Bed bugs in hotel rooms are definitely bad for business, but bees on hotel rooftops can be good for the financial and environmental bottom line.
Beekeepers are moving millions of honeybees into apiaries at hotels in urban and rural areas, with harvested honey showing up in restaurant dishes, beer and cocktails, spa treatments and in lip balm, soap and other products sold or given to guests.
Honeybees are now hosted at 21 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in North America, Asia, Africa, Bermuda and Mexico, including at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, where three hives with 105,000 Italian honeybees were installed in 2009 for set-up fee of about $1,200,
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Maintaining the Fairmont's DC hives is about $300 per year and the 300 gallons of honey harvested annually (plus honeycomb and beeswax) is used in the hotel's signature "BeeTini" ($14), in honey walnut bread ($4), in various desserts and sauces as well as in lip balm, honey tea and sunscreen given as amenities and gifts to guests.
"We believe that our honeybees are good for business," said Ian Bens, chief beekeeper and executive sous chef at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. "Our guests appreciate the fact that we are helping the bee population and the environment, and they enjoy the taste of local honey that is included in much of our culinary program."
The Waldorf Astoria New York has had from 250,000 to 350,000 bees in residence since 2012, when six beehives were installed on the 20th floor rooftop for a cost of about $4,000.
The hotel's honey is now an ingredient in dishes in every hotel restaurant and used as gifts by the hotel's sales team for VIP guests and potential customers. Hotel officials also report that Sunday brunch revenue has increased over 20 percent since the installation of the hives and, since the addition of a tour of the rooftop beehives and garden to the hotel's Historical Tours ($65 per person—inclusive of lunch, taxes and gratuity), demand has increased by 30 percent.
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In Snoqualmie, Washington, not far from Seattle, the apiary at the Salish Lodge & Spa is providing honey for signature dining room dishes, spa treatments, honey-flavored beer and vodka and retail products ranging from honey-flavored marmalade, truffles and caramel corn.