The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture

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by Gene Kritsky
Hardcover, 224 Pages, Published 2010
In this charming book, entomology professor Kritsky (who describes himself as “”stung with the love of bees””) incorporates material gathered over decades, from all over the world, to present a lively history of beekeeping. No one knows exactly how long humans have been keeping bees, but depictions appear in 5,000-year-old Egyptian paintings and sculpture, using a hive style that can still be found in Egypt today (horizontal mud cylinders stacked in walls). The first beekeepers of northern Europe tended wild hives, gradually domesticating bees with log hives. With the industrial and agricultural revolutions of the 19th century, bee hives were inevitably targeted for improvement, though the Victorian tendency to over-design didn’t always result in practical structures; it was the late-19th century development of removable frame hives-the familiar “”white box”” style still in wide use-that led to major changes in beekeeping in the U.S. and Europe (though traditional methods still prevail in many countries). Kritsky’s passion for his subject translates into gentle yet clear prose, abundant historical illustrations, and careful explanations of what bees need to thrive, and how humans figured it out; though of limited appeal, this is an ideal introduction to the craft of beekeeping. 147 b&w illus.