« PreviousContinue »
you will now see the necessity that exists for that beautiful apparatus, described elsewhere (Pl. V. fig. 5, and Pl. VI. fig. 4), by means of which the bee is enabled to lock together its fore and hind wings, in order to render them impervious to the atmosphere.
What a lesson of prudence does the little Bee teach those who themselves dwell, or permit others to do so, in close, confined habitations, into which the free air of heaven cannot gain admittance; who sit in apartments, or move about in saloons with windows and doors closed, and the gas and fire blazing at their full height, without a single aperture in the apartment by which a little fresh oxygen may be admitted to renew the exhausted and vitiated atmosphere !
Instinct indeed! Is it not a pity but what some of us might barter a little of our boasted reason against this inferior nature of the humble Bee?
Not only do the workers keep the hive cool and of an equal temperature, but, without requiring a “Nuisance Removal Act” or a Board of Health to direct their operations, they are careful not to deposit refuse of any kind whatever in the hive; nor do they allow any to remain that has been accidentally left there. If some creature should have found its way into the hive, and, as is often the case, have fallen a victim to their stings, they at once proceed (without the fostering care of a Burial Board) to encase it in propolis, as we already mentioned in treating of that substance, so that no effluvia may arise from the carcase.
The workers are said to be adepts in the construc
tion of fortifications, to keep out enemies from the hive; and we cannot better illustrate this remarkable property than by quoting from the pages of Kirby and Spence the following account, by Huber, of their operations in this respect :-
« To defend themselves from the death's-head hawk-moth, they have recourse to a different proceeding. In seasons in which they are annoyed by this animal, they often barricade the entrance of their hive by a thick wall made of wax and propolis. This wall is built immediately behind, and sometimes in the gateway, which it entirely stops up; but it is itself pierced with an opening or two, sufficient for the passage of one or two workers. These fortifications are occasionally varied; sometimes there is only one wall, as just described, the apertures of which are in arcades, and placed in the upper part of the masonry. At others, many little bastions, one behind the other, are erected. Gateways, masked by the anterior walls, and not corresponding with those in them, are made in the second line of building. These casemented gates are not constructed by the Bees without the most urgent necessity. When their danger is present and pressing, and they are, as it were, compelled to seek some preservative, they have recourse to this mode of defence, which places the instinct of these animals in a wonderful light, and shows how well they know how to adapt their proceedings to circumstances. Can this be merely sensitive? When attacked by strange bees, they have recourse to a similar
manæuvre; only in this case they make narrow apertures, sufficient for a single Bee to pass through.”
It would be impossible to include within the limits of this little treatise a detailed account of all the duties and employments of the Worker Bees; and of some of the most important, such as feeding and attending upon the young, we shall be able to treat more appropriately when we come to speak of the Queen Bee, to whom our attention will next be directed.
Then, too, we shall have an opportunity of considering one or two more traits in the natural history of the Drones, as well as many remarkable phenomena by which order is maintained throughout this wonderful little commonwealth.
THE QUEEN.—HER METHOD
FUL PHENOMENA ACCOMPANYING THE INSTINCTIVE DEPOSI
TION OF THE EGGS OF WORKERS, DRONES, AND QUEENS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CELLS.-DZIERZON'S DISCOVERIES AND
THEORIES.-SIEBOLD AND OWEN ON THE LAYING OF UNFER
TILIZED OVA.—INTERESTING EXPERIMENT BY HUBER, AND REVIEW OF THE THEORIES OF DZIERZON, SIEBOLD, AND HUBER.–PARTHENOGENESIS, OR POWER OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN TO PRODUCE PERFECT OFFSPRING.—THE LARVA ; ITS ORGANIZATION.-METAMORPHOSIS INTO THE PUPA AND IMAGO.-OPERATIONS OF THE NURSE-BEES DURING THE
TRANSFORMATION.-REFLECTIONS ON THE DEVELOPMENT
OF THE BEE AND THAT OF THE MAN.-OPERATIONS OF
WORKERS AFTER THE BEES LEAVE THE CELLS.BIRTH OF
YOUNG QUEEN.-UNNATURAL CONDUCT OF THE PARENT. VOGT'S INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF A COMBAT BETWEEN TWO
QUEENS.—THE DRONES.-BEE COURTSHIP AND MATRIMONY
-ARTIFICIAL PRODUCTION OF A QUEEN BY WORKERS. —
PRINCIPLE UPON WHICH THEY OPERATE.-SUMMARY.
For the better comprehension of the history of the Queen Bee, and of her relations to the hive, we must commence at a period when her life is already somewhat advanced, and state that the fertile queen passes the winter in the hive along with a number of workers, but without drones (who are, as before mentioned, slaughtered on the approach of winter). Should the swarm be transferred to a new hive, the queen begins to deposit eggs capable of producing young ones, as soon as cells are prepared for their reception. First, she deposits worker-eggs in worker-cells; then droneeggs in drone-cells; and finally, she oviposits in the royal cells one or more eggs from which there proceed larvæ that become queens, one of whom alone is permitted to live and govern the hive, whilst the old queen takes her departure with a “swarm” composed of drones and workers.
This act of depositing the various eggs in their respective cells the queen performs by introducing the hinder part of her body into the cell, and there dropping the egg,-an operation which, when duly considered, cannot fail to excite the astonishment of every reflecting observer. How does the queen know which are worker-, which drone-, and which royalcells ? And, suppose that her instinct suffices to guide her in this respect, how is it possible that she can predict the sex or nature of the young that will proceed from the ova she is about to deposit?
As regards those deposited in the queen-cells, the mystery is not so inexplicable; and the difference between the ordinary worker and the royal insect is easily accounted for by the enlarged dimensions of the cell, the difference in its position (being vertical instead of horizontal), and the changed character of the food, all of which, no doubt, aid in the development of the reproductive organs, and which constitutes the chief difference between the queen and worker; but still the problem remains unsolved-how is it