Here’s a honey of an idea: a hotel with an apiary, where bees are kept. You’ll learn why bees are important, and you may get to sample their honey or help to keep the bees.
U.S. beekeepers lost 30% of their colonies this year, according to the non-profit Pollinator Partnership, which researches honeybee health and pollinator conservation.
If the trend continues, we could see higher prices for pollinator-dependent foods, a list that includes almond, cherries, apples and nutmeg. These foods make up about 30% of our diet.
Travelers can learn more about how honeybees contribute to our food supply by visiting hotels’ on-site apiaries, some of which partner with NGOs such as Pollinator Partnership to educate guests and fund further research.
Here are five spots in the West to get personal with a private population of pollinators. (Note that if you are allergic to bee stings, this is probably not for you.)
1. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa offers an immersive experience (including use of beekeeping suits) for guests at their new Discover Ojai Center. This new experience at the Ojai resort opened to guests on Sept. 1.
Info, cost: For those 12 and older. Available 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily (book at least 48 hours in advance). 90 minutes; $150 per person. Beekeeping & Honey Making, (800) 422-6524
2. Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel-by-the-Sea keeps it real by putting Bee Experience guests through real beekeeping tasks. Duties include feeding new colonies and harvesting honey.
Info, cost: The Bee Experience costs $75 for adults, $50 for children 6-12. (831) 626-2507
3. Calistoga Ranch
Calistoga Ranch, which escaped fire damage in Northern California, not only wants you to put its honey in your body but on it as well.
For a look at who made that honey, head groundskeeper Juan Luis will guide you through the “secret garden” to the bee hives in the vineyard.
Info, cost: The tour is complimentary and must be arranged 24 hours in advance. Calistoga Ranch, (855) 942-4220
4. Miraval Arizona
Miraval Arizona in Tucson has three bee activities for guests led by resident beekeeper Noel Patterson. The main event is “All The Buzz – The Bee Experience,” which features a two-hour mix of lecture, interactive beekeeping class and tasting. “Bees: What's the Story?” is a free lecture and discussion of bee-related issues. And for guests who want to “savor the sensual notes of honey the way you would sip a fine wine,” there's the “Honey: A Sensual Journey.”
Info, cost: “All the Buzz “is $150; “Honey” costs or $100 for a 60-minute tasting. Miraval Bees, (855) 234-1672
5. Fairmont Waterfront, Canada
Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, British Columbia, is just one of more than 20 Fairmont properties around the world with an on-site apiary.
This urban hotel keeps its bees in the same building as its guests, with four beehives on the third floor and a full “bee hotel” on the roof. During the summer, the “bee butler” offers daily tours.
Info, cost: Daily tours are free. Fairmont Waterfront, (866) 540-4509