Boston Trivia: Which luxury hotel keeps bees on their rooftop?
You might say there’s quite literally a buzz around town. The luxury Taj Boston Hotel has once again filled its rooftop with the lovely sights and sounds of honeybees.
“The addition of the apiaries is our contribution to the preservation of the honey bee. Should the honey bee continue to drop in numbers, it will most definitely have a negative impact on the environment,” says Maureen Albright, Director of Engineering at Taj Boston.
As these springtime champions are dying out at an alarming rate (you can thank disease, exposure to pesticides, and habitat loss), honeybee colony decline is a giant threat to our natural environment. These little warriors work to pollinate more than 100 fruit and vegetable crops in the United States. Imagine if they were gone.
It’s this environmental battle that the Taj Boston is trying to help take the sting out of, one hive at a time. The hotel started with two apiaries, or beehives, full of Italian honeybees on its rooftop in 2013. Meeting with success the first year, they have added two each year until they reached this season’s grouping of six.
The bees are monitored and their honey eventually harvested in the early spring and in the fall by Best Bees, a full-service beekeeping operation that’s comprised of a small, impassioned team of beekeepers full of scientific know-how and environmental enthusiasm.
“The bees pollinate in the Boston Public Garden, which is directly across the street. They also enjoy the roof top gardens of our neighbors,” explains Albright, adding that some neighbors have positively commented on the bees and how they enjoy their visits. “Once we plant the Chef’s rooftop garden this year filled with herbs and vegetables, most definitely the bees will enjoy that area as well.”
These Boston superstars with stingers even got a little screen time on television. “This Old House was doing a piece with Best Bees, talking about the plight of the honey bee and how their numbers have been diminishing over the last few years,” says Albright. “The show was focusing how bee hives are now being placed on roof tops in cities, such as Boston, and how the hives are thriving. Best Bees and This Old House decided to showcase the hives at Taj Boston on the show.”
Although the public can’t visit the apiaries, they can certainly taste the fruits of all their labor. In 2014, the four hives yielded 36 jars of honey, so the hotel and its staff are eager to see what this season will bring.
Currently there are two new menu offerings (one dessert and one cocktail) that are created with the in-house honey—a Ginger Honey Ricotta Cheesecake and a Spiced Golden Bees Martini, which blends their honey with Kettle One vodka, fresh lime, sweet Vermouth, dry chili, and a splash of orange juice. They also served up a Honey Mint Julep at the bar to celebratethis past Kentucky Derby weekend.
By bringing these six new hives to their sunny Boston rooftop, Taj Boston is doing its part to improve honeybee health and, in turn, the natural world around us. “This is one way that we strive to make a positive impact environmentally,” says Albright. And just like a drizzle of golden honey, that’s pretty sweet.