Rain in May? That was the forecast for the Bee Faire on Sunday afternoon, May 7. But rain held back for the bees and the hundreds of people who turned out to enjoy the festivities.
It was the second annual Bee Faire, sponsored by Beautify Cambria Association at the Cambria Historical Museum on Center Street. Beekeepers, businesspeople selling bee-related products, and bee-themed fun filled the museum gardens. The grounds, colorful with yellow calendulas, orange poppies, and red hollyhocks from the green spectrum of their beds, were the perfect setting to welcome bees. Bees need flowers for the pollen and nectar they collect for their own food and to make honey.
The idea for a Bee Faire took flight as BCA members fretted about the plight of bees, our partners in both wild and domestic plants. 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.
Initially, BCA planned a brunch focused on the foods that rely on bees for pollination. As BCA’s awareness of the importance of bees to the food we eat grew, so did the need to reach a wider community. BCA launched 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.
Part of the fun was the finale Buzzy Pets Parade. Top Honors for Best Costume went to Walter Baxter and his impressive orange striped tomcat, Sunshine. Sunshine was not only dressed as a bee, but the stroller he rides around town was turned into a throne with a cushion and decorated with local nasturtiums.
Speakers and vendors included beekeeper Stephen Pryor of San Luis Obispo Pollination Company, on helping honeybees pollinate crops and nurturing native bumblebees. He uses some of the pollen the honeybees collect to feed the bumblebees. Anna Rempel, retired schoolteacher, master gardener, and founding member and past president of CC Beekeepers Alliance, talked about the importance of native plants to bees. Scott Jeffries, retired Cal Poly Instructor, beekeeper, and master queen maker, explained about queen bees and hive social structure. Sue Hulsmann, beekeeper and farmer, member of the Central Coast Beekeepers Alliance, talked about her organic farm and the healing properties of propolis.
Soto’s True Earth Market jumped right in, selling local honey, candy and nutritional bars made with honey. Golden Coast Mead (mead is an alcoholic drink made with honey), sold out every drop.
BCA handed our free information from the Pollinator Partnership. I have a couple of posters left, if you’d like one for home or school.
Lady Tie Di, Dianne Brooke, reigned as master of ceremonies for a second year. She created her own costume, complete with antennae. She was generous with practical support, too, including her pop-up tent, which housed BCA’s baklava and slider food booth. BCA members Cheryl McDowell, Christine Scott, Claudia Harmon Worthen and I baked baklava, a Middle Eastern dessert made with honey and nuts, at the Vets Hall kitchen. Thanks to Carlos Mendoza and Berto Nobas for opening that for them, and explaining how the gas stove works. Tala Romero and her granddaughters greeted hungry visitors with bee-themed honey-glazed ham sliders.
Jason Anderson grew bee-friendly plants from seed to sell at the Faire. He also made strawberry jam sweetened with honey.
Harry Farmer, who maintains the museum gardens, sold Jason’s plants. He’s a wealth of information on plants and gardening.
Consuelo Macedo rode herd on the museum and the Historical Society’s equipment to make the Faire a success. Because of the cloudy weather, she welcomed visitors to the museum, where BCA president Vari MacNeil’s bee photo collection was on display. Informational cards accompanying the photos highlighted significant facts about bees, such as: A single worker bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime. The honey bee’s wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second. The Historical Scociety gave generously of all their resources to make the day a success.
The Native Daughters of the Golden West dressed 40 visitors in fantastic hats they decorated themselves with flowers, ribbons, bees and butterflies. Their bright hats dressed up the whole Faire!
Jim Worthen and Gordon Heinrichs fetched and carried.
Nancy Anderson helped kids and adults make beeswax candles, despite the chilly temperatures. The wax needs some warmth to bend instead of crack when rolling it into a candle. Beeswax burns clean and odorless. Bees make it to store honey and raise the next generation of bees.
Jeanette Wolfe and Paula Guiney from Allied Arts painted happy bees on smiling faces.
Hundreds of visitors, both locals and tourists, stopped in for a minute and stayed to hear the speakers, eat some baklava, drink tea or mead, and take home some local honey or a bee-friendly plant.
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 (TRPR’s). The flowering plants in the planters, nurtured and maintained by plant whiz Harry Farmer, support those hungry bees. They also remind Cambrians and visitors of our continuing debt to these tireless workers.