Farm-to-table dining and sustainability are all the rage in hotel food-and-beverage operations these days, and hosting beehives is a natural fit. The bees help pollinate the hotel gardens and the broader area, and the honey they create can be used in the on-site restaurants. It’s also a tangible sign to guests that the hotel supports a green philosophy.
Just last week, B., a farm-to-table restaurant located inside the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, announced that it is hosting a bee-themed culinary experience March 10 to celebrate the upcoming start of bee season and the launch of its new honeybee education campaign.
The “B. Aware” Dinner consists of five courses, all made with and paired to mead (fermented honey) from Wild Blossom Meadery in Chicago. The “B. Aware” Campaign is a new initiative this year aimed at raising awareness on the declining honeybee populations.
“We want people to understand the importance of honeybees,” Sean Curry, executive chef and certified beekeeper who tends to 10 hives at Oak Brook Hills Resort. “If they go, life as we know it changes drastically.”
Curry said that he uses the harvested honey for recipes.
In addition to bee-themed culinary events, Curry and chef de cuisine Jose Valdez will also spearhead an array of other honeybee awareness programming. Planned 2017 initiatives for the B. Aware Campaign include: a permanent beekeeper display and honeybee observatory inside the lobby, free public tours of the on-site hives (in full beekeeper suits), honey harvesting/extracting demonstrations and hosted seminars and speaking engagements at the restaurant and at local libraries, schools, television shows and more.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts' Bee Sustainable program was one of the first hotel companies to focus on bees and honey when it started in 2008. The company saw an opportunity to help combat Colony Collapse Disorder by placing honeybee hives on hotel rooftop gardens and other onsite locations. To date, Fairmont hotels have more than 40 honeybee apiaries and wildr bee hotels on property around the world. Many of the hotels also operate on-property herb and vegetable gardens, which the bees support. Fairmont chefs harvest the honey and therefore have local and sustainable honey for use in onsite bars and restaurants.
Several Omni Hotels & Resorts properties are involved in beekeeping and incorporate their honey into culinary dishes and spa treatments. Recently, the company partnered with the National Honey Board to create a custom menu with honey-infused cocktails and fare.
Omni chefs, NHB Chef David Guas and Omni mixologist Kim Haasarud got together for a two-day honey education, tasting and immersion experience at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.
- Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort has eight beehives that churn out an estimated 1,200 pounds of honey per harvest.
- Omni Chicago Hotel is the newest hotel to join the honey craze. This is their first year having bees, and they won't meet them for the first time until the second week of June.
- Omni La Costa Resort & Spa rescued a swarm of wild bees that landed on their property. This hive has been operating for almost two years now.
- Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa has a third-party organization—Central Texas Bee Rescue & Preserve—handle their 60 hives in remote areas of the resort's golf courses.
- Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade keeps their bees on the rooftop of the hotel next to their herb and vegetable garden. The hotel offers guests small jars of “roof top honey” along with a card that tells the story of the honey bees arrival to the Colonnade.
- Omni San Francisco Hotel has five beehives on its rooftop, and the honey will be featured in the Grapefruit Ginger Mule, Tennessee Highball and Honey Blossom Margarita in Bob's Steak & Chop House Bar when they harvest.
- Omni Dallas Hotel harvests close to 100 pounds of pure, raw honey. This honey can be purchased by the jar in Collections, the hotel's gift shop.
And just in case you think a hotel must be in a warm-weather area to make this type of program work—it doesn’t have to be. The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston is home to more than 1 million bees in seven hives on its rooftop, and the property harvests the natural honey for use in its restaurants and cafes.