Queen Described

The queen is the mother of the entire family; her duty appears to be

only to deposit eggs in the cells. Her abdomen has its full size very

abruptly where it joins the trunk or body, and then gradually tapers to

a point. She is longer than either the drones or workers, but her size,

in other respects, is a medium between the two. In shape she resembles

the worker more than the drone; and, like the worker, has a sting, but

will not use it for anything below royalty. She is nearly destitute of

down, or hairs; a very little may be seen about her head and trunk.

This gives her a dark, shining appearance, on the upper side--some are

nearly black. Her legs are somewhat longer than those of a worker; the

two posterior ones, and the under surface, are often of a bright copper

color. In some of them a yellow stripe nearly encircles the abdomen at

the joints, and meets on the back. Her wings are about the same as the

workers, but as her abdomen is much longer, they only reach about

two-thirds the length of it. For the first few days after leaving the

cell, her size is much less than after she has assumed her maternal

duties. She seldom, perhaps never, leaves the hive, except when leading

a swarm, and when but a few days old, to meet the drones, in the air,

for the purpose of fecundation. The manner of the queen's impregnation

is yet a disputed point, and probably never witnessed by any one. The

majority of close observers, I believe, are of opinion that the drones

are the males, and that sexual connection takes place in the air,[1]

performing their amours while on the wing, like the humble-bee and some

other insects. It appears that one impregnation is operative during her

life, as old queens are not afterwards seen coming out for that purpose.

[1] The objectors to this hypothesis will be generally found

among those who are unable to give a more plausible elucidation.

Those who oppose the fact that one bee is the mother of the whole

family, will probably be in the same class.

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