Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/202

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

had covered the alighting-board like a heavy dew, is rapidly dried up by the great increase of heat.

A swarm on the wing is a most agreeable spectacle to the Bee-master. It is true his harvest of honey might be more plentiful, were the population to remain undivided, and be accommodated with additional room, either by means of storifying or collateral hiving; still, to the lover of nature, the development of the instincts and habits of this interesting insect, which takes place in the process of swarming, is a source of genuine pleasure. At the same time, it must be owned, this pleasure is not always unmingled with anxiety, for his winged favourites sometimes mount high in the air and fly off, perhaps to a habitation previously chosen, and to which they are guided by their scouts. To prevent this evil, the owner and his assistant must hasten to throw up amongst them handfuls of small gravel or earth, which has generally the effect of bringing them down. If it fail, and they seem determined to travel, the owner must prepare himself to follow; for the insects, when thus disposed to wander, condense their straggling circles, and dart off with great rapidity, always in a straight line, and generally against the wind. To put a stop to their flight, the common practice is to make all sorts of noises, ringing of bells, beating of pans and other sonorous vessels.[1] Long

  1. Butler thinks that these noises were originally intended to proclaim to the neighbourhood that a swarm had risen, and that they might know whence it came, and to whom it belonged.