Honey hunters faced fierce and furry competition

Does anyone know just how many people are keeping bees in this county? There usually was no problem obtaining the golden delicacy in grocery stores and super markets fairly close to home, but this is now. We purchase honey in glass jars so we can see the final product before putting our money on the line.

That’s not the way it used to be. Honey, a century ago, was available in tree trunks and other places where hives could be found. Honey hunters were very careful about disclosing the locations of their finds and gave a great deal of attention to every step in the honey making process.

Carl Glader, an early resident of what would become Kandiyohi County, was a very active honey hunter.

He came to this country in 1853, settling first in Chisago County, but moved to the bee trees farther northwest, where in 1865 he began honey hunting again with a relish.

He started making maple syrup, as it had been made in his native Sweden, and he was doing quite a good business.

Things were going well for him until he found one morning that one of his bee hives had been ripped open and the honey removed. Scratches and other damage showed him that his honey was now resting in the stomach of a black bear and that just wouldn’t do for Carl Glader. He wanted revenge!

Glader was an inventive individual, so he rigged up an alarm system between his cabin and his bees so any trespassing would make the cowbell in his cabin ring loud and clear if any man or any beast came near his precious remaining hive.

The bell did not ring that night. That was unusual but, when things came to a head, he found that the last of his precious bee hives had been ripped open and its contents stolen somehow by the bear which had been the nocturnal visitor as long as the bee hives had lasted.

It was too much for Glader. He left the honey hunting in this territory to others who wanted to try their hands at it. It’s just too bad that he wasn’t around to hear the news — when the snow melted the bear was found dead of a musketball wound.

Coincidentally John Horn, a neighbor of Glader’s, was also a honey hunter. He had rigged a trap in the outdoor dugout cellar next to his cabin where his family stored vegetables and milk from his cow. Unfortunately the trap didn’t work when the bear came looking for his daily treat. That angered Horn to the point he made another much more elaborate trap in the cellar. Of course he warned all the neighbors about the trap in the cellar so no one would be hurt.

That didn’t work either. That night when the bear was making his rounds a very loud gun shot echoed through the trees. Now everyone within earshot knew that the bear had been caught red-handed (red pawed?) while up to his favorite tricks. They descended on the Horn place in a small crowd to see the bear which had enjoyed such good times in all their storage places.

They were disappointed when they found that their bear had made a successful raid and gotten away with it. Their sorrow turned to glee a few days later when their bear was found lying in a thicket, dead of a wound from Horn’s gun. The Horn family moved elsewhere a while after the bear incident.

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