Luxury hotels are now offering accommodations targeted at unique guests: honey bees. The honey bee has been facing a severe decline in population in the past decade, posing drastic problems as honey bees are responsible for pollinating 1 out of 3 bites of food we eat. In fact, half the items in your local Whole Foods would disappear without these busy little creatures pollinating crops, a vital part to production.
So what can the travel industry do about it? These luxury hotel brands have started their own hive to help bolster the population.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is one example of a luxury hotel brand who has taken their commitment to sustainability to the next level by introducing their “Bee Sustainable” program. 22 properties around the globe have either installed hives on or near their property or have developed responsible honey purchasing programs. The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown has installed four “bee hotels” on their roof and the results have been well received by the bees, the clients, and even local students!
In addition to their honey bee hives, they house a pollinator bee hive. While pollinator bees don’t produce honey, they pollinate 4 times faster than honeybees so they’re a valuable asset to the environment.
Hotel guests are drawn to the BeeTini signature cocktail at the bar, which is just one of the many uses of the honey the hotel is producing. Other delicious options include the “BeeMYHoney” doughnut and honey walnut bread. This program has also allowed the hotel to form an important community bond with a local elementary school; two of their hives are kept by Junior Bee Keepers from Hyde Addison Elementary School through weekly visits by students.
Jump across the Atlantic to Paris for another example of luxury accommodations for bees, or should I say ‘abeilles’? The Mandarin Oriental, Paris is taking advantage of the fact that the city is a pesticide- free zone full of a diverse array of flowers, trees, and gardens which makes it an urban area where bees are able to thrive once they have established hives. The hotel’s beautiful wooden hive hosts 50,000 bees that are spoiled with an Eiffel Tower view. Downstairs, Bar 8 offers a signature cocktail, “Maya”, which is a succulent mix of homemade spiced honey from the roof, apricot, white cream of cacao, and Champagne.
The honey produced at the hotel serves another purpose besides consumption on the property: guests who choose to participate in the Mandarin’s green travel program such as selective replacement of linens or towels receive a jar of the special honey as a gesture of appreciation for their commitment to the environment.
Beekeeping, once considered an offbeat hobby limited to countryside dwellers or farmers, has clearly made an about face as hives continue to pop up on five star rooftops around the world. A fun ingredient for chefs and bartenders, a unique draw for guests, and sincere gesture to try to do something good for our world: what’s not to love about this buzz?