Destinations Magazine

Bees and Lavender in Carmel

By Davedtc @davedtc
Bees and Lavender in Carmel

Dressed in the bee suit

Ever want to don a full bodysuit to invade a colony of 60,000 Italian honeybees and extract honey from their hive?

Spending a day on bee farm is something I’ve always wanted to do.  Maybe it’s because you get to wear a cool suit.  Maybe it’s because bees are slowly disappearing and I want to support them in someway. Maybe it’s because I’m totally afraid of them and need to get that out of my system.

Whatever, the reason, when I learned you could do a bee excursion at Carmel Valley Ranch for $50, I had to go.


My day with the bees was really more of a morning with the bees, but I was okay with that. Mainly because it was a hundred degrees outside so wearing the suit for longer than that would have been killer.

The bee-dude, John Russo, was amazing. He owns a lavender farm in the area and has thousands Italian honey bees.

But here’s the cool thing….he not only knows bees, but he really, really gets what’s going on in their little bee heads.

For example, when my little group (I think there were eight of us in total) gathered by the hive, the bees were everywhere. I swear, the buzzing was ominous and they were swarming around us. I could tell I wasn’t the only one nervous. The whole group was tense and hoping there were no holes in our suits so the bees couldn’t get in.

John told us the reason the bees were swarming was because we were in their way.  We were blocking the route to the hive. We took a few steps back and slowly walked to the other side of the hive (away from the door) and the result was mind blowing.  The bees instantly stopped flying around us and flew directly into the hive.  The whole area went from loud buzzing to peaceful.

It was then I realized John was the bee whisperer.

Now that the bees were back to working, we could actually take the time to look at them.  John removed the lids of the hive and pulled out one of the honeycomb sheets.  Hundreds of bees were crawling all over it, doing their bee stuff.

Then he passed it to me to hold.

Bees and Lavender in Carmel
Normally, I would have freaked being that close to bees, but with the Bee Whisperer there, I knew I would be safe.  Besides, there were some little kids in the group so I sucked up all bravery I had and held onto the tray while bees climbed on my gloved hands.

It turns out, bees aren’t that bad.  Although, you know those times when you are convinced they are stalking you at a park?  Apparently, they may be.  John says bees seem to know which person annoyed them or swatted at them and will follow them around, flying up by their eyes just to freak the person out.  Yup, bees hold grudges.

I also learned that bees don’t sting except as a last resort.  The Bee Whisperer told us he once watched two guard bees knock a moth off the hive and then drop pebbles on its wings so it couldn’t get up.  Now that’s pretty smart.

Just when I started to get to know the bees, it was time to go.  They are kind of cute with their little furry bodies and busy little lives. This was one of the best days of my life.  It was scary, enlightening and just amazing.

In fact, I loved it so much, I may even get my own hive one day.

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