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attendant bees is now changed from that of feeding the worm, to fastening up the top of the cell with a lid of wax, and cherishing the brood, and advancing the approaching transformation by their natural heat. In this concealment the worm prepares a web of silk, in the manner of the silk-worm. This web forms a lining to the cell, and affords a convenient covering for the change of the worm into a nymph or chrysalis. In the space of eighteen or twenty days the change is effected, and the bee endeavours to extricate itself from its dark and narrow prison, by forcing its way with its teeth, through the lid of the cell. One horn appears first, then the head, and at last the whole body. This expansion to life and liberty, is sometimes the work of half a day. The bee, when released from its fetters, stands upon the surface of the comb, till it has acquired its natural. complexion, and a degree of vigour and maturity to enable it to labour. The rest of the bees gather round it in this state, celebrate its birth, and feed it with honey out of their own mouths. The shell of the chrysalis, and the scattered
pieces of wax which are left in the cell, are removed by the working bees; and the receptacle is no sooner cleared from the relics of its former inhabitant, and ready to receive another, than the queen again deposits an egg in it. The hair which covers the bodies of the young bees being whitish, causes them to have the appearance of a grey colour; but they gradually lose that hue, and become brown.
MRS. HARCOURT. As the eggs which are destined to become drones, are to produce larger insects than those of the common bees; so they are laid in cells of more extensive dimensions, and their coverings are raised convex, like a small dome, whilst the others are flat-roofed. Those cells which are intended for the reception of the royal maggots, are built upon a very different model from any of the rest. They are of a longish, oblong form, having one end bigger than the other, with their outward surface full of little cavities. They are sometimes fixed in the middle, and at other times in the side of a comb. Several common cells are sacrificed to form a founda
tion and support to it. As soon as the young queen comes out of her cell, it is destroyed, and the vacancy filled up with common cells; but, as the base remains, the comb is found thicker in that part than in any other. There are apartments prepared in every hive, for the rearing of several queens, lest by any accident they should be deprived of their sovereign mistress, and have none to replace her. When the members of the commonwealth are become too numerous for the extent of their city, by the addition of the young brood, a part of them, conducted by one of the young queens, leaves the parent state, and seeks a more convenient situation elsewhere. A new swarm is always composed of a queen, several thousand working bees, (among which there is a mixture of old and young,) and some hundreds of drones. The moment the colony has chosen a new residence, the labourers begin to work with the utmost diligence, to procure materials for food and building. Apparently conscious that their queen is ready to lay her eggs, they are more anxious to provide
cells for her progeny, than for the storing of honey. Such is their industry, that they will form combs twenty inches in length, and proportionably wide, in the space of a day and night. If the weather is favourable, they make more wax during the first fortnight, than in all the rest of the season.
CHARLES. The community of bees does not excel in the arts of peace only: it is skilled in the destructive science of war. I have seen whole hives engaged in a pitched battle. When one state has been, by some circumstance, plundered of its honied store, hunger and necessity have compelled its members to seek a fresh supply in a neighbouring hive, from which they have been vigorously driven away by its owners. Great skill is observable in these contests, in the manner of pointing the sting between the scaly rings of their adversaries' bodies. But it often happens that the conqueror gains the victory at the price of his life; for, if he leaves the sting in the wound, part of his bowels follow it, and certain death is the consequence.
AUGUSTA. The construction of the combs must be very curious. I long to hear a minute description of the inside of the hive, and the methods used by the bees in working.
MRS. HARCOURT. Our subject has far exceeded the limits I expected.. Many things relative to this interesting topic remain to be explained; but the evening is far advanced, and Cecilia must resume her information tomorrow night. Adieu, my beloved children.
MRS. HARCOURT. We are assembled earlier than usual, which is rather fortunate, as, I conjecture, we shall find sufficient matter for a long conversation.
AUGUSTA. However late it may continue, I shall not think it tedious. The particulars I have already heard, only excite me to wish to hear more concerning the bees. I shall not be satisfied till I possess some of my own, and