It is surprising to me how much in beekeeping really hasn’t changed in spite of all the new gadgets and gizmos on the market. It’s also equally as surprising how many topics heard at beekeeping association meetings discussed as if it were something new; topics such as hive ventilation and the longevity of a queen.
I recently read an 1858 book ‘Phelps Bee-Keeper’s Chart‘. The book is obviously horribly out of date and out of print (though it is available on-line). Though it is interesting none-the-less for several reasons. While it does cover a lot about honey bees, much of it is for the purpose of promoting the authors patented ‘Ohio Combination Bee-Hive‘ saying that he expects it to ‘ supersede all others’. The book also describes Sadly, while it apparently claimed honors at the Ohio and other state fairs, his book was published 6 years after Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth’s book ‘The Hive and the Honey Bee’, which details the bee hive most of us use today in the US and in other parts of the world.
(The ‘Ohio Combination Bee-Hive’ is shown to the right. It has removable compartments to facilitate removing honey from the hive and a glass window so inspect the hive)
But what is probably more interesting, is the number of details that are identical to the topics (and jokes) that are asked to day in many meetings I’ve been to, in many cases with the same answer:
- Life Span of a Queen.
- Hive Ventilation.
- Beekeeper’s opinions: The running joke is that if you ask 5 beekeepers in a room a question, you will receive 6 different answers. Apparently this is one of the oldest beekeeping jokes on record. Phelps wrote nearly 150 year ago that ‘there is scarcely any subject on which such a diversity of opinion exists, as on the form and size of bee-hives, and the general management of bees.’
Other old books point out similar ‘new’ facts brought up at meetings, such as rotating old brood comb (1859, Domestic and rural affairs. Elliot Storke) and many other topics that are often hotly debated.