Beekeeping For 3000 Years

Hand-made beehives date back 3000 years (to Israel) and early hives were made of clay or straw. Bees and humans helped each other expand into new lands as settlers transported the bees with them for crop pollination. For centuries beekeepers melted the wax comb to get the honey out, forcing the poor bees to rebuild it every time. Then in 1851 pastor Lorenzo Langstroth designed a hive like a filing cabinet that could be used over and over.

Young Mary Bumby introduced honey bees to NZ in 1839, bringing them on a ship from England in straw hives. Today  about 3,251 New Zealanders are beekeepers, most of them hobbyists. Our government’s ‘Beehive’ building is shaped like a straw hive called a skep. Skeps were enlarged by adding layers called ‘ekes’ – hence the saying ‘to eke things out’ (is there a National Party joke here?). Bees thrive  in human cities but NZ City Council rules say that bees are ‘inappropriate in residential areas’. However, increasingly, beehives are kept in city parks in many countries and with almost zero feral (wild) bee numbers we need bees to pollinate our home gardens. Honour the bee partnership by planting flowers. (Photo: apiary in central Paris public park.)

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