skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To the Journal of Horticulture   [before 22 October 1861]1


Would Col. Newman, who has so carefully attended to the habits of humble bees, have the kindness to state whether the queen humble bees are fertilised in the air or on the ground? I have a special reason for wishing to know this little fact, and whether the fertilisation does not often take place as late as in September?—2

C. Darwin.


Dated by the publication of the letter in the 22 October 1861 issue of the Journal of Horticulture.
The letter was published under the heading ‘Is the female Bombus fertilised in the air?’. CD’s query was probably prompted by a note by Henry Wenman Newman published in the 15 October 1861 issue of the Journal of Horticulture (pp. 40–1), in which Newman questioned whether parthenogenesis occurred in bees and suggested that the eggs of the queen bee were fertilised by the ‘aura’ of the drone. For Newman’s response to CD’s queries, see the letter from H. W. Newman, [before 22 October 1861].


Asks H. W. Newman whether the queen humble-bee is fertilised on the ground or in the air, and whether the fertilisation often takes place as late as September. [Newman’s reply follows CD’s letter.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Journal of Horticulture
Sent from
Source of text
Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener, and Country Gentleman n.s. 2 (1861–2): 76

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3778,” accessed on 28 May 2020,

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