Honeybee Festival takes you straight to the hive for beekeeping lessons, more
Visitors to the Garden of Eve organic farm in Riverhead will have a sweeter time than usual on July 24, as the third annual Honeybee Festival offers honey tasting and honey hayrides that take riders to the farm’s hives for lessons on beekeeping.
"Once a year, we open to the public to let people know the value of the honeybees to our agricultural farm," says Garden of Eve’s master beekeeper, Steven Chen of Holbrook.
Garden of Eve co-owner Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht advises reserving a ticket and hayride time online early because she expects the event will sell out. "It’s really exciting to see where honey comes from. People love honey," she says.
Here’s what’s planned:
Honey hayrides: Tractor-pulled hayrides will run every hour beginning at 10 a.m., with the last ride going out at 2 p.m., Kaplan-Walbrecht says. The 15-minute ride will take people to the see the approximately eight active hives.
Beekeeping lessons: Once at the hives, Chen will speak for about 30 minutes about the life of a honeybee. He’ll have a hive with glass walls so people can see what’s going on inside.
He’ll ask the children to search for the queen bee — each hive only has one, and hint, she’s usually the biggest bee (and the boss). Then there are the drones, whose sole purpose it is to impregnate the queen and ensure the continuation of the hive. "Drones are very cute. They’re male and they have no stingers. They have big eyes. Their heads are all taken up by their eyes," Chen says. And lastly are the cadres of worker bees — all female — that fly from flower to flower collecting nectar to make honey and pollinating the plants in the process.
He’ll explain to the children — and the adults — that bees won’t usually attack away from the nest. It’s when people disturb their hives that they go on the warpath. "If people come to your house and bang around, you’re not going to be very happy," he says. Chen says he’ll help people understand that the bees need our protection. "We kind of take away their foraging area, all the new houses, people push them out, we use a lot of pesticides. They can really use some of our help, too."
Honey tasting: Visitors can sample different types of honey, including honey made at Garden of Eve. Other samples include honey made in the Hamptons and upstate, including whipped honey, wildflower honey, clover honey and lavender honey. "Wildflower honey and clover honey taste different because it’s a different type of nectar that’s being collected by the bees," Kaplan-Walbrecht says.
Pollinator plants: Plants such as milkweed, black-eyed Susans and bee balms will be available for purchase for between $10 and $20 for people who might want to have a colorful butterfly or bee-friendly garden. "A lot of them are blooming now, so that’s nice," Kaplan-Walbrecht says, with flowers in lavender, yellow and red.
Fun Field and Farm Animals: The farm’s play area includes a bounce pad, haybale tower and a kart track for kids. And the farm has goats, sheep, ducks, turkeys, chickens and a pig named Mila.
Farm cafe and brewery room: The farm cafe sells smoothies, ice cream and variety of lunch foods using farm ingredients. The brewery room will also be open, serving a variety of beer brewed on site as well as bottles of wine from Long Island vineyards.
Third Annual Honeybee Festival
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with last honey hayride going out at 2 p.m., on July 24, with rain date of July 25, at Garden of Eve farm, 4558 Sound Ave., Riverhead
COST $15 per person for the honey hayride and beekeeper session and general admission, $9.95 for general admission only; children 2 and younger are free
INFO 631-722-8777; gardenofevefarm.com