Monday, November 30, 2009

L. L. Langstroth

Lorenzo L. Langstroth is considered the “Father of American Beekeeping.” A careful observer of nature, Langstroth, made precise measurements in numerous bee nests. He observed a common characteristic in all bee hives: Honey bees maintain an open space of three eights of an inch between sheets of comb. This concept, known as bee space, became the foundation for his development of the modern bee hive. This space allows two bees to pass shoulder to shoulder anywhere in the hive. Langstroth noted that if an open area in the hive is greater than the three eights inch bee space, the bees will build a sheet of comb in it. If there is an opening smaller than the bee space, the bees will fill this narrow gap with bee glue, known as propolis. Today, the Langstroth bee hive, designed in 1851, with its removable frames is the only legal bee hive in all 50 states. The Langstroth bee hive replaced all other hives because it is the only one designed to allow for removal and inspection of hive frames to detect honey bee diseases. The Langstroth hive made the woven bee skep and the bee gum obsolete, as there was no way to remove the combs for inspection.

The non-profit group, Science Friday, is trying to convince the U. S. Postal Service to honor L. L. Langstroth on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth by issuing a commemorative postage stamp. For information on how you may lend your support in this effort, view: In today’s photo, I am inspecting a modern Langstroth bee hive. The hive, constructed of open wooden boxes stacked atop each other makes it very similar to a hollow tree, the honey bee’s natural home. Removable frames separated one bee space of three eights inch hold the combs. My granddaughter, Erin, watches me inspect a hive. I use a hive tool to break the propolis bond and remove a frame from the hive.