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Elizabethton students harvest their first honey crop

Over a dozen Elizabethton students participated in the first honey harvest of the Betsy Bee’s Program.
The program started in 2019 after science teacher Denise Hilton secured a beekeeping grant through the Whole Foods Kids Foundation and the Bee Cause Project. This Bee Grant program allows for schools to receive support for educational beehives, so students can observe bees up close and learn about the vital role these pollinators play in our food system.
After a sudden pause in student involvement this spring due to COVID-19, the school’s mentor beekeeper, Fulton Cook, maintained the hive over the summer. Cook is retired from a career in aviation and enjoys beekeeping as a hobby. For the past 20 years he has made it a goal of his to help support new beekeepers.
Students were able to participate in the entire harvesting process — from de-capping the honeycomb to the extraction of the golden honey. When asked what was the most interesting part of the process, Elizabethton freshman Sheleyne Phelan said, “I really liked using the hot knife to cut through the honeycomb. The honey was warm and delicious!”
Elizabethton Agriculture Instructor Jerry Agan said, “Anytime we can involve students in the production of their food is a great opportunity. It is one thing to see a beehive and another to see a jar of honey. The mystery lies in the process between the two. Now our students have been actively involved in that process. This means they will be wiser consumers in our society.”
The Betsy Bee Program’s first crop yielded nearly 3 gallons of honey.