3 OCTOBER 1947, Page 17


IT is always a puzzle why or how this animal and that or even this plant and that finds its optimum—or pessimum—at a particular place or time. Why was it, for example, that wasps have been a rarity in most shires but have flourished, even inordinately, in parts of Suffolk and Norfolk? Yet queen wasps were common enough in most districts in the spring. The calamity, whatever it was, must have befallen during the fine weather. Some reports contained the news that wasps were dying of drought ; but, if that were so, why did they especially flourish in the dryest part of England? I have found exactly one nest, not far from beehives, and the wasps perpetually entered the hives, where happily they were either repelled or killed by the militant bees ; and the bees, like their owners, have enjoyed a most prosperous season. Virgil, of course, was right in his famous tag: Sic vos non vobis mellificatis apes ; but after giving so large a quantity of honey they deserve to get a fair amount for themselves. Sugar for winter feed is all very well, but the bees do better on their own special brew, nectar converted by a subtle alchemy into honey.