I spent a few most interesting fall days at Savannah, Tennessee with friends who, like me, devote much time studying history and honey bees. We combined our interests while visiting historic areas in the Tennessee River Valley. Jerry Hayes, Shirley Murphy, and I walked the fields and woods of Shiloh National Military Park, http://www.nps.gov/shil/learn/historyculture/shiloh-history.htm, the site of the horrific 1862 Civil War battle. Here, on the battlefield grounds we retraced the steps of ancestors who fought on both sides of the conflict. Shown in today’s photo are some of the 62 Confederate artillery pieces concentrated in Duncan Field, bearing down on the Sunken Road and Hornet’s Nest. We also visited other historic sites in the surrounding area, including the city of Savannah, where General U. S. Grant maintained his headquarters at the Cherry Mansion. Close by on Savannah’s Main Street the Tennessee River Museum, http://www.tennesseerivermuseum.org/exhibits.html, offers detailed views of the area’s Native American Mississipian culture, the U. S. Army’s forced removal of the Cherokee Nation in a march through Savannah known as the Trail of Tears. The museum also depicts pioneer life in the Tennessee River Valley.
Jerry and I visited Shirley’s well-tended bee hives before Jerry’s presentation at a meeting of the Savannah Area Beekeepers Association. Jerry, who has made a career of honey bee health issues, discussed current research into controlling Varroa mites and the viruses that they vector. He explained that some basic research that Monsanto is conducting with RNA interference technology, RNAi, offers promise. Jerry writes the popular “Classroom” section of the American Bee Journal. He conducted a live version of The Classroom for the Arkansas Beekeepers Association. Shirley is the charter president of the Savannah Area Beekeepers Association, an active group of Tennessee River Valley beekeepers. Shirley and I worked together, sharing our best honey bee genetic stock to breed locally adapted queens. Honey bee health improvement involves the efforts of devoted beekeepers in bee yards and researchers in labs. History surrounds us.--Richard