By Joann M. Ringelstetter
Anyone, who knows me well, knows that one of my most favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz. In the movie, shortly after Dorothy and the Scarecrow discover the rusted Tin Man in the forest, the wicked witch appears on the roof of the Tin Man’s cottage and threatens to use the Tin Man as a beehive.
After the witch disappears in a cloud of smoke, the Scarecrow says, “I’m not afraid of her. I’ll see you get safely to the Wizard now, whether I get a brain or not. Stuff a mattress with me! Hah!” And the Tin Man says, “I’ll see you reach the Wizard, whether I get a heart or not. Beehive, bah! Let her try and make a beehive out of me!"
As Ruth and I travel along the back roads in all seasons, we come across beehives in the fields and woods alongside the roads. Sometimes we meet the owners, but usually the beehives are off by themselves with no residence in site.
Richland County, Wisconsin is one of our favorite counties in which to photograph. Several years ago, while traveling the back roads of this scenic county, Ruth and I came upon a self-serve honey shack (the only one we’ve ever seen). Last fall, we went back to that same location and the honey shack wasn’t there anymore.
It’s always fun to find produce stands beside the road, especially the ones that use the honor system. Another great place to find fresh honey is at the local apple orchards. One of our favorite apple orchards is Ski-Hi Fruit Farm near Baraboo, Wisconsin. In addition to apples, they sell many other products, including honey.
One of our favorite discoveries when we’re traveling the back roads is a road with an interesting name, like Hoot Owl Valley Road or Chicken Hollow Road. When we first discovered Smiling Goat Road in Richland County, I said, “We have to find something to photograph on this road so that we can add this interesting name to our photo log.” Luckily, we discovered an old gray barn with round hay bales next to it. A few years later, we visited this road again and found beehives in front of the old gray barn.
Four years ago in early March, I left the winter weather of Wisconsin to visit my friend, Margaret, in Texas. I arrived there the day before she was available, so I spent a day photographing on the back roads outside Fort Worth. After spending the first part of the day in the historic town of Granbury, I headed further south and stumbled on some blossoming pear trees near Chalk Mountain.
The scent of those pear blossoms was heavenly and all of the trees were buzzing with honeybees, moving from blossom to blossom. I stood for a long time taking in the wonderful scent and watching these incredible creatures as they pollinated the pear trees. It was especially enjoyable knowing that it was still cold and snowy in Wisconsin.
It’s been a long, cold winter this year in Wisconsin and Ruth and I are looking forward to spring. It won’t be long and the honeybees will be back on the wildflowers.