Bees & Honey, Events
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Planning Meaningful Events: A Unique Carmel Valley Experience with Apiculture

Many groups come to Monterey County to develop their teams and businesses in a unique and beautiful setting. And while they are here, they enjoy the benefits of the area, from fresh sea foods, local wines, top culinary talent, and golf links. There is so much to choose from, and yet, event planners sometimes need to think hard to create a meeting experience that is truly unique and intellectually stimulating. Something that will make the gathering memorable. Something that ties the group experience to the unique choice of location on the Monterey Peninsula. Something to twitter about.

Carmel Lavender is a lavender farm and apiary located in Carmel Valley. There are many aspects of bees and lavender that can be linked to team building and organizational understanding.

Five years ago, I started taking people with no beekeeping experience with me to visit my hives. What started as a curiosity, soon became so much more. There was something about bees that appeals to everyone. Of course, there is that loathsome stinger.

Embodied in the stinger of a bee is a virtue you wish to cultivate in your group: Selfless Dedication. When a bee stings you, the bee dies. How many of us recognize this virtue? How many of us are prepared to make sacrifices for our team?

That tiny little power that commands so much respect. It also adds a touch of a ‘thrill factor’ that makes visiting bees such a memorable experience. Then there is the intellectual curiosity of the social structures that make a hive. And the environmental concerns for the relatively recent colony collapse syndrome. But don’t forget that golden food from God: Honey!

What’s the buss about?

Intellectual Curiosity

BeeExperienceGuestInstructionI usually like to start with the social structure and relationships manifest in bee societies. We humans are often pretty impressed with our organizational creations. It is humbling and a bit awe inspiring to see mindless insects creating fantastic organizations. There is actually good precedence for reflecting on bees to understand human organizational patterns. This tradition goes back 2400 years to the classical period in the writings of Aristotle. Either interactively through revelation and discussion format, or more formally through presentation format I bring out aspects of group interaction that our human organizations share and don’t share with the bees. Topics include worker specialization, gender roles, authority chains, communication techniques, and organizational renewal and leader succession (aka reproduction). Issues of bee declines are discussed in terms of human-bee interdependence and are as much an exploration of our society and how it is dependent on the bees and able to (or not able to) adapt to environmental crisis.

Sensual Exploration

HoneyTastingJarsAndGlovesExecutive teams and highly creative individuals have a well developed sense of intellectual curiosity. This is why the above discussions are so important to creating a life memory. However,  a memorable experience needs to include a memorable sensual experience. With bees, this is easy. The most obvious is the honey. However, there are actually many ways to achieve this in a manner that is consistent with the meeting planner’s objectives. The programs below include a taste of honey all the way to full immersion experiences inside a hive.

Local Relevance

Bees are highly relevant to humans. Patterns of nature are a constant source of inspiration. While this has likely been the case since the dawn of man, the term bio-mimicry is now a fashionable way to express the wisdom in studying and modeling natural process in human pursuit. While the social structures offer one of the most intellectual topics for relevance in group meetings, local relevance is also important. Many visitors come to Monterey County to be inspired by the natural beauty of the area. While here, they savor the delicious cuisine the area has to offer and absorb the natural landscape and native ecosystems. And a big part of that is honey.

Honey is unique to different ecosystems. It is made from the pollens and nectars of the local plants. Since the ecosystem of Carmel Valley is so unique, the honeys produced in the valley are like no other.

Honey pairs well with cheese, many fruits, desserts, baked items, and of course wine. But for group meetings, bees and honey is relevant in another way: honey is the product of social collaboration. Yes, that’s right. And most group meetings in some way are about the produce of relationships. This is a fantastic way to introduce social concepts and stimulate discussion on relationships, specialty, and cooperation into a relaxed and casual human social activity: eating!

How to incorporate Carmel Lavender and bees into your event?

Hosted Honey Tasting with a Honey Fountain

Honey tasting is a wonderful way to blend intellectual curiosity about bees and the product of their social structures, honey, in a delightful culinary experience.

Since the bees produce honey, and everyone loves honey, it is easy to work the intellectual experience around the sensual experience of tasting honey. This is the easiest experience to adapt to a variety of formats that meet the planner’s goals. These include: presentation format and hosted event format. With the presentation format, the entire group is collected, and I present and discuss the life of bees and how they make honey. I usually bring as props equipment used in the cultivation and production. Then we do a tasting at the end. Seasonally, HoenyFountainI’ll integrate pollen tasting into it as well. Most people have not tasted pollen, and are quite surprised by the complexities. With the hosted event format, I set up a ‘station’ with honey, and interactively just weave the relevant topics into the ad-hoc tasting. This differ from the presentation format in that people come and taste first, and as they are enjoying that experience, I talk about the intellectual qualities of the bees. Attendees can walk up at leisure and be integrated into the discussion.

Suit-up and Experience a Hive

BeeExperienceGroupShotThis is for the most adventurous and is more structured. There are three parts to this adventure. In the first part, guests are given a short walk around Carmel Lavender fields, bee forage is observed, and the social behaviors of bees presented. In the second part, guests suit up and visit an active hive of 30,000 honeybees up close, and personal. This will be an experience difficult to forget. The event concludes with a honey tasting and summary discussion.

Meeting Planner’s Notes

There are a few things to consider when thinking about adding a Honey Tasting or Suit-up Experience to your group’s meeting.

The hosted honey tasting is the most flexible. It is especially well suited for  unstructured social gatherings. For example, it can be easily added to a cocktail reception to provide a point of interest. This is an excellent choice to add a unique experience to a reception.

A presentation or talk is more structured, but allow the same flexibility in time and venue. Honey tasting is included. However, rather than an unstructured format where information is provided interactively, material is presented more formally to the entire group together, while taking questions.

A Bee Experience can be combined with a picnic lunch at Carmel Lavender. After event activities like dining or wine tasting in the village would be a good companion to make the most use of the time spent going out to Carmel Valley.

The Suit-up Bee Experience requires significantly more investment and is less flexible for a rigid meeting schedule with heavy time pressures. The most obvious reason is this program requires bees. The bees cannot be moved for the event, and the people have to come to them. This event therefore can only be done at Carmel Lavender, a sustainable farm about 25 minute ride from Carmel Valley Village.

The following is a table of the three types or programs, and important considerations for the meeting planner:

Hosted Honey Tasting Presentation Suit-up Experience
 Best For Cocktail receptions or unstructured social gatherings.  Intellectual curiosity. Intense team-building experience.
 Format Unstructured.  Structured. Structured.
Program Time One hour and up.  One hour to ninety minutes. Minimum 90 minutes. (1)
Venue Any venue. (2)  Any venue. (2) Carmel Lavender apiary.
Group Size Any size.  Any size.  Maximum 20. (3)

Table Notes:

(1) This is the program time only, from the start of the program when everyone is assembled and ready to begin, until conclusion. The planner needs to account for transportation time to the apiary, and reasonable disembarking and embarking of the shuttle vans or buses. Carmel Lavender apiary is approximately a twenty-five minute drive east of Carmel Valley Village.

(2) This program does require a power outlet within 25 feet to power the honey fountain.

(3) Due to equipment constraints and the more intense interactive nature of this program, group size is limited to 20 persons maximum.

Take Aways and Gifts

product-gift-balmbag-nobgCarmel Lavender offers many natural lavender, honey, and bee products that make excellent take away gifts for guests. Honey, Beeswax hand and lip balms, and lavender essential oils are just a few. Visit our shop at shop.carmellavender.com to browse our different products.

How to Book Your Event

Just fill out the contact form with your desired dates, and we can confirm availability and send you a price list. Or alternatively, you can call us at 1 (800) 949-2645.

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