“What did you put on, grandma?”
“Nothing special. I was vexed at the gardener’s cowardice, and I really did not feel afraid, so I went just as I was. I well remember the dress: it was muslin, with large open sleeves, so that my arms were bare. I did not even wear a hat!
“Ann held the hive, and I shook the bees into it. We were both of us covered with bees that settled on us, as they did on the gardener and Bob this morning. We let them take their own time to fly off from us, and neither of us was stung.
“Bees are very curious creatures; they seem to have their likes and dislikes as well as other beings.
“My grandfather kept bees; but he was obliged to get rid of them, for they would sting my grandmother whenever she went into the part of the garden where they were kept. No one ever knew the reason of this.”
Bees keep the inside of their hives very clean. If a bee dies, they turn it out; or if anything like a snail, for instance, crawled in, which would be too large for them to push out, they would completely cover it over with wax.
Here grandpapa came into the room and said, “That was a strong swarm of bees that we have just hived; first swarms generally are.”
“How many bees do you think there were, grandpapa?” asked Jack.
“I should say about five thousand. A well-stocked hive will hold from fifteen to twenty thousand bees. We may expect another swarm from that same hive in a week or ten days; but it won’t be worth so much as this one.”
“Did you ever hear the old rhyme, children?
“A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
But a swarm in July
Is not worth a fly.”
“Why not?” asked Annie.
“Because it is smaller and weaker, and it is later in the year, so they have not such a long time to get honey to keep them through the winter. They will generally die off, if they are not fed.”
“Suppose the queen dies, what do the bees do then, grandpapa?”
“They are greatly concerned; they run about the hive touching every bee they meet with their little horns or feelers. Then, when all the bees know of their loss, they set to work to feed one of the grubs in the royal cells with a particular kind of food, and a young queen after due time makes her appearance. They take great care of her, and obey her as they did the old queen.”
WASPS AND THEIR WAYS.
“An elegant shape is yours, Sir Wasp,
And delicate is your wing;
Your armour is brave, in black and gold;
But we do not like your sting.”—C. H.
The next morning Jack went to see how the new hive had settled, and he found everything going on as usual. The bees were very busy, flying in and out, and working hard to build the cells of their new home.