Beekeeper's collection is one of the finest

A private reception on Friday 22 November marked the long-term deposit at the National Library of Scotland of 233 books owned by the Scottish Beekeepers' Association. The Moir Rare Book Collection was amassed by John William Moir (1851-1940), who took up beekeeping as a hobby in 1890, but only seriously began collecting bee literature from 1912. His enthusiasm for the subject helped him establish what is now recognised as one of the finest collections of rare books on beekeeping in the world.

The oldest of the Moir books is dated 1525. Other volumes include an Italian translation (from 1630) of poems by a Roman satirist, a book containing a two-part madrigal based on the sounds produced by bees (1634), and the work of a young Elgin man who built a press to print his own book - and even designed and cast the typeface for it (1834).

Many of the books are illustrated with intricate engravings. The one on the right is Melissographia from 1625, featuring enlarged drawings of bees which were produced using a microscope.


'Melissographia' - an engraving of bees from Rome in 1625

A brief history of Moir and his collection, together with selected illustrations, has been added to our website.

12 December 2002

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