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about them their liquid nectar.
6. Kill me," says Bottom to Cobweb, “a red-hipped humble-bec on the top of a thistle, and, good Monsieur, bring me the honey-bag.” They never swarm without a good stock of honey in their inside, to enable them to make a fair start in their new housekeeping. The honey which they sip from the nectaries of the flowers probably undergoes some change, though it is but a slight one, before it is deposited in the cells. It was formerly considered a balm for all ills, though now deemed anything but wholesome when eaten in large quantities. The following are some of its virtues, besides others which we omit, given by Butler. It is only wonderful that our grandfathers, living in the midst of such an universal medicine, should have ever died. “ Honey cutteth and casteth up flegmatic matter, and therefore sharpeneth the stomachs of them which by reason thereof have little appetite : it purgeth those things which hurt the clearness of the eyes ; it nourisheth very much ; it breedeth good blood ; it stirreth up and preserveth natural heat, and prolongeth old age: it keepeth all things uncorrupt which are put into it; and therefore physicians do temper therewith such medicines as they mean to keep long ; yea the bodys of the dead, being embalmed with honey, bave been thereby preserved from putrefaction,” &c. &c.
The fourth product of the bee is propolis, or which we shall rather call bee-gum. It is at once the glue and varnish of their carpentry. With this resinous substance * (quite distinct from wax) they fix their
* As a further proof of the minute attention with which the
combs to the sides and roof, fasten the hives to the stand, stop up crevices, varnish the cell-work of their combs, and embalm any dead or noxious animal that they catch within their hive:
“ Caulk every chink where rushing winds may roar,
And seal their circling ramparts to the floor.”—Evans. Bees may often be seen settling on the bark of the fir, the gummy leaf of the hollyhock, or on the we dare not use Horace Walpole's expressionvarnished bud of the horse-chestnut. They are then collecting neither bread nor honey, but gum for the purposes above mentioned. Huish mentions a case of their coating over a dead mouse within the hive with this gum, thus rendering their home proof against any impure effluvium; but they were much more cunning with a snail, which they sealed down, only round the edge of the shell, thus fixing him as a standing joke, a laughing-stock, a living mummy like Marmion's Constance, “alive within the tomb " (for a snail, though excluded from air, would not die), so that he who had heretofore carried his own house was now made his own monument.
As one of the indirect products of the bee we must not forget Mead, the Metheglin * of Shakspeare and Dryden. It was the drink of the ancient Britons and Norsemen, and filled the skull-cups in the Feast of Shells in the Hall of Odin. In such esteem was it held, that one of the old Welsh laws ran thus : “ There are three things in court which must be communicated to the king before they are made known to any other person :-1st. Every sentence of the Judge. 2nd. Every new song,
ancients studied bees, the Greeks had three names at least for the different qualities of this substance — apótolcs, Kópwors, and πισσόκηρος. .
* The derivation of this word, which one would rather expect to be Celtic or Scandinavian, is very plausible, if not true, from the Greek-μέθυ αιγλήεν.
3rd. Every cask of Mead.” Queen Bess was so fond of it, that she had some made for her own especial drinking every year; and Butler, who draws a distinction between Mead and Metheglin, making Hydromel the generic term, gives the following receipt for the latter and better drink, the same used by renowned Queen Elizabeth of happy memory.”
“ First gather a bushel of sweet-briar leaves and a bushel of tyme, half a bushel of rosemari, and a pek of bay-leaves. Seethe all these (being well washed) in a furnace of fair water; let them boil the space of an hour or better, and then pour out all the water and herbs into a vat, and let it stand till it be but milk-warm : then strain the water from the herbs, and take to every six gallons of water one gallon of the finest honey and put it into the boorne and labour it together half an hour; then let it stand two days, stirring it well twice or thrice each day. Then take the liquor and soil it anew, and when it doth seethe, skim it as long as there remaineth any dross. When it is clear put it into the vat as before, and there let it be cooled. You must then have in a reddiness a kive of new ale or beer, which, as soon as you have emptyed, suddenly whelm it upside down and set it up again, and presently put in the Methæglen and let it stand three days a working; and then tun it up in barrels, tying at every tap-hoal (by a pack-thread) a little bag of beaten cloves and mace to the value of an ounee. It must stand half a year before it be drunk.”
The Romans softened their wine sometimes with honey (Georg. iv., 102), sometimes with meadmulso. (Hor., 1, 2, 4, 24.)
“ The good bee,” says More, “as other good people, hath many bad enemies;" and though opinions and systems
of management have changed, the bees' enemies have remained much the same from the time of Aristotle. Beetles, moths, hornets, wasps, spiders, snails, ants, mice, birds, lizards, and toads, will all seek the hives, either for the warmth they find there, or oftener for the bees, and, more frequently still, for the honey. The wax-moth is a sad plague, and when once a hive is infested with it, nothing effectual is to be done but by removing the bees altogether into a new domicile. Huish tells of an old lady, who, thinking to catch the moths, illuminated her garden and bee-house at night with flambeaux - the only result of which was that, , instead of trapping the marauders, she burnt her own bees, who came out in great confusion to see what was the matter. The great death's-head moth (Sphinx atropos), occasionally found in considerable numbers in our potato-fields—the cause of so much alarm wherever its awful note and badge are heard and seen—was noticed first by Huber as a terrible enemy to bees. It was against the ravages of this mealy monster that the bees were supposed to erect those fortifications, the description and actual drawing of which by Huber threw at one time so much doubt on his other statements. He speaks of bastions, intersecting arcades, and gateways masked by
walls in front, so that their constructors“ pass from the part of simple soldiers to that of engineers.” Few subsequent observers * have, we believe, detected the counterscarps of these miniature Vaubans, but, as it is certain that they will contract their entrance against the cold of winter, it seems little incredible that they should put in practice the same expedient when other necessities call for it; and to style such conglomerations of wax and propolis bastions, and battlements, and glacis, is no more unpardonable stretch of the imagination than to speak of their queens and sentinels.
An old toad may be sometimes seen sitting under a hive, and waiting to seize on such as, coming home loaded with their spoil, accidentally fall to the ground. We can hardly fancy this odious reptile in a more provoking position. Tomtits, which are called bee-biters in Hampshire, are said to tap at the hive, and then snap up the testy inmates who come out to see what it is all about: if birds chuckle as well as chirp, we can fancy the delight of this mischievous little ne'er-do-good at the suceess of his lark. The swallow is an enemy of old standing, as
* The ever-amusing Mr. Jesse says, “ I have now in my possession a regular fortification made of propolis, which my bees placed at the entrance of their hive, to enable them the better to protect themselves from the wasps.”—Gleanings, vol. i. p. 24. It may have been with some such idea that the Greeks gave the name “propolis,”—“outwork,” to the principal material with which they construct these barricades ; and Virgil has “munire favos.” Did Byron allude to this in his