Moir Rare Book Collection


Moir Rare Book Collection


A collection of 278 volumes relating to all aspects of beekeeping, it is one of the very finest collections of rare beekeeping books in the world, including items published as far back as 1525. The foundation of the collection was due to the efforts of John William Moir, CMG, FRSGS, FZS (1851-1940). Inspired by the example of David Livingstone, Moir and his brother emigrated from Scotland in 1877 to southeast Africa where they were initially involved in the creation of alternative transport routes to help obviate the need for slave transport. It was later after settling in the Shire Highlands of present-day Malawi that John Moir began beekeeping, due to the fact that his crops required pollination. In 1890 Moir returned to Edinburgh where beekeeping became his hobby. It was in 1912 when he became one of the original members and first vice-chairman of the council of the Scottish Beekeepers' Association that he started seriously to collect bee literature. The more books he acquired, the more he actively searched for those he lacked, until by 1916 he had 167 books. In that year Moir presented his collection to the Scottish Beekeepers' Association on the understanding that he would remain Honorary Librarian and house the collection at his home. In October 1939 Moir's library, which by then numbered 1,799 books and pamphlets and 489 volumes of periodicals, was transferred into the custody of the Edinburgh Public Libraries, where, except for the Rare Book Collection, the remainder continues to be housed.


The books have been catalogued individually and have the shelfmark 'MRB.'.


The Scottish Beekeepers' Association placed the collection on temporary deposit in the Library in March 2002. The Association later converted this to a long-term deposit in November 2002.

Online resources

Moir Rare Book Collection




Bee culture