Trying to find out when mail oreder bees started. [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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TALittle
03-04-2018, 08:24 AM
I've been trying to determine when mail order bees came onto the scene. I know that capturing swarms or obtaining a hive from a master bee keeper was done for years but have not been able to find any reference to when mail order bees became available?

Im assuming it is a new thing and was not available 100 years ago but I could be wrong. Does anyone have any information about it?

Thanks

J O'Haro
03-04-2018, 08:42 AM
I use to order them out of the Sears catalog back in the 70's. and still had party phone line with the neighbor's

Michael Palmer
03-04-2018, 09:47 AM
By the late 1870s, A. I. Root knew he could buy southern reared queens earlier than he could have new colonies ready to accept them in Ohio. If he could devise a way to get bees north, he could start new colonies with bees and queens from the south, and get a big jump on the season. In 1879, he designed a shipping box and offered to pay $1/pound to anyone who could send him live bees. The plan worked so well he was offering $2/pound in 1880. The birth of the package bee industry.

Rader Sidetrack
03-04-2018, 09:55 AM
I've been trying to determine when mail order bees came onto the scene. I know that capturing swarms or obtaining a hive from a master bee keeper was done for years but have not been able to find any reference to when mail order bees became available?

Im assuming it is a new thing and was not available 100 years ago but I could be wrong. Does anyone have any information about it?


More than 100 years, actually ... :)

See this 1917 American Bee Journal article about shipping package bees, and even a photo of a package "at the end of a thousand mile journey" (most likely by train):

"Shipping Bees in Packages Without Combs"
https://books.google.com/books?id=bpYcAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA50&dq=american+bee+journal+1914+package&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi9goTuj9PZAhWC24MKHTCkDKgQ6AEIKTAA#v=on epage&q=american%20bee%20journal%201914%20package&f=false

TALittle
03-04-2018, 10:05 AM
Thank you, that was an interesting read. He talks about shipping bees in 1904 so that is the earliest date I have seen.

TALittle
03-04-2018, 10:08 AM
By the late 1870s, A. I. Root knew he could buy southern reared queens earlier than he could have new colonies ready to accept them in Ohio. If he could devise a way to get bees north, he could start new colonies with bees and queens from the south, and get a big jump on the season. In 1879, he designed a shipping box and offered to pay $1/pound to anyone who could send him live bees. The plan worked so well he was offering $2/pound in 1880. The birth of the package bee industry.

Thank you. lol this is what I get for reading from the bottom up. I saw the 1917 article first.

So 1880, can you provide a reference? book name or link to an article?

enjambres
03-04-2018, 10:39 AM
It probably depended on the development and expansion of rail service.

Though I suppose ordered-by-mail bees could have technically started much earlier when the first European settlers sent letters back to England and Spain, and asked that bees be sent out by ship on the next crossing. And again, when people went west by wagon, and wrote letters to friends and family back east and recommended they bring hives out.

Nancy

Michael Palmer
03-04-2018, 11:11 AM
So 1880, can you provide a reference? book name or link to an article?

"In the May, 1879, issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture, A.I Root proposed a revolutionary idea-the sale of live bees by the pound. He had lost most of his bees, and had nearly a ton of honey in sealed combs just right for building up new colonies. He thought that if he could buy live bees by the quart, it would be a practical means of re-establishing his apiary. By counting and weighing a hundred bees, he came to the conclusion that a quart of bees would weigh approximately a pound, and proposed to pay a dollar a pound for live bees delivered to him at shipper's risk.

He even went so far as to devise a cage in which they might be shipped and described it as follows..."

The History of American Beekeeping, Frank C. Pellett, Collegiate Press Inc., 1938, p. 167

Roland
03-17-2018, 09:48 AM
Oral history in the part of Wisconsin includes stories of Adam Grimm from Jefferson shipping bees north on barges on the Mississippi. Jefferson is on the Rock river, a tributary of the Mississippi, so it is plausible. Most likely it was before the railroads came to that area. Our family history includes my Great Grandfather buying replacement bees from him in the late 1800's. Adam Grimm was a very early proponent of Italian Queens, and may have been one of the first to import them.

Crazy Roland

Sour Kraut
04-01-2018, 02:54 PM
[ It probably depended on the development and expansion of rail service. }

Exactly. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 gave a huge boost to railroads across the contry as people realized that they could ship literally ANYTHING ANYWHERE the railroads ran.

Cities such as here (Jacksonville IL) had two railroads running anywhere from 10 to 14 trains EVERY DAY. Of course, back then, a steam locomotive, tender, 15-20 cars and a caboose constituted a typical train.

The old bee books are full of advice on shipping entire hives, packages, queens, even how to pack and ship comb honey (in the square 'section boxes') without damage.

One passage about shipping hives cautions that 'you will need to hire a dependable person to accompany them and sprinkle the hives (screened) with water to prevent overheating', and how to orient them (combs vs direction of travel) for minimum problems.

naturebee
05-11-2018, 12:35 PM
I've been trying to determine when mail order bees came onto the scene. I know that capturing swarms or obtaining a hive from a master bee keeper was done for years but have not been able to find any reference to when mail order bees became available?

Hi TALittle,

Mail order bees (shipping live bees in combless packages)
first became available in April 1881

The beginning of the package bee business appears very
definitely to have dated to April 1913

See a facebook article I put together:
A Short History on Shipping Live Bees (Package Bees)
https://www.facebook.com/Historical.Honeybee.Articles/posts/1683639645023858

Here is a condensed timeline:
A Short History on Shipping Live Bees (Package Bees)

===
May 1879:

The possibility of shipping bees without hives or combs, was first proposed.
The first cage for mailing bees was made.

In the May, 1879, issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture, page 162, A. I. Root
proposed a revolutionary idea—the sale of live bees by the pound. He had
lost many of his bees, and had nearly a ton of honey in sealed combs just
right for building up new colonies. He thought that if he could buy live bees
by the quart, it would be a practical means of re-establishing his apiary.

A drawing of the package was shown along with the description. He further
proposed to open a department for publishing the names of those who wished
to buy or sell live bees.

===
May 1879:

The first shipments of package bees were sent by mail.
First packages for shipping live bees were on sale.

In the June 1, 1879 issue the editor of Bee Culture told about two shipments
of bees which came to him as a result of the announcement. One came from
Nebraska without water and with bees nearly all dead; the other from P. L. Viallon,
of Louisiana, with not much better success. These were very probably the first
shipments of live bees separated from the hives in which full colonies were moved.
Queens with a small number of escorts were at that time commonly shipped by express.

===
April 1881

In the April 1881, issue of Gleanings, the editor announced that Italian bees were
worth $2 per pound for April, $1.50 for May, $1.25 for June, and $1 for July. In
the same issue appeared a list of twelve beekeepers from New York to Texas,
who would supply live bees at these prices.

Due to lack of consistent demand package shipping of bees did not develop. Only
in seasons of heavy winter losses, when bees were needed for replacement, was
there a satisfactory market for the bees. Under such conditions there was no incentive
for any shipper to prepare for a demand which might not appear. Accordingly, the idea
of ship- ping live bees in combless packages was all but forgotten for many years,
although the business of queen rearing continued to thrive. For a period of about
thirty years consideration of the subject dropped out of the magazines.

===
1911

Revival of interest came with the spread of sweet clover into the farming regions of
the West. With expansion of the bee pasture came a new and imperative demand for
bees, and this was all that was needed to insure a source of supply. About 1911 an
occasional line began to appear in the advertisements for queens, offering a half pound
of bees. A year or two later such ads often carried a line, "Bees by the pound."

===
April 1913

The beginning of the package business appears very definitely to have dated from that time.
Probably propelled by the foulbrood epidemic occurring during this time period.

In the April 15, 1913, issue of Gleanings, E. R. Root wrote that they had sent bees in
half-pound and one-pound packages for years, but that only within the last two years
had they obtained any degree of success. After failure had attended the many efforts
in years past, the necessity of finding some way to ship bees without danger of spreading
disease had caused them to renew their efforts in this direction.

April, 1913, appears to have marked an important milepost in the history of beekeeping.
In the American Bee Journal of that month, A. B. Marchant, of Apalachicola, Florida,
and D. D. Stover, of Mississippi, put forward small display advertisements offering to
take orders for pound packages. It would be interesting to know whether it brought
any orders. Its appearance at the time of the Root article probably was fortunate and
it is likely that the article aroused interest in the offerings. The beginning of the package
business appears very definitely to have dated from that time.

===
1917

From this time forward the development of the package business was phenomenal.
By 1917 at least a dozen concerns were shipping bees in packages in large quantities.

Best Wishes,
Joe Waggle
Historical Honeybee Articles
https://www.facebook.com/Historical.Honeybee.Articles/

GmB
05-29-2018, 09:19 PM
This is a very fascinating thread. Thank you all for sharing this information.

There is a great scene in the documentary "More Than Honey" that shows bee packages in a post office rolling down the conveyor belt and making its way through the mail.

MatthewGreen
06-25-2018, 04:05 AM
This is a very fascinating thread. Thank you all for sharing this information.

There is a great scene in the documentary "More Than Honey" that shows bee packages in a post office rolling down the conveyor belt and making its way through the mail.

Great movie! And the scene about which you say is really good