Faces of Public Power: Susan Benton, The Bee’s Knees


Nice to Meet You

In my job as Senior Wholesale Billing Analyst, I am responsible for preparing and distributing wholesale bills for the 19 Participants of NCMPA1, maintaining the underlying database and reporting, working with the MV-90 system to read meters, and entering data into NC-RETS. I work on the Settlements Team in Operations.

The Bee’s Knees

Susan Benton’s favorite pastime is buzz-worthy. For almost 16 years, the ElectriCities Senior Wholesale Billing Analyst has been generating wholesale power bills for NCMPA1 communities. If you’ve ever been to her office, you might remember the rows of honey jars lined up in her window. They’re proof of how Susan spends her time when she’s off the clock: tending to her abundant garden and four beehives. “I’ve fallen in love with it,” Susan says. “Beekeeping is quite the hobby.”

Among the actual seeds planted in Susan’s garden, there were also metaphorical seeds, ones that spurred her interest in bees. “Gardening led to beekeeping,” Susan explains. She and her husband — although it’s mainly her hobby nowadays — maintain an impressive garden plot, right now ripe with tomatoes, okra, corn, eggplant, and cucumbers. But it wasn’t always that way. About 12 years ago, “I noticed that I wasn’t getting any cucumbers and I wasn’t seeing any honeybees in my garden,” Susan says. It motivated her to learn about the declining bee population nationwide; she became deeply interested in the subject, so much so that her husband gave her a beginner’s beehive for Christmas.

That was in 2009, and the rest is history. Today, Susan is an active member and officer of the Wake County Beekeepers Association and a certified journeyman beekeeper. “I’m studying to become a master beekeeper,” she adds. “Master is the top title and is a very difficult goal to achieve.” In the meantime, she relies on the Beekeepers Association meetings and events and time with her mentor, Ben Crawley, to learn about and improve her hives. “Beekeeping is definitely a learning experience. I’m in my eleventh year and I’m still learning. But I’ve learned a lot too!”

Susan spends at least two hours a day in her garden and with the bees, and they both yield rewards all year long. There’s the honey harvest in spring and fall — she can glean anywhere from 20 to more than 70 pounds of honey in a season — and there’s almost always a vegetable to look forward to. Summer brings those once-elusive cucumbers and Susan’s absolute favorite, tomatoes. “In fact, I just had my first tomato sandwich of the year,” Susan says with a smile. Afterward, she went to check on her hives. “There is something so mesmerizing about going to your hive to do an examination. It’s just you and the bees. Whatever is on your mind goes away and all you’re thinking about is being in that moment. It smells good, it sounds good, and it’s exciting to see what you’ve got. All I can think is: Oh! Would you look at that. I would call it pure joy.”

We Want to Hear from You!

We want to shine a light on the folks who keep the lights on, the faces behind the public power that drives our communities. We’ll be sharing a few stories about our team here at ElectriCities, from what inspires us to some of our favorite hobbies.

But this isn’t just about us. We want to hear from you! Do you have an employee who goes above and beyond? What about a team member or leader with an impressive extracurricular accomplishment? Let us know by sending your stories and ideas here.

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