Aristotle's History of animals. In ten books online

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begins spinning again at the rising or settinc of the sun, for
it IS at this time that her prey usually falls into the web.
The female both makes the web and pursues the prey. The
male only enjoys it with her.

6. There are two kinds of graceful spiders that spin a
tiuckmeb, one large and one small. The one with long legs
ke^ watch suspended above ita web, that tiie creatures
which fall into the web mar not be frightened when taken,
and tiien it ftUsi^on them from above^lhr its siaenreventi


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it from being easilr concealed. But tbe tmaller land con-
ceals itaelf in a Bmafl auperior chamber of the web.

7. Spiders hare the power of emitting their web as soon
as thej are bom, not from within their bodies, as if it were
an excrement, as Democritns says, but from the surface of
their bodj, like the bark of a tree, or like the eiecied spines
of some animals, as the porcupine. Thej will attack and
surround with their web animals larger than themselves ; for
th^ will attack small lizards, and beginning at the mouth,
will emit the web until their mouth is covered, and then will
approach and bite them. This is the nature of these animals.

chaptib xxvn.

1. Thbbz is a tribe of insects which has not jet received
any name, although in form all the species resemble each
other. This tribe includes those that form wax, as the bee
and those which resemble it in shape. Of these there are
nine sorts, six of which are gregarious, the bee, the king bee,
the drone, which dwells amonc the bees, the annual wasp,
the hornet, and tenthredo. These are solitary, the small
siren, of a tawny colour, and another siren, which is large,
black, and variegated. The third, which is larger than these,
is called borobvlius. The ants nursue no prey, but only col-
lect that which is already founa. The spiders do not make
anything, nor lay up a store, but only hunt down their prey.

2. Of the rest of the nine kinds already mentioned we
will treat hereafter. The bees do not hunt for prey, but
ther both produce and lay up stores. The honey is their
fooa. This is plainly shovm when the honey dealers attempt
to take the combs. When they are Aimisated and suffer-
ing from the effects of the smoke, they oevour the honey
greedily, which they are not observed to do at other times ;
but they spare it and store it up for food. Ther have also
another Bind of food, which is called cerinthus (bee bread),
which is of an inferior quality, and sweet like figs. They
cany this upon their le^ as they do the wax.

8. There ui great vanety in toeir diligence and mode of
Kfe. For when a dean hive ia given them, they build their
combs, bringing the drops from flowers and trees, such as
the wiUoWy the elm, and other glutinous trees. With this
jdiD ihflj smear ibe floor of their hire, for fear of other area-


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1. IX.] THE niSTOKT OF AUnCiXS. 261

lures. Tho honoj daalera calls this substance commosis,
and they build up the entrance of their hire if it is too wide. '
They first build cells for their own habitation, then those for
the Kings and the drones. They always build cells for them-
selves, and roval cells when there are man^ young ; but they
only build cells for the drones when there is plen^ of honey.

4. They make the royal cells near their own. These aro
small. Those for the drones are placed next These are of
a smaller size than those of the bees. They commence the
formation of their combs from the top of the hites, and carry
them down until seteral reach the floor of the hite. The ceUs,
whether for the honey or the grubsi are constructed with two
mouths; for there are two cells built on each base, like a double
cup, one on the inside, the other on the outside. The cells at
the beginning of the comb, near the hites, are joined toge*
ther for as much as two or three rows in a circle, and are
short, and contain no honey. The cells which are formed
with the greatest quantity of wax contain the most honey.
. 5. They spread the substance called mitys at the en*
trance of their hiyes, near the opening. This material is
black, as if it was the purification of the wax, and of a
harsh smelL It is considered a remedy for omtusions
and suppurations. Next to this the pissocerus is smeared
over the floor of the hiye. This substance is less useful
than ^ mitys in the healing art. Some persons say that
the drones build cells for themseWes, dividing both tbie hive
and the wax with the bees ; but they make no honey, but both
themselves and their young are supported by that of the bees.
.The drones generally remain in the hives ; and if they fly oat
tbey rise in the air with a great noise, wheeling about as if
tbey were exercising ; and when ther have done this tbqr
return to the hive and feast themselves on the honer.

6. The king bees never leave the hives, either for iood or
4Uiy other purpose, except with the wlude swarm ; and they
•ay that, it a swarm wanders to a distance, they will retraoa
tlieir steps and return until they find the king by his neeii-
liar scent They say also that^ when the king is nnabie to
fly, he is carried by the swarm; and if be perishes, the whole
•swarm dies with him. And if they continue fbr a time
.to fbrm cellSf they place no hooey in them, and then thej
alsoperisb. «


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2G2 rai HISTOBT 07 AmUJLlM. [b. IX,

. 7. Tbe bees collect the wax hj dimbing actiyelj on the
flowers with their fore feet. They cleanse these upon the
middle pair of legs, and their middle legs again on the
curred part of their hind legs, and thus loaded they flr
away. They are evidently heavilv loaded. During each
flight the bee does not settle upon flowers of different kinds,
but as it were from yiolet to violet, and touches no other
species till it returns to the hive. I%ere they are unloaded,
and two or three bees follow every one on its return to the
hive. It is not easy to see what is taken, nor has their
manner of working it been ever observed Their manner of
collecting wax upon the olive trees has been the subject of
observation; for the thickness of the leaves makes them
remain a long while in this tree.

' 8. After having done this they produce their young.
There is nothing to prevent there being grubs, and noney,
and drones in the same comb. As long as the king bee is
aHve, they sav that the drones are prc^uced in a separate
place; but when he is dead they are produced by the bees
m their own cells, and such drones are more passionate : for
this cause they are called stingers, not that they have any
sting, but that they would sting, if they had the power to
do so. The drone cells are larger. Sometimes the drone
cells are placed by themselves, but are generally combined
with those of bees, for which reason they cut them offl

9. There are several kinds of bees, as has been already
observed : two kinds of kings, the better sort of which is
red, and the other sort is black and variegated, and in size
double that of a good bee. The best kind is small, round,
and variegated ; the other is long, like the wild bee. There
is another called phor (the thief) ; it is black, and has a
broad abdomen. The drone is another sort : it is the largest
of them all, has no sting, and is stupid. The bees that are
produced from those that inhabit cultivated places are dif-
ferent from the natives of mountainous countries, for those
produced from wood bees are more hairy, smaller, less, more
diligent, and more violent. The best bees elaborate a smooth
eomb, with a polished surface. The comb also is of one
form, as if entirely adapted for honey, or for grubs, or
drones ; and if it happens that all these are produced in the
I oomb^ each form will be elaborated in order.


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10. The long bees make their combs uneven, and ttie
covering swollen, like that of the wild bee. Their offspring,
also, and the rest of their productions, are not arranged in
any order, but according to chance. Amon^ them there
are many bad kings, and many drones, and thieves, as thej
are called ; but little or no honey. Tlie bees sit upon the
combs, in order to bring them to maturitv. If this is not
done, thej say that the cells perish and become filled wiUi
a web ; but if afterwards they are able to continue sitting,
something like an abortion is produced : if they cannot sit,
the whole perishes. ^laggots are formed in those cells that
perish, which acquire wings and fly away. If a comb falls
down, the bees set it up, and put props beneath it» in order
that they may be able to pass underneath ; for if they have no
path by whicn to approach the place where they sit, the cells
oecome covered with a web.

11. The thieves and the drones do not work, but only in* t
jure the other bees, and when taken they are killed by the
useful bees. Many of their rulers are also frequently killed,
and especially the bad ones, in order that the swarm may
not be dispersed by their numbers. They are the more dis-
posed to kill them when the swarm is not fruitful, and no
costs are formed. At such times they destroy the royal
cells, if any have been prepared, for they are the leaders ol
the swarm. They destroy also those of the drones, if honey
is scarce, or the swarm is short of honey. They fight boldly
for their honey with those that would take it from them,
and drive out any drones that may be in the hive» and are
often seen sitting upon the hives. {

12. The small b^ fight eagerly^ with the long kind, and !
endeavour to drive them from their hives: and S thejr pre-
vail, it seems to be a sign of a very strong swarm ; but if^the
others conquer, when left alone, they are idle, and do nothing
that comes to good, but perish in the course of the autumn.
Whenever the useful bees kill an^ of them, they endeavour
to do so outside of the hive; and if any of them die in the
bivei; they carry them out Those which are called thieves
injure their own combs, and if they can do it in secret^
they will enter those of other bees, but if discoversd ther
are killed. It is, however, difficult to enter un u eree if ^
for there are guaids pkced ateachentranoo; andif onsi


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26i THX HI8T0BT OF AKIlLLLff. [b. ZX.

triTes to enter unnoticed, he is unable to fly from repletion,
and is rolled out before the whole swarm ; so that it is diffi-
cult to escape.

18. The kings themselyes are never seen out of the hiyes,
except with a young swarm, and in joung swarms all the
rest appear to be collected round him. When a swarm
is about to separate, a peculiar and singular noise is made
for some days, and for two or three days beforehand a few
bees are seen flying round the hive ; and if the kins; is
among them he is not seen, for it is not easy to see him. And
when they are collected, all the rest fly away and separate
themseWes with their respective kings : and if a few oi them
happen to be near at hand, they join themselves with one of
the numerous swarms. And if the king that they have left
foUows them, they kill him. This is the manner of their
leaving the hive, and of swarming.

' 14. They all have their proper work to perform. Some
bring flowers, others water, and others polisn and erect thd
cells. Water is brought when they are rearing their young.
None of them ever settle upon flesh, nor will they eat any*
thing seasoned. They have no particular time for com-
mencing work, but when thejr are properly supplied, and
in good health, they are particularly diligent during the
summer. When the day is fine they work without ceasing,
and as soon as the young bees are three days old, they set
to work, if properly fed. And when the swarm settles
some depart for food, and aflerwards return. In healthy
vwarms the progeny of the bees only cease from reproduction'
for about forty days after the winter solstice. As soon as
the young be^ are crown, they offer them food, and smear
the ceUs with it, and as soon as they are strong enough, the
young bees rupture the covering of the cell, and so escape.

15. The good kinds of bees destroy any creatures that are
produced in their hives and destroy the combs ; but the other
Kinds firom their inferiority overlook the destruction of their
work. When the dealers in honey take the combs, they
leave the bees some food for the winter. If sufficient is left|
the swarm is preserved; but if not, they either die in the
winter, or, if the weather continues fine, desert the hive.

' * Thb ihoiild prohMj be resd ** the bees on^ eeaae from their work '
HT tatij dejs daring the winter eoletioe.'* <


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They eat honey both in summer and in winter. Thej i^
lay up another kind of food, which it as hard as wax, which
some persons call sandaracbe.

16. Wasps are Toiy injurious to them, and so is the bird
called titmouse, and the swallow, and merops. The frogs
also in marshes destroy them when thej come for water, for
which* reason bee-fanciers destroj the frogs in those marshea j

where the bees come for water. They also destroy wasps* ^

jiests, and the nest of the swallow and merops, if near tne
swarms of bees. They avoid no animal, except those of \

their own kind. They fi^ht among themselyes, and with j

the wasps. When at a distance from their hires they will *

neither injure each other, nor any other creature ; but when \

near at home they will destroy everything that they can {


it. When they have stung anything they perish, for th^
cannot withdraw their sting from the wound without tear-
ing their own entrails ; but they are frequently saved, if the
person stung will take care to press toe sting from the
wound : but when its sting is lost, the bee must perish.
Tbcy will kill even large animals with their stings, and a
horse has been known to perish, if attacked by bees. The
rulers are the least cruel and stinging.

18. If any bees die in the hive, they carry them out ; and
in other respects the bee is a very clean creature. For this
reason they also eject their excrement when in flight, for
the smell is bad. It has been already observed that they
dislike bad smells and the scent of unguents, and that they
sting persons who use such thin^. They also die from i
other causes, as when the rulers m the hive are in great
numbers, and each leads out a portion of the swarm, nio
toad also destroys bees, for it blows into the entrance of
the hive, and watches for and destroys them as they fly out.
The bees cannot inflict any injury upon it^ but their keepen
destroy it.

19. Some bee-keepers say that the kind of bee whidi
makes an inferior and rough comb is the young of the otheiii
and that it is the result of imperfect skiU. Thej are younff
when a year old; young bees do not stm|[ so sevisnly as old
bees; for this reason the swarms are earned to the u>iariea»
for they are those of young beea.. When hoMj m shori


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2G6 THl HI8T0BT 07 ASJUALB. [b. IX

j they eject the drones, and pnt figs and other sweet things near

I them. The elder bees work in the hives, and become hairy

I from remaining within. The younger ones go out in the fields,

and are smoother: and they kill the drones when they have no

I ' longer any room for them, for they are nlaced in a recess of

the hive. When a swarm has been weak, strange bees have

been known to como and fight with them, and take away their

honey ; and when the bee-keeper killed them the others came

I out and defended themselves, and would not injure the man.

20. Other diseases, and especially one called clerus, fre-
quently attack strong swarms. In this disease small worms
are produced on the floor of the hive, and as these increase,
the whole swarm is held, as it were, in a spider's web, and

: ' the combs decay. There is another disease, which is like »

wildness in the bees, and causes a strong smell in the hives.

The bees should be fed on thyme, the white sort is better than

^1 the red. In close weather they should have * cool place,

.] and a warm one in the winter. They suffer the most wh^

they work with materials affected with the rust.

21. When the wind is high, they carry a stone with them
for a balance. If a river is at hand they never drink any-
where else, first of all laying down their weight. If no
river is near, they drink in some other place, and then

^ Tomit up their honey, and again set to work. There are

two seasons for making honey, the spring and autumn.
That formed in the spring is sweeter, whiter, and, on
the whole, better than that formed in autumn. The
best honey is made from the new wax and young fiowers.
The red honejr is inferior, on account of the wax ; for, like
wine, it is injured by the vessel which contains it; this
honey therefore should be dried up. When the thyme is

^ _ in flower, and the comb is full of honey, it does not become

inspissated. The gold-coloured honey is also good. The
, white hon^ is not formed of nure thyme, but is good for the

eyes, and for wounds. Weak honey always floats on the sur-
face, and ought to be separated, llie pure honey is beneath.

22. When the woods are in flower the bees form wax ; at
this season, therefore, the wax ought to be taken from the
hive^ for they immediately make more. These are the plants
from which they ooUect it, atractvUis, melilot, aspnodcl,
njrtle, phleos, agnui, broom. Wnen they can procure

Digitized by VjOOQIC


thyme, thej mix water with it before thej smear the celhu
All the bees emit their excrements either on the wine, as it
has been said before, or into a single cell. The small bees,
it has been already remarked, are more industrious than ih&
larffe ones, so that their wings become worn at the ed^es,
ana their colour black and bumt^ but the bright and shiny
bees are idle, like women.

28. Bees also appear to hare pleasure in noises, so that
they say that they collect them into their hires by striking
earthen ressels and making noises. But it is very doubtfu
whether ther hear or not, and if they hear, whether they
collect together from pleasure or from fear. The bees drite
out all that are idle or wasteful. They divide the work, as
it has been already said ; some work at the hone^, others at
the ffrubs, and others at the bee bread ; some, again, form the
comb, others carry water to the cells, and mix it with the
honey, while others go to work. Early in the morning they
are silent, until one bee arouses them by huramine two or
three times, when they all fly to their work ; when they
return again there is some disturbance at first, which gradu*
ally becomes less, until one of them flies round with »
humming noise, as if warning them to sleep, when on *
sudden they all become silent.

24. It is a sign that the swarm is strong when there ii
much noise and movement, as they leave and return to the
hive, for they are then busy with the grubs. They are most
hungry when they begin to work after winter. They are
more idle if the person who takes the honey leaves mucn be-
hind, but it is necessary that a ouantity should be left pro-
portionable to the strength of tne swarm, for the^ work less
actively if too little is left ; thev become more idle if the
hive is large, for they despair of their labour. The hive is
deprived of a measure or a measure and a half of honey; if
it IS strong, two or two measures and a half. Some few will
afford three measures.

25. Sheep and wasps, as it was said above, are hostQe to
bees. The oee fanciers, therefore, catch the vrt^ps in pans, in
which they place pieces of flesh ; when manv nave fSulen in,
they put on alid and put tiiem in the be. It is go^
for tbe bees to have a few drones amonff them, for it makes
•them more industrious. Bees discern tne approach of cold


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26& THl HI8T0BT Of AVnClLS. [b. IX«

weather and of rain ; this is pfain, for they will not leare
the hite, but even if the daj iafine are occupied in the hive.
Bj this the bee keepers know that they expect severe

26. When they are suspjended upon each other in the hive,
it is a sign that tne swarm is about to leave ; and when the bee
keepers see this, they sprinkle them with sweet wine. They
usually plant about the hive the achras, beans, poa medica,
Syria, ochrus, myrtle, poppy, herypllus, almond. Some
bee keepers recognise their own bees in the fields by sprink-
ling them with flour. When the spring is late or dry, and
when rust is about, the bees are less diligent about their
young. This, then, is the nature of beesr

Chaptib XXVIII.

1. Thxbb are two kinds of wasps, of which the wild sort are
rare ; they are found in mountains, and do not build their
nest in the ground, but on oak trees ; in form they are larger,
longer, and darker than the other sort ; they are varie^ted,
all of them have stings, and are strong, and their stmg is
more painful than that of the other sorts, for their sting is
larger in proportion to their size. These live for two
years, and m winter are observed to fly out of trees, when
they are cut down ; during winter they live in holes. Tbeir
place of concealment is in trees ; some of them are mother
wasps, and some workers, as in those which are more do-
mestic ; the nature of the workers and the mother waspa
will be explained when we come to speak of the more
domestic kiud.

. 2. For there are two kinds of the domestic wasns,
the rulers, which they call mother wasps, and toe
workers; the rulers are larger and more eentle, and the
'workers do not survive the year, but all of them die, on the
anival of winter. This is plain, for at the berinning of
winter the workers become stupid, and about tbe solstice
are seen no more ; but the rulers, which are called mother
wasps, are seen during the whole of the winter, and bury
.themselves in the earth; for in ploughing and digging
during the winter, the mother wasps have Men frequently
observed, but no one has ever seen a worker.
8. The following is the manner of their reprodnctioftt


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B. IX} VHB HI8T0BT 07 AlTIlCALfl. 2C9

when the rulers hare found a place properly situated, at
the beginning of summer, they iorm their combs and build
the wasps nests, as they are called ; these are small, with four
holes, or thereabouts ; in these working wasps are produced,
and not mother wasps. When these are grown, tliej after-
wards build larger nests, and again larger still, as the
swarm increases, so at the end of autumn the nests are rery
numerous and lai|;e, and in these the mother wasps no
longer produce workers but mothers. These larcer maggots
are produced on the top of the upper part of the nest, in
four or rather more aqjoining cells, Terr like those of the
rulers in their combs. When the working was[)s are pro-
duced in the combs, the rulers no longer labour, but the
workers bring them food ; this is evident, from the rulen
never fl jing away from the workers, but remaining quietly

4. Whether the rulers of the previous year, when they
have produced new rulers, die at the same time as the young
wasps, or whether they survive a longer period, no one has
-ever observed, nor has anvone ever observed the old age of
the mother wasps, or of the wild wasps, or any other of their
affections. The mother wasp is broad and heavjr, and thicker,
and larger than the working wasp, and her weight prevents
her from being very active m flight, neither can slie fly far,
but always sits in the wasps' nests, and fiuhions andamnges
the internal parts.

6. There are generally mother wasps in the nests, but
there is some doubt whether they have stings or not $ they
seem, however, like the rulers among the bees, to have
stings, though they never put them oat nor sting; some
wasps, like the drones, are without stints, others have a sting.
Those that are without stings are smaller, and not so uiery,
neither do they defend themselves; those which are far*
nished with a sting are larger, md strong ; some odl these
the mslcM, and those which have no stilog the females. To-
wards winter many of those that have stings tppear to lose
them, though we have tievet met with eye-witnesses of this

6. Wasps are more abundant in dry seasons and rough
places ; they are produced beneath the earth, they oMke their
wimhs of eoUected materials an4 of earth, eac» spriagiBg


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270 THS H18T0BT 07 ASJUXLU. [b. IX

from one origin, u if from a root. They procare their food
from some flowera and fruits, but generallj, tboj are car-

Online LibraryAristotleAristotle's History of animals. In ten books → online text (page 26 of 39)