Collections of Bee Literature

Merrill, Technical Information Systems (retired), and Erickson, Science and Education Administration, Bee Management and Entomology Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. 53706. Erickson gratefully acknowledges the following individuals for providing current information essential for this revision: Evelyn L. Gish, entomology librarian, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Lawrence R. Goltz, A. I. Root Company, Medina, Ohio; Samuel F. Lewis, associate director and agricultural librarian, Steenbock Memorial Library (Agriculture), University of Wisconsin, Madison; Henry T. Murphy, librarian, Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; Nelson A. Piper, librarian, University of California, Davis; Gordon F. Townsend, head, Department of Apiculture, and Tim Saver, librarian, McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada; and Howard Veatch, Dadant & Sons, Inc., Hamilton, Ill.

Revised October 1980
Pages 170 – 174

In the United States, the best known collections of bee literature are at Technical Information Systems, the Universities of California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and Cornell. Canada has an extensive collection at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Smaller collections can be found at the University of Illinois, Ohio State University, and elsewhere. Scientists in apiculture, commercial beekeepers, and hobbyists often possess sizable collections. Collections described in this chapter are limited only to those that the authors consider prominent or unique.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Technical Information Systems (TIS) maintains what is probably the largest collection of bee literature in the United States and probably the world (fig. 1). The apicultural collection began as a modest library first assembled for the exclusive use of his research staff by James I. Hambleton, chief, Division of Bee Culture, Bureau of Entomology, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1925. This collection became the nucleus of the Bee Culture Branch of TIS. After years of growth, including the evolution of a unique beekeeping bibliography (Merrill 1976) and several administrative changes, these materials were consolidated with the main TIS collection in June 1976.

All items are available upon request to Technical Information Systems, Lending Division, Beltsville, Md. 20705. No loans are made to individuals other than U.S. Department of Agriculture staff. Others may borrow on interlibrary loan through their resource library. Specific articles, however, may be copied upon request to the Lending Division at a current rate of $1 for each 10 pages or fraction.

TIS has over 7,000 apicultural monographs, bound periodicals, and theses, including a number of historical value. New volumes are added regularly. Fusonie and Fusonie (1976) compiled a pre-1870 selected bibliography. At one time, 135 bee journals were received from throughout the world. Now, less than 100 titles are available, more than half of which are in foreign languages. Photocopies of translations filed in TIS may be purchased at costs previously stated. Lists of these translations have appeared in Bee World, a publication of the International Bee Research Association. Many of the translations were prepared by the staff of the Bee Culture Branch. Since the collection has been merged with the holdings of TIS, no further translations are being made by library employees.

University of California

Shields Library at the University of California, Davis, contains approximately 1,600 monographs and 337 bound journals pertaining to apiculture, along with numerous calendared records, photographs, and clippings. Ninety volumes are rare. The library currently receives 55 foreign and 7 American bee journals.

The rare John S. Harbison manuscript collection dating from 1857-1912 is an important part of this library. Harbison was one of the first beekeepers to import honey bees into California. This collection includes records of these shipments from New York to Sacramento by boat, freight receipts, records of other business transactions, and patent grants. Personal collections of retired professors of apiculture and others are a part of the apiculture library.

FIGURE 1.-The Technical Information Systems is housed in the National Agricultural Library building, Beltsville, Md.

Dadant & Sons, Inc.

The collection of bee literature at Dadant & Sons, Inc., Hamilton, Ill., was started by Charles Dadant, founder of the firm, and his son C. P. Dadant, both of whom maintained worldwide contact with beekeepers and scientists. Special interest in the library held by C. P. Dadant was continued by his son M. G. Dadant and resulted in the addition of many rare and valuable editions. M. G. Dadant was responsible for developing a facility to house the collection.

Succeeding members of the firm have continued to maintain the library that now contains over 1,400 monographs, including 55 rare books and early editions. There are 66 periodicals consisting of 542 bound volumes and 561 unbound issues, a number of which are in complete sets. Also maintained are newsletters from 25 States, thousands of State, Federal, and foreign bulletins and reports, as well as hundreds of beekeeping supply catalogs, many of which are now historical. Finally, there is a large miscellaneous collection of letters, postcards, clippings, and photographs from L. L. Langstroth.

In 1975-76, the library was reorganized and is currently cataloged. New volumes are added when considered appropriate. From the beginning, the collection has been maintained primarily as an aid in the research programs of the company and as a reference source for Dadant publications. Items may not be borrowed from the library, and public access is restricted because of the nature of the daily business routine and space limitations.

University of Minnesota

The apiculture collection at the University of Minnesota began as the personal collection of Fr. Francis Jaeger, the first chief (1913) of the Division of Bee Culture, Department of Agriculture, on the Saint Paul campus. Upon Fr. Jaeger’s retirement in 1929, the one-man division of bee culture was combined with the Department of Entomology and Economic Zoology. His collection was purchased by the department for the entomology library.

Fr. Jaeger’s library was composed of approximately 600 monographs, pamphlets, bulletins, and several periodicals. There is an extensive group of books from eastern Europe; publication dates range from 1634 to 1925. The collection of bee literature presently contains over 1,050 monographs, 325 of which are considered rare and kept in locked cases. There are 87 serial titles and 12 current subscriptions. Anyone may use these materials in the library. Circulation privileges are extended to faculty, staff, students, and holders of a special-privilege card.

Current monographs and periodicals are purchased under a budget allotment. Rare items are purchased with moneys from the special “Friends of Dr. Alexander Hodson Fund.” Prof. Hodson was head of the Entomology, Fisheries, and Wildlife Department from 1960 until his retirement in 1974.

Cornell University

The Everett Franklin Phillips Memorial Beekeeping Library at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., began in 1924. The core is a collection of valuable and rare books acquired by E. F. Phillips (deceased) when he was in charge of apiculture research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and while he was professor of apiculture at Cornell University. Income from an endowment fund derived from gifts from beekeepers and the Dyce honey crystallization process patent provides for purchases and maintenance of the collection. The patent was assigned to Cornell University by E. J. Dyce (deceased), who was Dr. Phillips’ successor. R. A. Morse, professor of apiculture, now directs the growth of the collection.

Most of the 4,500 monographs and periodicals, along with many reprints, are shelved with the general collection. Volumes printed before 1900 and other rare items are kept in locked cases in the Albert R. Mann Library. The collection is augmented by books and manuscripts donated by many individuals and associations from the United States and abroad. The most notable of these are those of Rev. L. L. Langstroth, Moses Quinby, Evard French, John Anderson of Scotland, and some from the collection of C. C. Miller. Included are such items as the original patent granted to L. L. Langstroth for his movable-frame hive, his diary, and letters, original manuscripts of several editors of Moses Quinby’s Mysteries of Beekeeping Explained, and manuscripts of Dr. Phillips’ own books.

A. I. Root Co.

The apiculture library at the A. I. Root Company, Medina, Ohio, was started about 1870 by Root. It consists of nearly 500 monographs, along with bound volumes of Gleanings in Bee Culture (two complete sets) and the American Bee Journal (1870 forward). There are a number of rare and historical books, including some early editions by English authors, two complete sets of ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, and collections of the work of L. L. Langstroth, M. Quinby, and C. C. Miller. New items are added regularly.

No provision is made for lending the materials. The library is principally a reference collection for members of the staff of the A. I. Root Co.

University of Wisconsin

The Miller Memorial Beekeeping Library was established at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1923 after the death of C. C. Miller in 1920 as a memorial to that reknowned beekeeper, teacher, investigator, and author (Lewis 1974). A committee composed of associates and admirers solicited funds, purchased Miller’s private library, and presented it to the university, together with a trust fund. The income of the trust originally was for maintenance of the collection; currently, it is used only to augment the library.

In 1929, a second extensive collection was purchased from Lt. Col. H. J. O. Walker of Budleigh Satterton, Devon, England, with funds given by Sigurd L. Odegard (deceased) of Madison. The nucleus of this collection was a group of late 19th century books owned by Alfred Neighbour, an English author and manufacturer of bee equipment. Colonel Walker worked tirelessly to expand his collection until its sale.

H. F. Wilson, professor in the Department of Economic Entomology, University of Wisconsin, was custodian of the Miller Library from its inception until his retirement in 1948.

Over the years, a number of fine personal collections have been presented to the library. Many other volumes were purchased for the library by Professor Wilson out of his own funds and from moneys received from beekeepers who annually donated a 10-pound pail of honey or its cash equivalent.

The more than 2,000 rare and historical books, journals, rare manuscripts, and documents belonging to the Miller Library are housed in the Steenbock Memorial Agricultural Library, Madison campus. Under the guidance of Professor Wilson and later C. L. Farrar (deceased), S. F. Lewis, and E. H. Erickson, the entire collection grew to over 6,000 monographs and bound volumes of journals. More than 50 periodicals are received currently, of which three-fourths are in a foreign language. Monographs acquired since 1950 are shelved in the main library and are available for circulation. Rare books are seldom circulated but may be used in the library at any time with permission of the librarian. The Miller Library does not have a card catalog as the lack of funds has prohibited such an extensive undertaking. Some bibliographies are available; see references listed at the end of this section. From time to time, exceptional items are displayed on the main floor of the library.

Professor Wilson in 1930 reported that the Miller Memorial Beekeeping Library had:

1. The most extensive collection of bee literature in the English language.

2. A more complete file of bee journals in the Dutch and Flemish language than is to be found in any other single collection.

3. A more complete collection of Belgian beekeeping literature (including Flemish and French) than is to be found elsewhere.

4. The most complete collection of beekeeping literature in the German language outside the Berlin Zoological Museum.

5. The most complete collection of beekeeping literature in the French language outside the Paris Museum.

6. A more complete collection of American beekeeping literature than is to be found in any other library.

7. Several important and rare books of which only two to five copies are known.

University of Guelph

The collection of beekeeping literature at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, has grown from a modest group of books and reprints in 1940 to more than 2,000 monographs (of which 80 are pre-1800), 1,000 volumes of bound journals (of which 31 are currently received), and well over 5,000 reprints. A number of valuable books are kept in the rare bookroom, where they may be consulted but are not circulated.

The core collection was placed in the Department of Apiculture by Dr. E. J. Dyce in collaboration with Dr. E. F. Phillips of Cornell University. Morley Pettit started the collection (1914-19) followed by B. N. Gates (1919-20), Eric Millen (1921-32), and Dyce. The bulk of the collection was built up by Prof. Gordon F. Townsend, of the Department of Environmental Biology and custodian of the library until about 1968, when all books were consolidated with the central campus library.

In 1973, the extensive personal library of Burton N. Gates was acquired. Unique items are Gates’ personal archives, his 10,000-card apiculture bibliography, and his extensive photograph collection and historic beekeeping equipment, the last located in the Department of Environmental Biology.

A trust fund exists for current acquisitions, and additional allocations are made available for special purchases. The library attempts to purchase all new and out-of-print books as they become available.

The reprint collection has remained with the Department of Environmental Biology, where it is managed as the American Branch of the International Bee Research Association. About 5,000 reprints are presently on microfiche. Reprints may be loaned or copies made available to American members of the International Bee Research Association. A nominal fee is charged.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University’s collection of early bee books originated from the donation in 1946 of a select library of historical apicultural works collected by the author, Ray Stannard Baker. Baker collected bee books for many years and described his adventures collecting bee books in Under My Elm, published in 1942 under his pseudonym, David Grayson. Shortly before his death, Baker donated his bee library to Michigan State University. The Baker collection is especially strong in works on bees printed in English, although it does contain early works in other languages. Almost all of the early English books are present. It is primarily an historical collection, and most of the books were printed before 1850. It is housed in the Special Collections Division. In addition to this, the library has a good representative collection of bee books and most useful journals up to the present time. A working collection of books, reprints, and journals also is located in the library of the Department of Entomology.

Beekeeping Bibliographies

A number of bibliographies of apiculture have been prepared over the years, some considerably more comprehensive than others. Listed below are those prepared in the United States or Canada and widely recognized, along with some little-known reference lists:

U.S. Department of Agriculture.-Not long after the inception of the apicultural library, an annotated card file of selected references from the world’s literature on apiculture and related topics began to facilitate reference service and literature searches. Previous publications were included, and the index remained current until it terminated in 1972. The material included spanned many fields and was cataloged under 28 major subject headings and over 200 subclasses. Copies were supplied to field laboratories of the Division of Bee Culture from Headquarters at Beltsville, Md. These laboratories at Tucson, Ariz.; Baton Rouge, La.; Beltsville, Md.; Logan, Utah; Madison, Wis.; and Laramie, Wyo., have maintained more or less complete files of these indices. This system was discontinued following the beginning of a computerized literature search service available from the Department’s Data Systems Application Division, Science and Education Administration, Beltsville, Md. 20705, to all researchers in the biological sciences.

Under the auspices of the U.S. Bioenvironmental Bee Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Building 476, Beltsville, Md. 20705, the original beekeeping bibliography has been microfilmed to preserve the vast store of information. Copies of these microfilms have been deposited in Technical Information Systems (TIS), Beltsville, Md., and a set (purchased by the Madison laboratory) is on loan to the Steenbock Memorial Library (Agriculture), University of Wisconsin, Madison. Copies also have been purchased by the Baton Rouge, Laramie, and Tucson laboratories and the International Bee Research Association. Other libraries may request these sets. This set of microfilms is primarily for literature searches and historical information. In addition, the Bioenvironmental Bee Laboratory in cooperation with the Communications and Data Services Division (CDSD), has undertaken the complete computerization of the bibliography. Completion of this effort is expected in 1979.

University of Guelph.-Using Apicultural Abstracts, a computer printout of material issued during 1950-72 was published and is available through the Department of Apiculture at Guelph. Apicultural Abstracts published by the International Bee Research Association, Hill House, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, SL90NR, England, is a highly comprehensive reference source.



1974. HOMAGE TO DR. CHARLES C. MILLER. In Gleanings in Bee Culture 102(12) :373, 385.


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