Regulars and Shorts

Bee Fest

By Greta Belanger deJong

What’s happening at Bee Fest: A Celebration of Pollination!

Raise your glass to pollinators, for they bring you your coffee, tea, tequila and cream (dairy cows eat  pollinated alfalfa). Then there’s fruit: Thank pollinators for the apples, pears, mangos, bananas, berries, peaches and pumpkins. And many spices. And chocolate!

While honey bees (of primarily European descent) loom large in our present-day consciousness, they do not have to do all the pollinating alone. The U.S. is home to 4,000 species of native bees as well. And 1,000 of those species live in Utah. Last year Utah State University entomologist Joe Wilson identified 127 different species of native bees in the University of Utah’s Red Butte Garden.

We’re learning more about the critters that hang out in our flower beds and trees as news spreads about the importance of pollinators to our food system. In addition to bees, plants are pollinated by ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths and wasps. But bees, both native and domesticated imports, remain at the top of the list for doing the heavy lifting.

Governor Gary Herbert declared June 18-24, 2018 “Pollinator Week” and CATALYST Magazine kicks off the week with the Bee Fest: A Celebration of Pollination on June 16.

Gov. Herbert encourages “collaborative efforts to protect native Utah pollinator species through habitat conservation, public education about pollinator-friendly rural and urban landscapes, and research.” And that’s just what we’re going to do (with a bit of fun mixed in).

Here’s a taste of what’s in store:

You’ll find honey for sale from local bee keepers whose girls (for all working bees are female) feast on different flower fare, with some fancy inclusions like Hive Mind Apiary’s sriracha-infused honey. Tom Bench’s Hollow Tree Honey also offers bees-waxed cherry wood honey dippers. Tom, by the way, started the


beehives on the University of Utah campus and is featured in the story on p. 32.

Grand Prismatic Seeds will offer for sale locally grown seeds for 25 species of native and ornamental pollinator plants. They will also have ornamental prickly pear cactus pads that are hardy to Salt Lake County and provide large beautiful blooms once established. The flowers of prickly pear species are especially fun to watch, because the stamens are thigmonastic (sensitive), and actively move toward the bees to cover them in pollen.

Of course we could not have a celebration of pollination without our favorite pollination pontificator. Planned Parenthood Association of Utah will offer resources and information regarding healthy relationships, safe sex, gender and sexuality, and reproductive justice.

Peter Somers owns Beez Honey and Hives. He’s also Salt Lake County’s Bee Inspector. His shop will offer beekeeping supplies and honey. He will have an observation hive so you can see the bees upclose.

You can also meet USU horticulturist Katie Wagner, an engaging speaker and Bee Fest perennial, with a passion for pollinator plants and bees. Her team from the Master Gardening Program will answer your gardening questions and share info about the program. And we’ll hear from biology professor Joe Wilson, author of The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees, sharing his extensive knowledge of wild bees. And every actual and aspiring beekeeper wants to know Joey Caputo, our state apiarist. You can “ask a beekeeper” for advice at the Wasatch Beekeepers Association’s table.

The festival is happening at Wasatch Community Gardens’ spacious and well-done Green Team Farm. Chief farmer James Loomis will give ongoing tours of the 1.4 acre plot, which teems with healthy plantlife and progressive projects including state-of-the-art composting, chickens, a greenhouse and Hugelkulture beds. The women who work at the farm will conduct a workshop on building bee hotels for carpenter and orchard bees and other insect allies. Materials will be provided.

Owen Parry of the Wasatch Beekeepers Association will conduct a workshop on building swarm traps—how to catch your bees for free (see article, p. 25). A small charge may apply for this workshop.

Al Chubak of Eco Beebox will be there with four or five different types of hives of his own design, including the cute and affordable namesake Eco Beebox —”a beehive with training wheels,” he calls it.

Come hear Jme Bonfiglio of Whole Sun Wellness Mushroom Company, share her many interesting stories about the relationship between pollinators and mushrooms.

Susie Goodspeed of Susie Bee Good Honey at The American Dream Farm sells hotels for garden leaf cutter solitary bees, native blue orchard mason bees, and all things beeswax: balms and salves, candles, carvings and ornaments. We’re most intrigued by her reusable beeswax food wrap.

Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability will offer information and encouragement on reducing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. We hope to hear about cost-effective and proven natural alternatives that can help you achieve a healthy and beautiful yard without chemicals. You’ll be able to take the Pesticide Free SLC pledge and receive a yard sign, too.

Pollinators of many varieties are attracted to herbs in the garden and landscape. Learn which plants are most beneficial and useful, too, from clinical herbalist, teacher and author Merry Harrison of Millcreek Herbs. Merry will provide a list and be available all day to answer questions.

Yoga instructor Maizy Anderson will offer “bee breath” pranayama breaks throughout the day. Learn the technique that sounds like a buzzing bee and cultivates slower breaths from the chest, which results in…ahhh…relaxation.

For the literary-minded, there’s the Pollinator Poetry Invitational and Competition, organized by Melissa Bond, herself an award-winning poet (she brought poetry slams to Salt Lake City back in the 1990s. Think you might want to enter? Visit the event website,, for details.

For those who love Halloween, Burning Man, or just playing dressup, there’s the Pollinator Parade and Contest. Fashion your finest butterfly wings, show your hummingbird stuff, be a bat. See details at

Slow Food Utah is hosting a Honey of a Bake Sale, with honey-based delights from premiere bakers around town including past and present Slow Food Utah board members and associates.

Linsey Lesser helps run White Lake Honey Farms and also charms the bees with her ethereal harp playing. If you’ve been to the Winter Farmers Market, you may have heard her play. She will be at the festival, with harp and honey.

Explore the natural world of the beautiful Green Team Farm with Lexi Kaili, citizen science coordinator for the Natural History Museum of Utah, using the free app I-Naturalist. Then Zaia (9) and Ziggy (5) Loomis will lead youngsters on a game of Bee’ngo (Zaia’s invention) where you’ll identify pollinators and their favorite flowers in the garden.

If you’re looking for a landscaper who understands native (bee) culture as well as fine aesthetics, you’ll want to talk to the people at Silver Sage Xeriscape & Design.

Wasatch Cooperative Market will show you how to be part of Salt Lake City’s first true storefront cooperative market, the type of which is common in most cities of our size and culture.

Swaner Nature Preserve will inspire you to head to Park City and learn about the pollinator projects happening in their 1,200-acre haven. The preserve nurtures both the ecosystem and the people connected to it.

Meet a jumping spider. Encountering a jumping spider can be a bit disconcerting, if you don’t know what you’re getting into. Kyle Burdash befriended this common Utah arachnid (whom he named Genifer) and in the process learned a lot. “Jumping spiders are as different from other spiders as we are from other mammals,” he says. They make eye contact. He says you can develop a relationship with them. Meet his jumping friend and see for yourself. Then, next time you see a jumping spider, you’ll know what it is and may make a friend, too. (Caveat: While they may do some pollinating, they also like to eat…bees.)

Our primary sponsor is the law firm of Richards Brandt Miller Nelson (RBMN), known as one of the top Salt Lake City law firms for more than 30 years. The firm represents clients in areas including business formation and intellectual property, labor and employment, immigration law, nonprofit and religious law, family law, and real estate. RBMN proves its commitment to the community by supporting many charitable and educational events, including Bee Fest. Shareholder Barry Scholl, vice-chair of the firm’s business section, is a CATALYST board member and the current president of Local First Utah. For more information on RBMN and profiles of their attorneys, visit


We’re grateful to Wasatch Community Gardens for sharing their garden space with us, as well as the expertise of the inimitable James Loomis (who is also CATALYST’s “Garden Like a Boss” garden writer and famed DJ iloom).

And none of this would be happening without Slow Food Utah’s generous bequeathing of the festival to CATALYST this year. Slow Food Utah, the local wing of an international organization, originated the festival in 2011. Slow Food Utah/USA/International is committed to the expansion of “good, clean and fair food” for all.

There’s plenty more! Follow what’s happening at the festival at


Saturday, June 16
9am to 2pm

Wasatch Community Garden’s Green Team Farm (622 West 100 South, just west of Gateway and across the street from Metro Music Hall and the Utah Arts Alliance)

No charge

This article was originally published on May 31, 2018.