By: Dewey Caron
Beekeeping is one of the oldest forms of food production dating as far back as 13,000 BC.
Human cultures were initially hunters/gathers, which included hunting of wild nests for honey and beeswax. Some human cultures continue such traditions today, such as the harvesting of Apis dorsata nests in the mountains of Nepal and the native honey hunters of the Sundarban mangroves of India/Bangeldesh (both highly dangerous – sheer cliffs of Nepal and man-eating Tigers that rule the Sundarbans). Mike Burgett, in an interview by M.E.A. McNeil, Dec. 2014 Bee Culture describes the dangers to the Sundarban honey hunters. http://www.beeculture.com/mike-burgett-interview/
Two interesting YouTube videos show
- Irulas honey hunters of south central India “Honey of the Untouchables” with supurb Bee photographer, Eric Tourneret, http://youtu.be/6gYbLek5jz8 and
- Kulung culture (Nepal) Honey Hunters from National Geographic https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/07/honey-hunters-bees-climbing-nepal/
The history of humans bringing bees closer to their residences is not well documented. Most farmers kept other livestock and grew crops and keeping bees was only part of their husbandry/agriculture. Generally the beginning of “domestication” of honey bees by middle eastern cultures is cited as around from 10,000 to 4400 years ago.
With Reverend Langstroth’s development of the movable comb hive (1851), German Johannes Mehring’s refinement of comb foundation (1857), plus the honey extractor (von Hruschka 1864/1865 – see article by Wyatt Mangum in Sept 2016 ABJ), it became easier to keep honey bees at the convenience of the beekeeper. Prior to this, bees were often “kept” where they were found, in their selected cavities and individuals obtained their honey and beeswax via destruct harvest.
Read full article here: BEES IN TREES — Bee Culture