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The drones have no sting,1 and would seem to be a kind of imperfect bee, formed the very last of all; the expiring effort, as it were, of worn-out and exhausted old age, a late and tardy offspring, and doomed, in a measure, to be the slaves of the genuine bees. Hence it is that the bees exercise over them a rigorous authority, compel them to take the foremost rank in their labours, and if they show any sluggishness, punish them2 without mercy. And not only in their labours do the drones give them their assistance, but in the propagation of their species as well, the very multitude of them contributing greatly to the warmth of the hive. At all events, it is a well-known fact, that the greater3 the multitude of the drones, the more numerous is sure to be the progeny of the swarm. When the honey is beginning to come to maturity, the bees drive away the drones, and setting upon each in great numbers, put them all to death. It is only in the spring that the drones are ever to be seen. If you deprive a drone of its wings, and then replace it in the hive, it will pull off the wings of the other drones.

1 This is the fact, but not so their imperfect state.

2 They do not work, but merely impregnate the queen; after which they are driven from the hive, and perish of cold and starvation.

3 It appears, as Cuvier says, that the ancients had some notion that the swarm was multiplied by the aid of the drones.

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load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
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