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in some other respects, as in those I have already remarked. They defend the hives from the intrusion of other insects, by gluing up every avenue by which they might gain an entrance; and sentinels are appointed to watch the mouth of the hive, to prevent the admission of a stranger; but if a snail, or other large insect, should, by any means, elude their vigilence, they sting it to death, and encrust it with a coat of propolis, to prevent maggots, or a disagreeable smell issuing from the putrefaction of so large an animal. It is conjectured that bees are sensible of the approach of bad weather. You may sometimes see them, though ever so busily at work, suddenly desist from their labour, and return home in such crowds, that the door of their habitation cannot admit them. Look at the sky, and you will perceive the cause of all this bustle, in the gathering of small clouds that foretel rain. It is said, that no bee is ever caught, even in a sudden shower, unless at a great distance from home, or in a sick or disabled state. They crowd together in the middle of the hive, in order to protect them
selves from the cold, which is very injurious to them. Upon every occasion, they appear to be endued with a sagacity superior to most other insects, of whose economy we are informed.
CHARLES. I think there are several species of bees. Can you favour us with particulars relative to any of the rest?
CECILIA. Linnæus enumerates fifty-five; some of which live in society, whilst others dwell and labour in solitude, building cradles for the reception of their infant progeny: as the leaf-cutter bee does with the leaf of the rose-tree; the upholsterer, with the gaudy tapestry of the corn-rose; the mason-bee, with a plaster; and the wood-piercer, with saw-dust. Various are the modes of building, as well as the materials they use, according to their different instincts, and the climates they inhabit. The honey-bee, which has taken up so much of our attention, is, in some degree, domesticated, and its manners differ from those in a wild state, as hives are provided by man, for it to build its comb in. MRS. HARCOURT. The management of bees
is an art which it would take up too much of our time to define; but some observations relative to it, will serve to illustrate what has been already said. The first care is to choose a situation for the apiary, that is neither too much exposed to the rays of the sun, nor to the cold. A supply of food is the next consideration, which greatly depends upon the abundance of those plants in the neghbourhood, which yield honey in plenty. Thyme, heath, and broom, are thought excellent for the purpose; as well as many others, which I shall pass over. As some situations are deficient in this respect at certain seasons, contrivances have been used, in countries where bees form an essential branch of agricultural economy, to remove them from one place to another. In many parts of France, it is not unusual to see floating bee-houses. They will put from sixty to a hundred hives on board one barge, well defended from the injuries. that might be occasioned by an accidental storm. By this conveyance they float gently down the river, feeding on the flowery pastures on its banks; and, by the honey they
collect during the voyage, repay their owner for the trouble of removing them.
MR. HARCOURT. Pliny relates a similar custom among the ancients. The Egyptians also avail themselves of the advantage of the difference of climate between Upper and Lower Egypt. The productions of spring are full six weeks forwarder in Upper Egypt, which induces the bee-owners of the lower division to embark their hives on the Nile, at the proper season for reaping the benefit of the advanced state of vegetation in that country, and to bring them back time enough to collect the rich produce of the fields in their own neighbourhood.
CHARLES. This is one, among numberless instances, of the improvement that animals receive from living under the government of man. This well-chosen change of situation affords them an opportunity of making a much larger quantity of honey, than they could possibly do if left to themselves.
MRS. HARCOURT. Consistently with that wisdom which shines forth in every part of creation, insects that feed upon leaves,
flowers, and green, succulent plants, are generally in a torpid, inactive state, during the winter, when they cannot provide themselves a subsistence abroad. Though bees are pretty much in this state, and eat little whilst cold weather lasts; yet, if their honey be taken away, they require to be supplied with a sufficiency for their support, or they must inevitably perish.
SOPHIA. It appears to me the height of ingratitude and cruelty, to destroy the bees when we rob them of their treasure.
MRS. HARCOURT. It is a common practice to destroy these industrious, useful insects, when their hives are plundered, by digging a hole near them, and putting a stick into the hole, at the end of which is fastened a rag that has been dipped in melted brimstone; the rag is set on fire, the hive is placed over it, and the earth is immediately thrown up all round, so that none of the smoke escapes. In a quarter of an hour all the poor bees appear to be dead, and are soon irrecoverably so, by being buried in the earth that is returned back into the hole.