Ahh, spring in Cambria! The bees are humming and music is in the air. Cambrians celebrated 2016 by having fun around serious issues.
April’s Arbor Day and Earth Day celebrations are naturals for Cambria’s Monterey pine forest and unique environmental setting. Greenspace: The Cambria Land Trust and the Beautify Cambria Association collaborated on a weekend of focus on trees and bees.
Greenspace invited all to sing and dance at the Creekside Reserve on Saturday, April 30. Participants spontaneously jived to the music of Zen Mountain Poets. The doors of the historic Chinese Temple were open, welcoming visitors to peer into a piece of Cambrian history that’s often overlooked. It was a glorious day, and the crowd reveled in it.
The concert was an opportunity to share artwork done by Santa Lucia middle-schoolers on four field trips across the Santa Rosa Watershed during the 2015-16 school year.
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Bees have been dying off, struggling with lack of food in mono-crop agriculture, destruction of wild habitat for the flowering plants they need for food, and chemical assault by pesticides. The downside of losing bees is that we rely on these small workers to pollinate the plants that provide about a third of our food. No bees, no food.
The idea took off — a bee in our collective bonnet — and soon morphed from a brunch for friends into a public event. We had several goals in launching the faire: to spread the word about our reliance on bees and the problems they’re facing; to provide actionable information on how we can help our local bees; to make money to support Beautify Cambria’s community enhancement projects; and to have fun.
Speakers and vendors included John Chesnut with his demonstration hive and honey, Hallelujah Honey, Sage Ecological Landscapes, Garoupa Jams and Cakes, 5G Farms, Central Coast Beekeepers, and Hakuna Matata Bee Co., which removes and relocates bees. Soto’s True Earth Market jumped right in, selling several brands of local honey. Golden Coast Mead (mead is an alcoholic drink made with honey) sold out of every drop.
Kim Kester, America’s Honey Queen, was one of the highlights for me. I was delighted when I learned that we have a Honey Queen. Her sponsoring organization, the American Beekeeping Federation, was willing to send her from Wisconsin to the Central Coast if we’d set up additional appearances for her. She spoke at two farmers markets, two libraries, two public schools and Cal Poly in her three days in California, finishing up with a full day at the Bee Faire. Thanks to Ann and Bob Cichowski for being her host.
Such an eclectic event required a special host. Cambria’s Lady Tie Di, Dianne Brooke, was perfect. Her bright eyes sparkling under a hat decorated with handmade bees made her the center of attention.
We were grateful that so many people helped in so many ways. Greenspace Executive Director Connie Gannon pitched in to help set up our bee photo exhibit. Jason Anderson grew bee-friendly plants from seed to sell at the faire, along with his honey-smoked local fish. Penny Church was on hand to open the storage unit and Guthrie-Bianchini House museum. The museum gave generously of all their resources to make the day a success.
Tala Romero, Cheryl McDowell and Claudia Harmon Worthen baked baklava, a traditional honey-sweetened confection, at the vets hall kitchen. Thanks to Carlos Mendoza and Berto Nobas for opening that for them in return for a single avocado.
The Native Daughters of the Golden West helped visitors dress up by making fantastic hats with flowers, ribbons, bees and butterflies.
Local beekeepers John Chesnut, Scott Jeffreys and Anna Rempel of the Central Coast Bee Alliance shared their knowledge. Jodi Tallier, organizer of the Paso Robles Honey Festival, gave freely her experience and contacts.
Larry Rhodes, Jim Worthen, Ann and Bob Cichowski, and Gordon Heinrichs fetched and carried. Crosby Swartz took terrific photos.
Beautify Cambria President Vari MacNeil created a display with accompanying bee information facts, such as: A single worker bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in an entire lifetime. The honey bee’s wings stroke about 200 beats per second. Who knew?
Susan Chase and her friend Vicki Niederost-Rau, who was on vacation, refreshed thirsty visitors with cool tea.
Nancy Anderson helped kids and adults make beeswax candles. Beeswax burns clean and odorless. Bees make it to store honey and raise the next generation of bees.
Jeanette Wolff and Paula Guiney from Allied Arts painted happy bees on smiling faces.
The Bee Faire will return in 2017, an addition to Cambria’s spring welcome.
Year-round, Beautify Cambria works to beautify our town and has contributed most noticeably by replacing the ugly old trash cans downtown with beautiful new Trash/Recycling/Planter Receptacles (TRPRs). The flowering plants in the planters are one more support for those hungry bees.
Christine Heinrichs is a Piedras Blancas elephant seal docent and member of the Cambria Forest Committee. She writes a monthly column on elephant seals for The Cambrian.