It was a year ago this month that I took my father to spend a couple of special days together at the Carmel Valley Ranch, just a couple hours south of San Francisco. It was a ‘just the two of us’ getaway that was a long time coming: in the more than 4 decades I’ve spun around on this planet, I’d never spent more than an hour or two of one-on-one time with Dad before. I wrote an essay about our experience that appeared in the April issue of PASSPORT magazine (I’ll add a link to this post when it becomes available online…but feel free to buy a copy at Books Inc. or another fine retailer!).
In any case, May is the start of bee season at the Ranch, one of the activities that makes a weekend getaway at this particular resort a little more special than the typical R&R experiences you can find at many spots throughout the Bay Area. John Russo—who runs Carmel Lavender, a nearby commercial flower farm—is the Ranch’s beekeeper-in-sorta-residence. He tends to over 60,000 Italian honeybees on the resort property,and harvests their wares for guests’ delectation. More importantly, guests are invited to join Russo every Saturday and Tuesday for hands-on lessons on bees and beekeeping.
You’ll get to don one of those crazy white suits like they wore in The Swarm and handle (with thick gloves) vibrating trays thick with hundreds of live bees. You’ll also learn lots of fascinating stuff about how honey can work as an allergy treatment, how bees communicate via pheromone emission, and the history of apiculture in California. Russo is a big, brainy, Brown-educated bear of a guy who will keep you thoroughly engaged for an hour or so, and then keep you thinking about his lore and lessons for days to come.