“Y’all been to Giddings?!?

And with that, we unlocked a whole other level of storytelling. Gone were the preliminary and neighborly, come-have-a-drink-with-us, getting-to-know-you, what-brings-you-to-Springdale, Utah stories. The couple who had called us over to join their impromptu driveway party were from Texas. We knew the Texan barbecue landscape well enough to have been to Giddings. If we knew that much, well, they had a story to tell us about events that had happened near there a few years back…

The Driveway Couple’s story – a “names are changed or obscured” kind of story – started just outside a certain barbecue spot in central Texas. Across the way from the restaurant was a parking spot-sized strip of grass sometimes used by a crew of men selling honey. Visit that spot enough and you’d be likely to see them. We had, at least twice. Van. Homemade “HONEY” sign. Honey. It always looked more like a side hustle than a farm stand.

Our new Springdale friends knew this crew. That’s how they were able to tell us the following story about the hustle behind that honey:

One year, this crew found themselves short on bees and shorter on money. Get the former, make the latter. One of the crew members, we’ll call him Mike, learned of some bee hives some miles away that weren’t too closely secured by their owner. He made a simple plan: get those bees, make some money.

When the time was right, Mike set out at night. Both owner and bees would be asleep, making for an easy lift. All Mike had to do was get the hives on his pickup, drive off, and get home again before dawn.

Things started out well enough, but loading the hives took longer than Mike planned. The sky began to lighten while he was still on the road. He now had two choices. Continue and risk the dawn for the honey, or give up and make no money. Mike chose the honey.

The first rays of light brought the first bees, confused and angry, buzzing toward Mike’s cab. He had about thirty more miles, and thirty more minutes, to go. If he sped up, he’d risk the acceleration waking up even more bees than the sun was already doing.

Another ray, another bee. Soon the bees began stinging. Before Mike could make any adjustments to save himself, his entire cab was swarmed by bees.

Mike, having gotten this far, didn’t give up. He drove those bees home to his crew, parked the truck, and bolted from it as fast as he could to finally get away from the swarm. Once the bees calmed down, the honey money was theirs for the making.

 

We were floored. The “Honey Van” had been the one loose thread from our initial round of Texas Barbecue trips that we had never chased down. Now it had chased us down. All we had to do was wait five years and drive 1,200 miles west to hear the story.

That never should have happened. Springdale was an in-trip addition to our Four Corners trip, made only days before when a friend offered up her house. Our drive there from Page, Arizona took much longer than we had expected, largely due to the pitch dark highway full of hairpin turns we had taken through Zion National Park. Heck, we only found the Driveway Party after walking through the quiet rows of stores and quieter rows of condos that surrounded our friend’s house. For all we knew, our hosts were the only other people awake in Springdale that night.

Was all this chance lining up perfectly, like a constellation in the sky? Or was this proof that all creation is linked, and that if enough stories are told under starlight over a long enough time, that they will link up to provide a greater understanding of the world?

Fate or Chaos, the eternal question. In this case, I choose fate. Why? Try this on for size:

UT-9 W, the road we took through Zion, just like all other Utahn highways, is marked with a beehive. The beehive is a state symbol in Utah as it represents the result of the labor of industrious bees who made something – the hive – from nothing, just as the Mormons worked to turn the Great Salt Lake into a booming city.

A beehive highway led us to that Driveway Party at just the right point in the night to find our hosts in a storytelling mood. And while you can question their morals, the Honey Hustlers were their own kind of industrious in their quest for honey bees. Of course this was the place to hear this story. After all, had we been in any other state, it just wouldn’t have had quite the same sting.

–Essay and photos by Dan Meade
Publication date: 1/17/2019
As told to us on: 8/17/2017

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