Lime trees and greenfly

17 July 1916

You may hear, as you walk under the trees, a continuous hum like the stop of an organ; it comes from the bees under the limes; there must be hundreds of them in one tree. The pale primrose-coloured blossoms are fully out, and hang in soft, thick clusters, shedding exquisite fragrance.

The common lime is not a very attractive tree, except for the tender pale-green of the first few weeks; the leaves very soon become infested with greenfly and get very sticky and dirty. They fall early, they are not good for autumn colour, and the habit and shape of the stem and branches are not particularly interesting. But one would not miss the blossoms; high above one’s head they foam under the leaves, tier upon tier of murmuring sweetness.

The honeydew which is exuded by the greenfly is said very often to ruin the real honey of the bees who eat it. Ants appear to be very fond of it. I watched an ant today which had stationed itself just behind a winged female aphis, and was stroking it with its front legs, a curious coaxing action, while it appeared to be sucking at a gland near the wings.