The Roanoke Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (RVCDAR) members completed their annual blanket tying for vets community service project at their meeting on October 9.
Each summer several members meet to cut and fringe the fleece for the blankets; then the entire chapter takes part in the fringe knotting at the October meeting. The blankets are always made from fabric with patriotic designs and given to veterans. This year, about 20 blankets will be distributed to veterans at the Veterans Care Center.
While the DAR generally focuses on the history of the Revolutionary War period, at this meeting they focused instead on the history of the honeybee with guest speaker Roger Reed, owner of Reed’s Apiaries in Blue Ridge.
Regent Cindy Higgins introduced him as a member of the Botetourt Beekeepers and the Blue Ridge Beekeepers Association. He is known as an Adventure Beekeeper who removes unwanted bees from people’s homes and property. He also teaches beekeeping classes each spring. And in addition to bottling honey, he also makes mead.
Reed, retired from the Navy, currently has eight hives of bees and brought along some of his equipment—his toolkit—to explain the process. He has been raising honeybees for about 12 years and remembers his grandfather “had bees.” Reed notes that he has only been stung nine times in those 12 years.
As for the history, Reed explained that the honeybee is not native to North America—while about 4,000 other types of bees are. Honeybees were brought here in 1622 from Europe; it took 231 years for them to spread across the continent.
He talked about the roles of the Queen bee, workers, and drones and their lifespans in what is a complicated process of honey production. In a lifetime, a honeybee only produces 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey. He noted that honey is the only product made by insects that humans eat.
Reed warned of the dangers of Round-up—the worst product affecting honeybees—and the many enemies and diseases bees face. He shared how to heat honey to stop the crystallization process. He talked about the “Hey, Honey” he gathers and sells as being “smorgasbord” honey, the product most likely of locust, red clover, and other plants. He commented on the numerous medical uses of honey—seen by some as a “miracle drug.”
In DAR chapter business, an investiture ceremony was held for new member Carla Mann Honaker who took the RVCDAR Oath of Membership. Janice Taylor announced that there are seven prospective members and two pending members as the chapter continues to grow.
Member Sharon Menzies reported on a community service project with the Town of Vinton. The DAR and the town, with assistance from the PFG corporation, are collecting soft recyclable plastics. The Trex corporation will donate a bench for every 500 pounds of recyclables collected. Menzies and Higgins said that about 800 pounds of recyclables have already been collected even though the project doesn’t officially get underway until November. No worries—the town will be happy to accept as many benches for the greenways as become available through the project. Collection boxes are located at the Charles R. Hill Community Center and the Municipal Building.
The local DAR has a special focus on veterans. They will once again be collecting white socks, white T-shirts, and Christmas cards for the Veterans Care Center. Members also send care packages to deployed troops.
Menzies shared information on the National Day of the Deployed—October 26—which honors American military personnel around the globe. Data shows that as of August 7, 2021, between 150,000 and 200,000 active-duty personnel are stationed outside the United States, including Menzies’ daughter, who is currently serving abroad.
The Roanoke Valley Chapter will be celebrating its 60th anniversary on November 6 at Bonsack Baptist Church with several state and regional DAR officials. Higgins noted that the local chapter was the first in Virginia to begin meeting on Saturdays to accommodate working women.
Higgins and Susan Doyle shared information for the Patriot Minute Project, celebrating Patriots all year long in conjunction with the national DAR’s America 250! Project. (Members of the DAR trace their lineage to ancestors who aided in achieving American independence—their Patriot.)
Higgins focused on the Patriot for founding member Florence Emily Bowman White—William Acker or Akers. He was born in Augusta County in 1735 and died in Franklin County in November 1836 at the age of 101. He furnished supplies for the cause of independence.
Doyle shared the story of her Patriot, Hugh Caldwell, who was born in Ireland between 1740 and 1751. He married Rutha Holstein in Botetourt County and was the father of 11 children. He served in the Botetourt Militia (Botetourt County Riflemen). He died on Craigs Creek in 1838.
The Botetourt County Riflemen were experts in using rifles—not common during the Revolutionary War. At that time, Botetourt County was one of the largest counties in Virginia and included Craig County. The militia was composed of frontier men, most of whom did not have formal military training or experience in close combat, but they were excellent shots due to frontier life. Caldwell participated in the Alamance Campaign under General Green.
Higgins closed the meeting with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, ““May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
The Roanoke Valley DAR Chapter meets at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in Vinton.