……Edmund Southerne in his spectacularly titled 1593 book, A Treatise concerning the right use and ordering of Bees: Newlie made and set forth, according to the authors owne experience (which by any heretofore hath not been done):
Newlie made and set forth, according to the authors owne experience: (which by any heretofore hath not been done): “That it is not good to kill drones. Many men holde that it is very necessarie to destroy them, and thereto devise instruments for the accomplishing of so great a folly, but above all, one [Thomas] Hill of London in his booke intitled, The Gardners Labyrinth, sheweth the (madder) manner (I would say) how it should be done. Saith he, take one of the Drones and pul off his legs, and one of his wings, and put him in the hive againe, and as soon as the Bees perceive it, presently they will fall upon the rest and so kill them all. But by your leave (good Mister Hill) your advice will prove true, when for the death of one theefe all others will cease stealing : mark this I thinke, that if you catch every Drone and serve him so, it is likely that they will soon dye : for after such a manner Skogin taught the old wives to kill fleas. But in truth whosoever doth practise the destruction of Drones, shall never have profite by Bees : for although the Drones labour not abroade, yet that which the other Bees bring home, they doe both help to work into Combes, and also to unload the Bees of their burdens, so that their work within is as neccessarie as the others abroad : mark I denie not but they be great eaters and devourers, but in requitall of that they do wonderfull good service : for in winter they lying amongst the other Bees keepe them very warme…..
And so it goes on. Southerne’s book is the earliest known original English work on beekeeping. Deciphering the text to produce this short extract was a challenge. If you want to have a go yourself, you’ll find a facsimile of the entire book here.