According to Stan “Jake” Jakubek, barbering and beekeeping have been connected throughout the country’s history.
During the Westward movement of the late 1890s, saloons were often the first buildings in a new settlement. These saloons served as the community’s courthouse, church, post office and barbershop.
Beekeepers often gathered in the saloon/barbershop to share information on bee hives, smokers, honey gathering and to get a shave and a haircut.
Not too much has changed.
Beekeepers still gather in Jake’s Barber Shop in downtown Iola, where the barber is president of the Waupaca County Beekeepers.
Jakubek has served as president of the local beekeeper club for the past 25 years. A member for the past 40 years, he hasn’t missed a meeting in over 30 years.
He has been Iola’s barber for the past 47 years.
When local painter Marie App needed to know about beekeepers, she visited her longtime friend in Iola.
Jakubek lent her a book on the history of beekeeping.
“We both like history,” App said.
She used information from the book to paint “Hives and Smokers, Trims and Shaves,” which depicts a scene from “Jake’s Barbershop” as it would have appeared in the 1890s.
Authentic period items in the painting are a new shipment of bee supplies (including smokers), mugs, a barber’s chair, and hair tonic bottles.
The painting appeared on the June 2013 cover of “American Bee Journal.”
App has had five different paintings grace the cover of bee industry magazines, including “Bee Culture.”
It all started when a beekeeper from Green Bay asked her to paint a beekeeping theme “because no one has realized the need.”
The unique theme has opened up an entire new market for App’s paintings. “They go like hotcakes,” she said.
“I like to paint anything,” App said. “Your audience will tell you your best painting because that is what sells.”
Jakubek purchased the original 16×20-inch “Hives and Smokers, Trims and Shaves” painting to display in his barbershop. He also has prints of every one of App’s beekeeping paintings.
The Waupaca County Beekeepers has purchased and donated prints of App’s beekeeping paintings to auctions to benefit the Wisconsin Honey Queen program.
“Beekeeping is getting harder and harder,” Jakubek said. “I enjoy it, but there are so many things against it.”
He said the biggest problem is wintering the hives.
Despite the difficulties facing beekeeping, Jakubek said the Waupaca County Beekeepers has more members than it ever has. He said a lot of people are interested in beekeeping.
App credits the club’s success with its leadership.
“Jake is laid back and lets everybody talk about beekeeping and tell their bee stories before the meeting begins,” she said.