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June 28, 2021

"Work I Knew I Must" - with Tammy Horn Potter (S4, E2)

Returning to join us in this episode is Tammy Horn Potter. (She originally visited us back in Season 2!) Not only is Tammy the State Apiary Inspector for Kentucky, but she is also an accomplished author. She has just finished her fourth book entitled,...

Tammy Horn PotterReturning to join us in this episode is Tammy Horn Potter. (She originally visited us back in Season 2!) Not only is Tammy the State Apiary Inspector for Kentucky, but she is also an accomplished author. She has just finished her fourth book entitled, “Work I Knew I Must. Reminiscence of Forty-One Years of Factory Life.”

Jane Cole worked for the A. I. Root Company for 41 years, starting when A.I. Root was making jewelry in his factory on the Town Square, in Medina, Ohio. She worked through the construction of the new factory built on the Country Fair Grounds on the edge of town to manufacture beekeeping equipment, and the many, many factory expansions they made after that. During those 41 years she did almost every job that could be done in a factory that sawed wood, made smokers, extractors, bottled honey, printed a magazine and books, and took orders and filled orders and delivered orders to customers, the railroad and the post office.

She wrote about building the new factory, child labor, factory dangers (and there were many), factory politics, noon prayers, the hundreds of people she worked with over the years, the company sponsored picnics, the men, women and children she was in charge of, and the people she worked with, and for.

When A. I. Root retired, he, too, wrote an autobiography, about running the factory that Jane Cole worked in.Root Factory Original Location

What Tammy has done is take Jane Cole’s work and stand it side by side with A. I. Root’s work to give you a very unique look at factory life, from the perspective of an employee, and her employer. Many of the events Jane found worthy of writing about were also mentioned by Root in his work. Because neither was aware of the other’s work, the telling of these events is about as straight forward from each as you can imagine.

The story Tammy as sewn together tells much about early beekeeping history and equipment, the evolution of factory equipment and science, about working as a single woman in what is mostly a man’s world, and about life in a small town in northeast Ohio at the turn of the century.

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:


Honey Bee Obscura


Good Food Awards

Calling all craft food and drink makers! Entry period for the 12th annual Good Food Awards is open now thru June 30th, and we’re accepting entries from 18 different categories of food and drink, including honey. Entries are $78 a piece to help cover logistics, and entrants can add on the option to receive judge feedback from the Blind Tasting in August for $15. Head over to for all the details and use code BEEKEEPING at checkout for $10 off. We look forward to seeing your entries soon!


We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website:

This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine destined for2 Million Blossoms your coffee table. Each page of the magazine is dedicated to the stories and photos of all pollinators and written by leading researchers, photographers and our very own, Kim Flottum.


We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments:

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"; Musicalman, "Epilogue". Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC


S4, E2 – "Work I Knew I Must" with Tammy Horn Potter


Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast, presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Sponsor: Hey, Jeff, and Kim, today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honey bee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honey bees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs.

No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at

Jeff: Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. This being our second episode of our fourth season, you know each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsors' support. They help make all of this happen and provide us with the ability to bring you each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazinefor continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today. We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms for sponsoring this episode.

2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Learn more on our season two episode nine podcast with editor Kirsten Traynor and from visiting, and that is with a number two. Also, check out Kirsten's new 2 Million Blossoms - The Podcast. Also available on her website or from wherever you download and listen to your podcast. Hey, Kim, it's finally summer. You're enjoying the heat?

Kim: No, as a matter of fact.


It's been warm. Ironically, it's cool here today, but it has been warm for lots and lots of days. It makes yardwork not fun, and it makes bee work not fun. I'm sitting in here today when it's nice and cool when I should be out there enjoying that cool weather, but here I am.

Jeff: It's really funny that I've lived here for several years now, but I'm still always amazed every spring is that there's a very short spring period that you'd think about spring coming from the Midwest. Then it goes from a drizzly cool what we experience all winter and all of a sudden, it's sunny and hot. That's what we've experienced this last week. We've been in temperatures in high 70s, 80s, and even hit 90, and they're talking about nearly 100 this coming week, which is just unheard of for the Pacific Northwest.

Kim: I don't know. Thank your lucky stars.

Jeff: No, that's true, but makes me think about the rest of the country and people in the Southwest, in California, and throughout the Southeast. All these areas are hitting all the high temperatures, and folks who have not kept bees long, they don't understand how bees are managing in the heat and have never seen a colony beard out front in the evening. What's your experience with the summer heat and bees bearding, et cetera?

Kim: We'll see bearding once in a while. A good trick to do that is to make sure that your entrance is wide open. I prop up the cover and the inner cover and maximize the possible ventilation. If you've got the cover propped up and the inner cover propped up, or sometimes I'll just take the inner cover off and just prop up the cover, you don't see bearding as much because it does stay cooler in there. Then I've got lots of free time, so propping up 5,000 covers probably isn't going to work. [chuckles]

Jeff: I've always thought that bees handle the heat better than they do cold and wet.

Kim: It depends on the hive that they're in. The standard Langstroth hive it has no insulative value, so it doesn't stay cool in that hive. If they're in a tree, it's going to stay cooler because you got better insulation on a three-inch tree trunk wall than you do a three-quarter-inch plain pine or cedar board. They handle the heat better when they're in the home they choose, and the home we choose, it tends to be a little harder to keep it cool inside.

Jeff: Good point. I have slatted racks. I'm one of the rare people that use slatted racks on everything. I think that it helps a little bit too, but on these really hot days, I'm going to start propping up the cover.

Kim: Yes, that's guaranteed to help.

Jeff: Oh, absolutely. Everybody, we'd love to hear from you. What do you do for your bees on these super hot days? Send us an audio postcard using the voice memo feature of your iPhone, or your Android phone, or whatever you use, or better yet, leave us a voicemail on our website by clicking on the little blue microphone icon in the lower right-hand corner. Let us know, and we'll share your thought on a future episode.

Kim: Yes, good idea.

Jeff: Kim, today, it is June 28th, and we just have a few more days for the Good Food awards. They're taking entries for the honey competition. I think that ends here on June 30th. Folks can check the show notes for more information and even a discount code to save on their registration fee. Did you get your entries in?

Kim: No, [chuckles] I didn't again.

Jeff: [laughs] You've got a couple of days.

Kim: Maybe, but probably not. I'm just behind on everything. It's been so hot.


Jeff: If it wasn't so hot, you wouldn't be inside and you could get some stuff done.

Kim: There you go. That's it. If you're-- wherever it is you are listening to this, you've got two days to get your entry in. If you've already extracted this year, make sure it's clean and follow all the rules and regs that you'll find on Good Foods Awards webpage. There is a link to that on our webpage and get in the mail ASAP because you've got a chance to win Best Honey in America.

Jeff: It would be a nice label to have on a jar of honey sitting.

Kim: Yes, it would.

Jeff: It would be. Hey, Kim, and coming up, it sounds like a long ways off, but it'll be here before we know it. In October, there's a special event that you're familiar with.

Kim: Every year, Bee Culture, our sponsor, has what we started off several years ago calling our October Event. Over the years, we've had all sorts of people come in to talk about all kinds of topics. Last year, I think was one of the best ones, or at least it was one of the most fun ones for me because I got to play A. I. Root. We had Langstroth, Finn, and we had CP Dadant, and we talked about the history of beekeeping. It was a good time.

We've had all of the writers from Bee Culture Magazine come in for a couple of days, and you got to listen to all of them. We've done that over the years. Interesting you should mention that today, Jeff, because our guest today is going to be at the October Event, that's October 1st through to the 3rd in Medina. You can find out lots more on their webpage. Tammy Horn Potter is going to be one of the speakers this year, talking about what's going on in her part of the world and what she's been up to.

Jeff: Fantastic, and that's October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Medina, Ohio. There is limited space, is that correct?

Kim: Correct.

Jeff: We encourage everybody to listen to upcoming episodes. We'll have more information about this year's event called Beeing Diverse: Inspiring Leaders in Beekeeping. Again, that is October 1st through to 3rd in Medina, Ohio, and there is limited space so make sure you sign up early.

Kim: Yes, sign up early.

Jeff: We'll have links and more information on our show notes.

Kim: Yes, and on Bee Culture's webpage also.

Jeff: Kim, our guest today is Tammy Horn Potter. We've had her on our show I think in our second season.

Kim: Yes, when she did her third book, we had her up. Her third book was Flower Power. She was talking about getting-- the surface mines were closing and she was working with the state government to get them planted in pollinator plants. Her first two books had been out already, and now, she's got a fourth book out, and that's what we're going to talk about today.

Jeff: Fantastic. I look forward to hearing from Tammy and getting caught up to what's going on in Kentucky with bees. All right, before we get to that, you've been working hard on Honey Bee Obscura with Dr. Jim Tew, haven't you?

Kim: Yes, we've got a couple coming up that are going to be fun. One of the ones that we're going to talk about that's going to be fun it's we're going to look at some of the aspects of the Winter Loss Survey, we're going to look in maybe a little bit more detail than they did just because some of them are very interesting from a beekeeper's perspective, backyard hobby beekeeper's perspective. That's coming up.

We've got one coming up dealing with neighbors. Jim's life is going to change pretty soon in terms there's a development going up in his backyard, essentially. He's going to have to look at how he's going to deal with his bee yard. We're going to look at dealing with neighbors. There's a lot coming up.

Jeff: Yes, the title of that one is called, at least the working title of that one is called Old Neighbors and I wasn't sure whether that meant elderly neighbors or longtime neighbors. That'll be an interesting topic.

Kim: It's about neighbors, and what you should and shouldn't do regarding neighbors and bees.

Jeff: Oh, that'd be really good. One of the upcoming episodes is one that is rarely discussed is how do you kill a colony? How do you euthanize or put down a colony that is either diseased or is very aggressive?

Kim: That was tough. Actually, it's fairly easy to do. In terms of the physical labor involved two people can do it and then five minutes, but killing a colony you just use the term putting down and foulbrood is one of them. Aggressive bees is one of the reasons and both of those sometimes have to be dealt with on a per colony basis. If you have to put a colony down, suddenly you've got an empty box out there where that was a productive hive. It can be hard to do. It can be an emotional experience, certainly, but we talked about how to do it. Several ways to look at how to do it and to accomplish it safely for the beekeeper, and with a minimum of fuss for the bees.

Jeff: You guys did a good job. I encourage our listeners to stay tuned in to and listen to Kim and Jim talk about all things honey bees. They do a fantastic job. Let's get to our interview with Tammy Horn Potter, but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials

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Jeff: While you're out browsing Strong Microbials website, make sure you subscribe to The Hive, their regular newsletter about all things honeybee, and receive regular updates and important information. Sitting across the Zoom table right now from us is Tammy Horn Potter. Tammy, welcome back to the show you were here way back in our season two episode three. We've grown up quite a bit since you were last here. I hope you notice the changes.

Tammy Horn Potter: Thank you for inviting me.

Jeff: You bet. It's good to see you again, Tammy. Tammy, we invited you here to talk to us about your latest book project but since you are the State Apiarist for the State of Kentucky, can you give us a little update on how the bees in Kentucky are doing this season?

Tammy: Oh, this year has been phenomenal. We've had an extended swarm season. We've had some unusually cool weather in May and so I think that that has meant that bees have stayed inside and have begun their swarm preparations much sooner. As I said it's been extended. People are still catching swarms everywhere. That's a good thing. I think the hives have been healthy for the most part across the 120 counties that make up Kentucky and I have been busy taking samples for the Honeybee Health Survey.

Jeff: Oh, very good. Where are the most bees kept in Kentucky? Are they in the eastern side drought or the Western side? I know geologically, it's different.

Tammy: Sure. When I'm describing Kentucky, I explained to these three different states. Most of our commercial migratory beekeepers are in Western Kentucky. They do a lot of pollination for pumpkins and watermelon and canola. Then the Bluegrass region, we have a lot of orchards and beginning to get more soybeans and corn. Of course, people know Kentucky by its famous product bourbon. Corn is one of our agricultural engines in this state and then the eastern part of the state, of course, is mountainous, it's forest, and so then we have much a-- honey industry that's more based on black locust and tulip poplar, and dogwoods, the trees that ends up controlling and determining how successful beekeeping is in that part of the state.

Kim: I guess I didn't know Kentucky bourbon needed pollination?

Tammy: Corn typically doesn't. If it is sold in Europe, Europe does wants their corn to be, they don't want herbicides used on it. Anyway, what ends up happening is that for distilleries that sell their product on the European market, they end up having to use a fungicide.

Jeff: Well, Kim, if it helps the beekeepers in Kentucky, I will be happy to drink some fine bourbon. I'll do my part for the beekeepers of Kentucky.

Kim: Tammy, we invited you here today because you've got a new book out. It's your fourth book but before we get there, just briefly fill us in on the first three.

Tammy: The very first book that I wrote, was published in 2005 and it's called Bees in America, How the Honeybee Shaped a Nation. When I wrote that book, it's more of a social history, and a cultural history. Of course, I tell people, I was a horrible beekeeper at that point in time, I was much more interested in how different cultures had appropriated the image of a honeybee and used it to shape values, shape work ethics, in some cases, shape religion. Of course, our blues, our rock and roll, and thick and muddy waters. Stevie Ray Vaughan, these are all cultural markers.

Now, we have Beyonce and she's our queen bee. We haven't gotten away from that. The first book is a cultural history. It comes up to basically 2002 prior to Colony Collapse Disorder becoming this major international phenomenon. The second book is called Beeconomy, what lemon and bees teaches about local trade and global markets. I wanted to just focus on the different types of hives that have been used throughout history.

I traveled to Europe and Africa and South America and Australia, to meet women beekeepers so that people would have a more balanced, I think, in their minds, more balanced perceptions about who can be beekeepers, and about the different types of hives that can be used to keep bees, because I think many people think that there's just one type of hive and it has to be painted white, and it has to weigh 100 pounds.

I wanted to maybe interject some other pictures of that into the discussion. Then finally, the third book Flower Power, which was when we talked last was published in 2019 and that's about establishing pollinator habitat. At the time that I was working with surface mind sites from 2008 until 2014, the coal industry was still very much an economic engine in Eastern Kentucky. Of course, part of the issue of surface mining is that there do need to be reclamation practices put in place and so I worked with coal companies to make sure that pollinator habitat was included in that.

Larry Connor, of course, who is in charge of the Wicwas Press, and asked me to compose a primer, so that people who are wanting to do other kinds of large scale, maybe work with large scale extraction industries, solar panel power is beginning to take off now. We're starting to see a lot of interest in giving pollinator habitat on these large-scale solar projects. The third book is about establishing pollinator habitat and all the mistakes I made along the way.

Kim: Three very interesting topics using the same basis of bees and beekeeping.

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Kim: Your fourth book I know also uses bees and beekeeping, but it's a significantly different approach, I think.

Tammy: It's a step away. I think, for me, what was compelling about Work I Knew I Must, which is basically a compilation of two memoirs. It's a factory woman named Jane Cole who is working for A. I. Root who many of your listeners will be familiar with, because not only does the Root company published Bee Culture, the magazine, it makes candles. Prior to making candles for the world, it also make beekeeping supplies and a whole host of other types of things. It was a true American factory. A. I. Root also wrote a memoir about his experiences as a factory owner.

Work I Knew I Must combines those two memoirs so that we get a factory worker and the factory owner's perspective sometimes on the same events. It also combines a woman's perspective with a man's perspective. I think it's made for an interesting read if you are interested in understanding more about the complexities of what it is to work in a factory and how difficult it is. Of all of my books, this is the most eccentric, I think. It's also the closest to my heart.

Kim: There's quite a story in how you got this finally printed when I was still editor of Bee Culture, we started on this project and ran into several obstacles over the years that delayed its printing, but in the long run, I think the event that we had in Wooster a couple of years ago, really made it better because we had to delay it. What you found in Wooster made the book, I think, a lot better.

Tammy: In 2019 at the Tri-county Beekeeping School held in Wooster, I happened to be sitting at a table signing copies of Bees In America, Beeconomy, and Flower Power and a gentleman approached me. Kathy Summers or spouse of Kim had tipped him off that I was really interested in this woman named Jane Cole. This very tall man comes up to me and he introduces himself and he says, "I am the great-nephew of Jane Cole."

My jaw just dropped because I had been working on this manuscript, modernizing some of the language, correcting some of the sentences and the syntax, cutting out some of the fluff as an editor does. Also at the same time blending in A. I. Roots perspectives and memoirs, and working on this larger manuscript, but I had no pictures of Jane Cole. I had no sense of how to get in touch with her relatives. We didn't even know if they lived in the area there in Ohio or if they had moved on.

As it turned out as Kim says, in many ways, it was fortuitous that the manuscript was delayed as long as it was finally being published because the family has just embraced this project. They've shared photos of their beloved Jane Cole and have been very enthusiastic about its launch. In many ways, it's like, I feel like I had a chance to know something of this person who had for many years just been a name on a page for a long time.

Jeff: That must've been a goosebump moment when he introduced himself.

Kim: I think a eureka moment is more appropriate here.

Tammy: More Lorenzo Langstroth . Because not even Kathy knew. He just happened to be walking by and saw these different books about bee history that Bee Culture had. He was like, "Well, my relative used to work for A. I. Root." This is when he was talking to Kathy and Kathy said, "Well, really? What was his name?" I think. He said, "Well, it was Jane Cole. It was a woman."

Of course, I think in many ways, maybe Kathy is the one that may have also had a goosebump moment because, in essence, Kathy does Jane Cole's job. Jane Cole became the bookbinder person. Now, since Kim has retired, Kathy has stepped into the role of editor and working along with Jerry Hayes.

Kim: Wow. That's fantastic. I guess briefly tell the story of the book. These is sections pieces of Jane Cole's life. She started it just before she got married. She started her story about her life just before she got married and until she retired, which is, I want to say, more than 40 years later.

Tammy: The book is titled 41 Years of Factory Life. Working on our book, I started with this old cowboy saying, which is, "Life is not in having a good hand, it is playing a poor hand well." As you're reading this book, it's like, "All right, let's look at what cards she had in her hand." She has a solid family. One of the things that comes through clearly in her book is her close relationship with an aunt named Maria Harrington. With whom, she ends up living after she gets divorced and they buy property together. That is one of the indicators of wealth in the United States, is if you can own land, which for women, the deck was significantly stucked in the late 19th century.

She has a very strong faith and that for her keeps her going. It keeps her grounded. Anytime she feels like there are these personalities at work and inside the factory or that there are some people who are working against her, she holds onto her face. Then that leads to a third thing. She has her health for the most part. She doesn't drink. She doesn't smoke. There's a scene here where her ex-husband decides to remarry. It's a telling sentence because the guy says, "Well, your ex-husband decided to remarry and the woman wants to improve herself. We can tell because she quit chewing tobacco."

Well, this was never part of Jane Cole's modus operandi. This was a woman who she did suffer illness, and I'll get to that here in a second, but she had her health, she owned land and she had good strong family ties. That buffers her from some of these uncertainties that happen with the other part. What else is in her hand? The next three things I'm going to talk about are things that really become determiners. She marries and ends up getting a divorce.

Now, in the United States, one of the predictors of wealth is that you get and stay married. She ends up marrying somebody who has, we would call now, in the '19, '20 or 2021 wave would say he has post-traumatic stress disorder. It was a civil war that he tended to want to move around a lot. Didn't want to stay put. Then one morning, maybe, I don't know, Kim, stop me if I'm giving too much of the book away.

We're trying to encourage people to maybe want to read the book. I don't want to give all of the endings away, but anyway, at some point, the marriage dissolves, there's a particularly unhappy night and so she decides to get divorced I don't want to stress too, that in saying one of the predictors of wealth in the United States is that you get and stay married. This is not to say that people should stay in an abusive marriage because there is a price to be paid for stress.

It's just, like I said, one of the predictors. The other predictor that works against Jane Cole, is that she would like to get an education, she knows that she would love to go to college and her family simply will not support her in that decision. The fact that she's not able to get an education will work against her through the course of her life. She ends up as many others do, getting an education in dog-legged style. I think that's one of the reasons why she became such a good book binder for Big Culture Magazine in its early stages because she could read and she could pick up these things.

It did work against her. She had wanted to become a Teacher, she ended up suffering malaria. This is third thing that works against her and it works against her ability to accumulate wealth in the United States in the late 19th century is sickness. One medical emergency can sink you and she ended up landing herself a teaching position, but she became sick with malaria. At that point in time, of course, it's caused by mosquitoes and she was deadly ill and so she had to give up that teaching appointment.

Then that meant, she's holding a poor hand and the book in my opinion is how she plays that forehand well. That's how it's 41 years of making these choices and having to figure out work around. She starts with A. I. Root after consulting with her family. They finally agreed to let her make an application to Mr. Root, who is a jewelry maker at this point in time, he's not making beekeeping supplies. She goes to work for him and those two have such a good strong working relationship, that she stays loyal to the company. I think even when there are times that he has moved on, he has retired and so she's working for managers and she's a manager. It's a full lifetime's work to this particular company.

Kim: One of the interesting things that happened to A. I. when he was running his jewelry factory on the town square in Medina, when Jane had already started working for him and he was up on the second floor one day and one of his co-workers was with him or one of his employees was with them. Then they were looking out the window and a swarm flew by and they both saw an A. I. thinking that would be impossible, told his or asked his employees, if you can catch that swarm and bring it back to me, secure in a box, I'll give you a dollar. Which at the time was, like a week's wages or almost. What he didn't know was that employee was a beekeeper, so the employee got his box, went out, caught the swarm, brought it back, and now here's A. I. Root with a box of bees, and now what do I do? That opened that door for him, interestingly.

He put him upstairs on the third floor by an open window and, of course, in a day they were gone. That started his interest in bees and beekeeping, so she was close to being there at the beginning, but downstairs making jewelry, I imagine. Shortly after he got those bees, he found out that he needed to know more about them, so everybody he knew, he asked, "Tell me what about bees and beekeeping?" He of course, he just started driving people crazy, because there was hardly anything written about it, so he said, "Okay, I got to go to a library." He went up to the Cleveland library and there were two beekeeping books and he looked at both of them and he picked the one by Langstroth. The Hive and the Honeybee and brought that home and devoured it, of course, and then was looking for more.

His factory upstairs on the third floor continued to grow. Jane was downstairs making jewelry and sometimes was upstairs helping making beekeeping equipment even then, running some of the equipment. Power equipment was almost non-existent, so a lot of the things were being done by hand. She was able to assemble some of the equipment and able to package and deliver orders to the post office and do those sorts of things.

Then they built a factory down about five blocks away on what was then the county fairgrounds and they bought the land. The good thing about that factory, A. I. was very sharp, there were two railroads in town. There still are two railroads in town, one going Northwest, one going North and South and one going East and West and they crossed and he built this factory at the intersection of those two real lines in Medina. No matter where, so an order had to go, he could send it there, you didn't have to send it someplace and have it transferred. He could have it delivered almost directly.

Tammy: Kim, we should back up, we should probably give listeners as a sense of the time period that we're talking. Jane gets divorced from her husband in 1869. She goes to work for Ray in 1870 and that's when he has already set up his jewelry-making business on the courthouse square. As you say, he's got this warehouse so that, she's down in the first form making chains and he's up on the top floor trying to figure out what to do with the swarm.

Then the new factory gets built in the 1880s, because I think sometimes if you're really interested in history, the past isn't even past and so we forget that, for most people who are listening to us right now. It's 2021 and so we're talking about late 19th-century stuff here now.

Kim: I want to just refresh people where the A. I. part of the story comes in, is that, before he retired, he spent a lot of time writing his autobiography, he wanted it to be printed after he died. He died in, I want to say, 1923 and that's when they began publishing his autobiography a chapter a month for, I think it was pushing a couple of three years. He wrote a lot, he was envious of how much he was able to write.

There's A. I. Roots, autobiography of how he looked at factory life and how he looked at dealing with people, dealing with women, dealing with children all the family, and all of that. On the other side, you had Jane Cole's book on her, how she looked at the same thing through a very different set of eyes, and what you did was join them. Those two autobiographies it make-- it's a fascinating read because you get her story and then you get his story and you wonder if they were in the same state. Sometimes they look at things so different.

Tammy: I thought it was interesting that her book was not published until 1924, the year after Mr. Ray had died. I wondered if she had a say in that or that's just coincidence, but that's just one of those questions I had, but when you read the both of them together, the issues are still the same. It's the same issues that we talk about, when we're talking about Jane and her the cards that she's holding in her hand, the workforce issues. Mr. Root had this great saying and it's a prayer, two words. I have to say that I've read Mr. Root's writing so much, now I say the same prayers at times, it was Lord help, Lord help, Lord help.

At some point, he said, "I know I was saying it so much, I was saying in voluntarily aloud," and I have been there. I understand that stress. Safety issues, there are employees that get hurt. You don't get that so much in Mr. Root's writings, you get the names and the injuries and Jane Cole's writings. These are men that she knew and not only that, but that she followed up with once they went home, she would deliver food, she got on first-name basis with their wives. She followed them through the course of their recovery, child labor many people who may be listening, we take it for granted that there are child labor laws in our country, but they weren't passed until 1916.

For a good 41 years, there are times when Jane Cole is a babysitter, as much as she is a Bookbinder and a jewelry maker, a person who's making honey extractors, because that's what she was doing at one point in time when things got busy at the factory. You got issues of unions and pay and, gossip, she has some of the best insights into how gossip can impact a workforce and its productivity. Of course, all of these issues are still current for those of you who are listening to this, you may want to watch a documentary that's on Netflix right now called American Factory came out in 2019, also set in Ohio down in Dayton, same issues, the very, very same issues.

Kim: The other thing, there's a busy season and there's a down season and making beekeeping supplies and you try to get ahead of the game in late winter, you run like crazy in the spring and by the end of summer, there's nothing going out the door because everybody's already got everything they want. For a while, when Jane Cole was first working, she like everybody else, or almost everybody else always got laid off. Of course, there was no work or there was no unemployment, you were just out of a job, and a lot of people couldn't live like that.

They had to have a job, so they went someplace else. The labor turnover was fairly high. Very soon, A. I. realized the value of Jane Cole and his establishment, and almost never laid her off in the last, part of the time that she was there. Do you remember the part, I'm sure you do, the part where she got laid off and she got a job selling, making Christmas decorations, and selling them out of one of the stores in Medina, except the two days a week when A. I. needed her?

Tammy: Oh, yes. Well, and not only that, that was one thing that she did. Another time when she was laid off, she went to work for a photographer who had lost his arm in the civil war, and started helping them with retouching photographs. To me, again, when we talk about the hand that somebody holds, it was she loved photography. She loved art she took classes. She learned how to draw and to paint. Yes, I had to go to the photographer and sweet talk her about coming back to the factory, because you really enjoyed the photography.

Kim: Tammy, I think you did a good job of marrying these two documents and, John Root read your book. He's the fourth generation Root, of course, and he couldn't put it down. It was fascinating for him. If you can please John Root with this, I think anyone, and everyone will enjoy reading this. It's a glimpse into a world that none of us know of course, but know a little bit about, now we know a lot more about. I enjoyed all of the time that we had working on it, even though it was extended, but, it was a good project, and thank you for considering us.

Tammy: Oh, I thoroughly have enjoyed working on it. I'm so pleased that it's finally published. I'm also pleased that, both, Jane Cole's family and Mr. Root are pleased with it too. That's important as well.

Kim: It turned out quite well. The art that, companies, the book now, a lot of the Root people, the Root factory people, Jane Cole, several photos. You get a glimpse into what factory life was like. Not only reading about it but looking at the pictures. Of course, I can't go without mentioning the fact that we still publish and sell an eyewitness account of early American beekeeping, the autobiography of A. I. Root.

You can get his whole picture of how life was when he was running his factory and afterwards. He was involved in a lot of things other than bees and beekeeping and some of them, of course, the most recent one to me, interesting, was a piece of the Wright airplane, Wright brothers airplane went to Mars and A. I. Root was good friends with the Wright brothers and published an account of the time that they flew, went out, turned around and came back and landed where they started, which is the first real flight, of an airplane. All of this fell together nicely. Anything we missed, Tammy.

Tammy: I just like to stress that the A. I. Root was just the opposite of Jane Cole. He met his wife Sue at an early age, they got and stayed married. He had a good, hard work ethic. He owned this property, when he writes his autobiography, it almost seems like a foregone success. He's everything that we think of as this American success story. When you read his autobiography, it seems there's so much, he's so prolific. He is such a prolific writer that I think reading Jane Cole reminds you of how hard it was, of how really difficult it was, how nip and tuck it was. It was not this four O thing conclusion that this factory was going to be a success.

Kim: We can get your first three books, almost anywhere on Amazon or any of the other booksellers.

Tammy: Yes.

Kim: Correct. Right now, I know that your book, "Work, I Knew I Must" is available through Bee Culture Magazine.

Tammy: That's right.

Kim: We will certainly have a link to that in the show notes and your other books. Tammy, this has been fun. It was a fun project and you and I went through the long road. I'm glad it's over, but I enjoyed the trip. How's that?

Tammy: It's good. I am too.

Jeff: A great adventure. That sounds like a type two kind of fun, and it's fun when it's over and in retrospect.

Kim: The book is amazing. I encourage everyone to try and get it, try and get a chance to read it. Thank you, Tammy.

Tammy: Thank you for inviting me.

Jeff: Thank you, Tammy. Pleasure, having you on, and look forward to having you back. Hey, Kim, it's really great having Tammy back on the show. I can't believe it's been so long since she was last on in season two, but it was great getting caught up on the state of affairs for bees in the State of Kentucky and on her latest project.

Kim: It's been a while. One of the things we didn't get to talk about today is that when we were working on this project, I invited her up to Medina to show her the places that she was writing about. We went to the house that she and her aunt owned, which isn't there anymore, but now it's another building, but at least we were able to find the very lot that it sat on. We toured the oldest part of the factory, where Jane would have been working.

We went up to the town square where the jewelry store had been, but shortly after A. I. left the square, basically the whole town square burned down. The building is there, but there's a plaque on the building that replaced it. That said, this was the site of the original factory. Then we got to visit, A. I's graveside and Jane Coles graveside. We got to see all of what was there, which was kind of special.

Jeff: Yes, and just for fun, I'll throw in the picture of me at the plaque reference to one of the last times I was in Medina. I took a picture there. There's a lot of great history there in Medina. To have that connection or have that history written, that Tammy was able to pull together from A. I. Roots. then also from a lack of a better term, a commoner, if you will, of the time who worked with A. I. Root, that's a great perspective.

Kim: Yes. It was a fun project and I am glad it's-- like I said, I'm glad. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed the ride, but I'm glad it's done.

Jeff: Yes, type two fun buddy, type two fun. Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcasts or wherever you download to stream this show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any web page. You think I'd know this by now, Kim.

As always we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of the Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor Global Patties. Check them out at

We also want to thank Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at We want to thank Betterbee for joining us as our latest supporter. Check out all the great beekeeping supplies at Finally and most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping Today Podcast listeners for joining us on this show. We could not do it without you being there. Feel free to send us questions and comments at We'd love to hear from you. Anything else we should mention, Kim?

Kim: No, I think that wraps it up for this time, Jeff.

Jeff: Sounds good. Take care, everybody.


[00:51:16] [END OF AUDIO]

Tammy Horn PotterProfile Photo

Tammy Horn Potter

Author, State of Kentucky Apriarist

Tammy Horn Potter got her start by helping her grandfather with his beehives in 1997. In 2006-2010, she worked winter seasons with Big Island Queens in Hawaii. In 2008, she started Coal Country Beeworks, working with surface mine companies to establish pollinator habitat and apiaries in Eastern Kentucky.

In 2014, she became the KY State Apiarist, helping shape the Kentcky Department of Agriculture Pollinator Protection Plan and Kentucky Certified Honey Producers program. From 2015-2020, she has coordinated the USDA Honey Bee Health Survey in the state.

Tammy also serves on the boards of Eastern Apiculture Society, Project Apis M, Honey Bee Health Coalition, and Green Forests Work.

Tammy is the author of the following books - available wherever you buy your books:
- Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation (2005);
- Beeconomy: What Women and Bees teach us about Local Trade and Global Markets (2012);
- Flower Power: Establishing Pollinator Habitat (2019), and
- Work I Knew I Must: Reminiscences of Forty-One Years of Factory Life (2021).