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Making Passages To Every Part Of Their Combs






Category: STRAINING HONEY AND WAX.

Should nearly all the combs in the hive become detached from any cause,
and lie on the bottom in one "grand smash of ruin," their first steps
are, as just described, pillars from one to the other to keep them as
they are. In a few days, in warm weather, they will have made passages
by biting away combs where they are in contact, throughout every part
of the mass; little columns of wax below, supporting the combs
above,--irregular, to be sure, but as well as circumstances admit. Not
a single piece can be removed without breaking it from the others, and
the whole will be firmly cemented together. A piece of comb filled with
honey, and sealed up, may be put in a glass box with the ends of these
cells so sealed, touching the glass. The principle of allowing no part
of their tenement to be in a situation inaccessible, is soon
manifested. They immediately bite off the ends of the cells, remove the
honey that is in the way, and make a passage next to the glass, leaving
a few bars from it to the comb, to steady and keep it in its position.
A single sheet of comb lying flat on the bottom-board of a populous
swarm is cut away under side, for a passage in every direction,
numerous little pillars of wax being left for its support. How any
person in the habit of watching their proceedings, with any degree of
attention, could come at the conclusion that the bees raised such comb
by mechanical means and then put under the props for its support, is
somewhat singular. Their efforts united for such a purpose like
reasonable beings, I never witnessed.

These things, considered as the effect of instinct, are none the less
wonderful on that account. I am not sure but the display of wisdom is
even greater than if the power of planning their own operations had
been given them.

I have mentioned these, to show that a course of action called forth by
the peculiar situation of one family, would be copied by another in a
similar emergency, without being aware of its ever being done before.
Were I engaged in a work of fiction, I might let fancy reign and
endeavor to amuse, but this is not the object. Let us endeavor then to
be content with truth, and not murmur with its reality. When we take a
survey of the astonishing regularity with which they construct their
combs without a teacher, and remember that the waxen material is formed
in the rings of their body, that for the first time in life, without an
experienced leader's direction, they apply a claw to detach it, that
they go forth to the fields and gather stores unbidden by a tyrant's
mandate, and throughout the whole cycle of their operations, one law
and power governs. Whoever would seek mind as the directing power, must
look beyond the sensorium of the bee for the source of all we behold in
them!





Next: Straining Honey And Wax

Previous: Mending Broken Combs



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