The Dogs and the Bees

by Anne Yarbrough, Anne Yarbrough Photography

 Photo: Anne Yarbrough

Photo: Anne Yarbrough

I met Tom and Aprilla at the J & J Flea Market one morning about a year or so ago when I bought honey from him. I was new at beekeeping and had just joined Oglethorpe Bee Club where he is the treasurer. We’ve become friends since then, and he has helped me maintain my hives since having my baby. Tom and Aprilla are just neat, nice people, so I decided to write a little something about them:

 On the corner of Booger Hill Road and Highway 29 sits a pretty pollen yellow house on the hill, and that’s where Tom and Aprilla Hankins live with their five dogs and multiple beehives. These high school sweethearts will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in February, and Tom can’t say enough sweet things about his woman. He says, “She’s a great woman. I can’t even make her argue with me! She was a cheerleader in high school... a really good one! Makes awesome blueberry pancakes in the mornings too—y’all should come over and have some!” 

 Tom has been beekeeping now for about four years since they’ve moved to Danielsville. He got into it by shadowing his friend’s youth pastor at his church, David Bailey, and has done it ever since. He loves it. Tom and some of the other club members respond to calls from people about clusters of honeybees around their homes and different places, and they safely remove them. Aprilla even helps him capture swarms. Tom is a natural with bees, and you’ll hardly ever see him wearing gloves. He’ll make you feel completely relaxed around them. 

 On my first visit to their house to borrow Tom’s extractor for my first successful honey flow last year, I walked inside to hear a few shrill barks and scattering of toenails to reveal several small Chihuahuas, a Chinese Crested and a couple of cats wandering amongst them.  They came to the door to alert, then scattered back together to chill on their favorite old couch across from the tv. Aprilla says they’ve always had dogs since they’ve been married... lots. She’s always loved dogs. Their first dog was a Chihuahua mix named Dinker, and the most memorable so far was Rosie. “She just looked at you like she knew you, like an old friend,” she says.

 I asked Aprilla if Tom is as into the dogs as she is, but she says, “He tolerates it because he knows it’s something I like.” One of the reasons she likes having smaller dogs is because they fit better in the bed. They all sleep on the bed—they kiss Tom first, then they come over to her side to settle to sleep. Aprilla remarks with a cute smile, “My quiver is full, but there might be room for one more!”

 You can find Tom and Aprilla and buy some “Bee Happy Honey” from row 8 at the J & J Flea Market on Saturdays, and you can (respectfully) view the beehives at their house on the corner of Highway 29 and Booger Hill Road in Danielsville.