The iconic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City has opened its space to a group of bustling new guests – honeybees. The hotel is planning to harvest its own honey, as well as help pollinate the plants across the city. This move is in keeping with a trend that has taken over the rooftops of hotels from Times Square to Paris, France. The bees in New York City will help pollinate new trees that have been planted as part of a city scheme to plant one million trees over the next ten years.
The honeybees arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in a luxury vehicle in April and were carried through the lobby to the 20th floor roof deck. There are a total of six hives, and the most mature one has 20,000 bees already…and counting. There could be up to 300,000 honeybees living at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel this summer, so there should be plenty of honey. The bees at can be seen from certain rooms, and guests can sign up for a tour of the hives, for which they will wear bee suites.
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel beekeeper-in-residence Andrew Cote says that about half the population of every beehive (the foragers) are mainly flying in the direction of Central Park. The bees are collecting pollen, nectar and water and bringing it back to their homes – the hives. After lifting the wooden cover of a hive, he immediately smothers the bees in smoke to calm, distract and make them more docile so he can check them for a healthy queen and any signs of swarm intentions or disease. He doesn’t know how many times he has been stung, but he jokes that he probably deserved every one.
Cote is kind of a celebrity in the world of beekeeping. He launched a successful campaign against a ban by the city on keeping bees, and the ban was lifted two years ago. He tends to hundreds of hives from Manhattan to Connecticut and sells jars of honey throughout New York City. Cote is also responsible for establishing the New York City Beekeepers Association and Bees Without Borders.
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel executive chef David Garcelon says honey is such a versatile ingredient that they will be able to use anywhere. He has been experimenting with new recipes that are infused with the natural ingredient. The first harvest from the hives is expected to be ready by early summer. Intercontinental New York Times Square general manager Andrew Gajary says that beekeeping doesn’t only give back to the environment. Now he doesn’t have to go hundreds of miles away to get packaged honey, he added.
Beekeeping is a natural fit for accommodation properties attempting to keep up with pressure throughout the industry to be more environmentally friendly. Going green can mean retrofitting buildings so they are energy efficient or just adopting practices that are more environmentally conscious. This is how urban beekeeping has come into play. The trend of beekeeping has even infected hotels outside of the US, with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris establishing its first hive this year. The property plans to hand out little pots of honey as gifts to guests.
Hobby beekeeping has been encouraged by some state agriculture departments due to the mysterious disappearance of the buzzing honey-makers. The nation’s Department of Agriculture says that the diet of about one-third of the US population’s benefits from the pollination of honeybees.
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