|Did you hear the buzz about the sweet discovery?|
|Harlan Hubbard's studio which was recently put on the National Register of Historic Places. FTM file.|
Sidney Thomas, the wife of the late Bill Thomas, owns the home and the surrounding property. She became concerned when she saw a swarm of bees going into the detached studio at the back of her property. Chuck Keller and Teresa Hill, friends and members of the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy, showed up and Chuck called in some experts.
Keller also writes for Fort Thomas Matters.
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Jill Steller, her son, Jeff, and her husband, Bob, arrived at the scene. Jill and Jeff are both beekeepers and instantly recognized the bees were honey bees. The bees had created a hive between the outer and inner wall on the left side of the studio. They had to be removed so the rescue began. Bob took photos of the operation.
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After putting smoke inside the outside hole leading into the hive, they created a small opening on the inside of the studio. Then the beekeepers scooped the docile bees up and put them in a bag to be taken back to one of their empty wooden hives. After scooping up most of the bees, a vacuum was used to gather the remaining bees.
|Hole on the outside where the bees were getting in.|
|Opening created on the inside to scoop out the bees and the honey.|
|Putting smoke in the hive.|
|Beekeepers, Jill and Jeff Steller, discuss the right approach.|
|Some of the honeycomb retrieved from inside the wall.|
Then came the surprise: Inside the wall were 12 pounds of honey and comb!
They were all shocked at the amount, but Sidney also felt it made perfect sense considering the studio's history.
The solid brick studio, along with the nearby home, were built with reclaimed materials by Harlan Hubbard, and the studio was recently put on the National Register of Historic Places. Harlan received the Governor’s Award for his lifetime contribution to art, was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, and is considered one of Fort Thomas's most noted residents. Born on January 4, 1900, he built the house for his mother in 1923. The studio was built in the 1930s and Harlan spent 21 years living in the home and studio. He died on January 16, 1988.
Harlan and his wife, Anna, believed in living a simple life surrounded by nature. Along with growing most of their own food, Harlan had a short go at beekeeping but decided it was not meant to be. Now, almost 30 years after his death, the bees decided to set up house after all.
Sidney put it perfectly: "I believe us finding bees in Harlan's art studio is a bit serendipitous, as Harlan himself had attempted to raise honeybees at one time. I hope to see us producing 'Hubbard Honey' in the near future."
Sidney will eventually have the bees back on her property, but on the outside this time. Jill and Jeff plan on feeding the displaced bees over the winter on their property and then bring the wooden hive back to Sidney's property so they can produce "Hubbard Honey."
Jill was glad her beekeeping skills could be put to use for such an important project. "Knowing that Harlan lived off the land and was so respectful of nature, I began to realize that this rescue wasn't just about capturing a swarm for a new hive. It was about caring for nature and I would like to think that Harlan would be glad we gave the bees a better home."
The honey will be one of many ways the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy hopes to raise money to restore the historic studio. There are fundraisers being planned and this weekend the studio will be part of a private historic tour. Teresa, the president of the FTFC, recently applied for a grant as well.
She explained how the FTFC became involved in committing to restore the studio and the land around it as a nature preserve, "A year ago, a small group of people came together with the single goal of legally protecting the Studio. Since then, so many people have volunteered their time and talents. Jill's a great example of how this project has unfolded in unpredictable ways. One day there's an insect problem in the Studio — the next day there's Hubbard Honey and a rescued honeybee hive!"
After the studio and preserve are restored, it will be open a few times a year to the public. If you are interested in volunteering or making a contribution towards the restoration, please email Teresa at