June 16, 2015
Georgia beekeeper Paul Vonk has won the third annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award. Vonk was chosen because he created the HiveTool, which provides a noninvasive way to analyze colony health.
HiveTool provides a collection of readily available, off-the-shelf hardware and free, open source software that continuously monitors beehives. The system allows beekeepers to better manage their hives by giving real time feedback on hive conditions. Vonk also uses HiveTool to transmit data to NASA to study how bees are impacted by land use and climate changes.
As the 2015 winner, Vonk will receive a $5,000 grant to continue his work.
Vonk has made HiveTool the centerpiece of his work with a local school as well as regional beekeepers, sharing his passion and enthusiasm for beekeeping with students who previously had never worked with pollinators. The HiveTool system has attracted students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields by allowing the students to work with bees and learn more about bee health and beekeeping.
“Paul’s efforts to improve his community by educating beekeepers and students through HiveTool are remarkable," said Becky Langer, director of the North American Bayer Bee Care Program. “We are thrilled to present the award to a beekeeper who has taken such an innovative and creative approach to beekeeping and improving bee health. His efforts to provide beekeepers and students the tools they need to improve their craft and learn more about beekeeping reflects the commitment of the Bayer Bee Care Program to improving pollinator health.”
The record-breaking number of 2015 award applications were judged by a four-person independent panel of industry and academic experts that included Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, Elina Lastro Nino, researcher at UC-Davis Department of Entomology, Tim Tucker, president of American Beekeeping Federation as well as Dr. Langer.
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