Beehives in the Lake of the Ozarks are buzzing, thanks in part to University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

MU Extension specialists and beekeepers Travis and Joni Harper have coordinated beekeeping classes for more than 800 Missourians in the past three years. More than 300 people began beekeeping in more than 1,100 hives after attending beginning and advanced workshops.

University of Missouri Extension specialist Joni Harper smokes one of Terry Mooney’s beehives. Mooney is one of more than 800 Missourians who have taken beekeeping classes through MU Extension. Photo by Linda Geist.

Honeybees are essential to agriculture, especially in Morgan, Moniteau and Henry counties, where the Harpers serve.

Travis Harper said the new hives can pollinate more than 1,000 acres of commercially grown fruit and vegetable crops. Vendors and buyers at Missouri’s largest produce auction, in Fortuna, grow more vegetables, fruit and flowers because of more pollinators.

Community gardens planted and tended by MU Extension Master Gardeners also grow more produce to give away to area residents.

Honey production increased 8 percent over the amount reported by the USDA in 2007. Despite this, beekeepers report that they can’t keep up with the demand for local honey, Joni Harper said.

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