The Bee People: Chapters 4 & 5

Chapter IV: Her Honey Sac

What do you suppose becomes the of the nectar Miss Apis gathers with her hairy tongue? … She does swallow it but that is not the end of story. When it is swallowed, it passes into a little honey-sac which is not as large as a sweet-pea seed and is so delicate that it looks like a soap bubble.

This honey-sac is in the big end of the abdomen … It holds less than a drop of nectar, and we may call it the jug or bottle in which Miss Apis carries the blossom nectar home; for she does not swallow it for her own use, but that she may bear it to the hive for the baby bees to eat…. Some of the honey passes on into the true stomach of the bee which is just beyond the honey-sac.

It is curious that everything Miss Apis eats has to be swallowed into the honey-sac before it can get into the stomach, and yet the honey is always clear and pure. Honey and pollen go together into the honey sac, yet the honey in the comb contains almost no pollen. The reason is, Miss Apis strains her honey before she puts it in the comb….

When Miss Apis gets to the hive, she makes the muscles of her honey-sac squeeze the honey into her mouth and she then puts into the honey-comb.

Chapter V: Ambrosia and Nectar

Of course no one, not even Miss Apis nor the lovely Venus herself, could live entirely upon nectar. We know that the gods and goddess, when they had a party on Mount Olympus always had ambrosia as well as nectar. They sat around and had it passed to them by the graceful goddess Hebe…. I have no doubt they often ate and drank more than was good for them, just for the sake of having her bring them one more cup of nectar or one more slice of ambrosia. The nectar of the gods was like honey, some say that nine-tenths of it was honey.

Just what ambrosia was, I am not able to say, but I suppose it was like the best bread that ever was made on the earth, only a great deal better and like the most delicious cake that ever was concocted for Christmas time, only a great deal more delicious; and like all bonbons and good things rolled into one, only a great deal sweeter and finer than anything we can possibly imagine….

Her [Miss Apis] nectar is the sweet juice of flowers and her ambrosia is the pollen of the flowers – a very precious ambrosia indeed. […]

Key Points:

  • Yes, basically honey is bee vomit
  • Bees put pollen in separate cells of the honeycomb. It is a protein source for them.
  • Some ancient tombs were even shaped as beehives
  • Apollo’s gift of prophecy first came to him from three bee maidens. I was stung three times last year…..
  • Stemming from the side effect of mead, classical Greek language use the phrase “honey-intoxicated” for “drunken
  • I don’t think the goddesses were eating the potluck classic salad with marshmallows when they talk about ambrosia – they were sure missing out. I love potluck classics!

I share with you words and illustrations from the public domain M. Morely book – The Bee People. Published 1899; designed for third to fifth grade readers with goal to learn “how to observe” but plenty for adults to learn as well. Life lesson, bee truths and a gauge to see if we have made progress over the last century. If you find something interesting take 5 minutes and do some extra research. Bees are amazing creatures!

Excerpts –


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