Level 3 Mortlock Wing State Library of South Australia North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000

Charles Butler's The Feminine Monarchie, or the Historie of Bees, 1634

This is the first work on the science of beekeeping in the English language. Written by Charles Butler, who is known as the Father of English beekeeping, the text brought into the public consciousness the idea that a bee colony is presided over by a queen.

Butlers Bees 2

Charles Butler (1560–1647) observed that bees produce wax combs from scales of wax produced in their own bodies; and he was among the first to assert that drones are male and the queen female, though he believed worker bees laid eggs. 

This volume is an example of the 3rd publication of The Feminine Monarchie, or the Historie of Bees. Publications of the volume are dated: 1609; 1623; 1634; and 1704. It was also translated into Latin in 1673. Butler also composed the madrigal ‘Melissonelos’ (The Bees Madrigal) in 1623, which mimics the piping sounds of bees about to swarm . This may be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2eonteQEps

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Charles Butler (1560–1647), sometimes called the Father of English Beekeeping, was a logician, grammarist, author, minister (Vicar of Wootton St Lawrence, near Basingstoke, England), and an influential beekeeper.

Interestingly Butler was also an early proponent of English spelling reform.