The History Of Beekeeping

No one really knows when the first time someone thought about collecting the honey from beehives. We do know that the art of beekeeping has been around for a long time. Archaeologist have discovered cave drawings depicting people collecting honey. These caves were found in Africa and Spain's eastern regions. Archaeologist believe that the cave drawings were created in 7000 BC, which is a long time ago.

Most of these pictures show people scooping honey out of rocks and trees, but a few of them depict images of humans standing, unstung, in the midst of a swarm of bees. Scientist believe that these early cave dwellers somehow learned that smoke had an interesting affect on bees.

The earliest artificial beehives were made out of pottery, clay vases and bowls, and straw baskets that resembled the trees and rock crevices that the bees were drawn to in nature. Early beekeeper's learned how to capture swarms of bees in these containers. Once trapped the bees proceeded to turn the containers into a beehive.

Evidence that many ancient civilizations, such as the Mayans, raised bees and collected their honey.

We know that Aficionados from Roman history that bees and honey played a role in the Roman culture. The Goddess Mellona, was the protector of the bees.

The Greeks also had a great deal of respect for honeybees. On Mt. Olympus, the home of Zeus, they sipped the nectar provided by the gods (experts believe that the nectar that the Greeks referred to was honey). Greek mythology claims that bees were responsible for building Apollo's second temple. When he wrote his book, The History of Animals, Aristotle wrote about how bees were able to locate flowers.

In the period of time between the 1500's and 1851 was an evolutionary time for beekeeping. The first critical change in beekeeping happened late in the 1500's. It was during this time that information was learned about the life cycle of the honeybees. Once beekeeper's understood the way that bees lived, they were better able to take care of the winged insect.

Adaptations to artificial beehives started taking place during this time. As beekeeper's, agricultural enthusiast, and scientists, wanted to learn more about the life cycle of bees, beekeeper's looked for ways to design a hive that would allow them to easily see inside the beehive.

Some honeybee tidbits of knowledge:

  • An American, Lorenzo Langstroth, designed the first mobile beehive.
  • By the time the 1850's got here the European honeybee was introduced to California. After California the honeybees were introduced to Oregon and Canada and kept spreading from that point on. 
  • It is believed that there are over 250,000 beekeeper's currently in the United States. Collectively these beekeeper's keep and maintain over three million active beehives.