- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
They came to taste the honey, learn about the importance of honey bees, check out the bee observation hives, and to engage with beekeepers and merchants.
And to photograph and "bee" photographed with the costumed "Queen Bee" Wendy Mather, program manager of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and a co-founder of the California Honey Festival, explained what the honey flavor wheel is and invited the crowd to sample honey varietals.
Harris estimated the crowd at 40,000. "I got laryngitis," she said.
She also is the self-described "Queen Bee" of the Z Specialty Food/The Hive, Woodland. Her son, "nectar director" Josh Zeldner, also greeted the crowd at his booth. (They later hosted an after-party at The Hive.)
Claire Tauzer of Tauzer Apiaries/Sola Bee Farms and her worker bees talked about the wonders of bees, the merits of honey and offered visitors a taste of their honey. They displayed a bee observation hive. (See news story about the Tauzers).
Jer and Ellen Johnson of Uncle Jer's Traveling Bee Show, Elk Grove, entertained the crowd with shows throughout the day. Like the Tauzers, the California Master Beekeeper Program, Mann Lake Bee Supply and others, the Johnsons also showed festival-goers their bee observation hive, pointing out the three castes (queen, workers and drones) and the roles they play.
It was, as they say, a honey of a festival.
The event, launched in 2017, didn't happen in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
But it buzzed back into Woodland last Saturday to a crowd absolutely craving camaraderie...and liquid gold.