Every day the farm is a treasure hunt. I am happy to say that the brilliance of the land and the history of the house has in no way diminished over the last two years we have called this home. It is like a shining jewel we keep looking at with wonder.
Speaking with people who have lived here all their lives often brings up interesting topics, as we try to fill in the blanks and the gaps. Now and again it throws us a real gem or two. Always eager to find out how things were, the people, the crops, the buildings, the animals, the creek, the village, the community….. the list goes on.
As a beekeeper, I found it hard to leave my bees behind in Arizona. As hot as they were, I’d grown to like them regardless, and regretted that it was just not in their best interest and too cumbersome to move them to Tennessee. So here at the new place, I knew I would start over and was pleased to see a few honeybees zooming around. We had noticed even before moving in that wild bees had taken up residence way up under the roof. They had a small hole in the fascia where they would enter and exit. Healthy looking bees, big ones and little ones. We assumed this was something new and since they were not any bother and we love bees, we just let them bee.
Inside the house, there is a spot that if you put your ear against the wood, you can hear their gentle humming on the other side. Sometimes a bee or two will find their way somehow to the upper landing. I will get a glass, catch them and release them outside. Everybody happy. This colony is large, and quite strong and healthy, and super busy flying their beeline to their nearest food source or the creek.
Bob had built me five beautiful new hives, and I was ready to catch me some swarms. Previously I had been on the list (in Arizona) of the fire department, and people would call in swarms, which I could then collect. Some stayed, some left. Bees do make up their own minds. Now, I did not really have a bee-network yet so wondered if I would find any at all. Then one day I hear ‘our house-bees’ carrying on like they may swarm and I waited and followed — lo and behold - they land on a tree nearby and I go and scoop them into an empty hive. Week later, still in there, yeah they stayed! A gift from our resident bees!
You can imagine the excitement of once again having some bees to tend to. The word must have gotten out in beeland because there were four more swarms we caught and homed within days. Don’t know where they came from but if our farm was some sort of bee magnet it was okay with me. Bob was busy building me more hives. We could not keep up, they moved in so fast!
One swarm was so eager to move in, they landed on the ground right in front of me, and literally marched straight into an empty hive! I had never collected any from the ground before?!
Now about that gem, that I referred to earlier……. We talked with an older gentleman, who had worked as farmhand on the farm, back in the 60s. All the barns were still up, and there were still horses, mules, cattle, sheep… there was corn, hay, tobacco, and oats in the fields.
We showed him a picture of the house, to find what had changed, and what he could remember…. and he talked. Then at the very end he said:”Now, I think it was right here……….”, pointing at the tip of the roof in the front, “right around here somewhere………” “There were bees…….Lots of bees….. been there for years… Ms. Louise [Daniel] knew about them….. Just leave them alone she said, they have been there as long as the house “.
This house, this farm, the bees…….. I just cannot believe my luck!