Beekeeping has been around for centuries dating as far back as 8,000 BC. Of course, times have changed from the ancient practices to today’s modern methods and custom beekeeping supplies. Modern beekeeping is safer, more efficient, and a lot easier on the hardworking bees.
An Ancient Love Affair with Honey
Our ancestors have been keeping bees for their honey since ancient times. Bees were domesticated thousands of years earlier than cats. Cave paintings in Spain have depicted the practice of beekeeping as early as 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Beekeeping was widely practised in the ancient world — Israel, China, Africa, and many other places had their own system and practice of beekeeping. Early Egyptians (who also domesticated cats) practised a crude form of beekeeping: using smoke to calm the bees to remove the honeycombs. Egyptians even had special earthenware jars for the singular purpose of storing honey. The Greeks had several prominent figures who devoted part of their writings to bees, including Aristotle, Virgil, Columella, Gaius Julius Hyginus, and Varro Reatinus. The Mayan civilisation even had domesticated stingless bees for easier and safer beekeeping. Stingless bees are still used for beekeeping in parts of Brazil and Australia.
This is an amalgamation of all the knowledge and innovations of the beekeepers of the past. Movable hives, safety gear, honey gathering tools — all had their roots in ancient tradition. The modern hive is attributed to Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth, and his design of removable honeycombed frames have significantly improved the efficiency of collecting honey as well as increased the safety of collection. This led to a boom in the production of commercial honey in both the U.S. and Europe.
Starting Your Beekeeping Journey
If you want to be part of beekeeping history — or at least start your own hive — you need a suitable space and a little bit of effort. Join a beekeeping group and visit an actual beekeeping operation and see if you have the desire and the courage for beekeeping. If you are decided to pursue beekeeping as a hobby or for a bit of profit, you can easily find beekeeping supplies online. Your most important purchase will be the hive, as the safety and efficiency of your beekeeping operation hinge on it. Start small and purchase additional hives only when you feel comfortable and confident in your skills and experience. Bees need nectar, so make sure that they have access to nature; they won’t be making honey if there are no flowers or plants in the vicinity. You also might need to purchase your bees if the local varieties are unsuitable or less efficient in their production of honey. Load up on safety gear but expect to be stung. Wear protective clothing, especially a veiled helmet or hat. To be safe, keep a few antihistamine pills at hand in case someone gets hurt.
Man’s love affair with bees and their honey has spanned ages, and modern beekeeping practices have ensured that this love affair will continue for many more generations to come.