Beekeeping is full of unique personalities:
Famous Beekeepers from History From Roundrock Honey
A more complete list from BadBeekeeping
This falls into the category of “Did you know?” Find below a list compiled by Apitrak of…FAMOUS PERSONS FROM HISTORY WHO KEPT BEES:
This Greek beekeeper and scientist used simple hives with wooden strip top-bars. Some of his observations about bees were pretty clever, others were dead wrong.
With everything from bi-focals, lightning, and the US Constitution in his realm of interests, it is not surprising he is mentioned by Thomas Wildman as a patron for Wildman’s 1768 Treatise on the Management of Bees.
This former Mayor of Toronto and beekeeper had bees before his election- keeping them in the heart of the city. Whenever there was an angry swarm, the police would call His Majesty the Mayor. He would get his smoker and go fetch the bees – not every city of 3 million can claim such hands-on care from an elected official!!
Bishop William Skylstad
Amateur radio enthusiast, beekeeper, fisherman – and now (since 2004) president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A very famous American beekeeper… His interest in bees led to Utah being called the ‘Beehive State’ and having skep hives as emblems.
This famous ancient (lived to be 109) Greek apicultural researcher, beekeeper and philosopher taught that new bees could be made from rotting oxen – the King Bee, he figured out, came from decaying bull brains.
Fred Hale, Sr.
Before he died at age 113, in November, 2004, Fred Hale was the oldest (documented) man in the world. An easy-going Maine beekeeper and gardener, he was driving a car at age 107 and shoveling snow at age 112.
Harlan J. Smith, Ph.D.
This Texan beekeeper was director of McDonald Observatory since 1963 and has attained worldwide recognition as an astronomer, researcher and administrator of one of the world’s finest observatories and in his work with NASA.
The star of 96 films, this hobby beekeeper gave away honey in jars that he labeled Henry’s Honey. When he was a youngster, he’d earned the Eagle Scout badge for beekeeping. Editor’s note: He also starred in Irwin Allen’s movie, The Swarm, in the 1970s.
A controversy resulting from an experimental apiary in Newbury, Massachusettes, in 1645 (just 20 years after the Mayflower) surrounded Mr. John Eels. He was put in charge of the village bees and quickly became North America’s very first pauper, requiring financial assistance from the town in order to survive. (Let that be a forewarning to any potential beekeeper: a beekeeper was the first welfare case in the USA.) Editor’s note: cannot be confirmed, no Wikipedia entry.
One of the first beekeepers in California. Harbison arrived from Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, about 1850 and brought bees from the east, through Panama, and up to southern California. His greatest claim to fame was the biggest crop of honey in the world (1868) and his subsequent shipment of train car loads of comb honey from California to Chicago and New York.
Better known as Brother Adam. The Benedictine monk (Buckfast Abbey, England) developed the famous Buckfast Bee, and became the leader of a short-lived beekeeping cult movement.
Karl von Frisch
Translated the bee’s dance into German and won the Nobel Prize for this and related animal beehavior studies.
Le Quy Quynh
A military strategist and medical healer, Le Quy Quynh resides in Ho Chi Minh City(Saigon), Vietnam. He is well known and respected in Vietnam as a “Hero of the Revolution” for leading forces from the North first against the French, then against the US. He served as Adjutant to General Giiap, and as defense minister in Ho Chi Minh’s first post-war cabinet. However, his real claim to fame is his 50 years as a beekeeper and his research, cultivation and medical treatment using bees and bee products. He is famous in Vietnam for his healing techniques -many of his patients are victims of severe war related injuries – he has worked wonders on their wounds. He is interested in exchanging information with others – through his American grandson.
This Russian author was a beekeeper. His wife, Sonja, talked about him “crouching in front of his hives, net over his head.” And she wrote in her diary, “The apiary has become the centre of the world for him now, and everybody has to be interested exclusively in Bees!” Tolstoy mentions beekeeping twice in War and Peace (it’s a long book, you’d expect beekeeping to come up, wouldn’t you?) Tolstoy describes the evacuation of Moscow: “Moscow was empty. It was deserted as a dying, queenless hive is deserted.” Read more on bees and beekeeping from War and Peace.
Founder of the Boy Scouts in England. This beekeeper, once when producing honey for showing, mistakenly allowed it to overheat and the honey became dark. He showed it anyway and due to his prestige this created a fashion for dark honey in England for many years. Editor’s note: The beekeeping merit badge has been discontinued from the Scout manual.
Maria von Trapp
Yes, after the family escaped Austria, the little nun and governess from the Sound of Music kept bees on her Vermont farm.
The cute-as-a-button harbinger of American Style has been a model, a stockbroker, and a beekeeper for over twenty-five years! The avid gardener realized a long time ago that keeping bees is a good thing. If you are unfamiliar with this fascinating character, crawl out from under your rock and jump to Martha Stewart Living!
Actor, activist, was named Beekeeper of the Year by the Florida State Beekeeping Association for deftly portraying Ulee in Ulee’s Gold,and for his contributions to beekeeping.
This beekeeper was president of France during the Great War. He took time out by tending his beehives behind the Presidential Palace.
This great detective retired to a simple life of puttering around with bees. As a beekeeper, he continued to demonstrate his problem-solving expertise.
Sir Edmund Hillary
A commercial beekeeper (he and his brother owned 1200 hives) from New Zealand, along with Tenzing Norgay, first scaled Mount Everest, in May, 1953.
American poet (for something really depressing, try (The Bee Meeting) and author, 1932 – 1962, inspired largely by her father, Otto Plath, and his beekeeping. She lived a tragic, prolific, short life. Her biography is on Great American Poets: Plath.
We don’t know if Tom himself was a beekeeper, but his estate in Fort Myers, Florida, continues to keep bees in the fashion that Edisonmay have had them when he was producing beeswax for use in his scientific experiments.
He was the third American president, but he had a lot of interests outside politics. He was an avid beekeeper. Thomas Jefferson, in his nature book Notes on Virginia, wrote this about how the honey bee came to North America: “The honeybee is not a native of our country. Marcgrave, indeed, mentions a species of honeybee in Brazil. But this has no sting, and is therefore different from the one we have, which resembles perfectly that of Europe. The Indians concur with us in the tradition that it was brought from Europe, but when and by whom we know not. The bees have generally extended themselves into the country a little in advance of the settlers. The Indians, therefore, called them the white man’s fly, and consider their approach as indicating the approach of the settlement of the whites.”
The ex president of Mexico says that they used bee stings as a test for bravery on the family ranch when he was a youngster.