[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
THE Wasp is a very fierce, dangerous, and most rapacious insect; it is much larger than the bee, and furnished with a powerful sting. The belly is striped with yellow and black. They make a curious hive, which they hang at the top of a barn or other place, and sometimes under the bark of a large tree. They live there nearly under the same regulations as the bees do, and the building of the interior of their nests is admirable, being composed of pillars, galleries, and cells, where they educate their young to swarm at the appointed time.
HAS been celebrated by one of the best poets that ever existed, in the fourth book of his Georgics, where the most admirable episode of the shepherd Aristeus gives a curious, but most erroneous relation of the origin of the Bee. This insect seems to have been ordered into life by nature to toil and work for the benefit of man. The Bee by her exertions affords us two of the principal necessaries of life, food and light; and although they appear to gather the honey and wax merely for their own comfort, yet the industry of man has turned their labour to his own advantage. The Bee is a small insect of a brown colour, covered on the corselet and belly with hairs; they have four wings and six legs, the thighs are also covered with long bristles, around which they gather the pollen of the anthera of flowers, which they bring back to the hive, and then work it, by a particular manœuvre, into the wax of which the combs are made. Every cell in the comb is an hexagon, this shape being calculated to leave no place unoccupied in the hive; the eggs which are produced by the mothers, or Queen-Bees (for it is surmised that there is sometimes more than one in the hive), are deposited there; when hatched and turned into maggots, they are fed by the neutral or working inmates with honey, till after changing into larvæ, and passing some weeks in that shape, they arrive at the perfection of a Bee; and, as this metamorphosis is atchieved nearly on the same day, after living a few days in the hive, they are either forced to, or naturally prepared for swarming. The swarm generally escapes from the hive before noon, and clouding the air, settle soon on the branch of a tree, or under the eaves of roofs and of walls; from whence they are shaken into an empty hive-basket, which being properly set, they soon adopt, and fill with the produce of their industry. The hive contains between three and four thousand bees; they live several years, swarming once in the summer, so that one hive can produce several others in a few years. The whole republic is composed of three kinds of insects, the mother, or queen bee, the drones, and the neutral or working individuals; these do all the drudgery of the community, under exact and strict regulations; the drones attend on the queen, and are perfectly idle; they are the males. The queen is the only female in the whole company, and is generally well attended. She is easily known by her being much larger than the drone and the neutral, who have neither sex.
“ – Swarming next appear’d
The female bee, that feeds her husband drone
Deliciously, and builds her waxen cells,
With honey stor’d:” –
—————————————————–MILTON’S PARADISE LOST, b. vii.
IT would be curious to find the real etymology of the name of this small insect; it is well known, and often comes into our houses, and sits upon the hands and work of our ladies. It is perfectly harmless, and there are several species of them. They have a very small head, and a corselet, both black. The body and cases of the wings vary according to the different species; yet, in general, they are red, with black spots strewed upon them; some even present nearly a perfect representation of a death-head. It is a family of the numerous tribe of beetles or Scarabæi, and, like the rest, they undergo the above-mentioned transformations.