Michigan State University


VOL. 4, Nos. 1 AND 2 * WINTER-SPRING 1947

The Ray Stannard Baker Collection of Bee Books Comes to Michigan State College

Title page and frontispiece of one of Ray Stannard Baker's books on bees

A photograph of the title page and frontispiece of one of Ray Stannard Baker's books on bees, written by John Thorley and published in London in 1744.

Officers of Friends of the Michigan State College Library

Realtor, 327 1/2 S. Washington

DR. W. O. HEDRICK. (MSC '91)
First Vice President
Retired, Professor of Economics
Michigan State College

DR. W. C. BAGLEY (MSC '95)
Second Vice President
Deceased - Successor to be elected at
annual meeting, 1947.

Third Vice President
Director of Alumni Relations
Michigan State College

Assistant Comptroller
Michigan State College

Michigan State College


*The Secretary and Joseph G. Duncan, Department of Public Relations, serve as editors of the News.

The Baker Bee Collection

     This fine gift of apicultural rarities, so rich in associational value because of the great literary distinction of the original collector, came to the Michigan State College Library through the kind assistance of Mr. Ray Baker's son, Mr. James Baker of Detroit, last July. The books had been in process of being packed for shipment to us at the time of Mr. Ray Baker's death. As noted in the last number of our News, Mr. Ray Baker served as a Council Member of our group from the founding period until the expiration of his term, in June 1945.
     It was originally Ray Stannard Baker's intention to write a pamphlet to accompany his remarkable collection "of old books about bees." But the pressure of many other duties kept him from this during the last months of his life.
     We have re-arranged the original list as sent us by Mr. James Baker from alphabetical to chronological, have collated the entries with the actual title pages of the volumes, making a minimum number of changes and in a number of instances have provided annotations for the items by quoting directly from the chapter on "My Bees", and from the two subsequent chapters, in Under My Elm, which is one of the "Adventures in Contentment" Mr. Baker published under the pseudonym of "David Grayson". We trust that the resulting bibliography may serve as a partially acceptable substitute for the pamphlet Mr. Baker had contemplated writing.
     In the previous number of our News the many books by Mr. Baker were enumerated in our biographical summary.
     The bee books were first exhibited in the glass cases in the main hallway in the College Library in October, 1946.

J. E. T.


"David Grayson" Comments:

   "It seems to me I could write half a substantial volume on these old bee books and then not begin to exhaust the interest and amusement I have had of them. So much remains to be told of the strange things to be found in them, of the charlatans who played upon the ignorance of the people, of the development of new kinds of hives, of the interest of one of England's worst kings, Charles II, in beekeeping . . . The bees indeed stimulated my interest in the books, and the books sent me back to the bees to consider them newly, and often with wonder and amusement that such mighty clouds of tradition and myth should have arisen to obscure the even greater wonder of their reality. After more than a quarter century of beekeeping, I doubt whether, even though we take great credit to ourselves for being scientific observers, we have more than begun to exhaust the mystery of the hive."
     "It was not until several years after we came to Amherst that I discovered the kind of country work that suited me best. In fact, it suited me exactly and completely, for I found in it unending interest and variety. This was beekeeping and all that went with it in human contacts of various sorts and in exploring the astonishingly voluminous lore and literature of the honeybee. In time I came to take pride in the quality of the honey I sold. I liked to see the little pyramid of my jars with their translucent contents in Dickinson's Store, with the sign which the energetic grocer put below it: David Grayson's Good Honey."

Initial Profit and Loss

Honey, first three lots. cost to produce, about.................. $26.00  
Honey, received for three lots, cash and trade....................   12.00
Joy at the job since April, 6 mos. @ $3.00.......................   18.00
First-class appetite for supper every night for 6 mos. @ $1.00.......................   6.00
Comfortable weariness and good sound sleep after hard labor out-of-doors during same period @ $1.00...................   6.00
Interesting and inventive thoughts. (Capitalists have long considered experimental inventions a valuable asset. Why not I, inventions of the imagination?) 6 mos. @ $3.00...................   18.00
Good will. This item appears in many sound accountings of great companies. Why not in mine? I've already earned the good will of several people in this neighborhood. More than that, I've earned more of my own good will than ever before. I think in a like period. So in it goes......................   1.00
    Balance -- clear profit.......................... 35.00  

  $61.00   $61.00

Bibliography of the Baker Bee Books

Hyll, Thomas

A PLEASANT INSTRUCTION OF THE PARFIT ORDERING OF BEES. . .London, 1568, (The first treatise in English on bees and beekeeping. Hyll "gathered and Englished" from the ancient classics, using without acknowledgment, as Charles Butler pointed out, "the labour of Georgius Pictorius.")
"I was able to get a copy of the earliest, and probably the most precious English book on beekeeping. To this day I recall the thrill I had when the dealer took it from his fireproof vault, held it a moment in his hand, then passed it to me. . . It was a small volume, printed in black letter, in the year 1568. It was bound in old calf with a gilt ornamental border. There were bookworm holes through a few of the pages, and the names of various owners down through the centuries written in unsuspected places, imperfections which possibly reduced its money value, but added to my interest. I delighted in the frontispiece, a woodcut portrait of the author. . . with his thin beard and Elizabethan cap and rolling collar. The book was at once a treasure and a temptation; and I fell!" 

Heresbachius, M. Conradus

FOURE BOOKES OF HUSBANDRY. . . Containing the whole art and trade of Husbandry, Gardening. . .Newly Englished. . . (Original sheep skin cover.) London, 1601.
     "In less than no time Mr. Cowan had in his hand a most beautiful copy of Herebachius' Foure Bookes of Husbandry.It was `Newly Englished, and encreafed by Barnaby Googe, Esquire' and published in London in 1601. It had the original sheepskin parchment binding with rawhide clasps. (I now have a copy of that precious book in my own . . . collection.) "

Butler, Charles

THE FEMININE MONARCHIE, or THE HISTORI OF BEES. . . (Contains, pp. 78-81, a 4-part "Bees Madrigal", printed inversely on the upper and lower halves of two opposite pages, so that the singers facing each other two and two, may each hold the book and sing his part.) Oxford, 1634.
     "This Charles Butler, for his time, was a thorough-going scholar. He had 'read' at Oxford and settled down to a poor vicarage near Basingstoke, where he served the people of his neighborhood, and kept bees and wrote books, for forty-eight years. I like to think of him there in his garden, a poor man in worldly goods, but rich in the delights of a lively mind, and inspired by a passion to know. He was irritated, as some of us are to this day, by the 'capriciousness of English orthography' and made the highly sensible proposal that 'men should write altogether according to the sound now generally received.' He became such an enthusiast that he translated his own book on the honeybee into his strange new spelling. I have a copy of it (printed at Oxford in 1634) which is extremely difficult to read."

Worlidge, J.

SYSTEMA AGRICULTURAE; The Mystery of Husbandry Discovered. Treating of the several New and most Advantagious Ways of Tilling, Planting, Sowing, Manuring, Ordering, Improving Of all sorts of Gardens, Orchards, etc. London, 1681. (Third Edition.)
     ". . . my friend . . . went into the house again and brought out a curious old leather-bound book. It looked to be two or three hundred years old, and indeed, I found these words on the title page: 'Printed for Tho. Dring at the corner of Chancery lane in Fleetftreet, 1681.' "

Warder, Joseph

THE TRUE AMAZONS: or The Monarchy of Bees. Being a New Discovery and Improvement of those Wonderful Creatures. (With a finely-engraved portrait of the author.) London, 1726. Sixth Edition.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF BEES. Containing An Account of their Production, their Oeconomy, the manner of their making Wax and Honey, and the best Methods for the Improvement and Preservation of them. Illustrated With Twelve Copper Plates. Translated from the French. (Two interesting book plates in the front.) London, 1744.
     "The book was called The Natural History of Bees and was published in 1744. I was to learn later that it was a translation of a famous French book on bees, by Bazin. I had no idea, then, of its rarity or its value, but I knew I wanted it."

Image of a man working with beesThorley, John

MELISSELOGIA. OR, THE FEMALE MONARCHY. Being an Enquiry into the Nature, Order, and Government of Bees. . . Illustrated with Copper-Plate (one folding). London, 1744. (First Edition.)

Thorley, John

THE FEMALE MONARCHY: or the Natural History of Bees. . . London, 1745. (A piracy, much reduced in text of Thorley's THE FEMALE MOSARCHY, london, 1744.)

Mandeville, Bernard

THE FABLE OF THE BEES: (two parts) or Private Vices, Public Benefits; With, An Essay on Charity and Charity-Schools: And A Search into the Nature of Society. Edinburgh, 1755. (A satire by Bernard Mandeville, Dutch-English author, who stressed the fact that vice, through requiring agencies to curb it, contributes to the general welfare.)

Bradley, R.

A GENERAL TREATISE OF AGRICULTURE, Both Philosophical and Practical; Displaying the Arts of Husbandry and Gardening. . . London, 1758. (Bradley was a Professor of Botany at Cambridge; and a F. R. S.)

Warder, Joseph

THE TRUE AMAZONS: Or, The Monarchy of Bees. . . London, 1765. The Ninth Edition.

Wildman, Thomas

A TREATISE ON THE MANAGEMENT OF BEES. London, 1768. (First Edition.)

Wildman, Thomas

The same. London, 1770. The Second Edition. Wherein is contained The Natural History of those Insects; With the various Methods of cultivating them, both Ancient and Modern, and the improved Treatment of them.

Algemeene Oefenschoole

Van Konsten en Weetenschappen. . . Zesde Afdeeling. . ."Amsteldam," 1782. (Presented to Mr. Baker by C. D. Winslow, Captain of Police, Grand Rapids, 1941.)

Huber, Francis

New Observations on the Natural History of BEES. Translated from the original. Second Edition. Edinburgh: 1808.

Bevan, Edward

THE HONEY-BEE; its natural history, physiology, and management. London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy. 1827.

De Gelieu, Jonas

THE BEE PRESERVER; or Practical Directions for the Management and Preservation of Hives. Edinburgh, 1829.

Smith, Jerome V. C.

An ESSAY on the Practicability of Cultivating the HONEY BEE, in Maritime Towns and Cities, as a Source of Domestic Economy and Profit. Boston and New York. 1831. (First Edition.)

Nutt, Thomas

HUMANITY TO HONEY-BEES; or. . . the Management of Honey Bees upon an improved and humane plan, by which the lives of bees may be preserved, and abundance of honey of a superior quality may be obtained. London, 1832.

Nutt, Thomas

The same. (Bound in gold-tooled leather.)

Payne, J. H.

THE APIARIAN'S GUIDE, Containing Practical Directions for the Management of Bees Upon the Depriving System. London. 1833.

Bagster, Samuel

THE MANAGEMENT OF BEES . . . with . . ."Ladies Safety Hive." London, 1834.

Bookplate imageWeeks, John M.

A MANUAL: or an Easy Method of MANAGING BEES, in the Most Profitable Manner to Their Owner, with Infallible Rules to Prevent Their Destruction by the Moth. Middlebury, 1836. (First Edition.)

Weeks, John M.

The same. Third Edition.

Cotton, William Charles

MY BEE BOOK. London, 1842. (Contains the two Letters to Cottagers, a list of bee-books, and a reprint of Huber's preface.)

Wighton, John

THE HISTORY AND MANAGEMENT OF BEES, with notice of a newly-constructed hive, by the author. . . . London, 1842.

Golding, Robert

THE SHILLING BEE BOOK, Containing the Leading Facts in the Natural History of Bees, with directions for Bee Management. London, 1848. Second Edition.

Frank, Abram

Manual on the MANAGEMENT OF BEES; Giving a Description of the Bee, its Disposition and Habits. Busti, New York, 1848.

Miner, T. B.

THE AMERICAN BEE KEEPER'S MANUAL. . . Embellished by Thirty-Five Beautiful Engravings. New York, 1849.

Filleul, Philip V. M.

THE ENGLISH BEE-KEEPER, or suggestions for the practical management of Amateur and Cottage Apiaries, on scientific principles . . . by a Country Curate. London, 1851.

Filleul, Philip V. M.

THE COTTAGE BEE-KEEPER. . . New York, 1851.

Miner, T. B.

THE AMERICAN BEE KEEPER'S MANUAL. . . Embellished by Thirty-Five Fine Wood Engravings. New York, 1851.

Langstroth, Lorenzo L.

. . . HIVE AND THE HONEY-BEE, a Bee Keeper's Manual. Northampton (Mass.), 1853. (First Edition.)  
     "For centuries, beekeeping has been a favorite avocation of English churchmen, and some of the best beemen in America - Langstroth, for example, who invented the modern beehive - have carried the wisdom they garnered as beemasters into their pulpits."

Miner, T. B.


Quinby, M.

MYSTERIES OF BEE-KEEPING EXPLAINED: being a complete analysis of the whole subject; consisting of the natural history of bees, directions for obtaining the greatest amount of pure surplus honey with the least possible expense, remedies for losses given, and the science of "luck" fully illustrated - the result of more than twenty years' experience in extensive apiaries. New York, 1858.

Samuelson, James

THE HONEY-BEE; Its Natural History, Habits, Anatomy, and Microscopical Beauties. With Tinted Illustrations. London, 1860.

Quinby, M.


Langstroth, Lorenzo L.

A Practical Treatise on the HIVE AND HONEY-BEE. New York, 1861. Third Edition.

'A fellowship of curiousity' -- image of a man inside a bookshop in EdinburghKing, N. H. and H. A.

THE BEE-KEEPER'S TEXT-BOOK. . . Buffalo, 1867. Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged. (Unbound.)

Langstroth, Lorenzo L.
A Practical Treatise on the HIVE AND HONEY-BEE. . . Philadelphia, 1868. Third Edition.

Allen, John

THE BLESSED BEES. N. Y., Putnam, 1878. ("John Allen" was the pseudonym of Oscar Clute, a clergyman, in after years President of Michigan Agricultural College.)

Sourbé, T.


Hamet, M. H.

Cours Pratique D'APICULTURE. . . Professé au Jardin du Luxembourg. Paris, 1885. (Fifth Edition.)

Hamet, M. H.

L'APICULTURE Journal des Cultivateurs D'Abeilles Marchands de Miel et de Cire. Paris, 1885.

Root, A. I.

THE A B C OF BEE CULTURE. . . Medina, Ohio, 1887.
     "As one gets deeper into the art, he will wish to have that vast compendium . . . full of more or less unassorted and sometimes repetitive information, called The A B C of Bee Culture. It is edited by the most famous of American bee families, the Roots, of Medina, Ohio."

Root, A. I.

The same. (Presentation copy.)

Maeterlinck, Maurice

THE LIFE OF THE BEE. . . New York, Dodd, 1901.

Root, A. I.

THE A B C OF BEE CULTURE. . . Medina, Ohio, 1903.

Edwardes, Tickner

THE LORE OF THE HONEY-BEE. . . New York, Dutton, 1911.

Comstock, Anna B.

HOW TO KEEP BEES. A Handbook for the Use of Beginners. . . New York. Doubleday, 1915.
     "The earliest book I used seems to me still an excellent one for beginners. It is called How to Keep Bees, by Anna B. Comstock. Bees for thr Beginner, a bulletin issued free by the United States Department of Agriculture, is also most useful."

Root, A. I. aud E. R.

THE ABC AND XYC OF BEE CULTURE. . . Medina, Ohio, 1920. (856 pp.)

Geary, Henry


Cowan, Thos. Wm.

BRITISH BEE-KEEPER'S GUIDE BOOK. An autographed copy. London, 1921.
     "One experience I had, after I had been for several years slowly gathering old books on bees, gave a tremendous impetus to my interest. Being again in England, I went to call on the best-known beemaster and bee authority in all the kingdom. I had had some previous correspondence with him and had long wished to meet him face to face.
     His name was Thomas William Cowan, and he lived in Bristol. He had been, at one time, president of the British Beekeepers' Association, and had written a number of excellent manuals and guidebooks on beekeeping. What interested me most of all that summer morning, when I entered his home, were the book-lined walls of his library. I believe he had at that time, one of the largest independent collections of books on bees and beekeeping in the world. . . He must have had thousands of books and pamphlets and journals - including many in French, Dutch, German, Latin. . ."

Lovell, John H.


Gilman, A.

PRACTICAL BEE-BREEDING. . . New York, Putnam's, 1929.

Walker, Lt. Col. H. J. O.


     "So many wintry evenings through the years when the bees are safe in their winter quarters have I spent looking into these curious old books. A fine fire of apple logs on the hearth, and my books piled all around, some to read, some to write in, I think of the friends, both bees and books, they have made me; and I am still longing to buy books I cannot afford."


     Mr. Baker's collection included some unbound numbers of certain bee journals, such as The American Apiculturist, The Bee Hive, The Bee-Keepers Review, The British Bee Journal, and The Progessive Bee-Keeper, ranging in dates from 1887 to 1937.
     Also included are several bulletins of the U. S. Department of Agriculture on bee-keeping, dated from 1905 to 1925 ; and an interesting collection of marked rare book catalogues issued by such firms as Bernard Quaritch and Wheldon and Wesley, ranging from 1912 to 1936. There is an accompanying correspondence.
     There are also "some original notes" of Mr. Ray Baker's bearing upon his actual bee-keeping experiences. These manuscript memoranda give dates of the swarming of the "David Grayson" bees, and include such whimsical notations as the following, on the card used for the year 1936: "I was ill part of spring and summer, got little comb honey but good crop extracted honey. The bees did not know I was ill!"


Stir des Abeilles

The most important early French authors on bees were Bazin, De Gelius, and Huber. Other early French authors listed in the 1842 edition of Cotton included:

Beaunier, S. Sur l'Education des Abeilles. Vendome: 1806.
Bertin, M. Instruction sur la Culture des Abeilles. Paris: 1836.
Beville, P. C. G. Traite de l'Education des Abeilles. Paris: 1804.
Bienayme, M. Memoire sur les Abeilles. Mets: 1803.
Chambon, A. Manuel de l'Education des Abeilles. Paris.
Cordier, Edmund. L'Abeille Francaise. Paris: 1799.
Cotte, C. Extrait des Memoires sur l'Education des Abeilles. Paris.
De Blangy, D. Traite de l'Education des Abeilles. Paris: 1771.
De la Lauze, C. F. A. Traites sur l'Education des Abeilles et des Vers a Soie. Paris: 1809.
Della Rocca, M. l'Abbe. Traite complet sur les Abeilles. Paris: 1790.
Denys de Montfort, P. Ruche a trois Recoltes Annuelles. Paris: 1790.
Dubost, J. F. Methode Advantageuse de gouverner les Abeilles. Bourg: 1800.
Ducouedic, P. La Ruche Pyramidale. Paris: 1813.
Engel. Instruction sur la Culture des Abeilles. Strasbourg. 1808.
Fontenay. Manuel des Proprietaires d' Abeilles. Bar-sur-Aube: 1829.
Lombard, M. Manuel des Proprietaires d'Abeilles. Paris: 1825.
....................... Sur les Abeilles. Paris: 1805.
Martin, A. Manuel de Proprietaire d'Abeilles. Paris: 1828.
....................... J. and A. Traite sur les Abeilles. Paris: 1826
Palteau, M. Construction de Ruche de Bois. Met: 1756
Quiqueran, Beaujeu, M. T. Veuve Barras. Memoire sur l'Education des Abeilles. Paris.
Radouan, J. Manuel des Proprietaires d'Abeilles. Paris: 1828.
Serain, P. E. Instruction sur la Maniere de gouverner les Abeilles. Paris: 1802.


"'David Grayson' Comments"; "Initial Profit and Loss"; the etchings, "My Bees" and "A Fellowship of Curiosity," and annotations are from: UNDER MY ELM by David Grayson, illustrated by Darid Hendrickson, copyright 1942 by Doubleday & Company. Inc. (reproduced with permission).