July 02, 2018
With beekeeping becoming as popular as it has and the Manuka honey market only going up, it’s unsurprising that more people are admitting to joining the industry, whether it’s as a hobbyist or as a professional apiarist. However, it’s likely still surprising to hear about young people, even those outside of typical farming communities, jumping in so soon. In Cary, North Carolina, one such person is Molly Carlson, 18, who is set to graduate from North Carolina Virtual Academy.
As a professional beekeeper, Carlson collects honey from her own hives, takes care of other people’s hives, and even mentors other aspiring beekeepers. While attending her online public charter school, Carlson has successfully built up her business of selling honey, which is officially called Three Little Birds Apiary. Like other beekeepers before her, Carlson merely began harvesting her own honey as a hobby and hadn’t planned on starting a company, but it turns out her honey is award worthy, with Carlson having taken home first place at North Carolina’s state fair recently.
After the Orange County Beekeepers Association sponsored her activities, Carlson claims she fell completely in love with bees and beekeeping. By her account, "They gave me two hives, and they taught me how to become a beekeeper. They put me through bee school, hooked me up with a mentor.” She added about honeybees, “I'm fascinated with the way they manage their hive and how they work. The workers are really the ones that control the hive.”
Since she became a trained beekeeper, Carlson has been managing 12 hives throughout the Triangle of North Carolina, with each colony having around 30,000 honeybees, bringing the total to a steady 360,000. Due to her attendance at a virtual charter school as opposed to a traditional public school, Carlson has been operating her business almost full-time, stating, "NCVA allows me the opportunity to do my classwork four days of the week and take that one day off and go and check all my bees."
According to Carlson’s parents, their daughter has learned a great deal from this enterprise, and not just how important bees are for agriculture and food production. "She had to do public speaking and fill out reports, things like that," says Kelly Carlson. Once she graduates, the younger Carlson will be heading to Louisiana to start a USDA internship. After the summer is over, she will be attending Wake Tech Community College this fall in order to keep managing her hives and business—a job she plans on keeping after college.
Photo via Three Lil Birds Youtube Video