Getting honey from wild bee hive
Sweet Larceny By Coral Boucher
Dad and my uncle used to collect honey from wild bee hives in hollow trees. Dad and Uncle Clarrie armed themselves with all the necessary equipment, before they set out.
Like all good robberies, the hive was usually sussed out before-hand to make sure it was worth robbing and what tools needed for the job.
Good sharp axes were a must. I can imagine the men gnawing slowly, taking some time to get to the softer half - rotted wood towards the centre of the trunk.
Sometimes a whole section of tree was taken home. Not a good thought there as the sleeping occupants would come along too.
However, with the blunt axes I can see the bees, being woken from their nap, would be off with an angry roar.
Aiming for the most vulnerable places on those noisy robbers. The job needed to be done rapidly. The next essential was the smoke can. Several sugar bags some sort of scoop to scoop the comb out.
Nets to go over the robbers' heads, long sleeved cotton shirts. Tough trousers' fabric and gloves.
Wool was known to be a bad choice for gloves and jumpers. The bees seemed to be on the attack with that fabric Maybe with a looser knit, it was easier to stab their deadly stingers in.
Now, having trekked in through the bush and found their quarry, they set to with the jam tins full of green leaves and a small amount of dry material.
The dry material was set alight and once the fire had caught on the green leaves, the latter emitting great clouds of sweet eucalyptus - smelling smoke.
The smoke tins were wav
You will have gathered that the smoke would make the bees sleepy, and would
not therefore attack the robbers. As the bees were thought to be asleep the men set to. A whack with the axe livened up an angry few. Diving at the robbers' hands and faces, they were set aback to be caught in the net.
Whilst some were occupied in this way, another company would take a side path. 'Ow heck the little rotter got me on the ear.' Clarrie holding his ear, jumped around as the attackers had found his wool clad ankle 'Yikes me ankle' he cried and tried to hold his ear and slap at his ankle at -the same time Poor old Rastus, thinking he was safe, suddenly leapt four feet into the air and took off "Yelp! Yelp, Yowl Yow' he cried racing through the bush with his tail between his legs. The men were too busy with their own problems to worry about him. 'Look out Dad there's one on the edge of you glove "Holy smoke cried Dad, jumping around. The one on his glove had found a bit of bare skin and Yow! another had found his neck.
The lookers-on thought they were safe. They weren't robbing the bees were they?
However there was an angry Bzzzzzz Quick! Help! Mum! Gosh Golleeee! .They were off heading for the creek with an angry swarm following close behind. One quick thinking fellow, not yet attacked by the angry little critters, grabbed the smoke gun and blew smoke all around the clearing over everyone
and everything. Things quietened down for a while as the blue bag was called for.
'Weel'l drawled Dad' I reckon we could have used I bit more smoke eh?'
Great lumps of honeycomb were put into the ever handy sugar bags after brushing the sleeping bees off. Sugar bags were filled with that delectable treat.
After trekking back through the bush, loading all the gear and their spoils into a vehicle. Home would come the hunters. After all having had a piece of comb and honey, minus bees, the bags were hung from a hook on a verandah or tree
. Beneath the bags were half kero drums to catch the honey. The comb with a little honey in it, freshly reaped from the bush was food of the Gods. The bags of comb would be hung there for at least a week.
The honey would flow out and leave the comb, to be eaten gradually as a sweet treat. The honey was put into glass jars for later use.
There were always a few jars of our precious condiment for fetes or street stalls.