Seaside and Wayside, Book One  by Julia McNair Wright

The Wise Bees

I N the bee-hive all is not peace and joy. Foes come in and try to kill the poor bees. Who are these foes? A caterpillar may come into the hive to live. The bees do not like him. He is not clean; he is in their way.

Slugs also come in. Snails and moths come to steal the honey. When the foe is a small fly or slug, the bees kill it and take it out.

A large worm or a slug they cannot take out. What do they do then? They kill it, if they can, with their stings. Then they build over it a tomb, or grave, of wax and gum. That is to keep any bad smell from the cells. If a snail comes in, they take this same strong gum and glue him to the floor. Then he must die in his shell.


The Fate of the Intruder

If a strange queen flies in, they will not sting her, but she must not stay. So the work bees form a ball about her, until she dies for lack of air.

I have told you how wasps kill bees. Birds eat bees. Some birds break into the hive to get honey. Bears like honey. They break up wild bees' nests.

Hens and toads eat bees. Moths make the worst trouble in bee-hives.


A Foe at the Gate

In June or July, the work bees kill all the drones. They do not wish to feed them when it is cold. Bees lay up honey to eat when the flowers are dead and gone.

In the winter, bees sleep most of the time. They need some food to eat when they rouse. As soon as spring comes, they come out and go to work.