Stamps for bees

2009 has been a year for lots of anniversaries. Galileo. Darwin. The Internet. The Berlin Wall. And now that we’re running out of year, word is starting of next year’s anniversaries. Like L.L. Langstroth’s 200th birthday. So who in the world is L.L. Langstroth?

He’s only the patron saint of beekeepers. He’s only the guy who figured out the spacing that bees order their hives by. He’s only the guy who came up with a hive that allows beekeepers to harvest honey without hurting the bees.

The key to all this is  “bee space” .  Any space less than about 3/8 inch is too small for honeybees to pass, so they fill it in. Any space wider is big enough to build honeycomb, which they do. The Langstroth hive is the box most beekeepers use now, of frames hanging bee space apart, which makes things easier for millions of bees.

Since next year is his 200th birthday, Science Friday is leading a drive to convince the Postal Service that L.L. Langstroth deserves a commemorative stamp. That’s the least we can do. So I’ll join in, because no way am I going to become a beekeeper myself. No matter what you think.