Wisconsin Honey Producers And Supporters Recognized

Over 200 honey producers and supporters from around the Midwest got together in Wisconsin Rapids for the 2021 annual convention. This is the first time in nearly two years they’ve had a face-to-face opportunity to network and reconnect.

Jennifer Hinkel of Franklin is currently serving as the American Honey Queen. She took a moment from visiting local schools around Wisconsin Rapids to visit with Pam Jahnke about how their outreach programs are getting back online.

During their convention, attendees had a chance to recognize some of their industry leaders.

Special Recognition Award

Stephanie SlaterElkhorn

A few years ago, WHPA welcomed a new, young beekeeper into our ranks.  She spent a year or two getting to know fellow members and learning about the organization by attending meetings and networking about best practices.  She absorbed all that she could from the meetings and conventions  She knew that she loved bees and beekeeping, but this organization and the friends she made spurred her on.  She offered to help wherever she could and took on a variety of tasks.  Before long she was serving in leadership positions at the local and state levels.

She brings all her skills and talent to a  number of activities at WHPA, from mentoring youth beekeepers to organizing social activities.  This past year has been a challenge for all of us as we navigated the ever-changing guidance.  When WHPA was unable to hold individual district meetings, she stepped up to spearhead a very successful virtual WHPA spring meeting in lieu of holding in-person District meetings because of COVID.  She walked the Spring Meeting committee through every step prior to the live meeting, found ways to troubleshoot any technical challenges, and is always prepared and ready to make it work for the WHPA events.  Her tech savvy has come in handy to setup interfacing Zooms with the youth beekeeping participants, and she is a regularly contributing member of WHPA’s Facebook team. She is a collaborative member of the WHPA whether she is serving on committees, as a director, or as a mentor.

Our 2021 Special Recognition Award goes to Stephanie Slater.

Education Award

Charlie KoenenMilwaukee

This WHPA member is unconventional, mission-driven, and could easily pass for a fully bottled honey bear. A practicing beekeeper for 20 years, this individual has set up hives throughout Milwaukee County, collaborating with local churches, schools and universities, and many other public and private organizations interested in promoting honey bees and all of their benefits to the natural and human world. As the executive director of “BeeVangelists,” he has a passion for teaching “the gospel of the bees,” spreading the good news of the bees from rooftops and backyards, in schools and retirement homes, with candle dippings and honey spinnings, tastings, parades, and festivals. This jolly honey bear practices what he preaches whether it’s with a traditional Langstroth hive, a horizontal top bar hive, or even a mobile “bee hotel.” When he’s not educating in communities on the wonders of the honey bee, he can be found helping newbees on pickup days during package bee season, speaking at local bee clubs, and sharing his bee-centric vision at a grassroots level. His creative and contagious enthusiasm to educate others about the hive and the honeybee is worthy of receiving the WHPA Education Award.

Our 2021 Education Award goes to Charlie Koenen.

Youth Award

Jayln PiechowskiRed Granite

This year’s youth beekeeper has been a part of the beekeeping industry for nearly 18 years.  She began attending WHPA conventions at a very young age, and her interest in beekeeping and honey has blossomed. 

She is a quiet force, which is absolutely necessary when managing bees.  She started managing her own hives of bees in early elementary school (even painting her hive bodies purple to add her personal flare.)  A consistent ribbon winner at her county fair, she has amassed 24 blue ribbons for her honey and a grand champion award for an observation hive.  She also has received three awards for entomology projects for 4-H showing her continued interest in learning more about her family’s business and the honeybee.

She is a future leader of WHPA.  She began volunteering at an early age, helping her family host Wisconsin and American Honey Queens and Princesses.  She’s been a consistent help with honey queen auctions and fundraising events, volunteer for numerous WHPA conventions, and has volunteered on multiple occasions at the WHPA Honey Booth at the Wisconsin State Fair and for the Kids and Bees event at the annual convention.  She never shies away from the opportunity to serve and help better the WHPA with her quiet and consistent service.  She’s always willing to help!

In between her school work, where she maintains a high GPA, her athletic activities, and multiple school activities, she works hard in her family’s business, learning each day the hard work needed to manage individual colonies and a large scale family business.

She has aspirations to one day manage her family’s business, and has taken the right steps to become a volunteer and leader in the beekeeping industry and WHPA.  Her efforts have become a staple in our organization.

This year’s Youth Award goes to Jalyn Piechowski.

Pioneer Award

Tim and Lois FultonKenosha

This year’s Pioneer winners have been beekeepers for over 25 years.  They are a small-scale honey producer specializing in local, seasonal raw honey, creamed honey, beeswax candles, beeswax wood sealer and conditioner, and propolis. They can be found at the local farmers market on Saturdays in September.  If you call and stop by their home, you will see a restored prairie and their honeybees.  He enjoys sharing all he’s learned about honeybees and the impact bees have on our environment and often serves as a guest speaker in different venues.  He has also taught many beginning beekeeping classes at various venues.  He is a member of the Racine/Kenosha Beekeepers club, Wisconsin Honey Producers Association, and the American Beekeeping Federation.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of Southeastern Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas, a publication that serves the Southeastern Wisconsin region.

As a couple they have contributed greatly to the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association.  He has served as Vice President, President, and past President.  They both have been incredible supporters of the Honey Queen Program, hosting queens and helping with school presentations and promotions at the farmers markets.  They have donated to and purchased items at the auctions at convention.  They have been steadfast workers with the WHPA booth at the Wisconsin State Fair.  They have brought their expertise to set up and pricing before the fair and to clean up after the fair.  They have also volunteered time in the booth itself.

They have always worked very hard and don’t seek recognition.

This year’s Pioneer Award goes to Tim and Lois Fulton.

Beekeeper of the Year

Doug Hauke – Marshfield

This year’s Beekeeper of the Year wanted nothing to do with the bees on his father’s dairy farm as a boy. He headed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study bacteriology and virology.  While there he worked several seasons at the university’s bee lab. The bee research experience changed his thinking.  It convinced him he was destined to raise bees back home and by 1980 he owned the family business.

From central Wisconsin to Texas and California, he and his hard-working “flight crew” perform a critical service in U.S. agriculture — pollinating crops and producing a sweet crop of their own.  He is the owner of Wisconsin’s largest honey-producing operation.  While others have more bees, they’re more focused on pollination while his emphasis has remained more focused on honey production compared to his peers. He previously produced honey for retail sales, but his niche now is selling honey to Miller-Coors and Wisconsin craft breweries for beer production.  He also sells 4,000 to 6,000 frames of brood each year to other beekeepers.

The 3,200-colony apiary sells bulk honey and beeswax from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected facility in Wood County.  From a wintering location in Texas, they produce queens and nucs while the main group of bees is in California pollinating almonds.

He also serves the industry.  An active member of WHPA, Doug has served on and chaired the research committee.  Most importantly, he shares his knowledge and experience with all of us and is a great asset at governmental meetings and hearings.  He has served on the National Honey Board and Project Apis. m and is the Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee of the American Honey Producers Association Our 2021 Beekeeper of the Year is Doug Hauke.