History of Animals
by the way, the autumn honey is the better of the two.
The honeycomb is made from flowers, and the materials for the
wax they gather from the resinous gum of trees, while honey is
distilled from dew, and is deposited chiefly at the risings of the
constellations or when a rainbow is in the sky: and as a general
rule there is no honey before the rising of the Pleiads. (The bee,
then, makes the wax from flowers. The honey, however, it does not
make, but merely gathers what is deposited out of the atmosphere;
and as a proof of this statement we have the known fact that
occasionally bee-keepers find the hives filled with honey within the
space of two or three days. Furthermore, in autumn flowers are
found, but honey, if it be withdrawn, is not replaced; now, after
the withdrawal of the original honey, when no food or very little is
in the hives, there would be a fresh stock of honey, if the bees
made it from flowers.) Honey, if allowed to ripen and mature, gathers
consistency; for at first it is like water and remains liquid for
several days. If it be drawn off during these days it has no
consistency; but it attains consistency in about twenty days. The
taste of thyme-honey is discernible at once, from its peculiar
sweetness and consistency.
The bee gathers from every flower that is furnished with a calyx
or cup, and from all other flowers that are sweet-tasted, without
doing injury to any fruit; and the juices of the flowers it takes up
with the organ that resembles a tongue and carries off to the hive.
Swarms are robbed of their honey on the appearance of the wild
fig. They produce the best larvae at the time the honey is a-making.
The bee carries wax and bees' bread round its legs, but vomits the
honey into the cell. After depositing its young, it broods over it
like a bird. The grub when it is small lies slantwise in the comb, but
by and by rises up straight by an effort of its own and takes food,
and holds on so tightly to the honeycomb as actually to cling to it.
The young of bees and of drones is white, and from the young
come the grubs; and the grubs grow into bees and drones. The egg of
the king bee is reddish in colour, and its substance is about as
consistent as thick honey; and from the first it is about as big as
the bee that is produced from it. From the young of the king bee there
is no intermediate stage, it is said, of the grub, but the bee comes
Whenever the bee lays an egg in the comb there is always a
drop of honey set against it. The larva of the bee gets feet and wings
as soon as the cell has been stopped up with wax, and when it
arrives at its completed form it breaks its membrane and flies away.
It ejects excrement in the grub state, but not afterwards; that is,
not until it has got out of the encasing membrane, as we have
already described. If you remove the heads from off the larvae
before the coming of the wings, the bees will eat them up; and if
you nip off the wings from a drone and let it go, the bees will
spontaneously bite off the wings from off all the remaining drones.
The bee lives for six years as a rule, as an exception for seven
years. If a swarm lasts for nine years, or ten, great credit is
considered due to its management.
In Pontus are found bees exceedingly white in colour, and
these bees produce their honey twice a month. (The bees in Themiscyra,
on the banks of the river Thermodon, build honeycombs in the ground
and in hives, and these honeycombs are furnished with very little wax
but with honey of great consistency; and the honeycomb, by the way,
is smooth and level.) But this is not always the case with these bees,
but only in the winter season; for in Pontus the ivy is abundant,
and it flowers at this time of the year, and it is from the ivy-flower
that they derive their honey. A white and very consistent honey is
brought down from the upper country to Amisus, which is deposited by
bees on trees without the employment of honeycombs: and this kind of
honey is produced in other districts in Pontus.
There are bees also that construct triple honeycombs in the