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The Great Depression: Life on the Farm


We had a row of beehives out by the garden. I often wondered where those bees came from, so one day my brother told me all about them. A big swarm of bees would attach their nest to a tree in the woods. Somehow, they made wax and shaped it full of little holes to store the honey they made. That was called "honeycomb".

My brother's first job was to get those bees to move from the home they built to one of the homes we built for them. The beehive we built for them was just a big square box on top of some cement blocks. Inside, we had racks of wax with little holes in it to work just like the honeycomb the bees had made. My brother would put on protective clothing and get those bees transferred from their nest to our beehive.

Usually the bees seemed to like their new home and started right in filling those holes with honey. Once in a while they didn't, and my brother would say: "I guess I didn't get the Queen bee!" He went on to explain to me that every swarm had a Queen bee, workers, and drones. The workers were all the females and made all the honey. They got some kind of nectar from flowers that turned into honey in those little holes! Don't ask me how.. I don't know. I do know they didn't work hard if the Queen bee wasn't there. All the male bees were called drones. Those lazy guys didn't do any work at all. Thank goodness our society isn't like that. My brothers had to work just as much as my sisters as I had to. Anyway, getting back to the honey, once those holes were filled, the worker bees closed them with a layer of wax. Then it was time for us to take the honey away from them.

In spite of his protective clothing, my brother did get stung quite often while he was bringing those racks of honeycomb into the basement. That's where my sister and I took over the work. Once in awhile, we got stung too. My brother said at least it was one of the worker bees. The drones didn't have a stinger. I guess that was supposed to make me feel better.

All I had to do was slice off that wax the bees sealed the holes with. The racks fit down into this great big round container. It had a handle on one side and a faucet at the bottom in front. We would twirl that handle around as fast as we could to get the honey out of those holes. It would pour out of that faucet and into a bucket all ready to be put into jars!

And that's how we "made" honey!

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