Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

JOSEPH BLODGETT, APIARIST

Morning Star, January 16, 2011, pg. 11

Some time ago we had our 8 mm. home movies from the 1950s and 1960s digitized, and yours truly has been going through them to produce individual still shots of some of the various scenes. One movie in particular is quite interesting.

Back in the summer of 1958 we had a large beehive which hung high in a giant oak tree in our neighbor’s backyard, overhanging into our yard. Neighborhood children were noticing all of the bees in the area, and the hive was therefore deemed dangerous. The hive was so high up in the tree however, that special arrangements had to be made in order to remove it.

One of Albion’s most prominent inspiring aspiring apiarists (can you pronounce that word correctly?) in the 20th century was Joseph W. Blodgett (1917-2005), a 1936 graduate of Albion High School. Joseph was the son of Clarence & Henrietta (Rosenau) Blodgett, and was a lifelong area farmer. His home was at 113 W. Crandall St. Joseph worked at Union Steel Products for 20 years, but always kept farming as his primary occupation.

In 1950 Joseph purchased an 80-acre farm on Bath Mills Road where he grew apple trees and kept his bee hives. This is the farmland that has the tall chain-linked fence around it. Joe sold cider and honey to various customers in the greater Albion area. He also built bluebird and martin houses which were placed throughout the area.

Joe was contacted about removing the beehive in our neighbor’s oak tree. Ironically, in 1958 Joseph had to destroy his bee colonies because of disease, and our beehive was just the thing he needed to begin over again. How to get up the tree to remove the hive however, was the problem.

The Albion Fire Department was contacted, and they agreed to bring their aerial ladder truck to provide the height. A date was set, and the entire neighborhood was invited to watch. This was the event of the year on Mechanic St. My mother filmed the event with our Kodak 8 mm. camera. The movie shows the fire truck turning onto Mechanic St. from S. Eaton, backing into our driveway, and driver John Markovich guiding the truck across our lawn into position. The film then shows the aerial ladder being extended, and Joseph Blodgett climbing up it with a handsaw and full apiarist gear on. Neighbors are shown looking up at the tree as the extraction took place.

The next scene shows Joe coming down the ladder with this huge hive. From looking at the film, it must have been nearly three feet long. The film concludes with Joe placing the hive in the "bee box," and the Albion Fire Department truck driving away off into the sunset. This film was a hit when it was developed and was shown at Dalrymple School that fall, and also to the Albion Fire Department.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a snapshot from that film. It shows Joseph Blodgett on the Albion Fire Department aerial ladder truck, returning with the large beehive in his left hand. Some time later Joe came to our house and presented us with a jar of honey produced by those bees. Do any of our readers remember this event? Special thanks to James Blodgett (nephew of Joseph) for information about this week’s article.


Joseph Blodgett on the Albion Fire Department with the bees

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