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‘An environmental endeavor’: Bee Fest returns to Greenfield for 14th year on Saturday

GREENFIELD — Downtown Greenfield will be buzzing with activities on Saturday as Bee Fest returns for its 14th year.

The roughly three-hour festival honors the Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth, the sixth minister of Second Congregational Church who is known as the father of modern beekeeping. Langstroth patented a hive with movable frames in 1852.

According to the event’s founder, Sandy Thomas, this year’s Bee Fest will feature a diverse array of activities for festival-goers of all ages, such as painting “bee boxes” for display at Franklin County apiaries, a bee pinata and a pollinator parade for children. She said the annual tradition aims to educate the public on the important role bees play in nature and agriculture.

“When we started researching [Langstroth’s] groundbreaking work, it blew us away and we thought, ‘This is really worth celebrating.’ So we started with a small little lawn party for children to help them not be afraid of bees, because some kids are,” Thomas recounted. “What we’re trying to do is make the connection between agriculture and Franklin County, which is so rich, and the role that bees and all pollinators play. … It’s very festive and very exciting.”

Bee Fest will start on the Second Congregational Church’s front lawn at 9 a.m. Saturday. It will include live music, beehive demonstrations from the Franklin County Beekeepers Association, free pollinator plants distributed by Pioneer Gardens, and, at 12:30 p.m., an unveiling of the city’s newest bee sculpture, “Fearless,” at the new Fire Station on Main Street.

The event will also feature a bee cartoon screening and arts and crafts for children, an informational table staffed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and a raffle sponsored by Busy Bee Computers in which residents can win a laptop or desktop computer.

“It’s a really delightful family fun event. Everybody is welcome, and it’s all free except for the bazaar — we curate bee-related items from all over the county,” Thomas said. “It gets the bee image in homes. When people see a bee towel or a bee item in the garden, they may be more mindful. That’s what we’re trying to do, raise that awareness of taking care of nature — it’s an environmental endeavor.”

Thomas said although the event began as a small children’s program attended by roughly 60 kids and parents, Bee Fest has seen an increase in attendance and a growth in its offerings over the years. She said in previous years, the festival saw hundreds of attendees of all ages.

The Greenfield tradition has inspired Rachael Katz, an artist and owner of The Greenfield Gallery, to design and produce the “Beatrice” bee sculpture prototype. Over the past three years, the first 11 bee sculptures have been installed along Main and Federal streets, at Court Square, and at the John W. Olver Transit Center. Thomas said she hoped the honeybee would, in time, become a Greenfield symbol.

“It’s so heartening to know now that people are excited about learning of the role bees play. Pollinators are in trouble — this is a big crisis in the world where viruses and such are getting into the hives, and they kill bees. People also use pesticides that kill bees, so we’re trying to educate folks,” Thomas said. “It just makes us happy that people walk away from this event so happy and so ready to start pollinator gardens. And it’s been a godsend to a lot of people.”

For a full schedule of Bee Fest events, go to

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at or 413-930-4429.

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