Who Was Franz Hruschka? How He Advanced Beekeeping

Franz Hruschka Profile Illustration

Franz Hruschka was an Austrian beekeeper who also served in the military as an Officer. He strongly advocated for beekeeping and gained notoriety for inventing the honey extractor.

Franz Hruschka was also known as František Hruška, Franz von Hruschka, and Francesco De Hruschka.

Note: This content is part of our collection about innovators who reshaped the world of beekeeping.

Fast facts

NameFranz Hruschka
BornMay 13, 1819
Place of BirthVienna, Austria
DiedMay 11, 1888
OccupationMilitary Officer and beekeeper
Notable Beekeeping AchievementsInvented the honey extractor

Early life and military

Franz Hruschka was born in 1819 in Austria’s bustling city of Vienna. Most of his early childhood was spent in České Budějovice before moving to Graz when he was eight. He reached his third year of secondary study there but then was drafted to the 19th Infantry Regiment in Hessen-Homburg.

In 1840, Hruschka received a promotion to Officer Cadet and then became a lieutenant four years later. In 1848 he became a ship sub-lieutenant in the Marines and was awarded the Military Merit Cross for the Venezia Blockade.

Franz was promoted to ship lieutenant in 1852. He held this position for four years before leaving the Navy and returning to the Army.

Hruschka retired from the military in 1865 and moved to Dolo in Italy.

Franz Hruschka quote

Italy is especially well suited for beekeeping. I say especially, because I’ve got in front of my eyes the landscape from where the first Italian bees were exported to Germany.

Franz Hruscka – Dolo, 1868

Contributions to beekeeping

Although history is uncertain about when Hruschka started beekeeping, it was sometime in his thirties. By 1858 he began selling queens as part of a successful breeding program. Then in 1863, Franz began offering beekeeping classes.

The honey extractor

The biggest contribution Hruschka made to beekeeping was inventing the honey extractor in 1864. It was a device that extracted honey without needing to damage the honeycomb. This invention drastically improved honey harvesting efficiency and allowed the modern honey industry to scale up.

Hruschka’s invention was announced at the Brno Beekeeper Conference in 1865. His peers received it well, and Bollinger Manufacturer produced the first extractor in the second half of 1865.

Major Francesco De Bruschka Profile Image
Major Francesco De Bruschka.

The original idea for the honey extractor was a simple metal frame that supported combs. It was spun within a container to create centrifugal force.

After several iterations of the design, Hruschka designed an improved version incorporating a triangular frame anchored to the ground.

A twelve-foot horizontal beam had a honey bucket attached to its end. Spinning the log provided greater force, making extraction much quicker.

His final version was much smaller. It addressed the previous model, which was cumbersome and challenging to ship to customers. The device incorporated a string, hand crank, and two wheels. Modern-day extractors are based on this model.

Other notable contributions

In addition to inventing the honey extractor, Franz:

  • Experimented with honey bees living without hives.
  • Bred Italian queens for sale in Germany.
  • Started a beekeeping equipment manufacturing business.
  • Taught and promoting movable frame hives, designed by Johann Dzierzon (later patented by Lorenzo Langstroth).
A black and white image of Franz Hruschka standing next to a seated Jan Dzierzon
Gleanings in Bee Culture, Volume 16, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

4 fun facts about Hruschka

  1. In July 1888, Hruscka’s obituary was published in Gleanings in Bee Culture, a journal that Amos Root started.
  2. In the military, he received a Military Merit Cross.
  3. He invented a boat in 1844 that was powered with sails or oars.
  4. Franz married Antonia Albrech in 1850; it would have been earlier, but he didn’t have the funds then.

The final years

In Franz Hruschka’s final years, he moved to Venice and continued beekeeping on a small scale. He started a hotel which eventually caused him to go bankrupt. Franz moved into a rented property with his wife and became a silent loner, never leaving the house.

Hruschka died on May 8, 1888, in his Venice flat. The cause of death was Angina pectoris. A large funeral was held, with prominent dignitaries attending. He was buried in an unmarked grave.

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