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When Massachusetts cleric Lorenzo Langstroth patented his wooden beehive back in 1852, he changed beekeeping forever. Technology has moved on since then, but interestingly, not on the beekeeping front. Even today, Langstroth hives are still manufactured using the same materials and basic design developed 162 years ago.
Happily, this looks set to change. Enter the BeePak, a locally developed composite beehive with the potential to take the apiculture world by storm. Chances are it didn’t cross your mind last time you spread some delicious honey over your morning toast, but bees are very big business – their pollination activity is responsible for up to one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat.
Honey bees are under extreme pressure. Beekeepers in the US have been losing and then replacing an average of 40% of their honey bee colonies every year since 2010, a rate that is probably unsustainable and would be unacceptable in other kinds of husbandry. The biggest contributor to this decline is viruses spread by a parasite, Varroa Destructor. But this isn’t a natural situation. The parasite is spread by beekeeping practices, including keeping the bees in conditions that are very different from their natural abode of tree hollows.