The Bee Book

Mss.630.4.B43

Date: 1846-1854 | Size: 1 Volumes, 258 p.

Abstract

John Benbow, Jr., of Cowley Hall Mills, Middlesex, England, was an avid amateur beekeeper in the 1840s and 1850s. His "Bee Book" is a small (16mo) copiously illustrated treatise and journal of beekeeping. Divided into three parts -- "Other people's experiments," "Our own experiments," and an annual log (1846-1854) -- the book includes information on hive construction, seasonal management, the cleaning of hives, and other miscellaneous information culled both from printed sources and personal "experiments." The 44 pen and ink drawings include technical drawings of hives and beekeeping apparatus, along with humorous sketches of the activities of an "amateur apiarian."

Background note

John Benbow, Jr., of Cowley Hall Mills, Middlesex, England, was an avid amateur beekeeper in the 1840s and 1850s.

Scope and content

John Benbow's "Bee Book" is a small (16mo) copiously illustrated treatise and journal of beekeeping, kept by an "amateur apiariast" in early Victorian England. Divided into three parts -- "Other people's experiments," "Our own experiments," and an annual log (1846-1854) -- the Bee Book includes information on hive construction, seasonal management, the cleaning of hives, and other miscellaneous information culled both from printed sources and personal "experiments."

Benbow jokingly records that his expenditures and pains (sometimes literal) resulted in no profits at all despite the increasing scope of his activities, but he notes proudly that he had introduced several innovations in hive design. The volume is enlivened with 44 illustrations that include technical drawings of hives and beekeeping apparatus, along with humorous sketches of the trials and tribulations of an "amateur apiarian." Three of these sketches, apparently unfinished, are in pencil, the rest in pen and ink.

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information

Provenance

Acquired from Bimelson, March 23, 1970 (accn. no. 1970-559ms).

Preferred citation

Cite as: John Benbow, The Bee Book, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Recatalogued by rsc, 2003.

Related material

In addition to a number of 19th century books on bee keeping, the APS Library houses the papers of the American apiarist Lorenzo L. Langstroth, 1885-1895 (call no. B L265).

Early American History Note

The "Bee Book" is a small, pocket-sized notebook kept by John Benbow, an amateur beekeeper. The journal is handwritten and has extensive and detailed sketches of beehives and beekeeping. The 250 page volume details beekeeping practices, customs, and stories. It contains a log of Benbow's practice from 1846-1854. The book is intended to be not only a guide to beekeeping, but also a source of entertainment and is filled with amusing anecdotes and sketches.

Indexing Terms


Genre(s)

  • Art
  • Diaries
  • Manuscript Essays
  • Pen works
  • Sketchbooks

Subject(s)

  • Bee culture -- Great Britain
  • Beyond Early America


Detailed Inventory

Index of illustrations
  
Bee Book, cover.
  
Bee hive
  p. 0
"Wooden hives or boxes"
  p. 2
"Floor boards"
  p. 6
"Collateral hives and boxes"
  p. 9
"Ventilators and thermometers"
  p. 19
"The Oxford apparatus for fuming"
  p. 40
Wooden screen
  p. 44
"Taylor's collateral hive -- after Nutt," plan view
  p. 62
"Taylor's collateral hive -- after Nutt, Front elevation"
  p. 63
"Taylor's collateral hive -- after Nutt, End"
  p. 64
"Taylor's collateral hive -- after Nutt, Separated plan"
  p. 65
Bottom of hive
  p. 70
Top of hive
  p. 74
"Separated plan"
  p. 75
Improved White's hive
  p. 77
"Benbow's single-entrance doubling board, Floor Board, Plate 1"
  p. 81
"Benbow's single-entrance doubling board, Plate 2, Winter position"
  p. 82
"Benbow's single-entrance doubling board, Plate 3, Summer position"
  p. 83
"The swarm"
  p. 99
"Common cottage hive and Eke"
  p. 100
"Hiving a swarm"
  p. 108
"Swarm taking to hive"
  p. 111
"Amateur observes the habits of his bees minutely -- and gets stung"
  p. 116
"Potrait of a bee-keeper whose friends just begin to recognize his features"
  p. 119
"The amateur surveys his bees at a more convenient distance and under more agreeable circumstances"
  p. 121
"Hive clusters -- prudent apiarian sets Miss Smith to watch, duly provided with shovel and tongs"
  p. 123
"A swarm rises -- and is treated to the usual 'musical honours'"
  p. 125
"Apiarian attempts to attack an eke and makes a mess of it!"
  p. 137
"The improved apiary
  p. 141
Tray
  p. 142
"Apiarian being about to commence an operation requisitions great steadiness and coolness, desires his assistants to quaff a draught of beer each previously..."
  p. 143
"Strange appearance of the hive after the operator has fitted his wooden frame!"
  p. 145
"Grotesque and unwieldy figure when put to rights"
  p. 146
"Great astonishment of the 'experienced' Apiarian on seeing his friend's hive"
  p. 150
"Smith suggests a novel method of taking wasps nests which infests the hives -- apiarian assists in some alarm"
  p. 154
"Smith, after 'further experiments,' has been missing towards evening he is discovered rolling and groaning in a ditch, still assailed by his tormentors"
  p. 159
"Smith declares himself heartily sick of the job -- and begs to resign his appointment"
  p. 165
"Portrait of our new assistance (Mr. Conner"
  p. 169
"Startling alteration in Conner's facial anatomy in the morn after his initiation in the mysteries of bee-management"
  p. 171
"Consummate self-possession of the apiarian under trying circumstances"
  p. 175
Incomplete sketch
  p. 181
"Plate showing the swarms from our single hive, 1848"
  p. 193
"Benbow's collateral box on single-entrance doubling board," pencil sketch
  p. 228
"Benbow's double board, single entrance," pencil sketch
  p. 229