"Tell me bout da frigerator and da bees, Papa?" asks my precious granddaughter out of the clear blue not long ago. "The what, Pumpkin?" I said emerging from a near fog as I slouched on the big comfy chair at the back of my daughters living room suspended between conciseness and sleep as Emma watched another of her trillion videos. "You know, da time you tried to see da bees frigerator?" she continued not even bothering to turn her head from the TV screen. You know, this blonde bombshell has a steel trap mind. I told her, or more probably her brother a couple of years back, about one of my more painful youthful adventures. And, even though I had no idea she was even listening at the time, that tale had been ruminating in Pumpkin Pies head ever since.
We were living in the family homestead on Liberty Street directly behind St. Patricks Church on the southwest end of Galesburg. I couldnt have been any more than five or six at the time, and like most youngsters at that age, I had an incredible curiosity. However, this particular time I probably should have taken a different approach, perhaps going to a grown up for the answer of what for me seemed a perfectly good question:
"How do bees store all that honey they make?" You see, the pastor at St. Pats, a Father Murphy, who was so Irish he looked like a character from Hollywood central casting sent to Galesburg to play the part in a movie, was also an avid bee-keeper. As I recall the old man would find a way to work bee-keeping into at least one of his deep Irish brogue sermons a month. Anyway, I was set on finding out for myself just how bees stored the sweet product of their labors. I dont know how exactly, it was probably one of those back-handed comments of a relative trying to simplify an explanation for a child, but I got it in my head that bees had refrigerators. So, one particular Saturday afternoon I simply walked around the block to the rectory, as there was a high fence between our yard and the church, and decided to take a closer look at the situation. I bent down, which wasnt too far a trip for me at the time, and peered inside the slit at the front of one of the hive boxes. I couldnt see anything, mainly because, and Im quite certain that I didnt know it at the time; bees tend to gather in a tight football-shaped swarm inside the hive. So I went looking for something to clear my field of vision.
After finding a small stick I returned and stuck it in the slit in an effort to move the insects out of the way to get a good look inside. Well, as I now know, bees do not have refrigerators, but they do have a very painful sting as quite a few showed me on my dead run back around the block.
Well, I never forgot about my youthful misadventure and probably recounted the tale to my grandkids for some since forgotten purpose. And it now seems that Emmy will never forget the story either. The little girls fifth birthday party, where the family gathered after watching her perform in her first dance recital, was early in June. And heres perhaps the best piece of advice I can ever give you, Sweetie: "Bees do not have refrigerators."
Happy birthday, Emmy!