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History of Animals   


they are confined for room; the drones, by the way, live in the
innermost recess of the hive. On one occasion, when a hive was in a
poor condition, some of the occupants assailed a foreign hive; proving
victorious in a combat they took to carrying off the honey; when the
bee-keeper tried to kill them, the other bees came out and tried to
beat off the enemy but made no attempt to sting the man.
The diseases that chiefly attack prosperous hives are first of all
the clerus-this consists in a growth of little worms on the floor,
from which, as they develop, a kind of cobweb grows over the entire
hive, and the combs decay; another diseased condition is indicated
in a lassitude on the part of the bees and in malodorousness of the
hive. Bees feed on thyme; and the white thyme is better than the
red. In summer the place for the hive should be cool, and in winter
warm. They are very apt to fall sick if the plant they are at work
on be mildewed. In a high wind they carry a stone by way of ballast to
steady them. If a stream be near at hand, they drink from it and
from it only, but before they drink they first deposit their load;
if there be no water near at hand, they disgorge their honey as they
drink elsewhere, and at once make off to work. There are two seasons
for making honey, spring and autumn; the spring honey is sweeter,
whiter, and in every way better than the autumn honey. Superior
honey comes from fresh comb, and from young shoots; the red honey is
inferior, and owes its inferiority to the comb in which it is
deposited, just as wine is apt to be spoiled by its cask;
consequently, one should have it looked to and dried. When the thyme
is in flower and the comb is full, the honey does not harden. The
honey that is golden in hue is excellent. White honey does not come
from thyme pure and simple; it is good as a salve for sore eyes and
wounds. Poor honey always floats on the surface and should be
skimmed off; the fine clear honey rests below. When the floral world
is in full bloom, then they make wax; consequently you must then
take the wax out of the hive, for they go to work on new wax at
once. The flowers from which they gather honey are as follows: the
spindle-tree, the melilot-clover, king's-spear, myrtle,
flowering-reed, withy, and broom. When they work at thyme, they mix in
water before sealing up the comb. As has been already stated, they all
either fly to a distance to discharge their excrement or make the
discharge into one single comb. The little bees, as has been said, are
more industrious than the big ones; their wings are battered; their
colour is black, and they have a burnt-up aspect. Gaudy and showy
bees, like gaudy and showy women, are good-for-nothings.
Bees seem to take a pleasure in listening to a rattling noise; and
consequently men say that they can muster them into a hive by rattling
with crockery or stones; it is uncertain, however, whether or no
they can hear the noise at all and also whether their procedure is due
to pleasure or alarm. They expel from the hive all idlers and
unthrifts. As has been said, they differentiate their work; some
make wax, some make honey, some make bee-bread, some shape and mould
combs, some bring water to the cells and mingle it with the honey,
some engage in out-of-door work. At early dawn they make no noise,
until some one particular bee makes a buzzing noise two or three times
and thereby awakes the rest; hereupon they all fly in a body to
work. By and by they return and at first are noisy; then the noise
gradually decreases, until at last some one bee flies round about,
making a buzzing noise, and apparently calling on the others to go
to sleep; then all of a sudden there is a dead silence.
The hive is known to be in good condition if the noise heard
within it is loud, and if the bees make a flutter as they go out and
in; for at this time they are constructing brood-cells. They suffer
most from hunger when they recommence work after winter. They become
somewhat lazy if the bee-keeper, in robbing the hive, leave behind too
much honey; still one should leave cells numerous in proportion to the
population, for the bees work in a spiritless way if too few combs are
left. They become idle also, as being dispirited, if the hive be too

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