Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Romance of the Honey Bee- Honey Will You Bee Mine?

By Kimberly Grist

Honey, will you Bee Mine? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...
While researching vocations during the 19th century, I became intrigued by beekeeping. While writing, A Beekeeper for Christmas, I decided to further my research by becoming a beekeeper myself. Here are some fun facts.

The honeybee is not native to the United States. Records show that honey bees were shipped from England and landed in the Colony of Virginia in 1622. Prior to the middle of the 19th century, most beehives were simple shelters for bees.
Circa. 1830 - Scenes of Industry; Displayed in The Bee-Hive and the Ant-Hill

Skeps were made from grass straw with sticks placed inside to provide support for the honeycombs. A healthy colony could yield approximately 10-15 lbs of honey each year.

Log gums were made from hollow logs and then fitted with a roof. Sometimes a box or container was added on top of a log gum for the bees to store honey. Beekeepers inspected skep hives from the bottom.

Just as they do in the wild, bees attached their wax combs to the hive's roof and walls. Today we refer to these types of hives as fixed-comb hives. In these types of hives, the beekeeper could not inspect the hives. Therefore, it was difficult to know when the bees had a problem, rather from disease or when they became queenless.

In 1851, Lorenzo Langstroth created a new hive design with frames that hung from the top ends of the hive, leaving what we refer to as "bee-space," a 3/8 inch space between all sides of the frames and hive body. This allowed the frames to be handled without breaking the comb.

Langstroth's frames were easily handled without breaking the comb.
By the year 1900, most beekeepers were using variants of this design, much like the ones used today.

My New Hobby

Although the frames are similar in structure, please note, as a new beekeeper, I did not develop the skills to handle bees without protective gear. The suit is extremely warm, which works well in the winter. But in the summer, it is pretty toasty.

New Addition
This past summer, I added a second story and asked the question.
Does that make me a condo owner or a little crazy? Maybee both? Despite the addition, treatments to clear the area of pests, and numerous refills of sugar water, this past week, I discovered my bees flew the coop!

It seemed like a good idea at the time...
There is a word for it- I say abandonment, but the official term is absconding. Absconding is when the bees completely abandon their hive. Well, they bolted alright, all of them, the ungrateful little critters.
In light of the problems in the world, this is minor, but I was disappointed and, in an attempt to cheer myself up, will be looking for a silver lining. I keep thinking there must be an inspiration in this experience somewhere. Perhaps my next story should be titled, An Abandonded Beekeeper or No Honey for Hal? What do you think?

Check Out My New Release and Second Contribution in the Matchmaker Mix-Up Series:

Audie's Audacious Bride - Can this mismatched couple blaze a trail to form a partnership of the romantic kind?

Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting today. Sorry to hear about your empty hive, hopefully you can get some expert advice from another beekeeper and try to populate it again. But really, how rude!!! LOL