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Fairmont Gets Sweet On Local Honey

Executive pastry chef Aron Weber visits with his 105,000 new friends. (Fairmont Hotel)

Last week, 105,000 new residents checked into the Fairmont Hotel in the West End. That's when the hotel installed three beehives on its roof. Within the first year, chefs hope to cull 300 pounds of local honey.

The idea came from executive sous-chef Ian Bens, who saw hives at a sister hotel on a recent trip to Toronto. Keeping bees, he reasoned, would provide ultra-local honey for soups, salad dressings, pastries and ice cream. The move is also eco-friendly. In recent years, honeybees have been ravaged by a mysterious disease known as colony collapse disorder that has caused millions of bees to simply vanish.

The hives will be managed by Bens and executive pastry chef Aron Weber. Neither had any experience with beekeeping, but they got tutoring from Larry and David Reece, veteran beekeepers in Germantown. Each chef has a mask and a jacket with a hood that zips up to prevent the bees from stinging. "At first I was scared," Bens said. "But they're actually very nice bees."

The first honey could come as early as this fall. But the chefs have already sampled what the bees have produced. So far, the taste is very floral, says Bens, which may result from the density of magnolia trees nearby.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  May 26, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Sustainable Food  | Tags: Jane Black, honey  
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