During the Middle Ages, bee-keeping was distinguished by how the honey was obtained, as either forest or domestic. The domestic bee-keeper kept bees in hollow trees or in straw skeps (wickerwork hives) and were not subject to any regulation. Conversely, the forest bee-keepers, who kept bee colonies ‘in the wild’ in hollowed-out trees, formed a fellowship similar to a guild and paid a fee to the owners of the woodlands for every bee colony they took over.
Beeswax was the main raw material for the production of candles right until artificial wax (paraffin wax) was invented. Honey was used as a sweetener, and fermented to make mead.