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The crop of honey is most abundant if gathered at full moon, and it is richest when the weather is fine. In all honey, that which flows of itself, like must or oil, has received from us the name of acetum.1 The summer honey is the most esteemed of all, from the fact of its being made when the weather is driest: it is looked upon as the most serviceable when made from thyme;2 it is then of a golden colour, and of a most delicious flavour. The honey that we see formed in the calix of flowers is of a rich and unctuous nature; that which is made from rosemary is thick, while that which is candied is little esteemed. Thyme honey does not coagulate, and on being touched will draw out into thin viscous threads, a thing which is the principal proof of its heaviness. When honey shows no tenacity, and the drops immediately part from one another, it is looked upon as a sign of its worthlessness. The other proofs of its goodness are the fine aroma of its smell, its being of a sweetness that closely borders on the sour,3 and being glutinous and pellucid.

Cassius Dionysius is of opinion that in the summer gathering the tenth part of the honey ought to be left for the bees if the hives should happen to be well filled, and even if not, still in the same proportion; while, on the other hand, if there is but little in them, he recommends that it should not be touched at all. The people of Attica have fixed the period for commencing this gathering at the first ripening of the wild fig; others4 have made it the day that is sacred to Vulcan.5

(16.) The third kind of honey, which is the least esteemed of all, is the wild honey, known by the name of ericeunm.6 It is collected by the bees after the first showers of autumn, when the heather7 alone is blooming in the woods, from which circumstance it derives its sandy appearance. It is mostly pro- duced at the rising of Arcturus, beginning at the day8 before the ides of September. Some persons delay the gathering of the summer honey until the rising of Arcturus, because from then till the autumnal equinox there are fourteen days left, and it is from the equinox till the setting of the Vergiliæ, a period of forty-eight days, that the heather is in the greatest abundance. The Athenians call this plant by the name of tetralix,9 and the Eubœans sisirum, and they look upon it as affording great pleasure to the bees to browse upon, probably because there are no other flowers for them to resort to. This gathering terminates at the end of the vintage and the setting of the Vergiliæ, mostly about the ides of November.10 Experience teaches us that we ought to leave for the bees two-thirds of this crop, and always that part of the combs as well, which contains the bee-bread.

From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourishment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still keep within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions kept in reserve for this period. In Italy, however, they do this immediately after the rising of the Vergiliæ, up to which period they are asleep. Some persons, when they take the honey, weigh the hive and all, and remove just as much as they leave: a due sense of equity should always be stringently observed in dealing with them, and it is generally stated that if imposed upon in this division, the swarm will die of grief. It is particularly recommended also that the person who takes the honey should be well washed and clean: bees have a particular aversion, too, to a thief and a menstruous woman. When the honey is taken, it is the best plan to drive away the bees by means of smoke, lest they should become irritated, or else devour the honey themselves. By often applying smoke, too, they are aroused from their idleness to work; but if they have not duly incubated in the comb, it is apt to become of a livid colour. On the other hand, if they are smoked too often, they will become tainted; the honey, too, a substance which turns sour at the very slightest contact with dew, will very quickly receive injury from the taint thus contracted: hence it is that among the various kinds of honey which are preserved, there is one which is known by the name of acapnon.11

1 " Vinegar" is the ordinary meaning.

2 Sillig remarks that the whole of this passage is corrupt.

3 Hence, perhaps, its name of "acetum."

4 The people of Italy.

5 The 10th of the calends of September, or 23rd August.

6 Or "heath-honey." In the north of England the hives are purposely taken to the moors.

7 "Erice," "heather," seems to he a preferable reading to "myrice," "tamarisk," which is adopted by Sillig.

8 12th September.

9 "Tetralicem" seems preferable to " tamaricem."

10 13th November.

11 "Unsmoked" honey.

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