Are Not Bees An Advantage To Vegetation?

Vegetable physiology seems to indicate a similar necessity in that

department. The stamens and pistils of flowers answer the different

organs of the two sexes in animals. The pistil is connected with the

ovaries, the stamens furnish the pollen that must come in contact with

the pistil; in other words, it _must be impregnated_ by this dust from

the stamens, or no fruit will be produced. Now if it be necessary to

change the breed, or essential that the pollen produced by the stamens

of one flower shall fertilize the pistil of another, to prevent

barrenness, what should we contrive better than the arrangement already

made by Him who knew the necessity and planned it accordingly? And it

works so admirably, that we can hardly avoid the conclusion _that bees

were intended for this important purpose_! It is thus planned! Their

wants and their food shall consist of honey and pollen; each flower

secretes but little, just enough to attract the bee; nothing like a

full load is obtained from one; were it thus, the end in view would not

be answered; but a hundred or more flowers are often visited in one

excursion; the pollen obtained from the first may fertilize many,

previous to the bees' returning to the hive; thus a field of buckwheat

may be kept in health and vigor in its future productions. A field of

wheat produces long slender stalks that yield to the influence of the

breeze, and one ear is made to bestow its pollen on a neighboring ear

several feet distant, thereby effecting just what bees do for

buckwheat. Corn, from its manner of growth, the upright stalk bearing

the stamens some feet above the pistils, on the ears below, seems to

need no agency of bees; the superabundant pollen from the tassel is

wafted by the winds rods from the producing stalk, and there does its

office of fertilizing a distant ear, as is proved by different

varieties mixing at some distance. But how is it with our vines

trailing on the earth, a part of these flowers producing stamens, the

other only pistils? Now it _is absolutely essential_ that pollen from

the staminate flowers shall be introduced into the pistillate to

produce fruit; because if a failure occurs in this matter the germ will

wither and die. Here we have the agent ready for our purpose; these

flowers are visited by the bee promiscuously; no pollen (as was said)

is kneaded into pellets, (particularly that from pumpkins,) but it

adheres to every part of their body, rendering it next to impossible

for a bee thus covered with dust to enter the pistillated flower

without fulfilling the important duty designed, and leave a portion of

the fertilizing dust in its proper place. Hence it is reasonably

inferred by many, that if it was not for this agent among our vines,

the uncertainty of a crop from non-fertilization would render the

cultivation of them a useless task.

When the aphis is located on the stalk or leaf of a plant it is

furnished with means to pierce the surface and extract the juices

essential to the formation of the plant, thereby preventing vigorous

growth and a full development. This idea is too apt to be associated

with the bee when she visits the flower, as if she was armed with a

spear, to pierce bark or stem and rob it of its nourishment. Her real

structure is lost sight of, or perhaps never known; her slender

brush-like tongue folded closely under her neck, and seldom seen except

when in use, is not fitted to pierce the most delicate substance; all

that it can be used for is to sweep or lick up the nectar as it exudes

from the pores of the flower, secreted, it would seem, for no other

purpose but to attract her--while there she obtains nothing but what

nature has provided for her and given her the means of obtaining, and

the most delicate petal receives no injury.

During an excursion the bee seldom visits more than a single species of

flower; were it otherwise, and all kinds of flowers were visited

promiscuously, by fertilizing one species with the pollen from another,

the vegetable kingdom would be very likely to get into confusion.

Writers, when noticing the peculiarity of instinct governing the bee

here, cannot be content always, but must add other marvels. They follow

this trait into the hive, and make her store every kind by itself

there. Relative to honey it is not an easy matter to be positive; but

pollen is of a variety of colors, generally yellow, yet sometimes

pale-green, and reddish or dark-brown. Now I think a little patient

inspection would have satisfied any one that two kinds _are_ sometimes

packed in one cell, and prevented the assertion to the contrary. I will

admit that two colors are seldom found packed together, but sometimes

will be. I have thus found it, and it has entirely ruined that theory

for me.

Are All The Birds Guilty? Are Not Bees Directed Alone By Instinct? facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail