Because it is one of the only three figures by which a space can be filled with cells, without leaving any space between them ; and is the most convenient and the strongest, except the circle, by which some room would be lost. By the six-sided form, therefore, the bees save both space and materials.
Because the larvae are not content with the cells as a covering during the pupa state, but they line their sides and bottom, and cover their mouth with silk, thus making a complete cocoon. These, after the insect has been perfected, are left in the cell, and when it contains another larva, a second lining is prepared. Each lining at the bottom, in the bee, covers the excrement, which the animal had produced in its larva state. John Hunter, by whom the above appearance was observed, has counted twenty different linings in one cell.
Because the former work in wood, as the latter do in bricks, etc.
The mason builds its nest with wonderful art and strength, of the sand and mortar of old walls exposed to the sun.
Within this are chambers lined with leaves, and containing one egg, which, becoming a maggot, lives on the store provided by the mother, changes to a chrysalis, and comes forth a perfect insect in the following spring.
Because they construct their abodes by cutting off portions of the leaves or bark of plants, and uniting them with silk, etc. Even the most elaborate skill of art and luxury cannot excel the embellishments of the cells of these bees. The rose-leaf-cutters are of this species.
Because their exclusive business is to adorn the chambers with tapestries of the leaves of flowers, as the poppy, which affords a splendid scarlet hanging equal to the most superb damask.
Because they card or prepare moss as wool for their nests.
Because four or five cling to a part of the hive, and extend their hind-legs, whence others suspend themselves by their fore-feet, and so on for other lines.
Because they must be fed; and if saved, they will die of old age before the next fall; and though young ones will supply the place of the dead, this is nothing like a good swarm put up during the summer.
This is Mr. Cobbett's opinion. If saving the bees be whimsical, it is harmless; and it is better to be whimsical than cruel.
Because it has been ascertained that when two or three distinct hives are united in autumn, they consume together scarcely more honey during the winter than each of them would have consumed singly, if left separate. - Bee Preserver, translated from the German.