CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – The buzz inside beehives nationwide? A new queen has arrived.
“I just want to drive home the importance of bees, really,” Lucy Winn said.
The 20-year-old DeSales University student was named the 2022 American Honey Queen by the American Beekeeping Federation.
“I just tell people about the vital role bees play in pollination,” she said.
Speaking at schools, civic organizations and fairs, she has been to Wisconsin before and has plans for Houston and Florida in March. She takes off the fall semester 2022 to devote all her time to the title.
At 13, the Carlisle native had her first beehive. At 19, she was Honey Queen of Pennsylvania, which she won twice.
It proudly touts the $20 billion annual agricultural and economic impact of bee products nationwide.
“Do you like honey?” I asked.
“I love it. The different flavors of honey come from different nectar sources,” she said.
At his Meadowview Bee Keeping apiary in Bethel, Berks County, Steve Finke’s bees produce 36,000 bottles of honey each year.
“It’s what we call our Pennsylvania wildflower, it’s raw honey,” he said, pointing to a variety of honey, bottled and on the shelf.
Finke, past president of the Lehigh Valley BeeKeepers Association, owns more than 100 hives. He takes some to Florida every winter.
“The young bees or the old ones?
“Just the little colonies, they wouldn’t survive here,” he said.
The industry is booming. He says local beekeepers have grown from 90 to more than 250 over the past decade.
“Bees are awesome little creatures. The way they communicate with each other, the way they make decisions,” Finke said.
However, the plight of these pollinators runs deep.
Beekeepers across the United States lost 45% of their bee colonies last year following a two-decade-old trend of heavy bee losses.
Winn’s mission? Comb the country to be useful.
“One of the best things we’re doing for bees right now is having this conversation about what can be done to help bees,” she said.