Langstroth Hive - History

History

In 1851, the Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth (1810–1895), a native of Philadelphia, noted that when his bees had less than 1 cm (3/8 inch) of space available in which to move around, they would neither build comb into that space nor cement it closed with propolis. This measurement is presently called "bee space". During the summer of 1851, Langstroth applied the concept to keeping the lid free on a top-bar hive, but in autumn of the same year, he realized that the "bee space" could be applied to a newly-designed frame which would prevent the bees from attaching honeycomb to the inside of the hive box. This attachment of comb to the hive wall was a difficulty with frameless designs, such as Dzierżon's frameless movable-comb hive (1835). US Patent 9300 was issued to Langstroth on October 25, 1852, and remained valid despite numerous attempts to challenge it based on its alleged use of prior art.

Rev. Langstroth subsequently published a book called A Practical Treatise on the Hive and Honey-Bee, nowadays commonly known as The Hive and the Honey Bee or, under the title with which it was recently (2004) re-issued, as Langstroth's Hive and the Honey-Bee: The Classic Beekeeper's Manual. In this book, Langstroth described the proper dimensions and use of the modern beehive as we know it today. Prior to discovery of the dimensions of "bee space", bees were mostly hived in skeps (conical straw baskets) or gums (hollowed-out logs which approximated the natural dwellings of bees), or in box hives (a thin-walled wooden box with no internal structure).

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