The Horticulture Society of Minnesota started the organization then known as the Minnesota Beekeepers Association (MBA) in 1907. They hada bee exhibit in the Dairy building on the state fair grounds. The Society was part of the University of MN - (U of M). The Minnesota beekeepers have been tied to the U of M since its inception. The U of M has run all the beekeeping short courses and provided the staffing for the State Fair. Since 1918 the U of M Bee Lab became internationally known for its bee research and extension program and in 1992 the U of M Entomology Dept. began its support of the only bee research in the 5 state areas. In 1937 the MN Horticulture Society of Minnesota met and passed a resolution that transferred the bee exhibit from the Dairy building to the Horticulture building. In 1981 the MBA changed its name to the Minnesota Honey Producers Assn. (MHPA). The MHPA has and continues to financially support bee research. The history of the organization is built around visual records, photos, and ephemera.
Dr. Maurice C. Tanquary, Professor of Agriculture at the U of M, started his involvement with the beekeepers in 1928. Dr. A. G. Ruggles, state entomologist, and U of M professor developed the state bee inspection program in 1930. He later retired from the University in 1943. Dr. Mykola Haydak, U of M, in 1934-35 went on an all milk and honey diet for 3 months to test the viability of an all-liquid diet. Things were going well until he started getting symptoms of scurvy. This was addressed by adding more vitamin C, by means of orange juice, to his diet. He considered the experiment worthwhile and felt that the idea of a liquid diet warranted further investigation. His legacy lives on today through a research foundation.
The organization did not run itself. Several outstanding beekeepers and research leaders that have contributed significantly include: Furgala, Jager, Bob Ray, Bob Banker, Holte, Spivak, Reuter, Heyser, Noetzel, Quint Bunch, L.A. Stickney, Hulls, Ellingson, Rufers, Nicholsons, Sundbergs, Winnie Johnson, Rittenhouses, Honls, and our membership for over a century.
The Face of the Organization
The State Fair has been instrumental for the MN beekeepers over the years. It is the major source of revenue that supports the organization. It has also been the face of the organization. Members and volunteers staff the information and demonstration booths and reach millions of people every year.
A resolution passed at the 1937 MN Horticultural Society meeting urged the transfer of the bee exhibit from the Dairy Building to the Horticulture building.
Places We Have Met
Organization records show several locations as meeting places. Early records place meeting locations in historical sites in Minneapolis like the Curtis Hotel, the Lemmington, and the University Farm in St. Paul. Another favorite spot was the Detroit Lakes Pavillian. As membership grew and attracted beekeepers around the state, the organization shifted meetings to include other cities such as Rochester, Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Wilmar, Alexandria, Hill City, Walker, St. Cloud, and Morton.
Minnesota Honey Producers Assn. (MHPA) has led the legislative charge. The organization is responsible for instigating Section 18 permits for new chemical use. Actions the MHPA have taken include grasshoppers, honey week, American Beekeepers Assn Anti-dumping campaign and the Preservation of the Honeybee Foundation. The state bee laws were created and inn some instances they have been repealed by the MHPA.