“EAS' 50th Anniversary in Ohio

Bee Culture (October 2005), Vol. 133 (10): 44-46




Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford



The Eastern Apicultural Society’s 50th meeting has concluded.  It convened on the campus of  Kent State University, and presents another turning point in the history of this institution, albeit one far more pleasant than the event that occurred on that Ohio campus May 4, 1970.  Four students were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard while protesting against the war in Vietnam.1  It’s certainly worth visiting the memorials there that also arguably commemorate a turning point in public opinion about the course of that conflict in Southeast Asia.  This is doubly so as the U.S. finds itself engulfed in similar situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. 


This reporter did not expect the meeting to be as “emotional” as it turned out.  But the remarks by Dr. Mark Winston when he said goodbye to his career in writing about apiculture brought a tear to many eyes, including his own.  As he writes in his final column in the August 2005 Bee Culture, his life has moved away from bees.  Could EAS 50 in fact be his last presentation at a bee meeting?  Perhaps, but there was a  gleam in his eye when he unwrapped a package that consisted of a nucleus with several frames of “art” created by bees employing beeswax to modify and perhaps amplify human contact with these insects.  The silent dialogue represented by these frames seems to fit aptly with Dr. Winston’s new passion for engaging students about civic issues and art.2  He retires from one phase of a career only to start another,  but will continue to use his training in bees and beekeeping.  As he concludes in his -30- column,3 it provides “limitless opportunities to think, reflect, and write about everything from nature to politics to people.”


It is intriguing to read the history of EAS during the last five decades admirably put together in the commemorative program by Kim Flottum and  Kathy Summers of the A.I. Root Co., the official historian Dick Chapin and others.  This is certain to be a collectable in years to come. It reports a wealth of information about the history of beekeeping in the east as it relates to the Society’s activities.  EAS was inaugurated in 1955.  At the time George Abrams, Apiarist at the University of Maryland, said this yearly meeting, “should be a program with subjects of particular interest to the type of beekeeper most numerous in the region, that is, the hobby and sideline beekeeper.”


One of the things not readily apparent to many participants is the link between the commercial side of beekeeping and the hobbyists and sideliners that continue to flock to the meeting.  It began with the first convention when the A.I. Root Co. asked managing editor of then Gleanings in Bee Culture to be a representative to initial meeting in Maryland. 


John Root writes in the commemorative program that A.I. Root Co. was signed up as THE  Charter  Commercial member and the organization is “incredibly proud of  that distinction to this day.”  He adds that the company has been represented at every meeting EAS has held.  Mr. Root was selected as temporary Chairman of the Board when that position was created in 1977.  He  helped organize the 1978 meeting at Wooster, OH attended by over 600 people, and the Root Co. was heavily involved  in the Year of  the Hive in 1995 (600 in attendance) at the same venue, as well as this year’s meeting in Kent.


Each year the number of commercial booths reveals that the hobbyist and sideline markets are alive and well.  As the commercial aspects of the beekeeping industry change, so too will these be reflected in the relationship between EAS and its potential commercial sponsors.


The 1950s and 60s were formative for the Society when it met at The Pennsylvania State University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Cornell and Rutgers Universities among others.  In 1961, EAS joined  Apimondia, paying the $46.50 dues.  It incorporated in 1962.  The first “foray into Canada” was to Guelph, Ontario.  1967 was a banner year for U.S. beekeeping as the University of Maryland hosted Apimondia that year.  EAS was heavily involved and there was no separate convention.  The 1970s began with EAS achieving non-profit corporation status.  The Hambleton Award was established initially given to Rolf Boch from Canda, and the now familiar workshops began to be organized.  The memorable Ohio meeting in 1978 mentioned above revealed a vote of 8 to 7 to stay in Apimondia after the American Beekeeping Federation dropped paying half the dues.  They would finally be eliminated by EAS in the 1980s, leaving the U.S. with no membership in this world beekeeping organization.


 In 1979 Roberta Glatz became “the first female to speak at an EAS meeting,” and Mark Winston then at the University of  Kansas received the recently inaugurated  student award.   His student, Lora Morandin, won it in Kent, in a sense completing an academic circle. The short courses got stronger in the 1980s and a new generation of faces began to emerge at the annual meeting.  In 1981 Roger Morse turned his Master Beekeeper program over to EAS. 


The grandest meeting to date would be held in 1984 with a record 738 attending, in the same place where the Association was first mentioned as a possibility in1954 at a tri-state meeting in Rhode Island.  In 1985, a transition among the officers occurred and “was filled with tension and argument,” according to Bob Cole from North Carolina who was summarily thrust onto the scene being elected Chairman of the Board.  Fortunately, he writes in the comemorative  program, “Eventually, things calmed down and we were able to get on with the  work of  EAS,  so here is our half a century meeting and all is well with EAS.”   The Divelbiss Award was established  in 1988, first won by Al Delicata from Maine.


“The fifteen years since 1990 have been generally steady, stable and calm,” according to the history in the commemorative program.  Not so the forces surrounding beekeeping, however, including challenges by tracheal and Varroa  mites, followed  by the Africanized honey bee and small hive beetle.  On top of that there have been “wildly fluctuating honey prices, increasing costs of equipment, slow and persistent loss of forage areas and increasingly difficulty with urban locations.”   1991 saw several firsts, including a hotel venue in North Carolina and a registration fee surpassing $300.00.  The Foundation for Honey Bee Research was formed in 1993.  The Year of the Hive in 1995, marked EAS’ 40th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of L.L. Langstroth’s death.  In spite of this, he makes an appearance at the meeting and has “a striking resemblance to John Ambrose of North Carolina.”


Roger Morse, one of the rocks of EAS, died in 1999 and that year the award for teaching, extension and regulatory was given for the first time in his name to Jim Tew.  This reporter was proud to win it in 2003 in Maine.  In the year 2002 at Bees by the Sea, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Roberta Glatz returns, Mike Burgett won the Morse award and Mark Winston’s mentor, Dr. Orley (Chip) Taylor took home the Hambleton.  The EAS gave the Hartland Association seed money as it did almost two decades earlier, to help begin the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), and donated money to the Mann Library in Ithaca to begin digitizing historical beekeeping books in the E.F. Phillips Collection. As the information age matures so does EAS now managing its own web site that also archives the sites for all conferences since the year 2000, a list of master beekeepers, and updates on the Mann Library digitization project.4


The EAS commitment  to beekeeper education is perhaps best expressed in this year’s program, which ran the gamut from presentations by one of the nation’s largest beekeepers, Richard Adee, who discussed moving to the California almonds and raising queens in Mississippi, to Dr. Anita Collins taking on the esoteric topic of sperm preservation in bees.  It’s intriguing that during Mr. Adee’s presentation he gave credit to most of those present as true beekeepers being “in and with” the bees, while characterizing his owns efforts as a “mover of boxes.”  


Dr.  Collins said studies in sperm preservation were important for a number of reasons.  These include conserving genetic diversity (being lost as parasitic mites take a great toll on honey bees around the world), saving selected commercial stock, rescuing valuable bee types from disappearing and enhancing the export/import process.  A great conundrum is how the queen manages to store her sperm, when she has no integral refrigeration mechanism.  Sperm preservation in honey bees appears to be more problematic than other animals (mammals), although scientists are trying through use of  what are called cryoprotectants.  These are added to water, which when subsequently frozen, does not produce ice crystals that can damage the sperm.  The problem is that in spite of this process, storing bee sperm leads to a high proportion of drones in inseminated queens as their viability is reduce to less than 20 percent.  Most intriguing is the concept that maybe the queen doesn’t act alone in sperm preservation.  Could the drone also contribute?  Dr. Collins promises more on this subject at a later date.


Exciting news at EAS was the announcement that finally a formulation of formic acid is  going to receive a label from the regulatory authorities.  Thus, a product called Mite-Away II® is being given registration in the U.S. in a growing number of states.  It is manufactured in Canada by Nod Apiary Products Ltd.5   This is one of a growing number of alternative  treatments to the traditional Apistan® and Check-Mite+® that are now on the market.  Another organicacid with potential is oxalic acid.  The Morse award winner this year, Dr. Marion Ellis, presented some of his preliminary data on this material’s effectiveness.  This is being used in Canada and Europe with success and no doubt registration in the U.S. will be affected by its use in other countries.  The American Beekeeping Federation will be vigorously pursuing registration over the next year by purchasing Canadian data to facilitate the process.


Both organic acids and to some extent other organic materials (products based on thymol or oils) reveal that a shift must take place in beekeepers’ thinking.   Again, EAS is the perfect venue to bring these materials to the beekeeping industry’s attention because of its strong educational emphasis.  They have been described as “dumb products for intelligent beekeepers,” as opposed to those currently marketed for which the reverse is the case.  The same will be true for the next generation antibiotic to be used for foulbroods resistant to the current antibiotic Terramycin® (oxytetracycline).  Tylosin lactate, first discovered as a treatment against foulbroods by USDA ARS in the 1970s,6 looks to be the next material  to be labeled.  However, it will require a veterinarian’s  prescription and cannot be use prophylactically as is currently done with Terramycin®, another shift in the beekeeper mind set.


The emphasis on queens at this year’s EAS is also without precedent.  There were presentations on queen behavior, anatomy, breeding (sperm preservation as described  elsewhere) and production.  Sue Cobey gave perhaps the most impassioned speech.  She and her New World Carniolan program7 have reached somewhat of a crossroads with changes at The Ohio State University’s Walter Rothenbuhler Bee Laboratory.  It’s time she said for beekeepers to get on the queen breeding bandwagon and support the handful of those out there like herself who have dedicated a huge amount of work and effort to increasing queen quality.  It seems likely that it will be the hobby and sideliner beekeepers that make up the majority of EAS participants who must lead the charge toward a more healthful beekeeping by supporting incipient breeding programs.  This is already being done in Europe with associations like the BIBBA, the Bee Improvement Program of the British  Beekeepers Association,7  and the Galtee Bee Breeding Group.8 It is certainly an endeavor that organizations like EAS will no doubt be more supportive of in the future.


The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Eastern Apicultural Society of North America, which began the general convention in Kent featured the attendance of many past presidents and all five board chairmen since that post was created.  Each got to speak about the special moments they remembered during their tenure.  And what’s next? asks the commemorative program.  Whatever it is the Society looks forward to it with “anticipation and excitement.”  And you can be sure that the EAS membership, including over 170 life members and 130 master beekeepers, will be up to the challenge.  Come see for yourself next year when for the first time EAS ventures into the peach state.  The beekeepers of Georgia are sure to host a great show.  

  1. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/views/y/2000/04/tuchman.kentstate.may4/, accessed August 13,2005.
  2. http://www.sfu.ca/dialogue/undergrad/, accessed August 14, 2005.
  3. Winston, M.  2005.  “-30-“ Bee Culture (August) Vol. 133 (8): 15-16.
  4. http://www.easternapiculture.org/, accessed August 14, 2005.
  5. http://www.miteaway.com/index.html, accessed August 14, 2005.
  6. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/timeline/comp.htm, accessed August 14, 2005; http://www174.pair.com/birdland/Breeding/Program.html;
  7. Sanford, M.T. 2003. "Sue Cobey and Her New World Carniolans," Bee Culture (January), Vol. 131 (1): 21-23.
  8. http://www.bibba.co.uk/, accessed August 14, 2005.
  9. http://homepage.tinet.ie/~eduard/, accessed August 14, 2005.