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Thread: History of Beekeeping

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Default History of Beekeeping

    I was looking up some history on beekeeping and came across this,
    "The Brehon Law tract on "Bee-judgments," of which the printed Irish text occupies twenty pages, enters into much detail concerning the rights of the various parties concerned, to swarms, hives, nests, and honey: of which a few examples are given here. If a man found a swarm in the faithche [faha], or green surrounding and belonging to a house: one-fourth of the produce to the end of a year was due to the finder, the remaining three -fourths to the owner of the house. If he found them in a tree growing in a faithche or green: one-half produce for a year to the finder: the rest to the owner. If they were found in land which was not a green: one-third to the finder and two-thirds to the owner of the land. If found in waste land not belonging to an individual, but the common property of the tribe, bees and honey belonged to the finder, except one-ninth to the chief of the tribe. As the bees owned by an individual gathered their honey from the surrounding district, the owners of the four adjacent farms were entitled to a certain small proportion of the honey: and after the third year each was entitled to a swarm. If bees belonging to one man swarmed on the land of another, the produce was divided in certain proportions between the two. It is mentioned in "Bee-judgments" that a sheet was sometimes spread out that a swarm might alight and rest on it: as is often done now. At the time of gathering the honey the bees were smothered."
    http://www.libraryireland.com/Social...III-XVII-7.php
    Looks like bees were around for a long time here in Ireland, I wonder what type they were and how they got here.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greengage View Post
    Looks like bees were around for a long time here in Ireland, I wonder what type they were and how they got here.
    We had a talk at our association from paleo-botanist Valerie Hall a few years ago and she pointed out that sea levels were much lower and there was a land bridge from Europe. A large part of the North sea was low lying land a few thousand years ago - where the dogger bank is found today.
    Assuming there was no bee trading in those days the bees could only have been Apis mellifera mellifera as that was/is the native bee of Northern Europe.
    The uncertainty is over how many thousands of years bees have been present in Ireland as bees would have moved north as the ice sheets were retreating.
    There was a recent paper posted on the forum which linked the management of bees with wax traces in cooking vessels and wax traces were not found in the far north of Europe.
    The problem with insects is that they often leave no fossil or physical evidence of their presence.
    They found Amm parts in an excavation of a Viking settlement at York.

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Interesting but we also have a group of wild-flowers native to Ireland but mainly absent from Britain form what is known as the Lusitanian Flora.
    This unique collection of Mediterranean plants came originally from the Iberian Peninsula (North Spain and Portugal), and in Ireland most are found in the South and West. Now it is assumed that they did not survive the last ice age so how did they get here if there was a land-bridge to the north it is possible there was one to the south as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    The problem with insects is that they often leave no fossil or physical evidence of their presence.
    They found Amm parts in an excavation of a Viking settlement at York.
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...20York&f=false

    Not sure if I have ever read that anywhere else though

    The strange thing about our modern society is that if someone waltzed in and announced that they were worshiping Odin and expecting to enter Valhalla after death in battle we would rightly assume that they were either in the grip of a fever or mentally defective

    On the other hand if some chap plants a mat on the floor sticks his bum in the air 5 times a day and announces that he is destined for Paradise and might speed the process up by blowing himself up we can't say he is a nut job without being accused of ignorance.

    Not very PC but personally I'd rather see a bit more scoffing at the delusional rather than bombing

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    I think the York Viking stuff in in Honeybees of the British Isles - Beowulf Cooper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    I think the York Viking stuff in in Honeybees of the British Isles - Beowulf Cooper.
    I suppose that must be the original source
    When you search through loads of Viking stuff online beekeeping doesn't appear to figure highly in the finds
    Is it just a case of something that has become accepted by being constantly repeated? or do you think there is much evidence

    Lots of insects in amber it would seem so thats always a place to find traces

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6084974.stm
    Last edited by The Drone Ranger; 20-11-2015 at 05:32 PM. Reason: found old bee in amber

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Some good references here:

    https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...isnSX5VFXgJ3Gw

    In the last few decades, however, excavations at sites including waterlogged levels, where organic material survives, have greatly increased our knowledge. The extensive excavations at Coppergate, York between 1976 and 1981 of an Anglo-Scandinavian (Viking) settlement (Kenward and Hall, 1995) revealed many traces of bees and bee products, suggesting, but not proving, that bees were kept in this urban situation. It has even been suggested that puff-ball fungi (Langermannia gigantea) found nearby could have been burnt to subdue bees using the smoke produced (Kenward and Hall, 1995), as recommended by the Rev. John Thorley some 800 years later (Brown, 1994). Wings of honey bees from levels dated to c. 935- 975 AD have been identified by morphometry to be A. m. mellifera (Ruttner et al, 1990).

    Are honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) native to the British Isles? by Norman L. Carreck

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Here is the evidence. John Dews did the work, much later than B Cooper. It is in The Dark European Honey Bee by Ruttner, Milner and Dews.

    wings.jpg

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    Hi Gavin I have a book by Dews and Milner but it got left outside in a sudden downpour one Summer and wrecked
    I haven't replaced it
    Prakel for some reason the link says downloading but nothing else seems to happen
    That might be due to Tapatalk or something on this tablet so I will try another laptop later


    Sent from my LIFETAB_S1034X using Tapatalk

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    Here is the evidence. John Dews did the work, much later than B Cooper. It is in The Dark European Honey Bee by Ruttner, Milner and Dews.

    wings.jpg
    I guessed wrong! I have that book and the other one as well.
    Nice to note the correct use of morphometry to identify a pure race subspecies.

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