I can’t really remember exactly what I was doing when I was fourteen. I vaguely remember countless hours puttering around Waco and Bellmead on my little Yamaha motorcycle and wishing I was sixteen so I could get a part-time job maybe sacking groceries. I really didn’t have a clue. Good Lord, I was fourteen.
A year or so earlier I talked my mom and dad into taking out a note on a motorcycle with grandiose promises of paying them back with all the money I would make throwing papers. After mowing lawns, that was pretty much the only job you could get when you were that young. The plan was water tight but reality was all full of holes. I was a terrible paper boy. My first month, I made a total of 10 dollars after I paid the Waco Tribune what I owed them and the note on my motorcycle was $40/month. After a few more months like that I threw in the towel. Mom and dad started to get a little concerned. This was 1974 and forty dollars was not chump change.
What a tough time for most kids – seriously. Personally, I couldn’t have felt more adrift if I had been on an iceberg in the ocean. It seemed like life was just a waiting game. I wouldn’t go through those years again for anything.
However, I just met a fourteen year old who is nothing like the ne’re-do-well that I was. Bubba Duke of Bubba’s beez is a man with a plan. His plan is to become a master beekeeper and he is well on his way.
Bubba started his beekeeping career at the tender age of nine after a research paper he did for his mom planted the seed. When I was nine I don’t think I could have written a complete sentence, let alone a research paper, but we’re talking about Bubba here so all bets are off. Bubba worked hard and saved up his money and bought his first hive a year later and the rest is history.
Bubba owns ten hives now and has turned this school project into a family business. Bubba has weathered a storm or two along the way as well. Somehow a few of the earlier hives he acquired ended up with Africanized bees in the mix and that is trouble. That didn’t stop Bubba. He found out what he needed to do to straighten that problem out and within a few months Bubba’s bees were calm and well behaved again.
Around about that age I can remember getting stung by a wasp while I was building a tree house with some friends. I screamed all the way home like I had been shot with a flaming arrow. I steer clear of bees – because they sting you. It hurts.
So you’re telling me that this kid not only ended up with several killer bee hives he had to manage, but he also ended up tuning those flying monsters into docile, happy, little honey bees. After Bubba whipped a little beekeeper magic on them, instead of wanting to kill Bubba and his family for just being there, they ended up calmly waiting for him so they could happily surrender their golden hoard.
Nope. I could not have done it. This is one special kid. I guess we’re still making exceptional people nowadays. After my year of substituting in the public schools in Austin, I was convinced otherwise.
What a great job John and Meredith Duke, Bubba’s parents, have done. They need to sit down and write out exactly what they did so that other kids and parents can gain from it. How did they raise their son to be this focused? To me, just getting started would have been tough enough but to face such a daunting challenge and master it is remarkable.
Well, it’s paid off for Bubba and the Dukes pretty well. They make and sell hundreds of jars of Bubba’s Beez honey every year. Meredith has taken it to the next level and is now making lip balm and hand creams out of the wax from the honey comb. They are all on their way to a honey empire with Bubba in the lead.
What a great story.
Well, if you want to learn how to get some of Bubba’s Beez honey or you just want to learn more about Bubba’s Beez in general, please go to their webpage by clicking here or to their Facebook page by clicking here.
Finally, take a little time to watch the attached video. I was able to talk Bubba into letting me film him doing a little upkeep on a hive that he keeps over at Heritage Community Garden in Georgetown. You get to see the master at work and hear him explain it all.