Monday, August 18, 2008

Van Every Apiary

The photo on the left is a small part of a larger photo that I'd seen in my grandmother's collection, but I had no idea who the people were, or where they were. Last night my mother suggested they were surrounded by bee colonies. It made sense - my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, was an apiarist. I looked up images online, and there is no question in my mind. This is quite likely a bee yard (or apiary).

However, I still don't know who the women are. I'd like the approx 5 year old girl to be my grandmother, Myrtle Van Every, and the older woman to be her mother, Margaret, or older sister, Minnie. That would date the photo to circa 1905. Minnie would have been 21, and Margaret 37. However, I don't know if Melvin Van Every was a beekeeper yet. I do know that by 1914 he was "one of the most extensive apiarists" in the state of Texas. It's a logical conclusion that the apiary belonged to my great-grandfather, but without any labeling, and without recognizing either of the two people, it's not certain.

My maternal grandmother labeled less than half of the photos in her collection. Of course, it could be worse. She could have labeled none. Here's the full photograph:


Terry Thornton said...


What a treasure of a photograph! I thought my Aunt Fannie Lou Hollingsworth Parker's four hives in her side yard was more than enough bees for me --- this apiary is packed. I agree with your assessment that those clearly look like bee hives/boxes for colonies. But is the child standing on one of them? That is the only "pause" I have --- the child standing on a bee hive!

A local honey producer in Mississippi over-winters his bees here; has his commercial honey packing plant here --- but the bees do their work in the huge agricultural areas of the upper mid-west. He transports the hives by the trailer load to the fields in early spring and returns them here in late fall. I've seen summer apiary sites with almost as many hives as shown in this picture along the edges of fields of several hundreds of acres --- but I don't ever recall seeing this many hives in such a small space. Was this location in the midst of a huge farming area? Could this be the wintering site for a collection of bees? By chance is this aviary in a citrus grove?

Most interesting. Thanks.


John said...

I really know very little about the apiaries my Great Grandfather owned. In 1905 it would have been on the outskirts of Austin Texas.

Not knowing much about apiaries either, my assumption is that when the bees are in the boxes, those outside are safe. Though it would take courage for a young child to stand on the box. It's also possible the box she is standing on is empty.