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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   1 September [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Sept. I.

My dear Sir

I am very much obliged for the Field (returned by this Post), I have copied the passage, which is extremely satisfactory to me.—1 You have settled the point right well.—2 You have so repeatedly & so kindly taken much trouble to oblige me, that I am loth to refuse anything which you ask. Not to mention that you greatly overvalue anything which I could contribute, I really do not know what I could, I shd so much dislike you to think me churlish, that permit me to be a little prolix.— I have wasted, chiefly owing to my daughter’s illness, more than two months this summer, but I am now got to my work again.—   I never am able to work more than 3 hours per diem. The subject of Bees-cells has almost gone out of my head, & I assure you on my word that it would take me a week or 10 days to get it all up, so as to write anything on the subject.3 I really cannot spare so much time; so much behind hand I am in all my work. I trust that you will excuse me. If I had anything ready & worth sending I shd. feel myself bound to send it you; but I have not & could not prepare anything without going over all my rough notes & specimens.

Pray forgive me & believe me | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


Tegetmeier was the editor of The Field, the Farm, the Garden, the Country Gentleman’s Newspaper. The passage to which CD refers has not been traced, but it presumably discussed the intercrossing of bees (see n. 2, below).
CD had asked Tegetmeier for facts relating to the crossing of different stocks of hive-bee (letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 20 July [1860]). Tegetmeier reported some of the results of his experiments on the movements between different hives of workers and drones of the hive-bee to the Entomological Society of London on 6 August 1860. CD cited Tegetmeier’s finding that drones are permitted to enter any hive in Variation. CD consequently concluded that ‘there is no ‘a priori improbability of a queen receiving a foreign drone.’ (Variation 2: 126).
In 1858 CD had investigated the means by which bees construct their cells in connection with his study of the origin of instinct (see Correspondence vol. 7). He published some of the results of this work in Origin, pp. 224–35. CD’s notes on bees’ cells are in DAR 48 (ser. 2): 5–75.


Regrets he has nothing that he could contribute to the Field and cannot spare the time to work out anything on bees’ cells.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Tegetmeier, W. B. ser.2: 15)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2904,” accessed on 17 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8