Beyond Honey: Bringing Attention to an Overlooked World

West Morris Mendham Alumni, Tierney Monahan, gives us insight into her new book, Beyond Honey.


Image courtesy of Tierney Monahan.

Annie Shafran, Editor-in-Chief

Over the years, Mendham Highschool has catered many young minds in the path of becoming something extraordinary. As time goes on, these young minds grow and develop skills learned here, at Mendham Highschool, and take lessons learned with them throughout their whole lives. One West Morris alum is on their path to publishing their book: Tierney Monahan. 

Monahan’s writing journey began back before in her years within the Mendham walls. “My love for writing was sparked before high school,” but once she became involved in the Creative writing class and Vision Literary and Arts Magazine, “my classmates certainly encouraged me to continue writing.” On top of this, Tierney also participated in the Photography Club, Service Club, and was on the junior Varsity Softball team for three years. After high school, Monahan went on to teach in

Image courtesy of Tierney Monahan

Ecuador after graduating from college. Even whilst in South America, Tierney still looked back at the advice given to her by her high school history teacher, Mr. Raffay. “He [told me], ‘Just remember that kids remember everything, not everything you teach but how you treat them as a person. Let that be your guiding principle.’ I always thought that was so simple and true, and what I needed to hear at that time.”

The 2006 graduate began writing her book as a part of a graduate school  Content Entrepreneurship class. Here, she was asked to create something. “The idea was that if you can create something small, like a book or a podcast, you can go on to create larger enterprises, like your own business,” explained Monahan. It was through this that lessons based around the skills and techniques required to write a book out be transferable to other aspects of one’s career path. The idea for the book was sparked during the brainstorming process throughout a few classes. Monahan’s professor challenged the class to think about, “what areas we are interested in, what we have knowledge about, what we could research, and if there was a specific angle that hadn’t been explored in our topic yet.” This is where Tierney landed on the idea for her book, Beyond Honey. “I decided to focus on honey bees and their impact on society because although I had read many books about bees, they were mostly informational and instructional manuals about beekeeping or more scientific-focused books about bee biology.” One of her goals was to write a book that was approachable enough for non-beekeepers and people interested in economic development and entrepreneurship alike. 

The main thing Monahan wants people to take away from her book is a greater understanding of the impact and importance of honey bees. That the impact they hold goes much deeper than the “commercial product of honey that we buy.” Honey bees, specifically, are overlooked both in the realms of nature, and economics. Monahan’s book is meant to shed light on the grander world of honey bees. “I hope to show that there is value in working with your

Beyond Honey book cover courtesy of Tierney Monahan.

hands, working with nature, and working with your community.” The book also focuses on the stories of people who have collaborated with bees to impact their lives for the better. By sharing these stories and experiences, Tierney establishes a more humane relationship between people and bees, once again, honing in on the important differences bees can make on an everyday scale, and long-term. 

While Monahan had a great passion for the subject matter, and a love of writing, the whole process of writing an entire book did not come easy. The process of it felt daunting, on top of the pressure Tierney put on herself and her writing. “I had moments of doubt about if the quality of writing was good enough,” Monahan confessed. There were times where fears clouded her mind, wondering if people would be interested in buying the book. She hoped that she would be able to, “do justice to the people and the stories I include in the book.” Through support from her friends and family, Monahan was able to come up with a process to make her goal seem much more attainable. The impressive end goal was much less intimidating when looking at everything that needed to be done as smaller targets, rather than one enormous task. By breaking down tasks into smaller, specific sub-divisions, and taking everything one step at a time, the overwhelming cloud looming, cleared. The impressive end goal was much less intimidating when looking at it as smaller targets.

Even once the first draft of the book was complete, there were still a few more hurdles for Monahan to overcome. The first being turning in the original draft. With a wave of nerves, Tierney submitted her hard work, explaining that, “Once that was over, I felt more confident.” The next bridge to cross was being able to raise enough funds to publish the book; as well as, make revisions to the original draft to improve and fine-tune the content. During this past Easter weekend, Monahan got the great news that she had enough funding to cover the cost of productions. She went on to say that the timing could not have been more perfect. After all the effort and time she put into this book, Tierney “celebrated with a few friends (with whom I am in a quarantine pod) with a home-cooked meal and a champagne toast,” once she got the great news.

Beyond Honey is set to be published in August, and with the date rolling closing, excitement is buzzing around. “I cannot wait to hold the book in my hands in August when it is finally published!” So make sure to keep an eye out for Mendham’s very own, Tierney Monahan, and her debut book.