Letter: Honoring Langstroth

The story about the plan to use images of honey bees to mark a crosswalk to honor a former clergyman neglected to point out why he as important.

The Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth (1810-1895) noticed that why his bees had less that 3/8 of an inch to move around in the hive they would not fill it with comb. His observations made him realize the “bee space” was needed in his newly designed hive frame.

Langstroth applied for a patent in 1835 on his new design. Prior to the new design the most popular hive was the straw skep (conical straw baskets) or gums, hollowed-out logs which approximated the natural dwelling of honeybees.

Following the award of the patent, Landstroth published a book called “A Practical Treatise on the Hive and the Honey-Bee.” Many of his recommendations are still followed by bee keepers today. Hives are generally standard in size with removable frames built to include bee space. Many beekeepers use a mix of deep supers and shallow supers. One or move deep supers on base that provides entrance into the hive topped by one or more shallow supers from which honey will be extracted.

As a former beekeeper (black bears did me in), I agree with those who refer to Landstroth as the “father of modern beekeeping.”

Although much of his beekeeping work was done after he left Greenfield, it worth remembering “it started here.”



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