John's Beekeeping Notebook
Texas Beekeeping History: The Southland Queen
A glimpse at Texas beekeeping in 1901
The more things change, the more they remain the same. So it seems in beekeeping, at least. I recently happened across an old Texas beekeeping journal titled The Southland Queen, describing Texas beekeeping in 1901.
At that time, beekeepers were struggling with low honey prices, lack of funding for basic research, organizational issues and new beekeeping products and techniques. Sound familiar? The Southland Queen was a monthly journal “Devoted to the Exchange of Thoughts on Apiculture” appropriately published in Beeville, Texas[i].
The September 1901 issue reports on the proceedings of a general session of North, South and Central Texas Bee-keepers Association held at College Station. The report of this session includes much discussion and controversy about low honey prices, blamed on farmers who are also part-time beekeepers and “have a surplus, rush it to town and lump it off at any old price.”
Z. Weaver, the great-grandfather of the association’s current (2001) vice-president, Danny Weaver, spoke at the meeting:
Professor Fred Mally, the state entomologist at College Station, was invited to speak at the meeting on establishing a department of bee-keeping and apiary on the grounds at College Station. Later in the journal, Mr. Mally reports:
The Southland Queen reports 150,000 bee colonies in Texas, producing honey worth $787,000, valued at 7 cents per pound.
A highlight of the September 1901 session was the reading and adoption of a new constitution and new name for the joint organizations. The new constitution begins:
An A. I. Root Company advertisement includes a report that E. R. Root has just returned from a 6000 mile trip and intends to write about the best bee locations. He provided this preview of his Texas report:
Some things do change. Annual dues to the Texas Bee-keepers’ Association were $1.00, Root’s ABC of Bee Culture book is priced at $1.20, postpaid. The swarming of bees was also encouraged as a way to increase the number of one’s colonies.
Some things may change but, 100 years later, we are still struggling with low honey prices, funding for bee research, organizational issues and new beekeeping products!
A good summary of early American beekeeping can be found in the 1952 Master's thesis of Clark Griffith Dumas at Southern Methodist University, titled Apiculture in Early Texas. The first 9 pages on beekeeping in colonial times have been scanned and posted here:
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