Photos of the hive that Karen Pence keeps at the vice president's mansion draw attention to how important bees are

Preston Keres/USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.
  • Second Lady Karen Pence has been keeping some unexpected guests at the vice president’s official residence.
  • In 2017, the first beehive was installed at One Observatory Circle as part of the second lady’s commitment to the environmental benefits of thriving bee communities.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

One Observatory Circle is the lesser-known official residence that has housed every vice president since 1974.

National Honey Bee Day 2019 marks just over two years after some unexpected guests moved into the official address, courtesy of second lady Karen Pence. Pence’s spokeswoman told INSIDER the second lady would not participate in this article.

Pence has touted the environmental benefits of successful beehives before. See how the buzzy creatures have made the vice president’s residence their home.


Welcome to Number One Observatory Circle, the vice president’s residence located a 15-minute drive from the White House in D.C.

J Scott Applewhite/APThe vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory is where Vice President Al Gore is secluded awaiting developments in the presidential election Saturday Nov. 11, 2000 in Washington.


Read more:
Inside Number One Observatory Circle, the often overlooked but stunning vice president’s residence where the Pences live


Sitting on roughly 13 acres, the grounds have ample room to house many flowering plants — and the bees to pollinate them.


In June 2017, Pence announced the arrival of the hives, which would house approximately 20,000 bees.

Preston Keres/USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.

Source: USDA


Pence said it “was important for us to do what we could” to support bees. “All types of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, birds and bats, are critical to providing our nation’s food, fibre, fuel and medicine,” she said.

Preston Keres/USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.

Source: USDA


She previously kept bees at the Indiana governor’s residence, unveiling a hive there in 2014.

Michael Conroy/APThe redesigned front entrance to the is shown during a media tour in Indianapolis Monday, Aug. 21, 2006.

Source: The Associated Press


“One of the reasons that we wanted to bring a beehive to the vice president’s residence was because we wanted to help our bee population and we do have colony collapse disorder,” Pence told CNN.

Alex Brandon/APKaren Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, speaks about a new beehive placed at the vice president’s residence, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Washington.

Source: CNN


Colony collapse disorder is one of the biggest threats facing bees today. It’s what happens when worker bees leave the hive, and the queen is left with too few bees to keep the hive thriving. Habitat destruction, pesticide poisoning, and diseases affecting bees are all contributing to CCD.

Alex Brandon/APBees fly around nearby Karen Pence, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, his wife Mary Perdue, and others, listen about a new beehive placed at the vice president’s residence, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Source: EPA


Honeybee populations have been on a decline, facing threats from parasites, pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change. In the 1940s, there were an estimated 6 million honeybee hives in the US, compared to 2.5 million today.

Rick Bowmer/APHoneybees are shown on a frame at beekeeper Denise Hunsaker’s apiary, Monday, May 20, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

Source: USDA


“Our beekeepers have been losing colonies for many years,” Pence said. “This presents a serious challenge to our ability to produce many of the agricultural products that we enjoy today.”

US Department of AgricultureUS Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence as they make their way to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.

Source: USDA


The bees at the residence are housed in triple-deep “Langstroth” beehives, which are made up of stacked, wooden boxes with frames inside that the bees can build honeycomb on and the beekeepers can easily remove.

Sources: USDA, Bee Built


Pence said the tens of thousands of bees would provide the added benefit of pollinating the residence’s vegetable and flower gardens.


Bees help pollinate a third of the crops Americans eat, including almonds, apples, avocados, and blueberries.

Preston Keres/USDAHere, Eco Honeybees Beekeeper Larry Marling, answers questions about the bees.

Source: American Beekeeping Federation


US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Pence to unveil the beehives. According to the USDA, 90 crops benefit from bee pollination, adding at least $US15 billion a year through increased yields and production.

Preston Keres/USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.

Source: USDA


“Our honeybee population has been losing ground at an alarming rate,” Perdue said. “The problem represents a diverse mix of challenges requiring a wide range of solutions. And at USDA we are leading the way in research to help out our pollinator friends.”

Preston Keres/USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.

Source: USDA


At the time, Perdue touted the agency’s “significant research” on the topic. But in July 2019, the USDA stopped collecting data for its annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing cost cuts.

Preston Keres/USDAHere, a member of The American Beekeeping Federation holds up a poster explaining the Bumble Bees in the Eastern United States as Perdue speaks to the importance of the bee.

Sources: CNN, EcoWatch


In her capacity as second lady, Pence has also visited bee research labs and invited school groups to see the hives at the residence.

Preston Keres/USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary joined Mrs. Karen Pence to unveil a bee hive on the Vice President’s residential grounds in Washington, D.C., June 6, 2017.


Meanwhile, the bees are buzzing away on the grounds of the residence, showing just how important the pollinators are to the country.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APThe Vice President’s residence on the ground of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, Friday, March 16, 2018.

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