Honeybees remain one of the most important animals on the planet, and some southwest Missouri residents are doing what they can to preserve these precious creatures. John Moore and Debra Shantz Hart had been friends for years before the two decided to enroll in a beginner’s beekeeping class in January 2010. The class was hosted by the Beekeepers Association of the Ozarks. Moore, who is formerly the president of Drury University, and Shantz Hart, owner of multiple housing developments, are both outdoors enthusiasts. Both of them own farms outside of Springfield, and their love for the outdoors drew them to beekeeping. “I was interested in it because my grandfather had done it, and I had helped him as a boy,” Moore says. “I’ve always been fascinated with flora and fauna of all sorts, and bees are fascinating insects. Besides, I thought it would be fun to see if I could be successful at keeping bees and producing honey, which I enjoy.”
In the 11 years since Moore started beekeeping, he’s created quite the operation. When he started, he had two colonies. Now he works with his business partner, Valerie Nichols, and the two of them have 75 to 100 colonies, depending on the year. As the years passed, Moore discovered that once he got the hang of beekeeping, he could make a little money selling honey. Depending on the year, he and Nichols make 200 to 250 gallons of honey, most of which they sell to clients earned throughout the years.