Urban Bees and Should Hotels Grow their Own Vegetables & Provide Bee Sanctuaries?

St Ermins Hotel Honey Bees

St Ermins Hotel Honey Bees: Image – We Heart co.uk

Urban Bees and Should Hotels Grow their Own Vegetables &

Provide Bee Sanctuaries?

St Ermins Hotel Honey

St Ermins Hotel Honey: Image – We Heart co.uk

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.

Urban Bee Keeping on top of St Ermin's Hotel

Urban Bee Keeping on top of St Ermin’s Hotel: Image – We Heart co.uk

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) 

St Ermins Hotel

St Ermin’s Hotel: IMage – 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.

Green Roof Top London

Green Roof Top London: Image – BBC

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.

Coutts’s skyline garden

Coutts’s skyline garden: Image – The Telegraph

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.

Bees at St Ermin's Hotel

Bees at St Ermin’s Hotel: Image – We Heart co.uk

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: 

Beekeeping Master Class on the Roof of the St Ermin’s Hotel -London

St Ermin's Hotel Honey

St Ermin’s Hotel Honey

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Comments

  1. says

    Love this post Karen. It is so heartening to hear of so many more companies growing greenery on their roofs. As you say, great for sustainable low food mileage, habitats for plant & animal diversity, unique products. Also green roofs absorb more water, so less road flooding; absorb heat, rather than radiate it out, so cities are cooler; insulate the building, so less need for fuel use for (and cost of) heating/cooling. All good :-) Vohn x

    • says

      Thanks Vohn. It is heartening as you say, but we still need more buildings to go the green roof way with all the positive side effects that they bring. As you say, it’s all good. Karen

  2. says

    It is such a good idea! I had some dealings last year with a company that specialises in these sorts of urban gardening technologies – designing vertical veggie patches and so forth. Really inspiring.

  3. says

    lovely post Karen… I think all building in inner cities should have some kind of ‘green’ policy, they’re massive spaces that do nothing. It should be compulsory for all new builds. xxx

    • says

      Thanks Dom, green roof gardening and rooftop bee keeping is a subject that is very close to my heart and like you, I think all new builds should be made to comply, as you so wisely say. Karen

  4. AncientMariner says

    Interesting, topical & thought provoking post Karen. Long, long ago, late thirties, not quite ancient history, I recall as a boy visiting a roof garden in Kensington High Street London. It was atop a department store, Derry & Toms or Barkers, I can’t remember which. Believe the garden is still there although the stores no longer exist, and the building has other owners.

    • says

      Thanks Ancient Mariner!
      I remember the store Derry and Toms and Barkers too, but not the roof gardens, it must have seemed like an amazing and unusual place when you visited it when you were a boy……I must see if I can research into which store is was and see if I can see photos of the gardens as they are now!
      Thanks so much for that, it has piqued my interest!
      Karen

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