I had such fun at the Daylesford summer festival last year, and one thing the children were really drawn to was the beekeeping area, run by the amazing Chris from Cotswold Bees. He promised us that when the weather got better we could help with waking the bees, and we’ve been counting the weeks ever since.
The time is almost here, and before we do a little post on what we’ve seen and done, we wanted to share a few facts that Chris put together on Bees and Beekeeping. The first 150 million years!
- Bees as a species are known to be at least 150 million years old as fossilised remains have been found in amber.
- At least 9,000 years ago the Chinese were making an alcoholic drink fermented from rice, fruit and honey.
- Beekeeping has been around for at least 7,000 years and pictures of beekeeping appear in Spanish cave paintings from that time.
- Hives were first used by the ancient Egyptians 2,400 years ago.
- The Egyptians were the first to use honey for medicinal purposes, applying it to wounds.
- Today we know that honey has antibacterial and fungicidal properties.
- Smoke was first used to calm bees in the 17th century.
- During the Second World War beekeepers were given extra rations of sugar to feed to the bees in winter.
- Bees have an air conditioning system that involves circulating air and evaporating water to control the temperature inside the hive during hot weather.
- At the height of the season there can be as many as 60,000 bees in a hive but only one queen.
- Using a dance the bee is able to communicate with her sisters and tell them the distance and direction of the best flowers.
- Honey and propolis (bee glue) are once again being used in hospitals to fight infection and aid healing