Stymied Yet Still Sweet: Hang with Honey Connoisseurs and Learn at the Oregon Honey Festival
It ain’t easy being a bee.
Since “Colony Collapse Disorder” was diagnosed in 2006, the bee community has been frantically searching for the cause—and solutions. But more problems have arisen for the fuzzy fliers, from fungus to mites to parasites. Fortunately, bees have plenty of allies, and this year’s Honey Festival weekend promises an impressive lineup of some of the most knowledgeable folks in the field. Dr. Ramesh Sagili of Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab will present on honey bee health. CEO of the Pesticide Research Institute Dr. Susan Kegley will be presenting at the Festival on issues related to pesticide management. Marie Simmons, the former editor of Cuisine magazine and the James Beard and Julia Childs Awards winner for her single ingredient cookbook, Taste of Honey, will instruct in honey tasting. Eric McEwen, co-owner and founder of Diggin’ Livin’ Apiary will be addressing Organic Hive Management. To name just a few.
“People are hungry for information,” says volunteer Festival organizer Sharon Schmidt. “The more backyard beekeepers there are, the better it is for all of us.”
Even through seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the bee community, Schmidt doesn’t wallow in bee-pity—she is all about solutions.
“Through the winter, experienced and inexperienced beekeepers are losing bees to mites, cold and the effects of moisture,” she says.
The answer to mold and mildew during the cooler months? “Good ventilation is part of the answer,” says Schmidt—meaning an addition to the traditional bee box setup that allows for more airflow with strategically placed holes and vents.
What can the layperson do?
“Bees need good forage,” she says. “They need for us to be good land stewards so they can get their forage without being poisoned. Of course not using any pesticides is best, but if you must, one of the cardinal rules is to never apply pesticides during the daytime, especially not in the mid-morning and afternoon when the foragers are out. Bees are less affected if it is applied at night.”
And we get to dig in the dirt too.
“We can plant flowers that appeal to bees,” she says. More specifically, “plant them in at least one square yard because bees don’t like the smorgasbord effect. They like to stick with one specific flower. There is also good reason to believe that organic, non-GMO flowers are a better choice for our pollinators.”
A few other healthy choices for bees are catmint, chives and—just give up the fight and let them grow—dandelions. Other easy bee helps include: adjusting mower heights to four inches or higher to provide nesting for ground pollinators, putting out water with rocks or twigs in it so the bees don’t drown and even letting a lawn go back to nature. It seems like a tall order, but when it gets down to it—we are protecting our food source.
“We need to care for our pollinators to care for our food,” she says. “We can change the world one garden at a time.”
Oregon Honey Festival
10 am-4:30 pm, Saturday, October 17
Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E Main, Ashland
$12.50, advance. $15, door. Ages 8 and under, free.
Oregon Mead Festival
12-4 pm, Sunday, October 18
Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 East Nevada Street, Ashland