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Do Bees Injure The Crop?


Many people contend that bees are an injury to this crop, by taking
away the substance that would be formed into grain. The best reasons
for this opinion that I have obtained are these: "I believe it, and
have thought so a long time." "It is reasonable if a portion of this
plant is taken away by the bees, there must be a less quantity of
material left for the formation of seed, &c." Most of us have learned
that a person's opinion is not the strongest kind of proof, unless he
can exhibit substantial reasons for it. Are the above reasons
satisfactory? How are the facts? The flowers expand, and a set of
vessels pour into the cup or nectary a minute portion of honey. I am
not aware that any one contends that the plant has another set of
vessels prepared to again absorb this honey and convert it into grain.
But strong testimony proves very plainly that it never again enters the
stalk or flower, but evaporates like water. We all know that animal
matter when putrid will be dissolved into particles small enough to
float in the atmosphere, too minute for the naked eye. When passing off
in this way this real flesh and blood would escape notice perhaps
altogether, and never be detected, were it not for the olfactories,
which on some occasions notify us of its presence very forcibly. In
passing a field of buckwheat in bloom, by the same means we are assured
of the presence of honey in the air. Now what is the difference whether
this honey passes off in the air, or is collected by the bees? If any
difference, the advantage appears to be in favor of the bees getting
it, for the reason that it thus answers another important end in the
economy of nature, consistent with her provisions in ten thousand
different ways of adapting means to ends. Most breeders of domestic
animals are aware of the deteriorating qualities induced by in-and-in
breeding; a change of breed is found necessary for perfection, &c.

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