On October 6, 1895 eighty-four year old Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, widely known as the Father of American Beekeeping, died in the pulpit of the Wayne Avenue Presbyterian Church in Dayton. He was retired from the ministry but was assisting with a communion service. He had just started to speak about the love of God when he was stricken with a stroke.
Langstroth was born on Dec. 25, 1810 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child he enjoyed studying insects. Once he was punished because of holes in his pants’ knees from kneeling and observing ants.
He attended Yale University and graduated with high honors in 1831. From 1834 to1835 Langstroth was a tutor at Yale and studied the ministry.
Next Langstroth was a pastor at several Massachusetts Congregational churches.
He married Anne Tucker and they had three children: James, Anna, and Harriet.
Langstroth became the principal of a young ladies’ school in Philadelphia in 1848. During this time he suffered with depression and took up beekeeping as a hobby to distract himself.
He used his knowledge about “bee space”, crawl space needed by a bee to go from one area to another, to develop a top opened hive. It made the frames of a hive easily removable without upsetting the bees.
Langstroth was given a patent for the movable frame beehive in 1852. He gained no royalties over the years though because his patent was widely violated.
His discoveries led to modern beekeeping and helped it become more cost effective.
Langstroth wrote “The Hive and the Honey-Bee” in 1853. It is the definitive text on beekeeping, there having been more than 40 editions printed. The memorial epitaph at his grave says, “in memory of …his…literary ability shown in the first scientific and popular book on the subject of beekeeping in the United States.”
In 1858 he and his family moved to Oxford, Ohio to a ten acre farm which Langstroth devoted to beekeeping.
He planted Linden trees, apple trees, buckwheat and clover for the bees to use.
Langstroth imported Italian bees in 1863, then researched, bred, raised and sold them.
His wife, Anne Langstroth, died in 1873.
Their former house is called Langstroth Cottage, and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. It is now Miami University’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching and is located on Patterson Avenue on Miami’s Western campus.
Langstroth moved to Dayton in 1887 and lived with his daughter Mrs. Anna Cowan at 120 South Ford Street. His death occurred eight years later.
He is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.