PARKERSBURG - The honey bee and what it produces had crowds buzzing throughout the weekend at Parkersburg City Park during the 2012 West Virginia State Honey Festival.
The 32nd annual festival saw good crowds and good weather for Saturday and Sunday, said Tom Riddle, festival organizer.
"Overall, the festival has done good this weekend," he said. "We hope the people who came out had a good time.
Paul Poling, left, State Apiarist with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, demonstrates the honey extraction process to Jim D. Smith, of Vienna, Sunday during the 32nd annual West Virginia State Honey Festival at City Park. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
"It is a weekend to celebrate the honey bee."
With over 75 vendors, people who came out to City Park on Saturday or Sunday found something to enjoy, from food to crafts to shows and more.
"Of course, we feature our honey vendors," Riddle said. "I have been getting back very positive feedback at the variety of things we have."
A number of vendors featured honey products made in West Virginia as well as seasoned beekeepers demonstrating the honey extraction process from the honeycombs.
"We have the experts here," Riddle said. "If anyone wants to get into bee-keeping or has questions about it, they have been able to answer those questions."
Attendance numbers were not known Sunday, with Riddle saying those should be finalized in the next day or so. However, he felt the numbers were down this year compared to other years.
Alice Fox, of the Tri-County Beekeepers Association, also thought the foot traffic was down this year.
"I think it has gone a little slower this year," she said. "There doesn't seem to be as many people.
"Maybe people are more worried about the economy than getting some good honey."
For those who did come out the festival, people were able to find a variety of honey and honey-related products, Fox said. Many people were picking up items, such as small bottles of honey, wax bars, lip balm and more, for Christmas gift baskets during the upcoming holiday season, she said. Honey is also used to help stop boards from squeaking, lubricate doors and windows and bow hunters use it on their strings.
"Tri-County not only sells honey, we try to educate people about the benefits of honey and the benefits of bees," Fox said. "That is our job."
Martha Knapp, of Parkersburg, came out to the festival Sunday with some of her neighbors.
"I have never been before," she said. "I am just here looking around.
"I think it is very interesting. I have learned some things so it is good. I have bought some honey and now I am going to see if I can use it to cook with," Knapp said.
Jim D. Smith, of Vienna, was at the festival Sunday to pick up some honey, see what was available and to learn a little about bees. Smith watched a honey extraction demonstration put on by Paul Poling, State Apiarist with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
"We were thinking about maybe getting some hives in the future," Smith said. "I thought we would get some information.
"Bee keepers have told me they have had a lot of issues with diseases and having trouble keeping hives alive. I talked to (Poling) about managing disease and keep bees alive."
People were fascinated by the process of extracting the honey from the combs using a centrifuge-type machine, Poling said.
"A lot of people didn't know how you got the honey separated from the comb," he said. "Kids are just so fascinated.
"We let them taste the honey and they think that is just really cool. They have a good time with that."
Representatives from the agriculture department talked to people about pollination, the different types of products that contain honey and the different types of hives available. There was also talk of the problems of mites and the effects pesticides have had on honey production in the last several years as well as bee population declines over the last couple of years nationwide.
"Bee keepers have worked hard to educate the public," Poling said. "That is helping out as we are seeing bigger honey crops.
"All and all, bee keeping is making a good comeback."
Local dentist Rick Newhart, of Parkersburg, used to keep honey bees and is looking at the possibility of getting back into it. New technologies and other information were available through the festival. Experts were also on hand to ask questions.
"The West Virginia State Honey Festival is right here in Parkersburg so beekeepers from all over the state come here," he said. "Bees are so important for pollination and produce.
"If you have a garden or fruit trees, bees can increase the productivity. Bees are a great thing to have around."