- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The joy of the season strikes a chord.
When bees slip out of their California hives during winter sun breaks, they often head over to mallow blossoms to grab some nectar and pollen. A favorite is the tree mallow, Lavatera maritima “bicolor," native to Mediterranean regions of the world and California. The genus derives its name from Swiss botanist J.R. Lavater, who first discovered the species in Spain. The drought-tolerant plants, which can reach 12 feet in height, are perfect for gardeners challenging the California drought!
It doesn't take long for honey bees to discover the towering blossoms. The bees buzz in and out, battling for position, jockeying for the precious pollen. Then, laden with "gold dust," they linger in flight to clean their tongues for another go-around.
Bees, we can't get enough of them! Is it spring yet?
Meanwhile, let's fast-forward to May 2017. Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7. On May 6 is the inaugural California Honey Festival in Woodland, and on May 7, the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium.
The California Honey Festival, co-sponsored by the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, UC Davis, and the Woodland Hoteliers, is an all-day family festival that will take place on Main Street, Woodland.
“The California Honey Festival will be a great opportunity for guests to experience the full spectrum of honey flavor,” said Honey and Pollination Center director Harris, who is coordinating the festival's educational content. “Not all honey tastes the same! Like wine, varietals of honey flavors and aromas can be very distinct. We developed our Honey Flavor Wheel in 2015 to help teach people about the nuances of honey flavor.”
In addition to tasting honey, festival goers can learn about honey bees, their pollination services, and the health benefits of honey. They can sample specialty meads or “honey wine”; taste honey-inspired food and beverages, and purchase honey and bee-themed gifts. Other family friendly activities will include a bee-themed play structure for kids, cooking demonstrations featuring honey, and informational sessions on beekeeping basics and bee-friendly gardening. More information on the California Honey Festival, including sponsorships and vendor details, is available on the festival website, www.CaliforniaHoneyFestival.com
And the next day, Sunday, May 7, is the fourth annual Bee Symposium, co-sponsored by the Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The day-long event will focus on bee health and best management practices. It will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, a luncheon, and a graduate student poster contest, among other activities. It's a mingling of bee scientists and researchers, beekeepers and others interested in bee health. Details are pending.