Bees are recognized as a critical and endangered part of our environment, one of the messages of UN World Bee Day held on May 20th. Modern beekeeping and World Bee Day have local roots here in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth, the “father of modern beekeeping,” was the pastor at the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield from 1843-1848. He invented and patented the moveable frame beehive in 1852, which he designed after observing “bee space.” Prior to his design, an entire hive had to be destroyed to collect the honey. His invention was adopted all over the world and is still used in most beehives today. Langstroth wrote a beekeeping manual which came to be known as the “beekeepers’ bible” which was published in Northampton and printed in Greenfield.
In 2010 on the 200th anniversary of Langstroth’s birthday, the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield began Bee Fest to raise awareness of the important role of honeybees, the detrimental effects of human activity, and to spread ideas to help the bee population thrive. Greenfield Bee Fest is now an annual festival that includes awards, art installations, local bee keeper demonstrations and sessions.
In 2017 a group of beekeepers from Slovenia, a country with a long history of apiculture and beekeeping, visited Bee Fest. They were inspired by the history and contributions of Langstroth and that his legacy was being celebrated. In 2018 this group created UN World Bee Day and they have developed apitourism to help build a sustainable economy around beekeeping, bee products and protecting this important natural resource. It is no coincidence that Reverend Langstroth came to understand and revere bees for their honey production and pollination of food crops while living in the Pioneer Valley; an area rich in farms, natural botanical and agricultural resources and conservation.