The telephone is a wonderful instrument. We have seen it grow from a simple box with a hand crank attached to a wall. Turning the crank rang a bell that would let an operator know you wanted to speak. Today, the telephone is sold in a variety of forms from a simple land line communication device to a hand held package capable of more than most people are capable of using.

Regardless of the form of a telephone today, it is still a major tool that people use to communicate with each other. We can make emergency calls, sad calls, happy calls, or just the basic pain in the neck calls that we are accustomed to receiving from sales people.

Last week, I answered the phone and was transported back to a time when my children were much younger. A friend from Voorheesville, June Hunter was on the other end of the call. June and I were 4-H leaders at the same time and went to many activities together with our children. We were also judges of 4-H exhibits at the Altamont Fair for years.

June is a member of the Daughters of the Revolution and she received a call from someone who was looking for the address of a son of Margaret Clause (a former resident of Altamont).

After chatting for a while we caught up on news about our activities over the years, our children, and our husbands. With all good intentions we ended our call with assurances that we would not let as much time go by before we spoke again.

All it takes to renew memories is just one touch of our past. When I finished speaking with June, I spent quite a bit of time reminiscing about the Altamont Fair and all of the wonderful experiences and people that have become part of me and my memories. My thoughts were further charged by the Mayor’s Notes in the Altamont Enterprise on May 29, 2014. Mayor James Gaughn, Keith Lee, and Marijo Dougherty are always working hard to provide thoughtful and exciting historical facts and experiences for our residents.

One of the first people who came to mind was Dr. Richard Langenback. His love of the fair was only exceeded by his love of animals. During fair week you could always find him on the grounds somewhere. He, his wife, and their son were especially proud when the fair named one of their new barns in his honor.

Of course, Mr. Fair himself, Reid Northrup and his wife Bobbie were legendary in helping the fair grow over the years. Their musical abilities and talent was also known all around the area. It was funny to think that Reid was at the fair during all activities except the Scottish Games. Bagpipes just were not his thing! He was, however, an avid student of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

We all know Cindy Pollard and the work she has done to honor veterans at the Home Front Café, but I’ll bet there are many readers who do not know about the work she does for the Farmers’ Museum at the fair. Or what about Lucille  Hillenbrand and her joy telling people about the Chapel on the grounds and Betty Spadaro’s talks at the old Red Schoolhouse (complete with its bell) that is like the first school where she taught.

The VFW had a great food booth and I loved the chili they served. The Masons served a great fish fry and we could get a delicious turkey and roast beef dinner at the church restaurant run by St. Lucy’s. Other homemade meals were prepared by the members of The Grange located next door to the church restaurant.

One of the best parts about walking around the fair was going under the old grandstand. On a hot day, it was cool and on a rainy day, it was dry. A most  interesting exhibit was watching the bees flying in and out of the glass tunnel into a hive making honey for their queen.

During the summer we often see bees flitting from flower to flower. Usually they are off in the garden and don’t bother people. Some people are allergic to bees and have to carry an EpI pen (a medical needle that looks like a pen) with them in case they get stung and have an allergic reaction.

 We know that honeybees produce honey, and it is great fun watching them in their hives as they make that honey along with other commodities. Beeswax, pollen, and royal jelly are made by some beekeepers while some beekeepers also raise queens and bees to sell to other farmers. Beekeepers also use honeybees to provide pollination services to fruit and vegetable growers. Many people keep bees as a hobby. Others do it for income, either as a sideline to other work, or as a commercial operator. These factors affect the number of colonies maintained by the beekeeper.

Beekeepers are also called honey farmers or apiarists. The term beekeeper refers to a person who keeps honeybees in hives, boxes, or other receptacles. Honeybees are not domesticated and the beekeeper does not control the creatures. The beekeeper owns the hives or boxes and associated equipment. The bees are free to forage or leave (swarm) as they desire. Bees usually return to the beekeeper's hive as the hive presents a clean, dark, sheltered abode.

Most beekeepers are hobby beekeepers. These people typically work or own only a few hives. Their main attraction is an interest in ecology and natural science. Honey is a by-product of this hobby. As it typically requires a significant investment to establish a small apiary and dozens of hours of work with hives and honey equipment, hobby beekeeping is seldom profitable.

Commercial beekeepers control hundreds or thousands of colonies of bees. The most extensive own and operate up to 50,000 colonies of bees and produce millions of pounds of honey. Today, Adee Honey Farm in South Dakota with 80,000 colonies, and Scandia Honey Company in Alberta, Canada with 15,000 colonies are among the world's largest beekeeping enterprises. Worldwide, commercial beekeepers number about 5 percent of the individuals with bees but produce about 60 percent of the world's honey crop.

Most beekeepers produce commodities for sale. Honey is the most valuable commodity sold by beekeepers. Honey-producer beekeepers try to maintain maximum-strength colonies of bees in areas with dense nectar sources. They produce and sell liquid and sometimes comb honey. Beekeepers may sell their commodities retail, as self-brokers, or through commercial packers and distributors. Beeswax, pollen, and royal jelly may also be significant revenue generators. Modern beekeepers seldom keep honeybees exclusively for beeswax production. Beeswax is harvested along with honey and separated for sale.

 Some beekeepers provide a pollination service to other farmers. These beekeepers might not produce any honey for sale. Pollination beekeepers move honeybee hives at night in vast quantities so fruits and vegetables have enough pollinating insects available for maximum levels of production. For the service of maintaining strong colonies of bees and moving them into crops such as almonds, apples, cherries, blueberries, melons, and squash, these beekeepers are usually paid a cash fee.

Queen breeders are specialist beekeepers who raise queen bees for other beekeepers. The breeders maintain select stock with superior qualities and tend to raise their bees in geographic regions with early springs. These beekeepers may also provide extra bees to beekeepers (honey producers, pollinators, or hobby beekeepers) who want to start new operations or expand their farms.

Honeybees are bees of the Apis genus, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests from wax.

Currently, only seven species of honeybees are recognized, with a total of 44 subspecies. Honeybees represent only a small fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bees.

Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honeybees.

Drones (males) are produced from unfertilized eggs, so represent only the DNA of the queen that laid the eggs and only have a mother. Workers and queens (both female) result from fertilized eggs, so have both a mother and a father. The sex allele (a form of gene containing one of two alternative forms of gene controlling the same inherited characteristic) is polymorphic, and so long as two different variants are present, a female bee results. If both sex alleles are identical, diploid drones are produced. Honeybees detect and destroy diploid drones after the eggs hatch.

Queens typically mate with multiple drones on more than one mating flight. Once mated, they lay eggs and fertilize them as needed from sperm stored in the spermatheca (a sac in insects for storing sperm). Since the number of sex alleles is limited, about 18 are known in Apis, a queen will most likely mate with one or more drones having sex alleles identical with one of the sex alleles in the queen. The queen, then, typically produces a percentage of diploid drone eggs.

Bee species, Apis mellifera is not native to the Americas, so was not present upon the arrival of the European explorers and colonists. However, other native bee species were kept and traded by indigenous peoples. In 1622, European colonists brought the dark bee to the Americas, followed later by Italian bees and others. Many of the crops that depend on honeybees for pollination have also been imported since colonial times. Escaped swarms (known as wild bees, but are actually feral) spread rapidly as far as the Great Plains, usually preceding the colonists. Honeybees did not naturally cross the Rocky Mountains; they were transported by the Mormon pioneers to Utah in the late 1840s, and by ship to California in the early 1850s.

While knowledge of the bees is the first line of defense, most beekeepers also wear some protective clothing to protect themselves from stings. Novice beekeepers usually wear gloves and a hooded suit or hat and veil. Experienced beekeepers sometimes elect not to use gloves because they inhibit delicate manipulations. The face and neck are the most important areas to protect, so most beekeepers wear at least a veil.

Defensive bees are attracted to the breath, and a sting on the face can lead to much more pain and swelling than a sting elsewhere, while a sting on a bare hand can usually be quickly removed by fingernail scrape to reduce the amount of venom injected.

The protective clothing is generally light colored and of a smooth material. This provides the maximum differentiation from the colony's natural predators. Stings retained in clothing fabric continue to pump out an alarm pheromone that attracts aggressive action and further stinging attacks. Washing suits regularly and rinsing gloved hands in vinegar minimizes attraction.

There is a lot more information about bees and beekeeping that you can research at the Altamont Free Library in the renovated, historic train station. Like most hobbies with animals or insects you should gain a strong base of information before you start.

Once again I have veered from the basic topic of the Altamont Fair and traveled down a road of remembrances about the village. It is always a pleasant road to travel with old friends. See you again as we travel around.


The FMS has announced that a few 8th grade T-shirts are available for purchase. The cost is $10.

Interested students should contact Mrs. Romano in Room 500 with full payment.                                                              FMS parking

  Visitors to the Farnsworth Middle School are asked to adhere to the clearly marked signs and areas that are marked as no parking or standing areas.

Food pantry

Soaps, shampoo, and tooth paste are always needed.  Donations can be left in the gathering space at St. Lucy/St. Bernadette Church on Grand St.  All donations are appreciated.


Happy-anniversary wishes are extended to:

—  Gail and Mike Munroe celebrating their special day on June 27;

— Jim and Donna Richmond on July 1; and

— Jeane and Eric Heidinger on July 2. 


Happy-birthday wishes are extended to: 

— Jim Caruso and Rebecca Houck on June 27;

— Kevin LaMontagne and Dean Whalen on June 29;

— Kim Brust, Beth Harris, Jeff Harrison, Anne Linendoll, and Lucie Loblaw on June 30; 

— Leisha Harrison on July 2; and

— Sam Harrison on July 3.