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Art. I.—1, My Bee-book. By William Charles Cotton, M.A.,
Student of Christ Church, Oxon. London, 1942. 2. The Honey-bee, its Natural History, Physiology, and Ma
nagement. By Edward Bevan, M.D. London, 1838. 3. Bees; comprehending the Uses and Economical Management
of the Honey-bee of Britain and other Countries ; together with Descriptions of the known Wild Species. Illustrated with 56 coloured plates. “Jardine's Naturalist's Library'
Entomology, Vol. VI. Edinburgh, 1840. 4. The Management of Bees; with a Description of the Ladies'
Safety Hive. By Samuel Bagster, jun. London. 5. Huber's Natural History of the Honey-bee. London, 1841. 6. The Bee-K’eeper's Guide; containing concise practical
Directions for the Management of Bees upon the Depriving
System. By J. H. Payne. London, 1842. 7. Humanity to Honey-bees; a Management of Honey-bees on a New and Improved Plan. By Thomas Nutt.
By Thomas Nutt. Wisbeach, 1832. 8. A Treatise on the Nature, Economy, and Practical Manage.
ment of Bees. By Robert Huish. London, 1817. 9. The Cottager's Bee-book. By Richard Smith. Oxford, 1839. HOW
OW the little busy bee improves each shining hour— makes
hay when the sun shines-makes honey, that is, when flowers blow, is not only a matter for the poet and the moralist, and the lover of nature, but has become an important subject of rural, and cottage, and even political economy itself. If West Indian crops fail,
3razilian slave-drivers turn sulky, we are convinced that the poor at least may profit as much from their bee-hives as ever they will from the extracted juices of parsneps or beet-root. And in this manufacture they will at least begin the world on a fair footing. No monopoly of capitalists can drive them from a market so open as this. Their winged stock have free pasturage -commonage without stint—be the proprietor who he may, VOL. LXXI. NO. CXLI.
wherever the freckled cowslip springs and the wild thyme blows. Feudal manors and parked royalties, high deer-fences and forbidding boundary belts, have no exclusiveness for them ; no action of trespass can lie against them, nor are they ever called upon
for their certificates. But if exchange be no robbery, they are no thieves: they only take that which would be useless to all else besides, and even their hard-earned store is but a short-lived possession. The plagiarist Man revenges himself on them for the white lilies they have dusted and disturbed, and makes all their choicely-culled sweets his own. But though he never tasted a drop of their honey, the bees would still accomplish the work that Providence has allotted them in fructifying our flowers and fruit-blossoms, which man can at the best but clumsily imitate, and in originating new varieties which probably far surpass in number and beauty all that has been done by the gardening experimentalist. Florists are apt to complain of the mischief the bee does in disturbing their experiments and crossing species which they wish to keep separate ; but they forget how many of their choicest kinds, which are commonly spoken of as the work of chance, have in reality been bee-made, and that, where man fructifies one blossom, the bee has worked upon ten thousand.
It is certain, however, that the great interest taken in bees from the earliest times, and which, judging from the number of books lately published, is reviving among us with no common force, has arisen chiefly from the marked resemblance which their modes of life seem to bear to those of man. Remove every fanciful theory and enthusiastic reverie, and there still remains an analogy far too curious to be satisfied with a passing glance. On the principle of nihil humani à me alienum,' this approximation to human nature has ever made them favourites with their masters. And theirs is no hideous mimicry of man's follies and weaknesses, such as we see in the monkey tribe, which to us has always appeared too much of a satire to afford unalloyed amusement: their life is rather a serious matter-of-fact business, a likeness to the best and most rational of our manners and government, set about with motives so apparently identical with our own, that inan's pride has only been able to escape from the ignominy of allowing them a portion of his monopolized Reason, by assigning them a separate quality under the name of Instinct. The philosophers of old were not so jealous of man's distinctive quality; and considering how little at the best we know of what reason is, and how vain have been the attempts to distinguish it from instinct, there may be, after all, notwithstanding the complacent smile of modern sciolists, as much truth, as certainly there is
poetry and charity in Virgil, who could refer the complicated and wonderful economy of bees to nothing less than the direct inspiration of the Divine Mind.
Bees indeed seem to have claimed generally a greater interest from the ancients than they have acquired in modern times. De Montford, who drew the portrait of the honey-fly'in 1646, enumerates the authors on the same subject, up to his time, as between five and six hundred! There are, to be sure, some apocryphal names in the list-Aristæus, for instance -- whose works were wholly unknown to Mr. Huish; a fact which will not surprise our readers when we introduce him as the son of Apollo, and the father of Actæon, the peeping Tom’of mythological scandal. Aristæus himself was patron of bees and arch-beemaster; but no ridicule thrown on such a jumble of names must make us forget the real services achieved in this, as in every other branch of knowledge, by the Encyclopædiast Aristotlethe pupil of him who is distinguished as the "Attic Bee;' or the life of Aristomachus, devoted to this pursuit; or the enthusiasm of Hyginus, who, more than 1800 years before Mr. Cotton, collected all the bee-passages which could be found scattered over the pages of an earlier antiquity. (Col. ix, 11.)
Varro, Columella, Celsus, and Pliny have each given in their contributions to the subject, and some notion may be formed of the minuteness with which they entered upon their researches from a passage in Columella, who, speaking of the origin of bees, says, that Euhemerus maintained that they were first produced in the island of Cos, Euthronius in Mount Hymettus, and Nicander in Crete. And considering the obscurity of the subject and the discordant theories of modern times, there is perhaps no branch of natural history in which the ancients arrived at so much truth. If since the invention of printing authors can gravely relate stories of an old woman who having placed a portion of the consecrated elements at the entrance of a bee hive, presently saw the inmates busy in creating a shrine and altar of wax, with steeple and bells to boot, and heard, if we remember rightly, something like the commencement of an anthem * we really think that they should be charitably inclined to the older bee-authors, who
believed * We saw lately published in a weekly newspaper the notes of a trio, in which the old Queen and two Princesses (of the hive) are the performers, the young ladies earnestly begging to be allowed to take an airing, while the old duenna as determinedly refuses. This apiarian · Pray, goody, please to moderate' grows louder and thicker, ó faster and faster," till at last the young folks, as might be expected, carry the day; "and what I can nearest liken it to,' says the writer, is a man in a rather high note endeavouring to repeat, in quaver or crotchet time, the letter M, with his lips constantly closed. This is a tolerably easy music-lesson: let our readers try. The fact, however, is that all this music is originally derived from a curious old book-" The Feminine Mo
believed that they gathered their young from flowers, and ballasted themselves with pebbles against the high winds.*
We shall have occasion to show as we proceed how correct in the main the classical writers are on the subject of bees, compared with other parts of natural history; but the book of all others to which the scholar will turn again and again with increased delight, is the fourth Georgic. This, the most beautiful portion of the most finished poem of Roman antiquity, is wholly devoted to our present subject; and such is the delightful manner in which it is treated, and so exquisite the little episodes introduced, that it would amply repay (and this is saying a good deal) the most forgetful country gentleman to rub up his schoolboy Latin, for the sole pleasure he would derive from the perusal.
We need hardly say that no bee-fancier will content himself with anything less than the original: he will there find the beauties of the poet far outbalancing the errors of the naturalist; and as even these may be useful to the learner --for there is no readier way of imparting truth than by the correction of error - we shall follow the subject in some degree under the heads which Virgil has adopted, first introducing our little friends in the more correct character which modern science has marked out for them.
The 'masses' of every hive consist of two kinds of bees, the workers and the drones. The first are undeveloped females, the second are the males. Over these presides the mother of the hive, the queen-bee. The number of workers in a strong hive is above 15,000, and of drones about one to ten of these. This proportion, though seldom exact, is never very much exceeded or fallen short of. A single family, where swarming is prevented, will sometimes amount, according to Dr. Bevan, to 50,000 or 60,000. In their wild state, if we may credit the quantity of honey said to be found, they must sometimes greatly exceed this number.
'Sweet is the hum of bees,' says Lord Byron; and those who have listened to this music in its full luxury, stretched upon some sunny bed of heather, where the perfume of the crushed thyme
narchy, or the History of Bees,' by Charles Butler, of Magdalen (Oxford, 1634): at p.78 of which work this . Bees' Madrigal’ may be found, with notes and words. Old Butler has been sadly rifled, without much thanks, by all succeeding bee-writers. He has written upon that exhaustive system adopted by learned writers of that time, so that nothing that was then known on the subject is omitted. Butler introduced eight new letters - aspirates—into the English language, besides other eccentricities of orthography ; so that, altogether, his volume has a most outlandish look.
* The latter mistake arose probably from the mason-bee, which carries sand where. with to construct its nest. For an account of the 145 varieties of English bees consult Kirby's 'Monographia Apum Angliæ.'
struggled with the faint smell of the bracken, can scarcely have failed to watch the little busy musician
with honey'd thigh,
That at her flowery work doth sing,' too well to require a lengthened description of her; how she flits from flower to flower with capricious fancy, not exhausting the sweets of any one spot, but, on the principle of • live and let live,' taking something for herself, and yet leaving as much or more for the next comer, passing by the just-opening and faded flowers, and deigning to notice not even one out of five that are fullblown, combining the philosophy of the Epicurean and Eclectic; -or still more like some fastidious noble, on the grand tour, with all the world before him, hurrying on in restless haste from place to place, skimming over the surface or tasting the sweets of society, carrying off some memento from every spot he has lit upon, and yet leaving plenty to be gleaned by the next traveller, dawdling in one place he knows not why, whisking by another which would have amply repaid his stay, and still pressing onwards as if in search of something, he knows not what—though he too often fails to carry home the same proportion of happiness as his compeer does of honey.
A bee among the flowers in spring,' says Paley, 'is one of the cheerfulest objects that can be looked upon. Its life appears to be all enjoyment: so busy and so pleased.'
The Drone may be known by the noise he makes. Hence his name. He has been the butt of all who have ever written about bees, and is indeed a bye-word all the world over.
No one can fail to hit off his character. He is the • lazy yawning drone' of Shakspeare. The
'Immunisque sedens aliena ad pabula fucus' of Virgil. “The drone,' says Butler, ‘is a gross, stingless bee, that spendeth his time in gluttony and idleness. For howsoever he brave it with his round velvet cap, his side gown, his full paunch, and his loud voice, yet is he but an idle companion, living by the sweat of others' brows. He worketh not at all either at home or abroad, and yet spendeth as much as two labourers : you shall never find his maw without a good drop of the purest nectar. In the heat of the day he flieth abroad, aloft, and about, and that with no small noise, as though he would do some great act; but it is only for his pleasure, and to get him a stomach, and then returns he presently to his cheer.' This is no bad portrait
* Virgil, who has confounded their battles with their swarming, seems also to have made a Drone-king. What else can this mean
Ille horridus alter