Mark Pigula's sunflower field beside the Inn Between in Camillus, home to the bee shaped sunflower maze, stretches 75 acres of land. That's a lot of sunflowers -- around 2.5 million -- and tons of bees.
Inn Between owner and chef Chris Cesta's had a few bee hives on his property in past years to help pollinate his fruit orchard, but he upped the hive count to 20 with this year's sunflower field.
"To get this pollen and nectar source for them late in the summer like this is rare," Cesta said. "So it helps them build up a good strong colony the winter over, and then it lets them put up extra honey that we can extract and use."
Cesta says tourists have braved the buzz with ease. After all, honeybees are harmless -- docile even.
"They're in there with millions of bees, thousands of people every day. Nobody's gotten stung," Cesta said.
Jessi Menotti, 10, knew going into the maze that honeybees were not to be feared.
"If you were going to try to touch them that would be another thing," Jessi said.
"We have them at home," her mother, Sherry, added. "Hornets on the other hand "
"They're just mean," Jessi said.
The Menottis live near Weedsport in the town of Mentz. They'd caught wind of the maze and were just waiting for a nice day to come check it out.
"It's a new local attraction and we couldn't wait to see it," Sherry said.
Where the buzz began
The maze is new to the Inn Between, but not to Camillus. In 2008, a 2.5-acre maze was constructed at the entrance to Veteran's Park at Gillie Lake in a field of sunflowers planted by Pigula, the town's highway superintendent. His wife, Ceil, designed the maze.
Ceil drew up this year's maze as well, though the idea to make it look like a bee was Cesta's. The current maze covers about eight acres of land.
"Camillus has become known for its beautiful sunflower fields," Cesta said. "People are just stricken by the beauty of it when they drive by."
Cesta expects the maze to be open through the second week in August. Adults pay $2, children 13 and younger $1, seniors pay $1, and veterans walk the maze for free. Family tickets are $5. The Inn Between is located at 2290 State Route 5.