Honey Bee Haven

Summertime. The sun is shining, gardens are growing and it’s the perfect season for a culinary adventure.

I scoured the internet for an unusual, gardening/food experience and guess what I found? A rooftop garden of herbs, veggies and edible flowers growing at the Fairmont Waterfront. There is also a bee colony on the rooftop that is home to approximately 200,000 honey bees! If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ll know that gardening has become a great love and perhaps even an obsession this year. This was my perfect destination.

The hotel gives guided tours of the garden and hives every weekday at 3pm so I signed myself up, grabbed my camera and off I went.

The honey bee experience started with the Hive Tea at  Herons West Coast Kitchen.

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Hive Tea is a proper afternoon tea that incorporates herbs, flowers and honey from the rooftop garden. I settled into my window seat and got ready to indulge.

The experience started with a presentation of 16 different teas to choose from. Black, herbal, citrus, floral. The options seemed endless. After much deliberation, I picked the chai. It arrived in a large glass pot and was spicy, milky and drizzled with honey from the hotel’s hives. Sweet and soothing.

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Next came rich, earthy blue cheese from Moonstruck dairy. Served on a bed of sautéed mushrooms, atop smouldering cedar, it was beyond words. So delicious I wanted to lick the plate…but refrained (sort of).

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The gorgeous dessert tray, included bannock, a First Nations specialty, covered in edible flower petals, and accompanied by honey and wild berry preserves. All from the rooftop garden. Bannock is one of my favourite treats and was an exquisite ending to this West Coast dining experience.

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Happily satiated, I rode the elevator to the roof deck and found my idea of paradise waiting there for me.

First we walked through the Fairmont’s gorgeous pool area…

Then, onto the herb garden and honey bee haven.

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There awaited an expanse of lush green gardens, alive with the buzzing of bees. What a contrast to the urban high rises right behind us. This was a little garden of Eden in the middle of the city.

Our tour guide, Tara, gave us a ton of information about the honey bee. Did you know that one third of the food we eat relies in some way on pollination by a bee? One third. These are amazing creatures that we should be doing our utmost to protect. If we realize that they are being jeopardized by rampant use of certain pesticides, then ban the pesticides. It’s as simple as that. A substantial amount of our food supply depends on them and we can’t afford to watch helplessly as they become extinct.

We stood by the hives that contained 200,000 buzzing bees as Tara described their habits, their awesome intelligence and most importantly…their enemies. Certain pesticides are bee enemy number one and are endangering their very existence. These unbelievably intelligent creatures are integral in the pollination of a large percentage of our food supply and definitely need to be protected. I love that the Fairmont is helping to keep our eco-system in balance by caring for these hives. It’s an unbelievably important undertaking. We’re so close to doing irreparable damage to our creature companions in this world and we all need to pull together and make some serious changes.

After the tour was over, I stood and watched the bees for a long, long time. Busily dancing and buzzing around the hives, they seemed so vulnerable. Their survival is utterly dependant on us becoming better environmental stewards. It made me desperately want humans to realize that we need to take greater care of this earth. Hurt one species and you hurt us all. We are all deeply connected.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.”  – Chief Seattle

This was a beautiful and moving experience at the Fairmont today. Kudos to the hotel for doing their share in creating a better, sustainable world.

I only hope more corporations follow in their footsteps.

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