Bees are long known to render a great contribution to the protection of ecological environment and existence of humankind with their pollinating activities and also to the promotion of health with honey and wax production valued for their medicinal benefits. Therefore, they are called a “friend to human health” and “flying pharmacist.”
Since antiquity, people undertook strenuous activities dedicated to protecting and multiplying honeybees.
And the Korean nation also has a long history of apiculture.
There is a historical record that a Korean man took bees to Japan in 643 and taught the Japanese how to practice apiculture, which shows that apiculture was already widespread in Korea.
Korea has suitable conditions for bee-keeping. Sea-girt on three sides and influenced by both continental and oceanic climates, and mountainous, it has favourable terrain conditions of mountains, valleys, and coasts, habitats of various flowers. Even for the flowers of the same species, their blooming periods vary according to regions.
After Korea was liberated from the Japanese military occupation (August 15, 1945), apiculture became a matter of national concern, as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea gave priority to the health promotion of the people.
Apiculture farms were established in every province, city and county, and scientific and technical guidance to and material support for them intensified. Rural households were encouraged to keep bees.
A nationwide investigation into sources of honey accomplished in the 1960s proved that the country has roughly 300 species of melliferous plants.
It has thus become one of major undertakings in annual afforestation campaigns to conserve melliferous plants and create sources of honey in a larger number as suited to local features and thus provide honeybees with favourable conditions for growth and propagation.
Bee Institute of the Academy of Agricultural Science, founded over 50 years ago and based in Phyongsong, South Phyongan Province, is exerting great efforts to scientifically guarantee the preservation and increase of honeybees by conducting researches into breeding and keeping bees, disease control and others.
It succeeded in its early days in breeding purebred species in the country and pushed ahead with the research work related with methods of propagating and keeping bees, thus achieving many successes.
It also conducts researches into creating bee species that would adapt to the country’s conditions of climate and melliferous plants. It rears a large number of queen bees every year and sends them to apiculture farms of the country.
With the beekeeping becoming brisk across the country, the Korean Beekeepers Association was organized in 1967.
The association engages in various undertakings to publicize modern achievements of apiculture, generalize successes and experiences gained in beekeeping and improve the qualifications and abilities of beekeepers.
Now it has tens of thousands of beekeepers as its member.
Every year they work out detailed plans and make meticulous preparations for producing of strong colonies, building of beehives and itinerant rearing.
When spring comes and melliferous plants bloom, they set out on a “journey” to honey sources, together with bees, which continues until autumn.
Recent development of the light and pharmaceutical industries witnesses a growing demand for not only honey and royal jelly but also pollen, beeswax, venom, and other bee products.
A national technical workshop and competitive show in the sector of apiculture is held regularly in the country in an effort to spur diversification of bee products. A variety of bee products from every province are exhibited for competition and technical lectures related with beekeeping given in various forms and methods.