Honeybee Discovery Center in Orland is open two days a month. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

As the queen bee capital of North America, it’s not surprising the Honeybee Discovery Center is in downtown Orland.

This Northern California town earned this designation because of the “popularity of beekeeping as a profession.”

The center’s website says, “Eighty percent of the queen bees used in the United States are raised here in Butte, Glenn, Shasta, and Tehama counties, which are often referred to as the ‘golden Triangle.’ Orland is also the 40th Bee City, USA with a commitment to creating greater awareness and an environment that protects honeybees and other pollinators.”

In many ways honeybees are managed like other farm animals. They are critical to keeping food on our tables. It’s reported that the annual value of crop pollination in the United States ranges between $18 billion and $27 billion.

The center says, “… these tiny creatures are responsible for one out of every three bites you eat.”

Three of us (me, mom and Sue) thoroughly enjoyed The Making of a Queen exhibit that runs through June.

A slew of photographs line two walls depicting the beekeeping process. Many were from Hill and Ward Apiaries in Glenn County. The bonus was having Laurel Hill-Ward, a volunteer and board member with the bee center, sharing what life is like in a beekeeping family and answering visitors’ questions.

One display said, “The relationship between humans and honeybees may have started even before agriculture began in Neolithic times. People had probably harvested honey from wild bees before they began planting crops. Early observations about pollination led to close ties between humans and bees.

“Curious beekeepers unconsciously acting as citizen scientists carefully observed honeybee behaviors and learned how to manipulate colonies of bees to produce queen bees. This knowledge allowed people to increase the number of bee colonies by gathering the natural excess of bees in a colony and adding a new queen.”

The permanent displays talk about the culinary uses of honey as well as the health benefits. In the U.S. there are more than 300 types of honey. More information talks about the making of a queen.

It’s a small center packed with a ton of information.

The center opened in 2019. The goal is to move to a larger location that would include pollinator gardens.

Bees make a variety of honey. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

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Deets:

  • Open the first consecutive Friday and Saturday of each month. Fridays from 3-6pm, Saturdays 10am-1pm.
  • Address: 501 Walker Street, Orland
  • Email: honeybeediscovery@gmail.com
  • Phone: 530.805.BUZZ
  • Website
  • Cost: $3

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