First View of a Bee’s Innards



There are no pictures of Swammerdam, but this image Hartman Hartmanzoon (1591–1659) is usually placed in text books with his name under it.

There are no pictures of Swammerdam, but this image of Hartman Hartmanzoon (1591–1659) is usually placed in text books with Swammerdam’s name under it. I suppose it’s ‘directionally correct’.

Today’s birthdays include two notables whom you’ve likely heard of (Lincoln and Darwin, both born on the same day in 1809), and one luminary you’ve perhaps not encountered: Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680), also born on February 12. Though we have Darwin Days and Presidents’ Days, we don’t have Dutch-Beekeeper-Scientist-Microscopists’ Days. And that’s a shame because Swammerdam is worth celebrating.

Swammerdam’s father owned a drug store. Swammerdam Senior had a habit of collecting curios – rocks and minerals and dried sheep heads and the like. So he shouldn’t have been surprised when his brilliant son – trained as a physician – decided to put doctoring on hold while he built up his bug collection. But the dad was mad and disinherited Jan, forcing the young man to make a living by hacking off infected arms and affixing leaches to thin the thick blood of royalty. It paid well, but his heart wasn’t in it. He’d rather keep bees and explore wee bee bits under a microscope. (Those 16th century Dutch inventions were surprisingly good at viewing bee stingers and drone legs – their magnification reached 200.)


Compound bee eye and optical nerve.

To appreciate the man and his times, I recommend this 6-minute video. It’s made by a beekeeper who is a science guy. He does a great job with his story on Swammerdam.

swammerdam-stingerYoung Swammerdam thin-sliced his subjects, teased apart their parts, and examined and sketched their innards. The anatomy drawings that populate today’s post are his: topmost is Swammerdam’s sketch of a bee’s home and stages of development; to the right is a honey bee stinger. Remember, these were drawn over 300 years ago and no one had ever seen such things before.  He continued these self-directed studies, diagramming the optical nerves that hooked compound bee eyes to brains and comparing well-developed queen ovaries with less endowed ones. On the side, Swammerdam discovered human red blood cells and tossed a chunk of Aristotelian philosophy out the loft window by demonstrating insect metamorphism. Until Swammerdam, people accepted Aristotle’s idea that caterpillars and butterflies are unrelated species of worms and flies.

Swammerdam didn’t last long. He burned out mentally before he was 35. He gave up science and became a disciple of a Flemish mystic who taught that the end times had arrived (in 1675!).  Swammerdam followed her and her other disciples into a life of penance and prayer, waiting for Armageddon. For Jan Swammerdam, it was a short wait. He died of malaria at age 43.


Queen ovaries, tubes, and spermatheca

To be updated with the latest in the beekeeping industry to may visit our apiculture latest news. On the other hand in case you are starting beekeeping and would like to start professional beekeeping now get a copy of our beekeeping for beginners ebook.

Beekeeping can be a full time profession or a simple hobby. However, more often than not, what began as a hobby would become a profession. But you cannot merely tell and decide yourself that you will begin to do beekeeping. Before beginning on any avocation or profession, you need to have sufficient knowledge and comprehension on the area that you’re going to enter. If you have been putting off your curiosity about beekeeping for a long time, then it’s about time to indulge yourself in your line of interest. Bee farming may not appear difficult; learning the basic beekeeping lessons can get you off to a good beginning.

What does a beekeeper should know?

First, you should have total interest on beekeeping to start at the right foot. You’ve got to spend time taking care of your own colonies of bees. You should also have consented to share your house space. There are possible risks in beekeeping that can harm not only you but your family as well. Your focus is not only to build an income by selling honey; a great beekeeper should have a keen interest and passion in rearing bees.

An apiarist should know the right place for the beehives. You have to make sure beekeeping is allowed in your town if you decide to place your beehives at your backyard. There are several areas restricted to beekeeping; you need to get permission concerning this.

Beekeepers must understand whether beekeeping supplies can be found in the area where the beehives are situated. You may never know when you must attend a local beekeeping shop; it’s best that a nearby beekeeping shop is accessible.

Protective supplies and equipment can also be very important to beekeepers to know. Beekeepers are prone to bee stings; the right ensemble must be worn during beekeeping sessions. This will decrease the odds of being stung by your bees. Know the right kind of suit to select to keep you from any potential risk in beekeeping.

Last but definitely not the least, among the beekeeping lessons you need to know is that: it’s not unimportant for the beekeeper to know the proper manner of harvesting honey. If you’re unable to harvest honey all the beekeeping efforts would be futile. A beekeeper should know the methods in gathering the honey from your comb; beeswax is also part of the yields in beekeeping.

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