16 OCTOBER 1953, Page 14

Shortening Days The daisies of Michaelmas, which are really asters,

are almost the last source of supply for the late-foraging bees, although there is enough extravagant colour to please the eye in the fading flowers of autumn, the wilting dahlias and chrysanthemums that look less happy after each colder October night. The bees have shortened their working day, too, because the late afternoon has a deadly dew that settles on the grass and the flowers of the daisies. Only the wasps are abroad, for the bank is cold, the soil heavy and un- friendly, and they must seek shelter to live even a day longer. They have found their way into the vinery and one finds them, drunk and stupid, clinging to the black grapes. These are the now useless workers. The queens are seeking their own salvation which depends less on the over-ripe apple and the intoxicat- ing flavour of the jelly-pan than on the dis- covery of a warm niche in which to hiber- nate, for nature's scheme includes the pre- servation of the wasp and, as well as ripe- ness, certain decay that must be tended by the wasp kind.