To bee or not to bee. Obviously, the answer is “to bee,” because without them, we humans wouldn’t be around.
The fuzzy little critters are a critical component of a healthy ecosystem. The primary reason is because bees are prolific pollinators. But their population is under threat.
“Without our pollinators, we do not have a growing food source,” says Theresa Coates Ellis, Manassas City Council member, and founder and president of the Friends of the Manassas Bee Festival. “Without pollinators, we will not exist.”
According to the USDA, honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year. And that dollar figure alone is nothing to sneeze at.
Raising awareness of the importance of bees, and showing people how to help them, is the primary goal of the third annual Manassas Bee Festival, which takes flight at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 24 at the Liberia House and Grounds.
Planned events include yoga on the lawn, honeybee hive demonstrations, live music, and (of course) a spelling bee.
Manassas as the venue is no coincidence. It has the national designation of a Bee City USA.
Coates Ellis, a master gardener and beekeeper along with her husband, is responsible for that, too. She started efforts in 2019 to have the city council vote on it.
“And it was unanimous,” Coates Ellis says. Part of bee-ing a Bee City involves meeting criteria to promote the conservation of pollinators. “Manassas city was the first city in Northern Virginia to receive that designation.”
The buzz around the festivals has been wildly successful. The first, in 2021, saw thousands of guests. “We ran out of food. We ran out of beer,” Coates Ellis says, with a laugh.
Last year, there were 60 vendors. This year, Coates Ellis says, there will be 150. “So we’ve really expanded.”
The festival comes during National Pollinator Month.
“It’s just amazing to see how many people are excited about this. It’s a feel good thing,” Coates Ellis says.
She plans to put money left over from the festival back into public works.
“We’d like to do a mural at one of the gateways to our city that’s a pollinator theme, focusing on Bee City USA,” Coates Ellis says. “And also give back to our our public schools. We’ve been helping them start pollinator gardens, and we have been visiting them.”
So maybe students can aim to get straight A’s and straight B’s.
Featured photo courtesy Manassas Bee Festival/Facebook
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