Sources : Bee

Medieval writers, following their earlier sources, have a great deal to say about bees; in some manuscripts the account of the bee takes up several pages. The following are only extracts from the texts; to see the full text, follow the links for each author.

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus Book 5, 18.1-3; Book 9, 27.6): [Book 5, 18.1] All persons are not agreed as to the generation of bees, for some say that they neither produce young, nor have sexual intercourse; but that they bring their young from other sources; and some say that they collect them from the flowers of the calyntrus, and others from the flower of the calamus. Others again, say that they are found in the flowers of the olive, and produce this proof, that the swarms are most abundant when the olives are fertile. Other persons affirm that they collect the young of the drones from any of the substances we have named, but that the rulers produce the young of the bees. There are two kinds of rulers, the best of these is red, the other black and variegated: their size is double that of the working bees; ... by some they are called the mother bees, as if they were the parents of the rest; and they argue, that unless the ruler is present, drones only are produced, and no bees. Others affirm that they have sexual intercourse, and that the drones are males, and the bees females. ... The bees have a sting, which the drones have not: the kings and rulers have a sting which they do not make use of, and some persons suppose that they have none. [Book 9, 27.6] The king bees never leave the hives, either for food or any other purpose, except with the whole swarm; and they say that, if a swarm wanders to a distance, they will retrace their steps and return until they find the king by his peculiar scent. They say also that, when the king is unable to fly, he is carried by the swarm; and if he perishes, the whole swarm dies with him. [Aristotle's discussion of bees continues to the end of this long chapter.]- [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Ovid [1st century CE] (The Metamorphoses, Book 15, 361-390): Bury the carcasses of sacrificed bulls (it is a known experiment) in the ditch where you have thrown them, and flower-sipping bees will be born, here and there, from the putrid entrails. After the custom of their parent bodies, they frequent the fields, are devoted to work, and labor in hope of harvest. - [Kline translation]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 11, 4-23): [Book 11, 4] But among all of these species the chief place belongs to the bees, and this rightly is the species; chiefly admired, because they alone of this genus have been created for the sake of man. They collect honey, that sweetest and most refined and most health-giving of juices, they model combs and wax that serves a thousand practical purposes, they endure toil, they construct works, they have a government and individual enterprises and collective leaders, and, a thing that must occasion most surprise, they have a system of manners that outstrips that of all the other animals, although they belong neither to the domesticated nor to the wild class. Nature is so mighty a power that out of what is almost a tiny ghost of an animal she has created something incomparable! [Book 11, 5] In winter insects go into retirement for whence could they obtain strength to endure frost and snow and the blasts of the north wind? ... In regard to bees, either seasons or else climates have changed, or previous writers have been mistaken. They go into retirement after the setting of the Pleiades and remain in hiding till after their rise so not till the beginning of spring, as writers have said. ... They go out to their works and to their labors, and not a single day is lost in idleness when the weather grants permission. First they construct combs and mold wax, that is, construct their homes and cells, then produce offspring, and afterwards honey, wax from flowers, bee glue from the droppings of the gum-producing trees, the sap, glue and resin of the willow, elm and reed. ... [Book 11, 8] They do not even settle on dead flowers, let alone dead bodies. They work within a range of sixty paces, and subsequently when the flowers in the vicinity have been used up they send scouts to further pastures. If overtaken by nightfall on an expedition they camp out, reclining on their backs to protect their wings from the dew. [Book 11, 10] Their work is marvelously mapped out on the following plan: a guard is posted at the gates, after the manner of a camp; they sleep till dawn, until one bee wakes them up with a double or triple buzz as a sort of bugle-call; then they all fly forth in a body, if the day is going to be fine; for they forecast winds and rain, in case of which they keep indoors; and consequently men consider this inaction on the part of the bees as one of the prognostics of the weather. When the band has gone out to its tasks, some bring home flowers in their feet and others water in their mouth and drops clinging to the down all over their body. While the youthful among them go out to their tasks and collect the things mentioned above, the older ones work indoors. Those collecting flowers with their front feet load their thighs, which are covered with scales so as to serve this purpose, and with their beak load their front feet, and when fully loaded return bulging with their burden. ... However in a wind against them they fly close to the ground, carefully avoiding the brambles. They keep a wonderful watch on the work in hand; they mark the idleness of any who are slack and chastise them, and later even punish them with death. They are wonderfully clean: they remove everything out of the way and no refuse is left lying among their work; indeed the droppings of those working inside are heaped in one place so that they may not have to retire too far, and they carry them out on stormy days and when work is suspended. [Book 11, 11] The drones have no stings, being so to say imperfect bees and the newest made, the incomplete product of those that are exhausted and now discharged from service, a late brood, and as it were the servants of the true bees, who consequently order them about, and drive them out first to the works, punishing laggards without mercy. [Book 11, 14] In the sixty days from midwinter to the rising of Arcturus they live on sleep, without any food; in the warmer period from the rising of Arcturus to the spring equinox they now keep awake, but still keep inside the hive and have recourse to the food kept for this time. But in Italy they do the same after the rising of the Pleiades, sleeping till then. [Book 11, 22] They delight in the clash and clang of bronze, and collect together at its summons; which shows that they also possess the sense of hearing. When their work is done and their brood reared, though they have accomplished all their duty they nevertheless have a ritual exercise to perform, and they range abroad in the open and soar on high, tracing circles in flight, and only when this is finished do they return to take food. - [Rackham translation]

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 1, 10-11; Book 1, 58-60; Book 2, 57): [Book 1, 10] Even among bees there are some which are lazy, though they do not resemble drones in their habits, for they neither damage the combs nor have designs upon the honey, but feed themselves on the flowers, flying abroad and accompanying the others. But though they have no skill in the making and the gathering of honey, at any rate they are not completely inactive, for some fetch water for their king and for their elders, while the elders themselves attend upon the king and have been set apart to form his bodyguard. Meanwhile others of them have this for their task: they carry the dead bees out of the hive. For it is essential that their honeycombs should be clean, and they will not tolerate a dead bee in the hive. Others again keep watch by night, and their duty is to guard the fabric of honeycombs as though it were some tiny city. [Book 1, 11] A man may tell the age of bees in the following way. Those born in the current year are glistening and are the color of olive oil; the older ones are rough to the eye and to the touch and appear wrinkled with age. They have however greater experience and skill, time having instructed them in the art of making honey. They have too the faculty of divination, so that they know in advance when rain and frost are coming. And whenever they reckon that either or both are on their way, they do not extend their flight very far, but fly round about their hives as though they would be close to the door. It is from these signs that bee-keepers augur the approach of stormy weather and warn the farmers. And yet bees are not so afraid of frost as they are of heavy rain and snow. Often they fly against the wind, carrying between their feet a small pebble of such size as is easy to carry when on the wing. This is a device which they use to ballast themselves against a contrary wind, and particularly so that the breeze may not deflect them from their path. [Book 1, 58] ...bees dislike all bad smells and perfume equally: they cannot endure foul odors nor do they welcome a luxurious fragrance, even as modest, refined girls abhor the former while despising the latter. [Book1, 59] ...the first things that they construct are the chambers of their kings, and they are spacious and above all the rest. Round them they put a barrier, as it were a wall or fence, thereby also enhancing the importance of the royal dwelling. And they divide themselves into three grades, and their dwellings accordingly into the same number. Thus, the eldest dwell nearest the royal palace, and the latest born dwell next to them, while those that are young and in the prime of life are outside the latter. In this way the eldest are the king's bodyguard, and the youthful ones are a protection to the latest born. [Book 1, 60] ...the other bees when in presence of their rulers withdraw their stings, as though shrinking and giving way before authority. [Book 2, 57] And even when dead the ox is a splendid creature deserving our praise. At any rate bees are begotten of his carcass - bees, the most industrious of creatures, which afford the best and sweetest of fruits that man has, namely honey. - [Scholfield translation]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 5, 21.67-69): [Book 5, 21.67] Alone of all species of living creatures they [bees] share their offspring in common. All have the same abode and are confined within the limits of one native land. They engage in the same labor. They share the same food and partake of the same activities. The same productivity is shared and what could be more notable the same flight on the wing. The act of generation is common to all. Their bodies are uncontaminated in the common act of parturition, since they have no part in conjugal embraces. They do not unnerve their bodies in love nor are they torn by the travail of childbirth. A mighty swarm of young suddenly appears. They gather their offspring in their mouths from the surface of leaves and from sweet herbs. [Book 5, 21.68] They appoint a king for themselves and establish their own community. Though they serve under a king, they are free. They have the privilege of selection and of extending their loyal devotion. They love him as one elected by them and they pay him honor by producing a swarming hive. ... There are notable and natural characteristics in the king as he appears among the bees. He must be, for example, outstanding in size and beauty. Besides that, he must possess what is a conspicuous trait in a king: gentleness in character. He does not make use of his sting to inflict punishment. There are well-defined laws in nature, not set down in writing, but impressed in the mold of custom, by virtue of which those who possess the greatest power tend to be more lenient in the exercise of it. Those bees who do not obey the laws of their king are so overcome by remorse that they even kill themselves by their own stings! ... none hold their kings in such high esteem as do the bees. So true is this that they dare not leave their abodes nor go in search of food except when the king takes the initiative by assuming for himself primacy in flight. [Book 5, 21.69] They fly over the countryside with its fragrant gardens and sweetly smelling flowers, where a brook steals through banks of lush grass. There the young bees find occasion for spirited sport. There, too, they perform their martial exercises and find relaxation from labors. Their toil is sweet. From the flowers and the plants they erect the foundations for their camps. What is the honeycomb but a sort of camp? Hence 'they drive the drones from these folds.' Does not the square-shaped form of a camp compare favorably for beauty of construction with the art of the honeycomb in which tiny rounded cells are interlocked? What architect taught them how to arrange symmetrically the walls of these separate cells, how to hang aloft within the confines of their homes delicate pieces of wax, to staff all this with honey and swell with nectar, as it were, their granaries interwoven with flowers? You can perceive them all engaged in their tasks. Some keep guard over the food supply. Others keep anxious watch on the camp. Others are on the alert for possible rainstorms and cloudbursts. Some fashion the wax obtained from flowers, while still others gather in their mouths the dew that settles on these same flowers. Yet no one lays snares to pilfer the fruits of another's labors or aims 'to live by plunder.' Would that they did not fear the cunning stratagems of thieves! However, they still can resort to their stings and, if they should be aroused, infuse poison into the honey. In the heat of attack 'they lay down their lives in the wound.' And so into the recesses of their camp abodes the moisture of the dew is poured. This in the course of time is gradually transformed into honey. What before was liquid takes on the sweetness of honey as a result of the infusion of wax together with the aroma of flowers.- [Savage translation, 1961]

Augustine [5th century CE] (City of God, Book 15, chapter 27): Bees are born out of corruption (i.e. from rotting flesh) and have no sex.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:1-3): [Book 12, 7:1] Bees (apis) are so named either because they cling to each other with their feet (pes), or because they are born without feet, for they develop feet and wings afterwards. These animals, skillful at the task of creating honey, live in allocated dwellings; they construct their homes with indescribable skill; they make their honeycombs from various flowers; they build wax cells, and replenish their fortress with innumerable offspring; they have armies and kings; they wage battle; they flee smoke; they are annoyed by disturbance. [Book 12, 7:2] .Many people know from experience that bees are born from the carcasses of oxen, for the flesh of slaughtered calves is beaten to create these bees, so that worms are created [from] the putrid gore, and the worms then become bees. Specifically, the ones called ‘bees’ originate from oxen, just as hornets come from horses, drones from mules, and wasps from asses. [Book 12, 7:3]. The Greeks name costri those larger bees that are created in the edges of the honeycomb;some people think they are the kings. They are so named because they rule the hive (castra). The drone is larger than a bee, and smaller than a hornet. And the ‘drone’ (fugus, fucus) is so called because it eats what is produced by others, as if the word were fagus ("eat”), for it eats food that it has not toiled over. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Worms 9.2): Bees, as Aristotle and the great Basil and Ambrose relate, unlike every other species of living things, have their offspring in common, they all inhabit one abode, they are enclosed by the border of one country. There is a common labor for all, a common food, common activities, a common productivity, a common flight. What more? Generation common to all, also the integrity of the virgin body common to all, since they do not mix with each other in any intercourse, nor are they resolved in lust, nor are they shaken by the pains of childbirth, and yet suddenly they release the greatest swarm of children. They appoint a king for themselves, they create communities: and although they are placed under a king, they are still free. For they hold both the prerogative of judgment and the affection of devotion to faith, because they love it as if it had been established by themselves, and they honor it so much that they never stir up any controversy or discord against it. Nor is it surprising that the king's piety is always preserved towards the people, and the people's obedience towards the king is certain. Pliny: Therefore, among all flying worms, bees are the most admired by right. They extract honey and the sweetest and finest juice, and the most wholesome honeycombs and wax for thousands of uses; they have individual duties and fly in flocks to their leaders; they are neither of the tame race nor of the wild. Let us also esteem talent: in the winter they retire, in the summer no one spends a day at leisure when work is permitted by the weather. They do not harm any fruits, and do not even land on dead flowers. They make honey not only from sweet smelling, but also from stinking herbs; however, they always want to be in flowers, and they are more delighted with good than bad smells: for they naturally run away from stinking things, but sometimes they linger usefully in them because of the honey they provide. At night, when they are caught out on an expedition, they watch on their backs to protect their wings from the dew and rain. Bees make noise in flight because of the air trapped between their wings and body. The common bees are divided into tribes. There are emperors and as it were princes among the bees. For in any hive only one emperor dominates the others. This one is always more excellent in form and twice as large as the others, his wings are short, his legs erect, his step higher, with a spot on his forehead like a sort of diadem, the candidate differs much more brilliantly from the common people. It is agreed among the authors that the emperor bee has no stinger, and is armed only with majesty. But because nature has denied him a sting, the emperor of the human kingdom lacks this kind. Therefore the first class of bees are mothers and retired bees, and the rest are smaller ones. In the second class are the younger bees, who, doing much work with great vigor, are subject to their mothers as a sort of discipline, and do nothing without the command of their elders. In the third class are those bees which are called drones: they are like imperfect bees without a sting, they are like the customers and servants of the first and true bees; they drive out these first ones and kill without mercy those who are slow in their work, they help the mothers not only in their work, but also with the children, by contributing to the warmth of the crowd. When the honey has ripened, they take it away. And if any want to go out of the hive at the wrong time, they kill them. Then the mothers drive away the half of the bees, as if they were learned enough and powerful enough to be sufficient for themselves; they are immediately brought up to work in a kind of discipline with some of the mothers whom they have as teachers, and the young follow their emperor diligently and respectfully. In the month of June, as Palladius says, the keeper of the bees must be careful, because then the bees are active in their wandering, so that, if you are not guarded, they will flee. Two or three days before, they become more agitated and murmur. Then, the king going out first, all the commoners follow. And it is to be noted that if they hang themselves in one place or on one branch of a tree, and hang in one group, they know that either there is one king for all, or that they are all reconciled to remain in harmony. But if two or more groups divide themselves, you know that there are discords, and that there are as many kings as you see groups. Then, with your hand anointed with honey, you will disperse the bees between the groups, and the captured kings, whom you will recognize by their size, you will shake off the rest, keeping the best choice. They arrange the work of the lodges in the manner of a camp: the first three rows are generally empty, so that there is nothing available to invite outsiders. The latter are mostly filled with honey. Ambrose: What architect taught them to arrange those cells with the equality of the sides, and to hang thin wax between the walls of the house, to pack honey and to spread a kind of nectar in granaries woven with flowers? But in the beginning honey is diluted with water, and in the first days it boils to purify the must; on the twentieth day it thickens, and is soon covered with a thin membrane, which is congealed by the foaming of heat. This is the disposition of the bees: they are quiet in the morning, until one of them sounds a double or triple horn. If the day is going to be mild - for they foresee rains and winds - then they send out the whole tribe; but if it is to be a cloudy day, then they keep themselves under cover. When, therefore, the bees proceed to work, some gather flowers with their feet, others drops of water with their mouths, and water with the fluff of their whole bodies. Ambrose: You would see them all engaged in their task, some watching over the food, others concerned with the camp and keeping watch, others forecasting future showers and speculating on the confluence of the stars. When they are young, they go out to work and meet as aforesaid; the elders work inside. Those who carry the flowers, load their thighs with their forelegs, carry the hanging load, and unload them. Indeed, there are different duties inside: some build, some clean, some advise, some distribute the food from where it has been stored; for they are not fed separately, lest there should be an inequality of work and food and time. Pliny: A wonderful observation of their work: they note the indolence of those who stop working, they punish, and finally they punish with death. They are wonderfully clean: everything that is in the way is removed, no impurity lies among their works; rather, they put the excrement of the workers aside, so that they do not need to go back any further, so that it can be gathered together in one place and taken out on stormy days and when there is leisure from work. When evening comes, they make less and less noise in the hive, until one flies round with the same trumpet which it had awakened them, commanding them to take rest, and this is the custom of the camp. Then suddenly they all stop. They build houses first for commoners, then for kings. If a larger brood is expected, they add roommates. They build palaces for the future emperors on one side of the clearing, large, magnificent and separate and more prominent than the others. Several emperors begin in one work, and afterwards come their children, but when they have come to be grown up, they all agree to kill the worse ones by unanimous vote, lest they disperse the ranks and stir up seditions. Here the irrationality of people is confounded, who create for themselves inferior prelates or judges, and kill those worthy and necessary as far as their due power is concerned, while they retain the useless; but seeing on the contrary that bees, the smallest animals and inexperienced in reason, by natural instinct kill the inferiors by unanimous vote, lest they disperse the ranks and excite riots. The manner in which they should procreate was a great and delicate question among the learned. For the mating of the bees was nowhere to be seen. Many esteemed them more worthy to be made and procreated from flowers; others, however, said that there was one male who was called the emperor, and that he was the most important in size, and that females accompanied him mostly as a male, not as a leader. But the opinion of these is improbable, since the agreement between the investigators of so subtle an argument could not at all have been overlooked. In the manner of hens, they incubate their young. That which is hatched at first appears to be a white worm, so that it is seen to be feeding. But the offspring of the emperor is at once of the color of honey, made of the choice flowers and of all abundance, and by no means has the appearance of a worm at first like the rest, but at once takes on a winged form when it is complete. There is great obedience of the people to their emperor. When he goes forth, the whole group is united and gathers around him, surrounds him and protects him. The rest of the time, when the commoners are at work, he goes around the workers like an exhorter, the only one exempt from work. Around him are certain companions and policemen, the constant guardians of his authority. He is not easily seen, and does not go abroad except in a moving group. This is undertaken with a great deal of noise: for some days before they murmur within, choosing a seasonable day by means of a list. Ambrose: No one dares to leave the houses then, unless the king has gone out first and claimed his leadership by flight. And the procession through the red fields, where the blossoms spring up, where the stream runs through the grass, where the banks are beautiful: there is the game of the lively youth, there they exercise, there is the sweet course in the flowers. They are curious to try the sweet herbs. Then, after the meal, they sing together again sweetly. For they have a pleasant and surprising sweetness of their murmuring voice, which we seem to imitate at first more slowly by the sound of the trumpets, by which noise the matter is esteemed more suitable for exciting the spirits to vigor. A bee's wing, as Aristotle says, if cut off or blown off, never grows back. The bee stays in the cave during the cold days and does not eat prepared food. As the Experimentator says, the bees are especially weakened when the flowers bloom. Basil the Great: Bees sometimes, when they sting someone, release their soul together with the sting in the wound. Let the Christians hear, who are commanded not to return evil for evil to anyone, but to overcome evil in goodness. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book12.4; 18.12; 18.54): [Book 12.4] Isidore saith, that Bées are called Apes for they are gendred without feature, or for that they knit themselves together with féete. Isidore sayeth, that they bée cunning and busie in office of making of honny, and they dwell in their own places that are assigned to them, and challenge no other place but their owne. And they builde and make their houses, with a passing wonderfull skill, and of divers flowers: and they make hony combes, wound and writhen with waxe very curiously, and fill their celles, with many young. They have an hoast and a king, and move warre and battaile, and flye and voyde smoke and winde, and make them hardye and sharpe to Battaile, with great noyse. Many have assayed & founden, that often Bees are gendred & come of carraines of dead flesh. And for to bring forth Bées flesh of calves, which be slaine, is beate that wormes may bée gendered and come of the rotted bloud, the which wormes after take wings, & are made Bées, as Béetles be of Oxe dounge, as Isidore sayth. And Ambrose in Exameron saieth, That the properties of Bées are wonderfull noble and worthy. For Bées have one common kinde as children, and dwell in one habitation, and be closed within one gate. One travaile is common to them all, one meate is common to them all, one common working, one common use, one fruite and slight is common to them all, and one generation is common to them all. Also maidenhead of body without wemme, is common to them all, and so is birth also: for they be not medled wich service of Venus, neither resolved with lecherie, neither brused with sorrowe of birth of children, & yet they bring forth most swarmes of young. For where all other Fowles, bring foorth unneth one birth in a yeare, every one Bée bringeth foorth two, and passeth other, with double plenteousnes of increase. Bées make among them a King, and ordayne among them common people. And though they be put and set under a King, yet they be frée and love their King, that they make by kinde love, and defend him with full great defence, and holde honour and worship to perish and be spilt for their king, and do their King so great worship, that none of them dare goe out of theyr house, nor to get meate, except the King passe out, and take the principalytie of flight. And Bées choose to their King, him that is most worthy and noble in hightnesse and fairnesse, and most cléere in mildnesse, for that is chiefe vertue in a King. For though theyr King have a sting, yet he useth it not in wreake. And kindly, the more huge Bées are, the more lighter they be, for the greater Bées are lyghter than the lesse Bées. And also Bees that are unobedient to the king, they déeme themselves by theyr owne dome, for to dye by the wound of theyr owne sting. And of a swarme of Bees is none idle: some fight, as it were in battayle in the field against other Bées: some be busie about meate: and some watch the comming of showers: & some behold concourse and méeting of deawes: and some make wexe of flowers: and some make cels, now round, now square, with wonderfull binding and joyning, & evennesse. And yet neverthelesse among so divers workes none of them doeth aspye nor wayte, to take out of others travayle: neither taketh wrongfullye, neither stealeth meate, but each séeketh and gathereth by his owne flight & travayle among hearbes and flowers that be good and covenable. But Bées have their stings, and they shedde venyme among honny, if anye thing oversetteth them, and they put their lyves with a kinde of revenge, for defence of theyr houses. Also though they be feeble in strength of body, yet they be full strong in might and vertue of cunning: theyr fruite is softe and swéete to all thing, by his swéetnes he maketh jawes swéet, and healeth woundes, and giveth medicine to inward botches. Huc usque Ambrosius. Other properties Aristotle toucheth libro decimo, where these be set in. Also among other things they saye, that workings of Bées are divers, for some bring to the hive, things that need to araye for hony, of sprayes and flowers of trées, and of hearbes, and namely such things that be some deale gleymie and glewie, and bameth therewith the hive, and that they do for noyful beasts. And if the entering of the hive bee too large, they make it narrow and straight: and they gather honny, and first they begin to make the house that the King shall dwell in, then they make houses for other Bées, that kéepe the hive, and they take waxe of floures, and gather it with their forséete, and then they gather to the middle féete, and then to the over most joynts of the hinder féete: & then they flye therewith, and then the heavinesse of the Bee is knowen: and when a Bee flyeth, be taketh no heede of the diversitie of flowers; nor leaveth one flower for another, all the while that he findeth therein that is needfull, and turneth then againe to hir owne place charged. But how they gather honny, and what is the matter of honny, we maye not lyghtly distinguish by feelyng: but they haunt much gladly leaves and flowers of Olyve, and abide thereupon long time for thicknesse of leaves, and when their king may not flye, then a company of Bees beare him. And if the rector be on live, the males be in one partie, & the females in another partie, and if he be dead, the males be with females in one house: and the rectours females, is much more than the females of ye other Bées, and hath a more strong sting than ye male. And many males be wtout stings, & they flye, as though they would sting with stings, and yet they may not. The rectors be of two manners, the one is blacke, and that other is red, and this is the better, & is a good little Bee, round and thicke in it selfe, and small in the middle, as though he were girded, and meanly rough. And Bees are divers in feeding, for some be fedde with flowers of gardens, and there be other manner Bees, which be fedde with flowers of Mountaines: and those that be fedde in trees of Mountaines be lesse than other, and stronger, and may better away with travayle. Also Bees sit upon the hives, and sucke the superfluitie, that is in honie combes: and it is said, that if they did not so, thereof should spiders be gendred of that superfluitie, and the Bees should dye, and when there is but little honnie in their houses, they forsake and come out of their houses, and fight with them that will take away their honnie: and therefore they be seene ofte sitting about their holes, as it were readie and arayed to withstand and defend, and the shorter Bees fight with the longer with strong sight, when they eate much hony, and they busie themselves to drive these out of the hives, which do not make honie and labour. Also the Kings be not séene without the hives alone, but they have a great company of Bées about them: and the king is in the middle, and he passeth out three dayes before the out passing of ye young Bées: then few Bées come out and flye about the hives, and departe themselves in companies, and with every King goeth one companie. And if it happeneth, that one part of the Bées set against the other, then these few Bées that remaine, goe to another King, and forsake theyr first King, and they goe to the King that hath most number: and if the King whome they forsake, doeth followe after them, they kill him. Also when Bees sting, they dye right soone after, if they sting in all their sting, and drawe it not out of the place that is stung, for ye sting may not all come out, except some gutte come out therewith, and the rectours of Bées sting seldome. And if any Bee dye in the hive, the other Bées drawe him out: for this beast is more cleanly then other beastes, and therefore they cleanse flieng, and not in their hive, for stinking savour grieveth them full sore, & likwise so doeth winde also. Therefore if there be great winde, the wardene of the Bées shall cover the mouth of the hive, that the winde come not into the Bees: and if the hives stinke in any wise, they will forsake their hives, & if it hap that the Bées abide therein, they shall take sicknesse of the stench. And when they rest too much, they were sick, and they throw and put out idle Bées from their company. And hot places be according for them in Winter time, and colde in Summer time. And if a man leveth to them much hony, they will not worke much thereafter: and if he leaveth too little, then they wexe slow to worke hony. Therefore the warden shall leave them hony, as the multitude of the¯ is more or lesse, and if they lacke honny to ease, then the warden shall féede them with figges, and other swéete meates, least they shoulde dye. And when they gather them together and strive within the hive, it is a token that they will depart thence and forsake the hive: and therefore the warden must powre some swéete wine into the hive, and then they will abide still. Huc usque Aristoteles. liber. 8. sive 9. Also liber. 4. he sayth, that Bées make no noyse but in flyeng and spreading out and drawing in their wings by the aire, that falleth betwéene the wings and the bodyes. Also the hinder féete of them bée longer then theyr fore féet for going, that they may soone arise from the earth, whe¯ they will flye, as he saith. lib. 14. Also sometimes Bées have a sicknesse, that Aristotle calleth Kaliroys. l. 8. And that evill commeth of little wormes, which be gendered in the hive, and commeth of corrupt hunnie combes. And when those worms he waxen, they make a web like to the web of a Spider, and hath mastry over all the hive. And therefore the hunny waxeth corrupt, and the Bees waxe sicke and die. Also li. 16. hée sayth, That Bées are not gendered by the service of Venus. In those yéeres that be dropping, many Bees are bread and gendered. For by moysture superfluities be multiplyed in bodies. And in temperate yéeres bée fewe birds of Bées, as he saith. Item in dietis particularibus it is sayde, that Bées that eat flowres of Almond trées, make more temporale hunnye then other, and more savoury, and lesse sharpe: and that hunny most cleanseth spirituall members. And Bées that eat wormwood and other bitter hearbes, make hunnie lesse swéet: But yet that hunnie cleanseth most the stopping of the splene, and openeth the liver, and helpeth them that have the dropsie, and helpeth the biting of a madde dogge. Look more of hunny in Tracttau de liquoribus. And the other propertyes of Bées, shall ye finde in Littera. A. in Tractatu de animalibus secundum Pth. et avicennam. [Book 18.12] The Bée is called Apis, and is a little short Incecti with many féete, & among all flyes with round bodyes, and so shapen, he beareth the price in manye things, as Plinius sayth libro. 11. cap. 6. Hugenesse of wit rewardeth him in littlenesse of body, and though he might be accounted among flyeng Flyes, yet for he useth feete, and goeth upon them, he may rightfully be accounted among beastes that goe on grounde: and over the properties that are sit before libro. 12. in litera A. other properties shall be set héere; the which properties Plinius rehearseth li. 10. cap. 6. and saith in this manner: Among all wonders, the wit and sleight of Bees is wonderfull, by the which wit they gather honnie, and make honnie combes of most swéetest juyce and subtill, and most wholesome: and worke and make Waxe, that is full good and profitable to the use of lyfe of mankinde, and lurke and be hidden in Winter: for they have no might & strength to withstand the frost & snow, & blasts of Northen wind: and in springing time they go out to blooming beanes to worke & to travaile, & none of them have leave to be idle in yt time: and first they ordeine hony combes, & make waxe houses & cells, & then bréed young & make hony therafter, & bring it together. And they perget the roofe of their hives with woose & gum all about, & with juyce of trees that have vertue of Gumme, and strength their hives as well as they may agaynst the greedines and réeses of other small Birdes, and if there be any durte, they breake it off and casteth it of and farre awaye, and they washe the Hives with the foresayd woose and juyce. And first for foundation of their work, they lay and set a certaine péece of bitter savour: and manye men call that Comosim: and make then another péece more swéete, and that is the beginning of ware, and many men call that Dulices: & the third time they set more greater matter & thicke, that is the stablishment and fastening of the hony combs, and many men call that matter Propolim: and in these three manner wises, they strengthen, and succour, and defend their honie combes, against colde and other wrongs. And Bées sit not on fruite, but on flowers, not withered, but fresh & new, and gather matter, of the which they make both honie and wexe: and when the flowers that are nigh unto them are wasted and spent, then they sende spyes, for to espie meate in farther places, and if the night falleth upon them in their journey, then they lye upright to defend their wings from rayne and from deaw, that they may in the morrow tide flye the more swifter to their worke with theyr drye wings and able to flye. And they ordayne watches after the manner of Castles, and rest all night untill it be daye, till one Bée wake them all with twice buzzing or thrice, or with some manner trumping: then they flye all, if the daye be faire on the morrowe: and they diuine and are ware before of rayne and of winde, and then they holde them in theyr house, and when they know and be ware before hand of faire weather, then they passe foorth to theyr worke with a swarme and companye: and then, some gather flowers with their feete, and some water with theyr mouthes, and beare drops together with all roughnes of their bodies. The younger goeth out to worke, and beginneth such thinges, and the elder worketh at home, with flowers that they bring. First, they charge the fore féete, and afterward the hinder féet, until they turne home againe, with the mouth full and fully charged. And they receive them that be charged in this manner: thrée or foure dischargeth them, as they be ordayned at home, for theyr offices are divers: For some make houses, and some cleanse and make fayre the Hive, and some dresse meate of that that is brought home, and they eate not asunder, least uncleannesse of meate or of worke should be among them: and they make the combes ordinately and by lyne, & hang them above, with certaine things, that them holdeth, and undersetteth them that they shall not fall, and putteth a lyttle honnye in the first rowe, and ofte filleth the laste most full. And the Bées that bringeth and beareth what is needfull, dread blastes of winde, and flyeth therefore lowe by the ground when they are charged, least they be letted with some manner of blasts, & chargeth themselves somtime with gravell or with small stones, that they may be the more stedfast against blastes of winde, by heavinesse of the stones. Among them is wonderfull observaunce of discipline and of lore, for one marketh and taketh héed of them that worke not, and chastiseth them anone, and slaieth them that will not worke. Among them is wonderfull great cleannesse, for they suffer no filthe among theyr workes. And some Bées gather into one place the dirte of the Bées that worke, because they shoulde not goe farre from their works, and throw out their durt at even, and goeth into their houses & bide still untill the same Bée that hath watched, flye about and call them to rest, and then they holde all their peace and be stil sodeinlye. Item in eodem cap. 13. Bées doe most equitie and right, and smite all that distroubleth their peace, and all that desire to destroy their honnie. And Bées have a King, that is not armed with a sting, but with Lordshippe and magestie, as he sayth, cap. 18. Or if he have a string, kinde denieth him the use thereof. For kind wil not yt he should bée cruell, to the intent hée shoulde not be hastie to take wreake, and therefore taketh away from him his Speare, and leaveth him unarmed. And so it is truth, that ye Emperour useth not his sting. The obedience of Bées is wonderfull aboute the King: for when he passeth foorth, all the swarm in one cluster passeth with him, & he is compassed about with ye swarm, as it were with an hoast of knights, & is then unneth séene that time, for multitude that followeth and serveth him: and when the swarm of Bees be in travell, he is within, and as it were governour, and goeth about to comfort other for to worke, and onely he is not bound to travayle, and all about him are certain Bées with stings, as it wer champions, and continuall wardens of the kings body: and he passeth seldome out, but when all the swarme shall go out. His out going is knowen certaine daies before by voyce of the hoast, as it were araieng it selfe to passe out with ye King; and so if it should chaunce that ye king of the Bees: wing were cat at that time, then the swarme shoulde not passe out of the hive; and when he passeth out of the hive, all the Bées profereth them to the Kings service, and labour to bée next him, and beareth the King on their sholders, if he be weary and overcome with travayle, and if any Bée be wearie and faileth, or erreth, and goeth out of the hoast, then they follow by smell after the King, and where ever the King commaundeth, there the hoast pitcheth their tents. And all the hoast is comforted, & hearted when they see the King: and if they loose the king, then all the swarme breaketh, and commeth unto, another King: For they may not be without a King. To the Bée hives commeth certaine false Bees that are called Fuci in ye plurall number, and have a great wombe, and eate and devoure hony, & true Bées slayeth these false Bees when they take them therewith. When springing time is wet and moist, then the brood of Bées is multiplyed, and if meate fayleth in the Bée hives, then they réese and assaile their neighbors, to take from them their honie, and to spoyle them: and the other lead an hoast against them if they have a king, and if any Bee in the other side, favoureth them ye rise & assaileth them, then the Bées that assaile them, spareth them that favour them, and smite not at them, but take them in companye, and defendeth them. For many other causes hoasts that be contrarye, ordayne them two Emperours with great strife: and the fighting and battaile is all destroyed and disperpled, with throwing of pouder and of dirt. Item in eod. ca. 19. Some Bées, are fled Bées, and some be woode Bées and fowle to sight, and more wrathfull than other, but they travayld better, and may better away therewith: & some be tame Bées, and some of them be short, divers & round. And some be long as waspes, and those are worse than other, but they travayle better, and may better awaye therewith and be rough: and some of these Bées are white, and gender honie, and make their neostes among corne: and in the woode, Bées gender honye among trées, and somtime in dens in the earth. And so these kinde giveth a sting, yt sticketh ther he smiteth at one stroke: and some for great wrath and desire of wreake stingeth so déepe, that the gutte followeth sodainly the speare and suche dye soone: and some loose the speare, and live afterward, and maye not make honie, for their vertue is taken away from them, and lyve to doe profite, or to noye. Bees hate stinking & other evill smels, & namely smoke, and flye there from, & be glad & merry in things with good smell: and be comforted with smell of crabs, if they be sod nigh them. And when theyr King is dead, then they be woe for sorrowe, and doe for him, as it wer service for the dead, and all the swarme of them maketh great sorow & dole: if the King be dead in pestilence, then they beare meate togethers, and passe not out, but with sorrowfull mone they be gathered on a heap about his bodie, and abate not their sorrow and woe, but they dye for hunger and wo, except the body be taken away. Helth of Bées is knowen in their mirth and cléernesse. Also he sayth, that Bées fall into manie sicknesses: for as it is said cap. 20. they wer sicke when their brood faileth, and also sound that reboundeth of noyse is enemy to them, for it maketh them full sore afraid with sodaine noyse. Also corrupt myst, that corrupteth flowers that they eate is enemie to them. Also spinners be enimies to them, when they come in the hive, and make webs, that grieve them. Also a flye that is like to a Butter flye, that Flieth into candles, is enemie to them: for that butter flye eateth wexe, and leaveth there dirt, of the which dirt commeth Caterpillers, wormes that love well war passing other things. Also the great desire of meate grieveth them, when they eate too much of flowers; and that hapneth namely in springing time, and they dye all with oyle, as such round beasts doe, and namely if the head be noynted: and such beasts set in the Sunne, quickneth againe if they be besprong with vineger. Also somtime they take sicknesse, and cause of sicknesse, when they ever greedelye eating, féele that theyr honnie is withdrawen and taken away. Huc usque Plinius. Avicen[na] lib. 8. cap. 3. rehearseth noble properties and worthy of Bées, & saith that Bees are fed with hony, and lyttle they eate thereof, but they eate honie when they be sicke, & go not out of their house. And when they find cleane hives, they make therin houses and chambers of waxe, with sire manner castes: and when ye mouth of ye hive is too large, they make it lesse with some manner glewie matter, that is blacke with sharpe odor and smell: and first they build the kings house, and that house is lyke an hoale vauted, and afterward they buyld other houses, by diversitie of the more maisters or lesse. And onely the males builde theyr houses, and afterwarde is no working, but to eate and make hony: & first Bées dwell in their honie combes, and passe out when it is time, and flye upwarde top wise, and come againe and eate honnie. And the King passeth never out without an hoast: and the males have no stings, except a few, and then they desire to sting, but they may not: & Bées have two maner Kings, the one is red, and that other as blacke as a coale, and is twice so much as a Bée that maketh honnie: and the male Bées, are more than the females: and the lesse Bees & round, with divers colours be best: and Bées that are fed in mountaines, gardens and meades, are small and good, and make honnie, like in parts light. Bées that be not good, maketh not honnie even, nor lyke in parts, but the Bee that cleaveth alway to the hole of the honie, maketh best honie, and els yt honnie should be soone corrupt, and spinners should gender therein, and destroye the hony. And Bees that make the hony, use a sting for double cause: for the defence, for there is firie vertue in the sting, and therefore it worketh greatly to wast superfluitie of moisture, and to amend and kéepe, and to save the honie. Also ofte into hives come certaine evill flyes, and bréede there other small flyes, that are grievous, and he called Gusanes, that pearceth the winges of other: but the very Bées pursue those flyes, and fight with them, and will not suffer them to fal upon their house, and Bees that make hony slayeth the males that grieve them, and evill kings, that rule them not a right, but onely eate too much hony, and that they doe, namelye when honye is scarfe: and small Bees fight with long Bées, when they worke not nor travel, and are busie to put them out of the hives: and by such out putting the hony is the better, & the more in quantitie. There is a manner kinde of Bées, that are called Labion, and these slaye Bées that make hony, and destroy their houses: and that is, for they are wakefull. And when they come into theyr hives, they pitche themselves into the honie because of eating, and stick so fast therein, that they may not escape, & then the very Bées slayeth them anone. And two dayes before that the King passeth out, the other Bées are skilfullye warned, and have knowledge what the king shall doe, that they may be obedient and readie to the king. And when ye kings be made, each hath one company, & that companie will have none other, but him that they first choose: and if anye other king will be king of that companye, they slay him. And if young Bées that come forth bée fow, they abide the companye of another swarme, and passeth so forth the more surely: and after that the young Bees begin to flye, if they be even and lyke, then they hast their worke, and help the olde to worke. And no creature is more wreakful, nor more fervet to take wreak than is the Bée when he is wrath therfore a multitude of the hoast of Bées, throw downe great hedges, when they are compelled to withstande them that destroye theyr honny, passing all other things. Bees hate dirte and smoake, and labour to delyver them of their owne dirt when they flye, for their dirte stinketh full fowle, & clense therfore their houses of their owne dirt: & young virgin Bées work better, and make better hony than olde, and smite not so much, nor theyr smiting grieveth not so sore, as doth the smiting of the olde. And Bees drinke, & that is onely cléere water, whether it be farre or nigh, and drinketh not, but they purge them first of their owne dirte. And Bées maketh most honnie in Harvest, and in springing time is best, because of new floures of great purenes. And Bées be pleased with harmony and melodie of sound of song, and with flapping of hands, and beating of basons: & therfore with beating of basons, tinging and tinckling of timbrells, they be comforted and called to the hives. When much hony is lefte in theyr hives, they wexe slow and worke the lesse, therefore it néedeth to leave in the hive, honnye meanly, not too much, nor too little. Huc usque Avicen[na]. li. 7. And he writeth many other properties, in the which he accordeth with Aristotle libro. 8. and also with Plin[y] libro. 11: Looke before lib. 12. in litera A, there ye maye finde manye properties that Aristotle, Seneca, and other Authours write: but this sufficeth for this time. [Book 18.54] Fucus is the name of a Drane, that is more then a common Bée, and lesse then an Hornet, and hath that name Fucus, for he eateth the travaile of other, as it were Fagus that commeth of Fagin, that is, eate, for hée eateth that yt hée travaileth not for, for he maketh no honny, but he eateth the honnie of other Bées. Héereof speaketh Virgil and saith. Ignauum fucus pecus a presepibus arcet. That is, the Drane driveth towarde beasts, & chaseth them from cribs. So saieth Isi[dore] li. 12. ca. 12. Of these dranes or bées Plinius speaketh li. 11. ca. 12. & saith, that in Bée hives is the more plenty of hony because of company of such Dranes: and such Dranes be without sting, as it were unperfect Bees, and be servauntes to the very Bees: and very Bées commaundeth them to worke, and stingeth, & punisheth without pity the Dranes that be slow in working, and also in breding. For it is certaine yt the more multitude is of such Dranes, the more swarmes be bred, and when honnie beginneth to bée ripe, they drive the¯ away from the honie, and punisheth them and chaseth: and bée not séene but in springing time. And such Dranes make roial habitations & large, & dissevered to the masters and commanders of Bées, and héeleth them, & maketh them séemely passing other, & such dwelling places and cells be all sire cornered. And though the Dranes susteine so many travailes, yet unneth they be suffered to eate of the hony, but as much as they eate, they eat it by stelth, ut dicit Plini. - [Batman]