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extreme tenuity that have been brought into close contact.
Looking, then, at the foregoing circumstances, and considering also that all animals construct tubular or circular habitations*, we should be disposed to agree with those naturalists who regard the hive-cells as normally cylindrical; and certainly the mathematical precision with which they appear to be framed inclines us to attribute the hexagonal form to mechanical rather than to instinctive causes. At the same time, we are not at all wishful to rob our little worker of any merit to which she is entitled ; and we feel equally satisfied, from the powers of observation possessed by the Bee, and the regularity with which her natural operations are repeated, that much of the uniformity of these cells is due to the circumstance, that, guided (as Dr. Lankester says) by external impressions, she lends a helping hand to inorganic nature, and cooperates with her lawst.
As the foundation wall of wax, from either side of which the cells are excavated, is suspended perpendicularly from the vault of the hive, it follows that the
* We purposely omit to notice the statement of a few naturalists who pronounce the design of the Wasp's cell to be hexagonal. What applies to the Bee applies equally to the Wasp; and some Wasps build circular cells, or at least cells that are round at the outside of the nest.-See Rymer Jones, • Nat. Hist. of Animals,' vol. ii. p. 229 (1842).
† In his work on the ‘Origin of Species,' Mr. Darwin describes some experiments tried by him in connexion with the method by which Bees construct their cells ;—these experiments prove satisfactorily that they are at first circular.
comb is composed of a double series of horizontal cells placed end to end, and divided by a thin partition of wax (Pl. VIII. fig. 5). But these cells are not all of the same dimensions; for the Drones, being larger than the Workers, require a larger cradle in their infancy or larvahood, and the Bees therefore construct a sufficient number of cells suitable for their reception about the centre of the comb.
The transition from the smaller worker. to the larger drone-cells is not, however, sudden, and we find a series of what are termed intermediate cells, of a gradually increasing diameter, so that our little architects appear in all things to proceed in an orderly and systematic manner.
A strange deviation from the ordinary hexagonal cell (and another piece of evidence in favour of the cylindrical theory) is presented by those destined for the reception of the royal family, commonly known as queen- or royal-cells.
These differ from the rest in size, form, and position, occupying as much space at least as half-a-dozen worker-cells. They are of an irregular oval or pearshape, made up of a kind of mosaic work of coarse wax, and, instead of being horizontally disposed, they are suspended almost perpendicularly, with the aperture downwards, against the side, or more commonly at the lower part of the comb (Pl. VIII. figs. 5 & 6,9 c). These three kinds of cells, the worker., drone-, and queen-cells, are employed by the Bees for the purposes of incubation and rearing of the young, to be described hereafter; and the two first-named, or cells similarly constructed, serve also for the storing of honey.
Let us now rejoin our little workers in their various occupations.
It is unnecessary to accompany them in their search for honey, for we referred to this portion of their daily task whilst treating of the materials that they collect; and during our investigation of the Bee's organs and members, we had a favourable opportunity, not only of examining that part of its digestive system in which honey is temporarily stored before it is regurgitated into the cells, but also of admiring the beautiful oral apparatus, especially the tongue, by which it is aided in the gathering of nectar. We also closely scrutinized that portion of the hind leg which serves as a basket for the conveyance of pollen, or bee-bread, and shall now draw your attention to a most remarkable and interesting phenomenon connected with this part of the worker's employments. Not only does the bee in her excursions gather sufficient of the substance just named to fill her pollenbaskets, but, being covered all over with long hairs, the germs of the various flowers that she visits adhere to her, and her whole body becomes charged with them.
Whether or not the matrons of the hive relieve her of this additional store of provender, as they do on her return home of the bee-bread contained in her pollenbaskets, we are unable to say; but one thing is certain in regard to this accidental accumulation of pollen : the Bee, in passing from the corolla of one flower to that of another, covered with the dust that constitutes the propagating elements of plants, brushes off a portion of the pollen grains, and, depositing them undesignedly upon such as require them for the purposes of generation, she, in common with many other insects, becomes the unconscious means of promoting the reproductive process in the vegetable kingdom.
But what is most remarkable in this phenomenon is, that during her journeys in search of food her visits are always confined to one species of flower only (as we stated in treating of bee-bread), so that, to use the words of Mr. Kirby, “they avoid the production of hybrid plants from the application of the pollen of one kind of plant to the stigma of another." Now
you will understand what was meant by the remark made at the commencement of this chapter, that the Bee “sows and reaps,” for she actually performs both operations at the same time. And is not this another admirable example of the wisdom with which the Creator has economized the labour of the lower animals, and another striking evidence that no creature has been formed in vain ? Let any sceptic throw discredit on the assertion, and you may at once point to a multitude of those insects that he regards with aversion or indifference, believing them to be utterly useless, or even noxious; and draw his attention to the fact, that, unknown to him, they are the unconscious means of adorning and beautifying our
parterres, gardens, and country hedges, or of adding to the fruitfulness of our orchards.
It is indeed most interesting to witness the busy tide of life, en at the entrance of the hive. Stand and watch for a few moments, and you will see worker after worker return from her journey laden with bee-bread*, attached in little pellets to her hind legs, which she drags laboriously after her into the hive when she has alighted upon the board whereon it rests.
And just as the stream of laden bees pours continuously into the hive, so is there a constant succession of unembarrassed workers issuing from the entrance, who wing their flight in every direction in search of blossoms, whence to extract the store of materials requisite for their domestic economy.
Should you not be afraid of the tiny weapons of the little workers, but venture to approach and peep into the entrance of the hivet, you will perceive a number of bees standing within, and vibrating their wings with such rapidity that these members are rendered almost invisible. And what think you, reader, is the object of this laborious employment? Why, the bees are punkah-bearers, or whatever you please to call them, creating and conducting a current of fresh air into the recesses of the hive, for the purpose of reducing or equalizing its temperature; and
* Réaumur estimates at the rate of 100 per minute.
† The best safeguard is to hold in your hand a bunch of sweetscented herbs or flowers.