As soon as this occurred, the bees ceased to excavate, and began to build up flat walls of wax on the lines of intersection between the basins, so that each hexagonal prism was built upon the festooned edge of a smooth basin, instead of on the straight edges of a three-sided pyramid as in the case of ordinary cells.
The bees instantly began on both sides to excavate little basins near to each other, in the same way as before; but the ridge of wax was so thin, that the bottoms of the basins, if they had been excavated to the same depth as in the former experiment, would have broken into each other from the opposite sides.
Considering how flexible thin wax is, I do not see that there is any difficulty in the bees, whilst at work on the two sides of a strip of wax, perceiving when they have gnawed the wax away to the proper thinness, and then stopping their work.
From the experiment of the ridge of vermilion wax, we can clearly see that if the bees were to build for themselves a thin wall of wax, they could make their cells of the proper shape, by standing at the proper distance from each other, by excavating at the same rate, and by endeavouring to make equal spherical hollows, but never allowing the spheres to break into each other.
We see how important a part excavation plays in the construction of the cells; but it would be a great error to suppose that the bees cannot build up a rough wall of wax in the proper position--that is, along the plane of intersection between two adjoining spheres.
I was able practically to show this fact, by covering the edges of the hexagonal walls of a single cell, or the extreme margin of the circumferential rim of a growing comb, with an extremely thin layer of melted vermilion wax; and I invariably found that the colour was most delicately diffused by the bees--as delicately as a painter could have done with his brush--by atoms of the coloured wax having been taken from the spot on which it had been placed, and worked into the growing edges of the cells all round.
Hang up at once and produce our wax," said the bees below.
To make your wax we must have stillness, warmth, and food.
When her eggs hatched, the wax was riddled with little tunnels, coated with the dirty clothes of the caterpillars.
Some bees tried the new plan for a while, and found it cost eight times more wax than the old six sided specification; and, as they never allowed a cluster to hang up and make wax in peace, real wax was scarce.
How in that ruin she blocked out a Royal Cell of sound wax, but disguised by rubbish till it looked like a kopje among deserted kopjes.
They lived from day to day on the efforts of the few sound bees, while the Wax-moth fretted and consumed again their already ruined wax.