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Vice president's wife installs beehive at official residence

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence's wife, Karen, 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 Tuesday, partly to draw attention to a decline in managed bee colonies that she and other officials say could negatively affect 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 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 factors ranging from stress caused by parasites to poor nutrition to lack of interest in caring for them.


Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who attended the unveiling, said Mrs. Pence was a "great example" of what everyone can to do help honeybees. He said his department was working to help reverse the decline in the beehive population across the country.


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