Ken Weidner, Carpenter Bees

(Frank) Today on Around Kansas we start with a story about Ken Weidner, a Kansas farmer whose true passion is the history of western Kansas. Next learn about Carpenter Bees, a bumblebee look-a-like that comes out in the spring. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with the Governor’s Proclamation Day on April 29th to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. Stay with us!Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Frank Chaffin) Well, good morning. It’s Wednesday. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) This is Around Kansas, good morning to you. (Deb) We are into the middle of April already. (Frank) Middle of April already, goodness. (Deb) I’ve been celebrating my birthday. Thank you, everybody, for the thoughts and wishes and, yes. I didn’t get as many presents as I expected, you know? I thought the mailman would be just breaking his back bringing the presents. Of course, checks, it didn’t take a lot to carry a check, you know what, Frank? (Frank) Yes, right. (Deb) We talked about this before. There was a, maybe we did, there was a preacher down South, Reverend Roosevelt Franklin from Macon, Georgia, and remember when Billy Preston had Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, that big hit, well, that was kind of the Reverend Roosevelt Franklin’s theme song and he says, “Some folks sends cards and some folks sends letter. You can’t put no money in a card.” Yes, talking about a postcard. He didn’t want any postcards; he wanted letters where you could stick a check in the envelope or some cash. (Frank) Roosevelt Franklin, now that just sounds like a southern preacher, like, “Roosevelt Franklin.” (Deb) Doesn’t it? Yes, you have met to be. Reverend Roosevelt Franklin, he was something else. He was quite the entertainment when I was a kid. Yes, but it was a little wonderful birthday. (Frank) Oh well, good. Good, good, good. You’ve been all over the state. You’ve been kind of a stranger in our part of the state. (Deb) Honey, I ought to get frequent flyer miles! (Frank) (Laughs) There you go. (Deb) Just for zooming back and forth on I-70, you know, if nothing else, and now on I-83 up and down, you name it, just everywhere. We’ve been working on our documentary, Thof’s Dragon, we’ve been working on that, and we’re filming and just like Dr. Jake is really busy; it’s a busy time of year, babies, we’ve got new babies at home. We got two new horses. (Frank) Wow. Oh, that’s right. You did post it; I saw that. (Deb) Yes, and they are so stinking cute. The first foul, this mare was old so she’s like up in her 20s and we were pretty concerned about her. We got her all segregated from the other horses and everything and she’s a paint and her baby is a paint and so she’s just like a mini Patches. And she’s so feminine, she’s sort of fine and frail and everything. Well then, four days later, we get a little boy and his mamma is a Haflinger and his daddy is a Haflinger and a Shetland pony, so just built like a match rod and he’s just like all boy. It’s so funny to watch him, he’s dark brown and she’s just white and fragile, and he’s just this dark brown little Mack truck of a horse. But, oh, Frank, it’s so much fun to watch him. (Frank) Well, it’s good that you’re back on the farm, so to speak. (Deb) It’s good; it is good. Life is good on the farm. (Frank) Yes, well we have some good stories this morning, so stick around. We’ll let you know what they’re all about.

(Frank) See, I told you we’d come back. Well, anyway, we have lots of stories today and you’re, they’re okay now that we’re in the middle of April, we got all of this stuff out in front of us this year, the 150 Celebrations and we’re talking about Nebraska, sorry. (Deb) No, but we had the 150th of Nebraska, but Kansas has so many 150th Anniversaries this year, it’s just crazy. Like I’ve said, this is the third most important year in Kansas history, 1867. We’ve got Chisholm Trail, we’ve got Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty, we’ve got so many events marking the 150th this year, and so many historic sites. And one of the people that you’re going to see a lot is Ken Widener, and he will be at our big event in July. July for us is the combination of a lot of the stuff in Western Kansas at Fort Wallace, and Ken is just one of these amazing people. When we started putting together the events at Fort Wallace and looking at the big encampment with the dozens of re-enactor’s we’ve got, Ken’s name is one that’s like, he’s going to be there, he’s going to be there for our annual meeting in April 23rd. too. He, Frank, just takes it to the nth degree. He has gone back and figured out how the Plains tribes could have done all these signs. Like when he talks about using every part of the buffalo, he figured out how to do that, exactly the way the Plains tribes would have done. He’s a living historian, he’s a – plays like a teacher. He is phenomenal. This is one that will get the kids attention. I promise you. When Ken shows up it will get the kids attention. (Frank) [Laughs] Okay. I think I have met him a couple of times at like Kansas Sampler, I think, he’s always there at the campground. (Deb) Yes, I’m sure. And he’s pretty amazing. He’s just one of the amazing people, but let’s take a look at the art and talent and ability of Ken Weidner. As Kansas marks the 150th anniversary of many events in 2017, one of the exhibits you are likely to see is a tipi with tanned hides and tools, all crafted in the manner of the 1860s Plains Tribes. The man wears face paint and sports a scalp lock, and frankly, is quite intimidating. But the blue eyes may give pause. Ken Weidner of Copeland is a farmer of German descent. He makes his living in southwest Kansas growing wheat, milo and corn and raising cattle on the family farm. Though farming is the life he was born into, his passion is the history of western Kansas. Ken’s interest in early western history began in grade school, evolving into his involvement with black powder guns and eventually the Fur Trade era rendezvous camps. The artistry and challenge of learning to “use every part of a buffalo” interested Ken in the Native American culture. His attention eventually focused on the Southern Cheyenne people who followed the herds of buffalo across the plains states, including Kansas. In the past thirty years, Ken has participated in various living history camps in Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and of course, Kansas. Research and actual hands on experience go hand in hand in crafting, understanding and mastering the creation and use of everyday articles. Most of the items you see in Whirlwind’s tipi have been handcrafted by Ken; brain tanned buffalo robes, rawhide parfleches of various shapes and sizes, beaded bags, bow and arrows, hand dyed Stroud wool blankets, German silver bridles and Indian saddles. Years of studying actual accounts in books and journals; living primitive camp life at every opportunity; and museum research trips where he’s been able to examine historic artifacts, has made Ken a sought-after expert in the material culture of the Southern Plains Indians. Commitment to the craft and attention to detail has opened doors for Ken both locally and across the country. You’ll see his work displayed or included in “hands on” exhibits at historic sites and museums such as Fort Larned NPS and the Little Bighorn Battlefield; and most notably, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. His work is so widely recognized because he is so disciplined and devoted to his craft, and thankfully, to sharing it with the rest of us.

(Deb) I’ll start. Okay, the downside of spring it’s all the insects coming out. I am a big supporter of honeybees. Honeybees have had some issues over the past. (Frank) Got to help them. (Deb) They’ve had their problems. But I’m a big supporter of honeybees and we got to have all these other bees, they pollinate things, which is really important, people. Pollination is important but, Frank, having grown up on a farm as a kid I can’t tell you how many times I was stung by something: Hornet wasp, yellow jacket, what we call Japanese hornets, I found out they were not Japanese. Bumblebees, have you ever been stung by a bumblebee? (Frank) No. (Deb) Holy cow, you might as well get shot. I’m not kidding. You’re going to talk about one that’s a really big nuisance this time of year and that’s the Carpenter Bees. (Frank) Carpenter Bees. Yes. (Deb) Are they a mess or what? (Frank) [Laughs] Well, it was really a learning experience for me too to learn about Carpenter Bees, because, I mean, you think about termites… (Deb) Right. (Frank) But carpenter bees… (Deb) They take it to a whole new level, don’t they? (Frank) Yes. Yes. (Deb) Yes. They’re bad enough, you got termites and now you got a termite that can sting you; and again and again. I mean, yes, it’s pretty scary. (Frank) Not only that but you can hear them underground. (Deb) Is that scary? Is that scary or what? (Frank) Yes, so [Laughs] anyway. (Deb) Or in the wall of your house, in the wall of your barn, oh, my gosh. (Frank) Anyway. We’re going to hear a story now about Carpenter Bees. (Deb) Watch for the horror film later. (Frank) Spring has sprung. The sun is shining. Baby birds are chirping. Bees are buzzing. And, bees are stinging. Oww!!! Bees are a vital part of the food chain, providing essential pollination duties that keep our environment intact. But some of them can be pretty scary, too, and are best avoided. Take the Carpenter Bee for example. While it resembles the bumblebee, it nests in wood rather than the ground where the bumblebee burrows. This industrious large, black bee emerges around April looking or a place to nest and a partner with whom to share life. After mating, the fertilized females excavate tunnels in wood and lay their eggs within a series of small cells. The cells are provisioned with a ball of pollen on which the larvae feed, emerging as adults in late summer. The entrance hole and tunnels are perfectly round and about the diameter of your finger. Coarse sawdust the color of fresh cut wood will often be present beneath the entry hole, and burrowing sounds may be heard from within the wood. Female carpenter bees may excavate new tunnels for egg laying, or enlarge and reuse old ones. The extent of damage to wood which has been utilized for nesting year after year may be considerable. According to the University of Kentucky’s research findings, male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. The males also lack stingers. Females, however, can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or molested. Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black; bumblebees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings, and if you are close enough to examine their abdomens it is probably too late to warn you.

(Ron) When the open range era came to an end the homesteaders and settlers moved into Kansas and started building something that would change the life of the cowboy forever, I’m referring to fences. This poem is based on the true story of the invention of barbed wire. It’s called the Death of Open Range. Let me tell you of a time when open range was in its prime. Cowboys rode their horses forth and drove the huge herds of cattle north. We could ride all over this great land, unfettered by the human hand. Then a farmer over Illinois way invented something that’s used to this day. His name was Mr. Joseph Glidden and he was doing the homesteaders biddin. He took a pair of heavy pliers and wrapped barbs around a long piece of wire. The barb’s sharp points kept stock in or out, could be used for fencing all about. For the open range it was a turn of events that barbed wire made it easy to string a fence. Barbed wire succeeded more than Glidden had planned. Soon fences criss-crossed the open land. The old west changed with Glidden’s invention. And caused the cowboys apprehension. No more could we ride over free open range and the cowboy’s role would be forever changed. Homesteaders and nesters scarred this land and changed the role of the old cowhand. The cowboy’s work continues on but the days of the open range are gone. That open range would have no more hope. That’s why cowboys call barbed wire the Devil’s Rope. Happy Trails.

(Frank) Welcome back. I mean we did this last year. For some reason, the older you get the faster the year goes, and here we are about halfway through the month of April already. (Deb) Yes, and I’m not even right in 2016 yet. I’m way behind. We’ve got such a busy year coming up. There are so many events this year. So many great events coming up to take the kids to, so they can find out about Kansas history. One of the things that I love about sharing history and what we’ve got coming up with the Chisholm Trail, the Proclamation Day coming up in Abilene that’s so important is the Chisholm Trail and the cattle drives, that’s so important to how we became such a big beef producer. That’s so important to the Kansas economy. It’s not just that something happened a hundred and fifty years ago, big deal, no, that created an industry in Kansas that, of course, as we at AGam know, is really important. You get to see the evolution of those things and how they came about. Abilene, of course, is marking 150th of the Chisholm Trail as are many other communities in Kansas throughout the year. Just so much fun. (Frank) In an earlier show we had talked about Abilene, we talked about the song Abilene. (Deb) We did. (Frank) I erroneously said, “well that’s about Abilene, Texas,” but I did the research after one of our viewers did say… (Deb) Roger Ringer. (Frank) …”He’s wrong.” (Deb) Roger Ringer. Yes. (Frank) And I admit I was wrong and I should have known that because I was working at KSAL in Salina when the movie Abilene was made about Abilene, Kansas, and the song “Abilene, Abilene” is about Abilene, Kansas, so there. (Deb) That’s really sad that it took all of that for you to come full circle and figure it all out, Frank, with all that background. (Frank) It is amazing what you can find out on Google. (Deb) It is. Google that stuff. That’s right. (Frank) Google, Google, tell me about Abilene. (Deb) All right. Let’s watch about Proclamation Day in Abilene. “Abilene, Abilene.” (Frank) Abilene. (Deb) Events marking the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail have already begun but there are dozens more in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas as communities along the way recall the Trail’s storied past. Abilene is marking the Governor’s Proclamation Day on April 29 with ceremonies beginning at noon. Among all the whereases and therefores lies the heart of the celebration, declaring the historical relevance of the Chisholm Trail to the State of Kansas: Whereas–more than four million Texas longhorn cattle came up the trail… Whereas–the Chisholm Trail reached the communities of Caldwell, Wichita, Newton, North Newton, Durham and Abilene with branches to Ellsworth and beyond…. Whereas, well, you get the picture. Whereas, we are going to celebrate big! Senator Randall Hardy will read the declaration and then the Buckeye Saddle Club will carry the document in a saddlebag on horseback for the first leg of its journey to Texas. The rider will hand-off to a fresh horse and rider about 20 miles down the trail, continuing through Newton, Wichita, Clearwater, Mayfield, and finally to the state boundary in Caldwell. The Oklahoma proclamation riders will meet the final Kansas rider, Sam Wylie and his mounted police escorts, at the intersection of Main and 1st Streets. The proclamations from each state will be exchanged at 12pm high noon on Saturday, May 6th, during Caldwell’s Chisholm Trail Festival. Proclamation Day in Abilene will feature our friends, Ron Wilson and Jeff Davidson, and Ken Spurgeon will be on hand for a screening of “Home on the Range.” We are excited to turn the Great Plains Theatre into the Great Western Stockyards again. This is just one of many Chisholm Trail related events so check their website for the schedule and we will do our best to keep ahead of the cowboys!

(Deb) Well, it’s been a great day, folks. I’m Deb. (Frank) Oh, I’m Frank [Laughs]. (Deb) We’ll see you somewhere. (Frank) Somewhere Around Kansas, if we’re awake. [Laughs].

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

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