– some create honey and others leave a sting
I grew up in a rural area of Pennsylvania, and I spent a good deal of time outside exploring. Inevitably, I ran into some unpleasantness when it came to insects – bees being at the top of the list. My two least favorite ones were the yellow jackets and the white-faced hornets. Yellow jackets would attack from below, from nests in the ground, and that always seemed to happen when I was mowing the lawn. More than once I had to jump off a lawn tractor and run to safety. Hornets build big paper nests that hang from tree limbs and under house eaves. They always seem to have a chip on their shoulder and are quite aggressive. One summer day, when I was celebrating my birthday, I was walking by the side of my house when two hornets attacked from above. I was a very long distance from their nest but they still must have thought I was a threat.
As you can guess, bees are not my favorite insect, but honeybees are in a different category. I think of them in almost an affectionate kind of way. Several of my older brothers had an interest in beekeeping, and some of my earliest memories are of them harvesting the honey from the hives. At that time, the black bears hadn’t found the hives, so they were in a back field, a good distance from the house. On a nice hot day, my brothers would gather the frames from the hives that were filled with honeycomb, and bring them down to the back yard. There, they would slice off the honey-coated wax from both sides of the honeycomb into a big casserole dish. They let me put some of the honey-coated wax into my mouth, which was almost like chewing gum. From there, the frames were placed into a large barrel with slots for the frames. Then they would turn a crank on the barrel, which would spin and allow centrifugal force to coax the honey out of the comb. It dropped to the bottom of the barrel and then dripped into a container through an opening at the bottom of the barrel. All the while, honeybees would be buzzing around, but I was never stung. Read more about bees and beekeeping on page 40.
On another note, I would like to remember my friend John Adamski, who recently passed away. He was one of my contributors to the magazine, providing both great writing and photography. He was a mentor to me, showing me how a man can live his life and follow his dreams and passions. And he had a heart of gold, showing care to everyone he knew. John’s last dream was to create the Finger Lakes Museum. You can help him realize that dream through a donation to the museum by visiting fingerlakesmuseum.org. I have always thought that the museum is the brick-and-mortar version of Life in the Finger Lakes magazine. I would love to see it come to fruition as well.