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Curious PARTICULARS in the NATURAL HISTORY of
B EES considered as a Community.
[ From the S A ME.]
respecting themselves, although tutes the bond; for bees have none not so respecting the remains of their without her: however, the similarity young. They, I believe, seldom is not exact, for young animals who or never evacuate their excrement have lost their nurse will herd together, in the hive. I have known them and jointly make the best shifts they confined many days without discharg- can, because in future they are to ing the contents of the re&tum ; become tingle animals; but bees have and the moment they got abroad, an eternal instinctive dependence on they evacuated in the air, when fly- the mother, probably from their not ing: and they appear to be very nice being distinct sexes. When the queen in their bodies, for I have often de- is loft, this detachment is broke; they tected them cleaning one another, give up industry, probably die; or, more especially if by accident they we may suppose, join some other hive. are besmeared with honey.
This is not the case with those of this This animal may be considered tribe, whose queen fingly, forms a coalone, or so far as concerns its own lony ; for although the queen is de economy as an individual, which is ftroyed, yet they go on with that work common to the most folitary animals, which is their lot; as the wasp, horbut it can also be considered as a net and humble bee. Most probably member of society, in which it is the whole economy of the bee, which taking an active part, and in which we fo much admire, belongs to the it becomes an object of great cu- non-breeders, and depends on their siofity.
instinctive powers being set to work To consider this focicty indivi- by the prelence of the breeders, that dually, it may be said to confift of a being their only enjoyment; therefemale breeder, female non-breeders, fore when we talk of the wonderful and males : but to consider it as à economy of bees, it is chiefly the lacommunity, it may be said to consift bourers at large we are to admire, only of female breeders and non- although the queen gets the principal breeders, the males answering no other credit, for the extent of their instinctive purpose than simply as a male, and properties. are only temporary; and it is proba This economy, in its appearances ble, the female breeder is to be con- and operations, is fomewhat similar fidered in no other light than as a to human society, but, very different layer of eggs, and that the only in-, in its first causes and mode of conduct. Auences the non-breeders by her pre
The human species sets up its own fence, being only a bond of union, standard ; the bees, has one set up by for without her they seem to have no nature, and therefore fulfils all the netie; it is her presence that makes ceffary purpofes. This ftandard of them an aggregate animal. May we influence, which is the breeder, is not suppose that the offspring of the called the queen, and I fall keep to queen have an attachment to the mo- the name, although I do not allow her ther, somewhat similar to the attach- voluntary influence or power. ment of young birds to the female The non-breeders are what comthat brings them up ? For although pose the hive, or what may be called the times of their attachment are not the community at large; and the equal, yet it is the dependence which males, are mere males : each of these
parts of the community I shall here- the spring, when the queen begins to
lay her eggs; in the summer, at the
When a hive fends off a colony, it
hang about the mouth of the hole, or
found with the lower A of the tre.
males are entirely bred in the same but in such instances I have reason season, part go off; but part must to think that they have lost their ftay, and most probably it is so with queen, for the hives to which their the others. They commonly come fwarm have come back do not swarm off in the heat of the day, often im- the next warm day, but shall hang mediately after a shower; who takes out for a fortnight, or more, and then the lead I do not know, but should swarm ; and when they do, the swarm fuppose it was the queen. When one is commonly much larger than before, goes off, they all immediately follow, which makes me suspect that they and Ay about seemingly in great con- waited for the queen that was to have fufion, although there is one principle gone off with the next swarm. actuating the whole. They soon ap So far we have set the colony in pear to be directed to some fixed place; motion. The materials of their dwelsuch as the branch of a tree or bush, ling, or comb, which is the wax, is the cavities of old trees, holes of the next consideration, with the mode houses leading into some hollow place; of forming, preparing, or disposing and whenever the stand is made, of it. In giving a totally new acthey all immediately repair to it, till count of the wax, I shall first show it they are all collected. But it would can hardly be what it has been supfeem, in some cases, that they had posed to bep First, I shall observe not fixed upon any resting place before that the materials, as they are found they came off, or if they had, that composing the comb, are not to be they were either disturbed, if it was found in the same state (as a compofinear, or that it was at a great distance; tion) in any vegetable, where they for, after hovering some time, as if have been fupposed to be got. The undetermined, they fly away, mount substance brought in on their legs, up into the air, and go off with great which is the farina of the flowers of velocity. When they have fixed upon plants, is, in common, I believe, their future habitation, they immedi- imagined to be the materials of which ately begin to make their combs, for the wax is made, for it is called by they have the materials within them- most the wax: but it is the farina, selves. I have reason to believe that for it is always of the same colour as they fill their crops with honey when the farina of the flower where they they come away; probably from the are gathering; and indeed we fee kock in the hive. "I killed several of them gathering it, and we also see those that came away, and found them covered almost all over with it, their crops
full, while those that re- like a dust; nevertheless, it has been mained in the hive had their crops supposed to be the wax, or that the not near so full: some of them came wax was extracted from it. Reaumur away with farina on their legs, which is of this opinion. I made several I conceive to be rather accidental. I experiments to see if there was such a may juft observe here, that a hive, quantity of oil in it, as would account commoniy sends off two, sometimes for the quantity of wax to be formed, three swarms in a summer ; but that and to learn if it was composed of oil. the second is commonly less than the I held it near the candle ;, it burnt, first, and the third less than the second; but did not smell like wax, and had and this last has seldom time to pro- the same smell, when burning, as faa. vide for the winter: they shall often rina when it was burnt. I observed threaten to swarm, but do not; when that this substance was of different ther the threatening is owing to too colours on different bees, but always many bees, and their not swarming of the same colour on both legs of the is owing to there being no queen, I fame bee; widcreas new made comb do not know. It sometimes happens was all of one colour. I observed, that the fwarm fall go back again ; that it was gathered with more ayidily
for old hives, where the comb is perceived any thing that could give complete, than for those hives where me the least idea of wax ; I conceivedh it is only begun, which we could these scales might be its at least I hardly conceive if it was the materials thought it neceffary to investigate of wax: also we may observe, that them. I there took several on the at the very beginning of a hive, the point of a needle, and held them to a bees seldom bring in any fubftance on candle, where they melted, and imtheir legs for two or three days, and mediately formed themselves into a after that the farina gatherers begin round globe ; upon which I no longer to increase; for now fome cells are doubted but this was the wax, which formed to hold it as a ftore, and some opinion was confirmed to me by not eggs are laid, which when hatched finding those scales but in the building will require this fubftance as food, and season. In the bottom of the hive which will be ready when the weather we see a good many of the scales lying is wet. I have also observed, that loose, some pretty perfect, others in when the weather has either been so pieces. I have endeavoured to catch cold, or so wet, in June, as to hinder them, either taking this matter out of & young swarm from going abroad, themselves, from between the scales they have yet in that time formed as of the abdomen, or from one another, much new comb, as they did in the but never could fatisfy myself in this same time when the weather was such respect : however, I once caught a as allowed them to go abroad. I have bee examining between the scales of seen them bring it in about the latter' the belly of another, but I could not end of March, and have observed, in find that it took any thing from beglafs hives, the bees with the farina tween. We very often fee fome of on their legs, and have seen them the bees wagging their belly, as if disposing of it, as will be described tickled, running round, and to and hereafter.
fro, for only a little way, followed The wax is formed by the bees by one or two other bees, as if exathemselves; it may be called an ex- mining them. I conceived they were ternal fecretion of oil, and I have probably shaking out the scales of wax, found that it is formed between each and that the others were ready upon scale of the under side of the belly. the watch to catch them, but I could When I first observed this substance, not absolutely determine what they in my examination of the working did. It is with these scales that they bee, I was at a loss to fay what it form the cells called the comb, but was: I asked myself if it was new perhaps nor entirely, for, I believe, fcales forming, and whether they cast they mix farina with it; however, the old, as the lobster, &c. does 1 but this only occasionally, when probably it was to be found only between the the secretion is not in great plenty. scales; on the lower side of the belly. I have some reason to think, that On examining the bees through glass where no other fubftance is introhives, while they were climbing up duced, the thickness of the scale is the glass, I could see that moit of the fame with that of the sides of the them had this substance, for it looked comb; if so, then a comb may be no as if the lower, or posterior edge of more than a number of these united; the scale, was double, or that there but a great deal of the comb seems to were double fcales; but I perceived be too thick for this, and, indeed, it was loose, not attached. Finding would appear to be a mixture, similar that the substance brought in on their to the covering of the chrysalis. The legs was farina, intended, as ap- wax naturally is white, but when melto peared from every circumstance, to ed from the comb at large, it is yel. be the food of the maggot, and not low. I apprehended this might arise to make wax; and not having yet from its being stained with honey, the
excrement of the maggots, and with regularly arranged, not forming a the bee-bread. I fteeped some white regular plane where they might have comb in honey, boiled some with fa- done fo; but are often adapted to the rina, as also with old comb, but I situation, or shape of the cavity in could not say that it was made yellow, which they are built. The bees do Wax, by bleaching, is brought back not endeavour to fhape their cavity to to its natural colour, which is also a their work, as the wasps do, nor are proof that its colour is derived from the cells of equal depths, also fitting some mixture. I have reason to be them to their situation; but as the lieve that they take the old comb, breeding cells must all be of a given when either broken down, or by any depth, they reserve a sufficient num. accident rendered useless, and employ ber for breeding in, and they put the it again; but this can only be with honey into the others, as allo into the combs that have had no bees hatched shallow ones. The attachment of the in them, for the wax cannot be sepa comb round the cavity is not conrated from the filk afterward. Reau- tinued, but interrupted, so as to form mur supposed that they new worked passages; there are also passages in up the old materials, because he found the middle of the plates, especially if the covering of the chrysalis of a yel- there be a cross stick to support the lower colour than the other parts of comb; these allow of bees to go the new comb; but this is always so, across from plate to plate. The futowhether they have old yellow comb ftance which they use for attaching to work up, or not, as will be their combs to surrounding parts is shewn.
not the same as the common wax; it The bees who gather the farina, is softer and tougher, a good deal also form the wax, for I found it be- like the substance with which they cotween their scales.
ver in their chrysalis, or the humble The cells, or rather the congeries bee surrounds her eggs. It is preof cells, which compose the comb, bably a mixture of wax with farina. may be said to form perpendicular The cells are placed nearly horizonplates, or partitions, which extend tally, but not exactly fo; the mouth from top to bottom of the cavity in raised a little, which probably may be which they build them, and from side to retain the honey the better; how. to side. They always begin at the ever this rule is not strictly observed, top, or roof of the vault, in which for often they are horizonal, and tothey build, and work downward ; but ward the lower edge of a plane of if the upper part of this vault, to comb they are often declining. The which their combs are fixed, is re- first combs that a hive forms are the moved, and a dome is put over, they smallest, and much neater than the begin at the upper edges of the old last, or lowermost. Their sides, or comb, and work up into the new ca- partitions between cell and cell, are vity at the top. They generally may much thinner, and the hexagon is be guided as to the direction of their much more perfect,
.is new plates of comb, by forming ridges purer, being probably little else but at top, to which they begin to attach wax, and it is more brittle. The their comb. In a long hive, if these lower combs are considerably larger, ridges are longitudinal, their plates and contain much more wax, or perof comb will be longitudinal ; if haps, more properly, more materials ; placed transverse, so will be the plates; and the cells are at such distances as and if oblique, the plates of comb to allow them to be of a round figure : will be oblique. Each plate confifts the wax is fofter, and there is someof a double set of cells, whose bottoms thing mixed with it. I have observed form the partition between each set. that the cells are not all of equal fize, The plates themselves are not very some being a degree larger than the