Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic: the annual California Honey Festival, which was scheduled May 2 in historic downtown Woodland.
This year would have been the fourth annual.
But, of course, and rightfully so, the cancellation is for our protection. It needed “not to happen.”
The California Honey Festivalevent, launched in 2017 and sponsored by the City of Woodland and the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, is an all-day, free festival that usually draws a crowd of some 30,000.
The event aims to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, according to Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival-goers learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Major issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
Yes, those major issues still face the bees. But now we humans face a major issue of our own: a deadly virus. We are sheltering-in and social distancing. Bees are social insects and are out foraging for nectar, pollen, propolis and water. Their colony is one huge superorganism, with a queen bee, workers and drones. They all depend on one another to make the hive run smoothly. No queen bee, no colony. No workers, no colony. No drones, no colony.
As of 4:30 p.m. today, Covid-19 has infected more than 1.9 million people, and sadly, more than 118,000 people worldwide have perished, according to Johns Hopkins University. Reportedly, the United States is “nearing the peak right now.”
Stay safe out there!
Or at least you saw the crowd circling Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The bees buzzed and so did the festival-goers.
Niño presented several "live bee" demonstrations in a circular screened tent. She opened the bee hive, pulled out frames, and showed the crowd the three castes of bees: the queen, worker bees and drones.
Niño talked about beekeeping and what bees need, and then passed a couple of drones through the tent to the crowd. Some gasped, not realizing that drones are males and cannot sting. Other marveled at the docile drones, took cell phone photos and petted them. The drones didn't seem to mind!
All in all, it was a great day for bees at the California Honey Festival, which is annually sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland.
"Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States." The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival goers learned about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
How many attended the festival? About 30,000, said Harris. (That's not counting the bees!) Harris noted that the inaugural festival drew about 20,000. Organizers had expected about 3000. Next year: maybe 40,000 or more?
Be sure to check out the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) newly posted video on the festival, featuring Niño. It's excellent. Although she's based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, she's California's Extension apiculturist. We are fortunate to have her! See the UC ANR video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUPEdMBYXZY
Resources? The E. L. Niño lab website is at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu.
Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/.
Their California Master Beekeeper Program is at https://cambp.ucdavis.edu.
The inaugural California Honey Festival, to take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 6 on a four-block stretch in historic downtown Woodland, will draw folks from all over state and beyond. And it's free and open to the public.
Coordinated by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, the festival will offer honey sampling, mead, live bands, talks on beekeeping and bee friendly plants, and vendors offering bee-related wares. And that's just the "bee-ginning."
At the Honey Lab, located in the UC Davis booth, members of the UC Davis Master Beekeeper Program and knowlegeable volunteers will teach festival-goers about "all things honey."
Some of the activities at the Honey Lab booth:
- Taste honey from around the world and check out the giant honey flavor and aroma wheel
- Learn about UC Davis beekeeping and the California Master Beekeeper Program
- Follow how honey is made from flower to bottle
- Marvel at the life cycle of a honey bee, starting with an egg and resulting in a bee just a couple weeks later
- Learn what is harming our bees
- Peruse the different kinds of bee hives and how they work
- Purchase books and UC Davis honey from the UC Davis bookstore
"The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping through this unique educational platform, to the broader public," said Harris. "Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival will help develop an interest in beekeeping by the younger generation. Attendees will learn about the myriad of issues that confront honey bees including pesticide use, diseases and even the weather! In addition, attendees can learn how to creatively plant their gardens to help feed all of our pollinators. It is important for the community to appreciate and understand the importance of bees as the lead pollinator of many of our crops adding to the food diversity we have come to enjoy."
Brandi, who spoke at a 2015 symposium at UC Davis, said that the major issues that negatively impact colonies include pesticides, varroa mites, nutritional issues and diseases. "It's much more difficult to keep bees alive and healthy today than it was in the 1970s," he told his audience. "I had a 5 percent winter loss in the 1970s, and a 13 to 45 percent winter loss in his operation during the past 10 years."
Among the many other speakers: Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, booked from 11 to 11:45 a.m. and from 2 to 2:45 p.m., and Billy Synk, director of pollination programs for Project Apis m., and former manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis. Sync speaks from 12 to 12:45.
The California Honey Festival website includes a program schedule.
Expect lots of honey--which has been described as "the soul of a field of flowers."