Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/30

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THE HONEY-BEE.

enthusiastic Virgil, stating, and probably adopting, a prevalent opinion, speaks of the Bee as "having received a direct emanation from the divine intelligence." After all this study, however, these enthusiastic admirers have thrown but little light on the real nature of this extraordinary insect; and while they have handed down to us many judicious precepts for its practical treatment, their disquisitions on its natural history can now only excite a smile. The chief cause of this failure may be fairly ascribed, perhaps, to the want of those facilities for discovery which modern science has afforded, and by which the most hidden mysteries of Bee economy are rendered clear and palpable. A host of writers on the nature of the Bee appeared during the last century, who, availing themselves of the improvements in general science, made many interesting additions to our stock of knowledge on the subject. Swammerdam, Maraldi, Reaumur, Bonnet, Schirach, and more recently Huber on the Continent, and Thorley, Wildman, Keys, Hunter, and Bonner, among ourselves, multiplied, a hundred-fold, the discoveries of Aristotle, Columella, and Varo; and the vague conjectures and fabulous details of the latter philosophers, have been succeeded by rational research and discriminating experiment. But even in the investigations of the first named writers, not excepting the most accurate and successful experimenter of them all, the indefatigable Huber, there are some obvious errors which longer experience and observation have been enabled to detect, and some questionable state-