California Honey Festival – The Direction of Sunbeams

by Laurel Harrison

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” – Henry David Thoreau

When I was in junior high, my mom started keeping bees on our farm. This meant that each year our pantry was stocked with thick, golden honey from our own backyard. To this day, I have a giant mason jar of my mom’s honey in my pantry, zealously hoarded and treasured. This familiar connection to beekeeping made me all the more excited to attend the California Honey Festival in Woodland, CA. Put on by the Honey and Pollination Center at UC Davis, the California Honey Festival was a celebration of all things honey and bee – a weekend of education, fundraising, and all-over honey appreciation.

That Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the VIBee Opening Night Reception for the festival. The event included an open mead bar done by Strad Meadery, honey-themed food from Morgan’s on Main, and a Burning Man-esque bee art car. I had a wonderful time seeing honey represented in such a variety of culinary ways!

The Honey Festival itself was held on Saturday morning, with Woodland’s Main St. shut down to accommodate the vendors and crowds. There were food trucks, craft vendors, educational sessions, kids’ crafts, and more booths on bees than I could count. The festival was packed, with something for everyone who attended.

My personal highlights included the mead speakeasy, honey tastings, and a section devoted to bee-friendly gardening. Because bees are such a vital part of our culinary ecosystem, we would be remiss to not recognize their importance in our foodie musings. All of the delicious tidbits we enjoy, both as a part of our job and on our own time, would not be possible without the hard-working honey bee.

I was so happy to see the community come together to educate and celebrate bees and the honey they produce. I look forward to attending this event for many years to come, and I can only hope it grows more and more successful as it continues.

At the beginning of this piece, I included one of my favorite quotes by Henry David Thoreau – “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” For me, honey is a little jar of all those directed sunbeams – an amalgamation of the agricultural bounty that surrounds us here in Sacramento. Through their dedication to the honey bee, the California Honey Festival managed to direct their sunbeams onto the bee world and the local community, shining a light on bee education, production, and preservation. The result was a wonderful, honey-sweet weekend.

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