Part 45: Regarding the Honeybee, the Crimson Beetle, and the Gray Weaver SpiderRegarding the Honeybee, the Crimson Beetle, and the Gray Weaver Spider
In Greater Dvergursheim, there are three insects which are greatly revered and which bring riches to the folk of the kingdom. These are the honeybee, the crimson beetle, and the gray weaver spider, and each of the races of the kingdom has well-cultivated one of these insects. We dwarves, of course, love the honeybee, and our beekeepers provide us much wax and honey. The crimson beetle, native to the warm oak forest just west of the Desert of Fangs, provides a brilliant and striking red dye which has been used of old by the dragonkin. And the gray weaver spider is the foundation of the silk industry of the dark elves.
The honeybee, of course, is kept by many beekeepers amongst the dwarves- the invention of frames that bees may build their combs in allows the comb of a hive to be harvested in part without destroying the entire hive, and this has permitted far more reliable domestication of bees and greater harvesting of honey, and this innovation is, as far as I am aware, unique to the dwarven people. The honey collected by dwarven beekeepers is used for many purposes- the brewing of mead and the creation of candy by confectioners both rely upon honey, many recipes for meat call for the glazing of the meat in honey, and what dwarf does not enjoy honey upon their bread? Mead and candies both enjoy success as export products to other regions of the kingdom, helping us trade for their own unique products.
The crimson beetle, which feeds upon the sap of the oaks in the warm forest near the Desert of Fangs, is unique in its ability to provide a brilliant red. Madder red is available to dwarves and elves, but is far inferior to the true crimson. Weld and woad allow for yellows and blues, which, mixed together, allow greens. Other materials allow blacks, grays, browns, and so forth, but none provide the true brilliant red of the crimson beetle. Dragonkin workers head to the forest and seek out the females heavy with eggs hanging upon the oaks, gathering them that they may be crushed and ground. Although many dragonkin wear relatively little clothing, robes dyed with patterns of the crimson have marked the rank of their savants, and their wealthy have cushions or curtains marked with the crimson. This dye has proved precious to dyers across the kingdom, who now have a red far more beautiful and brilliant than the old madder red.
The gray weaver spider, a tiny creature no larger than the housefly, is the precious foundation of the dark elven silk industry, and the beautiful and smooth silk cloth worn by dark elven nobility ultimately all derives from this humble spider. The spiders are set to nest in orchards grown for the purpose, which have spoiled fruit or the fruit leavings from winemaking scattered about them that flies and mites might swarm upon the rot. With this food, the spiders prosper, weaving their webs and setting their egg sacs amidst the branches of the trees. The noble who owned the orchard would once send thralls to collect their egg sacs, which are thickly wrapped in silk, but in these days their thralls are free and work now for a wage of hire. Even more than the crimson dye, silk cloth is in great demand in dwarven lands, providing cloth of a fineness unmatched by the wool or linen we have heretofore relied upon.