Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/823

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APICULTURE.

APICULTURE.
By ALLEN PRINGLE.

AMONG the recent industries of rapid growth in this country, bee-culture stands prominent. Of course, as a homely art, bee-keeping is no modern industry, being as old as history; but in its scientific developments it is of recent growth. In these times, when science is properly taking its place at the helm in all departments of human industry and activity, it is not strange that it is promptly assuming the guidance of bee-culture. This is a utilitarian as well as scientific age; and this is why bee-culture is being so rapidly developed, for its extraordinary growth is only in the ratio of its utility. Though known to commerce for twenty-five hundred years, hitherto it has been followed and known, in this country at least, principally as a local industry. But bee-culture, from the soundest economic considerations, ought undoubtedly to become a great national industry fostered and protected by the state. Apiculture is naturally a part of, and closely allied with, agriculture, inasmuch as the nectar gathered by the one is immediately derived from the same fields and forests that yield the abundant ingatherings of the other. Indeed, the bulk of the honey-crop of this country (which is, in round numbers, about 100,000,000 pounds annually) comes from the bee-keeping which is in connection, more or less, with farming.

But this is not the principal reason why bee-culture must take rank as an important national industry. The postulate is fully warranted by the following fact or facts: When the agriculturist takes his grain to market, he takes with it more or less of the fertility of his soil; when he takes his stock and dairy products to market, he does the same thing, only, perhaps, in a less degree. But, when he takes his honey to market, he does nothing of this kind—he takes none of the fertile elements of his soil along with it. When the skilled apiarist, guided by science, so controls, directs, and manipulates his bees that they gather the rich nectar in tons from a given area, representing hundreds and even thousands of dollars, he impoverishes neither his own land nor that of his neighbor: he simply secures that which, if not gathered, "wastes its sweetness on the desert air." Likewise, when a country exports its surplus grain or stock, it also inevitably parts with more or less of its fundamental agricultural resources; but its exported honey-surplus represents no corresponding impoverishment of soil. It would therefore seem clear that, from economic considerations alone, bee-culture ought to and must take its place among the most useful and important national industries.

There is also an æsthetic and hygienic side to apiculture, though in this practical and materialistic age mere sentiment must be subordi-