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HONEYBEES IN WARFARE

The Greek soldier Xenophon (born 430 BC) reports that while Greek soldiers were looting villages near Trapezus, Turkey, they "found" some honeybee hives. After the soldiers had stolen and eaten the honey, they lost their senses and were stricken with vomiting and purging. Later the Heptakometes used the same type of poisoned honey to drive the Roman soldiers serving under Pompey insane, then attacked and killed them all when they were defenseless. The honey used was made from the nectar of Rhododendron ponticum and/or Azalea puntica. In both cases the locals were eventually subjugated and forced to pay taxes (is their another reason for "central authority"?), but they were prohibited from paying their taxes with honey. And history repeats itself again.

The Honey Factory by Miles Stair
How to maximize honey production and receive adequate pollination from only a few hives. This book is complete, covering virtually everything about beekeeping, from how to assemble hives to how to prevent swarming, processing honey, etc. Those who have adopted my methods of beekeeping have been able to average close to 200 pounds of honey per year per hive, as I have since 1991. In 1995 I set a world record for multiple hives of 645 pounds of honey from two hives sitting side-by-side!  Updated, with many full color photos - 126 full size pages.  Why an e-book?  For research, the power of a computer can be utilized to search for any word, phrase or topic in the entire book!  You can then print individual pages, whole chapters or the entire book.  Available at this link.

Swarms of bees can be induced to settle into large clay jars called amphorae. These sturdy beehives were loaded into catapults by the Romans and launched into walled fortresses or into massed troops.

 

In the 11th Century, Irnmo, general of Emperor Henry I, threw beehives from cliffs onto the attacking troops of Geiselbert, Duke of Lorraine. The citizens of Gussing, Hungary used the same technique in 1289 against the troops of Albert, Duke of Austria. In 1642, during the Thirty Years War, a beekeeper in Kissengen, Germany named Peter Heil threw his skeps among the horses of the attacking Swedish army under the command of General Reichwald, stopping a siege of the city.

Also during the Thirty Years War bees saved the town of Beyenburgen, Prussia (now Germany). Soldiers returning from a battle passed through a defenseless town and found a nunnery. Rather suspecting the soldiers had less-than-noble intentions, the nuns quickly overturned the skeps surrounding their nunnery and hid inside. The marauding soldiers left, and the town was renamed Beyenburg ("Beyen" = Bees) in honor of the defenders of the town.

St. Gosnata lived in Ballyvourney, County Cork, Ireland, during the 6th Century, and was the patron saint of bees. She is credited with starting the practice in old England of placing skeps in and on castle walls to deter invaders.

In WW I, German soldiers rigged a number of beehives in Tanga, East Africa, with tripwires and mild explosives. Advancing British troops triggered the hives and many were quickly incapacitated.

In 1933, an old beekeeper was assaulted in his apiary but defended himself the easy way. The badly-stung would-be robbers were easy to identify and prosecute! During the height of the Cold War, Austrian authorities arrested an East German spy, one Otto Wiltschko, who had posed as a beekeeper near an airfield at Freidstadt. The bees were intended to keep away curious onlookers, and one hive had a hidden radio transmitter while another hive hid the receiver!

In WW II, Belgian soldiers trapped in a bee house escaped by throwing frames of bees at attacking German soldiers.

 

Beehives can also be used as safes! The Roman poet Virgil hid his valuables in his beehives to protect them from marauding "tax" collectors. Modern Langstroth deep hive bodies would be ideal for this purpose. For small cavities which could be easily sealed, division board feeders could be used, or even the two outside frames on each side could be walled off with thin plywood to make larger "safes." A deep body could be placed over a fake bottom board, topped with another bottom board, and the entire hive body used as a safe!

 

 

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