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AGRICULTURAL GAZETTE OF N. S. Wales. Vol. VII.
HONEY BEES. 1. Worker, Carniolan Variety of Apis mellifica—twice natural size. 2. Giant Honey Bee of East India (Apis dorsala), Worker-twice natural size. 3. Giant Honey Bee of East India (Apis dorsata). Drone--twice natural size. 4. Drone, Carniolan Variety of Apis mellifica-twice natural size. 8. Queen, Carniolan Variety of Apis mellifica—twice natural size.
bees' eggs. From the spiders' eggs hatch out young spiders as perfect in form as their parents. The young hatched from bees' or butterflies' eggs is as dissimilar as an earthworm is from a butterfly, and in few respects like the bee or butterfly that laid the egg. From the butterfly's egg caterpillars are hatched. At first these young caterpillars are very small; they grow rapidly, and when full grown, they enter another stage of development-a chrysalis or pupa. This third stage is so unlike the caterpillar it developed from, were we not acquainted with the fact, it could not be conceived that it is in any way connected with the parent that laid the egg. In course of time, from this strange-looking chrysalis, a perfected bee or butterfly emerges. Spiders belong to the sub-kingdom Annulosa, and to the division Arthropoda, but not to the class Insecta, because they do not go through those stages in developing to the perfect form or imago, as bees, butterflies, &c., do. Spiders change from egg to imago only. The honey-bee must part from the company of butterflies, beetles, &c. These latter are insects as much as bees are, but there is a great difference between them, chiefly in their wings. Butterflies belong to the order of insects termed Lepidoptera, i.e., insects having wings covered with feathery scales, and beetles to the order Coleoptera, their true wings being protected under horny cases. Bees to the order Hymenoptera because their membrane wings are thin, fibrous, and interwoven like network. This order (Hymenoptera) contains the largest number of families in the insect world. Some of them are very remarkable for their social habits and wonderful instinctive traits of character. The order Hymenoptera is narrowed down into families—Apide. In it are included ants, hornets, wasps, ichneumons, bees, &c. All these are very bee-like in their general form. We have not as yet reached the particular position in the animal kingdom allotted to true bees. The family Apidæ is divided into genera. In one of the divisions termed Apis the honey-bees are placed; accompanying them are mason-bees, carpenter-bees, &c. These latter are short-tongued members of the genus, and therefore are not honeygatherers. Nevertheless, the habits of the whole of them are extremely interesting. Of long and short tongued bees there are about 2,000 varieties. The genus Apis is split into species, and the honey-bee belongs to the species Mellifica, and here is the exact position assigned to our friend, the harbinger of civilized man-one of the very few insects that have been domesticated for his use, and the only one that he has brought under bis subjugation as an auxiliary in supplying him with that highly essential article of diet, honey.*
Nevertheless, every member of the species is not equally profitable from a commercial point. Some varieties of this species are profitable only as wax. producers. When we consider the increasing demand in the Home market for Australian bees-wax, the quantity of honey consumed by our hive bees in the production of comb, and our local requirements for the manufacture of that indispensable adjunct to profitable bee-keeping, artificial foundation comb, it at once raises the question :-would it not be a prudent step to introduce into our Colony some highly profitable wax-producers ?
Apis dorsata.-This bee is sometimes termed the giant bee of East India. No variety of bees builds such slabs of comb as this one. Often times under the ledges of rocks, or hanging from the thick branches of trees, combs 6 feet long by 3 feet in width are met with. A. dorsata frequently appear to build these slabs of way for the mere fun of the thing, or for the purpose of keeping their 'prenticed hand in practice, which must be accounted as an
* This introduction has been prepared for reference in conjunction with a series of school object lessons.-Ed. Agr. G.
advantage in their utility as war producers. A. zonata, of the Philippine Islands, is said to be a larger bee than A. dorsata, but it is highly probable that it is a variety of the latter. In constructing their comb, the cells in which drones are reared, do not appear to differ in size from that of the worker's cell. Mr. Frank Benton was the first to give any reliable information in regard to these bees. He visited India in 1880-81, and in the jungles obtained colonies by cutting the comb from their original attachments. He placed these colonies in frame hives, and permitted them to have free ingress and egress, and from there enclosed habitations they did not desert. They were found not to be so ferocious as had been represented. With proper precautions when hired they are easily handled, even without smoke. From the quantity of honey and wax present when these bees were obtained, it was evident they are good gatherers. Owing to illness Mr. Benton failed to take these bees to America for the purpose of acclimatisation. He says: “ these large bees would doubtless be able to get honey from flowers wbose nectaries are located out of reach of ordinary bees, notably those of the red clover, cow visited chiefly by humble bees and which, it is thought, the East Indian bees might pollinate and cause to produce seeds more abundantly. Even if no further utilisable, they might prove an important factor in the production of large quantities of excellent war, now such an expensive
Apis indica is common in Ceylon and southern parts of Asia. It is domesticated in the East Indies by the Dutch and British settlers, who keep them in habitations made of clay similar to drain pipes, placed in trees and otber elevated positions.
The worker of this species of bee is 3-inch long; general colour, a dark brown, almost black, with a yellow shield on the thorax between the wings; each segment of the dorsal plates of the abdomen is tinged with an orange colour. The queen is about one-fourth larger than the workers, and is readily distinguisbed from them, being of a dark coppery colour. The drones are not much larger than the workers, but differ from them in colour, being of a metallic blue; their wings in the sunlight constantly changing colour something like shot silk. They are very active, and are said to be very gentle, while the pain resulting from their sting is not so severe as that of A. dorsata.
Apis trigona (our dative bee) are natives of Australasin, and extend into India. They are something less than our common house fly; colour, black, with dirty white rings on the dorsal segments of the abdomen. They generally build in the hollows of trees, and store their honey in irregularly-formed cells. It has an agreeable flavour, but the storage of it by the bees is so small the insect is not worth domesticating.
Apis florea.—The tiny honey bee of India, one of the smallest of the species known, even more slender than our native bee. In colour, they are a blue black, one-third of the abdomen having a bright orange tinge. Like A. dorsata, they build in the open air, fastening their single comb to a twig in a bush, and, like all honey-gathering bees, it hangs vertically. The comb seldom contains more than about 20 inches of surface, usually about 7 inches long by about 3 inches in width. The cells in the comb are extremely small; there are about 100 to the square inch.
Apis mellifica.- There are several varieties of A. mellifica, and it is this species, on account of their use to man, that has been in all ages so universally sought for. The black or brown, or, as it is sometimes called, the German bee, is the common well-known hive bee that was introduced into New South Wales by Dr. Wilson, and is now so universally distributed