COLUMBIA — Walk-About Acres is creating a buzz.
The family farm owned by Art and Vera Gelder emphasizes honeybees, and the couple have more than 80 hives around Boone County.
Although the Gelders are experienced beekeepers, even they are stung from time to time.
For 20 years, the Gelders have been educating all sorts of groups — ranging in age from babies to senior citizens — about the importance of honeybees. The farm, on Kircher Road northeast of Columbia, offers field trips and beekeeping classes, and it sells bees and equipment to budding beekeepers.
Vera Gelder said honeybees are particularly important to our food and ecosystems. She sees great importance in understanding agriculture and where the food we eat comes from.
Bees are strong communicators. One method they use is called the waggle dance, in which the bees move in a figure-eight pattern to communicate to the other bees the location of pollen in relation to the hive.
There are three jobs a honeybee can have: a worker bee, a drone or a queen. The queen usually is marked for easy identification in the hive but can also be identified by her size and the number of bees constantly pampering her.
The farm sells honey from its beehives in many different forms, including ice cream, lotion, candy and candles. Vera Gelder noted that honey never spoils and that honey can be used for medicinal purposes, specifically to heal bedsores and other wounds and to treat external scars.
Vera Gelder said if you would have asked her about bees 20 years ago, she would have said that they make honey and sting people. Today, she is fascinated by the insects and all that they do.
Walk-About Acres might focus on honeybees, but it also keeps a variety of different animals, including emus, chickens, geese, turkeys, peacocks, mulefoot pigs and goats.