Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, plans to keep a bee hive in the inner garden of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in central Tokyo, it was learned Saturday.
She will set up the hive as early as this month, and aims to maintain a colony of 8,000 to 10,000 Japanese honeybees, informed sources said.
If things go smoothly, Abe-brand honey could be harvested in the autumn.
Japan’s first lady is known for her strong interest in agriculture and food safety. She is growing pesticide-free rice in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in her husband’s constituency.
Concerned about falls in the honeybee population worldwide, she wants to help conserve bees and thereby make a contribution to preserving biodiversity, the sources said.
Akie Abe was motivated to act by Michelle Obama, wife of U.S. President Barack Obama. When she and her husband visited the White House in April, she was escorted by her American counterpart to the kitchen garden she has managed since 2009 and saw at first hand how Obama keeps honeybees.
After returning from the U.S. trip, she made contact with members of the Ginza Honey Bee Project, a nonprofit organization which keeps honeybees in the upscale Tokyo neighborhood of Ginza, the sources said.
The Ginza group will help her as she embarks on setting up an apiary at the prime minister’s official residence, which is located in a lush green environment that includes the nearby grounds of the Imperial Palace.