Changes in Soviet Biology 1924-1932

The Soviet Union formed in the midst of civil war and frequent famines. The new Soviet leadership pushed to increase food production by means of economic incentives, expansion of agricultural education, and promoting research and innovation in agricultural practice. The USSR wanted the cottage industry of food production gone, to make way for modernization and industrialization in farming, as well as beekeeping. 

Increasing productivity in beekeeping often meant collaborating with international researchers. In the Soviet Union, collaboration between Soviet and American scientists was strongest in the mid-to-late 1920's and after the 1960's, following the dissolution of Stalin's reign and cult of personality. In the early 1920's, descriptions of American beekeeping noted the large size of American apiaries, and periodicals such as Practical Beekeeping pointed out that amongst peasants, hand-made versions of A. I. Root's beekeeping supplies often failed to deliver the quality that American-made supplies provided. For peasant beekeepers, this failure to produce affordable frame-hives as per government recommendation often led to reverting back to the less-efficient well-hives. The rift between Soviet aspirations, and the physical and economic reality of early Soviet life, led to a prideful attitude towards Soviet beekeeping without the corresponding pride in Soviet beekeepers. Descriptions of international beekeeping were usually accompanied by comments pointing out how Soviet beekeeping methods were comparatively more robust, even if the areas of Soviet expertise were not particularly necessary for the international beekeepers. 

Still, in the early 1920's, Soviet-American relationships were surprisingly cordial. Many Americans, including famed dancer Isadora Duncan, would visit the USSR to get a glimpse of the Soviet Experiment. Lewis S. Feuer's article, American Travelers to the Soviet Union 1917-32: the Formation of Component of New Deal Ideology covers this phenomenon in detail. By the 1930's, a growing distaste towards America could be observed in beekeeping publications. In the periodical Kollektivnoe Pchelovodnoe Delo, a 1931 essay provided gentle criticism of American beekeeping-- Americans were not adept at moving bee colonies from frameless hives into frame hives, and for this reason were lagging behind Soviet beekeeping. In a later edition of the same journal, that essay on American beekeeping was criticized for being too "American" in style! 

In spite of a growing distaste for the practices of capitalist nations, American research was held in high regard. in 1932, when Cornell Professor Everett Franklin Phillips visited the USSR, he was met with accolades, and several pages and photographs in the February 1932 edition of Kollektivnoe Pchelovodnoe Delo are dedicated to his visit. Presumably, at some point during this trip, Soviet researcher A. S. Mikhailov gifted Phillips a text depicting the last architectural achievements of beekeeping in the Russian Empire.