Buzzing in Jefferson City

Buzzing in Jefferson City

By Christine Tew

The vision for the Center for Soy Innovation has always been to connect people with the many ways soybeans impact their lives. From soy-based building materials that offer benefits ranging from improved indoor air quality to reduced reliance on petroleum, to outdoor spaces highlighting farmers’ work with native plantings and water-quality management efforts, the Center is a hub for all things soy and hands-on.

This fall, the Missouri Soybean team added thousands of new residents to the educational showcase in the form of a colony of honey bees.

In partnership with volunteers from the Missouri State Beekeepers Association, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council welcomed the colony. Missouri’s soybean farmers and soybean organizations have been advocates for pollinators for many years, and bringing them to the Center was a natural step.

More than 400 species of bees are commonly seen in Missouri, including the honey bee, also known by its scientific name: Apis mellifera.

The Center for Soy Innovation is located on nearly 5 acres of land on the western side of Jefferson City. The bulk of that land has been planted with native species, including many flowering plants from Missouri-based nurseries.

The bees’ home is located behind the Center for Soy Innovation, below the terracing and among the native plantings installed earlier this year. The hive is near several benches and along the mulched walking trail where it will be easy for visitors to view when the Center reopens for guests.

In addition to conversations about farmers’ work to support pollinators, guests can expect to learn about the relationship between pollinators and soybeans. While soybeans don’t rely on pollinators as much as some other flowering plants, they can support foraging bees. Pollen substitutes, including the one available to this colony during their transition to Jefferson City, are also often made with soybean meal.

Some day, visitors may also be able to sample honey from the hive – although that is many months away and likely dependant on COVID-19, as the Center is currently closed to visitors.

Special thanks are in order for Debra Maier and Gail Severance of the Jefferson City-based Show Me Beekeepers, and other members of the chapter, who coordinated the bees’ move from the Marshall area to the Center for Soy Innovation, along with other volunteers who continue to provide guidance.

The bees made their move in October with help from those volunteers and the Missouri State Beekeepers Association.

Shortly thereafter, the bees were visited by Missouri’s State Apiarist. Lee Conner is an employee of the Missouri Department of Agriculture who, among his responsibilities, is the point person for beekeepers. Conner inspected the hive and confirmed the health of the colony for Missouri Soybean staff.

He also shared with staff that cool weather can be especially detrimental to a newly moved hive. Conner recommended saving any work with the hive – especially removing frames or bees – for times the temperature is above 55 degrees.

Want to know more about the Center for Soy Innovation, its bee colony and how all things soy come together in your life? Explore mosoy.org or reach out to the Center directly through the Contact Us tab.

Curious about beekeeping or want to meet a beekeeper near you? The Missouri State Beekeepers Association has great information on- line at mostatebeekeepers.org to help you connect and get started with your own bees.

Find the December Issue of Missouri Soybean Farmer here.