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A Disputed Question

Categories: LOSS OF QUEENS.
Bee Keeping: Mysteries Of Bee-keeping Explained

We now approach another disputed point in natural history, relative to

the queen leaving at any time except when leading out a swarm. Most

writers say that the young queen leaves the hive, and meets her

paramour, the drone, on the wing. Others deny this _positively_, having

watched a whole summer without seeing her highness leave. Consequently

they have arrived at the very plausible and apparently consistent

that nature never intended it to be so, since it must

happen at a time when the existence of the whole family depends

entirely on the life of the queen. The stock at such times contains no

eggs or larvae, from which to rear another, if she should be lost. "The

chances at such times of being devoured by birds, blown away by the

winds, and other casualties, are too many, and it is not probable the

Creator would have so arranged it." But facts are stubborn things; they

will not yield one jot to favor the most "finely-spun hypothesis;" they

are most provokingly obstinate, many times. When man, without the

necessary observation, takes a survey through animated nature, and

finds with scarcely an exception that male and female are about equal

in number, he is ready, and often does conclude that one bee among

thousands cannot be the only one capable of reproduction or depositing

eggs. Why, the idea is preposterous! And yet only a little observation

will upset this very consistent and analogous reasoning. So it appears

to be with the excursions of the young queens. I was compelled, though

reluctantly, to admit that they leave the hive. That their purpose is

to meet the drones, I cannot at present contradict. Also, that, when

the queen is once impregnated, it is operative for life, (yet it is

another anomaly), as I never detected her coming out again for that

purpose. What then is the use of the ten thousand drones that never

fulfil this important duty? It seems, indeed, like a useless waste of

labor and honey, for each stock to rear some twelve or fifteen hundred,

when perhaps but one, sometimes not any of the whole number is of any

use. If the risk is great in the queen's leaving, we find it arranged

admirably in its not being too frequent.