The Bee
have spent a great deal of time in observing it, and have written many very curious
things about it. They tell us that there is in every hive a queen, larger than the rest,
whom they all follow and obey; and that if she dies or is carried away, they all leave
their work and unless the queen is restored or another one provided, they refuse to
eat, and soon die. Only one queen is allowed in a hive at a time. She does not go out
to gather honey, but those who attend upon her bring to her cell as much as she wants.
It is very pleasant to watch the bees at their work, for they are quite as busy as the
ants, and as they are so much larger, it is more easy to see what they are doing. Every
thing about them seems curious and beautiful; their waxen cells, their manner of
gathering honey and storing it up, their neatness and order, all are admirable. They are
perfectly harmless when left to themselves; but if they are attacked, they fly around
the person who disturbs them, in great numbers, and sometimes sting him very
severely. David once said of his enemies, "They compassed me about like bees."
Honey is often spoken of in the Bible. When Jacob wished his sons to go down into
Egypt a second time to buy food, he said to them, "Take of the best fruits of the land
in your vessels, and carry down the man (Joseph) a present; a little balm and a little
honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds." God told the children of Israel that he
would give them "a land flowing with milk and honey," meaning one that was beautiful
and fertile, producing abundantly every thing that would be needed for their comfort.
When David had been obliged to flee from Jerusalem to escape his wicked son
Absalom, he was in great want of provisions for himself and his followers. After a long
and fatiguing march he reached a certain city; and there three rich men who were
friendly to him, sent "wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and
honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese," besides beds for them to rest on; "for they
said, The people is hungry, and wary, and thirsty in the wilderness."
Perhaps no man ever loved the commandments of God more truly than king David. He
says in the Psalms, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey
to my mouth!" and again he says of God's judgments, "More are they to be desired
than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb."
Besides the bees that live in hives, there are many called wild bees, which live in the
woods, and put their honey in the clefts of rocks, or in old trees and other similar
places. In the fourteenth chapter of Judges you will find this story: There was a very
strong man named Samson, and once when he was travelling by himself in a lonely
place, a young lion came roaring along in the very path where he was going. Would you
not have been afraid? I suppose Samson was, at first, for the lion was very strong and
very hungry, and Samson had nothing in his hand to kill him with. But God gave him
strength, and when the lion came up, Samson caught hold of him and tore him in
pieces, as you would tear a piece of cloth. Then he left him dead on the ground.
Sometime after he came back the same way, and thought he would look after the lion
that he had killed. He soon found the skeleton, that is, the dry bones without any flesh
on them; and when he looked at the parts of the dead lion he found that a swarm of
bees had been there, and laid up a great plenty of honey. So he took some of it in his
hands to eat as he went along.
You can learn of the little bee to try to be useful, and to resolve in the words of the
hymn which I dare say you have learned:
"In works of labor or of skill
"I would be busy too;
"For Satan finds some mischief still
"For idle hands to do.
"In books, or work, or healthful play,
"Let my first years be past;
"That I may give for every day
"Some good account at last."