Do we still know what beehives looked like in ancient Mesopotamia? Are there any contemporary images or descriptions? I'm looking for anything from before 500 BC.

I've found an image of ancient Egyptian beehives, though it's hard to tell much about them from the picture. (Article on beekeeping in ancient Egypt)

enter image description here

They're described in the article as clay cylinders, which is quite different from all the types of beehives I've ever seen.

  • As someone who knows absolutely nothing about beekeeping, I'm interested to know why would might think their beehives are different to what we have today.
    – lins314159
    Jun 3, 2013 at 0:27
  • As someone who grew up in a beekeeping household, I can tell you that beehives today look quite a bit different than the ones from only a century or so ago.
    – Joe
    Jun 3, 2013 at 1:33
  • 2
    @lins314159 - Domesticated beehives are built by the beekeepers, not the bees.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 3, 2013 at 10:34
  • 1
    Interesting question and remarkable image. It is somewhat peculiar that so few insects are domesticated (besides honey bees only silk worms come to mind).
    – Anvar
    Jun 4, 2013 at 7:06
  • 1
    @Anvar Don't forget the famous maggot cheeses of Europe (yum yum). Jun 12, 2013 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


If we accept that Turkey is part of Mesopotamia (at least some of it) and that the ninth picture in this page comes from Turkey, then a Mesopotamian beehive from 8000 BC looks exactly as the statue's tiara.

However this is only a tentative answer, as I do not know very much about it.

  • 1
    By the way, if you are interested in beekeeping, there is a dedicated stackexchange in development: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/48193/bees-and-beekeeping
    – astabada
    Jun 12, 2013 at 16:21
  • I was going to complain about you linking to the picture rather than just putting it in your answer until I went and looked at it myself. Ummm...good choice.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 12, 2013 at 18:45

There's a ton of information in this lecture by Gil Stein, descriptions of historical bee hives start at around 18 minutes in. In the ancient middle east bee hives would have looked like long ceramic cylinders (which are still used by some traditional beekeepers in the area today).

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