Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, July 08, 2000, Image 42

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Lancaster Farming Staff
JONESTOWN (Lebanon Co.)
“She’s a go-getter. Don’t tell
her she can’t do something,
she’ll prove you wrong every
time. She’s an overachiever,”
said Steven Blatt about the
Pennsylvania Honey Queen.
He ought to know. He is the
father of Pennsylvania Queen
Renee Blatt.
Typical of Renee’s persever
ance is the story of how she got
into raising bees. After reading
about beekeeping in an elemen
tary reading program, Renee
was fascinated and wanted to
become a beekeeper.
Her parents were skeptical.
They had no experience with the
commodity and tried to
discourage her.
At age 17, Renee found a web
site about bees and resources for
ordering supplies. The invest
ment was a bit mind boggling,
but Renee heard that her Uncle
Bruce had raised bees many
years ago. She contacted him
and he gave her the wooden
beehives stored in his barn. Over
the years, the wooden boxes had
deteriorated. No problem to
Renee. With hammer, nails, and
paint, she was ready for busi
She ordered bees and soon
had three hives operating.
Unfortunately, the queen bee
died in one hive. Bees in the
other hive swarmed and disap
peared. The other hive did well
for the season but didn’t survive
the winter.
Renee searched written mate
rials for insight on how to turn
the hives into thriving colonies.
That was when she noticed an
article in “Lancaster Farming, ”
about a short course in beekeep
Renee took the course and
through that was introduced to
the Pennsylvania .Beekeepers
“For anyone interested in bee
keeper, I recommend joining a
local beekeeping association.
You can join for a $5 member
ship,” Renee said. She is a
member of the Capital Area
Beekeepers Association and the
Pennsylvania State Beekeepers
“Members have incredible
knowledge and are willing to
share everything about bees, and
how to deal with the predators
and diseases that threaten
Renee was thrilled with the
knowledge that enabled her to
start a thriving bee colony.
At the state farm show,
Renee uncaps honey during
a beekeeping demonstra
The Farm With
Queen Renee Blatt
“You don’t get rich, but it’s
fascinating and I love to do it,”
Renee said of beekeeping.
She estimates that she has in
vested about $l,OOO in supplies.
“It takes money to make
money,” Renee said of her plans
to expand her hobby. She would
like to collect pollen to sell,
which is in demand to treat
people with allergies.
She said that many people are
surprised to learn that bees are
needed to pollinate about two
thirds of the world’s food
Without bees, garden produce
“Crooked pumpkins are the
result of not being pollinated by
bees,” she said.
In demonstrations, Renee
shows several varieties of honey
in regular, comb, flavored, and
chunked forms. Her favorite are
the flavored honey such as blue
berry and raspberry. For cook
ing, she prefers orange blossom
and clover honey.
Renee was crowned Pennsyl
vania Honey Queen in Nov.
1999 at the Beekeepers associa
tion’s convention in Lewisburg.
Her state reign is for one year,
and qualifies her to compete for
the national honey queen crown
at the national association to be
conducted in San Diego, Jan.
Since her coronation, she has
appeared on television and been
interviewed on talk radio. She
represented the apiary industry
at the Farm Show Agriculture
2000 banquet. She helped with
the honey extracting demonstra
tion conducted in the food
pantry. To uncap honey, Renee
used a hot knife to slide down
over the honey comb, which
melts the wax and allows liquid
honey to be poured into extrac
tor to drain and strain before
putting into jars.
As state queen Renee receives
a $6OO scholarship and generous
travel expenses. She sets up her
own appointments for most of
the promotions. Her favorite
promotions are in schools.
Renee has lots of letters from
students who wrote how their
attitude towards bees were
changed by her visit.
“People treat the Honey
Queen like a celebrity,” Renee
said of the attention a crown
garners. At the Farm Show and
other events, Renee hands out
stickers with the words, “Honey,
I love you.”
“If a kid has a Winnie the
Pooh shirt on, I ask, ‘Do you
know what Pooh likes to eat?’”
Renee said as she pastes a honey
sticker on the child’s shirt.
With some tips and instruc
tion from association members,
Renee now has six thriving colo
Some of the steps necessary to
produce a healthy hive include
putting mite strips in the hive
for the winter.
Pests and predators in the
Lebanon County area include
skunks and mice, but in the
northwestern part of the state,
it’s bears that try to steal honey.
Recently one of Renee’s
friends discovered a bee swarm
hanging on a sapling and called
Renee, who collected the bees,
keeping them intact to fill a
hive. She did it all without suf
fering any bee stings or other
Many people are terrified of
bees. An unfounded fear accord
ing to Renee. When working
with the hive, Renee said that
the secret to prevent getting
stung is to remain calm and use
slow deliberate movements
when working with the hives.
She wears bee garb that includes
a veil, but prefers not to use
This spring she moved all her
bees to a new spot when her dad
needed to spray the alfalfa field.
She was pleased that the trans
fer went well.
“It’s exciting to read some
thing in books about bees or hear
another beekeeper share an ex
perience and then watch it
happen to your own hives.
When time permits, Renee
loves to sit and watch bees flying
in out of her hives. She can
determine what the bees are
feeding on by observing the di
rection they return to the hives.
Recently a neighboring alfalfa
(Turn to Pago B 14)
Pennsylvania State Honey Queen Renee Blatt with parents Steven and Jennifer Blatt,
and brothers, Andrew, 17, and Joseph, 15, and the dog named Bear.
The Blatt family raises and mixes feed for both their hog and their dairy operation.
Blatt is one of the few independent hog farmers In the area.
Pennsylvania Honey Queen Renee Blatt is enthusiastic
about all forms of agriculture including raising her own