Bees do more than make honey -- their pollinating efforts contribute to the landscape you see and the local foods you eat. These five beekeeping experiences provide a glimpse into the sweet world of bees.1. Big Island Bees, Hawaii: This family-operated honey farm on the Big Island offers free tours Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., weather permitting, where you’ll hear about the queen bee, the hive, and honey production from behind a screened viewing area. (Book online before you go since the tours fill up fast.) After the tour, visit the onsite museum and sample the farm’s raw, organic honeys.
2. Carmel Valley Ranch, California: Want to get in the thick of it, so to speak? Suit up in beekeeping gear and head to the hives for Carmel Valley Ranch’s Bee Experience ($60, Saturday and Tuesday). You’ll learn about hive duties, such as honey harvesting and feeding new colonies, and you’ll sample honey produced by the ranch’s 60,000 Italian honey bees straight from the hive.
3. Queens Botanical Garden, New York: For a more natural encounter, plan a visit to the Queens Botanical Garden. Its designated bee garden exhibits plants and trees that attract bees. Expect to see the buzzing creatures among the plants and apiaries, and watch the garden’s calendar for bee-related educational classes, events, and tours.
4. Warm Colors Apiary, Massachusetts: If you’re ready to take the next step, Warm Colors Apiary holds beginning, intermediate, and advanced beekeeping classes in addition to selling honey products at its store. Since beginning classes are held on multiple weekends, attending may be impossible for people who live out of state. Instead, plan a vacation around the apiary’s annual honey festival (this year, it will be held on September 19) to learn more about beekeeping. The free festival features beekeeper talks, honey products, and nature walks.
5. Beekeeping Museum, Slovenia: You don’t have to get up close and personal with an actual bee to appreciate its contributions to the world. The Beekeeping Museum in Radovlijica, founded in 1949 by the Beekeepers’ Association of Slovenia, takes visitors back through 300 years of local beekeeping culture. Don’t miss the exhibit of painted hive boards. Bonus: The nearby open air Apiculture Museum Krapje, open by appointment, features an original octagonal apiary dating from the late 19th century and holds bee wax sculpting and crafting workshops.