are desirable.

With proper experience and liking for bees, a person in a favorable loca-
tion can obtain from beekeeping a return that will compare favorably with
that from most agricultural pursuits. Beekeeping, however, can easily
result in a profitless undertaking and to avoid this we advise beginners
not to invest heavily. Practical knowledge gained through a season's work
with an experienced beekeeper should be invaluable to a beginner. If a
person cannot spend time with a beekeeper, the next best thing is to ac-
quire two or three colonies and do the best he can. A number of State
educational institutions offer resident or correspondence courses in bee-

A common method of starting a colony is to purchase a package of bees,
preferably 3 pounds, with a queen and to install this package in a hive
equipped with frames containing full sheets of brood foundation.
Instructions for installing usually accompany the package, which may be
ordered (See Circular E-297, "List of Dealers in Beekeeping Supplies,
Package Bees, and Queens") sent either by parcel post or by express.

The best time to begin beekeeping with either package bees or established
colonies is in the spring when fruit trees are in bloom.

If established colonies are purchased,they should be (1) in modern hives,
(2) acquired from a reliable beekeeper, and (3) accompanied by a
certificate of inspection to insure freedom from disease.

A beginner's outfit may consist of the following items, although it is
suggested that catalogs from some of the bee supply houses be consulted
for comparable information:

1 10-frame hive, consisting of: 1 3-lb. pkg. of bees with queen
1 bottom board 1 smoker
2 10-frame hive bodies complete 1 bee veil
with frames and brood foundation 1 hive tool
2 to 4 shallow supers complete with 10-15 lbs. granulated sugar
frames and thin super foundation 4 oz. No. 28-gauge wire
1 outer cover and 1 inner cover Spur imbedder


Such outfits, including a subscription to a bee journal, cost approxi-
mately $20. The equipment can be varied and more can be added after
a person has become experienced and learns how to manage 'Lar&e -olonies.
The standard 10-frame hive is the type generally user in the TUnited

While ordinarily more satisfactory results will be had with factory-made
equipment, some beekeepers prefer to construct their own beehives. If
this is done,it is a good plan to purchase or borrow a complete hive to
use as a model. It is essential that all dimensions be carefully adhered
to, otherwise the bees will build combs and add propolis where it is not
desired. Likewise careful construction is necessary so that ll hive
parts are readily interchangeable.

The Italian bee is the kind recommended for the beginner in this country.
It is hardy, industrious, fairly gentle, and can be readily obtained in
pure stock since it is the bee most commonly kept in t.h. unitedd S;ate,.

You should consult your Agricultural College, State Department of -r4..
culture, or Agricultural Experiment Station for information on St- o
beekeeping publications, extension work in beekeeping, Inspection r ervicei
good beekeeping locations, beekeeping associations, ard the like.


1. Bees need in the spring an abundant store of honey (15 or more
pounds at all times) and pollen, plenty of room for brood rearing.
a source of water, protection from the wind and exposure to sunlight.

2. Swarming results in the loss of honey, is undesirable and should be

3. There should be empty comb space in the hives at all times preceding
and during a honey flow. If every cell becomes occupied with brood,
pollen or honey, the bees will swarm or stop working, either of which
causes a loss of honey if it occurs just before or during a flow.

4. For successful wintering a colony should have a young queen of high
producing stock, a large cluster of young, fall-raised bees, 60 or
more pounds of sealed honey, and several combs containing large areas
of pollen. For these requirements a colony must have a 2-story standard
hive with a gross weight in October of about 130 pounds.

5. It is unprofitable and, in many States, illegal to keep bees in box
hives or "gums.P

6. It does not pay to cultivate any plant for bees alone. Nectar
resources may be improved, however, by planting such crops as sweet
clover on wastelands.


-1- 3 1262 09236 6888


7. Starvation is one of the principal causes of unprofitable beekeep-
ing. If bees are short of honey stores, a sirup of two parts of
clean granulated sugar to one of water should be fed. Plan care-
fully and avoid feeding by leaving the bees plenty of honey at all

8. Diseases of bees cause large annual losses of bees, honey and
equipment. Beekeepers should learn to recognize the symptoms,
particularly of American foulbrood.


While it is normal to find a few dead bees at the entrance of a hive,
the presence of large numbers should cause the beekeeper to examine
the colony for some abnormal condition. The presence of trembling or
paralyzed bees, or bees crawling and apparently unable to fly, should
arouse suspicion. Two of the commonest abnormal conditions of adult bees
are poisoning by insecticides and Nosema disease. Bees suffering frcs
these two and other abnormal conditions may all appear to behave alike.
A laboratory diagnosis can be made for Nosema disease and insecticide
poisoning; although, at times, making a diagnosis of any abnormal con-
dition of adult bees must include actual observation of the colony af-

In many parts of the country beekeepers suffer losses from American or
European foulbrood, the two most serious brood diseases. European foul-
brood can be controlled by proper corrective measures, but American foul-
brood, the more serious and prevalent of the two, requires a more drastic
treatment. The bees and combs of colonies infected with American foul-
brood should be burned.

Apiary inspection is a function of the States, and is maintained by most
State Departments of Agriculture, to which should be referred all questions
concerning apiary inspection, diagnoses, and proper methods of control.
As a service to beekeepers, however, the Division of Bee Culture examines,
without cost, samples of brood and adult bees. Reports of these diagnoses
are sent to the beekeepers in question, with a copy to the proper State
apiary officials.

For diagnosing brood diseases, send a sample of comb about 4" x 4" con-
taining the affected brood or brood remains. Avoid including any honey if
possible. In the case of adult bees. send from 100 to 200 (preferably
the latter) sick or dead bees. Mail all samples in a wooden or heavy
cardboard box. %o not use tin. glass. or waxed paper. Address all samples
tot Division of Bee Culture, Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville,