As a second-year beekeeper, allow me to express some genuine awe over the honey production of the White House bees. The single hive, located on the South Lawn near Michelle Obama's vegetable garden, generated a record 225.5 pounds of honey this year — up from 134 pounds in 2009 and 184 pounds in 2010.
"It's just craziness," White House carpenter and bee keeper Charlie Brandts told U.S. News. "They did really well this year."
No kidding. In my first year, I managed to barely harvest 40 pounds of honey. I'll be lucky if my scales hit three digits this year — and that's with hives located in the rural countryside with access to fields and fields of wildflowers. Ironically, according to Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture, that may actually put me at a disadvantage.
"Urban colonies in a long-season location, near lots of water and lots of ornamental plantings, with little competition and almost no pest pressure seem to do quite well," he told the magazine. "The White House hive is in honey bee heaven as far as location is concerned."
Analyzation of the honey earlier this year by Texas A&M University revealed the dominant pollen source as clover — along with dogwood, cherry, crepe myrtle, elm, magnolia trees, honeysuckle and even poison ivy. Brandts says this year's crop tasted the same, but with hints of basswood.
It's likely that the White House kitchen will once again make use of the sweet stuff for official state dinners and the limited edition "White House Honey Ale." Michelle Obama has also made it a tradition to present the honey as gifts in special glass jars to foreign leaders and guests.
For some background on the beehive (the first ever to grace the White House property), check out the video below.