Welcome to the first blog post of FRB, where every month we will explore the world of honeybees! Today we are going to discuss origins; those of the honeybee, beekeeping and of FRB itself.
Everyone knows the honeybee. It is an easily recognizable animal that we are all taught about as small children. Whether we are taught about these wonderful creatures in class when learning our animals or when being told not to bother them for our own safety when playing outside, you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know about honeybees. Very few people, however, could tell you where the honeybee originally came from.
The honeybee is not indigenous to North America, like many people believe. In fact, the honeybee we most commonly see in the United States is Apis mellifera, the Western
Honeybee, which evolved millions of years ago in Northern Africa. The oldest known physical record of honeybees comes from a 34 million year old fossil found in Europe (not to be confused with the 100 MYO sweat bee fossil found in Myanmar), but through genealogy and phylogenetic analysis it has been determined that honeybees first evolved in South and Southeast Asia. In fact, the honeybees we see today didn't make it over to the Americas until European colonization. The reason bees were brought to the new land was, of course, for the sake of beekeeping and honey production, as none of the bees native to the Americas produce honey.
Honeybees have been around for millions of years, and therefore have been present for the entirety of human civilization and we have been interacting with them nearly that whole time. There are depictions of people harvesting honey from wild beehives in cave paintings in Spain that have been dated to be 10,000 years old, and some archaeological finds show that beekeeping of wild hives began in pottery vessels in North Africa 9,000 years ago. Approximately 4,500 years ago Greece, China and Egypt all mastered the art of domesticating honeybees and standardizing beekeeping practices in their society through written instruction and depiction. These practices severely damaged and destroyed the beehive when extracting honey, however, and it was only in 18th century Europe that a system was developed to extract honey without such major detriments. This was the basis of modern beekeeping, and many people still use hive systems designed in that era.
Unfortunately, bees and beekeepers today are struggling, and the origin of FRB comes out of the plight of honeybees in the 21st century. Across the world honeybees have been afflicted with a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which is killing off almost 50% of honeybee populations a year. We at FRB saw this problem and started our business to help distribute healthy honeybee populations across Colorado. In doing so, we hope to maintain the history of the honeybee and of beekeeping, all while providing top tier services to our clients and the ecology of this beautiful state.
To learn more about honeybees, beekeeping and what you can do to help bees and the environment in Colorado check out the Free Range Beehives home page or reach out to us using the links at the bottom of the page.