Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/29

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THE HONEY-BEE.

APIS MELLIFICA. PLATE I.


INTRODUCTION.

The domestic Honey-Bee has excited a lively and almost universal interest from the earliest ages. The philosopher and the poet have each delighted in the study of an insect whose nature and habits afford such ample scope for inquiry and contemplation; and even the less intellectual peasant, while not insensible of the profit arising from its judicious culture, has regarded, with pleasure and admiration, its ingenious operations and unceasing activity. "Wise in their government," observes the venerable Kirby, "diligent and active in their employments, devoted to their young and to their queen, the Bees read a lecture to mankind that exemplifies their oriental name Deburah, she that speaketh."

So high did the ancients carry their admiration of this tiny portion of animated nature, that one philosopher, it is said, made it the sole object of his study for nearly three-score years ; another retired to the woods, and devoted to its contemplation the whole of his life; while the great Latin poet, the