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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The Real Fairy Folk » CHAPTER XII THE HONEY MAKERS
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 Gaily we fly, my fellows and I,
Seeking the honey our hives to supply.
“Iam an American,” he went on, in a voice which all could hear. “A native of this great and glorious country, and I have a right to buzz, or make any noise I please. Those little bees who make honeycomb are foreigners—immigrants. Useful citizens, I will grant, but still immigrants. Now, my ancestors were here when Columbus discovered America. Do you know that my name is Bombus, spelt with a big ‘B’? Now, to show you how useful we bumble bees are, I shall tell you a story. Once upon a time—are you all listening?”
“I am,” answered Ruth, quickly. “Please go on.”
“Well, once upon a time there was no red clover in Australia, and the farmers of that country decided2 to take American seed there and plant it. The first year the crop grew finely. There were plenty of flowers, but no seeds. Of course that was bad, they needed seed for the next year’s sowing. Well, once more they brought seed from America, and once more the crop grew finely, but not a seed came from it. Then the people began to think, and after a while they found out the trouble. They hadn’t the American bumble bee and they had to have him, for, my friends, we, only, of all the bees, can fertilize3 the red clover blossom, for only we have tongues long enough to reach its nectar cups and the cell where 182its precious pollen4 is hidden. You may not think our tongue so long, because it is rolled up when we are not using it, but look!” And he unrolled a long brown tongue, which, in a moment, seemed gone again.
“Gracious!” said Ruth.
“Now do you wonder that we can reach down into the red clover? When we went to Australia the clover not only grew, but set seeds too.”
“But,” questioned Ruth, “do different flowers have different bees to come to them, and how do you know?”
“Ah, that’s just it. A voice within us seems to whisper, ‘Go to the blossom whose heart you can best reach, feed upon its honey and take your fill of its golden dust.’ We know it to be the law, and we obey, and, even as we obey, the pollen clings to our hairy bodies, and we bear it to the next flower we visit. This is what usually happens, but sometimes,” he added, as though ashamed, “I must say, we break the law, and, finding a flower whose honey we cannot reach, we use our tongues to cut a hole in the spot where we know the nectar is hidden and enter from the outside. Plainly speaking, it is the way of the thief, getting our feast without paying for it. For the bee who takes it so carries away no pollen, and an honest bee should never act so. Now perhaps you would like to know how we bumble bees began life? I am sure the little girl would.” And Ruth nodded an emphatic5 “Yes.”
“We do not live all Winter, as honey bees do. Only a few queens sleep through the cold months, and they do not need food; so while we make a little honey to eat in Summer, we do not lay by any stores for Winter, and naturally we make no combs. What looks like them are the silken cocoons7 our babies spin. If I were a queen, I wouldn’t be here. Queens have too much work to do to be abroad in Summer. You may see them in the early Spring flying about and hunting up good home sites. A hole under a log is often chosen, and gathering8 nectar and pollen the queen carries it to this underground palace. In the mass she lays an egg, then gathers more, in which she also lays an egg. In this way her house is soon full. When the eggs hatch, the babies eat the pollen and nectar they find around them. I was just such a baby, and, being a gentleman, I haven’t much to do. I shall probably marry a queen some day, but now I simply play in the sunshine. We bumble bees belong to the social branch of the family, but there are many bees who live alone. They all follow trades. There is the carpenter, who isn’t furry9 like us, but black and shiny. She can bore right into solid wood and make cells for her eggs. Then there are the miners, who burrow10 into the ground, and the masons, who make nests out of grains of sand glued together, or out of clay or mud. Some of the carpenters line their nests with pieces of leaves, which they cut out with their sharp jaws11. They have been called upholsterers and they——”
“This is all very interesting,” interrupted a honey bee, “but really I must speak now. I have so much to say, and my work is waiting.”
“Talk, by all means,” answered Sir Bumble Bee, gallantly12. “I am a gentleman, and I always yield to ladies.”
“Thank you, but I can’t call myself a lady. I am just a worker honey bee. My name is Apis Mellifica, but I do belong to a wonderful family. I will admit that. We are the greatest wax makers13 in the world. I heard somebody once say that bees are always in a hurry, while butterflies seem to take their time. Now there’s a good reason for that. Butterflies haven’t any work to do. They do not even see their children, and never take care of them, while bees have thousands of babies to feed and look after. Then you must know we clean house every day, for we are extremely neat housekeepers14. 186We clean ourselves also, and we have combs and brushes for that purpose.”
The words combs and brushes seemed to have quite an effect on the bees and ants in the audience, and many began to make their toilets, Miss Apis among them. They looked so very funny that Ruth laughed outright15, but she quickly settled down to listen, as Miss Apis, feeling herself quite clean, said briskly:
“Now I will tell a story. Once upon a time there was a large hive under an apple tree. A hedge sheltered it from the wind, and the tree shaded it from the sun, which made it very pleasant for the family who lived there. It was a very large family, for there were thousands and thousands of members, but they lived together in peace, each doing her own share of work. Of course there was a queen. She had a long, slender body and short wings. This did not matter, for she had only flown from the hive once, and then she had a bodyguard16 of drones. Maybe you think that because she was a queen she had nothing to do. It is true, she was not obliged to gather honey, make wax, clean house, nurse the children, or anything of that sort, but she was kept 188busy laying eggs. She laid thousands every day.”
Ruth opened her eyes wide. “Think of it, Belinda!” she said. “Thousands of eggs a day! Just suppose she was a hen.”
“She is something far more important,” answered Miss Apis, “and her eggs are of much more consequence. Besides the queen there were drones and workers in this big family. The drones did no work at all, though they were large and thick-bodied. Indeed, all they seemed fit for was to fly with the queen when she took her one trip abroad, and to eat what the workers gathered.”
“See here!” said a drone from the back of the assembly. “I am getting tired of being called lazy. I should like to say right here that we drones haven’t any honey sac nor any pollen baskets, not even a pollen brush, like Mrs. Carpenter Bee, so how can we gather pollen or honey? Besides, we haven’t any sting to defend ourselves with.”
“We will not argue the point,” said Miss 189Apis, “but go on to the workers, who formed the largest part of the colony. They were hatched to work, and they were willing to work until they died. They had strong wings, lots of eyes, and three stomach sacs.”
“Well, I can’t see any use in so many stomachs,” said Mrs. Horntail, and Ruth agreed with her, though she did not say so.
“You would if you were a bee,” said Miss Apis, mildly. “You see, or maybe you don’t, that eating honey, and just swallowing it, are two different things. When a bee just swallows honey it passes through the strainer, or fine hairs, in the first sac, so that every speck17 of pollen may be taken out, and into the second one, where it remains18 until the bee is ready to unswallow it in the hive. But when a bee wishes to eat this honey it passes on into the third sac, or the real stomach, and is digested.”
“Well, I am sorry I spoke,” said Mrs. Horntail, “for I certainly do not enjoy these details.”
“I can’t help that,” answered Miss Apis, undisturbed, “I am telling facts. Not only had these workers three stomach sacs, but they also had pollen baskets on their hind19 legs, for it is from the pollen gathered in the flowers and mixed with honey and water that the bee bread fed to the baby bees is made. Not all the workers gathered honey, though. Some made wax and built combs, and this was a very hard job, for they were obliged to hang from the ceiling and pick wax from the under side of their bodies, then chew it and plaster it to the walls. This wax is in eight scales, or pockets, on the under side of the worker bee’s body, and it is made by what she eats. When the pockets of one bee were emptied, the next one took her place, and when the lump on the side of the wall was large enough another set of bees formed it into cells. Of course you know that the cells in a beehive are always six-sided. That is because six-sided cells use all the space, and are also strongest. At least the wise men say that is probably the reason why we make them so, and they think they know. Other of the workers took care of the babies. They fed them and kept them clean, and some aired the hive.”
Ruth’s eyes were big with questions. Miss Apis saw and continued:
“They did this by moving their wings rapidly as if they were flying, and when many did it at the same time the good air was driven around the hive and the bad air out. Then, of course, there had to be sentinels to speak to every bee who passed in, and make sure she had the right to enter, for human people are not our only robbers. There are flies that look much like us, but ask them to show their pollen baskets, and they can’t do it. Now it happened one Spring in the hive I am telling you about that the queen heard a sound that she didn’t like at all. It was a thin piping, and it came from one of the brood cells, which is the nursery of the hive.”
“‘It sounds like a young queen,’ she said, ‘but I have laid no queen eggs.’ The workers stopped their tasks long enough to talk about it. They knew perfectly20 well that it was a young queen, and they also knew how she happened to be there, even though the old queen had laid no eggs in the cells on the edge of the comb meant for queen eggs. The old queen did not wish another royal lady, but the workers knew that if anything happened to the old queen there would be none to take her place, and such a thing must not be allowed. So they had taken down two waxen walls between three small brood cells, where a worker egg lay, and so made it into a royal cell. They bit away the wax with their jaws, and pressed the rough edges into shape with their feet, and when the egg within hatched, instead of feeding the baby with flower dust and honey and water, as they would have done had they intended it to grow into a worker, they fed it royal jelly. And so after it had grown and spun21 a cocoon6, within which it had lain for sixteen days, it had become a young queen, ready to leave her cell. But the workers knew it would never do for her to come out just yet, for she and the old queen would have to fight, and one would surely die.”
“Oh, how dreadful!” cried Ruth. “Why should they?”
“Because only one queen may reign1 in a hive.”
“‘We will keep her in her cell a little longer,’ the workers said to each other. And they built a wall of wax over her door, leaving only a hole large enough for her to thrust out her tongue so that they might feed her. But though she couldn’t get out, she could complain.”
“I should have complained too,” said Ruth.
“Well this young queen complained in earnest, and the old queen heard her, and of course she tried to get to the cell of this pert young one, and settle her for all time. This the workers would not allow. They 194would not touch their old queen, but they formed a bodyguard about the cell of the new one, and so protected her.”
“‘Well,’ said the old queen at last, ‘I can’t stand this. I will not stay here. I shall take my friends with me and fly away to a place where only I shall be queen.’”
“She grew more and more excited, as time passed, and, as many of the workers were excited too, the hive was in much confusion.”
“‘We are much too crowded,’ said some of the workers.”
“‘I can’t seem to settle down to work,’ answered others. ‘What can you expect when thousands of children are added to a family in a week? The time comes when the house must be made larger, or some of the members must move.’”
“‘We will move,’ said the old queen in a tone of decision. ‘We will move right now. Those who are my friends, come. The others may stay with the piping thing in yonder cell.’”
“And without further words, the old queen flew away, followed by a great many workers.”
“Now I know what swarming22 means!” cried Ruth. “I used to wonder about it.”
Miss Apis nodded.
“When the swarm23 was well away, the workers who were left in the hive hastened to let out the new queen.”
“She must have been glad,” said Ruth.
“Very likely,” agreed Miss Apis. “She began her reign with a flying trip into the world with the drones. But after this, she came back to the hive, and settled down to the business of egg-laying. Of course the workers took up the same old tasks, for whatever happens, workers will work. That is why they have no love for the drones, and when Winter comes they drive these lazy ones from the hive.”
“I think I feel a little bit sorry for the drones,” said Ruth, “if they can’t help being lazy, as that drone said a while ago.”
“Well, it is our way,” answered Miss 196Apis. “Only those who have worked in the Summer have a right to eat in the Winter. Now my work is calling me, and I must leave. This story of one hive is true of all. I hope you have enjoyed it, and so good-by.”
“There, she is finished at last,” said Mrs. Horntail. “I think this whole meeting has been most tiresome24.”
But Ruth did not agree with her.


1 reign pBbzx     
  • The reign of Queen Elizabeth lapped over into the seventeenth century.伊丽莎白王朝延至17世纪。
  • The reign of Zhu Yuanzhang lasted about 31 years.朱元璋统治了大约三十一年。
2 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
3 fertilize hk5x8     
  • Fertilizer is a substance put on land to fertilize it.肥料是施在地里使之肥沃的物质。
  • Reading will fertilize his vocabulary.阅读会丰富他的词汇。
4 pollen h1Uzz     
  • Hummingbirds have discovered that nectar and pollen are very nutritious.蜂鸟发现花蜜和花粉是很有营养的。
  • He developed an allergy to pollen.他对花粉过敏。
5 emphatic 0P1zA     
  • Their reply was too emphatic for anyone to doubt them.他们的回答很坚决,不容有任何人怀疑。
  • He was emphatic about the importance of being punctual.他强调严守时间的重要性。
6 cocoon 2nQyB     
  • A cocoon is a kind of silk covering made by an insect.蚕茧是由昆虫制造的一种由丝组成的外包层。
  • The beautiful butterfly emerged from the cocoon.美丽的蝴蝶自茧中出现。
7 cocoons 5dceb05da0afff0d0dbbf29f10373b59     
n.茧,蚕茧( cocoon的名词复数 )v.茧,蚕茧( cocoon的第三人称单数 )
  • The silkworms have gone into the bushes to spin their cocoons. 蚕上山了。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • In two more days the " little darlings" would spin their cocoons. 再得两天,“宝宝”可以上山。 来自汉英文学 - 春蚕
8 gathering ChmxZ     
  • He called on Mr. White to speak at the gathering.他请怀特先生在集会上讲话。
  • He is on the wing gathering material for his novels.他正忙于为他的小说收集资料。
9 furry Rssz2D     
  • This furry material will make a warm coat for the winter.这件毛皮料在冬天会是一件保暖的大衣。
  • Mugsy is a big furry brown dog,who wiggles when she is happy.马格斯是一只棕色大长毛狗,当她高兴得时候她会摇尾巴。
10 burrow EsazA     
  • Earthworms burrow deep into the subsoil.蚯蚓深深地钻进底土。
  • The dog had chased a rabbit into its burrow.狗把兔子追进了洞穴。
11 jaws cq9zZq     
  • The antelope could not escape the crocodile's gaping jaws. 那只羚羊无法从鱷鱼张开的大口中逃脱。
  • The scored jaws of a vise help it bite the work. 台钳上有刻痕的虎钳牙帮助它紧咬住工件。
12 gallantly gallantly     
adv. 漂亮地,勇敢地,献殷勤地
  • He gallantly offered to carry her cases to the car. 他殷勤地要帮她把箱子拎到车子里去。
  • The new fighters behave gallantly under fire. 新战士在炮火下表现得很勇敢。
13 makers 22a4efff03ac42c1785d09a48313d352     
  • The makers of the product assured us that there had been no sacrifice of quality. 这一产品的制造商向我们保证说他们没有牺牲质量。
  • The makers are about to launch out a new product. 制造商们马上要生产一种新产品。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 housekeepers 5a9e2352a6ee995ab07d759da5565f52     
n.(女)管家( housekeeper的名词复数 )
  • Can you send up one of your housekeepers to make bed? 请你派个女服务员来整理床铺好吗? 来自互联网
  • They work as gas station attendants, firemen, housekeepers,and security personnel. 本句翻译:机器人也能够作为煤气站的服务员,救火队员等保安作用。 来自互联网
15 outright Qj7yY     
  • If you have a complaint you should tell me outright.如果你有不满意的事,你应该直率地对我说。
  • You should persuade her to marry you outright.你应该彻底劝服她嫁给你。
16 bodyguard 0Rfy2     
  • She has to have an armed bodyguard wherever she goes.她不管到哪儿都得有带武器的保镖跟从。
  • The big guy standing at his side may be his bodyguard.站在他身旁的那个大个子可能是他的保镖。
17 speck sFqzM     
  • I have not a speck of interest in it.我对它没有任何兴趣。
  • The sky is clear and bright without a speck of cloud.天空晴朗,一星星云彩也没有。
18 remains 1kMzTy     
  • He ate the remains of food hungrily.他狼吞虎咽地吃剩余的食物。
  • The remains of the meal were fed to the dog.残羹剩饭喂狗了。
19 hind Cyoya     
  • The animal is able to stand up on its hind limbs.这种动物能够用后肢站立。
  • Don't hind her in her studies.不要在学业上扯她后腿。
20 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
21 spun kvjwT     
  • His grandmother spun him a yarn at the fire.他奶奶在火炉边给他讲故事。
  • Her skilful fingers spun the wool out to a fine thread.她那灵巧的手指把羊毛纺成了细毛线。
22 swarming db600a2d08b872102efc8fbe05f047f9     
密集( swarm的现在分词 ); 云集; 成群地移动; 蜜蜂或其他飞行昆虫成群地飞来飞去
  • The sacks of rice were swarming with bugs. 一袋袋的米里长满了虫子。
  • The beach is swarming with bathers. 海滩满是海水浴的人。
23 swarm dqlyj     
  • There is a swarm of bees in the tree.这树上有一窝蜜蜂。
  • A swarm of ants are moving busily.一群蚂蚁正在忙碌地搬家。
24 tiresome Kgty9     
  • His doubts and hesitations were tiresome.他的疑惑和犹豫令人厌烦。
  • He was tiresome in contending for the value of his own labors.他老为他自己劳动的价值而争强斗胜,令人生厌。


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