Thanks CH for correction of blunder in Origin about hive-bees sucking clover: "a greater kindness than a new fact".
(Down Bromley Kent) | (now staying at Miss Wedgwoods |
Hartfield | Tonbridge Wells.)
Absence from home has prevented my answering your note & thanking you very sincerely for it. The correction of a blunder is a greater kindness than a new fact.— I did not speak rashly, for I watched a large clover-field for many days, & never saw any Hive Bees at work.— An experienced Apiarian also assured me of the truth of the statement; & the statement is made in Maunder's(?) American Bee Keeper.— It has been a great evil to me publishing in abstract: for it was not possible for me to guard my statements sufficiently.—
I have twice seen Hive-Bee sucking single stunted plant of
T. pratense. In the large clover field above alluded to which I had watched,
was joined by a field of Sanfoin, & which was visited by thousands of Bees, when
this was cut one morning, the Bees came to the Clover & tried to suck it
& succeeded with some of the withered flowers & those at the bottom of
the heads. So that if the flowers are smaller of the second-growth I can well believe
that they could be sucked. This would be a very interesting little fact for me,
& I will take the liberty of quoting your note
Pray accept my sincere thanks for your kindness. & believe me | Dear Sir | Yours truly obliged | Charles Darwin
- f1 2879.f1Dated by the relationship to the preceding letter.
- f2 2879.f2See preceding letter.
- f3 2879.f3CD probably refers to T. B. Miner's American bee keeper's manual, in which it is stated that red clover is useless to hive-bees (Miner 1849, p. 243).
- f4 2879.f4Hardy's point was incorporated into the third edition of Origin, p. 100: `I have been informed, that when the red clover has been mown, the flowers of the second crop are somewhat smaller, and that these are abundantly visited by hive-bees.' See also Peckham ed. 1959, p. 184.
- f5 2879.f5It is not known when CD made the acquaintance of Charlotte Hardy. Charles Hardy had been a student at Christ's College, Cambridge, between 1822 and 1826 (Alum. Cantab.).