PARKERSBURG – For the second day, City Park was abuzz with everything bees and honey Sunday during Virginia West Virginia Milk Festival.
Hundreds of people came to City Park and the pavilion for craft, vendors, concessions, entertainment and other activities on Saturday and Sunday.
This year's festival was a week earlier than usual to attend one of its key partners, the Valley of Beekeepers Association, Vickie Marshall, executive director of the Wood County Recreation Commission for whom the honey festival is a fundraiser. .
Marshall said it was a good weekend for the event. Approximately 2,000 people visited the festival on Saturday and hoped to have a good crowd on Sunday. Plans are already being made for next year's festival, which will remain on its new dates on the third weekend of August, she said.
This is a busy time of year for Marshall and the recreation commission. In addition to falling youth sports programs, they also work on the honey festival – now finished for another year – and preparing for the Harvest Moon Arts and Crafts Festival on the third weekend of September.
While the two festivals help to support the programs of the recreational commission, Marshall said Harvest is the next largest fundraiser in the year for the commission's programs.
Kenny Bach, president of the Valley-Ohio Beekeepers' Association, said there was still great interest among people who come out to the festival honey every year and those who make their first visits.
“We try to keep the interest of the children as much as we can and many parents are interested. Many people want to beekeeping and I don't know how to get started, ” he said.
Organizations like the MOVBA can help provide information and support to those who are considering such hobbies, says Bach. It encourages information and education about beekeeping and finding an experienced mentor.
Over the last number of years, the loss of beehives and bees has been a cause of concern for beekeepers and others involved in food production.
Bach stated that it had been a study since its inception and that some positive news had been received some three years ago. Researchers said that a parasite attacking the honeybees could affect them in a different and more harmful way by damaging their ability to filter out the toxins in their environment.
More studies are being carried out to find a way to tackle the parasitic problem without damaging the host bees, said Bach. More work is still to be done but it is an optimistic sign, he said.
Steve Conlon, with ThistleDew Farm, is coming to the honey festival for about 30 years to sell honey and honey products and bring his popularity. “Bee bee” t exhibitions in the City Park Pavilion. Twice on Saturday and Sunday, Conlon entered a mesh tent, tied a small cage with a bee queen to his chin and allowed the bees to pour young honey on a cardboard base on his face.
After their natural face, honeybees gathered around the Queen on Conlon's chin to create the bee beard as he presented information and history to the audience.
Among the interesting facts he presents, Conlon said that honeybees were not native to North America after they were put in place by European settlers. He also said that the female queen is not the one in charge of the hive but that it is only an oval and that the bees of women workers are in charge of the activities of the hive.
Conlon said that the educational element of his program is his favorite.
“I like to educate people. Through education we are all better off. It's a good opportunity to educate people, ” he said.
Wayne Towner can be found at email@example.com