Bees have been kept throughout the centuries. There are cave paintings in Spain out there from thousands of years ago that shows people on a rope trying to get to that sweet sticky stuff we call honey.
It was the ancient Egyptians themselves that were the first to keep bees themselves in a kind of clay hive.
And even Aristotle wrote about them, although he didn’t quite know what he was talking about, parts of what he said were in a sense correct, others not so much.
‘The honeycomb is made from flowers and the materials for the wax they gather from the resinous gum of trees, while honey is distilled from dew and is deposited chiefly at the raisings of the constellations or when a rainbow is in the sky’
Not only that, but according to him bee babies grew on trees. I guess that would make sense if you see a hive in a tree and look at the brood comb hatch. But not quite how it actually works, then again this was written between 344 and 342 BC, so I guess he had a good excuse.
In the late 18th century, a Swiss beekeeper by the name of François Huber made a pioneering work that had taken him over 20 years of observation to make. Helped by his assistant because of his blindness. He established the mating process and the fact that the bees kept a bit of space between their comb in order to make moving around easier. He also produced the “folio” or “leaf” hive, but this was more to make it easier to look at the bees since you couldn’t remove the comb, so there was no way to get the honey.
The person that made beekeeping easier was a priest from Pennsylvania called Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth. He calculated the width which bees would need in order to move around easily without filling it all up. If the space was too small, they would fill it with propolis, their way of making insulation. If it was too big, they’d fill it with wax comb.
After he established this, he designed wooden frames that could be removed without breaking up the internal structure, he literally came up with the first moveable beehive. His design, the Langstroth, is to this day still one of the most commonly used hive by beekeepers around the world. There are others of course and I’ll talk about them maybe at some point in time, but this is nice to know.
And now, there’s me, a new beekeeper, a newBEE, someone who knows stuff because he’s read about it and watched a bunch of youtube videos. If the ancient Egyptians, Greek, Romans all did it. Why shouldn’t I, right? Right?!
The hive I picked is similar in design as the Langstroth but due to the fact that here in Belgium and the Netherlands most beekeepers use a slightly different design, I decided to go for a Simplex. This one is based on a hive designed from the 1890s in England that was supposed to be a bit nicer on the bees than a Langstroth. The thing with these is that I honestly can’t really see the difference versus a Langstroth, I think my frames are a bit different? And the size of the brood box and the honey super? If I’m not mistaken it was mostly because it was thicker and therefor a bit more insulated.
But the concept is the same as Langstroth, and at some point, I too will probably go for a Langstroth hive.
But for now, I have a Belgium Simplex one, purely because it would make my life easier in order to get bees in there.
And it was quite easy.
As you may know, dear reader, I have been spending the past few weeks getting ready for the moment of their arrival.
The past Saturday I spent most of my morning putting down the finishing touches, clearing a bunch more brambles and other annoyances.
Yesterday I even set up the hive in the spot where it needed to go.
I’m not the handiest of people when it comes to anything really. So it took me more effort than I am willing to admit to in order to get this setup correctly. Mind you, the hive needs to be level from side to side and a little incline so that water and condensation can get out. Water out from the top, and condensation from inside. So it needed to be, somewhat “perfect”. It doesn’t look it, but it is to me
And because the weather was nice and it was the perfect time for it, got the bees in it too.
But that last bit, is for another post, since I’m rambling on enough as is.
The actual adventure, starts now.
Stay tuned o7