Urban Bees and Should Hotels Grow their Own Vegetables &
Provide Bee Sanctuaries?
As our British bees continue to struggle, one success story is the rise of the “Urban Bee” – bees that are kept in built-up areas and in cities. One big hotel in London, St Ermin’s Hotel, has an amazing bee sanctuary on its rooftop, which is home to 200,000+ Buckfast bees, a good-tempered honey bee, who reside in three custom-built hives on the hotel’s rooftop. These lucky bees have fantastic access to London’s parks, all within their three-mile flight radius, to collect a wide variety of pollen and nectar, which in turn gives their honey a truly delicious taste.
London is a perfect environment for bees, as aside from all the green spaces on the hotel’s doorstep, cities actually trap heat, which mean they can start foraging earlier in the year than rural bees and continue later into Autumn. These bees are the embodiment of local and seasonal produce that help the environment and people on so many levels. The honey they produce finds its way into various dishes throughout the hotel. (Information: St Ermin’s Hotel)
As well as the success of the bees at St Ermin’s Hotel, many hotels are now utilising their rooftops and are growing their own produce, as well as following St Ermin’s example and keeping bees. Tass Mavrogordato recently wrote an extremely interesting article for The Guardian about how offices, stores and hotels are turning over their rooftops to gardens and bee hives, in attempt to increase city sustainability and engage employees – you can read her article on-line here: Offices are turning their roofs into edible gardens and bee sanctuaries.
Not only do these “Green Roof Tops” provide a haven for inner city birds and wildlife, but they also offer another dimension to providing food in a sustainable manner. With so many large buildings and potentially suitable roof top areas, it makes sense to utilise these unused areas, and the benefits are enormous. And, it’s not just hotels, offices, stores, hospitals and private dwellings that are joining in with the “green roof” project, but even banks are growing blooms on top of their buildings, the most notable being Coutts, who have planted a high level garden filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs that are used in the bank’s kitchens.
Although there are a growing number of London hotels who are growing their own on their rooftops, it does beg the question as why more aren’t engaging in this green idea; the benefits are unquestionable and also provide sound financial sense, as food can be grown to supply the hotel’s kitchens and ultimately their customers in the restaurants. And, in the case of bee keeping, as well as the obvious environmental effects of bees pollinating local horticultural and edible crops, the hotel can also sell the honey and again, use it as part of a very special menu for its guests and diners.
Do you think that more hotels and large buildings in cities have a duty to utilise their roof space and grow their own vegetables, herbs and flowers, as well as provide bee sanctuaries and if so, what are the benefits to the city, hotel and its employees? And, if you fancy a trip to St Ermin’s Hotel to see the bees as well as buy some honey, you can book through Hotel Direct, which provides a good rate for this hotel. I hope more hotels engage in this amazing project and I look forward to buying some St Ermin’s Hotel Honey next time I am in London! Karen
My friend Solange of Pebble Soup fame also has a post about the St Ermin’s Bees here:
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