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Bees To Honey

Nearing my father-in-law’s house, I was surrounded by a concrete jungle. Tax
services, restaurants and shopping centers were closing in on me. I then turned
the corner onto Cherry Street. This put me on a residential block. A man was
walking his dog and a family with young children was returning home from an
unknown adventure. Little did I know I was about to embark on a journey all my
own. Over twenty-years ago, my father-in-law, Lynn Cheatum, was helping a
neighbor cut down a dead tree. In this dead tree was a colony of bees and a lot
of honey. ” I was fascinated by it, ” Lynn said recalling the incident. He
then began telling me how his curiosity of bees had always been there but he had
never acted upon it. Lynn was still unable to act on this curiosity because one
of his neighbors was violently allergic to bees. This neighbor had to get a shot
once a month, just in case a bee stung him, so he wouldn’t die. A few years
later, in 1977, Lynn moved and was able to start his apiary, a place where you
keep bees and their hives. He mail ordered his bees from Sears and Roebuck. Lynn
remembers the bees came in a cage with a screen, similar to a window screen, on
one side. The bees also had a supply of sugar water to keep them fed. The queen
bee was separate from the other bees, the workers and the drones. The queen’s
cage is about half the size of a package of cigarettes. Worker bees are the
female bees in the hive that collect the pollen and do the work to keep up the
hive. The worker bees also protect the hive. After they sting an intruder, the
bee dies. Drones are the male bees that do nothing but eat the honey and fly
around trying to mate with the queen. Drones consist of about 1% of the bee
population. After the drones mate with the queen they die. The Queen bee’s one
job is to reproduce. When Lynn’s bees arrived, he had everything he needed to
begin the enjoyment of his apiary. When asked what the best part of beekeeping
was, he anxiously began to tell me that working with the bees was very exciting.

To my wonderment he compared his interaction with the bees to petting a dog.

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This I was unable to understand. My experiences with bees were they were a
nuisance always interrupting a picnic or a get together on the porch. He also
commented that being able to sell and give away his honey to his friends and
family was also rewarding. Every Christmas my husband and I can count on having
a big jar of delicious honey for a present. I then inquired about the process of
jarring honey. To my amazement he used the same process used to donate plasma.

The honeycomb or blood is placed in a honey extractor or centrifuge. This
container spins around throwing the honey out of the honeycomb or the plasma out
of the blood. The honey then is placed in jars ready for eating and the plasma
in bags ready to save lives. Just then Lynn’s wife, Kris, entered the room. We
began discussing how she too was very interested in the apiary. Kris recalls
Lynn pausing while mowing the grass so he wouldn’t run over a bee. She thought
this was a very caring act. She informed me that Lynn had bought her a suit for
her birthday, the first year they were together. This allowed her to begin
helping Lynn with the bees. Kris jokingly says, ” I married the bees.” This
I could tell was a good thing. She concludes by telling me of her enjoyment
while watching the bees from the kitchen window. Curiously I asked about the
scariest moment, if any, in bee keeping. Together they told the story. In the
summer of 1997 Lynn and Kris were moving a beehive. They both had their vale, a
straw hat with netting around it, and gloves on. Kris also had her pant legs
fastened with a rubberband, so that the bees were unable to get to her legs;
Lynn did not take this precaution. The beehive was newly assembled and the bees
had not had time to use their propolis or bee glue to glue the two boxes
together. The boxes slid a little from side to side making


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