(1) The History of Beekeeping
Burma, Hukawng Valley 2006, a piece of Amber was discovered in a mine they estimate the Amber to be around 100 million years old. This is a remarkable find, but inside the Amber was a fossil of a honeybee that was encased in the Amber while it was still a sticky liquid tree sap. This means that this honeybee is the oldest honeybee fossil ever discovered. You can see from the picture that the honeybee today resembles its ancient cousin. 100 million years of evolution has seen no reason to change something so perfect, that was here on Earth before humankind existed.
Moving forward to only 15,000 years ago in Bicorp, Valencia, Spain. I discovered rock paintings that show hunter-gatherers climbing make shift ladders with vessels to collect honey, whilst all around we can see the honeybees flying. Nepalese Himalayas, Kaski District has had been collecting honey using the same methods as the Spanish since around 11,000 BC.
No history lesson is complete without looking at the most famous ancient civilisations the Egyptians. Hieroglyphics and paintings found in Pyramids showing carvings in stone and paintings of the honeybee. The paintings re-created by my wife Gail from Spain and Egypt show beyond doubt that honeybees are amongst the oldest insect life to be found on planet Earth.
Modern Historic Beekeeping Timeline
1538 – Spanish import the first European honey bees to South America.
1682 – George Wheler – an English ecclesiastic and travel writer, discovers and describes Greek hives (forerunner of modern hives with movable frames).
1700 – It wasn’t until 1700 that they understood that bees gather nectar from flowers with which they make honey. Prior to this time, they thought the bees collected the honey ready-made in the flowers!
1838 – Johann Dzierzon, a Polish apiculturist, devised the first practical movable-comb beehive, which allowed manipulation of individual honeycombs without destroying the structure of the hive.
1851 – L. L. Langstroth of Philadelphia USA – the “father” of American beekeeping had access to translations of Dzierzon’s works., built upon the design of Dzierzon, and others (such as Francois Huber of Switzerland), and designed a movable frame hive.
1890 – William Broughton Carr, English inventor and beekeeper, invented the WBC beehive
1948 – Abbé Warré published Beekeeping For All. In the book he outlines plans for a top bar bee hive. Warré also advocates far less interference with hives and bees.
The earliest known fossil evidence of the honeybee (genus Apis) was found in Europe and is believed to date back 100 million years. It is widely believed that the honey bee first evolved in eastern Africa and spread northwards into Europe and Eastwards into Asia. Humans first arrived around 200,000 years ago.
Since the post second world war era in Abbe Warre times, there has been a boom in using pesticides and insecticides, and that still continues today
Prior to 1992 when the parasite mite called Varroa Destructor arrived Beekeeping in the UK was chemical free.