Lake Norman & Mooresville

Renaissance teen tries her hand at beekeeping

Catherine Strickland checks out the bees’ wax.
Catherine Strickland checks out the bees’ wax. COURTESY of LISA STRICKLAND

Catherine Strickland, at 17 years old, is a modern-day Renaissance young woman.

As a senior at Christ the King Catholic High School, she takes all Advanced Placement and honors-level classes and is an officer in the National Honor Society.

Catherine plays basketball and volleyball. She’s an actress and has performed in major roles in two local theater productions. At her church, she is a lector and visits and works with the elderly. Despite these many activities and honors, Catherine has added a new pastime: bees.

“Why bees?” Catherine said. “It’s my older sister, Riley’s, fault. At App State, Riley majored in environmental sustainability. They have a bee program there, and one of her teachers was talking about bees as part of another class.

When Riley came home, she was talking about what she learned, and I got interested. At my high school, I just brought up what my sister told me, my Spanish teacher heard, and she said she had all these contacts for me.”

Catherine’s Spanish teacher, Margie Henry said, “The mother of one of my former students at Lincoln Charter is a beekeeper.”

Catherine contacted this mom, Caroline Allan, of the Lincoln County Beekeepers Association. “We emailed at first, then my mom and I went to her house. She has six hives. The beehives were boxes on top of each other, with different layers of bees. You could see honey and pollen, where bees had infested the hives. There were all different depths of yellow,” Catherine said. “She let us sample some of the honey she extracts.”

“She had to light up a smoke pot flair thing and put it over the bees. The smoke relaxes them and calms them. It was cool because it worked, and the bees calmed down. It was also cool because it smelled like a campfire,” Catherine said.

“I had to suit up to meet the bees. It was a huge, one-piece suit with netting all across my face. I had these big high gloves. I was hot in it, but it protected me. I didn’t get stung.”

“My mom came with me. If she stood back far enough, she was OK in her long sleeves. But you don’t want to get the bees mad at you, especially on a hot day, because they’ll sting you,” Catherine said.

Catherine doesn’t plan to have a hive of her own, but she plans to help another family in Cornelius establish theirs.

“I thought bees just like everything, all flowers,” she said. “But now I have this table showing that in different seasons you want to plant different flowers to attract the bees.”

Catherine will share her information and make sure this family plants the right things. “I’ll help them out, and they’ll help me out, because I’ll learn,” she said.

Catherine is the daughter of Wes and Lisa Strickland. She and her family live in the Peninsula in Cornelius.

Lisa Daidone is a freelance writer: