Bees need our help. It’s not new news, but it’s worth the reminder considering that recent studies show colony collapse disorder (CCD) affects about 40 percent of bee colonies, according to Travis Wolfe, beekeeper and founder of Bee Leaf USA. In partnership with Wolfe’s company, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar has created a sanctuary for two bee colonies and welcomed their first official honey harvest earlier this month.
Fairmont’s history with bees dates back over ten years—long before “saving the bees” was trending—when they began placing hives on the rooftop gardens of their hotels to support bee conservation. Today, their global sustainable bee program encompasses over 20 honey apiaries and wild pollinator bee hotels.
Tucked back into the corner of the property’s golf course, near the fourth hole, are the two local colonies that were rescued from extermination and safely relocated earlier this year with the help of Bee Leaf USA. Now, they make their home in two hives surrounded by pollen- and nectar-rich plants that keep the bees full throughout the year.
The team at Bee Leaf USA continues to work with the resort to help acclimate the bees and make sure the colonies are happy and healthy. For the most part, Wolfe says, a happy hive is one that is left to do its business uninterrupted, but safe monitoring is essential. This means a variety of tasks—observing the quality of the combs and overall health of the hive, checking for disease, balancing their diet to prep for honey harvesting.
The overall goal, of course, is to promote natural beekeeping and educate people on how integral bees are to the world’s ecosystems, including revitalizing Southern California’s natural landscape. But the perks for the hotel are pretty cool, too.
When it comes time for harvest, the team uses protective gear and an uncapping knife to delicately scrape the honey-laden frames. Then, the frames are placed through a sieve and honey extractor to filter out the honey. This recent harvest will be used in food and cocktail recipes at hotel restaurant Amaya and, eventually, in special products for hotel guests. As the bees become more acclimated to their new humble abode, which comes complete with ocean views, they could produce over 200 pounds of honey annually.
For the Fairmont, it’s a simple recipe: help the bees and the bees will help you. And that’s what we call the beginning of a bee-utiful friendship.
5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Del Mar