Honey makes the world go round.
It’s not the usual way that phrase goes, but it was certainly the motto at The Joy of Bees, an immersive art installation that took place this month in Soho with the brilliant guys at Bompas & Parr along with Relais & Chateaux.
At the event, you could drift from one room filled with a honeybee garden to another with a beekeeper from Bermondsey Street Bees talking about the secrets of the trade to a tasting room with golden varieties to sample. Up at the top of the townhouse, chefs from Chewton Glen and Longueville Manor prepared delicious tidbits featuring their hotel’s honey.
At 56 Relais & Chateaux hotels you can not only expect sumptuous rooms, elegant restaurants and idyllic settings, but also the hotels’ own hives. These aren’t cursory efforts, put in place so Relais & Chateaux can create a little buzz (sorry).
While they create honey for guests, the hotel group is committed to maintaining bees to encourage biodiversity and the health of our ecosystem. Start reading about the essential roles of bees, the current threat to them and the havoc colony collapse disorders wreaks and you’ll never look at honey the same way again. (Also, food – bees are the only pollinators for a large number of plants; one-third of our food supply would disappear without them.)
Here in the UK, Chewton Glen in Hampshire keeps 70 working beehives. The 24 hives at Longueville Manor in Jersey produce honey flavoured by the gorse on the hillside surrounding the 14th-century manor. Bees live on the rooftops in Burgundy (Relais Bernard Loiseau) , and in Spain you can even dress up in the cool gear and get up close to the hives in a one-of-a-kind tour (Abaia Retuerta LeDomaine) .
Next time you visit one of the Relais & Chateaux properties that keep bees, let them know that you applaud their beekeeping activities (and maybe ask to see the hives).
I love how pampered and well looked after we feel when we visit luxury properties. It’s great to know many of the hotels are looking after not just their human guests, tucked up into their private treehouses or 5-star beds, but also their apiary ones, helping our natural world to stay in balance while our black-and-yellow friends go about their busy ways.