The Honey Bee
One can hardly believe that this small, ever busy creature each year gathers many million dollars worth of products for man in this country alone to say nothing of its inestimable value on the farm and especially in the orchard, where it assists in carrying pollen from blossom to blossom. It is of far greater value to man as a carrier of pollen than it is as a honey gatherer and yet under especially favorable conditions in one year a strong colony may produce between twenty-five and thirty dollars worth of honey.
Worker, queen and drone honey bees; all about natural size. (After Phillips, U. S. Dept. of Agri.)
Stages of development of honey bee; a, egg; b, young grub; c, full-fed grub; d, pupa; all enlarged. (After Phillips, U. S. Dept. Agri.)
The general habits of the bee are fairly well known by all. They live in colonies consisting largely of workers, one female or queen and males or drones. Whenever the number of workers becomes sufficiently large to warrant a division of the colony, a young queen is reared by the workers and just before she matures, the old queen leaves with about half of the workers to establish a new colony. This division of the colony is called swarming. If a hive, box or other acceptable home is not provided soon after the swarm comes out and clusters, it may fly to the woods and establishes itself in a hollow tree where the regular work of honey gathering is continued. This accounts for so many bee-trees in the woods. The bee has been handled by man for ages, but it readily becomes wild when allowed to escape to the woods.
The bee colony offers one of the best examples to show what can be accomplished by united effort where harmony prevails. Certain of the workers gather honey, others are nurses for the queen and young brood in the hive, others guard the hive and repel intruders, and others care for the hive by mending breaks and providing new comb as it is needed. Each knows its work and goes about it without interfering with the work of others. It is one huge assemblage of individuals under one roof where harmony and industry prevail.
Throughout the long, hot summer days the workers are busy from daylight until dark gathering nectar, while at night they force currents of air thru the hive to evaporate the excess water from the nectar. When flowers are not available near the hive they simply fly until they find them, be it one, two or more miles. As long as they are able to gather honey they continue to do so and when they give out they drop in the field and are forgotten, others rushing to take their place. Often when winter is approaching and the store of honey is low the less vigorous ones are cast out from the hive and left to die. If man could learn a few of the lessons which the bee teaches, he would be a better, a more useful and a wiser addition to society.
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