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Reporting from:

A Further Discovery of Bees, 1679

"A Further Discovery of Bees," by Moses Rusden

The Bee King?

Because of their industry, the sweetness resulting from this industry and the fact that they live in a community under a "monarch," bees and beehives have furnished a subject rich in metaphor for early British writers. Moses Rusden, who describes himself as an apothecary and "Bee-Master to the King's Most Excellent Majesty," dedicates his book to King Charles II by expressing his wish to those who "look with a malicious Eye upon Kingly Government, as being the effect of necessity and force, and not of a natural inclination,….I make it my prayer that all your Majesties Subjects may be as loyal to your Majesty, as comfortable to your laws, and as beneficial to the Publick, as these little people are to their Sovereign, to the customs, and their republick, in which they most exemplarily labour and obey."

As can be seen in the illustration, Rusden had his own ideas about the gender of the bee's "Sovereign." Charles Butler and other earlier writers had correctly identified it as a queen.