by Ron Rollins
As you move around the old Whitesville area as most do, driving Hwy 219 or I-185, you would say, I drove through there yesterday and I didn’t see any thing like an old mill or Church. This is true to the normal eye of today’s drivers as they move through at high speed going toward the destination of their choice. It’s hard to spot much of anything at speeds of 55- 80mph. Slow down to the correct speed of 35mph and look out your side window and you will see a lot of things you had missed. Here is one!
On Hwy 219 in the heart of old Whitesville , there is the old grist mill, and in the yard of the house next to the mill there is a sign with a bee hive on it and it says IF and When Honey. Bee keeping was a craft J.T Cox got into. It was just one of the many crafts he mastered in his 60 or so years in Whitesville.
He passed down his Bee’s and skills, to his Daughter Betty Beagle and her son Fred Beagle. They now have many more hives than Mr Cox had in his time but they still provide the loving care he did before he passed away. In the back room of the mill there is a work area containing all the tools needed to get honey from the hive to the jar.
Mama B (Betty), as the locals call her, and Fred usually have two honey flows a summer. This means to us not real aware of the life of Bee Keepers, they rob the hives two times during the spring to fall season. During each flow a lot of labor is involved. I know, as I have helped them on several Honey flows. They smoke the hives to calm the Bee’s, then remove from the hive of swarming Bee’s, a super or two of honey. They do all the hives then take them to the mill to uncap the wax covered cones, put them in the centrifuge to sling the honey out of the frames, then they clean and put the supers back where they came from on the hives.
They check the health of the bee’s as they replace the supers. They add or take away supers depending on each hive population and health. I can remember J.T saying ” If you take care of the Bee’s they will take care of you”. It must work, but for a Bee Keeper it means a lot of work year round just to keep the Bee’s happy and healthy. The honey is then packaged in jars of different sizes to be sold to a host of waiting customers from all over.
Fred keeps another of his Grandfather’s honey sales practices in place, On the front porch, by the door of the house, there is a table covered with different size jars of If and When Honey ready for you. The price is on the Jar and a Mason jar with some change is there. Pick your jar, put the money in the Mason jar and get your change. THE HONOR SYSTEM IS STILL HERE! Most of the people buy from the porch and have been stopping by for years. Most will see Fred or Mama B in time as they are working nearby, so stop in and say hello, you will get a good conversation going so watch your watch, time will fly! IF we have the money AND WHEN we have the time.