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