Saturday 16 May 2020

The Bee-Keeper

CAPE ARGUS - 1906, August 27
In the Weekly Argus, Bij-Vanger wrote:
In the British Bee Journal there are some letters by South African bee-keepers. Mr. Muhbaurer, of Bulawayo, writes:
“The question is frequently put as to whether the domestication of the wild bee is feasible. The Matabele variety is too fond of swarming at frequent intervals, and I know of one individual swarm that sent out sixteen smaller swarms within five weeks. The residue was a handful of bees which were quite incapable of amassing honey. Moreover, the wild bees, even if kept in a modern hive, are easily irritated, and very dangerous to any living thing within a hundred yards, showing a distinct partiality for horses and cattle.” He strongly advocates the importation of Italian bees.
W.H.E. thinks: “The native bees here are quite good enough without importing others. I often see accounts of their viciousness, stating that without cause they come out and sting everything within reach. I do not believe it. They do at times, give trouble by attacking animals, but certainly not without cause at all, as some state. One thing, you cannot combine fowls and bees in this country. They are certainly more vicious than the English bee, but I find them greater cowards and more easily subdued. On warm sunny days they are easily handled, but in cloudy weather and towards evening they are most vicious.”
Inyosi says: “South African bees can be made docile by frequent handling. I think bees are intensely sensitive to sound, and it is certain that anyone using a hoe near a hive will bring the bees out screaming ‘Whaffor.’
I have noticed this with even my most docile colonies. It can hardly be the odour of the newly turned soil that irritates the bees, because there is no trouble when it is done sixty or eighty yards away. At that distance they take little notice in their flight. Moreover, I have stood within a few yards of a hive and kept on the best terms with the bees, but as soon as I started pulling up weeds about the hive entrance, they came ‘for me’ pell-mell, and sting wherever they got a chance. It therefore seems clear that our bees here do not resent one’s working seventy yards away. The inference is that the commotion is due to sound or vibration. Moreover, they are more vicious when the ground is damp.”
Bees are more liable to become irritable in wet weather, because the rain washes the honey out of the flowers and leaves them with nothing to do. When bees are gathering honey from unstinted supplies, they are too busy to lose their temper; but when there is little for them to do, and no rations coming in, then they are ready for the war-path. Don’t meddle with bees after a rain – and when you have to handle them, do so about noon n a quiet, warm day.
I was writing the other day about bees and Lucerne. Where there is Lucerne there should be bees as a by-product. In California the bee colony is an adjunct to the alfalfa patch, and in five square miles of Lucerne country there will be from 2 000 to 7 000 colonies of bees. For a given acreage there is no plant or tree that will support as many colonies.
Buckwheat makes another good crop for bees, and a good farm crop in itself.

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