The Beekeepers Review, founded by W. Z. Hutchinson, of Flint, Michigan, in 1888, attracted attention from the first number, and so much of the editor's personality was impressed upon it that it remains a source of constant reference for students of bee culture to the present day.
The magazine started with the promise to review current literature and to pay special attention to the problems of advanced bee culture. Hutchinson was an unusual editor, and there are many who contend that he was the equal of the best, and perhaps himself was the best editor of American beekeeping periodicals. He was highly prejudiced, however, and in some cases, barred from consideration in his magazine things which have later been proved to be correct. A case as illustration is when he refused space to Charles Dadant for a time for discussion of the large hive. The editor was misled by the arguments of Heddon, in favor of contraction, and was able to carry so many. beekeepers with him in that direction that beekeeping declined to the point where it was no longer profitable to those who followed his leadership.
During the first year of publication of the magazine Hutchin-inson fell sick. A young daughter was also ill at the same time. As a result he fell into difficulties and decided that the magazine must be entirely homemade. The front room of his home became the office and workshop. With no previous experience at typesetting he found it difficult to do the mechanical work at first, but with perseverance put out a magazine equal in appearance to most of its contemporaries. At the end of the first year he boasted of a circulation of 887.
At times he would devote the greater part of an entire issue to one subject, with contributions from a number of the best-known writers giving their particular views. In this way, much interesting and valuable material was brought together.
Although Hutchinson met with some tragic experiences in his home life and endured much poor health, he remained enthusiastic about his bees and his magazine to the end of his life. The May, 1911, issue contained an apology for being late because of the illness of the editor. The June number did not appear, and with July came new management and the announcement of the death of Editor Hutchinson.
E. B. Tyrrell, of Detroit, now assumed control and a new note crept into the publication. Tyrrell was enthusiastic concerning cooperation and soon was able to interest the officials of the national beekeepers' organization to undertake the cooperative buying of bee supplies, honey containers, etc., while publishing the Review as official organ. There was much opposition to the undertaking, but the plan was put over without great difficulty.
The May, 1912, issue carries the announcement of the sale of the Review to the National Beekeepers' Association. An editorial staff was selected from widely separated points, thus requiring all contact by mail. This offered complications to the group in charge of publication. It was announced, also, that the organization had arranged to buy tin cans at the lowest jobbing prices. It was proposed to give to one paying a $1. 50 membership fee a magazine worth a dollar, and to sell him his supplies at first cost. One feels that the secretary was most certainly on optimist when he proposed to do all the the big things outlined in the announcement with a capital of $28. 09 cash on hand. He states, "These directors have not hesitated to undertake big things for you and have proven themselves progressive in every sense of the word. "
Succeeding issues of the magazines were filled with letters indicating that the supply manufacturers had exploited the beekeepers, and proposing to remedy this situation by operating a vast business for the beekeepers by the organization. There was little inducement for dealers to advertise in a magazine whose reading pages were devoted to undermining their business.
It soon became apparent that the dream of conducting a great enterprise for thousands of beekeepers, who would pay nothing for the service except the subscription to the magazine, would not come true. Men do not long enjoy working for glory alone, and real activity becomes necessary to conduct any large-scale enterprise. It was but a short time until a deficit was incurred. The National, which had been a prosperous organization with a large membership, rapidly disintegrated. Its conventions, which had previously attracted large attendance to hear educational programs, became so controversial as to disgust everybody. There was little accomplished and most of the time was spent in heated arguments over the Review and the policy of the organization.
The report of the secretary at the Cincinnati convention, which was published in the Review for April, 1913, gives some hint of the problems which arose when an attempt was made to sell bee supplies in small quantities at wholesale prices.
The situation was, of course, impossible, and radical changes were made in an effort to better the condition. Although the place of publication was changed, with new members of the editorial staff conditions failed to improve. So much ill feeling had developed that it was not easily cured. The officers made a heroic attempt to give service and publish a high class magazine. Much interesting material was presented and good pictures were used on high grade paper. It was not long, however, until the unpaid purchase price became an annoyance, and donations were solicited to retire the debt. Money came in very slowly, and the sums received did not discharge the obligation very rapidly.
Difficulties increased as time went on, and the controversies among the members became more serious until the Denver meeting of the National in February, 1915. By this time the opposition had developed sufficient strength to insure disposal of the magazine. The convention was marked by several unpleasant occurrences and threatened to break up in disorder. Finally it was agreed to sell the Review for the unpaid part of the original purchase price. The magazine was to continue as an official organ under private ownership.
The Review now became an independent magazine in direct competition with others in its field. It was greatly handicapped by the struggle during the years it was owned by the National Beekeepers' Association. Had the organization never taken it over it might have succeeded under the new management.
In 1917, the name was changed to the Domestic Beekeeper apparently in an effort to overcome the prejudice which had developed. It failed to prosper under the new name, and with September, 1921, it returned to the former title, Beekeepers Review.
As an expression of the personality of Hutchinson, its first editor, the Review attained popularity but never was a prosperous publication. In the hands of others it never succeeded in holding a substantial following. After a time the publication began to appear with less regularity and, in 1933, was published as a quarterly. In 1933 it was absorbed by the Beekeepers' Item.