Ohio History Journal

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A revolution in beekeeping began on a summer day in 1838

when Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth saw a large glass globe filled

with honey on the parlor table of a friend. He was so fascinated

by the beautiful sight that he went with his friend to visit his bees

in an attic chamber. In a moment, all the intense curiosity of his

childhood and boyhood seemed to "burst into full flame." When he

went home that evening he took with him two stocks of bees in

ordinary box hives. With that small purchase he began his apiarian


As a little boy, Lorenzo had worn out his trousers by too much

kneeling and crawling on graveled walks to observe the curious

habits of ants that he attracted by digging holes in the gravel and de-

positing therein bits of meat, bread crumbs, and dead flies. He had

no books on natural history to read, so he studied that subject at first

hand. An unsympathetic teacher punished him at school for put-

ting flies in paper cages. His parents had little patience with his

strange habits, but nothing stopped his observations of the insect

life about him.1

Lorenzo's parents, John George Langstroth and Rebecca Amelia

Dunn Langstroth, lived at 106 South Front Street, not far from In-

dependence Hall, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lorenzo was the

second child and the eldest son in a family of eight children. His

maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Lorraine Dunn, was a grand-

daughter of Count Louis Lorraine, a Huguenot, who had fled to

America after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.2

In spite of his peculiar devotion to the study of insects, Lorenzo

made a good record in school. In preparatory school he became a

notable Latin scholar. He could translate Latin so readily that one


1 Langstroth's "Reminiscences," in Gleanings in Bee Culture, XX, 761-762, quoted

in Florence Naile, The Life of Langstroth (Ithaca, N.Y., 1942), 36.

2 Naile, Langstroth, 35.

3 Oxford Citizen, October 11, 1895.