Three Hundred Games & Pastimes - complete online book

A Book Of Suggestions For Children's Games And Employments.

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162              What Shall We Do Now?
comparison was made, and the water-butt offered to him for an experimental descent. Mr. Cronk's hands were bare, although he also had the offer of a pair of gloves. Bees couldn't sting through his hands, he said, and it was not difficult to believe him. The man who invented the saying, " There's nothing like leather," had never seen Mr. Cronk's hands. Mr. Cronk placed a ladder carefully against the pear tree, and then, taking the empty hive in his arm, he climbed up. He held the hive with one hand immediately under the cluster of bees, and with the other he shook the branch. At once they fell in, and he hastened down and turned the hive over upon a piece of matting. The bees buzzed furiously within, while stragglers flew all around Mr. Cronk's head and body, and many settled on him. But he heeded nothing ; all he did was to kneel beside the hive and place his ear first on one side, and then the other, straining to hear if the queen bee was within. " I think she is," he said at length, "although," he added, looking up into the tree again, " she may be there." Following his glance, we saw that another cluster of bees was forming on the branch. " I'll get them down directly," said Mr. Cronk, who was now closely examining the bees that were entering the hive by the little hole. "You've got a lot of cross-bred ones, Mrs. Peters," he said. " I've got a tidy few, but you've got more than me. I mean these with only one gold band round 'em. The true-bred ones has two gold bands." Then Mr. Cronk went into the tree again, and collected the second swarm, which he added to the others. "There must be a couple o' pounds o' bees," he said thoughtfully.
Mrs. Peters, it might be added, has several hives.
" I like horses and I like dogs," she once said, " but of all animals I think I like bees best." She cares for them like a mother. One afternoon in the winter she came into our sitting-room, which opens directly on the garden, and, after moving mysteriously about by the window for a while, " I've come for one of my bees," she explained ; " I want to put him back in the hive again," and so saying she picked up the little brown body from a corner of the pane, and bore it away. Could there be a prettier instance of solicitude ?
If the farmer has the new wooden hives with a glass covering he will very likely let you peep in and see the bees at work. Before doing this you certainly ought to read something about their exceedingly wonderful ways. The best books are Lubbock's Ants, Bees, and Wasps, and Maeterlinck's Life of the Bee, but most encyclopaedias contain very interesting articles on the subject.
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