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Other flowers with her may vie,
Then fade-and unregretted die. Towards the close of the month, bees (apis mellifica) venture out of their hives. The hum of this busy little animal, though a sound by no means musical, and a tone without modulation, is delightful to the ear, and tranquillizes the mind, being powerfully associated with the ideas of rural peace and of happy labour, and vividly recals to memory some of the earliest scenes and most innocent pursuits of childhood.
Nor undeliglitful is the ceaseless hum
Or drowsy shepherd as he lies reclined ! Insensible, indeed, to the surrounding objects of nature must be the heart of that man, who, in his rambles through the fields, has not stooped to watch this little reveller, while lurking in the bell of the campanula,or probing the recesses of the honeysuckle; and who has not derived many a moral lesson from the unceasing activity of the busy insect which attracted his gaze. It is not every one, however, who has an accurate notion of the employment of the bee, and of the actual substances of which it is in search.
The principal object of bees is, to furnish themselves with three different materials:—the nectar of flowers, from which they elaborate honey and wax; the pollen or fertilizing dust of the anthers, of which they make what is called bee-bread, serving as food both to old and young; and the resinous substance called by the antients propolis and pissoceros, &c. used in various ways in rendering the hive secure, and giving the finish to the combs. The first of these substances is the pure fluid secreted in the nectaries of flowers, which the length of their tongue enables them to reach in most blossoms. The tongue of a bee, though so long and sometimes so inflated,
(which Honey is no
is not a tube through which the honey passes, nor a pump acting by suction, but a real tongue which laps or licks the honey, and passes it down on its upper surface, as we do, to the mouth, which is at its baso concealed by the mandibles. It is conveyed by this orifice through the desophagus into the first stomach, which we call the honey bag, which, from being very small, is swelled, when full of it, to a considerable size. Honey is never found in the second stomach (which is surrounded with muscular rings, and resembles a cask covered with hoops from one end to the other), but only in the first: in the latter and in the intestines the bee bread only is discovered. How the wax is secreted, or what vessels are appropriated to that purpose, is not yet ascertained. Huber suspects that a cellular substance, composed of "hexagons, which lines the membrane of the wax-pockets, may be concerned in this operation. Observe a bee that has alighted on an open flower. The hum produced by the motion of her wings ceases, and her employment begins. In an instant she unfolds her tongue, which before was rolled up under her head. With what rapidity does she dart this organ between the petals and the stamina! At one time she extends it to its full length, then she contracts it; she moves it about in all directions, so that it may be applied both to the concave and convex surface of a petal, and wipe them both; and thus by a virtuous theft robs it of all its nectar. All the while this is going
on, she keeps herself in a constant vibratory motion. 1 The object of this industrious animal is not, like the
more selfish butterfly, to appropriate this treasure to i herself. It goes into the honey bag as into a labora
tory, where it is transformed into pure honey; and · when she returns to the hive, she regurgitates it in
this form into one of the cells appropriated to that ! purpose. (Kirby and Spence's Entomology, vol, ii,
This botanical plunderer is not satisfied with robbing the nectaries of their saccharine juices, to be elaborated into honey and wax; it next visits the anthers, to pilfer the pollen, from which the bee-bread is made. If the integument, which holds this fertilizing dust, be already burst, it is immediately brushed off by the first pair of legs, transferred to the middle pair, and then to the hinder, where it is deposited in the shape of a small pellet in baskets formed by the hairs with which they are furnished; but if the anther be not already burst, the animal opens the cell with her mandibles, and extracts the farina.
Roused by the gleamy warmth from long repose,
And trim oXALISS with her pencilled flower: ! Of all the spring flowers, the catkins of the numerous species of salix, or willow, afford the earliest and most abundant supply of farina for the bees, who may be observed constantly settling on these blossoms when the weather is favourable. The bees are equally fond of the hazel.
2 The wood anemone expands its flowers in fine weather only, folding them up against rain.
8 The wood sorrel is a most elegant little plant, growing in the shade of woods and thickets. Its white petals are beautifully pencilled with purple lines, and the leaves are often tinted with purple, half unfolded, and forming a kind of natural umbrella.
Close to the shelt'ring copse the maiden cleaves,
The Tuberous Moschatell, emerging from its wintry bed of wither. ed leaves, welcomes the botanist in his early spring excursions. When young, and moist with dew, it has a faint musky smell.
2 The highly varnished golden flowers of Pilewort are among the earliest harbingers of spring in shady places.
8 Dandelion blows early in the spring, and continues throughout the summer. Its flowers form part of the Horologe, or Clock of Flora, unfolding at five or six in the morning, and closing about sunset.
The flow'r enamoured of the sun,
Sad vigils like a cloistered nun,
Till his reviving ray appears,
Waking her beauty as he dries her tears. TOBIN. 4 The Marsh Marigold adorns moist meadows, and the sides of rivers, with its large yellow blossoms. The country people hang them in bunches round their doors, in honour of May-day.
5 The Giant Coltsfoot has the largest leaves of any British plant. Its purple clustered spikes, mingling with the bright yellow of the Marsh Marigold, give a splendid variety to the appearance of the marsby grounds.
• The Cnckoo-flower, with pale blossoms, faintly tinged with purple, abounds in rich meadows, and is frequently found double in the neighbourhood of Shrewsbury.
well as insecures
The gannets or Soland geese (pelicanus bassanus) resort in March to the Hebrides, and other rocky isles of North Britain, to make their nests and lay their eggs.
Much amusement may be derived in this month, as well as in the last, from watching the progress of worms, insects, &c. from torpidity to life, particularly on the edges or banks of ponds.-See T.T. for 1817, p. 53.
In the latter end of March, chickens run about; a brimstone-coloured butterfly (papilio rhamni) appears; black beetles fly about in the evening; and bats issue from their places of concealment. Roach and dace float near the surface of the water, and sport about in pursuit of insects; peas appear above ground.
The Cæsarian Kale, a valuable and excellent vegetable, though little known, produces, very early in the spring, vast numbers of large delicious sprouts for the table, equal in sweetness to asparagus; so that it may be said to afford two crops. Cows fed on this plant give a greater quantity of milk, and the butter is of a richer flavour, than when fed on any other vegetable. A matter, also, of great utility is that of its comforting and cheering qualities in the feeding of ewes in the winter, while suckling houselambs. In severe frosts and deep snows, when other green fodder for cattle cannot be had, this plant, from its elevation (growing to four or five feet) and its natural hardiness, yields abundant and successive supplies. The mode of using it for cattle is by cutting off the large leaves, as wanted; when a regular succession takes place continually through the winter. It should be sown in the spring, or beginning of summer, broad cast, and transplanted at the distance of about two feet. When sown with turnips, it answers an admirable purpose, as few crops are more subject to failure than that of the turnip, whereas the Cæsarian kale seed may be depended on. It is so prolific