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All work together, all together rest;
The morning still renews their labours, past;
Then all rush out, their different tasks pursue,
Sit on the bloom, and suck the rip'ning dew;
Again, when evening warns 'em to their home,
With weary wings and heavy thighs they come,
And crowd about the chink, and mix a drowsie hum.
Into their cells at length they gently creep,
There all the night their peaceful station keep,
Wrapt up in silence, and dissolv'd in sleep.
None range abroad when winds or storms are nigh,
Nor trust their bodies to a faithless sky,
But make small journeys, with a careful wing,
And fly to water at a neighbouring spring;
And least their airy bodies should be cast
In restless whirls, the sport of ev'ry blast,
They carry stones to poise 'em in their flight,
As ballast keeps th' unsteady vessel right.
But, of all customs that the bees can boast,
'Tis this may challenge admiration most;
That none will Hymen's softer joys approve,
Nor waste their spirits in luxurious love,
But all a long virginity maintain,
And bring forth young without a mother's pain:
From herbs and flowers they pick each tender bee,
And cull from plants à buzzing progeny ;
From these they chuse out subjects, and create
A little monarch of the rising state;
Then build wax-kingdoms for the infant prince,
And form a palace for his residence.
But often in their journeys, as they fly,
On flints they tear their silken wings, or lye
Grov'ling beneath their flowery load, and die.
Thus love of honey can an insect fire,
And in a fly such generous thoughts inspire.
Yet by repeopling their decaying state,
Tho' seven short springs conclude their vital date,
Their ancient stocks eternally remain,
And in an endless race their children's children reign.
No prostrate vassal of the East can more
With slavish fear his haughty prince adore;
His life unites 'em all; but when he dies,
All in loud tumults and distractions rise
They waste their honey, and their combs deface,
And wild confusion reigns in every place.
Him all admire, all the great guardian own,
And crowd about his courts, and buzz about his throne.
Oft on their backs their weary prince they bear,
Oft in his cause embattled in the air,
Pursue a glorious death, in wounds and war.
Some, from such instances as these have taught "The bees' extract is heavenly; for they thought The universe alive; and that a soul,
Diffus'd throughout the matter of the whole,
To all the vast unbounded frame was giv'n,
And ran through earth, and air, and sea, and all the deep
That this first kindled life in man and beast,
Life, that again flows into this at last.
That no compounded animal could die,
But when dissolv'd, the spirit mounted high,
Dwelt in a star, and settled in the sky."
When-e'er their balmy sweets you mean to seize,
And take the liquid labours of the bees,
Spurt draughts of water from your mouth, and drive A loathsome cloud of smoak amidst their hive.
Twice in the year their flow'ry toils begin,
And twice they fetch their dewy harvest in ;
Once, when the lovely Pleiades arise,
And add fresh lustre to the summer skies;
And once, when hast'ning from the watry sign,
They quit their station, and forbear to shine.
The bees are prone to rage, and often found
To perish for revenge, and die upon the wound.
Their venom'd sting produces aking pains,
And swells the flesh, and shoots among the veins.
When first a cold hard winter's storms arrive,
And threaten death or famine to their hive,
If now their sinking state and low affairs
Can move your pity, and provoke your cares,
Fresh burning thyme before their cells convey,
And cut their dry and husky wax away;
For often lizards seize the luscious spoils,
Or drones, that riot on another's toils:
Oft broods of moths infest the hungry swarms,
And oft the furious wasp their hive alarms
With louder hums, and with unequal arms;
Or else the spider at their entrance sets
Her snares, and spins her bowels into nets.
When sickness reigns (for they as well as we
Feel all th' effects of frail mortality)
By certain marks the new disease is seen,
Their colour changes, and their looks are thin;
Their funeral rites are form'd, and ev'ry bee
With grief attends the sad solemnity;
The few diseas'd survivors hang before
Their sickly cells, and droop about the door,
Or slowly in their hives their limbs unfold,
Shrunk up with hunger, and benumb'd with cold;
In drawling hums, the feeble insects grieve,
And doleful buzzes echo thro' the hive,
Like winds that softly murmur thro' the trees,
Like flames pent up, or like retiring seas.
Now lay fresh honey near their empty rooms,
In troughs of hollow reeds, whilst frying gums
Cast round a fragrant mist of spicy fumes.
Thus kindly tempt the famish'd swarm to eat,
And gently reconcile 'em to their meat.
Mix juice of galls, and wine, that grow in time
Condens'd by fire, and thicken to a slime.
To these dry'd roses, thyme and centry join,
And raisins, ripen'd on the Psythian vine.
Besides, there grows a flow'r in marshy ground, Its name Amellus, easy to be found;
A mighty spring works in its root, and cleaves
The sprouting stalk, and shews itself in leaves:
The flow'r itself is of a golden hue,
The leaves inclining to a darker blue;
The leaves shoot thick about the flow'r, and grow
Into a bush, and shade the turf below:
The plant in holy garlands often twines
The altars' posts, and beautifies the shrines;
Its taste is sharp, in vales new-shorn it grows,
Where Mella's stream in watry mazes flows.
Take plenty of its roots, and boil 'em well
In wine, and heap 'em up before the cell.
But if the whole stock fail, and none survive ;
To raise new people, and recruit the hive,
I'll here the great experiment declare,
That spread th' Arcadian shepherd's name so far. How bees from blood of slaughter'd bulls have fled, And swarms amidst the red corruption bred.
For where th' Egyptians yearly see their bounds. Refresh'd with floods, and sail about their grounds, Where Persia borders, and the rolling Nile Drives swiftly down the swarthy Indians' soil, 'Till into seven it multiplies its stream, And fattens Egypt with a fruitful slime : In this last practice all their hope remains, And long experience justifies their pains.
First then a close contracted space of ground, With streighten'd walls and low-built roof they found; A narrow shelving light is next assign'd
To all the quarters, one to every wind:
Through these the glancing rays obliquely pierce:
Hither they lead a bull that's young and fierce,
When two-years growth of horn he proudly shows,
And shakes the comely terrors of his brows:
His nose and mouth, the avenues of breath,
They muzzle up, and beat his limbs to death;
With violence to life and stifling pain
He flings and spurns, and tries to snort in vain,
Loud heavy mows fall thick on ev'ry side,
'Till his bruis'd bowels burst within the hide,
When dead, they leave him rotting on the ground,
With branches, thyme and cassia, strow'd around.
All this is done, when first the western breeze
Becalms the year, and smooths the troubled seas;