CHAP. 5. (6.)—THE ORDER DISPLAYED IN THE WORKS OF BEES.
Bees keep within the hive during the winter—for whence
are they to derive the strength requisite to withstand frosts
and snows, and the northern blasts? The same, in fact, is
done by all insects, but not to so late a period; as those
which conceal themselves in the walls of our houses, are much
sooner sensible of the returning warmth. With reference to
bees, either seasons and climates have considerably changed, or
else former writers have been greatly mistaken. They retire
for the winter at the setting of the Vergiliæ, and remain shut
up till after the rising of that constellation, and not till only
the beginning of spring, as some authors have stated; nor, indeed, does any one in Italy ever think of then opening the hives.
They do not come forth to ply their labours until the bean
blossoms; and then not a day do they lose in inactivity, while
the weather is favourable for their pursuits.
First of all, they set about constructing their combs, and
forming the wax, or, in other words, making their dwellings
and cells; after this they produce their young, and then make
honey and wax from flowers, and extract bee-glue1
tears of those trees which distil glutinous substances, the
juices, gums, and resins, namely, of the willow, the elm, and
the reed. With these substances, as well as others of a more
bitter nature, they first line the whole inside of the hive, as a
sort of protection against the greedy propensities of other small
insects, as they are well aware that they are about to form
that which will prove an object of attraction to them. Having
done this, they employ similar substances in narrowing the
entrance to the hive, if otherwise too wide.