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Alien Queens........................    66

Antennae............................    68

Blind Investigator, the..............    70

Cells, their wonderful construction...    67

Collection of Pollen..................    68

Combats of Queens..................    66

Combs...............................    66

Drones, their shape and numbers___    64

Egg, Larva and Pupa................    66

Eggs, Number of....................    65

Exhaustless Interest of the subject...    70

Extreme Sensitiveness of Bees.......    68

Food of Bees.........................    68

Food of Larvæ.......................    66

Honey, the...........................    69

Interest, Exhaustless.................    70

Larva, the...........................    66

Laying her Eggs....................    65

Length of Queen's Life..............    66

Loss of the Queen....................    65

Maadibles............................    68

Massacre of Drones.................    65

Metamorphosis of Queen Bee........    65

Multum in Parvo....................    63

Normal Age of Drones...............    65

Number of Eggs.....................    65

Numbers and Weight........ .......    70

Place in History.....................    63

Pollen, Collection of..................    68

Preparations for Swarming..........    69

Proboscis............................    68

Propolis............................    67

Pupa, the............................    66

Queens, Alien.......................    66

Queen-Bee, appearance..............   65

Queen Combats......................    66

Queens, Loss of......................    65

Rivalship of Queens.................    65

Royal Cells.........................    67

Senses of Bees........................    68

Sensitiveness, their Extreme.........    68

Sting, their...........................    69

Stomachs............................    68

Succession of Swarms................   69

Swarm departs, the..................    69

Swarming............................    69

Swarms, Succession of...............    69

Three Classes, the...................    63

Unique Division, a...................    64

Varieties of Honey-Bee..............    64

Wax.................................    67

Wonderful Community, a............    63

Wonderful Construction of Cells ....    67

Workers, shape and appearance......    66


The bee, says the Encyclopædia Britannica,
from its singular instincts, its active industry,
and the useful products resulting from its labors,
has, from the remotest times, attracted general
attention and interest. No nation upon earth
has had so many historians as this remarkable
class of insects. The patience and sagacity of
the naturalist have had an ample field for exer­
cise in the study of the structure, physiology
and domestic economy of bees ; their preserva­
tion and increase have been objects of assiduous
care to the agriculturist; and their reputed per­
fection of policy and government have long been
the theme of admiration, and have supplied
copious materials for argument and allusion to
the poet and the moralist in every age. It is a
subject that has been celebrated by the muse of
Virgil, and illustrated by the philosophic genius
of Aristotle. Cicero and Pliny record that Aris-
tomachus devoted sixty years to the study of
these insects; and Philiscus is said to have re­
tired into a remote wood, that he might pursue
his observations on them without interruption.
A very great number of authors have written
express treatises on bees; periodical works have
been published relating exclusively to their ma­
nagement and economy; and learned societies
have been established for the sole purpose of
conducting researches on this subject.


How could this be otherwise? Within this
little body are contained apparatus for convert­
ing the various sweets which it collects into one
kind of nourishment for itself, another for the
common brood, a third for the royal brood, glue
for its carpentry, wax for its cells, poison for its
enemies, honey for its master, with a proboscis
as long as the body itself, microscopic in several

parts, telescopic in its mode of action, with a
sting so exceedingly sharp that were it magnified
by the same glass which makes a needle‘s point
seem a quarter of an inch, it would yet itself be
invisible, and this, too, a hollow tube. And all
these varied operations and contrivances are in­
cluded within half an inch in length and two
grains weight of matter.


Prof. Jaeger says : It is impossible for any re­
flecting person to look at a bee­hive in full opera­
tion without being astonished at the activity and
surprising industry of its inhabitants. We see
crowds constantly arriving from the woods,
meadows, fields and gardens, laden with pro-
visions and materials for future use, while others
are continually flying off on similar collecting
expeditions. Some are carrying out the dead,
others are removing dirt and offal, while others
are giving battle to any strangers that may dare
intrude. Suddenly a cloud appears, and the
bees hurry home, thronging at the entrance to
the hive by thousands, until all are gradually
received within their inclosure. In the interior
of the hive we see with what skill they work
their combs and deposit the honey; and when
their labor is over for the day, they rest in chains
suspended from the ceiling of their habitation,
one bee clinging with its forefeet to the hind-
feet of the one above it, until it seems impossible
that the upper one can be strong enough to
support the weight of so many hundreds.

The leading feature in the natural history of
bees, and one which distinguishes them from
almost all other insects, is their singular distribu­
tion into three different classes, constituting to
all appearances so many different modifications of
sex. In the cuts the size is enlarged beyond that

64                                                       THE FRIEND OF ALL.

of nature, but the proportions are preserved.
The drone, the male of the species, has a thicker
body, a rounder head, a more flattened shape,
and more obtusely terminated abdomen. It has
no sting, and may be detected by the humming
noise that accompanies its flight. The queen-
bee, the female, is the largest of the three, has a
longer abdomen, with two ovaria of considera-

The Queen.

ble size, and a curved sting. The workers com­
pose the third class, and are distinguished by
the smallness of their size, their lengthened pro­
boscis, the peculiar structure of their legs and
thighs, adapted to the collection of certain
materials obtained from vegetables, and by the
apparent absence of any generative organs. It
is their function to perform all the laborious

The Drone.                                   The Worker.

offices for the community, to construct the in­
terior of their habitation, to explore the coun­
try in search of nourishment and other mate­
rials, to collect and bring them to the hive and
apply them to different purposes, to attend upon
the queen and supply all her wants, to defend
the hive from the attacks of depredators, and
to carry on hostilities against the various ene­
mies of the tribe.


Here, then, is a wide departure from the
methods by which other animals live, and are
perpetuated. The keeping up of the race is con­
fided by Nature to members of the community
other than those who do its actual work. This
arrangement is, we believe, a unique one. In­

stead of the power of perpetuation being com­
mitted to the rank and file, and that rank and
file divided into male and female, in approxi­
mately equal proportions, the sexual functions
being performed by individuals who have to
take care of themselves otherwise, here we find
a most curious “ division of labor.” Whereas, in
other departments of animated nature, the male
holds the post of honor, and rules by virtue of
his virility, here he is merely tolerated because
his services are indispensable, and when the use
for them has passed, he is ingloriously hustled
out of an unnecessary existence. The female is
the mother of all in the same hive, and will en­
dure no sister. Her labors are constant, and
her life long. The overwhelming majority are
sexless—mere workers, to whom all paternity
and maternity are as foreign as a symphony of
Beethoven‘s to a man born deaf.

The Honey-Bee and its Varieties.The best known
varieties of the honey-bee are the German or
black bee and the Ligurian or Italian bee. The
so-called black bees are really a grayish black.
The German bees are about of one color. The
Italians are easily distinguished by the bright yel­
low rings—three, when the breed is pure—at the
base of the abdomen. The Egyptian bees have a
broad band of yellow, and are smaller and more
slender than Italian bees. The Cyprian bee is
yellow, and is doubtless a variety of the Italian.
Many other “ fancy” varieties are yearly adver­
tised, but it is best to stick to the well-tried Ger­
man and Italian bees.


Their Shape and Number.The males are called
drones from the peculiar noise they make in
their flight, are much larger than the workers,
and thicker in proportion. The antennæ have
an additional joint, and their eyes are remarkably
large, meeting upon the crown. They produce
neither wax nor honey, and live by the labor of
others, of which they are mere idle spectators.
The intercourse with the queen, for which alone
they seem to exist, takes place in the open air,
and on the wing; the queen carrying back with
her to the hive part of the mutilated body of the
drone she has met, and he falling to the ground
to perish. Although this occurs to a queen
once for all her lifetime, still as it must be in
the open air, Huber thinks the otherwise ap­
parently unnecessary number of drones is needed,
that she may be sure to encounter one when she
flies abroad for the purpose. In the spring they
are said to be a thirtieth to a fortieth of the whole.
A fecundated queen seems to lay drone or work­
er eggs at will: an unfecundated queen lays eggs
indiscriminately in drone and worker cells, but
her eggs produce drones only.

BEES.                                                                      65

Massacre of the Drones.After swarming time, I
when the queens are impregnated, and no new
swarms are about to take place, the workers,
who until then have allowed the drones to live
unmolested in the hive, are on a sudden seized
with deadly fury towards them. This usually
happens in June, July or August. They chase
their unhappy victims in every quarter, till they
drive them to the bottom of the hive, where
they indiscriminately massacre them, and throw
them out on the ground. Not only do they kill
every living drone, but they destroy all male eggs
and larvæ, and tear open the cocoons of their
pupæ. This sacrifice of the drones is not an un-
discriminating instinct; for if a hive be deprived
of its queen, the massacre does not take place in
that particular hive, and the drones are allowed
to survive the winter.

Their Normal Age Unknown.Drones seldom die
a natural death. From the egg to the full-grown
male, about twenty-five days are needed. There
is no evidence of the duration of the lives of in­
dividuals, but in usual course they are hatched
about May and slaughtered in June, July or Au­


Her Appearance.—She is considerably longer
than either the workers or the males; distin­
guished by the yellow tint of the under-part of
the body, and by the shortness of her wings,
which, instead of reaching to the extremity of the
abdomen, leave some of its rings uncovered.
There is commonly only one perfect queen exist­
ing at one time within one hive, and she usually
appears to be treated by all the other bees with
every mark of affection and deference.

Her Metamorphosis.When from the egg or
young larva it is the intention of the bees to
raise a queen, their attention is most incessantly
bestowed upon it. Its cell is enlarged, and it is
supplied with a peculiar and more stimulating
food than that of ordinary bees, not mawkish,
but acid ; and in quantities larger than can be
consumed, so that some always remains over
after the transformation. The growth and de­
velopment of the larva are thus accelerated,
and in five days it is prepared to spin its web,
when the workers wall it up. After two days
and a half, the larva becomes a pupa. In this
state it remains four or five days, and on the six­
teenth day after the laying of the egg, the perfect
insect is produced, and is liberated by the work­

Laying her Eggs.—The queen deposits eggs du­
ring ten or eleven months of the year in tempe­
rate climates. If the impregnation of a queen be
delayed beyond the twenty-first day of her life,
she becomes incapable of impregnation, and can

produce only drone-eggs. The abdomen of such
a queen is much more slender than that of a fer­
tile one. Young queens ordinarily commence
ovipositing (or egg-laying) thirty-six hours after
impregnation. How the queen determines the
sex of her eggs is not known, but eggs that will
produce workers or queens will always be found
in worker-cells, and those that will produce
drones in drone-cells. A queen of a new swarm
will rarely produce drones the first year, instinct
seemingly teaching her that they will not be re­
quired. In the early spring, if a piece of empty
drone-comb be put into the center of the brood-
nest, the queen will usually fill it with drone-eggs.
Number of Eggs Laid.—It is the queen's business
to keep the colony populous, and certainly she
attends to her business. She is capable of lay­
ing two to three thousand eggs a day, and has
been known to lay six eggs in one minute.
Berlepach tells of a queen that laid 3021 eggs in
twenty-four hours by actual count, and 57,000
eggs in twenty days : that she continued prolific
for five years, and must have laid during that
time 1,300,000 eggs. Other careful observers also
say that a queen may lay more than 1,000,000
eggs. Her spermatheca is capable, according to
Lenckart, of containing 25,000,000 spermatozoa.
If it can be compressed at will, as is probable,
there may be here a hint of the way in which she
produces the two different classes of eggs.

Loss of the Queen.This event has a most
marked influence on the workers, although it is
nearly an hour before her absence seems to be
discovered. Inquietude begins in one part of
the hive, the workers become restless, abandon
the young they were feeding, run to and fro, and
communicate the alarming intelligence to their
companions. The whole community is soon in
a ferment, the bees rush precipitately from the
hive, and seek in every direction for the lost
queen. After a day or two tranquillity is re-
established, they return to their labors, select an
egg or a larva, and rear a new queen as already

Rivalship of the Queens.—A queen-bee, though
perfectly formed, is not always at liberty to come
! out of her cell, which becomes a prison if the
queen-mother be still in the hive waiting to lead
out another swarm. The workers even strength­
en the covering of the queen-cell, perforating it
with a small hole through which the captive can
thrust out her tongue to be fed. The royal
prisoner keeps up a plaintive cry, called by bee-
keepers “ piping,” and this is answered by the
mother-queen. The modulations of this piping
are said to vary. The motive of this proceeding
on the part of the workers is to be found in the
implacable hatred which the old queen bears
! against all of her own sex, and which impels her



to destroy without mercy all the young queens
she can reach. So when there is a prospect of a
swarm soon issuing, they establish themselves
as a guard around the queen-cells, and, forget­
ting their usual allegiance, beat off the old queen
as often as she tries to approach them. But if
the swarming season is over, the bees do not
hinder the old queen, who immediately trans­
fixes with her sting one after another of the royal
brood. According to Huber, royal larvae con­
struct only imperfect cocoons, open behind, leav­
ing exposed the abdomen below the first ring ;
as if Nature intended to give the old queen a
chance at them with her fatal sting.

Queen Combats.The same writer has made the
singular observation that two queens, however
inveterate their mutual hostility, never actually
destroy each other. When in a contest they
come into such a relative position that each can
sting the other mortally, they suddenly separate,
and part as if panic-stricken. Without this in­
stinct, a hive might be altogether deprived of a

Alien Queens.Bees recognize the person of
their own queen. If a stranger enter the hive,
they seize and surround her till a ball of bees is
formed one or two inches in diameter, and there
keep her till she dies, as they seldom sting a
queen. But a hive that has lost its queen can
by certain precautions be induced to accept a
substitute. A usual way is to imprison the
stranger queen in a small wire-gauze cage and
suspend her between two central combs. Soon
the bees become accustomed to the odor and ap­
pearance of the new sovereign, and after a day
or two readily accept her. But if a supernumera­
ry queen be introduced into the hive, she is seized
and brought to the reigning queen, a ring is
formed, and the bees fight it out till one or the
other perishes. Some observers hold that the
vanquished queen is killed by the bees, others
that the victor kills her.

Length of Life.The life of a queen-bee will
sometimes extend to four or five years ; but her
fertility generally decreases after her second
breeding season. When absent from the hive
on a matrimonial excursion, she often falls a prey
to a bird. And sometimes she makes a mistake,
and enters another hive where she does not be­
long, and then she or the original queen is de­
stroyed. But if no accident happens to her, her
life will probably last as above stated.


Their Shape and Appearance.They have a body
about half an inch in length, and about one sixth
of an inch in greatest breadth, at the upper part
of the abdomen. The antennae are twelve-
jointed, and terminate in a knob. The abdomen

consists of six joints or rings, and under the scaly
coverings of the four middle ones are situated
the wax-pockets, or organs for the secretion of
wax. The extremity of the abdomen is provided
with a sting, which is straight. The basal joint
of the hind tarsi is dilated to form a pollen-bas­
ket, and the legs are well provided with hairs for
collecting the pollen and brushing it into this

The Egg, the Larva and the Pupa.The eggs of
bees are of a long shape and bluish-white color,
about one twelfth of an inch in length. They
are hatched in about three days. The larvæ are
little worm-like creatures, having no feet, and ly­
ing coiled up like a ring: they are diligently fed
by the workers, until, in about five days, when
large enough nearly to fill the cell, they refuse
food, upon which the attendant bees seal up the
cell with wax, and the larva, spinning itself a
fine silken envelope or cocoon, is transformed
into a pupa; and about the eighteenth day—or,
in the case of drones, the twenty-fourth day—
from the deposition of the egg, the young bee, in
its perfect state, breaks the covering, and issues
from the cell. It is caressed and supplied with
food by the attendant bees, and is believed not
to try its wings until the following day. The
cell from which it has issued is speedily cleaned
out, and prepared for the reception of another
egg or of honey. The fine silken envelope of the
pupa, however, remains attached to the cell, of
which the capacity thus becomes gradually
smaller, until the cells of old combs are too small
to receive eggs, and can be used for honey alone.

Food of the Larva.The food with which the
larvæ are supplied is a mixture of pollen, honey
and water, with the addition, possibly, of some
secretion from the stomachs of the workers, in
which it is prepared. It varies a little, according
to the age and kind of the larva, and the pecu­
liarities of that given to young queens are indis­
pensable to fit them for their future functions.
Pollen is constantly found stored up in the cells
of the hive, and is often called bee-bread.

Combs.—The combs of a bee­hive are parallel
to each other, forming vertical strata of about
an inch in thickness, and distant about half an
inch from each other. The cells are therefore
nearly horizontal, having a slight and somewhat
variable dip towards the center of each comb.
The central comb is generally first begun, and
next after it those next to it on each side. Cir­
cumstances frequently cause some departure from
this uniform and symmetrical plan, which, how­
ever, still remains obvious. Each comb consists
of two sets of cells, one on each side; and it may
be mentioned as an illustration of the wonderful
industry of bees, and the results of their com­
bined labors, that a piece of comb, 14 inches long



by 7 inches wide, and containing about 4000 cells,
has been frequently constructed in 24 hours.
The greater part of the comb usually consists of
the kind of cells fitted for breeding workers, a
smaller part of it of the larger or drone cells. After
the principal breeding season is over, the cells of
some parts of the comb are often elongated for
the reception of honey; and sometimes comb of
greater thickness, or with unusually long cells, is
constructed for that purpose alone, in which
case the mouths of the cells are inclined up­
wards, more than is usual with the ordinary
brood-cells. When a cell has been completely
filled with honey, its mouth is sealed or covered
with wax.

Royal Cells.These are very different, being
vertical and not horizontal in their position—
not hexagonal, but rather oval in form—and

Comb showing Brood and Queen Cells.

much larger than the other cells, even in propor­
tion to the size of the animal that is to inhabit
them : they are generally placed on the edge of
a comb, and when they have served their pur­
pose are partially removed, so that during win­
ter they resemble acorn­cups in appearance.

Their Wonderful Construction.The cells are
hexagonal, or six-sided, the hexagons perfectly
regular, and in this way there are no interstices
between the cells. There are only three regular
figures, that is, figures of which all the sides and
angles are equal, bounded by straight lines, with
which a space can be perfectly filled up in this
way—the equilateral triangle, the square and the
hexagon ; and of these the hexagon is at once
the most suitable for the larva of the bee in its
form, and the strongest in its nearest approach
to the circle. The circular form itself would

have left large interstices. The partition-wall be­
tween the two sets of cells is not a simple plane.
It is made up of little rhombs or four-sided fig­
ures with two acute and two obtuse angles made
to terminate in three-sided pyramids. The indi­
vidual cells are not opposite each other, but the
point of meeting of three sides of three cells on
one side is opposite the wall of a cell on the other
side. The only departure from perfect regulari­
ty in the form of the cells is in the transition
from the smaller or workers’ cells to the larger
or drones’ cells, which is managed with an equal­
ly great simplicity and beauty of contrivance.
The “ instinct” of a bee is equal to problems the
mere comprehension of which needs an educated
human brain.

Wax.The material of which the cells are built
is chiefly wax, which is at first white, but becomes
brownish-yellow with age, and in very old combs
almost black. Each ounce of wax represents
about twenty ounces of honey. Bees‘-wax is
now known to be produced by a chemistry car­
ried on in the bodies of bees; and they produce
wax and build combs when supplied only with
honey or saccharine substances. The bees which
are about to proceed to wax-making, suspend
themselves in clusters in the hive, attaching
themselves to each other by means of hooks
with which their feet are provided ; and whilst
they remain motionless in this position, the wax
appears to be formed, in small scales, which they
afterwards take in their mouths and curiously
work up with a secretion from the mouth itself,
passing the wax, in the form of a minute riband,
through the mouth, first in one direction and
then in the opposite one, and finally depositing
it in its proper place for the foundation of the
comb. One bee always begins the comb alone,
the rest, in gradually increasing numbers, pro­
ceed in accordance with what has been already
done. The bees which elaborate and deposit the
wax, do not, however, construct the cells, which
is done by others, partly at least by a process of
excavation in the wax deposited. It is supposed
by many naturalists, that some of the working-
bees are exclusively wax-workers, some nurses,
etc.; but others think that there is only one class
of working-bees, all ready for any kind of work
according to circumstances.

Propolis.—But wax, although the chief, is not
the only material of the combs. Propolis is also
employed in small bands to give greater strength
to the cells, the mouths of which are surrounded
with it, and made thicker than their walls. This
substance, which is obtained by bees from the
viscid buds of trees, is also employed for more
firmly attaching the combs to the hive, for clos­
ing up apertures in the hive, for covering up ob­
noxious substances, intruding slugs, etc., which



are too large to be removed, and for a variety of
similar purposes.

Food of Bees.—This is of two kinds: the fluid
secretions of vegetables contained in the necta­
ries of flowers; and the dust of the anthers,
called by botanists the pollen, but which, when
collected by bees, has received various names,
farina, bee-bread, etc. Sometimes they feed on
other substances, honey-dew, syrup, etc. The or­
gans by which they collect and utilize their food
are very complex.

The Proboscis.This organ of five parts, may be
considered as a lengthened tongue. It is a pro­
longation of the under-lip, and is rolled over the
fluid aliment taking up what adheres to it, which
the bee then licks up.

Mandibles and Teeth.For mechanically dividing
solid materials, the mouth is furnished with two
strong mandibles or jaws, and four palpi or
feelers. These are little used in eating. The
teeth are two in number, and have the form
of concave scales with sharp edges, are fixed to
the end of the jaw, and play horizontally.
Stomachs.The bee has two : the first a large
transparent bag, pointed in front and swelling
out into two pouches behind. Like the crop
of birds, it receives and temporarily retains the
fluid of the nectaries. No digestion or other
change in the food is detected here. From this
reservoir the food or honey may be thrown back
into the mouth and deposited in cells or imparted
to other bees. For digestion, a second stomach is

Collection of Pollen.The pollen, or fertilizing
dust of flowers, is collected by bees for the pur­
pose of feeding the young, stored in cells till
needed, then partly digested with honey, and a
kind of chyle formed of it. When natural pollen
cannot be had, the bees will eagerly take farina
of rye, chestnuts or pease. This is not done by the
mouth. The feathered hairs with which their
bodies are partially clothed, and particularly those
of their legs, collect the pollen, which adheres
to them, and it is brushed into a hollow on the
outer surface of the first joint of the tarsus of
each of the hinder pair of legs. This joint is
very large, compressed, and of a square or tri-
angular form—a unique conformation. Drones
and queens are destitute of this conformation,
which they do not need.

Their Senses.These, with the exception of
taste, are very delicate. In full daylight they have
the sense of vision in great perfection. A bee
lights unerringly on the flowers in search of
nectar or pollen, and as unerringly finds its own
hive. Their hearing is deficient in many direc-
tions, but very fine in others, and they seem in­
stantly to understand and obey certain audible sig­
nals hardly distinguishable by men, Their smell,

too, is acute. They proceed immediately toward
honey concealed from their view. Some odors
are highly obnoxious : that of their stings pro­
vokes to immediate rage. They recognize in­
stantly a stranger bee by the sense of smell.

Their Antennae.—But their sense of touch is very
fine, and the antennæ are of the greatest import­
ance in receiving and conveying impressions.
These have many articulations, are very flexible,
and can readily embrace the outline of any ob­
ject, however small, the bee wishes to examine.
Different naturalists credit these organs with the
sense of hearing and of smell, as well as of touch ;
and it is possible that they are organs of some
sense to which we are strangers. By these instru­
ments the bee can execute so many works in the
totally dark interior of the hive. By their aid, it
builds its combs, pours honey into its magazines,
feeds the larvæ, and ministers to every want
which it appears to discover and judge of solely
by the sense of touch. They seem also the
principal means for mutual communication of
impressions. The different modes of contact con­
stitute a kind of language, susceptible of a great
variety of modifications, and able to supply every
sort of information for which they have occasion.

Their Extreme Sensitiveness.—Bees cannot exist
in an impure air. The inside of a populous hive
scarcely differs in purity from the surrounding
atmosphere. Ventilation is kept up by the
rapid vibration of the wings of a certain number
told off for the purpose, who fasten themselves
with their feet to the floor of the hive and
imitate the action of flying, so that the force
which otherwise would carry them through the
air, drives back the air in a powerful current. A
few occasionally perform this service on the out­
side of the hive near the entrance, but the larger
part are thus engaged inside. Sometimes twenty
are thus occupied at once, and the work is done
by relays. The motion of their wings is so
rapid that they cannot be seen except at the
extremities of the arc of vibration, which is at
least 900. Their perceptions of heat and cold
are very delicate. A temperature of 400 Fahr.
will so benumb a bee that it cannot fly, and it
will soon perish unless restored to a warmer atmos­
phere. But in a hive when the external temper­
ature is 200 below zero, the bees may be found in
a solid lump of ice, yet, with returning spring
they awake to renewed life and activity. They
live the winter through in many cold parts of
Russia, in hollow trees, with no attention. Many
bees which are thought to die of cold in winter
really die of famine or damp. They show by
their conduct that they are sensible of changes
in the weather before we are. Huber supposes
that it is the rapid diminution of light that
warms them.

bees.                                                         69


Preparations.The spring is the commence­
ment of the swarming season, in which the
parent hive sends out new colonies. No swarm­
ing takes place while the weather is cold, or
until the hive is well stocked with eggs. The
queen-bee, in consequence of the great number
of eggs she has been laying, is now reduced to a
more slender shape, and is well fitted for flight;
her aversion for the royal brood and the vain
attempts she makes to destroy them in their
cradle, in which attempts she is constantly re­
pelled by the guardian bees, produce in her a
restlessness and agitation rising to delirium.
This is communicated to the workers; they
hurry to and fro in the combs with evident
marks of impatience. The heat of the hive
increases, and a general buzz is heard. While
this state of things continues, preparations are
making for the approaching expedition, and pro­
visions are collected in greater quantity by the

The Swarm Departs.On the day on which the
swarm goes off, few of the workers roam far,
but several of them are seen performing circles
in the air. On a sudden the noise is hushed,
and all the bees enter the hive; this silence an­
nounces their immediate departure. A few
workers appear at the door, turn toward the
hive, and striking with their wings, give, as it
were, the signal for flight. All those who are to
emigrate rush toward the door, and issue forth
with wonderful rapidity, rising in the air and
hovering, as if to wait for the assemblage of the
whole troop; then having selected a rallying
point, generally on some tree or bush, they
alight, and are joined by others till all are col­
lected in one mass. If the queen is not with the
cluster, the bees soon find it out, and disperse to
search for her. Unless she is with them, all go
back, and the expedition is deferred until the
next fine day. If the queen is lost, they have to
remain a fortnight or so and take the next queen,
in which case the swarm is larger than at first.
After a rest on the landing-place just mentioned,
and finding their queen with them, the mass
soars again in the air, and makes swiftly to the
spot their guides had selected, their wings creat­
ing a loud and acute-tongued hum.

Succession of Swarms.The parent hive, thus
deserted by its queen and so many workers, goes
busily to work at repairing its loss. The bees
quietly pursue their labors, the young brood,
quickly maturing, fill up every deficiency; and
young queens, allowed their liberty, in turn con­
duct off new swarms. One man reports that he
had twenty-two swarms in one year from a stock
of bees which he carried home in his hat from

the woods to his garden. But as a general
thing, one swarm in a year is enough; and
when modern hives are used, further swarming
may be prevented by destroying all the queen-
cells but one, after the issue of the first swarm.

The Honey.Honey undergoes slight modifica­
tions and chemical changes in the bee‘s honey-
bag, but retains the flavor and aroma of the
flower from which it is extracted. Thus it will
be seen that the plants and aromatic flowers of
certain districts will produce honey which will
be highly prized, and the plants and flowers of
other districts will produce unwholesome honey
from their noxious or poisonous nature. Honey
contains a little wax, pollen, extractive matter,
mucilage, gum, manna, grape-sugar, acid and
the odor of flowers. When first drawn from the
comb it is quite fluid, but in time it will “ candy”
as it is called, the glucose separating from the
solid parts. The glucose is identical with
grape-sugar. However, the solid and fluid parts
do not greatly differ. With age honey crystal­
lizes and becomes yellow. The adulterations of
honey are many and varied. That from “corn-
sugar,” or glucose, is the most common, and
difficult of detection. You may detect chalk,
starch and other solids by heating the honey, as
the deleterious matter will settle to the bottom.
Pure comb, capped by the bees, commands a
much higher price than strained honey, as, of
late years, the filling of old combs with glucose
has been so largely practiced.


This very remarkable organ consists of two
long darts, with a protecting sheath. A venom-


A, sting of bee ; S, sheath of sting; F, end of sting, greatly
magnified, showing six barbs curved upwards ; B, glands for
secreting poison; C, ducts through which it flows to D,
where it is kept ready for use ; O, circular dilatation to pre­
vent sting being thrust too far out of sheath.

bag is connected with it, and powerful muscles
for its propulsion. The wound appears to be.



first made by the sheath, along which the poison
passes by a groove, and the darts, thrust out
afterwards in succession, deepen the wound.
The darts are each furnished with a number
of barbs, which render it so difficult to with­
draw them quickly, that bees often lose their
lives by the injury which they sustain in the
effort. The drones are destitute of sting.

The poison is said to owe its mischievous effi­
cacy to certain pungent salts. If a bee is pro­
voked to strike its sting against glass, a drop of
poison will be discharged ; and if this is placed
under a microscope the salts may be seen to con­
crete, as the liquor dries, into clear, oblong,
pointed crystals.


Hunter counted 2160 drowned bees in an ale-
house pint, so that a swarm of two quarts
will number about 9000. Reaumur found that
a collection weighing one ounce consisted of
336 bees, and that therefore a pound would con­
sist of 5376 bees. A hive is made up of all the
way from 5000 to 60,000 units. In a well-pro-
portioned hive, containing 20,000 bees, there will
be 1 queen, about 500 drones, and the remaining
19,499 workers.


Wherever the student investigates bees, whe­
ther in their structure or their habits, the farther
he goes, the more he finds. Perhaps there is no
living creature whose history and life are so
curious. As Agassiz wrote volumes on Turtle‘s
Eggs, so an instructed naturalist might write
volumes on almost any sing?e point of the bee‘s
organization and modes of living.


Perhaps no one man has contributed so much
to the general stock of information as to the
constitution and habits of these industrious in­
sects, as Francois Huber, born at Geneva in
1750, whose intense application to study brought
on total blindness, which was never cured. He
married a wife who deeply sympathized with
and assisted him in his special studies, and by
her aid, together with that of his son Pierre, and
a peasant, Burnens, whom he trained to the
work of observation, he carried the knowledge
of bees many steps forward. Wherever one
reads on this interesting subject, his name is
continually occurring, and his authority is great.

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