Last night Maribeth and I attended the Frontier bee club meeting in Guthrie for the first time all summer. Both of us had missed the June and July meetings for different reasons, and both of us were so happy to finally return. Those are some of the nicest and most interesting people around, and the meetings are always informative and fun.
Last night, the crowd was about double in size (lots of new and prospective beekeepers in central Oklahoma, which is wonderful news) and our club president James and his sweet and playful wife Audra had organized two special events: a honey extraction demonstration and a honey tasting contest. YUM!
The taller gentleman on the left is Bob. Of all the lovely people at bee club, I have become especially acquainted with him and his wife Betty. Bob is retired from an industry that my husband’s team now regulates, so that’s an interesting coincidence. Bob borrowed my Papa Joe’s apiary journal a few months ago and pleased me right down to my bones with news of how much he enjoyed it. Last night Betty gifted me a wonderful Oklahoma Pioneer Chef cook book as a thank you, and I can’t wait to explore it. She is an avid gardener, too, so no small wonder I like her so much.
The gentleman on the right is Chuddie. I’ve quoted him here several times. He is the club’s favorite “old timer” who is so generous with ideas, advice, practical inventions, and hilarious anecdotes and one-liners. He was, believe it or not, my great-grandfather’s beekeeping mentor back in the 1970’s. Chuddie clearly remembered Joe Neiberding when I first brought the apiary journal with me, and it just makes me feel wonderful in so many ways. Life can be beautifully full circle once in a while.
I wish the honey tasting contest could have lasted all night. There were six samples, and each of them was so unique and wildly stimulating that I was almost in a panic. How could I possibly rank my top three favorites? How could I choose between the molasses flavor of one and the wildflower notes of another? Would you listen if I told you in detail how the colors affected me emotionally, and also the varying thicknesses? It’s far too much sensual beauty to be accepted in an assembly line moment. But I was happy to try anyway.
Of course we still enjoyed the normal free flowing conversation and beekeeping Q & A, too. There was lots of chatter about what’s blooming in Oklahoma right now, how much honey people are harvesting (400 pounds from only 9 hives, one gentleman reported!) what’s next for the bees seasonally, how to trap hive beetles, where you can get glass jars on sale, ideas on combining weak hives before winter, foul brood versus chalk brood and their respective symptoms, the going price for raw, local honey, and so much more.
Whew! The meeting just feels like a long, natural conversation, but when I step back and digest all the information shared, it’s a bit stunning. One of my favorite things to hear is this: “If you ask a room full of ten beekeepers how to do something, you will invariably get ten different answers.” So true! But I love it. Everybody is so gentle with their disagreements, and it is really fun to get a cross pollination of ideas and perspectives. James does a wonderful job facilitating the talk.
Oh! We also signed up to work shifts at the State Fair agriculture booth. So next month I’ll get to tell you all about that!
All of this, plus a long table of delicious snacks brought by all and at the end, the raucous door prize game. I contributed a big, heavy bag of garden fresh tomatoes. Several people did, in fact, and others brought treasures like fresh eggs, flower seeds, sacks of sugar, and these gorgeous home grown pears.
These meetings are so worth the time and energy to get there. Why do we ever ever miss?
How did you spend your Tuesday evening? Are you tempted to venture into beekeeping? If you are a beekeeper already, how are your sweet ladies faring at the end of summer? Tell me everything.
We lived for honey… August said honey was the ambrosia of the gods
and the shampoo of the goddesses.
~Sue Monk Kidd in The Secret Life of Bees