Fathers' Day at the Hive

Beatrice the bee's family tree

Beatrice the bee's family tree

So here we are in June. Fathers’ Day is upon us. Notice that I specify the holiday with the plural form of “father”. I believe that this is a day for all fathers, not just one. I’m a father. I have two kids. Their relationship to me is pretty clear. I’m their dad. My wife is their mom. Straightforward. This is not so much the case with honey bees.

If you read anything I write here, you will know I’m pretty obsessed with bees. I’ve written a couple of articles about how bees forage and how they see the world. The whole concept of a beehive and bee behavior also shows up big time in my second novel. Suffice to say – I like bees. What does that have to do with Fathers’ Day, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. You see, some bees don’t even have fathers. No, I’m not talking about broken bee homes. I’m talking about bees that biologically have only one parent – a mother. But their mother has both a father and a mother. True. Weird, but true.

Each beehive has one fertile female – a queen. The queen secretes chemicals that suppress reproductive maturity in the other females in the hive. These repressed ladies are all worker bees. They, as the name implies, do pretty much everything needed to keep the hive alive. Everything, that is, except father the next generation. That task falls to the drones. Drones do pretty much nothing, in stark contrast to the “pretty much everything” covered by the workers. All drones are males. They hang out in the hive, taking up space and food, until a new queen appears on the scene. She arrives with an explosion of pheromones that wakes the drones from their state of general worthlessness and sends them into a frenzied attempt to mate with the queen.

It doesn’t end well for the drones that make the grade with the queen. She allows numerous suitors to mate with her, collecting their sperm for later use. The act of their donation inflicts a mortal condition upon the drones and they immediately fall to the ground and die. It’s an exit with a blaze of glory for these guys after a lifetime of sofa surfing.

After the queen is finished collecting the genetic material from the drones, she returns to the hive. She has enough sperm stored to last her entire lifetime as she works to repopulate the hive.

Here’s where it gets weird.

If the queen wants an egg to grow into a female worker (or possibly a replacement queen) she applies fertilization donated by one of her dates from that one wild night and plunks the egg into a cell in the hive. If she decides an egg should be one of the single-minded and faceless male drones, she simply lays the egg into a cell with no fertilization. That’s right. Male honey bees come from unfertilized eggs. They are essentially clones of their mother, but they are male.

So, female bees have mothers (queens) and fathers (drones.) Males bees have mothers and no fathers, but they do have grandfathers. (See the picture above if you need a visual aid. This is strange stuff.) As you can imagine, this could lead to some unusual conversations in the hive during June.

“What’re you getting your old man for Fathers’ Day, Bob?” asked Billy.

“Uh, what’s Fathers’ Day?”

“Beatrice told me about it the other day. I caught her coming in from a forage.”

“Billy, dude. Why are you always hanging around with her? You know she’s not a queen. There’s no future in that relationship.”

“It’s all about sex with you, isn’t it, Bob. You’re such a pig.”

“Shut up.”

“Anyway. Beatrice told me all about it,” Billy continued. “It’s a day when everyone gives stuff to their fathers and shows appreciation for them.”

“Well then,” Bob droned, “I’m off the hook. So are you.”

“What do you mean?” Billy asked.

“Man, you are dumb. That cute little worker has you flummoxed.”

“What do you mean?” quizzed Billy.

“We don’t have fathers. We only have Mom. You know, the queen?” Bob gave Billy a look that expressed both exasperation and amusement at his hive-mate’s naivete.

“But I was going to go Fathers’ Day gift shopping with Beatrice. Now what?” Billy’s bee shoulders slumped, and he emitted a faint and disheartened buzz.

Bob draped an antenna around his friend’s head. “Yeah, now what? And by the way, how does Beatrice even know who her father was? You know what the mating flight is like. Any drone in the hive could’ve been her dad. And, you’ve heard the stories. No one who gets lucky on that flight lives to tell about it. Ha-ha! I thought you were dumb, but it sounds like your little worker girlfriend is just as stupid as you are!”

“Shut up.”

Yeah, I know that kind of conversation never happens, but it’s fun to imagine. Also, let me leave you with one more mind-bending fact. If you look at the parentage of any given bee in the hive, the number of family members at any level of their family tree is a Fibonacci number. Yes, it is. If you didn’t read my article on the Fibonacci sequence, now would be a good time to do that. Here’s a link …


The Fibonacci pattern continues no matter how many generations to climb up the tree. It’s amazing.

This article was written by Tilmer Wright, Jr. Tilmer is an IT professional with over thirty years of experience wrestling with technology. He’s also a proud member of the Authors Guild of Tennessee. His second novel, The Bit Dance is a cautionary tale about what can happen when technology, combined with the logic behind a honey beehive, runs away from its creators. You can find links to Tilmer’s books at the following location: https://www.amazon.com/Tilmer-Wright/e/B00DVKGG4K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_sc...

His author information website is here: http://www.tilmerwrightjr.com/



Awards Abound at 2019 Heritage Festival

picture of Rocky Top Award winner for best portrayal of the festival theme, More Fiddlin' Around, was A& B Bookkeeping and Tax Service. Picture has two white rocking chairs in front of a banner made of pumpkins that say More Fiddlin' Around.  The rocking chairs are surrounded by mums in washtubs with a fiddle displayed on haybales.

Rocky Top Award winner for best portrayal of the festival theme, More Fiddlin' Around, was A& B Bookkeeping and Tax Service.

At Wilson Park, over 100 vendors competed for various booth awards at the 2019 Union County Heritage Festival last Saturday. A&B Bookkeeping & Tax Service claimed The Rocky Top award for the best portrayal of the festival theme. The Best Heritage Award for the best example of Union County history portrayed in a craft went to Martin Shafer for making maul handles on an Ole' Time Hit 'n Miss Engine & Lathe. Ralph Webster of Webster's Woodcrafts won Best Unique Craft Item for his handmade Black Walnut Bowl.

Heritage Fiddle Contest Announces Winners

picture of an old front porch with 2019 Fiddle Contest Winners: Eric Nafzigar (2nd), Kasey Moore (1st), Austin Stovall (3rd)

2019 Fiddle Contest Winners: Eric Nafziger (2nd), Kasey Moore (1st), Austin Stovall (3rd)

There was “More Fiddlin' Around” as fiddle lovers of all ages welcomed competitors in Union County Heritage Festival's Second Annual Fiddle Contest on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Amateur fiddlers took the stage and performed their best renditions of some fiddle favorites. While the judges were wrestling with very difficult decisions, all of the fiddle participants and several of the guitar, string bass, and mandolin players leaped to the stage to entertain the crowd with an impromptu performance of several popular fiddle tunes.

2019 Heritage Festival Quilt Show Winners

Picture of a memory quilt with hearts, initials, and other icons to remember family members

The Union County Historical Society sponsored the Heritage Festival Quilt Show at the Union County Museum & Genealogical Library. More than thirty quilts lined the museum balcony. Ellen Perry and Patricia Campbell coordinated the event.

Connie Johnsey won Best of Show for her quilt entitled “Harvest Spice”. Best Heritage Quilt was Kim Beeler's “Diary Quilt” that reflected memories of loved ones that "walk beside us every day".

Other awards included the following:

Rubbing Your Belly and Tapping Your Feet

My thoughts were of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rumpelstiltskin” as Tim I walked down the line of vendors at the Union County Farmer’s Market. We were searching for the lady with a spinning wheel since I was to conduct an interview with her.

“There she is!” Tim pointed, but I still couldn’t see a spinning wheel anywhere; in fact, I didn’t notice it until we reached her tent. You see, I had assumed all spinning wheels were made like the ones mentioned in old fairy tales. I had assumed wrong.

Historic Road Signs

Since it is my birthday, I decided to write about my birthplace and the historic sign at its site: the old Ailor Mill on Route 144, Ailor Gap Road. Of course, this is not really my birthplace, but as a four-year-old I did believe my father when he said that it was. My real birthplace was in a 1958 Chevrolet in Claiborne County, but that's another story. It may not have been that mill on that site, but simply a barn constructed there after the old mill was torn down. Regardless, I believed it to be true and now a historic marker commemorates the site.

Can backpacks really cause long-term problems?

More than 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Can these childhood injuries result in long-term back problems or chronic pain?

By the age of 14, seven percent of children report that back pain affects their everyday life. The lumbar (lower) spine is vulnerable to injury when children carry heavy loads. Such injuries may also lead to early degenerative changes in the lower spine.

And it’s not just the weight you carry in your backpack, but how you carry it.

Cadillac Style

On Sunday morning, I get up and get ready for church. I have gathered all the materials I will need for the day on the Saturday night prior—clothes, Sunday school booklet, Bible and commentaries. This way, I don’t have to rush to get things done and can sleep a little later than would otherwise be possible. All I have to do is get up, shower, shave, put on my clothes, and grab my Sunday school bag before heading out the door.

Local Rivers Were Early Interstates

Back in the early and mid-1800s the industrial age and a growing population created a demand for raw materials to make products, especially from wood and metals such as iron and lead. Our area had metal ore deposits to produce pig iron in locally owned furnaces fueled by charcoal and coke. Pig iron needed to be shipped to big cities like Chattanooga where it was refined and made into metal products such as tools and farm implements.


The Endangered Small Country School--Birchwood Elementary

Birchwood Elementary School, picture courtesy of Shannon Wright (because I can't locate mine!)

The year 2005 was momentous for me. I had been looking for work in an ever widening circle from Athens. I had interviewed in Monroe, Loudon, Bradley, McMinn, and sent applications to every school district that I could drive to in 45 minutes.

Finally in August, I sent applications to Knox and Hamilton counties, even as I cringed at the commute time it would be to any school in those counties. Two weeks after I had sent those applications, I received a phone call from the principal of an elementary school at the northern tip of Hamilton County.


When I was a kid, the fall of the year was butchering time. Dad usually had a castrated boar that he had fattened up for the kill. I never understood why a farmer would fatten up a pig. You can only use so much lard. Anyway, I have a question for you. Have you ever made scrapple? I remember when the pig's head would be cooked and all the meat carefully cut or pulled away from the bone. Sounds gross, doesn't it? Head cheese is good but it is a bit different from my recipe for scrapple. Do you have some pork sausage languishing in your freezer? Here's a use for it.



Saturday, October 26, 2019 - 17:00

Alder Springs Baptist Church will be having a community wide fall cook-out Saturday, October 26th from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the church. Come join us for food, fellowship, fun and of course candy!

Kenneth “Dink” Brown Benefit

Saturday, November 2, 2019 - 16:00
Kenneth “Dink” Brown Family

Kenneth “Dink” Brown Benefit Saturday, November 2nd 4pm - 8pm

Kenneth “Dink” Brown of Luttrell received a kidney transplant on September 17, 2019. This benefit is to help them with medical expenses and household bills. He will not be able to work for around 3 months. 100% of the proceeds go directly to The Brown Family.

Union County Opry

Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 19:00

Balsam Range Saturday, November 16th Doors open at 6pm The show starts at 7pm

Bluegrass music's reigning Entertainers of the Year: Balsam Range are coming to Maynardville on Saturday, November 16th!

Union County Board Of Education

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 18:00

The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held at Union County High School on Thursday, September 12, 2019. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.

Extension of Dr. James E. Carter's contract as Director of the Union County Public Schools will be discussed and considered for approval at this meeting.

UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.


Inez Evon Shelton

Inez Evon Shelton-age 93 of Washburn passed away Monday afternoon, October 21, 2019 at her home. She was a member of Mt. Eager Baptist Church since she was 9 years old. She received her Masters Degree of Science from the University of Tennessee and taught school in the Grainger County School System for 41 years. She was preceded in death by grandparents, Paris and Lucinda (Williams) Hamilton, Samuel and Nora (Nicely) Shelton; parents, Rev.

Charles Franklin Kerekes

Charles Kerekes-age 62 of Knoxville passed away Saturday afternoon October 19, 2019 at the home of his daughter. He was a loving father and grandfather. He worked at Dalton Foundry in Kendallville, Indiana for 30 years. Preceded in death by his wife, Marlene Kerekes; parents, John Kerekes and Mary Toth; brother, Andrew Kerekes, sister, Wanda Kay Kerekes Potter.

Survivors are daughter, Sarah Campos, grandchildren, Aryana and Jaydon Campos, brother, James Kerekes and several nephews.

Sierra Huiting

Sierra “Iver” Huiting – age 22 of Andersonville, passed away peacefully on October 18, 2019. She was a member of Byrams Fork Baptist Church. Sierra loved her pet frogs and fish, nature, art, Chick-fil-A; and her online friends.

Wayne Eugene Adams

Wayne Eugene Adams, age 75 of Knoxville, TN went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Friday, October 18, 2019, at home surrounded by his loving wife and family. He had suffered with numerous health issues through the years.

Brenda Oleda "Williams" Hutson

Brenda Oleda “Williams” Hutson-age 72 of Luttrell joined the Heavenly Choir Wednesday evening, October 16, 2019 at her home surrounded by her loving family. She was a lifelong member of Mountain View Church of God of the Union Assembly. Retired employee of Atlantic Research Corporation, Knoxville. Preceded in death by great-granddaughter, Isabella Grace Nicely; parents, James A. and Pearlie Williams; brother, Doffise Williams; sister, Lela Williams.

Melba Jennilee Brewer Kitts

Melba Jennilee Brewer Kitts-age 86 of Knoxville went home to join her family circle unbroken. The angels set her spirit free peacefully Tuesday evening, October 15, 2019 at her home with her family by her side. She was a member of Dante Church of God. She loved to sing and spread the word of God. Devoted caretaker to many family and friends. Her legacy will continue through her children and those she influenced by interaction of her faith in Jesus Christ. At last she is Home where there is: “Peace in The Valley”.

Rickey Eugene Ray

Rickey Eugene Ray-age 60 of Luttrell passed away Sunday morning, October 13, 2019 at the home of his sister. Preceded in death by wife, Tammy Nicely Ray; parents, Harvey and Minnie Ray; brothers, R. H. Ray, Jr.; Silas Walter Sweat; sister, Kathy Kay Bell.

Barbara Booker

Barbara Christine (Warwick) Booker – age 83 of Luttrell, was born August 8, 1936 and passed away October 12, 2019. She was a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Tater Valley.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.