Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/255

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251
COMMON HUMBLE-BEE.

males, and the workers, all perish before the cold season arrives.

M. P. Huber, to whom we are indebted for many of the foregoing facts, relates a very interesting anecdote of the instinctive resourses of this insect. While carrying on an experiment respecting the elaboration of wax, he placed a piece of brood-comb with a dozen bees under a bell glass, taking away from them every particle of wax, and furnishing them with farina only. The comb, from the irregularity of its shape, did not rest steadily on the table; and when the bees mounted on it, to impart the necessary warmth to the brood, its rocking motion seemed to annoy them extremely. They had no wax wherewith to remedy the evil; but their instinct, and their intense affection for their young supplied an ingenious expedient. A few of them mounted the comb, and letting their bodies down towards its lower edge, suspended themselves from it, head downwards, by the hooks of their hinder feet; and with those of the second pair of legs which are very long, laid hold on the table, and thus steadied the mass by the mere force of muscular strength. (Pl. VIII. fig. 4.) In this posture they remained till relieved by others, the mother herself lending her aid; and they continued the painful task for two or three days. In the mean time, some honey with which they had at length been supplied, furnished them with the means of producing wax, with which they immediately set about constructing pillars, having their bases resting on the table, and support-