Meet the Next Gen Leaders in Pollinator Health: Tucker Leck

We caught up with past Bayer Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award recipient Tucker Leck to learn more about his beekeeping journey. From Neodesha, Kansas, Tucker stays “busy as a bee” tending to his hives, working on his family farm and educating his community about pollinator health.

Busy as a bee

Tucker LeckBeekeeping is a family affair for 13-year-old Tucker Leck from Neodesha, Kansas. Inspired by his dad and a family friend, Tucker began beekeeping as a hobby when he was just 5 years old. When his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Cefarelli, asked him to do a presentation on honey bees for the class, he was unsure how his classmates would react when he showed up in his bee suit.

“As soon as I started my presentation, I saw everyone’s eyes light up,” said Tucker. “Years later, kids from my class will still approach me and tell me the things they learned from that presentation. That really inspired me to develop my beekeeping hobby and continue to educate my peers about the importance of pollinators.”

Tucker’s dad taught him the fundamentals of beekeeping, and as Tucker got older, he continued to grow his skills and become more independent. Today, he personally manages five beehives and checks each hive a few times a month. First, he checks that the boxes around the hives are in good condition. Then he looks for hive beetles and other insects that are harmful to honey bees. Next, he ensures the queen is laying in a good pattern and the bees are active. Finally, he makes sure the bees have enough pollen and honey stored during summer months to make it through the winter. While the quality of his hives is of the utmost importance to Tucker, teaching his community about the importance of pollinators is also a top priority.

“I’m passionate about educating youth about pollinator health because I know that many people don’t know where their food comes from, and a lot of the food we eat is grown with the help of pollinators,” said Tucker. “I believe it’s important for kids to get involved in either beekeeping or agriculture because we need future generations to help produce food for our society.”

For Tucker, beekeeping and agriculture are intertwined. When he’s not in school or tending to his bees, Tucker helps his family with their 14 acres of pumpkins, 4 acres of watermelon and roughly 110 tomato plants. Since he was 7 years old, he’s been a member of the Lucky Horseshoe 4-H Club in his hometown, and he started raising show pigs a few years back. He raised and sold 86 show pigs to area 4-Hers last year alone!

“Beekeeping and ag go hand in hand from the simplest perspective: food production,” said Tucker. “Without honey bees and other pollinators, we would not have many of our favorite vegetables and fruits we enjoy daily.”

Three years ago, Tucker was unsure about applying for the Bayer Bee Care Program’s youth-focused award, but his passion for spreading beekeeping knowledge is what drove him to try.

“Being a then 10-year-old farm boy from Kansas, I never thought I would have been given this award, but here I am today,” said Tucker. “The Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award has given me endless opportunities I would have never imagined. Because of the award, I’ve been interviewed on radio stations and with magazines, which hopefully has inspired other kids my age to start beekeeping.”

Tucker is already “busy as a bee,” but there’s still even more he hopes to achieve. In the short term, Tucker would like to continue to educate youth at the state and national levels about the importance of pollinators and agriculture, as well as continue to improve the quality of his hives. When he grows up, he hopes to be an agricultural lawyer, so he can continue to advocate for farmers and pollinators.

“Even if people reading this are not involved in beekeeping or agriculture, their voices still matter,” emphasized Tucker. “We need individuals in ag, STEM and beyond who use their voice and really strive to keep agriculture and beekeeping alive.”

About the 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award

The Bayer Bee Care Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award recognizes the next generation of beekeepers (12-18 years old) and their efforts to give back to their communities through activities that support honey bee and pollinator health. Applicants have the chance to earn a $3,000 (first), $2,000 (second) or $1,000 (third) place prize, which can be applied toward continuing their beekeeping efforts or a college scholarship.

The 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award application is now closed. First, second and third place award recipients will be announced in September during National Honey Month. In the meantime, learn more about the 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award here.