According to my old friend John Howe, boxes of this vintage, as well as skeps from any era, provided only empty space in which bees could build their honeycomb. An apiarist would have had to destroy the hive in order to harvest the honey, killing most of the bees in the process. By contrast, modern Langstroth, moveable frame hives allow a beekeeper to remove frames of honey with no damage to the colony itself.
Finally, all you Westchester folks, come hear me read The Honeybee Man next Sunday at the Village Bookstore in Pleasantville. I look forward to seeing you there from 11:30-1:00.