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Friday, June 25, 2010

Harvests the First “Executive Honey”

Even the Governor of North Carolina is getting into the home gardening fever sweeping the country. On Tuesday, Gov. Bev Perdue suited up in beekeeper attire and approached a job perhaps no other North Carolina governor has tackled – pulling honeycombs from beehives with thousands of honeybees buzzing nearby.

Two beehives were installed on the north lawn of the executive mansion in Raleigh late last year, after grounds supervisor Gerald Adams decided to explore the benefits of having bees to pollinate the gardens on the grounds. Adams, who oversees production of a number of crops used by the first family and donated to local area food banks, has already seen a dramatic difference.

“Apple trees that have never had more than a handful of apples on them now show 50 or 60 or more,” he said. “The pollination benefits of the bees have been clear already within the first six months of having the hives.”

“The honeybee is not only North Carolina’s state insect, but also a crucial player in North Carolina agriculture. Their role in pollinating our crops is essential, and often overlooked by people who don’t know the important part they play,” said Gov. Perdue. “Having the bees here on the mansion grounds not only gives us a chance to boost our own fruit and vegetable production, but also serves as an education tool for the school groups and tours who visit the mansion regularly.”

The honeybees, which may fly up to a 2-mile radius around the hive every day. So just how much honey did the group harvest? Nearly 12 gallons, or some 150 pounds. The honey, which was inspected and deemed “Grade A,” will be bottled and used at the mansion, given as gifts from the governor and first gentleman, and donated to local food banks.