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What are Beekeepers?

Beekeeping is also known as apiculture and is the management of colonies of bees for the production of honey and other hive products and for the pollination of crops. Beekeeping usually refers to the husbandry of the honeybee, but it may also refer to management of other species of social bees. A group of hives are called apiaries, and the beekeeper may be known as an apiarist or apiculturist.

Beekeepers earn their living from the sale of the honey and beeswax their hives produce, but the most important contribution of bees to the economy and the environment is their pollination of fruits, vegetables, and pastures. In some countries, beekeepers are paid for their pollination services.

Cornwall Honey beekeepers checking their hives and using the smoker

Beekeeping is an ancient and worldwide profession, and is believed to have originated in the Middle East. The early Egyptians kept bees and traded for honey and beeswax along the East African coast thousands of years ago. Until 1851, beekeepers harvested honey and beeswax by killing the colonies inhabiting the hives.

In that year the American apiarist Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth discovered the principle of "bee space": Bees leave spaces of about 0.6 cm (about 0.23 in) between wax combs. In artificial hives, if this space is left between adjacent comb frames and between the end frames and the walls of the hive, each comb will remain unattached to neighbouring combs. Langstroth's discovery made it possible to remove individual frames from a beehive and to harvest honey and wax without destroying the colony. It also became possible to maintain a larger number of colonies.

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