Many different species of insects live on this beautiful planet of ours, many are just pests for us, many annoy us, some live totally out of our influence, and there are only a few that we love. From the latter, we can list on the fingers of one hand those that are useful to us. Well, there is the queen of insects in the first place, our dear bee.
Without it, we would almost not be able to eat any fruit – apples, pears, peaches, cherries, strawberries, blackberries…. Namely, the bee is the one on which the continuation of the species of many plants depends, because it pollinates them, and many plants would be doomed without bees. In that case, the person would be left without a significant food source. She selflessly gives man everything she produces in her six-week long life. But now a few words about her.
For the first time, it is believed, bees stand out from other insects from the order Hymenoptera or honey bees almost a hundred million years ago, but not as social and honey bees, but then they did not differ much from other insects from the suborder Apocrita. For the first time, honey bees that live in an organized community appear only about 50 million years ago, when some of the earliest fossils date. The original habitat of many species of bees from the genus Apis is India and Indochina. The ancestors of today’s known honey bees appeared in this area, namely four species of Apis mellifera (or Apis mellifica) – today also known as the European African honey bee, Apis florea – small Indian bee, Apiss dorsata – large Indian bee and Apis cerana – widespread in southern, central, and southeastern Asia. These are honey bees that are raised by humans today. To date, only 11 species of honey-producing bees have been classified.
From their ancestral home, some bees – Apis dorsata, went further east and inhabited China, parts of India, Indochina and even the Philippines and part of Indonesia. The Apis family immigrated to the territory of the New World, ie North and South America, with a European man. There is some evidence that honey bees from the extinct species Apis neartica inhabited central North America 14 million years ago and today the Nevada region.
The most important species for us, which has taken over the primacy and inhabits almost all parts of our planet, and is therefore in a narrower sense and called the honey bee, is Apis mellifica, which from its existence through Asia Minor and Egypt reached Africa and Europe where it took many features but also acquired a very important feature of adaptation to almost all climatic areas. Today there are many subspecies of this honey bee and some of the most important are Apis mellifera mellifera – European dark bee, Apis mellifera carnica – which inhabits the area of former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, Apis mellifera ligustica – Italian bee, Apis mellifera iberiensis – bee from the Iberian Peninsula and many other subspecies characteristic of Africa.
We met the bee very early, we mastered the techniques of taking honey from bees before we mastered farming and animal husbandry. The first evidence of our relationship with bees dates back 35,000 years, and is immortalized in cave drawings. At that time, our only ability was to steal honey by using fire to destroy bees hidden in a tree, cave and elsewhere.
Organized beekeeping began with the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians, and this craft was later perfected by the Greeks and Romans. In the Middle Ages, beekeeping was highly valued and the largest beehives were raised within monasteries and royal gardens and farms of large feudal lords.
Today, beekeeping is sincerely practiced only by those people who respect the bee and nature, but also other people. Without respect for bees and people, no one can become a beekeeper, but only a honey bee.