With the possible exception of the Germany and the Slavic countries, there are only a few nations in Europe who hold honey in higher esteem than the France. The French people regarded honey as a “life-giving” substance, much the same as they hold their bread and milk. French folklore and fables, laws as well as religious customs give an over abundance of documentation and evidence of the French peoples esteem for honey.
Historical records go to make one believe that the very substantiate fact that beekeeping was a foremost industry in France for many centuries. Records give good indication that the ancient “Barons” derived considerable revenue from taxes imposed upon beekeepers. The “lords of the land” in France were wholeheartedly encouraged and permitted to collect tax from “honey hunters” for honey in their local forests and, as well as any citizen that had the occupation of a beekeeper. Also a certain proportion of honey and wax had to be relinquished by the beekeepers. In 1791 the French Government demanded from the prefects of the provinces an exact record of hives in any given area of the country. The French people fearing an additional added tax begin to destroyed their hives in preference to paying any further increase in taxes. After that period, for a long time, apiculture was wholly neglected in France.
The taxation of beekeepers in France was not solely a medieval custom. A fairly in 1934 a tax was still being paid on beehives. According to this new law, if a beekeeper fed his bees on his own property, he is assessed with a tax on agricultural products; but if his bees feed on the grounds of his neighbors property, the tax is higher because the revenue classes as non-commercial business.
The Island of CORSICA is 3790 square miles. The citizens there had to pay 200,000 pounds of wax as a yearly tribute to the Romans. Which meant that they produced at least three million pounds of honey. HOLLAND, especially Friesland, had several thousand hives to a square mile. SPAIN was plentiful with beehives. Ex-King Alfonso was an ardent bee lover and was keenly interested in apiculture. In the park of the royal palace he had about a thousand colonies of bees and many more hives on his country estates. The leading apiculturist of Spain, Antonio Garay Victoria, had 1500 colonies on his estate in Claveria.