The Bee People  by Margaret Warner Morley


Her Wings

P OLLENLESS and honeyless Miss Apis leaves home. She returns with her sac full of honey and her baskets full of pollen.

That is, if she is fortunate she returns, for I regret to say that certain birds, being fond of honey, take it, bee and all.

They do not stop her and say, "Your honey or your life!" but swallow her whole and talk about it afterwards; that is, if they talk about it at all.

Down their throat she goes, honey-sac and long brown tongue, twelve thousand six hundred and three eyes and curious legs, all at once. Not so much as an eyes escapes, so far as I have ever heard.

Then these birds sit on a branch and "look as innercent as yer mammy's mockin' bird," as Uncle Remus would say, just as if they had never eaten a bee in their lives, nor even thought of such a thing. But if she is fortunate she gets home.


Bee eating

She does not walk home, nor yet run; she flies.

For, as you know, she has wings. Dainty wings they are too. They are transparent and colorless like glass, and are very thin and delicate. They shine in the light, or you would scarcely notice them.

Miss Apis seems to have only two wings, though really there are four of them.

Whatever Miss Apis has she appears always to have in abundance; and when wings are in question, she must needs have four, although birds and dragons and such economical creatures are content with two.

She can fold her four wings down very neatly over her back when she wants to walk about, but when she starts to fly, she spreads them out, a pair on each side of her body.



If the two wings on either side were to separate from each other and let the air between them her flight would be spoiled, and she would go tumbling along in an ungainly and mortifying manner.

That this may not happen, she hooks the upper large wing and the lower small one together, when she raises them for flight, so that the two are as firm as though they were but one. She is enabled to do this by a row of hooks on the lower wing which fit into a groove on the upper wings, as you can see in the picture. The wings fit so closely together when hooked that you would not discover there were two, unless you looked very carefully indeed.



With her wings safely locked together, away she goes, sure and swift.

When she closes them, the smaller ones slip under the larger ones out of the way.

You see, four wings are handy when one wants to close them and have them out of the way, but two are best to fly with.

So, being a somewhat eccentric and withal ingenious individual, as you may have observed for yourself before this, Miss Apis has two wings to fly with, but four to fold away.