9781404313484 / 1404313486

Life of the Bee, The


Publisher:IndyPublish, 2002



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Excerpt: ... she, or her urgent advisers, may regard as favourable, she arches her back, bends forward, and introduces the extremity of her long spindle-shaped abdomen into one of the cells; the-little eager heads of her escort meanwhile forming a passionate circle around her, watching her with their enormous black eyes, supporting her, caressing her wings, and waving their feverish antennae as though to encourage, incite, or congratulate. You may easily discover the spot where the queen shall be found by the sort of starry cockade, or oval brooch perhaps of the imposing kind our grandmothers used to wear, of which she forms the central stone. And one may mention here the curious fact that the workers always avoid turning their back on the queen. No sooner has she approached a group than they will invariably arrange themselves so as to face her with eyes and antennae, and to walk backwards before her. It is a token of respect, or of solicitude, that, unlikely as it may seem, is nevertheless constant and general. But to return to the queen. During the slight spasm that visibly accompanies the emission of an egg, one of her daughters will often throw her arms round her and appear to be whispering to her, brow pressed to brow and mouth to mouth. But the queen, in no wise disturbed by this somewhat bold demonstration, takes her time, tranquilly, calmly, wholly absorbed by the mission that would seem amorous delight to her rather than labour. And after some seconds she will rise, very quietly, take a step back, execute a slight turn on herself, and proceed to the next cell, into which she will first, before introducing her abdomen, dip her head to make sure that all is in order and that she is not laying twice in the same cell; and in the meanwhile two or three of her escort will have plunged into the cell she has quitted to see whether the work be duly accomplished, and to care for, and tenderly house, the little bluish egg she has laid. From this moment, up to...

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