Plubius Virgilius Maro

The Roman writer (70 - 19 B.C.) has written an instructive poem about rural life: Georgica. The last of four chapters is about bees. He describes the superiority of the bees, which are - in his vision - connected with the divine world. He tells how and when to harvest honey. Some of his ideas match very well with what we know about bees today.

The division of labour in and out the hive by the worker bees as suitable bee plants are indicated: thyme, lavender, willow and linden tree. About propagation Virgils ideas are interesting but completely different from what we know now.

He says there is a king in the hive and not a queen and there is no mating. Young individuals are picked from plan leaves (?!). The drones are - maybe because of that - described as "lazy rabble " - that must be chased away by the worker bees. 


New swarms of bees can originale from dead bodies of cattle. This idea - generatio spontanea — was believed until far into the Middle Ages.

Different countries - France, Tunesia and Vatican City have issued stamps with the image of Virgilius.

by Jan de Crom  
taken from "The Postal Bee" 1/2006 
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