Here is a fascinating collection of photographs from LIFE magazine that showcase a bustling bee market in the Netherlands. The annual bee market, held in Veenendaal in 1956, was touted as the largest in Europe, where beekeepers and potential buyers engaged in age-old practices of buying and selling goods. The photos depict buyers carefully considering their options, negotiating prices, and ultimately making their purchases, all with joyous faces all around.
LIFE magazine notes that the beekeeper featured in the photos wore a protective hood to shield his face and eyes from the bees’ swarms. The pipe he carried emitted smoke that calmed the bees and kept them at a safe distance. Although his hands were bare to enable him to dexterously handle the bees without injuring them, they were more resilient than the delicate skin on his face.
Unfortunately, today, the greatest threat to the bees is not just the clumsiness of their keepers. This is something to keep in mind the next time one enjoys fruits like peaches, strawberries, apples, or pears, which depend on the hard work of these invaluable insects.