skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   [21 April 1858]1

Moor Park, Farnham | Surrey.—


My dear Sir

I write to thank you for your kind offer of young Owl—2 the best time for me, is just when come out of egg.— I shall be here till Tuesday week.— If you send it to Down before that time, mark outside to be “put into spirits of wine”.—

On my return I shall have about a fortnights work, & then I shall take up Pigeons, perhaps that will take 3 or 4 weeks & then I will let you know.—3 But I very much fear that few of my Birds, if any, will be worth your acceptance.— All my many crossed Birds I will kill, for I presume these cannot be worth anything to any body.—4

I shall certainly be very glad if you think it worth your while to describe the foreign Breeds, anywhere. Wd it be worth while to read your account first before the Zoolog. Soc?— The Burmese fowls, you can, as you propose, take with you.—5

I will, when you come ask you to bring some cylindrical cells of the Hive-Bee, of which Waterhouse tells me, as I shd very much like just to look at them; as I am excessively interested on theory of cell-formation.6 I have shown your notice of Hive to two great Bee Keepers.—7

I know Temmincks work.8

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

Do you write on Bees & do you read German easily for I have Bienen-Zeitung for 1857 with much curious matter & cd lend it you.—9


The first Wednesday of CD’s stay at Moor Park (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
CD recorded that he began writing about pigeons on 14 June 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
During 1856 and 1857, CD had systematically crossed his various breeds of pigeons and carefully described the resulting progeny. His records of these crosses are in DAR 205.7 (2): 166–89.
CD had encouraged Tegetmeier to describe the breeds of foreign fowl that had been sent to him (see Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 29 November [1856] and 4 December [1856]). Tegetmeier had twice exhibited specimens of CD’s poultry skins at meetings of the Zoological Society of London (ibid., letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, [July 1856] and 11 February [1857]).
George Robert Waterhouse probably told CD that Tegetmeier possessed a small piece of honey-comb in which the outer cells were of a rounded shape (see Transactions of the Entomological Society of London n.s. 5 (1858–61), Proceedings , p. 18). This information, given at the meeting of the Entomological Society on 5 April 1858, is not in Waterhouse’s letter describing his report to this meeting about the construction of bees’ cells (see letter from G. R. Waterhouse, 17 April 1858).
Temminck 1813–15. CD recorded having read this work in 1847 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 19a). His notes on it are in DAR 71: 6–19.
CD refers to the 1856 issue of Bienen-Zeitung, the organ of the society of German bee-keepers, a copy of which is in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD read and annotated articles pertaining to the Italian bee in that periodical as part of his study of variation in different varieties and species of bees. Several articles and letters in the same issue, however, discuss the theory first proposed by the noted bee-keeper Jan Dzierzon and later developed by Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (Siebold 1856) of the production of drones from unfertilised eggs. CD had read an English translation of Siebold’s True parthenogenesis (Siebold 1857) soon after it was published (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to John Innes, [after 16 February 1857]).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Siebold, Karl Theodor Ernst von. 1856. Wahre Parthenogenesis bei Schmetterlingen und Bienen. Ein Beitrag zur Fortpflanzungsgeschichte der Thiere. Leipzig. [Vols. 7,8]

Siebold, Karl Theodor Ernst von. 1857. On a true parthenogenesis in moths and bees; a contribution to the history of reproduction in animals. Translated by William S. Dallas. London: John van Voorst.

Temminck, Coenraad Jacob. 1813–15. Histoire naturelle générale des pigeons et des gallinacés. 3 vols. Amsterdam: J. C. Sepp. Paris: G. Dufour.


"Excessively" interested in theory of bees’ cell formation.

Fears few of his pigeons will be of any use to WBT.

Hopes WBT will describe foreign poultry breeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2260,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7