The Fussy Queen Bee
I N a sheltered corner of the farmyard, where the hedge kept off the cold winds and the trees shaded from hot summer sunshine, there were many hives of Bees. One could not say much for the Drones, but the others were the busiest of all the farmyard people, and they had so much to do that they did not often stop to visit with their neighbors.
In each hive, or home, there were many thousand Bees, and each had his own work. First of all, there was the Queen. You might think that being a Queen meant playing all the time, but that is not so, for to be a really good Queen, even in a Beehive, one must know a great deal and keep at work all the time. The Queen Bee is the mother of all the Bee Babies, and she spends her days in laying eggs. She is so very precious and important a person that the first duty of the rest is to take care of her.
The Drones are the stoutest and finest looking of all
the Bees, but they are lazy, very, very lazy. There
are never many of them in a hive, and like most lazy
people, they spend much of their time in telling the
others how to work. They do not make wax or store
honey, and as the
Most of the Bees are Workers. They are smaller than
In these busy homes, nobody can live long just for
himself. Everybody helps somebody else, and that makes
life pleasant. The
The Workers, however, know that something might happen
to their old
The royal jelly makes her grow fast, and in five days
she is so large as to nearly fill the cell. Then she
stops eating, spins a cocoon, and lies in it for
about two and a half days more. When she comes out of
this, she is call a Pupa. Sixteen days after the
laying of the egg, the young Queen is ready to come out
of her cell. It takes
In the hive by the cedar tree, the Queen Mother was growing restless and fussy. She knew that the Workers were raising some young Queens, and she tried to get to the royal cells. She knew that if she could only do that, the young Queens would never live to come out. The Workers knew this, too, and whenever she came near there, they made her go away.
The Queen Larvæ and Pupæ were of different ages, and
one of them was now ready to leave her cell. They
could hear her crying to be let out, but they knew that
if she and the
She wondered why the Workers did not let her out, when she wanted so much to be free. She did not yet know that Queen Mothers do not get along well with young Queens.
The Workers talked it over by themselves. One of them was very tender-hearted. "It does seem too bad," said she, "to keep the poor young Queen shut up in her cell. I don't see how you can stand it to hear her piping so pitifully all the time. I am sure she must be beautiful. I never saw a finer tongue than the one she runs out for honey."
"Humph!" said a sensible old Worker, who had seen many Queens hatched and many swarms fly away, "you'd be a good deal more sorry if we did let her out now. It would not do at all."
The tender-hearted Worker did not answer this, but she talked it over with the Drones. "I declare," said she, wiping her eyes with her forefeet, "I can hardly gather a mouthful of honey for thinking of her."
"Suppose you hang yourself up and make wax then," said one Drone. "It is a rather sunshiny day, but you ought to be doing something, and if you cannot gather honey you might do that." This was just like a Drone. He never gathered honey or made wax, yet he could not bear to see a Worker lose any time.
The Worker did not hang herself up and make wax, however. She never did that except on cloudy days, and she was one of those Bees who seem to think that nothing will come out right unless they stop working to see about it. There was plenty waiting to be done, but she was too sad and anxious to do it. She might have known that since her friends were only minding the law, it was right to keep the new Queen in her cell.
The Queen Mother was restless and fussy. She could not think of her work, and half the time she did not know whether she was laying a Drone egg or a Worker egg. In spite of that, she did not make any mistake, or put one into the wrong kind of cell. "I cannot stay here with the young Queen," said she. "I will not stay here. I will take my friends with me and fly away."
Whenever she met a Worker, she struck her feelers on
those of her friend, and then this friend knew exactly
how she felt about it. In this way the news was passed
around, and soon many of the Workers were as restless
"Sh!" was the answer. "The guides are looking for a good place now."
"I wish the Queen Mother knew where we are going," said the first.
"How could she?" replied the second. "You know very well that she has not left the hive since she began to lay eggs. Here she comes now."
"Oh dear!" exclaimed the Queen Mother. "I can never stand this. I certainly cannot. To think I am not allowed to rule in my own hive! The Workers who are guarding the royal cells drive me away whenever I go near them. I will not stay any longer."
"Then," said a Drone, as though he had thought of it for the first time, "why don't you go away?"
"I shall," said she. "Will you go with me?"
"No," said the Drone. "I hate moving and furnishing a new house. Besides, somebody must stay here to take care of the workers and the young Queen."
The Queen Mother walked away. "When we were both young," she said to herself, "he would have gone anywhere with me."
And the Drone said to himself, "Now, isn't that just like a Queen Mother! She has known all the time that there would be young Queens coming on, yet here she is making the biggest kind of fuss about it. She ought to remember that it is the law."
Indeed she should have remembered that it was the law, for everything is done by law in the hive, and no one person should find fault. The law looks after them all, and will not let any one have more than his rightful share.
That same afternoon there was a sudden quiet in the
home. The Workers who had been outside returned and
visited with the rest. While they were waiting, a few
who were to be their guides came to the door of the
hive, struck their wings together, and gave the signal
for starting. Then all who were going with the
"Let them go," said the Drones who stayed behind. "Now, isn't it time to let out the young Queen?"
"Not yet," answered a Worker, who stood near the door. "Not one feeler shall be put outside her cell until that swarm is out of sight."
The tender-hearted Worker came up wiping her eyes.
"Oh, that poor
"Better keep on working," said her friend. "It's the best thing in the world for that sad feeling. Besides, you should try to keep strong."
"Oh, I will try to eat something from the comb," was the answer, "but I don't feel like working."
"Zzzt!" said the other Worker. "I think if you can eat, you can hunt your food outside, and not take honey we have laid up for the winter or food that will be needed for the children."
The Drones chuckled. It was all right for them to be lazy, they thought, but they never could bear to see a Worker waste time. "Ah," cried one of them suddenly, "what is the new swarm doing now?"
The words were hardly out of his mouth when the Queen Mother crawled into the hive again. "Such dreadful luck!" said she. "A cloud passed over the sun just as we were alighting on a tree to rest."
"I wouldn't have come back for that," said a Drone.
"No," said she, in her airiest way, "I dare say you
wouldn't, but I would. I dare not go to a new home
after a cloud has passed over the sun. I think it is a
sign of bad luck. I should never expect
egg to hatch if I went on. We shall try it again
All the others came back with her, and the hive was once more crowded and hot. "Oh dear!" said the tender-hearted Worker, "isn't it too bad to think they couldn't go?"
The next morning they started again and were quite
as excited over it as before. The
While they were hanging here, the farmer came under the tree, carrying a long pole with a wire basket fastened to the upper end. He shook the clustered Bees gently into it, and then changed them into an empty hive that stood beside their old home.
"Now," said the Workers who had stayed in the old
hive, "we will let out the new Queen, for the
It did not take long to bite away the waxen wall and let her out. Then they gathered around and caressed her, and touched their feelers to her and waited upon her, and explained why they could not let her out sooner. She was still a soft gray color, like all young Bees when they first come from the cell, but this soon changed to the black worn by her people.
The Workers flew in and out, and brought news from the
hive next door. They could not go there, for the law
does not allow a Bee who lives in one home to
visit in another, but they met their old friends in the
air or when they were sipping honey. They found that
The new Queen was petted and kept at home until she was strong and used to moving about. That was not long. Then she said she wanted to see the world outside. "We will go with you," said the Drones, who were always glad of an excuse for flying away in pleasant weather. They said there was so much noise and hurrying around in the hive that they could never get any real rest there during the daytime.
So the young Queen flew far away and saw the beautiful world for the first time. Such a blue sky! Such green grass! Such fine trees covered with sweet-smelling blossoms! She loved it all as soon as she saw it. "Ah," she cried, "what a wonderful thing it is to live and see all this! I am so glad that I was hatched. But now I must hurry home, for there is so much to be done."
She was a fine young Queen, and the Bees were all proud
of her. They let her do anything she wished as long as
she kept away from the royal cells. She soon began to
work as the old
"That poor young Queen Mother!" sighed the
tender-hearted Worker. "I am so sorry for her when she
is kept away from the royal cells. This is a sad, sad
world!" But this isn't a sad world by any means. It
is a beautiful, sunshiny,
happy world, and neither