APPLEGATE, Ore. – Last spring several bee stories appeared in mainstream media – all written by professional journalists and scientists – focusing on the crisis of disappearing honeybees across the nation.

Kelton Shockey takes a different approach.

While agreeing that honeybee colonies in the United States have dropped in number from about 7 million to just more than 2 million in the last 20 years, Shockey argues that it's time to rethink the decline of the honeybee. He focuses on what could be done to protect and propagate new hives that could help preserve native pollinators. He suggests that to strengthen hives, beekeepers should first, "observe the nature of the bee's behavior and design methods that will work to strengthen the hive."

The most surprising aspect of Shockey's argument is that he's a 13-year-old Oregon State University Extension 4-H member from Jackson County.

Shockey's essay, "Stay-at-home Bees: Some Thoughts on Conserving Pollinators," won first place in the American Beekeeping Federation National 4-H Essay Contest, where it was judged for accuracy, scope of research, creativity, conciseness and logical development of the topic.

"The level of sophistication and thought that Kelton put into his essay illustrates maturity and an ability to reason through a complicated issue that many college-age students are still working to develop," said Roger Renekamp, the OSU Extension 4-H program leader. "All of us in 4-H, are proud to be part of an organization that encourages youth scholarship and leadership on meaningful issues."

Shockey lives on a small farm outside Applegate, Ore., where he raises Dexter cows, and bees. He will receive an award of $250 from the American Beekeeping Federation.

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Helen Pease,