skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   2 September [1862]1

Cliff Cottage | Bournemouth | Hants

Sept 2d

Dear Lubbock.—

Hearty thanks for your note.2 I am so glad that your Tour answered so splendidly.—3 My poor patients got here yesterday & are doing well;—& we have a second House for the well ones.—4

I write now in great Haste to beg you to look (though I know how busy you are, but I cannot think of any other naturalist who wd be careful) at any field of common red clover (if such a field is near you) & watch the Hive Bees: probably (if not too late) you will see some sucking at the mouth of the little flowers & some few sucking at the base of the flowers, at holes bitten through the corollas—5 All that you will see is that the Bees put their Heads deep into the head & rout about.— Now if you see this, do for Heaven sake catch me some of each & put in spirits & keep them separate.— I am almost certain that they belong to two castes, with long & short probosces. This is so curious a point that it seems worth making out.— I cannot hear of a clover field near here.—

Pray forgive my asking this favour, which I do not for one moment expect you to grant, unless you have clover field near you & can spare 12 hour

In Haste— Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship to the letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862 (see nn. 2 and 3, below).
CD refers to Lubbock’s recent tour of Switzerland (see letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862).
Emma and Leonard Darwin were recovering from scarlet fever; together with CD they travelled from Southampton to Bournemouth on 1 September 1862. The other Darwin children had been sent away with their former nurse, Brodie, during the latter part of Leonard’s illness (see Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 178, and letter to W. E. Darwin, 4 [July 1862] and n. 8); they had been in Bournemouth since mid-August (see letter to A. R. Wallace, 20 August [1862] and n. 3, and letter to John Lubbock, 21 August [1862]).
CD had observed this phenomenon at Southampton on 29, 30, and 31 August (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [2–3 September 1862] and n. 5).


Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.


Hive-bees and clover.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3708,” accessed on 5 February 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10