Book of the Month – Keys on Bees

Posted by Tenby Museum on Sep 6, 2017 Blog No Comments

This week’s Book of the Month, selected for the myriad publications in the museum’s research library, is entitled Keys on Bees: The Ancient Bee-master’s Farewell by apiarist and author John Keys.  The book was originally published in 1796.  It was a follow-up to a book he had written in 1780 entitled The Practical Bee-master in which he had recommended the use of wooden hives and suggested methods of removing the honey from the hives without killing the bees, as was the practice at the time.

Keys lived at Bee Hall (I detect a theme here) near Pembroke, a property that still exists today alongside an old drover’s road in Nash.  The book has the wonderful subtitle: Full and Plain Directions for the Management of Bees to the Greatest Advantage; Disclosing Further Improvements of the Hives, Boxes, and other Instruments to facilitate the operations; especially that of Separating Double and Treble Hives or Boxes, with Certainty and Safety, without Injuring the Bees.  Try saying that after a few warming glasses of mead!

In his introduction the humble Mr Keys states “Since that time [1780], having no avocation to withdraw my attention from my favourite pursuit, and encouraged by the favourable reception of that work, I now, in the vale of life, submit this treatise, as a result of all my researches; drawn from a much longer and more assiduous experience, and from a cooler judgement, ripened by numberless experiments, which have led me to new observations and improvements, and to differ also not more from myself than from ALL OTHERS.”

The book is finished off with wonderful black and white plates depicting bees and hives, making the book as much a work of art as a handbook for mastering apiculture.

Keys on Bees, signed from the author