Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
178. THE BEES, THE DRONES AND THE WASPS
Perry 504 (Phaedrus
The bees had built their honeycombs up high in an oak tree but the lazy
drones insisted that the honeycombs were theirs. The case went to court,
with the wasp presiding. Given that the judge was well acquainted with
both the bees and the drones, she made the following proposal to the two
parties: 'Your bodies are not dissimilar and your colouring is the same,
which makes this an undeniably difficult decision. Of course, I want to
be absolutely scrupulous, avoiding any hasty judgments. So, please take
these hives and fill them full of waxen cells. The taste of the honey
and the shape of the combs will reveal which party is actually responsible
for the honeycombs in question.' While the drones refused to comply with
this request, the proposal greatly pleased the bees. Thereupon the judge
pronounced the following sentence: 'It's clear who was incapable of making
those honeycombs, and who it was that made them. Accordingly, I return
to the bees the fruit of their labours.'
I would not have included this fable except for the fact that the drones
refused the chance to prove their credibility.
Note: Compare the proverbial saying that 'even wasps build combs' (e.g.,
Against Marcion 4.5). The difference, of course, is that the wasps'
combs have no honey.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.