RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1862. Do bees vary in different parts of Great Britain. Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener (10 June): 207.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, text prepared and edited by John van Wyhe 2003-8. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here.

[page] 207


I SHOULD feel much obliged if the "DEVONSHIRE BEEKEEPER" or any of your experienced correspondents would have the kindness to state whether there is any sensible difference between the bees kept in different parts of Great Britain. Several years ago an observant naturalist and clergyman, as well as a gardener, who kept bees, asserted positively that there were certain breeds of bees which were smaller than others, and differed in their tempers. The clergyman also said that the wild bees of certain forests in Nottinghamshire were smaller than the common tame bees. M. Godson,2 a learned French naturalist, also says that in the south of France the bees are larger than elsewhere, and that in comparing different stocks slight differences in the colour of their hairs may be detected. I have also seen it stated that the bees in Normandy are smaller than in other parts of France. I hope that some experienced observers who have seen the bees in different parts of Britain will state how far there is any truth in the foregoing remarks.3 In the Number of your Journal published May 15, 1860, Mr. Lowe4 gives a curious account of a new grey or light-coloured bee which he procured from a cottager. If this note should meet his eye I hope he will be so good as to report whether his new variety is still propagated by him.—CHARLES DARWIN.

[We insert this without expressing any opinion, because we wish to have answers from as many of our readers as have paid attention to the subject. We, as well as the well-known writer of this inquiry, will be greatly obliged by any observations upon the subject. — EDS. of J. OF H.]

1 Thomas White Woodbury (1818-1871), who signed his contributions 'A Devonshire bee-keeper', and an editor of the bee section of the Journal of Horticulture, forwarded a slightly altered version of this letter to the Bienen Zeitung: Darwin 1862. See Correspondence vol. 10, p. 238-9.

2 Misprint of 'Godron': Dominique Alexandre Godron (1807-1880), French botanist, zoologist and ethnologist.

3 Five responses to Darwin's letter were published in the Journal of Horticulture. Darwin referred to the absence of distinct breeds of bees in Variation 1: 297-8.

4 J. Lowe, a beekeeper in Edinburgh; Darwin refered to Lowe 1860.

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