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History of Animals   


is, some carry flower-produce, others carry water, others smooth and
arrange the combs. A bee carries water when it is rearing grubs. No
bee ever settles on the flesh of any creature, or ever eats animal
food. They have no fixed date for commencing work; but when their
provender is forthcoming and they are in comfortable trim, and by
preference in summer, they set to work, and when the weather is fine
they work incessantly.
The bee, when quite young and in fact only three days old, after
shedding its chrysalis-case, begins to work if it be well fed. When
a swarm is settling, some bees detach themselves in search of food and
return back to the swarm. In hives that are in good condition the
production of young bees is discontinued only for the forty days
that follow the winter solstice. When the grubs are grown, the bees
put food beside them and cover them with a coating of wax; and, as
soon as the grub is strong enough, he of his own accord breaks the lid
and comes out. Creatures that make their appearance in hives and spoil
the combs the working-bees clear out, but the other bees from sheer
laziness look with indifference on damage done to their produce.
When the bee-masters take out the combs, they leave enough food behind
for winter use; if it be sufficient in quantity, the occupants of
the hive will survive; if it be insufficient, then, if the weather
be rough, they die on the spot, but if it be fair, they fly away and
desert the hive. They feed on honey summer and winter; but they
store up another article of food resembling wax in hardness, which
by some is called sandarace, or bee-bread. Their worst enemies are
wasps and the birds named titmice, and furthermore the swallow and the
bee-eater. The frogs in the marsh also catch them if they come in
their way by the water-side, and for this reason bee-keepers chase the
frogs from the ponds from which the bees take water; they destroy also
wasps' nests, and the nests of swallows, in the neighbourhood of the
hives, and also the nests of bee-eaters. Bees have fear only of one
another. They fight with one another and with wasps. Away from the
hive they attack neither their own species nor any other creature, but
in the close proximity of the hive they kill whatever they get hold
of. Bees that sting die from their inability to extract the sting
without at the same time extracting their intestines. True, they often
recover, if the person stung takes the trouble to press the sting out;
but once it loses its sting the bee must die. They can kill with their
stings even large animals; in fact, a horse has been known to have
been stung to death by them. The kings are the least disposed to
show anger or to inflict a sting. Bees that die are removed from the
hive, and in every way the creature is remarkable for its cleanly
habits; in point of fact, they often fly away to a distance to void
their excrement because it is malodorous; and, as has been said,
they are annoyed by all bad smells and by the scent of perfumes, so
much so that they sting people that use perfumes.
They perish from a number of accidental causes, and when their
kings become too numerous and try each to carry away a portion of
the swarm.
The toad also feeds on bees; he comes to the doorway of the
hive, puffs himself out as he sits on the watch, and devours the
creatures as they come flying out; the bees can in no way retaliate,
but the bee-keeper makes a point of killing him.
As for the class of bee that has been spoken of as inferior or
good-for-nothing, and as constructing its combs so roughly, some
bee-keepers say that it is the young bees that act so from
inexperience; and the bees of the current year are termed young. The
young bees do not sting as the others do; and it is for this reason
that swarms may be safely carried, as it is of young bees that they
are composed. When honey runs short they expel the drones, and the
bee-keepers supply the bees with figs and sweet-tasting articles of
food. The elder bees do the indoor work, and are rough and hairy
from staying indoors; the young bees do the outer carrying, and are
comparatively smooth. They kill the drones also when in their work

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