- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The annual California Honey Festival, free and open to the public, will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 6 in downtown Woodland. It's about celebrating the importance of bees; the festival's mission is "to promote honey and honey bees and their products." Last year's event drew some 40,000 people.
Honey bees pollinate more than 30 California crops, including almonds, a $5 billion industry (no bees, no pollination, no almonds). Indeed, California produces more than a third of our country's vegetables and three-quarters of our fruits and nuts. However, colony losses are alarming due to pesticides, pests, predators and pathogens.
The event, launched in 2017, is both educational and entertaining. You can taste honey, check out bee observation hives, watch cooking demonstrations and kids' shows, taste mead and other alcoholic drinks (if you're of age) and learn about bees from beekeepers and bee scientists. Vendors, offering various products and food, will line the streets.
Co-founder of the California Honey Festival, with the city of Woodland, is Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute. At her annual booth, she explains what the honey flavor wheel is and invites the crowd to sample honey varietals.
An integral part of the festival is the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), founded and directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department Entomology and Nematology faculty. Since 2016, the CAMBP team has provided a program of learning, teaching, research, and public service, delivering comprehensive, science-based information about honey bees and honey bee health. They've donated donated 32,000 hours of volunteer time and served 186,630 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship since 2016. Read more about their classes and their work on their website.
Here's a photographic glimpse of previous California Honey Festivals: