At the writing of his 1658 will, we learn that Ralph Dayton was probably keeping more than eight swarms of honey bees—a hive much larger than the average garden variety.
In History of Beekeeping in the United States Everett Oertel says, “Records indicate that honey bees were present in…New York (Long Island) 1670…” so are we to believe that Ralph was one of the first beekeepers in New York? Is it possible he was the first beekeeper in New York?
In colonial America, honey and beeswax had many practical uses and was sometimes used as currency. In his will, Ralph divided his bees between sons Samuel and Robert and then again divided Robert’s share, giving two swarms to his daughter Alice Baker.