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Historical beekeeping hardware

Making skepsWhen honeybees came to America, they were brought across the ocean in straw skeps.  In Bees in America, Horn explains that these skeps were originally considered an innovation in Europe since they replaced heavier logs and clay plots that were difficult to move.  Horn's book includes some interesting illustrations of how skeps were constructed, and I was especially intrigued to learn that ekes were often placed underneath skeps when the bees needed more room, a bit like nadiring a Warre hive.

In addition to skeps, early American beekeepers were fond of bee gums --- hollow logs used as hives.  Even though the inventor of the Langstroth hive (the primary beekeeping box today) was an American, Horn reports that colonists continued using bee gums and skeps long after the Langstroth hive took over in Europe.  Since skeps and bee gums don't allow for much inspection and manipulation, their use may be one reason the U.S. saw such a rash of pest and disease problems (which I'll cover in a later post).

Bee smokerSpeaking of the Langstroth hive, it was one of four inventions that changed the face of beekeeping in America between 1851 and 1873.  During that period, the bellows smoker, the movable frame hive, wax foundation, and the centrifugal extractor (along with advances in queen rearing) changed beekeeping from a hobby into an industry.  More on the changing face of beekeeping in America is to come in tomorrow's post.


This post is part of our Bees in America lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:


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Eke is also a noun.
Comment by Michael Wed Mar 12 07:15:11 2014

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