Since 1989, I’ve spent a part of every summer of my life near Babb, Montana, uncovering Glacier’s lilies and valleys and peaks.  In 2000, I became part of “the dry herd,” as the locals refer to the gaggles of young women who come to work in Glacier for the summer, making pies at Park Cafe, frying chicken at Johnson’s, doing laundry at the Many Glacier Hotel.  In ranchin’, the dry herd refers to the female cows without calves – the undesirables.  I think the term is reversed in Babb – generally speaking, the dry herd is fairly desirable.  Especially after a few cold ones at Charlie’s. 

At any rate, around here, it’s that time of year when the ranchers all get together and help sort each other’s cows and calves – brandin’ time!  After a long winter, brandin’ time is a party atmosphere – there are six months of snowdrifts to catch up on, new babies to coo over, and potato salad recipes to share.  I like mine with a white vinegar base.  I wouldn’t scoff at adding bacon to it to make up for lost mayonnaise calories.  Scallions are key, too.

But for beekeepers, brandin’ time is not quite as much fun – our branding irons are so tiny, and our bees are hard to wrangle.   There is no time for cold beer and hamburgers.

I’m. just. kidding.  You don’t brand bees.  But I’ve had a lot of fun at cocktail parties convincing people that we do!

This is how beekeepers brand:

This is our branding iron.  It is fired by a propane tank.  I bought it for Honeydew as a Christmas gift, to celebrate our new business, and new name.

Beekeepers brand their equipment with an identifying mark of their business – the brand goes deep into the wood, and can’t be painted over or sanded down.  It’s very hard to steal bees, as a result.  Here at Glacier County Honey Co., we brand our hive bodies, our supers, our frames, and our pallets.

Here’s Honeydew branding a stack of pallets. 

The pyromaniac in Honeydew – in all men? – loves brandin’.

I love brandin’, too – seeing GLACIER seared so deeply into the wood gives me a cozy feeling of permanence, the warm hope that our company will be around for as long as we want it to be.

Here’s a stack of pallets.  Here’s to Glacier County Honey Company’s longevity – we’ve been in business for one year and one week, as of today.  Cheers!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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