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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Frederick Smith1   [c. 17 February 1864?]2

1 Large black humble bee 3 Specimens of h. bee with orange abdomen. 4. Specs of greenish golden bee These 8 bees come from Trinidad in W. Indies & were seen fertilizing Catasetum.3

a humble bee seen fertilizing Goodyera repens (a rare orchis in N. of Scotland)4

various bees seen fertilizing orchis morio & ticketed with this name.5

a minute bee in pill box which fertilized a Cypripedium.6

I hope you will excuse me asking this great favour & I wish I cd think that any of the specimens cd be of any use to you—

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

A Wasp always seen fertilizing Epipactis Latifolia7

P.S. I shd. like much to hear whether the Amoy Bee is the common var.—8


Euglossa Latr. 9

1. Euglossa——N. Sp.—

3. Euglossa cajennensis. St. Fargeau

4 Euglossa piliventris. Guér

Bombus pratorum Linn. seen fertilizing Goodyera repens——10

—Various bees seen fertilizing O. morio Apis mellificæ

Bombus muscorum11

Andrena parvula Kirby a minute bee in pill box.——12

Epipactis latifolia, a label with this name attached to Vespa sylvestris.13

—O. morio, attached to Eucera longicornis Lin.

—O. morio also attached to Osmia rufa. Lin.14

CD annotations

4.2 ‘Catasetum’: ‘See Cruger’s letter—’15 pencil
11.1 P.S.... var.—] crossed pencil
End of letter: ‘Have I used all the answers’ red crayon


The letter is incomplete and is a list of specimens that CD wanted identified. Frederick Smith identified the specimens on the back of the sheet of paper containing the extant portion of CD’s letter (see nn. 9–15). CD wrote in ‘Fertilization of orchids’ that most of the Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps) mentioned had been identified for him by ‘our highest authority, Mr. Frederick Smith, of the British Museum’ (p. 142; Collected papers 2: 139).
The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter to Daniel Oliver, 17 February [1864], with which CD sent the paper (Crüger 1864) that discussed the first eight bee specimens CD sent to Smith for identification (see n. 3, below). Hermann Crüger had earlier sent these specimens to CD in the same box as his manuscript (see letter from Hermann Crüger, 21 January 1864).
For the eight specimens sent by Crüger from Trinidad, see the letter from Hermann Crüger, 21 January 1864 and nn. 1, 3, and 5. Crüger’s letter refers to these bees also visiting Coryanthes, Stanhopea, and Gongora; see also Crüger 1864, pp. 129–31. For Smith’s identification of the three species and CD’s discussion of them, see n. 9, below.
CD refers to this bee specimen in ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 151 (Collected papers 2: 147); see also Orchids 2d ed., p. 105. The correspondence conveying the observation and specimen to CD has not been found.
These specimens may be some of the bees that CD and George Howard Darwin observed pollinating Orchis morio in May 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to W. E. Darwin, [10 May 1863] and n. 8, and DAR 70: 176). CD mentioned the bees in ‘Fertilization of orchids’, pp. 142, 143 (Collected papers 2: 139, 140), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 15–16, 39.
CD performed an experiment with this bee species that changed his view of Cypripedium pollination (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Asa Gray, 20 April [1863]; experimental note in DAR 70: 112–13; ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 156 (Collected papers 2: 152–3); and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 230–1).
CD recorded the observation on Epipactis latifolia pollination in a note in DAR 70: 56, dated 13 August 1863. For his published references to the wasp pollinating E. latifolia, see ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 150 (Collected papers 2: 146–7), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 101–2.
CD may have mentioned the Amoy bee in the first portion of the letter, which is missing. Smith’s response to this query has not been found. CD may have received a bee from his correspondent in Amoy, Robert Swinhoe, the British vice-consul in Taiwan, who had earlier sent him bird specimens (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Robert Swinhoe, 12 November 1862).
CD referred to the three species, Euglossa nov. spec. (new species), E. cajennensis, and E. piliventris, in Orchids 2d ed., p. 206; elsewhere he referred to them only as Euglossa (see ‘Fertilization of orchids’, pp. 153, 154, 157 (Collected papers 2: 150, 151, 153–4), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 171, 175, 270).
See n. 4, above.
See n. 5, above. CD noted that the hive-bee (Apis mellifera) and Bombus muscorum were among the bees pollinating Orchis morio in ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 142 (Collected papers 2: 139). See also Orchids 2d ed., pp. 15–16.
See n. 6, above.
See n. 7, above.
CD mentioned both of the species with O. morio pollinia attached to them in ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 142 (Collected papers 2: 139), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 15–16.
Letter from Hermann Crüger, 21 January 1864. CD probably added the annotations after receiving the identifications from Smith.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Crüger, Hermann. 1864. A few notes on the fecundation of orchids and their morphology. [Read 3 March 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 127–35.

‘Fertilization of orchids’: Notes on the fertilization of orchids. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 4 (1869): 141–59. [Collected papers 2: 138–56.]

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.


Sends, for identification, specimens of bees and wasps which fertilise orchids. [Notes in FS’s hand on the same sheet identify the specimens.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frederick Smith
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 70: 162
Physical description
2pp inc , FS note 1p †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3365,” accessed on 16 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12