EDDINGTON, Maine — While there are many beekeepers in the state of Maine, finding youth to pass the torch to can be hard to find.
Eleven-year-old Elizabeth Downs, better known as "E," is putting in the work to change the mind of folks her age and address any hesitations about beekeeping.
"I just like taking care of bees ... and the more the merrier," Downs said.
Downs first started after getting into gardening with a friend of a friend, who suggested she try out getting "into a hive."
"She was able to tie the two together," Dave Oliver said. "If you don't have bees or pollen, you don't have a garden!"
Oliver, who is friends with Downs, helped get her interested in the hobby.
Today, she takes care of five hives and counting with a little help from her mother, Rachel Downs, who often times lets her daughter drive and just help with lifting.
Down said despite the naysayers from others due to E's age, she has always been supportive of her daughter's passion.
"[Just] because it's not an activity that is the most popular doesn't mean it isn't important, because what the honeybees do is important," Downs said.
Downs said there are dangers that come with beekeeping, like anything, but good safety practices and common sense are always at the forefront.
"[Beekeepers are] not going to be able to do this forever, so it's important to get youth interested now so that when older people cannot do it any longer. There's those people here to take it on," Downs added.
The two have even created a Facebook page, "E's Beez," where she shares her journey and teaches others about beekeeping. Currently, she is fundraising for a local artist to paint a mural of bees in downtown Bangor.
E hopes to use her story to inspire other kids her age to try out the art of beekeeping, as well as push for more programs and schools to allow beekeeping clubs as an extracurricular activity.
"When we started to see that Elizabeth was actively engaged in this, you support that," Oliver said. "You drive that forward. You give the opportunity for success."