The history of the honey bee

Bees that live in a hive and produce honey are not native to Coastal California. According to John Muir, in his 1894 book The Mountains of California, it wasn't until 1853 that "The first brown honey-bees brought to California are said to have arrived in San Francisco (when) a bee-keeper by the name of Shelton purchased a lot, consisting of twelve swarms". It appears that some of the "little immigrants" enjoyed their new life in the pastures of Santa Clara Valley and swarmed that summer, and slowly more hives were introduced by making the perilous journey across the plains, stopping to "feed in the floweriest places" along the way. More information on the delightful writings of John Muir are available on Dan Anderson's Yosemite website. The California State Historic Landmark 945 at the San Jose airport commemorates the first successful introduction of the honeybee to the state. John Caldeira provides lots of pictorial evidence of beekeeping life in the 1800s on A Taste of Beekeeping History. For a collection of major online texts published before 1925, The Hive and the Honeybee collection from E.F. Phillips at Cornell's Mann Library is on a mission to find them all! You can read Langstoth's 1853 introduction to the "modern" hive; or delve into the "Mysteries of bee-keeping explained" in a book of the same year by Quinby; then try Doolittle's 1889 state-of-the-art "Scientific queen-rearing as practically applied"...

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