Friday, March 10, 2017
I was raised on a Funny Farm, we called it a Honey Farm, it was a farm with no seeds, or fertilizer, the livestock were bugs. My Grandfather on my father's side, started keeping bees as a kid, his family was scratching out a living on a farm in Illinois near St Louis. When he found bees in a hollow tree, he was able to capture the swarm, move it into a hive and bring in honey for his family. He almost always kept bees. For decades the bees were a side business. Eventually he left the factory, and kept bees full time.
My father grew up with bees being a part of the normal livestock in the back yard, right next to the chickens (my father grew up in the suburbs of Detroit.) My father helped his father with the bees. Eventually the bees caused to many complaints from neighbors in the city, and during World War II, my grandfather bought 80 acres about 60 miles north in the very-rural Michigan. In the mid 1950's my parents moved out to the farm. A couple of years later, my father bought several hundred hives of bees, and joined his father in business. At one time, they had about 2,000 hives. That is a lot of bees.
I started working in the bees, and in the extracting plant - known as the honey house, when I was 12. I have been filing tax returns since I was 14. After my grandfather retired I worked with my mother in the honey house. We would start in late July and go 7 days a week until school started, then I would work weekends until the we were finished about the end of September.
None of my siblings wanted to take over the farm. My parents sold out and retired in 1982. When we were making funeral arrangements for my mother the funeral director asked what we wanted to list her profession as. We talked about retired, or homemaker, or store clerk, or print shop layout designer, and beekeeping. We settled on beekeeper. She was good at it, she worked with my father for about 15 years.
Bees are a part of my heritage. If we had a family crest, bees would need to be on it.
What is profession is a part of your heritage?