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Sep. 02, 2010

This is going to leave a mark

by Carl Flatow

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Recently, while I was working within a hive, someone asked me how the bees learned to build such neat combs. I replied that as far as I was concerned it was the other way around – it was us humans who learned how to give the bees wooden structures on which to build combs in the way that helped us cultivate honey bee colonies. (For more on theories of how humans get manipulated into helping “lower” beings, read Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire.)

It is no accident that today’s beekeepers primarily use the design that Langstroth realized was in sync with the bees’ instincts. He got it right, finally, though the answer had eluded so many generations before him.

And finally, after another 150 years (plus), Langstroth’s legacy will be properly recognized. Next week, on September 10, beekeepers and others in Philadelphia and beyond will assemble to dedicate an historical marker at Langstroth’s birthplace.

The city and state of some of Langstroth’s most important accomplishments (home of a few other historical markers) will finally, permanently, recognize this native son. From now on, when new beekeepers and other students of these marvelous creatures learn of the Father of American Beekeeping and say to themselves, “Wow, I want to go there and learn more about him and his work,” they’ll find what they’re looking for.

I am extremely proud and gratified to have played a part in bringing this about. Here’s a link to some of the festivities that will surround the dedication, in this, the year of Lorenzo Langstroth’s 200th birthday.

About Carl Flatow

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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