Bee Our Guest: Hotel Hives, Honey and Beekeeping Experiences Create Buzz

One in every 3 mouthfuls of food you eat can be traced back to western honey bees going about their day and doing what they were born to do. To underscore just how important their role as pollinators is, a Rhode Island Whole Foods once removed every item from the produce section that depended on the process which left less than half of the 453 stocked items on shelves. So needless to say, a good portion of the food pyramid, and most likely our survival as a species, depends on them. Which makes the news that the insects have been dying off and colonies mysteriously collapsing at an alarming rate since 2006 a real buzzkill. (Literally.)

As expected, the scientific hive mind stepped in to try to find reasons and solutions. A bit more surprisingly so did the hospitality industry. Every year a growing number of hotels around the world join the food fight. Innkeepers have turned beekeepers. Apiaries and bee-friendly gardens have popped up at hotel farms, on rooftops and in resort landscaping. Many then completed the circle of life by offering beekeeping experiences and/or using the honey or other bee biproducts in property restaurants, bars, spas and gift shops. Turns out the old saying is true: you catch more flies guests with honey than with vinegar. So, in honor of September being National Honey Month, we’ve combed through the internet and found programs, products and NHM deals that we think are the bee’s knees.

Ojai Valley Inn

Ojai Valley Inn (Ojai, California)

Since 2017, guests of this bucolic Southern California escape have been suiting up to learn all about the secret life of bees. Down in Mistletoe Meadows, the apiarist-in-residence will puff sage smoke over the hives to calm the prize pollinators down (it works wonders on the nervous humans too!) and use the vibrating props to explain how hives are built, queens crowned and honey is made. The reward for remaining calm? A tasting of various cold-pressed raw fruits of their labor. Later, destress with the sweet stuff at the spa by opting for the orange blossom and warm honey wrap.

St. Ermin's Hotel

St. Ermin’s Hotel (London, UK)

Make a beeline past the tree-lined courtyard, up the dramatic white staircase and to the third floor of this Autograph Collection member in Westminster to check out —through a thick pane of safety glass of course — the productive terrace where the honey is made by some 350,000 workers who dine at all the best-rated nearby green spaces in town including St. James Park, Victoria Tower Gardens and the hotel’s own rooftop herb oasis. The social swarm shares its perch with more solitary species like leafcutters and helpful friends like lacewings, earwigs and spiders who have taken up residence at the Bee and Bee Hotel, which features hexagonal suites with nests made of burlap, brick, pine cones and bamboo.

Fairmont Waterfront

Fairmont Waterfront (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Across the pond in Canada, the Fairmont brand as a whole has long been active in the “save the bees” movement and this West Coast outpost has a similar to St. Ermin’s Bee & Bee setup to provide homes for the hive-avoidant native species that prefer to live and work alone but are play an extremely important role as super pollinators. Because at the heart of all of the bee programs is environmentalism, they sourced everything locally and secondhand. The wood was donated by the Haida nation,logs were foraged from fallen trees in Stanley Park, the burlap came from a local roaster, and volunteers wove bumblebee nests with scavenged wool and ivy. The seasonal Bee Sustainable Package lets guests tour the garden and both kinds of habitats, feast on a three-course menu made with at least a dozen ingredients that require pollination and take home a jar of FW honey while a donation is made to support Hives For Humanity.

Los Poblanos

Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Farm (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Agritourism is all the rage and Slovenian bee house. With 25 acres of lavender fields at the doorstep of their bespoke Slovenian bee house, we’re guessing the bees are just as happy to be staying at this sun-saturated John Gaw Meem-designed farmstead as you will be. When there’s honey to harvest, they schedule tours and tastings and plan to weave in more bee-related content to their agritourism programming. The summer wellness retreat had a workshop on beeswax candle-making.

CREDIT: Snohetta

Scandic Vulkan (Oslo, Norway)

A long-term partnership between urban beekeepers, businesses and even a few locals with patio flower boxes created a network of hives, rest stops and feeding grounds that allow bees to navigate safely through the Capital from Holmenkollen to Lake Nøklevann. One member is this art-filled boutique that has grown its rooftop colony to seven hives, each housing between 50 and 80,000 fliers. Harvests provide fresh honey to the hotel’s restaurants. Add a spoonful to tea to take on a stroll around the famous Mathallen food hall across the street where you can sample plenty of fresh products the bees are also partially responsible for. If you continue walking around the charming neighborhood, look up to the roof of the Dansens Hus performing arts center to glimpse what are quite possibly the most striking and design-forward hives in the world. This Scandinavian pair was designed by Snohetta, the company behind the Oslo Opera House.

Daxton Hotel

Daxton Hotel (Detroit, Michigan)

Fittingly, the Motor City has a similar insect “highway” to help urban bees commute between 200 hives in five Michigan counties at 60 locations. One of those Bees In The D locations is the Shinola Hotel, the hospitality arm of the hipster heritage brand built from the bones of a defunct department store and Singer sewing machine factory. The chef at the hotel restaurant is batching up homemade hot honey from the spoils of their four hives for a new fall menu dish. 

Another set of hives is 25 minutes away in the suburb of Birmingham at the flashy and provocative Daxton. They created an immersive package to celebrate the blossoming new partnership. The Bees In The D(axton) package includes a room that looks out at the hives, a beekeeper experience that requires the protective headgear, a jar of local honey, a honey skincare trio, a flower arrangement for the room and two honey cocktails.

Salish Lodge & Spa

Salish Lodge & Spa (Snoqualmie, Washington)

This Pacific Northwest property may have been the inspiration for the Great Northern Hotel in Twin Peaks, but it’s not a mystery how dedicated they are to being stewards of the wooded wonderland that surrounds them. Their on-site apiary has been going strong since 2011. To drum up some buzz during honey month, every room will get a complimentary bundle of honey sticks, the bath butlers will feature small-batch Salish Honey Lemon Scrub and the bar will serve two cocktails mixed with Salish Dry Honey Cider including the Classic Dale Cooper.

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