Friday, July 31, 2015

Bees, Now and Then

Not yet, it wasn't quite time for WW2 in 1940 when we moved to The Shoemaker Estate, Glasgow St. at the north end of the runway of the Pottstown Airport. The winds of war were stirring as Dad listened to the radio in the morning before he went to work. "Rambling With Gambling"on WOR, New York, was a staple in the early morning but I loved listening to Jan Peerce singing, "Bluebird Of Happiness" when I could wake up by 6AM.

Seventy five years ago before I entered grade school Dad had an episode with honey bees which had a nest in the eve of this house my parents rented. The exterior of the two story house was tan stucco but way up at the peek of the roof line the stucco seemed much darker for an unknown reason. We lived here only a short time when Dad decided to put in a back yard garden. He was slight of build, lily white, and not naturally an outdoors man but having a garden was his passion. So he and Andy, my older brother, grabbed shovels and began digging up the rear yard while I cheered them from my perch on the backyard fence. Gnats, flies, and misquotes swarmed around their sweating bodies so Dad decided to take a break on the screened back porch. Mom suggested Andy and Dad put on some bug repellant so they liberally applied some citronella oil, I think, which was all she had.

Bad news : bees went wild after whatever they spread on themselves. With swarms of bees zeroing in on them Andy and Dad made a literal bee line to the enclosed back porch. Swatting at them, trying to escape their stings they, after flapping and swinging, finally became clear of the bees. Honey bees in the eves of this old house on a aging estate of a once wealthy family seeking to retain its sense of grandeur was an indication of the clash of "old world" against the new. Always on the move, our next, shortly after this adventure was to Houck Lane near Harmonyville, Chester County.

Bees are endangered now, seventy five years later, most likely many killed off by people who disturbed their nests, got stung, and thought they'd get even by killing them. In the World of food production bees play an enormous roll in pollination of flowers necessary to produce a fruit or seed head that humans and animals consume. Like people, bees have an aggressive side, but it's their work-a-holic nature in pollination that makes them so valuable to life as we know it. Support bee health, please !

Ronald C. Downie

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