Beekeeping had its origins in honey hunting—the opportunistic stealing of honey from wild honey bee nests. True beekeeping began when humans started providing artificial cavities within which the bees could build comb for the queen to lay her eggs and the workers could process honey. By 2450 , the Egyptians had developed sophisticated apiculture, and, within two millennia, beekeeping with horizontal hives had spread throughout the Mediterranean. During Europe's Middle Ages, honey and wax became important commodities for trade, and beekeeping in skep, log, box, and tree hives flourished to meet the demand. Other species of honey bees contributed to the development and spread of beekeeping in Asia beginning around 300 . Meanwhile, beekeeping evolved independently in Mesoamerica with the stingless bee , as documented by archaeological finds and written accounts that survived Spanish conquest.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Literature Cited

  1. 1. Univ. Aberdeen 2016. The Aberdeen Bestiary Aberdeen, UK: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/comment/63rbees.hti [Google Scholar]
  2. Abivardi C. 2.  2001. Iranian Entomology: Applied Entomology Berlin: Springer [Google Scholar]
  3. Akkaya H, Alkan S. 3.  2007. Beekeeping in Anatolia from the Hittites to the present day. J. Apic. Res. 462120–24 [Google Scholar]
  4. Anderson-Stojanović VR, Jones JE. 4.  2002. Ancient beehives from Isthmia. Hesperia J. Am. Sch. Class. Stud. Athens 714345–76 [Google Scholar]
  5. Anglicus B. 5.  n.d. De Proprietatibus Rerum transl. J Corbechon. http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-7826026&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C [Google Scholar]
  6. Avery M. 6.  1936. The Exultet Rolls of Italy 2 Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. PressAvery provides detailed images of the bees and beehives in the Exultet Rolls, the first beekeeping illustrations since ancient Egypt's Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. [Google Scholar]
  7. Barber R. 7.  1992. Bestiary Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford MS Bodley 764 London: Folio Soc. [Google Scholar]
  8. 8. Bari Exultet Roll 2016. Bari, Italy. http://www.scalarchives.it/web/dettaglio_immagine.asp?idImmagine=0057567&posizione=1&numImmagini=1&prmset=on&ANDOR=and&xesearch=0057567&ricerca_s=0057567&SC_PROV=RR&SC_Lang=ita&Sort=8
  9. Beltrán A. 9.  1982. Rock Art of the Spanish Levant Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  10. 10. Bibl. Natl. France 2016. Tacuinum Sanitatis http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08100553&E=JPEG&Deb=163&Fin=163&Param=C [Google Scholar]
  11. Blank-Weissberg S. 11.  1937. Barcie i Kłody w Polsce Warsaw, Pol: Z Zasiłku Minist. Rol. Reform Rol. [Google Scholar]
  12. Bloch G, Francoy TM, Wachtel I, Panitz-Cohen N, Fuchs S, Mazar A. 12.  2010. Industrial apiculture in the Jordan valley during Biblical times with Anatolian honeybees. PNAS 1072511240–44 [Google Scholar]
  13. Bodleian Libr. 13.  2016. Rawlinson Manuscripts (MS. Rawl. G. 98) Oxford, UK. http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/online/medieval/rawlinson/rawl-g.html [Google Scholar]
  14. Bodleian Libr. 14.  2016. Flemish Psalter MS. Douce 6. Oxford, UK. http://bodley30.bodley.ox.ac.uk:8180/luna/servlet/detail/ODLodl∼1∼1∼43633∼120518:Psalter?trs=4&mi=0&qvq=q%3Abee+hive%3Blc%3AODLodl%7E14%7E14%2CODLodl%7E1%7E1%2CODLodl%7E23%7E23%2CODLodl%7E24%7E24%2CODLodl%7E6%7E6%2CODLodl%7E7%7E7%2CODLodl%7E8%7E8 [Google Scholar]
  15. Boesch C, Head J, Robbins MM. 15.  2009. Complex tool sets for honey extraction among chimpanzees in Loango National Park, Gabon. J. Hum. Evol. 6560–69 [Google Scholar]
  16. Bonet Rosado H, Mata Pareño C. 16.  1997. The archaeology of beekeeping in pre-Roman Iberia. J. Mediterr. Archael. 10:33–47 [Google Scholar]
  17. Brasseur de Bourbourg A. 17.  1869. Manuscrit Troano: Études Sur le Système Graphique et la Langue des Mayas Paris: Imprimerie Impériale [Google Scholar]
  18. 18. Br. Libr 2016. Bestiary, and Various Theological Texts Royal 12 C XIX. London, UK. https://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=55682 [Google Scholar]
  19. 19. Br. Libr 2016. King's 24. London, UK. http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=8848 [Google Scholar]
  20. Chase AF, Chase DZ. 20.  2005. The Early Classic Period at Caracol, Belize: transitions, complexity, and methodological issues in Maya archaeology. Res. Rep. Belizean Archaeol. 217–38 [Google Scholar]
  21. Chase DZ, Chase AF. 21.  1998. The architectural context of caches, burials, and other ritual activities for the Classic Period Maya (as reflected at Caracol, Belize). Function and Meaning in Classic Maya Architecture SD Houston 299–332 Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Res. Libr. Collect. [Google Scholar]
  22. Ciaramella M, Vail G. 22.  2002. Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing: The Bee-Keepers in the Madrid Codex 52 Washington, DC: Cent. Maya Res. [Google Scholar]
  23. Cilliers L, Retief FP. 23.  2008. Bees, honey and health in antiquity. Akroterion 537–19 [Google Scholar]
  24. Columella LJM. 24.  1941. Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella on Agriculture II Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  25. Crane E. 25.  1971. For those interested in history. Bee World 52280–81 [Google Scholar]
  26. Crane E. 26.  1983. The Archaeology of Beekeeping Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  27. Crane E. 27.  1994. Beekeeping in the world of Ancient Rome. Bee World 753118–34 [Google Scholar]
  28. Crane E. 28.  1998. Wall hives and wall beekeeping. Bee World 79111–22 [Google Scholar]
  29. Crane E. 29.  1999. The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting New York: RoutledgeCrane's book is the most comprehensive examination of beekeeping history up to 1999. [Google Scholar]
  30. Crane E, Graham AJ. 30.  1985. Bee hives of the Ancient World. 1. Bee World 66123–41 [Google Scholar]
  31. Crane E, Graham AJ. 31.  1985. Bee hives of the Ancient World. 2. Bee World 664148–70 [Google Scholar]
  32. Crane E, Walker P. 32.  1985. Evidence on Welsh beekeeping in the past. Folk Life 23121–48 [Google Scholar]
  33. Crane E, Walker P. 33.  1999. Early English beekeeping: the evidence from local records up to the end of the Norman period. Local Hist 293130–51 [Google Scholar]
  34. Crickette M, Sanz CM, Morgan DB. 34.  2009. Flexible and persistent tool-using strategies in honey-gathering by wild chimpanzees. Int. J. Primatol. 30411–27 [Google Scholar]
  35. Davies M, Kathirithamby J. 35.  1986. Greek Insects Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  36. Engel MS, Hinojosa-Díaz IA, Rasnitsyn AP. 36.  2009. A honey bee from the Miocene of Nevada and the biogeography of Apis (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apini). Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 60323–38 [Google Scholar]
  37. Fahsen DM, Raxulew KM. 37.  2007. Los Códices: Códices de Madrid (To-Cortesiano) Quetzaltenango, Guatemala: Liga Maya [Google Scholar]
  38. Foster LV. 38.  2002. Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  39. Francis JE. 39.  2012. Experiments with an old ceramic beehive. Oxf. J. Archaeol. 312143–59 [Google Scholar]
  40. Fraser HM. 40.  1931. Beekeeping in Antiquity London: Univ. London Press [Google Scholar]
  41. Fraser HM. 41.  1958. History of Beekeeping in Britain London: Bee Res. Assoc. [Google Scholar]
  42. Freeman MB. 42.  1945. Lighting the Easter candle. Metrop. Mus. Art Bull. 3194–200 [Google Scholar]
  43. Freidel AA, Sabloff JA. 43.  1984. Cozemel: Late Maya Settlement Patterns Orlando, FL: Academic [Google Scholar]
  44. Galton D. 44.  1971. Beeswax as an import in Mediaeval England. Bee World 52268–74 [Google Scholar]
  45. Ghosh GK. 45.  1998. Beekeeping in India New Delhi, India: Ashish Publ. House [Google Scholar]
  46. Herrod-Hempsall W. 46.  1937. Bee-Keeping New and Old Described with Pen and Camera II London: Brit. Bee J. [Google Scholar]
  47. Imre DM, Young L, Marcus J. 47.  2010. Ancient Maya Beekeeping (ca. 1000–1520 CE). Univ. Mich. Undergrad. Res. J. 742–50 [Google Scholar]
  48. Johnson SAJ. 48.  2013. Translating Maya Hieroglyphs Norman, OK: Univ. Oklahoma Press [Google Scholar]
  49. Johnston RA. 49.  2011. All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World 1 Santa Barbara. CA: ABC-CLIO [Google Scholar]
  50. Jones JE, Graham AJ, Sackett LH. 50.  1973. An Attic country house below the cave of Pan at Vari. Annu. Br. Sch. Athens 68355–452 [Google Scholar]
  51. Jones R. 51.  2013. A short history of beekeeping in the Ukraine. Bee World 90112–14 [Google Scholar]
  52. Jones R. 52.  2013. Stingless bees: a historical perspective. Pot-Honey: A Legacy of Stingless Bees P Vit, RM Silvia, D Roubik New York: Springer-Verlag [Google Scholar]
  53. Kelly MT. 53.  1897. Saint Gobnata, and her hive of bees. J. Cork Hist. Archaeol. Soc. 327100–6 [Google Scholar]
  54. Koeke ED, Porterfield KM. 54.  2001. Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World: 15,000 Years of Inventions and Innovations New York: Facts on File [Google Scholar]
  55. 55. Koninklijke Bibl 2016. Georgics (KB 76 E 21 II, fol. 42v). http://resources42.kb.nl/MIMI/mimi_76E21/MIMI_76E21_DL2_042V_MIN.JPG [Google Scholar]
  56. Kritsky G. 56.  2010. The Quest for the Perfect Hive New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  57. Kritsky G. 57.  2015. The Tears of Re: Beekeeping in Ancient Egypt New York: Oxford Univ. PressThis book includes the most detailed description of the beekeeping reliefs from ancient Egypt. [Google Scholar]
  58. Lau CW. 58.  2012. Ancient Chinese apiculture. Bee World 89478–81 [Google Scholar]
  59. Macri MJ, Vail G. 59.  2009. The New Catalog of Maya Hieroglyphs, Volume Two: The Codical Texts Norman, OK: Univ. Oklahoma Press [Google Scholar]
  60. Magnus O. 60.  1555. Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus Rome: Apud Ioannem Mariam de Viottis Parmensem [Google Scholar]
  61. Mathpal Y. 61.  1984. Newly discovered rock paintings in central India showing honey collection. Bee World 653121–26 [Google Scholar]
  62. Mazar A, Panitz-Cohen N. 62.  2007. It is the land of honey: beekeeping at Tel Rehov. Near East. Archaeol. 704202–19 [Google Scholar]
  63. Nye R. 63.  2004. Beowulf London: Orion Child. Books [Google Scholar]
  64. Oldroyd BP, Wongsiri W, Seeley TD. 64.  2006. Asian Honey Bees: Biology, Conservation, and Human Interactions Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  65. Park MS, Yeo-Chang Y. 65.  2012. Traditional knowledge of Korean native beekeeping and sustainable forest management. For. Policy Econ. 15:37–45 [Google Scholar]
  66. Pattinson D. 66.  2012. Pre-modern beekeeping in China: a short history. Agric. Hist. 864235–55 [Google Scholar]
  67. 67. Pierpont Morgan Libr 2016. Worksop Bestiary (MS M.81) New York: http://corsair.themorgan.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=243063 [Google Scholar]
  68. Platearius M. 68.  n.d. Book of Simple Medicines http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08101685&E=JPEG&Deb=208&Fin=208&Param=C [Google Scholar]
  69. 69. Pliny the Elder 1855. The Natural History London: Taylor and Francis [Google Scholar]
  70. Radford UM. 70.  1949. The wax images found in Exeter Cathedral. Antiqu. J. 293–4164–68 [Google Scholar]
  71. Ransome H. 71.  1986. The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore Bridgwater, Engl.: Bee Books New & Old [Google Scholar]
  72. Roffet-Salque M, Regert M, Evershed RP, Outram AK, Cramp LJE. 72.  et al. 2015. Widespread exploitation of the honeybee by early Neolithic farmers. Nature 527226–31 [Google Scholar]
  73. Saggs HWF. 73.  1984. The Might That Was Assyria London: Sidgwick & Jackson [Google Scholar]
  74. Samojlik T, Jędrzejewska B. 74.  2004. Utilization of Białowieża Forest in the times of Jagiellonian dynasty and its traces in the contemporary forest environment. Sylwan 148:1137–50 [Google Scholar]
  75. Shah FA. 75.  1984. The origin of beekeeping in Kashmir. Bee World 65112–18 [Google Scholar]
  76. Shimanuki H, Flottum K, Harman A. 76.  2007. The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture Medina, OH: A. I. Root Co, 41st ed.. [Google Scholar]
  77. Sidrys RV, Anderson JM. 77.  1983. Archaeological Excavations in Northern Belize, Central America Los Angeles: Inst. Archaeol., Univ. Calif. [Google Scholar]
  78. Sommeijer MJ. 78.  1999. Beekeeping with stingless bees: a new type of hive. Bee World 80270–79 [Google Scholar]
  79. Taxel I. 79.  2006. Ceramic evidence for beekeeping in Palestine in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. Levant 38203–12 [Google Scholar]
  80. Thompson JW. 80.  1928. An Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages (300–1300) New York: Century Co. [Google Scholar]
  81. 81. Univ. Salzbg. Instit. Realienkd 2012. Concordantiae caritatis (Lilienfeld Stiftsbibliothek 151). Salzburg, Austria. http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7005079.JPG [Google Scholar]
  82. 82. Univ. Salzbg. Instit. Realienkd 2012. Concordantiae caritatis (Lilienfeld Stiftsbibliothek 151). Salzburg, Austria. http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7004810.JPG [Google Scholar]
  83. 83. Univ. Salzbg. Instit. Realienkd 2012. Concordantiae caritatis (Lilienfeld Stiftsbibliothek 151). Salzburg, Austria. http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7004839.JPG [Google Scholar]
  84. Vail G. 84.  1994. A commentary on the bee almanacs in the Codex Madrid. Códices y Documentos Sobre México: Primer Simposio CV Sosa 37–68 México City: Inst. Nac. Antropol. Hist. [Google Scholar]
  85. Vail G. 85.  2006. The Maya codices. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 35497–519 [Google Scholar]
  86. Vail G, Aveni A. 86.  2004. Maya calendars and dates: interpreting the calendrical structure of Maya almanacs. The Madrid Codex: New Approaches to Understanding an Ancient Maya Manuscript G Vail, A Aveni. Boulder, CO: Univ. Colorado Press [Google Scholar]
  87. Vail G, Hernández C. 87.  2013. The Maya Codices Database, Version 5.0, accessed March 15, 2016. http://www.mayacodices.org
  88. Varro MT. 88.  1934. De Re Rustica, on Agriculture, Book III London: Loeb Class. Libr. [Google Scholar]
  89. Vernon FG. 89.  1979. Beekeeping in 1269–1270 at Beaulieu Abbey in England. Bee World 604170–75 [Google Scholar]
  90. Whitfield BG. 90.  1956. Virgil and the bees: a study in ancient apicultural lore. Greece Rome 3299–117 [Google Scholar]
  91. Williams IW, Padjus P, Pärn E, Rootslane M, Susi J. 91.  1995. A history of beekeeping in Estonia. Bee World 76118–30 [Google Scholar]
  92. Źrałka J, Koszkul W, Radnicka K, Santos LES, Hermes B. 92.  2014. Excavations in Nakum structure 99: new data on Protoclassic rituals and Precolumbian Maya beekeeping. Estud. Cult. Maya 4485–117 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error