The National now entered upon a time of great tribulation. The conventions were devoted to bitter arguments over policy, and but little time remained for papers of the former educational order. On more than one occasion the convention narrowly missed breaking up in a row.
At the Denver meeting, in 1915, an attempt was made to return to the former status. The Review was sold and the cooperative policy abandoned. It was too late, however, to avoid the penalty for the mistakes. The membership had dwindled, and but little interest was shown in association matters.
One group after another then took hold of the affairs of the society in an attempt to re-establish its former prestige. Little result was shown. Then came the entry of the United States into the World War and the feverish effort to produce food of every kind to the maximum. Honey prices rose and extension workers were abroad in an endeavor to increase the output. While the industry was starting to boom, the National organization continued in a demoralized condition, apparently going from bad to worse. From a membership of more than 5,000 in 1911, it had dropped to less than 200 in 1919.
Unmindful of the mistakes of the past, several local cooperative societies were formed in this period. Had they followed the example of the Colorado Honey Producers' Association, which, under the management of Frank Rauchfuss for a time was successful, the result might have been pleasing. Insufficient capital was provided, expenses were unduly high, and little attention was paid to providing reserves for emergencies. The California Beekeepers' Exchange seemed to prosper for a time, as did the Texas organization built on similar lines. Another was started in New York, but with the end of the boom and the high prices, all were forced to go out of business.
By 1920 it was apparent to everybody that the old National organization was doomed. In the hope of reviving interest a group of about 25 delegates met in Kansas City in January. A new name and a new constitution were adopted. A great program was planned, including the promotion of better marketing, providing of legal aid to beekeepers, standardization of equipment, settling of disputes, etc. The organization had abandoned buying and selling, but a new dream had taken its place. It was now proposed that the League should promote national advertising of honey. By 1925 a substantial gain had been made in membership, since a total of 1, 176 paid their dues in that year.
The first attempt for observing a Honey Week started then. A book on Law of the Honeybee, compiled by Colin P. Campbell, was published, and attempts were made to secure lower freight rates for the beekeepers' product.
This, however, is anticipating events a bit. It was in 1921 that the advertising committee attempted to raise funds for a campaign through the general magazines. More than five thousand dollars were pledged, and an advertisement was placed in Good Housekeeping which was expected to be but the forerunner of many others to follow in the women's magazines. With no dependable means of supply, and with no central agency to follow up the inquiries which came from the advertising, it was doomed to short life. No tangible results could be pointed out to obtain continued support, and the effort proved of short duration.
With only $468. 90 cash in the treasury and no means of support except a trifling membership fee and donations, a secretary was hired at $200 per month to give full time to the work. By 1923 the whole program had to be abandoned for lack of funds.
For a time the society again published a magazine, The American Honey Producer, in an attempt to revive the lagging interest. Since the magazines published by private interests supplied the need in that field, little benefit came from the effort, and, like other enterprises, it was abandoned.
In 1927, the supply dealers formed an association for the purpose of promoting the general interest of the industry and began looking for ways and means to assist in the improvement of the markets for the product of their customers. Out of this movement grew the "American Honey Institute, " which was formed at Chicago in February, 1928, and announced to the public the following May. Dr. H. E. Barnard was selected as director.
Interest in the work of the Institute was slow in manifesting itself, but, for the first time, there was a practical program for the betterment of the industry as a whole. There was no attempt to accomplish the impossible. Instead, it was the intention to call attention to the merits of honey and to provide proper information for all possible uses and occasions.