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Derham, who is celebrated for his curious microscopical observations, relates, that he counted eight beards, like those of fish-hooks, upon each dart in the sting of a wasp; and the same number may be seen, with good glasses, in that of a bee. One of these darts is rather longer than the other, and pierces the flesh first: the others follow instantly. They penetrate, deeper and deeper, alternately, with their beards or hooks, till the whole sting is buried in the flesh, and then the insertion of the poisonous juice finishes the process. If the person who is stung has presence of mind to remain still, the bee instinctively draws the beards close to the sides of the darts, and the sting comes out whole; but if the insect is disturbed, and attempts to draw the sting hastily, the beard prevents its return, and it is generally left in the wound, which increases the pain and retards the cure.
HENRY. I was stung severely last summer, which makes me run away whenever I hear a bee or wasp buzz near me.
MRS. HARCOURT. It would be wiser to remain quiet, without changing your posture.
There is scarcely any danger to be apprehended from them, even were you surrounded by a whole swarm, unless you excite their resentment by moving, or by buffeting them.
AUGUSTA. Why do you particularize the working bees: are there more kinds than one in the same hive?
CECILIA. The working bees form the great body of the hive, which is always governed by a sovereign queen, of whom I shall give you a particular description presently. She has also another kind of subjects, called drones, which differ considerably from the labourers.
AUGUSTA. I have frequently amused myself with looking at bees, as they were flying from one flower to another; but I never observed any distinction between them.
MRS. HARCOURT. The want of accurate observation is the general source of ignorance. Exert all your diligence, children, to acquire the habit of seeing every thing with an attentive eye. Common objects are mostly regarded with indifference, by the thoughtless ' and ill-educated; and had not philosophers
bestowed a patient investigation upon many things esteemed trivial and insignificant, some of the most useful and curious discoveries in natural history must have remained unknown. Now, Cecilia, to satisfy our impatience, acquaint us with the offices and dignity of her humming majesty.
CECILIA. The body of the queen bee is longer and larger than that of the rest of the swarm. As she seldom leaves the hive, except for the purpose of settling a new colony, she has but little occasion for dexterity in flying. Her wings are, indeed, but ill adapted to that exercise; being short, and scarcely reaching beyond the middle of her body, the hinder part of which is more taper, and terminates sharper than the bodies of the other bees. The under part of her belly and her legs, are of a brilliant gold colour. She is the mother of the hive, as well as its sovereign, and is followed, wherever she goes, with the most dutiful obedience, by her children and subjects. A hive cannot subsist without a queen, as she is the only female which produces eggs. Nor do they ever permit more
than one of them to remain alive in the same hive. If she happen to find a rival, they fight till one is killed; being armed with a powerful sting, which she seldom uses, except in contests for empire, or when unusually provoked. The queen bee is very prolific, laying several thousand eggs every season. She generally lies concealed in the most secret part of the hive, and is never visible but when she deposits her eggs in those combs which are exposed to view. She is always attended by ten or a dozen of the common bees, which form a kind of retinue. These courtiers follow their mistress with a solemn pace, in her progress from one cell to another. She examines, with care, the cell where she intends to leave an egg, lest there should be honey, wax, or any embryo in it. If she finds it empty, she fixes a small white egg to the bottom of it, which is composed of a thin membrane or skin, filled with a whitish liquor. Should the queen inadvertently lay more than one egg in the same cell, her attendants, the working bees, remove the supernumerary one. When a queen dies accidentally, the whole
community desists from its accustomed labour, consumes the store of honey, and its members fly about their own hive, and others that are near them, at those hours when they should be at rest: they pine away with grief, and mourn her loss by a clear and uninterrupted humming, which should be a token to their owner, either to take the remainder of the honey, or to find them a new sovereign; at the sight of whom joy returns, and her presence animates the whole hive to fresh exertions to industry and activity.
MR. HARCOURT. Charles, I think you are acquainted with the secret that enabled Mr. Wildman to astonish every body, by the extraordinary feats he performed with bees.
CHARLES. The facility with which he managed them appeared like magic. He found the means of making a swarm alight just where he pleased, in a few moments. Sometimes he commanded them to settle upon his head, or to form a beard upon his chin, hanging one by another. Then he would order them to remove to his hand, or any other part of his body; or, if more agreeable to the com