Metuchen Edison History Features
In Old Metuchen
David Trumbull Marshall
Published by The Case Publishing Co., Flushing NY 1930
(Second Edition)- (c) 1930
The Bee Tree.
One day when I was about thirteen years old, Old Man Green came to our house and said that there was a bee tree in his woods and that if my brothers would get the honey they could have half.
We all went up to take a look at the tree. It was an oak, about sixty feet high, which, like most trees which stand in the thick woods, had no lower branches. About fifty feet up the tree in a hole where a branch had broken off some years before, there was a hollow place in the main trunk.
The next day we three brothers got a wash boiler, a tin pail and a clothes-line rope and went up to the tree, which was about a mile from our house. My oldest brother Will had prepared a bee mask by sewing a piece of wire mosquito netting on to the front of a sort of helmet made of a quilted cotton bed-quilt. He climbed a small tree which grew close to the large tree and from the top of this he got to the lowest branches of the large tree.
It was a long, hard climb and by the time my brother got to the bee nest he was so exhausted and the quilt helmet was so hot that he could hardly get his breath and had to give up and come down.
The next day my next oldest brother, John, thought out a grand scheme.
He got an old coffee pot and a lot of sulpher and matches and put them into the coffee pot, and, provided with a hatchet and a clothes line, he finally got to the bee's nest.
He lighted the pot of sulphur and tried to make the smoke go into the bee hole. The sulphur wouldn't go into the bee's hole but the bees did come out.
My brother fought the bees off for a time but finally got reckless and took his hatchet and chopped the hole larger, and putting his gloved hand down into the hole, the length of his arm, he dug out the honey and comb and sent pailful after pailful to the ground for me to empty into the wash boiler. We filled the wash boiler. My brother John got so many stings that finally he ceased to bother about them.
Bee stings are like bruises in a football game. One forgets them while the excitement is on but, wow, how they do hurt after it is over!
It was my job to melt and strain the honey.
We had honey galore at our house for some months after that and the hunk of wax was used around the house for years.
After this experience I was red-hot to locate some wild honey bee's nests in the way I had read of in books.
I got a wire gauze fly-trap, the kind in which the flies crawl in at the bottom but do not know enough to leave as they entered.
I took some honey for bait and went to the fields near the woods and caught a lot of honey bees.
I let them go in the approved fashion of bee hunters.
I let some go and watched the direction in which they flew. Then I let others go from another point and watched them. Where their lines of flight crossed or came together was supposed to be where their hive was located.
I found the hives all right but without exception the hives were in the back yards of some farmer and the hives were made and placed there by the said farmer.
I tried going to several other localities but always with the same result. All I located were domestic bees. I came to the conclusion that the place to hunt wild bees was in a wild country.
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Lasted updated 6/8/99 by Jim Halpin.