New Jersey Honey Queen Pollinates the Garden State

Katie Culbert, 2023 NJ Honey Queen, creates a garden for bees and other pollinators. (Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Culbert)

Known as the “Bee-Girl” Kaitlyn “Katie” Culbert is passionate about pollinators! As the leader of the first 4-H beekeeping club in Ocean County, Kaitlyn’s outreach efforts are designed to foster interest in the next generation of beekeepers. Wanting to share her passion, Kaitlyn built connections with her community and wrote grants to establish multiple pollinator gardens, one with more than 600 native plants to help support the thriving hives.

Katie Culbert, 2023 NJ Honey Queen, exhibits her research at OCSCD’s Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable. (Photo by Kristin Adams)

As the 2023 NJ Honey Queen and the National 4-H Pollinator Week Ambassador, she travels throughout the state speaking at schools, fairs, festivals, and beekeeping meetings, and has participated in multiple media interviews. For several years, Katie has exhibited at the Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable, spreading the word about the importance of bees as pollinators, and sharing her research.

Katie is the recipient of the 2023 President’s Environmental Youth Award from the EPA and received the 2022 NJ Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. Katie was a finalist at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair and the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and and her research, Breakthroughs in Honey Bee Health: Continuous-Release Mist Diffusion of Thymol-Based Essential Oils, is published in the Journal of Research High School.

Kaitlyn was also selected for the 2023 Reuben Shaw Memorial Award for highest honors among STEM students by the Delaware Valley Science Council. Her most recent research, Nature’s reset: the effect of native and invasive plant forage on honey bee nutrition and survival, conducted at the Research Science Institute of MIT, was just published in Harvard’s Journal of Emerging Investigators.

Kaitlyn met with NJ State legislators, advocating for her “Parks, Plants, and Pollinators” legislation which has been introduced into the 2024/2025 New Jersey State Assembly (Bill A1253) and Senate (Bill S2859). The legislation prohibits planting of non-native species in landscaping at NJ State parks and forests and establishes a grant program to support use of native plants at local parks and forests, appropriating $250,000 for its implementation.

Katie Culbert, 2023 NJ Honey Queen, checks on her hives. (Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Culbert)

Katie graduated this year from Toms River High School North and will be attending Harvard University this Fall, majoring in biology and political science. OCSCD extends our deepest wishes for a successful semester to our hometown pollinating hero, Katie Culbert! Learn more about Katie’s beekeeping endeavors on her YouTube channel, Katie’s Adventures in Beekeeping.