Tuesday, September 2, 2008
AMONG THE QUEEN-RAISERS IN THE NORTH OF ITALY
By THOMAS B. BLOW, F.L.S, Author of A Beekeepers Experiences in the East, &c.
The many controversies which have arisen during the past three years with
respect to the merits or demerits of the Italian bees, induced me, in the
interests of British bee-keeping, to pay a visit to the north of Italy
to study them in their native habitats, and to come to some decision as
to their qualities as compared with other races, and more especially with
the English bees.
Those who have carefully noted the published accounts of the Italian bees
from their first introduction will remember the surprising successes that
were years ago achieved; and I could call to mind several who have kept
Italians for many years, and still hold that they are far ahead of the
blacks. The Americans, too, quite upheld this opinion, and hold it
Carefully considering these facts, I was led to think that the root of
the evil, and the reason of the many and grievous complaints that have
lately been made, might lie in the inferiority of the queens imported
during the last few years. Those who years ago went in strongly
for Italians (and have succeeded), usually kept up their stock by
breeding from the best, rather than by constantly importing queens. And
the same method obtains in America, where most of the Italians are
home-raised--not imported—and I think it will be admitted on all sides,
that, as far as scientific queen-raising is concerned, the Americans
stand at the head of the world : though the successful persons in
England, that I allude to, are probably individually equal.
To get the best results we ought, undoubtedly, to import the finest
Italian queens, and then to raise the best from them here; keeping up the
stock by occasional importations, perhaps. In this way we can perpetuate
the best features of the race, and at the same time get bees that are
perfectly acclimatised. For it is an admitted fact, that the bees, the
immediate progeny of imported queens, are far more liable to
disease--especially dysentery—than the progeny of a home-raised Italian.
And, with the facilities which modern bee-keepers have, there is not the
least difficulty in getting the home-raised queens purely mated, and thus
practically keeping our strain pure, if absolute purity is desirable.
The complaints made by those dissatisfied with Italians are: (1) They do
not winter well; (2) As honey producers they do not equal the English bee;
(3) That they are very vicious and unmanageable: (d) and lastly, some
have asserted that a very virulent form of foul brood has been introduced
by them. From an examination (extending over a considerable time) of many
apiaries, I have come to the conclusion that most of the evil repute that
has fallen upon Italians has been brought about by the inferior queens
sent. In some cases the breeders knew nothing about their business, and
procured the cheap queens which are sent so freely in the autumn, by
going round and collecting them from the stocks condemned by the country
people to be taken up for the honey; they get these and the bees for
about a franc a stock. By this system many queens would be quite old and
worn out, others unfertilised, and therefore drone breeders ; and in a
district where foul brood occurred, of course the disease would go with
the queens, and disastrous results would follow by its introduction into
the apiary of the unsuspecting British bee-keeper. I have in my mind's
eye one case of a well-known cottage bee-keeper, whose apiary was utterly
ruined by the introduction of foul brood by Italian queens. This system
of getting queens from condemned bees I saw in full swing in many cases
(in one case by the servants of a well-known exporter); the time of year
being most favourable for this practice. and I certainly saw several fine
examples of foul-broody combs.
In other apiaries no trouble seemed to be taken with the quality of the
queens, such as selecting the best queens to raise progeny from, nor was
any attention paid to the raising of drones from suitable stocks. These
great considerations were quite neglected; the great point seeming to be,
the largest number of queens in the shortest possible time, and with the
least trouble: and, as far as I can judge, many were sent of without it
being definitely known that they were fertilised, and I feel sure that
some such queens arrive in England and are here fertilised,as,is the
course of my experience as an expert. I have had shown to me many stocks
of bees that I was assured were the progeny of an imported queen, but
were certainly hybrids. Again on inquiry after some of those who
advertise their finest Italians in the Continental and American Bee
Journals ( American especially) I found what they were simply agents
people who hardly knew what a queen was: they bought their queens from
the country folk, and all their part of the business was to sell them :
need I add that these people did not wish to see me?
My visits to apiaries extended over the country between Bellinzona and
Montselice ; this embraced the mountainous district of the northern
Italian lakes. the plains of Lombardy, and again the hilly country around
I may say at once that I certainly prefer the bees from the mountains, as
they seemed much more vigorous and hardy: and the results in the way of
honey-gathering, as far as I could get at facts, were certainly far
better. The bees from these hilly parts would, too, be better suited for
our climate. The number of apiaries visited was large, yet I can count
upon the fingers of one hand all those who knew anything about their
business; and if those who took a real pride in the production of their
queens, and who use really scientific means to insure the best results,
then the number would certainly be less than five.
I shall describe the apiaries of the best of these raisers, and their
methods; but before doing so, will give the conclusions which I have come
to with regard to Italians: That, excepting perhaps Carniolans, there are
no better bees than Italians, if care is taken to get the best queens
from a raiser of recognised merit.
That the bees of the mountains are hardy, vigorous workers, great
honey-gatherers, prolific, and certainly gentle, and in their own country
not given to robbing much.
That, to get the best results from Italian bees, we must get a good
strain to start with, and then, by careful selection, raise our own
queens, and be constantly on the look-out for those having the most
desirable characteristics, and to propagate from them only.
I can name one very striking case in my own county where all these points
have had most careful attention given to them, and with the result that
that bee-keeper is not only the best in the county, but one of the best
in England as far as results go; and practical results (the largest
amount of honey, of the highest possible quality, got with the least
expenditure of labour on the part of the bee-keeper) are what we require
in this age of keen competition.
The first apiary which I visited belonged to Jean Pometta, and was on the
hills above Gudo, near Bellinzona. He had promised to meet me at
Bellinzona station ; but on account of the breakdown of the telegraph
wires, owing to a heavy fall of snow, he failed to be there. However, it
was not much trouble to find him. Everybody whom I asked was able to
direct me to the man who had a lot of bees; and after a most picturesque
walk of two or three miles I arrived at his home, in the midst of
vineyards, and with a waterfall close by, which would have made the
fortune of any man in England who possessed it. He was from home ; not
having got my telegram he did not expect me. I had a chance therefore, of
looking at his apiary at my leisure and without any interruption, which
is always an advantage. His father a venerable old man received me in a
very hospitable manner,and,as Mr. Pometta is a vineyard-owner as well as
a queen-raiser, I was able to see all the vineyard operations in full
swing. I may say that he takes pride in his wine products as well as in
his bees; and he showed me with great interest an ancient-looking, squat
flagon of Aqua Vitae, very old, of his own distilling, that had taken a
gold medal at Zurich.
I found an immense number of stocks of bees, many of them in bar-frame
hives with straw sides; the majority of them on the Italian plan, opening
at back, and iron tongs being used to remove the combs. There were, too,
a large number of nucleus hives, with bar-frames lifting out in the
ordinary way. The bees were of the leather-coloured strain, not the
bright yellow-coloured bees such as I saw later on in Lombardy. To show
their energy, I may mention, that Mr. Pometta told me that they are
usually at work at six in the morning, and that on one or two occasions
he actually saw them at work by very bright moonlight, We have heard this
same story from the Americans, and I fear every one has doubted it.
On Mr. Pometta's return we went through many stocks, and I had explained
to me his whole system of queen-rearing. I found that I had just missed
Mr. Cowan and M. Bertrand, who had called about two days before on their
return journey from the bee-show at Milan.
The system used of rearing queens depends upon the time of year. In the
early spring (when loss of heat must be much guarded against) a stock is
taken, and, by means of three dummies, is divided into four nuclei, the
hive being made with four entrances for this purpose. In this way five
queens are secured from one stock ; and, though the system is a somewhat
wasteful one (Fig. 1), yet it answers, as the price obtained for queens
in early spring is comparatively high. Another plan is to preserve
a large number of small stocks with young queens in the autumn. In the
spring two or three of these can be united, and one strong stock formed,
and the surplus queens sold.
As the season advances, the nucleus hives are used;
each nucleus being large enough to be again divided into two. (Fig.2.) By
this plan better queens can be reared, and in good quantity too. The bars
of these are of just such a size that two will fit into the large bars of
the Italian hives.
This, of course, is of great service to the
queen-raiser in many ways, such as making up nuclei for queen
fertilisation, and afterwards for strengthening such with hatching-brood.
The finest queens are selected to raise progeny from: and to secure eggs
all of one age two small frames are placed in one larger one, and this
introduced into the centre of the stock containing the queens whose eggs
we desire.Or,if this queen is in a small hive, one bar of comb is placed
in the centre ; the comb should be fairly fresh and new, as, if so, it
will be more regularly and readily filled with eggs. On the fourth day
these combs will be found filled with newly hatched eggs. The combs are
cut from the bars, and sliced up as shown in illustration (Fig.3).
The egg in each alternate cell is then removed (Fig. 4), and the strip (Fig.
fastened with pins into another bar half full of comb. See
illustration (Fig. 5).
If there is a very great demand for queens one bar can he made to contain
two strips of comb fastened in this way,
(Fig. 6), though usually only one strip is used.
These bars are placed in a suitable stock,and we soon have beautifully
regular rows of queen-cells produced. The cells can be cut apart without
injury, and inserted in the nuclei for subsequent hatching, and cosequent
fertilisation, and we get thus far better results than by the old plan of
notching combs to induce queens to raise queen-cells (Fig.6a).
Mr. Pometta thinks it of the highest importance that each grub should
have a full supply of royal jelly ; the test of
this is that some should be left in the cell, after the queen has
hatched;therefore, before the cells are sealed over, he looks
through and picks out with his knife any with apparent short supply,
Still further,to secure these desired results,he takes care that the hive
into which the rows of cells are put for feeding and rearing, does not
contain brood in this larval state,as this brood would perhaps get
food to the detriment of the queen cells.In about a week the sealed
cells are cut apart and placed in nuclei to hatch and get fertilised;
and after this has happened the young queens are packed and sent off,and
fresh queen-cells introduced.
It is, however,desirable to wait two or three days before introducing
fresh queen-cells,especially if the bees are old; and then, if with one
sealed cell,two or three open ones are introduced,it often prevents the
sealed one being torn down. Of course, sometimes more queen-cells are
ready for hatching than there are nuclei ready to receive them. In this
case Mr. Pometta uses a very successful series of queen cages. (See
figs.7 and 8.)
The cells are put into these,and a bit of sponge with
honey and water is put to each, and the whole affair placed in the hive.
The queens hatch, and can be kept till nuclei are ready for them. Three
or four days, however, is as long as they should be kept in these cages.
The larger cage (Fig.9) is used for putting in fertile queens. When these
unfertilised queens are introduced into the nuclei they must be caged;
and if, when we go to release them, we find the bees attempting to gnaw
the cage, then it is unsafe; but if they are fanning, then we may release
them with certainty of success.
The packing of queens was next shown.Heather honey being used to sustain
the bees intended for Europe, whilst clover-honey is used for those going
to America, And other long journeys; the heather not suiting the bees so
well when they have to be shut up for a long period.
Though Italians are considered in this country as proof against wax-moth,
they certainly cannot contend always successfully against it in their own
country, for I saw several colonies much infested.
Next day we went to Gordola to see another apiary, and also the workshops
where the queen-boxes are made up.
Mr. Pometta to also has a considerable apiary at Airolo just where the
Gothard Tunnel comes out on the Italian side. The honey from this
district is extremely fine, though the place is too high for queen-rearing.
Mr. Pometta notes three kinds of drones—black, white, and red-eyed.
During our drives we looked at several country apiaries, and noticed that
the bees were kept in tubs, boxes, pieces of trees, &c., with crossed
sticks inside for he bees to steady their combs by, and that the entrance
was often in the shape of a cross, the natives believing that this brings
luck. The entrances were often halfway up the hive, so that the bees
would not have so far to go to reach the cluster in the winter time, nor
would the entrance be liable to be blocked by dead bees. This same style
of entrance prevails very much in straw hives in Belgium and the north of
France. Great carelessness seems to prevail in leaving about the apiaries
fragments of honey comb, and yet, to my surprise, this practice did not
appear to cause robbing. I was informed that the average weight of the
swarms ranged from two and a half to three kilogrammes.
Mr. Pometta is one of the few people in Italy who make comb-foundation ;
this he produces on a very fine Dunham machine: but this he had never
been able to get geared quite correctly, and consequently was not able to
get absolutely perfect foundation. It was with great pleasure that I took
off my coat, and turned up my sleeves, and had a turn at
foundation-making; and having got the gear in order, we turned out some
foundation in splendid style. I was glad thus to render some little
return for all the information which he had given given and all the
hospitality he had shown me.
On my way to the station we visited the apiary of Mr.Mona,who sends his
bees to Germany principally; it is a fairly large concern, although the
system employed was not, I consider, very advanced or scientific. There I
saw a solar wax extractor, which in the rays of an Italian sun was
answering well, and the resulting wax was all that could be desired.
There are many other devices which Mr. Pometta uses that space would fail
me to tell; but I can say, that as I parted with him at the station, I
felt that I was leaving a master of the art of queen-raising, and that I
had added much to my stock of knowledge.
In later articles I shall give details of my visit, to Dr. Dubinii of
Gallarate, to Sartori of Milan, Mdme. Chinni and Mr. Paglia of Bologna,
and Mr. Fiorini of Montselice.
THOMAS B. BLOW (BBJ April 1886 continued)
Leaving Bellinzona I went on to Locarno, and visited many country
apiaries among the mountains around, and, from the statements made by
the bee-keepers, it would seem that the average per stock for honey was
fairly high: this result would be probably due to the united qualities of
the district and the bees, the country being very fertile indeed. Then
taking the steamer down the lovely lake of Maggiore, with its vine and
tree clad hills, past the Borromean Islands—a most delightful journey,
with lovely views of the distant Alps, and with weather most perfect
though so late in the season—to Arona, and thence per rail to Milan.
Though bees were principally the object of my journey I could not forbear
taking a day to see the sights of Milan, foremost amongst which is the
lovely cathedral of white marble, with its delicate tracery and fine stat-
uary: the Milanese, too, are justly proud of their electric lighting,
which, is certainly very perfect, and the effect at night in the Grand
Square, with the cathedral in tho background, is very striking. Most of
the very fine shops, too, in the square and its arcades are lighted with
the small incandescent lamps. Dr. Dubini was here, of course, the first
man to see,his name being known far and wide. I found that he had been
taking a very active part in the bee show held a few days before I
arrived, and that he had now gone to his country residence to rest;he
lives at Cassano Mognogo,near Gallarate, about an hour's jouney by rail from the city;
and on arriving at the station, his mansion, called the Villa Dubini, was
pointed out to me on the top of the hill about a mile distant. A pleasant
walk along a road, crowded with country people in their best clothes
looking very picturesque --it was Sunday, their holiday day soon brought
me there, and a most cordial reception I received from the Doctor. His
house commands most charming views, being on a hill in the midst of flat
country, and is surrounded with beautiful gardens and terraces. Though
not a raiser of queens, he had so much to show me in other things that
the best had to be made of the time, as I could not stay longer than the
evening. By far the most clever theorist in bee-keeping that I had met
abroad, yet Dr. Dubini is still sufficiently practical; his great forte
is the invention of appliances,the number that I saw being Legion. A
swarm-catcher (Fig. I)
struck me as being a most useful invention; and as,in this country
nothing of the sort is ever used, and swarms are frequently lost, a
description may not be out of place. It is a bag made of enamelled cloth,
with the shining side inside, and is carried on a long pole ; the hoop
around the top of the bag is jointed, and after the swarm is shaken in,
by means of a pulley and a string running down the pole, the hoop is
closed;the inside being shining and slippery there is no difficulty
in shaking every bee out into the hive, or wherever they are to be put.
One or two little pieces of wire cloth are fixed about it for
ventilation, though the swarms should not be kept in it longer than
needful. A dry sugar-feeder (Fig. 2)
next calls for attention,
and for simplicity it is certainly unsurpassed. It consists of nothing
more than an ordinary bar-frame, having l-inch laths with bevelled edges
nailed on each side; the sugar is shot in from the top, the affair is
placed in the hive, and the bees stand on the bevelled edges and take the
sugar. I was assured that it was most effective, and I think it is a
great advantage on the clumsy tin dry sugar-feeders, so many of which
have been brought out in this country. Dr. Dubini is an advocate of dry
sugar feeding at certain times of the year. We have heard so much,too,of
late about the ways of introducing queens to stocks in this country that
I was glad to see a little of how it was done in Italy. Dr.Dubini does
not introduce queens direct,and without caging nor does he put a
bar of comb on which are bees and queen into tho middle of the stock
requiring a new queen without due precaution. For a queen alone a pipe-
covered cage, with an arrangement to liberate the queen without
disturbing the bees, is used (Fig. 3).
I found that he agreed with me
that the most important thing was not to disturb the bees at the time of
liberation of queen,which, if done, was generally a source
of trouble, the queen either being killed or encased. Then, if a bar of
comb, queen, and bees be introduced, a wire cage to take the whole is
used with an arrangement for uniting them together quietly.(Fig. 4.)
I may say that I met no one in the course of my journey who had, with
any degree of success, practised direct introduction.
A good idea for grafting in queen-cells is here shown (Fig. 5).
We often spoil a nice sheet of comb by cutting out a piece containing a queen-cell
from one comb, and grafting it into another. By using this contrivance
the piece coming out of one comb fits into the other, and so both combs
are kept in good condition. It is simply a piece of tin with the edges
The getting rid of bees from supers has always been a matter of some
little difficulty to beginners here, and this device (Fig. 6)
is certainly very simple and effective. A plain box with a door at one end
is taken, and at the top a long wire` gauze tube is fixed. The supers to
be rid of bees are put inside the box, and, of course, the bees fly to
the light, and escape at the top of the tube. This box may be placed in
the open air, as there is no danger of other bees entering; they may try
to do so, but always try to enter at the base of the tube, and, of
course, cannot: they have not the sense to go to the top of the tube and
down. The simplicity and cheapness of this should cause it to come into
general use here. Dr. Dubini keeps his bees in hives that are an
invention of his own, which are a kind of cross between the ordinary
upright Italian hive and the English bar-frame hive. (Fig. 7.)
The frames can be taken out from the back by means of tongs, ( fig. 8)
( these tongs are in universal use in Italy,Austria, and Germany), or the top can be
removed, and the frames lifted out in the same way as an ordinary
bar-frame hive. Double-walled hives are not in use, as the climate does
not seem to necessitate them. The supering arrangements are of a very
primitive kind, simply a rough box with bars in it;the small opening F in
Fig. 7 shows where bees enter into the super, and though I saw a few
sections they were certainly far from our standard in point of quality.
In the art of obtaining honey in comb the Italians are far behind us, and
I believe much surprise was caused at the Milan Exhibition by the sight
of some sections which Mr. Cowan took.
Dr.Dubini had but few bees, having lost heavily through foul brood; as a
remedy for this he believes in the fumigation with salicylic acid, and
uses a machine of this kind (Fig. 9)
which, so long as the temperature is
not too high, is probably effective. E lamp, D jacket, in which C (the
receptacle fur the acid) is placed, and which prevents acid from
overheating. We took a walk through the village to call on the local
expert, who keeps a large number of stocks; unfortunately he was from
home. The village priest, too, close by, keeps a very-large number.
Dr. Dubini has another, and usually much larger apiary at his farm close
by, and this we next visited; the bee-hives were in a very fine
bee-house, and one of his farm men seemed to take great interest in
looking after these stocks.
All around here are quantities of lime and chestnut trees; these latter
the Italians object to very much on account of the bad quality of honey.
This farm apiary Dr. Dubini is going to replenish, as he assured me he
could not live without his bees. There was much more to see and hear, but
the evening was drawing on, and after a most pleasant talk over dinner
the Doctor drove me down to the station, and I returned to Milan, after a
most pleasant day spent in the company of one of the most genial and
hospitable men I ever met.
On the outskirts of Milan—and just far enough out to keep bees---I found
the establishment of Mr. Luigi Sartori, and he a most enterprising and
business-like man; his depot for hives, bees, and every sort of
appliance, is, I believe, by far the largest in Italy. There were piles
of hives of every sort, most of them modifications of the upright hives,
some having the fronts most artistically painted and decorated. Barrel
honey-extractors were, too, a great feature here, and very good ones they
were, though the material used was zinc, to which Mr. Sartori thought
there was no objection. The apiary, too, in the midst of the works was a
very large one, and the way that some hundredweights of old comb were
scattered about in heaps for the bees to clean certainly surprised me,
and would have ruined any English apiary. The bees were doing their
cleaning work well, and did not appear to get angry, or to rob. Mr.
Sartori said that he always did that thing with his old comb,
and that no harm came of it. Besides his appliance business he was a
large dealer in honey and wax, and the quantity in hand was very great,
and the quality of some of the samples that I tasted very fine indeed.
The apiary at the works was not, of course, used for queen-rearing, but
there was a larger apiary in the country kept for that purpose, and Mr.
Sartori ships a great quantity of queens—to America principally, though
this year a lot have been sent to India. The bees were very bright yellow
indeed, so much so that I really thought that some Eastern blood must
have been introduced among them ; and some of the queens shown to me were
very fine -the largest by far that I had ever seen. Mr. Sartori had been
making a great display at the late exhibition in Milan, and I was much
interested in seeing some of his exhibits, more especially his collection
of bees in spirit. The number of prizes he had taken was very large.
With regard to the merits of Mr. Sartori as a queen-raiser, not having
seen his queen-raising apiary, I am unable to say much. However, as a
manufacturer he is evidently an advanced man, who keeps well abreast with
the needs of the time.
On my way to Bologna I saw many country apiaries, some of them having the
hives ranged on shelves on the fronts of the farm-houses.Bologna is akind
of centre of queen-raising, at least from advertisments I had
always thought so; but on inquiry I had some difficulty in finding some
of the so-called queen-raisers, and ascertained that, in some instances,
they were merely agents, who knew nothing about queen-rearing, and that
their sole business was to sell queens.
However, in Lucio Paglia and Josephine Chinni I found two conscientious
queen-raisers, though, perhaps, their methods were not so scientific and
advanced as in the apiary I described in my last, Mr. Paglia is a
queen-raiser on quite a large scale, the largest concern of the sort I
had seen; he has two apiaries, one at Castel St. Pietro d'Emilia quite in
the country, this being devoted entirely to queen-raising ; and another,
an imposing affair in the Public Gardens, just outside Bologna, which is
devoted principally to honey-raising.
I took train to Castel St. Pietro, and was very kindly received by Mr.
Paglia, who is also a wine-grower and large farmer, owning his own land,
quite a large estate. He showed me over his apiary, consisting of a large
number of hives scattered over the grounds round the house, and
apologised for the apiary not being in such good order as he could wish,
as he was just rebuilding his residence, and remodelling the whole place.
His system of queen-raising was very good, and he uses a great number of
rather large nucleus hives fot the raising and fertilising of his queens.
Though very careful in the selection of his stocks for rearing queens
from, he does not go in for the elaborate system of getting the
accurately built rows of queen-cells, like Mr. Pometta ; nor does he
consider it so needful to take all larval brood out of the hive, while
queens are being reared.
Mr. Paglia went back to Bologna to show me his apiary there in the public
gardens ; and he had the largest and prettiest bee-house I ever saw ; it
was fully 150 feet long, with a fair-sized room at each end for packing
and storing honey, &c., with rows of hives standing in the space between.
There were nearly 100 hives in the bee-house, and they had been run
chiefly for honey during the past season ; and he told me that he
obtained 1400 kilogrammes from these hives, and had left over twelve
kilogrammes in each hive for winter use. The wind from the hills being
cold here in the winter, necessitates the packing of straw in the spaces
between the hives for protection. All these hives- and in neary all the
Italian hives which I saw—had glass dummies, and are left in the hives
all the winter, Mr. Paglia may be considered as a most practical,
enterprising, and reliable queen-raiser.
A lovely drive of fourteen miles through a charming hilly country, all
well cultivated, brought me to Praduro-e-Sasso, where Madame Josephine
Chinni has her apiary. All of us know, that in England a good many
members of the scholastic profession go in for bee-keeping, and here we
have a queen-raiser in the shape of the village schoolmistress assisted
by her daughter. Madame Chinni, with whom I had dealt for some years, was
delighted to see one of her English customers; and many inquiries I had
to answer, relating to others in England who dealt with her, for she
supposed I knew them all.
This concern is not a very extensive one, as Madame Chinni likes to
manage the affair herself, rather than to employ labour to do it; as the
result of personal management is, she thinks, far better. A good system
of rearing prevails, carried on by a greater extent, by the subdivision
of large hives, and further by the use of large nucleus-boxes. There were
three apiaries—one at the house close to the school, and two on the
hills—and the total turn-out of queens would be, probably, not more than
between three and four hundred; sent principally to England, as Madame
Chinni prefers to turn out a small quantity of a good article, rather
than raise them wholesale. The home apiary was rather small, Madame
Chinni having had the misfortune to get nearly the whole apiary of eighty
stocks burnt last year. Praduro-e-Sasso is a most remote country place,
far away from town or rail, and I here saw Italian country life in its
primitive rustic simplicity.
Leaving Bologna, my only other call in Italy was on Mr. Fiorini at
Montselice. Mr. Fiorini is a well-known man in the town, being a large
builder; and i had no difficulty in finding him: and I knew that my visit
to him would be of more than ordinary interest, from the fact that he was
the only man in Italy, who had been to the East to investigate the merits
of the Syrian and Cyprian races of bees. Though he raises a few queens,
yet he does not make the queen-raising a business, to the extent of the
others upon whom I had called. He has a comparatively small apiary, and
we went through several stocks together, and also examined the original
stocks that he had from the East. The savageness of the Eastern races is
not so apparent in Italy as in England; and Mr. Fiorini stated that he
usually handles Eastern bees with about the same degree of ease as
Italians; but he cannot see that, at least, in Italy they have any
advantages over the native race. He was not desirous, he said, of doing
much trade with England, as his dealings had not been satisfactory; and
he complained bitterly of one firm who had obtained queens from him, and
from whom he had not been able to get the money.
My experiences with Italian bee-keepers here come to an end; and though I
remained in Italy for two or three days longer, yet it was at Venice; and
in that silent city, with its watery highways, no bees were to be seen,
and no bee-keepers were to be met with.
BBJ April 1886
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING -FRANK C PELLETT (19MB)