Never Pair Hives Facing Each Other

By Willard Silvey

Just a friendly letter. I have quit bees as I am 87 and have given your catalogue to a nephew of mine and my few hives of bees. I do not know if he will develop.

Here is something of interest. When I was 14, some “idiot” published in a bee journal that it was a good practice to pair your hives so they face each other—he stated bees could tell left from right—so I paired 6 out of my 16. I veiled up in the first week of September, when I had not visited the hives for a month or more. I smelled something rotten and found the paired hives had big piles of dead bees in front and lighting on the comb. Little or no honey had been made and they were so weak I feared moths would move in! NEVER pair hives facing each other.

As we all know, each hive has a different smell which constantly is changing. I have found this condition only twice in my life. On one occasion I deliberately split a hive and left them split for five days, then I put them back together. They did not fight, but acted nervous and jumped at each other so as to say, “You do not smell quite right to me!” Under such conditions it is impossible to unite two swarms! They will kill each other on contact!

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