-Posted by Isaac
As I was yammering about the Lithopolis Honeyfest last Thursday, Arnold Crabtree, the Honeyfest founder was living his last day.
Arnold was The Bee Man.
He was a local icon.
The cheerful face, the animated persona of beekeepers here in central Ohio.
It’s hard to write this, saying “he was.” Arnold is still so alive in my memories. I loved to talk bees with him, as did so many others. His passing put a shock and a damper on the initial hours of the festival, but the somber mood didn’t last long. As we shared stories, it sort of turned into a Bee Man celebration.
He got the ball rolling on this thing, and we were not about to let it drop. He had touched the lives of so many.
Other years Arnold and Darla had run a booth, selling his Bee Man Honey. Darla had to do most of the selling, as Arnold, the face of the festival, was busy with bee beards and bee evangelism.
This year we saw the opening of a small museum of relics and beekeeping antiques. Once again, Arnold was the visionary.
Jayne and I were fortunate enough to attend his funeral on Tuesday. There, we got to see old friends and share more Arnold stories… stories centered around bees of course.
Here is the first part of his obituary:
Arnold Crabtree, 77, went home to be with his Savior on September 5, 2019. He was born on May 20, 1942.
Arnold was a welder, burner at Buckeye Steel for 16 years and a ship fitter at Ingalls shipyard and Bethlehem Steel. He retired due to his health and became a self-employed entrepreneur, and later in life realizing his calling as a bee keeper. He affectionately became known as the "Bee Man." Arnold was the founder of the Lithopolis Honeyfest when his idea of a honey bee festival became a reality in 2007. Arnold remained active in the festival until his retirement in 2016. Arnold was also the founder of the Scioto Valley Beekeepers Association in Circleville, OH.
Yes, he founded our club! As a result of Arnold’s foresight, dozens of people gather, talk bees and network every month. For that, we made him an honorary “Life Member.”
And I think he’s the only one. The rest of us still cough up our annual $15 per family. (Man, some guys get all the breaks!)
It struck me that Arnold didn’t reach his iconic status until the last decade of his life. Over sixty years went by before he found his beehive enlightenment.
This fact, for some strange reason makes me feel really good. You never know when you’ll stumble into your wheelhouse.
I got to thinking about the lyrics of a Townes Van Zandt song.
Days, up and down they come
Like rain on a congadrum
Forget most, remember some
But don't turn none away
Everything is not enough
And nothin' is too much to bear
Where you been is good and gone
All you keep is the getting there
To Live is to Fly.
When you’re a Bee Man.