Beehives are seen at the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, Italy. The beehives were donated to Pope Benedict last year by members of Coldiretti, an Italian trade group that promotes agricultural education and lobbies to protect agricultural interests.
Catholic News Service
The pope’s bees had a bittersweet year producing a lower-than-expected yield due to intense summer heat.
The bees live on a 50-acre farm at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, a small town in the hills southeast of Rome.
Despite their hard work, the one-half million bees only managed to pull in 176 pounds of wildflower honey — produced from nectar from surrounding gardens, fruit trees and other blossoming trees like chestnut. Temperatures and rainfall can affect both nectar production and restrict honeybees from foraging.
Italian farmers also gave the pope his own vineyard of native red and white grape varieties.
The papal farm is home to an olive grove, fruit trees and greenhouses used to raise flowers and plants, which often are used to decorate the papal apartments and meeting rooms.
Each day, 25 cows produce more than 150 gallons of milk, and more than 200 eggs are collected from some 300 hens. In addition, about 60 chickens are raised for meat.