I delivered my bee equipment to Mary Jo for her to relay to our bee-maker. We’d pick up our installed hives when notified.

This season, after several years beekeeping with a son in his back forty, Mary Jo’s going solo on the Hosler homestead where she raised her four boys.

Change—a constant element in the skill of producing honey and a healthy environment in our own backyard. It is good to control what we can, for if yellow jackets don’t attack honeybees, verona mites may oblige if you don’t apply the treatment at the precise time. Oh, and wax moths also prey on the Apis mellifera.

Sound similar to the challenges of raising children? That’s why I appreciate Mary Jo. We encourage one another, do our best and accept the results of our efforts.

She gathered the hive she built from a kit and painted the color lavender. Her husband, Bob, offered to transfer my gear to Mary Jo’s van. Within minutes, I became acquainted with a man who’s passionate about genealogy.

“We know so much about our families because of Bob’s research,” Mary Jo said.

Bob lit up. “Nothing makes me happier.”

They led me into the kitchen of their beautiful home. Spacious windows granted a panoramic view of Mary Jo’s backyard gardens, plowed fields, and distant barns and farmhouse.

She smiled. “That’s Ingleside Farms where I grew up. My dad Elmore had the vision seventy-two years ago as a young, second-generation farmer. My sister Connie and her husband Rick Schapman now operate the farm with their three boys.”

I imagined four generations observing seedtime and harvest from their kitchen table. What a wonderful life.

“Mom lives in the next house down from us. She enjoys painting watercolors, and she’s very good,” Mary Jo said.

We stood around a large, marble island-what seemed the hub of family activities. The motion of Mary Jo’s projects at hand, growing sunflowers for an outdoor wedding on the farm, and producing a tribute for her mother’s ninetieth birthday, drew my eyes to an old black and white photo.

“This is my mother, Joann, and father at their high school prom,” she said. “Mom’s a sophomore. Dad’s a senior. My grandmother altered Mom’s dress from a hand-me-down formal.”
Mary Jo walked me to my car. “I’ll call with the time and place to pick up our bees.”
Driving home, I remembered the diaspora of my family from our Kentucky farm where my ancestors grew crops, raised livestock, and kept bees. The words of Kentuckian Wendell Berry, farmer and prophet who penned his Jefferson Lecture of 2012, came to mind.
Delivering our nation’s highest prize for “distinguished intellectual achievement,” Berry titled his essay, “It All Turns on Affection.”
As his mentor Wallace Stegner, Berry observed Americans have divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” “Boomers ‘pillage and run,’ whereas stickers ‘settle and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.’”
Dear Reader, this settling and loving the life she has is what I witnessed within the Hosler’s kitchen. Why Mary Jo and I carry in our bones the affection for honeybees.
As she noted about four generations operating the family farm, “I guess that’s a lot of sticking around.”
Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.