When the inaugural California Honey Festival buzzed into Woodland on Saturday, May 6, organizers figured attendance might total around 3,000.
No. It did not. It tallied about 20,000, according to organizer Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
And this was the inaugural one! Next year is the second annual...
The festival was all about honey, bees, and beekeepers. Just as the queen bee reigns in a colony, bee products reigned at the festival: honey, honeycomb, beeswax candles and bee pollen.
The mission, said Harris, was "to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping through this unique educational platform, to the broader public."
A key attraction was Apis Inlusio, a sculpture art car designed to look like a bee. Built for the 2013 Burning Man Festival, it is based in San Francisco.
Another key attraction was the colorful walk-around-bee character (inside was Benji Shade of the Woodland Christian School). Photographers considered her very "bee-coming." Teacher Jessica Hiatt did the talking (bees don't talk).
Margaret Lombard, chief executive officer of the National Honey Board, based in Firestone, Colo., was among those speaking on the Beekeeper Stage, one of five stages at the festival.
Among the other speakers:
- Billy Synk, director of Pollination Programs for Project Apis m., Paso Robles, and former manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility;
- Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Vicki Wojcik, research director of Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco
- Gene Brandi of Gene Brandi Apiaries, Los Banos (he is active in the California State Beekeepers' Association, the American Beekeeping Federation and the National Honey Board)
Bernardo Niño of the Elina Niño lab kept busy answering questions how how to become a beekeeper and how to become a master beekeeper.
The California Honey Festival is over, but there's another activity on the bee horizon: The 40th annual Western Apicultural Society meeting, set from Sept. 5-6 in Davis, where it all began. Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen, one of the co-founders, is serving his sixth term as president. It's an educational conference that's open to all interested persons who want to learn more about bees and beekeeping.
Author - Communications specialist
Apis Inlusio, a sculpture art car designed to look like a bee, drew thousands of onlookers. Part of the 2013 Burning Man Festival, it is based in San Francisco.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The honey flavor wheel proved to be a honey of an exhibit. That's Amina Harris (in red), coordinator of the California Honey Festival and director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Owners of Z Specialty Food, Woodland, were as busy as well...bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Some 20,000 attended the inaugural California Honey Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
To bee or not to bee! That was the question. Here's the answer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The California Honey Festival even had a bee truck, with hives loaned by area beekeeper John Foster. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
California Honey Festival coordinator Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, stands by a display of bee photos by Kathy Keatley Garvey of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
This honey bee buzzed the California Honey Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)