Hive in­stalled at sec­ond fam­ily’s home

Colony has at least 15,000 bees

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY DAR­LENE SU­PERVILLE

Karen Pence, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s wife, has opened their gov­ern­ment res­i­dence to more than a few new in­hab­i­tants: hon­ey­bees. At least 15,000 of them.

Mrs. Pence showed off the bee­hive this week, partly to draw at­ten­tion to a de­cline in man­aged bee colonies that she and other of­fi­cials say could harm U.S. agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

One of three bites of food taken in the United States is pos­si­ble with the help of pol­li­na­tors such as bees, but­ter­flies, birds and bats, she said dur­ing a me­dia event Tuesday at the sprawl­ing U.S. Naval Ob­ser­va­tory com­pound in north­west Wash­ing­ton, where the vice pres­i­dent’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence is lo­cated.

Man­aged hon­ey­bee colonies add at least $15 bil­lion dol­lars a year in crop value by in­creas­ing yields and help­ing en­sure qual­ity har­vests. But a years-long de­cline in hon­ey­bee colonies “presents a se­ri­ous chal­lenge to our abil­ity to pro­duce many of the agri­cul­tural prod­ucts that we sell and en­joy to­day,” Mrs. Pence said.

Fruits, veg­eta­bles and nuts are among 90 or so crops that man­aged hon­ey­bees pol­li­nate for farm­ers, she said.

The de­cline in hon­ey­bee colonies is at­trib­uted to a va­ri­ety of fac­tors, in­clud­ing stress caused by par­a­sites, pests, trans­porta­tion and poor hon­ey­bee nutri­tion, she said.

Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Sonny Per­due, who at­tended the un­veil­ing, said Mrs. Pence is a “great ex­am­ple” of what ev­ery­one can to do help hon­ey­bees. He said his de­part­ment also is do­ing its best to help re­verse the de­cline in the bee­hive pop­u­la­tion across the coun­try.

Con­sumers can help with­out in­stalling a bee­hive, which is time-con­sum­ing to man­age. Mrs. Pence en­cour­aged peo­ple to plant bee-friendly flow­ers and flow­er­ing herbs, such as wild­flow­ers, lilacs, pop­pies, black-eyed Su­sans, mint, sage, squash, toma­toes, oregano and rose­mary. They can also set out basins of wa­ter or in­stall bird­baths so thirsty bees can get a drink.

“Just in the spirit of democ­racy, let’s all get in­volved and do our part, whether it’s plant­ing the plants or host­ing a bee­hive just as Mrs. Pence has done here,” Mr. Per­due said.

The new hive has be­tween 15,000 and 20,000 hon­ey­bees, said Larry Mar­ling of Eco Hon­ey­bees, the Virginia-based com­pany that was hired to in­stall the bee­hive. The bee pop­u­la­tion could grow to be­tween 40,000 and 50,000 bees by the end of the sea­son, he said.

The honey that the bees pro­duce will be given away as gifts.

“The great thing about honey is it doesn’t spoil,” Mrs. Pence said af­ter she led a group along a walk­ing path and down a slop­ing lawn to within a few feet of the busy hive.

For­mer first lady Michelle Obama in­cluded a bee­hive with the gar­den she started on the White House South Lawn in 2009, also to help with pol­li­na­tion. The White House used the honey to pre­pare meals, in ad­di­tion to bot­tling it and giv­ing it away as gifts.

Me­la­nia Trump, the cur­rent first lady, has de­cided to keep the gar­den.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Karen Pence, (right front) wife of Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, en­cour­aged peo­ple to plant bee-friendly flow­ers, such as lilacs.

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