Langstroth Bicentennial Kickoff in Philadelphia
On the evening of January 21, 2010, three Philadelphia beekeeping organizations held an inaugural event for the celebration of the 200th birthday of Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth. About 150 people gathered at the Unitarian Society of Germantown. Germantown is an area of Philadelphia rich in Langstroth history. By a show of hands it appeared that from a quarter to one-third of the attendees were not beekeepers. Among the many events discussed were the possibility of a Langstroth commemorative postage stamp, a marker for his birthplace in Philadelphia, and a honey festival to be held in September.
The event was co-sponsored by the Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) and the
Chester County beekeepers associations and was a very successful first effort by the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild, which was recently organized. Commercial sponsors of the evening were Brushy Mountain, Bee Culture, and Haagen Dasz.
Anaiis Salles, representing the church, began the evening by explaining the appropriateness of the church’s hosting the event because of the seventh principle of Unitarianism: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
Joel Eckel spoke about Langstroth’s roots in the area. He and Suzanne Matlow have been instrumental in organizing the new Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild. He explained the idea of an annual Langstroth Honey Festival, tentatively planned for this September, which would include several public events, including presentations of “Bee Man,” a one-man play about Rev. Langstroth.
Carl Flatow spoke next. He explained, accompanied by a Power Point presentation, his organization, Science Friday Initiative, a nonprofit organization that, among other activities, produces the Science Friday radio program and website with host Ira Flatow, and Carl’s project, Down To Earth, http://scifri.org/dte/. Events to commemorate Langstroth in other cities are in the planning phase. The US Postal Service is considering a proposal for a postage stamp, and supporting letters and emails can still be sent to them. He introduced Matt Redman, of Chestertown, Maryland, who had taken the lead in submitting an application to the authorities to get a marker for Langstroth’s birthplace in downtown Philadelphia.
Pam Rogow and Suzanne Matlock then introduced Pennsylvania State Representative Rosita Youngblood, who spoke about local issues before presenting an official declaration from the state legislature praising Langstroth and the bicentennial celebration.
Marc Hoffman discussed Langstroth’s life and accomplishments, with pictures of the places he had lived and served as pastor, and pictures of Langstroth’s patent and of the hive in various stages of historical development. Like other technological breakthroughs, the invention of the Langstroth hive was followed by many improvements and other inventions. Langstroth was also influential through his published writings and his correspondence. He talked about the full-length play, “Bee Man,” that Marc performs about Langstroth’s life, and he presented some open questions for research, and ideas for activities to promote knowledge of Langstroth.
Barbara Ceiga, a Vice President of the Academy of Natural Sciences, http://www.ansp.org/, a Philadelphia organization founded in 1812, spoke of Lorenzo Langstroth’s membership in the organization. One of the tenets of the organization was that discussions must be strictly secular, so it was unusual to have a clergyman as a member. In 1851 the organization published a paper of his in which, with the help of a well known pathologist, he proved that the honeybee queen’s spermatheca, a small round white organ, functioned as the storage place for the drone’s sperm.
Joel Eckel concluded the presentations by inviting members of the audience to get involved in the production of the described events.
Various items were raffled off, donated by sponsors: a garden hive donated by Brushy Mountain and subscriptions donated by Bee Culture magazine. The meeting adjourned for refreshments, including ice cream donated by Haagen Dasz.
# # #