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The History of Beekeeping

LLangattock Apiaries Bees and Honey

Beekeeping is one of the oldest forms of food production dating back as far back as 13,000 BC. The history dates back to ancient Egypt.  Hive beekeeping was well established before the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43.

According to history beekeeping was practiced for the harvesting of honey, which is the mainstay of a beekeeper’s financial sustenance.  Other items that are harvested from honey are royal jelly and propolis, which were derived for the use of medicinal purposes.  The use of beehive products has changed little since ancient times.

Many different kinds of bees were brought over from places in Europe and even as far as New Zealand.  Until relatively recently beekeeping was a hobby and not a means to make a living that was primarily done by farmers or relatives of a farmer who lived in a rural community where you could set up a bee farm and maintained it from time honoured traditions passed down through the generations.

Why Are the Hives Shaped Like A Honeycomb?

In many different cultures, beekeeping was done to produce honey and beeswax (which was used in candle making and other products), but when an American scientist named L.L. Langstroth took beekeeping to the scientific level in 1851 he innovated the bee space and the removable hive frame. It wasn’t until 1857 that it was discovered that bees could be manipulated into building a straight frame hive by providing them with some wax for a foundation.  Bees would proceed to use the wax foundation to build a honeycomb the octagon-shaped holes that were used to store larvae and later honey once the bees had developed and hatched.  

Over the next few years’ different techniques had been developed to continue modernizing beekeeping, but the most practical invention wasn’t until 1873, which was the smoker, which was a helpful safety device for many beekeepers.  Beekeeping is an art form, which takes a lot of time and practice to master because a skilled beekeeper will learn everything there is to know about beekeeping.  Essentially you will be schooled into this way of life so that everything about beekeeping is like second nature to you so you basically eat, sleep, and breathe the art form of beekeeping.

Passing On Beekeeping To The Next Generation

Beekeepers have a term called Apiculturists because that’s what the Department of Agriculture calls them when they’re categorized for what they do.  People who are Beekeepers are just small offshoots of the agriculture world since it’s pretty much a world of their own with the fact that what they do began as a hobby had slowly transformed into a way of life for people to earn a living at.  People who decide to become Beekeepers that are knowledgeable in biology and entomology can prove to be valuable to the beekeeping market for those who are trying to improve even innovate and create their own unique system of beekeeping which can be passed down to up-and-coming beekeepers who want to learn how to do successful beekeeping.

In summary, beekeeping is a really old tradition that is being kept alive by people who are passionate about bees and keeping them.

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Honey and Honey Bees

Honey bees spend their entire life pollinating flowers and making honey. Bees use pollen that they gather from flowers to create honey that the bees use to feed themselves. Beekeepers are responsible for removing the honey from the bees and using for human consumption.

After the beekeeper has collected the honey from the bees, removed the wax caps that the bees use to seal the honey in the honey comb and extracted the honey from the honeycomb it’s time to process the honey.

Not all beekeepers have process their honey.  Unprocessed honey is marketed with words like raw, unfiltered and natural printed on the label.  The words are different words to say unprocessed.  Beekeepers that choose to process their honey, should have it done as quickly after extracting the honey as possible.  The act of processing honey is making sure that the honey is heated and filtered.  Processing honey is a sticky and hot process, it is important that the person is patient and diligent.  The area where the processing is taking place should be kept clean and free of insects.  Before you start processing the honey crop make sure that all your equipment is dry.  Honey absorbs water.  Honey that has too much water in it will ferment.

Experienced beekeepers can look at a vat of honey and tell you what type of flower the worker bees were attracted to when they were gathering pollen.  They can do this by looking at the honey’s colour.  The type of flower the bees collected pollen from also affects the honey’s flavour.  Other factors like soil quality and honey comb quality can change the flavour of the honey.  On the average, lighter coloured honey has a milder flavour than darker coloured honey. There are approximately three hundred different varieties of honey produced in the UK and United States.

The plugs that bees use to seal honey into the honey combs can be used to make bee’s wax candles.

For the health conscious, honey is a great substitute for white sugar.

Honey that is still in the honeycomb has a more natural flavour then honey that has been extracted.  Extracted honey works best for flavouring teas and cooking.

Fans of natural healing have always been big fans of honey for medicinal purposes.  It is believed that honey is an excellent way to soothe sore throats, can help regulate blood pressure, burns, pressure wounds and infectious wounds.  Honey has been used by Chinese apothecaries to soothe aches and pains.  The Egyptians favoured using honey when they were treating wounds.  Even the Greeks and Romans left behind literature that spoke of the medicinal benefits of honey for curing various forms of illnesses.