An introduction to Historical Beekeeping

Honey Bees are just a part of the large pollinator insect group. Beekeepers are specialised to keep Honey Bees Colonies in a controlled environment, they call it a Beehive. From the historical point of view, Honey Bee Colonies were found in hollow Tree-Trunks in the woodlands. People used to harvest honey and wax from those cavities and as you can imagine, got stung a lot while doing so. At some point, hundreds of years ago, people started to ‘house’ Honey Bees, and so the honourable craft of the Beekeeper was born. Nowadays, Beehives are traditionally made from wood and come in different sizes, forms and shapes, depending on the Beekeepers country and personal preferences. Keeping Bees is now a hobby for many, many people around the world. 

You might ask yourself now: ‘Why on Earth is he interested in doing old stuff when there are so much better modern techniques?’

Let me explain it a bit in detail. As a Scientist and Beekeeper, I am very keen on learning more about the historical methods of beekeeping. There are just a few books about this highly interesting subject. Beekeeper around the world still use some very old equipment and methods of beekeeping. I for myself want to know more about historical Beekeeping , and there is just one way of gaining more knowledge. I have to recreate the conditions of my favourite three different time periods.

The journey through time and space, endless discussions and lots of arguments

Viking, Medieval and Tudor re-enactment is my hobby. I want to learn how the Vikings got all the honey for medicine and for the vast amounts of mead. Honey was the only sweet source for this island. In medieval times, beekeeping bees was something very special. Beekeeping was protected by law,  because honey was such a precious good. Since the Tudor times sugar became a fashion and the import of sugar made from sugarcane and later on made from sugar beets started to take over.

Historical Beekeeping is always a tricky subject. We do not know a lot about the old ways of keeping bees. I am not a professional historian who claims to have 100% evidence of what I am doing. My historical Beekeeping knowledge is collected from books, manuscripts and folk lore, mixed with my modern understanding of Beekeeping and a nice pinch of Experimental Living History. I am not reinventing the wheel. I am trying my best to come as close to the roots of ancient Beekeeping as I possible can.

Viking Beekeeping – Medieval Beekeeping – Tudor Beekeeping

Please select the relevant time period for more information about my Historical Beekeeping Projects, and if you wish, return to them from time to time to keep up to date. I will update each section step by step as soon as I have gathered more information and experience. I am more than sure that you will enjoy it as much as I do.