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Which Way Should Hives Face?

§ 66. There seems to be no facing superior to the one that allows the sun’s rays to shine directly into the entrance of a hive during winter. There is not a difference of any consequence between a south, southeast or southwest aspect, and selection may be made to suit the apiarist’s notion. Next to this, we should say, face to the east; if this is impossible, the west – and when no other available, submit to a north frontage.

Early in the spring is the best time to begin.

How Many Hives to Begin With?

§ 67. Purchase strong colonies of bees from some reliable breeder or dealer, and in order to get experience, increase from two or three colonies – not more.

Moving Bees

§ 68. Spring is the best time to transport your bees or move them from one locality to another. Select a cool day in March or April. They may be moved at any time, even in hot weather, but the danger of smothering the bees or having the combs break down is much greater. In April, when the combs contain the least amount of honey, and before the hives have become populous, bees may be moved by simply nailing the cap or cover and bottom-board to the main body, and closing up the entrance with a slat also nailed fast. Sufficient air will be supplied through the cracks of the entrance to keep them from smothering for several hours, and perhaps several days if they are shaded from the sun’s rays. In hot weather, it is necessary to remove the bottom-board and replace it with a frame fitted with wire-cloth protected with slats so as not to be in danger of having a hole punched in it in handling.

In very hot summer days, or in southern latitudes very strong colonies must be made still safer in transportation by using the wire-cloth at both bottom and top, so the bees may have a current of air. They should be kept carefully out of the sun while being transported.

§ 69. When bees are transported a very short distance, less than two miles, there is a possibility of the old bees returning to their old location. To avoid this, drum them and frighten them well before releasing them, and place a shade-board or some other sort of obstruction in front of the entrance, so they may be compelled to notice the change of location at the first issue from home. In this way there will be but little loss. The manner in which bees mark their location is as follows:

They do not leave the hive in a straight line, but go only a few inches, then turn their heads towards the hive and oscillate back and forth in front of it; then moving further back, still hovering in front of the hive, with their heads towards the entrance, occasionally advancing towards it, as if to note more particularly the place of entrance and its immediate surroundings, they then increase the distance, taking a survey of buildings, trees, fences, or other noticeable objects near by, after which they return to the hive, and start in a direct line from it. On returning, they come directly to the hive and enter; the surrounding objects and the color of the hive are all noted by them (36).
So carefully is the location of their entrance learned by them that if the hive is moved but a foot, they will be likely to miss their landing at the first trip.

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