Monday, August 17, 2009

Beekeeping's Venerable History in Ypsilanti: 1863 Diary

Beekeeping in Ypsilanti goes back a ways. Way back. Take a look at these excerpts from the 1863 diary of a farmer's wife--Mary Seaver, who helped work the old Seaver Farm just south of town. You remember the Seaver Farm: it's "on the west side of Huron Street, north of the U.S. Post Office," says the Courier.

Wednesday July 15. So cold we had to have a fire and dress in thick clothes.

Thursday July 16. Put the bees in the new hive this eve. Got 35 lbs of honey out of the new hive. Very cold all day. Frost at night + it killed one [piece?] of [husband] Hiram's corn.
. . . .
Sunday July 19. Tonight pleasant looks like rain. Mrs. Starkbridge told us our bees were swarming but they were leaving the hive. James Holms + Fannie [Shandnou] called. James stayed to tea.
. . . .
(one more just for atmosphere)
Thursday November 19. This forenoon, Julie, Mattie, Hiram Jamie + myself took a walk to look at the farm, came back, took dinner, cracked nuts & jokes. Then all rode all round the city then left the girls at the depot, kissed them good bye and came home."

There you have it. Beekeeping was a part of Ypsilanti since at least the Civil War.


Dusty D said...

Lisele: I hope that will do as your Mystery Artifact prize! I would mail it to you, but it's just my scribbled transcription, barely readable.

Lisele said...

Mmmmm, very nice. I'd love to look at this diary in its entirety. As you know, I have a special interest in diaries. How cool -- do you have a special section of local diaries?

Strange that a neighbor reported her bees swarming in July -- completely out of season. She says "they were just leaving the hive" -- probably means they were very active coming in and out on a nice warm day following the unseasonable cold snap. I wonder what sort of hive she had, back in 1863? The Langstroth book was published just 10 years before -- if it was a hive with movable frames, this woman was really up-to-date with the newest equipment.

Dusty D said...

That's a good question; I don't know what type of hive. I only have 3 months' worth of this diary transcribed thus far, though--it is **so** difficult to read the faded brown ink!

Yep, the Archives has a special section for local diaries.

Very interesting to read an expert's viewpoint on the swarming she wrote about.

Good luck at the City Council meeting tomorrow where you will make your beekeeping proposal!

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