Online Encyclopedia

HONEYCOMB

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 656 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
HONEYCOMB, a cloth, so called because of the particular arrangement of the crossing of the warp and weft threads which form cells somewhat similar to those of the real honeycomb. They differ from the latter in that they are rectangular instead of hexagonal. The bottom of the cell is formed by those threads and picks which weave " plain," while the ascending sides of the figure are formed by the gradually increasing length of float of the warp and weft yarns. The figure shows two of the commonest designs which are used for these cloths, design A being what is often termed the " perfect honey-comb "; in the figure it will be seen that the highest number of successive white squares is seven, while the corresponding highest number of successive black squares is five. Two of each of these maximum floats form the top or highest edges of the cell, and the number of sue- A B cessive like squares decreases as the bottom of the cell is reached when the floats are one of black and one of white (see middle of design, &c.). The weave produces a reversible cloth, and it is extensively used for the embellishment of quilts and other fancy goods. It is also largely used in the manufacture of cotton and linen towels. B is, for certain purposes, a more suitable weave than A, but both are very largely used for the latter class of goods. HONEY-EATER, or HONEY-SUCKER, names applied by many writers in a very loose way to a large number of birds, sour of which, perhaps. have no intimate affinity; here they are used in a more restricted sense for what, in the opinion of a good many recent authorities,2 should really be deemed the family Meliphagidae—excluding therefrom the Nectariniidae or SUN-BIRDS (q.v.) as well as the genera Promerops and Zosterops with what-ever allies they may possess. Even with this restriction, the extent of the family must be regarded as very indefinite, owing to the absence of materials sufficient for arriving at a satsfactory conclusion, though the existence of such a family is probably indisputable. Making allowance, then, for the imperfect light in which they must at present be viewed, what are here called Meliphagidae include some of the most characteristic forms of the ornithology of the great Australian region—members of the family inhabiting almost every part of it, and a single species only, Ptilotis limbata, being said .to occur outside its limits. They all possess, or are supposed to possess, a long 2 Among them especially A. R. Wallace, Geogr. Distr. Animals, i1: 275. protrusible tongue with a brush-like tip, differing, it is believed, in structure from that found in any other bird—Promerops perhaps excepted—and capable of being formed into a auctorial tube, by means of which honey is absorbed from the nectary of flowers, though it would seem that insects attracted by the honey furnish the chief nourishment of many species, while others undoubtedly feed to a greater or less extent on fruits. The Meliphagidae, as now considered, are for the most part small birds, never exceeding the size of a missel thrush; and they have been divided into more than 20 genera, containing above 200 species, of which only a few can here be particularized. Most of these species have a very confined range, being found perhaps only on a single island or group of islands in the region, but there are a few which are more widely distributed—such as Glycyphila rufifrons, the white-throated' honey-eater, found over the greater part of Australia and Tasmania. In plumage they vary much. Most of the species of Ptilotis are characterized by a tuft of white, or in others of yellow, feathers springing from behind the ear. In the greater number of the genus Myzomela 2 the males are recognizable by a gorgeous display of crimson or scarlet, which has caused one species, M. sanguinolenta, to be known as the soldier-bird to Australian colonists; but in others no brilliant colour appears, and those of several genera have no special ornamentation, while some have a particularly plain appearance. One of the most curious forms is Prosthemadera—the tui or parson-bird of New Zealand, so called from the two tufts of white feathers which hang beneath its chin in great contrast to its dark silky plumage, and suggest a likeness to the bands worn by ministers of several religious denominations when officiating' The bell-bird of the same island, Anthornis melanura—whose melody excited the admiration of Cook the morning after he had anchored in Queen Charlotte's Sound—is another member of this family, and unfortunately seems to be fast becoming extinct. But it would be impossible here to enter much further into detail, though the wattle-birds, Anthochaera, of Australia have at least to be named. Mention, however, must be made of the friar-birds, Tropidorhynchus, of which nearly a score of species, five of them belonging to Australia, have been described. With their stout bills, mostly surmounted by an excrescence, they seem to be the most abnormal forms of the family, and most of them are besides remarkable for the baldness of some part at least of their head. They assemble in troops, sitting on dead trees, with a loud call, and are very pugnacious, frequently driving away hawks and crows. A. R. Wallace (Malay Archipelago, ii. 1 so-1J3) discovered the curious fact that two species of this genus—T. bourensis and T. subcornutus—respectively inhabiting the islands of Bourn and Ceram, were the object of natural " mimicry " on the part of two species of oriole of the genus Mimeta, M. bourouensis and M. forsteni, inhabiting the same islands, so as to be on a superficial examination identical in appearance—the honey-eater and the oriole of each island presenting exactly the same tints—the black patch of bare skin round the eyes of the former, for instance, being copied in the latter by a patch of black feathers, and even the protuberance on the beak of the Tropidorhynchus being imitated by a similar enlargement of the beak of the Mimeta. The very reasonable explanation which Wallace offers is that the pugnacity of the former has led the smaller birds of prey to respect it, and it is therefore an advantage for the latter, being weaker and less courageous, to be mistaken for it. (A. N.) HONEY-GUIDE, a bird so called from its habit of pointing out to man and to the ratel (Mellivora capensis) the nests of bees. Stories to this effect have been often told, and may be found in the narratives of many African travellers, from Bruce to Livingstone. But Layard says (B. South Africa, p. 242) that the birds will not infrequently lead any one to a leopard or a snake, and will follow a dog with vociferations, though its noisy cry and antics unquestionably have in many cases the effect signified by its English name. If not its first discoverer, Sparrman, in 1777, was the first who described and figured this bird, which he met with in the Cape Colony (Phil. Trans., lxvii. 42-47, pl. i.), giving it the name of Culculus indicator, its zygodactylous feet with the toes placed in pairs—two before and two behind—inducing the belief that it must be referred to that genus. Vicillot in 1816 elevated it to the rank of a genus, Indicator; but it was still considered to belong to the family Cuculidae (its asserted parasitical habits lending force to that belief) by all systematists except Blyth and Jerdon, until it was shown by Blanford (Obs. Geol. and Zool. Abyssinia, pp. 308, 309) and Sclater (Ibis, 1870, pp. 176-18o) that it was more allied to the barbets, Capitonidae, and, in consequence, was then made the type of a distinct family, Indicatoridae. In the mean-while other species had been discovered, some of them differing sufficiently to warrant Sundevall's foundation of a second genus, Prodotiscus, of the group. The honey-guides are small birds, the largest hardly exceeding a lark in size, and of plain plumage, with what appears to be a very sparrow-like bill. Bowdler Sharpe, in a revision of the family published in 1876 (Orn. Miscellany, i. 192-209), recognizes ten species of the genus Indicator, to which another was added by Dr Reichenow (Journ. fur Ornithologie, 1877, p. 110), and two of Prodotiscus. Four species of the former, including I. sparrmani, which was the first made known, are found in South Africa, and one of the latter. The rest inhabit other parts of the same continent, except I. archipelagicus, which seems to be peculiar to Borneo, and I. xanthonotus, which occurs on the Himalayas from the borders of Afghanistan to Bhutan. The interrupted geographical distribution of this genus is a very curious fact, no species having been found in the Indian or Malayan peninsula to connect the outlying forms with those of Africa, which must be regarded as their metropolis. (A. N.)
End of Article: HONEYCOMB
[back]
HONEY LOCUST
[next]
HONEYMOON

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.