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1. Preface | 2. Advertisement | 3. Introduction | 4. Tamed or Domesticated | 5. Queen Drones Workers | 6. Comb | 7. Propolis | 8. Pollen | 9. Advantages improved hive | 10. Protection Temperature | 11. Ventilation | 12. Swarming Natural | 13. Swarming Artificial | 14. Enemies and Diseases | 15. Loss of the Queen | 16. Union Transferring Starting up | 17. Robbing | 18. Feeding | 19. Pasturage | 20. Anger Sting Dress Instincts | 21. Pictures | Online Books Home | Admin

5. Queen Drones Workers



Bees can flourish only when associated in large numbers, as a colony. In
a solitary state, a single bee is almost as helpless as a new-born
child; it is unable to endure even the ordinary chill of a cool summer

If a strong colony of bees is examined, a short time before it swarms,
three different kinds of bees will be found in the hive.

1st. A bee of peculiar shape, commonly called the _Queen Bee_.

2d. Some hundreds, more or less, of large bees called _Drones_.

3d. Many thousands of a smaller kind, called _Workers_ or common bees,
and similar to those which are seen on the blossoms. A large number of
the cells will be found filled with honey and bee-bread; while vast
numbers contain eggs, and immature workers and drones. A few cells of
unusual size, are devoted to the rearing of young queens, and are
ordinarily to be found in a perfect condition, only in the swarming

The _Queen-Bee_ is the only _perfect female_ in the hive, and all the
eggs are laid by her. The _Drones_ are the _males_, and the _Workers_
are _females_, whose ovaries or "egg-bags" are so _imperfectly
developed_ that they are incapable of breeding, and which retain the
instinct of females, only so far as to give the most devoted attention
to feeding and rearing the brood.

These facts have all been demonstrated repeatedly, and are as well
established as the most common facts in the breeding of our domestic
animals. The knowledge of them in their most important bearings, is
absolutely essential to all who expect to realize large profits from an
improved method of rearing bees. Those who will not acquire the
necessary information, if they keep bees at all, should manage them in
the old-fashioned way, which requires the smallest amount either of
knowledge or skill.

I am perfectly aware how difficult it is to reason with a large class of
bee-keepers, some of whom have been so often imposed upon, that they
have lost all faith in the truth of any statements which may be made by
any one interested in a patent hive, while others stigmatize all
knowledge which does not square with their own, as "book-knowledge," and
unworthy the attention of practical men.

If any such read this book, let me remind them again, that all my
assertions may be put to the test. So long as the interior of a hive,
was to common observers, a profound mystery, ignorant and designing men
might assert what they pleased, about what passed in its dark recesses;
but now, when all that takes place in it, can, _in a few moments_, be
exposed to the _full light of day_, and every one who keeps bees, can
_see and examine_ for himself, the man who attempts to palm upon the
community, his own conceits for facts, will speedily earn for himself,
the character both of a fool and an impostor.

THE QUEEN BEE, or as she may more properly be called THE MOTHER BEE, is
the common mother of the whole colony. She reigns therefore, most
unquestionably, by a divine right, as every mother is, or ought to be, a
queen in her own family. Her shape is entirely different from that of
the other bees. While she is not near so bulky as a drone, her body is
longer, and of a more _tapering_, or sugar-loaf form than that of a
worker, so that she has somewhat of a wasp-like appearance. Her wings
are much shorter, in proportion, than those of the drone, or worker; the
under part of her body is of a golden color, and the upper part darker
than that of the other bees. Her motions are usually slow and matronly,
although she can, when she pleases, move with astonishing quickness.

No colony can long exist without the presence of this all-important
insect. She is just as necessary to its welfare, as the soul is to the
body, for a colony without a queen must as certainly perish, as a body
without the spirit hasten to inevitable decay.

She is treated by the bees, as every mother ought to be, by her
children, with the most unbounded respect and affection. A circle of her
loving offspring constantly surround her, testifying, in various ways,
their dutiful regard; offering her honey, from time to time, and always,
most politely getting out of her way, to give her a clear path when she
wishes to move over the combs. If she is taken from them, as soon as
they have ascertained their loss, the whole colony is thrown into a
state of the most intense agitation; all the labors of the hive are at
once abandoned; the bees run wildly over the combs, and frequently, the
whole of them rush forth from the hive, and exhibit all the appearance
of anxious search for their beloved mother. Not being able anywhere to
find her, they return to their desolate home, and by their mournful
tones, reveal their deep sense of so deplorable a calamity. Their note,
at such times, more especially when they first realize her loss, is of
a peculiarly mournful character; it sounds something like _a succession
of wails on the minor key_, and can no more be mistaken by the
experienced bee-keeper, for their ordinary, happy hum, than the piteous
moanings of a sick child can be confounded, by an anxious mother, with
its joyous crowings, when overflowing with health and happiness.

I am perfectly aware that all this will sound to many, much more like
romance than sober reality; but I have determined, in writing this book,
to state facts, however wonderful, just as they are; confident that they
will, before long, be universally received, and hoping that the many
wonders in the economy of the honey bee will not only excite a wider
interest in its culture, but will lead those who observe them, to adore
the wisdom of Him who gave them such admirable instincts. I cannot
refrain from quoting here, the forcible remarks of an English clergyman,
who appears to be a very great enthusiast in bee-culture.

"Every bee-keeper, if he have only a soul to appreciate the works of
God, and an intelligence of an inquisitive order, cannot fail to become
deeply interested in observing the wonderful instincts, (instincts akin
to reason,) of these admirable creatures; at the same time that he will
learn many lessons of practical wisdom from their example. Having
acquired a knowledge of their habits, not a bee will buzz in his ear,
without recalling to him some of these lessons, and helping to make him
a wiser and a better man. It is certain that in all my experience, I
never yet met with a keeper of bees, who was not a respectable,
well-conducted member of society, and a moral, if not a religious
man.[1] It is evident, on reflection, that this pursuit, if well
attended to, must occupy some considerable share of a man's time and
thoughts. He must be often about his bees, which will help to counteract
the baneful effect of the village inn. "_Whoever is fond of his bees is
fond of his home_," is an axiom of irrefragable truth, and one which
ought to kindle in every one's breast, a favorable regard for a pursuit
which has the power to produce so happy an influence. The love of home
is the companion of many other virtues, which, if not yet developed into
actual exercise, are still only dormant, and may be roused into wakeful
energy at any moment."

The fertility of the queen bee has been much under-estimated by most
writers. It is truly astonishing. During the height of the breeding
season, she will often, under favorable circumstances, lay from two to
three thousand eggs, a day! In my observing hives, I have seen her lay,
at the rate of six eggs a minute! The fecundity of the female of the
white ant, is much greater than this, as she will lay as many as sixty
eggs a minute! but then her eggs are simply extruded from her body, to
be carried by the workers into suitable nurseries, while the queen bee
herself deposits her eggs in their appropriate cells.


I come now to a subject of great practical importance, and one which,
until quite recently, has been _attended_ with apparently insuperable

It has been noticed that the queen bee commences laying in the latter
part of winter, or early in spring, and long before there are any
drones or males in the hive. (See remarks on Drones.) In what way are
these eggs impregnated? Huber, by a long course of the most
indefatigable observations, threw much light upon this subject. Before
stating his discoveries, I must pay my humble tribute of gratitude and
admiration, to this wonderful man. It is mortifying to every scientific
naturalist, and I might add, to every honest man acquainted with the
facts, to hear such a man as Huber abused by the veriest quacks and
imposters; while others who have appropriated from his labors, nearly
all that is of any value in their works, to use the words of Pope,

"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."

Huber, in early manhood, lost the use of his eyes. His opponents imagine
that in stating this fact, they have thrown merited discredit on all his
pretended discoveries. But to make their case still stronger, they
delight to assert that he saw every thing through the medium of his
servant Francis Burnens, an ignorant peasant. Now this ignorant peasant
was a man of strong native intellect, possessing that indefatigable
energy and enthusiasm which are so indispensable to make a good
observer. He was a noble specimen of a self-made man, and afterwards
rose to be the chief magistrate in the village where he resided. Huber
has paid the most admirable tribute to his intelligence, fidelity and
indomitable patience, energy and skill.

It would be difficult to find, in any language, a better specimen of the
true Baconian or _inductive_ system of reasoning, than Huber's work upon
bees, and it might be studied as a model of the only true way of
investigating nature, so as to arrive at reliable results.

Huber was assisted in his investigations, not only by Burnens, but by
his own wife, to whom he was engaged before the loss of his sight, and
who nobly persisted in marrying him, notwithstanding his misfortune, and
the strenuous dissuasions of her friends. They lived for more than the
ordinary term of human life, in the enjoyment of uninterrupted domestic
happiness, and the amiable naturalist scarcely felt, in her assiduous
attentions, the loss of his sight.

Milton is believed by many, to have been a better poet, for his
blindness; and it is highly probable that Huber was a better Apiarian,
for the same cause. His active and yet reflective mind demanded constant
employment; and he found in the study of the habits of the honey bee,
full scope for all his powers. All the facts observed, and experiments
tried by his faithful assistants, were daily reported to him, and many
inquiries were stated and suggestions made by him, which would probably
have escaped his notice, if he had possessed the use of his eyes.

Few have such a command of both time and money as to enable them to
carry on, for a series of years, on a grand scale, the most costly
experiments. Apiarians owe more to Huber than to any other person. I
have repeatedly verified the most important of his observations, and I
take _the greatest delight_ in acknowledging my obligations to him, and
in holding him up to my countrymen, as the PRINCE OF APIARIANS.

My Readers will pardon this digression. It would have been morally
impossible for me to write a work on bees, without saying at least as
much as this, in vindication of Huber.

I return to his discoveries on the impregnation of the Queen Bee. By a
long course of experiments most carefully conducted, he ascertained that
like many other insects, she is fecundated in the open air, and on the
wing, and that the influence of this lasts for several years, and
probably for life. He could not form any satisfactory conjecture, as to
the way in which the eggs which were not yet developed in her ovaries,
could be fertilized. Years ago, the celebrated Dr. John Hunter, and
others, supposed that there must be a permanent receptacle for the male
sperm, opening into the passage for the eggs called the oviduct.
Dzierzon, who must be regarded as one of the ablest contributors of
modern times, to Apiarian science, maintains this opinion, and states
that he has found such a receptacle filled with a fluid, resembling the
semen of the drones. He nowhere, to my knowledge, states that he ever
made microscopic examinations, so as to put the matter on the footing of

In January and February of 1852, I submitted several Queen Bees to Dr.
Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia, for a scientific examination. I need
hardly say to any Naturalist in this country, that Dr. Leidy has
obtained the very highest reputation, both at home and abroad, as a
skillful naturalist and microscopic anatomist. No man in this country or
Europe, was more competent to make the investigations that I desired. He
found in making his dissections, a small globular sac, not larger than a
grain of mustard seed, (about 1/33 of an inch in diameter,)
communicating with the oviduct, and filled with a whitish fluid, which
when examined under the microscope, was found to abound in spermatozoa,
or the animalculŠ, which are the unmistakable characteristics of the
seminal fluid. Later in the season, the same substance was compared with
some taken from the drones, and found to be exactly similar to it.

These examinations have settled, on the impregnable basis of
demonstration, the mode in which the eggs of the Queen are vivified. In
descending the oviduct to be deposited in the cells, they pass by the
mouth of this seminal sac or spermatheca, and receive a portion of its
fertilizing contents. Small as it is, its contents are sufficient to
impregnate hundreds of thousands of eggs. In precisely the same way,
the mother wasps and hornets are fecundated. The females alone of these
insects survive the winter, and they begin, single-handed, the
construction of a nest, in which, at first, only a few eggs are
deposited. How could these eggs hatch, if the females which laid them,
had not been impregnated, the previous season? Dissection proves them to
have a spermatheca, similar to that of the Queen Bee.

Of all who have written against Huber, no one has treated him with more
unfairness, misrepresentation, and I might almost add, malignity, than
Huish. He maintains that the eggs of the Queen are impregnated by the
drones, after she has deposited them in the cells, and accounts for the
fact that brood is produced in the Spring, long before the existence of
any drones in the hive, by asserting that these eggs were deposited and
impregnated late in the previous season, and have remained dormant, all
winter, in the hive: and yet the same writer, while ridiculing the
discoveries of Huber, advises that all the mother wasps should be killed
in the Spring, to prevent them from founding families to commit
depredations upon the bees! It never seems to have occurred to him, that
the existence of a permanently impregnated mother wasp, was just as
difficult to be accounted for, as the existence of a similarly
impregnated Queen Bee.


I shall now mention a fact in the physiology of the Queen Bee, more
singular than any which has yet been related.

Huber, while experimenting to ascertain how the Queen was fecundated,
confined some of his young Queens to their hives, by contracting the
entrances, so that they were not able to go in search of the drones,
until three weeks after their birth. To his amazement, these Queens
whose impregnation was thus unnaturally retarded, _never laid any eggs
but such as produced drones_!!

He tried the experiment again and again, but always with the same
result. Some Bee-Keepers, long before his time, had observed that all
the brood in a hive were occasionally drones, and of course, that such
colonies rapidly went to ruin. Before attempting any explanation of this
astonishing fact, I must call the attention of the reader, to another of
the mysteries of the Bee-Hive,


It has already been remarked, that the workers are proved by dissection
to be females, all of which, under ordinary circumstances, are barren.
Occasionally, some of them appear to be more fully developed than
common, so as to be capable of laying eggs: these eggs, like those of
Queens whose impregnation has been retarded, _always produce drones_!
Sometimes, when a colony has lost its Queen, these drone-laying workers
are exalted to her place, and treated with equal respect and affection,
by the bees. Huber ascertained that these fertile workers were generally
reared in the neighborhood of the young Queens, and he thought that they
received some particles of the peculiar food or jelly on which the
Queens are reared. (See Royal Jelly.) He did not pretend to account for
the effect of retarded impregnation; and made no experiments to
determine the facts, as to the fecundation of these fertile workers.

Since the publication of Huber's work, nearly 50 years ago, no light has
been shed upon the mysteries of drone-laying Queens and workers, until
quite recently. Dzierzon appears to have been the first to ascertain the
truth on this subject; and his discovery must certainly be ranked as
unfolding one of the most astonishing facts in all the range of
animated nature. This fact seems, at first view, so absolutely
incredible, that I should not dare to mention it, if it were not
supported by the most indubitable evidence, and if I had not, (as I have
already observed,) determined to state all important and well
ascertained facts, without seeking, by any concealments, to pander to
the prejudices of conceited, and often, very ignorant Bee-Keepers.

Dzierzon advances the opinion that impregnation is not needed in order
that the eggs of the Queen may produce drones; but, that all impregnated
eggs produce females, either workers or Queens; and all unimpregnated
ones, males or drones! He states that he found drone-laying Queens in
several of his hives, whose wings were so imperfect that they could not
fly, and that on examination, they proved to be unfecundated. Hence he
concluded that the eggs of the Queen Bee or fertile worker, had from the
previous impregnation of the egg which produced them, sufficient
vitality to produce the drone, which is a less highly organized insect,
and one inferior to the Queen or workers. It had long been known, that
the Queen deposits drone eggs in the large or drone cells, and worker
eggs in the small or worker cells, and that she makes no mistakes.
Dzierzon inferred, therefore, that there was some way in which she was
able to decide as to the sex of the egg before it was laid, and that she
must have a control over the mouth of the seminal sac, so as to be able
to extrude her eggs, allowing them to receive or not, just as she
pleased, a portion of its fertilizing contents. In this way he thought
she determined the sex, according to the size of the cells in which she
laid them. Mr. Samuel Wagner of York, Pa., has recently communicated to
me a very original and exceedingly ingenious theory of his own, which he
thinks will account for all the facts without admitting that the Queen
Bee has any special knowledge or will on the subject. He supposes that
when she deposits her eggs in the worker cells, her body is slightly
compressed by the size of the cells, and that the eggs, as they pass the
spermatheca, receive in this manner, its vivifying influence. On the
contrary, when she is egg-laying in drone cells, this compression cannot
take place, the mouth of the spermatheca is kept closed, and the eggs
are, necessarily, unfecundated. This theory may prove to be true, but at
present, it is encumbered with some difficulties and requires further
investigation, before it can be considered as fully established.

Leaving then the question whether the Queen exercises any volition in
this matter, for the present undecided, I shall state some facts which
occurred in the summer of 1852, in my own Apiary, and shall then
endeavor to relieve, as far as possible, this intricate subject from
some of the difficulties which embarrass it.

In the Autumn of 1852, my assistant found, in one of my hives, a young
Queen, the whole of whose progeny was drones. The colony had been formed
by removing part of the combs containing bees, brood and eggs from
another hive. It had only a few combs, and but a small number of bees.
They raised a new Queen in the manner which will hereafter be
particularly described. This Queen had laid a number of eggs in one of
the combs, and the young bees from some of them were already emerging
from the cells. I perceived, at the first glance, that they were drones.
As there were none but worker cells in the hive, they were reared in
them, and not having space for full development, they were dwarfed in
size, although the bees, in order to give them more room, had pieced out
the cells so as to make them larger than usual! Size excepted, they
appeared as perfect as any other drones.

I was not only struck with the singularity of finding drones reared in
worker cells, but with the equally singular fact that a young Queen, who
at first lays only the eggs of workers, should be laying drone eggs at
all; and at once conjectured that this was a case of a drone-laying,
unimpregnated Queen, as sufficient time had not elapsed for her
impregnation to be unnaturally retarded. I saw the great importance of
taking all necessary precautions to determine this point. The Queen was
removed from the hive, and carefully examined. Her wings, although they
appeared to be perfect, were so paralized that she could not fly. It
seemed probable, therefore, that she had never been able to leave the
hive for impregnation.

To settle the question beyond the possibility of doubt, I submitted this
Queen to Dr. Joseph Leidy for microscopic examination. The following is
an extract from his report: "The ovaries were filled with eggs; the
poison sac was full of fluid, and I took the whole of it into my mouth;
the poison produced a strong metallic taste, lasting for a considerable
time, and at first, it was pungent to the tip of the tongue. The
spermatheca was distended with a perfectly colorless, transparent,
viscid liquid, _without a trace of spermatozoa_."

This examination seems perfectly to sustain the theory of Dzierzon, and
to demonstrate that Queens do not need to be impregnated, in order to
lay the eggs of males.

I must confess that very considerable doubts rested on my mind, as to
the accuracy of Dzierzon's statements on this subject, and chiefly
because of his having hazarded the unfortunate conjecture that the place
of the poison bag in the worker, is occupied in the Queen, by the
spermatheca. Now this is so completely contrary to fact, that it was a
very natural inference that this acute and thoroughly honest observer,
made no microscopic dissections of the insects which he examined. I
consider myself peculiarly fortunate in having enjoyed the benefit of
the labors of a Naturalist, so celebrated as Dr. Leidy, for microscopic
dissections. The exceeding minuteness of some of the insects which he
has completely figured and described, almost passes belief.

On examining this same colony a few days later, I obtained the most
satisfactory evidence that these drone eggs were laid by the Queen which
had been removed. No fresh eggs had been deposited in the cells, and the
bees, on missing her, had commenced the construction of royal cells, to
rear if possible, another Queen, a thing which they would not have done,
if a fertile worker had been present, by which the drone eggs had been

Another very interesting fact proves that _all_ the eggs laid by this
Queen, were drone eggs. Two of the royal cells were, in a short time,
discontinued, and were found to be empty, while a third contained a
worm, which was sealed over the usual way, to undergo its changes from a
worm to a perfect Queen.

I was completely at a loss to account for this, as the bees having an
unimpregnated drone-laying Queen, ought not to have had a single female
egg from which they could rear a Queen.

At first I imagined that they might have _stolen_ it from another hive,
but when I opened this cell, it contained, instead of a queen, _a dead

I then remembered that Huber has described the same mistake on the part
of some of his bees. At the base of this cell, was an extraordinary
quantity of the peculiar jelly or paste, which is fed to the young that
are to be transformed into queens. The poor bees in their desperation,
appear to have dosed the unfortunate drone to death: as though they
expected by such liberal feeding, to produce some hopeful change in his
sexual organization!

It appears to me that these facts constitute all the links in a perfect
chain, and demonstrate beyond the possibility of doubt, that
unfecundated queens are not only capable of laying eggs, (this would be
no more remarkable than the same occurrence in a hen,) but that these
eggs are possessed of sufficient vitality to produce drones. Aristotle,
who flourished before the Christian era, had noticed that there was no
difference in appearance, between the eggs producing drones and those
producing workers; and he states that drones only are produced in hives
which have no queen; of course the eggs producing them, were laid by
fertile workers. Having now the aid of powerful microscopes, we are
still unable to detect the slightest difference in size or appearance in
the eggs, and this is precisely what we should expect if the same egg
will produce either a worker or a drone, according as it is or is not
impregnated. The theory which I propose, will, I think, perfectly
harmonize with all the observed facts on this subject.

I believe that after fecundation has been delayed for about three weeks,
the mouth of the spermatheca becomes permanently closed, so that
impregnation can no longer be effected; just as the parts of a flower,
after a certain time, wither and shut up, and the plant is incapable of
fructification. The fertile drone-laying workers, are in my opinion,
physically incapable of being impregnated. However strange it may
appear, or even improbable, that an unimpregnated egg can give birth to
a living being, or that the sex can be dependent on impregnation, we are
not at liberty to reject facts, because we cannot comprehend the reasons
of them. He who allows himself to be guilty of such folly, if he seeks
to maintain his consistency, will be plunged, sooner or later, into the
dreary gulf of atheism. Common sense, philosophy and religion alike
teach us to receive all undoubted facts in the natural and the
spiritual world, with becoming reverence; assured that however
mysterious to us, they are all most beautifully harmonious and
consistent in the sight of Him whose "understanding is infinite."

There is something analogous to these wonders in the bee, in what takes
place in the aphides or green lice which infest our rose bushes and
other plants. We have the most undoubted evidence that a fecundated
female gives birth to other females, and they in turn to others still,
all of which, without impregnation, are able to bring forth young, until
at length, after a number of generations, perfect males and females are
produced, and the series starts anew!

The unequaled facilities, furnished by my hives, have seemed to render
it peculiarly incumbent on me, to do all in my power to clear up the
difficulties in this intricate and yet highly important branch of
Apiarian knowledge. All the leading facts in the breeding of bees ought
to be as well known to the bee keeper, as the same class of facts in the
rearing of his domestic animals. A few crude and hasty notions, but half
understood and half digested, will answer only for the old fashioned bee
keeper, who deals in the brimstone matches. He who expects to conduct
bee keeping on a safe and profitable system, must learn that on this, as
on all other subjects, "knowledge is power."

The extraordinary fertility of the queen bee has already been noticed.
The process of laying has been well described by the Rev. W. Dunbar, a
Scotch Apiarian.

"When the queen is about to lay, she puts her head into a cell, and
remains in that position for a second or two, to ascertain its fitness
for the deposit which she is about to make. She then withdraws her
head, and curving her body downwards,[2] inserts the lower part of it
into the cell: in a few seconds she turns half round upon herself and
withdraws, leaving an egg behind her. When she lays a considerable
number, she does it equally on each side of the comb, those on the one
side being as exactly opposite to those on the other as the relative
position of the cells will admit. The effect of this is to produce the
utmost possible concentration and economy of heat for developing the
various changes of the brood!"

Here as at every step in the economy of the bee our minds are filled
with admiration as we witness the perfect adaptation of means to ends.
Who can blame the warmest enthusiasm of the Apiarian in view of a
sagacity which seems scarcely inferior to that of man.

"The eggs of bees," I quote from the admirable treatise of Bevan, "are
of a lengthened oval shape, with a slight curvature, and of a bluish
white color: being besmeared at the time of laying, with a glutinous
substance,[3] they adhere to the bases of the cells, and remain
unchanged in figure or situation for three or four days; they are then
hatched, the bottom of each cell presenting to view a small white worm.
On its growing so as to touch the opposite angle of the cell, it coils
itself up, to use the language of Swammerdam, like a dog when going to
sleep; and floats in a whitish transparent fluid, which is deposited in
the cells by the nursing-bees, and by which it is probably nourished; it
becomes gradually enlarged in its dimensions, till the two extremities
touch one another and form a ring. In this state it is called a larva or
worm. So nicely do the bees calculate the quantity of food which will be
required, that none remains in the cell when it is transformed to a
nymph. It is the opinion of many eminent naturalists that farina does
not constitute the sole food of the larva, but that it consists of a
mixture of farina, honey and water, partly digested in the stomachs of
the nursing-bees."

"The larva having derived its support, in the manner above described,
for four, five or six days, according to the season," (the development
being retarded in cool weather, and badly protected hives,) "continues
to increase during that period, till it occupies the whole breadth and
nearly the length of the cell. The nursing bees now seal over the cell,
with a light _brown cover_, externally more or less _convex_, (the cap
of a drone cell is more convex than that of a worker,) and thus
differing from that of a honey cell which is _paler_ and somewhat
_concave_." The cap of the brood cell appears to be made of a mixture of
bee-bread and wax; it is not air tight as it would be if made of wax
alone; but when examined with a microscope it appears to be reticulated,
or full of fine holes through which the enclosed insect can have air for
all necessary purposes. From its texture and shape it is easily thrust
off by the bee when mature, whereas, if it consisted wholly of wax, the
young bee would either perish for lack of air, or be unable to force its
way into the world! Both the material and shape of the lids which seal
up the honey cells are different, because an entirely different object
was aimed at; they are of pure wax to make them air tight and thus to
prevent the honey from souring or candying in the cells! They are
concave or hollowed inwards to give them greater strength to resist the
pressure of their contents!

To return to Bevan. "The larva is no sooner perfectly inclosed than it
begins to line the cell by spinning round itself, after the manner of
the silk worm, a whitish silky film or cocoon, by which it is encased,
as it were, in a pod. When it has undergone this change, it has usually
borne the name of _nymph_ or _pupa_. The insect has now attained its
full growth, and the large amount of nutriment which it has taken serves
as a store for developing the perfect insect."

"The _working bee nymph_ spins its cocoon in thirty-six hours. After
passing about three days in this state of preparation for a new
existence, it gradually undergoes so great a change as not to wear a
vestige of its previous form, but becomes armed with a firmer mail, and
with scales of a dark brown hue. On its belly six rings become
distinguishable, which by slipping one over another enables the bee to
shorten its body whenever it has occasion to do so.

"When it has reached the twenty-first day of its existence, counting
from the moment the egg is laid, it comes forth a perfect winged insect.
The cocoon is left behind, and forms a closely attached and exact lining
to the cell in which it was spun; by this means the breeding cells
become smaller and their partitions stronger, the oftener they change
their tenants; and may become so much diminished in size as not to admit
of the perfect development of full sized bees."

"Such are the respective stages of the working bee: those of the royal
bee are as follows: she passes three days in the egg and is five a worm;
the workers then close her cell, and she immediately begins spinning her
cocoon, which occupies her twenty four hours. On the tenth and eleventh
days and a part of the twelfth, as if exhausted by her labor, she
remains in complete repose. Then she passes four days and a part of the
fifth as a nymph. It is on the sixteenth day therefore that the perfect
state of queen is attained."

"The drone passes three days in the egg, six and a half as a worm, and
changes into a perfect insect on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth day
after the egg is laid."

"The _development_ of _each species_ likewise proceeds more slowly when
the colonies are weak or the air cool, and when the weather is very cold
it is entirely suspended. Dr. Hunter has observed that the eggs, worms
and nymphs all require a heat above 70░ of Fahrenheit for their

In the chapter on protection against extremes of _heat_ and _cold_, I
have dwelt, at some length, upon the importance of constructing the
hives in such a manner as to enable the bees to preserve, as far as
possible, a uniform temperature in their tenement. In thin hives exposed
to the sun, the heat is sometimes so great as to destroy the eggs and
the larvŠ, even when the combs escape from being melted; and the cold is
often so severe as to check the development of the brood, and sometimes
to kill it outright.

In such hives, when the temperature out of doors falls suddenly and
severely, the bees at once feel the unfavorable change; they are obliged
in self defence to huddle together to keep warm, and thus large portions
of the brood comb are often abandoned, and the brood either destroyed at
once by the cold, or so enfeebled that they never recover from the
shock. Let every bee keeper, in all his operations, remember that brood
comb must never be exposed to a low temperature so as to become chilled:
the disastrous effects are almost as certain, as when the eggs of a
setting hen are left, for too long a time, by the careless mother. The
brood combs are never safe when taken for any considerable time from the
bees, unless the temperature is fully up to summer heat.

"[4]The young bees break their envelope with their teeth, and assisted,
as soon as they come forth, by the older ones, proceed to cleanse
themselves from the moisture and exuviŠ with which they were surrounded.
Both drones and workers on emerging from the cell are, at first grey,
soft and comparatively helpless so that some time elapses before they
take wing.

"With respect to the cocoons spun by the different larvŠ, both workers
and drones spin _complete cocoons_, or inclose themselves on every side;
royal larvŠ construct only _imperfect cocoons_, open behind, and
enveloping only the head, thorax, and first ring of the abdomen; and
Huber concludes, without any hesitation, that the final cause of their
forming only incomplete cocoons is, that they may thus be exposed to the
mortal sting of the first hatched queen, whose instinct leads her
instantly to seek the destruction of those who would soon become her

"If the royal larvŠ spun complete cocoons, the stings of the queens
seeking to destroy their rivals might be so entangled in their meshes
that they could not be disengaged. 'Such,' says Huber, 'is the
instinctive enmity of young queens to each other, that I have seen one
of them, immediately on its emergence from the cell, rush to those of
its sisters, and tear to pieces even the imperfect larvŠ. Hitherto
philosophers have claimed our admiration of nature for her care in
preserving and multiplying the species. But from these facts we must now
admire her precautions in exposing certain individuals to a mortal

The cocoon of the royal larva is very much stronger and coarser than
that spun by the drone or worker, its texture considerably resembling
that of the silk worm's. The young queen does not come forth from her
cell until she is quite mature; and as its great size gives her abundant
room to exercise her wings she is capable of flying as soon as she quits
it. While still in her cell she makes the fluttering and piping noises
with which every observant bee keeper is so well acquainted.

Some Apiarians have supposed that the queen bee has the power to
regulate the development of eggs in her ovaries, so that few or many are
produced, according to the necessities of the colony. This is evidently
a mistake. Her eggs, like those of the domestic hen, are formed without
any volition of her own, and when fully developed, must be extruded. If
the weather is unfavorable, or if the colony is too feeble to maintain
sufficient heat, a smaller number of eggs are developed in her ovaries,
just as unfavorable circumstances diminish the number of eggs laid by
the hen; if the weather is very cold, egg-laying usually ceases
altogether. In the latitude of Philadelphia, I opened one of my hives on
the 5th day of February, and found an abundance of eggs and brood,
although the winter had been an unusually cold one, and the temperature
of the preceding month very low. The fall of 1852 was a warm one, and
eggs and brood were found in a hive which I examined on the 21st of
October. Powerful stocks in well protected hives contain some brood, at
least ten months in the year; in warm countries, bees probably breed,
every month in the year.

It is highly interesting to see in what way the supernumerary eggs of
the queen are disposed of. When the number of workers is too small to
take charge of all her eggs, or when there is a deficiency of bee bread
to nourish the young, (See chapter on Pollen,) or when, for any reason,
she judges it not best to deposit them in cells, she stands upon a comb,
and simply extrudes them from her oviduct, and the workers devour them
as fast as they are laid! This I have repeatedly witnessed in my
observing hives, and admired the sagacity of the queen in economizing
her necessary work after this fashion, instead of laboriously depositing
the eggs in cells where they are not wanted. What a difference between
her wise management and the stupidity of a hen obstinately persisting to
set upon addled eggs, or pieces of chalk, and often upon nothing at all.

The workers eat up also all the eggs which are dropped, or deposited out
of place by the queen; in this way, nothing goes to waste, and even a
tiny egg is turned to some account. Was there ever a better comment upon
the maxim? "Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of

Do the workers who appear to be so fond of a tit-bit in the shape of a
new laid egg, ever experience a struggle between their appetites and the
claims of duty, and does it cost them some self denial to refrain from
making a breakfast on a fresh laid egg? It is really very difficult for
one who has carefully watched the habits of bees, to speak of his little
favorites in any other way than as though they possessed an intelligence
almost, if not quite, akin to reason.

It is well known to every breeder of poultry, that the fertility of a
hen decreases with age, until at length, she becomes entirely barren; it
is equally certain that the fertility of the queen bee ordinarily
diminishes after she has entered upon her third year. She sometimes
ceases to lay Worker eggs, a considerable time before she dies of old
age; the contents of the spermatheca are exhausted; the eggs can no
longer be impregnated and must therefore produce drones.

The queen bee usually dies of old age, some time in her fourth year,
although instances are on record of some having survived a year longer.
It is highly important to the bee keeper who would receive the largest
returns from his bees, to be able, as in my hives, to catch the queen
and remove her, when she has passed the period of her greatest
fertility. In the sequel, full directions will be given, as to the
proper time and mode of effecting it.

Before proceeding farther in the natural history of the queen bee, I
shall describe more particularly, the other inmates of the hive.


The drones are, unquestionably, the male bees. Dissection proves that
they have the appropriate organs of generation. They are much larger and
stouter than either the queen or workers; although their bodies are not
quite so long as that of the queen. They have no sting with which to
defend themselves; no proboscis which is suitable for gathering honey
from the flowers, and no baskets on their thighs for holding the
bee-bread. They are thus physically disqualified for work, even if they
were ever so well disposed to it. Their proper office is to impregnate
the young queens, and they are usually destroyed by the bees, soon after
this is completed.

Dr. Evans the author of a beautiful poem on bees thus appropriately
describes them:--

"Their short proboscis sips
No luscious nectar from the wild thyme's lips,
From the lime's leaf no amber drops they steal,
Nor bear their grooveless thighs the foodful meal:
On other's toils in pamper'd leisure thrive
The lazy fathers of the industrious hive."

The drones begin to make their appearance in April or May; earlier or
later, according to climate and the forwardness of the season, and
strength of the stock. They require about twenty-four days for their
full development from the egg. In colonies which are too weak to swarm,
none, as a general rule, are reared: they are not needed, for in such
hives, as no young queens are raised, they would be only useless

The number of drones in a hive is often very great, amounting, not
merely to hundreds, but sometimes to thousands. It seems, at first, very
difficult to understand why there should be so many, especially since it
has been ascertained that a single one will impregnate a queen for life.
But as intercourse always takes place high in the air, the young queens
are obliged to leave the hive for this purpose; and it is exceedingly
important to their safety, that they should be sure of finding one,
without being compelled to make frequent excursions. Being larger than a
worker, and less quick on the wing, they are more exposed to be caught
by birds, or blown down and destroyed by sudden gusts of wind.

In a large Apiary, a few drones in each hive, or the number usually
found in one, might be amply sufficient. But it must be borne in mind,
that under these circumstances, bees are not in a state of nature.
Before they were domesticated, a colony living in a forest, often had no
neighbors for miles. Now a good stock in our climate, sometimes sends
out three or more swarms, and in the tropical climates, of which the bee
is a native, they increase with astonishing rapidity. At Sydney, in
Australia, a single colony is stated to have multiplied to 300 in three
years. All the new swarms except the first, are led off by a young
queen, and as she is never impregnated until after she has been
established as the head of a separate family, it is important that they
should all be accompanied by a goodly number of drones; and this
renders it necessary that a large number should be produced in the
parent hive.

As this necessity no longer exists, when the bee is domesticated, the
production of so many drones should be discouraged. Traps have been
invented to destroy them, but it is much better to save the bees the
labor and expense of rearing such a host of useless consumers. This can
readily be done by the use of my hives. The cells in which the drones
are reared, are much larger than those appropriated to the raising of
workers. The combs containing them may be taken out, to have their
places supplied with worker's cells, and thus the over production of
drones may easily be prevented. Some colonies contain so much drone comb
as to be nearly worthless.

I have no doubt that some of my readers will object to this mode of
management as interfering with nature: but let them remember that the
bee is not in a state of nature, and that the same objection might be
urged against killing off the super-numerary males of our domestic

In July or August, soon after the swarming season is over, the bees
expel the drones from the hive. They sometimes sting them, and sometimes
gnaw the roots of their wings, so that when driven from the hive, they
cannot return. If not treated in either of these summary ways, they are
so persecuted and starved, that they soon perish. The hatred of the bees
extends even to the young which are still unhatched: they are
mercilessly pulled from the cells, and destroyed with the rest. How
wonderful that instinct which teaches the bees that there is no longer
any occasion for the services of the drones, and which impels them to
destroy those members of the colony, which, a short time before, they
reared with such devoted attention!

A colony which neglects to expel its drones at the usual season, ought
always to be examined. The queen is probably either diseased or dead. In
my hives, such an examination may be easily made, the true state of the
case ascertained, and the proper remedies at once applied. (See Chapter
on the Loss of the Queen.)


I have often been able, by the reasons previously assigned, to account
for the necessity of such a large number of drones in a state of nature,
to the satisfaction of others, but never fully to my own. I have
repeatedly queried, why impregnation might not just as well have been
effected _in the hive_, as on the wing, in the open air. Two very
obvious and highly important advantages would have resulted from such an
arrangement. 1st. A few dozen drones would have amply sufficed for the
wants of any colony, even if, (as in tropical climates,) it swarmed half
a dozen times or oftener, in the same season. 2d. The young queens would
have been exposed to none of those risks which they now incur, in
leaving the hive for fecundation.

I was unable to show how the existing arrangement is best; although I
never doubted that there must be a satisfactory reason for this seeming
imperfection. To suppose otherwise, would be highly unphilosophical,
since we constantly see, as the circle of our knowledge is enlarged,
many mysteries in nature hitherto inexplicable, fully cleared up.

Let me here ask if the disposition which too many students of nature
cherish, to reject some of the doctrines of revealed religion, is not
equally unphilosophical. Neither our ignorance of all the facts
necessary to their full elucidation, nor our inability to harmonize
these facts in their mutual relations and dependencies, will justify us
in rejecting any truth which God has seen fit to reveal, either in the
book of nature, or in His holy word. The man who would substitute his
own speculations for the divine teachings, has embarked, without rudder
or chart, pilot or compass, upon the uncertain ocean of theory and
conjecture; unless he turns his prow from its fatal course, no Sun of
Righteousness will ever brighten for him the dreary expanse of waters;
storms and whirlwinds will thicken in gloom, on his "voyage of life,"
and no favoring gales will ever waft his shattered bark to a peaceful

The thoughtful reader will require no apology for the moralizing strain
of many of my remarks, nor blame a clergyman, if forgetting sometimes to
speak as the mere naturalist, he endeavors to find,

"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
_Sermons_ in '_bees_,' and 'GOD' in every thing."

To return to the point from which I have digressed; a new attempt to
account for the existence of so many drones. If a farmer persists in
what is called "breeding in and in," that is, from the same stock
without changing the blood, it is well known that a rapid degeneracy is
the inevitable consequence. This law extends, as far as we know, to all
animal life, and even man is not exempt from its influence. Have we any
reason to suppose that the bee is an exception? or that ultimate
degeneracy would not ensue, unless some provision was made to counteract
the tendency to in and in breeding? If fecundation had taken place in
the hive, the queen bee must of necessity, have been impregnated by
drones from a common parent, and the same result must have taken place
in each successive generation, until the whole species would eventually
have "run out." By the present arrangement, the young females, when they
leave the hive, often find the air swarming with drones, many of which
belong to other colonies, and thus by crossing the breed, a provision is
constantly made to prevent deterioration.

Experience has proved not only that it is unnecessary to impregnation
that there should be drones in the colony of the young queen, but that
this may be effected even when there are no drones in the Apiary, and
none except at some considerable distance. Intercourse takes place very
high in the air, (perhaps that less risk may be incurred from birds,)
and this is the more favorable to the continual crossing of stocks.

I am strongly persuaded that the decay of many flourishing stocks, even
when managed with great care, is to be attributed to the fact that they
have become enfeebled by "close breeding," and are thus unable to resist
the injurious influences which were comparatively harmless when the bees
were in a state of high physical vigor. I shall, in the chapter on
Artificial Swarming, explain in what way, by the use of my hives, the
stock of bees may be easily crossed, when a cultivator is too remote
from other Apiaries, to depend upon its being naturally effected.


The number of workers in a hive varies very much. A good swarm ought to
contain 15,000 or 20,000; and in large hives, strong colonies which are
not reduced by swarming, frequently number two or three times as many,
during the height of the breeding season. We have well-authenticated
instances of stocks much more populous than this. The Polish hives will
hold several bushels, and yet we are informed by Mr. Dohiogost, that
they swarm regularly, and that the swarms are so powerful that "they
resemble a little cloud in the air." I shall hereafter consider how the
size of the hive affects the number of bees that it may be expected to

The workers, (as has been already stated,) are all females whose ovaries
are too imperfectly developed to admit of their laying eggs. For a long
time, they were regarded as neither males nor females, and were called
Neuters; but more careful microscopic examinations have enabled us to
detect the rudiments of their ovaries, and thus to determine their sex.
The accuracy of these examinations has been verified by the well-known
facts respecting _fertile workers_.

Riem, a German Apiarian, first discovered that workers sometimes lay
eggs. Huber, in the course of his investigations on this subject,
ascertained that such workers were raised in hives that had lost their
queen, and in the vicinity of the royal cells in which young queens were
being reared. He conjectured that they received accidentally, a small
portion of the peculiar food of these infant queens, and in this way, he
accounted for their reproductive organs being more developed than those
of other workers. Workers reared in such hives, are in close proximity
to the young queens, and there is certainly much probability that some
of the royal jelly may be accidentally dropped into their cells; as, in
these hives, the queen cells when first commenced are parallel to the
horizon, instead of being perpendicular to it, as they are in other
hives. I do not feel confident, however, that they are not sometimes
bred in hives which have not lost their queen. The kind of eggs laid by
these fertile workers, has already been noticed. Such workers are seldom
tolerated in hives containing a fertile, healthy queen, though instances
of this kind have been known to occur. The worker is much smaller than
either the queen or the drone.[5] It is furnished with a tongue or
proboscis, of the most curious and complicated structure, which, when
not in use, is nicely folded under its abdomen; with this, it licks or
brushes up the honey, which is thence conveyed to its honey-bag. This
receptacle is not larger than a very small pea, and is so perfectly
transparent, as to appear when filled, of the same color with its
contents; it is properly the first stomach of the bee, and is surrounded
by muscles which enable the bee to compress it, and empty its contents
through her proboscis into the cells. (See Chapter on Honey.)

The hinder legs of the worker are furnished with a spoon-shaped hollow
or basket, to receive the pollen or bee bread which she gathers from the
flowers. (See Chapter on Pollen.)

Every worker is armed with a formidable sting, and when provoked, makes
instant and effectual use of her natural weapon. The sting, when
subjected to microscopic examination, exhibits a very curious and
complicated mechanism. "It is moved[6] by muscles which, though
invisible to the eye, are yet strong enough to force the sting, to the
depth of one twelfth of an inch, through the thick skin of a man's hand.
At its root are situated two glands by which the poison is secreted:
these glands uniting in one duct, eject the venemous liquid along the
groove, formed by the junction of the two piercers. There are four barbs
on the outside of each piercer: when the insect is prepared to sting,
one of these piercers, having its point a little longer than the other,
first darts into the flesh, and being fixed by its foremost beard, the
other strikes in also, and they alternately penetrate deeper and deeper,
till they acquire a firm hold of the flesh with their barbed hooks, and
then follows the sheath, conveying the poison into the wound. The action
of the sting, says Paley, affords an example of the union of _chemistry_
and mechanism; of chemistry in respect to the _venom_, which can produce
such powerful effects; of mechanism as the sting is a compound
instrument. The machinery would have been comparatively useless had it
not been for the chemical process, by which in the insect's body _honey_
is converted into _poison_; and on the other hand, the poison would have
been ineffectual, without an instrument to wound, and a syringe to
inject it."

"Upon examining the edge of a very keen razor by the microscope, it
appears as broad as the back of a pretty thick knife, rough, uneven, and
full of notches and furrows, and so far from anything like sharpness,
that an instrument, as blunt as this seemed to be, would not serve even
to cleave wood. An exceedingly small needle being also examined, it
resembled a rough iron bar out of a smith's forge. The sting of a bee
viewed through the same instrument, showed everywhere a polish amazingly
beautiful, without the least flaw, blemish, or inequality, and ended in
a point too fine to be discerned."

The extremity of the sting being barbed like an arrow, the bee can
seldom withdraw it, if the substance into which she darts it is at all
tenacious. In losing her sting she parts with a portion of her
intestines, and of necessity, soon perishes.

As the loss of the sting is always fatal to the bees, they pay a dear
penalty for the exercise of their patriotic instincts; but they always
seem ready, (except when they have taken "a drop too much," and are
gorged with honey,) to die in defence of their home and treasures; or as
the poet has expressed it, they

"Deem life itself to vengeance well resign'd,
Die on the wound, and leave their sting behind."

Hornets, wasps and other stinging insects are able to withdraw their
stings from the wound. I have never seen any attempt to account for the
exception in the case of the honey bee. But if the Creator intended the
bee for the use of man, as He most certainly did, has He not given it
this peculiarity, to make it less formidable, and therefore more
completely subject to human control? Without a sting, it would have
stood no chance of defending its tempting sweets against a host of
greedy depredators; but if it could sting a number of times, it would be
much more difficult to bring it into a state of thorough domestication.
A quiver full of arrows in the hand of a skilful marksman, is far more
to be dreaded than a single shaft.

The defence of the colony against enemies, the construction of the
cells, the storing of them with honey and bee-bread, the rearing of the
young, in short, the whole work of the hive, the laying of eggs
excepted, is carried on by the industrious little workers.

There may be _gentlemen_ of leisure in the commonwealth of bees, but
most assuredly there are no such _ladies_, whether of high or low
degree. The queen herself, has her full share of duties, for it must be
admitted that the royal office is no sinecure, when the mother who fills
it, must superintend daily the proper deposition of several thousand


The queen bee, (as has been already stated,) will live four, and
sometimes, though very rarely, five years. As the life of the drones is
usually cut short by violence, it is not easy to ascertain its precise
limit. Bevan, in some interesting statements on the longevity of bees,
estimates it not to exceed four months. The workers are supposed by him,
to live six or seven months. Their age depends, however, very much upon
their greater or less exposure to injurious influences and severe
labors. Those reared in the spring and early part of summer, and on whom
the heaviest labors of the hive must necessarily devolve, do not appear
to live more than two or three months, while those which are bred at the
close of summer, and early in autumn, being able to spend a large part
of their time in repose, attain a much greater age. It is very evident
that "the bee," (to use the words of a quaint old writer,) "is a summer
bird," and that with the exception of the queen, none live to be a year

Notched and ragged wings, instead of gray hairs and wrinkled faces, are
the signs of old age in the bee, and indicate that its season of toil
will soon be over. They appear to die rather suddenly, and often spend
their last days, and sometimes even their last hours, in useful labors.
Place yourself before a hive, and see the indefatigable energy of these
aged veterans, toiling along with their heavy burdens, side by side with
their more youthful compeers, and then say if you can, that _you_ have
done work enough, and that you will give yourself up to slothful
indulgence, while the ability for useful labor still remains. Let the
cheerful hum of their industrious old age inspire you with better
resolutions, and teach you how much nobler it is to meet death in the
path of duty, striving still, as you "have opportunity," to "do good
unto all men."

The age which individual members of the community may attain, must not
be confounded with that of the colony. Bees have been known to occupy
the same domicile for a great number of years. I have seen flourishing
colonies which were twenty years old, and the Abbe Della Rocca speaks
of some over forty years old! Such cases have led to the erroneous
opinion that bees are a long-lived race. But this, as Dr. Evans has
observed, is just as wise as if a stranger, contemplating a populous
city, and personally unacquainted with its inhabitants, should on paying
it a second visit, many years afterwards, and finding it equally
populous, imagine that it was peopled by the same individuals, not one
of whom might then be living.

"Like leaves on trees, the race of bees is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
Another race the Spring or Fall supplies,
They droop successive, and successive rise."

The cocoons spun by the larvŠ, are never removed by the bees; they stick
so closely to the sides of the cells, that the knowing bee well
understands that the labor of removal would cost more than it would be
worth. In process of time, the breeding cells become too small for the
proper development of the young. In some cases, the bees must take down
and reconstruct the old combs, for if they did not, the young issuing
from them would always be dwarfs; whereas I once compared with other
bees, those of a colony more than fifteen years old, and found no
perceptible difference. That they do not always renew the old combs,
must be admitted, as the young from some old hives are often
considerably below the average size. On this account, it is very
desirable to be able to remove the old combs occasionally, that their
place may be supplied with new ones.

It is a great mistake to imagine that the brood combs ought to be
changed every year. In my hives, they might, if it were desirable, be
easily changed several times in a year: but once in five or six years is
often enough; oftener than this requires a needless consumption of honey
to replace them, besides being for other reasons undesirable, as the
bees are always in winter, colder in new comb than in old. Inventors of
hives have too often been, most emphatically "men of one idea:" and that
one, instead of being a well established and important fact in the
physiology of the bee, has frequently, (like the necessity for a yearly
change of the brood combs,) been merely a conceit, existing nowhere but
in the brain of a visionary projector. This is all harmless enough,
until an effort is made to impose such miserable crudities upon an
ignorant public, either in the shape of a patented hive, _or worse
still, of an UNPATENTED hive, the pretended RIGHT to use which, is
FRAUDULENTLY sold to the cheated purchaser_!!

For want of proper knowledge with regard to the age of bees, huge "bee
palaces," and large closets in garrets or attics, have been constructed,
and their proprietors have vainly imagined that the bees would fill
them, however roomy; for they can see no reason why a colony should not
continue to increase indefinitely, until at length it numbers its
inhabitants by millions or billions! As the bees can never at one time
equal, still less exceed the number which the queen is capable of
producing in one season, these spacious dwellings have always an
abundance of "spare rooms." It seems strange that men can be thus
deceived, when often in their own Apiary, they have healthy stocks which
have not swarmed for a year or more, and which yet in the spring are not
a whit more populous than those which have regularly parted with
vigorous swarms.

It is certain that the Creator, has for some wise reason, set a limit to
the increase of numbers in a single colony; and I shall venture to
assign what appears to me to have been one reason for His so doing.
Suppose that He had given to the bee, a length of life as great as that
of the horse or the cow, or had made each queen capable of laying
daily, some hundreds of thousands of eggs, or had given several hundred
queens to each hive, then from the Very nature of the case, a colony
must have gone on increasing, until it became a scourge rather than a
benefit to man. In the warm climates of which the bee is a native, they
would have established themselves in some cavern or capacious cleft in
the rocks, and would there have quickly become so powerful as to bid
defiance to all attempts to appropriate the avails of their labors.

It has already been stated, that none, except the mother wasps and
hornets, survive the winter. If these insects had been able, like the
bee, to commence the season with the accumulated strength of a large
colony, long before its close, they would have proved a most intolerable
nuisance. If, on the contrary, the queen bee had been compelled,
solitary and alone, to lay the foundations of a new commonwealth, the
honey-harvest would have disappeared before she could have become the
parent of a numerous family.

In the laws which regulate the increase of bees as well as in all other
parts of their economy, we have the plainest proofs that the insect was
formed for the special service of the human race.


If in the early part of the season, the population of a hive becomes
uncomfortably crowded, the bees usually make preparations for swarming.
A number of royal cells are commenced, and they are placed almost always
upon those edges of the combs which are not attached to the sides of the
hive. These cells somewhat resemble a small ground-nut or pea-nut, and
are about an inch deep, and one-third of an inch in diameter: they are
very thick, and require a large quantity of material for their
construction. They are seldom seen in a perfect state, as the bees
nibble them away after the queen has hatched, leaving only their
remains, in the shape of a very small acorn-cup. While the other cells
open sideways, these always hang with their mouth _downwards_. Much
speculation has arisen as to the reason for this deviation: some have
conjectured that their peculiar position exerted an influence upon the
development of the royal larvŠ; while others, having ascertained that no
injurious effect was produced by turning them upwards, or placing them
in any other position, have considered this deviation as among the
inscrutable mysteries of the bee-hive. So it always seemed to me, until
more careful reflection enabled me to solve the problem. The queen cells
open downwards, simply _to save room_! The distance between the parallel
ranges of comb being usually less than half an inch, the bees could not
have made the royal cells to open sideways, without sacrificing the
cells opposite to them. In order to economize space, to the very utmost,
they put them upon the unoccupied edges of the comb, as the only place
where there is always plenty of room for such very large cells.

The number of royal cells varies greatly; sometimes there are only two
or three, ordinarily there are five or six, and I have occasionally seen
more than a dozen. They are not all commenced at once, for the bees do
not intend that the young queens shall all arrive at maturity, at the
same time. I do not consider it as fully settled, how the eggs are
deposited in these cells. In some few instances, I have known the bees
to transfer the eggs from common to queen cells, and this _may_ be their
general method of procedure. I shall hazard the conjecture that the
queen deposits her eggs in cells on the edges of the comb, in a crowded
state of the hive, and that some of these are afterwards enlarged and
changed into royal cells by the workers. Such is the instinctive hatred
of the queen to her own kind, that it does not seem to me probable, that
she is intrusted with even the initiatory steps for securing a race of
successors. That the eggs from which the young queens are produced, are
of the same kind with those producing workers, has been repeatedly
demonstrated. On examining the queen cells while they are in progress,
one of the first things which excites our notice, is the very unusual
amount of attention bestowed upon them by the workers. There is scarcely
a second in which a bee is not peeping into them, and just as fast as
one is satisfied, another pops its head in, to examine if not to report,
progress. The importance of their inmates to the bee-community, might
easily be inferred from their being the center of so much attraction.


The young queens are supplied with a much larger quantity of food than
is allotted to the other larvŠ, so that they seem almost to float in a
thick bed of jelly, and there is usually a portion of it left unconsumed
at the base of the cells, after the insects have arrived at maturity. It
is different from the food of either drones or workers, and in
appearance, resembles a light quince jelly, having a slightly acid

I submitted a portion of the royal jelly for analysis, to Dr. Charles M.
Wetherill, of Philadelphia; a very interesting account of his
examination may be found in the proceedings of the Phila. Academy of
Nat. Sciences for July, 1852. He speaks of the substance as "truly a
bread-containing, albuminous compound." I hope in the course of the
coming summer to obtain from this able analytical chemist, an analysis
of the food of the young drones and workers. A comparison of its
elements with those of the royal jelly, may throw some light on subjects
as yet involved in obscurity.

The effects produced upon the larvŠ by this peculiar food and method of
treatment, are very remarkable. For one, I have never considered it
strange that such effects should be rejected as idle whims, by nearly
all except those who have either been eye-witnesses to them, or have
been well acquainted with the character and opportunities for accurate
observation, of those on whose testimony they have received them. They
are not only in themselves most marvelously strange, but on the face of
them so entirely opposed to all common analogies, and so very
improbable, that many men when asked to believe them, feel almost as
though an insult were offered to their common sense. The most important
of these effects, I shall now proceed to enumerate.

1st. The peculiar mode in which the worm designed to be reared as a
queen, is treated, causes it to arrive at maturity, about one-third
earlier than if it had been bred a worker. And yet it is to be much more
fully developed, and according to ordinary analogy, ought to have had a
_slower growth_!

2d. Its organs of reproduction are completely developed, so that it is
capable of fulfilling the office of a mother.

3d. Its size, shape and color are all greatly changed. (See p. 32.) Its
lower jaws are shorter, its head rounder, and its legs have neither
brushes nor baskets, while its sting is more curved, and one-third
longer than that of a worker.

4th. Its _instincts_ are entirely changed. Reared as a worker, it would
have been ready to thrust out its sting, upon the least provocation;
whereas now, it may be pulled limb from limb, without attempting to
sting. As a worker it would have treated a queen with the greatest
consideration; whereas now, if placed under a glass with another queen,
it rushes forthwith to mortal combat with its rival. As a worker, it
would frequently have left the hive, either for labor or exercise: as a
queen, after impregnation, it never leaves the hive except to accompany
a new swarm.

5th. The term of its life is remarkably lengthened. As a worker, it
would have lived not more than six or seven months at farthest; as a
queen it may live seven or eight times as long! All these wonders rest
on the impregnable basis of complete demonstration, and instead of being
witnessed by only a select few, may now, by the use of my hive, be
familiar sights to any bee keeper, who prefers to acquaint himself with
facts, rather than to cavil and sneer at the labors of others.[7]

When provision has been made, in the manner described, for a new race of
queens, the old mother always departs with the first swarm, before her
successors have arrived at maturity.[8]


The distress of the bees when they lose their queen, has already been
described. If they have the means of supplying her loss, they soon calm
down, and commence forthwith, the necessary steps for rearing another.
The process of rearing queens artificially, to meet some special
emergency, is even more wonderful than the natural one, which has
already been described. Its success depends on the bees having
worker-eggs or worms not more than three days old; (if older, the larva
has been too far developed as a worker to admit of any change:) the bees
nibble away the partitions of two cells adjoining a third, so as to make
one large cell out of the three. They destroy the eggs or worms in two
of these cells, while they place before the occupant of the third, the
usual food of the young queens, and build out its cell, so as to give it
ample space for development. They do not confine themselves to the
attempt to rear a single queen, but to guard against failure, start a
considerable number, although the work on all except a few, is usually
soon discontinued.

In twelve or fourteen days, they are in possession of a new queen,
precisely similar to one reared in the natural way, while the eggs which
were laid at the same time in the adjoining cells, and which have been
developed in the usual way, are nearly a week longer in coming to

I will give in this connection a description of an interesting

A large hive which stood at a distance from any other colony, was
removed in the morning of a very pleasant day, to a new place, and
another hive containing only empty comb, was put upon its stand.
Thousands of workers which were out in the fields, or which left the old
hive after its removal, returned to the familiar spot. It was affecting
to witness their grief and despair: they flew in restless circles about
the place which once contained their happy home, entered and left the
new hive continually, expressing, in various ways, their lamentations
over their cruel bereavement. Towards evening, they ceased to take wing,
and roamed in restless platoons, in and out of the hive, and over its
surface, acting all the time, as though in search of some lost treasure.
I now gave them a piece of brood comb, containing worker eggs and worms,
taken from a second swarm which being just established with its young
queen, in a new hive, could have no intention of rearing young queens
that season; therefore, it cannot be contended that this piece of comb
contained what some are pleased to call "royal eggs." What followed the
introduction of this brood comb, took place much quicker than it can be
described. The bees which first touched it, raised a peculiar note, and
in a moment, the comb was covered with a dense mass; their restless
motions and mournful noises ceased, and a cheerful hum at once attested
their delight! Despair gave place to hope, as they recognized in this
small piece of comb, the means of deliverance. Suppose a large building
filled with thousands of persons, tearing their hair, beating their
breasts, and by piteous cries, as well as frantic gestures, giving vent
to their despair; if now some one should enter this house of mourning,
and by a single word, cause all these demonstrations of agony to give
place to smiles and congratulations, the change could not be more
wonderful and instantaneous, than that produced when the bees received
the brood comb!

The Orientals call the honey bee, Deburrah, "She that speaketh." Would
that this little insect might speak, and in words more eloquent than
those of man's device, to the multitudes who allow themselves to reject
the doctrines of revealed religion, because, as they assert, they are,
on their face so utterly improbable, that they labor under an _a priori_
objection strong enough to be fatal to their credibility. Do not nearly
all the steps in the development of a queen from a worker-egg, labor
under precisely the same objection? and have they not, for this very
reason, always been regarded by great numbers of bee keepers, as
unworthy of credence? If the favorite argument of infidels and errorists
will not stand the test when applied to the wonders of the bee-hive, can
it be regarded as entitled to any serious weight, when employed in
framing objections against religious truths, and arrogantly taking to
task the infinite Jehovah, for what He has been pleased to do or to
teach? Give me the same latitude claimed by such objectors, and I can
easily prove that a man is under no obligation to receive any of the
wonders in the economy of the bee-hive, although he is himself an
intelligent eye-witness that they are all substantial verities.

I shall quote, in this connection, from Huish, an English Apiarian of
whom I have already spoken, because his objections to the discoveries
of Huber, remind me so forcibly of both the spirit and principles of the
great majority of those who object to the doctrines of revealed

"If an individual, with the view of acquiring some knowledge of the
natural history of the bee, or of its management, consult the works of
Bagster, Bevan, or any of the periodicals which casually treat upon the
subject, will he not rise from the study of them with his mind
surcharged with falsities and mystification? Will he not discover
through the whole of them a servile acquiescence in the opinions and
discoveries of one man, however at variance they may be with truth or
probability; and if he enter upon the discussion with his mind free from
prejudice, will he not experience that an outrage has been committed
upon his reason, in calling upon him to give assent to positions and
principles which at best are merely assumed, but to which he is called
upon dogmatically to subscribe his acquiescence as the indubitable
results of experience, skill and ability? The editors of the works above
alluded to, should boldly and indignantly have declared, that from their
own experience in the natural economy of the insect, they were able to
pronounce the circumstances as related by Huber to be directly
_impossible_, and the whole of them based on fiction and imposition."

Let the reader change only a few words in this extract: for "the natural
history of the bee or its management," let him write, "the subject of
religion;" for, "the works of Bagster, Bevan," &c., let him put, "the
works of Moses, Paul," &c.; for, "their own experience in the natural
economy of the insect," let him substitute, "their own experience in the
nature of man;" and for, "circumstances as related by Huber," let him
insert, "as related by Luke or John," and it will sound almost precisely
like a passage from some infidel author.

I resume the quotation from Huish; "If we examine the account which
Huber gives of his invention (!) of the royal jelly, the existence and
efficacy of which are fully acquiesced in by the aforesaid editors, to
what other conclusions are we necessarily driven, than that they are the
dupes of a visionary enthusiast, whose greatest merit consists in his
inventive powers, no matter how destitute those powers may be of all
affinity with truth or probability? Before, however, these editors
bestowed their unqualified assent on the existence of this royal jelly,
did they stop to put to themselves the following questions? By what kind
of bee is it made?[9] Whence is it procured? Is it a natural or an
elaborated substance? If natural, from what source is it derived? If
elaborated, in what stomach of the bee is it to be found? How is it
administered? What are its constituent principles? Is its existence
optional or definite? Whence does it derive its miraculous power of
converting a common egg into a royal one? Will any of the aforesaid
editors publicly answer these questions? and ought they not to have been
able to answer them, before they so unequivocally expressed their belief
in its existence, its powers and administration?"

How puerile does all this sound to one who has _seen_ and _tasted_ the
royal jelly! And permit me to add, how equally unmeaning do the
objections of infidels seem, to those who have an experimental
acquaintance with the divine hopes and consolations of the Gospel of


[1] The author of this work regrets that his experience does not enable
him to speak with such absolute confidence as to the character of all
the bee keepers whom he has known.

[2] In this way she is sure to deposit the egg in the cell she has

[3] If ever there lived a genuine naturalist, Swammerdam was the man. In
his History of Insects, published in 1737, he has given a most beautiful
drawing of the ovaries of the queen bee. The sac which he supposed
secreted a fluid for sticking the eggs to the base of the cells is the
seminal reservoir or spermatheca.

[4] Bevan.

[5] This work being intended chiefly for practical purposes, I have
thought best to use, as little as possible, the technical terms and
minute anatomical descriptions of the scientific entomologist.

[6] Bevan.

[7] Having already spoken of Swammerdam, I shall give a brief extract
from the celebrated Dr. Boerhaave's memoir of this wonderful naturalist,
which should put to the blush, if any thing can, the arrogance of those
superficial observers who are too wise in their own conceit, to avail
themselves of the knowledge of others.

"This treatise on Bees proved so fatiguing a performance, that
Swammerdam never afterwards recovered even the appearance of his former
health and vigor. He was almost continually engaged by day in making
observations, and as constantly engaged by night in recording them by
drawings and suitable explanations."

"This being summer work, his daily labor began at six in the morning,
when the sun afforded him light enough to survey such minute objects;
and from that hour till twelve, he continued without interruption, all
the while exposed in the open air to the scorching heat of the sun,
bareheaded for fear of intercepting his sight, and his head in a manner
dissolving into sweat under the irresistible ardors of that powerful
luminary. And if he desisted at noon, it was only because the strength
of his eyes was too much weakened, by the extraordinary afflux of light
and the use of microscopes, to continue any longer upon such small
objects, though as discernible in the afternoon, as they had been in the

"Our author, the better to accomplish his vast, unlimited views, often
wished for a year of perpetual heat and light to perfect his inquiries,
with a polar night to reap all the advantages of them by proper drawings
and descriptions."

[8] The formation of swarms will be particularly described in another

[9] Suppose that we are unable to give a satisfactory answer to any of
these questions, does our ignorance on these points disprove the _fact_
of the existence of such a jelly?

Does the flower make the honeybee or the honeybee the flower?