An 11-year-old girl from the United States who signed up for a beekeeping lecture aged eight has revealed she wants to become her state’s chief apiarist.
From age three, Elizabeth Downs from the small town of Eddington, Maine, has enjoyed helping her neighbour, Dave Oliver, with his gardening.
One day, Dave introduced her to another neighbour, beekeeper David Fiacco.
Dave argued: “You can’t be interested in gardening and not be interested in pollinators. The transition was a natural progression for her.”
David, who heads the Penobscot County Beekeepers Association, reflected on their first meeting saying: “She came down to my house and we put her in a horribly oversized bee suit.”
Elizabeth, aged eight at that time, received her first colony from David after attending an online lecture on apiculture at a renowned university.
David told broadcaster CBS: “She enrolled herself on a beekeeping course at Penn State (University). It was an online course.”
In the meantime, the young beekeeping enthusiast, who receives support from her parents, has established her own beekeeping business entitled Eeez Beez.
Asked what she loves about apiculture, she said: “I really like bees and I think this is what I wanna do (for the rest of my life). I feel calm and I love the sound of their buzz.”
Elizabeth added: “It can be fun. The stinging part isn’t. I love to do the honey extracting and I like making the decisions.”
Looking back on how it all started, her mum Rachel admitted: “I was like, don’t know anything about bees but if you want to learn, we’ll do it.”
Asked to explain his role in the family business, Elizabeth’s dad Michael replied laughing: “To do what I’m told!”
Michael added: “When you see your kid light up about something, that’s the big rewarding thing as a parent. Elizabeth lights up in the bee yard.”
The Downs Family manages eight hives of which each consists of 30,000 to 40,000 honeybees, according to broadcaster Maine Public. Most of the honey is being donated to a charity and the local church.
Elizabeth, who gives lectures at schools, has been appointed the Penobscot County Beekeepers Association’s youth outreach coordinator.
However, her long-term ambitions are on a different scale as Elizabeth aims to become the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s state apiarist and bee inspector.
Jennifer Lund currently holds this position. Jennifer and Elizabeth have met several times during occasions such as hive inspections.
Jennifer told local media, laughing: “I think she told me when she was 10 that she was coming for my job.”
She added: “Which is totally cool, it’s not every day you get to hear a young person who wants to be a state apiarist when they grow up.”
Jennifer underlined: “It really is amazing to see the next generation of beekeepers. They’re the future of agriculture in Maine.”
The young girl’s mother Rachel emphasised: “I’m very excited and proud. She’s doing something different, something that makes a difference, and she’s not just sitting inside on a game.”
Netizens have been amazed by Elizabeth’s story.
User ‘Scpatl4now’ commented on CBS Sunday Morning’s video on YouTube saying: “What a blessing to find your calling at such an early age and have parents who support her in her passion.”
‘Machupikachu1085’ added: “She’s only 11 and she’s already learned to bee amazing. That’s an inspiration for us all!”
And ‘Toshaoneal6459’ said: “Great story. What an awesome young lady with fantastic parents and neighbours. So much hope for this upcoming generation.”
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Story By: Thomas Hochwarter, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
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