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)
Hear that buzz? See those bees? Taste that honey?
The festival, launched in 2017--and by co-founder Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute--aims to inspire "people of all ages to protect and celebrate bees and other pollinators." Admission is free.
"UC Davis will have a slimmed down version this year," said Harris. Some of the events on tap Saturday:
- 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.
- 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.
Harris said the festival will include live music, a beer and mead garden. Some 100 vendors will sell everything from food to plants to arts and crafts. The first festival drew some 30,000 visitors.
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/.
They're known for their creativity.
What they do, however, does not involve correcting social injustices, breaking ceilings in workplaces or pushing the latest fashions, as the descriptive adjectives might indicate.
It has everything to do with making award-winning mead or honey wine.
The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon each day.
"This course is for anyone who has experience making mead and wants to take their craft to the next level," says Amina Harris, director of Honey and Pollination Center, affiliated with the UC Davis Mondavi Institute and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
- Jeff Herbert, Superstition Meadery (Prescott, Ariz.)
- Carvin Wilson, a vocational meadmaker and mead promoter extraordinaire (Phoenix, Ariz.)
- Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor, Kookoolan Farms and Kookoolan World Meadery, and author of The Art of Mead Tasting and Food Pairing" (Yamhill, Ore.)
- Pete Bakulic, director of the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition and mead consultant
- Billy Beltz, owner of Lost Cause Meadery (San Diego.)
- Michelle and Jeremy Kyncl, owners of Hierophant Meadery (Mead, Wash.)
Yes, you read that last line right. Mead makers Michelle and Jeremy Kynci of Mead. You can sip mead in Mead at their Green Bluff Tasting Room. Mead is an unincorporated suburb north of Spokane, population under 8000, according to the 2010 Census. It was NOT named for honey wine but for Civil War Army General "Old Snapping Turtle" George Meade, 1815-1873, known for defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg. His name lives on despite an "e" that went MIA.
Curious what Hierophant means? As the owners say on their website: "The Hierophant is generally described as 'one who reveals/shows what is sacred or holy.' We believe that the honey bee should be revered as such, as the declining population of honey bees and wild pollinators most certainly reveal to us that change is needed in the way things are done in our food system. We therefore depicted the honey bee as the Hierophant by adding a kabbalistic tree of life in our logo representation. This tree of life symbol is associated with the Hierophant."
The last day to register for the UC Davis course (the fee for the two-day course is $275) is Wednesday, May 12. Register here. You can contact Elizabeth Luu, marketing and events manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
That's 127 years of working with the bees.
Master Beekeeper Jason Miller of Miller Honey Farms, Inc. of Newcastle, Calif., one of America's pioneering and foremost beekeeping operations, will speak on "Beekeeping through the Generations" when the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center hosts its online symposium on Honey Adulteration on Thursday, April 22.
Said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, located in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on Old Davis Road: "Jason is following in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather over 100 years ago. Through this lens, he will discuss the most important issues historically and in beekeeping today." A question-and-answer session will follow.
Jason Miller traces his beekeeping roots back to Nephi Ephraim Miller of Providence, Utah, who started his honey business in 1894. "With the help of his pioneer father, Nephi exchanged five bags of oats for seven colonies of bees. This was the beginning of Miller's Honey," according to the website. Miller's Honey Farms established its Idaho office 1917, when "Nephi Miller sent his son Earl into Southeast Idaho to seek additional bee pasture. In 1954, Earl's son, Neil took over the Idaho branch. Neil operated the Blackfoot, ID outfit until 1996. In 1996, he sold the outfit to his son John Miller."'
Miller Honey Farms opened a new branch in Gackle, N.D. in 1970 and it is now considered "one of the largest beekeeping outfits in North America. John Miller has managed or owned this operation since 1980. The Gackle operation annually harvests over a million pounds of high quality honey for markets throughout the United States."
In conjunction with California's growing almond industry, Miller Honey Farms opened the Newcastle branch in 1974. John Miller has managed or owned this operation since 1980. (See John Miller interview on bees)
Jason Miller is just one of the speakers for the symposium, titled Honey Adulteration: Understanding the Issues of Honey, Beekeeping and the Safety of our Food Supply, and set from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Keynote speaker is Professor Michael Roberts of the UCLA Resnick Center for Law and Food Policy. Registration, $30 per person, is under way here.
"With a focus on keeping our food system healthy, presenters will address issues of pollination, economic adulteration, and how beekeeping, a mainstay for this system, is being threatened," Harris says. A panel of specialty food retailers will discuss how they source and select products and educate and inspire their customers. Professionals in the field will address steps being taken to mitigate the adulteration of honey in the United States.
9 a.m.: Welcome and Introductions
Amina Harris, director, UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science
9:10 a.m.: Keynote Address
Michael Roberts, Professor, UCLA Resnick Center for Law and Food Policy
9:30 a.m.: Retailer Roundtable
Retailers will discuss how they educate their clientele, earning respect and allegiance while guiding their food choices. A question and answer session will follow.
- Moderator: Jessica Zischke, Good Food Foundation, San Francisco
- John Antonelli, Antonelli's Cheese, Austin, Texas
- Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman's, Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Danielle Vogel, Glen's Garden Market, Washington, D.C.
- Raph Mogannam, BiRite Family of Businesses, San Francisco
- Amelia Rappaport, Woodstock Farmers' Market, Woodstock, VT
10 a.m. Beekeeping through the Generations
Jason Miller works in one of America's older beekeeping operations, Miller Honey Farms, following in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather more than 100 years ago. Through this lens, he will discuss the most important issues historically and in beekeeping today. A question-and-answer session will follow.
10:30 a.m.: Testing Development at the USDA
Roger Simonds, USDA researcher, will explain some of the new techniques being developed to help deter adulteration in the United States, today. A question-and-answer session will follow.
10:50 a.m.: What IS the Government Doing?
In response to repeated demands from the industry, U.S .Customs has now implemented a program of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to scan every honey entering the U.S. from abroad. What does this mean for our national honey supply? Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association and owner of Hiatt Honey, Madera, Calif., a third-generation beekeeping operation, will discuss the situation.
11:15 a.m.: What Can we Do?
Attendees will be assigned to chatrooms to discuss action items and idea that could be promoted and pursued by the American Honey Producers, the Honey and Pollination Center and other honey and beekeeping related groups. Ideas will be presented in the wrap up session.
11:30 a.m: Wrap Up and Closing
Follow-up on selected action items to be conducted by the Honey and Pollination Center