Hunting a Bee Tree-A Recreation Long Ago
A Day's Work and Little Pay-Off
I have always loved listening to my uncles talk and tell tales of when they were boys. Dad was the oldest son out of 14 siblings. He had 7 brothers. They grew up in a rural area of Western North Carolina and were the sons of a farmer. They all learned to work the land which in those days meant plowing oxen or in later years, grandpa had a mule he tended his crops. I often wondered what all those boys did for entertainment when the crops were laid by or they had some time just to do boy stuff.
They all liked to hunt and fish but not long ago I was talking to my Uncle Bill (his real name is Albert) but has been called Bill for so many years and he was on a roll and told me a story about hunting bee trees. Uncle Bill is a great story teller and he seemed to always delight in telling some of those hair raising scary stories which always seemed to be told just about bedtime and made for covering our heads to hide from any would be "boogers."
Uncle Bill began," There was several of us boys who set out to find a bee tree. We'd been down on Merritt Creek off Bane Mountain and had found where the bees were watering. We followed them back up the mountain straining our eyes to keep up with the direction the bees were flying. Just a little over half way up the mountain we spotted where the bees were going into a dead tree. The hole was about 1/3 of the way up the tree and looked to be a fairly large hive of bees. We didn't even have an ax to cut the tree but one of the boys who lived near said he'd run home and get the cross cut saw.
In about an hour the boy had returned carrying a cross cut saw and they began t saw the tree. The dead wood was hard but these boys had had lots of experience using a cross cut to cut acid wood and cross ties. In just a little while they pushed the tree over. Uncle Bill said one of the boys who wasn't "nary a bit skeered" of getting multiple bee stings quickly rammed his long arm up into the hole the bees had been carrying their honey. He quickly pulled his hand out with what would be about one good bite of wild honey and comb." To everyone's surprise, this boy got all the honey in the bee tree that day as he stood there smiling and smacking his lips.
I guess they all had the enjoyment of hunting and finding a bee tree but I think most thought their friend to be just a little too greedy. I have gone along with another Uncle bee tree hunting when I was a teen but we never found one although we found plenty of bee's in the wild watering. A tree surely must have been close but we never tried to find it.