Monday, August 25, 2008



Sir,—At the beginning of the year 1900 I had never seen a honey-comb
design in my life.The first idea I had of such a thing was from reading
an article in one of the illustrated papers about twelve months ago about
the family of Colonel (now General) Baden -Powell, and in which
there appeared an illustration of a comb design in the form of a bicycle
made by Miss Baden Powell's bees. At the time I was a beekeeper in my
novitiate days, and so I thought if Miss Baden-Powells bees could shape a
bicycle in honey comb, why not mine work out a big wheel! So I resolved
to try my hand at the job, and made a frame of wood similar in size to an
ordinary section-rack with a quarter inch rabbet inside round top and
bottom, and within this space had a sheet of glass cut to fit in at the
top. It then struck me that the bees could not build comb on the glass
without ventilation,as the heat from below would cause condensation of
moisture on the under side. In order to overcome this difficulty I had
two corners cut off the gins, and let in two strips of wood for the
latter to rest on where the corners had been removed.
I then cut a piece of stout cardboard-same shape and size as the
glass—for the bottom. The design was next drawn on paper,than retraced
out on transparent tissue paper, and finally transferred to the cardboard
by laying the tissue piper on it and drawing a pencil round the lines
originally drawn.
I then punched holes for the bees to pass through the cardboard in
positions under the comb foundation. I next proceeded to cut a strip of
strong cardboard, wide enough to allow of its being glued to the bottom
pieces, and yet not quite reaching up to the glass. This strip of card was
then bent to the shape required,and glued to the stout bottom-piece first
mentioned ; and when this was completed I secured it in the box with a
few tacks, filling up the two corners specified with perforated zinc. All
being now ready for the foundation, I prepared to fix the latter by
placing the design on the table, then laid the glass over it. I then cut
the foundation, slightly warming to prevent its breaking, in strips about 1
and a half in. wide. I fixed the centre bits first, one at a time, by
bending the edge a little and warming it by a candle, taking care not to
blacken it.
As each piece was warmed it was fixed on the glass over the pencil marks
drawn on the design, pressing it down with my thumb and holding till
cool. Then to ensure still firmer fixing I drew a piece of wire made hot
along the edge, taking care to wipe the wire each time it was removed from
the fire so as not to make any black marks. The circle in centre was
fixed in the same way, and where I made a joint I lapped the pieces over a
little,then drew the hot wire up them, thus melting the wax and fixing
them together.
I then placed the glass carefully in the box,leaving any little
irregularity, so that where the glass did not fit to provide ventilation.
All was then ready to put on the hive.
I placed it over the first swarm of last season, which was doing well at
the time. Three days afterwards I examined it and found one piece of
foundation had fallen down,but as the bees were working so nicely on the
parts of the design still intact I decided to leave them alone, and am
glad I did so, for I think the bees actually improved on my design. On
looking at the photo you will see the place where the bit fell down; it
formed part of the left hand upright of the wheel; both sides should have
been alike. When the design was found nicely filled and sealed, I raised
it and placed a super-clearer and section rack beneath,and thus got the
bees out. My description may not be quite clear to all, but I have given
the plan followed as closely as I can for the benefit of other young
bee-keepers who may like to try a honey-comb design.

– Richard Allen,Tusmore,Bicester- THE BEE-KEEPERS RECORD Nov 1908


Sir I enclose a photograph,which I have no doubt will be of interest to your readers. The word "Gibson, which is designed in honey,was worked for a large firm in Edinburgh by Mr. James Andrew,of Forfar. N.B. Mr.Andrew, who is both deaf and dumb, is an extensive bee-keeper, with a thorough knowledge of bee-keeping,and the enclosed design and many others
were entirely his own idea.This is a capital way of advertisinq honey, as
these designs exhibited in shop windows, always attract considerable
attention. Mr.Andrew follows the occupation of a shoe-maker, and besides
bee keeping he is a very successful amateur gardener. His stock of heather
honey this year,although by no means the largest he has had, is considered
very handsome, owing to the season here not having been a particularly
good one.

D. Ormone, St.James Terrace,Forfar THE BEE-KEEPERS RECORD Nov 1908


Press of work has hitherto prevented me from adverting to the articles
written on the above subject in the B. B. Journal, of dates 1st and 8th
April last. Honey-comb designs have been in vogue for a number of years,
such as stars, circles, &c; but these are very simply done, and it is
only in regard to comb letters and figures that I claim the honour of
being the inventor. Permit me to describe how it is done.
Take a super made of three eighths wood, say 10 x 8 x outside measure,
and you want the year 1880 built in it; get strips of foundation about
one inch deep, draw out the shape of the figures in super ; then fix the
strips of foundation with a smelter in centre where the figures are to be
built. Thus fixed, get thin pieces of wood separators about three eighths
less in depth than the inside of the super, so as to allow free access
under; on these seperators fix little corner pieces to form the circles
and bends in such a way as to prevent the bees from misshaping the
figures. These blocks are then fixed in the super with fine brads, to
draw out easily when the super is finished. Any letters or figures can be
done by putting the foundation in the shape wanted, and filling up the
interstices in the same way as already stated. My first attempt at
letter-building was in 1882. I then tried the word HONEY. The super was
too long, and the bees only finished out ONE in the centre—H and Y were
unfinished ; these I cut off, leaving ONE complete, which I exhibited at
Stranraer Flower Show that year. Every year since I have done more or
less at letter-building.
The late Mr. Pettigrew also tried the letter-making. His method was to
take pieces of wood, 6 in. square by half in. thick, and fix a strip of
foundation on each piece of wood in the shape of the letter wanted. This
was let into a large hole in the crown of his skeps, and the bees drew
out the foundation. When taken off he then cut off parts of the letters
where too thick with a knife, and thus shaped each letter to his mind.
There was never any honey in his letters by this method, and therefore
they could not be called ` honey-comb letters.' His handiwork was shown
at the Oldham Exhibition in 1883. In Gleanings of May or June 1881, Root
describes another way of building letters in frames, by letting two
letters made in each frame and filling up the corners and spaces with
blocks. I have never seen Root's method worked out. and therefore I
cannot say how it does. As usual, our American friends brought it out in
1884 as something new. Stars, circles, and suchlike, are more easily done
than letters. It is only necessary to fix the foundation in whatever way
you want the bees to build, and almost, invariably you will get it. The
idea only requires a little taste and ingenuity, and once known is very
simple. Lastly, the making of letters and designs is not a paying
`spec,' unless a large sum can be got for them. Several bee-keepers to
whom I have shown the idea have sold at exorbitant prices.

Wm. McNally Glenluce, Scotland BBJ May 1886


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