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Building Buzz in His Community

Carpenter bees are a thing, right? Maybe that partially explains this carpenter’s interest in beehives. Explaining his unlikely successes takes a little more work.
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Henry Balding

Henry Balding, a SkillsUSA member and junior at South Pasadena (Calif.) High School, is one of those typical 17-year-olds. You know, the ones who build homes from the ground up, create thriving businesses, win gold medals at SkillsUSA competitions for areas they’re not even involved with at school … OK, so maybe Balding is as far from “typical” as your grammy’s flip phone is from “current.”

“He’s a fantastic kid, a real jack-of-all-trades,” says Mike Hogan, career and technical education chair at SPHS and Balding’s cabinetry instructor. “But the beekeeping is the big deal. He has beehives everywhere.” Wait … beehives?

“I have a small migratory beekeeping operation,” Balding explains. “I harvest honey and do bee relocation.” Balding became interested in beekeeping when he was 12 as a way to cope with the passing of his father. Today, “Balding’s Bees” is swarming with success (sorry), complete with two employees, a bee supply store and a contract with Whole Foods. His father would most certainly be proud.

Another source of pride came in 2019, when Balding won his school’s first gold ever for carpentry at SkillsUSA California’s state competition. That little wax cell of info is even more impressive when one realizes that SPHS doesn’t have a carpentry program. How did a cabinetry student make the leap? Hands-on experience.

“A few years ago, we had some work done at our house, and I worked with the guy who did it,” Balding says. “I work with him a lot now.” Balding also works on his own projects, most recently a family cabin he shares with his mom. “I framed up the walls, did the stucco, drywall, roof, electrical, all of it,” he proudly declares.

Balding serves his SkillsUSA chapter as parliamentarian, and he credits SkillsUSA with “keeping me in school. They’re just awesome classes.” With job offers already from construction companies, as well as a budding interest in law enforcement, Balding’s option-heavy future is shaping up to be as sweet as, well, you know. 

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