By Alyssa Pitcher
For centuries, farmers have used honeybees to pollinate their fields and enrich their crops. At BelleWood Acres, the faint smell of fresh apples fills the air, and the pastel pink and white blossoming flowers that cover the apple trees are a testament to the tiny yellow powerhouses.
BelleWood Acres’ apple orchard offers a prime example of the importance of honeybees for agricultural purposes. The orchard has a total of 18,000 trees on its property on Guide Meridian Road, according to owner Dorie Belisle. Since honeybees are excellent pollinators, more than 30 hives are scattered throughout the orchard.
“BelleWood really respects the workers in our orchards, including the bees,” Belisle said.
On Sunday, April 26, BelleWood Acres’ third annual Apple Blossom and Honey Bee Festival will celebrate their contributions. The festival will begin at 11 a.m. with a 5K run through the orchard. Throughout the day the festival will feature speakers, orchard tours with information on beekeeping, live music by the band Lindsey Street and interactive learning activities.
“It’s going to be a fun family day, but also a fun learning day.” Belisle said.
At 1 p.m. representatives from Washington State University’s (WSU) honeybee health program, Susan Cobey and Dr. Tim Lawrence, will speak on the status of honeybees in the United States, as well as the direction of the WSU program.
Cobey is an expert in honeybee breeding and currently coordinates a WSU honeybee stock improvement and maintenance program. Lawrence is the Island County WSU extension director and has more than 50 years of beekeeping experience. Proceeds from their presentation as well as from the 5K run will benefit the WSU Honey Bee Health Program.
At 3 p.m., Gary Clueit, head of Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association, will speak on the importance of honeybees in Whatcom County, and what people can do to ensure their wellbeing. Proceeds from his presentation will benefit the Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association.
“We’re very honored to have such leaders in the field represent us at BelleWood,” said event specialist Pamela Felke.
Apple bin train rides out to the orchard will be available for $3 throughout the day. Belisle said it would be a great opportunity for family pictures as well, as the orchard will be in full bloom.
The restaurant will have specials on dishes featuring honey, such as the honey-glazed chicken, Felke said, and the store will be selling local honey and honey products.
Fundraising sales and activities for the WSU Honey Bee Health Program, like face painting and marzipan bee candies, will occur throughout the day. Kids can also take part in a scavenger hunt and play with interactive learning bee boxes.
Event ticket sales benefit WSU honeybee research and the Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association. Tickets for the 5K run may be purchased online for $20 or at the event for $25. The presentations cost $10 each and admission tickets may be purchased online or at the door until seats are full. All tickets can be purchased at bellewoodfarms.com.