You can get the best fried baloney sandwich of your life almost anywhere in Waldo, Ohio.

You can get the best fried baloney sandwich of your life almost anywhere in Waldo, Ohio.

Most around here, a destination drive north on U.S. Rte. 23, order theirs at G&R Tavern, which several programs on the ol' idiot box insist has the superior model.

Others, including those at The Village Tavern, claim the top sandwich is prepared at The Village Tavern, a roughhewn dive across the two-lane road that serves as Waldo's main drag.

The two joints are within spitting distance. Both places serve quality baloney from the griddle - hot, salty, smattered with onions.

But The Village Tavern also has bees. That's why I went.

Off and on for about a month, my friend Conrad has been teaching me about bees, hoping I might take one when his hive is ready to split. He's been my main ally in the difficult, uphill quest to convince my roommates that it'd be just fine to house roughly 40,000 venomous insects about 15 feet from our back porch.

Conrad's invitations come regularly and with enthusiasm, even when a sting turns the side of his face into a flesh-colored heirloom tomato. When I asked him where one might get a queen, the crux of any hive, he pointed me northward.

That is, to the baloney capital of the Midwest.

Beneath the Village Tavern countertop sits a handful of queens, each in a mesh-top matchbox with some royal jelly and a few soldiers. They run $18 to $24, depending on breed. Russians are heartier, Italians less aggressive.

Travel the state enough, and you expect to see pork rinds, nickel candy or giant jars of pickles at the gin joints nestled in farm country. Bees are another thing altogether, the handiwork of proprietor George Taylor, who also runs Waldo Ohio Apiaries.

Over the years, he's made his town a little bee-crazy. Keepers come long distances for bees and baloney, while tavern regulars have taken a liking to the confounding ins and outs of bee husbandry.

"Bees benefit everyone," said one friendly dude as I cracked a 4 p.m. can of Busch. "Just as long as you don't hit the hive with a mower or anything."

For more about the state's great outdoor offerings, click to the Ohio Adventure Map at columbusalive.com/venture.