On January 1, 1861, appeared the first copy of a bee magazine in the English language. Its editor was Samuel Wagner, cashier of a bank, a man who was destined to wield a profound influence on the new industry of honey production, which was just then showing the first signs of emergence from the fads and superstitions with which it had been surrounded for centuries. The office of publication was the job printing establishment of one A. M. Spangler, at 25 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia. The outbreak of the war between the states caused suspension at the end of the first volume, until July, 1866, when it was resumed.
In February, 1871, Mr. Wagner wrote to Elisha Gallup that he would be compelled to discontinue the American Bee Journal since he had already sunk nearly $1, 500 in the venture. Gallup advised him to hold on because so many beekeepers did not know of the existence of the paper. He then began an active campaign to extend its acquaintance. Later Wagner wrote him to extend thanks for his assistance and to say that losses had been recovered and that the magazine was standing on its own feet. Thus narrowly did the magazine escape being discontinued early in its career.
At the time this first copy of the first bee magazine in English appeared, there were few of the implements now in common use among the beekeepers. Conventions of beemen had not yet been held, a practical smoker had not yet been invented, queen excluders were unknown, comb foundation was still to be perfected, the extractor had not come into use, nor had commercial queen rearing been suggested.
Langstroth had invented his hive, but it was not yet in common use. Most of the important events relating to the business of honey production as now practiced have taken place since the birth of this publication. They have been made known to American beekeepers through the medium of its pages, and it has played an important part in the rise of an industry.
The American Bee Journal in 1878.
The American Bee Journal in 1874.
In Wagner's first announcement of his plans for the magazine he said, "It will serve as a repository of whatever is of practical value in this department of rural economy; and as a vehicle by which information can be readily, rapidly and widely diffused so that the early introduction of useful improvements may be secured. " Wagner's prophecy has been realized. One has but to review the history of the time to see how completely it has been realized. In its pages were recorded the invention of the extractor, the smoker, comb foundation-a hundred useful implements; its pages also heralded the introduction of alsike clover and sweet clover and led the movement to promote their spread into every nook and corner of the clover belt. Its pages recorded the beginning of the movement to bring about enactment of a pure food law, and led the movement until stronger and more aggressive leaders were ready to carry it forward to final success.
The history of the American Bee Journal has been the history of the rise of beekeeping, and the one is inseparably linked to that of the other.
The first volume of the magazine contained much of permanent interest. Dzierzon's theory of parthenogenesis was outlined at length and, for the first time, became available to American beekeepers. Likewise, the Italian bee was brought prominently to the attention of beemen in this country. Wagner had made an unsuccessful attempt to import these bees several years previously and, only a few months before issuing the first number of the Journal, had finally succeeded, as had S. B. Parsons, who was the first. Much space was devoted to the new race for many years after its introduction, and the influence of the Journal had much to do with its wide distribution and general popularity.
Thos. G. Newman purchased the American Bee Journal in 1873.
The early volumes contain the names of many men of worldwide reputation in the beekeeping field. Langstroth was a contributor almost from the beginning. Henry Alley, Adam Grimm, Moses Quinby, Elisha Gallup, and the Baron of Berlepsch are among the famous men who contributed to the early numbers.
A. I. Root began his career as a contributor to this magazine, and he continued to write for its pages under "Experiences of a Novice in Beekeeping" for several years. Charles Dadant made his first contribution in November, 1867, and introduced himself as a newcomer from France. From that time until his death in 1902 his name frequently appeared as a writer in its pages.
Over a long period, much space was devoted to the discussion of patent hives, and hundreds of different kinds received attention. Charles Dadant's defense of the Langstroth invention, which appeared in this magazine, had an important place in the final judgment which awarded credit to the frail minister who profited so little from his effort. Charles Dadant was familiar with the various kinds of hives in common use in Europe, and was able to point out the essential difference between the Langstroth hive and them.
C. P. Dadant became editor of the American Bee Journal in 1912.
In one year, 1869, more than sixty patents were recorded on hives and appliances, which gives an inkling of the public interest in the subject at that time and the amount of correspondence among the beekeepers which the subject entailed. Wagner made a good selection of material for the Journal, and a large part of the articles which appeared under his editorial direction still hold much of interest.
In the seventies numerous other bee magazines were started, some of which continued for several years. Only one, Gleanings in Bee Culture, has survived until the present. Most of these made their beginning after the death of Wagner, in 1872. After Wagner's death his son carried on with the assistance of
Langstroth, who probably did most of the editorial work until January, 1873, when W. F. Clarke became editor. After the first year, the Journal had been published in Washington until Clarke assumed its management, when it was moved to Chicago.
Clarke's connection with the magazine was short and apparently uneventful. He appears to have sold the publication to Thos. G. Newman in December following its purchase in 1873, although his name still appeared as editor until the May issue, 1875. For a part of this period, Ellen S. Tupper was joint editor.
Newman continued as editor and publisher until 1892, when it was sold to George W. York, who conducted it until 1912, when it was purchased by the present owners, Dadant & Sons, and moved again, this time to Hamilton, Illinois, where it has been published since under the editorial direction of C. P. Dadant until the close of his life.
In October, 1870, Dr. C. C. Miller first appeared as a contributor to the Journal, and from that time until his death in in 1920 he was prominent in its pages. For several years he was associate editor under York and continued his department of questions and answers to the end of his life. He thus was actively associated with the magazine as contributor and assistant editor for a period of fifty years. Doctor Miller thus served for a long term and had a wide influence on the industry through its pages.
In reviewing its pages we find that the American Bee Journal has been the instrument for much of the progress of beekeeping during the long years since it was established. There are few publications still in existence which were circulating in January, 1861, and many great changes have taken place in the nation and the world at large, as well as in the beekeeping industry, since that time. When Wagner promised that it would be a vehicle for the spread of information, he anticipated the service which it would render. Through its pages most American beekeepers who have become famous became known to the followers of the craft. Hutchinson, Doolittle, and many others thus followed the paths of Langstroth, Quinby, and Henry Alley.
There have been other publications in later years to share the responsibility and the opportunity of service to the industry, and there still will be others in days to come, but much of the history of the early years of beekeeping in America is written only in the pages of the American Bee Journal.