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Petro Prokopovych (1775–1850, Ukrainian: Петро Прокопович) was the founder of commercial beekeeping. He introduced novelties in traditional beekeeping that allowed great progress in the practice. Among his most important inventions was a hive frame in a separate honey chamber of his beehive. He also invented a crude queen excluder between brood and honey chambers.
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Prokopovych was born in Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire), in the village of Mytchenky near Baturyn. He was of Cossack-Ukrainian descent. Starting at the age of eleven, he studied at the Kiev-Mohyla Academy for eight years. After studies he committed to a military career. He resigned his commission in 1798, bearing officer rank, and enjoyed retirement at his brother's apiary. By 1808 Prokopovych had 580 beehives.
Prokopovych studied the biology of bee colonies and strove to improve existing methods of beekeeping. His main intention was to develop methods that allowed the least disturbance and damage to bees. These efforts resulted in 1814 in the invention of the world's first frame hive, which allowed an easier honey harvest. Another invention was a wooden partition with apertures passable only by worker bees, now called a queen excluder. It made possible the harvest of pure honey from the frames. Prokopovych's inventions represented a landmark in the history of beekeeping and marked the beginning of commercial beekeeping. His scientific work resulted in more than sixty articles in printed media such as newspapers and magazines.
Another passion of Prokopovych was teaching. He set up a beekeeping school that prepared more than 700 qualified beekeepers over its 53 years of existence. As a beekeeper, Prokopovych owned 6600 colonies and became wealthy.
Prokopovych was buried in the village of Palchyky in the Bakhmach Raion of Chernihiv Oblast, where his beekeepers' school was located. A monument to Prokopovych stands there, and the Ukrainian Institute of Beekeeping is named after him.
- Haydak, M.H. (1957) Petro Prokopovich – Ukrainian beekeeper, teacher and scientist. American Bee Journal 97(12): 474-475
- Crane, E. (1999) The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting. Duckworth; London, UK.
- Apimondia-2013 facts about Prokopovych. Fact 5 The world first frame hive
- Petro Prokopovych Beekeeping in Ukraine, accessed May 2011
- 20 Facts on Beekeeping in Ukraine Apimondia 2013, accessed May 2011
- Biography of Petro Prokopovych