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What matter, oh! what matter
Should even the coach upset,
Such chances are often met.
But we know that the best of all
And willing to meet a fall,
Come quick, now, and take your places,
The guard is blowing his horn;
They have had their feed of corn.
may ride in our coach of state ;
I've watched you now a full half-hour,
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
76.-INSECTS AND THEIR DWELLING
build in-ge-ni-ous thou-sand caterpillar garland
bri-ar trow-el spi-der bri-ar
trow-el You know, I suppose, what an insect is; almost all very little creatures are called by this name; ants,
spiders, caterpillars, bees, are insects.
There are many other kinds, more than can be counted. I want to tell you of the ingenious manner in which they build their houses. Perhaps you are surprised to hear of their having houses, and wonder what can be meant; but I assure you they make their dwellings with quite as much skill as we can employ in making ours, and no bricklayer, or carpenter could do his work more neatly than they do theirs. Where, you may ask, can these houses be? If you think for a moment, you will probably recollect having seen a bee-hive, or a wasp's, or an ant's nest; these are all insect habitations. The spider's web, too, may be called his house, and a very beautiful one it is. But what will you say if I tell you that the oak-apples you are so fond of sticking in your hat on the twentyninth of May, and the pretty green-and-red tufts, like moss, which you find upon the wild-briar, are made by insects as a home for their young ?
The abode of the honey-bee is like a palace compared with most other insect-houses ; indeed, from the number of its inhabitants, we may more properly call it a city. A swarm of bees, on entering a new hive, immediately want cells, or little chambers, in which to store up their honey and bring up the young. These cells cannot be made without wax; the first business, therefore, is to obtain that substance. You probably suppose that the bees collect it from flowers, and that they will go out and fetch home a store. But no, they seem to be quite idle, and hang in long rows, like garlands, or strings of beads, one at each end taking hold of the roof, the rest clinging to each other's legs; and so they remain for twenty-four hours without moving. This does not proceed from laziness, however, nor are they waiting to think what must be done ; you will never guess why they hang thus, so I must tell you. Wax, instead of being found in flowers, as some people imagine, is formed in thin cakes, under the scales which case the bee's body. It appears that it is best made while they are quite quiet, and this is their way of taking rest. While they are clustering, the wax is forming; and when they have hung a number of hours, it may be seen under their scales, which then appear edged with white.
And now, at last, a bee comes out from the crowd, clears about an inch by driving away the others with his head, and settling in the middle of this space, begins to lay the foundation of a comb, which is a flat piece of wax composed of a great many cells. These cells are joined to each other's sides, and placed in a double row end to end, so that each side of the comb is full of holes fit for containing eggs or honey. The bee we have just mentioned pulls out the little cakes one by one from its wax-pockets, holds them in a pair of pincers, with which its legs are furnished, and works them about with its tongue, which is as useful as a trowel. When these are fixed to the roof of the hive, it disappears among its companions.
Other bees follow this example, adding their little store of wax, until a lump is formed large enough to work upon. The cells are then shaped by another set of labourers; and a third party finish and polish the work, by drawing their mouths, their feet, and their whole bodies over it again and again, until it is
quite smooth. Some, in the meantime, collect food, and bring it to those which are working at the cells, that they may not be hindered. Though there are many thousand labourers in a hive, they do not begin in several places at once, but wait until a single bee has laid the foundation. The cells are made with six sides, so as to join together exactly, and are very convenient, besides consuming the least wax, and filling the least space possible.
The bee deserves to be held up as a pattern of neatness as well as of diligence. Nothing can be more nicely fitted together than the cells in a hive. You will always find that a great deal of waste 'may be prevented by doing things neatly.
When some rows of cells are finished in the first comb, two other foundation walls are begun for other combs, one on each side of the first, and exactly the third of an inch apart from it; so that a sort of street is left between, wide enough for two bees to pass each other without difficulty. Several more combs are afterwards built beyond these, but all at the same distance, and all hanging from the roof. As the combs are placed in this manner, with the cells opening sideways, you might imagine the honey would all run out, but the bees seem to find no inconvenience in their arrangements, and when the cells are quite full, they are sealed up with a little bit of wax,
Adapted from "Insects and their Habitations."