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The last week of summer vacation signals not only the impending start of the school year, but the start of the holidays that come just a couple of weeks later. Get in the mood by taking your kids to one or more of the 20 bee farms in the Galilee and Golan offering tours and activities as part of this week's fouth annual Honey Festival, the food associated more than any other with Rosh Hashana and the hope for a sweet New Year.
Rampant development has cut into much of the nature that honey-making requires. Catch the flavor of a quaint, old-time moshav with a visit to Moshav Mishmeret before the ever-expanding neighborhoods of nearby Tel Mond encroach on the small agricultural community. The visitors' center's program about bees, beehives and the honey-making process, called A Day in the Country, was the first, and features a "bee safari," a charming nature path lined with markers bearing unexpectedly fascinating questions and answers about honey and bees, as well as bee-themed fun for kids. The moshav is usually open only to group and school visits, so this is not usually an option for a family excursion. Details are available at (09) 796-4570 or 796-1260.
Another festival site that recalls an earlier time in national history - by a couple of millenia - is the Eden-like ecological park "Back to Nature via the Bible," perched at the top of Mt. Camun at Michmanim near Karmiel. The site showcases a model biblical village replete with an orchard, agricultural terraces, a wheat field and a Beduin-style "Abraham's Tent." A spacious, beautifully reconstructed khan, or inn, serves tourist groups who want to stay overnight.
The beauty- and health-enhancing properties of honey and beeswax serve as the focus of the attraction's workshops, which look, among other issues, at the making of perfumes and therapeutic oils. The workshops will be offered to visitors on the two Saturdays of the festival, August 25 and September 1, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. In addition to the workshops, the NIS 25 entrance fee includes a tour of the beehives and a chance to empty out the honeycombs. The entrance fee also includes tastings of the farm's different varieties of honey, which were made with nectar from wild flowers, plums, avocado and euclyptus.
Details are available at 052-247-6768 or (04) 988-1337, and at www.michmanim.co.il, which has an English translation.
All the bee farms taking part in the festival sell natural honey that's deliciously different from the pasteurized version usually found on supermarket shelves. For information about the location and activities at the festival farms, call (03) 562-1515 or visit www.honey.org.il.