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Discussion on Bee-hives (S102b: 1864)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Third party description of discussion at the 4 July 1864 meeting of the Entomological Society of London, printed later that year on pages 32-33 of the Society's Journal of Proceedings series. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S102B.htm

    [[p. 32]] Mr. Tegetmeier exhibited one of the frames from the bee-hive, mentioned in the minutes of the previous Meeting, in which wax had been secreted for the purpose of repairing the old comb and fastening it securely, with a view, as he thought, to future occupation of the hive. He added that the expected swarm had not taken possession, for the recent cold weather had killed the young queens, and the hive from which had issued the bees which did the repairs had not swarmed at all.

    Mr. A. R. Wallace inquired what evidence there was of any purpose or design of taking possession of the empty hive? Had not the bees simply obeyed a mere impulse to make wax?

    Prof. Westwood asked whether it was certain that there had not been a "false swarm," or that the queen had not been accidentally killed? If Mr. Tegetmeier's hypothesis were true, that the bees, without a queen, had repaired the old combs with the intention of taking possession of them, how was the swarm to compel the queen (who was commonly supposed to lead the swarm) to carry out their design and enter the repaired hive?

    Mr. Tegetmeier replied that it was a common occurrence for bees to visit a tenantless hive, in which comb was left, and clear out the refuse, after which a swarm would take possession of the hive: in the present case the existence of the new wax was indubitable, the scales on the floor-board showed that it had been recently made in the hive, and it was found in those places, and those only, in which the old combs had become detached from the sides of the frame and required support. If a queen had [[p. 33]] entered the hive she would immediately have laid eggs, and the bees would then have remained. He believed that bees somehow or other decided beforehand upon the place of which, on swarming, they would take possession; it was difficult otherwise to account for the perfectly straight and rapid flight of a swarm to a window or other suitable spot, such selected spot being often at the distance of a mile or two from their starting point. His view was that the swarm carried the queen, and not that the queen led the swarm.

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