Discusses the absence of a native bee in New Zealand and the insects which probably performed its fertilising function [see "Agency of bees in fertilization", Collected papers 2: 21]. Describes the success of the naturalised hive-bee and also the rapid spread of introduced members of the Fabaceae.
Christ Church | Province of Canterb<ury> | New Zealand
July 13, 1858.
Your interesting communication reached me quite safe after a postal journey of
68 days. Even in the insect world colonisation has
conferred a benifit in this Province. From enquiries
which I have made from older Colonists than myself I find that there is not an
indigenous Bee. The Bees which are here were introduced from the Province of
Wellington in 1852 to this Province; and to Wellington from England in the year
1842. When the first Ships with Emigrants arrived here seven years ago to colonise this
Province not a Bee was to be seen, and when the right time arrived for sowing Seeds of
the Natural Order Fabaceæ they and other usefull Seeds were sown, and during
the Summer those kinds sown such as Peas, Beans, Scarlet Runners, Clovers, and so forth;
all prospered and matured their Seeds at the end of the season, and when sown the
following season germinated and produced crops again in the usual way: but very abundantly. So abundantly that the red white and crimson
clovers are now every where dispersed over this immense Plain wherever the foot-prints
of man and Animals can be tracked. The Native Grasses are fast disappearing to make way
for the Clovers, Lucerne and English grasses. The enclosed Bees are a sample of the
naturalised Bee of this Province. There is not the least doubt
left in my mind that the function of fertilisation was performed before the introduction
of the Hive Bee by the three distinct varieties of native Wasp which I have seen during
the summer months. They are smaller than the English wasp: but can sting severely. The
two or three varieties of Grasshopper is also very active as well in hopping from flower
to flower; and may be added to this, probably the continued high currents of wind which
we experience here from time to time which may assist nature to perform her accustomed
frolics to facilitate productiveness and the progress of fertilisation by placing the
pollen upon the Stigma. The Grasshopper is equally as industrious as the Bee in
puncturing the Keel and splitting it open. I have often been amused during the last
summer here with his Antics jumping about releasing the Stamens in the Keel. The Garden
varieties <of the Lupine seed produced> less
abun-<dantly> <than any others> of the Leguminous family. No
< > and <two words missing> exists with the flower
of the Lupin as with the Erythri<na> < > the tightness of
the Keel which before success can be had <must> be artificially opened. I
have for amusement during the summer released the Stamens with a pin, and a pod of Seed
always rewarded me for my trouble and flowers not served so adjoining have all proved
blind. The Atmosphere here, by its moderate warmth, its
humidity, and constant current, is peculiarly favourable to the Vegetative powers as we
daily witness in the luxurious growth of plants, so from the same causes it suits the
Hive Bee. Children grow well and strong, with fresh and rosy faces and I am satisfied
that in this respect this Province is superior to Great Britain. The Bees here are able
to feed themselves all the year round.
’ Field ’ Sweet ’ Tangier ’ Everlasting ’ Common Broad Bean
’ Kidney ’
’ Horse ’ Scarlet Runners Crimson Clover White ’ Red ’ Vetches Lentils Lucerne Saintfoin Trefoil Bladder senna Gorse or Furze Locust-tree Native Clianthus Cape Broom
(Genista Canariensis) White Portugal Broom Yellow English Broom Lupin Leguminous plants
which have produced Seeds abun-dantly the first year before the introduction of the Hive
Bee. Abundantly ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
’ ’ ’ less abundant Leguminous plants which have produced
Seeds very abundantly the second year and ever since. very abundantly
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
’ ’ less abundant
The Common Furze is always in bloom and universally used for fences. My present employer has sold more than 100,000 one-year old Seedling Gorse plants this winter. In a warm sheltered situation in his Nursery-grounds one old Hive cast off six swarms during the short time of two months.
English Bee Keepers would open their eyes with astonishment if they were out here to see the produce of a single hive. I have had the pleasure several times of partaking of their industry and most delicious it is. Bee Keeping is different here to what it is in England. The perpetual succession of flowers, and the fine warm Summer, mildness of the winter, all tends to a great increase of the <bees. Our management of them is> very <simple. We furnish them with small boxes 18 inches> or 2 feet in length and a foot <or 18 inches in> depth with a small aperture on the Sunny side fo<r in>gress and egress. Inside the box we fix small rails <a>cross for them to commence building their combs. I have seen very severe conflicts between them and the native Wasps. When a wasp approaches near the Hive the Bees give no quarters. They soon slay their enemy and down with him.
Dear Sir, you are perfectly welcome to the contents of my Letter and quite at liberty to make use of the same.
Very faithfully yours | Wm Swale
- f1 2308.f1William Swale, a Norfolk-born gardener, had emigrated to New Zealand and become a successful nurseryman.
- f2 2308.f2CD's letter has not been found. He had written to several people in New Zealand during the spring of 1858 to inquire about the fertilisation of clover and other Leguminosae by bees. See letters to J. D. Hooker, 12 January  and 23 February . CD included short extracts from Swale's letter in his letter to the Gardeners' Chronicle, [before 13 November 1858], on the agency of bees in fertilisation. A longer extract from Swale's letter was printed separately in the Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 13 November 1858, pp. 828–9.
- f3 2308.f3At this point in the letter there are four specimens of bees attached, labelled ‘Naturalised Bee’.
- f4 2308.f4The letter is very fragile and partially destroyed. The missing text (indicated by angle brackets) has been supplied by the extracts published in the Gardeners' Chronicle, 13 November 1858, pp. 828–9.
- f5 2308.f5When CD quoted this sentence from the letter (see n. 2, above), he changed the order of the words to read: ‘and the adjoining flowers not so served have all proved blind.’ See letter to Gardeners' Chronicle, [before 13 November 1858].
- f6 2308.f6This note is in DAR 205.4 (Letters).
- f7 2308.f7CD marked the note in brown crayon with ‘20’, the number of his portfolio of notes on the geographical distribution of plants.