Bee Boles and Bee Houses

Man’s domestication of the humble honey bee spans millennia. The evolution of beekeeping may be traced in the changing form of the beehive and in the various structures used to house and protect it, from simple recesses in garden walls holding a single straw hive, to ornate free-standing buildings that could house thirty times as many. Each means was unique in its reflection not only of the wealth, occupation and idiosyncrasies of its owner, but also of the increasing understanding of the nature of the honey bee. During the nineteenth century, developments in beekeeping techniques sadly caused these structures to fall into disuse, and today many are derelict or have disappeared altogether. Anne Foster traces the various and fascinating ways in which bees have been housed throughout history, and encourages the preservation of those precious examples still to be found.

Anne Foster received her MA degree in Classical Archaeology in 1983 and has excavated on a number of major sites in Britain. Her links with the International Bee Research Association prompted her comprehensive survey of bee boles in Wiltshire.

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