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THE TRIBULATIONS OF THE MASON BEE




To illustrate the methods of those who batten on others' goods, the
plunderers who know no rest till they have wrought the destruction of
the worker, it would be difficult to find a better instance than the
tribulations suffered by the Chalicodoma of the Walls. The Mason who
builds on the pebbles may fairly boast of being an industrious
workwoman. Throughout the month of May, we see her black squads, in
the full heat of the sun, digging with busy teeth in the mortar-quarry
of the road hard by. So great is her zeal that she hardly moves out of
the way of the passer-by; more than one allows herself to be crushed
underfoot, absorbed as she is in collecting her cement.

The hardest and driest spots, which still retain the compactness
imparted by the steam-roller, are the favourite veins; and the work of
making the pellet is slow and painful. It is scraped up atom by atom;
and, by means of saliva, turned into mortar then and there. When it is
all well kneaded and there is enough to make a load, the Mason sets
off with an impetuous flight, in a straight line, and makes for her
pebble, a few hundred paces away. The trowel of fresh mortar is soon
spent, either in adding another storey to the turret-shaped edifice,
or in cementing into the wall lumps of gravel that give it greater
solidity. The journeys in search of cement are renewed until the
structure attains the regulation height. Without a moment's rest, the
Bee returns a hundred times to the stone-yard, always to the one spot
recognized as excellent.

The victuals are now collected: honey and flower-dust. If there is a
pink carpet of sainfoin anywhere in the neighbourhood, 'tis there that
the Mason goes plundering by preference, though it cost her a four
hundred yards' journey every time. Her crop swells with honeyed
exudations, her belly is floured with pollen. Back to the cell, which
slowly fills; and back straightway to the harvest-field. And all day
long, with not a sign of weariness, the same activity is maintained as
long as the sun is high enough. When it is late, if the house is not
yet closed, the Bee retires to her cell to spend the night there, head
downwards, tip of her abdomen outside, a habit foreign to the
Chalicodoma of the Sheds. Then and then alone the Mason rests; but it
is a rest that is in a sense equivalent to work, for, thus placed, she
blocks the entrance to the honey-store and defends her treasure
against twilight or night marauders.

Being anxious to form some estimate of the total distance covered by
the Bee in the construction and provisioning of a single cell, I
counted the number of steps from a nest to the road where the mortar
was mixed and from the same nest to the sainfoin-field where the
harvest was gathered. I took such note as my patience permitted of the
journeys made in both directions; and, completing these data with a
comparison between the work done and that which remained to do, I
arrived at nine and a half miles as the result of the total
travelling. Of course, I give this figure only as a rough calculation;
greater precision would have demanded more perseverance than I can
boast.

Such as it is, the result, which is probably under the actual figure
in many cases, is of a kind that gives us a vivid idea of the Mason-
bee's activity. The complete nest will comprise about fifteen cells.
Moreover, the heap of cells will be coated at the end with a layer of
cement a good finger's-breadth thick. This massive fortification,
which is less finished than the rest of the work but more expensive in
materials, represents perhaps in itself one half of the complete task,
so that, to establish her dome, Chalicodoma muraria, coming and going
across the arid table-land, traverses altogether a distance of 275
miles, which is nearly half of the greatest dimension of France from
north to south. Afterwards, when, worn out with all this fatigue, the
Bee retires to a hiding-place to languish in solitude and die, she is
surely entitled to say:

'I have laboured, I have done my duty!'

Yes, certainly, the Mason has toiled with a vengeance. To ensure the
future of her offspring, she has spent her own life without reserve,
her long life of five or six weeks' duration; and now she breathes her
last, contented because everything is in order in the beloved house:
copious rations of the first quality; a shelter against the winter
frosts; ramparts against incursions of the enemy. Everything is in
order, at least so she thinks; but, alas, what a mistake the poor
mother is making! Here the hateful fatality stands revealed, aspera
fata, which ruins the producer to provide a living for the drone; here
we see the stupid and ferocious law that sacrifices the worker for the
idler's benefit. What have we done, we and the insects, to be ground
with sovran indifference under the mill-stone of such wretchedness?
Oh, what terrible, what heart-rending questions the Mason-bee's
misfortunes would bring to my lips, if I gave free scope to my sombre
thoughts! But let us avoid these useless whys and keep within the
province of the mere recorder.

There are some ten of them plotting the ruin of the peaceable and
industrious Bee; and I do not know them all. Each has her own tricks,
her own art of injury, her own exterminating tactics, so that no part
of the Mason's work may escape destruction. Some seize upon the
victuals, others feed on the larvae, others again convert the dwelling
to their own use. Everything has to submit: cell, provisions, scarce-
weaned nurselings.

The stealers of food are the Stelis-wasp (Stelis nasuta) and the
Dioxys-bee (Dioxys cincta). I have already said how, in the Mason's
absence, the Stelis perforates the dome of cell after cell, lays her
eggs there and afterwards repairs the breach with a mortar made of red
earth, which at once betrays the parasite's presence to a watchful
eye. The Stelis, who is much smaller than the Chalicodoma, finds
enough food in a single cell for the rearing of several of her grubs.
The mother lays a number of eggs, which I have seen vary between the
extremes of two and twelve, on the surface, next to the Mason's egg,
which itself undergoes no outrage whatever.

Things do not go so badly at first. The feasters swim--it is the only
word--in the midst of plenty; they eat and digest like brothers.
Presently, times become hard for the hostess' son; the food decreases,
dearth sets in; and at length not an atom remains, although the
Mason's larva has attained at most a quarter of its growth. The
others, more expeditious feeders, have exhausted the victuals long
before the victim has finished his normal repast. The swindled grub
shrivels up and dies, while the gorged larvae of the Stelis begin to
spin their strong little brown cocoons, pressed close together and
lumped into one mass, so as to make the best use of the scanty space
in the crowded dwelling. Should you inspect the cell later, you will
find, between the heaped cocoons on the wall, a little dried-up
corpse. It is the larva that was such an object of care to the mother
Mason. The efforts of the most laborious of lives have ended in this
lamentable relic. It has happened to me just as often, when examining
the secrets of the cell which is at once cradle and tomb, not to come
upon the deceased grub at all. I picture the Stelis, before laying her
own eggs, destroying the Chalicodoma's egg and eating it, as the
Osmiae do among themselves; or I picture the dying thing, an irksome
mass for the numerous spinners at work in a narrow habitation, being
cut to pieces to make room for the medley of cocoons. But to so many
deeds of darkness I would not like to add another by an oversight; and
I prefer to admit that I failed to perceive the grub that died of
hunger.

Let us now show up the Dioxys. At the time when the work of
construction is in progress, she is an impudent visitor of the nests,
exploiting with the same effrontery the enormous cities of the Mason-
bee of the Sheds and the solitary cupolas of the Mason-bee of the
Pebbles. An innumerable population, coming and going, humming and
buzzing, strikes her with no awe. On the tiles hanging from the walls
of my porch I see her, with her red scarf round her body, stalking
with sublime assurance over the ridged expanse of nests. Her black
schemes leave the swarm profoundly indifferent; not one of the workers
dreams of chasing her off, unless she should come bothering too
closely. Even then, all that happens is a few signs of impatience on
the part of the hustled Bee. There is no serious excitement, no eager
pursuits such as the presence of a mortal enemy might lead us to
suspect. They are there in their thousands, each armed with her
dagger; any one of them is capable of slaying the traitress; and not
one attacks her. The danger is not suspected.

Meanwhile, she inspects the workyard, moves freely among the ranks of
the Masons and bides her time. If the owner be absent, I see her
diving into a cell, coming out again a moment later with her mouth
smeared with pollen. She has been to try the provisions. A dainty
connoisseur, she goes from one store to another, taking a mouthful of
honey. Is it a tithe for her personal maintenance, or a sample tested
for the benefit of her coming grub? I should not like to say. What I
do know is that, after a certain number of these tastings, I catch her
stopping in a cell, with her abdomen at the bottom and her head at the
orifice. This is the moment of laying, unless I am much mistaken.

When the parasite is gone, I inspect the home. I see nothing abnormal
on the surface of the mass. The sharper eye of the owner, when she
gets back, sees nothing either, for she continues the victualling
without betraying the least uneasiness. A strange egg, laid on the
provisions, would not escape her. I know how clean she keeps her
warehouse; I know how scrupulously she casts out anything introduced
by my agency: an egg that is not hers, a bit of straw, a grain of
dust. So, according to my evidence and that of the Chalicodoma, which
is more conclusive, the Dioxys's egg, if it is really laid then, is
not placed on the surface.

I suspect, without having yet verified my suspicion--and I reproach
myself for the neglect--I suspect that the egg is buried in the heap
of pollen-dust. When I see the Dioxys come out of a cell with her
mouth all over yellow flour, perhaps she has been surveying the ground
and preparing a hiding-place for her egg. What I take for a mere
tasting might well be a more serious act. Thus concealed, the egg
escapes the eagle eye of the Bee, whereas, if left uncovered, it would
inevitably perish, would be flung on the rubbish heap at once by the
owner of the nest. When the Spotted Sapyga lays her egg on that of the
Bramble-dwelling Osmia, she does the deed under cover of darkness, in
the gloom of a deep well to which not the least ray of light can
penetrate; and the mother, returning with her pellet of green putty to
build the closing partition, does not see the usurping germ and is
ignorant of the danger. But here everything happens in broad daylight;
and this demands more cunning in the method of installation.

Besides, it is the one favourable moment for the Dioxys. If she waits
for the Mason-bee to lay, it is too late, for the parasite is not able
to break down doors, as the Stelis does. As soon as her egg is laid,
the Mason-bee of the Sheds comes out of her cell and at once turns
round and proceeds to close it up with the pellet of mortar which she
holds ready in her mandibles. The material is employed with such
method that the actual sealing is done in a moment: the other pellets,
the object of repeated journeys, will serve merely to increase the
thickness of the lid. The chamber is inaccessible to the Dioxys from
the first touch of the trowel. Hence it is absolutely necessary for
her to see to her egg before the Mason-bee of the Sheds has disposed
of hers and no less necessary to conceal it from the Mason's watchful
eye.

The difficulties are not so great in the nests of the Mason-bee of the
Pebbles. After this Bee has laid her egg, she leaves it for a time to
go in search of the cement needed for closing the cell; or, if she
already holds a pellet in her mandibles, this is not enough to seal it
properly, as the orifice is larger. More pellets are needed to wall up
the entrance entirely. The Dioxys would have time to strike her blow
during the mother's absences; but everything seems to suggest that she
behaves on the pebbles as she does on the tiles. She steals a march by
hiding the egg in the mass of pollen and honey.

What becomes of the Mason's egg confined in the same cell with the egg
of the Dioxys? In vain have I opened nests at every season; I have
never found a vestige of the egg nor of the grub of either
Chalicodoma. The Dioxys, whether as a larva on the honey, or enclosed
in its cocoon, or as the perfect insect, was always alone. The rival
had disappeared without a trace. A suspicion thereupon suggests
itself; and the facts are so compelling that the suspicion is almost
equal to a certainty. The parasitic grub, which hatches earlier than
the other, emerges from its hiding-place, from the midst of the honey,
comes to the surface and, with its first bite, destroys the egg of the
Mason-bee, as the Sapyga does the egg of the Osmia. It is an odious,
but a supremely efficacious method. Nor must we cry out too loudly
against such foul play on the part of a new born infant: we shall meet
with even more heinous tactics later. The criminal records of life are
full of these horrors which we dare not search too deeply. An
infinitesimal creature, a barely-visible grub, with the swaddling-
clothes of its egg still clinging to it, is led by instinct, at its
first inspiration, to exterminate whatever is in its way.

So the Mason's egg is exterminated. Was it really necessary in the
Dioxys' interest? Not in the least. The hoard of provisions is too
large for its requirements in a cell of the Chalicodoma of the Sheds;
how much more so in a cell of the Chalicodoma of the Pebbles! She eats
not a half, hardly a third of it. The rest remains as it was,
untouched. We see here, in the destruction of the Mason's egg, a
flagrant waste which aggravates the crime. Hunger excuses many things;
for lack of food, the survivors on the raft of the Medusa indulged in
a little cannibalism; but here there is enough food and to spare. When
there is more than she needs, what earthly motive impels the Dioxys to
destroy a rival in the germ stage? Why cannot she allow the larva, her
mess-mate, to take advantage of the remains and afterwards to shift
for itself as best it can? But no: the Mason-bee's offspring must
needs be stupidly sacrificed on the top of provisions which will only
grow mouldy and useless! I should be reduced to the gloomy
lucubrations of a Schopenhauer if I once let myself begin on
parasitism.

Such is a brief sketch of the two parasites of the Chalicodoma of the
Pebbles, true parasites, consumers of provisions hoarded on behalf of
others. Their crimes are not the bitterest tribulations of the Mason-
bee. If the first starves the Mason's grub to death, if the second
makes it perish in the egg, there are others who have a more pitiable
ending in store for the worker's family. When the Bee's grub, all
plump and fat and greasy, has finished its provisions and spun its
cocoon wherein to sleep the slumber akin to death, the necessary
period of preparation for its future life, these other enemies hasten
to the nests whose fortifications are powerless against their
hideously ingenious methods. Soon on the sleeper's body lies a nascent
grub which feasts in all security on the luscious fare. The traitors
who attack the larvae in their lethargy are three in number: an
Anthrax, a Leucopsis and a microscopic dagger-wearer. (Monodontomerus
cupreus. For this and the Anthrax, cf. "The Life of the Fly": chapters
2 and 3. The Leucopsis is a Hymenopteron, the essay upon whom forms
the concluding chapter of the present volume.--Translator's Note.)
Their story deserves to be told without reticence; and I shall tell it
later. For the moment, I merely mention the names of the three
exterminators.

The provisions are stolen, the egg is destroyed. The young grub dies
of hunger, the larva is devoured. Is that all? Not yet. The worker
must be exploited thoroughly, in her work as well as in her family.
Here are some now who covet her dwelling. When the Mason is
constructing a new edifice on a pebble, her almost constant presence
is enough to keep the aspirants to free lodgings at a distance; her
strength and vigilance overawe whoso would annex her masonry. If, in
her absence, one greatly daring thinks of visiting the building, the
owner soon appears upon the scene and ousts her with the most
discouraging animosity. She has no need then to fear the entrance of
unwelcome tenants while the house is new. But the Bee of the Pebbles
also uses old dwellings for her laying, as long as they are not too
much dilapidated. In the early stages of the work, neighbours compete
for these with an eagerness which shows the value attached to them.
Face to face, at times with their mandibles interlocked, now both
rising into the air, now coming down again, then touching ground and
rolling over each other, next flying up again, for hours on end they
will wage battle for the property at issue.

A ready-made nest, a family heirloom which needs but a little
restoring, is a precious thing for the Mason, ever sparing of her
time. We find so many of the old homes repaired and restocked that I
suspect the Bee of laying new foundations only when there are no
secondhand nests to be had. To have the chambers of a dome occupied by
a stranger therefore means a serious privation.

Now several Bees, however industrious in gathering honey, building
party-walls and contriving receptacles for provisions, are less clever
at preparing the resorts in which the cells are to be stacked. The
abandoned chambers of the Chalicodoma, now larger than they were
originally, through the addition of the hall of exit, are first-rate
acquisitions for them. The great thing is to occupy these chambers
first, for here possession is nine parts of the law. Once established,
the Mason is not disturbed in her home, while she, in her turn, does
not disturb the stranger who has settled down before her in an old
nest, the patrimony of her family. The disinherited one leaves the
Bohemian to enjoy the ruined manor in peace and goes to another pebble
to establish herself at fresh expense.

In the first rank of these free tenants, I will place an Osmia (Osmia
cyanoxantha, PEREZ) and a Megachile, or Leaf-cutting Bee (Megachile
apicalis, SPIN.) (Cf. "Bramble-dwellers and Others": chapter 8.--
Translator's Note.), both of whom work in May, at the same time as the
Mason, while both are small enough to lodge from five to eight cells
in a single chamber of the Chalicodoma, a chamber increased by the
addition of an outer hall. The Osmia subdivides this space into very
irregular compartments by means of slanting, upright or curved
partitions, subject to the dictates of space. There is no art,
consequently, in the accumulation of little cells; the architect's
only task is to use the breadth at her disposal in a frugal manner.
The material employed for the partitions is a green, vegetable putty,
which the Osmia must obtain by chewing the shredded leaves of a plant
whose nature is still uncertain. The same green paste serves for the
thick plug that closes the abode. But in this case the insect does not
use it unadulterated. To give greater power of resistance to the work,
it mixes a number of bits of gravel with the vegetable cement. These
materials, which are easily picked up, are lavishly employed, as
though the mother feared lest she should not fortify sufficiently the
entrance to her dwelling. They form a sort of coarse stucco, on the
more or less smooth cupola of the Chalicodoma; and this unevenness, as
well as the green colouring of its mortar of masticated leaves, at
once betrays the Osmia's nest. In course of time, under the prolonged
action of the air, the vegetable putty turns brown and assumes a dead-
leaf tint, especially on the outside of the plug; and it would then be
difficult for any one who had not seen them when freshly made to
recognize their nature.

The old nests on the pebbles seem to suit other Osmiae. My notes
mention Osmia Morawitzi, PEREZ, and Osmia cyanea, KIRB., as having
been recognized in these dwellings, although they are not very
assiduous visitors. Lastly, to complete the enumeration of the Bees
known to me as making their homes in the Mason's cupolas, I must add
Megachile apicalis, who piles in each cell a half-dozen or more honey-
pots constructed with disks cut from the leaves of the wild rose, and
an Anthidium whose species I cannot state, having seen nothing of her
but her white cotton sacks.

The Mason-bee of the Sheds, on the other hand, supplies free lodgings
to two species of Osmiae, Osmia tricornis, LATR., and Osmia
Latreillii, SPIN., both of whom are quite common. The Three-horned
Osmia frequents by preference the habitations of the Bees that build
their nests in populous colonies, such as the Chalicodoma of the Sheds
and the Hairy-footed Anthophora. Latreille's Osmia is nearly always
found with the Three-horned Osmia at the Chalicodoma's.

The real builder of the city and the exploiter of the labour of others
work together, at the same period, form a common swarm and live in
perfect harmony, each Bee of the two species attending to her business
in peace. They share and share alike, as though by tacit agreement. Is
the Osmia discreet enough not to put upon the good-natured Mason and
to utilize only abandoned passages and waste cells? Or does she take
possession of the home of which the real owners could themselves have
made use? I lean in favour of usurpation, for it is not rare to see
the Chalicodoma of the Sheds clearing out old cells and using them as
does her sister of the Pebbles. Be this as it may, all this little
busy world lives without strife, some building anew, others dividing
up the old dwelling.

Those Osmiae, on the contrary, who are the self-invited guests of the
Mason-bee of the Pebbles are the sole occupants of the dome. The cause
of this isolation lies in the unsociable temper of the proprietress.
The old nest does not suit her from the moment that she sees it
occupied by another. Instead of going shares, she prefers to seek
elsewhere a dwelling where she can work in solitude. Her gracious
surrender of a most excellent lodging in favour of a stranger who
would be incapable of offering the least resistance if a dispute arose
proves the great immunity enjoyed by the Osmia in the home of the
worker whom she exploits. The common and peaceful swarming of the
Mason-bee of the Sheds and the two cell-borrowing Osmiae proves it in
a still more positive fashion. There is never a fight for the
acquisition of another's goods or the defence of one's own property;
never a brawl between Osmiae and Chalicodomae. Robber and robbed live
on the most neighbourly terms. The Osmia considers herself at home;
and the other does nothing to undeceive her. If the parasites, so
deadly to the workers, move about in their very ranks with impunity,
without arousing the faintest excitement, an equally complete
indifference must be shown by the dispossessed owners to the presence
of the usurpers in their old homes. I should be greatly put to it if I
were asked to reconcile this calmness on the part of the expropriated
one with the ruthless competition that is said to sway the world.
Fashioned so as to instal herself in the Mason's property, the Osmia
meets with a peaceful reception from her. My feeble eyes can see no
further.

I have named the provision-thieves, the grub-murderers and the house-
grabbers who levy tribute on the Mason-bee. Does that end the list?
Not at all. The old nests are cities of the dead. They contain Bees
who, on achieving the perfect state, were unable to open the exit-door
through the cement and who withered in their cells; they contain dead
larvae, turned into black, brittle cylinders; untouched provisions,
both mouldy and fresh, on which the egg has come to grief; tattered
cocoons; shreds of skins; relics of the transformation.

If we remove the nest of the Chalicodoma of the Sheds from its tile--a
nest sometimes quite eight inches thick--we find live inhabitants only
in a thin outer layer. All the remainder, the catacombs of past
generations, is but a horrible heap of dead, shrivelled, ruined,
decomposed things. Into this sub-stratum of the ancient city the
unreleased Bees, the untransformed larvae fall as dust; here the
honey-stores of old go sour, here the uneaten provisions are reduced
to mould.

Three undertakers, all members of the Beetle tribe, a Clerus, a Ptinus
and an Anthrenus, batten on these remains. The larvae of the Anthrenus
and the Ptinus gnaw the ashes of the corpses; the larva of the Clerus,
with the black head and the rest of its body a pretty pink, appeared
to me to be breaking into the old jam-pots filled with rancid honey.
The perfect insect itself, garbed in vermilion with blue ornaments, is
fairly common on the surface of the clay slabs during the working
season, strolling leisurely through the yard to taste here and there
the drops of honey oozing from some cracked pot. Notwithstanding his
showy livery, so unlike the workers' sombre frieze, the Chalicodomae
leave him in peace, as though they recognized in him the scavenger
whose duty it is to keep the sewers wholesome.

Ravaged by the passing years, the Mason's home at last falls into ruin
and becomes a hovel. Exposed as it is to the direct action of wind and
weather, the dome built upon a pebble chips and cracks. To repair it
would be too irksome, nor would that restore the original solidity of
the shaky foundation. Better protected by the covering of a roof, the
city of the sheds resists longer, without however escaping eventual
decay. The storeys which each generation adds to those in which it was
born increase the thickness and the weight of the edifice in alarming
proportions. The moisture of the tile filters into the oldest layers,
wrecks the foundations and threatens the nest with a speedy fall. It
is time to abandon for good the house with its cracks and rents.

Thereupon the crumbling apartments, on the pebble as well as on the
tile, become the home of a camp of gypsies who are not particular
where they find a shelter. The shapeless hovel, reduced to a fragment
of a wall, finds occupants, for the Mason's work must be exploited to
the utmost limits of possibility. In the blind alleys, all that
remains of the former cells, Spiders weave a white-satin screen,
behind which they lie in wait for the passing game. In nooks which
they repair in summary fashion with earthen embankments or clay
partitions, Hunting Wasps--Pompili and Tripoxyla--store up small
members of the Spider tribe, including sometimes the Weaving Spiders
who live in the same ruins.

I have said nothing yet of the Chalicodoma of the Shrubs. My silence
is not due to negligence, but to the circumstance that I am almost
destitute of facts relating to her parasites. Of the many nests which
I have opened in order to study their inhabitants, only one so far has
been invaded by strangers. This nest, the size of a large walnut, was
fixed on a pomegranate-branch. It comprised eight cells, of which
seven were occupied by the Chalicodoma, and the eighth by a little
Chalcis, the plague of a whole host of the Bee-tribe. Apart from this
instance, which was not a very serious case, I have seen nothing. In
those aerial nests, swinging at the end of a twig, not a Dioxys, a
Stelis, an Anthrax, a Leucopsis, those dread ravagers of the other two
Masons; never any Osmiae, Megachiles or Anthidia, those lodgers in the
old buildings.

The absence of the latter is easily explained. The Chalicodoma's
masonry does not last long on its frail support. The winter winds,
when the shelter of the foliage has disappeared, must easily break the
twig, which is little thicker than a straw and liable to give way by
reason of its heavy burden. Threatened with an early fall, if it is
not already on the ground, last year's dwelling is not restored to
serve the needs of the present generation. The same nest does not
serve twice; and this does away with the Osmiae and with their rivals
in the art of utilizing old cells.

The elucidation of this point does not remove the obscurity of the
next. I can see nothing to account for the absence or at least the
extreme rareness of usurpers of provisions and consumers of grubs,
both of whom are very indifferent to the new or old conditions of the
nest, so long as the cells are well stocked. Can it be that the lofty
position of the edifice and the shaky support of the twig arouse
distrust in the Dioxys and other malefactors? For lack of a better
explanation, I will leave it at that.

If my idea is not an empty fancy, we must admit that the Chalicodoma
of the Shrubs was singularly well-inspired in building in mid-air. You
have seen of what misfortunes the other two are victims. If I take a
census of the population of a tile, many a time I find the Dioxys and
the Mason-bee in almost equal proportions. The parasite has wiped out
half the colony. To complete the disaster, it is not unusual for the
grub-eaters, the Leucopsis and her rival, the pygmy Chalcis, to have
decimated the other half. I say nothing of Anthrax sinuata, whom I
sometimes see coming from the nests of the Chalicodoma of the Sheds;
her larva preys on the Three-horned Osmia, the Mason-bee's visitor.

All solitary though she be on her boulder, which would seem the proper
thing to keep away exploiters, the scourge of dense populations, the
Chalicodoma of the Pebbles is no less sorely tried. My notes abound in
cases such as the following: of the nine cells in one dome, three are
occupied by the Anthrax, two by the Leucopsis, two by the Stelis, one
by the Chalcis and the ninth by the Mason. It is as though the four
miscreants had joined forces for the massacre: the whole of the Bee's
family has disappeared, all but one young mother saved from the
disaster by her position in the centre of the citadel. I have
sometimes stuffed my pockets with nests removed from their pebbles
without finding a single one that has not been violated by one or
other of the malefactors and oftener still by several of them at a
time. It is almost an event for me to find a nest intact. After these
funereal records, I am haunted by a gloomy thought: the weal of one
means the woe of another.





Next: THE LEUCOPSES

Previous: THE THEORY OF PARASITISM



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