Page images
PDF
EPUB

and position of the cell were complied with, precisely the same as in the case of the queen, it is quite clear that the worker-larva (which we know to proceed from an egg similarly fertilized to that of a queen) would in due time become metamorphosed, not into a worker-bee, but into a queen, with fully developed organs of reproduction.

Whether this is known to the Bees, or only to their Creator, we are unable to say; but certain it is, that when deprived of their queen, they at once proceed to a cell containing a worker-egg not yet hatched, or, wonderful to relate, a larva not more than three days old (the time, you must remember, when, under ordinary circumstances, its food would be changed !), and they at once alter the conditions of its early existence, so as to convert it into a queen.

They enlarge the worker-cell by the destruction of those surrounding, slaughter the inmates without mercy, and, by the union of the horizontal ones that have been destroyed, form a single vertical cradle ; they then continue to feed the young larva upon royal paste during the whole of the first period of her life, and treat her in every respect as the future heiress to the throne, into which she in due time becomes metamorphosed.

With the account of this phenomenon, which displays more strikingly than any yet alluded to the omnipotence of the Creator in the adaptation of means to ends, we must now draw this brief narrative of Bee-life to a close. But, before concluding,

let us direct your attention to a few of those features in the natural history of the insect, that, notwithstanding all that has been written on the subject, are still deserving of further investigation. First in regard to the Bee's anatomy. Although it is conjectured that the compound eyes serve to convey to the brain images of near, and the simple ones, of distant objects, yet this is by no means certain ; and any bee

; keeper contributing such data as would enable naturalists to decide the question would render a great service to science, inasmuch as that which relates to the Bee in this respect refers also to the other insect races. The same remark applies also to the organs upon the antennæ and wings, as to whether they are organs of hearing or of smell; but this is a more difficult problemi, and can be solved only by those who are thoroughly conversant with comparative anatomy, as well as with the habits of the insect.

A very interesting field of inquiry is open in connexion with the reproductive organs of the Worker Bee; namely, as to whether the faculty of depositing drone-eggs, occasionally possessed by them, is the result of their receiving the royal food after the prescribed period, as stated by some authors, or whether, as others affirm, it is a wise provision of Nature to facilitate the peopling of a hive that has been deprived of its queen*.

With respect to the formation of the cells and the

* A friend of Dr. Hicks has a hive that remained many weeks without a queen, and yet the work progressed as usual.

ز

inquiry regarding their normal shape, there now exists an animated controversy, and all observers who have time and opportunity should direct their attention to this strange phase in insect architecture.

The most interesting subject for the consideration of naturalists and physiologists, however, is that of Parthenogenesis, and the queen's power of fertilizing or leaving her eggs unfertilized, so as to produce either workers or drones ; and when we recollect that it has but recently occupied the attention of Siebold in Germany, and Owen and others in England, and that the observations of any intelligent bee-keeper may serve to throw additional light upon the subject, we hope this will be sufficient to enlist fresh volunteers in the service, who will aid to elucidate this wonderful phenomenon, which is so strikingly illustrative of the wisdom and resources of the Creator in directing the operations of animated nature.

CHAPTER VII.

VARIOUS DEFINITIONS OF INSTINCT.

.-ADDISON'S OPINION ; DR. DARWIN's.—THE THEORY OF SENSATION.-SPENCE'S SUMMARY.DR. CARPENTER'S VIEWS OF INSTINCT AND ITS LIMITS.-ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON'S EXPOSITION OF THE INSTINCTIVE MORAL PROPENSITIES OF MAN. —COMPARISON OF THESE VIEWS; ANALYSIS OF AN INSTINCTIVE ACTION, ILLUSTRATED BY THE MODE IN WHICH A FLESH-FLY OVIPOSITS ; SUMMARY AND DEFINITION OF INSTINCT. -COMPLICATED ACTS OF INSECTS; HOW THEY MAY BE EXPLAINED.—DIFFICULTY OF DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN INSTINCT AND REASON. -STORY OF THE GOLD-WASP AND MASON-BEE, AND COMMENTS UPON THE ACT PERFORMED BY THE BEE. IS THERE

[blocks in formation]

REASON ?-NECESSITY FOR THE STUDY OF COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY, OR THE SCIENCE OF MIND IN ANIMALS.

To write a treatise upon the Bee without referring to the subject of instinct, would be like publishing a book upon geology, and ignoring the existence of fossil remains of animals, or one on geography, in which the earth was described as though it were not peopled.

It is therefore our intention, or at least our wish, to treat this part of the subject in the same homely and unpretending manner as we have dealt with the physical question, and to consider it from a practical point of view, in its bearings upon our own nature (for the investigation of instinct necessarily connects itself with that of reason), as well as upon that of the humble creatures whose parts and life-history we have endeavoured to delineate.

As the question of instinct has occupied the attention of many of the most eminent thinkers of all ages, we shall commence by selecting and comparing, in as unprejudiced a manner as possible, a few of the definitions that have at different times been applied to it, that the result may serve to guide us in our own observations.

And, first, let us turn to the pages of one of our valuable companions in these inquiries, “ Kirby and Spence"; for we shall there find, conveniently stated for our purposes, the opinions of several eminent thinkers, and not the least important amongst them, that of one of the authors of the work in question.

Mr. Spence, who has perhaps considered as carefully as any man the habits of those creatures in whom the psychical quality known as “instinct” is

" the most highly developed, glances cursorily at the various modes by which it has been defined, refuting each theory that appears to him incorrect as he proceeds, and summing up with his own ideas on the subject*.

We shall now state those opinions with which Mr. Spence disagrees, adding his objections to them, as well as his view of the question; but, before endea

* Since these pages were written, Mr. Spence has departed this life, leaving behind him a name that will be handed down to posterity.

« PreviousContinue »