About Peace Bees
Peace Bees is the culmination of Alex Lesniak's, "The Bee Girl", love for the peaceful honey bee. This all started many years ago with a 4-H project and a passion for the environment. Several County Grand Championships, 2007 Indiana Young Beekeeper of the Year and the 2011 Indiana Honey Princess later Peace Bees was born and became the family business.
Over the years, demand for classroom visits and appearances grew beyond what she could accommodate so this site is designed to share her activities with teachers, scout leaders and anyone else interested in honey bees.
We expanded our community outreach by donating bees, equipment, hive management and beekeeping classes to The Unity Gardens. This launched them on a very successful program of having hives all around the community. One of our adult beekeeping students invited us to join his campaign to bring bees back into the city of South Bend, Indiana because decades old ordinance prevented home owners from keeping honey bees. In less than six months the ordinance was changed and the city was a-buzz with excitement! We believe it should always be legal to grow your own food.
Our latest effort is to bring employment to disadvantaged workers as part of our Second Chance program. We are developing programming to bring employment and year long apprenticeships in beekeeping and urban farming to the South Bend area with our partners at Goodwill Industries of Michiana. Rather than giving someone help we will empower individuals by teaching them job, social, and life skills so they can go on to be more self-sufficient and ready to move into the mainstream workforce. Our target are the disadvantaged workers that may be homeless, veterans or the previously incarcerated. We believe that everyone deserves a second chance.
Changing the world one hive at a time,
Alex, Jonelle and Steve
Alex Lesniak, Founder and Board Chair – Alex is currently pursuing a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Royal Veterinary Collage, London, UK. She holds a Master’s degree in Humane Education from Valparaiso University and the Institute of Humane Education along with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine from Purdue University. Alex has been a Beekeeper since 2005. Among her many service honors she was the 2007 Indiana Beekeepers Association Young Beekeeper of The Year and 2011 Indiana Honey Princess. She has gone on service and research trips to Romania with Purdue and Andegada, B.V.I. with the Fort Worth Zoo. Alex donates much of her spare time to several charities and was the Youth Humane Education Director for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. She has been a 4-H leader for St. Joseph County, a 4-H Judge in Koskiusko County, and received the St. Joseph County Outstanding 4-H Leader Award. Alex is still in demand for her honey bee presentations, contributes her guidance and vision to the business, and assists in the apiary as time permits.
Steve Lesniak, Chief Operations Officer – Steve has a degree in Fine Art Photography from Ball State University with experience in advertising photography. He has a certificate in Programming from DePaul University and over 20 years of experience in Information Technology with more than half as a Manager/Director. Steve has been a beekeeper since 2005. He is the St. Joseph County 4-H Beekeeping Superintendent, has been the Vice President and President of Greene Township 4-H Advisory Board, leader for Photography, and Beekeeping. He also received the St. Joseph County Outstanding 4-H Leader Award. He teaches adult beekeeping courses and gives honey bee talks and presentations in the community. He serves as guest speaker/adviser for BeeND beekeeping club at the University of Notre Dame. Steve was the Coordinator for the 2014-2015 USDA SARE Grant FNC14-957. He is the head apiarist for Peace Bees and manages all daily activities of the business. Starting January 2019 Steve serves on the Board of Directors for Dismas House of Indiana.
Jonelle Lesniak, Chief Product Officer – Jonelle has a degree in Education from Ball State University and is a veteran K-8 teacher with nearly 30 years of experience. She has been a beekeeper since 2005. She was a Greene Township 4-H board member and served as Township Coordinator, County Advisory Board member as well as a leader for Photography, Computers, and received the St. Joseph County Outstanding 4-H Leader Award. Jonelle uses her education experience to hone the Peace Bees educational programs and is working on building Common Core based honey bee curriculum for grades K through 8. She assists in the apiary and teaches youth classes for Peace Bees. Jonelle assists with managing the business and is responsible for Mission Advancement and Quality Control from classes to hive products.
John Simala, Advisory Board Member and Financial Advisor– John holds a degree in Psychology from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. John has experience teaching advanced topics in History and Sociology, administration of a community-oriented non for profit organization as well as owning his own successful business for more than 40 years. He has also been a long-time active member of several community service organizations. John uses his broad experience to advise Peace Bees regarding financial, social, and business decisions.