Urban Bees Then and Now

NPR recently ran a piece on urban gardening that covered growing and gathering foods in cities from Philadelphia to Paris, including harvesting honey from rooftop apiaries. Listening to this piece piqued our interest because not only do we have a wonderful painting in our collection entitled¬†The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Henry Bacon (1839-1912), but our Marketing and Research Associate Cynthia Caldwell Allen is also a beekeeper. Here is a guest blog from her on beekeeping then and now.

"Henry Bacon, The Beekeeper's Daughter"

Henry Bacon The Beekeeper’s Daughter 1881

The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a charming genre piece done in or around Paris in 1881 which captures a romanticized version of old world beekeeping. Bacon’s painting depicts several woven straw skeps snugly lined up along what is most likely the south-facing wall of a house. Ideally positioned for the beekeeper to keep an eye on and with plenty of sunshine to keep the bees active, the hives proximity to the door probably meant that most visitors would have used an alternative path when dropping by to visit either the beekeeper or his daughter.

As a modern-day beekeeper what I find intriguing about this piece is Continue reading