Honey Princess at Plagman Barn

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Two girls watch in amazement as bees work at cleaning, nursing babies, guarding the hive, and repairing wax in this portion of a hive on display at Plagman Barn. Only a third of the bees in any hive are promoted to foraging for pollen; the rest keep busy inside the hive. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

What’s antimicrobial, antibiotic, antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, created by insects and consumed by humans? Honey. “We need the bees,” national honey princess Hayden Wolf told onlookers at Plagman Barn Show Days. “They pollinate about one-third of the food we eat.”

Bill and Louise Johnson of Guttenberg hosted The American Honey Princess, who presented at the Guttenberg Care Center and visited with an estimated 300 children at Plagman Barn on Friday, Sept. 18. She and part of a hive from the Johnson honey operation attracted the attention of Plagman Barn visitors all weekend long.  

Wolf is a young woman from Big Sandy, Texas, who began beekeeping through the East Texas Beekeepers Association Youth Beekeeping Scholarship program. “We always used honey growing up instead of sugar, and I took a liking to honeybees,” she said, explaining that the scholarship she received provided starter hives, classes, and mentorship. 

After becoming the East Texas honey queen and later the honey queen of her entire home state, Wolf competed on a national level for the title of American Honey Queen. She was beat out by an Iowan, Gabrielle Hemesath, of Cler-mont, who is a student at Iowa State University. Wolf and Hemesath now work together to advocate for the beekeeping industry as they travel around the country (and the world – Hemesath was in South Korea at an international beekeeping convention while Wolf visited Clayton County). 

The American Honey Queen Program provides the entire beekeeping industry with a salesperson and a public representative. The mission of the Honey Queen and Princess is to increase the consumption of honey and educate the public about the beekeeping industry nationwide. Promotions include school or fair visits; speaking to civic organizations, to seniors, at stores, or at conventions for homemakers; and prime media such as radio, television and newspapers.

The beekeeping industry touches the lives of every individual in the U.S. The Queen and Princess educate the public with facts concerning pollination of the nation’s crops and our dependence on the honey bee for agriculture; honey as a healthy substitute for sugar; and how honey can be used in baking to extend the shelf life of baked products or add a special taste. During their reign, the honey queen and princess also demonstrate cooking recipes with honey.

Wolf recently agreed to wear a bee beard to show the gentle nature of honeybees. Bees are coaxed onto the wearer’s face by placing the queen in a small box under the chin. “I had 20,000 bees on my face, and didn’t get stung even once,” she told The Press. “Honeybees are very gentle; they get a bad rap because of the aggressiveness of wasps.” 

The honey princess encourages the public to plant lots of flowers. “Bees have lost a lot of their natural habitat. It takes two million flowers to make one pound of honey,” she explained. While a specific cause for colony collapse disorder has yet to be found, some suspect it’s due to lack of foraging habitat. For those who’d like to take the support of bees and pollination a step further, Wolf says, “Bee keeping is a great family hobby, and anybody can do it.”

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