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Honey: Sweet nectar from the past
Liberty lore
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All the blooming plants are putting forth their sweet fragrances and nectar. Honeybees work hard gathering nectar and by doing so help pollinate the farmers' crops
Year ago, most farmers kept a few beehives on their land if they did not have a bee tree. Every once in a while today one can see hives in the edge of some woods.  
Russell Groover, a native of Gum Branch in Liberty County, spent many summers with his grandpa Redding Groover. He shared his memories of them robbing a bee tree probably around 1945 when he was 8 in his book "Tales of Grandpa and Gum Branch."
"Grandpa woke me up early and helped me feed the animals so we could get an early start to rob the bee tree.  We headed for the woods in front of our house with grandpa carrying a flour sack over his shoulder.  He helped me over the rail fence and I held the sack while he climbed over.
"Grandpa talked the whole time we were walking, pointing out things along the way.  It was never boring with Grandpa.  He told me not to step on the big clumps of grass as leprechauns lived under them.  And then he would describe an old witch that had just ducked behind a tree that I could never see. 'See that root there,' he would say, 'you dig that up and cook it just like a sweet potato.  Those spider webs over there, take them and put them on a fresh cut to stop the bleeding.  The bark on that sassafras tree, strip off a section and make a tea out of it or chew a small piece to make you feel better.'
"A little bee flew by and grandpa told me he was a traitor bee and we had to follow him to find the bee tree. I asked him how he knew it was a 'he.' 'Because little boy bees always wear pants with suspenders and yellow and black striped shirts and little girls wear gingham dresses and a bonnet, with their hair done up in a bun in back,' he said.  I strained harder to get a closer look at the bees so I could see the difference.
"We followed the little bee as he flew from flower to flower and finally Grandpa stood still.  'Hear the hum?  Let's go over there as that is where the bee tree is located.'
"Grandpa told me to look around and see if I could find it.  I saw an old rotten tree and told grandpa that it could be hollow and maybe they had a hive in it.  Grandpa nodded.  My day had been made.  
"'We will find us a clearing and have our lunch.  Bees are smarter than people.  They work while it is cool.  When it gets warm, they stop and take a nap.'
"We sat down and grandpa emptied the sack on the ground.  A syrup bucket, a wine bottle filled with water and a long sleeved shirt fell out.  The bucket had two baked sweet potatoes and four biscuits in it -- my favorite lunch.  He said he would show me later what the shirt was for.  I filled my stomach and the warm sunshine lulled me to sleep.  About a half hour later he told me to get up as it was time to rob the bee tree.
"I followed him through the underbrush but heard no humming.  Grandpa built a small fire on the ground in front of the bees' entrance.  He tied the shirt sleeves around the tree just above the hole.  Next, he propped the shirt tail up over the fire with two sticks like a tent.  He put a handful of damp grass over the fire to make smoke.  Then, he turned and took my hand and led me to a safe place to watch the action.
"We watched as the smoke drifted into the opening of the tree.  Inside the bees started to stir and the hum became louder.  Grandpa pointed to the top of the dead tree and we watched as the smoke chased the bees through an opening.  As soon as grandpa figured it was safe he went over and put out the fire, took the shirt down and reached his hand up in the hollow of the tree.  He pulled out a big comb of honey and dropped it into our dinner bucket.  'Come, on.  Let's get outta her,' he said in the low tone of a thief."
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