A Terrible Sting —The Nest of Bees
One of the first gunpowder weapons in history, the “nest of bees” was popular during the Ming Dynasty of China (1368–1644). Unlike larger cannon and rockets, the nest of bees were man portable and easy to use by the common infantryman. The weapon consisted of a tapered rocket pack made from bamboo or wood which held 32 rocket propelled arrows which were fired simultaneously. To use the infantryman only had to light the fuze and aim the battery at the enemy. Because the arrows were rocket propelled they generally had greater range and power compared to traditional archery. The nest of bees also had an economical advantage since it could take a great deal of time to train proficient archers, whereas the nest of bees could be used with anyone who had enough skill to light a fuze. The nest of bees lacked the accuracy of traditional archers, but accuracy was not the point. Typically the weapons were deployed by the hundreds, showering the enemy with volleys of arrows like a deadly swarms of bees.