Kristen Lang (formerly Miller) grew up in suburban Pennsylvania but because her father worked as the county extension director for Penn State and kept bees as a hobby, she grew up around bees. When he retired in the late 1980s he turned his operation into a full time apiary called Beaver Valley Honey. With this experience under her belt, Kristen Kristen entered and won the Pennsylvania state honey queen competition in 2003 and the national competition in 2004. She was queen when she was 23.
To prepare for the competitions Kristen did a lot of preparation, asking her dad a lot of questions about the technicalities of beekeeping and working with Maryann Frazier who is the Senior Extension Associate of Penn State and acted as a mentor to Kristen. Ultimately, she says, she was motivated to participate in the program because she really believes in the industry and thinks it is an “awesome opportunity to educate people about the honey industry.” She also emphasized how great the Honey Queen program is for encouraging girls to build self-esteem, confidence and healthy relationships. Indeed, Kristen grew very close to her second in command, Honey Princess Kelsey Limerick. Kelsey even attended her wedding!
As Queen, Kristen’s primary responsibility was to educate individuals about honey and beekeeping. She toured the US, making stops in various schools, fairs and other venues to give presentations. She most enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn from beekeepers and working with school-aged kids. She was pretty nervous around the beekeepers who had been beekeeping their whole lives but she was excited about the challenge to learn from them. Kristen performed her queenly duties while she was still taking a class at Penn State, where she studied graphic design. The Honey Queen program gave her the opportunity to do a number of things she otherwise would never get to experience like grafting queen bees and trying apitherapy—an alternative medical treatment that involves being stung by a honey bee.
Looking to the future of the beekeeping industry, Kristen things a lot of things will change. For one thing, she sees a back to nature movement getting more people interested in the bee industry, creating a greater demand for local honey and more communities of beekeepers. She also explained that Penn State has been researching different bee diseases and Colony Collapse Disorder in order to make a healthier bee. Bees continue to play a role in Kristen’s life now. She currently works in graphic design and photography. She sometimes photographs honey and is currently working on a website design for her father’s apiary.