New Missouri initiative looks to create buzz about bees

May 11, 2012

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is launching a new initiative to try to create some buzz about bees.

Agriculture Director Jon Hagler says “The Great Missouri Buzz Off” aims to educate Missourians about bees and beekeeping.

“Whether it be honeybees, or native bees, they’re so vital to our agriculture’s success, and to our horticulture’s success, and we have such amazing resources here in our state,” Hagler said.

Missouri is home to more than 400 species of bees, most of which pollinate native plants.

Honeybees, which are not native to North America, play a vital role in U.S. agriculture, adding an estimated $14 billion or more to the value of crop production.

Since 2006, a syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder has resulted in the loss of at least 30 percent of commercial hives each year.

Ed Spevak is the curator of invertebrates at the Saint Louis Zoo, one of several local organizations participating in the bee awareness initiative.

Spevak says there are many things people can do to support bees and other pollinators.

Just having flowering plants in your garden throughout the growing season can help.

“You really need to look around here from March through October, having things in bloom," Spevak said. "And planting a number of them, because that’s the signpost, that’s a billboard which attracts the bees to your place.”

For those interested in trying bee keeping for themselves, there are associations throughout the state that can help you get started.