Does your director of housekeeping dabble in honeybees on the side? Up on the roof of your hotel? I suspect not but that is exactly what Graeme Evans does. He is the director of housekeeping and the resident beekeeper at The Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, B.C. Graeme manages five rooftop hives that will produce about 600 to 800 pounds of honey this year—up from 485 pounds in 2009. At least eight Fairmont Hotels & Resorts properties have beehives—either on rooftops or elsewhere on property. According to Fairmont, the focus on honeybees is their way to help reverse Colony Collapse Disorder, a syndrome that has dramatically reduced the number of honeybees around the world. Having honeybees on site is a win-win for Fairmont and the environment. The bees produce honey that can be sold or used in bars and restaurants, and they also pollinate area gardens and parks.
I spoke with Graeme recently to learn a little more about his hotel’s collection of approximately 500,000 honeybees. First of all, Graeme said beekeeping is not for the untrained. A basic beekeeping course is suggested for anyone wanting to work with bees. Hives can be rented or purchased. The Fairmont Waterfront currently rents three hives and owns two. Next year they will rent just one. At one point hotel personnel captured their own hive. “Catching wild swarms can be tricky,” Graeme says.
The bees have no interest in interacting with people. “Most people are amazed that the bees are not aggressive,” Graeme says. There is no interaction between guests and bees except when bee tours are given on Fridays.
Honeybee Hive Maintenance
Managing hives does require some time commitment. Graeme opens the hives at least once a week and sometimes more. He does not wear protective gear. “We made a choice early on that beekeeping gear would only cause fear,” he says. Smoke is used to pacify the bees. It blocks their ability to communicate using pheromones. The bees actually gorge themselves on the honey in response. Graeme checks to make sure that there is enough nectar coming in for pollination. The taste of the honey bees produce is impacted by the types of plants and flowers they have access to within their range—a 26-square-mile area surrounding the hive.
Hives should be located so they receive the earliest sunlight. They should be kept away from direct wind. Hives should not all be oriented in the same direction. Roof size or garden size is not a huge issue but at least two hives should be kept. Graeme harvests The Fairmont Waterfront’s honey using a centrifuge that helps remove it from the frames to which it adheres. “Most people extract their honey once a year,” Graeme says. “Some harvest twice a year.”
I asked Graeme how bees manage to survive during the winter in colder climates. In some cases, hives are moved indoors—a shed, for example. Some people apply wraps to their hives. Some use 40-watt light bulbs. Hives should be sheltered, if possible, from snow and rain. Bees are hardy insects and generate a lot of their own heat.
Without bees, we would all have a very difficult time surviving. Food production would be 80 percent less. Honey also has medicinal properties. Eating raw honey, Graeme says, is like getting an inoculation against allergies to pollens.
The Fairmont Waterfront’s honey is sold through its health club, provided as guest amenities, and used in signature dishes in the hotel’s Herons Restaurant. The hotel is currently offering “The Birds and The Bees” package for guests. It includes a one night stay, full buffet breakfast, chef’s honey-themed welcome amenity and a personalized herb garden/beehive tour.
The Fairmont Waterfront and all of the other Fairmont hotels with bees are lucky to have passionate people like Graeme who care about the plight of the honeybee.
Green Lodging News Adds Dectron Internationale Case Study to Website
Green Lodging News has just added a new case study to its website. The case study focuses on the Fontainebleau Miami Beach and its installation of dehumidification and HVAC control technology from Dectron Internationale, Roswell, Ga. The engineering firm for the project was TLC Engineering for Architecture (TLC), Fort Myers, Fla. Four DRY-O-TRON model DA-5 dehumidifiers manufactured by Dectron were installed in four aquatic areas: the men’s spa, the women’s spa, the rain shower/co-ed pool, and wet treatment area. The result of the investment for the Fontainebleau Miami Beach: $16,000 in annual energy savings. To read the complete case study, click here.
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