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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. W. Pim   15 January 1877

Heathville. | Monkstown | Co. Dublin.

Jany 15. 1877

Dear Sir

I cut from the Times of Thursday last your letter to the Gardener’s Chronicle respecting bees and Holly berries, in order to shew it to a friend of mine Mr. Edward Walpole who is an extensive bee-keeper at Ashford in the Co. Wicklow—1

He says that he has no doubt of the correctness of your explanation and attributes the scarcity of bees solely to the fact that the extreme prolongation of the harsh weather last spring delayed the commencement of the bees operations— according to his recollection his bees did not, except a few stragglers, leave their hives till near the first of May after the hollies were out of flower or at least passing out of flower—

This much at all events wd. seem certain—that the weather up to the end of April was extremely harsh, and that the bees in consequence were so unprecedentedly late in commencing their season’s work as to cause quite a consternation amongst bee-keepers—

It occurs to me that even if the holly were not out of flower—as I hardly think it wd. be in the early part of May when the bees fairly commenced working—it might be that beginning so late as May the hollies might have had to meet a much greater amount of competition for the bees’ custom than would have been the case had the bees commenced at the usual time— besides that the absolute number of bees must have been much less than usual in May—as of course the production of young bees wd. depend on the supply of provisions—

Excuse my thus intruding on you—but I thought, as you say in your letter as pubd. in the Times that you do not know what caused the rarity of bees—you wd. possibly not object to receive even so slight a contribution to your collection of facts.

The scarcity of holly-berries has been quite as striking in this neighbourhood as elsewhere—

I remain very respectfully | Yours | Fredc. W. Pim


See letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3 January [1877]. The letter was reprinted in full in The Times, 11 January 1877, p. 7. Walpole had founded the Mount Usher Gardens on the banks of the River Vartry in Ashford, county Wicklow, Ireland, in 1868 (see Taylor 2008, p. 346).


Reply to CD’s note ["Holly berries", Collected papers 2: 189–90] from a beekeeper: attributes the scarcity of bees to the harshness of weather in preceding spring.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frederic William Pim
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Monkstown, Dublin
Source of text
DAR 174: 73
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10791,” accessed on 13 May 2021,