August 23, 2015

A honey of a museum-- ha ha!! (just a BIT of a pun, there...)

Okay, it's not really MY pun, it's the museum's pun... When we were back in IL and WI, I spent the afternoon with my older sister Judy, who lives in southwestern Wisconsin... we had a really nice lunch out, and visited a local museum she knew about in the town of Neosho, Wisconsin, about 1 hour from Milwaukee and 1 hour from Madison.  Who knew that honey had its own museum? It's associated with Honey Acres, a family-owned business that's been around since 1852 (the Honey Acres website is here).

notice the bee boxes in the background, there??

It was a gorgeous day for a drive through the country... it looked to me like the museum might be in the same building as their corporate offices? There was also a small sales area where we (of course) bought a couple items...

my sister Judy in front of the first exhibit, about bee-keeping in ancient Egypt.
I love the sort of retro honeycomb glass wall that's part of the doorway to the museum!

As far as museums go, it was typical of small quirky museums (in that it was a bit dusty and a bit 'aged' and 'kitchy') but it was also pretty neat, in my opinion. It showed bee-keeping in different periods of history and in different countries, and then went into the history of the family who founded the Honey Acres company.

This is a painted wooden bee-box used in Yugoslavia during the 1800s.
According to the literature, the painted murals 'helped the bees return to the correct hive.' Not sure whether I believe that or not (can bees really see those kind of details? Or, do they really have that poor a sense of direction?) but the decorations on it were folk art in their own right.

a close-up of one of the bee-box murals...
not sure whether this bear is going to win, or lose!

(Like usual, I took a ton of photos, and am only showing a few of them here in this post.) 
One of the exhibits that caught my eye was a display of postage stamps from all over the world featuring bees and honey... (they'd look good on a scrapbook or art journaling page, wouldn't they?? lol!)

a small selection of the bee and honey related postage stamps
(you can click to make any of the photos larger, of course!)

I confess, I don't remember exactly what I thought was so neat here to take a photo of it--
possibly I liked the different shapes of the woven bee skeps? Or possibly the fact
that bee-keeping is done all over the world, even in Japan?
In looking through my photos, I apparently didn't take as many photos as I thought-- or my memory is worse than I thought-- because I don't remember all that much of the information about the museum exhibits.  I do remember the exhibits explained the life cycle of the bees, how much work they have to do in order to produce honey, and that they produce an enzyme that changes the flower nectar into honey in the hive. 

 A few bee and honey facts (from their website): one bee typically visits between 50 and 1,000 flowers per day but it can visit up to several thousand; to produce 2 lbs of honey bees fly a distance equal to 4 times around the earth; bees do not sleep but they sometimes will rest in an empty cell inside the hive; microbes can't live in honey, so it has been used as a topical dressing for wounds; bees are the only insect to produce food for humans.

One of the displays is a window that opens into an actual bee-hive, where you can watch bees coming in and out, and working inside the hive... it was tough to get any good photos, partly because there was so much activity in one area-- perhaps the queen was underneath that pile of bees? (no idea.)

this is neat- seeing the shape of the honeycomb as they build it

a kind of bad photo, but this is the doorway into and out of their hive to the outside.
There was also a thermometer in there-- the bees generate a lot of heat with all their industry and working, because their website says the average temperature inside a hive is 93.5 degrees. (just like home in AZ, lol!!)

a gorgeous stained-glass window displayed in their sales area
one of the bee-keeping history displays showing some antique equipment

The American Bee Journal publication, from 1873
(I can't imagine it had a large readership, but maybe it did...??)

Close up of the upper section of the window-- gorgeous designs!
A number of the exhibits showed honey-extracting equipment, patents, and improvements made to the honey-making process that were made through the years by the the company, starting with C.F. Dienholt who came from Germany to Wisconsin, and his son August, who also worked in the business. Today, the company is run by 5th generation family members, and they distribute their products all over the world.

close-up of the bottom of the stained-glass window
I never really thought I liked the taste of honey, but their sales room had tasting jars of different varieties, and a couple of them were really tasty! I had to buy some, of course-- I bought a honey-dill mustard, and a couple other varieties, including some dark chocolate coins with orange-flavored honey inside-- yum.

bee boxes outside the building-- I'm thinking there are a lot more somewhere else...
This can't possibly be enough to sustain their whole operation, lol!

one lone clover flower I found outside the front of the building--
alas, there were no honeybees visiting it when we were there.
I think there was also a nature walk outside the building for even more bee-keeping and honey-making information, but we didn't have enough time to do that; we had to get going so I could get back to Wisconsin Dells by dinnertime.

I did manage to get a couple honeybee photos, though:

busy as a... a honeybee stopping at Judy's Russian sage plant

it makes me tired just thinking of all the work they go through to make that honey!
As small as bees are, and as fast as they flit around, I will still keep trying to get good photos of them when they visit the flowers, because I'm fascinated by them. (unless there's, like, 10 or more of them buzzing around one of our night-blooming cereus flowers-- then I just step away slowly and leave them be... lol! no pun intended!)

It was a really interesting (if somewhat dorky and nerd-ish) museum, and I would love to go back when we had more time... maybe on the next trip! 

But then again, there's also the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI... and the Lead Mine museum and tour in Shullsburg, WI that I went on years ago but would like to see again... and Frank Lloyd Wright's house and studio at Taliesen... and the Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe, WI... and the narrow-gauge funicular railway in Dubuque, IA... 

whew-- I think I need to make a to-do list! :D

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