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Flashback Friday: What's this curious object?

23 Apr, 2021

In this series of Flashback Fridays we will look at curious and historical objects which are from the collection of Wodonga Historical Society.

These objects are being catalogued as part of the Victorian Collections program, a website that celebrates the diversity of collections held in the state of Victoria.

The first curious but functional object is a beehive smoker dated from the early 20th century.

Beehive smokers douse bees with smoke to calm them and make them less likely to sting while honey is extracted from their hives.

They were invented in the mid-19th century, prior to which bees were killed in order to extract their honey.

The invention of the bee smoker was an important innovation in the history of apiary (beekeeping), and they are still used today, the design largely unchanged.

The Wodonga Historical Society beehive smoker appears to be of the same design as the patented Woodman’s Bingham Bee Smoker, produced from 1878 by T. F. Binghan of Albronia, Michigan.

Intersting fact: Beekeeping was a popular rural pastime in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and apiaries (beehives) were subject to regulation by the Wodonga Shire Council.

At a 1914 meeting of the council, for instance, a by-law governing beekeeping in Wodonga was enacted after Mrs Smyth complained that Mr Bassett’s bees were swarming the watering holes in her paddocks and preventing livestock from drinking.

There were areas within the Wodonga township where apiaries were prohibited, and Mr Bassett’s bees had fallen foul of the law.