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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Glass Bees  
  Walnut-sized flying automata.  

I had plenty of time to examine this creature, and similar ones were now arriving from all directions like workmen at the gate of a factory when a siren blows. At first I was struck by the large size of these bees. Although they were not as big as those which Gulliver met in Brobdingnag - he defended himself against them with his little sword - they were considerably larger than a normal bee or even a hornet. They were about the size of a walnut still encased in its green shell. The wings were not movable like the wings of birds or insects, but were arranged around their bodies in a rigid band and acted as stabilizing and supporting surfaces.

Their large size was less striking than one might think, since they were completely transparent. Indeed, my idea of them was derived mainly from the glitter of their movements as seen in the sunlight. When the creature I now watched hovered before the blossom of a convolvulus whose calyx it tapped with a tong shaped like a glass probe, it was almost invisible.

From The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger.
Published by Unknown in 1957
Additional resources -

The glass bees were able to work with each other to a remarkable degree:

I also heard their fine whistling break off abruptly when they came to the blossoms and stopped short. Behind me, however, in front of the hives, which now stood in full sunlight, these sounds gathered into one high continuous whistle. It must have taken subtle deliberation to avoid collisions when the swarms of automatons were massed before they sluiced into the hives.

They also were diverse in structure and purpose:

I distinguished diverse models - almost colonies - of automatons which combed the surrounding fields and shrubs. Creatures of especially strong structure bore a whole set of probosscises which they dipped into umbels and flower clusters. Others were equipped with tentacles that closed around the tufts of the blossoms like delicate pincers, squeezing out the nectar.
Thanks to Diego G. Peralias for contributing this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Glass Bees
  More Ideas and Technology by Ernst Junger
  Tech news articles related to The Glass Bees
  Tech news articles related to works by Ernst Junger

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