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Jun. 16, 2010

Langstroth Comes To Flushing

by Carl Flatow

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Last Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the day at one of NY City’s most beautiful garden spots. In celebration of their 100th birthday the Brooklyn Botanic Garden put together a Bee-Day that also celebrated NYC’s recent change in it’s Health Department code that will allow for the legal keeping of bees in the city.

The weather was perfect and the programming, indoors and outdoors was informative and enjoyable. It was a treat for me to hear and meet NY Times columnist Verlyn Klinkenborg and Penn State’s Dennis vanEngelsdorp speaking in person.

But no Bee-Day could be complete without LL Langstroth, and I was seriously disappointed to find not one mention of the Father of American Beekeeping, especially in the year of his 200th birthday. So let me take this opportunity to recount an important piece of Langstroth’s work which took place in NYC.

To begin Chapter VIII of Langstroth’s biography, Florence Naile writes:
“Besides improving the hive and enriching the literature of bee culture, Langstroth rendered a third great service to beekeeping in America by sharing in long-continued and finally successful efforts to import Italian bees to this country and naturalize them here. ‘Their introduction marks an important milestone in American apiculture, almost equal to the invention of the movable-frame hive.’ (Phillips, Beekeeping, 1928 p. 211) ”

By 1860, Langstroth had already moved with his family to Oxford, Ohio. He was contacted by a US Government official, S.B. Parsons and invited to come to Flushing, NY, to help in the effort of “breeding and disseminating the Italian bees”. He worked, there, for about two months, and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Flushing, NY is widely known as the home of the NY Mets and the US Tennis Association’s National Tennis Center, these days. NY’s La Guardia Airport juts out into Flushing Bay, so next time you’re circling for a landing, there, look down and think of Langstroth and the Italian bees.)

About Carl Flatow

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