Today we celebrate Eva Crane, pioneering researcher and author on apiculture, the study of bees an beekeeping. Though trained as a quantum mathematician, she changed her field of interest to bees, and spent decades researching bees.
Eva Crane studied the sciences. She was one of only two women earning a maths degree at King’s College London in 1933. This was followed by an MSc in quantum mechanics in 1935 and her PhD in nuclear physics in 1937. Shortly after, she began lecturing. She could have led an outstanding life as a theoretical physicist, but alas, her bees got in the way.
In the early 1940s, she moved from the male-dominated math and physics field to an amazing career in the arguably more male-centric world of bees. Today, with about half of new beekeepers female, we forget that bee clubs in Crane’s day were completely under the thumbs of men – usually fussy old gentlemen with starched collars. They tolerated women as organizers of beekeepers’ picnics and (sometimes) as secretaries of their clubs.
To suggest women had a subservient role is to make an understatement. During the 1940s, Gleanings in Bee Culture hosted a regular column about beekeeping titled ‘Spinster Jane Says’, which I presume was written by a female writer. In Dr. Crane’s day, women also appeared in bee magazines as authors of “Home Cooking” pages, as did ‘Mrs. Benj. Neilsen’ who explained how to make Christmas fruit cake with honey in the December, 1943, issue of Gleanings.
By 1949, Dr. Crane was editing Bee World. She turned it into a prestigious place to publish. The same year, she was the founding director of the Bee Research Association, later renamed the International Bee Research Association (IBRA). From 1949 to 1962, the IBRA offices were in the Cranes’ living room in Berkshire. But it grew. The organization eventually ended up in Cardiff, Wales. Beginning in 1962, Dr. Crane edited the IBRA’s Journal of Apicultural Research, as well as Bee World (editing it from 1949 to 1984).
Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Today, in honor of Ada Lovelace, the world celebrates all of the accomplishments of women in science, art, design, technology, engineering, and math. Each year, Adafruit highlights a number of women who are pioneering their fields and inspiring women of all ages to make their voices heard. Today we will be sharing the stories of women that we think are modern day “Adas” alongside historical women that have made impacts in science and math.
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