We have just had a funny experience that I must tell you about, while I wait for my bread. Did you ever notice the first meeting of two strange beekeepers? I have, often, and it is most curious how little it takes to get them around to bees. Then! Bing! Something happens! Some small cord is freed in each man’s bosom that reaches out and wraps itself about the other fellow’s heart, and draws those two close together. I have never known it to fail. The secret bond between beekeepers makes them bosom friends at once, and the stream of conversation begins to flow. It would flow on forever, I’m sure, were it not for beekeepers’ wives, who have a way of announcing meals or bedtime.
Rob is always delighted to see a “brother” come up our lane and he always keeps him as long as possible. I know exactly the trend of the river of bee-talk with all its ramifications and branches and I must say that I enjoy it, and join in occasionally, too. They always begin with the last season’s crop – why it was large or small – what it was in other parts of the country – then comes the honey-flow and the weather during it, then to sources of nectar. After that they compare strains of bees, warm up to methods of wintering, queen-rearing and disease. By this time day is waning and supper interrupts. The visitor tries to be polite and inquires about the children’s school, but his mind is always on bees and he will probably interrupt my reply by turning to Rob with “Oh! By the way, did I tell you that I am trying out a new winter case?” It is so hopeless that we let him go and the stream wanders back to its accustomed bed. After supper they discuss the last national convention, then to personalities, find mutual beekeeping friends, until I go to bed. (They never notice my slipping out for they have begun on the relative merits of comb and extracted honey and that is an endless subject!) I hear the drone of their voices until I sleep, and in the morning when I say accusingly to Rob, “What time did you come to bed?” he always replies in a shamefaced way, “Oh! About half-past.”
What I began to tell you was that last week an odd-looking man with a heavy, black beard and slouch hat came to the door to inquire his way and Rob stood talking to him for a few minutes. Then they sat in the steps and talked more, and I gathered from what I heard that he was a beekeeper. Soon Rob came into the kitchen and said, “Put on an extra plate. Mr. Samson will stay to supper.” I whispered, “Why, Rob, you don’t know a thing about that man. He may be a robber or a murderer, for all you know.”
“Well. I know he is a beekeeper,” Rob replied, and that settled it. Come to think of it, beekeepers as a whole are about as respectable and honest a group of men as you can find. I noticed at the State Convention how few of them smoked, and I know of many clergymen who keep bees. In foreign bee journals you will often see articles signed “Abbe ___________” or “Pastor ________,” so I believe that is the case in other countries, too.
The strange Mr. Samson did stay to supper, and not only that, but over night! I put him in the guest room, much against my wishes, but I put the silver spoons under our bed. I’ll trust bee-men pretty far, but not to the extent of leaving my silver downstairs. Our guest seemed very grateful for our hospitality and went off the next morning, he and Rob the best of friends. I couldn’t feel just right toward him because of his brigand-looking beard, I think; but this morning the nicest letter came from him engraved “Beechwood Apiaries” and with it was a little bank shaped like a bee-hive for Billy, with a five dollar gold piece in it! I’ll never suspect a beekeeper again of trying to steal my silver spoons!
I will write again this month, but let me say that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be that I shall not mention bees to you in my letters, for I know you must be tired of them! My bread is riz, and I fly!