Early drawings by cave dwellers show people harvesting honey from a tree and Egyptian art depicts people blowing smoke into hives while they were removing honey-combs. Back then it was common knowledge that where you found honeybees you’d find honey but it wasn’t until the early 1700’s when some actually started to study bees that it was understood how bees gather nectar from flowers from which the honey is made, prior to that time folks just though the bees gathered ready-made honey from the flowers! Later, it was also learned that bees also played a key role in plant pollination.
Here in the U.S., long before the days of modern processed sugar, honey was highly valued for its sweet flavor and health benefits but was hard to come by but much of it came from wild bees who used hollow trees for hives requiring a labor-intensive process to get the honey. Often trees were downed and opened up with hand-saws and axes for a one-time harvest with no consideration for the bees or future production and though some folks were fairly consistent at finding them for the most part it was left to chance and honey was hard to come by.
However, there were some who were refining ways to raise bees and harvest honey one of them being L.L. Langstroth who is referred to as “The Father of American Beekeeping” and by 1851 he designed a beehive with moveable frames thus making it possible to harvest the liquid gold without destroying the hive and killing the bees. He also made contributions to industrialize beekeeping for honey production which was the major source of sweetener at the time. Langstroth’s advancements set the standard for today’s hives, and coupled with continuous improvements over time, we now enjoy a bountiful supply of honey.