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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Hardy?1   4 September [1861]2

Down. Bromley. Kent. S.E.

Sept. 4th

[To an unnamed correspondent3 about the visiting by bees of red clover for honey. He tells his correspondent, who has written to him offering fresh and interesting material, that in the third edition of the Origin, he has modified certain statements made in the first editions4 and he asks him if he can find out if the clover in the Lowestoft district was a second crop.]

“If it were in full bloom at the end of August, it would be nearly certain, as Clover frequently flowers end of June— will you oblige me? …”5


The recipient is identified from earlier correspondence about hive-bees visiting red clover. CD had asked Hardy to ‘communicate any further observations on subject to me—’ (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter from Charles Hardy, 23 July 1860, and letter to Charles Hardy, 27 July [1860]).
The year is suggested by the reference to CD’s having modified statements for the third edition of Origin. The third edition was published in April 1861.
The summary of the letter text is taken from Dawsons’s catalogue of 2 August 1974.
In the third edition of Origin, CD changed a passage given in Origin, pp. 94–5, which states that hive-bees ‘can easily suck the nectar out of the incarnate clover, but not out of the common red clover, which is visited by humble-bees alone; so that whole fields of the red clover offer in vain an abundant supply of precious nectar to the hive-bee.’ On the basis of information supplied by Hardy, CD added: ‘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.’ (Origin 3d ed., p. 100). See Correspondence vol. 8, letter from Charles Hardy, 23 July 1860.
In the fourth edition of Origin, published in 1866, CD followed the sentence reporting Hardy’s information (see n. 4, above) with the disclaimer: ‘I do not know whether this statement is accurate’ (Origin 4th ed., p. 107).


Has modified the statements about bees visiting clover for honey in 3d ed. of Origin. Can correspondent find out if clover in Lowestoft district was a second crop?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Hardy
Sent from
Source of text
Dawsons of Pall Mall (dealers)
Physical description
?) LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3244,” accessed on 24 June 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9