Panning for Gold: Harvesting Honey

Bees beekeeping_Bruegel
"The Beekeepers," by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Left to their own devices, bees usually built their hives in hollowed-out trees or other such spaces.

Through the centuries, people learned how find beehives with their highly sought-after honey. And they started creating new homes for bees, in a number of ways and styles.

The following picture essay illustrates some of these unique, and not so unique, beehives. (Some experts believe bishops’ mitres served as models for beehives. Or maybe it was the other way around? Certainly the iconography of St. Ambrose of the 4th century shows him with bees and beehives.)

And don’t forget the mobile beekeepers, who move their flocks like cattle from field to field, town to town, state to state, province to province. Why? Many, many crops depend upon bees for pollination, to the tune of over $15 billion a year just in the U.S. alone.

Following the medieval renditions of beehives below, you’ll see some examples of more modern hives, in several countries.

Abeilles, De Proprietatibus Rerum
Bees from Taccuino Sanitatis
Medieval Beekeeper, by Sebastian Munster
Bee Boles, Cornwall
Beehives from the Old Days, Ukraine
Beehive in Malawi (Photo credit: Josh Wood)
Beehives in Ethiopia (Photo credit: Carsten ten Brink)
Beehive in Yunan, China

Typical Beehive in Modern USA (Photo credit: Stewart and Vickie Carrington)

To be continued …

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