Nebraska Beekeepers' Association

The Nebraska State Beekeepers' Association was organized on February 8, 1879, at a meeting held in Omaha, the initiatory movement having been made by T. Smith Corbett, then a citizen of Omaha. The organization was completed by the election of the following officers:

President, Hiram Craig, Fort Calhoun
First Vice President, J. R. Kennedy, Papillion
Second Vice President, J. H. Masters, Nebraska City
Fourth Vice President, J. W. Flynn, Fairfield
Fifth Vice President, T. L. Vandorn, Omaha
Sixth Vice President, Dr. Cochran, Tecumseh
Treasurer, J. N. Dynes, Papillion
Secretary, W. G. Pigman, Omaha
Assistant Secretary, W. C. B. Allen, Omaha

The following comprised the membership at the first annual meeting, held at Omaha on February 13 and 14, 1880:

W. C. Pigman
Henry Bruning
Henry Ehrenfort
T. H. Pegeler
T. L. Vandorn
John Byers
T. Smith Corbett
J J. McLain
Perry M. Peckham
B. E. B. Kennedy
D. H. Wheeler
J. Valentine
W. H. Hart
G. Rusting
J. F. Sawyer
John G. Willis
H. Munger
W. C. B. Allen, Omaha
G. W. Brewster, Omaha
J. T. Poland, Bellevue
Alvis Gramlich, Papillion
John Gramlich, Papillion
J. R. Kennedy, Papillion
Cyrus Latham, Papillion
J. N. Dynes, Papillion
H. Sprague, Papillion
G. M. Hawley, Lincoln
Don J. Arnold, Brownville
James W. Flynn, Fairfield

At the annual meeting, held February 10, 1881, T. L. Vandorn of Omaha was elected President, and held this position until January 13, 1886, when W. F. Wright was elected President, and Henry N. Patterson of Humboldt, Secretary. In 1887 R. R. Ryan was elected President; Secretary, Patterson, re-elected. In 1888 M. L. Trester was elected President, and J. N. Heater of Columbus, Secretary. Mr. Heater served three years, when L. D. Stilson of York was elected, who has served in the capacity of Secretary for twelve years. E. Whitcomb of Friend is now serving his thirteenth year as President, and is one of the best known apiarists in the country, having been at the head of Nebraska's bee and honey exhibits at all the leading expositions for the past fifteen years.

At the time of the organization of the Beekeepers' Association the bee and honey industry was attracting considerable attention, some apiaries having as much as 100 hives of bees, and the outlook in general quite flattering. The Missouri River Valley at this period had become famous for its numerous wild swarms of the black honey bee. The stocking up of apiaries from these wild swarms was quite common in those days.

From the oldest historical records of the Missouri Valley country we find that more than 100 years ago the Indians were apprised of the existence of bees, in what is now known as Nebraska. In 1804-5, when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed up the Missouri River, they found wild honey near their camp, at a point where Dakota City now stands. It was on this occasion and when the officers were absent visiting the Omaha tribe of Indians located in this vicinity, that a member of the expedition, Sergeant Floyd, while hunting along the timbered bluffs to the southeast of the camp, found and robbed a colony of bees, eating so much of the honey that he became sick, from the effects of which he died the next day. The monument marking the grave of Sergeant Floyd still stands prominent on the high bluff overlooking the Missouri River at Dakota City. The Lewis and Clark expedition records the earliest history of the wild honey bee in Nebraska, given by authority of any white man.

Secretary L. D. Stilson of the Nebraska Beekeepers' Association says in rehearsing the results of his research for the introduction of the honey bee into Nebraska that it must be conceded that the honey bee was a "squatter" in the American Desert long before the white man crossed the Missouri.

He also introduces the following letter from Henry Fontenelle, an educated Indian, dated Decatur, Nebraska, April 22, 1894:

"Your esteemed letter was received three days ago. I have been waiting-to see some of our oldest men of the Omahas. They say that the honey bee has been found along the Missouri river as far back as they can remember. I know that relatives of mine as far back as 1840 in hunting for deer along the Missouri river came home with skin sacks weighing 50 to 100 pounds of cooked and skimmed honey. I have heard the Omahas tell many times of finding honey among the hardwood timber on the Missouri 50 and 60 years ago.
Yours respectfully,
Henry Fontenelle

The advance in beekeeping, to the present date, has been equal to any other branch of agricultural work. From the little beginning of a few hundred beekeepers in the state in 1879, there are now thousands, and the resources of nectar production are rapidly increasing. The flora of Nebraska that are of nectar value exceed those of any other district of country. The rapid increase of alfalfa production has supplied material for many times doubling the present apiary capacity of the State.

The State Beekeepers' Association is one of the present-day active and prosperous associations in Nebraska, and has a reputation throughout the country as a practical, energetic, up-to-date organization that is a credit to the present management.

Nebraska AHGP

A Condensed History of Nebraska for fifty years to date, Compiled by Geo. W. Hervey, Editor, and Published by Nebraska Farmer Co., Omaha, Nebraska, 1903.

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