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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Busy Bee Mayor Invents a Hive

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has come up with a sweet idea — a new beehive.

Luzhkov, who is an active horseman and soccer player, is also a beekeeper and has applied for a patent for a beehive designed for northern climates, said Arnold Butov, president of the Russian Beekeepers Union.

"He's going to present them to the northern regions, where winter is seven months for bees," said Butov.

The new hive is round, rather than square, and built from a polymer material, he said.

It has a special ventilation system for the north, where swift temperature changes can lead to fungus in traditional hives and disease among the bees.

The hive costs $150 to make and lasts for up to 20 years.

The hive is the second one that Luzhkov has invented. The mayor also has other inventions up his sleeve, such as a new rotor motor that he sought a patent for last year.

His latest invention is not without its critics. Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Tuesday that the hive is a copy of a hive from Izhevsk.

Luzhkov reportedly got his inspiration from a 17th-century hive belonging to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.

But Butov, who says he has known Luzhkov as beekeeper for more than 10 years, called any suggestions that the idea was less than original nonsense.

Luzhkov has been a beekeeper since his days as a factory director in Soviet times. The factory also had to tend a farm with bees.

"Yury Mikhailovich has been a beekeeper for many years," Mikhail Sherbachenko, a member of the Moscow city committee on telecommunications and media, was quoted by Izvestia as saying.

"He knows bees very well — their inner lives, how they behave themselves, what they love."

Butov said Luzhkov has more than 100 hives for his own bees at two separate locations.

"He gets two tons [of honey a year]," he said.

Russians have long had a fascination with bees and honey. Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great all kept bees, said Butov. Honey in the days before sugar was widespread in Russia was used as the main sweetener in tea and food.

Luzhkov's fondness of bees goes beyond fashioning new hives, Butov said. He has helped set up two shops in Moscow called Dom Myoda, or House of Honey, which sell a dozen or so types of honey and beehive equipment.

Another 10 are in the works as part of a drive by Luzhkov and the bee industry against poor-quality honey.

Such honey, which is typically mixed with sugar, accounts for up to 30 percent of all sales in Moscow, according to the beekeepers association. Ninety-five percent of Russian honey is produced privately.

A beekeeping and honey trade fair will be held at Manezh Square in October.