Two beehives and their honey-making residents are making the rooftop of Minneapolis City Hall their home thanks to the generosity of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux.

The bees were donated from the Mdewakanton Sioux’s own apiaries and are expected to reach 50,000 in number on the courtyard roof. Mayor R.T. Rybak, Council Member Lisa Goodman and Mdewakanton Sioux Chairman Charlie Vig hosted the news media Thursday afternoon to show them what the buzz is about.

Minneapolis is one of many cities around the country promoting beekeeping. Others include Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco.

In April, the Mdewakanton Sioux began offering the public a 15-week course that covers all phases of beekeeping, including extracting and bottling honey.

Honeybee populations in the United States have been declining in recent years because of loss of habitat, use of pesticides, bee diseases and parasites. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 31 percent of honeybee colonies died throughout the winter.

The problem could be especially acute for beekeepers in Minnesota and the Dakotas, which are among the nation’s top five honey-producing states. But it’s also a problem for the nation’s food system.

Bees are key to the production of $20 billion to $30 billion worth of food each year, including such crops as alfalfa, strawberries and soybeans. At least 100 food crops rely on pollination.