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Since When Bees

The bee is man's oldest friend. Appeared on Earth forty-five million years ago, that is to say long before this one, the wild ancestor of all species of bees probably originated in India, although the Egyptian species, already visible on pharaonic monuments, is specific to Africa.



The man, like the fox and the bear, began by tasting the honey of wild bees. Domestic honey seems to have been known as early as the third millennium in Mesopotamia. One fact is certain: beekeeping is a technique that the inhabitants of Cappadocia mastered from the middle of the 2nd millennium: the Hittite Code condemns the appropriation of swarms if the bees belong to individuals. In any case, honey was the first source of sugar for man, the only one until the Renaissance, and was the first plastic.



In the West, the beginnings of modern beekeeping, with intensive exploitation of honey, date from the second half of the 19th century: in 1789, the Swiss naturalist François Huber had developed the first hive with movable frames. On this principle, the American PR Langstroth created in 1851 the type of hive with supers, which allows easy extraction of honey by centrifuge: it is the Langstroth hive, still in use, concurrently with the Dadant hive - named after the Frenchman who soon after invented a different, but also a practical model. In South America, stingless bees (or honey bees), numbering several dizaimes of species, were used by pre-Columbian peoples and remain so by certain ethnic groups that descend from them.


Domestic honey has been known to the Mesopotamians for over 100,000 years.


The breeding covers at least two species. There is even a "honey civilization", that of the Guayaki Indians of eastern Paraguay, for whom honey is the main food and where wax takes the place of clay: it is one of the most rudimentary forms of forest life.


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