“Bumble Bee Squad,” reads the t-shirt worn by Hansine Sterken of Hawaiian Honey AT&S.

The California Honey Festival Is Buzzing Again

After a pandemic hiatus, Woodland reprises its annual celebration of bees

Back Web Only May 17, 2022 By Charles Vincent McDonald

Downtown Woodland hummed with activity — and bees — last Saturday during the first California Honey Festival since 2019. Vendors selling honey, beeswax candles, bee-shaped trinkets and other apian goods lined Main Street and its offshoots, while neighborhood restaurants joined in with sweet specials. Experts from the UC Davis Arboretum, the Honey and Pollination Center and the California Master Beekeeper Program hosted talks and demonstrations on apiculture and pollination science. 

Launched in 2017, the California Honey Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the business of bees, both for honey production and for their indispensable role as lead pollinators in the Central Valley’s agricultural fields. Each year, about 30 billion bees are shipped from hives around the country to the Central Valley, where they pollinate almonds, citrus, strawberries, squash and countless other crops. With issues like colony collapse, parasites and global warming continuing to threaten the visiting bees’ survival — and therefore the global food supply — it’s more important than ever to celebrate their importance to the Capital Region’s economy and the world.

The California Honey Festival’s mission is to promote honey and educate people about bees. In 2022, the California Honey Festival celebrated its fourth event, the first since before the pandemic. Prominent Woodland resident Al Eby founded the festival in 2017. (Photos and captions by Charles Vincent McDonald)

Los Angeles-based musical group Future Pop performed on the main stage during Woodland’s First Friday Art Walk as the opening act before Saturday’s California Honey Festival. From left to right: Tanner Zahn, Sienna Melgoza, Maceo Matrix, and Sierrah Hudson.

Myriah Monet & The Little Fridays played a musical mix of country, rock and blues on the California Honey Festival on Woodland’s downtown main stage. Band members: Myriah Monet (lead vocal), Tim McGrew, Vanus Bigelow, Jeff Matthews, Phil Giebel and Brandon Riggenti.

With an estimated day’s attendance of more than 45,000, the California Honey Festival presented multiple educational sessions as well as food and beverage vendors along Woodland’s Main Street.

Bryan A. Riley cooks barbecue beef and chicken during the California Honey Festival. He and his wife Rosalina M. Riley started their barbecue business, Riley’s Q, in Zamora two years ago.

Jasmin Murrieta (left), Taylor Kinser (middle) and Corina Reyes (right) take time for a group selfie during Saturday’s California Honey Festival.

Representing the Woodland Fire Department are Battalion Chief Erik Komula (left), Fire Marshall Emily Walling (right) and Mason Walling (middle).

The California Honey Festival included multiple vendors along Main Street where attendees could sample honey from California honey and out of state. The HIVE in Woodland/Z Specialty Food is the family business of Josh Zeldner, known as the “Nectar Director” (right center).

The California Master Beekeeper Program “Save the Bees” uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honeybees and beekeeping. Lucadello Michelle is a lab assistant for Program Director Elina L. Nino.

Lana Druchik of the California Master Beekeeper Program is teaching children to make bees using school supplies.

Joe Willard of UC Davis Stores is ready to answer any questions on the three varieties of pure natural honey available for purchase from the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center: coriander, blossom and wildflower.

“Fresh Popped – Sweet & Salty” is all the advertising this vendor needs to attract customers at the California Honey Festival.

UC Davis students representing the Habitat Horticulture and the Arboretum Ambassador Apprentice Program at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens pause for a large team photograph at the California Honey Festival.

John Johnson of the California Master Beekeeper Program describes the unique features of the beehive he is holding. John encourages viewers to try to locate the only queen bee (the one with the yellow dot) among all the worker bees.

Entertaining the crowds at the California Honey Festival were the roaming circus and performing artists known as SacCirque.

Barbara Schumacher of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association promotes interest in and awareness of the vital importance of the honeybee and beekeeping to agriculture, commerce and the public at large.

“Bumble Bee Squad,” reads the t-shirt worn by Hansine Sterken of Hawaiian Honey AT&S.

Matthew Taylor’s Home at 510 Main Street in Woodland is one of several brick-and-mortar shops that actively participated in creating a shoppable honey and pollination experience for California Honey Festival attendees.

During the California Honey Festival, Woodland’s Heritage Square was transformed into a food truck food court. In addition to the food court, several downtown restaurants were open in addition to food specific festival vendors along Main Street.

At the California Honey Festival main stage, Mike Taylor from Nugget Markets presents information on cooking and drinking with traditional nectar mead and pomegranate mead. Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and mixing with water and added ingredients like fruits and spices.

Haley and Josh Ferraro explain the different drink sizes to a customer at The Lemonade Yard.

At Julie’s Roasted Corn & Potatoes vendor booth, Humberto Lizaola shucks fresh farm corn directly off the cooker.

The UC Davis Honey Wheel offered attendees at the California Honey Festival a wide variety of honey to taste and sample. Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, holds a jar of cultivated buckwheat honey.

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