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In the lower part of the hive they construct for their future sovereign a palatial abode,1 spacious and grand, separated from the rest, and surmounted by a sort of dome: if this prominence should happen to be flattened, all hopes of progeny are lost. All the cells are hexagonal, each foot2 having formed its own side. No part of this work, however, is done at any stated time, as the bees seize every opportunity for the performance of their task when the days are fine; in one or two days, at most, they fill their cells with honey.

(12.) This substance is engendered from the air,3 mostly at the rising of the constellations, and more especially when Sirius is shining; never, however, before the rising of the Vergiliæ, and then just before day-break. Hence it is, that at early dawn the leaves of the trees are found covered with a kind of honey-like dew, and those who go into the open air at an early hour in the morning, find their clothes covered, and their hair matted, with a sort of unctuous liquid. Whether it is that this liquid is the sweat of the heavens, or whether a saliva emanating from the stars, or a juice exuding from the air while purifying itself, would that it had been, when it comes to us, pure, limpid, and genuine, as it was, when first it took its downward descent. But as it is, falling from so vast a height, attracting corruption in its passage, and tainted by the exhalations of the earth as it meets them, sucked, too, as it is from off the trees and the herbage of the fields, and accumulated in the stomachs of the bees—for they cast it up again through the mouth—deteriorated besides by the juices of flowers, and then steeped within the hives and subjected to such repeated changes—still, in spite of all this, it affords us by its flavour a most exquisite pleasure, the result, no doubt, of its æthereal nature and origin.

1 Cuvier says that the cell for the future queen is different from the others, and much larger. The bees also supply the queen larva much more abundantly with food, and of more delicate quality.

2 Cuvier says that this coincidence with the number of the legs is quite accidental, as it is with the mouth that the animal constructs the cell.

3 The basis of it is really derived from the calix or corolla of flowers.

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