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The sundrie sorts of Honie, according to diverse regions. HONIE as we said before is better or worse, according to the region where it is gathered; and that in many respects. For in some place ye shall have goodly combs: howbeit more commendable for waxe than the honie in them: as in the Pelignians countrey, 3 and Sicilie. In others, and namely in Candie, Cypres, and Affricke, the combes yeeld more honie than waxe.

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Some countries there be, especially in the North parts, where the combes passe for bignesse; insomuch, as in Germanie there hath been a hony-combe seene eight foot long, and black all within. But in what region soever it be that honie is found, three kinds there be of it. First, the Spring honie, made of flowers onely; like as the combe also: and thereupon the Greekes call it Anthinon, which is as much to say as the Floure-honie.

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Some would not have this to be once touched, but to serve for nourishment of the young Bees, that the swarmes or casts may be more strong and lustie. Others againe leave for the Bees of none lesse than of it: by reason of the great plentie like to follow, at the rising of those notable starres in Summer ensuing. Moreover, the combes are in their principall beautie about the Sunnestead in Summer, when daies be longest, at what time as the Vine and Thyme do begin to floure.

Also, in taking forth of the honycombs, needfull it is to be well advised in ordering the matter for the provision of food for Bees. If they be cut short and destitute of their meat, they either despaire and die for want, or else depart and flie away. Contrariwise, if you leave them too much, plentie breeds idlenesse, that they will not labour: neither deigne they to feed of Erithace, their ordinarie food, but fall to the good honie. They therefore that bee well experienced in these matters, thinke it good to leave them the twelfth part of this store and vintage, if I may so say, which is gathered in the combes.

And verily, it seemeth that Nature hath ordained a certaine set day for to begin this vintage, if men would take knowledge thereof, and marke it well; namely, the thirtieth day, after the Bees swarmed and went forth: and usually it falleth out, that this gathering commeth within the month of May. And I assure you, Nature hath shewed her admirable and excellent power to men ward in this behalfe; in case their fraud and deceit would suffer her workes in their entire and proper nature without corruption and sophistication, which marreth all, and maketh nothing but confusion.

In all kinds, the best honie is that, which runneth of it selfe as new Wine and Oile; and called it is Acedon, as a man would say, gotten without care and travell. The honie which commeth of Thyme, is held to bee the best and most profitable: in colour like gold, in tast right pleasant; evident to be knowne by the little leaves therein: and the same is likewise fattie. As for Thyme honie, it will not thicken: and if a man touch it, rope it will and draw small slimie threds after it: which is a principall sign of the weight and heavinesse thereof.

If honie be short in the handling, and soone breake, and that the drops part one from the other, it is thought to be a token of the worst and coursest of all. Another triall there is besides of good honie, namely, if it be fragrant and odoriferous to smell unto, sweet in tast, and biting withall, or quicke at the tongues end, glutinous, and cleare. As touching the driving of hives for Summer honie, Thasius 5 Dionysius is of opinion, that the tenth part thereof should be left for the Bees, namely, if they were full: if not, then according to the proportion: but if they were but light and very thin, he would not have them to bee touched at all.

The Athenians goe by this rule, and doe observe duly the Caprificiall day, which is kept holie unto Vulcan : for then they ever begin to drive their hives for this kind of honie. Of a third kind of Honie: and how a man should know good Bees. It is gathered after the first raine in Autumne, when the heath and lings only bloum in the woods, whereupon it seemeth as if it were sandie. This kind of honie is engendered for the most part after the rising of Arcturus, much about the Ides of September.

In driving of the hives for this honnie, by good reason, two [third] parts thereof would be reserved for the Bees: and especially those corners of the combes, which have in them the provision called Erithace. From the mids of winter unto the rising of Arcturus, for 60 daies Bees are nourished only with sleepe, without any other food. But from that time unto the Spring equinoctiall, and namely, where the weather is more warme, they are awake.

In the first place therfore, this is a rule, That such folk only be set about this businesse to drive the hives, who are neat and clean. In taking out of honie, the best means to drive away the Bees, is to smoke them out of the hive: for feare that you anger them, or that they devour the honie themselves with more greedinesse.

Moreover, when they grow to be idle, perfuming and smoking of them thus now and then, maketh them more fresh to goe about their worke. For when they lie still and doe nothing, they make their combes look dead and blackish. Againe, if they be overmuch smoaked, they will be the worse for it: and surely, the very honie soone catcheth the hurt hereof: for so tender and weake will it be, that with the least dew that is, you shall have it to turne and waxe soure.

And therefore in all kinds of honie they observe and keepe that which is called Acapnon, [ i. Now as touching the generation of Bees, 7 and how they multiply and encrease, much dispute there hath been among the learned, and a nice question this is. For first and foremost, Bees were never seen to engender one with another: and therefore most men have been of opinion, that young Bees must needs be made of flowers fitly and handsomly laid togither and composed, according to Natures lore.

Others say, that one master-Bee, which is the king in every swarme, doth beget them all: and that he forsooth is the only male; bigger also than the rest and more strong, because hee should not faint and faile in the action; for without such an one, we see there is no breed: and him all the other Bees attend upon, not as their leader and captain, but as the female follow the male.

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Certes this were a good conjecturall opinion, and sounding to a truth, but that the breed of these Drone-bees abovesaid, doth checke and overthrow it cleare: for what reason is there that one and the same manner of procreation, should bring forth some perfect and others unperfect? This is certein, that Bees couvie and sit as Hens doe: and that which is after a sort by them hatched, seemeth at the first to be a little white grub or maggot, lying crosse overthwart the honey, and so fast sticking thereto, as if it seemed to feed thereupon.

The king that shalbe, at the very first is yellow, and of the colour of honey: as if he were made of the most choise and excellent flower of all the rest: nothing like to a grub as the other, but presently hath wings. The rest of the multitude, when they begin to take some shape, are called Nymphae: like as the Drones at the beginning, be tearmed Sirenes or Cephenes. In processe of time, as they grow bigger, the old Bees distill and drop meat into their mouthes, as they sit upon them: and then they keepe most humming as some thinke for to set the combs into an heat, which is requisite and necessarie for the hatching of them: and thus they continue, untill the little pellicles or membranes be broken; within which, everie one lieth by it selfe, as egs: and then they break forth all togither and shew themselves accomplished Bees.

The manne and experiment hereof, was seene upon a time in a ferme neare unto Rome, belonging to a Nobleman of Rome who somtime had been Consull: for hee caused his hives to be made of lanterne hornes that a man might see through into them.


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These young wormes be 45 daies before they come to their perfection. There is found in some combs, a certaine bitter thing and hard like to wax, which the Latins call Clerus. As for the young Bees, they are not so soone abroad, but they begin to labour with their mothers, and are trained by them to learne how to gather honey.


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  • This young people have a young king also, unto whome they make court, and whome they follow. And many such kings are bred at first, for feare least they should want: but when the young Bees are growne bigge, they all agree with one accord and voice, to kill those that be most untoward among them, for feare they should make divisions, factions, and siding to parts. These kings be of two sorts: those that are red all over, be better than the blacke or partie-coloured.

    All the race of them be verie faire and goodly to see to; and twice as big as the rest: their wings shorter, their legges streight; in their port and manner of march, more stately: carrying in their front a white starre, like a diademe or coronet: farre brighter also and more neat they be than the common sort. Likewise as touching the Sepulchre of Prince Bacchus , where and which it is?

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    As also trouble his head in many other such like antiquities, buried by long continuance of time. For behold, in one small matter that is daily seene in our countrey houses, in a thing annexed to our fermes, and whereof there is such store, all Authours who have written of Agriculture are not yet resolved: namely, Whether the king of Bees alone hath no sting, and is armed only with majestie? At other times, when all his people are busie in labor, himselfe as a right good captaine overseeth their workes, goeth about from one to another, encouraging them in well-doing, and exhorting them to plie their businesse: himselfe onely exempt from all other travell and painstaking.

    About his person he hath a certain guard ever attendant: he hath his Lictors and officers alwaies in readinesse, in token of majestie and princely port. Hee never setteth forward, but when the whole swarme is prest likewise to goe forth: and in truth, long time before, a man may perceive that they be about a voiage and expedition; for, many daies togither there is an extraordinarie humming and noise within, whiles they prepare to dislodge, trussing up as it were their bag and baggage, and expecting onely a faire day of remoove.

    And suppose that the kind have in some battaile lost one of his wings, yet will not his hoast forsake him and flie.

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    When they be in march, each one desireth and striveth to be next the prince, as taking a joy and pride to be seene of him, how lustily they performe their devoir. If he begin to be wearie, they support him with their shoulders: if hee be tired indeed and faint outright, they carry him full and whole. If any one of their owne companie chaunce to faile for very wearinesse, and doe drag behind, or stray aside and wander out of the way, it will yet endeavour to follow the armie only by the smell and sent.

    Where the king once setleth and taketh up his resting place, there they all pitch downe their tents and encampe. There was a swarme of Bees rested upon the very lips and mouth of Plato , when he was but a very babe and infant; 12 Another cast of Bees setled within the very camp of Generall Drusus , the very same day, when he obtained that notable victorie at Arbalo.

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    If he be deffeited and slaine, the field is lost: all the rest are scattered, and seeke their fortune to serve some other prince: for without one king or other, live they cannot. Sometime they are driven to kill those of the kings race, and namely when there be many kings togither: but this they doe perforce and full against their wills:and before they will so doe, they chuse rather to ruinate and pull downe the houses wherein they were bred; especially when there is some feare of scarsitie, by reason of the unkind season: and at such a time also, they chase and drive away the drone-Bees.

    And yet I see some doubt made of them: for divers are of opinion, that they be a kind of Bees by themselves, and that the rest doe set against them as very theeves. The biggest they are of all others, but blacke and broad bellied: good reason therefore that they should be called Theeves, because they come stealing and eat up their hony. Certein it is, that these drones be killed by the other Bees: and surely, king of their owne they have none.

    But how they should be naturally without a sting, there is some question, and the same as yet not determined. This is well known, that in a moist and rainie spring, Bees multiply better: but if it be drie weather, there will be more encrease of honey. Now if it happen, that the meat in one hive be spent, the Bees belonging thereto will assaile their next neighbours, with intent to rob and spoile them of their provision.

    But they on the contrarie side, put themselves in battaile aray, with full purpose to receive them againe. And if there chance to be a keeper by, to see the combat, that one part which perceiveth him to favor their side, will not once make at him for to sting him. Other causes there are besides, which make them often go togither by the ears: and then shall ye have two severall captains to arraunge their battailons one against another.

    But most of all they brawle and jarre upon occasion of gathering and carrying flowers, whiles they call each one to his owne companie, for to come forth and take part. But all this great fray is soone parted and dispatched, either by casting up some dust among them, or by making a little smoke and perfume under them. And reconciled soon they be againe, with setting before them a messe of milke, or honied-water. Of the sundrie sorts of Bees in generall: and what things be contrarie and hurtfull unto them. Of domesticall and tame house-Bees, there are two sorts. The best be those that are short, well trust up and round, and withall, painted with sundrie colours.

    The long ones be the worse, and such as resemble waspes: and yet the worst of all others, bee those that are hairie all. Within the kingdome of Pontus there bee white Bees, and those make honey twice in everie moneth.

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    The one, gathereth hony in trees: others, within the ground, and bring great encrease thereof: for they frame their combs with a threefold course and ranke. The sting that Nature hath given unto Bees, sticketh within their bellies. Some are of opinion, that with the first prick they give with it, they die presently. Others hold, that they die not withall, unlesse they thrust it forth so far, that some of the gut followeth after: mary howsoever it be, they become afterwards no better than drones: neither gather they any more honey, as if they were guelded of their vigor and strength; so as they cease to doe good and harme both at once.

    We find it written in Chronicles, that horses have been stung to death by them.

    Filthie stinking savours they cannot abide, and namely, such as be contagious; and from them will they flie farre enough. Nay more than that, sure they will be to haunt and sting them that smell as they goe of sweet pomanders and odoriferous ointments, notwithstanding they be otherwise themselves subject to the injurie of most living creatures.