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The History of Beekeeping

Thick, runny honey can make you salivate in seconds. This sweet treat remains a favorite with kids and adults alike. As we thought about honey and its bee suppliers, it was natural to consider the history of beekeeping and how beekeeping evolved to today's strategies. The differences between then and now are many, but we figured that a few highlights would pique your interest. As we explore the historical and modern aspects of beekeeping, you’ll see that the world has definitely changed over the years.

Seeking Out Bee Hives
Rock paintings (right) dating back to 8,000 or 6,000 B.C. depict a person seeking out beehives. An arm reaching into an obvious beehive tells us that honey has been a treat for thousands of years. These ancient people didn't necessarily keep bees as you would today. They simply sought out hives in certain areas:

  • Hollow tree trunks
  • Rock crevices

Ancient people probably used their powers of observation to find hives by following bee swarms. Many of these colonies were well hidden from predators, including human beings.

Understanding 1700 Logic
When you consider the beekeeping timeline, many years involve very little information about bees themselves. In the 1700s, nature was still a grand mystery. People believed that flowers produced honey so that the bees could directly pull it from the source. The bees were merely transportation for the honey. When society finally realized that nectar was pulled from the flowers, the idea of keeping bees for honey production soon grew more popular than ever before.

Exploring the Moveable Honeycombs of the 1800s
Locating and pulling honey from wild hives typically destroyed part or all of the colony's home. People from the 1800s were more concerned about cultivating honey with an efficient and safe process. Moveable honeycombs were invented in the 1800s, and the beekeeping business exploded in popularity. These artificial combs offered certain amenities:

  • Vertical combs within a safe container
  • "Bee space" between combs for bee movement
  • Colony control by keepers

Locating Ample Sustenance Today
From a historical perspective, wild bees had acre after acre of open flowers and plants to pollinate and use to create honey. Modern advances make pollination a bit difficult, however. Urban centers may be without the proper plants to support an entire bee colony. If you want to keep bees today, placing the hive in the optimal region is crucial. An orchard or other natural area supports your colony for many years.

Controlling Pests
In modern beekeeping, Varroa mites are common and destructive to any hive. They're parasites that ride on bees and their offspring. Controlling their presence without any harmful pesticides is the key. Consider these solutions for your infestation:

  • Dusting the hive with powdered sugar
  • Adding essential oils in the form of tablets to the hive
  • Swapping out a wood bottom board with a screened design

Modern beekeeping is slowly turning back toward a more traditional strategy. Although harvesting the honey destroys part of the comb, it also encourages healthy building by the busy bees.

When you're interested in beekeeping supplies, take a look at Berry Hill's inventory to keep the honey flowing. Almost anyone can build and maintain a hive if they have the motivation to do so. Our inventory supports every aspect of beekeeping, from safety clothing to hive parts. Be part of nature by helping out with pollinators for nearly any plant species.