Research entomologist, Science and Education Administration, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla. 74074.

Revised October 1980
Pages 175 – 179

History of National Associations

Beekeepers have had a national association almost continuously for more than 100 years. The American Bee Association, the first national organization, started at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1860.

This association met again in March and November 1861 in Cleveland. Then, it apparently disbanded because of the Civil War.

The next national association, the North American Beekeepers' Association, was founded at a convention held in December 1870 in Indianapolis, Ind. In February 1871, a second national organization, the American Beekeepers' Association, was started in a convention held in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Both groups combined to form the North American Beekeepers' Society at a joint meeting held in Cleveland, Ohio, in December 1871. This organization has existed more or less intact since then, despite several changes in name and reorganizations. It is now called the American Beekeeping Federations, Inc.

Some names that endured for several years were North American Beekeepers' Society (1871-88), North American Beekeepers' Association (1890-96), National Beekeepers' Association (1900-1920), American Honey Producers' League (1920-21), National Federation of State Beekeepers' Association (1943-48), and American Beekeeping Federation (1949 to present). In 1953, the federation became incorporated and the name was changed to reflect this.

In 1969, at the federation convention in Portland, Oreg., a producer's group formed a second national organization called the American Honey Producers. Both organizations are still active, hold annual conventions, and represent their members' viewpoints in Washington. Since each organization sometimes emphasizes a different approach or objectives, some beekeepers are members of both associations.

Accomplishments of National Associations

The national organizations are responsible for many achievements that have benefited the bee industry. One of their most important functions has been to obtain the passage of favorable legislation and to prevent the passage of unfavorable laws. A few of these past accomplishments are:

1879: Persuaded the U.S. Post Office to allow queen bees to be sent through the mail.

1906: Helped obtain passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act to prevent the adulteration of honey.

1922: Secured passage of the law that prohibits importing adult honey bees into the United States to try to prevent the introduction of acarine disease.

1949: Obtained a Federal Honey Price Support Program.

1959: Sponsored and financed a contest annually to select a honey queen. The young woman selected as queen travels extensively to promote honey.

1970: Obtained an indemnity program to reimburse beekeepers who suffer damages to their colonies from spraying with insecticides and other pesticides.
National organizations frequently have lobbied for funds to support research at Federal laboratories.

American Beekeeping Federation

Frank R. Robinson, 13637 N.W. 39th Avenue, Gainesville, Fla., is the current secretary. The federation had 1,500 members in 1977 and 910 registered at their 1978 convention in Orlando, Fla. Some activities of the federation are:

1. Promoting the use of honey through a very active honey queen program, which includes selecting a honey queen annually and sending her on promotional tours throughout the country.

2. Publishing an informative newsletter every 2 months.

3. Sponsoring a national honey show each year.

4. Holding an annual convention to transact business and to present an educational and informative program featuring topics of interest and importance to beekeepers.

5. Representing all parts of the bee industry in Congress. Recent efforts have been made to obtain import controls, price support, and a continuation of the indemnification program.

American Honey Producers Association

Glenn Gibson, P.O. Box 368, Minco, Okla., has been executive secretary of the American Honey Producers since its founding in 1969. The producers had approximately 200 members in 1976 and 180 registered at their 1978 convention in Tucson, Ariz. This association has been producer-oriented and has concentrated on obtaining favorable legislation from Congress. Some programs they have fought for are as follows:

1. A well-funded bee research program.

2. A smooth-working program of indemnity for losses caused by pesticides.

3. A well-funded honey research program.

4. Honey price support and loans.

5. A commemorative stamp.

6. Protection from imports.

The producers also hold an informative and educational annual convention. They have sponsored several congressional receptions to present the bee industry to Congress. Congressmen and their aides are given gifts of honey at these receptions. Slides, movies, and posters are used to explain the bee industry.

American Bee Breeders Association

This national association of queen and package bee producers was founded in 1948. Annual meetings are held in conjunction with the Southern States Beekeeping Federation convention. The ABBA has established standards of reliability, and its members can use the association's emblem in their advertising. There are 40 to 50 members, but about 350 persons attend the annual meeting.

American Honey Institute (AHI)

The institute was established in March 1928 in Indianapolis, Ind., to promote the use of honey. In 1932, the office moved to Madison, Wis. Harriett M. Grace was executive director of the institute from 1939 until she retired in 1964. During this time, AHI distributed million of pieces of literature, including newspaper releases, feature stories, and radio and TV programs. Home economists tested many recipes and published these in three well-known booklets: "Old Favorite Honey Recipes" (1941); "New Favorite Honey Recipes" (1947); and "More Favorite Honey Recipes" (1956).

The institute and the American Beekeeping Federation jointly sponsored a honey booth at the annual convention of the American Home Economics Association for many years.

In 1965, Smith-Bucklin Associates of Chicago, Ill., assumed honey promotion for the industry. The Honey Industry Council of America and the institute combined in 1967. In 1970, Smith-Bucklin suspended their activities because of lack of funds. Honey promotion by the institute has virtually stopped.

Apiary Inspectors of America

The present organization began in 1928 under the leadership of Dr. Ralph Parker of Kansas at the annual convention of the American Honey Producers League in Sioux City, Iowa. What was probably the first national meeting of apiary inspectors was held in San Antonio, Tex., in 1906, presided over by Dr. E. F. Phillips of the Department.

This organization holds an annual convention and publishes the proceedings. Membership is limited to State and Provincial Apiarists, but a recent change in the constitution permits associate members. To date, there are 10 associate members, in addition to 42 full members.

The purposes of this organization are (1) to promote better beekeeping conditions through uniform, effective laws and methods for the suppression of bee diseases and (2) to seek mutual cooperation between apiary inspection officials of different States.

Bee Industries Association

The BIA is a national organization of bee supply and equipment manufacturers. It was formed in 1941 during World War II to obtain high priority for the materials and supplies needed by the bee industry.

Now the association meets yearly during the American Beekeeping Federation convention to discuss problems unique to supply manufacturers. Examples of such problems are the redimensioning of lumber and the changing governmental regulations on the use of chemicals.

Honey Industry Council of America (HICA)

HICA was officially established in Chicago, Ill., in May 1953. It is composed of representatives of the four most important segments of the bee industry: beekeepers, honey packers and dealers, bee supply manufacturers, and bee breeders. Therefore, the council represents all phases of the industry and formulates broad national policy, in which all segments of the industry have a voice. The council also raises money to promote honey.

Of the nine council members, four are elected by the American Beekeeping Federation, two each by the National Packers and Dealers Association and the Bee Industries Association, and one by the American Bee Breeders Association.

In 1961, the council sponsored a checkoff plan in which both the honey packers and beekeepers voluntarily deducted 1 cent per 60 pounds of honey. The proceeds were used for honey promotion. The plan was not successful, however, and was discontinued in the mid-1960's.

In 1974, the threat of isomerized corn syrup as a honey adulterant caused the HICA to establish a fund to prosecute offenders and to sponsor research to find an analytical method of detecting honey adulteration. Led by HICA President Jim Powers, the organization raised more than $100,000 for a Honey Defense Fund. The council also retains an attorney to assist with legal matters related to assuring the purity of honey.

Ladies Auxiliary, American Beekeeping Federation

The ladies auxiliary meets during the federation's annual convention. More than 150 members attended the meeting in 1977 in San Antonio, Tex. An annual fall newsletter is mailed to auxiliary members. The main emphasis of the organization is support for the honey queen program for which the auxiliary raises money by selling gifts and through donations. The auxiliary also provides voluntary help for the program. A unique feature of the annual meeting is the exchange of gifts that must pertain to the honey industry.

National Honey Packers and Dealers Association

This group was organized in 1950 and reorganized in 1953. The purposes of the organization are to represent its members, to develop better methods of processing and packaging honey, and to increase the sale of honey. The association supports research and promotion by working through the Honey Industry Council of America.

In 1977, it had 33 members. The association holds a short annual meeting during the American Beekeeping Federation Convention.

International Associations


This international federation of beekeepers' associations consists of more than 50 national associations from most of the major countries of the world. Included are such diverse nations as the United States, Russia, Israel, Egypt, and Zambia.

Apimondia sponsors the International Apicultural Congress every second year. Papers given at the Congress usually are published as a bound book. The 26th International Congress was held in Adelaide, Australia, in 1977.

Each quarter, Apimondia publishes Apiacta, a 50-page technical journal on apiculture, in five languages-English, French, Russian, German, and Spanish. Apiacta is published in Bucharest, Romania, and Apimondia's administrative offices are at 101, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Rome, Italy.

International Bee Research Association (IBRA)

This research association collects and abstracts all available scientific literature on apiculture throughout the world. IBRA publishes Bee World, a quarterly journal for beekeepers; Apicultural Abstracts, a compilation of scientific literature abstracts; and the Journal of Apicultural Research, an outlet for original bee research papers. The association also publishes books and pamphlets about bee culture.

IBRA, founded in January 1949, was known as the Bee Research Association until 1976, when international was added to the name to better describe the organization.

With the help of Dr. Gordon Townsend and the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, all apicultural abstracts since 1950 have been put on computer tape by subject and author. The editor of all journals and leader of the association for more than a quarter of a century is Dr. Eva Crane.

The offices of IBRA are at Hill House, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, 5L9 ONR, England.

Regional Organizations

Southern States Beekeepers' Federation

This federation was organized in 1928 to promote Southern beekeeping. Seventeen States are represented, and fall meetings are held annually. Approximately 350 attended the 1977 convention held in conjunction with the American Bee Breeders' Association meeting. The program deals largely with package bee and queen rearing phases of the industry, and the Federation has supported research on these subjects at some southern universities.

Honey Producers' Marketing Association

This producers' marketing organization was founded during the 1960's to aid beekeepers in the North Central States in the marketing of their honey. Howard H. Schmidt of Winner, S. Dak., is president of the association. A similar organization serves the Great Lakes area.

Eastern Apicultural Society

EAS was founded in 1955 and incorporated in 1962. Both individual beekeepers and associations can be members. Most of the State associations in the Northeastern United States and the province of Ontario are members. A journal is published every 2 months.

Most members are hobbyists, and the programs are planned for the maximum benefit of this group. Several hundred attend the annual 3-day conferences, which are held in August. The 24th (1978) annual conference was at Wooster, Ohio, and the 1979 meeting was held in Ottawa. Canada.

Western Apicultural Society

WAS was founded in 1977. It is designed to serve hobbyist and sideline beekeepers and is patterned after the Eastern Apiculture Society.

State and Local Organizations

Most, if not all, States have beekeepers' associations that sponsor annual meetings, honey promotion, legislation, and beekeeper education. The oldest association is in Michigan. It was established in 1865 and has functioned continuously since that time. By 1900, at least 14 other State associations were organized.

There also are many active local associations organized on a city, county, or area basis. Some of these hold monthly meetings and are very active, such as the Cook-DuPage Association in the Chicago, Ill., suburbs.

The California Bee Breeders, Inc., has about 50 members. It started in 1933 to promote the production of quality queens and package bees in California.

California Honey Advisory Board

The advisory board operates under the California Department of Agriculture and collects money from beekeepers to promote honey and to conduct research on problems relating to bee culture. The board promotes honey through exhibits at fairs and by distributing free recipes, obtaining publicity for honey, and advertising.

A 16-minute film, "Honey, Nature's Golden Treasure," produced by the board, is shown to interested groups. The board also published several honey recipe booklets. One, "Treasured Honey Highlights," is available for a small fee from the California Honey Advisory Board, P.O. Box 32, Whittier, Calif. 90608.

The board also provides financial assistance to the University of California at Davis for apicultural research.

Other Associations

There are several other regional or multistate associations that hold meetings either regularly or occasionally. Beekeepers from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington meet from time to time as the Northwest Beekeepers. The Tri-State Beekeepers meeting has been held at Hamilton, Ill., in the summer. Beekeepers from Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have held joint meetings under the title of Seven States Beekeepers. The Tidewater Beekeepers Association was formed by beekeepers in the southeast coast States. Beekeepers from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota have met as the Four States Beekeepers.

Sioux Honey Association

This beekeepers' cooperative is the world's largest honey packer and sold more than 57 million pounds of honey during the 1976 pool year. On June 30, 1977, Sioux had 994 active members.

Sioux started in 1921 in Sioux City, Iowa, and sold about 20,000 pounds of honey the first year. Edgar G. Brown, Jr., was the first president and remained in office more than 50 years. He was succeeded by Harry Rodenberg of Wolf Point, Mont.

R. F. (Barney) Remer managed Sioux for 42 years until his retirement in 1967. Robert Steele is his successor.

The Sue Bee emblem, a Sioux Indian maiden in a buckskin dress with a pair of wings, is recognized throughout the world.

The association gradually has added plants during its growth. The general offices and largest plant are in Sioux City, Iowa; five others are in Anaheim, Calif.; Umatilla, Fla.; Waycross, Ga.; Wendall, Idaho; and Temple, Tex.


The information for this section was obtained from the references listed and from letters and telephone conversations with officers of many of the organizations discussed. The author thanks everyone who supplied information.




1964. HISTORY OF OUR NATIONAL BEEKEEPING ORGANIZATIONS. 88 p. American Beekeeping Federation, Urbana, Ill.