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Bees in the Bundestag

July 2, 2015

Two German parliamentarians have inaugarated the government's first bee colony. Bärbel Höhn and Martin Burkert hope to bring light to the plight of the vanishing honeybee.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/L. Schulze

Bundestag-brand honey may be coming to supermarket shelves within the year. On Thursday, Green party member Bärbel Höhn and her Social Democrat (SPD) colleague Martin Burkert unveiled their latest parliamentary project: a bee hive for the courtyard of the Paul Löbe House, a building in Berlin's government quarter used by the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

"We're starting a trial run with a smaller bee colony," Höhn told the press at the unveiling of the hive. "If all goes well, we want to stock even more bees next year and then we can offer Bundestag honey."

The Bundestag's hive, which is meant to call attention to the drastically decreased number of bees both in Germany and worldwide, currently houses only 2,000 bees. Normal bee colonies can boast as many as 60,000 workers and drones, usually around a single queen.

Höhn and Burkert assured the public that with Berlin's famous and expansive Tiergarten park just nearby, the bees would have plenty of nectar to feast on.

Because so many foods worldwide depend on honeybee pollination, the drastic increase in the disappearance of bees and bee colonies threatens crops as diverse as almonds, broccoli, and strawberries, to name only a few.

Colony collapse disorder, as the phenomenon is called, has been widely reported by farmers across North America and Europe and has cost the agricultural industry millions.

es/msh (dpa)