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Two Sides Of The Question


If we suppose that the eggs are all alike, and the subsequent treatment
makes either workers, drones, or queens, and look to analogy for
support, we shall find much against, as well as for it. For instance,
we find in almost every department of animated nature, that the sex of
the germ of a future being is decided before being separated from the
parent, as the eggs of fowls, &c. Another fact, some queens (averaging
one in sixty or eighty) deposit eggs that produce only drones,[8]
whether in worker or drone-cells, proving that sex is decided in this
case beyond controversy. Hence it would appear reasonable, if sex was
decided by the ovaries of the queen, in one case, it would be in

[8] I have had several such. It made no difference whether the
eggs were in the worker-cells or drone-cells, the brood was all
drones. When in the worker-cells, (and the majority was there,)
they required to be lengthened about one-third. In an occurrence
of this kind, the colony of workers will rapidly diminish in
number, until too few are left to protect the combs from the
moth. It occurs most frequently in spring, but I once had a case
the last of summer. The first indications are an unusual number
of caps, or covers of cells, being under and about the hive; the
workers, instead of increasing, grow less in number. When you
fear this state of things, make a thorough examination, blow
under the hive some tobacco smoke, as directed in pruning, invert
the hive, part the combs till you can see the brood; if the
worker-cells contain drones, they are readily perceived, as they
project beyond the usual even surface, being very irregular, here
and there a few, or perhaps but one sticking out. The worker-brood,
when in their own cells, form nearly an even surface; so of the
drones. The only remedy that I have found is to destroy this
queen, and substitute another, which can be obtained in the
swarming season, or in the fall, better than at other times. To
find the queen, paralyze with puff-ball, &c. For directions see
fall management.

To allow the bees the power of making three kinds of bees from one kind
of eggs, which would be virtually constituting a third sex, an anomaly
not often found. The drones being males, and workers imperfect females
with generative organs undeveloped, renders the anomaly of the third
sex unnecessary. On the other side it might be said in reply: That if
food and treatment would create or produce organs of generation in the
female, by making an egg destined for a worker into a queen, (a fact
which all apiarians admit,) why not food and treatment make the drone?
Is the difficulty of developing _one_ kind of sexual organs greater
than another?

Respecting the anomaly of the eggs of some queens producing only
drones, the question might be asked, Is this more of an anomaly than
that of ordinary queens which are said to germinate eggs in distinct
series? It is all out of the usual line. Other animals or insects
usually produce the sexes promiscuously. As we are ignorant of causes
deciding sex in any case, we must acknowledge mystery to belong to both
sides of the question here. The stumbling-block of more than two sexes,
which seems so necessary to make plain, is no greater here than with
some species of ants, that have, as we are told, king, queen, soldier
and laborer. Four distinct and differently formed bodies, all belonging
to one nest, and descended from one mother. Whether there are four
distinct kinds of eggs producing them, or the power is given to the
workers to develop such as are wanted, from one kind, we cannot say. If
we make two kinds of eggs, it helps the matter but very little. There
is still an anomaly. There is but one perfect female in a nest to
germinate eggs, and the myriads produced (being over 80,000 in
twenty-four hours, according to some historians) shows that the
fecundity of our queen-bee is not a parallel case by any means. And yet
they are similar, by having their offspring provided for without an
effort of their own.

I shall leave this matter for the present, hoping that _something
conclusive_ may occur in the course of my experiments, or those of
others. At present I am inclined to think that the eggs are all alike,
but am not fully satisfied.

I am aware that this matter is of but little value or interest to many,
but myself and a few others have "Yankee inquisitiveness" pretty well
developed, and would like to _know_ how it _was_ managed.

As for workers proving occasionally fertile, I have but little to say.
After years of close observation directed to this point, I have been
unable to discover anything to establish this opinion. Neither have I
found the black bees described by some authors. It is true that in the
middle or latter part of summer a portion will be much darker than
others, and perhaps rather smaller, and some of them with their wings
somewhat worn, probably the result of continued labor, peculiar food,
or some incidental circumstance.

I have a few times found a humble-bee under the hive, that had entered,
and not finding his way out readily, was speedily shorn of his
beautiful "locks," and consequently his strength--that is, every
particle of hair, down, feathers, bristles, or whatever he had been
covered with, was completely removed by the bees, who had no regard for
his beautiful alternating stripes of yellow and brown; which left him
the very picture of darkness.

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Previous: Necessity For Further Observation

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