“But now, when noontide Sirius glares on high, With him young love ascends the glowing sky. From vein to vein swift shoots prolific fire, And thrills each insect fibril with desire. Thence, Nature, to fulfil thy prime decree, Wheels round in wanton rings the courtier bee ; Now shyly distant, now with bolder air. He woos and wins the all-complying fair ; Through fields of ether, veiled in vapoury gloom, They seek with amorous haste the nuptial room, As erst the immortal pair on Ida’s height Wreathed round their noon of joy ambrosial night.
But mark, of regal port and awful mien, Where moves with measured jjace the insect queen ! Twelve chosen guards, with slow and solemn gait, Bend at her nod, and round her person wait. Not eastern despots, of their splendour vain, Can boast, in all their pomp, a brighter train Of fear-bound satraps ; not in bonds of love Can loyal Britons more obedient move.
But now, when April smiles through many a tear, And the bright Bull receives the rolling year. Another tribe, to different fates assigned, In ampler cells their giant limbs confined, Burst through the yielding wax, ^tA wheel around On heavier wing, and hum a deeper sound. No sharpened sting they boast ; yet, buzzing loud. Before the hive, in threatening circles, crowd The unwieldy drones. Their short proboscis sips No luscious nectar from the wild thyme’s lips ; 20 THE BEE AS AN INSECT. [Ch. i. From the lime’s leaf no amber drops they steal, Nor bear their grooveless thighs the foodful meal : On others’ toils, in pampered leisure, thrive The lazy fathers of the industrious hive. Yet oft, we ‘re told, these seeming idlers share The pleasing duties of parental calre, With fond attention guard each genial cell, And watch the embryo, bursting from its shell.”