Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774

By Carl Raymond Woodward | Go to book overview

Four: The Husbandry of Bees

HONEY was an important product of the farms of colonial Pennsylvania and New Jersey. "Bees thrive and multiply exceedingly in those Parts," wrote one of the original settlers of Philadelphia. "Honey . . . is sold in the Capital City for Five Pence per Pound. Wax is also plentiful, cheap, and a considerable Commerce."1 In the years which followed the numbers increased. During the Revolution a British army officer, who as a prisoner had marched across New Jersey into Pennsylvania, commented upon the abundance of bees on the farms he passed. "In New England they have a very few hives of bees," he wrote, "but in this province [ Pennsylvania], almost every farm house has seven or eight; it is somewhat remarkable they should be more predominant here, as all the bees upon the Continent were originally brought from England to Boston, about one hundred years ago; the bee is not natural to America, for the first planters never observed a single one in the immense tract of woods they cleared, and what I think stands forth a most indubitable proof that it is not, the Indians, as they have a word in their language for all animals, natives of the country, have no word for a bee, and therefore they call them by the name of the Englishman's Fly."2

Read's manuscript contains little evidence of his experience in bee husbandry. That he did actually keep bees and produce honey, however, appears from his reference to the use of honey in the making of the beverage metheglin, described in Chapter Six which follows. With this exception, and a brief observation on the gelding of combs by Mr. Ludlam, his notes are limited to abstracting the text of Bradley General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening.

____________________
1
G. Thomas, op. cit. (section on Pennsylvania), p. 23.
2
[ Thomas Anburey], Travels Through the Interior Parts of America . . . , ( London. 1791), II, 251-253.

-366-

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Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • BOOK I Charles Read of New Jersey 1
  • One: the Man and His Times 3
  • Two: Youth 22
  • Three: New Jerseyman 39
  • Four: Customs Collector 54
  • Five: Land Speculator 64
  • Six: Countryman 70
  • Seven: Ironmaster 86
  • Eight: Secretary 97
  • Nine: Legislator 121
  • Ten: Councillor 145
  • Eleven: Colonel 164
  • Twelve: Indian Commissioner 179
  • Thirteen: Jurist 195
  • Fourteen: Exile 212
  • BOOK II Reads Notes on Agriculture 227
  • Introduction 229
  • One: the Husbandry of the Soil 235
  • Two: the Husbandry of Plants 254
  • Three: the Husbandry of Animals 322
  • Four: the Husbandry of Bees 366
  • Five: Farm Structures and Farm Implements 368
  • Six: the Husbandry of the Household 385
  • Seven: Fisheries 399
  • APPENDIX A Sketch of Charles Read (from Aaron Leaming's Diary, November 14, 1775) 404
  • APPENDIX B Inventory of the Personal Estate of Charles Read IV 407
  • Bibliography 413
  • Glossary 443
  • Index 451
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