Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/37

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
35
THE HONEY-BEE.

This organ, beautiful in its construction, and admirably adapted to its end, serving to the insect the purpose of extracting the juices secreted in the nectaries of flowers, consists, principally, of a long slender piece, named, by entomologists, the Ligula, and erroneously, though, considering its position and use, not unnaturally, regarded as the tongue, (Wood-Cut, page 34,. fig. a.) It is, strictly speaking, formed by a prolongation of the lower lip. It is not tubular, as has been supposed, but solid throughout, consisting of a close succession of cartilaginous rings, above forty in number, each of which is fringed with very minute hairs, and having also a small tuft of hair at its extremity. It is of a flattish form, and about the thickness of a human hair; and from its cartilaginous structure, capable of being easily moved in all directions, rolling from side to side, and lapping or licking up whatever, by the aid of the hairy fringes, adheres to it. It is probably, by muscular motion, that the fluid which it laps, is propelled into the pharynx or canal, situated at its root, and through which it is conveyed to the honey-bag.

From the base of this lapping instrument, arise the labial Palpi or Feelers, composed of four articulations, (b, b.) of unequal length, the basal one being by much the longest, and whose peculiar oflice is to ascertain the nature of the food ; and both these and the ligula are protected from injury by the maxillae or lower jaws, (c, c.) which envelop them, when in a quiescent state, as between two demi-sheaths, and thus present the appearance of a single tube. About the middle of the maxillæ, are situated the maxillary