The average worker honey bee measures a mere 12 millimeters in length. They are tiny, but oh goodness, are they mighty.
On any given day, these magnificent flying critters head out of their hive to fly for miles around to collect pollen to bring back to their queen. Along the way, their teensy legs do the work of pollinating flowers and plants that make our world a more beautiful place and allow the human population to thrive. In fact, bees pollinate a whopping 30% of the crops humans eat and 90% of all wild plants across the globe.
“A world without pollinators would equal a world without food diversity – no blueberries, coffee, chocolate, cucumbers, and so much more,” the United Nations shares about pollinators like bees. “Bees and other pollinating insects are, in fact, improving the food production of 2 billion small farmers worldwide, helping to ensure food security for the world’s population.”
The bees may be doing a lot for us, but we may not be doing enough for them. The bee population is in stark decline. According to Greenpeace, the number of bee colonies per hectare in the U.S. has declined by 90% since 1962.
And, as the U.N. adds, the “decline of these species has many consequences on our ecosystems and on the quality and quantities of food crops, with a direct consequence of an imbalance in diets and a depletion of natural resources, as well as an impoverishment of populations.”
How can you help? It’s simple. Book a vacation. Hotels around the world are doing their part by not only becoming ambassadors for bees but also harvesting and jarring their own delectable honey along the way, to remind everyone who eats it just how important it is we do all we can to protect their environment — and thus ours — for generations to come. Here are nine hotels with bee programs you can visit.
Carmel Valley Ranch, Carmel, California
Carmel Valley Ranch wants you to learn about honey from a true pro. The hotel’s apiary artisan-in-residence, Christopher Riley, is ready to take guests through the property’s Organic Garden for A Bee’s Life, an interactive experience that will teach you everything from hive science to honey tasting and more. Guests will learn about the complex relationship between plants and pollinators before heading into the apiary for a closer look at The Ranch’s bees as they work. Guests can find the honey throughout the property including in the spa treatments at Spa Aiyana and on the menu at Valley Kitchen.
Shangri-La Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Shangri-La Toronto has been at the bee game since 2015 when it built the “B-Wall” in partnership with Birks, Canada’s leading jeweler, and Alvéole, a Montreal-based organization that promotes and assists with beehive installation, maintenance, and honey extraction. Now home to some 50,000 bees, the hive produces about 45 pounds of honey each year. The harvested honey is used in the hotel’s culinary programming, including in its custom cocktails. The hotel is also partnering with Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery to brew B-Wall Honey Lager, offered in newly designed 437-milliliter cans. Guests can enjoy the canned lager as an in-room amenity and on draft in the Lobby Lounge.
Fairmont, Washington DC
In 2009, the Fairmont in Washington DC became one of the first to open a bee program in an effort to both help save the local population and educate guests on the perils the creatures face. The staff began placing honeybee hives on hotel rooftop gardens and used the golden elixir the bees produced for its pollinator-friendly menus and for special cocktails, like its signature beetini. The bees now number well over 100,000 and produce more than 100 pounds of honey per year, according to the hotel.
Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland
In the spring of 2017, Adare Manor welcomed seven new beehives to its gardens. The teeny flying friends can be spotted roaming the estate, foraging for pollen from the various flowers throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The bees then head back to their hive to produce 100% pure Irish honey, which in turn, is utilized throughout the hotel’s dining outlets, as well as sold on the property’s online boutique so guests all over the world can enjoy the sweet treat home too.
Alila Ventana Big Sur, Big Sur, California
It’s no wonder the bees love to frolic around Alila Ventana Big Sur. The stunning hotel sits on what is arguably the most idyllic stretch of coastline in all of California. Its craggy cliffside fades into a lush forest, including an organic garden tended to by the hotel, which is an ideal spot for the bees to find their pollen. It’s here that every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday at 1:00 PM, guests can participate in the Signature Experience — Bees and Big Sur — where they’ll explore the connection between flowers and bees, followed by a blind tasting of honey sourced from the property and around the world.
Saint James, Paris, France
At Saint James Paris, guests have a front-row seat to the honey-making process. The hotel installed beehives with the help of bee expert Timothée Quellard of Ekodev in its garden located off the restaurant patio. Every year, guests are invited to watch as the chefs harvest the honey produced by the hive, before getting to taste the honey for themselves. While tasting, guests are also offered a small educational activity to learn about the importance of saving bees, how they are vital to protecting biodiversity, and more.
Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, North Carolina
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte’s 18th-floor rooftop garden, holds some stunning fruits and veggies and is home to some 100,000 bees that help to pollinate it all. The sticky stuff is harvested and used for the house-made honey and it’s used in the pecan gelato served at lobby ice cream socials and throughout the hotel’s kitchens, in beverages at The Punch Room, dishes in the Lobby Lounge, and desserts at Bar Cocoa. Guests can learn more about the hive by reserving a spot on the chef-led “Green Behind the Scenes” tour, held at 10 a.m. Saturdays. (The tour is complimentary.)
Longueville Manor, Jersey, Great Britain
Longueville Manor’s environmental conservation program, New Leaf, includes the maintenance of 24 precious hives. The thankful bees are more than happy to share their honey with the hotel and its guests, which is used in the restaurant so guests can snag a taste. The program is in support of the Durrell Wildlife Preservation Trust, which works to protect species close to extinction.
Château St. Gerlach, Valkenburg aan de Geul, The Netherlands
Château St. Gerlach is home to five working bee hives along with a display hive where visitors can watch Carniolan bees hard at work turning pollen into honey. Don’t worry, guests get to taste the product too. In 2021, the hotel says the hives produced an astonishing 330 pounds of honey that was served at breakfast, used in desserts, given away, or sold. And you can trust the bees are in great hands as St. Gerlach’s chef Otto Nijenhuis is a certified beekeeper and member of the Dutch Beekeepers Association.