A Honey of a Grandpa


Grandpa was a beekeeper. He was a regular exhibitor at the Ionia Free Fair, and often the Michigan State Fair. Even today when  I dip a spoon into a jar of honey, I think of him and Grandma. They lived only a block from us in the little town of Hubbardston, Michigan.

I remember pulling a chair up to the kitchen table and poking a knife into the waxy cells of honeycomb to collect the golden liquid that oozed to the surface. While I liked honey on a thick slice of bread, my hands-down favorite was a spoonful of honey drizzled over a mound of homemade cottage cheese.

I loved visiting Grandpa in the corner of his basement where he worked on his “honey of a hobby.” After extracting and bottling the liquid honey, he melted the leftover beeswax into little “cakes.” Mom always kept one of these in her sewing cabinet for waxing thread to strengthen it and to prevent tangling. Dad used beeswax to fix sticky drawers and to lubricate nails and screws for his woodworking projects.


Like my Grandpa, my dad, Harvey Allen, took up beekeeping as one of his many hobbies after retiring. Grandpa would be proud to see that HONEY FOR SALE sign in my parents’ front yard.

Grandpa’s hobby doubtless accounts for all the recipes in Grandma’s collection that call for honey. They will all appear in the reproduction of her book that I’m producing, but, to tempt your tastebuds, here’s one:


2 1/2 cups honey

1 cup shortening

3 eggs

ginger + cinnamon + salt (a dash or a pinch will do)

2 level tablespoons soda dissolved in

6 tablespoons vinegar

Enough flour to hold shape when dropped

She noted no more instructions, but she probably baked them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes



2 responses »

  1. Looking forward to your honey book. I lived next door to my grandparents and now think we were the luckiest little kids in the world!

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