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Let a man employ himself, forsooth, in the enquiry whether there has been only one Hercules, how many fathers Liber there have been, and all the other questions which are buried deep in the mould of antiquity! Here behold a tiny object, one to be met with at most of our country retreats, and numbers of which are always at hand, and yet, after all, it is not agreed among authors whether or not the king1 is the only one among them that is provided with no sting, and is possessed of no other arms than those afforded him by his majestic office, or whether Nature has granted him a sting, and has only denied him the power of making use of it; it being a well-known fact, that the ruling bee never does use a sting. The obedience which his subjects manifest in his presence is quite surprising. When he goes forth, the whole swarm attends him, throngs about him, surrounds him, protects him, and will not allow him to be seen. At other times, when the swarm is at work within, the king is seen to visit the works, and appears to be giving his encouragement, being himself the only one that is exempt from work: around him are certain other bees which act as body-guards and lictors, the careful guardians of his authority. The king never quits the hive except when the swarm is about to depart; a thing which may be known a long time beforehand, as for some days a peculiar buzzing noise is to be heard within, which denotes that the bees are waiting for a favourable day, and making all due preparations for their departure. On such an occasion, if care is taken to deprive the king of one of his wings, the swarm will not fly away. When they are on the wing, every one is anxious to be near him, and takes a pleasure in being seen in the performance of its duty. When he is weary, they support him on their shoulders; and when he is quite tired, they carry him outright. If one of them falls in the rear from weariness, or happens to go astray, it is able to follow the others by the aid of its acuteness of smell. Wherever the king bee happens to settle, that becomes the encampment of all.

1 The queen has a sting, like the working bees, but uses it less fre- quently.

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