“On the decrease of Honey in the Auckland Province,” by R. Todd. Extract from a letter to the President:—“The natives inform me that it is no use looking for honey in the bush, that the nests contain no honey now-a-days. Can this be that the nature of the bee is changed—that finding flowers can be had at all seasons they lay up no store for the winter? The kakas, or parrots, and also the kakarikis, or small green parrots, are now very scarce, and rarely seen. The natives tell me the bees are driving them away by usurping their ruas, or habitats, and that consequently the kakas are decreasing.”
Captain Hutton could not agree with the conclusions contained in the letter. He was doubtful, in the first place, whether honey was becoming more scarce in the bush, but, even were such the case, as the honey was stored for the young he did not think that the bees would trust to so uncertain a supply as they would be able to obtain from the flowers in winter. He was not quite sure whether the bees did not hybernate in winter. With regard to the bird mentioned by Mr. Todd, he had known instances where the birds mentioned were most plentiful during a season when honey was also abundant.
The President observed that bees certainly did not hybernate here during the winter, as on fine days during that season he had seen them buzzing about as much as in the middle of summer. He thought it was doubtful whether the bird spoken of by Mr. Todd could be called a honey-eating bird, for although it certainly did eat honey he had known in the South instances of whole fields of corn being stripped by it, and sometimes even the straw thatch torn off barns by flocks of the birds.