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Ancient Beehives Yield 3,000-Year-Old Bees

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posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 10:44 AM

Honeybee remains found in a 3,000-year-old apiary have given archaeologists a one-of-a-kind window into the beekeeping practices of the ancient world.

micrographs of a drone head and larva;

micrographs of a workers’ head and thoracic flight muscles.

“Beekeeping is known only from a few Egyptian sources, from a few tombs and paintings. No actual hives have been found,” said Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Amihai Mazar.

The hives were uncovered in 2007 at an excavation in Tel Rehov, Israel, home to the flourishing Bronze and Iron Age city of Rehov. Mazar and his team found more than 100 hives, capable of housing an 1.5 million bees and producing half a ton of honey.

In a paper published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers analyzed bees preserved in honeycomb that was charred, but not completely burnt by fire that likely destroyed the rest of the apiary.

Unfortunately for would-be makers of ancient honey, heat damaged the bees’ DNA, making it impossible to revive their genes in modern bees. But the researchers were at least able to identify them as Apis mellifera anatoliaca, a subspecies found only in what is now Turkey. It’s possible that A. m. anatoliaca’s range has changed, but more likely that Rehov’s beekeepers traded for them.

Local bees are notoriously difficult to handle. During the 20th century, when beekeepers tried to establish a modern industry in Tel Rehov, they ended up importing A. m. anatoliaca — a literally sweet example of history repeating itself.


Wow, amazing how little things that mean so much, change at all! This is pretty cool, a snap shot back into the past. Never dreamed they were handling bees to their benifit.

I wish we could know everything about these past cultures. To see how they lived, dealt with day to day problems, socitial issues, national issues and with the rest of the world (as they knew it).

It seems like so many groups were advanced in so many ways only to be wiped out or taken over by waring types.

posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 10:51 AM
I mentioned these beehives in my thread, Man-Made Beehives, Rosslyn Chapel and Colony Collapse Disorder. Fascinating stuff to say the least. It appears that bee-keeping was a lot more ingrained than previously thought.


posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 11:20 AM
It grows increasingly apparent at how aware ancient civilizations were of the world around them. I am quite sure that they were a lot more advanced than we are today, but somehow along the way all of the technology and knowledge was lost or destroyed, and we slowly degenerated into what we've become today.

But, what a sweet find!

posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 02:36 PM
reply to post by Kevinquisitor

I have to agree with you on the ancient folks having a better understanding of their world around them. It's just that it was two or three human races before ours.

I believe they probably got too smart and wiped themselves out with Nukes or some other world ending weapon(s).

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