MASTER GARDENERS AT THE MICHIGAN HONEY FESTIVAL
Submitted by Bev Kobylas: Certified Advanced Master Gardener, Beekeeper and Committee Head
On August 5, 2017, a group of Master Gardeners from several counties volunteered at the Sixth Annual Michigan Honey Festival at the Harvey Kern Pavilion in beautiful Frankenmuth, MI. The Honey Festival is always held the first Saturday in August and we have been at Frankenmuth the last four years. The first two years we were at the Eastern Michigan State Fairgrounds in Imlay City, Mi., and we found that Frankenmuth was more centrally located for the beekeepers and clubs in the state of Michigan. Also, Frankenmuth is pleased to have the Michigan Honey Festival as their “family festival”.
I am a Certified Advanced Master Gardener of St. Clair County who has been with the Michigan Honey Festival since its inception. I am a beekeeper and became a Board Member of the Michigan Honey Festival and now am Committee Head. My desire is to educate all we come in contact with on the plight of our pollinators and how we can, as individuals and communities help our pollinators. Instruction on gardening and techniques for benefiting pollinators, answering questions and to educate and spark interest in, especially the children, the wonderful world of pollinators is the mission.
We have always had a display of plants, trees, shrubs, etc to show what kind of plants the pollinators love. Once we came to Frankenmuth, we expanded! The call went out to see if other MGs would be interested in volunteering their time for assisting in the education “adventure”.
These endeavors were met this year with MGs volunteering from St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee, Oakland, Sanilac and Tuscola Counties. Unfortunately, we had a couple people who were ill and could not join us, but, there is always next year!!!! We had a fabulous turnout of volunteers and it was GREAT to be working side-by-side with other counties all with the same desire to educate. We had a wonderful time and it was fun. I am not sure if the volunteers or the kids had more fun!!
Our display this year included: A photo contest for three age groups (theme: a bee on a flower). Ribbons were awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place and a gift basket was given to first place with items donated by vendors.
Craft area: Up to four crafts could be completed and I think the most popular was the Bee Hat. This gave us the opportunity to talk about the bee and various body parts.
Information Table and Pollination Table: We answered questions, gave out information, had hand outs, posters, sold butterfly kits (larva and milkweed so the metamorphosis could be observed and the monarch released). This helps them take an avid interest and they feel like they are helping the Monarch.
Butterfly Tent: A major attraction for children AND adults. They are provided education on the Monarch prior to entering and how to feed the butterflies, how butterflies taste their food and how to watch the proboscis of the butterfly. There is a display with picture signs showing the complete metamorphosis of the Monarch and each stage it goes through. Magnifying glasses are used to observe the eggs and the scales of the wings. There is a special “looking glass” to show how a butterfly sees. It is NOT just for children; Parents have said they too learned something.
Great photo opportunities abounded as did smiles. Of-course, the tent is filled with plants that are pollinator friendly.
Plants for Pollinators: A display of plants that pollinators love and milkweed for the eggs and larva of the Monarch. Plants are grown by MGs and some donated by Earthly Arts. This is always a great educational tool. There were many questions about milkweed and this afforded a huge opportunity to educate. This is a separate display in the middle of our area. We also had wooden cut outs for photo ops.
How Insects Eat: This display was another “hands on” display. We had four stations where the individuals had to be involved in eating the way an insect does. For example: A praying mantis has mandibles so fists had to be taken up to the face and two fingers used to pick up a fruit loop and bring back to the mouth. We had the four stations of chewing, piercing and sucking, siphoning and sponging. We also had examples of leaves showing piercing/sucking and chewing.
The Honey Festival is a 501c3 organization. Each year a recipient is chosen by the board to aid in beekeeping. Schools, colleges, Farmer Veteran’s Coalition-Michigan Chapter, etc. Beekeepers are great mentors and helpers. Check the website: Michiganhoneyfestival.com
The master gardeners that volunteered were great helpers and educators and as always—a ton of fun!! It was a pleasure to serve with these volunteers from several other counties. It is not always easy to get out of our comfort zone and expand out but, we ALL have the same goal in mind: Education. I hope to continue serving with MGs from Michigan and elsewhere! We had a BLAST!! I do hope others will come out and join us.