Maurizio, Anna (1900–1993)

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Maurizio, Anna (1900–1993)

Polish-born Swiss apiculturist who was one of the world's leading experts on honey bees for half a century . Born in Poland of Swiss parents in 1900; died at Liebefeld, near Bern, Switzerland, on July 24, 1993; never married.

In a scientific career that spanned more than 50 years, Anna Maurizio established a reputation as one of the world's leading apiculturists. Her knowledge of bees was immense, and many of her scientific papers were pioneering studies of various aspects of the life cycle of bees and the factors that influence their ability to produce honey.

Maurizio was born in 1900 in Poland, where her father was a professor of botany. In childhood, she developed an interest in science which never abated. The subject of her doctoral dissertation was mycology, the study of fungi, and she became interested in bees as a result of one of her first research projects, a study of fungi that were potentially pathogenic to honey bees. In 1928, she began working at the Bee Section of the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Milk Husbandry, located at Liebefeld near Bern.

From 1930 well into the 1980s, Maurizio published the results of her meticulous and innovative research. Among her most important discoveries were the differences between northern and southern bees, and her quantitative pollen analyses of honeys were of great consequence. She made significant contributions to an understanding of the considerable variability of the nutritive value of pollens taken from different plants (a variability that exists in part because each pollen contains different amounts of protein). Her classification of this nutritive value remains useful to both scholars and beekeepers. Her paper on the composition, collection, utilization, and identification of pollen, first published in 1954 in the journal Bee World, remains a classic.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Maurizio published some of her most important research, which contributed to a better understanding of the following areas: the functions of different glands in the digestive process of bees; the processes of honey production by honey bees; pollen morphology; nectar and honeydew honeys; the factors influencing bee pollination; and the toxicity of various substances to bees.

Despite the passage of time and the publication of much additional research, her papers continue to be cited as basic sources by scholars in the field. Maurizio published a large number of scientific papers and several books for which she served as author or co-author. Her most successful was Das Trachtpflanzenbuch, a popular explanation of nectar and pollen which has gone through several editions since it was first published in Germany in 1969 (most recently appearing in print in 1994). In 1975, she published a new and completely revised edition of Der Honig: Herkunft, Gewinnung, Eigenschaften und Untersuchung des Honigs (Honey: Origins, Extraction, Properties, and Investigation of Honey), a classic reference book originally written by Enoch Zander and Albert Koch. In the final decades of her life, Maurizio was universally recognized in the bee world as the most respected member of the International Bee Research Association.


"Anna Maurizio—Liebefeld Scientist," in American Bee Journal. Vol. 91, no. 1. January 1951, pp. 24–25.

Crane, Eva. "Dr. Anna Maurizio: An Appreciation from IBRA," in Bee World. Vol. 75, no. 2, 1994, pp. 98–99.

Dietz, Professor Alfred. Personal Communication.

Hodges, Dorothy. The Pollen Loads of the Honeybee; A Guide to their Identification by Colour and Form. London: Bee Research Institute, 1974.

Maurizio, Anna. "How Bees Make Honey," in Eva Crane, ed., Honey: A Comprehensive Survey. London: Heinemann, 1975, pp. 77–105.

—— and Friedgard Schaper. Das Trachtpflanzenbuch: Nektar und Pollen—die wichtigsten Nahrungsquellen der Honigbiene. Munich: Ehrenwirth, 1994.

Winston, Mark L. The Biology of the Honey Bee. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia