My Father-in-law's explanantion of keeping bees

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by bamabww, May 10, 2012.

  1. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    This is a companion thread to the one I started yesterday about the deep from the 60's. I'm talking with my 88 year old father-in-law about his boxes and his experience of 24 years as a beekeeper in the 50's. 60's and 70's. The other thread is here: http://www.beekeepingforums.com/threads/6560-A-deep-from-the-late-60-s

    Here’s part of his story: “the bees lived in the bottom and made their comb between the slots I cut in the plywood. They would climb through the slots into the super and that’s where they put the honey.†I asked “did you have anything for them to build their comb on in the super?†And he replied: “no, they just filled it up with comb and when it was full, I’d take a butcher knife and run it all the way around the bottom of the super to cut it loose from the plywood. I had to nail the plywood down or it would pull out when I picked up the super. When I had the super full of honey out of the way, I’d put an empty one back on top and the bees would fill it with honey again. We’d carry the honey super back to the house and cut the comb into pieces small enough to fill whatever size jar we was putting it in. We’d pour any honey that drained out in the dishpan into the jars to fill them up.â€


    I asked about the honey supers but they are long gone, “After the weevils hit us, I used the wood for something else and tore them apart,†he said. “They were just 1(inch) x 4 (inch) boards cut the same size as the bee box and nailed together. To keep the rain and trash out of the honey, I put another piece of plywood on top of the super and laid a rock or limb across it to keep it from blowing off.â€


    I asked him what the corn cobs did (I thought I knew, I just wanted to have his answer,) “ after we had the bee tree on the ground and had drummed the queen inside, we’d stick the corn cobs in the hole to keep the bees from leaving until we got them back home.â€


    “Wild bees are a lot meaner than your tame bees. We’d have on thick shirts or coats and wear gloves. We'd tie our sleeves down and our pants leg's too but we’d still get stung. Smoke wouldn’t always keep them off. Sometimes when the tree would hit the ground it would bust open and the bees would cover us up. We’d have to cut brush and whup them off each other. There was a few times they’d be so mad we’d have to leave them until the next day and then go back. We’d go back early and most of the time the bees had settled down but sometimes the queen would already be gone and most of the bees with her. We’d still get the honey but what we wanted was the bees too. One time they were still so upset the next day that we never did get the bees or the honey. We just had to leave it all because the bees were so mad.


    Sometimes the bees wouldn’t fly out when the tree hit the ground. If they didn’t fly out, I’d run up to the hole they were using and stuff it with leaves to keep them inside and we’d build a fire in the other end and the smoke would calm them down so we could rob them. We’d set the box I gave you or one like it as close to the hole where the bees were going in and out, where I stuck the leaves when it fell, and start drumming on the box.â€


    I asked, “What do you mean by drumming?†He said,†I’d take my knife or a piece of wood or rock or whatever and start pecking on the side of the box like this and about this fast.†He started knocking on the side of the box to show me what he meant. My wife, a piano player, later told me he was beating at about 4/4 time, whatever that means. “The bees would start coming toward the box and I’d watch for the queen to go in. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if she went in or not. I’d just have to hope she did. You never could get all the bees inside but you could get the most of them that way.â€


    I asked, “How did you get the honey out of the tree?†“If it didn’t bust open when it fell, we’d have to saw into it and quarter it up with an axe so we could get to the honey. We’d usually watch a bee tree for a couple of years or longer before we’d cut it. The honey would be so rich and sweet. One time we didn’t carry enough vessels. I think we had 3 or 4 dishpans but that wouldn’t enough. I had to go back to Fennel’s (his beekeeping partner) and get some of his buckets and we filled them up, all from that one tree. Those were good bees. The honey they made was the clearest honey you’ve ever seen. And it tasted good too.â€


    “Why did you quit having bees†I asked? “Weevils got in the hives and just ruined them. They done the same thing to Fennellâ€.“

    Thinking he might have been talking about Small Hive Beetles I asked, “Were they little hardshell black bugs?†“I don’t remember. Fennell called them weevils and they just ruined both of us.â€
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  2. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing!
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    wax moth <as with the small hive beetle now they often got the blame for destroying hives although in reality they just took out the weak.
     
  4. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    for the heck of it I googled weevils and sure enough some of the pics look alot like SHBs, starts you to wondering that back then just because a shb was not identified does not mean it was not here, back then diseases were not spread so rapidly like now cause the hives didnt get moved across the country over night like they are now, just gets you to wondering. great post btw Wayne.
     
  5. Bsweet

    Bsweet Member

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    Thank you for this post. I really like history when told first hand like this along with pictures. Jim
     
  6. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Thanks for sharing a fantastic memory! :grin: