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.
After a two-year hiatus, the festival buzzed with life last Saturday, May 7 in downtown Woodland as visitors delighted in the bees, honey, music, food, arts and crafts, and children's activities. An estimated 40,000 attended, according to co-founder Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute.
The UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) drew scores of visitors asking questions about the bee observation hive brought by CAMBP member Peter Kritscher of Walnut Creek. CAMBP member Karen Kiyo of Berkeley fielded questions about the life cycle of bees, as her dog, Django, wearing a colorful cone, sat at her feet. Angie Nowicki of Rohnert Park kept busy making wildflower seed balls for children to take home and plant as a way to help bees and other pollinators. Also in the children's activity center, youths made bee-themed headgear.
Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMBP, donned a bee costume to greet the crowd. Youngsters rushed up to her, adults took photos, and at least one dog, a bulldog named Bentley, barked at her.
So much happiness. So many memories. So much fun.
The California Honey Festival, launched in 2017, aims to inspire "people of all ages to protect and celebrate bees and other pollinators," Harris said. Some 100 vendors rented space.
UC Davis participants included:
- The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center displayed its honey flavor wheel and offered free honey tasting.
- The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden addressed pollinator needs and gardening.
- The UC Davis Bookstores booth contained honey, books, and other gifts for sale.
- The Bohart Museum of Entomology of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology exhibited traveling bee specimen cases showing bee diversity. Visitors held the stick insects (walking sticks) from the live "petting zoo." (Photos to come)
If you haven't been around honey bees much, and can't distinguish the queen from a worker bee (sterile female) or drone (male bee), head over the California Master Beekeeper Program displays at the California Honey Festival on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. in downtown Woodland.
You can watch the bees in a glassed-in observation hive: the three castes, the queen, the workers and the drones.
In peak season, a queen can lay from 1000 to 2000 eggs a day.
It's a matriarchial society and the workers (females) do all the work. The workers' age-related specific duties include nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, foragers, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, guards, and undertakers. The worker bees run the hive.
The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMPB), directed by Extension apiculturst Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematoogy, is a "continuous train-the-trainer effort," as its website indicates. "The CAMBP's vision is to train Apprentice, Journey and Master level beekeepers so they can effectively communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators within their communities, serve as mentors for other beekeepers, and become the informational conduit between the beekeeping communities throughout the state and UC Cooperative Extension staff."
This is science-based education! This is not Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie in which bee misinformation reigns supreme. The scenario: "Barry B. Benson, a bee just graduated from college, is disillusioned at his lone career choice: making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry's life is saved by Vanessa, a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, he discovers humans actually eat honey, and subsequently decides to sue them."
The most egregious error: male bees have nothing to do with making honey or finding flowers or running the hive. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
The drone's sole task is to mate with a virgin queen and then he dies. Any drones left in the hive by the end of the season (late fall, early winter) get kicked out by their sisters. They're just another mouth to feed. The gals don't want to deplete their precious resources.
The California Honey Festival, launched in 2017, is a good place to learn about bees and honey. Admission is free.
Some of the activities:
- The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will showcase its honey tasting wheel and offer free honey tasting.
- The California Master Beekeeper Program will staff two educational booths. Visitors can examine a bee observation hive, check out the beekeeping equipment and peer through microscopes. Kids' activities are also planned.
- The Bohart Museum of Entomology of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematolgoy will showcase bee diversity in its specimen drawers. Its live "petting zoo" will include Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects (walking sticks) that folks can hold, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
- The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden will address pollinator needs and gardening.
- The Woodland Public Library will offer a children's reading hour.
- Uncle Jer's Traveling Bee Show will provide educational performances.
- The UC Davis Bookstores booth will contain honey, books, and other gifts for sale.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, and a co-founder of the California Honey Festival, says 100 vendors will sell everything from food to plants to arts and crafts. Visitors can don a bee costume and get their picture taken in the UC Davis Pollination Park, a collaboration with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.
An after-party is planned at The Hive, part of Z Specialty Food, Woodland. Harris, the "Queen Bee" of Z Specialty Food, said advance registration is required. Access https://zspecialtyfood.com/event/california-honey-festival-after-party/.
Applications close Jan. 30.
Apprentice assistant is the first level of the trainer programs offered by CAMBP), launched and directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Other levels are apprentice, journey and master.
What does an apprentice assistant do?
As the website says: "The apprentice assistant level of the CAMBP explores the art and skill of beekeeping prior to keeping bees, even if you live in an area where beekeeping is not possible. This level of the CAMBP is the perfect science-based introduction to everything you need to know in order to keep safe, healthy bees. If you cannot keep bees at your location, and want an ‘in-hive' experience, the CAMBP can recommend options. The CAMBP requires 10 hours of volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education each year so members maintain and expand their beekeeping knowledge and skills."
On the application form, you'll be asked:
- What inspires you to learn more about honey bees and beekeeping?
- Do you currently keep bees?
- Are you a member of a local bee club?
- What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge facing bees and beekeeping today?
- Are you capable of performing 10 hours of volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education on bees and beekeeping as an apprentice assistant in your first year in the CAMBP?
The cost to enroll in the class is $50. At the onset, accepted students will receive links to three live, online study halls, facilitated by CAMBP staff, to meet other new beekeepers and ask questions in preparation for the tests, which will be administered in person or virtually via Zoom (depending on COVID-19 restrictions.)
The class officially starts in March, according to program manager Wendy Mather, with final exams scheduled for September. Students must score at least 80 percent to become an official apprentice assistant. They then will have access to the CAMBP member network; webinars; and CAMPB member news. And if they wish, they can apply for the next level, apprentice.
"One cool factor about apprentice assistant is if you decide that beekeeping isn't for you, you still get a certificate stating you've passed the 'theory' portion of the course if you choose only to write the online exam and satisfy your curiosity about humanity's only sweet treat purveying insect," Mather said. "It's not mandatory to get into a hive."
What's a honey bee to do when one of her favorite flowers, cape mallow (Anisodontea sp. "Strybing Beauty") is not open for bees-ness.
Well, leave it to the bee to find a way.
We recently witnessed a honey bee encountering a yet-to-open flower in the early morning. No entry! No way? And right at the beginning of National Honey Month, too. (USDA's National Honey Board founded the event in 1989 to celebrate the beekeeping industry and honey.)
As for Anisodontea, it's a perennial shrub that likes full sun.
It likes bees that pollinate it, too. It just closes at night and reopens in the morning.
Interested in keeping bees or knowing more about bees? The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) lists a number of bee classes on its website. The program, launched and directed by Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, educates and trains bee ambassadors. You can become a Master Beekeeper and "communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators" within your community and serve as mentor for other beekeepers. Master Beekeepers are the "informational conduit between the beekeeping communities throughout the state and the UC Cooperative Extension staff," according to Niño and program manager Wendy Mather on their website. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
Currently available are three online courses or webinars:
- Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/730
- Saturday, Oct 9, 2021, 10 a.m. to noon
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/739
- Saturday, Oct 16, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/733
Unlike flowers that close, the California Master Beekeeping Program does not, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to grip us. CAMBP has just found another way--online.