Century-old beekeeping equipment

Historically, in 1919 rationing as a consequence of the Great War (WWII) was still in effect, there was money to be made with honey which was not rationed. Spanish Flu was on its second pass through the world population with a greater than 90% mortality rate. With mortality rate comes to an easing of resources and labor shortages. Farmers saw an opportunity for easy money, and beekeeping according to the Encyclopedia Britannica in the United States was easy.

Bad Beekeeping Blog

This picture is from exactly 100 years ago. It was late winter, 1919. An agriculture agent came to this Kentucky Appalachian farm to teach modern beekeeping. He was teaching ‘modern beekeeping’ that we can recognize.  Not much has changed in the basic bee yard.

The wooden ‘crates’ around the hives are for winter protection – those aren’t used much anymore. But the frame held  by the student is exactly the same shape and size as the frame used by most beekeepers today. We might have trucks and forklifts and ventilated white suits, but the heart of our beekeeping – frames and boxes – are the same.

I sometimes wonder why we are using century-old equipment, but the answers are fairly clear: it works and we’re stuck. If you buy a hive, it will probably be the same size and shape as great-granddad’s. And if you ever need to sell your…

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