Animal Anecdote 42.
My father had taken a course on honey bee husbandry while studying at Mass. Aggie, now Mass. State and announced one day that over the weekend the family would take a picnic lunch and go bee hunting. All I knew about bees was that they sting and make honey. He then said we would need some equipment and I wondered what kind of equipment could we possibly need to hunt for bees and what would we do if we caught some?
We would need a cigar box with a folding lid on it and some honeycomb and an empty water glass, a stick we could stick in the ground with branches that would hold the cigar box.
Finally a bottle containing a cup of sugar water.
I knew of a wasp nest that had blown down during the winter for the honeycomb and Dad cut a small sapling with branches that would hold the cigar box and mother prepared a fine picnic lunch. I assumed we would travel a distance but we headed out behind our house into the woods to an open area in the woods. Dad put the comb in the cigar box and poured sugar water on it. Then he balanced it on the crotches of the sapling with the lid opened.
Next was finding a honey bee on wild flowers here and there. We found a bee and Dad placed the drinking glass over it and used the palm of his other hand to keep the Bee confined as we headed back to the box on the branch. He placed the glass, open end down on the sugar water in the comb and suggested we all sit down until the bee discovered the sweet water.
The bee soon stopped buzzing around in the glass and settled down on the comb and immediately began drinking the sugar water. Dad removed the glass and suggested we sit down and get ready to see which direction the bee would fly. The bee crawled up to the edge of the box and took off circulating the box close by and then in greater circles and I lost it. Mother and Dad both followed it to a northerly direction and Dad said we have to time it because if it took more than 6 minutes we would assume the bee tree would be too far away. Sister Julie saw the returning bee with a friend in 5 minutes. Both immediately lit and began taking up the sugar water.
Dad closed the cigar box sand started walking in the direction the first bee flew. Taking the box perch with us and after 100 paces or so stuck the branch in the ground and placed the box on top and opened the top. It took a few minutes when the two bees left and Julie and I noticed the direction they flew. After half a dozen setups and dozens of bees swarming around us Julie spotted a hole in the side of an old apple tree with bees coming and going in large numbers.
Next time we tote the bees home. 521 words