Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

of the honey, the wax, and the swarms they produce —they cost nothing to keep, and want nothing but a little care."

The author's father, James Pettigrew, was a labouring man, and perhaps the greatest bee-keeper that Scotland has ever produced. He was so successful and enthusiastic in the management of his bees, that he earned and received the cognomen of "The Bee-man," and by this Dame he was well known for thirty years in a wider circle than the parish of Carluke, Lanarkshire, in which he resided. Even the district of the parish in which he lived when he kept most hives took then the name of "Honey Bank," which it still bears. And though the author left his native village thirty-five years ago, he is best known there on an occasional visit as "The Bee-man's son."

While a common labouring man, he saved a great deal of money from his bees; indeed it was reported in the Glasgow newspapers that he realised £100 profit from them one season. His example and success twenty-five years after his death have not yet lost their influence on the successful bee-keepers of his native village, who say, "The old bee-man taught us all we know; who taught him?" "The beeman" saved money enough to purchase the Black Bull Inn of the village, and therein commenced business as a publican and butcher. When his sons reached their 'teens, the management of his bees was left in great measure to them. It was then that the foundation of what we know of bees was laid. And as most readers of a book like to know a little of the author, we may be pardoned the egotism of saying that we were at the age of eighteen apprenticed to the profession of gardening at Carstairs House. In about four years afterwards we went to London to pursue our profession, which we have followed ever since. While an apprentice at Carstairs, and a journeyman in Middlesex, we kept bees in "hidden places" in the plantations and shrubberies; and while acting in the capacity of head-gardener, we managed the bees of our employers. Now we have a small garden of our own, in which we keep "lots of bees" for profit. Such is a brief outline of the author's history from a bee-keeping point of view. The work before the reader, then, is a practical one, and written by a practical man.

Three or four years ago, we were induced by our respected friend Mr Thomson, editor of 'The Gardener,' to contribute a series of articles on Bees for that periodical, then called 'The Scottish Gardener.' Mr T. heralded these articles with a few remarks rather too complimentary. He then said: "We had practical proof of the extraordinary success resulting from Mr Pettigrew's system of bee - management when he was our foreman in the Gardens at Wrotham Park, Middlesex, twenty-five years ago. We assure our readers who may peruse his letters, that though he may recommend what may clash violently with their present knowledge of the subject, he is, notwithstanding, a safe guide; and that, where profit is the object, no writer that we have ever read can be compared with him. We predicate that his letters will be of far greater value to all interested than the cost of the journal for many years to come."

Bread is the first consideration of man. After food and clothing are obtained, he may seek recreation, music, society, knowledge, or anything else lawful. So in bee-keeping we reckon the question of profit is of first importance. Stings do not seem half so painful to the man whose annual proceeds of bee-keeping amount to £10, or £20, or £50.

But in addition to the profits of bees, there is a fund of interest and enjoyment derived from keeping them, uplifting in its nature and tendencies. One of the most pleasing sights on earth is that of a son of toil, after the labour of the day is done, taking a child in his hand, and going to see his pig, or cow, or beehive in his garden. Who has not seen hundreds of working men blessed and charmed beyond description in attending to their bees and cows? Such men are superior to the low vulgarities of the public-house, and superior in every sense to those who waste their time and strength in drinking. We hold that all employers of labour would do well to encourage their servants to spend their leisure hours in a profitable way. In country places and villages the gift of a few swarms of bees to deserving servants, and a practical treatise on their management, might become a source of perennial income and pleasure to them, and be, in fact, a greater boon and benefaction than a row of cottages a la Peabody.

The author, who is a working man himself, humbly greets working men on the completion of this work, which has been written with an eye to their welfare, and with the hope that the " finger-posts" herein set up will guide many of them along the highroad to great success in bee-keeping.

There is no literary merit at all in these pages; in fact the author knows that the reader of taste and education will find much to "wink at." There is a great deal of repetition, and sometimes "nouns" keep out the "pronouns." There has been the strongest desire possible on the part of the author to write in the plainest and simplest style and manner, so that the most untutored man in England that can read, would not fail to catch the meaning of every page presented to his eye. The grand old words of the grand old parable of " The Sower" are worth repeating in every preface: "When any onetheareth the Word, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth it away; but he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it, beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

Rosholme, Manchester,
March 1, 1870.

« AnteriorContinuar »