The Last Tree Beekeepers

Filimon Waszkiewicz One of the
Last Polish Tree Beekeepers
J.J Karpinski
I'm often asked if tree hives harm trees*.  If done properly the answer is no and the trees were managed for hundreds of years by many generations. But there was another advantage to the tree; legal protection.

Polish tree beekeeping saw its maximum development in the 16th and 17th Centuries. It was an important branch of the economy. Profits from wax and honey could be 30 times higher than from wood. A tree with a hive was protected by law from felling and there were severe punishments for robbery. Tree Hives belonged to kings, princes and cities and tree hive keepers had a  right for an inheritable timeless lease of the tree hives.

From the mid 19C the economies of wood and honey changed. Wood became more important to fuel war and industrial development. Legal bans on tree beekeeping were imposed by the rulers of Austria, Prussia and Russia to make way for the felling of the trees.

To the detriment of bee health and convenience of larger scale beekeeping, tree hives gradually migrated to log hives on platforms, to  logs on the ground and then the start of modern beekeeping with thin walled hives and frames. Sugar was the final blow ... the icing on the cake.

Even now tree beekeeping is considered illegal in some states of the USA.  Think about it, the natural habitat of an insect has been made illegal just as the rulers of Austria, Prussia and Russia did.

Trees and bees are a symbol of strength and harmony. I'm glad it is returning.

* I will ignore the elephant in the room: Box hives are made from felled trees! 

Related Beeswing Links: 
The Tree Hives of the Bashkir
Can Wild Bees Survive in our Forests

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