Announcing the 2018 Young Beekeeper Award Winners!

Congratulations to Leo Schirokauer, Daniel McSween and Jonathan “JD” Murphy on winning the Bayer Bee Care 2018 Young Beekeeper Award!

Young Beekeeper Award

The Young Beekeeper Award, sponsored by the North American Bayer Bee Care Program, provides an opportunity to support the beekeeping industry’s brightest young talent in their initiatives to make an impact in their communities through beekeeping. With the number of applicants doubling from that of 2017, the judges had a tough job in selecting from such an amazing pool of contestants. This year’s winners stand out for their efforts to find permanent solutions for the issues facing bees. They go beyond their local communities to make a greater impact across the country, and they pay it forward by ensuring others will be afforded the same opportunities they have been.

Bayer Bee Care is thrilled to announce the 2018 winners: Leo Schriokauer, Daniel McSween and Jonathan “JD” Murphy. These young apiarists go above and beyond in exemplifying what the Bayer Bee Care Program hopes to inspire in the future of beekeeping.

1st Place – Leo Schirokauer

Leo Schirokauer’s fear of bees turned into passion in the fourth grade when his school librarian brought her hive to school. Shortly after, Leo enrolled in a beekeeping course and later won his first hive as a prize by submitting an essay to the Lorain County Beekeepers’ Association. A few years and several hives later, Leo was able to start again with a hive that thrived and began selling honey, beeswax-based hand creams and lip balms in his community.

Now 17 years old, Leo spends most days after school in a research lab at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine working to develop a treatment a treatment for American Foulbrood disease. The treatment focuses on harnessing the power of a good bacterium that naturally occurs in the honey bee gut to produce a protein that kills Paenibacillus larvae, the bad bacteria that causes the American Foulbrood disease. Leo thought of the potential cure himself, and he emailed a dozen professors at three different universities until he found two mentors: Professor Laura Romberg and Professor Diana Ramirez-Bergeron.

We are thrilled these professors were able to see what an amazing breakthrough Leo has the potential of achieving, and we can’t wait to see all he accomplishes!

Leo Schirokauer, 1st Place Award Winner
Leo Schirokauer, 1st Place Award Winner

2nd Place – Daniel McSween

Daniel McSween, now 17 years old, has always had a love of bees. While in elementary school, he even taught himself at recess how to slowly cup his hands to hold one. He convinced his parents to get the family’s first hive five years ago. He started attending local bee clubs to learn the craft, which over time led him to study hive failures. When he set out to conquer Varroa mites, Daniel was able to recruit participants from around the country. His first experiment surveyed 23 hives for Varroa mites from eight different beekeepers, and his second experiment grew to 60 hives.

With the help of mentoring apiarists and a scientific expert, Daniel has learned far more than he set out to. He feels more confident in his beekeeping abilities, determined to continue studying Varroa mites to develop a method to eliminate them from hives and thankful that he now understands statistics! Daniel was able to present his findings from his two experiments at the Science & Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH),the International Sustainable World (Engineering, Energy, Environment) Project (ISWEEEP) and the Texas Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

We are thankful for Daniel’s passion and determination to continue his scientific research to find a method to eliminate Varroa mites from hives!

Daniel McSween, 2nd Place Award Winner
Daniel McSween, 2nd Place Award Winner

3rd Place – Jonathan “JD” Murphy

Jonathan “JD” Murphy’s young career as a beekeeper started as a father-son project after a chance run-in at the local farmer’s market led to him winning a scholarship from a nearby beekeeping association. JD and his father started tending to their bees and would drive more than 40 miles to the association’s meetings for the first few years. Their hives were thriving, producing more than 300 pounds of honey by their third harvest. Eventually, they partnered with another local beekeeper to start their own association closer to home.

JD also began sharing his passion and knowledge with his community, speaking at schools and local events. His commitment to spreading his love for the craft continued to grow with the creation of his YouTube channel. Now at age 17, JD’s foray into the beekeeping industry has now come full circle, as he is currently establishing his own scholarship – through the beekeeping association he helped co-found – so that other kids like him can have the opportunity to learn about beekeeping.

We are inspired by beekeepers like JD, who pay it forward!

Jonathan “JD” Murphy, 3rd Place Award Winner
Jonathan “JD” Murphy, 3rd Place Award Winner

The Buzz Doesn’t Stop Here!

Thank you to this year’s applicants for sharing their efforts in beekeeping, and congratulations again to Leo Schriokauer, Daniel McSween and Jonathan “JD” Murphy for winning this year’s Young Beekeepers Award! We are especially grateful for the actions these winners are taking to support honey bee health and look forward to seeing all the progress they will continue to make. Keep an eye out for more news from these young leaders in pollinator health throughout the year.

Entries for next year’s Young Beekeeper Award will open in March 2019, and applications will be found here.