Bayer CropScience announced that Georgia beekeeper Paul Vonk has won the third annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award. Paul was chosen because of his efforts to improve pollinator health, by educating the beekeeping community students interested in pursuing STEM education fields through HiveTool, which provides a noninvasive way to analyze colony health. The award is sponsored by the Bayer CropScience’s Bee Care Program and annually recognizes an individual who uses their interest in and commitment to honey bees to benefit their community. As the 2015 winner, Vonk will receive a $5,000 grant to continue his work.

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.

Paul 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 Dr. 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. This year’s applications represented a wide range of projects that will have a long-lasting and positive impact on bee health.

“It is truly an honor to be chosen the winner of the 2015 Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award,” said Vonk. “With Bayer's recognition and contribution, even more students and beekeepers will be able to learn about HiveTool and how it can be used to improve pollinator health.”

Bayer’s participation in National Pollinator Week is a part of the company’s nearly 30-year commitment to supporting and improving bee health.