The Ancient Library

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with unhesitating faith by almost every authority, that swarms might "be produced by spontaneous generation from the putrescent carcase of an ox (esc bubulo corpore putrefacto ; and hence they were commonly termed fiooiy6vas by the poets, and by Archelaus jSobs <pQi^vr]S TreTror^jueVa re'fcj/a).

The early Romans placed the hives in niches, hollowed out of the walls of the farm-house itself, mider the shelter of the eaves (subter subgrundas}^ but in later times it became more common to form a regular apiary (apiarium, alvearium, mellarium ; /-teAiTTOTpo^eiby, /xeAiTTcwT?)., sometimes so exten­sive, as to yield 5000 pounds of honey in a season. This was a small enclosure in the immediate vicinity of the villa, in a warm and sheltered spot, as little subject as possible to great variations of temperature, or to disturbances of any description from the elements or from animals ; and carefully removed from the influence of foetid exhalations, such as might proceed from baths, kitchens, stables, dunghills, or the like. A supply of pure water was provided, and plantations were formed of those plants and flowers to which they were most attached, especially the cytisus and thyme, the former as being conducive to the health of bees, the latter as affording the greatest quantity of honey (aptissimum ad melificium). The yew was .carefully avoided, not because in itself noxious to the swarm, but be­cause the honey made from it was poisonous. (Sic mea Cyrneas fugiant examina .taxos.) The hives (alvi) alvei) alvearia, kv<j)€\cu\ if stationary, were built of trick (domicilia lateribus facto) or baked dung (eoo fimo), if moveable, and these were con­sidered the most convenient, were hollowed out of a solid block, or formed of boards, or of wicker work, or of bark, or of earthenware, the last being accounted the worst, because more easily affected by heat or cold, while those of cork were accounted best. They were perforated with two small holes for the insects to pass in and out, were covered with moveable tops to enable the mellarius to in­spect the interior, which was done itjhree times a month, in spring and summer, for the purpose of removing any filth which might have accumulated, or any worms that might have found entrance ; and were arranged, but not in contact, 'in rows one above another, care being taken that <there should not be more than three rows in aH, :and that the lowest row should rest upon a sitotee parapet, ele­vated three feet from the ground, .and coated with smooth stucco to prevent lizards, snakes, or other noxious animals from climbing up.

When the season for swarming arrived, the movements which indicated the approaching de­parture of a colony (eocamvn) were watched un­remittingly, and when it was actually thrown off, they were deterred from a long flight by casting dust upon them, and by tinkling sounds, being at the same time tempted to alight upon some neighbouring branch by rubbing it with balm (apiastrum, /xeAtcrcro^iiAAoz/, s. yue'Aij/oz/, s. fj.e\i-d>uAAov), or any sweet substance. When they had all collected, they were quietly transferred to a hive similarly prepared, and if they showed any disinclination to enter were urged on by surround­ing them with a little smoke.

If quarrelsome, their pugnacity was repressed by sprinkling them with honey water (mella) ; if lazy, they were tempted out by placing the sweet-smelling plants they most loved, chiefly apiastrum or thyme, in the immediate vicinity of the hive,


recourse being had at the same time to a slight fumigation. If distracted by sedition in consev quence of the presence of two pretenders to the throne, the rivals were caught, examined, and the least promising put to death. In bad weather, those stricken down and disabled by cold or sudden rain were tenderly collected, placed in a spot warmed by artificial heat, and as they revived laid down before their hives. When the weather for any length of time prevented them from going abroad, they were fed upon honey and water, or upon figs boiled in must and pounded into a paste.

The honey harvest (mellatio, mellis vindemia^ castratio alvorum, dies castrandi, /x.eAtT&xns), ac­cording to Varro, took place three times a year, but more usually twice only, in June and October; on the first visitation four-fifths, at the second two-thirds of the honey was abstracted ; but these pro­portions varied much according to the season, and the strength of the particular hive. The system pursued was very simple: the moveable top was taken off, or a door contrived in the side opened, the bees were driven away by a smoking apparatus, and the mellarius cut out with peculiarly formed knives as much of the contents as he thought fit.

The comb (favus^ K.T)piov\ which was the product of their industry, was composed of wax (cera, Kypbs') formed into hexagonal cells (sex angulis cello), the geometrical advantages of which were soon dis­covered by mathematicians, containing for the most part honey (mel^ jueAi), but also the more solid sweet substance commonly called bee-bread (pro­polis, Trp^TroAis), the classical name being derived, it is said, from the circumstance that it is found in greatest abundance near the entrance. The combs were cemented together, and the crevices in the hive daubed over with a glutinous gum, the erithace (e'pifla/crj) of Varro and his Greek authorities, which seems to be the same with what is else­where termed indligo (/xeAtrco^a).

Columella and Palladius describe ingenious plans for getting possession of wild swarms (apes si/Ires-ires^farae^rusticae^s opposed to urbanae, cicures) ; and Plinv notices the humble bees which con-


structed their nests in the ground, but seems to suppose that they were peculiar to a district in Asia Minor. The marks which distinguish the varieties of the domestic species will be found de­tailed by the different authorities quoted below. (Aristot. Hist. Anim. v. ix ; Aelian. de Anim. i. 59, 60, v. 10, 11 ; Var. il 5, iii. 3,16 ; Virg. Georg. iv. ; Colum. ix. 3, &c., xi. 2 ; Plin. PI. N. xi. 5, &c. ; Pallad. i. 37—39, iv. 15, v. 8, vi. 10, vii. 7, ix, 7, xi. 13, xii. 8.)

Snails (cochleae}. Certain species of snails were favourite articles of food among the Romans, and were used also medicinally in diseases of the lungs and intestines. The kinds most prized were those from Reate, which were small and white'; those from Africa of middling size, and very fruitful ; those called solitanae, also from Africa, larger than the former ; and those from Illyria, which were the largest of all. The place where they were preserved (cochlearium} was sheltered from the sun, kept moist, and not covered over, nor walled in, but surrounded by water, which prevented the escape of the inmates who were very prolific, and required nothing except a few laurel leaves and a little bran. They were fattened by shutting them up in a jar smeared with boiled must and flour, and perforated with holes to admit air. It has been

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