Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Daddy built a bee hive for inside the living room.

Bees and honey were a great, welcome part of our Easley family. Papa had several hives in a row under a large, low, spreading mesquite tree at the entrance of their driveway. I think all the other family members had at lest one hive, maybe a few hives. At least once a year toward fall, we all gathered in Granny and Papa's cement house for the great honey harvest. The men with hats veiled in net all around and tied at the neck, wearing long sleeved shirts and thick gloves, carried bee smokers stuffed with smoldering cotton rag. The bellows on the can kept a supply of smoke ready to drive away the angry bees.

The women and children were set up in the cement house with the extractor, pans, jars, knives, and lots of hot water.  Some cut the caps off the frames.  They were then put inside the extractor.  It could hold 6 or 8 frames.  One of the boys usually turned the crank to spin the honey out of the frames.  The frames were then turned around and spun to extract the honey from the other side.  These empty frames were returned to the men, who later returned them to the hives.  As the extracted honey accumulated in the bottom of the extractor, the women drained the fresh new honey into jars.  The girls helped with cleaning the jars and screwing on the lids.

The caps from the frames were cut off with sharp butcher knives which were kept hot, by dipping them in pans of hot water.  Honey caps were wonderful for eating as the day progressed.  We were all warned, continuously, don't eat too much new honey!  "It can make you sick.  If you ever get sick, eating too much new honey, you may never want to eat any honey again!"  Some of the older folks could testify to that fact.  I don't remember any of us younger folks falling for that mistake.

Lots of honey was extracted each season.  But I don't remember hearing how many jars or gallons may have been taken.

Papa and his sons all read and studied the science of bee culture.  There were excellent books in the family for anyone interested to study.  Papa said, "every person should eat one teaspoon of honey each day."  A pitcher of honey, or syrup was on every dining table of the family.  I don't remember any of the family making syrup in those early days.  But Daddy raised sugar cane and made syrup in later years after they moved to eastern Oklahoma or northwest Arkansas.

One year when we still lived on the River Farm in Grandpa Easley's old house, Daddy made a bee hive for us to watch and study inside the living room.  He built a framework to hold a single bee frame from a hive.  It was enclosed in glass sides.  There were cardboard covers to slide over the glass.  He had drilled a hole through the wall about 5 feet above the living room floor.  A 3/4 inch wide pipe was fitted into the frame work that held the bee frame.  It extended out through the house wall.  So the bees could pass from the outside through the wall into their mini-hive inside our living room.  Because bees generally work in darkness, we only lifted the cardboard sides when we wanted to learn how the bees worked, how they made new sells for new queens, and the royal jelly they fed the newly hatching queens.  The experiment didn't last very long.  I think two frames might have been better, though we couldn't have observed what was going on in the middle.  With the single frame, I think there were not enough bees to raise a strong brood.

You might be interested in asking Ray how to heal wounds with honey!


  1. That is so interesting. There is a grocery store in our area that has a hive right inside the store. It has a padlock on the lid with a sign warning not to let the bees out. (Not sure how they think a customer would lift the lid with the padlock on it!) I think there may be a spigot on the side of the hive with which to fill your honey container, but I'm not sure how that would work because I assume there are honeycomb frames inside. At least, it looks to me like a normal frame. I need to remember to check it out a little more closely next time we are in that store.

    Dad had bees for several years (in Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Missouri)... and I think he may have one hive now. If I remember correctly, Granddaddy helped him get started.

    I also remember David telling a pitiful story about having to sell honey door-to-door in Alma. It just made me feel so sorry for the backward little kids that he and Esther used to be (to hear him tell it)!

    So glad you've posted another story. I love reading them! Looking forward to more!

  2. I'm with Karla. Keep the stories coming. I remember the bee hive in our living room but still like to hear you tell about it.

  3. Don't forget to write about the carnivorous bees! I tell that story over here and they don't believe me. :-(

  4. They don't believe it over here either. I would need to do some research, to verify that story. Thanks for reminding me. I've made myself a note.