I guess it’s the spring like weather that
Texas no wait the entire United States is experiencing at the moment and the fact the Chef and I have decided to go organic that got me into the mood this past weekend to persuade my father to become a beekeeper and buy organic/grow his own produce. The beekeeping part is probably easier than the organic.
Mom and Dad planted a small garden during the Texas heat wave this summer and well…needless to say they were let down. Mom’s blueberry bush produced enough blueberries to keep an (1) ant alive for a few hours. If they had to survive off the potatoes they produced they would have starved to death. It was that pitiful, but at least they tried.
Living in a county coincidentally named Bee County you would expect bees to be quite prevalent. During my days as Miss Bee County I was spotted with Mr. Bee-himself!
Bee County, established in 1857, however wasn’t named for the fuzzy yellow and black flying cutie pies. No, it was named for the secretary of state to the Republic of Texas, Barnard E. Bee. My parents 5 or so acres does have bees, just not sure if they are the good western honey bees or the bad African “killer” bees. They choose to live about 20 ft up in an oak tree in my parents front lawn and no one wants to scurry up to figure out which breed of bee they are. I guess we’ll need to eventually if honey bees are to be housed on the property.
So the next question is where does one find a beekeeper to buy some bees and their boxes? The only place Dad knew was out at the Amish community. Now, anyone unfamiliar with the Amish way of life will soon discover that visiting their community is like a trip to the pioneer 1800s.
Women and children clothed in homemade prairie style dresses and bonnets. Horse drawn buggies, farms, animals, gardens, no electric or phone…simple, sustainable living and totally organic! Needless to say I couldn’t get into the car fast enough. My father, the eternal wild west mountain man loves visiting with his Amish friend Ezra, who owns and operates with his children a saddle shop. Ezra and his children have outfitted Dad in more leather goods a man could possibly need for one lifetime. From gun holsters to saddles to chaps and belts to Mom’s cell phone case. I’m sure he’s gone through a herd of cattle just on Dad’s jobs alone.
I knew it would be tricky to take pictures of the Amish since they are a very private community, but Dad figured since Ezra is more with the 21st century than his 19th century kin folk, it would probably be OK (he has a thriving and popular business to run). Sure enough it was! Ezra’s 17 year old daughter Clara showed me her latest project. A leather calendar place mat for a desk.
Considering the age of social media and all the pressures placed on teens it’s remarkable to believe that she’s quite protected from it all. She genuinely enjoys working within her father’s business–it shows through her pretty smile and outgoing nature. While Dad talked with Ezra and his son John about another gun holster job I roamed the shop looking at the many creations the family has made. Clara and I talked about the Amish way of life and what she might do once she’s on her own. It was definitely a unique experience and it all started because of bees!
Dad and I ended up finding the bees and plenty of bee boxes at Ezra’s neighbor down the road. Little cuties won’t be buzzing until April though. I guess they are sleeping…it is winter and not spring! Until then I’ll be content to gaze at the photos of my fuzzy French bees from this summer.
To learn more about the plight of the honey bee watch this documentary. It will change the way you view these cute little insects and maybe the way you eat!