10 May 1860

by layman k

Going over the hill behind S. Brown’s, when the crossed the triangular space between the roads beyond the pump-maker’s, I saw countless little heaps of sand like the small ant-hills, but, looking more closely, the size of the holes (a little less than a quarter of an inch) and the comparative irregularity of the heaps — as if the sand had been brought forth and dropped in greater  quantity at once — attracted my attention and I found they were the work of bees. The bees were hovering low over the surface, and were continually entering and issuing from the holes. They were about the size of a honey-bee, black bodied, with, I thought, yellow thighs, — if it was not pollen. Many of the holes appeared to have been freshly stopped up with granules of moist sand. These holes were made close together in the dry and sandy soil there, with very little grass on it, sloping toward the west, between the roads, and covered a triangular space some seven rods by three. I counted twenty-four in a square foot. There must have been some twenty-five thousand of these nests in all. The surface was yellowed with them. Evidently a kind of raining bee.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau