5 Victorian Beekeeping Facts

Prominent in history.

Vital to the natural way of the world.

It should be no shock bees have even left their mark in great works of fiction. Have you a guess as to which fictional icon tended to a hive in his retirement. . . ? Discover who and more Victorian beekeeping facts below!

1. Victorians kept bees in a basket known as a skep.

The lightweight basket proved to be useful as a moveable hive. However, it was difficult to retrieve the honey without killing the colony.

In 1851, Lorenzo Langstroth created the modern hive. The invention allowed the honey to be gathered without harming the bee. He is credited as The Father of Beekeeping.


2. In his retirement, Sherlock Holmes became an avid beekeeper.

Smoking pipe tobacco and playing violin are prevalent habits and hobbies of the iconic detective. These allowed his subconscious time to resolve many a mystery. But after his great adventures, how did he occupy himself?

Holmes could be found on a small farm. There, he kept an apiary to preoccupy his time.


3. The British Beehive was a famous cartoon

According to The Very British Beehive, “In 1840 the book illustrator and caricaturist George Cruikshank (1792-1878) designed ‘The British Beehive’ as an anti-reformist comment in support of not expanding the franchise to the public voter.”

Upon closer examination, Queen Victoria can be identified at the top of the skep as the reigning queen bee.


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4. Honeybees were an emblem of the Bonaparte family.

Thought to be a resurrected symbol from the Merovingian dynasty to remind countrymen of its oldest sovereigns, such is not the only theory of its origins. Another supposes the fleur-de-lis was merely inverted upon his occupancy at Tuileries. Upside down, it resembled the insect.


5. Leo Tolstoy mentions bees twice in “War and Peace.”

The Russian author’s obsession with beekeeping was recorded in his wife’s diary. She wrote of him, “the centre of the world for him now, and everybody has to be interested exclusively in Bees!”


His observations provided powerful imagery in his works. For example, he wrote, “One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…”

What of you? Are you fond or fearful of bees?

7 thoughts on “5 Victorian Beekeeping Facts

Add yours

  1. I’ve always loved bees! But especially the fat, furry bumble variety. When I was a little girl, I could always be found in the yard picking up the bees and handling them. In fact, nothing has changed — I still pick up nearly every bee I see!

    As a child, a church friend of my mother’s was a beekeeper. She taught me to make candles at a very young age, and I still treasure the pink rose-shaped one (sort of her signature design) she made me for my birthday many, many years ago.

    It’s disheartening to see fewer and fewer bees in the wild these days. They’re such an integral part of nature, and are beautiful little creatures to boot!

  2. Bees are a necessary part of our agricultural life. Bees are integral to pollinization of crops, so please be aware when your are spraying your garden or when farmers are spraying their crops, because they are usually spraying insecticides/fungicides, which can be detrimental to bee colonies. We need to help our apiarists in preserving our colonies. No bees, not as much food!

  3. I’m very fond of bees and appreciate their contribution to the environment. When someone speaks ill or kills an insect, my respect for them is diminished. I’m glad there is a movement toward educating people of the bees’ value. When one knows better they do better.

  4. Quite informative Indeed – ““the centre of the world for me now, and everybody has to be interested exclusively in Bees!” – I can totally relate with this

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