Honey Festival Buzzes Back for Another Year

The Daily Hampshire Gazette, September 19, 2016, by Shelby Ashline

An abundance of honey bees buzzed around Warm Colors Apiary Saturday, weaving peacefully around guests of the apiary’s annual Honey Festival.

The festival attracted both beekeepers and non-beekeepers who turned out to learn about beekeeping, purchase a variety of honey products and appreciate the honey bee.

According to Bonita Conlon, who owns Warm Colors Apiary with her husband Dan, the two have been organizing the festival for at least 15 years “to celebrate the honey bee and the wonderful gifts that bees give us.”

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., presentations were given about nectar and pollen plants important to bees, baking with honey, honey bee health, the art of mead making and a typical beekeeping season in the Pioneer Valley.

“In western Massachusetts, we’re blessed,” Dan Conlon began during his presentation on honey bee health. He explained that a combination of early blooming plants, late blooming plants and excellent soil provide the apiary with an abundance of plants to feed the bees.

“That’s the trick,” Dan Conlon said. “Not everybody’s bees are dying.”

He explained that mites are one of the most common problems causing the bee population to die off, but Warm Colors Apiary has managed to thrive with a variety of mite-resistant bees.

Indeed, the apiary sold six different varieties of honey during the festival as well as honey candies, soap, sauces, and candles. Flayvors of Cook Farm was on hand to sell honey-flavored soft serve ice cream, and Greenfield’s Artisan Beverage Cooperative sold bottles of mead.

New this year, guests could also stroll through the back bee yard and see the bees up close.

Bonita Conlon said she strives to make the festival of interest to both beekeepers and non-beekeepers, and said it has become a great community-oriented event.

“People thank us for doing it,” she said. “They come every year if they can and they’re sad if they miss it.”