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Who Was Amos Ives Root?

Amos Ives Root Profile Illustration

Amos Ives Root was an American beekeeper, author, and businessman from Medina, Ohio. He is well known for writing the book ABC of Bee Culture, but his claim to fame was eye-witnessing and publishing an article about successful flights made by the Wright brothers.

Fast facts

NameAmos Ives Root
Born1839
Place of BirthMedina, OH
Died1923
OccupationBeekeeper, entrepreneur, author, business owner
Notable Beekeeping AchievementsAuthored ABC of Bee Culture (1879), founded the journal Gleanings in Bee Culture.

Early life

Amos Ives Root was born in 1839 near Medina, Ohio. He was a sickly, short child, which wasn’t ideal for the outdoor farm duties that his father needed help with. Instead, Amos spent much of the time working in the truck garden with his mother.

Exposure to gardening piqued Root’s interest in science. He took a keen interest in electrical gadgets and chemistry in his teens but ended up in the jewelry industry when leaving school.

Initially, he developed a skill for repair work before learning how to manufacture it. He started a very successful jewelry business.

Beekeeping career

At the age of 26, Amos Root became a hobbyist beekeeper. His passion for bees led him to start writing for the American Bee Journal under a nom de plume. His articles were so popular he founded a beekeeping trade journal called Gleanings in Bee Culture. While not a huge success, he built up a respectable subscriber base of approximately 4000.

Root began selling beekeeping equipment which he grew to an impressive size. By 1880, he had 150,000 customers and shipped four railroad cars of bee hives, tools, and equipment daily.

Root shifted all his focus from jewelry to beekeeping. Within a few more years, Root’s failing health and work stress caused him to put his sons in charge of the business.

Free from his daily business operations, Amos turned his attention to other interests. He continued to write for Gleanings in Bee Culture and worked on new inventions. The magazine is still in publication today, now called Bee Culture.

The beekeeping company began selling Dadant and Sons, Inc. equipment in the 1890s. While the idea was unsuccessful, it provided the impetus to change direction and start manufacturing candles. The company, Root Candles, is still in operation today.

Tip: if you enjoy reading about how commercial beekeeping was shaped, be sure to read the history of Jan Dzierzon.

Important contributions to beekeeping

Amos Root provided the beekeeping community with several practical inventions and innovative ideas. His notable contributions included:

  • Published his book, ABC of Bee Culture, in 1879. The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture is an updated version that is still available for sale today.
  • Founded Gleanings in Bee Culture, a trade journal now called Bee Culture.
  • Invented the one-pound section honey box, which is still widely used today.
  • Invented the simplicity hive, reversible frames, and the novice honey knife, all of which he never patented.
  • Patented the metal-cornered frame but subsequently gifted it to the beekeeping community.

Fact: Amos Root was an avid inventor, much like Moses Quinby.

Amos Root and the Wright brothers

Although unrelated to beekeeping, Amos Root is widely known for his connection with the Wright brothers.

He had an immense interest in their flying machines and, in 1904, visited them near Dayton, Ohio.

Amos witnessed Wilbur Wright fly the first complete circle in an airplane. The following year, he published an article about the maiden flight in his Gleanings in Bee Culture periodical. 

Also read: Who was C.C. Miller?

Did you know?

  1. Amos Root was the first man in northern Ohio to own a bicycle.
  2. Locals thought Root was crazy, which he took in good nature.
  3. He was good friends with Helen Keller, contributing financially to advancing the education of deaf and blind kids.
  4. His machinery was powered by a windmill designed by himself.

References:

  • The ABC of Bee Culture, 1903.
  • Gleanings in Bee Culture, Jan. 1, 1905

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