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Karen Pence visits Larimore bee farm

LARIMORE, N.D.—There was a buzz in the air at Dietzler Honey on Wednesday afternoon, July 25, and it wasn't just the bees.

Second lady Karen Pence visited the bee farm owned by Conrad Dietzler while her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, spoke at Grand Forks Air Force Base. She was joined by North Dakota first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum.

Dietzler said he enjoyed the second lady's and Helgaas Burgum's visit to his operation, adding that they seemed to be very interested in what they were doing there.

"(I feel) very honored. This was a great experience and pleasure to have them here," he said after the visit. "I guess it makes us feel important that someone cares about the bees other than ourselves."

After stopping to take some photos near one of the beehives, the group headed inside to share some sweet treats, including lemonade and cupcakes, each made with fresh honey from the farm.

Dietzler said they didn't talk about anything political over snacks; instead Pence and Helgaas Burgum joined in singing "Happy Birthday" to one of Dietzler's grandsons and spoke about the farm.

Bees are struggling right now, Dietzler said, noting that seemed to be something that Pence was aware of and cared about.

Last year, the second lady installed a beehive on the grounds of the vice president's residence in Washington. Today, about 60,000 bees live in the hive, according to a press release.

She told CNN, "Bees aren't a political issue."

"All types of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, birds and bats, are critical to providing our nation's food, fiber, fuel and medicine," Pence said in a statement. "However, our beekeepers have been losing colonies for many years. This presents a serious challenge to our ability to produce many of the agricultural products that we enjoy today."

A beekeeper recently extracted honey from the beehives at the vice president's residence for the first time since the hives were installed. Dietzler said Pence brought the family small jars of the honey to sample.

North Dakota often ranks at, or near the top, of honey production per hive, Dietzler said, adding that California or Texas often rank at the top for total production because the states have more hives.

Dietzler has been in the honey business full time since 1977 but said beekeeping has been a part of his family for many years. Dietzler's crew is entirely local, something he said they are proud of.

Dietzler ships honey to Sue Bee Honey in Sioux City, Iowa, and his brothers, who also keep bees, ship to places in Pennsylvania and Kansas.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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