"The oldest representation of the relationship between man and bee dates back to the Neolithic period"
Remember that honey is a syrupy and sweet amber-coloured substance,
elaborated by the honey bees, Apis mellifica, from the nectar of the flowers or honeydew that they gather, transform in their stomachs, then regurgitate in the wax cells of the hive for the food of their community. Bees have been known since the Tertiary Era, and in Baltic amber, for example, many fossils of social bees have been found that collected nectar and stored honey long before man appeared on earth. Of all the animals, primates used sticks to loot the honey, which they pushed into the hive to remove it. Man, in the first place, must have been inspired by these gestures to harvest honey as well. Recent research tends to prove that man became interested in bees at the end of the Ice Age, but it is not known exactly when the domestication of bees began.
The oldest representation of the relationship between man and bee dates back to the Neolithic period: it is a cave painting dating back to 7,000 BC, found on the walls of a Spanish cave in the Valencia region, showing a human figure collecting honey with the help of a basket.
* Pic: Castellon (Spain) where a rock engraving shows a scene of honey harvest dating from 4000 to 4500 BC.
At that time, according to their paintings, they managed to catch honey in the hives overlooking the mountains and cliffs, just like our rhododendron honey is harvested in Nepal, the Mad honey.
Egypt and Mesopotamia
"In the hieroglyphic alphabet of Egypt, the bee symbolizes royalty"
All ancient peoples knew, appreciated and used honey, considering it a blessing from the gods. Thus, in Egypt, the bee was exploited as early as 2400 BC. There was certainly a monopoly of honey for the benefit of priests and kings, for whom it constituted, along with wax, part of the income. Only white honey, therefore pure, was intended for royal or divine consumption, while honey of second choice was reserved for everyday consumption. It was then widely used as a sweetener, also as an offering to the gods and as an ingredient for embalming; it was also used in the composition of medicines and perfumes prepared in the temples. The Egyptians also made honey cakes and offered them to the gods, and honey blush was used to embellish the statue of a god or a deceased person by giving it colour or shine.
The Book of Preparation of Medicines for All Parts of the Human Body, Egyptian papyrus of the 16th century B.C., still known as Ebers 6 papyrus, discovered a quantity of honey-based preparations that healed all wounds, diseases of the digestive tract, kidneys, eyes, etc. These preparations came in the form of pills, ointments, decoctions, dressings, plasters, eye drops. Thus, out of 900 different remedies, we note more than 500 in which honey enters.
Although the first hives date back 3000 years, the Egyptians were already tasting honey 4500 years ago.
In the 21st century B.C., in Sumer, Babylon and Mesopotamia, honey was placed as an offering on altars and temple steps. The Bible makes extensive reference to honey, and Palestine is considered "the land of milk and honey. The first hives date back to antiquity: archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered, in 2007, 30 intact hives 3,000 years old in the ruins of Rehov in northern Israel. Beekeeping was widely practiced in ancient times, especially in the Near East, where honey was used for medical, religious and food purposes.
The oldest description of beekeeping comes from a bas-relief dating back to 2400 B.C. from the solar temple of Abu Ghorab in Lower Egypt.
"the Greeks had prepared numerous recipes for sweet dishes and honey cakes"
In ancient Greece, it was an ancient custom to offer honey to the gods and spirits of death. Honey was used not only to honour the gods, but also the heroes and victors, so athletes never entered an arena or stadium without first taking honey. According to mythology, the bees secretly took Zeus as a child from the cave on Mount Ida where he was entrusted to the priestesses and nymphs, his father Cronos devouring his children, while Dionysus and Apollo were
gods who, for their part, had been nourished with the honey offered by the Muses, the goddesses and bees.
The goddess Hera represents youth and offers honey to the gods to prevent them from getting old. This is why, during funeral ceremonies, the dead person would take honey cakes with him to offer them to Pluto, god of the underworld, so that he could provide health and well-being in the afterlife.
The importance of honey for the living is widely emphasized in many Greek classics such as Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, the Banquet of the Sophists of Athenaeus, the philosophical writings of Aristotle, and Democritus. The fact that Hippocrates was instrumental in advocating the use of honey in food and medicine is no coincidence, because he was well aware of its nutritional value, its pleasant taste associated with its strong sweetening power, its beneficial virtues in dietetics, and some of its therapeutic properties, in particular the fact that, cooked with cabbage, it was excellent for treating colic and dysentery, that it facilitated the healing of wounds, took advantage of its emollient, tonic and refreshing properties in teeth.
In terms of gastronomy, the Greeks had prepared numerous recipes for sweet dishes and honey cakes, which they accompanied with wine also sweetened with honey. Similarly, cakes made with cheeses mixed with honey were described at the end of the 5th century BC by Euripides as the best.
*Pic :The ancient Greek frequently used offerings of honey or honey cakes to attract the good graces of certain deities.
"Romans practiced offering honey to the gods"
The Romans borrowed their mythology from the Greeks, usually only changing the names of the deities, and also devoted a "cult" to bees and honey. Thus Pliny speaks about it abundantly in his Natural History, and Virgil, in his Georgias, wrote a very long ode to the glory of bees and honey: "At last I will sing of the industrious people who gather honey, this sweet gift from heaven... "
Like the Greeks, the Romans practiced offering honey to the gods. It was a sacred product and the priestesses of Ceres, goddess of the harvest, were called bees, and her daughter was called Mellita. They offered honey to the divinized ancestors by pouring it over the flame of the altar hearth with the wine and milk, and furthermore, they were convinced that honey was one of the foods that the dead enjoyed and so they frequently embalmed them in honey.
Moreover, they used it abundantly in cooking. Honey was also widely used for its medicinal properties. For example, Dioscorides recommends using it cooked with powdered rock salt to heal wounds, earaches and other ailments, Galen recommends it to fight inflammation of the tissues and Pliny describes its many beneficial effects. As early as the 1st century BC, there was industrial beekeeping with large-scale management of the hives by slaves. Book IV of Virgil's "Georgics" gives a very precise description of the state of beekeeping at the time.
The Gauls had to collect honey from wild bees and in these early days of our dated history, it can be assumed that honey was still collected using ladders and that the hive gradually imposed itself at the mercy of invasions by the contribution of new populations bringing their new ways of life, their craft and cultural techniques.
Although the methods of exploitation are unknown to us, laws were enacted concerning the harvesting of honey.
The Romans knew the Mad honey, and they used it as poison against their enemies by setting a trap for them. The night was beautiful and greedy, but it was the last for all of them.
Don't worry, the Mad Honey we offer does not contain the same amount of toxin!
Click here if you want to know more about this special honey !
You can find it on our shop right here.
*Pic: Engraving dating from ancient Rome and depicting Gallic slaves harvesting wild honey
From Christianity to the Middle Ages
"The harvesting of honey from wild swarms is an activity still very much present in the Middle Ages."
Christianity leads to an increase in the production of honey and wax, the latter being used for religious purposes in the production of candles. The Koran also praises the virtues of honey. The use of honey is still important in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Cooking is very often based on honey and the dishes are varied and highly prized. In terms of therapeutic uses, apothecaries draw from ancient recipes, particularly from the works of Dioscorides and Galen, and also from the Canon of Avicenna's Medicine, one of the most remarkable physicians of the Islamic civilization of the Middle Ages, who was greatly influenced by the work of Aristotle, as were most Arab physicians of that time, who left remarkable writings and used honey for therapeutic purposes and as a sweet ingredient in electuaries and theriacs .
The bee also has medical applications. The harvesting of honey from wild swarms is an activity still very much present in the Middle Ages. It is generally done by smothering and multiplication of the bee by that of natural swarms. Beside this forest activity, apiaries are established, consisting of straw hives surmounted by a hive especially to protect it from bad weather, populated by the recovery of wild swarms ... We use hives because they are cited in the Treaty of Agriculture by P. de Crescenzi and the authors of some books make the apology of their methods that do not sacrifice the bees for the harvest of honey.
Thus, in the sixteenth century, a drink made from dried and roasted bees is cited for its curative properties against digestive tract diseases, and it is recommended the application on the skull of an ointment consisting of a powder of dried bees mixed with fats as a remedy for alopecia . Among the pharmaceutical forms, we find ceramics and mellites as shown in the inventory of a pharmacy in Cazères in 1597, then, little by little, new forms appearing using sugar and thus in 1681, it is mentioned marshmallow sugar .
*Pic: Engraving: In 1513, Gabriel Alonso de Herrera wrote a book on agriculture, the fifth volume of which is devoted to bees, but there he produced an umpteenth compilation work on the ancient model.
In the seventeenth century, cane sugar, the only one known at the time and which, until the reign of Henry IV was considered a rare commodity and a medicine sold as such by apothecaries, was competing with honey as a result of the development of maritime trade, which led to its relative abundance on the market and an appreciable reduction in its price.
As mentioned by Moyse Charas: "Its use is nevertheless today much less than that of sugar; & we prepare in our shops, only five or six kinds of honey, most of which are intended for the Clysteres, two kinds of oxymels, namely the simple & the scillitic & a mead, nicknamed vinous"
14th to 16th centuries
"In the Middle Ages, beekeeping was a feudal right"
In the Middle Ages, beekeeping was a feudal right that allowed kings, lords and abbeys to take a certain quantity of swarms, hives, wax and/or honey from the apiaries of their vassals. However, the honey harvest was abundant in the forest and in the 14th and 15th centuries, the lords and clergymen had recourse to forestry agents, the "bigres", who collected the wild swarms and kept them in apiaries which could be in the middle of the woods: the "bigreries" or "fly hostels".bIn Lorraine, the lords - at the end of the 15th century - left it up to farmers to keep their bees, who then became beekeeper-metayers called "brixeurs" or "briseurs jurés" (sworn breakers). There was thus a breaker by crane factory or provostry.
*The term "bigre" comes from the Latin word apiger, api, bee and gererer, to govern, to lead; other words formed: apicurus and apes. In the course of its evolution, the "a" was removed and the "p" transformed into a "b" as it was often practised. Thus the word 'picurus' became 'bicrus', a man used in the Latin and French charters from the 12th century onwards, then 'bigre', a guard in charge of looking after the bees in the forests known as 'lands of bigre'. The latter had the right to cut down the tree in which the swarm lived and whose wood was given to them for heating, which in some localities made them called "francs-bigres" as opposed to the wood thieves who ravaged the forests.
The 18th century
"From then on, a new form of beekeeping appeared in the concern to no longer destroy the colonies for harvesting."
Réaumur's discoveries give new impetus to beekeeping.
It was in 1730 that Jacques de Gelieu, father of Jonas de Gelieu, invented the "hausse", that he disputed the primacy of G. de Formanoir de Palteau, who allowed a harvest without destroying the colony. The latter had received the approval of M. de Réaumur. From then on, a new form of beekeeping appeared in the concern to no longer destroy the colonies for harvesting. Many beekeepers became authors, including M. Lombard, Féburier and many extension workers, all of whom had been trained in the hive with hives with hives and against the practice of smothering.
Smothering consisted, when the hive was filled with honey, in burning a sulphurous wick whose combustion gas -SO2- asphyxiated the colony. It was traditionally practiced according to the region, on Holy Week or on St. John's Day.
It was estimated that in France, the region of Evreux to 3400 the number of hives suffocated in a single year. However this figure does not mean anything if one does not compare it with the number of hives in activity which, for the English Channel reached 67 311, 78 000 in Morbihan, this in 1848. H. Hamet estimated that these figures were about 25% lower than the reality.
The swarms were then a wealth and considered as a blessing and thus their number was much higher than the number of suffocated hives.
On the other hand, the cultivation of fodder plants, sainfoin and alfalfa, the predominant natural meadows, rapeseed, cultivated without insecticide and buckwheat gave the bees all the possibilities of expansion and life according to their biology.
Although this practice was to be condemned, choking had the advantage of radically stopping the spread of diseases that could later turn into an epizootic.
René-Antoire Ferchault de Réaumur (1683-1757): Réaumur made an important contribution to today's beekeeping: he created observation hives he coined the term drone, which like a bumblebee flies with a bomber sound he described the harvesting of the hive products he noted that the bee's trunk is actually a tongue he described the venom gland, male organs, royal jelly, the difference in the feeding of larvae and nymphs as well as the lice (brola caola) of the bee he was the first beekeeper to mark his queens. he describes the passage from egg to larva promoting genetics, his work on hybridization makes Réaumur the precursor of Mendell's work.
The 19th century
"If for some beekeepers, the principle which leads these constructions is to respect the bee and to direct them, others only see it as a way to intensify their work."
It was the most fertile period of beekeeping when a large number of books were published, both on the bee and in the field of hives where the models are infinite. Some are made of straw, others of wood, or a mixture of straw and wooden hives.
If for some beekeepers, the principle which leads these constructions is to respect the bee and to direct them, others only see it as a way to intensify their work. It was nevertheless the golden age of beekeeping, as much for the bee as for the creativity of the beekeepers to house them or to create new tools, in the search for the flow of products and the manufacture of new products where honey could enter: various alcohols, wines, meads, soaps, gingerbread, etc....
Some of these beekeepers give their visions of the world of bees which today prove to be totally wrong because it is obvious that the world of bees does not respond to our human logic. At the same time, in 1856, Henri Hamet founded the "Société Economique d'Apiculture" and the newspaper "L'apiculteur" to bring together the world of beekeepers, then without structure and means of information.
It is the period when one will seek to mechanize beekeeping in all its phases and M. Moreau will propose a machine to tap the hives for decanting, while others presented trades to make hives and their especially
*Pic: In 1855, H. Hamet obtained, with the support of General Marquis d'Hauptoul, a great referendary of the senate, an apiarist and bee breeder, the concession of a plot of land in the Luxembourg garden.
*Pic: In 1853, Doctor Debeauvoys gave a few lessons and took them to the Luxembourg Garden to make his beehive known; his assistant Régnier took over and in 1854, H. Hamet took over the Luxembourg lessons.
*Pic: The end of the 19th century is interesting because there are many observations in two opposing systems and the arguments brought by both can be used to distinguish what each one had for him- true or false, following the knowledge that we have today; it is the transition period that will make beekeeping today.
The writings of practising beekeepers defending many hive systems in the magazine "L'apiculteur", of which H. Hamet is the director, confront mobilists who have acquired the new methods which allow the use of the mello-extractor and fixists attached to traditional hives, whether made of straw or wood. Famous signatures initial the articles and one can read those of Ch. Dadant, Father Collin, J. Dennler and many others.
The 20th century : the end of fixism... to intensive beekeeping
"... family beekeeping was abandoned in favour of professionals who operated up to several hundred hives and who were able to transhumance them"
Fixism will persist for much of the 20th century among small farmers, amateur beekeepers and beekeepers who earn extra income.
A 1942 decree of the French State put an end to my practice of suffocating bees by prohibiting it while under this same government, thousands of French people took the road to the gas chambers and concentration camps.
Mobilism and the invention of the mello-extractor gave birth to modern beekeeping.
Some beekeepers still wanted to reconcile the comfort of the bee with ease of operation, but it was not the latter that won the favour of the majority of French beekeepers. Conquered by good publicity and by this "made in USA" creation which gave it prestige, they chose the hive of Charles Dadant, a Frenchman who had emigrated to the United States, which favoured the comfort of operation.
The agricultural authorities of the twentieth century imposed "mobilism" and beekeeping works promoted frame hives and the fixists called chokers despite the fact that many of them, although they were in a minority, used hives with hives of different models. While Alin Caillas tells us that these beekeepers express a few kilograms of second choice honey from a mixture of honey, pollen and brood, accomplished with rudimentary tools, the beekeeping competitions of the time contradict this assertion because they talk about clear honeys... at least for the graduates of the competitions!
There is no lack of books to bait the reader: the apiary of report, the rational exploitation of the bees, "bee, breeding of report", "the prosperity in the countryside" where a chapter is devoted to "the repression of the swarming", productive hives, intensive beekeeping without counting the many articles of the beekeeping reviews which praised these methods; even the sister Isabelle de Jouffroy d'Abbans entitled her work "The apiary of great report". And the first words of R. Hommell in his work "Apiculture" are:
Beekeeping is that branch of the agricultural industry whose aim is to obtain, in the most economical way and in the maximum quantity, all the products that bees are likely to provide. - Beekeeping before its time!
Faced with the promise of better harvests, the skilful advertising, the works written by the leading beekeepers praising the new methods, the facilities offered by the new equipment which had been electrified, family beekeeping was abandoned in favour of professionals who operated up to several hundred hives and who were able to transhumance them. With mechanization, entire regions turned to crops other than the fodder crops required for animal traction.
Parallel to the productivist society represented by Fordism in the west, Stakhanovism in the east, intensive agriculture and breeding in the so-called developed countries, the same movement was to be brought to the bee, it was intensive beekeeping.
Pushing his intellectual possibilities in this direction to its extreme limits, A. Perret-Maisonneuve was the instigator and in the pre-war catalogues of the merchants of beekeeping materials, if one does not find Warré hives, the figure of Perret-Maisonneuve in his pages gives, if not prestige, at least "weight" to the house and one can read: ...this complete shortage on the subject is however the most interesting.
This gap in the bibliography of bees is today filled by the author of L'apiculture intensive et Elevage des Reines who has been able to overcome the real difficulties of a task that had put off so many others. Thanks to him, any beekeeper can become a breeder and even derive appreciable benefits from the industrial breeding of queens.
*Pic: Brother René-Jean Marmou in luxembourg garden, CAS Beekeeping courses 1975.
In those years, it was Brother René-Jean Marmou, a man with very little conversation, whose face was adorned with a voluminous grey beard, who was in charge of the beekeeping courses at the Luxembourg Gardens. The hive model is the "Dadant"!
No other hive is presented; there is no reflection on its advantages and disadvantages, its adaptation to the biology of the bee and its behaviour, no information on other hive models, etc.... Beekeeping is done with Dadant hives - period! The biology of the bee is studied and the practice is done with the above-mentioned hive.
The 21st century
"At the end of this century, will there still be be bees?"
Today, intensive beekeeping has to face many problems, including the decrease in bees and honey resources, the impoverishment of biodiversity, while the increasingly virulent toxic products used by the agriculture of the same name disrupt the entire living and environmental system. Immediate profit is now the only goal envisaged for resource management.
The beekeeper of the 21st century is a man in perpetual struggle: against insecticides that kill bees, against GMOs that pollute honey, to save his colonies from varroa mites and Asian hornets that destroy colonies, and against all the powers that be who want to impose an agriculture that is totally unconscious and detached from the problems they generate without taking responsibility for its disastrous consequences.
And we can ask ourselves this question: "At the end of this century, will there still be be bees?"
Save the bees
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