California Honey Festival: It Was All the Buzz

It was all the buzz.

Thousands of bee and honey enthusiasts made a beeline for  the California Honey Festival, held last Saturday on the Yolo County Fairgrounds.

The annual festival, relocated this year from the streets of downtown Woodland to the fairgrounds due to a weather forecast cautioning heavy rain and wind, drew scores of smiles beneath the arched umbrellas.

Beekeeper Rick Moehrke, a retired Vacaville teacher, answered questions about bees in the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association booth.

American Honey Queen Kaelyn Sumner of Cecil, Wisc., a beekeeper and a senior at Kansas State University discussed queen bees, worker bees and drones. She is majoring in agricultural education and minoring in food science and entomology.

Charles McMaster, a U.S. Army veteran from Copperas Cove, Texas, headed the Hives for Heroes booth. The national non-profit service organization focuses on sustainability, conservation, and providing a healthy transition from service: "Through our national network of beekeepers, we provide connection, purpose, and healthy relationships, through access, resources, and funding for Active Duty, Veterans, and First Responders.">

Steve Hays, retired sheriff's deputy, Sacramento County and founder of Second Chance Beekeeping Reentry Service, chronicled the history of his program and how inmates are learning beekeeping and getting "a second chance." (See news story)

Alexis Herbert and Missy Rianda of the Honeybee Discovery Center of Orland, Glenn County, discussed the rich history of beekeeping in Northern California and sold bee products. The center "is a place for the public and schools to learn about honeybees and for the beekeeping community to display items that are part of beekeeping and its history," they related. Orland is considered the “Queen Bee Capital of North America.” Eighty percent of the queen bees raised in the United States are from Butte, Glenn, Shasta, and Tehama counties, known as "The Golden Triangle.”

Amina Harris, retired founding director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and now the "Queen Bee" of her family's Woodland-based Z Food Specialty and The HIVE, offered guests "a taste of honey" from all over California. They also sold honey, including a family favorite, starthistle. Harris co-founded the California Honey Festival in 2017 with the City of Woodland.

Attendees tasted and purchased Hawaiian honey, with such varietals as Eucalyptus, macadamia, mango, Christmas bush, tropical blossom and wildflower, from "Queen Bee" Inna Eyrih, business owner of Hawaiian Honey AT&S, a company based in Hawaii (Keaau) and California.

GATEways horticulturist Rachel Davis of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden discussed pollinator gardening, focusing on native bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and hummingbirds.

This year's California Honey Festival lived up to its mission: to emphasize the importance of bees and to promote honey and bee products. The annual festival, co-sponsored by UC Davis, features educational presentations, kids' center activities, honey tasting, cooking demonstrations, a beer and mead garden, live music, vendors and more. 

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

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