In Memory of J.B. Milano


Wild Honey

The Ashecraft dairy farm had a large pond located in the lower pasture. Near the pond was an old Red Oak tree that had died from old age or a lightning strike. This tree was home to a wild bee hive. There had been a few discussions as to how we boys could get the honey without getting stung. A plan was developed where several of us would beat on the tree with sticks and have the bees chase us in the pond and we would breath through a reed. While the bees were busy with us the rest of the boys would steal the honey placing it into a wash pan and hauled it away in a red wagon. Zero hour was a hot Saturday morning in late August. Let me stop right here. First we had not tried to breath through a reed out of the water or in the water nor given any thought to how long the reed should be. Back to the story, two of us John Milano and myself picked up our sticks and began beating on the tree. Nothing happened at first, but within several minutes the air was thick with mad honey bees chasing us and we were running as fast as we could dropping our sticks and holding our reeds in the other hand. We both jumped the pond only to find out the water was only about two feet deep so we pushed into deeper water and I stuck the reed in my mouth to get a gulp of fresh air only to get mouth full of dirty pond water and choking. I surfaced coughing up water and swatting mad bees. John had experienced the same ordeal and was coughing and spitting out dirty water and trying to get his breath. The bees were in attack mode, but they didn't like the water any better than we did and the splashing we made kept them at bay. A gulp of air and I went down under water and this time I blew out any water in the reed and tried to breath. It was a long slow breath but it worked. Under water I could here screaming and our band of honey thieves were under attack. What seemed like hours and the screams soon stopped. I lay on my back on pond bottom and finally got my nerve up and raised my head out of the water only to see the red wagon sitting beside of the tree with an empty wash pan sitting in it. The bees were gone and I crawled over to other reed and pulled on it until John popped up. His first words were “did we the honey?” No I answered. We crawled out of the pond and no one was in site. We eased over to the wagon and slowly pulled it away from the tree and began making tracks out of there. We hadn't made a hundred yards when a crowd of farm workers running a full speed met us. Seems like the honey thieves though we had drown and had run back to the milking barn to get help. Workers were getting stinkers out of them and some others had come down to rescue us. Thank goodness no one was seriously hurt in the honey caper and a bee keeper was called to get the hive and we did get several jars of honey when the tree was cut down.