This post is only partly about beekeeping, but it does start out with beekeeping or, at least, honey. I recently received an invitation from my friends Ed and Elaine Holcombe to judge honey at their local county fair in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Ed is known for his beekeeping and queen rearing skills. He has worked with beekeepers in Croatia and Belarus as part of the USAID program and, in recent years, has been teaching beekeeping classes at Middle Tennessee State University. For the last several years, beekeepers in eastern Kentucky have benefited from his talks on maximizing honey production, which he has given at the Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School in Hazard. Elaine is known for her skill in making candles and art objects from beeswax, as well as for sharing her interest and know-how with others. She has also taught classes at the Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School. Ed’s and Elaine’s willingness to travel all the way to Hazard to help our beekeepers was a major factor in my deciding to accept their invitation to judge honey in Tennessee.
So last week my wife, Lee, and I headed to Tennessee for the Bedford County Fair and a visit with Ed and Elaine. Little did we know that the highlight of the trip was to have little to do with honey or beekeeping. Continue reading
When I began writing posts for this webpage, I warned those reading that might digress from the science and art of beekeeping from time to time. I do so now to some degree.
While returning from a beekeeping meeting in southern Kentucky last night, I was listening to Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi (a book on CD). This volume is taken from Twain’s life on and along the river, including a stint as a riverboat pilot. In the following lines he describes a gathering of visiting pilots on the boat he was working on. I thought of beekeepers when listening to these words.
They were likewise welcome because all pilots are tireless talkers, when gathered together, and as they talk only about the river they are always understood and are always interesting. Your true pilot cares nothing about anything on earth but the river, and his pride in his occupation surpasses the pride of kings.
I re-wrote this in my head after listening to Twain’s words as:
They were likewise welcome because all beekeepers are tireless talkers, when gathered together, and as they talk only about the bees and the art of beekeeping they are always understood and are always interesting. Your true beekeeper cares nothing about anything on earth but the bees, and his pride in his occupation surpasses the pride of kings.
I don’t think I’m the only beekeeper who goes to meetings (when I am not part of the program), less to listen to the speakers than for the opportunity of conversation with other beekeepers.