Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Lengel, Sonja Jean (2016). A House Fit for a Bee: Historic Apiary Typologies and Technologies. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


This thesis defined historic apiary typologies and technologies including: bee houses and honey houses, bee shelters, stands, and hives. Because of a strong beekeeping tradition in Philadelphia and its influential role in the advancement of apiculture, this paper researched apiary typologies beginning in Philadelphia and its region. The Rev. L.L. Langstroth, a Philadelphian, experimented with beekeeping methods and technologies, inventing the moveable-frame hive in 1851, which would later make the bee house and other forms of protection unnecessary. Bee manual authors provided various structural forms to protect the hives, produce valuable honey, and aid the beekeeping process. These vernacular structures were either decorative and playful as an architectural folly in the landscape, or simply utilitarian and unadorned. A bee house and honey house remain intact in Madison, Indiana and stand as rare tangible evidence of the type. Other regions developed their own typologies, but common themes emerged. The typological defining features are; protecting the beehive from weather and temperature fluctuations, providing ample forage, utilizing trees as wind breaks, and locating the apiary near a frequented dwelling. This thesis reveals a once common but now obscure outbuilding type that has largely disappeared from the American cultural landscape and rescued the bee house form from near total obscurity.


bee house, bee culture, skep, Madison, alighting board



Date Posted: 31 May 2016