PERHAPS one of the most interesting studies in connection with the animal kingdom is that of bees and their habits. 

Many learned men have spent hours in 'watching the little creatures, especially "hive bees." To help them in doing this, glass hives have been made, through which all their curious movements can be easily seen. The picture gives a view of another class of bees, which all will recognize as "humblebees,” or as they are often called by school-children, "bumble-bees." There is less known concerning the habits of this class, than of the hive bees, but perhaps if they could be watched, their ways would prove as interesting as those of their neighbors. 

Humblebees are easily distinguished from hive bees, by their much larger size, their hairy bodies, 

and the peculiar humming noise which they make as they are flying from place to place in search of honey. They always live in families, or societies, numbering from fifty, to two or three hundred. In the fall all but five or six out of each of these large families perish. Each of the few survivors that remain over winter, founds a new colony in the spring. At that time it is a common thing to see single humblebees prying into every hole and crevice in the earth, searching for a place in which to make their summer home. These they usually build in the earth, at a depth of from one to two feet, in meadows and plains. Often, however, they make their nests in stone piles, brush heaps, piles of old straw, and places of like character. Their favorite home is in the side of some bank, into which they will burrow, and store their food. Here they adorn their house with moss, fastening it to the ceiling and walls with a kind of wax, which they have the power to make. The bottom they strew with leaves, on which are placed irregularly shaped brown wax cells, which are to contain their young, and afterward their honey. The entrance to these retreats are oftentimes long, winding tunnels, which enable them to defend themselves and their young from their enemies. For bees, as well as other animals, have enemies. In the meadows their nests are made somewhat differently. There they make a hole in the ground, wider than it is deep. With the dirt they take out, aided by wax and moss, they build a dome over the excavation. Then they line and carpet it as before stated. 

There is one class of humblebees, called "carders," that have a very amusing way of building. 

The dry grass and shreds of moss of which their nest is built, after being carded, or worked into rolls, is pushed by the first bee back to a second, which passes it to a third, and so on till the nest is reached. They work in long lines, the head being turned away from the nest and toward the place where they get their material. Their domes are often seen rising four or six inches above the level of the fields and meadows. 

The brown wax cells first contain the young, which are liberated by the old ones gnawing at the cells. The empty cells are then filled with a kind of honey, which quite resembles hive honey in sweetness and fragrance. They obtain it by licking the sweet juices from flowers, and storing them in a little bag, which they bear. 

When this bag is full, they return to the nest, and empty it into a cell, closing the mouth of the cell with wax when full. As the majority of the bees do not survive the winter, the nest is seldom used a second time. 

As a general thing, humblebees are quiet and harmless, though those known as the "orange-tailed humblebees," are quite fierce, and possess a powerful sting, which they use very freely whenever they imagine their rights have been invaded upon. 

There is a class of humblebees in Egypt, called the "banded bee," which are raised for their honey. They are kept on board of boats, which float up and down the river Nile, so as to allow the bees to gather honey from the flowers along the banks. 

C. H. G. 


THOU blithe little bee in thy trappings of velvet, 

Thus flying alone yet so briskly away, 

What mission of pleasure or duty has called 


To wander abroad on this sunshiny day? 

" I fly and I seek through the meadows and gardens 

Where flowers are blooming," the cheerful bee said; 

"I must hasten to gather the stores of sweet pollen 

To make into wax, into honey, and bread. 

" The hours pass quickly, fair weather is fleeting, 

The summer is gracious, but never will wait; 

The hive must be filled ere the blossoms have withered; 

If autumn o'ertakes us, 't will then be too late." 

Ah, true is thy teaching, thou brave, busy worker; 

No summer will tarry for thee or for me. 

I also must hasten my harvest to gather; 

And away on thy mission, thou blithe little bee. 

—M. E. N. Hatheway 






 "Little Folks." 

"The Gospel of the Spring. Bees" 

"The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all those that have pleasure therein." So let us look a little closer at the flowers, about which we were talking last week, and seek out some more of the secrets of His love that our heavenly Father has hidden there for us. 

See how busily the little bee gathers the sweet store of honey that God has put thereon purpose for it to feed on! But there is something even more sweet and precious hidden there for you,-the loving thoughts of God, which show how "His tender mercies are over all His works." 

The Psalmist sang, "How precious are Thy thoughts unto me, O God." And as he thought upon the ways of God which His works made known to him, he said, "My meditation of Him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord."

Let us learn from the bee to gather all that we can of the sweet secrets of God's love, from the flowers and all His other works, and store them up in our hearts to supply not our own needs only, but those of others also. 

Where have the bees been biding all through the cold winter months? You have not seen any flying about, for there have been no flowers, and so no honey for them to gather. They have been safe and warm in their hives, where they have been drowsily resting, and feeding on the honey stored up in the wonderful little cells of wax of which their combs are made. 

But no sooner does the mild spring weather cause "the flowers to appear on the earth," than the bees appear also, fresh and bright after their long rest, and ready for another year's work. 

"To give you some idea of how well

"the little busy bee Improves each shining hour," 

a gentleman who has made a special study of them, and watched them very carefully, tells that "if you bring a bee to some honey, she feeds quietly, goes back to the hive, stores away the honey, and returns with or without companions for another supply. Each visit occupies about six minutes, so that there are about ten in an hour, and about one hundred in a day." And another, to show us how quickly the bees work, says that he has watched them visit twenty flowers in a minute.  

In the long summer days the bees work overtime, to make up for the months when they do not work at all. Right up in the North, where the winters are longest, the summer when it does come is almost continual daylight, and the bees are able to work nearly all the time while the warm weather lasts. A gentleman who lately visited Finland, says that he noticed the bees out gathering honey at ten o'clock at night. 

We spoke last week of the beauty and fragrance of the flowers, but now we can see something of their usefulness also. For through them God is providing food for the bees, butterflies, ants, flies, and millions of tiny insects. And even we ourselves like to make use of the stores that the bees have gathered from the flowers, for "What is sweeter than honey?" 

But while it is true, and has always been easily seen, that the bees need the flowers and could not live without them, it is just as true, though not so easily seen, that the flowers need the bees just as much, and many kinds would die out altogether if it were not for the bees, butterflies, and other insects. 

Some seed from the Red Clover plant was taken over to New Zealand and planted, but no seed came from it, and it died out. At last some Humble Bees were taken over and some fresh clover planted, and from that time it flourished and bore seed just like it does here. So you see that the life of the clover depended on the Humble Bees. Do you wonder how this can be? Let us see. 

You must have noticed in a full-blown rose, the golden heart of the flower made up of little yellow grains, and in almost every flower you will notice something like this. Sometimes the yellow dust from the flowers is blown about, by the wind. You have often seen it, but did you know what it is, and what it is for? 

This fine yellow flower dust is called "pollen," and though you may have thought it only useless dust, the very life of the plants depends upon it. For if some of the little grains should not reach the newly formed seeds in the little pod at the bottom of the flower, the seeds would not be any use at all, as they would have no power to bring forth say new plants and flowers. This dust is to fertilise the seeds to make them fruitful.  

The strongest and best plants come from the seeds which have been fertilised by the dust or pollen from another flower of the same kind, and so in many plants it is not possible for the dust of a flower to fall upon its own seed.  

But just when the pollen is ripe and ready to fall, a part of the flower is filled with sweet honey, which attracts the bee or butterfly. As he pushes his way in to vet it, he brushes against the part of the flower that holds the dust, and carries some of it away with him to the neat flower that he visits, where he leaves it behind to make the little seeds able to bring forth new plants.  

You will see that this is not for the good of the plant only, for if there should be no more flowers, what would the bees do next year? So the Lord is really using them to help to provide the honey for another year. But they know nothing of all this. They go on their busy way, doing their day's work without any idea of how much depends on it, for the flowers, for themselves, for the baby bees at home in the hive, and for us, for what would the earth be without its flowers? 

The bees like bright colours and sweet scents. These attract them to the flowers, and the stripes and bands show them just where to find the honey, and so save their time. The largest blossoms, with the brightest colours and sweetest perfumes, are sure to be visited and fertilised by them.  

The gardener improves the flowers of the garden by taking seed from the finest flowers, and the bee is an unconscious little gardener, helping to make the woods and fields beautiful by taking the dust from the finest flowers to the seeds of the finest flowers, so that the new plants shall be strong and healthy.    

You will soon hear the hum of many bees in the gardens, fields, and woods, and as you hear them and watch them at their work think of all these things, and as much more as you can find out of all that God is doing through these tiny insects.   

Think of this wonderful little circle of blessing and helpfulness,-a wheel within a wheel,-the flower giving its honey to the insects, and thus really working for its own fruitfulness and increase; the bee serving and fertilising the flower, and thus providing a future store of honey for itself and other bees.  

Then besides the sweet lesson of the love and wisdom of God who is really doing all this, who puts the honey in the flower and guides the bee to it, I am sure you will learn at least this lesson also: Our own greatest blessing, happiness, and prosperity, come through letting God use us to bring blessing and happiness to others."


March 2, 1899 EJW, PTUK 139  

"Have you ever carefully watched the busy bee at his summer day's work? If not, do so this year, and see how many interesting facts you can find out for yourselves. You will most likely notice many things that you will not understand, but you can enquire and find out the meaning of mach that he is doing.

Of course you know what is the bees' object in their work among the flowers,-the search for honey and "bee-bread" for the little ones in the hive is probably all that they think of. They seem to be possessed by an absorbing desire for work, as though all they lived for was to fill the wax comb that is being built by the workers at home. 

Those who keep bees for the purpose of selling the honey now provide ready-made comb, which they empty as soon as the bees have filled it. The bees then patiently set to work to fill it over again, thinking perhaps what a fine store they are gathering for use during the winter, when all the flowers will have faded. 

Of course the bee-keepers see that they have plenty, but they sell all that the bees do not need. As so much of the bees' time is saved by having the comb made for them, they can spend more time out among the flowers gathering honey. 

But this work of the bees among the flowers has a meaning and purpose of which they know nothing. They are being used by God to make the flowers grow to beautify the earth. They are unconscious gardeners working in the Lord's garden. For from each flower that they visit they carry away a little yellow dust which you may have seen sticking to them. Perhaps some of you know Miss Ingelow's pretty lines:- 

"O velvet Bee, you're a dusty fellow,

You've powdered your legs with gold." 

This gold-dust is very valuable to the flowers, for without it all their seeds would be useless. Then what good does the bee do by carrying it away, do you say?  

If you watch him closely you will see that when he visits the neat flower he dusts some of it off as he delves into the heart of the flower to take his toll of sweet honey. He leaves the dust in payment for what he carries away, and it is of much more value to the flower. It falls upon the ripening seeds, and makes them fertile and able to bring forth fresh plants and flowers to feed the next generation of bees. So the bee is working for the interests of his own race, after all, is he not, as well as for the good of the flower. 

Notice the colours of the flowers that the bees visit, and now that you know what he is doing among them, you will no doubt be glad to see that he likes the same colours and scents that we do. A naturalist who has made a special study of this says that bees visit mostly the red, white, blue and yellow flowers. The colour and the fragrance are the guides that attract them, and so the most beautiful blossoms with the strongest scent are sure to be visited and fertilised, and thus the "survival of the fittest" is provided for. 

You see then that the colours, the scent, and the sweetness of the blossoms each has its object, and is a part of the wonderful plan through which the Word of God is working to fulfil itself, and to cause the earth still to bring forth as He commanded it in the beginning.

But this is only a little glimpse into the wonders that are taking place all about us in everything that we can see. "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." 

Solomon tells us how he sought out and found some of the wisdom which made him such a wise king and counsellor. He says: "I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things."

You may get some seed from one of the flowers in your garden, and keep it until the spring, and plant it, but find that the flowers which come from it are quite a different colour from the one that produced the seed. You will most likely already guess why this is. 

The pollen or dust brought by the bee from another plant had given to the seed the characteristics of the flower from which it was brought. Sometimes the new flowers may be a mixture of both colours, the colour of the plant that bears the seed, and also of the one that fertilises it. 

In this the flowers are like the little children, who may resemble either father or mother, or both parents. For the seeds are the babies of the plants, which are cradled in the ground until the strength of the life in them makes them grow and push themselves up from their earthy covering into the light. 

You will see many butterflies too in the meadow. Suppose instead of chasing them, and trying to grasp them, and spoiling their beautiful, delicate wings with your clumsy little fingers, you should watch them carefully and see what you can learn. 

Did you ever see one with its long tongue dipped down into the deep cup of a honey-laden flower? When it is satisfied and draws it out, you will wonder whatever it is going to do with it, and wherever it can keep it, until you see it beautifully curled up like the spring of a watch and packed safely away in its case.  

But the butterfly is not so busy as the bee, for it does not store any honey, and it is such a dainty, airy creature, that it needs very little food. In its former state as a caterpillar it fed all the time, and we might think, to see how little it eats, that it then laid in a store of food to list all its butterfly life. The butterfly usually lives only a short time, and its chief work seems to be to provide for the increase of its race by laying a great number of eggs. How beautifully and faithfully it does this work you can see by the description given on this page."

 August 2, 1900 EJW, PTUK 491



BEES are now being expelled from Paris by the prefect of police. A complaint lodged against these proverbial patterns of industry brought the fact to light that some skillful speculator had established, somewhere in the outskirts of the gay capital, no fewer than a thousand bee-hives, with a busy community of about forty million of subjects, who rob and torment their neighbors to an alarming degree. These winged brigands, as it seems, 

sallied forth to prey upon the sugar-boiling works with which the neighborhood is studded, and which proved to be most profitable substitute for honey-giving flowers.

The owner of one of these sugar factories, who stands first in the list of complainers, calculates that bees steal from him, at the least, twenty-five thousand francs a year. The workmen of these establishments look with even more unfriendly eyes on the winged free-booters, as they suffer in person for their greediness. When the workman leaves the factory, he is often covered with a sticky layer of sugar, and the watchful bees immediately pounce upon him and turn him into a field or pasture. In short, so many misdeeds are charged upon these busy insects, that it is not improbable the head of police will issue an order for their banishment from Parisian soil. 

Continental Gazette.


BEES are very curious little creatures, and the most useful of all the insects that fly. 

They are only about an inch long,

- and what wonderful work they do, making so much honey and wax for us all summer long! 

They know, too, about every flower in our gardens, and all the signs of the weather; and then they are so kind to their children. 

When they make their honey, I wonder if you know how they get their materials. 

Let me tell you.   Bees have slender pointed hairs upon their heads. 

The yellow hairs upon their legs, which we can see with the naked eye, turn out to be hard, horny sort of combs, which they use in the gathering and storing of the pollen of flowers. 

Besides this, the bees have two little baskets upon their thighs, which are the very perfection of side pockets, just such as we should want for a similar purpose. 

But what do you think they do with these pockets? 

They first tuck their little heads into the heart of the rose or lily, or other sweet flower, for honey. 

In doing so, they cover themselves all over with the yellow dust, which is the pollen. 

Then they take their forefeet and brush it very carefully from the hair, and pass it on to the middle feet, and on again to the hind feet, when it is safely packed in these little pockets on the thighs. 

As soon as they are loaded down, they fly away home, and put it in some secret place. 

Some of the pollen is given to their babies, and some of it is worked up into wax. 

This, you know, is used to make the cells. 

Some of it, called propolis, they use to punish intruders, giving them a sort of "tar and feathering." 

The bees are so industrious, that in five days, by the use of these pockets, they can half fill the hive with honeycomb. 

And then the wax is used for a great many other purposes. 

When you look at your beautiful dolls, don't forget that they are really made by the bees. 

Much more might be told you about these industrious little creatures. 

But you can find out a great deal for yourselves, my dear young friends, if in the summer you hunt up a hive and watch the doings of the bees carefully.

Aunt Georgy



EVERY one who has been in the country in the spring-time has seen bees. Two kinds are usually seen; the small brown and yellow ones, which are called honey-bees, and the larger black and yellow ones called humble-bees. Honey-bees are so called because making honey is the occupation of their life; they all follow the trade perseveringly. In this busy occupation they have always kept up a reputation for industry, and so, "as busy as a bee," became, long, long ago, a proverbial expression.

How bees carry on the work has occasioned no small amount of study. They usually live in hives, and there they build their comb, which is composed of countless small cells, or little six-sided rooms, built of wax. When we look at a piece of honeycomb as it lies on our plate at the table, we wonder what marvelous method the bee could possess by which he builds so regularly and so beautifully; he must surely be a natural architect. The waxy building material is secreted in the form of scales under six little flaps situated on the under side of the insect. It is then pulled out by the bee, and molded with other scales, until the tough piece of wax is formed. How the bee manages to build these cells with such mathematical accuracy is not known. Six-sided is the best possible shape for strength and space combined. The edges of the cells are strengthened with a substance called propolis, a kind of gum procured from the buds of various trees. This propolis is also used to stop up crevices. After the bees have built their store-houses, they begin to manufacture honey. They go out in every direction, over field and forest, over meadow and garden, in search of the flowers.

They do not gather the honey as birds gather fragments for their nests, but they have pockets which they fill up before returning to the hive. In this gathering of honey from near and far, the bees distinguish themselves as hard workers. For instance, every head of clover contains about sixty distinct flower tubes, each of which holds a portion of honey not exceeding the five-hundredth part of a grain. The probocis of the bee must, therefore, be inserted into five hundred clover tubes before one grain of honey can be obtained. Each pound of honey represents 2,500,000 clover tubes sucked by bees. Isn't that a vast amount of labor for insects to perform?

The manner in which the bees govern themselves.