Among the Forest People by Clara Dillingham Pierson
HE old Bee tree was becoming very crowded and the
Queen-Mother grew restless. There were many things to
make her so. In the tree were thousands of cells made
ready for her eggs, and she had been busy for days
putting one in each. In the larger cells she laid eggs
that would hatch out Drones, and in the smaller ones
Worker eggs. She never laid any Queen
eggs. Perhaps she did not want any Queens among her
children, for there can never be two Queens in one
swarm, and when a new one is hatched, the Queen-Mother
has to go away and find another home. That is a law
among the Bees.
The Workers, however, knew that there must be young
Queens growing up all the time. Supposing something
should happen to the Queen-Mother, what would become of
the swarm if there were nobody to lay eggs? So after
she had laid several thousand Worker eggs, and it was
time for the young ones to hatch, they decided to
change some of the babies into young Queens. And this
was easy enough. When they were out for honey, they
filled the pockets on their hind legs with pollen, the
yellow dust that is found in flowers. This was to be
mixed with honey and water and made into bread for the
babies, who were now awake, and
looked like tiny
white worms in the bottom of their cells. Then they
made some that was almost like sour jelly, and put it
in a few of the Worker cells for the tiny white worms,
or Larvæ, to eat. The Larvæ that eat this jelly grow
up to be Queens, and can lay eggs. Those that eat the
common bread are either Drones or Workers, whichever
their mother had planned them to be.
After the Larvæ were five or six days old, the Workers
shut them up in their cells and stopped feeding them.
That was because the Larvæ had other things to do than
eat. They had to spin their cocoons, and lie in them
until they were grown and ready to come out among the
older Bees. When a Larva, or Bee baby, has finished
its cocoon, and is lying inside, it is called a Pupa,
and when a Pupa is full grown and has torn its way out
of the cocoon and wax, it is called a Drone, or a
Worker, or a Queen.
Now the Queen-Mother was restless. She could
hear the young Queens piping in their cells, and she
knew that they wanted to come out and drive her away.
She wanted to get to them and stop their piping, but
the Workers stood in her way and prevented her. They
knew it would not be well for the Queen-Mother to meet
her royal children, and when these children tried to
come out the Workers covered the doors of their cells
with another layer of wax, leaving little holes where
they could put out their tongues and be fed.
This made the Queen-mother more restless than ever.
"If I cannot do as I wish to with my own children," she
said, "I will leave the tree." And she began walking
back and forth as fast as she could, and talked a great
deal, and acted almost wild with impatience. The
Workers saw how she felt, and part of them decided to
go with her. When a Worker
made up her mind to
go with the Queen-Mother, she showed it by also acting
wild and walking back and forth, and talking a great
deal, sometimes fluttering her wings very fast. Then
she would go for honey, because when Bees are about to
swarm they fill their honey-pockets just as full as
they can. At times the Queen-Mother would be quiet,
and you might almost think that she had given up going.
Then suddenly she would grow restless again, and all
the Workers who were going with her would act as she
did, and they would get so warm with excitement that
the air in the tree became quite hot.
At last the Queen-Mother thought it time to start, and
her followers came around her in the tree, and were
very still for a minute. Several of the Workers had
been flying in circles around the tree, and now they
came to the doorway and called. Then all came out, and
hovered in the air a few minutes before stopping
to rest on a bush near by. When they rested, the first
Bee held on to the bush, the next Bee held on to her,
and that was the way they did until they were all
clinging tightly together in a squirming, dark-brown
Ah, then the Queen-Mother was happy! She felt that she
was young again, and she thought, "How they love me,
these dear Workers!" She stroked her body with her
legs to make herself as fine as possible, and she
noticed, with pleasure, how slender she was growing.
"I had thought I should never fly again," she said,
"yet this is delightful. I believe I will go off by
myself for a little while."
So she flew off by herself and was talking rather
airily to a Butterfly when two of the Workers came
"You may return to the rest," she said in a queenly
way, as she motioned to them with her feelers. "I will
come by and by."
"No," said they, "you must come at once or we
shall all go back to the Bee tree. You must stay with
us. You must do your part as it should be done." And
she had to go, for she knew in her heart that Queens
have to obey the law as well as other people.
After she had hung with the Workers on the bush for
some time, the ones who had gone ahead to find a new
home for the swarm came back and gave the signal for
the rest to follow. They went to an old log near the
river-bank, and here they began the real work.
Crawling through an opening at one end, they found a
roomy place within, and commenced to clean house at
"If there is anything I do like," said a Worker, as she
dropped a splinter of rotten wood outside the door, "it
"So do I," said her sister. "But what a fuss the
Drones always make when we
try to do anything of
the sort! A pretty-looking home
we'd have if they
took care of it!"
"I'm glad none of them came with us to this place,"
said the first Worker. "I guess they knew they were
"There, there!" said the Queen-Mother, coming up to
where they were; "you must not talk in that way. It
may be that you would rather do without Drones, and
perhaps they would rather do without you; but I need
you both and I will not have any quarreling." When she
said this she walked away with her head in the air, and
the Workers did not scold any more. They knew that she
was right, and, after all, she was their Queen, even if
she did have to obey the laws.
Next they got varnish from the buds of poplar trees and
varnished over all the cracks and little holes in the
walls of their home, leaving open only the place where
they were to go in and out. They also covered
with varnish a few heavy fragments of wood that lay on
the floor of their home, and when this task was done it
was all in order and ready for the furniture, that is,
You know how the comb looks, and you know how they get
the wax from which to make it, but unless you are
acquainted with the Bees, and have seen them at work,
you have no idea what busy creatures they are. The
Queen-Mother, as soon as the cells were ready and she
could begin laying eggs again, was as contented and
happy as ever.
One day, when she was walking around a corner of the
comb, she ran against a sad and discouraged-looking
Worker. "Why, what is the matter?" said she, kindly.
"Are you sick?"
"No," answered the Worker.
"I'm not sick and I'm not
tired, only I want to get through."
"Through with what?" asked the Queen.
"With work! It is clean house, varnish the walls, make
wax, build combs, get honey, make bread and jelly, and
feed the babies. And when they get old enough
to clean house, varnish the walls, make wax, build
combs, get honey, make bread and jelly, and feed the
babies. I want to know when it is going to stop, and
Bees can spend their time in play."
"Never," said the Queen-Mother; and she spoke very
gently, for she saw that the Worker was crazy. "It
will never stop. If you had nothing to do but play all
your life you would soon want to die, and you ought to,
for there is no place in this world for idlers. You
know that after a while the Drones die because they do
nothing, and it is right they should."
"Don't you ever get tired of your eggs?" asked the
"No," answered the Queen-Mother,
"I don't. You
see, I have so much to think about, and happy thoughts
make tasks light. And then, you know, it is not always
the same kind of egg, and that makes a pleasant change
for me. I will give you a motto to remember: 'As long
as a Bee is well, work is pleasant when done
"Perhaps that is the matter with me," said the Worker,
raising her drooping head. "I have been careless
lately when I thought nobody was looking. I will try
When she had gone, the Queen-Mother smiled to herself
and said: "Poor child! When work is no longer a
pleasure, life is indeed sad. But any Larva should
know better than to work carelessly when she is not