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08/25/2016 11:00AM ● By Patrick John

Q97 - Billy and Patrick's Snap Shot

September 2016
By Patrick John

Aug. 20 was National Honey Bee Day, and I have “bees on the brain” as we prep for the Palo Cedro Honey Bee Festival. If you’ve ever been stung by a bee, you probably remember the first time, plus where and how it happened. For me, it was a schoolyard taunt ending with a bee dropped down the back of my shirt. In addition to the pain, and a trip to the nurse’s office to remove the stinger, I remember feeling sorry for that bee. Her poor little life was wasted. For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by them. Apparently, so are a lot of other people…

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” Those words were written by poet and essayist Maurice Maeterlinck in “The Life of the Bee” back in 1901. The scientific validity of the statement can be (and has been) debated, but it clearly demonstrates the importance of honey bees to our livelihood and their relationship to mankind’s basic survival. You can learn more about bees and all of their important tasks this month at the Palo Cedro Honey Bee Festival.

You may not know it, but the North State is home to several of the largest apiaries and queen bee breeders in the world. Names like Park, Wooten, Burris and Wooter are quickly recognizable in the beekeeping and queen breeding community. Generations of families are constantly working to breed healthy, hearty, disease-free and mite-resistant honeybees and queens. They are doing some important BIG business with farmers, beekeepers, and other breeders all over the world. How BIG a business? The latest statistics from Shasta County show honey, queens, pollination and other apiary products like beeswax and medicinal bees brought in almost $7.4 million in 2014.  

Can we get a piece of that pie? I thought maybe I could have a hive of my own for honey, and checked into starting one. Is it possible? Yes. Is it practical? Maybe. Is it legal where I live within the Redding city limits? From what I could find, not yet! The City of Redding is currently working on a statute to promote urban beekeeping, but it’s not a done deal.  The Shasta County statute says a 300-foot minimum distance from your home and other homes in the neighborhood is required, and you need an apiary permit, water nearby, plus there are a whole bunch of other rules to abide by. I spoke with a few beekeepers who all say it’s more work than you think, but if you aren’t afraid to learn and have the time to devote to the bees, the more the merrier. 

The Palo Cedro Honey Bee Festival is Sept. 10 and 11 at the Bishop Quinn campus, and it’s full of family fun. More than 6,500 people attended last year to learn about bees, sample some amazing food and honey, buy crafts, visit the American Honey Queen and watch the fascinating bee beard demonstration. Get more details on the festival at www.palocedrohoneybeefestival.com, and learn more about honey at www.honey.com.

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