Not long after we moved to Rome, we meet Mr. Jack. He was a lifelong resident of Floyd County and lived in the Cave Spring Community. He had spent his early years being a dairy farmer. He raised milk cows and initially sold his own milk. He was also a farmer. But to many folks in this area, he was THE bee man.
Mr. Jack knew everything about bees. EVERYTHING. He had many hives all over his farm. He sold the finest honey I have ever tasted. He taught others about beekeeping. He also loved to educate young and old about bees. The first time he took my kids to the hives was a perfect example of how he loved to educate others. First he would pull the brood chamber off and pull out the wax so you could see where the Queen was laying eggs. He would show how he had painted a white spot on the Queen and show her to you. It was important to him that you would not fear bees. Meanwhile, during his initial instruction, there were lots of bees zooming all around you.
Next he would catch a worker bee. That group would build the honeycomb, gather honey and protect the hive. He would have the worker bee sting his son, who was also there. This was so he could show you the stinger moving around on his son’s arm. And Mr. Jack could then show you how to remove the stinger.
The drones are the last group of bees. Their purpose is to fertilize the queen and then they are done. Drones do not sting and Mr. Jack would show you that.
Last in the lesson was to get a chunk of honey-filled cone to chew. Yum-Yum!! And that was Mr. Jack’s Bee Knowledge 101!
The big thing that my children loved about Mr. Jack was that he had his own soft serve ice cream maker. He had a dairy once upon a time so he installed his own ice cream maker. If you went to his house in the spring, summer or fall, you would get to eat all the soft serve ice cream you wanted. There was only one catch—-you had to use the same cone! So you would slurp up the ice cream from the cone without damaging the cone. We found that generally a careful ice cream eater, could use one four or five times before it fell apart!
One little known fact of ice cream making is that Mr. Jack made two kinds. If children were present, the ice cream was kid friendly. If only adults were present, Mr. Jack would add a little additional flavoring—say a little amaretto!
And yes, we would use the same cone over and over again! But we did not have five of them!