Primitive beekeeping was a crude art, at best. Hives consisted of pottery, baskets and holes in rocky cliffs. Beekeepers knew very little about the bees and in most instances, the bees were killed after the season was over to harvest the honey. Early man did, however, understand the importance of honey as a food source. For instance, in Biblical days it was recognized that milk and honey were essential for baby formulas.
There is much historical data that indicates that beekeeping has been practiced for thousands of years. Below is a list of some important dates in beekeeping history. For more information on the history of beekeeping, check out the book "The Hive and the Honey Bee" from Dadant™ Publishing.
- 15,000 BC: The oldest known record of primitive beekeeping paintings.
- 3,000 BC: Written records on migratory beekeeping up and down the Nile river
in ancient Egypt.
- 2000 BC: Exodus 3:8 refers to Canaan as the “land of milk and honey.”
- 900 BC: King Solomon speaks of honey and honeycomb in many passages. Proverbs 24:13 "My son eat thou honey, because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to thy taste".
- 384 BC: Aristotle, the Greek teacher, did a lot of research on beekeeping. His writings mention foulbrood and enemies of bees, and he was apparently the first to notice that honey bees don't visit flowers of different kinds on one flight, but remain constant to one floral species.
- 70-19 BC: Virgil, a Roman poet and beekeeper, recommended clipping the wings of queen bees and spoke of shade and wind protecting.
- 800-900 AD: It is thought that honey bees were first brought to America by Irish and Norwegian explorers, pre-Columbus.
- 1850: West Coast bees were not introduced until 1850's when they landed in California and by wagon to Oregon.
- 1851: Bees had colonized all over the world. Lorenzo Langstroth (The father of modern beekeeping) developed the moveable frame. Lorenzo was from the US and his work spread from here to England, Europe and finally around the
world. His creation of the Langstroth hive is still the standard to this day.