The bee population is in crisis, and more and more hotels are stepping up to help by turning their rooftops into havens for hives.
Not only does this create an eco-friendly environment for the pollinators, which, in turn, fertilize plants so they can grow and produce food for us, but it also allows the hotels themselves to offer fresh honey in their restaurants and spa products.
Here are nine hotels and one store that would make Winnie the Pooh swoon.
St. Ermin’s Hotel l London
Bee and Bee Hotel at St. Ermin's Hotel — Photo courtesy of St. Ermin's Hotel
London’s only Bee & Bee Hotel can be found on the third floor terrace of St. Ermin’s Hotel, where 300,000 Buckfast honey bees make their home.
The bees form an important part of the hotel’s eco story, with the restaurant using their honey in unique dishes, cocktail and afternoon teas. Guests can view the bee terrace, which houses four hives and is planted with indigenous, bee-friendly plants, through glass walls on the walkway corridor. You can also take Urban Beekeeping workshops with renowned beekeeper, Camilla Goddard of Capital Bee, for which you’re provided with full bee suits and gloves.
Danish author/illustrator Rikke Busander and editor Simone L. Anderson were so enraptured by the bees during their stay, they created St. Ermin’s Hotel: A Bedtime Story for Kids, which the hotel now presents to young guests as a welcome gift.
Fairmont Waterfront l Vancouver
Bee Butler Michael King at Fairmont Waterfront Hotel — Photo courtesy of Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
Fairmont was the first luxury hotel brand to develop onsite honeybee programming and is considered by many to be the leading hotel company in this category, with more than 40 honeybee apiaries and wild bee hotels on their properties around the world. They also feature on-property herb and vegetable gardens, which contribute to pollinator health, and Fairmont Waterfront has partnered with Hives for Humanity and Burt's Bees to support Canadian bee programs.
“Bee Butler” Michael King coordinates the well-being of the thousands of bees that make their home on the roof of the hotel. He also conducts tours of the honeybee apiary every day from May through September so guests can learn all about the bees and how to make a difference in their survival. There’s even an observation hive to view these busy bees in action.
The Fairmont Waterfront welcomed its first colony of bees in 2008, and continues to host four hives each summer. The bees produce about 200 pounds of honey on site and 2000 pounds offsite annually, and it’s used in the hotel’s amenities, chocolate, desserts, salad dressings, cocktails and, most notably, in their must-try burnt honey hand-churned ice cream and signature "Stinger" lager.
Golden Door Luxury Resort & Spa l Escondido, Calif.
Golden Door Honey Wildflower — Photo courtesy of Golden Door
The number one destination spa in the world, Golden Door pampers its honey bees as lovingly as it does its human guests.
Executive Chef Greg Frey, Jr. is an experienced beekeeper himself, and he's passionate about raising honey bees to sustain our ecosystem. “They are so important as pollinators,” he says. “Commonly, they’re responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. But, at Golden Door, where we provide a healthy diet rich in fruits, nuts, berries and vegetables, we’re even more dependent on them.”
Their pure, homegrown honey is collected from the hives tended to in 600 acres of gardens and citrus groves and is used in both their culinary and spa menus. The bees have become an integral part of the Golden Door experience, taking a starring role in special tours and the resort's regular speaker series.
Radisson Blu Mall of America l Minneapolis
Bees at Radisson Blu Mall of America — Photo courtesy of Radisson Blu Mall of America
For the past two years, Radisson Blu Mall of America has housed University of Minnesota Bee Squad bees on the hotel’s rooftop in support of the local bee population.
The hotel incorporates the honey in their farm-to-table FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar. They’ve also partnered with local Minnesota-based Worker B to create the Queen Bee Package and honey spa treatments at the hotel’s Solimar Spa.
A honey of a deal, the Queen Bee Package includes overnight accommodations in a superior room, a specialty Honey Facial at Solimar Spa and a Worker B Intro Kit. Add on the Honey Body Glow, Sweet Honey Manicure and Sweet Pedicure because, well, that’s what a Queen Bee deserves.
Worker B l Minneapolis
Worker B — Photo courtesy of Worker B
I once spent a delightful hour in Worker B, one of the newest and most innovative shops in Mall of America, tasting a variety of delicious raw honey flavors at the honey bar, sampling pure, artisanal skincare products and taking a few moments to appreciate the calming aroma in the beeswax room.
Founded by beekeepers who bee-lieve in supporting the local and sustainable, Worker B sources bee products directly, using ingredients that are chemical-, antibiotic- and pesticide-free from only non-migratory keepers like themselves. Since opening in November 2016, they’ve featured dozens of beekeepers from around the world and more than 75 varieties of raw honey.
I got a fascinating lesson in everything bee-related from the beekeeper behind the honey bar. And, of course, I had to treat myself to a “There can be only one” t-shirt, featuring a picture of the Queen Bee on the back. As Worker B intended, it’s been a great conversation starter, giving me an opportunity to share my newfound knowledge about the urgency of saving the bees with anyone who asks.
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, an Autograph Collection, Denver
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, an Autograph Collection, Denver — Photo courtesy of Marriott International
The Brown Palace brought in a colony in 2010 and has been nurturing bees ever since. From the honey produced, they have created a Rooftop Honey amenity line which includes facial and bath soap, bath gel, shampoo, conditioner and hand and body lotion. You'll find it supplied in every hotel guest room – most end up in guests’ suitcases.
The delicious honey is also served at the hotel’s iconic Afternoon Tea and has been used in producing a specialty craft beer served at the onsite restaurant, Ship Tavern. Not bad for these rooftop residents who live in hives with names like “Buzzingham Palace” and “Mile Hive City.”
Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park
Broadway Bees — Photo courtesy of Marriott International
This hotel was the tallest in the Western Hemisphere when it opened, and the bees enjoy a penthouse view from six hives on the 67th floor, 723 feet above the New York City sidewalks.
Known as “The Broadway Bees,” these residents live in the highest hives in the world and even have their own Facebook page.
This year, their honey is being cultivated for a cocktail named after them. The hotel also plans to schedule classes for children this summer to teach them about bee-ing a good citizen of the community.
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
Bees at Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile — Photo courtesy of Marriott International
Bees have made their home in the Windy City for more than a decade on the 9th floor rooftop of the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile.
Half a million Carniolan honey bees provide about 60 gallons of honey per year. The hotel uses it in unique crafted items including their own Harvest Rooftop Honey-Wheat beer, craft cocktails at Rush bar and house-spun honey gelato.
The bees also serve as a great educational tool for groups and guests.
Lenox Hotel l Boston
Beekeeper from Golden Rule Honey at Lenox Hotel — Photo courtesy of Lenox Hotel
In 2015, the Lenox Hotel brought in 150,000 new permanent guests – their own colony of bees which reside on their rooftop and from which they harvest their own honey. Local beekeepers, Golden Rule Honey, act as their personal concierge, making sure the bees are happy and thriving.
Chef Sean MacAlpine of the hotel’s City Table uses the rooftop honey in a number of dishes. The cocktail curators at City Bar also shake it up for one of their signature cocktails, the honey-infused Colonel’s Choice.
The Ritz-Carlton l Amelia Island, Fla.
Amelia's Blossom at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island — Photo courtesy of Marriott International
200,000 bees live a resort lifestyle in the Chef’s Garden at The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, where they produce honey for the spa’s honey butter wrap as well as Coast’s citrus honey butter. The honey is also used in the Lobby Bar to create the specialty Amelia's Blossom cocktail.
If you plan a meeting at the hotel, be sure to reserve a Honey Break which showcases the bees in an enclosed honeycomb while the beekeeper demonstrates a harvest. This is followed by a tasting of infused honeys and Honey Cake to sweeten the deal and ensure that all your guests actually show up.