Pa. teen says buzzing insects are the bee's knees

February 18, 2011|BY TIFFANY ARNOLD |
  • Teresa Bryson is the 2011 American Honey Queen. She travels the country on behalf of beekeepers and honey makers.
By Kevin G. Gibert/Staff Photographer

Teresa Bryson earned the title of 2011 American Honey Queen by staying busy as a bee.

"Honey bees pollinate almost one third of all our food," said Bryson, who lives near Clay Hill, Pa., south of Chambersburg. "It's very important that we educate the public about the importance of honey bees and get the message out there that we need the honey bees for our food."

The American Beekeeping Federation crowned Bryson as the 2011 American Honey Queen in January, during the North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow in Texas. She was judged on her knowledge of beekeeping and an essay she submitted. She also had to submit a photo and give a marketing pitch on a topic determined by the American Honey Queen Committee, according to the official rules.

As the 2011 Honey Queen, Bryson will spend the year traveling the country on behalf of beekeepers and honey makers. The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping up the appearances. She's fascinated by honey bees and was full of honey bee facts.

Like the fact that pollination is a $15 billion industry.

And how during the winter, the bees form a clump —"a ball of bees," as Bryson described it — in order to maintain a temperature of 52 degrees.

And how honey is antibacterial and can be used for wounds.

And to think, four years ago, she didn't know much about how the little creatures operated.

It all started when her mother was in the family's garden one day and only saw a single bee buzzing around the garden. The family grows virtually all of the veggies they eat. They also have fruit trees.

"I knew bees were good for pollination and when I saw there was only one flying around I knew there was a problem," said her mother, Linda Bryson.

After the first hive, Linda Bryson said their fruit trees were swarming with bees. "We had fruit on fruit trees that had never borne fruit before," she said. "It made a difference almost instantly."

So that first hive, led to a few more, and then a few more. Now the family has five, Linda Bryson said.

Teresa's sister, Rachel, was the first to take things a step further by competing and winning the Pennsylvania Honey Queen title. Rachel then nabbed the 2008 American Honey Princess title — second runner-up to the American Honey Queen.

Initially, Teresa had aspirations to work for the Secret Service Crime Lab. Then her parents decided to buy the bees.

She's in her third year at Hagerstown Community College, where she's working toward degrees in English and forensics. Her hope is to earn a master's degree in forensics, but now there's a twist. She still wants to work in a lab, kind of like what she would have been doing for the Secret Service.

"Except, I would be working with bees," Teresa said.

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