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: 
September: Part Two

Princess Elena teaching about beeswax
at the honey festival.
The view of a honey bee's knee
under a microscope.
During mid-September, I headed from Washington to Montana. In Missoula, Montana I attended WAS or the Western Apicultural Society Conference. There were beekeepers from all over speaking about honey and the health of honeybees. Some of the speakers were from Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Australian, Canada, England, and, of course, the United States! It was awesome to learn that beekeeping is on the rise in Northern Ireland and New Zealand. They were really encouraging youth to become interested in beekeeping. Remember, anyone can be a beekeeper! I spoke at WAS about educational outreach and why it’s important to teach in schools about the importance of the honeybee. The public needs more knowledge about the honeybee such as that 1/3 of our food supply is insect pollinated and that honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of that 1/3. Next, I helped with a Kids N’ Bees event at the Harvest Honey Festival. I taught children how great beeswax can be for products like candles and chapstick! Honeybees give us much more than just honey. Children were able to build their own hive body or bee box and could look through microscopes to see a bee’s wing, stinger, and knee. It was the bees’ knees!


Stacks of honey supers full of honey at
the Olsen commercial bee operation. 
Next, I traveled to the eastern side of Washington in Yakima. I did anywhere between 2-5 school presentations during the day and then traveled to the fair at night to inform fairgoers on honey and honeybees. At my school presentations, I answered a question about why honeybees make a buzzing sound. This was an awesome question! Honeybees actually make the “buzz” sound because they’re beating their wings so quickly. A honeybee beats her wings around 11,400 times per minute, making that buzz sound. While in Yakima, I was also able to visit Olsen Honey, a commercial beekeeping operation that runs around 17,500 honeybee hives from Washington to California for pollination every year! It’s completely possible to make beekeeping a future career. Whether it’s to produce more honeybees, produce honey, or even for pollination of our country’s food!

My last promotion for National Honey Month was Good Day PA in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where I whipped up a delicious honey salad dressing recipe. I was able to inform viewers that honey is made from the nectar of flowers and that honey is nature’s healthy energy food because of the natural sugars in honey! Honey can be a staple in any recipe.  







September: Part One


Princess Elena showing the 4H group
a frame of honey bees.
National Honey Month has been busy and exciting so far! I returned from Alaska and headed to Ohio for the Lithopolis 4H group where I gave an open
 hive demonstration. This means that I opened up a bee hive and allowed the students to see the inner working of the hive. They could see all 60,000 to 80,000 honeybees working hard to complete tasks for winter. Although there were many questions at the demonstration, one girl asked a really excellent question. She asked, “Why do you never see baby bees outside the hive?” The reason for this is a young honeybee hasn’t developed enough yet to be able to go outside the hive. As the bees get older, they get harder chores inside and outside the hive. It’s exactly like when your parents assign chores at home. When you’re younger, you aren’t strong or tall enough yet to do some chores, but when you're older, you’re allowed to complete them! Honeybees start out inside the hive cleaning cells and taking care of the brood, or baby bees. When they're a few days older, they can feed both the older and younger larvae. Around 12-17 days old, they make wax and ripen honey and finally, the oldest honeybees guard the hive and forage for nectar, pollen, and water. Remember, a worker bee only lives around 6 weeks in summer! After the 4H group, I spoke to a few radio stations about honey and honeybees and spoke to students at Canal-Winchester School. I shared great facts like: a worker honey bee only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Lastly, I attended the Lithopolis Honeyfest where I gave educational presentations about why you should love honeybees and performed bee beard demonstrations to show just how friendly and gentle the honeybees are.


Educating the fair entertainers
about the wonders of honey.
Next, I traveled across the country to Washington for the Washington State Fair. I spent much of my time talking to fairgoers about how they could become beekeepers and showing what the queen and worker honeybees looked like in the observation hives. There was also a great list of Washington flowers that I passed out so consumers could help honeybees by making their garden bee-friendly with plenty of flower food for them! I also stopped by the University of Puget Sound to see their rooftop hives. Beekeeping in urban areas is possible and even becoming a trend. I was able to teach some University students many things including how honeybees store honey as well as baby bees (brood) and food (pollen and nectar) in their honey comb. I'm heading to Montana next and then back to Washington!



August: Part Two

A little girl at the Kentucky State Fair
 who made a beeswax candle. 
I spent National Honey Bee Day (August 16) in Ocala, Florida teaching about honeybees and spreading awareness about their importance. I even was on TV to talk about how much we need them and rely on them for our food. I helped the North Central Florida Beekeepers Association explain that honeybee habitat requires human help. You can help honeybees by planting bee-friendly flowers that bloom during different parts of the year. Honeybees need food and good nutrition all year long like we do, and they use the pollen and nectar from flowers to survive. You can also help them out by putting a birdbath in your yard with a stone or a brick in it so the honeybees don’t drown.

Next, I joined the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association at the state fair. I helped fair-goers roll beeswax candles. To roll a beeswax, you place a piece wick onto the end of a flexible sheet of beeswax (they come in many different fun colors!). Then, you roll up the candle nice and tight so it will burn longer when it's lit. Beeswax candles are fantastic, because they last longer than traditional candles, they're drip-less, and smokeless!


Princess Elena talking about honey's
great natural healthy properties.
I was excited to head to Fairbanks, Alaska and speak to around 1,000 students, along with the Fairbanks Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. I taught them many things about the honeybee hive, beekeepers, and honey. Remember, honey is made from the nectar of flowers and not pollen. Also, the job of the beekeeper is about more than just collecting honey from hives. Sometimes honeybees get sick just like people do, and the beekeeper acts as a doctor for the hive to make sure they stay healthy! My final stop in August was Palmer, Alaska for the Alaska State Fair. I worked with the Carson’s at their Heavenly Honey booth. I explained to consumers how honey has amazing properties. Did you know that honey has trace enzymes, minerals, and amino acids? Not only does honey have all that, but all the sugar in honey is natural sugar coming from the nectar of the flowers! Honey sure is a sweet and healthy product. Just think of honey as nature’s medicine chest. Next up is National Honey Month--September!



August: Part One

The beginning of August has been off to a whirlwind of a start! The 1st through the 9th began with time spent at the New Jersey State Fair. Throughout my entire time at the fair, I was as busy as a bee! Each day I had
Princess Elena passing out comb honey samples.
at least one presentation in the fair’s 4H Education Center. I played a video on pollinators and pollination made by the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, spoke about honeybees, a
nswered questions and handed out samples of creamed honey, comb honey and liquid honey. Honey is really versatile, and it was nice to show fairgoers honey’s different forms and benefits. Most viewers had no clue that you can eat honey straight from the comb and that you can actually chew the wax like gum. Remember, everything in the honeybee hive is natural and the worker bees make beeswax using glands on their abdomens which they then store the honey in! I also gave cooking demonstrations during the week of the fair. My favorite recipe was the honey cornbread muffins. It was a blast teaching everyone at the demonstration that there are 300 different varieties of honey in the United States and that they should experiment with different honey varietals in their cooking. I also explained that the darker the honey, the more robust and molasses-like the honey tastes, and typically, the lighter the honey, the sweeter it tastes. 

One of the Princess' many hive demonstrations.
During all nine days of the fair, I gave open hive demonstrations. Typically, I had a worker bee (a member of the Sussex County Beekeepers Association) helping assist me in the demonstration. While in the screened booth, we opened up the hive to show the inner workings of the hive. We explained how there are around 60,000 to 80,000 bees in the honeybee hive. Out of those honeybees, there is only one female queen bee in the hive, and her job is to lay eggs. We talked about the worker bees and their jobs in the hive and pointed out specific places in the honeycomb where the worker bees had stored brood (baby bees), pollen, nectar and honey. Another point of the demonstration was to show just how gentle the bees are since the bees allowed us to enter the hive and show watchers each frame without us getting stung. Honeybees are defensive, not aggressive. 

The first bee beard performed at the NJ State Fair.
(photo credit: Daniel Freel NJ Herald)
At the fair, I also judged both the Cookie Contest and Doll and Me Contest. At both I was able to introduce myself and talk about how I am busy this year teaching across the United States about honeybees. I also did the same at an event at the fair called the Queen’s Reception and at the fair’s Show-dee-o. To give the fair some buzz, I completed the first ever bee beard at the New Jersey State Fair, my second bee beard. Thanks to this bee beard demonstration, I was given the opportunity to be interviewed for the New Jersey Harold Newspaper and made the front page of their paper. I finished up my time at the fair with a radio interview on 102.3 WSUS with Steve Allen where we spoke about my bee beard, how you could buy local New Jersey honey at the fair’s beekeeping booth, and how honey bees have a gentle nature. 
Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett,
and Princess Elena

Once the fair was over, and I headed back to Pennsylvania for Ag Progress Days! The Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association promotes the consumption of honey by selling honey, honey sweetened ice cream and honey root beer. This year, I am able to be a part of this magic and work the booth alongside the beekeepers, teaching consumers about the uses of honey, honey varietals, and getting them to buy some honey products. The rest of this month sure is looking to be a sweet one with upcoming promotions in Florida, Kentucky, and Alaska!






July

Demonstrating how to make a honey juice drink. 

The month of July kicked off with many great promotions around Pennsylvania. I visited the Penns Creek Senior Center in Penns Creek, PA for a cooking demonstration where I blended up a tropical thirst quencher for the viewers. I had a fantastic time teaching everyone that the oranges used for the orange juice in the recipe are pollinated by honeybees. When honeybees pollinate the orange blossoms, the bees make orange blossom honey. I even used orange blossom honey in the drink! Next was the Herr Memorial Library in Mifflinburg, PA where I spoke with students attending their summer reading program. First, we read two books about honeybees. Then, I was able to teach them about the three bees of the hive: the queen, worker and drone. Did you know that the queen and worker bees are female and the only male bees in the hive are the drone bees? We finished out the event with five different crafts teaching something different about the honey bee and pollination. After Mifflinburg I headed to Laurelton, PA to visit the West End Senior Center. I also made a drink recipe for them as well. I was able to teach the women fun facts about honeybees like that the worker bees are the bees that make honey from nectar and they will only make around 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. The women were fantastic and asked plenty of questions! Lewisburg, PA was the next adventure for an event where I was decked out in 18th century garb to speak to attendees about the history of beekeeping. It was really fun to immerse myself in the ways of the past for
Teaching Girl Scouts about the beekeeper's
tools of the trade.
awhile and explain how colonists originally kept honeybees. Did you know honeybees aren’t native to America and were brought over by colonists in the 1600s on ships? Next, I spoke to a Girl Scout troop in Williamsport, PA. The girls learned about the three bees of the hive and how important the beekeeper is to the honeybee. I finished up the night with a demonstration on how to make honey covered banana pops. The honey made them absolutely delicious! 

On the 15th of July, I spoke to my county commissioners in PA. They make decisions for the County and help to run things in the county. I was pleasantly surprised that they gave me an award of recognition for spending this year traveling from state to state to teach about the honeybee. It was a wonderful
Receiving an award of recognition for traveling
to teach about honey bees. 
surprise! I also gave each of the commissioners a honey stick of clover honey. Remember, there’s more than 300 varieties of honey in the United States and over 3,000 varieties of honey in the world! Next, 
I attended a God’s Grownups meeting in Selinsgrove, PA. I spoke to the group about honey bee biology, the beekeeper, and pollination. While eating lunch, I explained about how many of the foods they were eating are here due to honeybee pollination. Around 90 of our food crops are pollinated by honeybees!

Fox 9 television interview.
I traveled to Minnesota for a Pollinator Party sponsored by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. I was interviewed by Fox 9 the Buzz TV to speak about how important honeybees are and why it’s important to plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden. The Pollinator Party was packed full of people selling honey and teaching about honeybees. There was even ice cream made with honey with sunflower seeds in it. Did you know that honeybees love sun flowers and their pollination helps us to be able to have sunflower seeds to eat? 

Demonstrating how friendly bees are
with a bee beard.
Finally, I traveled to Ohio for the Ohio State Fair. I gave a cooking demonstration each day for a honey smoothie, and I manned observation hives where I taught about how the queen bee lays her eggs and how sometimes a beekeeper will mark her with a spot of paint so they can find her in the hive. I also gave two other cooking demonstrations during the week, one of which was on honey peppercorn pork. It is an excellent recipe! My favorite memory of this trip is being able to perform my first bee beard at the State Fair. During a bee beard, an assistant actually helps to put live honeybees on your face. This shows how gentle and friendly honeybees are. I had around 2,000 honey bees on my face. It was a really fun promotion, and I’m looking forward to heading to Kentucky, New Jersey, Alaska and more next month! 


June

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


May

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.

April
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

March


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. 

February


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 


January
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! 
beekeeping,  
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.