Honeybees have an important role in the environment as one of the Earth’s leading pollinators and honey producers.
The changing climate may impact honey bee colonies across the United States, but one resort in Maryland is working to help the species thrive.
More than 350,000 honeybees reside at the rooftop of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor.
The resort acquired four Langstorth beehives in 2017 to harvest its own honey and use the fresh ingredient for food, beverages and spa treatments.
“After we added our bees, we built our chef’s garden,” said David Creamer, executive resort chef at the hotel.
The culinary garden includes herbs, plenty of florals, and strawberry and tomato plants for the colony to feast on.
“We can actually edit the way their honey tastes by what we’re feeding them,” Creamer said.
During the 2018-2019 winter, an estimated 37.7% of managed honey bee colonies in the United States were lost, according to a report released by the Bee Informed Partnership last month.
“This year’s estimate is the highest level of winter losses reported since the survey began in 2006-2007,” the report said.
Gaylord National is one of many in the hotel industry that run the sustainable program to keep the honeybees alive.
“We’re really supporting a declining population of our bees. If we’re not going to take care of them, nobody else will,” Creamer said.
The resort built an additional four hives since the start of the program, bringing the total to eight hives.
Gaylord National reported the bees' first harvest brought in nearly 450 pounds of honey, all used in some way — whether you’re eating salmon glazed with Dijon vinaigrette or getting a honey treatment at the resort’s spa.
The resort plans to include more bees and expand the rooftop. Their goal is to have half a million bees by the end of the summer, Creamer said.
“Bees are one of those things you assume are just around. If we ... provide a home for them, provide a great place, provide food, provide shelter, they’re gonna thrive,” Creamer said.