Vietnam or Thailand ? Vote for the TOP Country of the Week !


At the moment when the Osmia disgorges her honey and especially at the moment when, with her hind-tarsi, she rubs the pollen-dust from her ventral brush, she needs a narrow aperture, just big enough to allow of her passage. I imagine that, in a straitened gallery, the rubbing of her whole body against the sides gives the harvester a support for her brushing-work.

My apparatus of reeds, fixed against the walls of the garden, supplied me with a remarkable nest of the Horned Osmia. The nest is established in a bit of reed 11 millimetres wide inside. The laying therefore seems here to be complete. Well, this laying is arranged in a most singular fashion.

Besides, when we consider that the active life of these insects lasts hardly a month; when we remember that this period of activity is disturbed by dark, rainy or very windy days, during which all work is suspended; when lastly we ascertain, as I have done ad nauseam in the case of the Three-horned Osmia, the time required for building and victualling a cell, it becomes obvious that the total laying must be kept within narrow bounds and that the mother has no time to lose if she wishes to get fifteen cells satisfactorily built in three or four weeks interrupted by compulsory rests.

All I ask is that the birth of my insects, that is to say, their first seeing the light, their emerging from the cocoon, should take place on the spot where I propose to make them settle. Here there must be retreats of no matter what nature, but of a shape similar to that in which the Osmia delights.

The Osmia, still more precocious, though dating from the same period, shows herself exclusively in the adult form, a bad omen for my investigations, for what the Anthrax demands is the larva and not the perfect insect. The fly's grub doubles my apprehensions. Its development is complete, the larva on which it feeds is consumed, perhaps several weeks ago.

During this curious performance, the only function of the legs is to keep the worker steady by spreading out and clinging to the walls of the tunnel. The partition with the hole in it is finished. Let us go back to the measuring of which the Osmia was so lavish. What a magnificent argument in favour of the reasoning-power of animals! To find geometry, the surveyor's art, in an Osmia's tiny brain!

Apart from the strange exception of the Three-pronged Osmia, who mixes the sexes without any order, the Bees whom I studied and probably a crowd of others produce first a continuous series of females and then a continuous series of males, the latter with less provisions and smaller cells.

When the Spotted Sapyga lays her egg on that of the Bramble-dwelling Osmia, she does the deed under cover of darkness, in the gloom of a deep well to which not the least ray of light can penetrate; and the mother, returning with her pellet of green putty to build the closing partition, does not see the usurping germ and is ignorant of the danger.

In the last cells, the most recent in date, the victuals are but a pinch of pollen, so niggardly in amount that we wonder what will become of the larva with that meagre ration. One would think that the Osmia, when nearing the end of the laying, attaches no importance to her last-born, to whom she doles out space and food so sparingly.

The mother is here so much hampered in her work that they are rarely occupied from end to end; the Osmia seems in a hurry to leave them and to go and colonize the front tube, whose ample space will leave her the liberty of movement necessary for her operations. One can see that a tube a trifle wider and a mother slightly smaller would account for this difference in the results.