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Valley Life | Jaunts

Bees Are All the Buzz at Museum Created on Site of Honey Facility

November 27, 1998|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Margleen "Honeybee" Jordan is a third-generation, Santa Clarita Valley beekeeper and owner and guide of the Warmuth Honey House, a former honey-processing facility that was turned into a museum.

When she saw the movie "Ulee's Gold," in which Peter Fonda delivered an Oscar-nominated performance as a beekeeper, it made her feel "sentimental," she says. That was because "it was so accurate about beekeepers--except that in the movie, they were so neat and didn't get covered with honey like we did when we extracted it."

Her family has been in the apiary, or bee-farming, business for 60 years, at one time operating 3,000 hives in Los Angeles and Kern counties, plus, beginning in 1968, a honey-packing plant.

The growth of suburbia, which ate up nearby wildflower acreage, and "bee rustlers" who pillaged the Kern County hives, caused the family to concentrate its efforts on honey processing. Later, 1980s zoning laws forced the family to suspend industrial activity at its stone fortress-like facility in Canyon Country.

So Jordan's parents, Joe and Marge Warmuth, turned the place, regarded as a local landmark, into a museum to promote understanding of honeybees, beekeeping, and honey production.

Because there are no live bees on display, there's no danger of being stung.

Jordan tells visitors how bees take on different jobs each week--gathering pollen, building honeycomb, nursing the queen's numerous offspring (she lays 1500 eggs a day) and even acting as undertaker.

Visitors also learn how combs are removed from hives and emptied of honey.

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BE THERE

Warmuth Honey House, 17262 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, free admission, (805) 252-2350.

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