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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Journal of Horticulture   [before 22 July 1862]1

I am sorry that you did not append the closing sentence to my communication about the Jamaica bees, as it would have shown your readers that I was doubtful on the subject.2 I have now to confess that I have made a gross blunder. The cells which I measured were drone-cells, as I am informed by the “Devonshire Bee-Keeper.”3 I could offer some explanation and apology to your readers for making so great a mistake; but it is a personal matter and would not interest them. How the statement in French works arose that the cells in West Indian combs are larger than those in European combs, I cannot conceive.—4

C. Darwin


CD’s letter was published in the issue of 22 July 1862.
See letter to Journal of Horticulture, [before 15 July 1862].
Thomas White Woodbury contributed to the bee-keeping section of the Journal of Horticulture, writing under the pen-name ‘A Devonshire Bee-keeper’ (Journal of Horticulture 28 (1862): i). No letter from Woodbury containing this information has been found; however, see the letter from T. W. Woodbury, 9 August 1862. According to his ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II), CD was writing up the chapter of Variation that dealt with ‘Silk-worms Geese &c’ (chapter 8); this chapter also included a section on hive-bees (Variation 1: 297–9). In ibid., p. 298, CD wrote: I procured a hive full of dead bees from Jamaica, where they have long been naturalised, and, on carefully comparing them under the microscope with my own bees, I could detect not a trace of difference.
The reference has not been traced.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Confesses to having made a gross blunder with reference to the size of bee cells in West Indian combs [see 3658a].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Journal of Horticulture
Source of text
Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener, and Country Gentleman n.s. 3 (1862): 323

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3661A,” accessed on 20 January 2021,

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