Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of History of Animals

Previous | Next

History of Animals   

building, for the kings only when the brood of young is numerous,
and cells for the drones they build if a superabundance of honey
should suggest their doing so. They build the royal cells next to
their own, and they are of small bulk; the drones' cells they build
near by, and these latter are less in bulk than the bee's cells.
They begin building the combs downwards from the top of the
hive, and go down and down building many combs connected together
until they reach the bottom. The cells, both those for the honey and
those also for the grubs, are double-doored; for two cells are
ranged about a single base, one pointing one way and one the other,
after the manner of a double (or hour-glass-shaped) goblet. The
cells that lie at the commencement of the combs and are attached to
the hives, to the extent of two or three concentric circular rows, are
small and devoid of honey; the cells that are well filled with honey
are most thoroughly luted with wax. At the entry to the hive the
aperture of the doorway is smeared with mitys; this substance is a
deep black, and is a sort of dross or residual by-product of wax; it
has a pungent odour, and is a cure for bruises and suppurating
sores. The greasy stuff that comes next is pitch-wax; it has a less
pungent odour and is less medicinal than the mitys. Some say that
the drones construct combs by themselves in the same hive and in the
same comb that they share with the bees; but that they make no
honey, but subsist, they and their grubs also, on the honey made by
the bees. The drones, as a rule, keep inside the hive; when they go
out of doors, they soar up in the air in a stream, whirling round
and round in a kind of gymnastic exercise; when this is over, they
come inside the hive and feed to repletion ravenously. The kings never
quit the hive, except in conjunction with the entire swarm, either for
food or for any other reason. They say that, if a young swarm go
astray, it will turn back upon its route and by the aid of scent
seek out its leader. It is said that if he is unable to fly he is
carried by the swarm, and that if he dies the swarm perishes; and
that, if this swarm outlives the king for a while and constructs
combs, no honey is produced and the bees soon die out.
Bees scramble up the stalks of flowers and rapidly gather the
bees-wax with their front legs; the front legs wipe it off on to the
middle legs, and these pass it on to the hollow curves of the
hind-legs; when thus laden, they fly away home, and one may see
plainly that their load is a heavy one. On each expedition the bee
does not fly from a flower of one kind to a flower of another, but
flies from one violet, say, to another violet, and never meddles
with another flower until it has got back to the hive; on reaching the
hive they throw off their load, and each bee on his return is
accompanied by three or four companions. One cannot well tell what
is the substance they gather, nor the exact process of their work.
Their mode of gathering wax has been observed on olive-trees, as owing
to the thickness of the leaves the bees remain stationary for a
considerable while. After this work is over, they attend to the grubs.
There is nothing to prevent grubs, honey, and drones being all found
in one and the same comb. As long as the leader is alive, the drones
are said to be produced apart by themselves; if he be no longer
living, they are said to be reared by the bees in their own cells, and
under these circumstances to become more spirited: for this reason
they are called 'sting-drones', not that they really have stings,
but that they have the wish without the power, to use such weapons.
The cells for the drones are larger than the others; sometimes the
bees construct cells for the drones apart, but usually they put them
in amongst their own; and when this is the case the bee-keepers cut
the drone-cells out of the combs.
There are several species of bees, as has been said; two of
'kings', the better kind red, the other black and variegated, and
twice as big as the working-bee. The best workingbee is small,
round, and speckled: another kind is long and like an anthrene wasp;
another kind is what is called the robber-bee, black and flat-bellied;

Previous | Next
Site Search