June 2013

I wish I could press pause on my life right now.

The tiniest, wisest man in the world grows daily before my eyes, and I cradle him and rock him and hold his red fingers, knowing what I didn’t know with Maggie Rose: these still days of infancy are short lived, and of course I cannot know if I will ever have such a time in my life again.  And so Howard and I sit.  On the porch, at the kitchen table, in front of my laptop.  I lay him against my heart and sit back, amazed by the capacity of the human heart to love so quickly and so well.

I fell in love with baby Maggie Rose daily, and in different ways each day.  I learned to love a baby, and to create a family.  With Howard, it is different – not better, not worse, but different.  He was born and my heart simply tripled in size.



As Howard and I breathe slowly in unison, the peak of summer builds all around us: the weather is hot and the bees are storming about, filling their combs with honey.  The phone rings with honey orders.  Maggie Rose’s emotions continue their roller coaster ride on the Big Sister Transition.  The washing machine and the dishwasher and the coffee maker all blink and buzz at me.


Still holding Howard, I fill orders and answer questions and fold towels and kiss away crocodile tears and mix up huckleberry lemon muffins, because Maggie and Honeydew love them.  I cannot press pause, but I do not have to put him down just yet.


Celebrating thirty-three years on this beautiful planet, with my wonderful family.  June 24, 2013.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.


How’s the honey crop?  Everywhere we go, especially in our painted bee trucks, people want to know.

Well.  We’ve had plenty of moisture, but we need some heat.  If we get some heat, oooh boy pretty honey crop!  All we can do is wait, and hope.

In the meantime, Travis has been putting his fancy new work phone to good use:


Jackie, your bees say hi.


Sweet clover foreground, alfalfa background – both excellent honey plants.


First honey of the year, happy working bees.


This is an old frame, so the comb and the honey look dark, but the close up of the bees is pretty cool, no?


Neil, channeling Jackie Park-Burris.


The bees have quite a view of Glacier National Park while they work.  Keep at it, girls!

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credits to Travis Looney.  All Rights Reserved.


We are incredibly pleased to announce the arrival of our second born, Howard Stone Fullerton, earlier this week .  Howard weighed 8 lbs, 3.5 ounces and was 20.5″ long at birth, with a whopping 14.5″ noggin!  He is lovely in every way, but most  importantly, he was born with 290,000 platelets — well above the healthy minimum  — and without any indication of an intracranial hemorrhage or other bleed from the neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia that he triumphed over during his gestation and delivery.


To say that Honeydew and I are relieved is the understatement of the decade.  For the first time since I suspected I was pregnant, I am able to breathe deeply.  I am considering tattooing 290k on my forehead.  One day soon, I think I will write about Howard’s gestation for my fellow NAIT parents, but for now, we are spending most of our time in the NICU with Howard, where his platelet levels continue to be observed.  Holding him is the highlight of my life, just as holding Maggie Rose in the NICU was.  All of my happy receptors are almost filled: when Maggie Rose can meet Howard after his release from the NICU, we may keel over from the delight of it all.

Howard is named for my brother, Howard Hillhouse Stone, who died three weeks shy of his 20th birthday in a house fire at the University of Mississippi.  Nearly nine years have passed, and yet there are still days when I nearly pick up the phone to call him.  He is part of my life every day, and though Honeydew never knew Howard, he has been the head cheerleader for naming our son after my brother, even on days when I wasn’t sure I was emotionally ready to do so.  Giving me the courage to name our son for my beloved brother is the most amazing gift, and I am a lucky wife and mother to have Honeydew as my partner in my life.


My brother Howard was an even keeled person, quick to laugh, slow to judge, “cheerful in all weathers,” as Captain Call famously said of Deets.  He was named in part for my maternal uncle and grandfather, Virgil Howard Black Sr. and Jr., both kind and gentle farmers, and good men who taught me so much about what I think of as the “real world:” agriculture, family, dirt, and sunshine.

Howard’s middle name, Stone, is an equal nod to my paternal heritage and to Honeydew’s paternal heritage.  His grandmother, Elinor, was the youngest of six Stone sisters before she became a Fullerton, and she raised three handsome and accomplished sons, one of whom is my father-in-law, Robert Stone Fullerton.  I am a Stone by birth, and am proud to bestow my maiden name as my son’s middle name.

Howard means guardian or sheep herder.

Thank you all so much for your many well wishes and kind regards.  Our baby beekeeper is one lucky boy, in so many ways.



2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

The Baby Beekeeper is about to give up her title, as we expect a new baby beekeeper next week.  If you need honey or beeswax, please contact us ASAP so we can get that out to you in a timely fashion – there is no maternity leave for the self employed, but we do intend to count all the baby’s fingers and toes before resuming shipping.  Thank you for your understanding!

Last week, to celebrate the last days of her reign, Baby Beekeeper took to the fields with Daddy for the first time, wearing a precious pink daisy printed bee suit her Grandma Sarah made for her 2nd birthday.  I could not believe that Daddy wanted to take her to work with him, as we were/are in the midst of potty training.  And in general, the attention span and patience of a 2 year old is famed, and for all the wrong reasons.  And bees sting.  And etc.


But Daddy is quite a guy.  And Baby Beekeeper is quite a gal.  And off they went, while I “baby mooned” with my mom, shopping for “antiques” (i.e. junk furniture for Baby Beekeeper’s new Big Girl Room), getting ahead of paperwork, stocking the freezer, setting up the nursery and doing all those last minute baby things massively pregnant women suddenly find imperative to accomplish.  Biology is a beautifully mysterious thing.  Hilarious texts from Daddy as the week wore on included: “being Mommy is hard.”  Thank you for providing a patch of calm before the storm, Honeydew.  Much appreciated.

Anyway, here are a few shots of Maggie Rose’s first day as a working gal.  She’s yet to be stung and can eat her weight in honey straight from the comb.


Arriving in the bee yard.


Helping Uncle T.


Very busy and important.


First lessons in hive tool-ery.


Is it lunch time yet?


She helped catch her first swarm, too.

We’re mighty proud of our girl.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

As y’all know, Honeydew is a 2nd generation beekeeper.  In the 1970s, Honeydew’s dad, Bob Fullerton, started what eventually became Chief Mountain Honey Co., and as a result Honeydew grew up keeping bees, packing honey, and making beeswax candles.  Eventually, Honeydew worked for Chief Mountain Honey and started Chief Mountain Pollination.  When Honeydew and I were married, we founded our own company, Glacier County Honey Co., and Bob carried on with Chief Mountain Honey.

This spring, Bob decided to retire from the retail aspect of Chief Mountain Honey — though never from beekeeping! — and he passed the Chief Mountain retail torch to us.  We are so proud to offer honey under the label that Honeydew grew up with, a label that has enjoyed a 30+ year relationship with the folks who flock to Glacier National Park in the summertime and the folks who live here year round, too.

CMHC 12oz bear

CMHC 1lb

Under the Chief Mountain Honey label, we offer 12oz honeybears, 1# squeeze skeps, 2.5# tubs, and 5# tubs.  All of these containers are available for purchase at www.glaciercountyhoney.com, along with our Glacier County Honey stix, 8oz, 1#, 3#, and 5# squeeze bottles, and 12# and 35# buckets.

Chief Mountain Honey is also available all over Glacier County and Glacier National Park.  Please look for our “new” label at Thronson’s in Babb; the Leaning Tree and Two Sisters near Babb; Johnson’s and Park Cafe in St. Mary; Faught’s, IGA, and Glacier Family Foods in Browning; Albertson’s in Cut Bank; Glacier Park Trading Post in East Glacier; and more!   A complete list of our retailers is available here.

Here’s to the next generation!


2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Beekeeping is like any other profession in that generally, everything happens at once.  This time of year, the phone rings off the hook with retail orders — we are lucky enough to be located next to not just a national park, but GLACIER National Park! — at the same time all of the flowers burst into full-hearted bloom and the bees start going gangbusters working said flowers.


Dandelions.  If you need a reason to leave them undisturbed in your yard, tell your neighbors how tasty the bees find them in late spring.  A very important food source for the girls!

Beekeeping is not like any other profession in this way: if we beekeepers are not quick enough to expand the size of our hives by adding what are called “supers” (the boxes that sit on top of the existing 2 boxes that make up the hive — they are called supers because they are for the storage of superfluous honey), our workers will say Sayonara and hit the trail.  There will be no meeting called for their union, or for upper management, to discuss the situation and its solutions.  They will simply round up their Queen and head for a roomier tree trunk to call home, i.e. they will swarm.

What this means for us: when Honeydew determines that the time is right for “supering” the hives, he doesn’t mean when the crew gets caught up on the candle pouring and the hive painting and the oil changing.  He means right then, and he intends to work until the work is done.  Beekeepers’ hours ain’t bankers’ hours.

So Honeydew and the crew spent the end of last week and half the weekend supering the hives.  And they look mighty purty now, all supered up, and so filled with promise.


May it be a good honey year.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Earlier in the spring, Honeydew brought a couple of hives over to Flathead County, mostly for my amusement purposes.  I love to watch the bees.


And Maggie loves to check on “her” bees.  She’s got a great bzzzzzzzzzzzzz noise, too.

While we were inspecting the gals on Sunday morning, we saw a worker hauling a huge load of bright red pollen.  Now, what in the world do y’all suppose that could be from?  It seems as though everything over here is currently in bloom, so it’s hard to say, but it sure makes for a pretty picture.



The bees bring pollen back to the hive, using pockets on the sides of their legs that Honeydew and I like to call their chaps.  The technical term is pollen basket.  According to Karl von Frisch, it takes a honeybee between 3 and 18 minutes to fill her basket.

On a related-only-in-the-craziness-of-my-mind-note, have y’all heard the new Pistol Annies song, Loved By A Workin’ Man?  This shot of Honeydew’s hands, endlessly abused in beekeeping, brings it to mind.  It’s a simple song that people who enjoy making fun of country music will probably have endless fun with, but it resonates with this country girl.

Other interesting observations from Sunday morning … they’re starting to make honey!





All of the equipment in this hive is brand new (some of our stuff is about 40 years old) and it’s been amazing to watch the bees create all that gorgeous wax comb – they start from scratch with new frames.

The queen lays her eggs in parts of the comb.  The workers store honey in some areas, and pollen in others.


See the pollen, stored in the comb?

The bees secrete flakes of beeswax from a special glands in their abdomens in order to form the hexagonal comb — hexagons being nature’s perfect, space saving shape, of course.  Researchers have estimated that bees have to fly about 150,000 miles — or about six times around the Earth! — to produce one little ole pound of beeswax.  In doing so, they’ll eat about eight times as much honey by mass.  What does that mean for beekeepers?  Roughly, for every 10 pounds of honey we harvest, we harvest about a pound of wax.

I never get tired of learning about bees.  Hope y’all feel the same way.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.