Cotswold Bees Ltd - Facts

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.