Portrait by Jessica Turner
Sixteen-year-old Ayla Summers applied on a whim for the Honeybee Queen program two years ago. Summers didn’t know much about bees. Nevertheless, she was accepted into the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Association program, which provides scholarships to promote honeybee education. That made Summers, a rising senior and a soccer player at The Hockaday School, a Honeybee Princess of Collin County.
“When I got it, I was like, ‘I guess I’m interested in this now.’ And it sort of took off from there,” she says.
Her position involves giving presentations about bees, often with a live beehive, at schools, chamber meetings and the like. She’s now a beekeeper and maintains two hives in her backyard.
“So initially, they (her parents) weren’t that fond of it. But then they sort of grew to like it,” she says. “And now because we get so much honey, they’re completely enthusiastic about it.”
As part of her social impact class, she partnered with Joppy Momma’s Farms in South Dallas to install hives. The farm, which grows vegetables and raises chickens in the food-desert community, wants to add honeybees as another food and revenue source.
“I’m working on creating education around it in that area so that hopefully, we can expand to get more hives and eventually have a full-blown honey company,” she says.
When Summers isn’t hiving, she’s running an all girls-robotics club at Joe May Elementary School. The weekly, group-based program helps introduce children to STEM. During the pandemic, Summers helped drop off project kits and lead virtual workshops.
“Robotics was not something I was fully interested in in middle school, but it was just something I sort of got into. And then I realized that I actually liked it and really enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of it,” she says. “If you get that exposure early on, you’re more likely to pursue it later since it’s harder to get into it later on.”
Summer is planning on studying STEM in college. She’ll keep beekeeping, and the hives at her home are staying, even when she’s no longer the Bee Princess of Collin County.
“I definitely think my parents, now that they’re more on board with it, are going to maintain the hives when I go off to college,” she says.