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Tbe Baldwin libraxy
A BEE FARM.
HIVE AND ITS- WONDERS,
NEW AND REVISED EDITION.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY,
56, PATERNOSTER Row; 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD;
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
I. WHERE THE HONEY-BEE LIVES-HONEY-GUIDE 7
II. CURIOUS STRUCTURE OF THE BEE-THE QUEEN
-THE DRONES-THE WORKERS 16
III. THE YOUNG BEE--TONGUE OF THE BEE-
PASTURAGE OF THE BEE 29
IV. POLLEN PROPOLIS DIVISION OF LABOUR
AMONG THE BEES 39
v. THE HIVE-THE HONEYCOMB 46
VI. WAX-MAKERS BUILDING THE COMB BEES'
STORE-CELLS AND CRADLES. 55
vII. DEATH OF A QUEEN BEE-CARE OF THE YOUNG 63
VIII. SWARMING OF BEES 70
IX. NEATNESS OF THE BEE-VENTILATION OF THE
HIVE-ENEMIES OF THE BEE 86
X. STING OF THE BEE-ANGER OF BEES-ATTACK
ON MISSIONARIES BY WILD BEES 93
XI. AGE OF BEES-BEE-HUNT-TRANSPORTATION
OF HIVE--BEES IN AUSTRALIA 103
XII. TRE CARE OF BEES-WAX-HOBEY-INSTINCT
OF THE BEE 113
THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
WHERE THE HONEY-BEE LIVES-HONEY-GUIDE.
HE honey-bee is a well-known insect: far
and wide on summer mornings is heard
its pleasant hum, and sweet flowers in
almost every land bend their heads beneath the
light weight of these busy rovers. One of the
most intelligent of all the insect tribe, it
interests us not alone by its skill and industry,
but also from the pleasure and profit derived
from its wax and honey. Many, too, are the
useful lessons taught by the industrious bee,
8 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
formerly called in England the "honey-fly,"
but known in the figurative language of some
eastern lands by the name of "Deburah," that
is, "She that speaketh."
The natural history and management of bees
have attracted the attention of philosophers and
learned men from an early period. Aristotle
and Pliny, who lived two thousand years ago,
studied their habits; so have many lovers of
nature in modern times. One persevering ob-
server is said to have given up his whole life to
this pursuit; another to have spent his days in
forests where the wild bees made their nests,
that he might watch their ways more closely.
But the most remarkable writer on the subject
was M. Huber, a Swiss gentleman, who, although
afflicted with defective eyesight, yet by the aid
of an assistant succeeded in making several
Honey and the honeycomb are repeatedly
mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. Judea espe-
cially is described as a land flowing with milk
and honey. Although this doubtless refers to
the general richness of the country, yet honey
and milk must have been found there in great
abundance. Evidently considered an article of
luxury, Jacob offered it as a gift to the gover-
BEES IN EASTERN LANDS.
nor of Egypt; it was also sent to David by his
friends with other provisions for the support of
himself and followers when fleeing from his son
Absalom. The great forerunner of our Lord,
John the Baptist, whilst in the wilderness, was
sustained with locusts and wild honey.
Wild bees are very numerous in the East;
they place their combs in any convenient spot,
such as hollow trees or holes in the rocks. The
latter places, it would seem, often yielded the
richest honeycomb, as appears from the gracious
promise made to Israel, With honey out of
the stony rock will I satisfy thee."
To the present day Judea preserves its cha-
racter as a honey-producing country; and the
inhabitants use the luscious sweet at their
meals with butter or milk as a pleasant article
of food. Honeycomb cut into slices, with bowls
of milk or cream and boiled rice, is still served
up by the Arabs to such strangers and visitors
as partake of their hospitality.
Quite recently a number of live bees have
successfully been conveyed from Palestine to
England on their road to Canada. They were
placed in numerous small boxes, so constructed
that the bees could obtain food, air, and water.
The little travellers, on their arrival in this
10 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
Country, were let out to sun themselves previous
to reshipment, and then again packed to resume
Bees in all probability are the most universal
of all creatures, and seem adapted to live in
most climates. On the beautiful slopes of the
Himalayas they thrive well, and many of the
inhabitants keep them. The hives are primi-
tive and ingenious. A hole is made through
the wall of the native's house, the opening
BEES IN AFRICA.
inside being closed by a sliding panel. In this'
recess the bees take up their abode, and when
the owner requires honey he has only to slide
back the shutter and take out a piece of comb.
In some other parts of India the forests
literally swarm with bees, and large combs
full of glistening honey are often seen hanging
down from the trees. They are also very com-
mon throughout Africa. On the western coast,
near the River Gambia, the natives formerly
cultivated them to a considerable extent. Hives
made of reeds and sedge, shaped like baskets,
were suspended from the outer boughs of trees,
and speedily taken possession of by the expected
tenants, who soon commenced to build combs,
in some places so thickly that at a short distance
they resembled clusters of fruit on the branches.
A curious instance is recorded where honey
was once discovered by a party of Hottentots
in a very improbable place. They were in at-
tendance upon some travellers, and in the
course of their journey perceived a small hole
where a little weasel had formerly lived. On
examining the nest they found, to their surprise,
that it had been taken possession of by a colony
of bees, and several pounds of rich honey
became the prize of the fortunate discoverers.
12 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
Deserted hillocks thrown up by the white ants
in certain districts of Africa have often been
found occupied by bees, who, in their wild state,
appear speedily to find a suitable habitation.
In England honey was formerly far more
commonly used than at present, for sugar was
a costly luxury, only procurable by the great
and wealthy; therefore, in place of this article
of consumption, our forefathers used honey to
sweeten their wines, cakes, and sweetmeats. A
fermented liquor called mead was also made
from honey; it was offered to the guests at
weddings and other festive occasions. The
country people used to bring their honey to
market in large quantities, not in little boxes
or glasses, but by the horse-load. The toll
upon every horse thus laden coming into the
city of Hereford, in the reign of Edward the
First, was fixed at one penny, a high rate, when
it is taken into consideration that this sum was
equivalent to the shilling of our present coin-
age. Numerous forests then existed in many
parts of the country, where wild bees flourished.
So important was the trade in their produce,
and that of their domesticated comrades, that
special laws were passed to regulate the sale of
It is not always easy to discover the haunts
of wild bees; there are, however, two or
three active little guides, of great service to
those in search of the hidden treasure. One
of these is a bird called the honey-guide;
THE HONEY GUIDE.
it is a native of South Africa, about the size of
a chaffinch, and of a light grey colour.
Mr. Cumming, in his interesting work,
"Adventures in South Africa," thus describes
the curious habit of this bird: "Chattering
14 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
and twittering in a state of great excitement,
it perches on a branch beside the traveller,
endeavouring by various wiles to attract his
attention; and having succeeded in doing so, it
flies lightly forward in a wavy course in the
direction of the bees' nest, alighting every now
and then and looking back, to ascertain if the
traveller is following it, all the time keeping
up an incessant twitter. When at length it
arrives at the hollow tree, or deserted ants' hill,
which contains the honey, it for a moment
hovers over the nest, pointing to it with its bill,
and then takes up its position on a neighboring
branch, anxiously awaiting its share of the
spoil. When the honey is taken, which is
accomplished by burning grass at the entrance
of the nest, the honey-bird will often lead to
a second, and even to a third nest. The person
thus following generally whistles. The wild
bees of Southern Africa exactly correspond
with the domestic garden bees of England.
They are very generally diffused throughout
every part of Africa, beeswax forming a con-
siderable part of the cargoes of ships trading
to the Gold and Ivory Coasts, and the districts
of Sierra Leone, on the western shores of Africa.
This singular bird probably finds that alone
REMARKABLE INSTINCT OF THE BEE. 15
he is unable to make war upon the bees or to
gain possession of their honey, and is thus in-
stinctively led to invite the assistance of man.
But the hunter has yet another guide in a
little animal called the honey-rattel, who is
equally clever in pointing out the hidden nests.
We shall now proceed to describe the form,
senses, food, and mode of life of the honey-bee,
all of which display proofs of the wisdom and
goodness of the Creator of all things; and thus
the thoughtful observer is insensibly led
"From nature up to nature's God,"
who gave this little insect the skill and marvel-
lous instinct whereby it is enabled to construct
its comb, and carry on its labours either in holes
of the rocks, in trees, or the convenient hive.
Observe the form of its body, so perfect in all
its parts, how well adapted is each for its
intended use. The most powerful animals
in the world are not more remarkable than
the industrious little bee. As she goes from
flower to flower for honey, may we also cull
from our Bible the precious honey of grace and
love. If we endeavour by reading, meditation,
and prayer to gather the sweetness therein con-
tained, we shall not labour in vain.
CURIOUS STRUCTURE OF THE BEE-THE QUEEN
-THE DRONES-THE WORKERS.
r7T1HE honey-bee has six legs and four wings;
Sits body is thickly covered with close-set
hairs, and each hair, as seen through a
powerful microscope, is feather-shaped, with a
stem and branches springing from it. From
each side of the head rises a long horn, called an
antenna, or feeler." These feelers are the seat
of the sense of touch in the bees, and perhaps
also of smell, for they have been observed to
use them as if trying the quality or odour of
flowers, but writers are not agreed upon this
point; however this may be, their sense of
smell is certainly very acute.
The eye of the bee is a marvellous piece of
mechanism; it consists of a large number of
EYE OF THE BEE.
facets-that is, small pieces, each having a
A COMPOUND EYE, IIIGHLY MAGNIFIED.
FACETS OF THE EYE OF A BEE.
When all are joined together the eye appears
like a large cut diamond; it Las been justly
18 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
termed a world of wonders;" small hairs pro-
tect the facets from dust and injury.
A bee has two large eyes, one on each side
HEAD OF A BEE, SHOWIYIG CORONETS.
the head, and on the top of the head are three
small eyes termed "coronets," or by some
THE QUEEN OF THE HIVE.
The community in each hive is always com-
posed of three classes-the queen, the drones,
and the workers.
The queen is the mother as well as the
sovereign of the hive; in shape she is more
slender than her subjects, and has a longer
body, tapering gradually to a point. Her legs
also are longer than theirs, but have no baskets
for carrying pollen, and the wings are much
shorter, reaching but little more than half the
length of her body. She is armed with a bent
or curved sting, but does not often use it. The
colour of her back is dark brown, and the under
part of her body a dark orange.
The queen does no work, but is treated with
the greatest respect and attention by all the
other bees. If it unfortunately happens that
she is killed or lost by any accident, conster-
nation reigns throughout the hive, they leave
their work and seem to lose all interest in their
A bee-master was once desirous of ascertain-
ing what course the bees would pursue when
deprived of their queen. With this end in view
he selected a swarm for the experiment, and
early one morning carried the hive into a mea-
dow adjoining his garden, where he shook the
bees out upon the grass. After a while he dis-
cerned the queen, quickly caught and placed
her in a box; but great was the commotion
20 TnHE 1hIVE Al'D ITS IVONDEES.
when the bees discovered the queen was not
among them. Contrary to their usual habit of
keeping close together, the little creatures now
spread themselves over the sward, running up
and down, making a piteous discontented note.
Finding their search fruitless, in about an hour
they all flew to an adjacent bush, not in their
usual compact mass, but separated into many
little groups all along the hedge. The bee-
keeper now released the queen, when they im-
mediately returned to her with great joy. He
continued this experiment for five days, taking
away and returning the queen at intervals,
with the view of discovering how long the bees
would stand this treatment and remain faithful.
The poor bees, now always in search of their
queen, were unable to procure food, but, loyal
to the last, died one by one of starvation; their
unhappy sovereign, whose attachment to them
was equal to their attachment to her, survived
them only a few hours.
It is sometimes needful to make experiments
in the cause of science, but unnecessary cruelty
to any living thing is always to be condemned,
and in the above instance the bee-master paid
a just penalty by losing a valuable swarm.
A physician named Dr. Warder, who lived
in the early part of the last century, was a
careful observer of these insects. He remarks:
" There are none that have kept bees but know
the drones from the workers; but they are for
the most part ignorant for what purpose nature
has designed them. The opinion that most
prevails amongst country bee-mistresses is, that
they are bees that have lost their sting, and so
grown out of all proportion to the others. Now
this their mistake is occasioned by seeing they
do not work, cannot sting, and that the other
bees rule over them, so the contemptible, pro-
verbial name of drone is given them. Not a
little depends upon the right knowledge of
these drones, which I shall henceforth call male
"The male bee is very industrious in the
work assigned him by nature, and makes him-
self most useful, for'by his great heat the brood
when hatching is kept warm; thus the work-
ing bees are partly relieved from the care of
the young at home, and have more time to
pursue their delightful occupation of gathering
and bringing home honey; so the male bee is
not only of use but an absolute necessity to the
"The so-called drone or male bee is about
THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
half as large again as the female worker, some-
what longer, and not quite so dark-coloured
about the head and shoulders. His head and
eyes are much larger, his voice more loud and
powerful, often causing fear where no fear is,
for having no sting he is incapable of hurting
any creature, but is absolutely under the do-
minion of the females. He has a velvet cape
about his neck, is very hairy all over his back,
A DRONE BEE.
his tongue is shorter than that of the workers ;
he cannot work if he would, as his tongue is
not long enough to reach the honey out of the
When the honey-bees return home, about
one or two o'clock, the chief part of the day's
work being done, they in their turn take charge
of the brood, and give leave to these their
obedient masculine servants to recreate them-
selves abroad, their heat being no longer neces-
sary within doors. Then the male bees are
seen very thick about the hive, flying to and
fro in five or six large circuits. After thus
disporting themselves for a time, they return
again to their beloved nectar, where they are
kindly received by their imperious dames.
Here, by the way, let me caution those who are
so happy as to keep these industrious servants
against a mistake they are apt to fall into, of
killing the male bees as soon as they see them,
to the great damage if not utter destruction of
the hive, for they had better kill six workers
than one of these great bees in May or the
beginning of June."
The drones are but a short-lived race, for
towards the end of July the workers ruthlessly
drive them from the hive, biting them under
their wings; the drones seem aware of their
danger, and are seen running about in great
fear; those who can, make their way to the
entrance, where severe struggles take place.
Although the drones are the largest bees, yet,
being stingless, they are soon overcome; and
the dead bodies of the slain may often be seen
towards the close of summer scattered thickly
round the door of their dwelling.
24 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
The worker-bees are the smallest members
of the community; they gather the honey and
pollen, build the waxen cells, take care of the
young, and defend the hive from enemies of
every kind, well meriting the name of busy
bees. To enable them to collect honey from
the flowers, they are provided with a long
slender trunk or tube, and in another respect
differ materially from the queen and drones,
having brushes and baskets attached to their
hinder legs, to enable them to collect the pollen
or fine powder from the blossoms and convey
it safely home. By a peculiar process, a por-
tion of the honey is converted into poison,
which is communicated to the sting, a weapon
so strong that it will pierce through a thick
The office of the queen is to lay eggs in the
cells prepared for that purpose; these cells
differ in size and shape according as they are
intended to contain eggs for drones or those
for workers. The royal cell destined for a
queen is quite different from either. Something
like a pear in shape, the upper or largest part
is fastened to the edges or sides of the comb,
the smaller end, where the mouth or entrance
to the cell is placed, always hanging down-
wards. The queen begins to lay early in the
spring, a single egg only in each cell; the
number laid daily increases as the weather
becomes warmer. She is seldom seen on these
occasions, but the following is an account given
by an eye-witness of the ceremony:
"One fine day in July I was visiting a
friend in the country, who suggested we should
have a look at the bees. Accordingly we pro-
ceeded to the hives, and upon removing the
cover from the glass super or upper box, there
to our delight we saw the queen surrounded
by her court. She walked alone slowly over
the combs, followed by her attendants in a
circle, and keeping at a respectful distance,
facing their sovereign, whilst she commenced
carefully to examine the combs, putting her
head down into a cell, where she remained a
few minutes, then raised herself. Having
THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
selected one to her satisfaction, she descended
into it backwards and deposited an egg. During
the process nothing was seen but her head
and fore feet clinging to the edge of the cell.
She then withdrew her body, and proceeded to
inspect another cell in the same manner, and
so continued her round."
The eggs remain three full days undisturbed;
at the end of that time the larvae or small
"grubs in the bottom of each cell are hatched,
and open their mouths wide for food. Some
of the workers, called nurse-bees, immediately
attend to their wants, feeding them with a
mixture of bee-bread, honey, and water, which
they put directly into the mouths of their
young charges. This plan is pursued for five
or six days, until the grub is nearly full grown,
very much in the same manner as birds feed
their nestlings. A covering is then made for
each cell of wax and pollen mingled together,
and dark in colour; this lid varies from that
the bees place over honey-cells, which is of the
As soon as the little grub is sealed up it
begins to wrap round itself a cocoon or silken
shroud, similar to that of the silkworm; this
expands, filling the cell and making it soft
THE YOUNG BEE.
and smooth. Whilst hidden in this covering
the grub is termed a pupa," signifying that
it is wrapped in swaddling-clothes, like an
infant or an Egyptian mummy. This is the
second change through which it passes. Here
the little creature rests, seeming to have no
life or powers of any kind, until the time
appointed for it to break from the confinement
EGGS AND LARVA OF BEES.
of shroud and cell, and come forth entering
upon a new life. It is now a perfect bee, and
from its place of rest sails into the air and
enters upon fresh scenes of enjoyment.
The singular change through which each
little bee passes-the grub wrapped in its
shroud, shut up from air and light in a torpid
death-like state; then bursting its enclosure
and rising upward on light wings, a new and
28 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
beautiful creature-these things, so remarkable,
bring to our minds thoughts of great interest
to ourselves. We must each lie down in the
lonely grave, our bodies crumble into dust and
be forgotten. But is this the end of our being ?
No; the day will come when all the dead shall
hear the voice of the Son of man, and the
CATERPILLAR OF BEE WITH SILK COCOON.
earth and sea shall give up their dead. Then
death shall be swallowed up in victory, and the
children of God who, by -the grace of the
Holy Spirit, have believed in Jesus, shall be
clothed in the beautiful and spotless robe of
Christ's righteousness. The day of their
happiness and glory shall begin.
"The stars shall dim their brightness;
And, as a parched scroll,
The earth shall fade-yet still shall live
The undying human soul."
THE YOUNG BEE-TONGUE OF THE BEE-
PASTURAGE OF THE BEE.
HE little bee seems to enjoy the life given
by its Creator, and appears to know its
duties and labours as soon as it can use
its wings. Shortlyafter emerging from the
cell, the young worker is engaged in collecting
honey, and from that hour is never idle.
"Look now abroad. All creatures see,
How they are filled with life and glee;
The little bees among the flowers
Have laboured since the morning hours."
Content to labour for the good of the society
to which it belongs, how is the little creature
furnished for its work? One of its principal
occupations is to collect the pure fluid called
the nectar of flowers, from whence the bee
obtains its store of honey, and can extract
TFE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
the sweets without destroying or injuring the
"Thus daily her task she pursues,
And pilfers with so much address,
That none of the odour they lose,
Nor charm by their beauty the less."
The bee has a most remarkable tongue pro-
TONGUE OF A BEE.
vided for this purpose: it is long and flexible,
and consists of five branches, four of which
serve as sheaths, from which is darted a centre-
piece like a brush. With this brush she laps
or rubs off the nectar from the flowers, and
passes it into her mouth. Folding and unfold-
TOGUE OF THE BEE.
ing it very rapidly at pleasure, she pushes it
forward either in a curve or straight line, and
darts it into every part of the flower where
honey is concealed.
Look at the active little insect as she alights
upon an open flower! The blossom trembles
on its tender stem when she touches the soft
leaves; the hum of her wings ceases, and her
work begins. In an instant she unfolds her
tongue, which she extends at full length, then
shortens, and passes it over both the upper and
under surfaces of the beautiful petals, that she
may wipe off from them all their nectar. The
fluid thus lapped out of the nectary of the
flower is conveyed to her honey-bag or crop,
which is entirely distinct from the stomach of
the bee. When she has completed her lading
she returns to the hive to store it; the quantity
brought each time is about the size of a pea.
Arrived at the hive, she selects a cell, pierces a
hole in the crust formed on its surface, and
drops from her mouth the lately gathered honey,
finally closing up the opening. A single cell
will hold the contents of many honey-bags.
The honey intended for daily use is easy of
access, but that stored up for winter and
early spring is placed more out of the way,
32 THE HIIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
and each cell carefully sealed with a waxen
That well-known plant the honeysuckle,
found so generally in our rural lanes, contains
1. SSNAPDRAGoN. 2. OLUM3BINE. 3. CEIUPlSCIA.
4. FoxGLOVE. 5. HONEYSUCKLE.
in its flowers a rich feast for bees. The long,
graceful tube is too deep for the tongue of the
bee to reach the required distance, therefore
with unerring instinct she goes to the base of
BEST FLOWERS FOR THE BEE.
the blossom instead of the open mouth, where
she either taps for herself a small hole just
above the honey-cup, or, as some writers sup-
pose, finds this part of the work already done by
her relation the humble bee. However this
may happen, the careful observer will see that
nearly every honeysuckle and nettle is tapped
in this manner.
Bees cannot gather their sweet nectar from
every flower. Some of the most lovely orna-
ments of our gardens, such as roses, pinks, and
carnations, afford only a scanty supply, and the
brilliant tulips are hurtful and deadly. But
from the more humble fragrant plants, such as
sweet marjoram, sage, and rosemary, they col-
lect the finest and most delicate nectar. In
the early part of the season bees resort to cat-
kins of willow, poplar, and hazel trees, but as-
spring advances the apple-trees are laden with
fragrant blossom, the air perfumed with rich
white clover, and sweetness surrounds them on
every side. White lilies, sunflowers, lemon
thyme, and the white nettle offer great attrac-
tions. They prefer, if possible, to have every-
thing on a large scale-whole fields of clover
or beans, for instance, being greatly preferred
to single plants, and for this reason, their
34 THE HIVE AED ITS WONDERS.
practice is to adhere to the same species of
flower on which they first alight, not flying
from apple-tree to clover, thus mingling the
nectar of different plants, but carrying every
sort separately to the hive.
*;^ ~ o A _.,-- ,
BEES ON WHITE CLOVER.
Although these little creatures seldom gather
anything injurious to man, yet instances have
been known in which honey collected from
certain flowers had a poisonous effect. Some
HUNTING STINGLESS BEES,
QUALITY OF HONEY.
persons are said to have lost their lives at New
York, many years ago, by eating honey supposed
to have been collected from flowers of the wild
When taken in moderation, honey is to most
persons a nutritious and wholesome luxury;
but if partaken of in excess, it sometimes pro-
duces serious consequences. It is related that
during the celebrated retreat of the ten thousand
Greeks from Babylon, after having crossed the
Colchis Mountain, they found in the villages
at its foot great abundance of beehives.
Fatigued with their long and weary march,
the soldiers doubtless ate freely of the garnered
store, and to their consternation were soon
seized with violent vomiting, attended with
delirious fits, so that those who were the least
ill seemed like drunken men, and the rest either
furiously mad or dying. The earth was strewn
with their bodies as after a defeat. However,
none of them died, and the distemper ceased
next day about the same hour it had com-
menced. The soldiers got up on the third or
fourth day, but in the condition of men after
taking violent medicine.
There is no doubt that the quality of honey
collected in different localities varies greatly.
THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
The little stingless bees of Guadaloupe, which
build their nests in hollow trees, or cavities of
rocks by the seaside, make honey neither so
rich nor surfeiting as that of Europe. A writer
1. APPLE. 2. CHEJIaY. 3. MIGNONETTE.
4. Cnocus. 5. MARSHMALLOW.
states that their honey is always in a fluid con-
dition, and as clear as rock water. It forms an
agreeable and inviting beverage, but often does
not agree with persons unless taken at meal-
POLLEN-PROPOLIS-DIVISION OF LABOUR
AMONG THE BEES.
SHE fine powder found on the tops of the
little stems growing in the centre of
flowers is termed pollen, and to gather this
forms an important part of the bee's labour.
It has been erroneously thought they collect
pollen accidentally while in search of honey;
quite the contrary is the fact, for if the pollen
in a flower is ripe and fit for use there is no
nectar, and each substance is collected and
carried home separately. Early morning is
the time preferred by the bees for gathering
this dust. Probably the dew assists them in
moulding the little balls of pollen, which, by
means of the hairy brushes on their legs, they
have collected off the flowers.
Let us more closely examine the wonderful
40 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
contrivance wherewith this little insect is
furnished for carrying on its labours. Its legs
are peculiarly formed, and in the thigh is a
small hollow or basket surrounded by strong
thickly-set hairs. Whatever the bee puts in
these baskets is prevented from falling out by
the hairs or bristles round the edge. Into
each receptacle she places the little balls of
HIXD LEG OF BEE.
pollen, and conveys them to the hive as safely
as eggs are taken to market. In the spring
of the year scarcely a single labourer returns
home without this bee-food. The balls are
always of the same colour as the anther-dust
of the flowers from which it is collected, most
commonly of the various shades of yellow, pale
greenish yellow, or deep orange. As previously
observed, the different kinds of pollen are never
mixed, therefore that brought home at each
journey is all the same colour.
The worker, having gathered as heavy a load
as she can conveniently carry, turns homeward,
and is met at the entrance of the hive by the
nursing-bees, who relieve her at once of part
of her burden. The bee now advances farther
into the hive, making a peculiar noise with her
wings, and seeks a cell wherein to deposit the
remainder of the pollen. Her fellow-workers
at the summons come forward. She then fixes
her two middle and two hind legs upon the
edge of a cell, and curving her body, seizes the
pollen, makes it drop into the cell, and hurries
off to collect again. Another immediately
packs the bee-bread, and, mixing it with a little
honey, works it down into the bottom of the
cell; an air-tight coating of varnish finishes
the process. This is the mixture with which
the bees feed their brood.
From the venerable apiarian, Dr. Bevan, in
his elaborate work on the Honey-bee," we
learn that the term propolis is derived from
the Greek, and signifies "before the city," bees
having been observed to make use of it in
strengthening the outworks of their city. It
42 THE HIVE AED ITS WONDERS.
is a soft gummy substance, of a reddish-brown
colour in the mass, but when broken resembles
that of wax, and has a fragrant smell. The
bees obtain it from the leaf-buds of the poplar,
pine, birch, and alder, which all yield a gluey,
gum-like juice of this description. The pro-
polis, or, as it has been called, the "bee-gum,"
serves to stop up every crack and crevice in
the hive, through which cold, rain, or any
enemy might enter. The bees also use it to
fix the combs to the sides and roof of the hive,
and to varnish the cell-work and make all
The roving insects in their excursions prefer
distant fields and meadows to those more
immediately surrounding their home. Many
curious experiments have been made in order
to test the distance they will travel. Some
bee-keepers have endeavoured to follow them,
but soon found the attempt fruitless; others
marked their bees, and so tracked them many
miles. Their rate of speed is very great; they
not only beat stage-coaches, but even the rail-
road, for they may be seen dashing past the
windows of the carriages when the train is going
at express speed. On their journeys they pass
in and out of the hives many times a day, the
EXAMPLE OF BEES.
number returning to a well-filled hive in
pleasant weather being often a hundred a
minute. It is said that a colony of ten thousand
workers, in addition to other labour in the hive,
will collect in one season upwards of fifty
pounds of bee-bread, besides the propolis they
gather, and their stock of honey.
All bees of the same family live in friend-
ship and unity with each other, attend to their
allotted tasks, and dischargetheir dutiesactively
and quietly. Those that collect food from
abroad, those that store it safely within, those
that polish the rough work of the cells, and
those that wait or guard-all are attentive to
maintain the order and happiness of the whole
hive. Kind to each other, clean, industrious,
willing to share the fruit of their toil, do they
not in these things set forth a good example
that might often be followed with advantage
by those to whom so many more talents are
given ? Are these good habits observed by us
in our families, and do we consider the wants
and happiness of those we love ? We may go
to the bee, as well as the ant, and learn lessons
of true wisdom.
Again, how careful is the bee! She wastes
not the materials of her work, or the hours
44 THE HIVE AND 1TS WONDERS.
granted for labour, but lays up a store of pro-
visions for a time of need, not wasting her days
in idle pleasure. We should never let plenty
tempt us to be idle and extravagant, for true is
the old saying, "Wilful waste makes woful
want." Especially, we cannot value too highly
the present time, which passes so swiftly away,
and can never be recalled. The season of youth
is to the young as the bright summer day to
the bee; then is the golden opportunity for
gaining knowledge; let the young, therefore,
take example from the bee, and seize the
precious moments as they fly.
" Come, honey-bee, with thy busy hum,
To the fragrant tufts of the wild thyme, come,
And sip the sweet dew from the cowslip's head,
From the lily's bell and the violet's bed.
There is spread for thee
A rich repast in wood and field;
And a thousand flowers,
Within our bowers,
To thee their sweetest essence yield.
Come, honey-bee, to our woodlands come;
There's a lesson for us in thy busy hum:
Thou hast treasure in store in the hawthorn's wreath,
In the golden broom and the purple heath;
And flowers less fair
That scent the air,
Like pleasant friends, drop balm for thee,
And thou winnest spoil
By thy daily toil,
Thou patient, and thrifty, and diligent bee !
We learn from the bee the wise man's lore,
'The hand of the diligent gathereth store;'
She plies in her calling from morn till night,
Nor tires in her labour, nor flags in her flight:
From numberless blossoms of every hue
She gathers the nectar and sips the dew,
Then homewards she speeds
O'er the fragrant meads,
And she hums, as she goes, her thankful lay:
Let our thanks, too, arise
For our daily supplies,
As homeward and heavenward we haste on our way."
THE HIVE--THE HONEYCOMB.
IVES Of various shapes and sizes, many of
San expensive description, are now pro-
vided for our domestic bees. They could
do without any assistance from us, as in the
case of wild bees, but we furnish them with a
home neat and pretty in appearance, and con-
venient in arrangement, in order to obtain in
return the sweets they prepare so skilfully.
The old straw skepp is still used, but boxes are
now generally preferred, as they are so con-
trived that honey may be taken from the bees
without destroying them-a cruel and wasteful
practice much to be condemned. There is a
hive called the bar-framed," arranged with
loose bars that can be taken out with the combs
attached, and others substituted without injur-
THE B IVE.
ing the bees: in olden times the Greeks made
their hives on this principle.
The inside of a hive contains many wonders;
it is a city on a small scale, with regular streets
and dwellings, built upon the most perfect plan
that could possibly have been contrived for the
use of its inhabitants. Some of these buildings
are storehouses for food; in others the bees
live; a few, more spacious than the rest, are
cradles for the queens or mothers of the hive.
THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
The material of which this wonderful city is
built, man with all his skill and learning knows
not how to produce; the city itself the wisest
builder among us could not have planned with
more wisdom. Yet this is the work of a society
of curious insects; and all the wonders they
perform we cannot fully understand with even
A R1RANNGMENT OF COMBS.
our superior powers of reason. God, who careth
for the raven, and heareth its cry for food, also
careth for the little bee. From Him, too, came
all our gifts; we have received everything we
have from the same kind Hand; here, we are
on a level with the inferior creatures of His
power; but how raised above them in the pos-
session of the soul, in the gift of eternal life!
A piece of honeycomb is a flattish cake, com-
posed of two ranges of cells backed against each
other, with a partition between, wfiich is the
floor of the range.
The cells stand side by side, and as the two
blocks open exactly opposite each other a kind
of street is formed running between the combs.
A well-filled hive contains many such ranges,
DIAGRAM OF CELLS IN COMB.
which are about half an inch apart, leaving
the passage between wide enough to allow two
bees to work on cells opposite each other at the
same time if necessary, and to pass and repass
Openings are left in certain parts of the combs,
forming smaller streets or byways; again
broader roads or highways connect remote parts
of the hive, and save time going round.
THE 1-1VE AND ITS WONDERS.
Thus nimbly do they ply their twinkling feet,
Stretch out the softened mass, and form the street,
With many a cross-way path, and postern-gate,
That shorten to their range the spreading state."
The shape of each cell is hexagon-that is,
having six equal sides; no other form would
have saved room so well, given so much strength,
or used so little wax; for the sides fit into each
other in a manner that would otherwise have
Suppose the cells had been quite round-
which seems best suited to the form of the
insect-space would then have been wasted in
joining them together, as shown when com-
paring this figure with that on the preceding
Formerly the biscuits for the use of ships'
crews were made round ; much room was thus
taken up in stowage; but man has learnt from
the honey-bee, and biscuits are now made six-
sided, so the sailors gain space for other things
in their vessels.
Saving of room also implied saving of wax-
an important consideration, as it is a valuable
commodity; therefore, one common partition
serves as the floor for two blocks of cells.
Had they been formed in single ranges opening
only on one side, having streets between, more
ARRANGEMENT OF CELLS.
material must have been used. Had it stood
alone, each cell would have been weaker, whilst
by close union all are strengthened. So with
mankind; alone, we can do but little-when
united, great results are obtained.
The sides and bases of each cell are so
52 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
delicately thin that three or four placed on
each other are only equal in thickness to a
sheet of common writing-paper; and as such
fragile walls would constantly break away at
the edge, from the bees passing to and fro,
they make a ledge or border round every cell
at least three times thicker than the sides.
On examining the division or floor between
two ranges of cells in the same cake of comb,
Sit will be found that the floor of each cell has
three sloping sides, meeting in a point at the
centre. The bottom of each cell rests against
the point where three partitions meet on the
other side, and is supported by the walls of
the cell opposite, which gives all the strength
A problem was once given a celebrated
mathematician, to show how a certain portion
of wax could be made to form cells of the same
size and shape, and at the same time give the
greatest strength, the most room, and yet use
the smallest quantity of material. After trying
the question by the strictest rules of geometry,
the answer proved that bees act as if acquainted
with all these principles, and have in the most
simple and perfect manner secured every
advantage of arrangement when building.
It may be asked, of what use are these cells ?
Why is not the honey stored in a heap or in
one large receptacle? The reason is, that it
would ferment and soon become corrupt.. If
a jar of honey is kept at the same heat as the
interior of a hive in warm weather, it soon
spoils. The simple process adopted by the bee
of placing it in small cells makes the quantity
too little to suffer from the same chemical
changes as a mass at the same temperature.
What, then, could the bee do with the honey,
if she had no wax and had not been taught to
build the cells ? There would be no winter
store when the snow lies deep on the fields
and gardens. So God has given the little
worker this wisdom and skill. All His works
are indeed full of wonders, which, while they
claim our notice, call forth also our admiration
Thus we have seen in the formation of the
honeycomb the marks of strength, lightness,
beauty, admirable finish and adaptation; pre-
senting a contrast to the best specimens of
human labour, which never fail to appear
clumsy and imperfect when compared with the
works of the little bee. How marvellous is it
that to a small insect so trifling in the sight
54 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
of man, the Maker of all things should have
given such wonderful powers! We must be
blind indeed if we who observe these things
perceive not in them something of the loving-
.kindness of the Lord."
N101G1BOUI'S I3EPROYED COTTAGE fl YE.
WAX-MAKERS-BUILDING THE COMB-BEES'
STORE-CELLS AND CRADLES.
P HE production of wax by the bee is very
singular, and there is yet much to learn
respecting its formation. It is not gathered
like pollen, but is a secretion of the bee, who,
by a curious and unknown process, converts
parts of her honey into wax for the purpose of
building the cells. It first appears in little
scales on the under side of the body, and varies
in colour according, to the different kind of
honey used in its manufacture.
When a swarm leave their old hive for a
new one they always take with them three
days' provision. The advantage of this course
to themselves and those who wish to hive them
is clearly perceived; for when filled with
56 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
honey, bees are generally good-tempered, and
if handled gently and not provoked or injured,
are easily managed. Again, if stormy weather
prevents their seeking food for two or three
consecutive days, this reserved honey proves
useful, and prevents them from perishing with
hunger. Thus they are soon prepared with
wax, and have all in readiness for building
combs in their new abode; and here we see
the intelligent instinct of these little workers
yet further displayed.
Furnished with material for their proposed
work, they commence by suspending themselves
in festoons from the roof of the hive. Those
who first reach the top fix themselves firmly
by the fore feet; others, scrambling up the
sides,join their fellow-labourers, seizing the bee
in front of them by its hind legs. A chain is
thus formed, fastened at the two ends to the
top of the hive, and serving instead of a ladder
to assist the rest in their ascent. These
festoons cross the hive in various directions,
falling gracefully down from the roof, a thick
cluster of bees hanging in the centre from the
top to the bottom.
One object in thus clustering together is
doubtless so to raise the temperature of the
hive that the wax may soften sufficiently for
the bees to work and use it as they wish; in
hard dry scales it would be difficult to manage.
The wax-workers remain quiet and motionless
for some hours, during which time wax is
forming, and at length appears in thin scales
FESTOON OF BEES SUSPENDED FROM THE ROOF OF THE
on the under part of the body between the
When the wax is formed and ready for use,
a single bee disengages itself from one of the
inner festoons, and makes its way to the roof
of the hive, driving away with its head the
other bees until an inch or more of clear space
53 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
is made where it can move freely. This is the
architect-bee, by whom the design of every
comb is made, and the first rudiments laid
down. The founder-bee forms a block out of
a rough mass of wax, drawn partly from its
own resources, but principally from those of
its companions, who furnish materials with
great rapidity from the receptacles under their
A WORKER BEE, SHOWING THE SCALES OF WAX.
bodies, taking out the small pieces of wax with
their hind legs, and carrying them to their
mouths with their fore feet, where the wax is
moistened until it becomes soft and pliable.
The architect-bee, who lays as it were the first
stone of this and each succeeding edifice,
determines the position and distance of the
combs from each other: these foundations
serve as guides to the wax-workers. The mass
of wax prepared by the assistants is applied by
the architect to the roof or elsewhere, as seems
most desirable, and when of sufficient thickness
a cell is sculptured out by a number of wax-
workers, who relieve each other in quick
The construction of several combs is gene-
rally going on at the same time. No sooner is
the foundation of one laid with a few rows of
cells attached, than a second and third are
WAX-WORKER COMMENCING A COMB.
begun on each side parallel to the first, and so
on until the hive is filled.
Thus with sharp sickle, or with sharper tooth,
They square each portion, and each angle smooth,
Till now, in finished pride, two radiant rows
Of snow-white cells one mutual base disclose.
Six shining panels gild each polished round-
The door's fine rim, with waxen fillet bound;
While walls so thin, with sister walls combined,
Weak in themselves, a sure dependence find."
The cells are not all of the same size; those
60 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
intended for male bees are larger and more
substantial than those made for workers. Last
of all are built the royal cells, cradles for the
infant queens. Of these there are usually three
or four, and sometimes as many as twelve, in
one hive. Such is the loyalty of the bees,
that the wax they employ with so much eco-
nomy in the construction of common cells, is
profusely expended on the mansions of the
Immediately a young queen emerges, the
lodge she inhabited is partially eaten away by
the bees, and reduced in size so as to resemble
an acorn-cup in shape; they then neatly fill-
up the space with a row of common cells.
The bees appear to judge of the quality of
their work by means of their antenna or feelers.
Every particle of wax they feel over with these
organs, which are so flexible and delicate that
they serve in the place of eyes and hands, and
are used as compasses and measures to guide
the labourers in every part of their work.
- ~ -
The daiker cells contain bee-bread. The bottom or lighter
cells contain honey or larve sealed up.
Bees are averse to light, and quickly close up
every chink by which it can enter. In dark-
ness they build their combs, fill the cells with
honey, feed their young, and attend to all
62 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
At first the combs are delicately white,
semi-transparent, and exceedingly fragile; in
a short time their surfaces become stronger,
and assume more or less of a yellow tint; this
is by some supposed to be the effect of a varnish
with which the bees finish off and strengthen
SONG OF THE BEES.
We watch for the light of the morning to break,
And colour the eastern sky
With its blended hues of saffron and lake;
Then say to each other, 'Awake awake !
For our winter's honey is-all to make,
And our bread for a long supply.'
And off we fly to the hill and dell,
To the field, to the meadow, and bower,
To dip in the lily with snow-white bell,
To search for the balm in its fragrant cell,
The mint, and the rosemary flower.
While each, on the good of her sister bent,
Is busy, and cares for all,
We hope for an evening of heart's content,
In the winter of life, without lament
That summer is gone, or its hours misspent,
And the harvest is past recall."
DEATH OF A QUEEN BEE-CARE OF THE TOUNG.
? HE attention of the bees to their queen is
very remarkable; the workers turn their
heads towards her like so many courtiers
in the presence of royalty, as she moves about
the hive with slow and dignified step. Wher-
ever she goes they clear the way and form a'
circle round her as a sort of body-guard. When
she rests from her labours they approach with
respect, lick her face, offer honey, and render
every mark of devotion.
If by any accident the queen dies or is re-
moved from the hive, great consternation pre-
vails. The bees do not discover their loss for
some little time, and continue their labours as
usual; but soon those near the spot where the
queen was last seen begin to perceive their loss
TiME HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
and become disturbed; the movement spreads,
many bees leave their work, forsake the young,
and run hither and thither in great alarm. As
the bees meet each other in the hive, they stop
.2'. -_ 3,
.< r' .. .... v"' -: ." '
and cross their antennae or horns; those who
first heard the sad story seem telling others by
gently tapping with these slender but sensitive
parts of their bodies.
DEATH OF A QUEEN BEE.
The tidings speedily circulate until the whole
hive is in confusion; the workers, running over
the combs, and against each other, in hurry and
disorder, rush to the entrance, but soon return;
the hum within the hive becomes mournful, and
continues for several hours. At length quiet
is restored once more ; the bees return to their
work, and soon take steps to repair their loss.
If a queen from another hive is introduced
twenty-four hours after the removal of their
own sovereign, the stranger is well received,
and at once admitted to regal honours; but if
not more than eighteen hours have elapsed, she
is treated as a prisoner, although, after a time,
her claim is acknowledged. Experiments have
been tried of replacing the queen bee at shorter
intervals, but the bees could not earlier be in-
duced to transfer their allegiance to a stranger.
An interesting account is given by Dr. Evans
of a case where a queen in a thinly-peopled
hive was observed to lie on some honeycomb
apparently in a dying state, surrounded by six
bees with their faces turned towards her, quiver-
ing their wings, and most of them with their
stings pointed, as though to keep off any enemy.
On presenting them with honey, the other bees
eagerly devoured it, but the guards were so
66 TI E HIVE AND ITS WONDE ig.
absorbed in their solicitous care of their queen
as entirely to disregard it. The following day,
although she was dead, her faithful guardians
till remained at their post; they were con-
stantly supplied with honey, but could not be
induced to take it, and their numbers gradually
diminished, until at the end of three or four
days not a bee remained alive.
The moment a strange queen is introduced,
the workers near first touch her with their little
horns, and then pass them all over her body;
retiring, they give room to others, who salute
her in like manner. All then beat their wings
at the same time, and range themselves in a
circle round her; a general agitation passes
through the hive; many others draw near, touch
the stranger, offer her honey, and fall behind
again, all continuing to shake their wings. At
last she moves, and the circle opens to let her
pass, her subjects follow, and soon in all parts
of the hive she reigns the acknowledged queen.
Unless needed to lead out fresh swarms, the
queen never leaves the hive after the first few
days of her life, but devotes herself to the duties
of her high station; she is the general mother
of the whole hive, and lays all the eggs from
which infant queens, drones, and workers are
THE QUEEN S CALL.
produced. When an egg is laid in one of the
royal cells, it is covered with a lid of wax to
keep it safe, otherwise when hatched it would
perhaps get killed by a rival princess, or by the
reigning sovereign, -who brooks no rival. In
every waxen lid a small hole is made, through
which the captive receives food. Whilst in
confinement she utters a distinct sound, consist-
ing of several monotonous notes. The eldest
princess is always liberated first when a new
queen is required ; their age is probably known
by the noise they make, which becomes sharper
and louder as they grow older.
It is remarkablee that if a queen dies, and no
eggs are left in the royal cells, the bees can at
once supply her place, if she left worker-eggs
less than four days old. To accomplish this,
they select one or more of the worker brood,
and make a royal cradle for each by tearing
down the partitions, throwing three cells into
one, and making it larger and deeper. The
favourite is then plentifully supplied with royal
jelly, which is more sharp and biting in taste
than that given to other bees ; thus cradled and
fed, the insect grows and leaves its cell a queen.
The naturalist Huber says the queen some-
times makes a clicking noise, which has been
THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
called "the voice of sovereignty," and states
he has often heard and noticed its singular
effects. The queen, crossing her wings upon
her back, utters her "Click, click." The
workers at once seem struck with fear, and
remain without motion. This sound she also
makes when' about to lead out a new swarm,
or to call them to face any enemy.
If by accident a strange queen enters the
hive, those bees acting as sentinels fall upon
her at once, seize her by the legs or wings,
and form a close circle around her; other
bees soon come to their assistance, and keep
her a prisoner until she dies from want of food.
The care bestowed upon the young brood is
very great, and nothing awakens so much
anger as interference in this matter. In a
new hive cells are first prepared for the young,
and very little honey is collected until the bees
have laid up an ample supply of bee-bread.
This is carefully stored, and when the eggs
are hatched the nurse-bees feed the larvae with
it, putting their heads into each cell. Other
bees coming by look in, and appear to see at a
glance that all is right, and pass on.
The nurse-bees adapt the food to the different
ages of their charges; for the youngest it is
THE NURSE BEES.
made simple and insipid, as suited to their
tastes. Thus all are nursed and fed until
ready to spin their cocoons; but not a particle
of food is wasted or left behind when the
young bees come forth from their cells. The
bread given them is always used with care and
EEST OF HUMBLE BEES.
discretion; it is never seen thrown about their
streets and lanes, neither are bees ever dis-
covered taking more than they can eat or is
required for their sustenance. They are sober
also. It is said that humble bees get tipsy occa-
sionally when the hollyhocks are in blossom,
but domestic bees have never been known to
disgrace themselves in this manner.
SWARMING OF BEES.
aN spring, when the weather is warm and
bright, the rapidly-increasing family soon
becomes too numerous for the hive. Emi-
grants are therefore sent forth under the
leadership of the old queen to found a new
colony. Previous to starting, the precaution
is taken to send out scouts or spies, who bring
back information as to the most eligible situa-
tion for a settlement. A curious humming
noise is heard two or three nights before the
bees make a start, and when the important
day arrives great excitement prevails through-
out the community. The queen is first affected
by the disturbance; it then extends to the
workers. A tumult arises; they abandon their
SWARMING OF BEES. 71
labours, and rush in disorder to the door,
crowding round their queen. Before com-
mencing their journey, these sensible insects
______________'.___________--_ ,_______... -J .TAv1...._
HIDING A SWARM.
take the precaution .of securing a hearty meal,
after which they taste no more honey until
safe in their new abode. As a lively writer
says, They never swarm without a good stock
72 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
of honey in their inside, to enable them to
make a fair start in their new housekeeping."
CLUSTER OF BEES.
On quitting the hive, the bees hover a few
moments in the air, forming a cloud around
SWARMING OF BEES.
their queen. A little time is allowed, in order
that all the intending emigrants may assemble.
Then away they fly, not usually very high at
first, but soon settling on the branch of some
adjacent tree or shrub, as if in consultation
concerning their future movements. Here
they hang together in a cluster, suspended
from the bough, clinging to each other by
their feet, with their heads upwards. This
living, solid mass assumes a cone-like shape of
a dark-brown colour, about a foot long. The
swarm will not stir from the place where the
queen settled while she is with them; but if
from any cause she is separated from them, as
will sometimes happen, they search diligently
about, and failing to find her, return discon-
solate to the hive. However, if the swarm is
undisturbed, they will remain in the same
position for several hours. As the day ad-
vances, should they receive no attention, and
no home be provided for them, they will rise
in a body, this time flying high in the air,
and take their departure to some distant spot,
perhaps a neighboring wood, where they will
take possession of a hollow tree and make
themselves a dwelling.
But if the scouts have selected a remote
74 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
point as the destined home of the swarm, they
pursue a different plan, and do not alight near
the old hive, but set off in a straight line to
the desired resting-place, rising high, and
travelling at the rate of eight miles an hour.
Instances are by no means uncommon where
a swarm has settled under the roof of a house,
probably tempted by the dryness and warmth.
Such a situation seems much appreciated, for
when once a colony is in possession, there they
will remain and thrive for generations, adding
swarm after swarm to the original stock, and
feeling quite secure from all intrusion. The
roof of a country house in Wales thus stormed
by the bees years ago still affords shelter to a
numerous population, and on hot summer days
honey has often been seen glistening and run-
ning down the walls of the upper rooms.
The best swarms are those which issue early
in the season. If later than June, they have
not time to build their comb or provide
sufficient food for next winter; whilst a
strong, active swarm going off early will store
honey enough for the use of the hive and some
to spare. From twelve to twenty thousand
bees form an average swarm, but they have
been known to number forty thousand.
SWARMING OF BEES.
After the old queen has conducted the first
swarm from the hive, the remaining bees take
particular care of the young brood in the
royal cells, especially to prevent them from
leaving the cells as they are hatched, except
SWARM OF FORTY THOUSAND BEES ON THE BRANCH OF A
at intervals of several days. When a new
queen is required, the infant bee from the egg
laid earliest is first allowed to quit her cell, and
seems immediately to feel the greatest anxiety
to destroy her rivals; she endeavours to get
at them.in their cradles; but the nurses pro-
tect their young charges, and no sooner does
76 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
she approach than they bite, pull, and worry
her, until she is forced to retreat. Thus in
jealous anger she goes from one royal cell to
another, scarcely resting a moment, until at
length a general confusion again disturbs the
community, and in a few moments notice
seems to have been given throughout the hive
that a second swarm is about to depart. The
queen, like her predecessor, rushes to the
entrance, followed by her intended subjects,
who she thereupon leads off from the old home.
The same circumstance may even occur a third
time in a favourable season.
"See where, with hurried steps, the swarming throng
Pdce o'er the hive, and seem, with plaintive song,
To invite their loitering queen-now range the floor,
And hang in clustered columns from the door;
Or now, in restless rings, around they fly,
Nor spoil they sip, nor load the hollow thigh;
E'en the dull drone his wonted ease gives o'er,
Flaps the unwieldy wing, and long to soar."
Although for a time less crowded, the
parent hive after the departure of a swarm is
still well populated; new eggs are rapidly
hatched from the stock the queen left in the
cells, and many workers out amongst the
flowers when the swarm went off, return in
the evening. The youngest members of the
SIGNS OF SWARMING.
community are not always those which emi-
grate. Every swarm contains a mixture of
young and old; the latter are distinguishable,
being darker in colour, with more uneven
Persons who wish to prevent their swarms
flying away to a distance, keep a good look-
out over the movements of the bees in early
summer. A day or two before their departure
a general restlessness and uneasiness is observ-
able; they run about in every direction, gather
in thick clusters at the door of the hive, and
do not go as usual to work. These are the
most common signs, but great heat sometimes
causes them to behave in a similar manner, so
the rule must be considered to have exceptions.
When a swarm of bees is first seen to rise
in the air, the commotion formerly reigning
in the hive seems transferred to their owner's
house, and every one is called to assist on the
momentous occasion. Perhaps a cottage garden
is the scene, and the alarm is given: "The
bees are swarming !" Many villagers suppose
a noise called tanging" will induce bees to
settle, so the mother runs quickly for a tin
pan and large door-key, and by the dextrous
use of these primitive instruments, and the
78 THE HIVE AN]D 1TS WONDERS.
shouts of the excited children, a great uproar
is raised. After a while the bees settle pro-
bably on some neighboring bush; preparations
are then made and everything got ready to
hive them. One runs for the three-legged
table, and places it under the bough; another
brings a clean white cloth, and spreads it
neatly over the table; whilst a third fetches
the straw skep, or hive, that has been duly
prepared a day or two before for its intended
Towards evening the mother or father,
whichever is most skilful in managing these
little creatures, proceeds to hive them by
taking the skep and holding it bottom upwards
directly under the swarm. A gentle shake is
then given the bough upon which the bees
have clustered, and nearly .all fall down in-
side the skep, which is then set upon the table
with a small piece of wood underneath, to
admit the entrance of such bees as are outside.
It remains there until dusk, when it is carried
to the place where the hives are to stay for
This is the plan pursued in most parts of
the country by cottagers, but experienced bee-
masters attain their end by such methods as
seem most advisable, employing boxes instead
of skeps to hive the swarms.
"TANcJXG THF BERS.
Bees are generally quiet and peaceable
during the time of swarming, as they are full
80 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
of honey, and therefore seldom sting. An
anecdote illustrating this is given by a well-
known apiarian. A gentleman wishing to
dislodge a swarm from the branches of an
apple-tree, placed a hive in the hands of his
maid-servant, who not being used to these
insects, covered her head and shoulders with a
cloth to guard her face. On shaking the tree,
most of the bees alighted on the cloth and
quickly crept under it, covering the girl's neck
land nearly all. her face. Her master called to
her not to be afraid, and in particular not to
strike the bees. He then looked for the queen,
which he found, and gently caught; but the
bees did not follow. There must be a second
queen, he thought; and so there was. This
he also secured and placed in the hive, the rest
flocking after in crowds, until in two or three
minutes not one bee remained upon the maid,
who was thus freed from alarm without feeling
the point of a single sting.
Each bee starts from its old home well
filled with honey, expecting to have seve-
ral days of enforced idleness while the wax-
secreting and earliest comb-building processes
are going on. But the internal store is soon
used up, and if dull weather comes, and espe-
cially if rainy days immediately follow the
emission of the swarm, valuable time will be
saved by affording a judicious supply of food.
We say a j,'i-,, ,'Us supply, because if too much
be given there is a danger of drone-comb being
made in excess, or of cells for worker brood
being filled with honey.
So soon as a fair start has been made in in-
ternal operations, and there is opportunity for
getting provender from natural sources, no
further feeding should be continued with a
strong swarm. If a cast or second swarm
come off, it will need similar attention at first,
and by good management may often become a
valuable stock, especially as it is sure to
contain a young queen. If several "casts"
come off, they will probably be increasingly
weak in numbers, and should either be united
or made to return to the parent hive. In either
case it will be necessary to find and capture
the queen. This, with a little practice, will be
comparatively easy. Let the cluster of bees
be shaken down on to a sheet or newspaper,
and carefully looked over, especially where
they congregate in groups. Gently turning
and separating with a large feather will some-
times assist the discovery. When the queen
82 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
has been found and taken away, if it is desired
to unite the "cast" with the inhabitants of
some other hive than that from which it has
come, sprinkle the bees well with thin syrup
before putting or letting them crawl into their
new home. If it is intended to make them go
to their old home, nothing more is needed than
the removal of their young queen. So soon as
they know she is gone, and is not to be found,
they will return to the hive whence they
issued. Sometimes, to stop excessive swarm-
ing, it is advisable to cut out all the superfluous
At the end of July or beginning of August
each hive should be examined to ascertain if it
has sufficient food for the winter's use. From
twenty pounds to thirty pounds should be the
quantity in each straw or wooden hive. If any
are found to have less than this weight,
food should be supplied in the form of syrup
made by thoroughly boiling five pounds of
sugar to the quart of water, to which a table-
spoonful of vinegar has been added during the
boiling. Barley-sugar introduced into the hive
will also be found a simple and effective method
As autumn and winter come on proper ven-
tilation is of vast consequence; probably from
neglect of this point more stocks are lost than
from any other cause, especially with box-
hives; in fact, one great reason of prejudice
against these and preference for the old skeps
arises from the fact that the latter absorb the
moisture produced in the interior better than
neglected wooden hives do. It is all important
that the watery vapour and foul air resulting
from the respiration of the bees should be got
rid of, for they become deadly poison to the
insects. Straw will allow escape or absorption.
Wood arrests both largely. Hence it becomes
necessary to cover bar and frame hives with
matting, over which a layer or two of carpet or
sacking can be placed. The mouth of the hive
during winter should be narrowed, but not so
far as to impede the entrance of a good amount
of fresh air. The glare of the sun on the hives
should also be prevented, otherwise many bees
may be tempted out by the brightness and
warmth, and may get numbed by the outside
low temperature and perish. After October,
little other attention is needed till early spring.
Then in the case of all stocks careful feeding
must be begun where honey is running short,
and when once commenced must not be inter-
84 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
mitted. Strong syrup or barley-sugar, as before
recommended, should be regularly supplied,
and should be continued till the outdoor natural
sources of food preclude further need of help
from the bee-master to his hives. By judicious
attention throughout the spring stocks are
greatly strengthened, early breeding is pro-
moted, and strong swarms are secured sooner
in the season than would otherwise be the
Although freshly-hived swarms are often
placed close to their old home, these sagacious
little insects never again by any mistake enter
its portals. Upon their new abode their hopes
and interests are now fixed; here they pursue
their work with diligence and energy, follow-
ing the example of industry and obedience set
by their forefathers, not looking to others for
support, but relying upon their own efforts to
obtain an honest livelihood.
Give thee good morrow, busy bee !
No cloud is in the sky;
The ringdove skims across the lea.,
The tuneful lark soars high;
Gay sunbeams fall on dewy flower,
Slight breezes stir the tree,
And sweet is thine own fragrant bower-
Good morrow, busy bee
HIIV1NG BEES. 85
Give thee good even, busy bee !
The summer day is by;
Now droning beetles haunt the lea,
And shrieking .plovers cry:
The light hath paled on leaf and flower,
The chill wind shakes the tree;
And thou, well laden, hast left thy bower-
Good even, busy bee!"
NEATNESS OF THE BEE--VENTILATION OF THE
BIVE-ENEMIES OF THE BEE.
A: TTENTION to cleanliness is very important,
1 from the confined space in the hive, the
multitude of active workers it contains,
and the fact that all cracks and crevices are
closely filled up. No dust or dirt is ever allowed
in their dwelling; if by accident insects or
other unwelcome intruders gain access to the
hive, the bees if possible drag them out, but,
should the object be too heavy, resort to another
expedient, and cover it neatly over with pro-
polis, the gummy substance previously de-
scribed. A poor snail with a shell on its back
having crept into a hive early one morning,
crawled about for some time, until at last, by
VENTILATION OF HIVE.
means of its own slime, it stuck fast to a part
of the hive. The bees presently discovered the
interloper; its weight, however, was beyond
their power to remove, and on account of the
hardness of its shell they could not destroy it;
so recourse was had to stratagem, and a border
of propolis formed round the edge of the shell
effectually prevented the snail from giving
further annoyance, for it was a prisoner in its
own house. In another case an unfortunate
mouse got into a hive and died there, probably
stung to death; so in order to prevent the bad
effects of decomposition, the bees completely
and thickly coated its body over with propolis.
Their wisdom in this instance was notably dis-
played; where a small' quantity of propolis
sufficed for the required purpose they only
made a border, whereas in the case of the
mouse, they seemed aware that it must be
In warm weather, companies of ventilators
are often seen busily engaged in a hive, for so
delicate is their organisation that bees soon
find out when the atmosphere is close and op-
pressive, and with instinctive sagacity remedy
the inconvenience. A detachment arrange
themselves in files near the entrance in such a
88 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
manner as not to interfere with the movements
of their fellow-citizens; another and larger
party, also in files, are stationed farther in the
interior of the hive. Those nearest the door
face inwards, the opposite rows face towards
them; and both parties by a rapid movement
or fanning of their wings cause a sufficient
current of air to cool their dwelling. The
rapidity of this fanning motion is very remark-
able; in sultry weather it is maintained night
and day, and being hard work, the fanners are
relieved every five-and-twenty minutes. A
buzzing sound is kept up during this perform-
ance, supposed by some to denote that the bees
are pleased and enjoying themselves.
If unmolested, bees are quiet and peaceable,
live contentedly in their own domain, and
injure neither man nor beast; only when called
upon to defend their queen, their home, or their
hardly gathered treasure, do the little workers
show the least disposition to become the ag-
gressors. Yet these unoffending insects have
many enemies attracted by their wealth, who
by every means endeavour to gain possession
of the coveted store.
The list of their foes is a long one, compris-
ing mice, wax-moths, slugs, hornets, wasps,
ENEMIES OF BEES.
wood-lice, ants, and spiders. The wasp tribe
are amongst their most dangerous aggressors;
endowed with superior strength and boldness,
they are enabled to commit great ravages, and
SOME OF THE EEE'6 ExEmrES.
having a great partiality for sweets, a tempta-
tion is offered by the long white rows of honey-
comb. One wasp is said to be a match for
three bees; the battles are therefore severe, and
the cunning thieves have been known to drive
90 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
away a whole colony from their home, then
take possession of the hive and devour its con-
tents; so bee-keepers make a point of killing
all the wasps they can find in early spring.
Birds do not commit any great ravages
ITHE KINIKAJOU, OR HONEY-BEA1P.
among bees in this country, but in America
the king-bird will devour thousands in a
season. A sportsman once shot one of these
birds, and found in its craw a hundred and
seventy-one bees. On laying them on a blanket
in the sun fifty-four returned to life, licked
ENEMIES OF BEES.
themselves clean, and joyfully flew back to
Another dangerous foe in South America is
a wild animal called kinkajou, or honey-bear;
it is about the size of a cat, and very strong
and active. By means of its long tongue it is
enabled to reach and suck out the honey from
In many foreign countries bears attack and
rob the bees of their honey, but are greatly
afraid of the lawful owners, for if the bees
discover their unwelcome visitor near their
nest, they at once give chase, and the huge
bear turns coward and runs away as fast as
possible before his pursuers.
In most countries bees are subject to attacks
from moths; one, called the wax-moth, is exceed-
ingly destructive. When it is discovered in ahive
there is no remedy but to take out the swarm,
and put them into a new habitation. Another,
termed the death's-head hawk-moth, from a
certain mark on its body, is so large that it
has been taken for a bat. It has the power of
uttering a shrill mournful cry, said to produce
such an effect upon bees that, seized with
sudden fear, they are unable to defend them-
selves from its attacks. But the inhabitants
92 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
of a hive that has been robbed by this creature
one year learn by experience to protect them-
selves the next, and when they first get sight
of their foe build up at the outlet a thick
rampart of wax and propolis ; in this wall they
leave a passage just large enough for one or
two workers to pass through at a time, and which
will not admit anything the size of a moth.
It would be well if we were more concerned,
not only to build well, and lay up stores of
wisdom and knowledge, but also to guard
against enemies within and without. Many a
youth has begun to lay the foundation of a
pious and useful life; but ever-watchful foes
have come in an hour least expected and des-
troyed his good intentions. Happy are those
who by faith build on the Lord Jesus as the
sure foundation-stone, and making Him their
trust, increase in grace and wisdom day by
day; believing in Him, and following His
example, they are safe from all evil.
STING OF THE BEE-ANGER OF BEES-ATTACK
ON MISSIONARIES BY WILD BEES.
HE bee is provided by its Creator with a
powerful weapon of defence in its sting,
which is placed within a horny sheath
or scabbard, that ends in a sharp point so
slit as to open and permit the sting to be
thrust out. The sting itself consists of two
small, sharp, barbed darts-one rather longer
than the other; in stinging, the sheath is first
pushed through the skin; the longer dart
follows, which is held fast by the barbs; lastly,
the other dart; and the whole sting is buried in
the flesh ; poison then flows through the sheath
into the wound,, and swelling and pain are
94 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
The different parts of a sting, as shown in
our engraving, may be thus described : i is
the tube in which the poison is secreted, and
by which it is passed into the bag; b, from
which it is carried into another tube into the
STING OF A BEE, HIGHLY MAGNIFIED.
sheath; e e is the outward sheath, shutting
over the inward sheath I ; m m m m are four
cartilages or gristly substances, by which the
sting may be moved in different directions;
p p are two muscles to draw the sting into the
STING OF THE BEE.
sheath ; and d is the sting itself, divided into
two parts and barbed at the sides.
How surprising is the mechanism of this
wonderful instrument Its poison is said to be
so powerful that a grain would kill a pigeon.
The irritated bee thrusts her barbed sting so'
violently into the flesh that she is generally
unable to withdraw it; and if in her effort to
disengage herself the sting becomes torn from
her body, she pays the penalty with her life.
It is true, when provoked the bee will sting;
but it is only entrusted with this terrible
weapon in self-defence, and when she stings,
it is to her own hurt as well as that of her
victim. Let us bear in mind that a hasty
temper and resentful conduct are not only
unchristian, but are sure to bring upon us
sorrow and pain.
When flying abroad in the fields and gardens
the honey-bee will not injure a living thing.
How rarely are children stung when they play
about among the flowers in the meadows; and
animals feeding quietly on the grass are in no
danger, if not too near a hive. But if the hive
is assaulted, then the bees are furious. A case
has been known where a horse left loose in a
field 'strayed too near the bee-hives, and
96 THE HIVE AND ITS WONDERS.
accidentally pushed one from its place. The
alarmed inhabitants issued forth in unusual
numbers, and settling upon the poor animal
stung him to death.
When the celebrated traveller Mungo Park
was on his perilous journey in Africa, his
servants, while searching for honey, disturbed
a colony of bees, who at once attacked men and
beasts, killed one horse, six asses, and put to
flight the rest of the party.
It is related that in 1525 a mob of riotous
men attacked a minister's house in Germany,
intending to rob him. The pastor tried to
reason and persuade them not to be guilty of so
wicked an act, but to depart peaceably. Find-
ing all his appeals in vain, and having no other
means of defence, he summoned his servants,
and ordered them to bring his bee-hives, and
throw them into the midst of the crowd. This
was accordingly done, and had the desired
effect, for the little warriors soon put all the
rioters to flight.
Persons when stung should not be alarmed,
and on no account fight or brush the bee away.
The best course to pursue is to remain quiet,
when the insect may perhaps withdraw its
sting, and the pain caused by the wound would
STING OF THE BEE.
consequently be much lessened. Some persons
suffer little when stung, but others feel the
effects severely, therefore it is advisable to use
caution and prudence. A young lady who
kept bees, and had little fear, as they never
molested her, attempted one day to assist in
raising a hive from the bench on which it
stood, but suddenly becoming alarmed, let go
her hold too soon, and it fell upon the board,
no doubt crushing some of the inmates. A
crowd of the angry creatures rushed out, and
though the lady retreated rapidly towards the
house, they followed faster than she could run,
and she received a great number of stings upon
her head and face, from which she suffered
The poison of the sting being an acid, the
best antidote is an alkali, such as a solution
of soda; but pressed tobacco juice is often re-
commended. Should the sting unfortunately
remain, the best plan to extract it is to press
a watch key exactly over the wound.
Bees are greatly influenced by kind and
gentle treatment, seem to know their owner,
and soon become familiar with his children.
Persons accustomed to them can generally
examine their hives or remove them with im-