CHAPTER III. [30]
THE QUEEN OR MOTHER-BEE, THE DRONES, AND THE WORKERS; WITH VARIOUS HIGHLY IMPORTANT FACTS IN THEIR NATURAL HISTORY.

Bees can flourish only when associated in large numbers, as a colony. In a solitary state, a single bee is almost as helpless as a new-born child; it is unable to endure even the ordinary chill of a cool summer night.

If a strong colony of bees is examined, a short time before it swarms, three different kinds of bees will be found in the hive.

1st. A bee of peculiar shape, commonly called the Queen Bee.

2d. Some hundreds, more or less, of large bees called Drones.

3d. Many thousands of a smaller kind, called Workers or common bees, and similar to those which are seen on the blossoms. A large number of the cells will be found filled with honey and bee-bread; while vast numbers contain eggs, and immature workers and drones. A few cells of unusual size, are devoted to the rearing of young queens, and are ordinarily to be found in a perfect condition, only in the swarming season.

The Queen-Bee is the only perfect female in the hive, and all the eggs are laid by her. The Drones are the males, and the Workers are females, whose ovaries or "egg-bags" [31] are so imperfectly developed that they are incapable of breeding, and which retain the instinct of females, only so far as to give the most devoted attention to feeding and rearing the brood.

These facts have all been demonstrated repeatedly, and are as well established as the most common facts in the breeding of our domestic animals. The knowledge of them in their most important bearings, is absolutely essential to all who expect to realize large profits from an improved method of rearing bees. Those who will not acquire the necessary information, if they keep bees at all, should manage them in the old-fashioned way, which requires the smallest amount either of knowledge or skill.

I am perfectly aware how difficult it is to reason with a large class of bee-keepers, some of whom have been so often imposed upon, that they have lost all faith in the truth of any statements which may be made by any one interested in a patent hive, while others stigmatize all knowledge which does not square with their own, as "book-knowledge," and unworthy the attention of practical men.

If any such read this book, let me remind them again, that all my assertions may be put to the test. So long as the interior of a hive, was to common observers, a profound mystery, ignorant and designing men might assert what they pleased, about what passed in its dark recesses; but now, when all that takes place in it, can, in a few moments, be exposed to the full light of day, and every one who keeps bees, can see and examine for himself, the man who attempts to palm upon the community, his own conceits for facts, will speedily earn for himself, the character both of a fool and an impostor.

The Queen Bee, or as she may more properly be called the mother bee, is the common mother of the whole [32] colony. She reigns therefore, most unquestionably, by a divine right, as every mother is, or ought to be, a queen in her own family. Her shape is entirely different from that of the other bees. While she is not near so bulky as a drone, her body is longer, and of a more tapering, or sugar-loaf form than that of a worker, so that she has somewhat of a wasp-like appearance. Her wings are much shorter, in proportion, than those of the drone, or worker; the under part of her body is of a golden color, and the upper part darker than that of the other bees. Her motions are usually slow and matronly, although she can, when she pleases, move with astonishing quickness.

No colony can long exist without the presence of this all-important insect. She is just as necessary to its welfare, as the soul is to the body, for a colony without a queen must as certainly perish, as a body without the spirit hasten to inevitable decay.

She is treated by the bees, as every mother ought to be, by her children, with the most unbounded respect and affection. A circle of her loving offspring constantly surround her, testifying, in various ways, their dutiful regard; offering her honey, from time to time, and always, most politely getting out of her way, to give her a clear path when she wishes to move over the combs. If she is taken from them, as soon as they have ascertained their loss, the whole colony is thrown into a state of the most intense agitation; all the labors of the hive are at once abandoned; the bees run wildly over the combs, and frequently, the whole of them rush forth from the hive, and exhibit all the appearance of anxious search for their beloved mother. Not being able anywhere to find her, they return to their desolate home, and by their mournful tones, reveal their deep sense of so deplorable a calamity. Their note, at such times, more especially [33] when they first realize her loss, is of a peculiarly mournful character; it sounds something like a succession of wails on the minor key, and can no more be mistaken by the experienced bee-keeper, for their ordinary, happy hum, than the piteous moanings of a sick child can be confounded, by an anxious mother, with its joyous crowings, when overflowing with health and happiness.

I am perfectly aware that all this will sound to many, much more like romance than sober reality; but I have determined, in writing this book, to state facts, however wonderful, just as they are; confident that they will, before long, be universally received, and hoping that the many wonders in the economy of the honey bee will not only excite a wider interest in its culture, but will lead those who observe them, to adore the wisdom of Him who gave them such admirable instincts. I cannot refrain from quoting here, the forcible remarks of an English clergyman, who appears to be a very great enthusiast in bee-culture.

"Every bee-keeper, if he have only a soul to appreciate the works of God, and an intelligence of an inquisitive order, cannot fail to become deeply interested in observing the wonderful instincts, (instincts akin to reason,) of these admirable creatures; at the same time that he will learn many lessons of practical wisdom from their example. Having acquired a knowledge of their habits, not a bee will buzz in his ear, without recalling to him some of these lessons, and helping to make him a wiser and a better man. It is certain that in all my experience, I never yet met with a keeper of bees, who was not a respectable, well-conducted member of society, and a moral, if not a religious man.[1] [34] It is evident, on reflection, that this pursuit, if well attended to, must occupy some considerable share of a man's time and thoughts. He must be often about his bees, which will help to counteract the baneful effect of the village inn. "Whoever is fond of his bees is fond of his home," is an axiom of irrefragable truth, and one which ought to kindle in every one's breast, a favorable regard for a pursuit which has the power to produce so happy an influence. The love of home is the companion of many other virtues, which, if not yet developed into actual exercise, are still only dormant, and may be roused into wakeful energy at any moment."

The fertility of the queen bee has been much under-estimated by most writers. It is truly astonishing. During the height of the breeding season, she will often, under favorable circumstances, lay from two to three thousand eggs, a day! In my observing hives, I have seen her lay, at the rate of six eggs a minute! The fecundity of the female of the white ant, is much greater than this, as she will lay as many as sixty eggs a minute! but then her eggs are simply extruded from her body, to be carried by the workers into suitable nurseries, while the queen bee herself deposits her eggs in their appropriate cells.

On the way in which the eggs of the Queen Bee are fecundated.

I come now to a subject of great practical importance, and one which, until quite recently, has been attended with apparently insuperable difficulties.

It has been noticed that the queen bee commences laying in the latter part of winter, or early in spring, and long [35]before there are any drones or males in the hive. (See remarks on Drones.) In what way are these eggs impregnated? Huber, by a long course of the most indefatigable observations, threw much light upon this subject. Before stating his discoveries, I must pay my humble tribute of gratitude and admiration, to this wonderful man. It is mortifying to every scientific naturalist, and I might add, to every honest man acquainted with the facts, to hear such a man as Huber abused by the veriest quacks and imposters; while others who have appropriated from his labors, nearly all that is of any value in their works, to use the words of Pope,

"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."

Huber, in early manhood, lost the use of his eyes. His opponents imagine that in stating this fact, they have thrown merited discredit on all his pretended discoveries. But to make their case still stronger, they delight to assert that he saw every thing through the medium of his servant Francis Burnens, an ignorant peasant. Now this ignorant peasant was a man of strong native intellect, possessing that indefatigable energy and enthusiasm which are so indispensable to make a good observer. He was a noble specimen of a self-made man, and afterwards rose to be the chief magistrate in the village where he resided. Huber has paid the most admirable tribute to his intelligence, fidelity and indomitable patience, energy and skill.

It would be difficult to find, in any language, a better specimen of the true Baconian or inductive system of reasoning, than Huber's work upon bees, and it might be studied as a model of the only true way of investigating nature, so as to arrive at reliable results.

Huber was assisted in his investigations, not only by Burnens, but by his own wife, to whom he was engaged before the [36] loss of his sight, and who nobly persisted in marrying him, notwithstanding his misfortune, and the strenuous dissuasions of her friends. They lived for more than the ordinary term of human life, in the enjoyment of uninterrupted domestic happiness, and the amiable naturalist scarcely felt, in her assiduous attentions, the loss of his sight.

Milton is believed by many, to have been a better poet, for his blindness; and it is highly probable that Huber was a better Apiarian, for the same cause. His active and yet reflective mind demanded constant employment; and he found in the study of the habits of the honey bee, full scope for all his powers. All the facts observed, and experiments tried by his faithful assistants, were daily reported to him, and many inquiries were stated and suggestions made by him, which would probably have escaped his notice, if he had possessed the use of his eyes.

Few have such a command of both time and money as to enable them to carry on, for a series of years, on a grand scale, the most costly experiments. Apiarians owe more to Huber than to any other person. I have repeatedly verified the most important of his observations, and I take the greatest delight in acknowledging my obligations to him, and in holding him up to my countrymen, as the Prince of Apiarians.

My Readers will pardon this digression. It would have been morally impossible for me to write a work on bees, without saying at least as much as this, in vindication of Huber.

I return to his discoveries on the impregnation of the Queen Bee. By a long course of experiments most carefully conducted, he ascertained that like many other insects, she is fecundated in the open air, and on the wing, and that the influence of this lasts for several years, and probably for life. He could not form any satisfactory conjecture, as [37] to the way in which the eggs which were not yet developed in her ovaries, could be fertilized. Years ago, the celebrated Dr. John Hunter, and others, supposed that there must be a permanent receptacle for the male sperm, opening into the passage for the eggs called the oviduct. Dzierzon, who must be regarded as one of the ablest contributors of modern times, to Apiarian science, maintains this opinion, and states that he has found such a receptacle filled with a fluid, resembling the semen of the drones. He nowhere, to my knowledge, states that he ever made microscopic examinations, so as to put the matter on the footing of demonstration.

In January and February of 1852, I submitted several Queen Bees to Dr. Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia, for a scientific examination. I need hardly say to any Naturalist in this country, that Dr. Leidy has obtained the very highest reputation, both at home and abroad, as a skillful naturalist and microscopic anatomist. No man in this country or Europe, was more competent to make the investigations that I desired. He found in making his dissections, a small globular sac, not larger than a grain of mustard seed, (about 1/33 of an inch in diameter,) communicating with the oviduct, and filled with a whitish fluid, which when examined under the microscope, was found to abound in spermatozoa, or the animalculæ, which are the unmistakable characteristics of the seminal fluid. Later in the season, the same substance was compared with some taken from the drones, and found to be exactly similar to it.

These examinations have settled, on the impregnable basis of demonstration, the mode in which the eggs of the Queen are vivified. In descending the oviduct to be deposited in the cells, they pass by the mouth of this seminal sac or spermatheca, and receive a portion of its fertilizing contents. Small as it is, its contents are sufficient to impregnate [38] hundreds of thousands of eggs. In precisely the same way, the mother wasps and hornets are fecundated. The females alone of these insects survive the winter, and they begin, single-handed, the construction of a nest, in which, at first, only a few eggs are deposited. How could these eggs hatch, if the females which laid them, had not been impregnated, the previous season? Dissection proves them to have a spermatheca, similar to that of the Queen Bee.

Of all who have written against Huber, no one has treated him with more unfairness, misrepresentation, and I might almost add, malignity, than Huish. He maintains that the eggs of the Queen are impregnated by the drones, after she has deposited them in the cells, and accounts for the fact that brood is produced in the Spring, long before the existence of any drones in the hive, by asserting that these eggs were deposited and impregnated late in the previous season, and have remained dormant, all winter, in the hive: and yet the same writer, while ridiculing the discoveries of Huber, advises that all the mother wasps should be killed in the Spring, to prevent them from founding families to commit depredations upon the bees! It never seems to have occurred to him, that the existence of a permanently impregnated mother wasp, was just as difficult to be accounted for, as the existence of a similarly impregnated Queen Bee.

Effect of Retarded Impregnation on the Queen Bee.

I shall now mention a fact in the physiology of the Queen Bee, more singular than any which has yet been related.

Huber, while experimenting to ascertain how the Queen was fecundated, confined some of his young Queens to their hives, by contracting the entrances, so that they were not able to go in search of the drones, until three weeks after [39] their birth. To his amazement, these Queens whose impregnation was thus unnaturally retarded, never laid any eggs but such as produced drones!!

He tried the experiment again and again, but always with the same result. Some Bee-Keepers, long before his time, had observed that all the brood in a hive were occasionally drones, and of course, that such colonies rapidly went to ruin. Before attempting any explanation of this astonishing fact, I must call the attention of the reader, to another of the mysteries of the Bee-Hive,

Fertile Workers.

It has already been remarked, that the workers are proved by dissection to be females, all of which, under ordinary circumstances, are barren. Occasionally, some of them appear to be more fully developed than common, so as to be capable of laying eggs: these eggs, like those of Queens whose impregnation has been retarded, always produce drones! Sometimes, when a colony has lost its Queen, these drone-laying workers are exalted to her place, and treated with equal respect and affection, by the bees. Huber ascertained that these fertile workers were generally reared in the neighborhood of the young Queens, and he thought that they received some particles of the peculiar food or jelly on which the Queens are reared. (See Royal Jelly.) He did not pretend to account for the effect of retarded impregnation; and made no experiments to determine the facts, as to the fecundation of these fertile workers.

Since the publication of Huber's work, nearly 50 years ago, no light has been shed upon the mysteries of drone-laying Queens and workers, until quite recently. Dzierzon appears to have been the first to ascertain the truth on this subject; and his discovery must certainly be ranked as unfolding one of the most astonishing facts in all the range of [40] animated nature. This fact seems, at first view, so absolutely incredible, that I should not dare to mention it, if it were not supported by the most indubitable evidence, and if I had not, (as I have already observed,) determined to state all important and well ascertained facts, without seeking, by any concealments, to pander to the prejudices of conceited, and often, very ignorant Bee-Keepers.

Dzierzon advances the opinion that impregnation is not needed in order that the eggs of the Queen may produce drones; but, that all impregnated eggs produce females, either workers or Queens; and all unimpregnated ones, males or drones! He states that he found drone-laying Queens in several of his hives, whose wings were so imperfect that they could not fly, and that on examination, they proved to be unfecundated. Hence he concluded that the eggs of the Queen Bee or fertile worker, had from the previous impregnation of the egg which produced them, sufficient vitality to produce the drone, which is a less highly organized insect, and one inferior to the Queen or workers. It had long been known, that the Queen deposits drone eggs in the large or drone cells, and worker eggs in the small or worker cells, and that she makes no mistakes. Dzierzon inferred, therefore, that there was some way in which she was able to decide as to the sex of the egg before it was laid, and that she must have a control over the mouth of the seminal sac, so as to be able to extrude her eggs, allowing them to receive or not, just as she pleased, a portion of its fertilizing contents. In this way he thought she determined the sex, according to the size of the cells in which she laid them. Mr. Samuel Wagner of York, Pa., has recently communicated to me a very original and exceedingly ingenious theory of his own, which he thinks will account for all the facts without admitting that the Queen Bee has any [41] special knowledge or will on the subject. He supposes that when she deposits her eggs in the worker cells, her body is slightly compressed by the size of the cells, and that the eggs, as they pass the spermatheca, receive in this manner, its vivifying influence. On the contrary, when she is egg-laying in drone cells, this compression cannot take place, the mouth of the spermatheca is kept closed, and the eggs are, necessarily, unfecundated. This theory may prove to be true, but at present, it is encumbered with some difficulties and requires further investigation, before it can be considered as fully established.

Leaving then the question whether the Queen exercises any volition in this matter, for the present undecided, I shall state some facts which occurred in the summer of 1852, in my own Apiary, and shall then endeavor to relieve, as far as possible, this intricate subject from some of the difficulties which embarrass it.

In the Autumn of 1852, my assistant found, in one of my hives, a young Queen, the whole of whose progeny was drones. The colony had been formed by removing part of the combs containing bees, brood and eggs from another hive. It had only a few combs, and but a small number of bees. They raised a new Queen in the manner which will hereafter be particularly described. This Queen had laid a number of eggs in one of the combs, and the young bees from some of them were already emerging from the cells. I perceived, at the first glance, that they were drones. As there were none but worker cells in the hive, they were reared in them, and not having space for full development, they were dwarfed in size, although the bees, in order to give them more room, had pieced out the cells so as to make them larger than usual! Size excepted, they appeared as perfect as any other drones. [42]

I was not only struck with the singularity of finding drones reared in worker cells, but with the equally singular fact that a young Queen, who at first lays only the eggs of workers, should be laying drone eggs at all; and at once conjectured that this was a case of a drone-laying, unimpregnated Queen, as sufficient time had not elapsed for her impregnation to be unnaturally retarded. I saw the great importance of taking all necessary precautions to determine this point. The Queen was removed from the hive, and carefully examined. Her wings, although they appeared to be perfect, were so paralized that she could not fly. It seemed probable, therefore, that she had never been able to leave the hive for impregnation.

To settle the question beyond the possibility of doubt, I submitted this Queen to Dr. Joseph Leidy for microscopic examination. The following is an extract from his report: "The ovaries were filled with eggs; the poison sac was full of fluid, and I took the whole of it into my mouth; the poison produced a strong metallic taste, lasting for a considerable time, and at first, it was pungent to the tip of the tongue. The spermatheca was distended with a perfectly colorless, transparent, viscid liquid, without a trace of spermatozoa."

This examination seems perfectly to sustain the theory of Dzierzon, and to demonstrate that Queens do not need to be impregnated, in order to lay the eggs of males.

I must confess that very considerable doubts rested on my mind, as to the accuracy of Dzierzon's statements on this subject, and chiefly because of his having hazarded the unfortunate conjecture that the place of the poison bag in the worker, is occupied in the Queen, by the spermatheca. Now this is so completely contrary to fact, that it was a very natural inference that this acute and thoroughly honest observer, made no microscopic dissections of the insects [43] which he examined. I consider myself peculiarly fortunate in having enjoyed the benefit of the labors of a Naturalist, so celebrated as Dr. Leidy, for microscopic dissections. The exceeding minuteness of some of the insects which he has completely figured and described, almost passes belief.

On examining this same colony a few days later, I obtained the most satisfactory evidence that these drone eggs were laid by the Queen which had been removed. No fresh eggs had been deposited in the cells, and the bees, on missing her, had commenced the construction of royal cells, to rear if possible, another Queen, a thing which they would not have done, if a fertile worker had been present, by which the drone eggs had been laid.

Another very interesting fact proves that all the eggs laid by this Queen, were drone eggs. Two of the royal cells were, in a short time, discontinued, and were found to be empty, while a third contained a worm, which was sealed over the usual way, to undergo its changes from a worm to a perfect Queen.

I was completely at a loss to account for this, as the bees having an unimpregnated drone-laying Queen, ought not to have had a single female egg from which they could rear a Queen.

At first I imagined that they might have stolen it from another hive, but when I opened this cell, it contained, instead of a queen, a dead drone!

I then remembered that Huber has described the same mistake on the part of some of his bees. At the base of this cell, was an extraordinary quantity of the peculiar jelly or paste, which is fed to the young that are to be transformed into queens. The poor bees in their desperation, appear to have dosed the unfortunate drone to death: as though they expected by such liberal feeding, to produce some hopeful change in his sexual organization! [44]

It appears to me that these facts constitute all the links in a perfect chain, and demonstrate beyond the possibility of doubt, that unfecundated queens are not only capable of laying eggs, (this would be no more remarkable than the same occurrence in a hen,) but that these eggs are possessed of sufficient vitality to produce drones. Aristotle, who flourished before the Christian era, had noticed that there was no difference in appearance, between the eggs producing drones and those producing workers; and he states that drones only are produced in hives which have no queen; of course the eggs producing them, were laid by fertile workers. Having now the aid of powerful microscopes, we are still unable to detect the slightest difference in size or appearance in the eggs, and this is precisely what we should expect if the same egg will produce either a worker or a drone, according as it is or is not impregnated. The theory which I propose, will, I think, perfectly harmonize with all the observed facts on this subject.

I believe that after fecundation has been delayed for about three weeks, the mouth of the spermatheca becomes permanently closed, so that impregnation can no longer be effected; just as the parts of a flower, after a certain time, wither and shut up, and the plant is incapable of fructification. The fertile drone-laying workers, are in my opinion, physically incapable of being impregnated. However strange it may appear, or even improbable, that an unimpregnated egg can give birth to a living being, or that the sex can be dependent on impregnation, we are not at liberty to reject facts, because we cannot comprehend the reasons of them. He who allows himself to be guilty of such folly, if he seeks to maintain his consistency, will be plunged, sooner or later, into the dreary gulf of atheism. Common sense, philosophy and religion alike teach us to receive [45] all undoubted facts in the natural and the spiritual world, with becoming reverence; assured that however mysterious to us, they are all most beautifully harmonious and consistent in the sight of Him whose "understanding is infinite."

There is something analogous to these wonders in the bee, in what takes place in the aphides or green lice which infest our rose bushes and other plants. We have the most undoubted evidence that a fecundated female gives birth to other females, and they in turn to others still, all of which, without impregnation, are able to bring forth young, until at length, after a number of generations, perfect males and females are produced, and the series starts anew!

The unequaled facilities, furnished by my hives, have seemed to render it peculiarly incumbent on me, to do all in my power to clear up the difficulties in this intricate and yet highly important branch of Apiarian knowledge. All the leading facts in the breeding of bees ought to be as well known to the bee keeper, as the same class of facts in the rearing of his domestic animals. A few crude and hasty notions, but half understood and half digested, will answer only for the old fashioned bee keeper, who deals in the brimstone matches. He who expects to conduct bee keeping on a safe and profitable system, must learn that on this, as on all other subjects, "knowledge is power."

The extraordinary fertility of the queen bee has already been noticed. The process of laying has been well described by the Rev. W. Dunbar, a Scotch Apiarian.

"When the queen is about to lay, she puts her head into a cell, and remains in that position for a second or two, to ascertain its fitness for the deposit which she is about to [46]make. She then withdraws her head, and curving her body downwards,[2] inserts the lower part of it into the cell: in a few seconds she turns half round upon herself and withdraws, leaving an egg behind her. When she lays a considerable number, she does it equally on each side of the comb, those on the one side being as exactly opposite to those on the other as the relative position of the cells will admit. The effect of this is to produce the utmost possible concentration and economy of heat for developing the various changes of the brood!"

Here as at every step in the economy of the bee our minds are filled with admiration as we witness the perfect adaptation of means to ends. Who can blame the warmest enthusiasm of the Apiarian in view of a sagacity which seems scarcely inferior to that of man.

"The eggs of bees," I quote from the admirable treatise of Bevan, "are of a lengthened oval shape, with a slight curvature, and of a bluish white color: being besmeared at the time of laying, with a glutinous substance,[3] they adhere to the bases of the cells, and remain unchanged in figure or situation for three or four days; they are then hatched, the bottom of each cell presenting to view a small white worm. On its growing so as to touch the opposite angle of the cell, it coils itself up, to use the language of Swammerdam, like a dog when going to sleep; and floats in a whitish transparent fluid, which is deposited in the cells by the nursing-bees, and by which it is probably nourished; it becomes [47] gradually enlarged in its dimensions, till the two extremities touch one another and form a ring. In this state it is called a larva or worm. So nicely do the bees calculate the quantity of food which will be required, that none remains in the cell when it is transformed to a nymph. It is the opinion of many eminent naturalists that farina does not constitute the sole food of the larva, but that it consists of a mixture of farina, honey and water, partly digested in the stomachs of the nursing-bees."

"The larva having derived its support, in the manner above described, for four, five or six days, according to the season," (the development being retarded in cool weather, and badly protected hives,) "continues to increase during that period, till it occupies the whole breadth and nearly the length of the cell. The nursing bees now seal over the cell, with a light brown cover, externally more or less convex, (the cap of a drone cell is more convex than that of a worker,) and thus differing from that of a honey cell which is paler and somewhat concave." The cap of the brood cell appears to be made of a mixture of bee-bread and wax; it is not air tight as it would be if made of wax alone; but when examined with a microscope it appears to be reticulated, or full of fine holes through which the enclosed insect can have air for all necessary purposes. From its texture and shape it is easily thrust off by the bee when mature, whereas, if it consisted wholly of wax, the young bee would either perish for lack of air, or be unable to force its way into the world! Both the material and shape of the lids which seal up the honey cells are different, because an entirely different object was aimed at; they are of pure wax to make them air tight and thus to prevent the honey from souring or candying in the cells! They are concave [48]or hollowed inwards to give them greater strength to resist the pressure of their contents!

To return to Bevan. "The larva is no sooner perfectly inclosed than it begins to line the cell by spinning round itself, after the manner of the silk worm, a whitish silky film or cocoon, by which it is encased, as it were, in a pod. When it has undergone this change, it has usually borne the name of nymph or pupa. The insect has now attained its full growth, and the large amount of nutriment which it has taken serves as a store for developing the perfect insect."

"The working bee nymph spins its cocoon in thirty-six hours. After passing about three days in this state of preparation for a new existence, it gradually undergoes so great a change as not to wear a vestige of its previous form, but becomes armed with a firmer mail, and with scales of a dark brown hue. On its belly six rings become distinguishable, which by slipping one over another enables the bee to shorten its body whenever it has occasion to do so.

"When it has reached the twenty-first day of its existence, counting from the moment the egg is laid, it comes forth a perfect winged insect. The cocoon is left behind, and forms a closely attached and exact lining to the cell in which it was spun; by this means the breeding cells become smaller and their partitions stronger, the oftener they change their tenants; and may become so much diminished in size as not to admit of the perfect development of full sized bees."

"Such are the respective stages of the working bee: those of the royal bee are as follows: she passes three days in the egg and is five a worm; the workers then close her cell, and she immediately begins spinning her cocoon, which [49]occupies her twenty four hours. On the tenth and eleventh days and a part of the twelfth, as if exhausted by her labor, she remains in complete repose. Then she passes four days and a part of the fifth as a nymph. It is on the sixteenth day therefore that the perfect state of queen is attained."

"The drone passes three days in the egg, six and a half as a worm, and changes into a perfect insect on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth day after the egg is laid."

"The development of each species likewise proceeds more slowly when the colonies are weak or the air cool, and when the weather is very cold it is entirely suspended. Dr. Hunter has observed that the eggs, worms and nymphs all require a heat above 70° of Fahrenheit for their evolution."

In the chapter on protection against extremes of heat and cold, I have dwelt, at some length, upon the importance of constructing the hives in such a manner as to enable the bees to preserve, as far as possible, a uniform temperature in their tenement. In thin hives exposed to the sun, the heat is sometimes so great as to destroy the eggs and the larvæ, even when the combs escape from being melted; and the cold is often so severe as to check the development of the brood, and sometimes to kill it outright.

In such hives, when the temperature out of doors falls suddenly and severely, the bees at once feel the unfavorable change; they are obliged in self defence to huddle together to keep warm, and thus large portions of the brood comb are often abandoned, and the brood either destroyed at once by the cold, or so enfeebled that they never recover from the shock. Let every bee keeper, in all his operations, remember that brood comb must never be exposed to a low temperature so as to become chilled: the disastrous effects are almost as certain, as when the eggs of a setting hen are left, for too long a time, by the careless mother. The [50] brood combs are never safe when taken for any considerable time from the bees, unless the temperature is fully up to summer heat.

"[4]The young bees break their envelope with their teeth, and assisted, as soon as they come forth, by the older ones, proceed to cleanse themselves from the moisture and exuviæ with which they were surrounded. Both drones and workers on emerging from the cell are, at first grey, soft and comparatively helpless so that some time elapses before they take wing.

"With respect to the cocoons spun by the different larvæ, both workers and drones spin complete cocoons, or inclose themselves on every side; royal larvæ construct only imperfect cocoons, open behind, and enveloping only the head, thorax, and first ring of the abdomen; and Huber concludes, without any hesitation, that the final cause of their forming only incomplete cocoons is, that they may thus be exposed to the mortal sting of the first hatched queen, whose instinct leads her instantly to seek the destruction of those who would soon become her rivals.

"If the royal larvæ spun complete cocoons, the stings of the queens seeking to destroy their rivals might be so entangled in their meshes that they could not be disengaged. 'Such,' says Huber, 'is the instinctive enmity of young queens to each other, that I have seen one of them, immediately on its emergence from the cell, rush to those of its sisters, and tear to pieces even the imperfect larvæ. Hitherto philosophers have claimed our admiration of nature for her care in preserving and multiplying the species. But from these facts we must now admire her precautions in exposing certain individuals to a mortal hazard.'"

The cocoon of the royal larva is very much stronger and coarser than that spun by the drone or worker, its texture [51] considerably resembling that of the silk worm's. The young queen does not come forth from her cell until she is quite mature; and as its great size gives her abundant room to exercise her wings she is capable of flying as soon as she quits it. While still in her cell she makes the fluttering and piping noises with which every observant bee keeper is so well acquainted.

Some Apiarians have supposed that the queen bee has the power to regulate the development of eggs in her ovaries, so that few or many are produced, according to the necessities of the colony. This is evidently a mistake. Her eggs, like those of the domestic hen, are formed without any volition of her own, and when fully developed, must be extruded. If the weather is unfavorable, or if the colony is too feeble to maintain sufficient heat, a smaller number of eggs are developed in her ovaries, just as unfavorable circumstances diminish the number of eggs laid by the hen; if the weather is very cold, egg-laying usually ceases altogether. In the latitude of Philadelphia, I opened one of my hives on the 5th day of February, and found an abundance of eggs and brood, although the winter had been an unusually cold one, and the temperature of the preceding month very low. The fall of 1852 was a warm one, and eggs and brood were found in a hive which I examined on the 21st of October. Powerful stocks in well protected hives contain some brood, at least ten months in the year; in warm countries, bees probably breed, every month in the year.

It is highly interesting to see in what way the supernumerary eggs of the queen are disposed of. When the number of workers is too small to take charge of all her eggs, or when there is a deficiency of bee bread to nourish the young, (See chapter on Pollen,) or when, for any reason, [52] she judges it not best to deposit them in cells, she stands upon a comb, and simply extrudes them from her oviduct, and the workers devour them as fast as they are laid! This I have repeatedly witnessed in my observing hives, and admired the sagacity of the queen in economizing her necessary work after this fashion, instead of laboriously depositing the eggs in cells where they are not wanted. What a difference between her wise management and the stupidity of a hen obstinately persisting to set upon addled eggs, or pieces of chalk, and often upon nothing at all.

The workers eat up also all the eggs which are dropped, or deposited out of place by the queen; in this way, nothing goes to waste, and even a tiny egg is turned to some account. Was there ever a better comment upon the maxim? "Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves."

Do the workers who appear to be so fond of a tit-bit in the shape of a new laid egg, ever experience a struggle between their appetites and the claims of duty, and does it cost them some self denial to refrain from making a breakfast on a fresh laid egg? It is really very difficult for one who has carefully watched the habits of bees, to speak of his little favorites in any other way than as though they possessed an intelligence almost, if not quite, akin to reason.

It is well known to every breeder of poultry, that the fertility of a hen decreases with age, until at length, she becomes entirely barren; it is equally certain that the fertility of the queen bee ordinarily diminishes after she has entered upon her third year. She sometimes ceases to lay Worker eggs, a considerable time before she dies of old age; the contents of the spermatheca are exhausted; the eggs can no longer be impregnated and must therefore produce drones. [53]

The queen bee usually dies of old age, some time in her fourth year, although instances are on record of some having survived a year longer. It is highly important to the bee keeper who would receive the largest returns from his bees, to be able, as in my hives, to catch the queen and remove her, when she has passed the period of her greatest fertility. In the sequel, full directions will be given, as to the proper time and mode of effecting it.

Before proceeding farther in the natural history of the queen bee, I shall describe more particularly, the other inmates of the hive.

The Drones or Male Bees.

The drones are, unquestionably, the male bees. Dissection proves that they have the appropriate organs of generation. They are much larger and stouter than either the queen or workers; although their bodies are not quite so long as that of the queen. They have no sting with which to defend themselves; no proboscis which is suitable for gathering honey from the flowers, and no baskets on their thighs for holding the bee-bread. They are thus physically disqualified for work, even if they were ever so well disposed to it. Their proper office is to impregnate the young queens, and they are usually destroyed by the bees, soon after this is completed.

Dr. Evans the author of a beautiful poem on bees thus appropriately describes them:—

"Their short proboscis sips
No luscious nectar from the wild thyme's lips,
From the lime's leaf no amber drops they steal,
Nor bear their grooveless thighs the foodful meal:
On other's toils in pamper'd leisure thrive
The lazy fathers of the industrious hive."

The drones begin to make their appearance in April or May; earlier or later, according to climate and the forwardness [54] of the season, and strength of the stock. They require about twenty-four days for their full development from the egg. In colonies which are too weak to swarm, none, as a general rule, are reared: they are not needed, for in such hives, as no young queens are raised, they would be only useless consumers.

The number of drones in a hive is often very great, amounting, not merely to hundreds, but sometimes to thousands. It seems, at first, very difficult to understand why there should be so many, especially since it has been ascertained that a single one will impregnate a queen for life. But as intercourse always takes place high in the air, the young queens are obliged to leave the hive for this purpose; and it is exceedingly important to their safety, that they should be sure of finding one, without being compelled to make frequent excursions. Being larger than a worker, and less quick on the wing, they are more exposed to be caught by birds, or blown down and destroyed by sudden gusts of wind.

In a large Apiary, a few drones in each hive, or the number usually found in one, might be amply sufficient. But it must be borne in mind, that under these circumstances, bees are not in a state of nature. Before they were domesticated, a colony living in a forest, often had no neighbors for miles. Now a good stock in our climate, sometimes sends out three or more swarms, and in the tropical climates, of which the bee is a native, they increase with astonishing rapidity. At Sydney, in Australia, a single colony is stated to have multiplied to 300 in three years. All the new swarms except the first, are led off by a young queen, and as she is never impregnated until after she has been established as the head of a separate family, it is important that they should all be accompanied by a goodly number of [55] drones; and this renders it necessary that a large number should be produced in the parent hive.

As this necessity no longer exists, when the bee is domesticated, the production of so many drones should be discouraged. Traps have been invented to destroy them, but it is much better to save the bees the labor and expense of rearing such a host of useless consumers. This can readily be done by the use of my hives. The cells in which the drones are reared, are much larger than those appropriated to the raising of workers. The combs containing them may be taken out, to have their places supplied with worker's cells, and thus the over production of drones may easily be prevented. Some colonies contain so much drone comb as to be nearly worthless.

I have no doubt that some of my readers will object to this mode of management as interfering with nature: but let them remember that the bee is not in a state of nature, and that the same objection might be urged against killing off the super-numerary males of our domestic animals.

In July or August, soon after the swarming season is over, the bees expel the drones from the hive. They sometimes sting them, and sometimes gnaw the roots of their wings, so that when driven from the hive, they cannot return. If not treated in either of these summary ways, they are so persecuted and starved, that they soon perish. The hatred of the bees extends even to the young which are still unhatched: they are mercilessly pulled from the cells, and destroyed with the rest. How wonderful that instinct which teaches the bees that there is no longer any occasion for the services of the drones, and which impels them to destroy those members of the colony, which, a short time before, they reared with such devoted attention!

A colony which neglects to expel its drones at the usual [56] season, ought always to be examined. The queen is probably either diseased or dead. In my hives, such an examination may be easily made, the true state of the case ascertained, and the proper remedies at once applied. (See Chapter on the Loss of the Queen.)

The Production of so many Drones Necessary, in a State of Nature, to Prevent Degeneracy from "In and In Breeding."

I have often been able, by the reasons previously assigned, to account for the necessity of such a large number of drones in a state of nature, to the satisfaction of others, but never fully to my own. I have repeatedly queried, why impregnation might not just as well have been effected in the hive, as on the wing, in the open air. Two very obvious and highly important advantages would have resulted from such an arrangement. 1st. A few dozen drones would have amply sufficed for the wants of any colony, even if, (as in tropical climates,) it swarmed half a dozen times or oftener, in the same season. 2d. The young queens would have been exposed to none of those risks which they now incur, in leaving the hive for fecundation.

I was unable to show how the existing arrangement is best; although I never doubted that there must be a satisfactory reason for this seeming imperfection. To suppose otherwise, would be highly unphilosophical, since we constantly see, as the circle of our knowledge is enlarged, many mysteries in nature hitherto inexplicable, fully cleared up.

Let me here ask if the disposition which too many students of nature cherish, to reject some of the doctrines of revealed religion, is not equally unphilosophical. Neither our ignorance of all the facts necessary to their full elucidation, nor [57] our inability to harmonize these facts in their mutual relations and dependencies, will justify us in rejecting any truth which God has seen fit to reveal, either in the book of nature, or in His holy word. The man who would substitute his own speculations for the divine teachings, has embarked, without rudder or chart, pilot or compass, upon the uncertain ocean of theory and conjecture; unless he turns his prow from its fatal course, no Sun of Righteousness will ever brighten for him the dreary expanse of waters; storms and whirlwinds will thicken in gloom, on his "voyage of life," and no favoring gales will ever waft his shattered bark to a peaceful haven.

The thoughtful reader will require no apology for the moralizing strain of many of my remarks, nor blame a clergyman, if forgetting sometimes to speak as the mere naturalist, he endeavors to find,

"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in 'bees,' and 'God' in every thing."

To return to the point from which I have digressed; a new attempt to account for the existence of so many drones. If a farmer persists in what is called "breeding in and in," that is, from the same stock without changing the blood, it is well known that a rapid degeneracy is the inevitable consequence. This law extends, as far as we know, to all animal life, and even man is not exempt from its influence. Have we any reason to suppose that the bee is an exception? or that ultimate degeneracy would not ensue, unless some provision was made to counteract the tendency to in and in breeding? If fecundation had taken place in the hive, the queen bee must of necessity, have been impregnated by drones from a common parent, and the same result must have taken place in each successive generation, until the whole species would eventually have "run out." By the present arrangement, the young females, when they leave the hive, often find the [58] air swarming with drones, many of which belong to other colonies, and thus by crossing the breed, a provision is constantly made to prevent deterioration.

Experience has proved not only that it is unnecessary to impregnation that there should be drones in the colony of the young queen, but that this may be effected even when there are no drones in the Apiary, and none except at some considerable distance. Intercourse takes place very high in the air, (perhaps that less risk may be incurred from birds,) and this is the more favorable to the continual crossing of stocks.

I am strongly persuaded that the decay of many flourishing stocks, even when managed with great care, is to be attributed to the fact that they have become enfeebled by "close breeding," and are thus unable to resist the injurious influences which were comparatively harmless when the bees were in a state of high physical vigor. I shall, in the chapter on Artificial Swarming, explain in what way, by the use of my hives, the stock of bees may be easily crossed, when a cultivator is too remote from other Apiaries, to depend upon its being naturally effected.

The Workers or Common Bees.

The number of workers in a hive varies very much. A good swarm ought to contain 15,000 or 20,000; and in large hives, strong colonies which are not reduced by swarming, frequently number two or three times as many, during the height of the breeding season. We have well-authenticated instances of stocks much more populous than this. The Polish hives will hold several bushels, and yet we are informed by Mr. Dohiogost, that they swarm regularly, and that the swarms are so powerful that "they resemble a little cloud in the air." I shall hereafter consider how the [59] size of the hive affects the number of bees that it may be expected to produce.

The workers, (as has been already stated,) are all females whose ovaries are too imperfectly developed to admit of their laying eggs. For a long time, they were regarded as neither males nor females, and were called Neuters; but more careful microscopic examinations have enabled us to detect the rudiments of their ovaries, and thus to determine their sex. The accuracy of these examinations has been verified by the well-known facts respecting fertile workers.

Riem, a German Apiarian, first discovered that workers sometimes lay eggs. Huber, in the course of his investigations on this subject, ascertained that such workers were raised in hives that had lost their queen, and in the vicinity of the royal cells in which young queens were being reared. He conjectured that they received accidentally, a small portion of the peculiar food of these infant queens, and in this way, he accounted for their reproductive organs being more developed than those of other workers. Workers reared in such hives, are in close proximity to the young queens, and there is certainly much probability that some of the royal jelly may be accidentally dropped into their cells; as, in these hives, the queen cells when first commenced are parallel to the horizon, instead of being perpendicular to it, as they are in other hives. I do not feel confident, however, that they are not sometimes bred in hives which have not lost their queen. The kind of eggs laid by these fertile workers, has already been noticed. Such workers are seldom tolerated in hives containing a fertile, healthy queen, though instances of this kind have been known to occur. The worker is much smaller than either the queen or the drone.[5] It is furnished with a tongue or proboscis, of the [60] most curious and complicated structure, which, when not in use, is nicely folded under its abdomen; with this, it licks or brushes up the honey, which is thence conveyed to its honey-bag. This receptacle is not larger than a very small pea, and is so perfectly transparent, as to appear when filled, of the same color with its contents; it is properly the first stomach of the bee, and is surrounded by muscles which enable the bee to compress it, and empty its contents through her proboscis into the cells. (See Chapter on Honey.)

The hinder legs of the worker are furnished with a spoon-shaped hollow or basket, to receive the pollen or bee bread which she gathers from the flowers. (See Chapter on Pollen.)

Every worker is armed with a formidable sting, and when provoked, makes instant and effectual use of her natural weapon. The sting, when subjected to microscopic examination, exhibits a very curious and complicated mechanism. "It is moved[6] by muscles which, though invisible to the eye, are yet strong enough to force the sting, to the depth of one twelfth of an inch, through the thick skin of a man's hand. At its root are situated two glands by which the poison is secreted: these glands uniting in one duct, eject the venemous liquid along the groove, formed by the junction of the two piercers. There are four barbs on the outside of each piercer: when the insect is prepared to sting, one of these piercers, having its point a little longer than the other, first darts into the flesh, and being fixed by its foremost beard, the other strikes in also, and they alternately penetrate deeper and deeper, till they acquire a firm hold of the flesh [61] with their barbed hooks, and then follows the sheath, conveying the poison into the wound. The action of the sting, says Paley, affords an example of the union of chemistry and mechanism; of chemistry in respect to the venom, which can produce such powerful effects; of mechanism as the sting is a compound instrument. The machinery would have been comparatively useless had it not been for the chemical process, by which in the insect's body honey is converted into poison; and on the other hand, the poison would have been ineffectual, without an instrument to wound, and a syringe to inject it."

"Upon examining the edge of a very keen razor by the microscope, it appears as broad as the back of a pretty thick knife, rough, uneven, and full of notches and furrows, and so far from anything like sharpness, that an instrument, as blunt as this seemed to be, would not serve even to cleave wood. An exceedingly small needle being also examined, it resembled a rough iron bar out of a smith's forge. The sting of a bee viewed through the same instrument, showed everywhere a polish amazingly beautiful, without the least flaw, blemish, or inequality, and ended in a point too fine to be discerned."

The extremity of the sting being barbed like an arrow, the bee can seldom withdraw it, if the substance into which she darts it is at all tenacious. In losing her sting she parts with a portion of her intestines, and of necessity, soon perishes.

As the loss of the sting is always fatal to the bees, they pay a dear penalty for the exercise of their patriotic instincts; but they always seem ready, (except when they have taken "a drop too much," and are gorged with honey,) to die in defence of their home and treasures; or as the poet has expressed it, they [62]

"Deem life itself to vengeance well resign'd,
Die on the wound, and leave their sting behind."

Hornets, wasps and other stinging insects are able to withdraw their stings from the wound. I have never seen any attempt to account for the exception in the case of the honey bee. But if the Creator intended the bee for the use of man, as He most certainly did, has He not given it this peculiarity, to make it less formidable, and therefore more completely subject to human control? Without a sting, it would have stood no chance of defending its tempting sweets against a host of greedy depredators; but if it could sting a number of times, it would be much more difficult to bring it into a state of thorough domestication. A quiver full of arrows in the hand of a skilful marksman, is far more to be dreaded than a single shaft.

The defence of the colony against enemies, the construction of the cells, the storing of them with honey and bee-bread, the rearing of the young, in short, the whole work of the hive, the laying of eggs excepted, is carried on by the industrious little workers.

There may be gentlemen of leisure in the commonwealth of bees, but most assuredly there are no such ladies, whether of high or low degree. The queen herself, has her full share of duties, for it must be admitted that the royal office is no sinecure, when the mother who fills it, must superintend daily the proper deposition of several thousand eggs!

Age of Bees.

The queen bee, (as has been already stated,) will live four, and sometimes, though very rarely, five years. As the life of the drones is usually cut short by violence, it is not easy to ascertain its precise limit. Bevan, in some interesting [63] statements on the longevity of bees, estimates it not to exceed four months. The workers are supposed by him, to live six or seven months. Their age depends, however, very much upon their greater or less exposure to injurious influences and severe labors. Those reared in the spring and early part of summer, and on whom the heaviest labors of the hive must necessarily devolve, do not appear to live more than two or three months, while those which are bred at the close of summer, and early in autumn, being able to spend a large part of their time in repose, attain a much greater age. It is very evident that "the bee," (to use the words of a quaint old writer,) "is a summer bird," and that with the exception of the queen, none live to be a year old.

Notched and ragged wings, instead of gray hairs and wrinkled faces, are the signs of old age in the bee, and indicate that its season of toil will soon be over. They appear to die rather suddenly, and often spend their last days, and sometimes even their last hours, in useful labors. Place yourself before a hive, and see the indefatigable energy of these aged veterans, toiling along with their heavy burdens, side by side with their more youthful compeers, and then say if you can, that you have done work enough, and that you will give yourself up to slothful indulgence, while the ability for useful labor still remains. Let the cheerful hum of their industrious old age inspire you with better resolutions, and teach you how much nobler it is to meet death in the path of duty, striving still, as you "have opportunity," to "do good unto all men."

The age which individual members of the community may attain, must not be confounded with that of the colony. Bees have been known to occupy the same domicile for a great number of years. I have seen flourishing colonies [64] which were twenty years old, and the Abbe Della Rocca speaks of some over forty years old! Such cases have led to the erroneous opinion that bees are a long-lived race. But this, as Dr. Evans has observed, is just as wise as if a stranger, contemplating a populous city, and personally unacquainted with its inhabitants, should on paying it a second visit, many years afterwards, and finding it equally populous, imagine that it was peopled by the same individuals, not one of whom might then be living.

"Like leaves on trees, the race of bees is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
Another race the Spring or Fall supplies,
They droop successive, and successive rise."

The cocoons spun by the larvæ, are never removed by the bees; they stick so closely to the sides of the cells, that the knowing bee well understands that the labor of removal would cost more than it would be worth. In process of time, the breeding cells become too small for the proper development of the young. In some cases, the bees must take down and reconstruct the old combs, for if they did not, the young issuing from them would always be dwarfs; whereas I once compared with other bees, those of a colony more than fifteen years old, and found no perceptible difference. That they do not always renew the old combs, must be admitted, as the young from some old hives are often considerably below the average size. On this account, it is very desirable to be able to remove the old combs occasionally, that their place may be supplied with new ones.

It is a great mistake to imagine that the brood combs ought to be changed every year. In my hives, they might, if it were desirable, be easily changed several times in a year: but once in five or six years is often enough; oftener than this requires a needless consumption of honey to replace them, besides being for other reasons undesirable, as [65] the bees are always in winter, colder in new comb than in old. Inventors of hives have too often been, most emphatically "men of one idea:" and that one, instead of being a well established and important fact in the physiology of the bee, has frequently, (like the necessity for a yearly change of the brood combs,) been merely a conceit, existing nowhere but in the brain of a visionary projector. This is all harmless enough, until an effort is made to impose such miserable crudities upon an ignorant public, either in the shape of a patented hive, or worse still, of an UNPATENTED hive, the pretended RIGHT to use which, is FRAUDULENTLY sold to the cheated purchaser!!

For want of proper knowledge with regard to the age of bees, huge "bee palaces," and large closets in garrets or attics, have been constructed, and their proprietors have vainly imagined that the bees would fill them, however roomy; for they can see no reason why a colony should not continue to increase indefinitely, until at length it numbers its inhabitants by millions or billions! As the bees can never at one time equal, still less exceed the number which the queen is capable of producing in one season, these spacious dwellings have always an abundance of "spare rooms." It seems strange that men can be thus deceived, when often in their own Apiary, they have healthy stocks which have not swarmed for a year or more, and which yet in the spring are not a whit more populous than those which have regularly parted with vigorous swarms.

It is certain that the Creator, has for some wise reason, set a limit to the increase of numbers in a single colony; and I shall venture to assign what appears to me to have been one reason for His so doing. Suppose that He had given to the bee, a length of life as great as that of the horse or the cow, or had made each queen capable of laying [66] daily, some hundreds of thousands of eggs, or had given several hundred queens to each hive, then from the Very nature of the case, a colony must have gone on increasing, until it became a scourge rather than a benefit to man. In the warm climates of which the bee is a native, they would have established themselves in some cavern or capacious cleft in the rocks, and would there have quickly become so powerful as to bid defiance to all attempts to appropriate the avails of their labors.

It has already been stated, that none, except the mother wasps and hornets, survive the winter. If these insects had been able, like the bee, to commence the season with the accumulated strength of a large colony, long before its close, they would have proved a most intolerable nuisance. If, on the contrary, the queen bee had been compelled, solitary and alone, to lay the foundations of a new commonwealth, the honey-harvest would have disappeared before she could have become the parent of a numerous family.

In the laws which regulate the increase of bees as well as in all other parts of their economy, we have the plainest proofs that the insect was formed for the special service of the human race.

The process of rearing the Queen more particularly described.

If in the early part of the season, the population of a hive becomes uncomfortably crowded, the bees usually make preparations for swarming. A number of royal cells are commenced, and they are placed almost always upon those edges of the combs which are not attached to the sides of the hive. These cells somewhat resemble a small ground-nut or pea-nut, and are about an inch deep, and one-third [67] of an inch in diameter: they are very thick, and require a large quantity of material for their construction. They are seldom seen in a perfect state, as the bees nibble them away after the queen has hatched, leaving only their remains, in the shape of a very small acorn-cup. While the other cells open sideways, these always hang with their mouth downwards. Much speculation has arisen as to the reason for this deviation: some have conjectured that their peculiar position exerted an influence upon the development of the royal larvæ; while others, having ascertained that no injurious effect was produced by turning them upwards, or placing them in any other position, have considered this deviation as among the inscrutable mysteries of the bee-hive. So it always seemed to me, until more careful reflection enabled me to solve the problem. The queen cells open downwards, simply to save room! The distance between the parallel ranges of comb being usually less than half an inch, the bees could not have made the royal cells to open sideways, without sacrificing the cells opposite to them. In order to economize space, to the very utmost, they put them upon the unoccupied edges of the comb, as the only place where there is always plenty of room for such very large cells.

The number of royal cells varies greatly; sometimes there are only two or three, ordinarily there are five or six, and I have occasionally seen more than a dozen. They are not all commenced at once, for the bees do not intend that the young queens shall all arrive at maturity, at the same time. I do not consider it as fully settled, how the eggs are deposited in these cells. In some few instances, I have known the bees to transfer the eggs from common to queen cells, and this may be their general method of procedure. I shall hazard the conjecture that the queen deposits her eggs in cells on the edges of the comb, in a crowded state [68] of the hive, and that some of these are afterwards enlarged and changed into royal cells by the workers. Such is the instinctive hatred of the queen to her own kind, that it does not seem to me probable, that she is intrusted with even the initiatory steps for securing a race of successors. That the eggs from which the young queens are produced, are of the same kind with those producing workers, has been repeatedly demonstrated. On examining the queen cells while they are in progress, one of the first things which excites our notice, is the very unusual amount of attention bestowed upon them by the workers. There is scarcely a second in which a bee is not peeping into them, and just as fast as one is satisfied, another pops its head in, to examine if not to report, progress. The importance of their inmates to the bee-community, might easily be inferred from their being the center of so much attraction.

Royal Jelly.

The young queens are supplied with a much larger quantity of food than is allotted to the other larvæ, so that they seem almost to float in a thick bed of jelly, and there is usually a portion of it left unconsumed at the base of the cells, after the insects have arrived at maturity. It is different from the food of either drones or workers, and in appearance, resembles a light quince jelly, having a slightly acid taste.

I submitted a portion of the royal jelly for analysis, to Dr. Charles M. Wetherill, of Philadelphia; a very interesting account of his examination may be found in the proceedings of the Phila. Academy of Nat. Sciences for July, 1852. He speaks of the substance as "truly a bread-containing, albuminous compound." I hope in the course of [69] the coming summer to obtain from this able analytical chemist, an analysis of the food of the young drones and workers. A comparison of its elements with those of the royal jelly, may throw some light on subjects as yet involved in obscurity.

The effects produced upon the larvæ by this peculiar food and method of treatment, are very remarkable. For one, I have never considered it strange that such effects should be rejected as idle whims, by nearly all except those who have either been eye-witnesses to them, or have been well acquainted with the character and opportunities for accurate observation, of those on whose testimony they have received them. They are not only in themselves most marvelously strange, but on the face of them so entirely opposed to all common analogies, and so very improbable, that many men when asked to believe them, feel almost as though an insult were offered to their common sense. The most important of these effects, I shall now proceed to enumerate.

1st. The peculiar mode in which the worm designed to be reared as a queen, is treated, causes it to arrive at maturity, about one-third earlier than if it had been bred a worker. And yet it is to be much more fully developed, and according to ordinary analogy, ought to have had a slower growth!

2d. Its organs of reproduction are completely developed, so that it is capable of fulfilling the office of a mother.

3d. Its size, shape and color are all greatly changed. (See p. 32.) Its lower jaws are shorter, its head rounder, and its legs have neither brushes nor baskets, while its sting is more curved, and one-third longer than that of a worker.

4th. Its instincts are entirely changed. Reared as a worker, it would have been ready to thrust out its sting, [70] upon the least provocation; whereas now, it may be pulled limb from limb, without attempting to sting. As a worker it would have treated a queen with the greatest consideration; whereas now, if placed under a glass with another queen, it rushes forthwith to mortal combat with its rival. As a worker, it would frequently have left the hive, either for labor or exercise: as a queen, after impregnation, it never leaves the hive except to accompany a new swarm.

5th. The term of its life is remarkably lengthened. As a worker, it would have lived not more than six or seven months at farthest; as a queen it may live seven or eight times as long! All these wonders rest on the impregnable basis of complete demonstration, and instead of being witnessed by only a select few, may now, by the use of my hive, be familiar sights to any bee keeper, who prefers to acquaint himself with facts, rather than to cavil and sneer at the labors of others.[7]

[71]

When provision has been made, in the manner described, for a new race of queens, the old mother always departs with the first swarm, before her successors have arrived at maturity.[8]

Artificial Rearing of Queens.

The distress of the bees when they lose their queen, has already been described. If they have the means of supplying her loss, they soon calm down, and commence forthwith, the necessary steps for rearing another. The process of rearing queens artificially, to meet some special emergency, is even more wonderful than the natural one, which has already been described. Its success depends on the bees having worker-eggs or worms not more than three days old; (if older, the larva has been too far developed as a worker to admit of any change:) the bees nibble away the partitions of two cells adjoining a third, so as to make one large cell out of the three. They destroy the eggs or worms in two of these cells, while they place before the occupant of the third, the usual food of the young queens, and build out its cell, so as to give it ample space for development. They do not confine themselves to the attempt to rear a single queen, but to guard against failure, start a considerable number, although the work on all except a few, is usually soon discontinued.

[72]

In twelve or fourteen days, they are in possession of a new queen, precisely similar to one reared in the natural way, while the eggs which were laid at the same time in the adjoining cells, and which have been developed in the usual way, are nearly a week longer in coming to maturity.

I will give in this connection a description of an interesting experiment:

A large hive which stood at a distance from any other colony, was removed in the morning of a very pleasant day, to a new place, and another hive containing only empty comb, was put upon its stand. Thousands of workers which were out in the fields, or which left the old hive after its removal, returned to the familiar spot. It was affecting to witness their grief and despair: they flew in restless circles about the place which once contained their happy home, entered and left the new hive continually, expressing, in various ways, their lamentations over their cruel bereavement. Towards evening, they ceased to take wing, and roamed in restless platoons, in and out of the hive, and over its surface, acting all the time, as though in search of some lost treasure. I now gave them a piece of brood comb, containing worker eggs and worms, taken from a second swarm which being just established with its young queen, in a new hive, could have no intention of rearing young queens that season; therefore, it cannot be contended that this piece of comb contained what some are pleased to call "royal eggs." What followed the introduction of this brood comb, took place much quicker than it can be described. The bees which first touched it, raised a peculiar note, and in a moment, the comb was covered with a dense mass; their restless motions and mournful noises ceased, and a cheerful hum at once attested their delight! Despair gave place to hope, as they recognized in this small piece [73] of comb, the means of deliverance. Suppose a large building filled with thousands of persons, tearing their hair, beating their breasts, and by piteous cries, as well as frantic gestures, giving vent to their despair; if now some one should enter this house of mourning, and by a single word, cause all these demonstrations of agony to give place to smiles and congratulations, the change could not be more wonderful and instantaneous, than that produced when the bees received the brood comb!

The Orientals call the honey bee, Deburrah, "She that speaketh." Would that this little insect might speak, and in words more eloquent than those of man's device, to the multitudes who allow themselves to reject the doctrines of revealed religion, because, as they assert, they are, on their face so utterly improbable, that they labor under an a priori objection strong enough to be fatal to their credibility. Do not nearly all the steps in the development of a queen from a worker-egg, labor under precisely the same objection? and have they not, for this very reason, always been regarded by great numbers of bee keepers, as unworthy of credence? If the favorite argument of infidels and errorists will not stand the test when applied to the wonders of the bee-hive, can it be regarded as entitled to any serious weight, when employed in framing objections against religious truths, and arrogantly taking to task the infinite Jehovah, for what He has been pleased to do or to teach? Give me the same latitude claimed by such objectors, and I can easily prove that a man is under no obligation to receive any of the wonders in the economy of the bee-hive, although he is himself an intelligent eye-witness that they are all substantial verities.

I shall quote, in this connection, from Huish, an English Apiarian of whom I have already spoken, because his objections [74] to the discoveries of Huber, remind me so forcibly of both the spirit and principles of the great majority of those who object to the doctrines of revealed religion.

"If an individual, with the view of acquiring some knowledge of the natural history of the bee, or of its management, consult the works of Bagster, Bevan, or any of the periodicals which casually treat upon the subject, will he not rise from the study of them with his mind surcharged with falsities and mystification? Will he not discover through the whole of them a servile acquiescence in the opinions and discoveries of one man, however at variance they may be with truth or probability; and if he enter upon the discussion with his mind free from prejudice, will he not experience that an outrage has been committed upon his reason, in calling upon him to give assent to positions and principles which at best are merely assumed, but to which he is called upon dogmatically to subscribe his acquiescence as the indubitable results of experience, skill and ability? The editors of the works above alluded to, should boldly and indignantly have declared, that from their own experience in the natural economy of the insect, they were able to pronounce the circumstances as related by Huber to be directly impossible, and the whole of them based on fiction and imposition."

Let the reader change only a few words in this extract: for "the natural history of the bee or its management," let him write, "the subject of religion;" for, "the works of Bagster, Bevan," &c., let him put, "the works of Moses, Paul," &c.; for, "their own experience in the natural economy of the insect," let him substitute, "their own experience in the nature of man;" and for, "circumstances as related by Huber," let him insert, "as related by Luke or John," and it will sound almost precisely like a passage from some infidel author. [75]

I resume the quotation from Huish; "If we examine the account which Huber gives of his invention (!) of the royal jelly, the existence and efficacy of which are fully acquiesced in by the aforesaid editors, to what other conclusions are we necessarily driven, than that they are the dupes of a visionary enthusiast, whose greatest merit consists in his inventive powers, no matter how destitute those powers may be of all affinity with truth or probability? Before, however, these editors bestowed their unqualified assent on the existence of this royal jelly, did they stop to put to themselves the following questions? By what kind of bee is it made?[9] Whence is it procured? Is it a natural or an elaborated substance? If natural, from what source is it derived? If elaborated, in what stomach of the bee is it to be found? How is it administered? What are its constituent principles? Is its existence optional or definite? Whence does it derive its miraculous power of converting a common egg into a royal one? Will any of the aforesaid editors publicly answer these questions? and ought they not to have been able to answer them, before they so unequivocally expressed their belief in its existence, its powers and administration?"

How puerile does all this sound to one who has seen and tasted the royal jelly! And permit me to add, how equally unmeaning do the objections of infidels seem, to those who have an experimental acquaintance with the divine hopes and consolations of the Gospel of Christ.

Hobby
Bee Culture: Queen Drone Worker
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