The Beginnings of the Mecklenburg County Beekeepers Association

By George McAllister

The first reference to a Mecklenburg beekeepers club appeared in the Saturday,
August 16, 1919 edition of The [Charlotte] Observer. There was an announcement of the formation of the Beekeepers’ Association of Mecklenburg County on Thursday, August 14, 1919. Officers were elected and the state apiarist gave a talk.

During this first meeting, the Reverend Charles Kingsley of Matthews was elected President, C. M. Bost of Matthews became Vice President, and W. Barham Davis of Charlotte was elected Secretary-Treasurer. S. S. Sams, the state apiarist, gave a presentation on ways to keep strong colonies and producing good honey. Before the meeting was adjourned the next meeting was scheduled for August 23, 1919.

Fifteen months later on November 24, 1920, The Observer announced an upcoming bee club meeting to be held at 1:00 PM the following Friday. President Reverend Kingsley held the meeting in his home. C. L. Sams returned to the club and gave a field demonstration of modern beekeeping equipment. He demonstrated how you can get twice the honey yield from your hives by using a honey extractor.

The club lasted for some time but apparently disbanded sometime before 1935.

In the February 18, 1935 edition of the newspaper there was an announcement the Mecklenburg Beekeepers Association was formed on Saturday, February 16, 1935. There were 15 charter members who elected officers. Going forward the founding members planned to hold quarterly meetings. The county farm agent, Oscar H. Phillips, estimated there were around 1,000 colonies of bees in Mecklenburg County belonging to about 100 beekeepers.

From the newspaper archives, it is clear our club has been a part of this community for a long time. I do not think there are many clubs today that have the longevity our club has been fortunate to experience. This shows the longstanding importance bees and beekeeping have been to Mecklenburg County.

“Keeper of the Bees” Article from The Charlotte Observer, July 4, 1954: