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Royal Jelly

The young queens are supplied with a much larger quantity of food than

is allotted to the other larvae, so that they seem almost to float in a

thick bed of jelly, and there is usually a portion of it left unconsumed

at the base of the cells, after the insects have arrived at maturity. It

is different from the food of either drones or workers, and in

appearance, resembles a light quince jelly, having a slightly acid


I submitted a portion of the royal jelly for analysis, to Dr. Charles M.

Wetherill, of Philadelphia; a very interesting account of his

examination may be found in the proceedings of the Phila. Academy of

Nat. Sciences for July, 1852. He speaks of the substance as "truly a

bread-containing, albuminous compound." I hope in the course of the

coming summer to obtain from this able analytical chemist, an analysis

of the food of the young drones and workers. A comparison of its

elements with those of the royal jelly, may throw some light on subjects

as yet involved in obscurity.

The effects produced upon the larvae by this peculiar food and method of

treatment, are very remarkable. For one, I have never considered it

strange that such effects should be rejected as idle whims, by nearly

all except those who have either been eye-witnesses to them, or have

been well acquainted with the character and opportunities for accurate

observation, of those on whose testimony they have received them. They

are not only in themselves most marvelously strange, but on the face of

them so entirely opposed to all common analogies, and so very

improbable, that many men when asked to believe them, feel almost as

though an insult were offered to their common sense. The most important

of these effects, I shall now proceed to enumerate.

1st. The peculiar mode in which the worm designed to be reared as a

queen, is treated, causes it to arrive at maturity, about one-third

earlier than if it had been bred a worker. And yet it is to be much more

fully developed, and according to ordinary analogy, ought to have had a

_slower growth_!

2d. Its organs of reproduction are completely developed, so that it is

capable of fulfilling the office of a mother.

3d. Its size, shape and color are all greatly changed. (See p. 32.) Its

lower jaws are shorter, its head rounder, and its legs have neither

brushes nor baskets, while its sting is more curved, and one-third

longer than that of a worker.

4th. Its _instincts_ are entirely changed. Reared as a worker, it would

have been ready to thrust out its sting, upon the least provocation;

whereas now, it may be pulled limb from limb, without attempting to

sting. As a worker it would have treated a queen with the greatest

consideration; whereas now, if placed under a glass with another queen,

it rushes forthwith to mortal combat with its rival. As a worker, it

would frequently have left the hive, either for labor or exercise: as a

queen, after impregnation, it never leaves the hive except to accompany

a new swarm.

5th. The term of its life is remarkably lengthened. As a worker, it

would have lived not more than six or seven months at farthest; as a

queen it may live seven or eight times as long! All these wonders rest

on the impregnable basis of complete demonstration, and instead of being

witnessed by only a select few, may now, by the use of my hive, be

familiar sights to any bee keeper, who prefers to acquaint himself with

facts, rather than to cavil and sneer at the labors of others.[7]

When provision has been made, in the manner described, for a new race of

queens, the old mother always departs with the first swarm, before her

successors have arrived at maturity.[8]