Posted on Leave a comment

Honey Bee Swarm Removal Redditch, Bromsgrove and Worcestershire

Honey Bee Swarm Collection

Honey Bee Swarming seasons runs in the United Kingdom between May and the end of July each year.

Honey Bee Swarms are rarely aggressive and are a natural feature of a Bee colonies lifecycle. Swarms can though appear frightening. Swarms often form and attach themselves to bushes, trees, garden sheds, birds boxes and in all manner of situations. When bees cluster like this they are normally deciding where to go next and can often move on as quickly as they gathered.

We are available to retrieve Honey Bee Swarms throughout the Summer and can normally provide this service free of charge.

We are able to rehome swarms and remove them to a safe location where they will most likely go one to be a successful and happy colony.

If you think you have a Honey Bee Swarm that you think needs collecting feel free to call Colin on 07464 474 735.

Posted on Leave a comment

What Do Bees Do in Winter?

Bee Marvellous Ltd Apiaries

What a Winter Looks like For a Honey Bee Colony

Whenever I’m in the garden during the summer months, I love spying on my Honey Bees pootling about the lavender bush. I think they’re truly incredible beings. Despite myself, I’ve also come to discover how dismissive I can be of the species when I’m tucked cosily away in my lounge one Winter evening, buried beneath piles of blankets, steaming cuppa in hand, surrounded by my cinnamon candle collection.

It begs the question, what might our little furry friends be up to during our excruciatingly long spells of abysmal -10°C weather?

I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed clouds of honeybees migrating to the southern regions of North Africa such as the likes of swallows and swifts.

So, are they then fond of the popular hibernation technique Bumble Bees resort to?

Also no.  

As a matter of fact, Honey Bees, as I have come to realise, are a rather strange specimen regarding good ol’ winter survival. Unlike the many rodents, birds, bumble bees, bears and other animals that opt for the migration and hibernation tactics, Honey Bees prefer the comfort of their own hive, rather like the comfort of my lounge.

One should never underestimate the resilience of a Honey Bee. Instead, these hardy beasts actually stick it out through the thick and thin, come ice or snow.

Winter Landscape

Do Honeybees Like the Cold?

In short, no, they don’t. In fact, they despise it. However, hypothetically speaking  if you were to peer into a hive mid January ( I sincerely advise against doing any such thing ) you’d find ginormous, but fairly peaceful, quivering ball of brown fur. Though they’re busy flapping their wings, incessantly trying to conserve heat, the queen will often drown her colony in powerful pheromones as a way of comforting them.

What’s Different in a Winter Hive?

Close Up Photo Of Honey Bees

There are some vital characteristics a winter Honey Bee possesses that differentiate them with their summer cousins. First and foremost, their size is noticeably bigger and plumper. They have a paunchier abdomen and aren’t afraid of shovelling down their honey stores if it’ll keep them alive during our bleakest weather events. They need strong, slow and controlled metabolisms in order to conserve as much of their energy as possible. Secondly, they’re incredibly robust and often flaunt longer life spans of about 4-6 months. Whereas, in comparison, a summer Honey Bee must make the most of a chaotic several weeks it has to live. Lastly, and most drastic a change is the tumultuous end to the male drone. When Autumn really begins to kick in, the drones are booted out of the hive which as you can imagine is a most unfortunate experience for them. You may think the female constituents of a bee colony to be a pretty savage alliance, however seeing as their top priority is the survival and security of the hive approaching Winter, drones are just another mouthful to feed. A waste of space…no offence gents. So, from around November to March, that hive is basically a sorority house that’s finally found a bit of peace and quiet.

How Do Honey Bees Stay Warm?

As for internal heating of the hive, Honey Bees favour methods of heat conduction ironically kindred to a human body shivering. Their natural instinct is to maintain a temperature of 35°C at all times. By doing so, large clusters of bees huddle together forming one large tight unit surrounding their queen and flap their wings at high speeds. She remains centre stage, in the middle of the crowd whilst the reverberations continue around her. She’s essentially the core of the boiler room whilst her fellow worker bees vibrate intensely.

Honey Bees Clustering
Illustration of Where Honey Bee Cluster In Winter

What if They Need to Visit the Lavatory?

As with any part of the year, the hive’s lavatory is always outside.  And as to be expected, Honey Bees only ever venture into the wintry wilderness when their bladder is on the brink of bursting. But, on these few occasions, when temperatures fluctuate above 10°C, they make the effort to crawl outside and deposit any waste.

Food Source and Honey Production?

Honey production is forced to come to an end as the winter months crawl nearer. Daylight hours shorten, available forage becomes severely depleted, and temperatures become unbearable for a honeybee’s muscles to contract thus they cannot fly to collect pollen and nectar. But this only heightens the importance of foraging during the Spring and Summer months when nectar supply is so plentiful. March through to October is completely devoted to honey production and building up a secure honey supply that’ll last through Winter. Therefore, if all’s well and the previous warmer months allowed for a productive honey season, our girls can enjoy feasting on their fresh stock of goodness at a later date.

Should I Be Doing Anything With the Hives During Winter?

We recommend, during the autumnal months approaching Winter to ease up on any intensive beekeeping. Generally, we finish harvesting honey in September to allow a healthy supply leftover for them to graze on in the Winter months. Bee colony maintenance such as Varroa mite treatment and securing the hive against harsher weather climates is a reasonable care plan approach for your apiary. Other than that, it’s best to leave the girls alone for the most part and save any beekeeping trips solely for the purpose of checking honey stores and hive maintenance.  

You Can Buy Our Honey Here

Some More Interesting Honey Articles:

Is Honey Good For You, and if so, What Are The Health Benefits Of Honey?

Important Historical Figures In Beekeeping

Posted on Leave a comment

Is Honey Good For You, and if so, What Are The Health Benefits Of Honey?

Honey Dripping From a Honey Frame

Is Honey Good For You?

Honey is becoming an increasingly popular addition to many of our breakfast dishes including cereal, porridge and even the occasional smoothie, but have we ever considered the various health benefits behind consuming this delicious concoction? Forget about eating it, what do you really know of its other uses and qualities. Well fear not, for I am here to explain some of the perhaps not so well-known advantages of enjoying this delicacy.

Some Honey History

A Pharaoh Being Blessed

But first, I think it best to digress slightly and discuss its history. The first ever depiction of honey dates to an 8000-year-old cave painting discovered in Valencia, Spain back in 2014. This magnificent artefact depicts several beekeepers harvesting honey from a cliff edge, and moreover, alludes to our ancestor’s knowledge of its benefits.

But that’s not the best part. In November of 1922, whilst a group of British archaeologists were uncovering the ancient Tutankamuhn’s tomb, they happened upon a perfectly preserved jar of honey. Though the honey was found crystallised, it dates back 3,500 years. Now, if this extraordinary revelation doesn’t demonstrate the mysterious wonders of honey, then I can’t think what will. Yet it wasn’t just the Egyptians who believed it to be so precious. It’s clear to see its value had been inherited by both Greek and Roman Mythology in centuries gone by. Honey and Bees were both substantial symbols within Greek and Roman civilisation. We only have to look at their statues, jewellery and pottery to observe how commonly featured they were in their designs. It was believed that honeybees were servants to the Gods and that honey itself possessed essential healing powers and thus were often fed to these deities. Such were the likes of Zeus, for example, who was fed honey and milk as a baby in the hopes that he would grow stronger much quicker.

Lord Krishna

Moreover, we cannot dismiss the knowledge our ancestors in Asia possessed. From the Indian and Arabic regions over to Japan, all these cultures refer to the healing and medicinal properties of honey. Deities within Hinduism such as Lord Krishna, Indra and Vishnu were all referenced as Madhava meaning “ones born of nectar”. Equally so, the Holy Quran states “there is healing in honey”. As for Japan, during the 9th century honey came to fame when large quantities were gifted to its emperors from neighbouring dynasties, soon after prompting the introduction of bee keeping in their society amidst the 12th century.

So then, if all these civilisations before us have continually mentioned their appraisal of honey, what makes it so special? What gives it the right to survive thousands of years locked away in a tomb, unspoiled, unrotten…perfectly preserved?  

For me to divulge honey’s many secrets, we’d be here quite a while. But with the help of executive director, Amina Harris, of the Honey and Pollination Centre at the University of California, she states that “honey in its natural form is very low moisture”. In other words, it’s a ‘hygroscopic’ food source. It has the ability to absorb moisture from the air, yet, in its natural state, contain practically no water molecules. Sadly therefore, most microorganisms must look elsewhere for environments to infest and spoil. Honey would be a most inhospitable choice, lest they wish to shrivel up and die of course. Furthermore, thanks to a host of organic acids – which we’ll come back to later – honey lies between pH 3 and 4.5, and as Amina points out it would “kill off almost anything that wants to grow there.” It’s literally undefeatable.

Thus, if you were to dip your finger into that jar of honey during a trip to Tutankhamun’s tomb, I believe you’d be quite alright.

How Is Honey Made Then?

Honey is essentially concentrated, liquified nectar sourced from the “nectaries” of floral species. After a hard day’s work pollinating our crops and various other plants, our honeybees will return loaded with nectar they’ve guzzled from flowers during their foraging trip. Part of what makes honey ‘Undefeatable’ is an enzyme called glucose oxidase found in the saliva of a honeybee. Whilst it regurgitates nectar it’s feasted on, the enzyme works its magic by breaking the nectar down into several biproducts: hydrogen peroxide, gluconic acid and simple sugars, mainly fructose and glucose. These are stored inside honeycomb – a wax like structure that forms a organised framework of storage inside the hive. The biproducts are then evaporated from the internal heat of the hive produced by the honeybees’ vibrating wings. This is where virtually all the moisture is removed producing a hygroscopic food.

Honey Bees On Wax Comb Making Honey

Once the sugars begin to thicken up, herein lies the final product: a deep, flavoursome, golden liquid…honey. 

The type of honey you harvest depends on the species of flowers the honeybees have pollinated. Consequently, you could find yourself eating rapeseed honey on your cereal. Or perhaps you prefer clover honey? I for one have a sweet spot for orange blossom. Either way, there are 320 different varieties you can get your hands on, all of which present valuable medicinal treatments.

However, before we continue, I must mention that the qualities of honey listed below are most prevalent when bought in its rawest form. If you are looking to invest in a jar, we recommend you look out for naturally harvested raw honey from a single floral source.   

Avoid terms such as “runny honey” and “ultrafiltered” and don’t be convinced by “internationally sourced” honey either. Usually, these products available in supermarkets tend to be pasteurized, processed or combined with syrups and additional sugars. According to Dr Tauseef Khan from Toronto Universityconventional processing of honey involves straining and filtering and then heating for a short period of time”. However, Khan then explains this process “actually damages the honey — and many of its bioactive compounds lose their effect.”

If you were to purchase locally harvested honey, perhaps from a nearby farm shop or beekeeper, you’re more likely to receive the true “raw honey experience” that’s been filtered, but not heat treated.

So, Let’s Have a Look at the Health Benefits Of Honey

Lowering Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels

Blood Sugar Measuring Equipment

I’d never imagine honey of all things to have been shown to improve our cardiometabolic health. After all, according to Dr Tauseef Khan “honey is about 80 per cent sugar”. However, whilst that is the case, it also contains several other ingredients including the minerals zinc, potassium and iron, bioactive nutrients, prebiotics and organic acids.

Research performed by a group of nutritional scientists from the University of Toronto involved 18 controlled clinical trials with over 1,000 patients taking part in their analysis, specifically investigating honey’s effect on heart health and metabolic rate. The patients were given a strict dietary plan to follow consisting of 10% sugar intake, where raw honey was replaced by regular sugar.

Studies observed a glucose reduction of 0.2 mmol/L and a cholesterol reduction of 0.18mmol/L. Whilst these results are only marginal decreases, over the eight-week investigation, they concluded it produced long term benefits. Dr Khan explained that raw honey drove many of the beneficial effects in the studies, as did honey from monofloral sources such as Robinia and Clover.”

The general takeaway from the research resulted in the recommendation of consuming honey, if possible, in its rawest form “from a single floral source” as a substitute for other sugars such as syrups and artificial sweeteners.

Excellent For Wound Care

A Wound Being Dressed

In order to outline how useful honey can be when applied to an open wound, I invite you to travel back to 15th century England amidst the height of the Medieval Era.

It’s July 1403 and the Battle of Shrewsbury wages on between the Lancastrian ruler King Henry IV alongside his son, Henry V and an army of Northumberland rebels lead by Henry Percy.

Henry V, heir to the throne of England has been struck with a Bodkin arrow. These deadly arrows, once lodged into the tissue were known to be virtually impossible to extract. That was until the master craftsmen stroke royal surgeon, John Bradmore, used his controversial medical skills combined with the antibacterial qualities of rose honey to successfully remove the arrowhead nuzzled against Henry’s skull, centimetres from his brain.

At the time, this battlefield surgery phenomenon was viewed as witchcraft. The removal of the bodkin head involved a series of linen bound elder wood probes soaked in rose honey which were inserted into the wound to keep it open. Bradmore clearly knew of rose honey’s antibacterial nature, having the courage to apply a substantial amount to his royal patient. He then used his blacksmith skills to weld a specially designed tong that was then inserted into the wound, clasped over the arrowhead and carefully pulled out. The wound was then soaked in alcohol to cleanse and disinfect it. Henry V survived but was left with a rather miserable looking scar embedded on his right cheek.

Fun fact: every portrait made of Henry V following this accident was taken from his left – side profile as he was slightly embarrassed by the hideousness of his scar.

Several aspects of honey can be attributed to its wound-healing properties. Firstly, its thick viscosity when applied to a wound acts as a barrier against harmful pathogens. Secondly, many varieties of honey possess antibacterial agents including Hydrogen Peroxide formed during enzymatic activity of glucose oxidase. The compound prevents infection by deterring any growth of pathogenic microbes present at the site of the wound. Finally, honey application maintains a level of moisture around the wound so that essential bodily functions such as angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and collagen synthesis can still occur encouraging a faster healing process.

Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties

Woman Suffering From Inflamation

A common theme between cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer is that they’re all caused by inflammation. Nowadays, in nutritional science and research, honey is becoming an ever more popular product to investigate in clinically treating these inflammation-based diseases. Studies from 2018 {} performed in Ancona, Granada, Ourense and Santander Universities developed detailed investigations into honey’s antioxidant properties. From what we can gather, this mainly comes down to two organic acids present in honey: phenolic and flavonoid acid.

The results of a combination of “several in vitro and vivo studies” demonstrated honey’s “protective effects on the nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems”. They disturb the secretion of the enzyme lysozyme whilst inhibiting arachidonic acid production, both of which cause inflammatory reactions. Thus, both acids make for excellent developing treatments for cancer, arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Aids Digestion

Woman Touching Here Stomach With Heart Shaped Hands

When you incorporate raw honey into your diet, you’re treating your digestive system to an assortment of important nutrients and minerals like zinc, iron, organic acids and enzymes. But one of the most advantageous components is its diverse selection of prebiotics.

One example is a non-digestible oligosaccharide, which is a type of prebiotic carbohydrate consisting of a chain of 3 -10 simple sugars. Examples found inside honey include raffinose, maltose and sucrose.

Doesn’t sound particularly appealing, does it?

On the contrary, these oligosaccharides are extremely valuable to your gut biome. They have many different functions including increasing vitamin production, colon cleansing and improving diarrhoea and constipation. But regarding your overall gut health, they stimulate and promote the growth of several probiotic bacteria that inhabit our gut known as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli.

Probiotic bacteria are essential within not only our digestive system but also our immune system. If we are under the weather, but we have a healthy constant flow of probiotics in our blood stream and gut, you’re more likely to fight off the bad bacteria attacking your immune system.

Alongside this, honey is also a mild laxative and often recommended to IBS patients as it can alleviate bloating, diarrhoea and constipation symptoms. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, try consuming 3 tablespoons of honey every morning. This may relieve some stress on your bowel.

Honey Contains Effective Anti-Bacterial and Antimicrobial Properties which Create the Perfect Remedy For a Sore Throat or Cold


Have you been suffering from a sore throat or a lingering winter cough? Or are you battling an incessant sinus infection you’ve not quite shaken off yet? Well thankfully, we can utilise honey’s antibacterial fabulousness in many other ways too. Honey has been shown to sooth inflamed sinuses and sore throats naturally whilst tackling any microbial or infectious viral symptoms.

If you’re feeling low, try out this fantastic homemade remedy below to replenish your dishevelled immune system:

Ingredients: (can be refrigerated for up to 2 months)

250 ml / 1 cup of honey (preferably raw and natural)

250 ml / 1 cup of water

125ml / ½ cup of lemon juice

60 ml / ¼ cup of grated ginger (around two thumb sizes of peeled ginger)

60ml / ¼ cup lemon zest


A generous pinch of turmeric contains helpful antioxidant properties which will strengthen the effectiveness of your cough syrup.

Cooking instructions:

Grab a saucepan and add your lemon zest, water and grated ginger. Heat this mixture on medium heat until it boils. Then allow your mixture to simmer for several minutes. It is optional to strain the mixture into a measuring cup (to get rid of the lemon and ginger zest).

Wash out your saucepan and then pour 1 cup of honey in. Gently heat the honey on a low heat. Be careful not to burn it. Once you see little bubbles rise in your honey, slowly add your lemon, ginger and water mixture and then combine. Stir the mixture well until it forms a thick syrup.

Pour your cough syrup into a tightly sealed jar.

For best results consume within 2-3 weeks. However, this can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Please note: we do not recommend children below the age of one ingest this cough syrup. Honey can occasionally contain microscopic amounts of the bacteria clostridium botulinum known to cause infant botulism.

Hay Fever Saviour

A Dandelion About To Release Its Pollinated Seeds

Many of us unfortunately cannot escape a year without being tormented by the nuisances of hay fever. Whether it’s grass pollen that’s your arch enemy or hawthorn, it would be unfair not to mention that our beloved, honey, is actually the best and most productive medicine for tackling allergic rhinitis (the fancy name for hay fever)

I sincerely urge you to think twice about resorting to antihistamines. They can cause drowsiness, low blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, diarrhoea and even rapid heart rates. Instead, opt for the natural (and I should emphasise…more effective) alternative, raw honey. There are some key factors to point out first though.

There are two types of hay fever: Seasonal and Perennial. Seasonal hay fever, which is largely more common, can occur when there is a certain floral species that’s grows most abundantly during a specific season producing pollen that your immune system cannot deter very well. But Perennial Hay Fever occurs all year round and is caused by dust mites, dander or pet hair.

Nonetheless, honey is great at tackling symptoms of either type of allergic rhinitis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. You could even opt to make some homemade cough syrup (mentioned above) to help treat your sore throat.

But it can be very useful to determine whether you suffer from Seasonal or Perennial hay fever.

And if you can do so, you may choose to invest in a local, single floral sourced honey. The advantages to this investment, though, mainly apply to Seasonal Hay Fever sufferers.

Here’s why.

For instance, if you notice you suffer from hay fever during Spring, you may find it’s Hawthorn that’s causing the problem. This white blossom tree blooms most abundantly from February until around June, so it has a large season. By purchasing alocal raw Spring – time honey, it’ll most likely contain traces of hawthorn pollen as honeybees will have foraged from the many hawthorn trees in bloom during Spring. Drizzle this gorgeous honey over your morning porridge, cereal or whatever takes your fancy over a period of several months and we can guarantee you’ll build up a stronger immune response against the pollen. Without realising, you’re micro dosing trace amounts of pollen into your meals and thus gradually developing immune resistance against it. This goes for any type of honey, whether it be clover, orange blossom, elderflower etc.

Unfortunately, raw honey does not contain any trace amounts of dander, dust mites or pet hair (thankfully) so you can’t develop immune resistance against perennial hay fever by consuming it.

But it does wonders for Seasonal Hay Fever sufferers and effectively treats Perennial hay fever symptoms.


I truly wish I could befriend a honeybee. The last time I tried, I stepped on her by accident and enjoyed a week trotting around on a balloon sized foot.

But alas, we have come to an end. Forgive me for I have divulged a great deal here.

To conclude, I think we’d be at a severe loss without honey. It is, without a doubt, a very precious commodity. But also, one that necessitates the protection of the honeybee species. Albert Einstein wisely proclaimed, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.

It’s simple really. If we have no honeybees, we have critically depleted pollination. To be specific, 84% of our entire crop yield would never be pollinated… and that only accounts for Europe.

Without honeybees, we have no food.

So, if you do happen to come across a honeybee whizzing about in your garden, why not take a moment to simply watch in ore of everything they do to keep you alive. Heck, next time you’re in the mood, try planting some purple coneflowers in your garden – they go mad for the stuff.

And from the plethora of medicinal uses of honey I’ve discussed today, I can with 101% confidence declare that a jar or two would make a splendid addition to your kitchen cupboard.

You Can Buy Our Honey From Us Here

Some More Interesting Honey Articles:

Important Historical Figures In Beekeeping

What Do Bees Do in Winter?

Watch Our Honey Bees In Action

Posted on Leave a comment

Red Campion (Silene Dioica) – Native to the UK

Red Campion Flower

Red Campion is a native species to the UK and an excellent source of forage for honey bees. Flowering between May and September it is an important source of nectar.

Often growing in hedgerows and verges this flower enjoys shaded areas.

Featured within many English folk stories Red Campion is said to protect honey bee stores and fairies.

You can buy our honey here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Important Historical Figures In Beekeeping

There are many historically important people in the world of beekeeping, some were Scientists, Doctors, Authors, Kings, Gods and of course beekeepers themselves. In recognition of many of these individuals I have pulled together a list of some of the notable, more obscure and incredible people to have been connected and directly involved in the world of beekeeping.

Marble statue of Apollo, one of the first recorded beekeepers
Depiction Of Apollo

The ancient civilisations of the world had a close connection to bees and regarded honey bees as god like and were thought of as the direct workers of the god Gaia or “mother earth”. One of the first recorded beekeepers was Apollo and was said by Greek mythology to have been directly trained by Gaia in the art of beekeeping.

Henry V - King of England, a direct recipient of the healing powers of honey
Henry V – King of England

Although not a documented beekeeper Henry V is historically one of the most important figures to have benefited through the saving of his own life as a result of beekeeping. Henry’s experience is a remarkable tale of the health benefits of honey.

You may have noticed that Henry is rarely if ever depicted face on in paintings but always in profile. This is as a result of Henry receiving a cross bow bolt shot to the face during the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. The fact that Henry even survived this injury is remarkable but the treatment he received to recover is even more astonishing. The bolt pierced Henry through the front of his face passing diagonally through the Kings skull to become lodged at the back, a million to one shot. The wound was so grievous few people if any believed he could survive.

With the King and England in peril courtiers set about the search for a physician with the skill and bravery necessary to save the King. A surgeon with the name of John Bradmore was sent for. Remarkably Bradmore was under arrest at the time having been jailed on suspicion of counterfeiting coinage. Bradmore was said to have had remarkable surgical skill having had access to rare and banned Roman texts which explained the process of administering battlefield surgery and the treatment of wounds with a combination of raw honey and wine.

It is believed the Church banned access to this Roman knowledge believing it to be pagan witchcraft with the texts kept from public view and maintained as a closely guarded secret. It is not known how Bradmore came to have access and learn from the texts. Many believe the Church deliberately concealed and stopped the dissemination of this knowledge as it knew the treatments to be effective but preferred to keep the masses confined to ignorance.

In addition to understanding how to manage infection Bradmore was also said to be an expert metal worker. He is reported to have fashioned a tool which attached to the Kings face and slowly removed the cross bow bolt day by day, millimeter by millimeter.

As the bolt was steadily removed from the Kings skull it left behind a gaping wound. Bradmore is said to have packed the wound with honey and wine soaked gauze. The antimicrobial and antibacterial combination of the honey and wine protected the King from infection and allowed the wound to heal.

Remarkably the use of honey soaked bandages and gauzes in the use of infection control is still little known about by the general public. Fortunately clinicians are trained in the use of medical honey today and prescribe it in certain situations. You can find out more about the use of medical honey in this NHS Leaflet.

Without beekeeping, honey and the acquired knowledge of its curative properties Henry would have certainly died and the future of England changed beyond recognition. One to remember the next time you see honey bees at work.

Painting of Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy a famous author and beekeeper

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author of War and Peace and a giant in the literary world is a famous beekeeper. So obsessed was Tolstoy with beekeeping that his wife believed he may lose his sanity he was so engrossed with the occupation. Tolstoy famously references bees in War and Peace likening Moscow to a “queenless hive” having lost many of its residents following its capture by Napoleon:

In a queenless hive no life is left, though to a superficial glance it seems as much alive as other hives…To the beekeepers’s tap on the wall of the sick hive, instead of the former instant unanimous humming of tens of thousands of bees….the only reply is a distant disconnected buzzing from different parts of the deserted hive. From the alighting board, instead of the former spiritous fragrant smell of honey and venom, and the warm whiff of crowded life, comes an odour of emptiness and decay mingling with the smell of honey

Queenless Hive – War and Peace 1869
Bronze Bust of Aristotle

Aristotle is another famous ancient beekeeper from Greece. Born in 322 BC, both a philosopher and scientist he carefully describes his beekeeping in the Book IX Historia Animalium. He explains many important aspects of beekeeping in his work such as the need to leave the bees enough food to survive the winter, how to substitute honey for other foods when their supplies run short such as the use of figs and other sweet foods and how bees could be attracted and captured for cultivation with the use of sweet wine.

Stained Glass Depiction of The Reverend Charles Butler
Stained Glass Depiction of Reverend Charles Butler

Reverend Charles Butler, often referred to as the father of English beekeeping brought what many recognise today as a scientific observational approach to beekeeping. Born in 1559 Butler produced a highly respected essay in 1623 called The Feminine Monarchie or a Treatsie Concerning Bees, and the Due Ordering Of Them.

Laid out much like a scientific paper the essay documented the different appearance of queens, workers and drones and explained the reproductive process of honey bees. The work codified much of what we understand about honey bees and is considered a scientific milestone.

 The Feminine Monarchie Text
The Feminine Monarchie or a Treatsie Concerning Bees, and the Due Ordering Of Them by Reverend Charles Butler
Jan Swammerdam
Jam Swammerdam – Dutch Naturalist

A Dutch naturalist called Jan Swammerdam born in 1637 did much to bring the microscopic world of the honey bee to the eyes of the general public. Swammerdam was an expert with microscopes and his work produced a number of discoveries such as the famous first illustration of a dissected queen bees ovaries, this confirmed to the world that the king bee, as was thought at the time, was in fact a queen.

Swammerdam went on to illustrate the brain of the honey bee, the optic nerve and the two compact eyes.

His work was preeminent in the understanding of bee anatomy and behaviour.

Jan Swammerdam Bee Optic Nerve Illustration
Jam Swammerdam Illustration of a Bees Eye
Francois Huber
Francois Huber – Swiss Natural Historian

Francois Huber, a Swiss natural historian is commended with the discovery and documentation of the full reproductive cycle of honey bees. Born in 1750 Huber became blind as a teenager. Incredibly this did not reduce the effectiveness of this mans work. Working in collaboration with his wife Maria and capable assistant Francois Brumens, Hubers work went onto bring new innovation into beehive design with the production of a leaf hive, allowing for closer observation of a working hive than had previously been possible.

Using the leaf hive design Huber was able to discover that the mating process of honey bees takes place outside the hive.

Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth

Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth is the man principally credited with the biggest development in bee hive design. An American Clergyman and Apiarist Longstroth identified the need for bee spaces between bee frames should be between 6 – 9mm depending upon the variation of bees being cultivated. He discovered that spaces above 9mm mean’t that bees build wax bridges between frames, effectively glueing them together making it incredibly difficult for the beekeeper to remove them, thereby reducing productivity and effectiveness of a hive.

Langstroth built this discovery into his hive design patenting it in 1853. 75% of all hives around the world now incorporate the Langstroth hive design and the principle of the bee space.

Langstroth Bee Hive Design

You can find some more interesting articles here on bees and beekeeping – Bee Forage Examples and our Beekeeping Blog

Some More Interesting Honey Articles:

What Do Bees Do in Winter?

Is Honey Good For You, and if so, What Are The Health Benefits Of Honey?