History of Animals
the transformations take place in intervals of three or four days,
corresponding to the lengths of interval at which the crises recur
in intermittent fevers.
So much for the generation of insects. Their death is due to the
shrivelling of their organs, just as the larger animals die of old
Winged insects die in autumn from the shrinking of their wings.
The myops dies from dropsy in the eyes.
With regard to the generation of bees different hypotheses are
in vogue. Some affirm that bees neither copulate nor give birth to
young, but that they fetch their young. And some say that they fetch
their young from the flower of the callyntrum; others assert that they
bring them from the flower of the reed, others, from the flower of the
olive. And in respect to the olive theory, it is stated as a proof
that, when the olive harvest is most abundant, the swarms are most
numerous. Others declare that they fetch the brood of the drones
from such things as above mentioned, but that the working bees are
engendered by the rulers of the hive.
Now of these rulers there are two kinds: the better kind is
red in colour, the inferior kind is black and variegated; the ruler is
double the size of the working bee. These rulers have the abdomen or
part below the waist half as large again, and they are called by
some the 'mothers', from an idea that they bear or generate the
bees; and, as a proof of this theory of their motherhood, they declare
that the brood of the drones appears even when there is no ruler-bee
in the hive, but that the bees do not appear in his absence. Others,
again, assert that these insects copulate, and that the drones are
male and the bees female.
The ordinary bee is generated in the cells of the comb, but
the ruler-bees in cells down below attached to the comb, suspended
from it, apart from the rest, six or seven in number, and growing in a
way quite different from the mode of growth of the ordinary brood.
Bees are provided with a sting, but the drones are not so
provided. The rulers are provided with stings, but they never use
them; and this latter circumstance will account for the belief of some
people that they have no stings at all.
Of bees there are various species. The best kind is a little round
mottled insect; another is long, and resembles the anthrena; a third
is a black and flat-bellied, and is nick-named the 'robber'; a
fourth kind is the drone, the largest of all, but stingless and
inactive. And this proportionate size of the drone explains why some
bee-masters place a net-work in front of the hives; for the network is
put to keep the big drones out while it lets the little bees go in.
Of the king bees there are, as has been stated, two kinds. In
every hive there are more kings than one; and a hive goes to ruin if
there be too few kings, not because of anarchy thereby ensuing, but,
as we are told, because these creatures contribute in some way to
the generation of the common bees. A hive will go also to ruin if
there be too large a number of kings in it; for the members of the
hives are thereby subdivided into too many separate factions.
Whenever the spring-time is late a-coming, and when there is
drought and mildew, then the progeny of the hive is small in number.
But when the weather is dry they attend to the honey, and in rainy
weather their attention is concentrated on the brood; and this will
account for the coincidence of rich olive-harvests and abundant
The bees first work at the honeycomb, and then put the pupae
in it: by the mouth, say those who hold the theory of their bringing
them from elsewhere. After putting in the pupae they put in the
honey for subsistence, and this they do in the summer and autumn; and,