The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

An incident of hunting bee trees on Lick Creek that flows into Big North Fork in 1841 is worthy of mention. The story of which was given me by Rufe Haskins on the 28 of March, 1895. Mr. Haskins said that in the summer of the year mentioned he and Preston Haskins and two of the Green brother, Jess and George, John George, James George, George Fritts and Fritts’ son, John Fritts, or eight men in all went into this valley in an ox wagon to pass a few hours in a merry way hunting bee trees. "We were provided with plenty of homemade cedar vessels to hold the honey in. We also took a barrel with us that had one end open that had a little wild honey in it for bee bait. There were no roads then and we had to drive through the woods and we stopped to camp three miles above the present site of Gainesville. We could have shot as many deer as we wanted but we were not hunting for deer. Our desire was to scoop in a big supply of wild honey and paid no attention to deer. On the following morning which was bright and clear we began to make preparations early to find the home of some of the bees by placing the barrel with the open end up in a conspicuous place clear of timber. Bees were attracted to the honey in the barrel shortly after sunrise and they had free access in passing in and out of the barrel while sipping the bait. Later on the bees had collected in such large numbers that they farily swarmed around the barrel. They come and went in every direction. We waited some time before we all started out to hunt their abodes. Not one of us were experts in the line of hunting bee trees but it did not require a well trained bee hunter to locate bee trees in those early days. When we all had decided that each hive In the near vicinity had time to send representatives to the barrel we started out on the hunt for the trees. We all took a different course. We did not hunt very long before we all come back to camp to sum up our find. Six of us had located one bee tree each and two of the men had found two trees each or ten bee trees in all. The furtherest tree was not more than one half a mile from camp. In the afternoon we felled nine of the trees and extracted the honey which filled all of our vessels to overflowing with rich honeycomb. We did not touch the other tree and did not return back to it afterward," said Mr. Haskins as he finished his interesting story of the bee hunt.

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