By Corky Mau
This couple has a honey of a relationship
The hum of bees is music to Jerry Johnson. On Saturday mornings, kids and adults gather around “Uncle Jer’s” booth at the Elks Lodge No. 6 farmers market in Greenhaven. They sample his home-grown honey and listen to his Honeybees 101 primer, where Jerry separates bee facts from myths.
Look closely into the observation hive—a wood and glass box—where you can watch the bees in action. “Everyone loves searching for the queen bee,” Jerry says. Hint: Look for a bee with a white dot.
Johnson and his wife Ellen are passionate about honeybees. They are equally passionate about educating the public about why honeybees are so important to our environment.
Since 2008, the couple has brought “Uncle Jer’s Traveling Bee Show” to schools and libraries throughout the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area.
During his youth, Jerry lived on his family’s farm in Fiddletown. His mother and stepfather were beekeepers, harvesting and selling raw honey. They had more than 10,000 colonies on the farm. The family drove up and down the Central Valley, transporting hives from one orchard to another.
Today, beekeeping is mainly a hobby for the retired couple. The Johnsons maintain 10 colonies at home, each comprised of four large stacked boxes. “During the hot months, the queen typically lives in the bottom box. Because of the hot weather, the honey flows downwards. When it’s cold, the queen stays near the top box, where it’s warmer,” Jerry says.
The Johnson backyard is filled with plants that yield pollinators to encourage year-round honey production. There are avocado and lemon trees, tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkin and a variety of flowering plants. “We work hard to keep our bees happy and well fed,” Ellen says.
True to his passion, Jerry will remove and relocate unwanted beehives from your property. Last year, he and my neighbor, Chris Perini, another beekeeper hobbyist, removed a large hive from a tree down my street.
“By the size of it, that hive probably had 40,000 bees,” Jerry says. Nobody got stung, but beekeepers aren’t always so lucky.
The Johnsons bottle two honey flavors: wildflower and blackberry. I’ve tried both and each are tasty, not overly sweet. Besides the farmers market, the Johnsons will be at the Lodi Grape Festival this month. The Johnson’s website has more information at bee-show.com.
You’re invited to the first ACC Ohana Walk on Saturday, Sept. 17. “Ohana” is Hawaiian for family. The walk starts at 8 a.m. and is one of many events celebrating ACC’s 50th anniversary.
The route follows the Greenhaven-Pocket Canal, a 2.5-mile course. There will be six checkpoints at half-mile intervals along the canal. Walkers can start at any station.
Register online at accsv.org/ohana. Registration includes an Ohana T-shirt and picnic lunch at the ACC Campus. The fee is $15 for ages 9–19 and $35 for ages 20–79 (free for other ages). Proceeds support ACC’s residential facilities and community wellness programs.
Contact Wayne Kurahara at email@example.com for information.
Kids of all ages will enjoy this month’s movie at Garcia Bend Park on Friday, Sept. 16. Disney’s animated superhero film “Big Hero 6” starts at dusk. Come early for a picnic dinner. Bring your own meal or try the food trucks.
Corky Mau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.