Luxury hotels are buzzing about beekeeping. Rural destinations like California’s Carmel Valley Ranch and Utah’s Montage Deer Valley resort have hosted apiaries for years, but now urban hotels are getting in on the beekeeping action, too.
The Fairmont Hotels launched its beekeeping program in 2008 when they realized they could help fight colony collapse disorder—the likely culprit behind the frightening disappearance of bees—by placing beehives on the roofs of their hotels, according to their website. Not only could they help save bees, but they could also use the honey they collected from the hives in their restaurants, bars, and even spas. It was a win-win situation and the Fairmont rolled it out to 20 of their properties around the world, including Seattle, Toronto, Beijing, Kenya, and other locations.
Now other hotels have caught on to the idea, and beehives are winding up at some very tony addresses. New York’s famed Waldorf-Astoria has had apiaries on their rooftop since 2010, when the city lifted the ban on urban beekeeping. The bees make the most of their proximity to Central Park; in 2012 they produced 120 pounds of honey.
While London’s St. Ermin hotel has “only” 331 rooms, it’s home to more than 300,000 Buckfast bees. The buzzy guests pay their hotel bills in honey, which makes its way onto the menu at St. Ermin’s famed afternoon tea, which includes bee pollen cake and honeycomb brownies.
In December 2014, the W Taipei became the home of Taipei’s first-ever foray into urban beekeeping when they put six hives on the roof. Not only does the hotel get hyper-local honey to use in dishes like honey cheesecake and “bee’s knees” cocktails, but they also donate a portion of the yield to a local foundation that helps those in need.
Times Square hosts millions of tourists every year, so it’s only fitting that the InterContinental Times Square hosts thousands of bees on its rooftop apiary.
Guests who choose to forgo towels or fresh linens by participating in the environmental program at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris will be rewarded with a jar of honey made by the bees that have called the hotel home since 2012. Paris’s famed Palais Garnier hosts beehives on the roof of the opera house.
Interested in going into the bee hospitality business yourself? Here’s how to make your own bee hotel.