Abstract

This essay expands and refines academic knowledge of English beekeeping during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Scientific beekeeping focused on improvement, which, in turn, depended on the dissemination of ideas and practices. This analysis, therefore, encompasses the mentalities and tactics of popularizers. The article also identifies two neglected concepts in the popularization campaign. First, popularizers saw scientific beekeeping as a way to end the tradition of killing the bees in order to safely harvest. Second, they sought to promote a rural industry for the economic welfare of the nation. The case study of Exeter's Western Apiarian Society reveals precisely how popularization functioned in reality. The result is a more thorough history of scientific beekeeping and how the rhetoric of improvement related to the culture of practice.

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NOTES

1. Andreas Daum adopted a similar philosophy in his work on the popularization of biology. Daum,
“Science, Politics, and Religion: Humboldtian Thinking and the Transformations of Civil Society in Germany, 1830–1870,”
Osiris
,
2nd Series
,
17
(
2002
):
107
40
. My approach has benefited from Mary Lindemann's methodology. Lindemann,
Medicine and Society in Early Modern Europe
, 2nd ed. (
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
,
2010
),
3
4
; Joan Thirsk,
“The World-Wide Farming Web, 1500–1800,”
in
A Common Agricultural Heritage: Revising French and British Rural Divergence
, ed. John Broad (
Exeter
:
British Agricultural History Society
,
2009
),
13
,
17
.
2. I approach class structure with the language of “sorts.” While expressions like “middling sort” appear ill-defined, the flexibility of “sorts” acknowledges the important gradations of social differentiation that disappear behind the very precision implied in “class.” Keith Wrightson,
English Society, 1580–1680
, 2nd ed. (
New Brunswick
:
Rutgers University Press
,
2000
),
19
42
,
140
43
,
170
85
; Jonathan Barry,
“Introduction,”
in
The Middling Sort of People: Culture, Society and Politics in England, 1550–1800
, ed. Jonathan Barry and Christopher Brooks (
London
:
Palgrave Macmillan
,
1994
),
1
27
. Douglas Hay and Nicholas Rogers,
Eighteenth-Century English Society: Shuttles and Swords
(
Oxford
:
Oxford University Press
,
1997
),
188
208
. My statement that innovators and popularizers did not emphasize their own profit contrasts with a recent statement in Gene Kritsky,
The Quest for the Perfect Hive: A History of Innovation in Bee Culture
(
New York
:
Oxford University Press
,
2010
),
3
. While individual profit served as a motivation, the full picture was much more complex.
3. Joan Thirsk,
“Making a Fresh Start: Sixteenth-Century Agriculture and the Classical Inspiration,”
in
Culture and Cultivation in Early Modern England: Writing and the Land
, ed. Michael Leslie and Timothy Raylor (
Leicester
:
Leicester University Press
,
1992
),
18
20
; Thomas Hill,
The Profitable Art of Gardening
, 3rd ed. (
London
:
Thomas Marshe
,
1568
). From the third edition of the gardening manual forward, Hill's work included an appended beekeeping treatise titled A Profitable Instruction of the Perfect Ordering of Bees. Hill brought the first beekeeping treatise to the English language, but his work was a plagiarized translation of the Pantopolion by Georgius Pictorius. Joan P. Harding,
British Bee Books: A Bibliography 1500–1976
(
London
:
International Bee Research Association
,
1979
),
36
38
; Frederick R. Prete,
“Can Females Rule the Hive? The Controversy over Honey Bee Gender Roles in British Beekeeping Texts of the Sixteenth–Eighteenth Centuries,”
Journal of the History of Biology
(Spring
1991
):
113
44
.
4. John Worlidge,
Apiarium; or A Discourse of the Government and Ordering of BEES
, 2nd ed. (
London
:
Thomas Dring
,
1678
), title page; Andrew McRae,
“Husbandry Manuals and the Language of Agrarian Improvement,”
in
Culture and Cultivation
,
35
.
5. Prete,
“Can Females Rule the Hive?”
117
. The lack of social analysis in beekeeping history connects to the authors' background. Most of the influential authors are not academic historians. Eva Crane, Gene Kritsky, and Frederick Prete earned scientific doctorates, while Tammy Horn and Timothy Raylor hold doctorates in literature.
6. The principles that Bacon advocated found a place in the study of scientific beekeeping. Deborah E. Harkness,
The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution
(
New Haven
:
Yale University Press
,
2007
),
xv
xviii
,
245
53
. Roger Cooter's book on cranial interpretation recounts the mania that sometimes resulted when middle-class amateurs blended a veneer of science with social prejudice. Cooter,
The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science: Phrenology and the Organization of Consent in Nineteenth-Century Britain
(
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
,
1984
),
69
73
.
7. A. H. Bullen,
“Butler, Charles (1560–1647),”
rev. Karl Showler,
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4178 (accessed Dec. 16, 2008). Eva Crane marked a 1586 Spanish treatise by Luis Méndez de Torres as the first to state that the queen bee was female. Crane,
The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting
(
New York
:
Routledge
,
1999
),
216
,
569
. For a review of Virgil's remarks on bees, see, H. Malcolm Fraser,
Beekeeping in Antiquity
, 2nd ed. (
London
:
University of London Press
,
1951
),
29
40
.
8. Charles Butler,
The Feminine Monarchie
, 2nd ed. (
1609
; repr.,
London
:
John Haviland for Roger Jackson
,
1623
), preface.
9. Butler,
Feminine Monarchie
, A; Robert Sydserff,
Sydserff's Treatise on Bees; Being the Result of Upwards of Thirty Years Experience
(
Salisbury, UK
:
B. C. Collins
,
1792
),
62
; John Thorley,
Melisselogia. Or, The Female Monarchy
(
London
:
the author
,
1744
),
ix
; Kevin Sharpe,
Politics and Ideas in Early Stuart England: Essays and Studies
(
Great Britain
:
Pinter Publishers Limited
,
1989
),
53
54
.
10. Butler,
Feminine Monarchie
,
B2
B3
,
D2
,
C1
C3
; Thorley,
Melisselogia
,
xvii
,
29
31
; Moses Rusden,
A Further Discovery of Bees
(
London
:
the author
,
1679
),
40
41
.
11. Butler,
Feminine Monarchie
,
B2
; Thorley,
Melisselogia
,
10
,
15
,
48
; Joseph Warder,
The True Amazons: Or, The Monarchy of Bees. Being a New Discovery and Improvement of those Wonderful Creatures
, 4th ed. (
London
:
John Pemberton
,
1720
),
vi
xii
; Keith Thomas,
Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500–1800
(
London
:
Allen Lane
,
1983
),
62
64
; Rusden,
Further Discovery
,
18
,
33
.
12. Samuel Hartlib,
The Reformed Common-wealth of Bees
(
London
:
Giles Calvert
,
1655
); Timothy Raylor,
“Samuel Hartlib and the Commonwealth of Bees,”
in
Culture and Cultivation
,
95
96
,
117
.
13. Bernard Mandeville,
The Fable of the Bees: Or, Private Vices, Public Benefits: With, An Essay on Charity and Charity-Schools; and a Search into the Nature of Society
(
1723
; repr.,
New York
:
Capricorn Books
,
1962
),
59
,
161
. Peter Burke also objects to use of The Fable of the Bees in the analysis of apicultural writing. Burke,
“Fables of the Bees: A Case-Study in Views of Nature and Society,”
in
Nature and Society in Historical Context
, ed. Mikuláš Teich et al. (
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
,
1997
),
116
21
. Sharpe,
Politics and Ideas
,
70
.
14. Samuel Purchas (
1657
), Moses Rusden (
1679
), Joseph Warder (
1712
), John Thorley (
1744
,
1765
), Stephen White (
1756
), Thomas Wildman (
1768
), and John Keys (
1780
,
1796
); Raylor,
“Samuel Hartlib,”
109
11
.
15. Hartlib,
Reformed Common-wealth
, title page. For a discussion of Hartlib's belief that human knowledge should serve the common good and generate wealth, see, Mark Greengrass et al.,
Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation
(
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
,
1994
),
18
24
; John Keys,
The Practical Bee-Master
(
London
:
the author
,
1780
),
v
vi
; Stephen White,
Collateral Bee-Boxes. Or, a New, Easy, and Advantageous Method of Managing Bees
(
London
:
L. Davis and C. Reymers
,
1756
),
61
62
.
16. Eamon Duffy,
The Voices of Morebath: Reformation & Rebellion in an English Village
(
New Haven
:
Yale University Press
,
2001
),
9
,
74
75
; John Keys,
The Antient Beemaster's Farewell
(
Dublin
:
P. Byrne, P. Wogan, J. Moore, and J. Rice
,
1796
),
143
48
.
17. White,
Collateral
,
23
,
57
58
.
18. John Coakley Lettsom,
Hints for Promoting a Bee Society
(
London
:
Darton and Harvey
,
1796
),
2
. The secretary of the Western Apiarian Society deferred to Lettsom's “hints” as the true origin of the society's organization.
Transactions of the Western Apiarian Society
, No.
5
(
1805
), General Collection,
British Library
,
London, England
(hereafter TWAS),
6
7
,
129
; Keys,
Practical Bee-Master
,
352
.
19. Keys,
Antient Bee-Master's Farewell
,
x
.
20. John Mills,
An Essay on the Management of Bees
(
London
:
J. Johnson and B. Davenport
,
1766
),
iii
iv
.
21. Some English beekeepers practiced humane beekeeping prior to Wheler's observations in Greece, but his writing reflects that suffocation remained common. George Wheler,
A Journey into Greece, by George Wheler, Esq
. (
London
:
William Cademan, Robert Kettlewell, and Awnsham Churchill
,
1682
),
411
13
; Butler,
Feminine Monarchie
,
T3
; Mills,
Essay on the Management
,
69
.
22. Thomas Wildman,
A Treatise on the Management of Bees
(
London
:
the author
,
1768
),
93
. For an example questioning bees' lifespan, see, White,
Collateral
,
41
42
.
23. Thorley,
Melisselogia
,
4
.
24. White,
Collateral
,
34
35
.
25.
TWAS
, No.
5
(
1805
),
131
; White,
Collateral
,
xi
xii
. White's hive is an early example of the expensive “collateral hive” that periodically served the British beekeeping world. Boxes for surplus honey horizontally adjoined the middle box that was intended to house the queen and brood.
26. Mills,
Essay on the Management
,
ix
.
27.
Rules of the Western Apiarian Society Instituted for Promoting the Knowledge of the Best Method of Managing Bees
(
Exeter
:
R. Trewman and Son
,
1800
),
16
18
;
TWAS
, No.
2
(
1800
),
49
53
; Jacob Isaac,
The General Apiarian
(
Exeter
:
R. Trewman & Son
,
1799
).
28.
Rules of the Western Apiarian Society
,
9
; Isaac,
General Apiarian
,
6
; Isaac to Lord Clifford,
Oct.
4
,
1800
,
TWAS
, No.
2
(
1800
),
27
28
. On “trade interests” and nineteenth-century beekeepers' societies, see, Adam Ebert,
“Hive Society: The Popularization of Science and Beekeeping in the British Isles, 1609–1913”
(
PhD diss.
,
Iowa State University
,
2009
),
139
45
,
163
65
,
182
84
.
29. Advertisement in
TWAS
, No.
1
(
1801
),
5
; R. I. to Isaac,
Dec.
24
,
1799
,
TWAS
, No.
1
(
1800
),
11
; Isaac,
General Apiarian
,
7
10
.
30.
TWAS
, No.
3
(
1801
),
79
;
TWAS
, No.
4
(
1804
),
116
; Bernard Lightman,
“Victorian Sciences and Religions: Discordant Harmonies,”
Osiris
,
2nd Series
,
16
(
2001
):
355
;
TWAS
, No.
7
(
1809
),
210
; H. Malcolm Fraser,
History of Beekeeping in Britain
(
London
:
Bee Research Association Limited
,
1958
),
61
.
31. Isaac,
General Apiarian
,
8
;
TWAS
, No.
3
(
1801
),
78
; James Bonner to Isaac,
Aug.
21
,
1791
,
TWAS
, No.
4
(
1804
),
100
102
; Henry Allnut to Isaac,
Apr.
17
,
1801
,
TWAS
, No.
3
(
1801
),
51
56
.
32.
TWAS
, No.
1
(
1801
),
24
,
79
;
TWAS
, No.
5
(
1805
),
140
. In 1806 Isaac wanted feedback on Allnut's belief that worker eggs could develop into queens, so he solicited the views of “any intelligent person” through London's periodical press, see, Isaac to the Editor,
Monthly Magazine
(
June
1806
):
590
.
33.
TWAS
, No.
5
(
1805
),
128
31
;
TWAS
, No.
4
(
1803
),
106
,
109
; James Bonner to Editor of the
Glasgow Courier
,
Sept.
4
,
1800
,
TWAS
, No.
5
(
1805
),
144
;
TWAS
, No.
5
(
1805
),
128
.
34.
“Membership List of 1800,”
TWAS
, No.
2
(
1800
),
50
53
;
“Membership List of 1801,”
TWAS
, No.
3
(
1801
),
82
83
;
TWAS
, No.
4
(
1803
),
106
,
109
; Warder,
True Amazons
,
5
,
23
,
60
; Thorley,
Melisselogia
,
xxvii
xliv
. I disagree with the confidence of Prete's statement on early modern beekeeping that “much, if not all, of the actual beekeeping was done by women.” Prete,
“Can Females Rule the Hive?”
129
. The reader's preface to John Levett's 1634 The Ordering of Bees said that women were responsible for most honey production, but such scattered suggestions are hardly an empirical basis for categorical claims, see, Levett,
The Ordering of Bees
(
London
:
Thomas Harper for John Harison
,
1634
),
2
. William Lawson's chapter on beekeeping instructed housewives that tending forty hives would yield more profit than forty acres of ground, see, Lawson,
The Country House-wives Garden
, 3rd ed. (
London
:
W. Wilson
,
1653
),
91
.
35. For nineteenth-century developments in English apicultural societies, see, Ebert,
“Hive Society,”
Chpts. 4 and 5.
36. Adam Fox,
Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500–1700
(
Oxford
:
Clarendon Press
,
2000
),
13
19
; Keith Wrightson and David Levine,
Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling, 1525–1700
(
Oxford
:
Clarendon Press
,
1995
),
144
53
. For an overview of the English reading public, see, W. A. Speck,
Literature and Society in Eighteenth-Century England, 1680–1820: Ideology, Politics and Culture
(
New York
:
Longman
,
1998
),
9
12
. On the political and class-oriented consequences of the “republic of letters,” see, Paul Keen,
The Crisis of Literature in the 1790s: Print Culture and the Public Sphere
(
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
,
1999
),
31
75
.
37. Samuel Purchas,
A Theatre of Politicall Flying-Insects
(
London
:
R. I. for Thomas Parkhurst
,
1657
),
102
,
258
.
38. See, Frank M. Turner's discussion on polemics between science and religion in
“The Victorian Conflict between Science and Religion: A Professional Dimension,”
Isis
(
Sept.
1978
):
358
.