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Getting to know a bee keeper

A month ago while enjoying a Saturday Seventh Day Adventists program I noticed their bass guitarist. Since bass guitar players are not all that plentiful I decided to hear his story.

David Israel was born in Glendale, Calif., in 1952. His wife's name is Marie and they have four daughters. He graduated from college with degrees in agriculture and landscaping.

His father presented him with three hives of bees on his 15th birthday so he was already interested in bees when he went to work for a bee keeper in California. Over the years, Dave has done a number of things, like selling insecticides for flies in dairy barns. He sometimes works for the Staples World as a reporter and photographer. It was working with bees that brought him to Minnesota.

Photography comes in as a major interest and second career. While he does other types of photography, taking shots of nature claim his prime interest. He has well over 1,000 shots of birds and animals in their natural habitat. His business card reads, "David Israel. Outdoor/Nature Photographer."

A hobby that comes in fairly often is playing one of David's guitars. His church offers many opportunities to play so his guitars are seldom far from him.

David has had as many as 400 hives of bees at one time. He likes to put them in a stand of basswood in someone's pasture, or close to alfalfa or clover fields. Compensation for accomodating his hives is the family's supply of honey for the year.

Keeping bees has more problems now with insecticide spread wholesale on fields. Mites move into a hive, or several diseases as well as viruses, any one of which can wipe out a keeper's profit for the year.

When fall comes if you see hives bundled up for the winter, be assured that they are not Israel's hives. His bees spend the winter under a California sun, cavorting in somebody's orchard, hopefully pollinating fruit trees. Extracting honey is a complicated process, requiring combs to spend a couple of days in a room at 90 degrees before heading for the extracting machine, bottled and sold. Dave bottles enough honey to supply local markets with the bulk going into 55 gallon barrels aimed at Kansas City. His bees usually produce 31 or 40 barrels.

Do you recall the days we, the public, were told honey was the only unadulterated product on the market? That it couldn't be added to or extracted from and remain honey? Seems like times have changed. Dave said some producers sneak in white Karo syrup, wouldn't you know it? But not Dave -- he doesn't cheat consumers.

David and Marie were married in California. She has worked in packing plants, as a waitress, baby sitting, and as an Avon agent. She likes growing house plants, helping Dave, reading and writing.

Marie not only likes to read poetry, she composes it. Her poem "Little Red Squirrel" won a prize in a contest in 2011.