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the Schools. We would infinitely prefer the errors of the enthusiast to the unrelenting numbers of the mathematician, and the charitable laxity of the rule of thumb to the pert precision of the Rule of Three. We shall enter, therefore, into no exact calculation of profit and loss, which is, after' all, almost entirely dependent on the seasons and the degree of care bestowed. Statistics, such as Mr. Thorley's, might just be as well applied to the stock of graziers with
consideration of the number of acres they held; for he gives us no receipt how to find pasturage for 8000 bee-hives.
Dr. Warden, a physician of Croydon, who wrote in the year 1712 a book called The True Amazons, or the Monarchy of Bees,'—and of whom we can discover nothing more than that the front of his beehouse was “painted with lions and other creatures not at all agreeable ”—found the neighbouring furze of Coombe and Purley not “unprofitably gay,” if we may believe his assertion that his bees brought him in 401. a year: he might have passed rich at that time in such a locality, if his physician's fees brought him in an equal sum.
That the ancients did not neglect the profit to be derived from their hives, we learn from Virgil's old gardener—to whom we cannot too frequently recur—and from two veteran brothers mentioned by Varro—the type perhaps of the Corycian of the Georgics—who turned the little villa and croft left them by their father into a beehouse and bee-garden - realising, on an average, 10,000 sesterces a-year. They seem to have been
thrifty old bachelors, and took care to bide a good market. Among the plunder of Verres were 400 amphoræ of honey.
We will now suppose that, having made up our mind on the matter of profit, and being sting-proof, we have got in an old-fashioned straw hive, a stock which we purchased in autumn for a guinea, safely placed under our heath-thatched bee-house ; that we have also got one of the improved Grecian straw hives ready to house the first swarm in. Some fine warm morning in May or June, a cluster of bees having hung out from the hive some days before, the whole atmosphere in the neighbourhood of the bee-house seems alive with thousands of the little creatures, whirling and buzzing, passing and repassing, wheeling about in rapid circles like a group of maddened Bacchanals. This is the time for the bee-master to be on the alert. Out runs the good housewife with the frying-pan and key—the orthodox instruments for ringing—and never ceases her rough music till the bees have safely settled in some neighbouring bough. This custom, as old as the birth of Jupiter, is one of the most pleasing and exciting of the countryman's life; Hogarth, we think, introduces it in the background of his Country Noises, and there is an old coloured print of bee-ringing still occasionally met with on the walls of a country inn that has charms for us, and makes us think of bright sunny weather in the dreariest November day. We quite feel with Mr. Jesse that we should regret to find this good old custom fall into disrepute. Whether, as Aristotle
says, it affects them through pleasure, or fear, or whether indeed they hear at all, is still as uncertain as that philosopher left it, but we can wish no better luck to every bee-master that neglects the tradition than that he may lose every swarm for which he omits to raise this time-honoured concert.*
The whole matter of swarming is so important, that we should be doing wrong
over without giving the following graphic account from the · Naturalist's Library :'
“ The laying of drones' eggs having terminated, the queen, previously large and unwieldy, becomes slender in her figure and more able to fly, and begins to exhibit signs of agitation. She traverses the hive impatiently, abandoning the slow and stately step which was her wont, and in the course of her impetuous progress over the combs she communicates her agitation to the workers, who crowd around her, mounting on her back, striking her briskly with their antennæ, and evidently sharing in her impatience. A loud confused noise is heard throughout the hive, and hardly any of the workers are observed going abroad to forage ; numbers are whirling about in an unsettled manner in front of the hive; and the moment is come, to a considerable portion of the family, for
* The story goes that the Curetes, wishing to hide the birth of Jupiter from his father Saturn, set up a clashing of cymbals to drown the noise of his infant cries:
“Cum pueri circùm puerum pernice choreâ
Lucret, ii. 635. The noise attracted a swarm of bees to the cave where the child was hid, and their honey nourished him: hence the origin of ringing, Δοκούσι δε χαίρειν αι μέλιτται και το κρότω" κ. τ. λ.-Aristot. Η. An., p. 299. “ Siquandò displicatæ sunt, cymbalis et plausibus numero reducunt in locum unum."— Varro, R. R., iii. 16, 7. “ Tinnitusque cie, et Matris quate cymbala circùm.”
Georg. iv. 64.
bidding adieu to their ancient abode. All at once the noise of the interior ceases, and the whole of the bees about the doors re-enter ; while those returning loaded from the fields, instead of hurrying in as usual, hover on the wing, as if in eager expectation. In a second or two, some workers présent themselves again at the door, turn round, re-enter, and return instantaneously in additional numbers, smartly vibrating their wings, as if sounding the march ; and at this signal the whole swarm rushes to the entrance in an overwhelming crowd, streaming forth with astonishing rapidity, and filling the air in an instant, like' a dark cloud overhanging their late habitation. There they hover for a moment, reeling backwards and forwards, while some of the body search in the vicinity for a tree or bush which may serve as a rallying point for the emigrants. To this they repair by degrees, and, provided their queen has alighted there, all, or at least the greater part, crowd around, and form a dense group, sometimes rounded like a ball, sometimes clustered like a bunch of grapes, according to the nature of the restingplace they have fixed on.”—p. 138.
This first settlement is, without doubt, merely a rendezvous before their final emigration. If not hived they will soon be off, and in a direct line, for some convenient spot which has been marked by them before. We have known them make straight for an old hollow pollard, the only one to be found within a mile or two of the hive. always accompanies the first swarm ; and for this a fine day is reckoned more necessary than for the after-swarms, as it is the old lady, says Mr. Golding, that shows the greatest dislike to leave home in bad weather. If this swarm again sends forth a colony the same year, it is the same queen again who puts
The old queen
herself at the head of her nomade subjects. Indeed, notwithstanding Mr. Golding's remark, there is very little of the old woman about her.
There seems to be no unerring method by which the exact time when the first swarm will leave the hive can be determined—their hanging from the entrance being very fallacious - except by watching the general state of things within. With the afterswarms, however, there is a most curious and certain sign in the “piping” or “ trumpeting” of the queen and the princesses, to which we have before referred. About the ninth day from the issue of the first swarm, if another colony is about to leave the hive, this singular duet, in most regular intonation, between the emerged queen and the princess still a prisoner in her cell, is heard ; and, extravagant as the account may seem, and confused and embellished as it has been from the times of Aristotle and Virgil till recent days, it is now the practical sign by which every attentive bee-keeper judges of the time of emigration of the after-swarms. The second swarm is called a cast,'
"* the third smart,” the fourth a “squib.” A swarm from a swarm is called a “maiden or virgin swarm,” and the honey is reckoned more pure. It seldom, how
* The following dogged " proverbial philosophy” will give the supposed relative values of early and late swarms:-
“ A swarm in May