Honey Princess

My name is Elena Hoffman. As the 2014 American Honey Princess from Pennsylvania,  I travel all across the country to teach students, 4-H groups, and many other groups about the importance of honeybees and pollination in our everyday lives. I also attend many different events such as fairs, festivals, and farmers markets, and have interviews with tv, radio, and newspapers. To find out if the American Honey Queen or Princess can visit your school or community, please visit the American Beekeeping Federation website

On this page, I'll post about my travels as I "buzz across America!"

My Travels: 

June was a spectacular month of promotions! The first event I attended was a Daisy Troop Presentation in Picture Rocks, Pennsylvania. I always enjoy working with Girl Scouts. I was able to teach around 20 girls and their parents about honeybee biology and neat new honeybee facts like how one honeybee only makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. I also gave a short cooking demonstration on making honey banana pops. It’s a really simple sweet treat to make for children and very healthy too! Check out the recipe here: http://www.honey.com/recipes/detail/12/banana-pops

Later in the month, I was able to stop by Fox 8 WTAJ TV Studios in Altoona, Pennsylvania for a live cooking demonstration on Central PA live! I demonstrated a Tropical Juice Quencher recipe perfect for summertime picnics with host Dawn Pellas. Dawn and I were able to talk about how there are over 300 varieties of honey in the United States and how even the oranges that are needed for the recipe require honeybee pollination! It was amazing to experience my first live cooking demonstration on TV, and although I was nervous, everything went very well. To watch my demonstration click here: http://www.wearecentralpa.com/story/d/story/tropical-juice-quencher/31010/x_4YI80AbEWhH5vM35cSDw

To finish out the month, I headed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. While there I visited abc27 WHTM TV Studios to have a live interview on Good Day PA. The host, Amy Kehm, and I spoke about how important honeybees are to our food. An estimated 90 food crops are pollinated by honeybees. We also spoke about honeybee and pollinator decline along with how honeybee habitat requires human help. Everyone can help by planting flowers native to your area and making sure that you plant flowers that bloom during different times of the year. Watch my interview for more interesting facts! http://www.abc27.com/clip/10248337/american-honey-princess-elena-hoffman-on-the-importance-of-honey


The month of May kicked off with a great promotion at Walnut Hill Restaurant College in Philadelphia, PA. I spoke to around 25 students and a few professors about honeybee pollination and its impact on the culinary and agricultural industry. They were very surprised to realize how much honeybee pollination impacts their careers. Remember, we owe 1 out of every 3 bites of food we take to honeybee pollination. They also had some students attending the college for hotel management. This gave me a perfect opportunity to talk about the trend of on-site apiaries at hotels. If you’re interested in what hotels have apiaries, check out this article at http://www.usatoday.com/experience/food-and-wine/news-festivals-events/hip-hotels-harvest-honey-with-on-site-apiaries/7782227/.

Next, I drove to Delaware and stayed in Wilmington area to go on a tour of northern Delaware schools. I was able to visit five schools while in the area including Elbert Palmer Elementary School, William Lewis Dual Language Elementary School, Heritage Elementary School, Pulaski Elementary School, and Richardson Park Elementary School. Throughout the three days, I was able to give 12 presentations to around 831 students! I spoke about general honeybee biology, honey pollination, and the importance of the beekeeper. Did you know it takes nectar from 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey? One of the school’s mascots was even the honeybee, and they told me they consider themselves “bee”lingual. 

My final stop in May was in Montoursville, PA. I was given the opportunity to talk to a Girl Scout group about everything involving honeybees. I used a teaching “mini” hive to show them where a honeybee spends its lifetime and how the frames fit in the hive. I also explained what gear a beekeeper uses (bee suit, smoker, hive tool, etc.). I explained how honeybee pollination gives us fruits and vegetables in better qualities and quantities such as blueberries, apples, and tomatoes. Lastly, I finished up the time with a craft where the girls were able to make their own personal stone honeybee by painting a stone with yellow and black paint.

Princess Elena talking to a group about blueberry honey.
April started out with a fantastic promotion in Tampa, Florida! I traveled there to give Queen Kathleen LLC a helping hand at the Florida Blueberry Festival. The event was buzzing with around 60,000 people, all of which were excited to come to the honey booth and try blueberry honey and blueberry soda (the blueberry soda was made with honey as an ingredient as well)! I stood outside the front of the booth enticing people to sample not only the blueberry honey but the other many varieties of honey that were available. Remember, the flavor of the honey is determined by the floral source because honey is made from the nectar of the flowers. Honeybees help to pollinate blueberries, which in turn give us blueberry honey. There’s over 300 varieties of honey in the United States and 3,000 varieties of honey in the world! 

Princess Elena talking to a Sherlockian group about
Holmes' connection to beekeeping.
The final event of the month I attended was in Camden, New Jersey. While in Camden, I spoke to members of the Mycroft League, a Sherlockian group based out of Philadelphia, about, “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Disappearing Bees.” I worked alongside Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild president, Suzanne Matlock, to teach the Sherlockians more about honeybees, Sherlock Holmes’ relationship to honeybees, and a few possible items scientists believe contribute to the disappearance of the honeybee. Did you know Sherlock Holmes retired in England to keep honeybees? Holmes also had four rules of beekeeping. Out of those, rules number one and three are my favorites. Holmes’ rule number one states, “Stay calm.” Rule number three--my ultimate favorite rule of beekeeping--states, “Never cease to feel wonder.” Honeybees are fascinating creatures. Once you begin beekeeping, you’ll never stop beekeeping and you’ll never cease to feel wonder. If you’re interested in becoming a beekeeper check out this link http://www.buzzingacrossamerica.com/2013/01/becoming-beekeeper.html


Princess Elena shows a family the queen bee
in an observation hive (Houston, TX).
March was a busy month for traveling. I was able to fly to both Texas and Connecticut! I stopped in Texas first for the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show. While there, I worked alongside Texas Honey Princess Shannon La Grave and the Harris County Beekeepers Association. The Harris Country Beekeepers had an excellent educational display that included three observation hives and various types of honey. Shannon and I explained basic bee biology to onlookers of the observation hives and made sure they saw the queen honey bee before they left the display. Remember, there are three types of honey bees in the hive: the queen bee, the worker bee, and the drone bee! We worked at the display for two days and were also given the honor of being in the Houston Livestock Show’s grand entry. On our final day in Texas, Princess Shannon and I were given a tour of NASA. Did you know that on April 12th, 1985, NASA actually sent a colony of honey bees into space onboard the shuttle Discovery? 

During Ag Day at the Capitol,
Princess Elena speaks to an attendee about
joining the American Beekeeping Federation.
After having a wonderful visit to Texas, it was time to head to Connecticut. While in Connecticut, I had many wonderful promotions. The first promotion I attended was Ag Day at the state capitol. I worked with the Connecticut Beekeepers Association to talk to the public and Connecticut’s state representatives about beekeeping in their state. Did you know that order to keep honey bees in Connecticut, your hives must be registered? I was also able to meet the governor, Dan Malloy, and the Ag Commisioner, Steve Revisczky. Next, I traveled to Wamogo Agri-Science High School in Connecticut to present to a class on general honey bee biology. I was excited to find that at least two of the boys in the class had 4 hives or more! One of the boys was going to do research with top-bar hives as an FFA project. It was an amazing experience, and all the students were wonderful! Next, I helped with the Connecticut Beekeepers Association Workshop at Massaro Farms. I was able to introduce myself to all of the attendees and help answer any questions they had on beginning beekeeping. Did you know that honey bees prefer wood frames because wood (specifically trees) is their natural habitat in the wild? The workshop also allowed them to put a hive box together and construct frames. It was a really great workshop for getting started with beekeeping. The final event after Massaro Farms was a talk at the Ansonia Nature Center. I was able to talk to a group about the importance of the honey bee and answer plenty of questions on the first year of beekeeping alongside a few Connecticut beekeepers. We had equipment with us as well to show them what a beekeeper needs to start hives such as the hive tool, smoker, bee suit, and more. Finally, everyone there left with a little jar of Connecticut Beekeepers Association honey. The most common variety of honey in Connecticut is wildflower. 


Princess Elena crowning
Pennsylvania Honey Queen Kaylee Kilgore.
This month started out in my home state of Pennsylvania! I traveled from my college, in West Chester, PA, to Mars, PA for the Western Pennsylvania Beekeeping Seminar. The seminar was packed with a record attendance of about 450 attendees! I was able to speak to a majority of this group about the American Honey Queen Program and even crown a new Pennsylvania Honey Queen, Kaylee Kilgore. After this, past 2012 American Honey Queen, Alyssa Fine, and I prepared some delicious honey recipes in a cooking with honey demonstration. We were able to share great facts with the onlookers, such as, reducing over temperature by 25°F when cooking with honey to prevent overbrowning! If you’re interested in some honey recipes check out our blog recipe page at http://www.buzzingacrossamerica.com/p/cooking-with-honey.html

Princess Elena puts her head against a hive to listen
 to the honeybees keeping warm during the cold Minnesota winter.

The next and final place I went to this month was to St. Paul, Minnesota. Queen Susannah and I participated in the University of Minnesota’s Beekeeping in Northern Climates short course. For two days, we learned a lot of new knowledge about beekeeping in Minnesota like, for instance, how they cover their hives with boxes in winter to help keep the honeybees warm and drill holes in the front of the hives for extra ventilation. We even were able to stop by some Minnesota hives. Honeybees don’t hibernate or die in the winter, instead they crowd together tightly in a cluster and rotate from the outside to the core of the cluster, keeping the center temperature at 80-90 degrees. If you listen closely, you can hear the honeybees trying to keep warm during winter.  We were able to talk to some very knowledgeable people about honeybees while on this promotion. One of these knowledgeable people was Dr. Marla Spivak, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota. She has a great Ted Talk, “Why Bees are Disappearing.” Check it out at this link http://www.ted.com/talks/marla_spivak_why_bees_are_disappearing.html 

In January, I had my first travel experiences of the year. My first time ever flying on a plane happened at the beginning of the month when I travelled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the American Honey Queen Competition. It was a really exciting trip! I spent the majority of the week in Louisiana selling raffle tickets to help fund the American Honey Queen Program and talking to many beekeepers about their honeybees. I also gave a presentation on urban beekeeping. Did you know that it’s possible to keep honeybee hives on rooftops? At the end of the week, I was crowned the 2014 American Honey Princess! This year, I’m going to be as busy as a bee!

Next, I headed to Wisconsin and Iowa to train for my new position. I learned great new ways to teach children and adults exciting new facts about
Queen Susannah and I cooking delicious honey recipes! 
pollination and honeybees
. Did you know one honeybee only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime? I also learned how to do media interviews and make some wonderful honey recipes in cooking demonstrations. I’m nervous and excited to start my busy year of travels from state to state promoting and teaching about honeybees! Check back here each month to see what I've been up to as the 2014 American Honey Princess.