A costumed honey bee weaves through the crowd, as a little boy looks in awe, in this 2022 photo of the California Honey Festival. Inside the costume: Wendy Mather, co-program manager of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A costumed honey bee weaves through the crowd, as a little boy looks in awe, at a recent California Honey Festival. Inside the costume: Wendy Mather, co-program manager of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

California Honey Festival Moves to Yolo County Fairgrounds

Set Saturday, May 4 from 10 to 7

Amina Harris offering a taste of honey
Amina Harris of Woodland, is one of the co-founders of the California Honey Festival. She is a retired director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Due to an inclement weather forecast, the annual California Honey Festival will reelocate this year from downtown Woodland to the nearby Yolo County Fairgrounds, 1250 East Gum Ave. 

The free and family friendly event, co-sponsored by the University of California, Davis, takes place from 10 to 7 p.m., Saturday, May 4. Parking is also free, a spokesperson said.  The festival traditionally draws a crowd of some 40,000.

The annual event emphasizes the importance of bees and promotes honey and bee products. It  features educational presentations, kids' center activities, honey tasting, cooking demonstrations, a beer and mead garden, live music, vendors and more. Beekeeping organizations will answer questions about bees and showcase bee observation hives. 

Speakers at presentations in Waite Hall will include GATEways horticulturist Rachel Davis of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, who will speak from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

“I'll be talking about pollinator gardening, focusing on native bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and hummingbirds,” Davis said. “The My Habit Horticulture Learning by Leading™ and UC Master Gardener team will be tabling about Climate-Ready Gardening, with an emphasis on biodiversity and gardening for pollinators. We want to equip gardeners with tools to create beautiful, habitat-supporting landscapes that are primed to thrive in the face of our changing climate.”

The line-up of speakers at Waite Hall:

11 to 11:30, 2024 American Honey Queen Kaelyn Sumner

11:45 to 12:15: Cache Creek Conservancy, Jolene Jindrich

12:30 to 1 p.m. SugarBee Apples, sponsor of the California Honey Festival

1:1 to 1:45: Hives for Heroes, Charles McMaster

2 to 2:30: California Beekeeping Federation “The Truth About Honey Bees, Almonds and a Partnership That’s Sweeter Than Honey" with Trevor Tauzer (Tauzer Apiaries) and Kelli Evans (Blue Diamond Growers)

2:45 to 3:15: SugarBee Apples

3:30 to 4 p.m.: UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, Rachel Davis

4:15 to 4:45: Honeybee Discovery Center, Nicole Johansson

5 to 5:30: 2024 American Honey Queen Kaelyn Sumner

Honey bees as seen through a bee observation hive.
Bees in a bee observation hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Amina Harris, who retired last June as director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, co-founded the honey festival in 2017 with the City of Woodland. Last June she "retired" to the family business, Z Food Specialty and The HIVE, Woodland, where her title is "Queen bee."  At the Z Food Specialty booth, visitors can sample honey and view a California map “where all the honeys are,” Harris said.

The UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program, which uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping, will not be participating this year.  But science-based information on bees will be provided by the California State Beekeepers Association and the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association

Capsule information on some of the organizations or speakers:

American Honey Queen, Kaelyn Sumner
American Honey Queen Kaelyn Sumner of Cecil, Wisc., is a senior at Kansas State University majoring in agricultural education and minoring in food science and entomology. She traces her interest in beekeeping to the FFA, where she was nationally recognized for her specialty animal production project and her agriscience fair research. The American Honey Bee Program, part of the American Beekeeping Federation, which  educates and advocates for beekeepers and United States honey consumption.

Jolene Jindrich
Jolene Jindrich

Cache Creek Conservancy, Jolene Jindrich 
The Cache Creek Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded in 1996. Its mission is to restore, preserve and protect the Cache Creek watershed. The focus of the Conservancy’s work has been riparian restoration along a 14-mile stretch of the Lower Cache Creek as mentioned in the Yolo County’s Cache Creek Resources Management Plan

Jolene Jindrich helps care for the Tending and Gathering Center (TGG). She holds a bachlor's degree in microbiology from Humboldt State University, where she studied genetics, plant physiology and cell biology and spent time volunteering in biology and chemistry labs. She works with the Habitat Restoration Manager and the TGG Steering Committee to tend desirable native species, manage non-natives, maintain the trails and generally improve both the visual aesthetics and habitat value. 

Hives for Heroes, Charles McMaster
Hives for Heroes® is a national non-profit service organization focusing 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.  

McMaster, of Copperas Cove, Texas, is the connections director of Hives for Heroes, a U.S. Army veteran, and a six-year beekeeper. He devotes much of his time as a member of the board of directors of the Texas Beekeepers Association.

Rachel Davis
Rachel Davis

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, Rachel Davis  
“The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden spans the campus’s 5300-plus acres and includes the historic Arboretum – a 100-plus acre campus and regional amenity comprised of demonstration gardens and scientific collections as well as the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve – a rare stream and grassland ecosystem managed for teaching, research, wildlife and habitat protection.”--Website

Honeybee Discovery Center, Nicole Johansson 
The Honeybee Discovery Center, currently located at 501 Walker St., Orland., Glenn County, Calif., is designed to teach the public about honey bees and the rich history of beekeeping in Northern California, according to its website. "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."

Northern California is known for its queen bee rearing, with tens of thousands of queen bees produced annually. 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, "The Golden Triangle.” Orland is also the 40th “Bee City, USA” with a commitment to creating greater awareness and an environment that protects honey bees and other pollinators.  Yvonne Koehnen of  C. F. Koehnen & Sons Inc.,  originated the idea of the Honeybee Discovery Center. The Center is open the first consecutive Friday and Saturday of every month. from 3 to 6 p.m.

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