Teaching of beekeeping in Carniola

from Peter Pavel Glavar (1768) and Anton Janša (1770) to Emil Rothschütz (1874). By Andrej Šalehar, 2014

Slovene apiculture had a number of capable beekeepers in the 18th Century, among which Peter Pavel Glavar and Anton Janša are known world-wide. In the initial stages of the discussion, brief mention was also made of Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1689), who wrote about apiculture in his Slava Vojvodine Kranjske, and Ivan Anton Scopoli’s works about the Carniolan Honey Bee and beekeeping in the region (1763 and 1770).

In general, it is correct to say that Slovenes had a very important role, or perhaps even a decisive role, in the beginnings of the teaching of beekeeping. The first significant contribution is from 1768, when Glavar wrote his monumental “Response” (this text and others cited below is kept by the Archive of the Republic of Slovenia). This was the first-ever survey of beekeeping in Carniola done at a high level of detail and expertise, and includes numerous proposals to remove obstacles which prevent its further development. It stresses the need to educate beekeepers, create beekeeping schools, legislation, and literature in Slovene. As early as the “Response”, Glavar promises to orally give farmers free advice on beekeeping during his free time on Sundays and Holidays. At the same time, he proposed to write down beekeeping knowledge in Slovene. Vienna was also aware of his “Response”, and it is likely that Glavar’s proposals for the removal of obstacles to development of beekeeping were one of the factors behind the formation of the Vienna school of beekeeping (1770) and the proclamation of the Apiculture Patent by Maria Theresa (Bienenzuchtverbreitung …, 1775). Glavar translated and supplemented Anton Janša’s Abhandlung vom Schwärmen der Bienen (Disucssion of the swarming of the bees) – Janša (1771), and thus wrote the first book on beekeeping in Slovene, Pogovor o čebelnih rojih (Discussion About Bee Swarms) – Glavar (1776). Mihelič (1976) writes: “Glavar’s manuscript of the “Discourse” is divided into 691 numbered paragraphs, of which 233 are from Janša’s original, 162 are from Janša but were supplemented by Glavar, while 296 are Glavar’s original work”. He submitted his manuscript on 26 July 1779 to the Carniolan Agricultural Society for printing, which did not happen, as the manuscript was claimed to have been “lost”. In 1951, it was found, and was finally published in 1976 in a book entitled “At the 200th Anniversary of the Written Slovene Word on Apiculture”. Mihelič (1976) writes: “Glavar wrote with the simple, or as he put it, uneducated Slovene beekeeper in mind … Glavar’s “ Discussion About Bee Swarms ” is much more than just the first learned text and beekeeping guide in Slovene, which eclipses all other similar texts from the 18th Century with its thoroughness, independence and true Slovene terminology. It contains a real survey of the state of apiculture in Carniola at the time, its merits and limits … in essence, all that which he had implied in his “Response” in 1768”. The “Proposals to Develop Carniolan Apiculture”, addressed by Glavar on 17 December 1781 to the Agricultural Society, are also important. This is a large work presenting Carniolan apiculture, and also including his guide for a school of beekeeping and horticulture, a draft guide for the teachers of beekeeping, a draft guide for lessons, a plan for a general purpose school of beekeeping and horticulture at the Lanšprež estate, and a guide for the caretaker. A guide to developing a school of beekeeping and horticulture similar to that written by Glavar has not been found according to available data. It should also be stressed, that the guide prescribed that the teaching language should be the regional language (Slovene). 

Glavar did not wait for his school of beekeeping to be approved, or for himself to be appointed a beekeeping teacher, neither of which was never officially resolved (a imperial decree from 31 October 1781 abolished public beekeeping teachers), but proceeded with lessons in 1781, as seen from his letter to Tomelj from 28 November 1781 (Gregorič 1982).

In addition to what has been said about Glavar, it should be added that he worked in Carniola. His work and merit for Slovene beekeeping, particularly for teaching of beekeeping in Carniola and elsewhere, have not yet found their proper place in apiculture history, in Slovenia or the world.

In the same period, the Slovene Anton Janša was active in Vienna, where he was employed as a beekeeper with the Lower Austria Society in 1769. On 6 April 1770, Empress Maria Theresa chose him to be the first imperial teachers of beekeeping. He taught at the first public imperial beekeeping school, opened in May 1770 in Augarten, Vienna. His beekeeping methods, based on the knowledge and experience of Carniolan beekeepers, garnered much attention and imitation due to the great amount of honey and wax produced, partly as a consequence of the bees being led to buckwheat pasture. Kratzer (1774) named his method “the new Austrian method of beekeeping”. In her instructions to beekeeping teachers from 1775, Maria Theresa ordered that only the tried and tested methods used by the first teacher Janša are to be taught in public beekeeping schools. A great commendation to Carniolan apiculture and the first imperial beekeeping teacher Anton Janša! In addition to this, Janša also wrote two works on beekeeping, or better, two manuals: Abhandlung vom Schwärmen der Bienen (Disucssion of the swarming of the bees) – Janša (1771) and Vollständige Lehre von der Bienenzucht (The Complete Guide to beekeeping) – Janša (1775, published two years after his death). These were reprinted several times and translated into Slovene and other languages. This provides a complete image of the great contribution of Anton Janša to the development of beekeeping globally, and particularly to its instruction.

Janša’s method of beekeeping was continued by Martin Kuralt, born in Žabnica, who in 1806 designed the first school of beekeeping in Lvov. He also arranged a third reprint of Janša’s Complete Guide, published in 1807.

The Apiculture Patent proclaimed by Maria Theresa (Bienenzuchtverbreitung …, 1775) is a key step in studying the history of teaching of beekeeping, as it ordered a main school to be established in Vienna, and smaller schools in other parts of the Empire. Also important are the instructions for beekeeping teachers included with the Patent, where it was ordered that beekeeping be taught following Janša’s methods. Another equally important act was published in 1854, when teachers at countryside public schools were included in teaching of beekeeping. This act was also implemented in Carniola on 13 September 1857 by the Regional Government in Decree No. 11144 (a copy is kept by the Archive of the Republic of Slovenia). At this time, Jurij Jonke provided instructions for teaching of beekeeping at public schools at the request of the Carniolan Agricultural Society, and designated his own book “The Carniolan Beekeeper” (Krajnski zhbelarzhik, 1844) as the textbook. After 1857, encouragement and support for the development of Carniolan beekeeping was carried out by public schools and teachers. In the 1870s, the Carniolan Agricultural Society used state funds to create grants and distribute beehives free of cost, with beekeeping teachers at public schools being given priority.

In the 1870s, other stimuli were available teaching of beekeeping in Carniola, with Baron Emil Rothschütz of the Podsmreka Castle near Višnja Gora being their main supporter. At the beekeepers assembly in Salzburg in 1872, he made a very influential speech, in which he explained what the government could do to support beekeeping. He especially stressed the importance of teaching of beekeeping, with the additional proposal that regional beekeeping schools be established. The assembly in Salzburg passed a special petition which included all of Rothschütz’s proposals. The Baron was also one of the supporters of the Carniolan Society for Scientific Apiculture at its establishment in 1873. The invitation to the Society read: “Our main attention will be devoted to teaching beekeeping in public schools, which will be accelerated by awarding grants, instructions, and premiums to teachers …” As early as 1873, Baron Emil Rothschütz proposed to the Carniolan Agricultural Society that an beekeeping school be established at the Podsmreka Castle near Višnja Gora. He addressed a detailed proposal to the society, written in German, and including 11 documents conserved by the Archive of the Republic of Slovenia. The programme for the bekeeping school, which was to be held during the summer months in Slovene and German, includes theoretical and practical contents. Teachers from all Slovene lands were to be educated about beekeeping in 20-day courses. The lectures would have been given by Rothschütz, and the practical lessons by his first master beekeeper. During the planning stage, applications by teachers were already received, and the teachers were accepted, however the proposal was ultimately rejected and all efforts to organise the school proved futile.

Beekeeping teaching was an excellent starting point for its further development in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Major contributions in Carniola, Austria-Hungary and the world at this time were made by Peter Pavel Glavar, Anton Janša, and Emil Rothschütz. The Carniolan method of beekeeping was designated to be used in all beekeeping schools by Maria Theresa in 1775.

In the appendix, the beekeeping school in Vienna, established in 1900, is presented, along with its influence on beekeeping in Carniola. Slovene beekeeping teachers educated at the Vienna school taught beekeepers about scientific beekeeping at various courses, and thus made a great contribution to the development of Slovene apiculture. At the 7th International Agricultural Congress in Vienna in 1907, a resolution was passed which affirms that the establishment and maintenance of beekeeping schools is the main method of spreading and developing beekeeping.

Poučevanje Čebelarstva na Kranjskem (.pdf)