Pope Benedict VXI entered the honey business on Tuesday after
he received a gift of 500,000 bees from Italy's largest agriculture consumer
group to highlight the importance of protecting the environment.
The National Italian Coldiretti group gave Benedict eight bee hives to be kept on the pontifical farm in Castelgandolfo, a lakeside Medieval village in the Alban hills outside Rome, the Vatican said in a statement on Tuesday. The bees are expected to make around 280 kilos of honey a year.
"Coldiretti explained that bees play a vital role in the planet's ecosystem and their disappearance would have disastrous consequences for health and the environment: a third of human food production depends on crops pollinated by insects, eighty percent of which are bees," the Vatican said.
Non-profit agriculture association Campagna Amica will give technical assistance to the farm for its new honey production.
The pontifical farm has 25 dairy cows, 300 hens and 60 cockerels as well as an ancient olive grove producing three thousand litres of oil a year, an orchard of apricot and peach trees and a greenhouse of ornamental flowers, the Vatican said.
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