Appalachian Thursday – Bee Hunting

beeHoneybees aren’t native to WV, but they came to the state with European settlers and, escaping their hives, decided to settle in themselves. Locals soon discovered the sweet treat inside the wild hives and began developing techniques for discovering bee trees.

Of course, bees aren’t what you’d call sneaky and when traveling home to their hives they travel in a straight “bee line.” So, all bee hunters needed to do was follow. But how?

The trick is to spot a bee and then lay down on your back to “skylight” a dark bee against the light sky. Then you sight that bee as far as you can, move to the spot you saw it last and repeat. Another bee will be along in a minute! Once you find the tree, you can then rob it.

Sometimes, bee hunters would find the queen and use her to lure the rest of the bees into a domestic colony and become bee keepers. Of course, there’s a whole other set of (folklore) rules if you decide to keep bees. Such as:

  • It’s bad luck to sell bees. If you do decide to risk it, don’t let they buyer put the money into your hand. The buyer should lay the money on a rock. Don’t pick it up until the bees are gone.
  • If you rob your hives during the new moon, the bees will produce even more honey next time.
  • If a family member dies, move your bees or they’ll die, too.
  • Bees should be told about any major life changes in the family (weddings, deaths, births, etc.). If you don’t tell them, they’ll leave.

 

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