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The hives ought to have an aspect due east,1 but never looking towards the north-east or the west. The best hives are those made of bark, the next best those of fennel-giant, and the next of osier: many persons, too, have them made of mirror-stone,2 for the purpose of watching3 the bees at work within. It is the best plan to anoint the hives all over with cow-dung. The lid of the hive should be made to slide from behind, so as to admit of being shut to within, in case the hive should prove too large or their labours unproductive; for, if this is not done, the bees are apt to become discouraged and abandon their work. The slide may then be gradually withdrawn, the increase of space being imperceptible to the bees as the work progresses. In winter, too, the hives should be covered with straw, and subjected to repeated fumigations, with burnt cow- dung more particularly. As this is of kindred4 origin with the bees, the smoke produced by it is particularly beneficial in killing all such insects as may happen to breed there, such as spiders, for instance, moths,5 and wood-worms;6 while, at the same time, it stimulates the bees themselves to increased activity. In fact, there is little difficulty in getting rid of the spiders, but to destroy the moths, which are a much greater plague, a night must be chosen in spring, just when the mallow is ripening, there being no moon, but a clear sky: flam- beaux are then lighted before the hives, upon which the moths precipitate themselves in swarms into the flame.

1 Fée remarks here that Pliny is right, and that Columella and Palladius are wrong, who would have the hives to look due north.

2 Lapis specularis: a sort of talc, probably. Sec B. iii. c. 4. B. ix. c. 56. B. xv. c. 1. B. xix. c. 23, and B. xxxvi. c. 45.

3 In B. ix. c. 16, he mentions hives made of horn for this purpose. Glass hives are now made for the purpose, but the moisture which adheres to the interior of the glass prevents the operations of the bees from being watched with any degree of nicety.

4 "Cognatum hoc." He probably alludes to the notion entertained by the ancients that bees might be reproduced from the putrefied entrails of an ox, as wasps from those of a horse. See the story of Aristæus in B. iv. of Virgil's Georgics.

5 Or butterflies—"papiliones."

6 "Tcredines."

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CORO´NA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), OLLA
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