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Two Sides Of The Question

Categories: BEE PASTURAGE.
Bee Keeping: Mysteries Of Bee-keeping Explained

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

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.