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I'm curious about what methods were used to move bees long distances in the old-timey days, such as crossing the ocean on ships or the Great Plains on prairie schooners. How were they fed and cared for?

On ships, were the hives closed up for days and weeks, or allowed to fly for forage on an open feeder, or something else?
Did pioneers allow them to fly during the day to find a moving hive?

This silly question actually came to me in a dream last night.:rolleyes:
 

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I would think that the best time to move bees would be in the winter, So it would be easy to move bees from the USA to northern Europe but from Europe to the USA in the days of sailing vessels poses a problem that the easterly winds are closer to the equator which would be in warmer latitudes due to the north Atlantic high. So I would guess colonies were just closed up and they would just hope some survived the journey. Obviously some did.
Johno
 

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Bees came into the country through Jamestown Va. They were but into barrels and closed off. The barrels were then placed into the lowest part of the ship were its dark and cold. Travel during the winter months and showing up in Virginia during spring time. That was the basic history lesson at the State meeting 2 weeks ago.
 

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Spanish Friars brought Honey Bees to the New World before the Colonists, They had them in the California Missions.
 

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Arbol, I've heard similar claims before regarding Spanish explorers. Truth is that the ship's manifests were very important documents in the day and every item on those ships was noted and a copy retained. The first entry for honey bees occurred somewhere around 1634 and was on a vessel bound for Jamestown, VA. Even the EAS, acknowleges that Jamestown is the the place where it all began.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bees came into the country through Jamestown Va. They were but into barrels and closed off. The barrels were then placed into the lowest part of the ship were its dark and cold. Travel during the winter months and showing up in Virginia during spring time. That was the basic history lesson at the State meeting 2 weeks ago.
Thanks dr4, that answers how bees were carried across the ocean. At least effective one method. Were there other ways?


OK, I'v found references that say bee trees were found as far west as the Rocky Mountains on the Arkansa River (present day Colorado) as early as 1819-1820.
https://www.readingsjournal.net/2016/03/bee-line-how-the-honey-bee-defined-the-american-frontier/

I've also found reference that beekeepers kept hives in Utah in the 1850s, before the railroad was built west. Let us assume that at least some kept bees were taken from wild bee trees. Also reference that bees were transported to Utah from California by wagon during that period.

http://www.three-peaks.net/uba/2017_UBA_Convention_Day_2_1000_Al_Chubak_History_of_Beekeeping.pdf

So, on the occasions that bees were carried by wagon, how were they cared for? Certainly, crossing the Sierras during winter was near impossible, and wagon trains crossing the prairie did not travel in winter, either.
Were foraging bees able to keep up with a moving hive strapped to a wagon traveling 10-15 miles per day? :scratch:
 

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Thanks dr4, that answers how bees were carried across the ocean. At least effective one method. Were there other ways?
I think the barrel is the most logical way. Other methods besides barrels available at the time would have to be closed skeps or clay pots. I think the clay pots to be unlikely because of the difficulty of making a pot large enough to sustain a colony long enough to cross the ocean. I think that having enough comb to hold 60 or more lbs of honey to sustain a colony for the long voyage would be the biggest challenge. That could also be a challenge in a skep. But easy in a horizontal barrel.

Jamestown was long before the invention of what we think of as a hive. The Langstroth was in 1852, but Wildman and others were using top bars on skep like bodies in the 1760s. Some eastern European beekeepers were experimenting with frames earlier than that but Jamestown was a century earlier.

Without frames it is difficult to get lots of comb that can hold a lot of honey. Large heavy unframed combs are too fragile for transportation. It seems reasonable that the best choice for the Jamestown period is going to be a horizontal barrel that is well drawn out and then maybe even stocked with some extra honey.

on the occasions that bees were carried by wagon, how were they cared for?
Carrying hives across the plains is also something I wondered about. I'm speculating here, but I don't think they would have been necessarily been transported by an immigrant wagon train. There were also a lot of cargo wagon trains manned by teamsters, a lot more of those than there were people wagon trains. The cargo trains moved a lot faster, the teamsters knew what they were doing and could make a couple of trips per season. I think an early spring cargo wagon train could have reasonably transported bees from either Independence Mo or Harmony NE (the two main jumping off points for people traveling west). Also by the mid 1850s there was quite a bit of buggy traffic going back and forth. I'm not a Utah native but from what I've picked up about the state history while living here there were a lot of people going back and forth multiple times, especially with all the Mormon immigration that was happening. The back and forth traffic traveled by much faster buggy. A buggy could make the trip in a couple of weeks, and a closed ventilated hive could be easily carried by a buggy, perhaps letting the bees out at dinner time for cleansing flights and then closing it back up at sundown. Travel time from Sacramento by buggy was probably even less. Also the shorter buggy trips means smaller skeps, maybe even what we could consider nuc sized, could be transported. A century and a half later we've developed a bit of mythology about the wagon train era because of a couple of disasters, but the reality was there was a lot of commerce going on and a lot of people moving both directions, and almost all it did not encounter any problems. I'm not saying any of those were how bees got here by the mid 19th century, but rather that they are reasonable ways bees could have been transported.

As an interesting side note to me, my ancestors settled in Jamestown in the mid 1600s. The family hails from Virginia and has a long tradition of beekeeping. My grandfather came west and was a commercial beekeeper in AZ. Career brought me here, and now my son is yet another generation. My grandfather was a beekeeper, as was his father and his grandfather. I don't know how far back it goes, but given Jamestown's role in American Beekeeping and the family tradition I would like to think they are tied together somehow.
 

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Thanks for your thoughts, JC.

I don't know of any 'beekeepers' in my family tree, though I do know that keeping bees was part and parcel of farming in general by my ancestors.
My father never spoke of beekeeping, but as a child I remember watching him catch a swarm barehanded and gave it to a friend. My mother spoke of always having 'honey sugar' to cook with during the depression, and of eating honeycomb.
 

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I'm curious about what methods were used to move bees long distances in the old-timey days, such as crossing the ocean on ships or the Great Plains on prairie schooners. How were they fed and cared for?
Hi Hops,

On ships the bees fed off combs of honey. Over land hives were placed on springboard wagons.

Transporting bees by ship:
https://www.facebook.com/Historical...659953472/1516602111727613/?type=3&permPage=1

Skeps were also placed at the stern of the ship and allowed to fly freely. Sometimes the skep would be placed in a water cooled crate placed in the bathroom at the stern of the ship.

The first shipment of bees into California, Harbison had a great deal of trouble with combs melting and losses during transporting.
https://www.facebook.com/Historical.Honeybee.Articles/posts/1114980781889750

Interesting story about why the first shipment of Italian bees into America failed:
In 1855 Wagner and Edward Jessup, of York, Pennsylvania, made an attempt to bring Italian bees to America. The attempt was a failure due, it is reported, to the robbing of the nucleus of its honey by a ship's officer. At any rate, the bees were dead on their arrival for lack of proper provision.

[/QUOTE]This silly question actually came to me in a dream last night.:rolleyes:[/QUOTE]

Dreaming of Bees? According to Folklore:

Dreaming of bees at work making honey is considered lucky because bees are industrious. If you dream of bees at work, they are bringing you good luck.

To dream of seeing bees, signifies profit to country people.

To dream of bees working or making honey in any part of a house or tenement, signifies to the occupier dignity, eloquence, and good success in business.

This age old rhyme relates the belief that it is good luck to dream of bees happily working and making honey:

“Happy the man who dreaming sees,
The little humble busy bees
Flying humming round their hive.”

But Beware!! Dreaming of Bees Not Happily Working Could be a Nightmare!

To dream of being stung by a bee means a friend will soon betray you.

If you dream of killing a bee you will have great losses.

To dream of bees flying into their hives means you will have losses through enemies.

To dream of bees resting on a house denotes that some evil would befall it, -a sure sign that it will soon burn down.

The person who dreams of bees entering their house will either soon lose their life or suffer some great misfortune.

To dream of bees flying about your ears shows you being beset with many enemies, but if you beat the bees off without getting stung by them, it is a sign of victory over your enemies.

For the rich to dream of bees, is rather unlucky ; but to the poor they denote comfort, affluence, and success.

Pleasant Dreams!
 

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<<Spanish Friars brought Honey Bees to the New World before the Colonists, They had them in the California Missions.>>

Any references?
Beeswax was a important commodity to the missionaries. Evidence suggests that there were no bees in California supplying the missions with beeswax because it needed to be shipped to the missionaries by the Spaniards from China by the ton.

See The Beeswax Wreck
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeswax_wreck
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Great sources, Naturebee. Thanks! Can't access facebook from work, but I'll hit those after work. Interesting that they kept them at the stern of the ship, because that's where they were in my dream....
... which was a load of skeps crossing the sea at the stern of a tall ship, then the same place at the tail end of a wagon train of prairie schooners. (maybe the 3-masted schooner and the wheeled schooner are symbolic, too) There was a cloud of bees flying behind the wagon train...
 
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