The Life of the Bee, Maurice Maeterlinck (1901)

First published: 1901.
Library copy published: 1901.

The Life of the Bee, Maurice Maeterlinck

“She is not its queen in the sense in which men use the word. She issues no orders; she obeys, as meekly as the humblest of her subjects, the masked power, sovereignly wise, that for the present, and till we attempt to locate it, we will term the “spirit of the hive.” p. 32

“All things go to prove that it is not the queen, but the spirit of the hive, that decides on the swarm. With this queen of ours it happens as with many a chief among men, who thought to appear to give orders, is himself obliged to obey commands far more mysterious, far more inexplicable, than those that he issues to his subordinates.” p. 43

“It would not be easy for us to find a human republic whose scheme comprised more of the desires of our planet; or a democracy that offered an independence more perfect and rational, combined with a submission more logical and more complete. And nowhere, surely, should we discover more painful and absolute sacrifice. Let it not be imagined that I admire this sacrifice to the extent that I admire its results.” p. 95

“I have said that even the policy of the bees is probably subject to change … the same degree of political civilisation has not been attained by all races of domestic bee, and … among some of them, the public spirit is still groping its way, seeking, perhaps, another solution to the royal problem.” p. 312