6 Hotels with Beehive Experiences

Updated: May 13


I was delighted to hear one of my clients describe her visit to an apiary during her recent Avalon Waterways cruise along the Danube River because keeping bees alive and healthy is a vital part of our environment. If you want to help support suppliers who help support their local ecosystems, these are all amazing hotels and resorts you'll love to visit. You'll get to savor their yummy honey culinary and spa treats too!

Excerpt below from 2/17/2022 Virtuoso.com article by Adam Erace can be found HERE.

Onsite apiaries provide sweet and sustainable guest experiences. London rocket, a wild cousin of arugula, is one of the first spring blooms around Miraval Arizona, the wellness refuge in Tucson’s high desert. Mexican gold poppy, desert lupine, and other wildflowers follow, erupting like bursts of confetti and inviting the resort’s 350,000 (or more) honeybees to join the party. Thirsty for nectar, the bees tumble around in the pollen, transporting reproductive material between the male and female plants. They repeat this dance with the cacti and then the trees – mesquite, acacia, palo verde – which bloom last. This desert ecosystem wouldn’t exist without bees: In fact, 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator.

The bees pollinate whenever plants are in bloom, carrying nectar back to the 35 hives spread across Miraval’s grounds. Once they’ve converted those nectars into an expression of honey unique to each hive, Noel Patterson, Miraval’s resident apiarist, harvests the liquid gold that guests will savor in the months to come. “In winemaking, grapes are just a microphone through which a place speaks,” Patterson says. “And that’s how I look at our honey at Miraval. Honey is significantly sensitive to terroir.”

For hotels that pride themselves on being rooted in place, “sensitive to terroir” is the North Star. As guests seek more authentic experiences, properties have forged partnerships with local suppliers and community artisans; some have even found ways to outright produce the goods themselves. Beekeeping is a win-win, creating a meaningful experience for guests and a boost for the environment. Any addition is vital: Beehives have been in decline in the U.S. for nearly a century, dropping from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million today.

Honey is the physical representation of the hives’ value – a single colony of Miraval bees can produce 25 to 60 pounds of honey annually. It’s a sweet return on investment for the hotels, which use it in resort-branded beauty products (honey soap at the Shangri-La Toronto), layer it into custom cocktails (the Bees Knees at Hawaii Island’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel), and paint it on foreheads during spa treatments (the Cara Vida facial at Miraval’s Life in Balance spa).

At Manoir Hovey, the Québécois jewel just over the Vermont border, two hives generate 90 percent of the honey supply for the hotel’s two restaurants, but apiarist and sommelier Jérôme Dubois points out a meaning that reaches beyond the sensible economics of beekeeping: “The important thing is to be connected with the planet,” he says. “If we can autonomously produce the product we use, we need to do it.”

Programs like Dubois’ and Patterson’s entertain and educate guests, help on-site farms and gardens thrive, and, perhaps most important, indirectly keep us alive: Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we take. “Without bees, we’d cease to exist,” Patterson says. Hotel hive programs illuminate this truth and offer a recalibration of our relationship with bees – which, historically, hasn’t been very balanced. “Unlike the symbiosis between bees and plants, we do very little for bees,” says Patterson. “They get their own food and are more than capable of protecting themselves.”

In other words, we need bees more than they need us. Says Patterson, “Everything the bees give us is genuinely a gift.”

Six Hotels with Onsite Beehive Experiences

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

On the island of Hawaii, travelers can tour the gardens and Instagrammable flow-style beehives at the 252-room Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. During harvest season (late July to mid-September), this includes an on-the-spot honey pull, and there are always jars available for a take-home taste of the nectar. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.

Manoir Hovey

Set between enchanting woods and Lake Massawippi, Québec’s 36-room Manoir Hovey draws its food-and-wine focus from the surrounding ecosystem, including a colony of 70,000 bees. Guests can embark on guided hive visits. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and one three-course lunch for two.

Ojai Valley Inn

In true California fashion, the 306-room Ojai Valley Inn’s beekeeping experience begins with a sage smudging over the apiary to calm the European honeybees. The finale is a tasting of honey from the ranch and several California producers. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.

Chatham Bars Inn

A squad of resident bees pollinates 125 varieties of produce on the farm at Cape Cod’s Chatham Bars Inn. Guests can get an up-close look at the operation in a Beekeeping 101 experience or enjoy the honey at one of the 217-room property’s four restaurants. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 spa credit.

Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto

The 202-room Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto doesn’t have a beehive, but a B-Wall, a custom-built condominium for the skyscraper property’s 50,000 bees. Visitors find their honey in the hotel’s lip balm and soap, and in the B-Wall Honey Lager that’s available in the lobby bar. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.

Miraval Arizona

The 146-room Miraval Arizona hosts 35 hives spread across its 400 desert acres near Tucson. Guests can don a bee suit for a hands-on experience with keeper Noel Patterson, learn from a distance via lectures and honey tastings, or absorb the power of honey during a spa facial. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 resort credit.

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