August 09, 2012

Bees Have a Great Showing and Plenty of Supporters at the State Fair

Gov. Nixon proclaims Missouri's bee week to run during much of the 11-day fair

The Great Missouri Buzz Off! is in full view at the Missouri State Fair, from bounty of fresh produce on display in the Agriculture Building, to the sweet treats available at the Missouri State Beekeepers Association booth and throughout grounds in blooming gardens and planters. Gov. Jay Nixon today highlighted those efforts and the work of Missouri's state insect, proclaiming August 12 through 18 Missouri State Honey Bee Awareness and Appreciation Week.

The displays, including opportunities to purchase locally produced honey and the popular "honey straws" in the Agriculture Building, will continue throughout the Fair. Members of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association and staff from the Missouri Department of Agriculture will also be on hand to answer questions about beekeeping and bees' impact on agriculture.

"Bees play an important role in agriculture as pollinators for our flowering plants - including many of the state's agricultural crops," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "More than 400 different species of bees call Missouri home and most are key to producing the food we grow, from soybeans to cotton, melons to tomatoes, and berries to pumpkins."

It is estimated that bees contribute $15 billion to the value of overall U.S. crop production, as well as supporting flowering plants and trees within the landscape and nursery industry, which represents $3.4 billion per year in Missouri.

John Timmons, vice president of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association and Ed Spevak, curator of invertebrates with the Saint Louis Zoo, joined the event with information on bees importance to our lives, from supporting produce and honey operations locally to ensuring that the beautiful spaces in Missouri's public and private gardens remain available for all to enjoy.

Beekeepers Art and Vera Gelder were also on hand to share their experiences with bees, producing honey and opening their farm to visitors throughout the year. The Gelder's raise bees, produce and livestock on their farm, Walk About Acres, near Columbia, Mo.

To help more Missourians get growing with bees, The Missouri Department of Agriculture's AgriMissouri program launched The Great Missouri Buzz Off!, an educational and promotional initiative designed to provide Missourians with the tools and resources they need to add bees to their fruit, vegetable or flower gardens, this spring. A new section on the website was dedicated to The Great Missouri Buzz Off!, including resources for those interested in learning more about types of bees, beekeeping and connecting beginners with the information and guidance they need to have a successful beekeeping venture.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture added its first colony of bees to the Growing Together Garden in Jefferson City this summer to pollinate the fresh fruits and vegetables growing there and to serve as an example for others.

To learn more about The Great Missouri Buzz Off! and how you can get growing with bees, visit