Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

By Thy cross of bitter anguish,
Leave not Thou Thy lambs to languish;
Comforting the weak and lonely,
Lead them in Thy pastures only.
Sick with hope deferred, or yearning
For the never-now-returning,
When the glooms of grief o'ershade us,
Thou hast known, and Thou wilt aid us !
To Thine own heart take the lonely,
Leaning on Thee only, only.

Palgrave.

[blocks in formation]

know-ledge

pigeon

vi-o-let
vi-o-let
know-ledge

pi-geon The wild bees, in some parts of America, do not store up their honey in cells, but in wax-bags, about the size and shape of a pigeon's egg, and these bags are hung round the sides of the nest. Travellers describe some which are of a deep violet colour, and form clusters almost like bunches of grapes. Within the nests are cells for the young, like those of our hivebees. Other bees build upon trees, which may be seen

loaded with heavy shells of clay, like martin's nests, and as much as two feet wide. When these are broken, they are found to be divided into cells, and full of honey. Others again, which are found in Mexico, and make the finest honey in the world, form their nests in the shape and size of a sugar-loaf; they are hung from trees, and contain many more bees even than our hives.

In all these countries the sweet stores laid up by the bee are eagerly sought for, and in some parts of Africa men meet with a most singular and useful assistant in discovering them. This is a bird called a honey-guide, rather larger than a common sparrow, which, far from being alarmed at the presence of a human being, seems to court his acquaintance.

In the morning and evening, which are its mealtimes, it flutters about from tree to tree, repeatedly uttering the cry of Cherr, cherr, cherr—a note of invitation, well known to all who live in those countries.

A person invited by one of these birds seldom refuses to follow, until it stops, which it always does at some hollow tree containing a bee's nest well stored with wax and honey. The bird is probably led thus to seek assistance from the knowledge that it is unable to stand the attack of a number of bees, or to break into their nests by itself. When arrived at the spot, it hovers over it, and then alighting on a neighbouring tree, or bush, sits in silent expectation of its share of the spoil, which is that part of the comb containing the brood ; this is always left for it, and indeed, the ingenious bird deserves to be remembered.

The nest of the humble-bee is often found in hay

fields and hedges. It is made of moss, and is round like a ball, containing sometimes only twenty bees, and seldom above two or three hundred.

The mason-bee scoops out little pieces of clay about the size of a pea, and having kneaded and moistened them with her mouth, carries them to a place which she has chosen for the purpose. This is generally in some hole in an old wall, where the mortar has fallen out. Several hundreds of little clay-balls are required to form her nest, so that she must work many hours a day to finish it Besides, she has the trouble of lining and polishing the cells, that the hard earth may not hurt her tender offspring. For the purpose of concealment, she also raises a little heap of clay all round, which looks only like a heap of mud stuck to the wall. If you watch one of these busy insects collecting clay, you will find that she does not at all disturb herself or mind your looking on; but if you follow her, and go near her nest, she will fly a different way, or alight elsewhere, as if to rest herself, or seem to examine the cracks in the wall at some distance, lest the real spot where she builds should be discovered; and as soon as you are out of sight she will fly back eagerly to her work. The little cells she makes, before they are closed, are just the shape and size of a thimble.

The carpenter works in wood. She fixes on some old post, or decayed piece of wood suited to her purpose, and bores a hole twelve or fourteen inches deep, and larger than your finger. This is a very hard task for such a little labourer, and she is several days about it, having no tools but her two strong teeth. At last it is

a

finished, and is as smooth as if chiselled by a joiner, so that it wants no lining. But each of her young ones will require a separate apartment, and how, you will ask, is she to divide this long and narrow pipe into a number of cells ? She has no pattern to copy; she has learned nothing by practice, for she makes a nest but once in her life, but the Great Maker of all things has impressed a plan upon her mind, which she follows without any assistance. This, and similar faculties bestowed upon inferior animals instead of reason, we call instinct. The little heap of wood-dust which has fallen on the ground as she bored the pipe, and a gummy fluid in her own mouth, supply all she wants. Having deposited an egg at the bottom, together with the exact quantity of pollen which her offspring will require for food, she shuts it in thus :—First some of those little pieces of sawdust are glued together in the form of a ring round the inside of her house. Within this ring she fixes another, and so she goes on until a round plate is formed, very hard, and about the thickness of a halfpenny. This serves as ceiling for one cell and floor for the next. She makes one above another until the whole pipe is filled. The entrance is then stopped up, to keep out any enemy who might come to devour the young or take possession of the nest. The eggs first laid are first hatched, and have produced perfect bees long before the last. And what do you think will become of the elder insects in the lower cells? How can they gnaw through ten or eleven hard coverings? And if they could do so, would not all the young bees in the upper cells. be disturbed before their time, and destroyed? Or do you

think the elder insects will wait patiently in their prison till the rest have made their way out? I will tell you how the careful parent contrives for them. She makes an opening in the side of the pipe at the lower end, and so forms a back door by which they may escape one by one, according to their ages, each having only to gnaw through its own cell, and then finding the way open which the others have made through theirs. It is very wonderful, that in turning into a chrysalis, each grub places itself with its head downwards, so that it is sure to break open the cell at the right end.

Adapted from Insects and their Habitations.

[blocks in formation]

cow-slip

Bowing adorers of the gale,
Ye cowslips, delicately pale,

Upraise your loaded stems;
Unfold your cups in splendour, speak,
Who decked you with that ruddy streak,

And gilt your golden gems ?

« AnteriorContinuar »