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The Process Of Rearing The Queen More Particularly Described

If in the early part of the season, the population of a hive becomes
uncomfortably crowded, the bees usually make preparations for swarming.
A number of royal cells are commenced, and they are placed almost always
upon those edges of the combs which are not attached to the sides of the
hive. These cells somewhat resemble a small ground-nut or pea-nut, and
are about an inch deep, and one-third of an inch in diameter: they are
very thick, and require a large quantity of material for their
construction. They are seldom seen in a perfect state, as the bees
nibble them away after the queen has hatched, leaving only their
remains, in the shape of a very small acorn-cup. While the other cells
open sideways, these always hang with their mouth _downwards_. Much
speculation has arisen as to the reason for this deviation: some have
conjectured that their peculiar position exerted an influence upon the
development of the royal larvae; while others, having ascertained that no
injurious effect was produced by turning them upwards, or placing them
in any other position, have considered this deviation as among the
inscrutable mysteries of the bee-hive. So it always seemed to me, until
more careful reflection enabled me to solve the problem. The queen cells
open downwards, simply _to save room_! The distance between the parallel
ranges of comb being usually less than half an inch, the bees could not
have made the royal cells to open sideways, without sacrificing the
cells opposite to them. In order to economize space, to the very utmost,
they put them upon the unoccupied edges of the comb, as the only place
where there is always plenty of room for such very large cells.

The number of royal cells varies greatly; sometimes there are only two
or three, ordinarily there are five or six, and I have occasionally seen
more than a dozen. They are not all commenced at once, for the bees do
not intend that the young queens shall all arrive at maturity, at the
same time. I do not consider it as fully settled, how the eggs are
deposited in these cells. In some few instances, I have known the bees
to transfer the eggs from common to queen cells, and this _may_ be their
general method of procedure. I shall hazard the conjecture that the
queen deposits her eggs in cells on the edges of the comb, in a crowded
state of the hive, and that some of these are afterwards enlarged and
changed into royal cells by the workers. Such is the instinctive hatred
of the queen to her own kind, that it does not seem to me probable, that
she is intrusted with even the initiatory steps for securing a race of
successors. That the eggs from which the young queens are produced, are
of the same kind with those producing workers, has been repeatedly
demonstrated. On examining the queen cells while they are in progress,
one of the first things which excites our notice, is the very unusual
amount of attention bestowed upon them by the workers. There is scarcely
a second in which a bee is not peeping into them, and just as fast as
one is satisfied, another pops its head in, to examine if not to report,
progress. The importance of their inmates to the bee-community, might
easily be inferred from their being the center of so much attraction.

Next: Royal Jelly

Previous: Age Of Bees

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