VATICAN CITY — An association of Italian farmers gave Pope Benedict XVI a special gift on Sunday: 500,000 bees from an organic farm.
The Vatican newspaper today reported that the bees, who live in eight hives, have joined the three hives-full already pollinating plants and producing honey at the papal farm in Castel Gandolfo. The hives are set up close to the Villa Barberini, the summer residence of the Vatican secretaries of state. The placement of the hives combines the symbolic — the Barberini family stem features three bees — and the practical — it’s the part of the papal villa furthest from a public road or walking path, reducing the chance that a pedestrian could be bothered by the new residents.
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said the half million bees are expected to produce more than 600 pounds of honey each year. The papal villa already employs an expert beekeeper, the paper said.