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 where it was modernized for that time until around the 1860s when the first system of beekeeping was brought to the United States, by a 19th Century Pennsylvanian native named John Harbison.
Beekeeping was practiced for the harvesting of honey, which is the mainstay of a beekeeper’s financial way of life. Other items that are harvested from honey are royal jelly and propolis, which were derived for the use of medical purposes. The use of beehive products has changed very little since ancient times.
Many different kinds of honeybees were brought over to the United States from places in Europe and even as far as New Zealand. Before the 1980s rolled around beekeeping was in fact 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 honeybee farm and maintain it from time honored traditions passed down through the generations.
In the Asian culture beekeeping was done to produce honey and beeswax (which is 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 had innovated the beehive and the removable beehive frames. It wasn’t until 1857, that it was discovered that honeybees could be manipulated into building a straight frame hive by providing them with some wax for the foundation. Honeybees would proceed to use the wax foundation to build a honeycomb the octagon shaped holes that was used to store larvae and later honey, once the honeybees 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 beekeeper’s. 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 over the years. Essentially you will be educated 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 of beekeeping.
Beekeeper’s have a term called Apiculturist’s because that’s what the Department of Agriculture calls them when they’re categorized for what they do. Beekeeper’s are just small offshoots of the agriculture world.
Beekeeper’s that are knowledgeable in biology and entomology can be a valuable resource for the beekeeping industry. The tips and ideas on beekeeping can be passed down to others that want to start keeping honeybees