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Synopsis

The peasant, as he trims his hedge, whose riotous tangle threatens to encroach upon the road, cuts the trailing stems of the bramble a foot or two from the ground and leaves the root-stock, which soon dries up. These bramble-stumps, sheltered and protected by the thorny brushwood, are in great demand among a host of Hymenoptera who have families to settle. The stump, when dry, offers to any one that knows how to use it a hygienic dwelling, where there is no fear of damp from the sap; its soft and abundant pith lends itself to easy work; and the top offers a weak spot which makes it possible for the insect to reach the vein of least resistance at once, without cutting away through the hard ligneous wall. To many, therefore, of the Bee and Wasp tribe, whether honey-gatherers or hunters, one of these dry stalks is a valuable discovery when its diameter matches the size of its would-be inhabitants; and it is also an interesting subject of study to the entomologist who, in the winter, pruning-shears in hand, can gather in the hedgerows a faggot rich in small industrial wonders. Visiting the bramble-bushes has long been one of my favourite pastimes during the enforced leisure of the wintertime; and it is seldom but some new discovery, some unexpected fact, makes up to me for my torn fingers.

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