By , on November 6th, 2013

The Michigan-Utah Bee Connection

As the Michigan Beekeepers’ Association (MBA) approaches its sesquicentennial in 2015, it is interesting to learn of the impact Michigan beekeepers have had nationally.  Did you know that the queen rearing business got started in Michigan?  Did you know that the MBA is the oldest continually operating bee organization in the U.S.?

Did you know that a Michigan beekeeper wase instrumental in helping Utah, now known as the “beehive” state, in beekeeping?  We certainly did not.

Recently we have had an exchange of emails with Joey Caputo who works for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  Caputo was requesting permission to use some of the information published on the MBA web site for an educational document his department is preparing for bee inspectors and the public in Utah.  In one of Caputo’s emails, he wrote…

“There is actually a tradition of Michiganders helping out Utah beekeepers.  Michigan Agricultural College professor A.J. Cook came to Salt Lake City in 1891 to help organize the first beekeeping club.  The club helped combat foulbrood diseases and eventually lobbied for the passage of our state’s bee inspection act.  Here is a weblink about the historical account if you are interested:  http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/pioneers_and_cowboys/oliverbhuntingtonandhisbees.html.   “

It is a very interesting read.

We are not sure if Professor Cook was a member of the MBA, but we strongly suspect he was.   After all, Cook was a Professor of Zoology and Entomology and responsible for founding of the Athropod Research Collection at MSU in 1867 (which is still going now with close to 1.5 million specimens).  We sure wish membership records for the MBA still exist from back then.

As we approach our 150th anniversary, the members of today’s MBA have reasons to be proud of carrying on such a long tradition of service to the cause of beekeeping.  We are often asked why someone should become a member of the MBA.  Well, the MBA is our membership and the footprint of Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) and the MBA is big, indeed.  Why wouldn’t a beekeeper want to be a part of this?

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