Story by Karen Kwan
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Thousands of guests will be staying for free at Fairmont Hotels across Canada and their arrival has the hotels buzzing.
Fairmont Hotels has expanded its bee program across the country, bringing the number of bee hotels to 21. “Without these guests we probably wouldn’t be here and certainly not eating the foods we enjoy,” says Michael King, bee hotel concierge at the program’s launch last month in Vancouver at the Fairmont Waterfront. “Nine years ago when we had beehives in the garden, we started something that I don’t think anyone had any idea how much traction it would generate.”
With more than 500 species of wild bees, Vancouver made sense as the destination to hold the expansion of the program. “And at the Fairmont Waterfront, where it all began,” says Alexandra Blum, vice president of global public relations and partnerships for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Raffles and Swissotel. “Solitary bees make up 90 per cent of the bee population and pollinate a third of the food we eat, but loss of habitat leaves hundreds of thousands of bees without a place to nest, and it’s damaging the Canadian agricultural system.”
Her hope is that the program — which is run in partnership with Burt’s Bees, Pollinator Partnership Canada and Sustainable.TO — will encourage and inspire Canadians across the country to help bees find places to nest. Then, perhaps one day those bee populations will make our cities self-sustaining.
At the ceremony to open the newest bee hotel at the Fairmont Waterfront, the non-profit organization Hives for Humanity shared how local natural elements from Vancouver have been incorporated into the project.
Burt’s Bees donated 100 per cent of its June profits from a limited-edition kit, the aptly named Honeymoon Suite — containing five classic Burt’s Bees products — towards the Wild for Bees hotel expansion. The benefit for hotel guests isn’t just in knowing their stay is helping to sustain the environmentally friendly program, but in getting to enjoy some of the honey made from the bees. Many of the participating Fairmont properties harvest the honey from the bee hotels and use it in menus.
Some hotels have even tied their beekeeping initiatives into packages for curious guests. The Loden Hotel, which isn’t affiliated with Fairmont, last year launched its “Honey I Helped the Bees” package that included a trip to the Milross Community Garden in Vancouver to visit the property’s beehive and learn about the beekeeping process from a member of Hives for Humanity.
MORE ABOUT FAIRMONT HOTELS’ BEE PROGRAM
Bee Hotel Properties: Is the Fairmont Hotel you’re visiting among the 21 in the pollinator program? Click here to find out.
Buzzworthy Facts: The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City has 70,000 bees, including four queens, living in hives above the chef’s roof and producing 650 pounds of honey each year. The honey is harvested three times annually then incorporated into special honey-focused menus at the property’s flagship restaurant, Le Champlain.
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport owns the largest bee population at any of the hotels. A whopping 1 million honeybees produce 2,400 pounds of honey each year.