The buzz about bee-friendly hotels

From rooftop hives to honey tastings, top properties are helping save nature's endangered pollinators – with sweet results for guests

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(Image credit: Addie Chinn)

With every one in three bites of food we eat dependant on bees, it's little surprise recent years have seen a growing concern for these most essential of insects. Their value to the environment is well known, but for restaurants and hotels, tapping into the buzz around beekeeping can have other benefits too, bringing delicious, local and sustainably sourced honey straight to their dining tables.

Hospitality group Relais & Chateaux is one of the leaders of the swarm, with a number of its hotels around the world home to one or more beehives, whether on the roof or in the kitchen garden. As well as a commitment to protecting the local ecosystem, it enables them to offer added perks to guests – Hostellerie La Cheneaudiere in Colroy-la-Roche, France, for example, sells a line of natural beauty products made from honey produced on site, while visitors to Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine in Sardon de Duero, Spain, can play beekeeper with a guided tour.

For a chance to sample the sweet treats from these locations and more, the group is holding an experiential art installation at 19 Greek Street, London, on 7 and 8 October. Produced in collaboration with culinary experimenters Bompas & Parr, The Joy of Bees includes a guided tasting led by honey sommeliers Dale Gibson and Sarah Lewis from Bermondsey Street Bees, as well as a visit to an indoor garden planted with bee-friendly botanicals. Tickets cost £9, with all proceeds donated to the British Beekeepers Association.

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Relais & Chateaux is just one example of the industry's dedication to the cause. Fairmont has bee yards at more than 20 of its properties globally, placing the issue at the heart of its wider sustainability programme. Meanwhile, as urban beekeeping rises in popularity, a number of city hotels have got in on the act. Ham Yard Hotel in London produced its first batch of honey last year and it appears on its cocktail menu, while the third floor of the capital's St Ermin's Hotel is home to 350,000 bees shacked up in their very own "Bee and Bee Hotel".

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