See also honey.
A beehive is an enclosed structure in which some honey bee species of the subgenus Apis live and raise their young. Natural beehives are naturally occurring structures occupied by honeybee colonies, while domesticated honeybees live in man-made beehives, often in an apiary. These man-made structures are typically referred to as "beehives". Several species of Apis live in hives, but only the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) and the eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) are domesticated by humans. Natural beehive is comparable to a bird's nest built with a purpose to protect the dweller.
The beehive's internal structure is a densely-packed matrix of hexagonal cells made of beeswax, called a honeycomb. The bees use the cells to store food (honey and pollen) and to house the "brood" (eggs, larvae, and pupae).
Artificial beehives serve two purposes: production of honey and pollination of nearby crops. Artificial hives are commonly transported so that bees can pollinate crops in other areas. A number of patents have been issued for beehive designs.
Traditional beehives simply provided an enclosure for the bee colony. Because no internal structures were provided for the bees, the bees created their own honeycomb within the hives. The comb is often cross-attached and cannot be moved without destroying it. This is sometimes called a "fixed-frame" hive to differentiate it from the modern "movable-frame" hives. Harvest generally destroyed the hives, though there were some adaptations using extra top baskets which could be removed when the bees filled them with honey. These were gradually supplanted with box hives of varying dimensions, with or without frames, and finally replaced by newer modern equipment.
Honey from traditional hives was typically extracted by pressing — crushing the wax honeycomb to squeeze out the honey. Due to this harvesting, traditional beehives typically provided more beeswax, but far less honey, than a modern hive.
Skeps are no longer in wide use because the bees and the comb cannot be easily inspected for disease or parasites without some destruction of the honeycomb and sometimes the colony. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beehive
There was a time when almost every rural British family who kept bees followed a strange tradition.
Whenever there was a death in the family, someone had to go out to the hives and tell the bees of the terrible loss that had befallen the family. Failing to do so often resulted in further losses such as the bees leaving the hive, or not producing enough honey or even dying.
Traditionally, the bees were kept abreast of not only deaths but all important family matters including births, marriages, and long absence due to journeys. If the bees were not told, all sorts of calamities were thought to happen. This peculiar custom is known as “telling the bees”.
The practice of telling the bees may have its origins in Celtic mythology that held that bees were the link between our world and the spirit world. So if you had any message that you wished to pass to someone who was dead, all you had to do was tell the bees and they would pass along the message.
The typical way to tell the bees was for the head of the household, or “goodwife of the house” to go out to the hives, knock gently to get the attention of the bees, and then softly murmur in a doleful tune the solemn news.
Little rhymes developed over the centuries specific to a particular region. In Nottinghamshire, the wife of the dead was heard singing quietly in front of the hive:
“The master's dead, but don't you go;
Your mistress will be a good mistress to you.”
In Germany, a similar couplet was heard:
“Little bee, our lord is dead;
Leave me not in my distress”.
The relationship between bees and humans goes beyond superstition. It’s a fact, that bees help humans survive. 70 of the top 100 crop species that feed 90% of the human population rely on bees for pollination. Without them, these plants would cease to exist and with it all animals that eat those plants. This can have a cascading effect that would ripple catastrophically up the food chain.
Losing a beehive is much worse than losing a supply of honey. The consequences are life threatening. The act of telling the bees emphasizes this deep connection humans share with the insect.
For art see The Bee Friend, a painting by Hans Thoma (1839–1924)
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.