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August 9, 2017

Beekeepers of the 1950s: Vintage Photos From a Busy Bee Market in the Netherlands, 1956

A world without bees, nature's premier pollinators, would be a dreary, depleted place for us humans.

Here, below is a collection of some of interesting photographs, from LIFE magazine, capture a bustling bee market in the Netherlands. At the annual bee market at Veenendaal in 1956 — "the biggest in Europe," — beekeepers and prospective buyers of bees go through the ancient motions seen at markets the world over, for countless centuries: purchasers considering the wares, haggling over prices, considering the wares again... and eventually, a sale, with happy faces all around.

According to LIFE, beekeeper wore the hood to protect his face and eyes from the swarms, had the pipe because its smoke calmed the bees and kept them at a safe distance. His hands, tougher than the sensitive area of his face, were bare so he could handle his bees dexterously without crushing them.

If only the most dire peril facing bees today was the not-so-dexterous hands of their keepers! Something worth remembering the next time you bite into a peach, a strawberry, an apple, a pear — anything that grows with the quiet, restless, diligent help of the irreplaceable bee.

(Photos: Thomas D. McAvoy—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


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