History

Commercial beekeeping fills two major purposes:

  • Harvest the honey that honey bees produce
  • Work with other agricultural industries to increase their cropping yields through effective and efficient pollination of crops.

Pollination of crops with domestic honey bees has become, in recent years, a vital part of ensuring the production of food, like fruits and vegetable, nuts, grains and pulses can be maximised to meet the ever increasing human food consumption.

The skill of good beekeeping is to have healthy honey bees and strong colonies to produce excellent honey yields and to ensure reliable pollination of all crops.

From Ancient Times, men have domesticated wild bees (Apis florea, Apis cerana, Apis dorsata and Apis mellifera) allowing men and women to keep bees for honey harvesting.

  Basket Hive French Trunk-Hives in Southern France from Medieval Times

 

It is interesting to note that beekeeping equipment and appliances remained basically unaltered from Ancient Times until 1851.

In 1851, a new hive construction and design revolutionised beekeeping when the Langstroth hive was invented.

  Langstroth Hive Dadant Hive

 

The inventor of the still called modern hive, and methods, was Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, an American born in Philadelphia — USA, becoming the father of modern beekeeping.

The introduction of the Langstroth hive and its revolutionary design allowed the beekeepers to guide and assist the honey bee colony with respect to health and to manage other aspects of the hive.

The movable–frame hive itself was in common use in the USA by 1861 and was introduced to England in 1862.

From 1869, the writings of Charles Dadant and his son Camille Pierre Dadant in French and Italian journals was disseminated throughout Europe and the rest of the world on the theory of the Langstroth’s modern hive and his methods of beekeeping.

This led to the invention of the:

  • Centrifugal honey extractor in Austria in 1865 (F. Hruschka), possibly in France a few years earlier
  • Perfection of the queen excluder by Abbe Collin of France 1865
  • Bee escaper in 1891 by E. C. Porter in the USA

The methodologies and equipment of modern beekeeping were developed and implemented in the last 50 years of the 19th Century. Even allowing for some developments and improvements since their invention, the Langstroth hive of 1851 remains the foundation of hive design, and thus of our beekeeping today.

Healthy worker bee larvae at different stages

Healthy worker bee larvae at different stages