L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Insects & Spiders

Bee beauty contest from the land of milk and honey


There are cat shows and dog shows, even ferret shows. And during county fair season, there are plenty of chances to pick the best pig, cow or rabbit. But a beauty pageant for bees?

From The Times' blog on events in the Middle East, Babylon & Beyond, comes a report about such a competition held at a boutique honey farm in Israel. The blog notes that honey gift baskets are a common holiday present among Israelis, who consume 3,600 tons of honey a year. Indeed, when Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, arrives this month, many Israelis will observe the holiday tradition of eating apples with honey -- the symbolic promise of a sweet year.

Along with details about the bee beauty pageant, held at the Dvorat Ha'Tavor farm, Babylon & Beyond shares this tidbit about the challenges of raising bees in Israel:

And there's also the name thing. Israeli apiarists appealed to the Hebrew Language Academy several years ago, asking to find a new word for the profession since the existing word, kavran, (from kaveret, hive), sounds like the Hebrew word for undertaker. They finally gave up and issued a unilateral declaration changing it to dvorai (from dvora, bee) instead.

Pictured here is one of this year's pageant contestants.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo credit: Dvorat Ha'Tavor

Amusement park squashes cockroach-eating contest

Madagascar roach Members of an animal rights group are celebrating what they say is a victory over a national amusement park chain that has decided to discontinue a live cockroach-eating competition that was part of its annual Halloween “Fright Fest” festivities.

The Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park, north of Los Angeles, was one of the facilities that staged a competition where participants--among them teenagers--were encouraged to chow down live Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Winners received Fast Lane passes, which allowed them to go to the head of the line for rides, representatives from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said.

Kristie Phelps, assistant director for PETA’s Animals in Entertainment Campaign, said this week that her group launched into action after receiving numerous complaints, beginning in 2006, from fair-goers who were “repulsed by the fact that Six Flags were gratuitously tormenting these insects.”

The contest was held at Six Flags Magic Mountain, about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, for the past two years. The large cockroaches can grow up to 3 inches in length and make a distinctive hissing sound to ward off predators.

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