"I would personally like to thank Historical Honeybee Articles for reminding me of those joyful moments as a child when I first learned about keeping bees. I am forever grateful to the Boy Scouts of America for introducing me to one of the most rewarding adventures of my life."
~ Bill Lewis, Bill's Bees
Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
On This Date In History: February 8, 1910 -
The Boy Scouts of America was formed.
Scouting came to the United States from the United Kingdom in 1910, and by 1911, the BSA manufactured the first official 57 merit badges and began awarding them, among them the first beekeeping badge named 'Bee Farming.' Merit badges have been an integral part of the Scouting program since the start of the movement and are an important part of the uniform and insignia of the Boy Scouts. Among Boy Scout merit badges, the Beekeeping badge in particular has undergone a series of changes over the years.
1911 ~ Bee Farming
The first Boy Scout merit badge for Beekeeping was issued in 1911 and was called Bee Farming, It looked something like a fly with four legs. Square patches were used from 1911 to 1933.
To obtain a merit badge for Bee Farming a scout must:
1. Have a practical knowledge of swarming, hiving, hives and general apiculture, including a knowledge of the use of artificial combs.
2. Describe the different kinds of honey and tell from what sources gathered.
1915 ~ Bee Keeping
In 1915 the badge was renamed Bee Keeping. It still looked something like a fly with four legs.
To obtain a merit badge for Bee Keeping, a scout must
1. Know how to examine a colony of bees, remove the combs, find the queen, and determine the amount of the brood, number of queen cells, and the amount of honey in the hive.
2. Distinguish between the drones, workers, eggs, larvae, pupae, honey, wax, pollen, and propolis; tell how the bees make the honey, and where the wax comes from; and explain the part played in the life of the colony by the queen, the drones, and the workers.
3. Have had experience in hiving at least one swarm. Explain the construction of the modern hive. especially in regard to the "Bee spaces."
4. Put foundations in sections and fill supers with sections; and also remove filled supers from the hive and prepare honey for the market.
In 1928 an additional requirement was added to obtain a Bee Keeping merit badge:
5. Write an acceptable article of not more than two hundred words on the differences in honeys according to the flowers from which the nectar is obtained.
1934-1935 ~ Bee Keeping
1936-1937 ~ Bee Keeping
1937-1938 ~ Bee Keeping
1940-1942 ~ Bee Keeping
1940-1942 ~ Bee Keeping
1947-1951 ~ Bee Keeping
1952-1956 ~ Bee Keeping
In 1956 the badge was renamed Beekeeping.
1957-1960 ~ Beekeeping
In 1957 the badge was redesigned to look like a real live bee.
1961-1971 ~ Beekeeping
1967 ~ Beekeeping
1972-1975 ~ Beekeeping
1972-1975 ~ Beekeeping
1976-1980 ~ Beekeeping
1994-1995 ~ Beekeeping
1995 ~ The Beekeeping merit badge was discontinued.
The Beekeeping merit badge was offered from 1911 until 1995. From 1980 to 1994, the number of youth earning this merit badge ranged from 700 to 1,000 per year. That decline in interest eventually led to its demise in 1995.
2012 ~ The Boy Scouts of America respond to demands for reinstatement of the beekeeping merit badge:
"In recent years, Scouts and Scouters have expressed a desire for the Beekeeping merit badge to be reinstated. They have been concerned about the vital role bees play in our ecosystem and that Scouts seem increasingly unaware of the problems honeybees face today. After a great deal of research and consideration, much of the old Beekeeping merit badge requirements and related activities and lessons will soon be incorporated into several existing badges. Those affected include Environmental Science, Forestry, Gardening, Insect Study, Nature, and Plant Science. As a result, more Scouts will be exposed to honeybee issues than if the merit badge were reinstated." -Advancement News June/July 2012
1994 ~ Insect Study
At the present state, beekeeping is a partial requirement in the merit badge; Insect Study. Much of the old Beekeeping merit badge requirements and related activities and lessons were incorporated into this badge.
1952 ~ Nature
At the present state, beekeeping is a partial requirement in the merit badge; Nature. Much of the old Beekeeping merit badge requirements and related activities and lessons were incorporated into this badge.
Advancement News June/July 2012
Boy Scouts of America: The Official Handbook for Boys By Boy Scouts of America, 1911, page 41
Boy Scouts of America: The Official Handbook for Boys By Boy Scouts of America, 1915, page 36
Beekeeping Merit Badge
Handbook for Boys
By Boy Scouts of America 1915 page 36
Collecting Merit Badges
Nature Merit Badge
Boy Scout Insignia Virtual Museum
The Future of Beekeeping and the BSA
Boy Scout Merit Badges
Research in progress:
Number of beekeeping merit badges issued by year:
Can you help fill in the missing dates?
1911 - 0
1912 - 25
1913 - 62
1914 - 214
1915 - 39
1916 - 19
Annual Report of the Boy Scouts of America: 1917 page 55
1917 - 19
1918 - 51
1919 - 97
1920 - 66
1921 - 147
1922 - 199
1923 - 207
1924 - 190
1927 - 407?
1941 - 5,027?
1928 - 1,154?
Annual Report of the Boy Scouts of America. 1924 page 49
Comparative merit-badge table for eight years.